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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The “I’m Feeling Sorry For Myself” Period

So, I think it was a bug that has led to a relapse of sorts.

It makes sense…bugs are often the trigger for many conditions like POTS and ME, so if I had one that made my body go a bit doolally, then I totally understand why I’m experiencing what I am.

When looking back online through things that might help, I always come across the more ‘spiritual’ ways of healing yourself. Confronted with books, youtube videos, testimonials about ways of thinking that can help you heal. I’m not denying that these work for many, many people, but for me…it just makes me uncomfortable. I’m not a spiritual person. I don’t believe that we are eternal and a bright shiny light emits radiantly (or whatever) from all of us. It’s just not me.

I like practical. I like logical. Because that’s what works and has always worked for me. On an academic level I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to be spiritual or to believe in god. This belief in something that you just can’t quantify must be extremely comforting to people who do. I just don’t. We can spend half a day meditating, and yes, it may be amazing (once you’re able to do it!) but to me that’s not living in the real world. I have stuff to do. I don’t believe in, or feel, any of this stuff.

In fact, when I was Birthright and visited Israel, I thought I’d have my moment. Sunset. New Year’s Eve, the Western Wall, Shabbat. Feeling uncomfortable I made my way up the wall, thinking that if something was going to happen it would happen now. Unable to shake a feeling of fraudishness (yes, that’s a word I just invented), I approached the wall, posted a wish thing in it and backed away. Nope. Nothing. Oh well. And then I slipped on the beautiful slippery stone and dislocated my knee. A sure sign that God hates me! Woo.

Anyway! What I’m experiencing now is most definitely POTS and EDS related. There’s a very particular histamine feeling I get when they’re going a bit bonkers and it’s not that. And the depression has kicked in big time. I don’t want to talk to anyone, be around anyone. It’s too much effort. A big part of that is probably to do with all the social networks that I’m involved in, and I’ve just turned off notifications for everything to keep those bloody pings from taking over my day like they usually do. I’ve spent so much time thinking about other people, that it has been taking away the energy that I need to be spending on myself.

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I’m still trying to make sure I get my work for my job done, because that’s got to be my priority in how I spend my time. I literally can’t get over how amazing my company are. On Tuesday I sat down with my boss and the head of people to discuss how I’m feeling and what they can do to help support me. I don’t know why, but it just makes me uncomfortable that they’d have to put extra time and effort into managing my health. And I know, I really do, that it’s only to help put me at the same level as everyone else, and that it’s only fair. But I hate feeling incompetent because of my body. I told them that whatever I’d need to do, I’ll push through. They told me they don’t want me to do that if it means it’ll have a negative impact on my health. But if this is the relapse I think it is, it’s going to take a while for me to get back on track, and without pushing through I won’t be doing anything!

It’s just that for some reason, I can’t mentally do what I know I should be doing right now. My body is hating food, so I don’t want to eat. I’m being force fed . I don’t understand why I lose weight so quickly when this happens. It’s just like last year. It’s almost overnight. When I’m more stable, and I do cleanses and don’t eat much at all, I barely lose weight. I wonder if it’s the constant POTS attacks and attempts at regulation that are causing my body to burn more calories.

I know that I should go back to the plan I initiated when I first changed my diet. A juice, a smoothie and a soup a day. I don’t want to cook, I don’t want to think about food, and I don’t want to eat/drink them. It feels too much like going back to a place I never wanted to go back to. In fact, I’d rather stuff my face with a massive cheesy pizza (I haven’t) and make myself sicker than do that. Because I clearly am mental. I am going to try and do some super gentle exercise, though. Hopefully it will help with the depression and with shake my body up a bit. Although my right shoulder blade has been in the wrong place for days, and it’s starting to get super painful. The bastard.

I also had an interesting chat with my family yesterday while watching the incredibly moving opening ceremony of the Invictus Games. Undoubtedly incredible men and women who have overcome more than they should have in the service of their country, the games also made me think about the way that events like this are often covered in the media. Yes, the athletes are incredibly inspiring, but they’re often reported alongside an editorial sentiment about how all you need to succeed and push through is mental strength and determination. It makes me wholly uncomfortable. Bar this week and a few blips here and there, I think I possess a lot of mental strength, and I push through al the time. But for me, right now, getting out of bed requires nearly all the strength I’ve got. Writing this will probably use up most of what I’ve got for the day. Walking around the block will use up both mental and physical. People are on a journey (god, I hate that word), and building up unrealistic expectations about what people who are ill, disabled, or injured can do. The people in the Invictus Games and the Paralympics are exceptional. Nothing short of it. But I have conditions of athletes represented at London 2012…doesn’t mean that if I will it into being and working my arse off I’ll become a swimming champion. We all have our peak. And right now, I’d be happy with being able to go to work five days a week.

But this ‘willing’ brings me back to the spiritual. I can say to myself all I want that I’m not going to be sick, that I’m fine. Does absolutely bugger all for me. When I was out on Friday, I didn’t go out thinking that the food is going to make me sick, that I’m going to be tired. Not even a little bit. And bam.

Sometimes real life just gets in your way.

Mint Pea ‘Soup’ Smoothie

I’m actually feeling quite proud of myself this morning. I have realised that I have taken on so much work, and I’m managing to do it without letting myself get too too unwell. Between my job, my Nutritiously Natasha life (and soon to come projects), and various other things I help people out with, I have been one busy bee.

I’m trying to really hard to allow myself to rest. And by rest, I mean genuine rest. For years when a doctor told me I needed to rest I always protested. I was in bed, not going out. That’s pretty bloody restful. But I was always working on a project or three. Keeping my mind busy, active, and often frustrated. It has taken twenty five and a half years for me to start accepting that genuine rest involves trying to find ways to switch your brain off and just say ‘no’ to work for a short period of time. This allows you to be more productive. Now, I generally work in bursts, when my body is ready. Of course, because I have an actual job, I always make sure that my work is done when it needs to be done (often before), but I’m finding that breaking up my tasks into manageable bites, significantly prioritising, and ha

Last Tuesday didn’t work so well on that front. I was in the office for meetings, I ran off to Tanya’s to have a final discussion about this Sunday’s #plantbasedpicnic, and then went to meet Pixie so we could head off to the launch of the new Raw Press Co in Mayfair. Deliciously Ella has designed the menu, and there’s some seriously good stuff on there. A group of us crowded around the juice bar and imbibed a fair bit (although I stuck to the juice and stayed away from the champers). I also really enjoyed the brazil nut pesto zoodles and the sweet potato brownies, which were a different recipe for the one on her blog and were the gooiest things!

Today, I’m resting and working in bed, while looking forward to hopefully having a catch up with Saskia (aka Naturally Sassy) this evening, before having dinner at the Wild Food Cafe with my dear friend Lucy. They’ve got a raw mis-steak tartare this week as their special, and I literally can’t not have it. I’ll admit, I miss steak. So this one being a beetroot, celeriac and fennel ‘steak’ with cashew, avocado and vanilla hollandaise, marinated asparagus and mushroom with wakame salad sounds absolutely to die for!

Meals at the Wild Food Cafe are always super big events for me, because it’s always so good that I want hummus, a smoothie, and a dessert as well! Let’s see how the self control manifests itself today! So I know that I just need to be on the green juice and a green smoothie beforehand!

For some reason last night I was craving a mint pea smoothie. I’ve never heart of a mint pea smoothie or had one before…but I wanted it. My body is obviously wanting some lovely green pea plant protein! Peas are also a unique source of some key phytonutrients that act as wonderful anti-inflammatories. Additionally, they’re a great source of fibre and protein. Who’da thought those soggy peas you had at school (if cooked well!) could be so good for us!

Mint also has a wonderful array of health benefits. Not only is it a natural breath freshener, it can help promote digestion by soothing inflammation, and is often use as a quick fix for nausea. I know that when I feel a bit sick I down a cup of mint tea pretty sharpish! Interestingly, mint is also a natural stimulant, and has been known to help relieve some of the symptoms from fatigue and depression. And for those with a horrid histamine hating body like me, mint can inhibit the release of histamines that can cause our bodies to go haywire.

This smoothie takes seconds to make and is super fresh. Just like soup, but in a smoothie form. Is there anything better?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 large banana
  • Almond milk to blend. I personally like making my smoothies so thick I can eat them with a spoon, so don’t often add much milk!
  • 1 large handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Pinch pink Himalayan salt
  • Additional liquid sweetener if desired

Method

Throw everything in a blender and enjoy! Pour into a bowl, garnish with mint leaves, spoon into mouth!

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!

Raw Maca Brownie Bars

I’m really super lucky that I’m well enough to be able to work again. And I’m even luckier that I’m able to work from home.

That being said, when you’re spending all day staring at a screen with a big scary deadline looming, sometimes you just need to take a break and whip up something funky in the kitchen.

And the easiest, laziest, and yet most satisfying thing I like to whip up? Raw brownies. And unlike old-Natasha brownies, these are just chock full of health benefits!

Walnuts are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 8 pitted Medjool dates (soaked for 10 minutes and then drained if tough)
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao
  • 1/4 cup homemade almond butter (if you want this to be fully raw, don’t roast your almonds before making it)
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs
  • 1-2 tsp Organic Burst maca
  • 1/4 tsp raw vanilla powder
  • Generous pinch pink Himalayan salt

Method

  • In a food processor, pulse the walnuts until the become super fine crumbs
  • Add all the other ingredients and process until just combined. You should be able to press the mixture together between your fingers and it will stay. Make sure you don’t over process!
  • Line a tin with cling film and press the mixture in.
  • Freeze for about an hour and then cut into brownie squares/slices.

I’d recommend storing these in the fridge/freezer in an airtight container. You can also use the mixture to make brownie balls. Yum!

Raw Key Lime Pie

Wow – it feels good to have limited access to wifi right now! I still don’t have the internet at my flat (seriously, I could write a book on how ridiculously terrible BT’s service is) but I’m currently back with the parents due to a slightly unfortunate (yet hilariously wonderful and glamorous) incident on Thursday.

Strictly Come Dancing was filming part of their Christmas special at my Grandma’s retirement home. I was there, of course, and went to take a photo with one of the dancers. He unexpectedly picked me up and crushed my left side. I am now in more pain than I have been in this year. I was already feeling weakened that day because the idiot cleaner in my building left the floor on the left entirely soaking wet and I slipped and it shook me up (not to mention the toxic chemicals making my skin burn and feel insanely sick and migraine-y). So now I’m dealing with the aftermath of those two events that conspired to leave me pretty much bed bound and needing my parents to look after me. It also doesn’t help that winter has probably just started to truly take hold, and that’s when my physical problems often go a bit bonkers.

As a result, I have been on a 24-hour food self-sabotage, but to get back on track my dad is taking me to buy a tonne of juice, and then I’m going to spend some time in the kitchen to distract myself. Although, not being able to pick up equipment may be a bit challenging.

Due to lack of consistent internet access/being super busy/and now being slightly crippled, I haven’t had time to come up with recipes of my own. And to be honest, while I love spending time in the kitchen (both cooking and eating), exact recipe development on my own isn’t my totally favorite thing. So, it’s a good thing I have some amazing friends who make the most delicious food. So, to regularly bring you some of my favorite plant-based goodies while I currently don’t have time to do so, I’ll be sharing some wonderful recipes with my friends!

Today, I’m featuring a raw key lime pie from Maxine over at Gloriously Delicious.

Raw desserts were one of the first things I started experimenting with when I changed my diet. It’s funny, I never had much of a sweet tooth (give me bread and a bag of crisps any day), but as soon as I cut stuff out, in an attempt not to feel like I was deprived, I started making raw brownies and cheesecakes every day. I would now say that I’m a bit of a sweet friend. And while the ingredients in many of these desserts are often wonderfully good for you, I’m still at the point where I’m definitely overindulging a bit too regularly.

But hey, I’m human!

And Maxine’s cakes are some of my favorites. So over to her!

raw pie

Ingredients

For the base

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2/3 cup Medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons desiccated coconut

For the filling

  • 3 avocados
  • Juice and zest of 4 limes
  • 8 tablespoons rice malt syrup (or another liquid sweetener, use less if using maple syrup or pure honey)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Pinch pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 tablespoon lucuma powder (optional)
  • Water as required

Method

Begin by placing your almonds and pecans in a food processor and blend until crumbly. Then, add your pitted dates, coconut oil, and desiccated coconut and blend until well combined. Press this mixture into the bottom of a lined tart tin and place in the freezer.

For the filling
Simply place the avocados, lime juice and zest, rice syrup, coconut oil, salt and (optional) lucuma in your processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add water if your processor is struggling a bit. You may need to adjust the amount of sweetener depending on the ripeness of your avocados as they can have a more prominent taste.

Remove your base from the freezer and pour your filling into the tart tin. Return to the freezer for 1-2 hours, then store in the fridge and enjoy!