Boost your hormones

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The end of summer always comes tinged with a certain duality. On the one hand it is fab to be back in my old groove, make green juice, see my house with new eyes after being away and meeting up with friends I’ve not seen for a while. On the other hand, however, it is the stark realisation that we’re heading for colder weather, routine, school runs, more rain and cold and so on. I’m not sure I’m there just yet.

As a foodie and a health nut I tend to focus my attention on what’s going on in the fridge in times of uncertainty – there is something very calming about the restocking of supplies which after a long time away are utterly depleted. Summers always means falling off the health wagon one way or the other. Too much of everything. And being a woman in my late 40s I know there are things I need to eat and drink to be healthy and hormonally balanced.Β  (more…)

High notes of Cambridge

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Espresso Library in Cambridge

On a recent visit to Cambridge I was struck by two things; the city’s incredible beauty and the abundance of small, cool cafes serving up a variety of vegan, gluten-free fayre to the city’s students. There is something special about university towns. Bicycles are a key mode of transport, there is a distinct lack of chains in comparison to independently run cafes and boutiques and students seem open and willing to embrace healthy ways of eating. We saw green juices and smoothies, gluten-free bread, quinoa salads, sweet potato brownies and organic coffee. The cafes and restaurants were simply decorated, sometimes in converted industrial spaces, and featured knowledgable staff and live music.

Compared to my corner of South West London, with the obligatory Cafe Nero, Costa Coffee, Pizza Express and Cook, Cambridge’s cafe and restaurant culture felt refreshing and forward-looking. Perhaps students should be part of city planning as catering for them must be an art form in itself. By nature is has got to be inexpensive, central, healthy, quirky, cool and generous – most students we saw sat with laptops and were in no rush to leave.

Even if you are not interested in college life or food you can always do punting. Your arms will ache but it is brilliant fun and you’ll see all the beautiful colleges from the river – just don’t fall in! Below are some of the places we went to and loved.

Some of the places we loved…

Hot Numbers Coffee

These two great coffee places – one located in the city centre close to the river and the other in an old brewery that plays host to live acts – buy their green coffee beans directly from traders who source what they consider the most interesting and sustainable and often organically certified coffee directly from the farmers. We tried their filter coffee and organic espresso which were both great. The gluten-free bread we had with breakfast actually looked and tasted like ‘normal’ bread and was toasted to perfection. Other brekkie items were porridge with cinnamon and honey. See their menu here.

The Gwydir St. branch has a full programme of live gigs that are posted on their website and the night we visited, the father/daughter jazz duo (Rachel Johnson) performed a fantastic set. Really worth seeing.

The Old Norfolk Street Bakery

The fantastic gluten-free bread we had at Hot Numbers Coffee was actually courtesy of this little Portuguese bakery tucked away in a residential area. They specialise in a selection of British and Portuguese artisan breads and pastries that are world-famous in Cambridge and have been written about in The Guardian’s top ten budget cafes and restaurants in Cambridge. If you are there, stop by and get a gluten-free loafΒ  – but go early, when we came to buy they had sold out!

Espresso Library

We came to this quirky, industrial looking cafe for lunch and were really pleasantly surprised. They served a great selection of fruit and veg juices that were simply delicious. My salad was divine and filled with mango, rocket, spinach, asparagus, juicy cherry tomatoes , sweet potato and sesame seeds. The generous slice of Frittata was filled with feta cheese, sweet potato and spinach with a lovely side salad. We walked out feeling light, healthy and virtuous.

 

Get your berries on

  Cold winters and moderately warm summers have some benefits. Berries. Sweden may not be your top destination for a tan but when it comes to edibles readily found in nature you can’t go wrong. Red currants, black currants, gooseberries, raspberries, wild strawberries, cherries, lingonberries and blueberries are all readily available and plentiful wild. Tart and crisp,  they add colour, texture and nutrients during the summer months and it is a great way for kids to pick their own breakfast dressed in pjs and armed with buckets. 

Filled with anti oxidants, potassium and good fibre, berries are natures way of keeping us well. They can be mixed into smoothies, porridge, granola or eaten on their own and it’s all good. This morning’s breakfast was a simple but delicious berry mixture and avo toast. My perfect start. X

  
Swedish berry mixture

1 cup berry mixture (red currants, cherries, gooseberries for example)

Small handful pumpkin seeds

5 mint leaves, chopped

2tbs coconut yogurt

Juice 1/2 lemon

Mix berries, herbs and seeds. Pour over lemon juice. Serve with dollop of your choice of yogurt. Enjoy! X 

3 minute bowl

  In a rush but want healthy food fast? Whip up this super nutritious pot of veggies. I say pot because it’s difficult to define a bunch of veg and legumes that can be added hot or cold. The thing that makes all the difference to me is to cut things up small, like really small. After that it almost doesn’t matter what you add, it will be tasty. 

We’re in emptying mode – holidays are looming and who wants to leave things to fester whilst being away? So this afternoon I quickly took out a few things from the fridge, like carrots, beetroot, a lot of celery, walnuts, bunch of parsley, spring onions, left over lentils and some feta. 

  
The chopping doesn’t take a minute and I prepare all in a big metal bowl with salad tongs to really mix things around. I then add olive oil GENEROUSLEY, as good fat is good, and finish off with a squeezed lemon and herb salt. That is it! Super healthy, uber delicious and fast. If you like, add some cold chicken or salmon to the bowl to satisfy meat cravings. Happy snacking!! X

3 minute bowl 

(Enough for 1 hungry person or 2 starter sizes) 

1 carrot

1 beetroot

1/2 head celery 

1/2 cup lentils

Handful of parsley

Small handful walbuts

Handful of feta

Olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt &pepper to taste

Chop everything into small, small pieces, crush walnuts roughly and put in mixing bowl. Drizzle in olive oil and lemon juice, season to taste. Quick and easy! Enjoy! X

Sweet craving busters

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When I first started off on my green journey my bible was Kris Carr’sCrazy Sexy Diet’. Kris was diagnosed with incurable and inoperable cancer of the liver back in 2003 (a rare sarcoma called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma or EHE) and set out to find an active way to heal and get better, figuring the wait and see approach advocated by her doctors was not going to be the route for her.

After her poignant documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer, which got featured on Oprah, she went on to write the ‘Crazy Sexy Diet’ book to share what she had found on her journey into health and healing. The big message was that if you want better health you have to do a lot of figuring out on your own – medicine is a business and not necessarily geared to making you feel better. See trailer for Crazy Sexy Cancer here.

12 years on and she is still here with lots of energy, good blood value and a strong immune system. Whatever she is doing seems to be working. Due to her likable personality and honesty she has become one of the most influential and public faces of the vegan and alkaline movement with her particular voice helping thousands of peeps around the world get more curious about taking health into their own hands by chosing and using food as medicine.

One of the chapters that really resonated with me was her writings on sugar and cravings, which is something many of us may have issues with. I naturally gravitate towards savory foods 9 times out of 10 but occasionally I will fall head first into a bag of wine gums or liquorice all sorts without knowing what happened. Yes it raises our mood hormone dopamine so we feel better which could be one of the reasons we reach for the sweet stuff in times of trouble. But due to my interest in nutrition I know that sugar is acid forming and can cause inflammation in the body so finding ways to turn a craving into something else is an interesting concept to me. Here are Kris Carr’s very own top tips on how to curb a sweet craving. Bring it on!

Kris Carr’s Top Tips for busting a sweet craving

– Have a high protein and fat snack, like nuts, seeds and avocado.

– Sip some herbal tea with stevia

– Blend a green smoothie with coconut fat and avocado

– Rice cake with almond butter and/or baked sweet potato

– Almond milk and cacao – naturally lovely hot (or cold) chocolate.

– Fruit salad with cherries, pear and black berries. Or any other berry compositions you can think of.

– Brush teeth, floss and gargle with natural minty mouthwash. Sends clear signals that the office of eating is temporarily closed for business.

– Go for walk, have sex, take a bubble bath or cuddle your children or animals.

As sugar is a highly addictive substance, reducing or stopping intake also reduces the cravings so keep at it. I know that when I keep up with good fats and protein I don’t crave sweets. A teaspoon of coconut oil in the morning or a fatty piece of fish can be all it takes for the craving to subside. Try it and see how it works for you. I’d love to hear what you think.

Happy Thursday! x

 

A little something extra…

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The morning ritual of drinking a cup of warm water with 1/2 lemon is nowadays a household habit.Β  Known for kick starting the digestion, alkalise the body due to the chameleon like qualities of lemon (acidic on the outside, alkaline on the inside) and for adding anti-oxidant vitamin C into the body before anything else – starting the day right has become a growing obsession. (more…)

Green Swede Protein Smoothie

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A filling smoothie is sometimes the best solution for time poor, nutrition yearning busy bodies. I certainly know that when I’m rushed – with eating being something I have to fit in rather than linger over – a smoothie is the go-to solution. The beauty of smoothies is that is all works. (more…)