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Lessons From Japan – Is Japanese Cuisine Healthier?

lessons from japan

Is Japanese Cuisine Healthier?

Earlier this year I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Japan with the Panasonic team. A hop to Amsterdam, a skip to Seoul and a jump to Osaka, we finally arrived in Japan. Over the few days we had cooking workshops, presentations and demos to really grasp the concept of experiencing fresh and traditional food.

Experience Fresh

On our first day we had a live cooking demo whilst in the Panasonic HQ, showing ways in which water is used to cook food instead of oil, and how the techniques of knives comes into play when preparing vegetables.

One of the key messages I took from our time over there, was the importance of technique whether it’s from the way you prepare the food or the way you cook it to really preserve flavour and keep the nutritional value.

japanese cooking demo

Some of the most common ways to cook food in Japan:

  • Steaming
  • Simmering
  • Poaching
  • Grilling

So by using heat and water, the produce can retain a lot more flavour than for example coating it in oil and frying it. These  techniques have been practiced to centuries and are still practiced today. What was interesting was learning how the team at Panasonic had worked this into their Microwaves, Bread Makers and Juicers.

Demo Time

We had a live demo to show the difference between a non-panasonic microwave steaming feature vs. the Panasonic brand, where we were asked if we could taste the difference, and we did.

Panasonic Croustina Bread Maker

Another example is from the slow juicer, demonstrating the separation of liquid and pulp when using non-panasonic products vs. their own. Again, we were impressed to see the richness of colour, flavour and smell from the Panasonic brand, which had been developed to slowly squeeze a high quality, nutrient- packed juice from the tomatoes.

Then for the bread (my favourite part) which isn’t traditionally a staple ingredient within Japanese cooking, however looking to the masters of bread making they developed the Croustina to produce the ultimate hard crust. We had a try of a pumpkin and nut crusty slice which was pure heaven after only having a tofu broth for breakfast hours earlier.

Ohhhhmami, that tastes good

‘Umami’ is the illusive word every cook looks to achieve in their cooking. It’s the thing that you can’t quite put your finger on, but keeps you going back for spoonful after spoonful of food - basically it’s the perfect balance of sweet, sour, saltiness and bitterness.


As a vegetarian I was also listening out for how to get the ‘umami’ taste when cooking. One of the two ingredients were shiitake mushrooms and tomatoes, due to the levels of glutamate. A backbone of many Japanese dishes is called Dashi and it a delicious stock that requires umami. The theory is if you have a really good stock dashi you needn’t over flavour your produce.

Recipe Time

miso soup vegan


Here is a recipe I created, trying to envelop the learnings from the trip.



  • 3 spring onions
  • 3cm fresh ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 150g  of Shimeji mushrooms
  • 2 bay leaves


  • 140g firm or silken tofu cubed
  • 150g udon noodles
  • 1 sachet brown rice miso paste(I used ClearSpring miso)
  • 1.5l of veg stock


For dressing

  • ½ finely sliced red chilli
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds




  • Prepare the vegetables first, finely chopping the shallots, chilli and garlic, then add the chopped shallots to a pot with a dash of water and allow to cook for around 5 minutes


  • Add the chopped chilli, fry for a few minutes followed by the garlic, then grate the ginger into the pot and fry for a minute or two


  • Add the stock, miso, bay leaves and tamari to the pot and allow to simmer for around 5 minutes


  • Add the shimeji mushrooms, udon noodles and cubed tofu to the pot and allow to boil in the stock for 6-7 minutes


  • Taste test, adding seasoning if needed, test if the mushrooms and noodles are cooked then serve up into bowls


  • Top with freshly chopped chilli, finely chopped celery and sesame seeds


  • *Note, if you want a crispy tofu, cube the blog then add to a small frying pan with 1 tsp sesame oil and press to crispen under the heat, add sesame seeds for a final 2 minutes of frying for a toasted crust

Vegan pho



Take a peek at what we got up to in Japan day by day


The Best Vegan Friendly Places to Eat in Edinburgh

best vegan friendly places edinburgh

Break tradition and go bespoke!

In this blog post I am sharing the best vegan friendly places to eat in Edinburgh, from gorgeous interiors to an array of menu choice, these are the places you need to eat when visiting! Nestled within the beautiful streets of Edinburgh are tonnes of gorgeous places packed with personality and great food, with so much choice, so whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten free or a meat lover there are some fantastic places to try that offer something a little different to your usual chain. Edinburgh is a fantastic city with so many bespoke bistros and cafes to visit so before you head to a chain restaurant stop and read this blog!!

coloured houses in edinburgh

For Brunch


Loudons has a reputation for ‘the place to brunch’ filled with young girlfriends catching up over an Instagram worthy plate full of poached eggs with avocado on toast. The interior is fresh and airy with different zones to sit in - given that you can get a spot as this place fills up fast!

loudons in edinburgh

loudons cafe in edinburgh

In terms of the menu - like so many of the cafes in Edinburgh it had variety. I read that menu three times through and still couldn’t decide, so after a snap pressured decision of an toast concoction I instantly regretted my decision. After asking the waitress what the girl next to me was having she sneakily went over to check and like a true detective (she was a CLASS waitress) depicted it was in fact the superfood pancakes!

loudons smothie edinburgh

loudons in edinburgh veggie burger

Lewi had the veggie burger with homemade slaw which - admittedly after stealing a large bite, can confirm it was delicious. So many veggie burgers lack flavour or are like deep fried baby food puree however this had a slight spice, a crunchy crumb and was full of flavour.

Southern Cross Café

If you like boho interiors with friendly staff the southern cross cafe on Cockburn Street is worth a visit. Don’t let the small window entrance fool you as there are loads of seats inside on the ground floor and up the spiral staircase.

southern cross cafe in edinburgh

With lots of home baked sweet treats and a range tea’s and coffees this is a lovely place to grab your brekky. This is also a great place to go for lunch as they have a range of burgers and energy boosting meals.

Graze on Grassmarket

If you want somewhere that is tasty and budget friendly then Graze of Grassmarket it worth a trip. They serve a range of breakfasts from a graze box with five fillings to a healthier porridge and fruit option. They also have a large selection of tray bakes, vegan cakes and healthy salads to choose from so this is perfect for breakfast or lunch!

graze on grassmarket edinburgh

Lewis had the breakfast box filled with bacon, eggs, toast (which was a griddled seeded delicious bread) and I opted for traditional Scottish oats with fresh berries and honey - both very happy customers!

Pumpkin Brown

This gorgeous cafe is filled with organic, healthy and vegan friendly eatery nestled in the Grassmarket. It is hard to miss as the beautiful shop front is teeny tiny, but  look out for their sign and barstools sitting outside and pop in!

pumpkin cafe in edinburgh

Their super healthy range of breakfast bowls are a fantastic way to kickstart your day or if you are fancying something sweet why not try one of their amazing looking brownies.

Look at their vegan friendly menu,

Hula Juice Bar

Stepping out of the rainy streets of Scotland and into Hula cafe is like being transported to a quaint coffee shop in the Bahamas, with their vibrant colours, tropical plants and outdoor style furniture! I LOVED this cafe, and to have it nestled within the Grassmarket made this not only 10/10 for the food but for location!

hula cafe edinburgh

We visited for breakfast having a massive bowl of porridge with nutella - you gotta treat yourself sometimes…..  And boy was it good! Bare in mind we had already had breakfast (yes we really are that greedy) but we were desperate to try the food at Hula so queue the second serving so between us we had a bowl of porridge, a green smoothie and a cappuccino. I’m not really a smoothie gal as I loved munching on food rather than drinking it but their smoothies are renowned so I had to give it a go, and thank goodness I did! It was delicious enough to convert me into a green smoothie cliche of the typical health food fanatic (minus the extra large dollop of nutella  in my porridge.) Overall you need to visit this cafe, it's a gorgeous place! They sell lifelong coffee cups, vegan products and an abundance of gorgeous things for your kitchen.

hula juice bar edinburgh

The staff were lovely, and the decor was right up my street - being an interior designer I have a love for quirky design and this definitely ticked the box! The menu was fantastic with so much choice, so for all of you like variety and a health conscious options, you will love Hula Cafe!

hula cafe green smoothie

hula cafe porridge with nutella

As I mentioned, this was actually our second breakfast because of course as a food blogger you have to have at least 6 meals a day when visiting a new city!

Follow their Instagram, they're seriously awesome!: @hulajuicebar

Find their menu here,

For Dinner

Hendersons vegan restaurant

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, coeliac, carnivore, you name it - Hendersons are worth a visit. Their food is comforting, delicious, and exactly what you need after a day of exploring Edinburgh. 

hendersons vegan restaurant in edinburghvegan cappuchino hendersons

hendersons in edinburgh vegan menu

There are a few Hendersons cafes in Edinburgh each as gorgeous as the next, but we decided to visit the vegan restaurant for the full experience. The interior is beautiful with rustic furniture, wooden flooring with mustard, green and mauve inside - very chic. Much to Lewi-the-carnivores surprise there was an abundance of choice on the menu and all imaginative. There is nothing less inspiring for vegan / vegetarian food than 'nut roast' or 'tomato soup' but thankfully the menu had comfort food like cottage pie, coconut stir fry, gelato and cakes. 

vegan haggis at hendersonsvegan gelato in edinburgh

I chose the haggis option - when in Rome and all that..... and Lew had the sweet & sour tofu stir fry with an oat milk cappuccino followed by coconut gelato. The food was i n s a n e. Not sponsored, no advertisement, just pure delicious food - even the carnivore boyfriend loved it! 

Find their menu here,


This pizza place on Rose Street is a must if you are in want of a delicious stonebaked pizza. After travelling around Italy for a month it’s safe to say I have eaten my fair share of pizza and Dough offer a pretty delicious slice!

dough pizzeria in edinburgh

With only a few cosy seats inside and two benches at the front you have to be quick to grab a spot but boy is it worth it! If you have enjoyed a few beers at the local pubs they do takeaway, so you can enjoy strolling the scenic streets of Edinburgh with a delicious pizza in hand - who can complain with that?

dough pizzeria in edinburgh

Great news, they also do a gluten free base and a VEGAN mozzarella pizza - yay for vegan cheese!!

Lewis had the meat feast, and me the mozzarella and damn was it good. It was freezing outside but this pizza warmed us right up, and had every person passing eyeing up our food - understandable so, it was so bloody good!

Find their menu here,

Coffee & Cake

Mary’s Milk Bar

Mary’s milk bar is a intimate gelato bar with only a few perfectly placed chairs inside looking out onto the castle.

mary's milk bar in edinburgh

Mary trained as a chocolatier in Italy, with the fresh gelato made daily so you know you are in safe hands. If you’re dairy free there are fruit sorbets to choose from so you can enjoy your frozen delight too!

marys milk bar edinburgh

The interior is just as gorgeous as the gelato with pastel coloured walls and quirky vintage decorations dotted about it is a great place to go!

Cockburn Café

We had just arrived after a long journey and were in need of caffeine.... cue the extra large cappuccino. Cockburn street (try and say that with a straight face) is a beautiful street filled with delicatessens, cafes, boutiques and wine bars and is definitely worth wondering up and down.

cockburn cafe edinburgh

If you get the timing right, when the sun sets it catches at the top of the hill slowly cascading down the beautiful buildings - very Keats I know!

cockburn cafe edinburgh

This little cafe is very cute with fairy lights falling down the staircase, with rustic wooden window seats and a selection of handmade treats it should definitely be a pitstop. 

Grassmarket Pop Up Market (Saturday)

Brownies? Macarons? Hand crafted chocolate? Get yourself to the Grassmarket pop up market on a Saturday! With local businesses displaying their best creations looking tempting and delicious it’s hard to resist…..

pop up market in edinburgh

So whether it’s extra thick brownies, whisky infused chocolates or pastel coloured macarons take your pick at the market - if in doubt try one of everything!

grassmarket edinburgh

Want to see my top 5 things to do in Edinburgh?

harry potter inspired building in leith

Read my blog post sharing the places you need to visit when in Edinburgh here - most of them free!

Recipe travel

Escape to Spain Without Leaving the UK

alvalle gazpacho tapas

Vegan Tapas With Alvalle Gazpacho

Vegan Tapas With Alvalle Gazpacho

I'm so excited to share a project I have been working on in partnership with @Alvalleuk celebrating their Gazpacho. The idea is to escape to Spain without leaving your home by putting on a fabulous feast to enjoy with family and loved ones. With 'staycations' becoming more popular than ever, throw yourself a Spanish Food Fiesta - it's easier than you think!

alvalle gazpacho

What you need to escape to a hazy evening in Southern Spain:

-Delicious tapas (definitely a serving of patatas bravas in there)

-Alvalle authentic Gazpacho served chilled

-'Classic spanish guitar' playlist on spotify


-Picnic blanket

-Scented candles

Alvalle Gazpacho Vegan Tapas 

Get creative and set up your table themed for a Spanish supper - it's great fun to enjoy with family and friends!

Memories of Barcelona

I have loved creating this Spanish inspired food fiesta with fond memories of my time spent in Barcelona with the refreshing taste of gazpacho washed down with ice cold sangria still on my mind. I visited Barcelona with my best friends just before turning 18, and I remember the giggly afternoon we had sipping sangria, eating paella and gazpacho having the best time!

alvalle gazpacho vegan tapas

It is moments like these that are so fun to recreate without being the price tag of flying back over to Barcelona. So with the last of the summer desperate to make an appearance, why not recreate your very own staycation!

What to make?

The idea is that you can create your very own Spanish inspired feast simply with tapas, drinks and a serving of gazpacho is perfect if you have spent a little too much money to jet off to Spain. It's far easier than you think can be delicious, filling and fast! I love meals that are quick to prepare which is why tapas is a favourite, think;

-charred peppers

-patatas bravas

-salty olives

-ice cold sangria

-chilled glasses of gazpacho with cucumber strips

-Jugs of elderflower infused with fresh lime, cucumber

-Fresh olive bread

Even better you can prepare this in no time…… cue the time saver Alvalle! (You can get it here...) These cartons of gazpacho are fantastic to store in your fridge, you simply need to chill them a few hours before serving and you have a beautiful glass full to enjoy as part of your spread! Alvalle use authentic produce creating an easy and delicious way to help you achieve one of your five a day perfect to enjoy within your feast! 

The perfect soundtrack

For my escape to Spain I simply put on a Spanish classic guitar playlist, lit scented candles, filled the glasses and set the table full of delicious foods and was instantly transported back to Barcelona.

alvalle gazpacho tapas

Recreate your own fiesta and be sure to tag me & @Alvalleuk in the photos!

For more inspiration head over to their Instagram @AlvalleUk

For more vegan friendly and time saving recipes head over to my Instagram @lucy_and_lentils

Happy Food Fiesta!

lifestyle travel Uncategorized

The Top Five Things To Do In Edinburgh

Where to visit in Scotland

If you only have a few days and are wondering what to do in Edinburgh then read this post! Packed with culture and food, these top five things will keep you entertained whilst visiting!

Where is the place to stay?

We were located in the Grassmarket which is the old town of Edinburgh with the castle at the top of the hill as the picturesque backdrop. There are so many quirky places to visit within the Grassmarket and some fantastic pubs. Sure there are the famous pubs like “The Last Drop” (where condemned men had their last pint before being sent to the gallows) but I found that there were lots of other authentic and unique places that are worth celebrating just as much! So if you want to see some of the coolest places to visit keep reading!


Our stay at the Wee Bunk

Apartment in Edinburgh

We spent our time in Edinburgh staying at the ‘Wee Bunk’ in the Grassmarket square and what a gorgeous bunk it was!

I love quirky apartments that have a certain “je ne sais quoi” about them and this bunk packs loads of personality. With a chipboard staircase up to the mezzanine filled with retro games to the doodles of Edinburgh scattered around the walls,  this apartment was just …. cool!


The top 5 things to do in Edinburgh

If like me, you want to have a more authentic stay in Edinburgh then have a read of my top five things to do! Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t going to skip the castle, bypass the famous pubs and not enjoy the masses of bagpipe players... but I do like to get a more authentic feel of a city - to ‘live like a local’ as such.



Take a trip to Dean Village

Dean Village Edinburgh




If there is one thing you do when visiting Edinburgh, it should be to take a stroll to Deans Village and walk the Waters of Leith route, even if you don’t make it to Leith, it is a gorgeous walk next to the water. The view from my photo really is as beautiful as it gets, no hyper realistic view, just a stunning part of Edinburgh that feels like you are miles away from the city. There is no noise from city life, only the serene stream with birds chirping *insert Minnie Riperton’s Loving You song.* Am I selling it to you yet?

If you are visiting in a busy time maybe take an early trip as there were a handful of people stopping to take a picture however we went in the bank holiday at around mid afternoon and there were only a handful of us tourists - not enough to ruin the view.

 Take a stroll up Princes Street, Via St Giles Cathedral to the Castle

St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh


Princes street is like the red carpet running up to the castle with some very important historic buildings on the way.  It is cluttered with tourists, a lot of who like to stop dead in front of you and nearly take your eye out with their selfie stick, but it is definitely worth a trip. You can try and beat the hype with an early morning walk or a late night stroll but inevitably you will feel like you are ‘part of the crowd.’

Aside from the 100000 tartan shops the street is a gorgeous and the view of the city from the castle is worth it! A cool tip is to explore the side streets as there are some lovely pubs and shops hidden on the steps winding down the hill - pubs like The Devil’s Advocate (down the Devil's Advocate Street.)


Visit the pop-up market in Grassmarket


Grassmarket Edinburgh

The grassmarket is a perfect part of Edinburgh to visit as it is the Old Town of the city, lots of history and lots of character. The Last Drop pub is worth a visit sure, but there are lots of other cool places to visit like Mary’s Milk Bar or the cheese and wine tasting deli just up the hill.


One thing to definitely look out for is the market that happens every Saturday between 10am-5pm where there are businesses selling local produce, delicious homemade goods and a range of street food stalls to test. We spent our Saturday morning eyeing up the whisky infused chocolates, locally made jams and chutneys and flipping through local artists paintings.

Spend a night in The Jazz Bar



Edinburgh is known for its comedy clubs and live music scene and where better to start then The Jazz Bar! It’s a very discreet bar with a little sign above the door with a bouncer outside, so keep your eyes peeled as it’s easy to miss. Inside is a very cosy interior where the seats are scarce and every corner filled however it has a great vibe with a relaxed feel about the place. It is usually free to visit until around 8pm when the place gets a little more crowded and acts change over rolling into the early hours of the morning! The sultry smooth jazz changes tempo as the night goes on, whilst we were visiting it went from a scatty jazz band into an upbeat funk band, which after sipping on a few glasses of fizz you won’t say no to!

Walk from The Jazz Bar to Grassmarket

After leaving the jazz club it is a perfect 5 minute walk to the Three Sisters pub, which had live music on every night we were there…. Or if you are in need of a pizza to go with your beer why not head to the Brewdog craft bar just next to The Three Sisters, and only two minutes away from the Grassmarket?


Walk up Calton Hill to watch up the sunset 

Calton Hill Edinburgh

There are a few key spots to visit for spectacular views, one being Arthur’s seat which is a few comfortable few hours worth of walking, or a less strenuous stroll up Calton Hill to Nelson’s Monument. When we visited -by no surprise- it had been raining and we weren’t exactly wearing the best clothes for walking in the rain up a muddy hill so decided to take the easier option. A perfect time to visit would be