my favourite kung pao tempeh

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This Kung Pao Tempeh stir fry is the perfectly little meal for when you’re stuck on what to have for lunch or dinner. You’ve heard of Kung Pao chicken, tofu, cauliflower, but today we’re cooking with tempeh. Tempeh is the chewy, nutty less-processed cousin of tofu. It has more of an earthy taste and sausage-like texture compared to the plain flavour and soft texture of tofu, and it works perfectly in stir fries like this one. Each bite maintains that classic spiciness that Kung Pao dishes bring, along with crunchy cashew nuts, plenty of garlic, and a sweet tang of fresh ginger. Nothing says summer whilst still being seasonal in the winter like this Kung Pao Tempeh!

If you didn’t know, I am obsessed with Szechuan cuisine. Eating spicy foods is a beloved hobby of mine and I absolutely adore trying out new recipes from all over the world all the time, but the classic flavours of the Chinese cuisine, particularly Szechuan, are really my overall favourite. One of my favourite dishes to prepare for a large family meal is a Kung Pao cauliflower recipe, but this time I thought I would switch it up and try something new!

I made this Kung Pao Tempeh using my usual sauce and spice recipe but added a few special changes to give it a little extra kick! Think chewy, crispy, crunchy, sticky, spicy… my mouth is watering at the thought of it! If I had some more tempeh I’d be cooking this up right now! Add a sprinkling of spring onions and sesame seeds… the perfect meal to supply your cold day with a bit more than a touch of warmth.

The perfect easy-as-pie lunch or dinner for any day of the week.

Let’s look at this a little closer

First of all, you can use tofu instead if you can’t find any tempeh, just make sure that you get extra firm tofu. Truthfully, I’m not a big fan of tofu in chunks, I much prefer it crumbled up inside some jiaozi. But, whether you’re using tofu or tempeh, you must absolutely take the time to marinade your base! The marinading step is essential for me, otherwise the tempeh doesn’t take in any of that garlic-soy goodness. Coating the tempeh in cornflour first is also crucial to me, as it really helps to crispen up the tempeh and thicken the sauce later on. Season the marinade with plenty of garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil.

Whilst the tempeh is marinading, I like to get all of my other ingredients ready. This just quickens up the cooking process ten-fold later on, helping you to simplify your kitchen routine. When mixing the Kung Pao sauce, make sure you don’t hold back on the rice wine vinegar. It really helps to enhance the flavours of the sauce once it’s nice and thick and sticky. I love to use a really rich and dark soy sauce for this step too. It gives everything a real nice rich and earthy undertone. I also fully recommend getting roasted sesame oil – you can use regular oil but there’s something about the nutty flavour of sesame oil that just makes this dish!

The stir fry mix is what completely transforms this dish. I like leaving my ginger and garlic a little chunky when I mince then. The same goes for the cashews, you want to make sure there’s some crunch left in there! Fry the chilli, peppercorns, ginger, and garlic until everything is beautifully golden and the kitchen smells divine. Just be extra careful not to fry on too high of a heat, because the chilli tend to burn quickly. I like to add some of the spring onions into the stir fry too. They go all caramelly and sticky and delicious.

Toss the marinaded tempeh into the stir fried veggies, add in the sauce, and stir everything together until its simmering, sticky, and fragrant. Make sure the tempeh is hot through and nicely crisp on the outside (chef’s tasting privileges, am I right?!) Serve immediately whilst it’s still nice and hot, either as a side dish or the centre piece. And that’s all there is too it! Nothing too fancy, just good and spicy plant-goodness.

My final notes

If using tofu instead of tempeh, make sure you get it plain and extra-firm. I always make sure that both my tofu and tempeh are organic (you can read THIS blog post to learn more about the importance of eating organic). You should be able to get tempeh in your local supermarket, but if you can’t then tofu does work just fine!

When it comes to the chilli and peppercorns, you can use regular chilli peppers and regular black peppercorns. I prefer using Szechuan peppers because they do pack more of a punch that every-day chilli peppers, perfect for those of you who love your food on the spicy end of the spectrum.

You CAN choose to leave this dish to cool completely, storing it in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to use, but it’s just not as good reheated. I fully recommend serving this Kung Pao tempeh up right away. Reheating it for a couple of minutes in the microwave (or even a frying pan) does work but the tempeh goes a little rubbery and it’s not as crispy. Definitely just treat yourself on the day!

I am honestly in love with this dish, it’s now my new favourite thing! I’ll be turning to this Kung Pao tempeh for a quick, easy, and delicious meal every time I’ve run out of ideas. My favourite way to enjoy this dish is served over freshly prepared fluffy rice with some stir fried broccoli on the side, a drizzle of extra Kung Pao sauce, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Absolutely divine!

Final tip – make extra sauce so you can soak any accompaniments in spicy, sticky, deliciousness too!

Finally, if you make this Kung Pao Tempeh, make sure you leave a like and a comment down below! I absolutely love hearing from you guys, and you can be sure that I’ll try my best to get back to you soon! And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @rhythmandgreen I love seeing the photos of recipes you’ve all made!

Have a beautiful week, happy February, and I wish you a safe and warm rest of the winter! I look forward to hearing from your soon!

Love, Katherine x

my favourite kung pao tempeh

  • preparation time: 1 hour
  • cook time: 15 minutes
  • total time: 1+ hour
  • servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

For the tempeh marinade:

  • 250g plain, organic tempeh
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp rich dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil

For the kung pao sauce:

  • 1 tbsp rich dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame oil

For the stir fry:

  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 tsp Szechuan chilli peppers, minced
  • 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp minced root ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 70g cashew nuts, chopped
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

Method:

To make the tempeh marinade:

  1. Cut the tempeh into 1 cm cubes (doesn’t need to be perfect) and add it to a bowl along with the cornflour. Stir until the tempeh is covered and the cornflour has dissolved. Add in the garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. Stir everything together until the tempeh is completely coated and leave to mature for 1 hour.

To make the kung pao sauce:

  1. In a separate bowl to the tempeh, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil until everything is completely combined.

To make the stir fry:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the sesame oil over a medium heat. Add in the chilli, peppercorns, ginger, and garlic, and sauté until the mixture is golden and fragrant (be very careful not to burn the chilli).
  2. Add in the marinated tempeh and stir fry until it is hot through. Add in the chopped cashews, half the spring onions, and kung pao sauce, stir frying until everything is cooked through and the sauce is thickened and glossy.
  3. Serve with a sprinkling of sliced green onions and sesame seeds, either as a side dish or the main event. Enjoy!

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vegan melted chocolate butternut espresso cake

Need I say more? I don’t know about you but this Friday is calling for some chocolate. And not just any chocolate; the super rich, indulgent taste of this melted chocolate butternut espresso cake. This recipe is completely vegan, can easily be made gluten free, and is super delicious. The cake is full of earthy tones of espresso and of course that classic dark chocolate taste. You can even get your veggies in because the base of this recipe is butternut squash! Super simple, super indulgent, this cake is just what you need for a cozy and oh-so chocolatey Friday night. Enjoy warm from the oven with a dab of vegan yoghurt and you’ve got yourself just the hug you’re looking for. Let’s get to it!

  • serves: 8
  • preparation time: 15 minutes
  • cook time: 40 minutes
  • total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 100g vegan dark chocolate
  • 1 cup homemade butternut puree*
  • 70ml maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 50g 100% cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder
  • 70g organic almond flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3-4 tbsp unsweetened plant milk
  • 50g vegan chocolate chunks

*follow the recipe for homemade pumpkin puree but using butternut squash instead.

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Grease and line a round cake tin with parchment paper.
  2. Over a bain-maire, melt the chocolate until smooth and glossy. Once the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and add the butternut puree, maple syrup, vanilla, and flax eggs, whisking until everything is well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the cacao powder, espresso powder, almond flour, and salt, stirring everything together until combined. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and fold everything in together until full mixed. If the batter is too thick, add in a few tablespoons of the plant milk until the batter is a bit thinner (but not pourable).
  4. Transfer the brownie batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes then sprinkle on the chocolate chunks. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the chocolate has melted.
  5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Dust with icing sugar, cut into slices and serve hot with a dab of vegan Greek yoghurt. Enjoy!

Once completely cooked, this cake can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

If you make this Vegan Melted Chocolate Butternut Espresso Cake, make sure you leave a like and a comment down below! I absolutely love hearing from you guys and you can be sure that I will try my best to get back to you soon! And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @rhythmandgreen

I love seeing the photos of recipes you’ve all made! Have a beautiful week, happy February, and I wish you a warm and safe rest of the winter! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Love and light,

Katherine x

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vegan cornbread loaf

Lately, I have been thoroughly enjoying making all different types of bread to go with my stews and pasta dishes. This vegan cornbread is a delicious and classic pairing for warm and hearty chili! I had cornbread for the first time a few years ago on a trip to Canada and instantly I was hooked! The salty fluffy taste of cornbread with soulful dishes is now all I crave over the colder months. This recipe for cornbread loaf is super simple and so yummy. Pair with our Soulful Vegan Three Bean Chili for dinner tonight and you’re in for a treat! Let’s get into it!

  • serves: 12
  • preparation time: 10 minutes
  • cook time: 40 minutes
  • total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 120g cornmeal
  • 155g wholewheat plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milled flax seeds
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 125ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 125ml unsweetened plant milk
  • 80ml warm water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190˚C (375˚F) and line a 1 lb loaf tin with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, flax seeds, and salt. Mix everything together until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, plant milk, water, and vinegar until everything is well combined (don’t worry if the oil separates again).
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir everything together until combined (be careful not to over-stir as all the air will be knocked out).
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until cooked through and golden brown on the top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Slice and serve with our Soulful Vegan Three Bean Chili. Enjoy!

Once completely cool, this cornbread can be kept in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Use within 2-3 days.

If you make this Vegan Cornbread Loaf, make sure you leave a like and a comment down below! I absolutely love hearing from you guys and you can be sure that I will try my best to get back to you soon! And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @rhythmandgreen

I love seeing the photos of recipes you’ve all made! Have a beautiful week, happy February, and I wish you a warm and safe rest of the winter! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Love and light,

Katherine x

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soulful vegan three bean chili

Chili is definitely one of my all time favourite dinners. There’s something about a bowl full of warm and spicy chili that just comforts me entirely. Since going vegan, finding a GOOD chili recipe has been difficult but I finally have the answer! This Soulful Three Bean Chili is hearty, warming, soulful, and everything you could ask for in a chili. Even my bean-hating sister loves this! Full of veggies, beans, and spices, this chili is perfect for any night of the week, and it’s super easy to make! Serve with a slice of Vegan Cornbread Loaf and you’re set. Let’s dig in!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, minced
  • 3 x 400g tins of different beans in water**
  • 1 x 400g tin tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp rich dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • ½ – 1 tsp chilli powder
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

*Pictured: kidney beans, borlotti beans, butter beans

*My favourite beans to use: kidney beans, cannellini beans, black beans

Method:

  1. In a large cooking pot, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add in the onion and sauté for 5-10 minutes until soft and golden brown. Add in the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add in the pepper, stir everything together, cover and leave to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the pot along with the tinned tomatoes. Stir everything together and leave to cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the tomato puree, soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, stock cube, and spices. Stir until combined and leave to simmer on a medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.
  4. Once the flavours have matured to your liking, serve into bowls with a slice of Vegan Cornbread Loaf, and a dab of vegan yoghurt. Enjoy!

Once completely cooled, this chili can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge and consumed within 3 days.

If you make this Soulful Vegan Three Bean Chili, make sure you leave a like and a comment down below! I absolutely love hearing from you guys and you can be sure that I will try my best to get back to you soon! And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @rhythmandgreen

I love seeing the photos of recipes you’ve all made! Have a beautiful week, happy February, and I wish you a warm and safe rest of the winter! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Love and light,

Katherine x

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vegan winter three-citrus drizzle cake

It’s Friday and I think it’s about time we all enjoyed ourselves a little cake. This Winter Three-Citrus Drizzle Cake is such a delicious way to brighten up the end of the week. Full to the brim with zesty lemons, juicy oranges, and a sharp tang of grapefruit, you’ll be heading back for a second slice of this cake! Top with plenty of citrus drizzle and you’re set! I absolutely love citrus fruits and at this time of the year I often find myself craving something a little summery. Lucky for me, citrus fruits are in season all year round, so we can enjoy a little taste of summer even in February. So, grab your apron and some lemons, and let’s get cracking!

  • serves: 12
  • preparation time: 20 minutes
  • cook time: 40 minutes
  • total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

For the citrus cake:

  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 65ml maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 130g vegan Greek yoghurt
  • Juice ½ grapefruit
  • Juice ½ lemon
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • Zest 1 orange
  • 190g self raising flour
  • 120g almond flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

For the drizzle:

  • 150g icing sugar
  • Juice of 1 grapefruit, as needed

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and line a large loaf tin with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sunflower oil, maple syrup, vanilla, flax eggs, vegan yoghurt, citrus juice, and zest until everything is well combined (don’t worry if the mixture splits a little).
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold everything together gently until just combined (be careful not to knock the air out too much).
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf tin and spread to flatten with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until cooked all the way through and golden brown on the top. Once baked, leave to cool completely.
  5. In a small bowl, combine together the icing sugar and as much grapefruit juice as is needed to make a medium-thick and glossy icing. Transfer the cake to a plate and drizzle with the icing. Cut into slices and enjoy!

This cake can be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 days.

If you make this Vegan Winter Three-Citrus Drizzle Cake, make sure you leave a like and a comment down below! I absolutely love hearing from you guys and you can be sure that I will try my best to get back to you soon! And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @rhythmandgreen

I love seeing the photos of recipes you’ve all made! Have a beautiful week, happy February, and I wish you a warm and safe rest of the winter! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Love and light,

Katherine x

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comforting vegan creamy spiced lentil stew

It is getting really cold here lately, with February really making herself at home. To sooth our chills and warm us up nice and cozy from the inside, I’ve been making a lot of stews and curries full of warming spices. This creamy spiced lentil stew is so comforting and just what you need on a cold and snowy winter’s day. Full of healthy green lentils, spicy flavours, and good old veggies, this stew will keep you full and toasty for the whole day. Serve with a slice of freshly baked traditional country bread loaf and you’re set! So, without further ado, let’s dig in!

  • serves: 4
  • preparation time: 10 minutes
  • cook time: 30 minutes
  • total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, sliced*
  • 1 potato, cubed*
  • 210g dried green lentils (or 1 can of tinned green lentils)
  • ½ can coconut milk
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 750ml water
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

*To reduce food waste, don’t peel the carrot and potato. Just give them a good scrub and enjoy them with the skin on! It’s nutritious, adds more flavour, and reduces your food waste!

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add in the onions and sauté for 5 minutes until they are soft and golden brown. Add in the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  2. Add in the carrot and potatoes and stir everything together. Leave the vegetables to soften for 5 minutes. Add in the lentils, coconut milk, vegetable stock, and water. Stir everything together until the coconut milk solids have melted and everything is well combined.
  3. Add in the spices and seasonings and stir to combine. Let the stew simmer on the stove for a good 20-30 minutes to cook the vegetables and lentils, and to let the flavour mature.
  4. Serve hot into bowls with a slice of traditional country bread loaf and enjoy!

Once completely cooled, this stew can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Alternatively, once completely cooled, it can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer and stored for up to 1 months.

If you make this comforting vegan creamy spiced lentil stew, make sure you leave a like and a comment down below! I absolutely love hearing from you guys and you can be sure that I will try my best to get back to you soon! And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @rhythmandgreen

I love seeing the photos of recipes you’ve all made! Have a beautiful week, happy February, and I wish you a warm and safe rest of the winter! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Love and light,

Katherine x

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vegan creamy spicy butter-chickpea curry

What better way to end a cold winter day than with this creamy spicy butter-chickpea curry?! February calls for something a little spicy, and this curry is full of warming spices, creamy hints of coconut, and delicious chickpeas to get you through the day. We love a good curry around here, and this recipe just hits the spot! Enjoy over fresh and fluffy rice and you’ve got yourself a healthy, hearty dinner for the whole family. Let’s dig in!

  • serves: 4
  • preparation time: 10 minutes
  • cook time: 30 minutes
  • total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large white onion, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 x 400g tin tomatoes
  • 2 x 240g tin chickpeas
  • 1 x 400g tin coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Rice, as needed

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add in the onions and sauté for 5 minutes until soft and golden. Add in the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  2. Drain the chickpeas and add them to the saucepan along with the tinned tomatoes and tinned coconut milk. Stir everything together until it is well combined.
  3. Add in the spices and seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, and stir until everything is well combined. Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve over freshly cooked rice and garnish with a sprig of parsley and enjoy!

This curry can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge once completely cooled. Consume within 2 days.

If you make this vegan creamy spicy butter-chickpea curry, make sure you leave a like and a comment down below! I absolutely love hearing from you guys and you can be sure that I will try my best to get back to you soon! And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @rhythmandgreen

I love seeing the photos of recipes you’ve all made! Have a beautiful week, happy February, and I wish you a warm and safe rest of the winter! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Love and light,

Katherine x

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vegan sea salt double chocolate chip cookies

These vegan sea salt double chocolate chip cookies are just the treat you need this Monday! What better way to start of the week than with some warm, chewy, deliciously chocolatey cookies. These cookies are 100% vegan and 1000% divine, full to the brim with chocolate chips and sprinkled with sea salt. Don’t like Mondays? These are the cookies for you!

  • Yield: 24 cookies
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 8-10 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 190g unsalted vegan butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 100g vegan chocolate chips
  • 100g vegan chocolate chunks
  • Flaky sea salt, for decoration

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the vegan butter and brown sugar. Beat in the flax egg and vanilla extract until everything is well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add this mixture to the bowl of wet ingredients and stir together until everything is well combined.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips and chocolate chunks. Using a tablespoon, spoon the cookie dough out onto the baking trays, setting each cookie about 2-inches apart.
  5. Bake the cookies in the oven for 5 minutes. After this time, take them out of the oven and give the baking sheet a tap against the work surface 1-2 times to flatten the cookies.
  6. Place the cookies back in the oven to bake for another 2-3 minutes until they are golden brown. Repeat the process of tapping the cookies once more, and then leave them to cool.
  7. Sprinkle with some flaky sea salt and enjoy warm (100% recommended).

Once completely cooled, these cookies can be stored in an airtight container in a cool dray place and consumed within 4 days.

If you make these vegan sea salt double chocolate chip cookies, make sure you leave a like and a comment down below! I absolutely love hearing from you guys and you can be sure that I will try my best to get back to you soon! And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @rhythmandgreen

I love seeing the photos of recipes you’ve all made! Have a beautiful week, happy first day of February, and I wish you a warm and safe rest of the winter! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Love and light,

Katherine x

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sustainability series: food

How to be food sustainable in a world of extreme agriculture.

To kick off our ‘Sustainability Series’ we are going to be talking to you today about food.

We live in a world that revolves around food. From farming to supermarkets to restaurants, the human race is food focused. Not only has food become an everyday essential, it’s now an event, a way to pass the time, but at what cost? It may surprise you to hear that a large proportion of the new generation believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, and that chickens come from the shelves in the supermarket. Do we know how things grow anymore? That carrots aren’t all one shape and that they come from the ground with soil all over them and long green leaves?

This may seem obvious to some people, but to others it is not. We have lost our connection to the food we are eating; where it comes from, how it is grown, where it goes, and its impact on the environment.

Did you know that approximately 7 billion trees are cut down each year? More often than not, these trees are cut down to make room for livestock (usually cattle) or food to feed those livestock. It’s true! Here’s another fact for you: 70%  of the world’s soy is fed directly to livestock! Read that again. Only 6% of all soy grown globally goes towards products for human consumption.

Food sustainability is something that I have become so much more conscious of over the past couple of years. From making changes to a plant based diet, trying my hand at zero-waste recipes, and buying only organic and local fresh produce, I have learnt the importance of what I’m buying, where it comes from, and where it goes.

Today, we are going to be talking about some simple steps that you can take TODAY to help you become more food sustainable. Firstly, though, what is food sustainability? Well, it’s not just about food, to be honest. It’s a combination of how the food is produced, how its distributed, how its packaged, and how its consumed.

Some of the main questions to ask yourself are:

  • Where does my food come from?
  • How is my food grown?
  • Where does my food go?
  • How does the food I buy impact the environment?

We’re going to be providing you with some solutions to these questions today, helping you to understand the importance of food sustainability, and making that transition to more sustainable buying habits.

Let’s start with supporting our local farmers.

Buying local.

In today’s world, almost all of us do our shopping at the supermarkets. But did you know that most fruits and veggies at these stores have been picked before they’re ripe and transported from half way across the world? Even if what your buying has been grown in the country you live in, how can you be sure it hasn’t been grown out of season?

Buying from your local farm shops, farmer’s markets, and pick-your-owns is the best and easiest way to buy locally grown produce. Buying from local farmers means that the produce you are buying will have only travelled a short distance, if at all. Food transportation is one of the largest contributors to emissions that lead to global warming. Getting your food from local farms reduces these emissions, because the food hasn’t had to travel as far to get to you. Locally grown produce doesn’t need to be shipped long distances or kept cold for extended periods of time (both of these processes are huge contributors to global emissions). Buying locally grown produce isn’t just better for the environment either, but also for your local economy. Not only are you doing good for the planet, but you’re also supporting your local farmers too.

Buying locally is something that I admit I only started doing earlier last year. For years, I had been going to the supermarket and getting all of my fruits and veggies from superstores, knowing only which country my food was coming from (and sometimes not even that)! But last year, I made a change. In a neighbouring village to me, there’s a small farm shop which sells locally grown and organic fruits, vegetables, flour, eggs, and honey. I go there once a week now to get everything I may need – I do have to go to the supermarket for the rest, but I’m doing my best with what’s available. Everything on the shelves in this farm shop is local, organic, plastic-free, and in season!

How great is that?!

One thing I haven’t yet mentioned here is meat and dairy products. Most local farm shops and markets will also sell local milk, dairy products, and meat. However, there are some questions you should be asking before you buy! What have these animals been fed? Is it organic? How have these animals been raised? It’s equally important to know how sustainably these animals have been raised as well as how local they are. For example, when I buy eggs, I make sure they are not only locally sourced, but also corn-fed and free-range. Sustainably raised, happy hens are just as important and the local-ness of the eggs.

Now of course, if you don’t have access to any local farm shops or it’s not within your budget, then it is possible to buy fruits and vegetables that have at least been grown in the same country you live in. Here, we reach a dilemma, however, and that my friends is packaging. It’s not common that you find loose produce at the supermarkets in the first place, but it’s even less common that unpackaged goods will be labelled with its country of origin.

Buying local in the supermarkets is hard, because even if something has been grown in the same country you live in, you can’t guarantee how sustainably it has been grown (and it’s almost impossible to find out too). For example, tomatoes grown in the UK in February have probably been grown in a heated greenhouse, which is just as bad for the environment as tomatoes that have been imported from another country. The thing is that we just don’t know! That’s a big problem and really signifies to me the importance of our next topic. Buying local is really important, but so is buying what’s in season.

Eating seasonally.

In today’s society, seasonal eating is practically unheard of. We have access to whatever produce we want, all year round, not really thinking about where it comes from, and the impact it has on the environment. Eating seasonally means taking as much from the current season as possible and consuming what’s on offer at that time of year.

Seasonal eating is about buying and consuming fresh produce that is currently growing. Everything has its own season, and each month has its own fruits. Seasonal produce is local produce (most of the time), and that means that what you’re eating hasn’t been shipped a long distance (like we discussed above). To put it simply, buying seasonal food reduces your carbon footprint, as you’re buying from and supporting a more sustainable food economy.

Strawberries are not meant for December, and pumpkins are not harvested in the spring. Noticing when certain foods are in season really makes each time of the year more exciting, as it makes times when certain produce are in season a lot more special. It is good to wait. By making the switch to seasonal eating, no longer are you buying what’s out of season, but rather making the most of these fruits and vegetables when they are growing naturally and preserving them to enjoy later.

This simple change has made a huge difference to how I shop and how I eat.

Produce available out of season has either been transported from another country, grown in a heated greenhouse, or artificially ripened. As we discussed above, food transportation is one of the leading contributors to global warming, as it releases an insane amount of harmful gases into the atmosphere. By only eating what’s in season, you’re eating what’s been grown locally, reducing the amount of emissions released in food transportation, and reducing your carbon footprint.

What a lot of people don’t realise is that greenhouse gases have been given their name for a reason. They come from greenhouses. Heated commercial greenhouses are used to grow fruits and vegetables out of season, so that they are available to us all year round. This sounds like a good thing at first glance, but the amount of carbon dioxide released (as well as other harmful gases) from these processes is staggering. Not only that, but we must also take into consideration the fuels used to power these heated greenhouses (all of which will release carbon dioxide either through generation or when they burn).

To learn more about seasonal eating in specific seasons, you can check out these blog posts, where I go into more detail about seasonal eating, its importance, and what is and isn’t seasonal:

how to eat seasonally in autumn

how to eat seasonally at christmas

As well as eating seasonally, it’s equally important that what you’re eating has been grown organically, and not for the reasons you think!

Buying organic.

Organic is better for the planet.

It’s as simple as that.

Intensive, inorganic agricultural methods make use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. These products are not only harmful to the foods that we are eating, but also to the soil and the insects that cause and help our food to grow.

Did you know that these pesticides can get into your water? If you don’t wash your inorganic food before eating it, you’re consuming these synthetic fertilisers and pesticides as well. Not only that, but these harmful products also decrease the general biodiversity of the soil they’re used on. Soil is a non-renewable resource. Organic farming practices enhance the life of the soil, its natural fertility, and its water quality.

Not only do these pesticides affect the soil, but they also harm the bees and insects that pollinate the crops, decreasing crop production and overall health as well as the already declining bee and insect population. Without these creatures, we will have no food, no plants, and no air to breathe. Food security, sustainable farming, biodiversity, and environmental protection are all essential in helping these species to thrive.

On top of all of that, the production and manufacture of these fertilisers and pesticides release a lot of harmful emissions, proving to be major contributors to air pollution. The large scale process of creating these products involves a series of chemical reactions. As each of these reactions occur, toxic emissions, gases, and solid waste, are produced. Improper storage of these pesticides lead to even more emissions, contributing even more to air pollution and global warming.

Organic farming methods don’t use manufactured chemical fertilisers or pesticides. By buying only organic produce, you’re helping the soil to stay healthy and nutrient rich, you’re helping bees and insects to thrive and continue to pollinate our food, and you’re reducing the number of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Buying organic is a great way of lowering the risk of environmental pollution.

As well as buying organic, buying local, and eating seasonally, we need to make sure that we are making the most of our food. One of the major contributors to landfill and therefore greenhouse gas emissions is… food waste.

Reducing your food waste.

Wasting food is hurting the environment. Your food waste goes to landfill, producing huge amounts of harmful gases such as methane, and releasing it into the atmosphere. Rotting food releases even more harmful gases.

As well as this, food production uses a whole load of water. Did you know that 70% of all water used worldwide is used for farming and agriculture?

So what can we do to reduce our food waste?

An obvious way to reduce your food waste is to only buy what you need! If you’re not in the habit of doing so already, write yourself a shopping list before doing your weekly grocery shop. Check your fridge and your cupboards before going out to the shop to check what you already have. Even better, write yourself a dinner menu for the week! Not only does this save you time and energy by pre-deciding what you’re having for dinner each night, it also reduces the chance that you’ll forget something or buy too much of a product.

Okay, something to ask yourself now: how full is your freezer? One thing that you can do to reduce your food waste is to make optimal use of your freezer. It’s as simple as that. Most food can be frozen, and freezing your food helps it to last longer. And before you ask, no, freezing does not reduce the amount of nutrients in your food. In fact, frozen food tends to actually have been picked at full ripeness, meaning there are probably more nutrients in it that what’s on the fresh produce shelves (#justsaying).

As well as all of this, find recipes that use food scraps (yes, they exist). You can eat more of your produce than you think. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with trying to make the absolute most of everything that I buy, and this goes down to food scraps. I’ve stopped peeling my carrots and potatoes (just give them a good scrub), and even use my broccoli and cauliflower stalks to make pesto! I got a lot of my inspiration from zero-waste food chef Max La Manna. He has a lot of really inventive and delicious zero-waste vegan recipes:

Max La Manna

Max La Manna (@maxlamanna) • Instagram photos and videos

And lastly, COMPOST! Approximately half of the food waste that ends up in landfill can actually be composted. You can do your bit to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by composting your food scraps (and if you don’t have a compost bin or a garden, give your scraps to someone who does – they will thank you for the extra natural fertiliser). Composting saves you money, resources, improves your garden soil, and reduces your impact on the environment. Reducing the amount of food waste that gets sent to landfill even a little bit will help to reduce the amount of emissions.

This leads me on quite nicely to our next topic.

Growing your own food.

Now, of course this option won’t be available to everyone, but if you do have a garden, why not make the most of it? Whether you have your own garden, an allotment plot, or a good windowsill, learning to grow your own food is a valuable skill to have. Growing your own food is the best way to ensure that your fruits and vegetables are local (you can’t get more local than your garden), organic, and in season. As well as all of this, growing your own food also saves you money, you get a much wider variety of crops, you can control exactly what you’re growing, and it’s better for the environment.

Let’s recap the benefits of growing your own food:

  • It’s as local as you can get, so emissions from transportation are practically zero (unless your seeds have been imported)
  • It’s organic (if you choose not to use synthetic fertilisers and pesticides)
  • It’s in season and you know exactly how your food has been grown
  • It can save you so much money off of your grocery bill (the price of seeds is worth it)
  • You can grow all kinds of quirky varieties of each crop
  • You can grow anything you want (according to your climate, of course)
  • Overall, it’s a whole lot better for the environment

I am insanely lucky to have a garden, and although we don’t grow all of our own food, we do grow a lot of it. Honestly, there’s no better way to reconnect with the Earth and with nature than getting outside, getting a little dirty, and growing something. All of our seeds arrived earlier today, and we’ve been doing so much prep-work in the garden lately to get ready for spring. I’ve currently got some garlic’s sleeping in their vegetable bed, and some cauliflower babies on the windowsill in the kitchen, ready for planting out in a month or so.

You don’t have to be an experienced gardener to grow your own food either. If you’re interested in starting a garden of your own, why not start by growing some herbs on the windowsill? Growing something like microgreens is also really simple and provides you with quick and delicious greens. If you don’t have a garden of your own, but know that one of your friends does, why not ask if you can help? This is something that I’m eager to start doing with my friends, because it builds that sense of community and we get to spend time together growing our own food and cooking it (once regulation allows of course).

And now we move onto our last point, probably the most influential one.

Switching to a plant based diet.

As you may know, the production of meat and animal products has a huge impact on the planet, from the crops and water needed to raise the animals, to the transport and packaging processes involved in getting your food from the farm to your dinner plate. Animal agriculture places a heavy burden on the environment.

The world NEEDS to go plant based. A lot of people are going vegan nowadays, and whilst this is great to see and a NECESSARY change, it can still be overwhelming for a lot of people. That’s okay. You don’t need to go vegan overnight; in fact, I advise against it (from a health point of view). As we’ve already discussed, so many of the world’s resources go towards agriculture and livestock. Going vegan, or changing to a plant based diet, has so many benefits on the environment, and I’m here to talk to you about a few of them.

Firstly, adopting a vegan diet is the most efficient way of saving water. This is simply because plants need way less water than animals to grow. As stated above, agriculture makes up for 70% of the worlds water consumption, with the meat and dairy industry being the main consumers. Going vegan can save up to 200,000 gallons of water a year (that’s almost 1 million litres of water)!

Another environmental benefit to going vegan is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock alone contributes to over 14% of global emissions – add in the fact that these animal products are then transported across the world and you’ve got nearly 40% of global greenhouse emissions. To put it simply, extreme agriculture and farming of livestock is the main contributor to global warming and climate change.

If you’re still not convinced that you should be decreasing your consumption of animal products, then try thinking about this:

The Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old. If you scale that down to 46 years, the human race has been here for 4 hours and our industrial revolution began 1 minute ago. In that time, we have destroyed more than 50% of the world’s forests. The leading cause of deforestation? Livestock.

“As the global demands for meat rise, so does the number of cattle needed to produce beef. Those animals require space and nourishment, so millions of acres of untouched land are cleared every year to make room for crops and grazing pastures. But [IN ADDITION TO THIS] forests are cleared to produce feed for other animals, too, like pigs and chickens.

Animals always require more calories to raise than calories they produce for humans to eat. Therefore, animal agriculture is always more destructive than agriculture producing plant-based food directly for humans.”

Effects of Deforestation: How Does Agriculture Cause Deforestation? (sentientmedia.org)

I recommend reading the rest of this article for more information ^^^

And that’s a wrap.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to learn more about food sustainability and how you can become more food sustainable. I hope that this article was useful for you and provided you with valuable information to consider.

Before we end, let’s remind ourselves of those questions we asked at the beginning:

  • Where does my food come from?
  • How is my food grown?
  • Where does my food go?
  • How does the food I buy impact the environment?

I hope that you take these questions into account when you’re next doing your food shop. Before then, research whether there are any local farm shops nearby, write that dinner menu and shopping list, and consider what plant based recipes you could make instead this week.

Thank you for joining us on our first Sustainability Series article, and we look forward to seeing you again next week, with our next one!

If you enjoyed this article and found it useful, leave a like and a comment and we’ll be sure to get back to you soon. To keep up with us here at rhythm & green, give us a follow on Instagram @rhythmandgreen to see what we’ve been up to lately and for the very latest of our content.

Until next time,

Katherine x

Articles I read to gather my information and statistics:

Explain Like I’m 5: Why Tofu Consumption Is Not Responsible for Soy-Related Deforestation – One Green Planet

It’s time to power down our greenhouses | Gardens | The Guardian

Food Waste: why it’s bad – Greener Kirkcaldy

17 Environmental Benefits Of Veganism (As Proven By Science) (futurekind.com)

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data | Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions | US EPA

Effects of Deforestation: How Does Agriculture Cause Deforestation? (sentientmedia.org)

5 Big Causes of Deforestation and How You Can Stop It – One Green Planet

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embracing the slow pace of january with a few of my favourite things

Today, I find myself writing to you from my desk (and not my bed for once). I didn’t really have anything planned to write this week, but I woke up with the motivation to write something a little chatty. The skies are grey, and the air is gloomy, but the lamps are lit, the tea is hot, and the fleece jumpers are as cozy as ever. Christmas is over, the New Year came and went, and finally it’s time to hunker down for the slow, cold months ahead. The pantry is a little less full than it was, the kitchen heavy with the scent of citrus fruits, and the sun hardly ever shows her face. But that’s okay because winter is the season of hibernation, January is the time for rest. It’s time now to focus inwardly, to nurture the little buds inside of us so that come springtime, we can bloom as elegantly as the flowers.

It’s time to embrace a slower pace.

Winter is the season of hibernation. There is little else to do, and most of us are at home after all. The excitement of the holiday season has dwindled, but there’s still so much beauty to be found. I’ve always struggled with the winter; we’ve never really gotten along (so to speak). But this year, I’m trying my best to embrace what is simpler and softer. January is a month of new beginnings, a clean slate, a chance to recharge in the comforts of home.

The autumn, for me, was both busy and not. I spent the long month of September writing my ebook, A Simple Christmas, followed by publishing and promoting all the way through until the holidays. It was a relief to get to December in one piece. October was quiet, and November even more so. I spent an exceptional amount of time watching Criminal Minds and baking cinnamon rolls. December rolled around before we knew it, and Christmas day this year was an odd-ball if ever there was one. But January is here, and the calendars are empty, once again, as we continue our journey inwards with another lockdown. The shift in seasons has been greatly appreciated and once again I find myself given the chance to fully embrace seasonal living. There is always something to look forward to. Now, in January, we can allow ourselves to sleep a little more, and go as slowly as we need to. Why not let this season act as a reminder to cultivate a slower pace, focusing on inward roots and self-nurture. It’s okay if productivity this month looks a little different to how it did last month, or next month. We are not defined by our productivity.

Set an intention for the winter with me: Embrace the slow pace of January.

These past couple of weeks have been spent less on work and more on self-growth. I somehow managed to sprain my neck last Friday, and I was honestly kind of grateful for the excuse to do nothing but watch movies all day. It’s interesting… how I didn’t feel guilty for doing something like that when I was unwell, but as soon as it got to Monday, all I wanted to do was work and I was constantly berating myself because I wasn’t ‘getting anything done’.

“Oh, Katherine… you still have so much to learn. You don’t have to have everything checked off of your to-do list at the end of the day. You don’t even have to have a to-do list! The only thing you need to keep on top of are making sure you have clean undies, that you’ve fed your fish, that you’re hydrated, and that you’ve eaten enough today.”

This was written in my journal this morning. And yet I still find myself comparing my productivity to the rest of my household. I would shake my head if I could.

Getting back off of that tangent, I wanted to take the time today to share with you some of the things that I’ve been finding solace and joy in these past few weeks. I know that winter is a difficult time for everyone in a multitude of different ways, but something I have found really useful lately is to write about all the things that I enjoy, and everything that has been making my happy. It’s hard to start with, but once you get into the flow of things, you’ll find it easy, and you’ll be even more grateful for everything you’re writing about.

Let’s start today with what I’ve been reading lately.

If you don’t know already, I am an avid bookworm. I love to read. I would read all day if I could. In the wintertime, we have the opportunity to read more than we might normally, and I fully embrace that fact. I encourage you to pick up a book, any book, and just take some time out of your day to read for your own enjoyment. If you need a little further encouragement, here is my absolute favourite quote for when I’m feeling unmotivated to read:

“Compare the different between the life of a man who does no reading and that of a man who does. The man who has not the habit of reading is imprisoned in his immediate world, in respect to time and space. His life falls into a set routine; he is limited to contact and conversation with a few friends and acquaintances, and he sees only what happens in his immediate neighbourhood. From this prison there is no escape.

But the moment he takes up a book, he immediately enters a different world, and if it is a good book, he is immediately put in touch with one of the best talkers of the world. This talker leads him on and carries him into a different country or a different age, or unburdens to him some of his personal regrets, or discusses with him some special line or aspect of life that the reader knows nothing about. An ancient author puts him in communion with a dead spirit of long ago, and as he reads along, he begins to imagine what that ancient author looks like and what type of person he was…

Now to be able to live two hours out of twelve in a different world and take one’s thoughts off the claims of the immediate present is, of course, a privilege to be envied by people shut up in their own bodily prison.”

Yutang Lin, The Importance of Living

Absolutely the number one thing that I find solace in, somewhere to escape for a little bit, is books. Gloomy days in the winter are the perfect reason to spend all day curled up in the blankets reading a book. Whether you’re re-reading a favourite from your bookshelf, learning something new with a non-fiction, or simply feeding your inner bookworm, reading is just one of those things that makes the heart sing. Now, without further dilly dally, here is what I have been reading lately.

‘Pachinko’ by Min Jin Lee

‘Teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy yakuza. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant – and that her lover is married – she refuses to be bought. Facing ruin, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle minister passing through on his way to Japan. Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country where she has no friends, Sunja will be forced to make some difficult choices. Her decisions will echo through the decades.’

Taking place from 1910 to 1989, Pachinko follows the story of Sunja and her family, on their journey from Korea to Japan. Throughout the story, Sunja and her family must face many hardships: loss of faith, deceit, heartbreak, exile, discrimination. Opening in a deceptively idyllic coastline setting in Korea, we soon find ourselves encompassed in Sunja’s world – street markets, university halls, pachinko parlors, and the criminal underworld of the yakuza. Pachinko is the untold side of history, written beautifully by Min Jin Lee with the purpose of informing western audiences of Japanese-Korean culture. The novel itself reads like one long hymn, intimate and delicately detailed, focusing on the struggles of a Korean family living in Japan. Subjected to racism, stereotypes, and the historical origins of the 20th century Korean experiences in Japan, this book allows rich history to unfold at a pace that is enchantingly peaceful. The novel’s finest scenes are underpinned with shame and guilt, with every character continually forced by their position as a second-class citizen to make the most painful sacrifices, and, consequently, consider the nature of those sacrifices.

By the end of this book, I felt both at peace and overcast with grief. This novel will leave your heart scattered and in utter turmoil. Pachinko tore me apart. We as readers can never experience that same anguish as our characters. There are parts of this book that really wrench at the gut and make you think HARD about your life and just how lucky you are to be living it. Pachinko put me in my place, made me realise that I knew nothing about the World Wars, at least nothing outside of what happened to the country I grew up in. I suppose it is as they say: history is written by the victors.

Pachinko is my favourite book. Never have I read a story more powerful or been moved so deeply.

‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ by Keigo Higashino

‘Yasuko lives a quiet life, a good mother to her only child. But when her ex-husband appears at her door without warning one evening her comfortable world is shattered. When Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police tries to piece together the events of that night, he finds himself confronted by the most puzzling, mysterious circumstances he has ever investigated. Nothing quite makes sense…’

I literally devoured this book in a day the first time I read it. Keigo Higashino is by far my favourite author. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of reading the same authors over and over again, or authors from the same ethnic backgrounds. Last year, I challenged myself to read new authors from all around the world, and my taste in books has grown tenfold. I have always been fascinated by culture and discovering new authors has been the best way for me to learn and have new experiences this year.

I just started reading another one of Keigo Higashino’s books, ‘A Midsummer’s Equation’, and I’m currently practicing so much self-discipline not to flop down on my bed and read until I can no longer keep my eyes open. If you’re a fan of murder mystery novels, then Keigo Higashino’s books are the ones for you. They’re easy to read and have the more ingenious storylines, containing plot twist after plot twist. They really get you to think. I love solving mysteries as I read, and these books are just perfect for problem-solvers like me. You can tell I’m 100% obsessed. If you’re looking to try new books this year and don’t know where to start, I fully recommend reading Keigo Higashino’s works.

‘The Long Walk’ by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

‘A chilling look at the ultra-conservative America of the future where a grueling 450-mile marathon is the ultimate sports competition.’

Really, I couldn’t write about my favourite books without listing something by Stephen King. If I’m ever unsure of what to read next, I usually turn to one of his novels. I can’t say this about a lot of books, but I read The Long Walk in a day. Yet another dystopian novel, The Long Walk follows Garraty on his 450-mile journey to the finish line, along with 99 other boys. I could rave on about this book for hours, but for your sake I won’t, and I won’t say too much about it either because I don’t want to give anything away. I will say, however, that this book is one of the reasons why I became a writer. I had never read anything like this before and it really helped me to realise that boundaries must be pushed, and that not all books are written in the same way. You can write the most gut-wrenching, heart-breaking stories, and also maintain the beauty of language within it. For example:

‘The dead are orphans. No company but the silence like a moth’s wing. An end to the agony of movement, to the long nightmare of going down the road. The body in peace, stillness, and order. The perfect darkness of death.’

These books (above) have been my absolute favourite reads, and I plan on reading them over and over again. I wanted to highlight my favourite books specifically because my passion for them simply needed to be shared. If none of these books float your boat, then here’s a quick list of some other books I read last year, just in case you need some extra inspiration:

  • The Emerald Atlas, John Stephens
  • Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  • The Wall, John Lanchester
  • World War Z, Max Brooks
  • The Binding, Bridget Collins
  • The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  • The Woman in the Window, A. J. Finn
  • The Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  • The Last, Hanna Jameson
  • The Painted House, John Grisham
  • Atomic Habits, James Clear

Books I am currently reading/looking forward to include:

  • A Midsummer’s Equation, Keigo Higashino
  • The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
  • The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

As well as reading, I’m a sucker for movies.

If there’s one thing that I do almost as much as reading a book, it’s watching a movie. Never have I watched so many movies in my life than last year! I find it all too easy now adays to curl up on the sofa and watch movie after movie, but that’s okay. We all need a treat sometimes. My ideal day would be spent with my hands wrapped around a hot drink, watching some of my favourite films. In dark times, we turn to the artists, and the winter is the perfect opportunity to embrace some art and restore your soul a little. I watch almost a movie a day (no shame here), but I wanted to share with you a few of my favourites as well as some new good finds:

  • Parasite
  • The Maze Runner (trilogy) (based on the books by James Dashner (also amazing))
  • 1917
  • The Help (based on the book by Kathryn Stockett)
  • The Water Diviner
  • Eddie the Eagle
  • Snowpiercer
  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Joker
  • Dead Poets Society
  • Lucy
  • Jungle
  • Gran Torino
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • The Meg
  • Train to Busan
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Inception
  • What We Do In The Shadows
  • Cloud Atlas
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Seven
  • Fantastic Beast and Where To Find Them

And of course, you can’t go a day without eating something delicious.

Food is friendly, food is fuel. I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen over the past 12 months and have really been experimenting with some new foods and flavours. I like to make everything that I eat in order to eat more intentionally, and all of my meals are focused on what is in season. Seasonal eating has really helped me to expand my repertoire and I’ve now got a lot of new and tasty dishes under my belt just waiting to be served. I’m going to share with you a few of my favourite foods and meals that I’ve been loving recently, to help avoid cooking up the same old thing in the kitchen every day.

Breakfast usually looks like:

  • Carrot cake baked oatmeal
  • Banana pancakes
  • Frozen fruit smoothies
  • Toast with all the toppings

These vary depending on how much time I have on my hands, but lately that’s been a fair amount. Breakfast is my most important meal of the day because it acts as an alarm for my body that its time to wake up and get cracking. I usually like to have something nutritious and complex (in terms of digestion) to help fuel me throughout the morning.

Lunch is either super simple or something warming:

  • Root veggie soups
  • Hot curried lentils
  • Spicy potato wedges
  • Something from the freezer

Again, lunch varies depending how much time I have on my hands. I usually go for a walk after lunch, so I never have anything too heavy, but these yummy meals keep me happy and satiated. Like I said, sometimes lunch takes a long time to prepare, but most of the time I make things in bulk e.g., a large batch of soup or a lentil dish. In the winter, my foods tend to be more hearty and contain a lot of dried or frozen foods, simply because that’s what I have around, but in the summer my plate is usually full of fresh produce from the garden.

Dinner is my favourite meal of the day:

  • Vegetarian Jiaozi
  • Pasta e fagioli
  • Hot Thai curry
  • Good old roast dinner

I love trying different cuisines when it comes to dinner time. I’m a foodie all day long, but there’s something special about preparing a meal with someone you love and sitting down together to enjoy it. If you’re stuck for new meals to add to your dinner rotation, I fully recommend looking at different countries and cultures for inspiration. We eat a lot of spicy food, and so tend to get meal inspiration from traditional Szechuan and Thai dishes (I would cook them the traditional way completely if I weren’t plant based).

As well as all of these beautiful dishes, I’m also a sucker for the simpler things and you’ll often find me snacking on carrots and hummus or bananas and peanut butter. Of course, cake is my speciality and I’m an avid baker, but most recently I have been obsessed with a good old lemon drizzle. I also drink a lot of different things throughout the day, but my favourites are things like assam or chamomile tea, mushroom hot chocolate, and sometimes a cheeky glass of Malbec.

Outside of all of that, most of my favourite things are things I do every day.

Yoga – if you didn’t know, I have been a consistent yogi for about two years now. Yoga is by far my favourite part of the day. I do it first thing in the morning – drag myself out of bed, roll out my mat, and let the magic happen. My favourite classes are from Yoga with Adriene’s YouTube channel and (before I sprained my neck) I was doing her BREATH 30-day Yoga Journey which was proving to be so beneficial for all of the winter negativity that I suffer from (as well as providing a little burn in the belly from all of that Christmas indulgence). Yoga keeps me healthy, both mentally and physically, and I recommend it to anyone looking to improve their overall wellbeing.

Walks – I try to go for a walk everyday (usually after lunch) to get some fresh air, ultraviolet light, and a pause in the day. I thrive off of the sun, and at this time of year that can be difficult to get. However, even just going outside does wonders for me. I’m very lucky to live in a fairly secluded village with lots of walk-routes that allow me to stretch my legs and escape the hustle bustle even for just half an hour. Going for a walk is one of my most treasured habits, and I fully recommend even just a short stroll to anyone who might be struggling currently.

Hula Hooping – I got myself a hula hoop for Christmas and I am honestly obsessed with it. I was doing so much exercise over the summer and it did me so much good, but now that I spend almost all of my time inside, it can be hard to find the motivation to do so. I’ve always loved hula hooping, and it provides a fun and easy way to get back into some regular exercise. I use a weighted hula hoop (it’s about 1kg) for a little bit of extra challenge, but any hoop will do. It’s really fun just to play around for a little bit and reunite with your inner child.

Jigsaw Puzzles – yes, I am an old lady. I love jigsaw puzzles, especially because it means I get to spend some quality time with my dad. There’s something really calming and pleasing about putting all of the different pieces in the right place and ending up with a beautiful picture. It does take a little bit of patience, but it’s so relaxing to just sit down with a hot drink and just enjoy the quiet of a little old-fashioned activity. I love jigsaws based around scenes of Italian summers the most.

Learning Italian – I’m naturally a very curious person, and so I love learning new things. I dropped language studies at school and sincerely regret it, so I decided to take up learning Italian last year. I try to practise regularly, and so far I’m doing good. It is my absolute dream to move to Italy sometime in the next few years, and I thought I would give myself a head start by learning the language. Learning something new is always something so enjoyable for me, as you can watch yourself improve in different subjects and become so much more knowledgeable in the process.

Sleeping – winter is the season of hibernation, and I am embracing that. Last year was exhausting and I don’t know about you, but I’m still as tired as ever. It’s okay to sleep more at this time of year, especially if you need it. The days are shorter, and the sun is hiding behind the clouds, increasing the production of hormones such as melatonin in our bodies, meaning that we feel more tired. That’s okay. It’s okay to be tired. Allow yourself to rest a little more. Know that the spring will come.

Hygge – fleece sweaters, fuzzy socks, fluffy blankets, teddies, scented candles, fairly lights, cinnamon rolls, hot tea, cologne, pyjamas, best friends, old books, lit fireplaces, cuddles, journaling, bunnies, gratitude, gardening, photographs, sourdough bread, plants.

Over the winter, I’ll be posting here and there, with some exciting new content as well as some good old plant-based seasonal recipes. Let me know if there’s anything you want to see specifically – suggestions are always welcome! As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me and if you try any recipes, don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @rhythmandgreen so we can see what you’ve been up to!

For me, winter is going to be spent working quietly on some projects for the year, investing time in nurturing myself, and focusing on what makes me happy in these anxious times. I invite you to take the time to rest your sweet heart too, take things softly, along with the dwindling candlelight of midwinter.

Until next time,

Katherine x