Monday, 26 January 2015

Sweet Tooth

I don't claim to be sugar free however I am being careful not to consume any refined sugar and even with natural sugars I have cut down an awful lot.

However, sometimes you just need something sweet. I was the biggest pudding person and I always had to have biscuits with my coffee so how was I going to be able to curb those cravings? Here are a few ideas.

(Remember these can be enjoyed as a treat)

1) Power balls
Okay so these are coconut and raw cacao power balls but if you search the internet you can find so  many delicious combinations. Check out Deliciously Ella, she has loads. Because they are usually made with dates, a walnut sized ball is enough to give you that sweet hit without over indulging.

2) Apple Rings

Kids and Adults love these snacks. If you have an abundance of apples or some apples going past their best, slice them into thin rings (a few mm thick) and soak them in a bowl with water and a squeeze of lemon juice to stop them discolouring. Then, pat them dry and arrange the apple rings on baking trays and sprinkle with your choice of cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg. Bake them for an hour at 90 degrees then turn them over and bake them for a further hour. Store in an airtight container.

3) Yogurt, fruit and almond butter.

So I am dairy free where I can be but as the odd treat (because I do love and miss it) I buy a pot of organic natural yogurt, defrost some frozen berries and add a dollop of almond butter. Sometimes it's nice to have a sprinkle of cinnamon too.

4) Banana Bread

A great way to use some over ripe bananas mixed with yogurt, wholemeal self raising flour and poppy seeds. So moist and a thin slice is really satisfying.

5) Healthy Hot Choc

Almond milk, raw cacao, maple/date syrup. You can also add a dollop of almond butter and melt it into the mixture. So warming on these cold evenings.


5 Steps to help you be organised with healthy eating.

If you are like me, on a budget and have very little time, then it's still possible to be healthy but you've got to be organised. As I've learnt along this new journey, having children and being tight on money doesn't have to stop you but you've just got to find ways around it.

Here are a few tips to help you...

1) Have the right ingredients in.

No I'm not saying you need to go to the nearest Holland and Barrett and stock up on everything you see. What I do for a couple of weeks ahead is choose a few key ingredients that will help me make a range of recipes. I make sure that every item will be able to get used up so its not sat in the cupboard going past its expiration date because lets face it, these items aren't exactly cheap!

For example, if you see the picture above, I spent about £35 on the above items but they are lasting me a lot longer than expected and I wanted to make sure they could be used for a range of purposes.

Coconut Oil - is now a kitchen staple. Not only do I use it in the frying pan, I use it to roast, I use it in smoothies and in certain baking recipes. You don't need a lot for it to work so a large jar will go some way. Also, if there's some left on the spoon I wipe it on my hands for moisturiser. If I could afford two jars at a time I definitely would as coconut oil is a great beauty product too.

Raw Cacao - I use this a lot! Raw cacao is a superfood that contains many vitamins and minerals which lead to lots of health benefits. I use it in my own, healthy hot chocolate, in baking and smoothies.

Flaxseeds and Chia Seeds - These are a brilliant all rounder. I chuck them in my porridge, in the nutribullet and on salads. With the chia seeds I also make an overnight soaked chia seed breakfast and a chia pudding too.

Coconut Flour - I use this in baking healthy brownies/cakes and also in breakfast pancakes. Smells delicious!

Maple Syrup - Although this is sugar, its an unrefined natural sugar. I think using in moderation as a treat or to curb those sweet cravings is fine and saves you reaching for something unhealthy.

Acai Berry Powder - I think this little pot was the most expensive item of all at £7.99 but acai berry powder is a super antioxidant. I add it to juices and I make my acai berry breakfast smoothie bowel with it.

By having the right ingredients in you can make certain recipes a couple of times a week knowing you are getting the goodness. There is no point having lots of ingredients you don't know what to do with sitting on the shelf.

2) Invest time and money

You are going to be making all your meals and snacks from scratch so you need to ask yourself if you are committed to this. I personally love cooking, I love planning my meals and snacks for the week ahead and I look forward to trying out new recipes but not everyone does. I get satisfaction out of creating hearty, healthy meals from scratch for my family.

You also need to have the right equipment. Oh, how I'd love a spiraliser and a food processor but I haven't got a money tree (or the space in my tiny kitchen for that matter!) But you need to have a few key gadgets. For example, I received a nutribullet for Christmas. Yes, I probably need a masticating juicer but for what my budget will allow the nutribullet is perfect for my needs as I can make juices and soups in it. Research around as to what equipment you need for your purposes. Once you've bought them, you've got them and they are honestly life changing when it comes to being healthy.

3) Buy local and in season

You often find that buying locally is cheaper than the supermarkets. Okay, maybe not as cheap as say, Aldi or Lidl, but I do like to support local businesses where I can afford. Sometimes they offer better deals on items too. For example, we have a great little health store on our local indoor market that rivals Holland & Barrett and she was selling a large jar of coconut oil for £5.99 which was a steal.
Also, the fruit and veg store on our market was selling fruit and veg so much cheaper than even Aldi I thought. It's good because you can buy individually how many apples/carrots/pears etc rather than a big bag that you might not get through.

4) Get the family involved

It's not easy feeding kids healthily. Believe me, I know about hiding veg in sauces and pasta bakes but when you start exploring new foods it's interesting how little people start to become inquisitive too. For instance, I made my self a juice with my nutribullet full of spinach, cucumber, berries, bananas and cashew nuts and when Benjamin came sniffing around my purple concoction I thought there was no way he'd touch it! But once he had a sip he loved it! He also helped me to make some of Deliciously Ella's sweet potato brownies and although he didn't particularly like the end result, he saw the process into making them.
Luke also now takes a nutribullet juice to work with him for breakfast which I prepare for him the night before.

5) Clean out your cupboards

It won't help you having boxes of sugary cereal or jars of nutella in the cupboard. They are just a temptation waiting to be eaten. For example, I had a 6 pack of mince pies in my cupboard from Christmas and I decided to keep them there in case I wanted a treat. And then I thought to myself, hang on, if I want a treat then a mince pie isn't the way to go. It would be a banana/almond milkshake or some raw brownies or a homemade hot chocolate. My new healthy lifestyle doesn't need mince pies in it so out they went into the bin.
Once all the bad stuff has gone you won't think about them again. Now that I don't have bad stuff around my kitchen, if I get peckish I tend to opt for a handful of nuts or a boiled egg (I boil a few and keep them in my fridge for a couple of days)

So there you have a few handy tips to help you get started!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Break the Fast

I learnt something really interesting in my new Hemsley and Hemsley book I received for Christmas. Everyone harps on about breakfast being the most important meal of the day and I personally can't go very long once I've woken up without eating as I start to feel sick. But for those of you that feel sick at the thought of eating in the morning, really ought to understand why it's crucial you at least try and get something down you. 
I never realised that breakfast means breaking fast. Sometimes when you've known a word for so long you don't think about it and it's meaning, silly as it sounds. It means breaking the fast from the night before and refuelling your body with energy for the day ahead. 

Since I've been on my new lifestyle change breakfast has become a very exciting time for me. As I've stopped eating anything after my dinner at night, breakfast is the next thing to look forward to. (Not that I'm so much of a pig that I can't stop thinking about food, but when you're tummy is rumbling it's nice to have something tasty to look forward to!) 
I'm enjoying spending the evening before, browsing inspiration from my cookbooks or favourite websites and choosing and preparing a breakfast for the following morning. 

I know people think that's a lot of effort but now I have a 3 year old and a 7 week old baby and have to be at nursery for 9 in the morning, I need to have everything prepared ready in order for me not to resort to those deadly cereal boxes.

This morning I used a recipe from my Hemsley and Hemsley book called Acai Berry Smoothie Bowl. It's a blend of acai berry powder, coconut oil, coconut water, frozen berries, dates, banana and avocado and you can use any toppings you fancy. 

I must admit it took me a while to get used to cold breakfasts, I'm a fan of warm porridge, and acknowledging it will be amazing for a hot summers morning, it is super tasty I can't get enough of it. Before I have breakfast I always have a warm mug of water and lemon to start off with so I feel I'm compensating for the lack of warmth! 

Today I topped mine with bee pollen, chia seeds, flax seeds, strawberries and blueberries. 

I believe if you start the day of healthy, you will continue the day being healthy!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Plant Based, Whole Food Lifestyle Change

That dreaded New Years Resolution of being healthy or cutting down on alcohol or exercising more usually stops after the first day first week but for me, this is the first year I have actually stuck to a new goal.

From New Years, I decided I didn't want to diet, I wanted to change my eating habits for good. I wanted a lifestyle change and I wanted to see if nourishing my body and feeding it with the right nutrients could cure a few issues I have with myself.

I've always had terrible skin but this runs in my family. My sister has cystic acne and my dad suffers with bad breakouts so I've only believed the only way to cure this were tablets from the doctor not by stopping all the bad foods I have been eating. If I could change one thing about myself, it would be to have clear skin.

Secondly, I gave birth to my second son on December 6th 2014 and I had put on a total of 4 stone. I couldn't believe it! It is the biggest I've ever been, partly because I ate like a pig! And as I'm getting married in August of this year I needed to be mindful not to stuff my face with junk just because I've had no sleep. I needed this lifestyle change to happen quick.

So as of New Years Day I decided this was it. No more refined sugar, no more gluten and no more dairy. I personally have cut down drastically on meat and fish but not altogether.

At first it was so hard but I must admit it is a total mindset thing. You either want it or you don't. In the past I have been the biggest sweet tooth, my dentist is always on at me to cut down my sugar intake but I never have. But I pulled through the first two weeks and after that I felt no need for sugar, for biscuits or chocolate. I felt no need for crisps or white starchy bread or Robinsons fruit squash and at the end of each day I started feeling good about myself.

We are now in week 3 and my skin isn't clear but I feel it is less aggressive. (I do need to bare in mind that I'm not having much sleep what with having a 6 week old and a 3 year old) however I feel like I'm feeding my body with the rights ingredients for health and happiness. I understand the changes won't happen overnight but I want to use my blog now to help me on my journey and to help me to keep going.

I want to show you the recipes I've been making, the inspiration I have had and the new facts I am learning because if I can do it, then anyone can do it.


Monday, 10 November 2014

The Best Version of Me

On my new journey of self discovery, it became clear that one of the reasons people decide to change their lifestyle is in order to enlighten the best possible versions of themselves.

Not only am I interested in the food side of things, I am increasingly becoming enticed into the idea of nourishing the soul by meditation/yoga.

I often hear (not always but often) the secret to reaching a ripe old age and still being active and well is to partake in regular low impact exercises such as walking/swimming, eat sensibly and having a positive outlook on life. I know it is easier said than done but these are really simple, easy steps to take in order to be a better you.

From Pinterest

I have been reading (again!) Sarah Wilson - I Quit Sugar and I really like her theory. I quote:

'Exercise less - It's a controversial idea, but hear me out. Humans didn't evolve to blitz and pump and boot camp themselves silly in a gym and there's no evolutionary purpose to running marathons. Outrunning a sabre-toothed tiger for 2-3 hours was never going to be an accomplishable feat, we evolved to feed our energy to our brains so we could outsmart said tiger.'

I really like this motto, or as Sarah calls it part of her wellness code, not because I am lazy but because it totally makes sense. I mean, what do marathons and Ironman's prove really? That you can push your body to its absolute limit until it can take no more?

Anyway, I am an absolute beginner of meditation (and probably not even doing it right!) but I take 5 minutes (that's what I'm starting with) every morning between Luke leaving for work and Ben waking up and lie in bed. I start from my head and try to relax each muscle working my way down my body until I feel my body loosen up. I then imagine a space, a piece of heaven in my mind such as walking on a warm beach and try to experience all the sensations. I try to feel the warm sand beneath my toes and the sun beating down. And then I imagine floating in the warm sea and drifting my hands through the water.
Just 5 minutes of this before coming back to reality can make you feel so much better starting off your day.

You don't have to do this in the morning, you can do it whenever you feel is best for you. I read that some people take 5-10 minutes in their lunch break or prefer doing it in the evening. Whichever you choose, it is best to repeat at the same time every day. Also you can choose to lie down (I am because I am 37 weeks pregnant currently and feel more comfortable doing so) or you can sit in the lotus position (legs crossed) or kneel. This is really all I know so far but it shows that anyone can do this.

You probably want more reasons as to why you would take this into your daily routine so here are a few:
  • Stress reduction - not only does meditation give you some down time for however long you decide, it also has a direct effect on reducing cortisol, the body's stress related hormone. By meditating in the morning, you can decide what you want from your day before it has fully began.
  • Happiness - Meditation can increase serotonin levels (mood enhancing hormone) and allows you to have a happier outlook on life.
  • Improved sleep - One of the best natural remedies for insomnia, meditation can clear the busy mind that keeps you awake at night allowing you to get that full nights sleep.
  • Boost Energy - Because meditation gives you time away from all the stimulation in your day it allows you to have more control, feel less rushed and reenergised.
  • Increase immunity - if you feel a cold coming on or everyone at work has a bug going round, by taking time out of your day to build up your defence and research shows it boosts antibodies to fight off nasty viruses and bacteria.
This is what I have learnt so far and I think there are numerous other benefits from meditation but I haven't been doing this long at all. Just think, something so simple is so effective. Why are we not all doing this?!

From Pinterest

I personally don't have a specific reason to meditate but the overall idea is I want to boost the best version of me so why not give it a go for yourself?

Linds xx

Saturday, 8 November 2014

'Dum Dum de Dum...All Dressed in White...'

Arghh! Look who got engaged!

On Sunday 5th October, Luke said we needed to pop and see his granddad (who happens to live just around the corner from the church where we first met at my friends wedding - however this did not register to me at all). Instead of continuing on to his granddads house, he turned into the long driveway of the church and I did my usual, nagging him as to why he had gone off track, until he pulled over. He told me to get out (I still had no clue as to what was happening) and when I turned round he was down on one knee! I couldn't believe it!

Only that week had I jokingly warned him that if he proposed I might not cry as everyone calls me the ice dragon, but there I was sobbing my heart out. Of course I said yes amidst blubbering and he bought out a bottle of champagne.

What I loved about how he did it was that it was so understated and yet so meaningful (once I worked out that's where we first met...) There was no-one around, there was no fancy restaurant, no over the top arrangement in place and most importantly I had NO idea it was coming. I have a sneaky way of discovering hidden plans/surprises so the boy did good.

We have already booked the wedding already for next year, August 30th and I can't flippin' wait! Just need to get this baby out (3 weeks to go) and lose some weight ready to try on some dresses!

Anyway, think I'll float off in my romantic dreaming bubble now...

Linds xx

Friday, 7 November 2014

New Blog Direction

I have never really known my forte in life but what has always been apparent is my love for food and cooking. I wake up and I am so excited for breakfast, I plan lunches and dinners well in advance throughout the day as I like to look forward to what we will be eating and flicking through a cookery book with a cuppa is my idea of a little piece of heaven.

I had booked myself onto a professional course at Ashburton Cookery School in Devon but had to drop out as I found out I was pregnant with Benjamin. Although I was delighted to be pregnant, a little piece of me was disappointed that I couldn't continue with the course however many times people told me 'you will be able to do it again one day'. One day meaning years.

Although I do love wholesome, hearty dinners and tasty home made treats, for the past year or so I have developed a passion for holistic nutrition and well being and I really feel that this is the direction I am heading in lifestyle/career wise. My Instagram feed consists of Dale Pinnock, Deliciously Ella, Madeleine Shaw, Mind Body Bowl, Green Kitchen Stories and more. I am becoming one of those annoying people that only post pictures of my latest soup or breakfast bowl and I am teaching myself that the right food can heal you from the inside. I am making a conscious effort to shop locally, to try new, in season delights and to generally feed my body and soul with goodness.

Porridge made with almond milk, blueberries and cinnamon.

Local Farmers Market goodies.

Deliciously Ella's Lentil and Turmeric Soup.

Been desperate to get my hands on this stuff!

Tomatoes ready to be roasted for a soup.

Excuse the low quality pictures - need to invest in a proper camera!

I'm hoping to take this blog on a new journey, where I still document my lifestyle and musings however focus more on my new total well being. I hope you will enjoy.

Linds xx