Flareups, Finding Balance & Shakshuka

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already February and this is my first post of 2015. Sorry for not being around, I needed to take a bit of a break from my cyber life to focus on my real life!

Unfortunately, this year didn’t start so well for me…relapse, flare-ups, whatever you want to call them, my body has been beating me up (like the bastard it is) and I’ve been trying not to let it win. Although sometimes it feels like it would just be easier if I did.

In January I went into a bit of a tailspin and was majorly self-sabotaging. I had lived such a restrictive life for so long because I thought it was helping me keep my conditions under control, so when I started to get really unwell again it was like a slap in the face and really difficult to handle.

I know I’ve said it before, but diet works up to a point and eating ‘well’ (whatever that means is so individual to each person) is only part of the solution. And, unfortunately, the nature of the chronic illness is that there are times when you just don’t have control over your body and you end up being dragged kicking and screaming half a mile backward. It sucks, but it is what it is.

When I self-sabotage I do it because it’s a time when I can at least understand why I feel crap. Eating rubbish food makes me feel rubbish. I get that. Waking up, trying to move, and every joint in my body falling out? Not so much. And I do love me some pizza. Shh.

But hey, I survived Marrakech with Hannah over New Year!

Trying to get back on track is difficult, especially when you’re constantly having to experiment with what works for your body and will help you get some semblance of control over your life. Sometimes I wish I knew that there was a set of meds that I could take that would make me better, or at least there would be a process that, almost unfailingly would work. Doing all of this by yourself can be very difficult and demoralizing at times, but when things start working and go well it can be so empowering. Trying to remember those feelings and that things do eventually can get better (not great, but better) is something that I always try to hang on to. I get frustrated that I ‘don’t look sick’ and the people around me don’t always understand or appreciate how unwell I am. It’s not that I want sympathy – just a little understanding would be nice. I’m still expected to do everything, and just keep going. But there is a point where you just have to say no, and stop, and try and figure out (once again) what you can do.

There are two big changes that have already happened this year, and I’m trying to take them as positives.

The first is that I’m officially on sick leave for the first time in my life. It’s weird.

I went back to work at the beginning of January, excited to be going in twice a week. Being able to go to work is something that I’ve always struggled with. Both physically in the sense that there are times when I actually just can’t handle doing stuff, and emotionally in the sense that not being able to do stuff really bloody sucks, especially when you’re as motivated and ambitious as I am.

I thought I was prepared and ready, but I felt so unwell that physically and mentally going in (even for two days) was just way way too much. It was more of a struggle than anything had ever been, and that really scared me. I had a massive breakdown and didn’t know what to do. My instinct was to hand in my notice, but (as I’ve said many times before) I’m so lucky that I work for such a supportive and amazing company and I didn’t have to do that. I’m now on sick leave and am taking some time to try and get better so I can go back to work and be a productive human being.

I’ve never allowed myself to truly rest and heal. I’d stop working or studying and get into bed, but I’d be working constantly while propped up. I’d go to work, and have a million other projects on the side to keep myself busy and to not think about how unwell I feel. This, I’ve recently discovered, is not resting. This is still working, you’re just a lot cozier. And it just feeds into my ‘boom or bust’ personality. I go for things whole hog, and instead of taking the time I need to rest and recover, I keep pushing and pushing myself to prevent the inevitable crash. But, inevitably, that crash only gets worse the more I push on.

It was such a weight off my shoulders when I got signed off and knowing that I don’t have to think about work for a bit. Not physically or mentally feeling up to it was one thing, but feeling like I was letting my team down was more of a pressure than anything else. I hate being a burden on other people, but I’m learning that in order not to be, I have to make sure I do the things to look after myself first. I also stopped working on all my side projects, tried to read, started doing yoga and bought a Wii U so I can crush Mario Kart when my wrists allow! I get shouty. It’s fun.

The second thing is that I am no longer vegan. I’ve written about this before on my Instagram, but while it worked up to a point, my body started feeling even weaker than usual, and I’m now experimenting more with my diet to find what helps. I’m still predominantly plant-based: green juices, smoothies, and soups play a huge role in what I eat on a daily basis, but limiting my grains, getting local eggs and meat and making sure I eat things that make me happy is working for me at the moment. As I said to my friend Natasha over an incredibly delicious meal at Incanto last week, I have so little control over my body, I might as well do what I can to make my mind happy so I can fight better. I feel stronger when I eat some high-quality meat (something I realized while eating tagine every day in Morocco), and I feel happier when I go out for an occasional pizza or burger with friends.

Honestly, I’m so over the judgmental bullshit that I see all over Instagram. What I choose to eat, my (lack of) spirituality and the way I’m going about trying to get well is, ultimately, my business. I get that by writing publicly about it, people are always going to share their opinions, but at the end of the day, behind pictures of food, I’m a real person, and all I’m trying to do is be healthy and live as normal a life as I possibly can while letting other people know who are going through similar things that they’re not alone. I’m not hurting anyone, and I try to be kind to others. I think more people need to think more about that than concerning themselves with ‘fixing’, diagnosing or judging other people. Just saying.

Spicy Shakshuka with Zaatar Flatbread

Shakshuka

I tend to start trying new things on a Monday. It’s just that mental thing of starting a new week in a positive way. After crying my way through yoga, but ultimately figuring out a plan for the next few weeks, I decided I’d get back in the kitchen and properly cook something for the first time in ages. I’m kind of proud of myself, because cooking has been a huge mental block for me since I had my relapse. I’ve been thinking about shakshuka for a month, and finally just thought I’d just go for it! And it was certainly delicious.

This can be a large meal for one or two smaller meals. I had half for lunch and it was perfectly filling. Just a quick note to anyone with histamine intolerance, this is a high histamine dish but as I mentioned above, right now I’m all about trying to balance the restrictive nature of what my body needs with being happy. And today, this made me happy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Half large onion (diced)
  • 1 large clove garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper (diced)
  • 3 picked sprigs of thyme
  • Large pinch of both coriander & parsley (chopped)
  • 1 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt (to taste)

Method:

  • Pour the olive oil in a large frying pan and bring to a medium heat. When warmed up, add the chopped onions, garlic, cumin and chili flakes and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the peppers and the herbs and sauté until the peppers are soft.
  • Throw in the tin tomatoes and salt, mix everything together and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Check the seasoning (you may wish to add more salt at this point)
  • Make a couple of gaps in the sauce and carefully crack an egg in each one. Cover the pan with a bit and let the eggs cook for 4-6 minutes until the whites have set.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley or coriander (or both!) and enjoy!

Thai Noodle Bowl & Crispy ‘Seaweed’

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day and still continuing to relax over the weekend!

I spent the day with my family. We went to visit my Grandma at her retirement home, ate a lot, saw Santa, went for a walk, crashed out in bed trying to get warm after the walk, and slumped in front of the telly for the rest of the evening!

Oh, unfortunately, my grandma didn’t enjoy my raw vegan vanilla and cranberry cheesecake…

My parents were particularly impressed at the four hours I managed to be out the house. I’m kind of impressed with myself too. Especially since the weather is starting to get really really nippy. I can’t tell you how excited I am to jet off to Marrakech on Sunday…although I have heard a whisper that it may snow. London shuts down at a dusting of the stuff, so we’ll see if I actually manage to make it out!

And now Christmas is over we can get back to the important stuff.

Today’s guest recipe is for a Thai noodle bowl with crispy ‘seaweed’ from the amazing Caitlin aka The Clean Diary.

I was lucky enough to meet Caitlin at the end of the summer, and since then have become absolutely obsessed with her blog. Over Christmas, she did a foodie advent calendar, and thanks to her amazing recipes and her gorgeous pictures, she’s definitely one of my favorite London-based food bloggers out there at the moment.

For some reason traditional Asian flavors make me feel extremely unwell. Even as a child, my parents would have Chinese food or I’d go over to a friend where Indian was being cooked and I would literally start gagging and need to leave. I don’t know if that’s some of my weird smell sensitivities that just started a lot earlier than the others, but let’s just say that when I was traveling in Asia it caused some problems!

I know a lot of you love more exciting food than I generally eat on a daily basis, so when Caitlin suggested this recipe, I just knew you’d all love it.

Over to Caitlin!

thai noodle

 

Thai food has always been one of my favorites, it doesn’t get much better than a Thai green curry. The coconut milk works in harmony with the Thai spices and herbs and makes such an aromatic dish. It may seem like this flavor is something you can only get from a Thai restaurant, but it is actually much easier than you think! This dish is made completely from scratch and therefore has no nasty surprises (restaurants often use fish sauce which is obviously not vegan and a lot of oil). This recipe is really quick to make and is the perfect comfort food for an evening in, which is why I have added my secret crispy ‘seaweed’ recipe as well, so you can make your own Thai ‘takeaway’ and know exactly what it contains! Did you know that crispy seaweed is actually made from cabbage?! Well mine is made from kale, and it isn’t fried and it doesn’t contain refined sugar! But I can assure you it tastes almost identical to the real thing! I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Ingredients

(serves two)
  • 1 can coconut milk (Preferably pure with no additives)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 medium red chili
  • A 2 Inch cube of fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 spring onions
  • 3 sticks of lemongrass
  • A large handful of coriander leaves
  • 1/2 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp gluten free tamari (I like Clearspring)
  • 1 tbsp brown rice syrup or coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small aubergine
  • 10 baby corns
  • 75g buckwheat or brown rice soba noodles
  • 1/4 cup frozen edamame (optional)

For the crispy seaweed:

  • 3 handfuls of kale, torn finely and large stalks removed
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar

seaweed-crispy

Method

  • Cut the ends off the lemongrass and using the end of a knife or a rolling pin, bash the ends on a chopping board to release the aromas
  • Finely chop and put in a processor
  • Add the ginger, chili, garlic, cumin, coriander and lime to the processor and process until the ingredients are finely ground
  • Meanwhile, chop the spring onions and add to a wok with the coconut oil and cook on a low heat until soft
  • Add the spice mixture from the processor to the wok and then add the coconut milk, continuing to cook on a low heat
  • Peel the carrot into ribbons and add this to the wok along with the pepper, chopped lengthways into strips
  • Chop the aubergine into cubes and add (this will soak up all of the flavors)
  • Finally, halve the baby corns and add to the pan and leave everything to simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are soft
  • Whilst the vegetables simmer, place the kale onto a lined baking tray and rub the olive oil into the leaves with clean hands
  • Sprinkle with the salt and coconut sugar and cook in a preheated oven at 120 degrees celsius for approximately 15 minutes until crisp but not too browned.
  • Add the water, noodles, and edamame if using, and cook for a further 3 minutes, using a fork to separate the noodles as they cook to avoid them sticking
  • Serve in bowls with a good amount of the liquid and enjoy

Single-Serve GF Vegan Brownie

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone for your amazingly lovely messages yesterday. They definitely helped make my birthday special.

Although I did do far more than I probably should have (and am paying for it today with a total wipeout in bed), I have realized just how far I have come in the last year. As I mentioned on Instagram, I have gone from being so ill I wanted to die and feeling like I’d never be able to work or have any semblance of a life again, drugged up to my eyeballs on medications that were making me sicker, to being med free, having a job at Virgin Unite, becoming an Instagrammer and blogger, running the plant-based picnics, co-goddess the wellness world at the Health Bloggers Community, and training to become a health coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

While things are a daily struggle, and I’m still trying to find a balance with food and lifestyle and pacing, I needed to stop for a minute and just consider how far things have come since I started this ‘journey’ in May.

Honestly, it’s weird sharing intimate details about your health with the world, but I’m doing it with the hope that I can inspire and provide some comfort to others who are going through a really difficult time to know that they’re not the only ones experiencing tough times. And, because I’m not always the most unselfish and shiny person, it’s also a strangely cathartic experience.

I feel like over the last seven months I have gained more control over my health and over my life than I ever thought I would again. I just want to let you know that with dedication and hard work things are possible if you step out of your comfort zone a little bit and try something new. Like cake. The cake is always good.

Be honest, be genuine and try to be kind to yourself. But also be realistic. I’m not under any impression that I can be entirely cured or healthy. I’m still extremely unwell. But hey, if one day I’ve totally ‘fixed’ myself that would be amazing. Right now all I can do is try to feel as well as I can. It’s a long, slow, difficult, mind-numbingly frustrating process, but I do believe (most of the time!) that it’s one worth going through.

And as I say every week, we all need to find what works for us and do things that are going to help us – not what other people think is going to be right. Get inspired by doctors, writers, bloggers, coaches, family, and friends, but remember, what works for one does not work for all. Take the best of everything you find and experiment as much as you possibly can until you have found what works for you!

One of the biggest things I have learned this year is that people will be more accepting and understanding than you think. Being open and honest about my health for the first time has meant that I’m finally able to get the support I need to be able to be on the same level as everyone else – it’s meant that my somewhat odd situation is taken into account and allowed me to work and pursue all kinds of things from the comfort of my amazing robot bed.

At the end of October, I was really suffering from depression linked to my declining health (gotta love the change of seasons), and my boss told me to take some time off work. I kept refusing because I’ve had to leave so many jobs before because of my health. He said to me that they knew exactly what they were getting when they hired me (I’d been freelancing since January before they offered me the full-time role in August) and that they were going to do everything they can to support me.

I told them they didn’t know I was quite as mental as I was (I didn’t know either!) but hey ho! They’d rather I take the time I need and not make myself ill so that I can continue to work for them longer. I constantly need to be reminded of that, because it’s hard to accept that I’m being supportive even though I can’t do as much work as everyone else.

But I’m realizing more and more that if you have skills and something to offer, people will recognize that first and foremost and do everything they can to help you out – because after all – you’re giving them something in return.

That’s my little rant over for the day, and now onto what you really want to read about – gluten free, vegan, refined sugar-free chocolate brownies!

This recipe comes from the wonderful Heather over at Fresh Heather and will be sure to be a hit. The problem I ALWAYS have is that I have a stupidly ridiculous sweet tooth (which is odd, because it only developed when I changed my diet – I think I was so scared that I was losing anything good, that I started eating raw desserts every day!) and will happily eat the entire batch of brownies out of the oven as soon as they’ve been made. So a single serving is a perfect solution for when those cravings hit.

Rich-chocolatey-studded-with-dark-chocolate-and-pecans-vegan-glutenfree-recipe-brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut flour1 tbsp nut butter (I use almond butter, but could imagine pistachio would be amazing!)
  • 1 tbsp nut butter (I use almond butter, but could imagine pistachio would be amazing!)1 tbsp sweetener (My sweetener of choice is brown rice syrup)
  • 1 tbsp sweetener (My sweetener of choice is brown rice syrup)1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil1-2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1-2 tbsp almond milk1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder pinch salt
  • pinch salt

Method:

  • Gently melt the coconut oil and nut butter in a small pan.
  • Mix in your sweetener and milk followed by cacao, coconut flour, and salt.
  • Pour into a ramekin and microwave for 1-2 mins.If you don’t use a microwave, bake in a preheated oven for 10-15 mins at 350F | 175C.
  • If you don’t use a microwave, bake in a preheated oven for 10-15 mins at 350F | 175C.Top with homemade chocolate sauce/melted nut butter and banana slices.
  • Top with homemade chocolate sauce/melted nut butter and banana slices.

This was my version of it this morning!

Stupidly Easy Breakfast Cookies

For some reason, I have been waking up at 7 am every day. I hate it. I used to rock out of bed around lunchtime, and then get on with my day. Now I’m up so early I’m not really sure what to do, especially because I still fall asleep so late. Luckily, it’s earlier than the 5 am I used to fall asleep at!

Because I’m so tired by the afternoon, I usually lose my motivation to cook and eat well. I want to grab the first bar of (raw) chocolate I can get my hands on! So I’ve started being super productive in the morning and making a lovely breakfast and often prepping my other meals for the day too.

This morning I fancied something really sweet but didn’t want porridge. I was all set and ready to make pancakes but I then remembered I still hadn’t brought over half of my cooking ingredients (come on, buckwheat flour!), so I thought I’d make cookies. Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar-free cookies. Old Natasha would have been terrified at the thought! Also, sorry for the horrid lighting in all these pictures – 7 am isn’t the best time for light here!

 

These cookies are stupidly easy to make. The base just comes from two ingredients and then you can totally customize them however you like. Because I’m boring and obsessed with the banana/vanilla/almond butter/chocolate combination, I totally had to go for that. But you can add in anything that you like and play around with the flavors. Cinnamon and nutmeg would be amazing for a wintery flavor.

Of course, these aren’t the cookies that you grew up eating. They have an entirely different taste and texture. But they’re super filling, delicious, nourishing and ideal for breakfast. Oats are full of slow release energy and have numerous health benefits, while chia seeds and almond butter add some great plant protein. Don’t worry, there will be some Food as Medicine 101 posts on most of these ingredients coming soon!

cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oat quick cooking oats (again, this is all I had as I haven’t fully stocked up my kitchen. You can probably take normal oats and grind them down into a chunky flour)
  • 1 very ripe mashed banana
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp runny almond butter
  • 1/4 cup Punch Foods Raw Cocoa Boost Supersedes (If you don’t have these you can sub cacao nibs or mixed seeds depending on what you fancy)
  • 1/2 Tsp raw vanilla powder
  • Generous pinch (or two) of salt (to taste)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the oats, chia seeds, super seeds, vanilla powder, and salt. Stir well to combine.
  • Stir in the almond butter and banana until all the mixture is well coated.
  • I also added a teaspoon or two of rice malt syrup (see here for why that’s my sweetener of choice) because my banana wasn’t super ripe and I knew I’d be missing out on some sweetness.
  • On a lined baking tray take about a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a little ball. Gently press down with a fork to create a round cookie shape.
  • I liked to try and make them as round as possible without too many small bits poking out to prevent burning.
  • Pop the cookies in the oven for around ten minutes (depending on oven).
  • Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. When ready, take them out and allow them to cool for a couple of minutes before tucking in.
  • I topped mine with almond butter (literally obsessed, but here’s why almonds are good for you!) and berries and it was just what the doctor (aka my brain) ordered. Cookies for breakfast?

Who knew!

 

What’s your favorite combination?

Zoodles in a Nut-Free Mint Pesto

Zoodles are quite heavenly. As much as I adore pasta, I know that I shouldn’t be eating as often as I do because my body doesn’t love grains all that much. Pasta is usually my ‘lazy meal’, but actually, noodles are so much quicker. Seriously, although they’re definitely not the pasta you grew up with, they’re a fantastic way of bulking up a simple dish with plant goodness. For example, they’re an excellent source of potassium, full of fiber, antioxidants, as well as a whole range of vital vitamins and minerals.

This entire recipe takes about three minutes total to put together and is one of my ‘detox’ staples. For this recipe, you will need a spiralizer (they’re about £30 on Amazon) to create your noodles. However, if you don’t have one, you can enjoy the pesto with pasta or create your own zoodles using a julienne peeler, a cheese grater laying flat on its side and grating lengthwise or cut them very thinly into ‘tagliatelle’

Simple+Pesto+with+Zoodles+or+Noodles+

Want pasta? Go for it, yo!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large courgette
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 1 very large handful fresh mint leaves
  • Juice of about 1/4 lemon (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Large handful of watercress

Method:

  • Blanch frozen peas for about 1 minute and strain
  • Add peas, avocado, mint, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and buzz until a pesto forms. I like to do seasoning to taste, so I often just throw in the avo, peas, and herbs and then add the salt/pepper and lemon juice as I go along so I can get as much as I fancy!
  • Create your zoodles and stir in the pesto. It’s often easier to do it in a separate bowl because it can get a bit messy. Plate up, and top with watercress or your favorite greens.

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Sweet Fennel Green Juice

One of the most important parts of my healing journey has been imbibing a whole lotta green juice. A few months ago I could get through at least three liters of freshly juiced greens a day. I honestly feel like it was the biggest game-changer for me in terms of my body being able to tolerate food again.

I haven’t been so good recently at juicing as much as I know I should be because I’ve been tired and lazy, but I’m trying to get back on it. I just really, really hate washing up the juicer! If I’m going to fight this relapse, I’m going to need as much green goodness as possible!

Why do I juice?

Juicing my greens is an amazing and easy way to get a whole abundance of veggies straight into my system. I often look at the huge pile on my chopping board before I get started, and I know that I’d never eaten all of them in a salad.

One of the most debated issues when it comes to juicing is fiber. Juicing removes the insoluble fiber from the vegetables, which leaves just the nutrients for your body to easily absorb. However, fiber is super important for a healthy diet, especially when detoxing. When your liver goes through its detoxification processes (I’ll be writing a whole post on this soon), it needs the fiber for all the nasties to cling on to for…elimination…!

I know that for my body digestion is tough, and so when I need a break or a reset I always turn to juice. Drinking my nutrients through juice allows them to go pretty much directly to my cells without the need to spend energy on digesting them – which not only gives me more energy throughout the day but also gives my system a much-needed rest. Additionally, some of the most micro nutrients become more available to our bodies, as they’re not the easiest to digest.

I was massively craving fennel juice today. Fennel is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, and antioxidant (I usually have fennel in my juice every day, and have a slight addiction to fennel tea!) and is known for its wonderful abilities to calm and soothe the tummy and digestive system.

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 fennel
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1/2 head broccoli (today I used a huge handful of purple sprouting broccoli)
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 apple
  • 1/4 lemon
  • tsp Organic Burst Wheatgrass (optional)

Method

Juice all the ingredients and stir in a teaspoon of wheatgrass if you’d like!

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Pretty in Pink Açai Smoothie

I apologize that I haven’t been posting much on any of my blogs or on my Instagram. My body and I are currently in a bit of a battle and I’ve been struggling to do anything, let alone eat.

I know that, for me, liquids are always the way to go when my body isn’t working so well, and so I’ve been forcing down a variety of smoothies and juices to try and make sure my body remains nourished. After all, you can’t be using food as medicine if you don’t eat!

This smoothie was one where I just threw everything into the blender and it turned out super delicious (with a gorgeous colour) that it certainly cheered up a very gloomy day.

pitaya-fruit-pitaya-bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • Handful each of frozen strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Almond milk to blend. I like to make my smoothies super thick so I can eat them with a spoon, so add milk to whatever your thickness preference is!
  • 1-2 Medjool dates
  • 2 tsp almond butter
  • Powder from 4 Organic Burst açai capsules
  • 1 tsp each of Organic Burst Maca and baobab
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Pinch pink Himalayan salt

Method:

  • Throw everything in a blender and whizz until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Plant Based Picnic & My Favourite Porridge

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will probably have seen quite a few posts that mention the #plantbasedpicnic.

How did it come about? Well, my darling Pixie (of @plantbased_pixie) fame, had mentioned one day how great it was meeting Instagram friends and said it would be great to meet more. We had both been having a lot of people asking to meet us. Which, of course, is amazing, but there’s only so much time (and money) available to keep eating out at the pricey (yet yummy) plant-based eateries. So I realized that it would be awesome to hold a picnic and invite everyone from Instagram to join us for a foodie feast!

So, Pixie, Maxine (@GloriouslyDelicious) and I put out a call to London Instagrammers. We had a great turnout (much bigger than we excepted) in Regent’s park. We were joined by the awesome girls from Rebel Kitchen and a lot of the team from the Wild Food Cafe. Everyone who came brought insanely delicious food, and we talked and ate the day away. I seriously had a cacao hangover the next day. That’s totally a thing. Promise.

plant

The day was such a success that we’ve decided to make this a monthly thing. And we’re going big! September’s picnic is being held at my favorite raw food cafe, Tanya’s, on Sunday 7th. Already nearly 40 people have confirmed that they’re coming (I can’t even begin to imagine how much cake I’m going to eat!) and a number of your favorite plant-based brands will be coming too.

If you’d like to join us, please join the Facebook group so we can invite you to the event so we can get an idea of how many people will be coming!

The picnics are a wonderful way to meet and connect with like-minded foodies. There’s honestly something so special about sharing food with each other, so if you’re in London, please do come!

Now, onto porridge!

I’ve really been struggling with my health over the last couple of weeks, and I’m trying to make sure that I nourish my body in the best way I know how. I usually avoid a big breakfast because my body uses most of its energy on digestion, meaning I often have to take to my bed to rest. If I’m able to do that, I definitely do porridge for breakfast. But recently I’ve been enjoying it even more for supper. It feels like such a treat!

And there are some amazing health benefits to eating your daily oats! Oats can aid in:

  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Reducing risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Enhancing immune response to infection
  • Stabilizing blood sugar
  • Reducing risk of Type 2 diabetes

Once I find a combination I like, I tend to stick with it. So I’ve been having this nearly every day for a week.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 medium/large banana
  • 1 heaped tsp almond butter
  • 1/4 Tsp raw vanilla powder
  • 1 heaped tsp Organic Burst maca
  • 1 heaped tsp Organic Burst baobab
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • Punch salt (to taste)
  • Toppings of choice. I love more banana, berries, almond butter and cacao nibs.

Directions

  • Bring your water to the boil in a small pan. Immediately turn to a low heat and then add the oats and let simmer until most of the water is absorbed.
  • Mash 2/3 of your banana and mix it into the porridge. Allow thickening until all water is absorbed and you have a lovely gooey banana porridge.
  • Stir in all other extras. Pour into bowl. Add toppings. Enjoy!

Superfood Açai Bowl

In the last few months, I have come so far health wise. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean I’m not still prone to flare ups and struggles. I’m currently in the middle of a, particularly bad one.

When my body is starting to fall apart a little bit, I make sure to up my intake of super foods. They’re such a great way to support your system. And they taste super yummy, so I never feel like it’s a chore to add them to my meals!

So, with a body that is shutting down, I decided to create a gorgeous bowl of antioxidant goodness to help cheer me up. The wonderful Ekaterina from Organic Burst was kind enough to send me their Açai to try, so I built a scrummy bowl around this powerful super food. I’m a huge fan of Organic Burst products (I’ll be writing a review of them soon), and I always start my day with their spirulina and chlorella tablets to make sure I give my body the vital vitamins and minerals it needs to heal.

Açai is an Amazonian berry that contains both water and fat soluble antioxidants for the best possible protection against oxidative stress. It has one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruit and vegetables – up to 8 x more than blueberries, 3 x more than goji berries and 30 x that of red wine. Amazing, no?!

Ingredients

  • Organic Burst Açai capsules
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 heaped tsp Organic Burst Maca
  • 1 heaped tsp Organic Burst Baobab
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 2 Medjool dates
  • Enough filtered water to blend

Method

  • Open up all of the capsules to get the açai stored inside. Add this to a blender with all the other ingredients, add enough filtered water for it blend, and whizz all the ingredients together. This makes a gorgeously thick smoothie bowl.
  • Top with your favorite fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds.

Supercharged Vanilla Banana Porridge

I think it’s becoming quite obvious that I have an obsession with all things banana. I just can’t get enough of them. Thankfully, there are tonnes of health benefits! Not only are they high in pectin (which helps with digestion), they’re high in fiber, packed with potassium, and have high levels of tryptophan which helps combat depression and low moods!

Although my body does best on juice for breakfast, I’ve recently got into the habit of eating something substantial, and I can’t go back. And oats are definitely the way to go.

vanila banana

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup filtered water (you can use nut milk if you prefer)
  • 1/2 small banana, mashed
  • 1 tsp homemade almond butter
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp raw vanilla powder
  • 1 tsp Organic Burst maca
  • Pink Himalayan salt (to taste)

Method:

  • Bring your water to a rolling boil and add a pinch of salt. Add the oats and reduce to a simmer.
  • Allow most of the water to absorb. Then add the mashed banana, stir, and allow to simmer for a couple more minutes until thick and fluffy.
  • Stir in the almond butter, maca, and vanilla powder. You may wish to add a pinch more salt. Or that could just be me. I’m a salt addict!
  • Pour into a bowl and add your favorite toppings! I always add an extra banana, almond butter, and berries!