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What is compleating?

Compleating is cooking with all edible (and delicious) parts of fruits, vegetables and herbs!

When we prepare food, we automatically throw away the parts of produce we have been taught are inedible or not up to scratch. What we are left with is a pile of unloved offcuts – things like onion skins, garlic skins, banana peels, fruit cores, squash seeds, root vegetable tops and peelings.

Compleating, however, means to eat all edible parts of fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Reduce your food waste

Food waste is responsible for 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. You might think that our homes aren’t responsible, but 70% of the food waste from our homes could have been eaten. A huge way to cut your home’s environmental impact is to rethink the way you see ingredients and cooking.

Compleating is much more than cooking with leftovers. When compleating, you make full use of the goodness, taste and nutrition in every fruit or vegetable. It’s a really creative way to cook – saving you money and revamping your dinner whilst saving delicious food from going to waste.

Save money and waste

Compleating totally changes the way you cook – suddenly the food parts you used to throw away become inspiration for tomorrow’s dinner. Some of my favourite waste-free meals include carrot top pesto, onion skin stock, ravioli made with chickpea aquafaba, pumpkin pie with caramelised seeds, and whole kiwi salsa (including the skin!).

Start compleating your food today

I’m so passionate about compleating that I’ve written a book, sharing how you can compleat every fruit, vegetable and herb. Reducing food waste has never been so delicious, inspiring and simple.

Order The Complete Book of Vegan Compleating: An A–Z of Zero-Waste Eating For the Mindful Vegan

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

The Complete Book of Vegan Compleating

The Complete Book of Vegan Compleating: An A–Z of Zero-Waste Eating For the Mindful Vegan by Ellen Tout

What is “compleating“? Completely eating every part of a fruit or vegetable! Plant-based diets are a wonderful way to protect the planet, but fruits and vegetables still have carbon footprints, and often the parts we throw away or compost are the most nutritious and delicious bits.

Ellen Tout, sustainability writer and vegan, is passionate about maximising the benefits of veganism, and through just a few simple tips, tricks and ingenious recipes she can revolutionise the way you cook.

Transform banana skins into pulled “pork”; make amazing vegan butter from the liquid in a can of chickpeas; give new life to leftover wine by making your own vinegar; forget everything you knew about kiwi by whipping up a batch of “whole kiwi” salsa for tacos.

Reduce waste in your kitchen and around the home

Arranged alphabetically, not only does each section include internationally-inspired recipes, but also tried-and-tested, environmentally-friendly alternatives to household cleaning, beauty products, and pet food. Dye fabrics pink with avocado skins; or transform a coconut half into a houseplant pot.

Compleat recipes” show how to make dishes that use every part of the ingredient, such as Pumpkin Pie with Caramelized Seeds or Carrot Top Tabouleh, while techniques such as pickling, fermenting and offcuts broths can save pretty much anything from the bin.

Start compleating your fruit and veg!

Whether you’re an experienced vegan cook, or just starting to explore plant-based eating, you’re sure to find inspiration from this encyclopaedic guide, full of recipes, tips, advice and more.

I’m so excited to say that my debut book is available to order now!

Order The Complete Book of Vegan Compleating: An A–Z of Zero-Waste Eating For the Mindful Vegan

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Exploring the literary walks of East Hampshire

Ten years ago, I started life as a student in Southampton, milling around the city and nearby Winchester. But it wasn’t until returning for a weekend of walking that I discovered the significance of Hampshire’s literary history. The opportunity to following in writer’s footsteps feels so romantic, unearthing stories hidden for hundreds of years.

Our journey starts in the old village of Chawton, on the edge of the South Downs. Here, Jane Austen wrote in 1811 in a letter to her sister Cassandra: ‘The plan is that we should all walk with her to drink tea at Faringdon’. And so we did too. The five-mile route to Faringdon begins at Austen’s 17th century home, where she lived and wrote. See more about Jane Austen’s House here.

Following the map out of the village, I notice things I might otherwise have overlooked – the old plaque on the school, the cobbled walls, and across the meadow, St. Nicholas’ Church. Tucked behind the church building, still sit the graves of Austen’s mother and sister.

In this valley, now dotted with sheep, also lie the springs to the River Wey, which Austen admired walking by. We follow this, passing Chawton Estate where her brother lived and she described dining as ‘a snug half dozen’. Seeing her words brought to life warms this bleak English morning.

The path takes us over an old stile and, through muddy leaves, we clamber to the walk’s highest point. Breaking for a drink, I look across the farmland and to the next village along – Selborne. Here lived the 18th century naturalist and writer, Gilbert White, who also now has a marked walk following his life-long investigation of the natural world.

Meandering down through yew trees, we descend into Farringdon, a charming village with thatched houses and quaint cottages. We peek into the gardens, imagining the stories and lives that have passed through. Austen travelled here, to Wood Barn farm, to buy meat and vegetables on special occasions.

We follow a trail along the disused Meon Valley railway line back into Chawton and past a large pond about which, during ‘sad weather’, Austen wrote: ‘Our pond is brimfull and our roads are dirty and our walls are damp, and we sit wishing every bad day may be the last’. Pausing back outside her house, I can imagine her gazing out of the window, waiting for the rain, that many now brave to retrace her footsteps, to stop.

More inspiration

Nearby Hattingley Valley Vineyard offer tours and tastings in countryside surroundings.

Glamping

I stayed at the award-winning Two Hoots Glamping, in their cosy shepherd hut. This adults-only site provides secluded, luxury camping and is eco-friendly. The log burner and king-size bed a real treat after a long day of walking. Staff are very friendly, the facilities are incredibly clean and the setting is beautiful.

Huts cost from £95 per night and pods cost from £55. See twohootscampsite.co.uk.

Walks

To find discover the Writer’s Way and Literary Walks for yourself, see easthants.gov.uk/visit-east-hampshire.

Images: Nadia Davies

My trek along the Great Wall of China for Alzheimer’s Society

Standing in Huangyaguan, a small rural Chinese town, we see the Great Wall for the first time – majestic and daunting, rising into the mountains behind us. Most tourists visit the busy, restored sections of the wall, but with local guides we’re fortunate to start our trek in this beautiful valley in the heart of the Yanshan Mountains.

We’ve just spent the night in a traditional mountain hotel. At breakfast I’m not the only person unable to eat very much – after a year of fundraising, training and planning, I’ve been swinging between feeling nervous and excited since arriving.

I decided to sign up for the trek because my Grandad suffered with Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve experienced first-hand what a horrible, life altering disease it is. Having this personal connection gave me the determination to raise the target of £3,350 for Alzheimer’s Society and, on the wall, to keep going, one step at a time.

Before even arriving in China, fundraising was a huge challenge, but (although it seems impossible at first) raising such a large amount of money is achievable. With the help of friends, family and generous business owners, I planned various events, stalls and collections. Fundraising truly helped restore my faith in the kindness of strangers – just one small conversation can result in donations and support.

Our first day’s walk lasts for five hours in unseasonably hot weather, but the views are breathtaking. Our guides stop regularly for breaks and, by the end, our group of 50 people has gelled into a team – laughing, cheering and supporting each other. That lunchtime we learn that so far we’ve raised £170,000, a figure that I keep in my mind when the trekking becomes tough. I don’t think anything can prepare you for the endless steps and hills of the Great Wall; it really is never flat! At the end of the day, as we descend back into the village, my legs are wobbling and my knees ache.

Waking early, our second day takes us up Heaven’s Ladder, a steep climb of over 200 steps leading us up the cliff face. Ascending into mist, we walk along narrow paths with sheer drops and meander through a forest neighbouring the wall. Even with limited visibility, the area is stunning and peaceful – we hardly meet any other people during the challenging seven-hour trek. Gathering at the top of one of the wall’s old towers, I take photos before we slowly work our way down an uneven, rocky trail into the village of Qian Gan Jian.

After a night around the campfire, we walk through the farming village and back into the mountains. Here, we follow an unrestored, crumbling section of the wall, carefully walking along narrow paths and over trails of flagstones. Although tired and achy, the group support each other, and throughout the walk I take moments to absorb the views and think about my Grandad. After lunch we walk along a quiet road and through beautiful valleys, dotted with flowers, fire-red trees and passing tuk-tuks. From here we travel by coach to Jinshanlin, where we spend the night.

The following day we walk from the village of Gubeiko and back to Jinshanlin, starting the day with a steep climb to reach the wall. The views are incredible. The mountains dot into the distance for miles and the Great Wall snakes amongst them from watchtower to watchtower. Climbing and descending the unpredictable steps, I scramble up towers dating back to the Qing Dynasty to enjoy the stunning panoramas. At first the trek seemed overwhelming, but as my body adjusts and the adrenaline kicks in, the walking becomes more and more enjoyable. Our guide carefully leads us along sheer pathways through farmland and past a few local cafés. Despite the language barrier, the local people are friendly and welcoming, and I feel fortunate to experience this unseen, rural side of China. We spend the night in Jinshanlin and, after eight hours of trekking and a traditional Chinese meal, I sleep well.

Our fifth day of trekking is spent mostly travelling through mist and light rain, passing 22 of the iconic watchtowers. It’s a very tough trek and includes some of the steepest sections of the wall. At points, we need to clamber up near-vertical steps of old bricks and sheer ramps along the top of the wall. My knees are really aching, but with support from newfound friends and a knee strap, I complete the walk. We’re treated to a night in a ‘western-style’ hotel in Old Badaling – I’ve never seen a group of people so happy and relieved to see comfy beds. We celebrate with a quiz and spirits are high; our local guide even volunteers to have his hair cut off in aid of the charity.

The weather holds out for our final day of trekking, which takes us up onto Shixiaguan (stone gorge) wall, at ancient Badaling for an emotional finish. Tired, I find the trek tough, but don’t want the experience to end. We’re challenged by walking up and down steep brick slopes, often without walls on both sides. The team cheer for each other after each ascent and the views (if you’re brave enough to look down) show the unbelievable heights, distance and achievements we’ve shared. We climb to a height equal to that of Ben Nevis, where our brilliant guides greet us with Chinese ‘champagne’ and medals. I feel overcome, honoured, joyful and sad all at once, and we share photos, hugs and tears.

As we descend from the mountains for the final time I reflect on the amazing journey we’ve shared. Trekking for a week, pushing yourself to unimaginable limits, raising money for Alzheimer’s Society’s vital work and meeting a group of inspiring people is an incredible high. It has truly been a life-changing experience and such a confidence booster. I return home with smelly boots and memories to last a lifetime.

Walking holiday in Brighton’s South Downs

I’ve got many happy memories of exploring Brighton – throwing stones into the sea, eating chips on the pier and shopping in The Lanes. Brighton is one of my favourite towns, but I’d never strayed far beyond its centre. So I packed up my car, Bella the dog on the backseat and my walking boots at the ready. We were staying in the town centre, but looking forward to embracing the South Downs and Brighton’s local walks.

Arriving late on Friday, we drop off our bags and head to the beach, keen to make the most of the warm spring evening. Dogs are welcome on the beaches in Brighton & Hove from October until the end of April, and only in certain areas for the rest of the year. Walking along the promenade, chips in hand, with Bella running down to the sea is such a treat. We follow the coast along to the marina and back past the historic Volk’s Railway, meeting local walkers and enjoying the evening air.

National Trust’s Devil’s Dyke

The following morning, we decide to explore the South Downs at the National Trust’s Devil’s Dyke in West Sussex. You can take the number 77 bus from in front of the pier, directly to Devil’s Dyke, but we choose the easy 20-minute drive. Arriving in the South Downs I feel the calmness wash over me – the landscape is a patchwork of fields, stretching for miles and undulating with the shape of the land.

At nearly a mile long, the Dyke valley is the longest, deepest and widest ‘dry valley’ in the UK. From here you can see as far as Ashdown Forest, Kent and even the Isle of Wight. Local myths believed that this valley was formed by the devil digging a trench to try and flood the area. After lunch at the charming, and dog friendly, Devil’s Dyke Hotel, we head out across the Downs. There’s a number of trails you can walk on the National Trust website and we decide to follow the top of the valley, passing through fields of calves and fresh rapeseed. From the peak you can see the lights of Brighton beyond – surprisingly close and yet up here it’s so quiet.

Dog friendly pub

That evening, back in Brighton, we enjoy dinner at the cosy gastropub The Ginger Dog. Located in the Kemptown area of Brighton (an easy walk from the centre) the pub is dog friendly and boasts real ales, fine wines, friendly staff and delicious interpretations of traditional pub food; even Bella gets a treat before snoring on the floor for the evening.

We try their sourdough with wild garlic butter followed by the creamy feta, spinach and courgette pie for my guest and I enjoy the tasty miso roasted aubergine. As a vegetarian it’s a delight to have more than just mushrooms on offer and I’d really recommend a visit.

To finish our trip, we go for an early morning walk along the beach and spot some brave swimmers venturing out into the waves. As Bella chases stones and paddles in the water, I sit on the beach watching the ocean wash in and out, making the most of the fresh sea air. What better way to wake up on a Sunday?

Other walks near Brighton:

The Stanmer Park estate in the South Downs (about 20 minutes outside of Brighton) covers approximately 5,000 acres with a pretty village, manor house, farm, church and café.

brighton walks_0

Find out more and find inspiration on Visit Brighton’s website, here.

Images: Adam Bronkhorst/Visit Brighton. 

Piece taken from my review for Psychologies.

Vegetarian delights at Food For Friends in Brighton

As a vegetarian, eating out can often become an inevitably dull round of mushroom soups. Whilst in Brighton, I enjoyed dinner at the award-winning vegetarian and vegan restaurant, Food For Friends.

Set in the heart of The Lanes, Food For Friends offers exciting and artfully presented dishes with fresh ingredients served in imaginative combinations. The atmosphere is welcoming and there isn’t a dry vegetable in sight. I haven’t eaten meat for over ten years, so a menu packed full of original veggie options is a delight.

I start with the beautiful sweet tofu pockets, stuffed with stir-fried shiitake, spring onions and brown rice. It’s so refreshing to be served a vegetarian dish that’s both beautiful and tasty – an inventive twist that even meat-eaters would enjoy. The starter is served with marinated pak choi, pickled ginger, wakame and hot Gochujang pepper sauce.

The menu is all so inviting, but I choose the king oyster mushroom Katsu curry to follow. It’s beautifully served with pickled daikon and ginger, fresh red radish, a sugar snap pea salad, kimchi and sticky rice. The dish is also delicious and, although mushroom based (I eat my words), it’s flavoursome and filling. We also enjoy the restaurant’s signature cocktails – pieces of art in themselves.

I couldn’t resist dessert and choose the molten chocolate pudding, accompanied by salted caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream and crushed pistachios. It’s honestly the best desert that I, and my guest, have ever tasted – warm, chocolaty bliss!

I’ll definitely be returning to Food For Friends and truly recommend their creative and delicious menu – a treat for any vegetarian, vegan or meat eater.

Find out more about Food For Friends here.

Find out more and find inspiration on Visit Brighton’s website, here.

Piece taken from my review for Psychologies. 

Interview with street artist Harriet Wood, aka Miss Hazard

Harriet Wood has been voted by The Guardian as one of the top five female graffiti artists in the UK and The Huffington Post as one of the top 25 female street artists worldwide. I spoke to Harriet, know as Miss Hazard, about her crowdfunding community arts project.

How and why were you inspired become a graffiti artist and illustrator?

I have been spray painting for 11 years – I have always drawn and my favourite thing has always been art. My dad is an amazing designer and illustrator, so for as long as I can remember I have pursued a creative career. The first time I saw big artwork on walls and graffiti I wanted to try it – there’s something about giant art on a wall in a public space that totally transforms an environment.

What is the Ajo Street Art Project and how did you get involved?

I’ve started this fundraiser to gather the amount needed to travel to Ajo in the border regions of Arizona-Mexico and take part in the Street Art Mural Project. The project, which lost funding this year, is a coming together of artists, diverse in culture, disciplines and practice – started on the intersection of three nations – the United States, the Tohono O’odham Nation and Mexico.

The aim is to provide Ajo with artists to occupy and decorate the buildings in this unique place in the Sonoran Desert. The project is a framework for larger national and international dialogue to promote socially engaged practice and community based arts.

Why is public art so important for communities, in particular Ajo?

I believe street art enhances its own surroundings and provides an opportunity for public interaction and community conversation. I think street art is one of the most effective ways of projecting a voice. Not only do the border regions of the USA and Mexico really need this right now politically, but Ajo itself has been struggling for some time.

Ajo is a tiny, hopeful town in which nearly all of its residents (for generations) worked in the enormous copper mine up until 1985. The sudden closure of the mine threw the majority of the town into unemployment. Ajo’s hope lies in the arts, with a series of arts events being funded over previous years, igniting the revival of the town. The Ajo Street Art Project is an event that brings the community together, celebrates its history and brings artists of all practices together.

What will the project involve?

The project will involve me heading out to Ajo and spending a week or so helping to prepare the walls so artists can paint their murals on them. I will then get to paint a mural of my own. The mural project invites artists of all ages, cultures and experience. The idea is to brighten the walls of Ajo whilst hosting an event – inviting the community to come together and enjoy the experience over a weekend in March.

Have you taken part in similar community arts projects?

I previously took part in a huge community-led street art project over three months. A rundown neighbourhood of a town outside of Bristol was selected as a community area in need of redesign – to reduce antisocial behaviour, strengthen intergenerational bonds and bring the community back together.

I was selected to take on the lead role in the redesign of the high street, which housed a butchers, take-away, café and a mindfulness centre. I interacted with people of all ages to ensure that all of the community would appreciate my design. Workshops with the local schools, art classes with the local youth club, communications with the business owners and feedback from the local church and retirement home determined the final designs for the mural which covered the shutters of the entire high street’s shutters.

My passion is creating large, public art that involves working with people and creating an impact in the community.

I was also a graffiti art tutor for The Prince’s Trust providing an Urban Arts Award to young people who weren’t in education, employment or training. I also taught art to over-50-year-olds and graffiti workshops for teenagers in Pupil Referral Units.

What do you have in mind for this project?

My favourite thing to paint is human characters and I definitely want this piece to have really strong native, historical and geographical elements to make it unique to its location. I think it’s important for street art to have a situational awareness.

Harriet aims to raise £3000 in support of this project. This will cover all logistics and equipment costs to create a huge hand painted mural in and take part in the project in Ajo, Arizona in March.

You can find out more and pledge to the project here.

Learn more about the project in this video:

Pictures: Harriet Wood

Interview taken from my piece for Psychologies.