My god how are we already in 2017! Can someone please tell me where 2016 went as I seemed to have missed it.
Well I guess there’s no better time than now to say ‘Happy New Year’ and what a year I’m hoping it will be. So I’m going to try not to ramble on and on… hello, have you met me before? It’s safe to say that it’s pretty unlikely I won’t be bending your ear and boring you silly by the end of stupendously long, sorry short, post..
Where to start? At the beginning I guess, never could do the whole long story short thing. I noticed changes in me when I was about 15 years old. Silly things like a constant grumbling tum, dust floating in my eyes and super itchy inner ears and a serious bout of thrush (down below, which I didn’t get looked at till I was 30! I presumed everyone just itched). I ate badly, although I didn’t really see it back then, I got asthma and I smoked. Age 14/15 I started my period and it was pretty painful. Some days I couldn’t move or walk through the pain and when it went away it was common for them not to show for three maybe four months. I don’t know about you that’s not very normal when I look back on it now and obviously I listened when my doctor suggested going on the pill. Then when I was about 22 I was diagnosed with IBS and started getting migraines. Fast forward to 11 years ago, aged about 33, after seeing someone about my back and shoulder pains, from a car accident 9 years previous, she suggested I look at candida. Actually that was a relatively shortened version of the very long story! I’ve impressed myself
So that’s kind of when this journey and realisation that I had ill health for many years since, if not way before, my teens. Being young my body was able to cope much better with my appalling lifestyle and lack of fresh food. All the things I loved where the things my body and the candida craved to keep it thriving inside me. I was a sucker for neat, yes undiluted, vimto… that now makes me cringe so much you wouldn’t believe. Vinegar on everything, I kid you not, fishfingers, mash, beans, sausages, chips. OMG pickled silverskin onions… I hid jars in my wardrobe for gods sake! Sweets… I ate so many and I couldn’t stop, whole boxes of jaffa cakes, handfuls of sweets, fizzy drinks, vimto, tea with 2 sugars… and that was just in a day! I kid you not I ate all that and more and I was stick thin. My dentist always praised me on my teeth. So clearly I was ok! Wasn’t I? I look back on the telling little things I did as a child of 6 or 7 like sneaking things out of the fridge such as mini bounty bars (I liked and still like hard, cold chocolate) and trying to make it look like everything was still there so I was being sneaky about it. Now if my son started to do that alarm bells would be ringing in my head that he’s a sugar addict! I would do practically anything to get a fix when I was a child and into my twenties.
So at 30 I met my husband. He was a fab cook and introduced me to much more interesting food. Although it was better it was still the wrong foods but it steered me on a path of getting a different enjoyment of food. I enjoyed watching him and helping him prep the food and then obviously the eating it bit was the best. It wasn’t long after we married that I was told about the candida and as soon as I got home from the back appointment I researched it on the internet. Now there was no instagram or social media and I had no idea about blogging or anything so I bought a book. It was basic to say the least and the food was initially bland but after about 4 weeks I could really taste the natural flavour in ALL the fresh ingredients I used. It was also at this point that I totally stopped using vinegar and any malt products, I managed to reduce my sugar in tea from 2 teaspoons to 1/2 by using stevia as an initial substitute. This was way back before you could buy stevia in the UK so I had to import it from the USA in a fine granulated form. It was expensive and I hated the aftertaste but it helped me still enjoy some of the things I was used to. I’m trying to remember the food I was eating as it was rather different to what I eat now. It was still milk and cereal but it was shredded wheat and soya milk, quiche with soya milk and veg and cottage cheese, omlettes, salads, meat and veg, no fruit for the first three months. It was a total struggle but it was so worth it. My brain function was clear, my tummy stopped grumbling at me, I had energy like never before and I didn’t get depressed. Sadly it all went to shit when we went to Australia a few months after I started the change. In three weeks I undid all the good work… actually it probably only took 3 days but we were away for three weeks so I didn’t have the opportunity to get back on the wagon quickly enough. A year later we had our son and who has time to look at their own health when you have a small baby. When he was about 3 and at nursery I tried again and did brillaintly… AGAIN! Then I started a college course… the cafeteria sold hot chocomilk…damn that stuff is addictive! Oh and I had a flu jab and felt so crap that I couldn’t do anything for a week so I gave up on my diet! It might sound silly but I gave up easily back then.
28 months ago I decided to seek the help of a professional nutritionist and health coach. Since then my life and food habits have changed again. This time I discovered a totally new set of foods and then happened across Sarah Wilson and her I Quit Sugar book and website. With her help I realised there were other foods I was completely ignoring such a coconut and quinoa, chia seeds and cacao powder. My breakfast has never quite been the same since. Now don’t assume that I don’t eat chocolate or have sweeties occasionally because I would be lying. Remember that I’m a sugar addict and sugar is everywhere and it’s difficult to avoid and takes a great deal of willpower, which I don’t always have. Christmas is the worst for me and this year was the first time I kinda let go and embraced all the goodies that I really shouldn’t be eating… help!!! after eight mints and matchmakers and fruit pies and custard! Yes I could make all of these at home with better ingredients and a lot less sugar but I truly had a crappy end of year and I seriously couldn’t be bothered. Now to be fair I ate far worse on a normal day many years ago so this little bout of not eating what was good for me wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it could’ve been. I still made relatively healthy choices through most of the days and just over indulged a little. I can tell you though that I’m now struggling to get back to what made me feel good. The sugar cravings are back as are some of the aches and pains I had in my arm, neck & shoulder and leg but they are nothing compared to what they were.
After the photos is a little more to explain what our 2017 plans are beyond getting back on the good healthy food wagon.
The whole point of this was to share where I am now and the journey I want to take to get to where I want to be. The food and health part co exists with these other ‘radical, ‘crazy’ ideas. Having come across a few articles on zero or minimal waste I’ve looked into this concept and really wanted to start doing my bit. It will be a very slow process and will take time and lots of tricks to help me achieve reducing our household waste from a full size bin bag a week into at least a carrier bag size by the end of 2017. Well that’s my aim anyway. Shopping for fruit and vegetables in a supermarket without any packaging on them is actually more difficult than I first anticipated. Buying produce out of packaging is a sure fire way to make sure you are also eating the right foods for your health and wellbeing too. No more frozen chips or ready meals! I posted this idea to my Instagram account and got a huge and positive reaction to it. It’s really encouraging to hear other people attempting this and sharing their ideas as well as offering their support. I will write mini updates over there as well as sharing the bigger picture of how we are doing here on the blog.
The next thing I want to look at is minimalism. I started decluttering years ago but it’s a difficult process, well it was until I came across the documentary ‘Minimalism’. I’m inspired by these boys, The Minimalists, to just start ridding myself f all the visual clutter and noise that means absolutely nothing to me and gives me no real pleasure. It’s spurred me on to sell, donate and organise far more than I could have ever thought possible. That’s a definite watch this space as I will share with you how I’ve pared back my belonging and wardrobe and how I’ve managed to make money and make more time for myself.
Together with health this is the last item on my list and I think anyone can see how this links up to better diet and lifestyle as well as minimalism and zero waste. I don’t feel like I could do any one of these now without the others because they all impact on one another. Having had low moods and light depression for much of my adult life and anger issues for most of my life I think food has had the biggest impact on changing that for me. I have down days occasionally but nothing like the spirals and mood swings I used to experience. Oh and my period? Yeah, you could set your monthly clock by it now and the pain is just a regular ache like most women would experience. My asthma is controlled less by drugs and I don’t get any migraines and funnily enough I take less painkillers or cold and flu tablets than I’ve taken before. In fact I think I’ve taken maybe 6 nurofen in the last 12 months and that’s it. I’m spending more time reading, relaxing, doing yoga, being mindful and being calm.
All together this is looking like a pretty radical new me but I don’t think the old me really was me. I just struggled to fight against ‘the system’ and ‘the norm’ and maybe that’s because I never felt supported nor strong enough to do it on my own. The realisation that the only person who will and can do the right thing by me and my family is me. It’s not the government, nor the food giants, nor scientists. I have to question more and I have to take my own stance on things if I believe it’s a better choice for my family and not trust that someone else will do this for me. I really want to fight back and I’m choosing to do this my own way so if you feel like following along then welcome aboard. If you’ve managed to read this ramble all the way to the end then I applaud you and thank you immensely for taking some extra time today to listen to my values and ideas to make mine and my families a better future.
Have you made any plans for change this year?
Cafe culture is big. Whether you drink tea or coffee, eat cake or not, we all love a good gathering and meet up and these social meetings usually start in a local coffee shop.
As a family we love going to Manchester and trying new ones that seem to pop up all the time. It’s not always practical however, hot footing it over there, just for a good cup of coffee in a well thought out environment. Luckily for us a great coffee shop has opened in our home town of Preston. It’s a little off the main street but that actually makes it for me as it’s not too overcrowded and you can sit and chill with a brew and your laptop or a daily newspaper.
Ham & Jam is a family owned and run business in a slowly up and coming area of the city and I fondly remember the location as one of my teen haunts on a weekend. Me and my girl friends could while away the hours in Val Murray’s, ‘Alladins cave of makeup’. (blog preston) It sold everything a young girl could dream of when she was just getting that self conscious, talking about boys stage.
Anyway I could reminisce for hours but I won’t bore you with all that.
We were attending the local BOB event around the corner, in the old Post Office, a couple of months ago when someone mentioned this new coffee shop. Well we had to check it for ourselves so decided to head there the following day. What a lovely surprise! The coffee they sell is by Atkinsons of Lancaster, which is always good, even though I only ever really drink decaf.
Since we discovered it we make any excuse to head there and it’s especially lovely on a glorious, sunny day.
This is, for me, by far the best cafe in our City and I want to support it as much as possible. I love that it’s a family run independent and they are doing lots of things right. The decor is quite unlike anything else in this City, that I call a pretend City due to how we achieved that status. They have used local furniture designers to make the fixtures and fittings and they haven’t done anything too fussy. No dark brown leather sofas or dodgy looking prints of coffee plantations, just well thought out, simple, stylish pieces. The coffee is perfect and there are usually plenty of very lovely sweet and sticky cakes to choose from. The music could do with a little tweaking but they did suggest that we put a spotify play list together and they would happily play it when we came in.
This place would be even more of a little haven for me if the food was a little more on the ‘healthy’ side. I know that’s a very personal preference but as I’m not supposed to eat pastry or cake (I do let it slide on occasions) and I realise a lot of others have intolerances it would just make it easier for me to frequent this lovely establishment a little more. The tarts were delicious but a more interesting lovely green side salad would have been even better. I’m finding folk who own/run cafes and restaurants are slowly starting to take on board that not all people want bread and pastry and are starting to think a little outside the box. I’m hoping as this little hideaway become more popular, that we’ll see a change of this sort here. I’d love someone to bake a cake or serve a desert where the main ingredients weren’t sugar and flour. I’m secretly hoping and praying they make an avocado cheescake sometime soon and then I shall be telling our friends to get there too.
So really there is very little to complain about and a LOT to love about this place. I can see will will become pretty regular fixtures here.
Having started a little coffee and chat group with North Folk Gather I’m wondering how many people would like to have a meet up in this great little place?
Is there a favourite family run or independent cafe or restaurant near you that you want to share? Who knows… maybe the North Folk could Gather for a coffee and chat!
Have a glorious weekend and see you soon. x
So over on Instagram I’ve been posting a few photos of the sugar free, grain free, gluten free, yeast free recipes we’ve been cooking up over the last few weeks. I’m changing the foods I eat not because I need to lose weight, although it’s definitely an added bonus, but because of lifelong health issues. I don’t want to go too deep into that just yet, only to say I have something called candida which I’m trying to deal with. You can read more on that here and there are some of the recipes I found here too.
I’ve promised for a couple of weeks to put together a list of the foods and links to recipes for some of my followers I’ve been chatting with.
I don’t pretend to be an expert in health and wellbeing matters but I’m learning as I go along and I have the help of a fantastic nutritionist that I skype with from the USA. She has been mentored by Chris Kresser who is the guy to know when it comes to a Paleo lifestyle. That isn’t what I’m trying to do but I certainly use the tips and recipes as the basic clean eating principles are the same.
All content of this post is just what works for me and won’t work for everyone. I don’t eat lots of meats so I struggle to find things I want to eat and we find recipes and adjust them for what I am allowed. Please just use this as a guide and I will write more posts relating to food/recipes and my experiences later on.
I’ve learnt so much in the last few months about sugars, protein, carbs and fats. I’ve been advised to avoid grains, dairy and gluten as well as follow a candida diet. Protein rich food 3 meals a day will help stabilise your blood sugar levels and stop the sugar slumps that I faced on a daily basis. Protein for breakfast was the biggest change for me. I used to eat porridge, weetabix and shredded wheat for breakfast as it was quick and easy. Not anymore. Below is a guide to what I choose to eat and some of the recipes I have found on candida or paleo sites and others where I’ve just substituted the flours and sugars for alternatives that are better for me. I like to use Xylitol in sweet recipes but I only use half the recommended sugar amount of any recipe as I think foods can actually be too sweet when they really don’t need to be. Avoid artificial sweeteners as much as possible. These are usually hidden in ‘low fat’ items. If you can’t understand an ingredient on the back of a packet or jar don’t buy it!
So what do I eat for breakfast now? Eggs… pretty much every day. Boiled, scrambled, poached, with coconut/almond bread, spinach, gluten free sausages, bacon. There are so many ways of doing eggs and they only take a few minutes. I used to cook porridge on the hob for 4 minutes and that’s just the same amount of time it takes to boil an egg. Bacon is quick to grill whist the eggs are on and sausages we cook the night before or a few days before and warm up when needed. Remember you only need a palm sized amount of protein. I may have one sausage and poached egg, couple of eggs scrambled with a slice or two of bacon, but not smoked bacon. Some people prefer to stay away from pork as they are usually not as good quality meat as some but that’s personal choice. I use a tiny spot of ketchup if I feel the need as ok’d by my nutritionist.
DINNER & TEA:
We make these recipes at the weekend and double the amount of any recipe so we make more than enough for 2 or even 3 or 4 meals for the week.
I’ve been making a pretty easy chicken korma for a few years that I got off bbcgoodfood.com. I remove the onion as my son doesn’t like it. I change the stock to bouillon, which you can get in most supermarkets, and the creme fraiche to full fat natural yoghurt. I also use quite a large nob of ginger and add medium curry powder for the extra kick and use about a tablespoon of garam masala. I can make this easy within 30 mins and I always make double or more so I can have the rest either for a dinner later in the week or for a quick warm up tea. I have less than 1/2 cup of rice with this each time and I always have white rice as there is less arsnic in white than brown. It’s up to you what you choose.
Beef Burger and sweet potato wedges (no bun) We use Jamie Olivers Ultimate burger and chips recipe. We just leave out the mustard & parmesan and use flaxseed instead of breadcrumbs. Add a little paprika instead of the mustard if you like a little kick. If you can’t find the recipe as i don’t think it’s online you could try this one. I’d use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil but that’s just me.
Meatballs (use the same recipe for burgers but form them into meatballs), courgette linguine & ratatouille.
Chicken and courgette burgers with yam chips (no bun). You can peel and chop the yam well in advance and just keep them in a bowl of water until you are ready to use them.
Beef stew (substitute the flour for almond flour), veggies and sweet potato wedges (peel, chop and chuck in oven with melted lard)
Baked butternut squash (we miss out the feta, pine nuts and olives (I don’t like Olives!)
Tuna mix (tin tuna or fresh, chopped cherry toms, cucumber, sweet bell peppers, few twist of the pepper mill and mix it all together with cottage cheese) squished ripe avocado on paleo bread, salad leaves optional.
Stuffed sweet bell peppers with tuna mix
Coconut and apple chicken liver pate (personally I struggle to eat chicken livers but if you like it it’s worth a go.)
Cauliflower base pizza, for the sauce mix with passata a good amount of tom puree, crush garlic, fresh chopped basil S&P. We cut strips of yellow pepper, courgette, halve the baby plum toms and instead of mozarella we use cottage cheese… yum!
Lemon and blueberry cake, have a small slice with full fat natural yoghurt and a couple of berries or a sprinkle of mixed spice. Try not to do it every day or every meal
Fluffy pancakes there are loads of recipes but I like to use these. Again add full fat natural yoghurt and a couple of berries or a sprinkle of mixed spice
Full fat natural yoghurt and a couple of berries or a sprinkle of mixed spice
Ripe plantain fried in mixed spice and cinnamon
Cookies I use xylitol instead of sugar and I half the amount in the recipe. These are actually made for my son but I may have one occasionally and by occasionally I mean 2 in the week if I’m desperate
Water (plenty of it!)
Decaf tea and coffee
Fruit teas, just make sure they are good quality
Cold fruit tea, if you have a sodastream then cold fizzy fruit tea
Almond and coconut milk check they are unsweetened (I also use almond or coconut in my decaf tea and coffee)
Oh yeah I’m still allowed to drink my alcohol drink of choice which is a whiskey but instead of the coke I have it with soda water. I do occasionally drink it with the soda water and a splash of coke but I can happily drink it without. I had to slowly reduce the amount of coke which took a few weeks but now I don’t mind it.
Depending on how you feel and your reasons for changing your diet then you can still have little treats but it’s a case of thinking differently about treats. I don’t see that big bag of sweets any more as being a treat! I just know it will put me right back where I don’t want to be. Instead we keep a bar of 85% dark chocolate in the fridge and just have couple of blocks when I’m in desperate need or have had a hard day.
The hardest thing is the going out to restaurants. The easiest thing is to completely avoid it but that isn’t us. Instead we only eat out no more than once every two weeks, unless absolutely necessary. We don’t have a starter and we don’t have a desert. We make the better choices when it comes to the meal. We like Pizza Express and we used to all have three courses and I would drink freshly squeezes orange juice by the bucket load. Now I have a pizza or salad and look for a protein rich one and just ask them to remove stuff I shouldn’t eat with some exceptions, one tiny bit isn’t going to hurt right? I have now started carrying with me a tub of almonds, fruit tea bags and a small flask of almond milk. People are very accepting of this behaviour, or maybe its just my cheek?! Either way it’s your health and well being. If restaurants want my family’s business then they will have to accept my terms providing they are reasonable requests of course. This was always a stumbling block for me in the past but now it seems second nature to me. If you go somewhere regularly you get to the know the staff and they you so you can switch things up a bit and ask them to alter the meal slightly, most restaurants are very accommodating these days.
I realise I haven’t explained much about my reasons for this lifestyle, diet change but it was more about helping give others the ideas of what they can eat without changing too much. The biggest change is not using ANY pre packaged food with the exception of ketchup but we are also going to make our own soon. There are recipes for everything but I also realise it’s a big lifestyle change to cook all your food from scratch but once you start it’s difficult to stop.
If I buy anything for our family that isn’t home-made I always check the sugar content. 4g sugar = 1 teaspoon. This for me is the most evil of all substances and it is the one I loved the most but starting eating this way has reduced my sugar intake by approx 98% and I feel better for it.
I’ve suffered from depression, albeit a mild depression, for a long time and that heaviness and darkness has lifted. I’ve noticed that I’m smiling more, jumping about like a kid again, wanting to go out on adventures and I’m stressing the small stuff a lot less. On top of that I’ve lost 10lbs without doing too much exercise. Next on my list is a proper exercise regime but that’s another post.
Just one thing to remember – any change however small, is the start. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day or have a naughty snack or just completely indulge. Tomorrow is a new day. It’s taken me 10 years from learning about candida and 3 previous attempts to get to the place I’m in now. I needed help! I’ve learnt more about food and sugars in the last 6 months than I ever understood before and the small, slow changes I made over the years like reducing sugar in my tea and coffee and choosing some healthier options, like 1 digestive over a packet of jaffa cakes and the like are what have helped change my way of thinking. Changing the bread from soft and fluffy white to more dense, yeast free breads, not eating take away so often or eating out less. It’s these changes that have put me in a good place and now that I’m able to prepare my own food, believe me I know how difficult it is when you are tired and have zero energy, well I now have that energy and willingness. We’ve built up a stock pile in our freezer and fridge and sometimes when we are feeling lazy or we arrive home late we sometimes get the frozen chips out for ease but it’s fairly quick to put some sweet potato wedges in the oven too. The better I feel, the better I eat and the better I feel! (no that’s not a typo). It just keeps on going. I allow myself one of my son’s smarties or one of the biscuits I made now as I’m more able to not need (ok want!) the whole tube or box! I’m no longer hungry every 5 minutes. I eat my 3 meals a day and rarely want anything in-between.
The biggest difference in me? I have energy and life back.
I’d love to know if you have tried this kind of lifestyle before or currently making the change and how its making you feel.
If anyone has any specific questions either email me or leave a comment below. I will reply to them all. If I can affect one person’s life then I’ve done my job.
Health and happiness to you all x
Note: You can follow my food board BITE:me over on pinterest for more ideas.
The atmosphere was warm and friendly, the decor was simple and functional yet stylish, the food was A M A Z I N G! albeit no kids menu, thankfully we packed a little picnic for the little man. The staff seemed a little unprepared but on this occasion I’m going to put that down to being understaffed.
I think this little coffee shop has some B I G ideas and I can’t wait to see what they do in the future. Check out their online shop here too.
Happy mid week all x
Seriously love chocolate? I do! Need to stay off the sugar? I do!
The photos below are making me crave chocolate… do you fancy a box?
*all photos courtesy of @creativelypaleo
Don’t these look absolutely drool worthy delicious! Believe it or not they are sugar free, nut free, soy free, dairy free, grain free and handmade.
Since before Christmas I found the lovely Pru @creativelypaleo on Instagram, or rather she found me. I have a friend who has a lot of health issue and most of those have been found to be food related. For the past 18 months she’s been living a paleolithic lifestyle, I dislike the word diet as this isn’t about weight loss but health and well being.
So, my friend, has gone from constantly feeling tired and not being able to get out of bed to jumping out of bed most mornings and doing rock climbing and the like. She’s back to the person I remember from when I first met her years ago. I have a few problems with certain foods and I consider myself a sugar addict. I realised this when I was hiding packets of biscuits and making excuses to go to the kitchen and hiding the fact that I was eating them from my husband. About 9 years ago, before I had my son, I took sugar out of my diet for 3 months and I was a different person. I also removed bread, anything with yeast, preservatives, additives etc and I was fitter, healthier, my mind was clear and I had so much more energy. Over the years I have gone to eating ‘bad’ food again and I’m sluggish all the time. I started with a personal trainer last year and she got me running and I changed my lifestyle and eating habits to match and I was going great guns. That was until I had a chest infection and, as I do, I left going to the doctors thinking it would go away. It’s now getting on for 6 months and I can’t shift the cough, I’ve stopped running on recommendation by the damn doctors and I’ve taken countless steroids and antibiotics! Now I feel worse than ever. Time for a change!
About a month ago I decided to look into the paleo diet with a little help from my friend and the good old internet. Now, I’m not currently strict with it, but I’m starting and learning as I go along. I’ve started to follow a few paleo IG accounts and I’m so glad Pru found me. This lady has been on the paleo lifestyle for 3 years and is an amazing with food.
One day whilst I was looking through her account I noticed a new link on her profile: SUGAR FREE, PALEO CHOCOLATE! Well I couldn’t resist and clicked through to the link.
She is trying to start a business and needs a little funding to help buy better equipment to produce a smoother chocolate. Well straight away I decided to sponsor it. There is so much out there at the moment about Paleo but it seems to be more acknowledged in America than it does here and certainly in London more than it does around the North of England.
Clicking the sponsor button was really a no brainer. Being a small business myself and having help along the way how could I not put my hand in my pocket and make a small contribution to help this lovely lady basically help me in the end. I see a little light at the end of the tunnel that I can still enjoy some of what I love.
If you have a sugar addiction that you want to stop or you have dietary issues then paleo chocolate is the way forward. I find it very difficult to give up sweet foods and this way I can enjoy a little of what I love without it harming me.
You really do need to go and look at her indiegogo page and make a donation and you do get something in return for your donation. I’m looking forward to my first taste soon of some of the lovely chocolates she’s already experimenting with. She can’t go the whole way and start selling this chocolate unless she gets a good chunk of the money to but better equipment. If I could sponsor her the full £2000 then I’d do it in a heartbeat. We all moan that we can’t lose weight or we can’t change our eating habits. We all moan that we need to go on diets and get healthy but how many of us actually get out there and do it. This lady and my friend are proof that it works but unless all the people who say ‘I wish there was something I could do’, actually do something then things won’t change. Only you can make those changes and if you don’t you’ve only got yourself to blame.
There are only 4 days left to this campaign and then the chance has gone. Maybe not forever as I have a feeling Pru will do everything she can to get the equipment she needs one way or another.
Go on what are you waiting for!
Best of luck Pru xxx
Day 2 in Lonon…
I had to write a totally separate post as I realised I have taken way too many photos… oops.
Stephen found a great little place for breakfast not too far from the hotel. We purposely didn’t have breakfast at the hotel as we wanted to experience both the hotel and everything surrounding it. We knew there would be fantastic places to eat so decided to find a different independent place every day.
We rocked up at the Book Club which is rather a big space and my god they served a great brekkie!!! Stephen found this place after a bit of searching online and wanted to come here for the typography exhbition. To be totally honest I was totally blown away by the place and, that may or may not have anything to do with the fact that I was absolutely starving!!! I love me some industrial with metro tiles and brick and just nice relaxed design, so this place was perfect.
Please click through for more photos xREAD MORE
Ok so I keep posting pics of the only cake I can eat right now. It’s a simple recipe I found years ago but have now started making without sugar. Instead I use a product called Xylitol.
The reason I have started using Xylitol is I have a sugar addiction. The sugar addiction is linked with Candidiasis, or Candida for short, which is an overgrowth of the bad bacteria in your gut. According to stuff I’ve read your good bacteria should be at 80% and the bad bacteria should be at 20%. In Candida sufferers it can actually be the other way around. The problems this cause are varied and widespread. Most of the UK population will have it but never diagnose it because doctors don’t recognise it. As a small child I remember my teenage parents sleeping whilst I awoke in the mornings and being hungry I would help myself to whatever I could reach. My breakfast would often consist of wagon wheels and jaffa cakes with a lovely glass of undiluted vimto!!!! This was probably the start of my terrible eating and frankly it’s taken years to grow [read: forced myself to change] out of and start to eat healthier foods. After living abroad for 4 years, where the air was relatively clean, as I lived on a camp in the middle of nowhere, I returned to England and a few short years later I was diagnosed with asthma, due to pollution and house dust and have been on steroids for this ever since. My poor diet contributed to extended time without periods and when I did get them they would be so painful I could hardly move. Enter Mr. Pill. I now know that these two main factors plus many other small things contributed to my Candida. For a few years I was a vegetarian and it took me me quite some time to realise that the vegetarian meat substitute Quorn gave me terrible stomach pains/cramps and that’s because it was made of mushrooms which to someone with candida is pretty much like taking poison.
Since my teenage years I’ve suffered with terrible itchy inner ears and throat, aching joints, thrush, tiredness, foggy head, migraines and headaches and many other minor things that I now know as the signs of candida. I don’t want to go too in depth about Candida and it’s ailments or cure but I do think it’s worth anyone checking the list of symptoms online and seeing if they are experiencing any of the symptoms. I went to see an alternative therapist about my back, and neck injury as doctors couldn’t find any issue and when I arrived, just after eating my lunch, I laid on her table and tummy started gurgling… so embarrassing and how many times has that happened to you? I was mortified and she began to ask lots of questions and told me to look into Candida online. She also told me about the spit test. Yes it sounds disgusting but its a good indication as to whether you probably have it or not.
SPIT TEST: Put a glass of tap water beside your bed when you go to sleep at night. And if the glass is empty when you wake… no I’m only messing, before you do anything else the following morning spit in the glass of water. If the spit stays frothy and on top of the water after a minute or so then your gut flora is probably ok. If you find it starts to spindle like thread to the bottom of the glass then that’s a pretty good indicator that you have bad gut flora and therefore candida.
If you think there’s a possibility you may have candida then there are two things you can do. 1. Ignore it and carry on as you were. 2. Look into and look for recipes and the foods that can help you alleviate the problems/symptons.
I learnt all about candida about 8 years ago and I’ve tried to do it twice before. I had fantastic results both times but each time I fell off the wagon in a big way. You really need help or just to be in the right place to fully give it your all. I did the best I could all week and had a treat like a takeaway or a sweet pudding or alcohol at the weekend. After all my candida issues weren’t as severe as I’ve heard form some people. So that’s all I’m gonna say about Candida but if you have any questions I’m happy to answer them and if it does take peoples interest then I may write a little bit more in another post.
So sugar is quite a massive thing to take out of someones diet especially, if like me, they are a total sweetie junkie! I could eat cola bottles for breakfast, a twix for lunch and a bag of sports mix for tea [not really, but it shows how much I love sweet, sugary food]. The first time I tried getting rid of all sugar, and that includes fruit, I was told about stevia which is a herbal sweetener but I hate the the taste so pretty much just used it in baking candida friendly biscuits and puddings. I’ve since discovered Xylitol! My saviour. It looks just like sugar and is much nearer in taste to sugar and you replace it 1 for 1 so following recipes which use sugar is easy peasy.
For a while I need to not have any fruit, but I’m allowed lemons, so any orange rind I just substitute with lemon rind. Sugar I substitute with Xylitol, milk I substitute with soya milk [i use the sweetened with apple juice kind because I can’t stand the taste of plain soya milk] and any flour I just make sure is wholemeal although I’m going to start playing around with spelt and almond and coconut flours.
So after cutting out about 98% of any sugars I used to have this cake is my one true friend and a slice a day is ok. [It’s really my craving for sweet things that I need to control]
A selection of candida related blogs to check out:
FINALLY! I hear you say… THE RECIPE. Get on with it.
If you have a sweet tooth this will taste a little bland at first but for those who don’t have a sweet tooth this will possibly be just like eating fruit bread, without the fruit…
80g xylitol (The recipe originally calls for 175g sugar! It really doesn’t need it.)
150-175ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
140g grated carrots (about 3 medium) I use the finer side of the grater
Grated zest of 1 lemon
175g wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp (heaped) ground cinnamon
1 tsp (heaped) mixed spice
½ tsp grated nutmeg (freshly grated will give you the best flavour)
If making for a fancy occasion and you’re ok with sugar than drizzle over some icing.
For the icing
175g icing sugar
1½-2 tbsp orange juice or tepid water
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Line the base and sides of an 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment. I cut two pieces and lay across and use a little unsalted butter to help it stick to the sides.
2. Tip the xylitol into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Lightly mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in the grated carrots and lemon rind. You can experiment by adding lemon juice too if you like.
3. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then sift into the bowl. Lightly mix all the ingredients – when everything is evenly amalgamated stop mixing. The mixture will be fairly soft and almost runny.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack. (You can freeze the cake at this point.)
Beat together the frosting ingredients in a small bowl until smooth – you want the icing about as runny as single cream. Set the cake on a serving plate and boldly drizzle the icing back and forth in diagonal lines over the top, letting it drip down the sides. (I only do this if it’s for a special occasion or we are having guests who have a slightly sweet tooth. My 6 year old loves it without as well.)
1 – Fruit Salad, Martha Stewart | 2 – Vanilla Ice Cubes, Oh My Veggies | 3 – Striped Ice Pops, Martha Stewart | 4 – Frozen Banana Pops, Skinny Taste | 5 – Frozen Mango, Kiwi and Raspberry Pops, Skinny Taste
1 – Baked Garlic Cilantro Fries, The Talking Kitchen | 2 – Galette de Pomme de Terre, New York Times | 3 – Potato Rosemary Pizza, Simply So Good | 4 – Sweet Potato Cakes, Gooseberry Mooseberry | 5 – Baked Garlic Curry Fries, The Post Punk Kitchen
I always feel more motivated to cook in summer, and I always want to try something different to the boring winter stodge I’ve got to accustomed to. One vegetable I always think of as slightly dull is the potato. Beige, round and a bit knobbly with the occasional green thing sprouting out of it, they’re really not the most attractive things. I’ll never forget learning the French for potato – pomme de terre – and thinking it was a bit glamorous for such a boring thing. It translates to ‘Apple of the Earth’ which sounds so romantic and intruguing… Yeah. I know there are hundreds of recipes for quirky potato dishes, but I always fall into that rut of making baked potato, mashed potato, boiled potato, potato potato potato…
So I’ve compiled a little collection of amazing potato recipes. From pizza to potato cakes, there’s so many things you can do with one beige lump that’s been dug out of the ground. They’re not as average as you think, and with the right herbs and spices they can taste like something you’d never think a potato could taste like.
I bet you’ve never seen the word ‘potato’ in a blog post this much.
If you have a go at any of the recipes, let me know what you thought! I can’t wait to try the pizza.
1 – Multi-Positionable Snack Stand, The Triple Triangle | 2 – Polar Bear Ice Tray, Black and Blum | 3 – Asparagus and Goat Cheese Galette Recipe, Simple Bites | 4 – St Germaine Cocktails, Style Me Pretty | 5 – BBQ Spice Selection, Dell Cove Spices
I thought as though the first day of summer is soon approaching, it would be apt to feature something that we all love – the classic summer barbecue. I love nothing more than to sit out in the garden or on a campsite with the smell of a barbecue drifting past, cocktail in hand and amazing food to choose from. I live in a first floor apartment at the moment so sitting in the garden isn’t something that comes very easily… Although there is a beautiful park right outside my window. I felt a bit self conscious eating there at first, but it seems to be a ritual in summer with people bringing along barbecues and all sorts of things.
This week I’ve featured the Dialene Better-Maid Multi-Positionable Snack Stand from our store – it would be perfect for sitting in the middle of the table with snacks in (my choice always being Bombay Mix). I’ve also found a delicious recipe for an asparagus and goat cheese galette – the perfect light, savoury pie to be shared on plastic plates.
Style Me Pretty have featured my favourite drink of all time – St Germain – in their cocktail recipe, and I can tell you from experience that it is WONDERFUL. St Germain is an elderflower liqueur, and is so perfect for summer. It adds a really light and refreshing taste and is great with fruit juices. Who doesn’t love elderflower cordial? I’m not a big drinker at all but this stuff is pretty awesome.
What’s your ideal garden party set up? Do you have a trusty recipe that always wins over the guests? I can’t wait to try out this galette and see what everyone thinks of it. Let me know if you try it too.