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Saturday, 20 April 2019

Vegetable Crumble - GF & Vegan

One of my absolute favourite desserts is a fruit crumble. I've always loved baking it and also eating it, of course! So, the other day I was meal planning for the week and wanted to make something a little different...that's when I came up with this idea for a savoury take on a crumble - a vegetable crumble!

If I'm honest I didn't know how this would turn out, but I was more than pleasantly surprised! The filling is made from a mix of amazing fresh vegetables such as baby potatoes, courgette, leek and more, then it's topped with an amazing savoury crumble with oats, flour and herbs.
This is such a perfect meal both for cold evenings as it's pretty hearty but it's also perfect for those warmer Spring/Summer evenings as it's super fresh. You can even switch up the veggies for whatever is in season at the time or add in some vegan chicken pieces or beans for extra protein.


Thursday, 11 April 2019

My Healthy Cupboard Essentials

Back in September last year you might remember I wrote a blog post titled 'My Fridge Essentials' were I shared my most-loved and most-loved products in my refrigerator. I thought I'd carry the theme on to this blog post and tell you about my store cupboard essentials!

I have to say, my cupboards are absolutely jam-packed full of foodie products...probably more products than I actually need but all that I use! I've narrowed it down to my top 10 cupboard essentials. These are items that I use the most frequently, that I include in many different recipes and that are always on my shopping list.

Chopped Tomatoes
I use tinned chopped tomatoes all the time and they're constantly on my shopping list. They're perfect for whipping up a quick pasta sauce with some onion, garlic, basil and spinach, I use them when making curries, chillis and stews, they're an essential ingredient in spag bol and I even use them to make soups. They're super cheap too!

I always have both dried red lentils and tinned green lentils in my cupboard at home as they're a real staple in my diet. I like to use lentils in dishes such as lentil bolognese, lentil shepherds pie, curries, stews and even thrown into salads.

Tinned Beans
I like to have a selection of tinned beans in my cupboards. As they're ready cooked they're such a staple for quick, nourishing, plant based meals or to blend into homemade dips. My go to's are kidney beans (for chilli, obviously!), butter beans (great for soups and dips), cannellini beans (the best for stews) and black beans (I like these in chilli). I like to make sure I have different types of beans regularly to provide me with different nutrients.

I eat nuts every single day and they're an important part of my diet. I'm all about those healthy fats and nuts are a great way to dose up on those! I often use nuts in my baking, I top them onto my porridge or yogurt bowls or I simply snack on them. My favourites are cashews, walnuts and almonds.

Tinned sardines may sound like a strange cupboard essential but honestly, I swear by them for optimum hormone health and treating PCOS. Sardines are so cheap, they're absolutely loaded with nutrients and they're a sustainable fish choice as well. I tend to buy the sardines in tomato sauce then grill them on toast with a little mustard.

Brown Rice
I'm sure rice is a staple in most peoples cupboards, and I'm certainly no exception! I personally prefer the taste of brown rice and it's far more nutritious than white rice, which is an added bonus. I have rice at least twice a week and find it pairs so well with so many meals. Of course I enjoy the grain with curry, chilli and stews but I also love to make rice salads, buddha bowls and even risotto type dishes. I also normally have a couple of pre-cooked rice packets on hand, ready to chuck in the microwave if I really need them!

Another two grains I always gave in my cupboards are buckwheat and quinoa. I used to be totally obsessed with quinoa - it's really tasty with a delicious nutty flavour and it's high protein too, but now I'm more of a buckwheat gal. Buckwheat is tastier in my opinion and has a nicer texture! I sometimes use buckwheat instead of rice when I want a grain with a little more protein and that's a bit easier on my digestive system. I often batch cook buckwheat too and store it in the fridge, ready to add to salad bowls for lunches throughout the week. You can also make both quinoa and buckwheat into porridge which is so delicious!

If I don't have oats in my house then I just don't feel right! I eat oats pretty much every day of the week whether that's making them into porridge for breakfast, chucking a handful into a smoothie for extra energy or using them in baking for recipes such as healthy fruit crumble, granola bars or cookies. Oats are a true staple in my diet and I simply couldn't be without them!

Stock Cubes
I didn't used to use stock cubes very regularly but I've become a little obsessed recently after putting a half a cube into my rice as it cooked and tasting the difference! Stock cubes add so much flavour to grains like rice, quinoa and buckwheat if you pop one into the water as your grains cook! I also use stock cubes when I make homemade soup, lentil shepards pies, bolognese and other dishes like these.

Olive Oil
I know coconut oil is 'the' oil to cook with but I'm all about the extra virgin olive oil! Don't get me wrong, I love coconut oil and use it in baking and raw treats but I much prefer olive oil for cooking savoury dishes. Olive oil has a far nicer flavour to it and in my opinion works better in savoury cooking. There's absolutely nothing wrong with cooking with olive oil, in fact it's really brilliant for your health - the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest, don't you know!


Monday, 25 March 2019

Roasted Vegetable & Chilli Pasta

You asked for more meal ideas, so today I'm brining you this recipe for delicious roasted vegetable & chilli pasta.

Meals like this are my absolute favourite. They're filling, satisfying, full of goodness and perfect for batch cooking for lunches or extra dinners for the week ahead. I particularly like this meal cold the next day with a side salad for lunch!

I adore the combination of veggies I used in this dish, but a really fab thing about this recipe is that you can customise it to suit your tastes. I roasted red & yellow peppers, aubergine, red onion and courgettes but you could also do cherry tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, broccoli or any of your fave veggies. I also desperately want to try this dish with some tofu or with a veggie burger, that would be such a perfect meal!


Saturday, 9 March 2019

Blueberry & Banana Muffins

There's something so comforting about a freshly baked blueberry muffin and a cup of tea. It's a classic treat that I'm sure all of us have enjoyed at some point in our lives! I have happy memories of coming home from a long day at school to juicy, sweet blueberry muffins at home. They were an occasional treat but one I always longed for! Since changing my diet to be entirely gluten and dairy free I haven't been able to indulge in this favourite treat of mine....that was until I came up with this recipe.

I have created muffin recipes before which have always been delicious, but I've never quite got that muffin texture quite right. It's taken a fair bit of trial and error but I've finally mastered it!

The texture is light, fluffy and moist with the perfect amount of crumble. The flavour is sweet but not sickly and the blueberries bring juicy bursts of joy to each mouthful! I've been enjoying the muffins as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or they're truly amazing slightly warmed up with a scoop of dairy free ice-cream or drizzle of your favourite nut butter.
All the ingredients in these muffins are super healthy too so they could make a fab grab-and-go breakfast option for busy mornings. The combination of the oats and the banana will fuel you and give you loads of energy, the blueberries provide a lovely dose of antioxidants and the dash of cinnamon can help to balance out your blood sugar levels.


Monday, 4 February 2019

Sustainable & Ethical Fine Jewellery

'Diamonds are a girls best friend' .... I vote we change that to 'Moissanite are a girls best friend'!

I know 99% of the readers on my blog care about the planet and are passionate about making sustainable and ethical choices wherever they can. And that should extend to jewellery!

Diamonds are beautiful, no doubt about that, but did you know diamonds are not ethical or sustainable? Natural diamond mining causes heartbreaking devastation and abuses all sorts of human rights. A gift of a diamond is usually a symbol of love between two people, but the story behind how a diamond gets plucked from the earth is far from romantic.

If like me you're interested in conflict-free alternatives then you'll be fascinating by Moissanite. I won't lie, a few months ago I'd never heard of the gemstone but now I'm quite obsessed with them.
I came across Lily Arkwright, a luxury online jewellery retailer, who create the most beautiful Moissanite rings and other jewellery, and I really wanted to share their ethos and tell you about Moissanite.

So, what are Moissanite gemstones? If you think they're some sort of fake diamond, think again! Moissanite is a naturally occurring, very rare mineral which was discovered in 1893. While diamonds are created from the compression of coal and minerals over hundreds of years in the earth, moissanite comes from the stars! However, after many years of work this rare mineral can be successfully grown in a lab. This means a stunning, beautiful, brilliant and colourless gem can be created completely ethically that really does rival the traditional diamond in both clarity and size. Plus, Moissanite tend to truly outshine diamonds with their pure brilliance. 

Lily Arkwright source their Moissanite from Charles & Colvard, who are the original creator of lab grown moissanite gemstones. Their Forever One gem is a premium brand of Moissanite and is completely eco-friendly, not involved in any conflict trade and is sustainable too. 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

5 Things I'm Doing To Be More Sustainable

One of my aims for 2019 is to be more sustainable and as environmentally friendly as I can.
I'm becoming more and more aware of the fragile state the Earth is in and I think it's so important we all do our bit to help preserve our world for future generations and prevent irreversible damage from occurring.

My lifestyle is already pretty eco-friendly but I know I can make changes that will help the environment and even save me money too!
We can all do our bit and every little really does help. It's not about making dramatic changes and no-one's lifestyle is perfect, but a few simple swaps and conscious changes can make all the difference.

Loose Fruit & Veg
I'm guilty of buying pre-packaged fruit and vegetables in the supermarket and it's something I've already started changing this year. We all know plastic is horrendous for the planet, so reducing the amount of single use plastic we use is absolutely vital! Buying loose fruit & veg is such a simple way to do this, and it saves you money too.
Most supermarkets offer a lot of fruit & veg loose - bananas, courgettes, mushrooms, broccoli, oranges, peppers, etc, and they're almost always cheaper than buying the pre-packaged equivalent. I bought myself some re-usable bags to take with me to the shops to put my fruit & veg so there's no mess and you don't have loose lemons rolling around all over the place.


Thursday, 24 January 2019

What Happened When I Came Off The Pill?

In June 2018 I wrote a blog post talking about how I was coming off hormonal birth control (you can read that post here). I'd been on the pill for 7 years after a diagnosis of PCOS when I was in my late teens. Although the pill undoubtably helped with my PCOS symptoms at the time (bad skin, irregular periods, etc) I felt like it was doing my more harm than good as time went on, and I hated putting those artificial hormones into my body.

Image result for stock photos contraceptive pill

Fast forward to now and I've been pill free for about 8 months! It's been an odd 8 months seeing how my body has adapted, but it's been absolutely incredible and so eye opening. I could never go back to taking the pill again now, looking back I really don't know how I managed for so long. My life has dramatically improved since coming off it....that might sound extreme but it's true.
I wanted to write this blog post to talk about a few things that happened to my body when I stopped talking hormonal birth control.

Improved Digestion & Less Bloating
For years I had suffered with horrendous IBS like symptoms, including poor digestion and painful bloating. The bloating was truly life-effecting - my stomach would swell up like a balloon and the pain was unbearable. I had scans, blood tests and even specialist appointments to try and work out what was causing these issues but everything came back clear. It never crossed my mind that my pill was causing these issues, but since I've stopped taking the pill my bloating has disappeared and my digestion is normal. It feels like a miracle!
I have no idea why the pill did this to my stomach, but my goodness am I glad I got to the root of the problem. Now I don't spend almost every day in agonising pain, I can do my jeans up again and I generally feel lighter. The change has been dramatic and honestly life changing.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Good Mood Food

Today is so-called Blue Monday, which is apparently the most depressing day of the year. If I'm honest I find the whole of January pretty blue, especially after the first week when the excitement of Christmas & New Year has died down and all you're left with is a mountain of housework to catch up on, a messed up sleeping pattern and jeans that are now slightly too tight around the waist.

When the January Blues hit it can be so easy to fall into a pit of depression, especially when you have a history of mental health concerns like I do, but there are things you can do to stop this from happening and to help pull you out of these dark feelings. Before you scoff or roll your eyes (as I would have done a few years ago) please open your mind to the fact what we do can impact our mental health dramatically. The food we eat, the people we surround ourselves with and even the way we move all makes a difference.

Good Mood Food is something I strongly believe in, because what we put into our body really does effect more than just our physical health. I've had a long history of chronic and debilitating depression and I know from my own real life experience that transforming my diet to be healthier & more wholesome absolutely transformed my mental health. Before I began eating healthier and regularly exercising my mental health had plummeted and I really was at rock bottom, but then my lifestyle change took hold. I started to eat more fruit and vegetables, I cut out refined sugars and artificial foods from my diet and I was eating in a much more regular way now with 3 proper meals a day instead of skipping breakfast or binging on crisps and chocolate. Almost immediately I felt the cloud that was above my head pass over, I felt lighter and more free, my anxiety levels reduced and I noticed I felt generally happier. It was like some sort of miracle and I was so amazed at the difference in myself, as were my family & loved ones! Who'd have thought such simple changes could have the most amazing side effects?

So, what can we do with our diet to help our mental health?
Live Happy, Live Healthy


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