learning to live a happy, healthy life

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Sunday, 31 January 2016

How To Get A Better Nights Sleep


Getting a good nights sleep is so important, if we don't have a good quality sleep we feel groggy, irritable, down, tired and exhausted. As sleep is so crucial to every part of our lives we need to make sure we're doing it right, because it can greatly improve your health mentally and physically.


Why is sleep so important though? Well, many restorative functions occur when we're getting 40 winks, these include muscle growth, cell & tissue repair and protein synthesis. Sleep is also vital for staying slim and reducing signs of ageing. Also, the better your sleep the more alert and refreshed you feel!
How much sleep should we get? I'm a big believer in the fact everyone is different, the amount of sleep I need could be different to the amount you need. We all have different lifestyles, jobs, demands, ages, health, etc but usually adults need 7-8 hours sleep a night - but that doesn't mean you should go to bed at 3am and wake up 10am! The best hours to sleep are between 10am - 6am, this is the time our body will be better at falling into a deeper sleep and you should feel the more energised and refreshed if you sleep around those timings.
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Friday, 29 January 2016

Hazelnut & Black Bean Brownies


Who doesn't love a gooey, rich, indulgent chocolate brownie? They're a classic treat that I started to really miss when I gave up sugar. I've made a few healthy brownies but nothings quite hit the spot or felt like it was a real, proper brownie until I made these!

These brownies are made with black beans, yes you read that right, but trust me they are such a genius addition and you can't taste them one bit! The black beans really create such an amazing texture that's fudgey, delicious and like that of a brownie you'd buy from a bakery. The hazelnuts I've included really add to these sweet delights too - hazelnuts and chocolate is a match made in heaven!
The best part is that you can enjoy these yummy brownies if you're following a healthy/plant-based diet as they're completely vegan, 100% gluten free and don't contain any refined sugar or artificial ingredients....win win!



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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Benefits Of Drinking Lemon Water


First thing every morning, about 20 minutes before I eat my breakfast, I drink a big glass of warm lemon water. I've been doing this every morning for about a year now and it's become part of my daily routine that's extremely important and if I miss it out for any reason I don't feel quite so great for the rest of the day. But why is it something I swear by? What's so great about the humble lemon?


I've had digestive issues for any years, and it wasn't until March last year when I was diagnosed with coeliac disease that I understood why my poor stomach was so delicate. After I got diagnosed I decided I wanted to do all I could to help my tummy out, to aid my digestion in any way I could and to make things a little easier for my body to cope with. I'd heard of how great lemon was before, but hadn't experimented too much in how it actually made me feel so I decided to give it a go, what  did I have to lose? The promise of it's anti-bloating and digestion helping benefits sounded too good to miss out on.
From day 1 of drinking lemon water I noticed a difference - my stomach felt less delicate, my bloated wasn't as bad and that sore feeling in my whole tummy wasn't quite so unbearable! The more I continued sipping on lemon water every day the better my digestion became and I started to see other benefits too.

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Monday, 25 January 2016

Tomato, Butterbean & Basil Stuffed Mushrooms


Mushrooms are one of my favourite vegetables and I include them in a lot of my meals. I adore the thick, meaty, wonderful texture and the flavour of them - plus they go with practically any dish!
As I love mushrooms so much I decided to make a meal with mushrooms as the focus, say hello to these delicious tomato, butterbean and basil stuffed mushrooms.


My Tomato, Butterbean & Basil Stuffed Mushrooms are simply divine - they're bursting with amazing flavours like basil, spicy chilli, sweet red pepper and tangy lemon combined with hearty butterbeans  and creamy tahini for an amazing combination. They're super tasty enjoyed only with a side salad but they also work brilliantly as a main meal with sweet potato wedges and spinach or perhaps some herb & lemon quinoa.

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Sunday, 24 January 2016

How Yoga Helps Your Body & Mind


If you'd have told me when I was 14 that I'd become a self-confessed yoga addict I wouldn't have believed you. I wouldn't have even thought I'd ever own a yoga mat, let alone more than one!

A few years ago I was at an unhealthy point in my life, both in my body and in my mind. I hated exercise so rarely did any, I didn't understand about nutrition, I didn't like or appreciate my body so didn't treat it well, I was unfit, I suffered with back pain and I was crippled by depression, anxiety and horrendously low self esteem.
One day I decided to try yoga, I wish I could remember why and how I managed to find the effort to do it but I'm so unbelievably happy and thankful that I did. Yoga has become a hugely important part of my life, it's helped me feel stronger, it's aided me in my journey to self-acceptance and self-love, it's taught me to be more mindful, I've become less anxious and I feel like a light in my spirit was switched back on. I'd go as far as to say yoga changed my life, which is why I endlessly encourage others to start practicing because I no doubt it'd benefit every human being on this planet and I'd love more people to find the joy in this art that I have. However, people can be very judgmental, skeptical or even turn their nose up at the thought of yoga, to some it's 'just stretching' but I promise there's a whole load more to gain from regular practice than purely increased flexibility.


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Friday, 22 January 2016

Healthy Shopping Tips


Shopping can lead to unhealthy temptations, maybe your favourite chocolate bar is on sale or perhaps the selection of cheeses is too good to resist. There's temptation everywhere and it can be difficult to steer clear of the processed foods and refrain from putting them in your trolley, but we all know that if you purchase these products you'll end up eating them and that's not what when we're aiming for a healthy, happy body. 

As time's gone on I've found my self control to have become a million times better and I no longer even have the slightest urge to buy sweets, croissants, cupcakes or pizza. This is partly due to my body adjusting and no longer craving artificial ingredients (did you know they're addictive?) but also because I love the food I eat so much and know how wonderful eating clean makes me feel...I don't want to change that, why would I? 
If you're at the beginning of your healthy, happy journey maybe you're struggling with sticking to only the nourishing food on your shopping list and always end up grabbing other items you maybe didn't really want. If that sounds like you then I've got some advice! 



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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Healthy Jam Tarts


I have really vivid memories of eating jam tarts when I was younger - they were one of my favourite sweet treats and devouring one as an after school snack or enjoying one at my Granny's house was a tasty part of my day.

You don't need me to tell you that shop bought jam tarts are packed full of nasties like refined sugar, white flour and preservatives so they're not something we should be feeding our body if we're looking for health and happiness. Don't despair though, as I've come up with the tastiest gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free jam tarts that will blow you away - they're so unbelievably tasty yet so wonderfully good for you.




My jam tarts are made using brown rice flour, ground almonds and dates for the pastry which is the dreamiest flavour combination and it even feels and tastes like proper pastry - you'd never have a clue it was healthy! The jam inside is the recipe I put on my blog not so long ago - it's blackberry jam made with chia seeds as the binding ingredients and pure maple syrup as a natural sweetener.

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Monday, 18 January 2016

Why You Should Soak Your Oats


As someone with coeliac my digestive system isn't that forgiving when I consume oats (they're similar in structure to gluten), even though pure oats are naturally gluten free the jury is still out as to whether oats are 100% safe to eat if you have coeliac. Most oats are produced in a factory where wheat or other gluten containing products are produced, so they can easily become contaminated. You can of course get gluten free oats, but some coeliacs still have a problem with these grains, and that's due to the change in production compared to what it was like years ago - everyone used to soak all their grains before they ate them or cooked with them, but this process has become lost in modern day life where everything is sped up and we're hungry for 'fast food'.



All grains contain something called phytic acid, which if left untreated binds minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron in the digestive tract which makes blocks our bodies from absorbing the goodness. This can lead to long term adverse effects, IBS and can be especially troublesome for coeliacs who have trouble absorbing nutrients anyway. Soaking the grains over night allows the enzymes to break down and neutralise phytic acid, thus hugely improving their nutritional benefits and your stomach happiness as well!
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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Regain Your Energy


Something I used to suffer with horribly is chronic fatigue. I'd feel constantly exhausted; so much so I'd have to take daily naps, my brain would feel like it wasn't working, I couldn't concentrate and it was making me feel so ill, sluggish and not like the young, full of energy girl I should be.
Since I've completely cut out gluten from my diet I feel so much better, but I've had help from other things along the way. It took me quite a bit of trial and error, but after a heap of research and switching things up I concurred the feeling of constant weariness!
Here are my top tips to help you regain your energy -

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Friday, 15 January 2016

Pesto Pasta With Courgette & Peas


Pesto pasta is one of those dishes I never tire of, I find it so incredibly comforting and the flavours of basil and pine nuts is just delicious. I've always loved this dish, but since embarking on my healthy lifestyle change I haven't found a good ready-made pesto with healthy ingredients, as they normally contain either sunflower oil or dairy.

I decided to make my own pesto out of completely natural, healthy, vegan ingredients and it turned out so yummy! This pesto tastes so much fresher and full of goodness than the jars you buy from the shelves of your local shop - plus, it's super easy and cheap to make.




The base of this pesto is made from both pine nuts and cashews as I just love the mixture of the two - they create such a rich flavour that's beautifully creamy and thick. The addition of lemon is the best if you like zesty flavours and the olive oil is a much healthier, tastier oil than sunflower oil that's used in shop bought pestos.
You'd never even think about this pesto being healthy and dairy free, but if you miss that cheesy taste then try adding a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast to the mix which is a great vegan, nutritious substitute but even without it the cashews help to mimic the cheese-like texture and flavour.

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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Blackberry Chia Seed Jam


What's more simple and delicious than a piece of yummy toast with sweet, fruity jam?
It's always been one of my go-to comfort breakfasts or a snack on a cold day. The combination of crunchy, organic toast with fresh jam is so satisifying and it makes my tummy feel super happy.

Unfortunately shop-bought jams are loaded with nasties such as sugar, preservatives, artificial ingredients or pectin so they aren't good for our body. The good news is making your own healthy jam is so super easy and tastes even more delicious than anything you could buy from the local shop!



The jam texture is created by the wonderful chia seeds which soak up liquid amazingly and create an amazing gelling power, it's pretty cool! The sweetness comes from the berries, as well as the pure maple syrup that I decided to add which creates the most rich sweetness and isn't bad for us if we make sure to use the pure, raw version that's 100% natural. Then you've got the added zestiness of the lemon juice which also acts as a preservative.

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Monday, 11 January 2016

Which Fats Should You Be Eating?


Let's talk about fats - the fats that are essential for our health, the fats that can help us lose weight, the fats we should be eating more of and the fats we should be avoiding.

There's a common misconception that all fats are bad for us and they make us pile on the pounds, which isn't true of all fats. Some fats aren't good for us, but a lot of fats are essential for our healthy & wellbeing - hence why they're called 'essential fatty acids' and we should be eating them every day to provide us with energy, maintain cell health, boost the immune system, enable our body to absorb nutrients, help our hair to shine & our skin to glow and these good fats are also amazing for the brain.


 The first thing to remember is that not all fats are equal, something that's high in saturated fat isn't the same as something high in unsaturated - your body doesn't react the same way to them.

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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Quinoa & Almond Granola


Granola is one of my favourite foods - well, lets face it most breakfast foods are my favourite! It makes the quickest breakfast when you're in a rush but still provides so much great taste, texture and goodness that will fill you up and help you to power through until lunch. It also makes a great snack, or sprinkle some on top of coconut yogurt and you've got yourself a yummy dessert.

Shop-bought granola, even the ones branded as 'healthy', are almost always packed of sugar, rubbish oils and preservatives, all things we want to avoid if we're aiming for a happy, healthy life. Making granola at home is not only a way to guarantee you're getting a good, healthy breakfast cereal but it tastes far more delicious and is super cheap & quick to make too! You can experiment with lots of different flavour combinations as well, but my current favourite is this quinoa and almond blend which packs a protein punch as well as being really yummy.


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Friday, 8 January 2016

The Importance Of Raw Food


We've all heard about how amazing raw fruit and vegetables - particularly over the last year or so there's been an increase in the amount of hype and attention raw foods have gotten, but why are they so good for us? Isn't eating cooked vegetables the same as eating raw vegetables? Don't you get the same benefits? I never thought there was any difference between eating steamed kale to raw kale but actually there's more of a difference than I ever could have thought! I did lots of research on the matter and found such a wealth of information that I couldn't not share it with you so you too can start to get the maximum benefits from all that wonderful food you put into your body.

Raw foods are foods in their natural, original state that haven't been cooked, heat-treated or processed in any way. They're the answer to so many health concerns and the force that keeps our body looked and feeling young, healthy and glowing. Raw foods contain so many more nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and minerals compared to when they're cooked or processed. Your body will thrive on these raw nutritionat dense foods and the more you eat the less you have to worry about the important pH of your body (more on this at a later date), getting ill or lacking in energy.




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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Cacao, Chia & Mint Energy Balls


Energy balls are my favourite quick snack to make. The take hardly any time to throw together, don't leave you with a heap load of washing up and they taste so sweet and delicious. Not to mention how energised and satisfied you feel after eating one, hence the name!

I love to create different flavour combinations for energy balls and recently I came up with a cacao, chia and mint combination which is totally dreamy!



These cacao, chia and mint energy balls taste like little drops of heaven. The indulgent taste of chocolate and mint is a perfect match while the chia seeds add that welcome bit of added texture and goodness.
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Monday, 4 January 2016

Which Carbs Are Good Carbs?


Ever since I can remember there's been this stigma against carbohydrates. A low carb diet has always been the way to lose weight, people tell you carbs aren't healthy and when you go to the supermarket the aisles are full of 'low carb' products. But are carbohydrates really something you should avoid? The answer is no. Carbs don't make you fat, nor do are they bad for us but we have to make sure we're eating the right ones.



Carbohydrates are the starchy or sugary part of foods. When we think of sugar we naturally think of foods that are really sweet like cake or biscuits, but in reality all carbs (including those like pasta, bread and potatoes) break down into glucose in the body which is what your body uses for fuel. Carbs are essential for our body and our brain, especially when participating in any form of physical activity. But we also need carbs to regulate mood and keep our intestines moving - so when we eat the right ones they're a real happiness-boosting food!
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Sunday, 3 January 2016

Beetroot, Apple & Lemon Juice


A new year and a time to be giving your body all the nourishment it needs & deserves. Undoubtably we all indulged over the Christmas period which may mean we've been left feeling a little worse for wear, groggy and in desperate need of plant power!

Smoothies and juices are my favourite things to consume when I'm feeling a little lacking in energy and goodness as you can cram so much amazing ingredients into one drink that leaves you feeling magical. One of my top magical drinks is this Beetroot, Apple & Lemon juice that tastes wonderfully sweet & tangy but provides a bomb of nourishment too.

(If you don't have a juicer, don't despair! I tell you how to make juices at home without the use of an expensive juicer!)





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Friday, 1 January 2016

How To Make 2016 A Healthier, Happier Year


1st January...a day millions of people decide to make the coming year a healthier one, they aim to lose weight and drop down a dress size or two in time for Summer. I'm sure we've all made this new years resolution at one time or another, and I'm guessing most of us have failed our new healthy regime within the next month or so. This is normally due to unrealistic goals or focusing on the wrong thing to get you into a positive mindset, this isn't what we want as we end up feeling like failures which can lead to binge eating and self hatred. So, how do we not let this happen? I'm here to give you some guidance.


One of the main things I think is to not focus on the number on the scales - this means don't go jumping on the scale every single day in the hope you'll have magically lost 5 pounds over night! I believe the number on the scale doesn't actually mean anything, it doesn't define your health or your happiness and they're the two most important things. You could weigh 12 stone and be ultra fit, super healthy and truly happy and you could weigh 9 stone and be lacking in energy, unfit and have low self esteem. On top of this you must remember that muscle does weigh more than fat..I know a personal trainer who used to be 9 stone but was a completely different body shape to what she is now, she now weighs just under 11 stone and is one of the fittest, most active, confident and happy people I know.
When your aim is solely to lose weight you'll start cutting meals and depriving yourself, leading to malnourishment and an unhappy body & mind. Furthermore this can contribute to binge eating from all the pressure you're putting yourself under or you could develop something more serious like an eating disorder. However, when you aim towards health you'll never be at the mercy of negative thought or deprivation, you'll feel happy and safe in the knowledge you're doing all you can for your amazing body and mind. It requires the same amount of work to make yourself happy as it does to make yourself sad...choose happy! (If you think seeing a certain number on the scale will make you happy then you're wrong, trust me).

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Live Happy, Live Healthy

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