Aromatic nut free energy balls

Aromatic nut free energy balls

We don’t know about you, but we get a bit bored of store bought chocolate-y and super sweet energy balls. Plus, the store-bought ones don’t tend to be an option for nut allergy sufferers – so this one is especially for those with allergies.

These balls are subtly aromatic and are perfect for munching alongside your morning coffee, pulling out of your pocket mid bike ride and fuelling up before a run. Depending on how small you roll them, you can expect to get around 18 balls out of this mixture – nutrient dense, delicious AND money saving!

Ingredients:

1 cup pitted dates

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup sunflower seeds

10 drops lemon oil

1tbsp maple syrup

1tbsp baobab powder

Directions:

  1. Whizz together the seeds and dates in a food processor until well blitzed.
  2. Add baobab powder, maple syrup and lemon oil and pulse until well combined.
  3. Scoop out small amounts of the mixture and form into balls.
  4. Store in a sealed container in the fridge (or freezer) so you have a snack on hand whenever you need it.

Are there other snacks out there that you’d like to see us but a “can eat” spin on? Let us know in the comments and we’ll make it one of our next #kitchenexperiments

How to use your stress response to create a more positive life

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There’s no escaping the fact that, by the end of 2016, I was close to burn out: I’d had my fair share of personal dramas and got to feeling that the world was against me. I talked about this with a friend recently and she said something that really resonated with me; she said that sometimes things “go wrong” in life when we’re stuck in a rut or on the wrong path and need to kick ourselves up the butt to spur us into action. And I realised that this was completely true in my case: a lot of what I experienced (rather than what “happened to me” I had manifested myself), I was still following the frequently followed path (mortgage, “steady” 9-5 etc) which was going completely against my every natural instinct.

I ended up having a full hormone assessment, during a gap in all the crazy, and found that my adrenal glands were severely distressed and this put things into perspective for me. I took some time to really think about what was going on in my body and my brain and this made me explore a few things:

  1. Is there really such a thing as short term stress?
  2. Had I created a rift between my mind and body?
  3. Was I alone in feeling this way?

So, do I have answers to these questions? Two yeses and a no, in short. Basically, powering through “short term” stressful situations and forcing our bodies into submission creates a disconnect between mind and body – we start ignoring the cues our bodies give us, refuse to slow down and practice unkind behaviours towards ourselves for signs of “weakness”. There’s no short term result from this scenario; repeated spikes in cortisol and adrenaline in our systems can have a profound and lasting impact longer term. This seems to be the new normal.

Normalisation: the long term effects of short term stress

Given our hectic lifestyles, our need to be forever busy, always on and not feeling able to put ourselves first we find ourselves becoming normalised to stress then suffer from burn out, anxiety or panic. A combination of family issues, low self esteem and living with an undiagnosed autoimmune disease led to me becoming completely programmed to live life on the “highs” of a stress response as a teenager. I’ve spent a large portion of the past 28 years focused on dealing with each stressful situation as it occurred; powering through with frayed nerves and an exhausted system from one scenario to another, then wondered why these things kept happening…

Remember – you will make decisions in a stressed state you wouldn’t make when calm

I don’t believe that adages such as “bad things come in 3s” have much credence but they can become a self fulfilling prophecy – stressed people can bring about extra stressful situations. That’s not to say you’re to blame for every negative experience, obviously, and you absolutely shouldn’t beat yourself up for things that happen (who will that help?) but when we take time to reflect once we’ve created a calm space for ourselves, we often see that there are ways we could avoid reaching crunch points…

Listen when your body gives you a physical nudge

We tend to ignore the warning signs our body gives us when we’re getting overwhelmed with stress. We bury our heads in the sand and ignore the signs, believing that our bodies are revolting against us, rather than the other way around. Reaching for the coffee to prop you up? Societal norms tend to leave us thinking that leaning on caffeine in these situations won’t have too much of an impact. Do you really believe that the coffee will fix how you’re feeling? Be mindful of how you treat your body when things are getting out of control.

Give yourself space to reflect post scenario

Once things have calmed down a bit, make sure you allow yourself time to process events, check in with how your body is feeling and make extra time for self care. Forcing yourself “back to normal” after a stressful event piles stress on top of stress – be kind to yourself.

Be ruthless about cutting out things causing you to feel stressed

If you’ve got to the stage where you feel weighed down by stress, it’s probably time to get a bit ruthless. Reduce contact with “mood hovers” or stress triggers. Choose you. Don’t tolerate things that make you unhappy, get comfortable with being self-ish and saying no. Remember you only get one shot at life and making yourself less you to make others “happier” won’t allow you to live that one life to the fullest.

How are you feeling today? Don’t suffer in silence – feeling stressed isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s our bodies responding to the pressure around us – DM me any time for a chat if this has resonated with you. Stay well X

Mushroom risotto

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The ideal autumnal feast, this mushroom risotto is super comforting and the perfect way to refuel after an afternoon stroll through the woods. Use any mushrooms you like – we love the “meaty” quality of shitake combined with some chestnut mushroom but when it comes to this dish, the world’s your *ahem* oyster.

Ingredients:

  • 250g Arborio risotto rice
  • 150g mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2tbsp coconut cream
  • 2tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1ltr vegetable stock/boiling water
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Finely dice your onion then crush and finely chop the garlic cloves.
  2. Heat the coconut oil over a medium heat in a frying pan, when warmed add in the garlic and onion to soften.
  3. Add the risotto rice into the pan and ensure thoroughly coated in oil.
  4. Once the rice has absorbed the moisture from the pan, start adding your stock or hot water, a ladleful at a time and stir through thoroughly. As the rice absorbs each ladle of liquid you can start adding another in and repeat the process of stirring through. You’ll need to test the rice for readiness around 15 minutes in. It may be the case that you may don’t need to use the entire quantity of liquid so don’t be tempted to throw it all in at once!
  5. When the rice is nearly done, add into the pan your chopped mushrooms; we like ot keep some whole shitakes in there for interest. This is a good time to season liberally with salt and pepper and add in your coconut cream.
  6. When the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat, stir through your nutritional yeast and squeeze over your lemon juice. If you happen to have fresh herbs to hand, feel free to sprinkle some over the top for added punch.

Got leftovers? This will make a delicious cold lunch box for you the following day (if you can avoid the temptation of wolfing down the lot) or works really well stuffed into red peppers and baked in the oven.

As always, we love to see recreations of our recipes and hear how you got on, do tag us on Instagram or Twitter @can_eat_attitude.

Banana & white chocolate loaf

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Being gluten free, vegan or on a mission to eat more nutrient dense, whole foods needn’t prevent you from enjoying delicious sweet treats – far from it! This satisfying white chocolate banana loaf is perfect for breakfast, packed in lunch boxes and slathered with seed spread or on the side of a big afternoon cup of herbal tea. It does need to be stored in the fridge and should last up to a week (although that’s never happened in the Can Eat house as it’s always disappeared way before then).

We love baking with this Silverwood loaf tin we found in Smith & Webb Cookshop –  the tin is a great size, doesn’t need lots of harsh cleaning as it seasons with use and was the most eco friendly option we could find.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 bananas
  • 1 bar vegan, refined sugar free vanilla white chocolate
  • 30g coconut butter
  • 2tbsp maple syrup
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla powder
  • 3tbsp ground flax + 9tbsp water
  • 1/2tsp bicarb
  • 1tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 110g sunflower seeds
  • 140g buckwheat flour
  • Pinch sea salt

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Directions:

  1. Around 30 minutes before you want to get the loaf in the oven, place the ground flax and water into a bowl and mix. Leave to swell and gel. Just before adding in to the loaf mix, add in a pinch of bicarb.
  2. Preheat oven to 170 and line your loaf tin with baking parchment.
  3. Grind sunflower seeds in food processor. Then add in your buckwheat flour and the other dry ingredients (cinnamon, vanilla powder, bicarb and sea salt).
  4. When the dry ingredients are well incorporated, add in mashed banana, melted coconut butter (stand you jar in a cup of hot water to speed this up), maple syrup and lemon juice or ACV and mix well.
  5. After everything is well mixed, add in your flax egg – mix gently, don’t go crazy with the pulsing here!
  6. Scatter through your white chocolate bar broken up into small chunks/shards.
  7. Pour the mix into your prepared tin and bake for around 45 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean). If you’d like some whole pieces of banana exposed on top for presentation, you can pop these into the tin before the mix and they will caramelise up beautifully.
  8. Cool on a rack then slice and enjoy.

Breaking Breakfast (habits – and forming new ones)

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Autumnal scenery not required for a hearty breakfast

According to this report, two in five Brits skip breakfast. When you take a look around your office in the morning, you’ll probably see the familiar scene of people fuelling their days with coffee or having a quick grab and go breakfast in the form of a cereal bar when they reach their desks.

It won’t be news to you that breakfast sets you up for the day – a new report on just that topic features in the media on a regular basis. So why then do we still have an issue with breaking the fast?

We are creatures of habit, and we tend to stick closely to a routine that we’ve sustained for a long team for fear that upsetting that routine could create a major bump in the road. Perhaps as a child you were forced to sit at a table and eat a soggy bowl of cereal that you hated and it became a battle of wills with your family because you didn’t want to eat it but they felt they were doing the right thing in getting you to eat something. Or perhaps as a teenager you realised that skipping breakfast was a sign of “maturity”, because that’s what all the adults around you were doing and, frankly, who was going to make you?

However the breakfast skipping habit started, it is absolutely possible to form a new, positive habit down the line. And it’s important that you give a few things a go when it comes to finding out what change works and helps you to stick to your new positive change.

Some suggestions to help you to make breakfast your new positive habit:

  1. Make breakfast a bit of an occasion, take the opportunity to catch up with your partner/housemate/bestie over breakfast – there’s a good chance you might not get time later in the day.
  2. Remember, whilst you might not consider yourself a “morning person” at the beginning of this process, there’s every chance you’ll find yourself becoming one, and that’s definitely a reason to keep going.
  3. Make space for breakfast (umm, no we’re not being rude there), we mean create room at the table, or set up a picnic area on the floor if you don’t have room for a table, so that you can sit and mindfully digest your breakfast.
  4. Head straight to the kitchen when you’re awake; don’t be tempted to get ready for work first and then squeeze breakfast in later – you’re much more likely to run out of time and end up skipping
  5. Keep it fresh – eating the same soggy cereal or bland toast, day in, day out will make you loathe the prospect of breakfast. Have a good think about what which foods make you feel at your best and give your body the most energy and try to incorporate these as part of breakfasts. Don’t worry if they’re “unconventional”, instant cereals haven’t been around for forever, people would have eaten leftovers before boxed breakfasts!
  6. Batch cook on weekends to save time, and while you’re at it, make up some breakfast bits – chia pudding jars and smoothies keep really well in the fridge

So you’re time pressed and the thought of getting up in the morning and fumbling your way to the kitchen to make something other than a bowl of shreddies with milk fills you with dread?

Don’t worry, we’ve been there and we’re happy to share 4 low effort breakfast suggestions with you:

  • Buckwheat porridge – buckwheat flakes and plant milk make a really creamy porridge, be liberal with the cinnamon and dress it up with your favourite toppings to feel like you’re eating a comforting dessert for brekkie (how decadent!)
  • Scrambled tofu with avocado – it is possible to do a simple, few ingredient tofu scramble. We love the Cauldron organic tofu block. We just crumble it up in a saucepan, sprinkle over turmeric, chilli flakes and season well then heat like you would scrambled eggs.
  • Overnight b-oats – pop buckwheat flakes, ground flax, plant milk and cinnamon in a bowl before you go to bed. Pop it in the fridge. Hey presto, when you get up in the morning you’ve got yourself a ready made bowl of yum.
  • Leftovers bowl – chuck some pre cooked quinoa, baby spinach or watercress, marinated tofu pieces and mashed avo in a bowl. Drizzle over olive oil. Feel seriously smug about your nutrient dense and delicious breakfast.

Are you struggling with breaking breakfast habits? Or have you gone from breakfast avoider to going-to-sleep-because-that’s-a-time-machine-to-breakfast person? We’d love to hear your thoughts and any breakfast suggestions that make getting out of bed worthwhile for you.

7 top food essentials to travel with when you have dietary requirements

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Ease pre travel panic by being prepared in advance and packing some food essentials

If you have specific dietary requirements, the thought of going away might be causing you some anxiety. And you should know that you are not alone. In fact, we’ve been there, done that, and smuggled a cool bag of food up to our hotel room!

If you are staying in a hotel or B&B, get in touch with them before you arrive and reconfirm dietary requirements, even if you gave them the info on booking. You’re unlikely to need all of the items below if your hotel fully understands your needs, but having them with you could help you to relax quicker; knowing that you have a fail safe if there is a communication break down.

We’ve pulled together our top food essentials to help ease any anxiety you have about  travelling with dietary requirements. Our top essentials are suitable for nut free, vegans following a gluten free diet.

  1. Smoothie and go machine, or equivalent, to mix up smoothies for yourself as a nutrient dense snack or breakfast.
  2. A selection of fruit and veg kept in a cool bag with lots of ice packs. If you’re staying in a hotel, they may be kind enough to give you extra ice if you’re brave enough to ask and if you’re self catering you’ll probably have a fridge. Things like kale, berries, bananas and avocado keep quite well in a cool bag kept in a sink or bath overnight.
  3. Long life coconut milk – this doesn’t need storing in a fridge and the Koko brand does packs of 3 individual portion sized cartons which are ideal for mixing up overnight oats or protein shakes.
  4. Clean, empty jars for mixing up overnight oats. Keeping your jars chilled overnight in a bathtub/sink of cold water could help.
  5. Buckwheat flakes, ground flaxseed, cinnamon and hemp protein powder will help to make up jars of overnight oats, using the long-life coconut milk.
  6. Your favourite overnight porridge bowl toppings – if you have space, pack a small Tupperware of dried fruits such as goji berries, mulberries, raisins and sultanas.
  7. A box of your favourite herbal tea/fresh lemon and ginger to kick start your day and reduce your temptation to head towards the caffeine pot.

(Note: this list is ideal for those with more room than a backpack for storage)

What are your top vegan, gluten free travel food essentials? How have you found travelling with dietary requirements?

I climbed Mount Snowdon – in the dark!

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Back in July I shared my plans to join SeaSoulandSnow on a trek up Mount Snowdon in aid of Trekstock. Well, it’s two weeks later and I’ve now fully recovered and found the space to update you all on how it went.

On Friday 9th September TC (@plantpoweredcyclist) and I packed up the car and hit the road Snowdon bound. The traffic was worse than expected (cue fist shaking at the M25) and the journey took 6 and a half hours: I was especially glad that we’d thought through the logistics of my trek so thoroughly as doing that journey on the day would have left me exhausted! We arrived at the little rental cottage just outside of Lanberis village, at the foot of the Lanberis path in torrential rain, naturally, so I got to be very smug about my waterproof gear while TC complained about getting wet unpacking the car.

As this was our first trip away as vegans and being self-catering of course we packed lots of food – proving that travel doesn’t have to mean unhealthy food: we still got to enjoy our chaga lattes and buckwheat porridge topped with fresh fruit.

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I spent most of Saturday relaxing (largely reading The Cursed Child which I had saved especially for this trip), stuffing my face with nutrient dense foods and having a tactical nap in the knowledge that a LONG night was ahead. We did pop to a local pub for lunch, the Heights in Lanberis, where we received excellent service: we’d already checked out the menu ahead of time and knew that they knew a thing or two about catering for vegans but they were really helpful with our dietaries and even recommended the nicest spot in the place to sit (the conservatory area, overlooking the lake). We had the most delicious spinach and chickpea curry with rice (without the naan bread to make it vegan and gluten free) which was the perfect nutrient packed lunch.

I’d already done a couple of flat lays and spent a good deal of time considering what I’d need on the mountain in the weeks leading up to the event so when it came to kit packing time, I felt pretty prepared: my nut butters and snack bars were as close to hand as possible, I had heaps of spare batteries for my torch, my shewee was within easy reach and I’d given it a couple of practice runs (and managed to not wet myself either time).

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Instead of the nervousness I’d expected to feel on the night, I found myself buzzing with anticipation and on arrival at the meeting point (Pen-y-pass) I was greeted by Sinead from SeaSoulandSnow with a big hug – like a long lost friend. I was also greeted with a lovely goody bag packed full of treats from Sinead at the same time: including a couple of the new Deliciously Ella energy balls which went down a treat when I returned to work.

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We admired the sunset over the valley whilst waiting for the rest of the trek party to show up and got chatting about training and fundraising efforts. TC buggered off to the pub for a pint and then back to the cottage for a nap in anticipation of returning in the wee hours to scrape me off the finish.

At 8.45pm six ladies (mostly strangers to each other), turned on their head torches and began their ascent up Snowdon assisted by a guide who had never taken up a novice group in the dark before and we were encouraged by estimates that we’d probably be up and down in around 4 hours…

Ok, so the trek was not exactly what I was expecting, I really did enjoy myself and the physical challenge, but I was fortunate because I’d been putting in serious training on account of having a half marathon coming up. The Pyg path is aptly named – it IS a PIG! There is lots of scrambling and clambering and climbing involved. No leisurely hike up a mountain path for us, oh no, we picked our way across boulders, scrambled up scree and splashed through waterfalls and streams all the way up…up…up…up.

With our range of vision only reaching as far as the beams cast by our headlamps we all developed a fair bit of neck ache looking down and watching where our feet went and any time we achieved a strip of firm ground a feeble cheer went through the group: “Path – at last!” We mostly only managed to talk as we walked the path sections as we were all concentrating so hard on the climbs and there was a good deal of puffing and panting, but everyone was very supportive and voiced words of encouragement or checked everyone was ok. I managed to cram a Primal Pantry paleo protein bar in my face on the way up for a bit of an energy boost and a mental pep up and for most of the others, Mars bars abounded.

There wasn’t much in the way of views on the way up, Snowdon itself seemed to perpetually be loitering in wait behind another peak, so it was just the inky black sky and glimpses of twinkling lights in the valley. And in this moment I found space to be reflective: this was what I came up a mountain at night for – peace and perspective.

Closer towards the summit we noticed the bobbing lights of head torches both in front and behind us – surely we were the only ones mad enough to be up a mountain in the dark?! No, it turned out there was an extreme triathlon taking place (the Brutal, if you’re interested which really does live up to its name) and the bobbing lights were chaps running – yes RUNNING –  up and down the mountain (not for the first time that day). As they passed us on the last leg to the summit, lots of them passed us with a “well done”. Of all the things that could have brought me close to tears on this journey, the fact that these amazing athletes were passing us and congratulating us for reaching the top of a mountain that they’d run up a few times that day was just astounding. But it really just demonstrated the point that everything is relative.

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That day climbing Snowdon in the dark was our mountain, theirs was running it a few times, cycling around the lake and swimming the lake a few times; for the people we were fundraising for, their daily mountain is cancer. Everyone’s mountain looks a little different – that’s not what’s important – what’s important is that we keep climbing and we keep encouraging others to climb theirs.

Enveloped in fog and buffeted by gale force winds at around midnight we finally achieved the summit, resting cold hands on the dial at the top then, for fear of being blown off, hastily scrambled back down to the start of the Miner’s Path. After another scramble, clamber and bum shuffle down…down…down…we finally reached that much coveted “PATH”. At which point I treated myself to a Pip and Nut peanut butter squeezy pack.

And on that path, beside a glassy lake nestled in a valley, we were finally able to look up. And we were well and truly rewarded for that tilt of the head: sparkling back at us were more stars than any of us had ever seen.

 

The journey up and down the mountain took us around 6 and a half hours in the end as well as a good deal of sweat and some tears. But we all made it back together and clambered wearily into waiting cars at around 3.30am Sunday morning, well and truly ready for a big cup of tea and a serious sleep.

A few hours later TC and I went off in search of the waterfall we’d heard was behind the cottage.

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A (gluten free vegan) foodie day out in Brighton

For TC’s birthday at the end of August we decided to go to Brighton for the day to check out some of the vegan eateries I kept seeing such drool worthy pics on Instagram of.

1st stop…

Glazed – next level coffee and doughnuts

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Vegan. Doughnuts. Because what birthday can’t be made extra special with vegan doughnuts? Glazed is a little out of the main town but well worth the trip. It’s only small on the inside and is favoured by skater types so my slightly conservative other half probably wouldn’t have gone in if not with me: but it’s got a real cool vibe. And did I mention doughnuts? There is artwork by local artists on the walls and a counter loaded with at least 4 different flavours of doughnut – all vegan. Unfortunately none were gluten free but they did say they were working on a gluten free one so we’re definitely looking forward to going back and taste testing when they launch those. Especially so as TC said it was the Best. Doughnut. He’s. Ever. Tasted. And he’s been known to be a bit of a doughnut fiend in the past, so that’s pretty high praise. What I did treat myself to instead was a soy milk latte. Wow, these guys really know their coffee. I’m not a massive coffee fan in general (mostly because of the caffine jitters) but this coffee was AMAZING. We WILL be back.

42 Juice

Gorgeously decked out, clean white walls, Rose Quartz crystals on the shelves and a super colourful fridge full of mylks, juices and smoothies to choose from. We enjoyed a good hour’s pit stop here, people watching in the window. We both had a green juice (different kinds), I had a coconut milk turmeric latte and TC had a Chaga latte made with coconut milk – their standard plant milk is nut based but when we explained about TC’s allergy they were really helpful and provided the coconut milk option. Fairly pricey but to be expected for a juice bar that wouldn’t be out of place in Fitzrovia. Would definitely go back.

Vbites

A full vegan menu, 2 floors of seating and a deli type shop make this the ideal hub for vegans visiting Brighton. There wasn’t a great deal of choice for the gluten free vegan but TC was spoilt for choice and as it was his birthday meal I was hardly going to whinge! I had a HUGE gluten free pizza (which I struggled with – very unusual for gluten free pizzas which I usually find are sized for the less hungry) and TC had sweet potato fries with a “pulled pork” burger. He said it was pretty close to having “real” pulled pork and enjoyed the bits of my pizza that I couldn’t manage. The service was a little slow and it did feel like the place could do with a bit more love – tables were sticky, menus stained and jugs of water had gone stale and had finger prints all over them. Would probably go back as TC would like to try something else off the menu and it’s a good “safe” bet to get a vegan meal. Not altogether healthy though…

British Airways i360

Having heard that this had recently opened we thought we’d give it a go. Tickets are fairly pricey and the queuing system is a bit annoying – we booked on to the 5.45 “flight” but when we got through security and went to join the “departure lounge” we were told that session was full. Fortunately the weather was nice so it wasn’t too much of an issue to sit out in the deck chairs in the holding area waiting for the next one. To be honest, just seeing this from ground level is a pretty cool experience: it’s a very impressive structure and definitely reminiscent of how Hollywood likes to portray UFOs. The pod is roomy on the inside but there was a rush for a window view when we boarded through the Star Trek esque doors. The views are interesting but there aren’t really any major landmarks of note. Plus TC took the opportunity to remember his fear of heights…Good experience, worth checking out for a special occasion but the whole thing is a bit pricey for the amount of time you get up there (and the cost of the bar drinks was pretty laughable if you wanted one).

Terre a Terre

We planned to eat at Terre a Terre for dinner. However, we weren’t in here very long; when we enquired a passing waitress if they were still serving food we got a sharp “wait a minute” response. We didn’t hang around to see if the service improved – having our combined dietary requirements means we really need to trust the people responsible for communicating these with the kitchen.

The Prince George

Sadly, it went from bad to worse. This is one of the only pubs in the UK to be fully vegetarian: thumbs up. Getting vegan right: thumbs down. Not only did they mess up TC’s meal and bring him out a non vegan dish, but they did so after a good deal of fuss over our dietary requirements. In fact, we were forced to sign disclaimers prior to the kitchen dispatching our food. Disclaimers. Because TC has a nut allergy and I’m a coeliac. Never have either of us been so put off of our food. We were told by a waitress when we enquired about this very strange practice that someone had recently “made a big fuss” over a nut contamination and since then they had to get anyone with allergies to sign a disclaimer.

The non vegan meal after all that fuss over the disclaimer was really the icing on the cake to be honest. The chef did come out to speak to us and apologise in person when we requested a refund and said we were leaving. This service was appreciated: we also explained how off putting it was to have to sign a disclaimer before getting our meals, it’s far from trust inducing! We won’t be going back here again.

And finally…

Hisbe

Were our lifeline as we were pretty hungry after the two previous failed attempts to get ourselves dinner. This lovely community supermarket would be very welcome in Kent and had actually been on my list of ethical retailers to check out for a while so fortunately we stumbled across it on our way back out of town. We managed to pick up some falafels, a white bean dip and some kimchi to make a speedy supper for when we got home.

Still on the list:

Iydea – were recommended to us by the lady in Glazed as being somewhere cool with vegan options to try

Rootcandi – they were closed by the time we arrived 🙁

Food for friends – were fully booked ALL day, would definitely book in advance in future

 

We’re hoping to head back to Brighton soon to check out some of the other cool places that we missed on this trip. Do drop us a comment if you have any additional places to recommend or any thoughts about our experiences!

 

Guest post: Plant Powered Cyclist talks beer

For those of you that know me personally or follow me on Instagram, you’ll have heard me mention my cycling obsessed other half more than once (especially in recent months whilst he’s been recovering from the cycling accident that broke his back).

TC, also known now as Plant Powered Cyclist marked his 31st birthday on Sunday and in honour of the occasion, he’s getting a little air time to talk about one of his other favourite hobbies: beer.

(Not a typical feature for this site you might think but bear with him, he’s got a point…)

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BEER SIGN

CAN YOU DRINK HEALTHILY?

Neon lights selling alcohol on the cheap. Loud music. A sore and rasping throat from shouting uncoordinated speech at someone you are meant to be socialising with. Blurred vision.

OK, so whilst the majority of us have been there, this is far from the ‘norm’ for most of alcohol consumers; and even less so for those interested in a healthy lifestyle. But beers, wines and spirits, on average, consume a decent portion of our spend per annum (almost £800 in the UK per adult¹), a significant portion of advertising space (£800 million in 2013²), supermarket shelves, our precious time and of course – our health.

Alcoholic drinks are big business, but they are diametrically opposed to living a healthy lifestyle. That isn’t to say, however, that knowledge of this opposition makes me lust for it any less, especially after a hard day at work, when relaxing in the sun with friends or perhaps for the single beverage in the comfort of your own home wrapped up by the fire on a cold winters night (something anyone living north of Paris is very likely to empathise with!)

But can we live our lives alongside that alcoholic beverage, moderate our intake and enjoy it from time to time? Or is it something that needs to be eradicated entirely from all of our lives owing to the health dis-benefits it throws up (from significantly reduced recovery times³ through to the cancer causing* and otherwise unpleasant side effects that take place post consumption)?

For the purpose of a shorthand blog – the simple answer would be ‘no – alcohol consumption cannot for part of a healthy lifestyle’ – a healthy smoothie or vegetable juice will be the healthy recommendations any day. But this is not pragmatic as a first step towards healthy drinking for the regular drinker. As mentioned on this site previously, feelings of self deprivation are counter intuitive to leading a genuinely health and happy life.

There are many reasons we drink alcohol (although that’s not the subject of this blog today); to get drunk, to escape, remove oneself from pain or to ‘entertain,’plus deeper mental, physiological or sociocultural issues.

For many, taste is a key motivator – something especially so for the wine and beer drinking communities – can something be done to replicate this without the negative effects?

I’m an avid beer drinker, former member of CAMRA and all round craft beer enthusiast. So much so that trying different beers, even if I don’t enjoy the taste, is an enjoyable experience for me. Work that one out.

I’m also very interested in my health, having recently cut out refined sugars from my very (very!) sweet tooth and significantly increased the levels of wholegrains (mostly gluten free thanks to Lea), vegetables and fruits to a level most people in the UK would consider impossible.

This is helped by a recent ethical decision to live a vegan lifestyle (having been a vegetarian for just over a year) and supported by a significant injury recently which has (in fact still does!) require much care and attention.

But my one vice – something I struggled with especially whilst in the early stages of recovery – is a good beer. Beer tastes great. Not all beer. But a fair few. I’m generally not a binge drinker, instead my tendency is to ingest small quantities regularly: meaning the actual overall alcohol intake can be really quite high (ABV is key here) and with almost no concerted period of time for the body to recover.

So despite needing and wanting my body to repair as quickly as humanly possible, I continued to drink throughout my recuperation, all the while understanding the effects it was having. Perhaps some of this was social, some to pass the time and other levels of intake simply for pain management – but it doesn’t explain why I continue to drink beers rather than a vodka coke or a straight up water. It comes down to taste – I enjoy the flavour. With only our own personal health affected, the duplicity of knowing the health implications and continuing to drink anyway is a far easier decision to wrestle for many of us.

Alcohol Free Beers

And here’s the good news…

There ARE far less expensive, far less harmful (despite fairly large sugar quantities for which we do still need to be very mindful) and often of equal or superior flavour options out there.

…Alcohol free beers actually taste great

Brewdog’s ‘Nanny state’ is really not that far from a number of their other products,
Kopparberg’s alcohol free cider range tastes like sweetened fruits but unlike the others mentioned here, it is not vegan (it is filtered through but contains no gelatine), ‘Smallbanger’ by
Square Root London is probably one of my favourite drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) of all time and
Erdinger’s ‘Alcoholfrei’ is substantial, refreshing and isotonic – what more could you want post workout than an isotonic beer? And this is to name only a few of an ever increasing market.

I’ve not even begun to explore the non-beer options but they are increasingly receiving rave reviews, good press and importantly – selling. The consumer seems to be voting with their wallets. With these alternatives, perhaps it really is a worthy consideration to shift old drinking habits toward a more body-friendly alternative.

This is not to say that the occasional alcoholic beverage will cause you to keel over. I am also not advocating the use of these as ‘health’ drinks – they most certainly are not. But in an effort to curb our increasing reliance upon harmful alcoholic toxins, perhaps slowly moving away from “regular” drinks to those less harmful would be a better starting point.

Whether this is saving alcoholic drinks for a weekend only and replacing your midweek tipple for an alcoholic free beverage, making every other drink at home one ‘sans alcool’ or starting with a week on/week off approach – there are many ways to begin, and it comes down to the individual to decide how they wish to progress.

For me, having just cycled for the first time in over three months since I broke my back, I have opted for a one on, one off approach for today and, importantly, I’m not beating myself up for it.

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References

¹https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/research/data/consumption-uk/ 

²http://www.ias.org.uk/uploads/pdf/Factsheets/Marketing%20and%20alcohol%20FS%20May%202013.pdf

³https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/lifestyle/can-alcohol-affect-sports-performance-and-fitness-levels/

*http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/alcohol-and-cancer/how-alcohol-causes-cancer

HBC Bloggers and Brands Meet Up

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I recently attended my first bloggers and brands networking event, organised by the lovely team at the Health Bloggers Community and hosted by the absolutely serene Total Chi Yoga bar.

Having never been to an event quite like this before and only having previously dipped a tentative toe in the bloggers networking scene at the Love Natural Love You show bloggers meet up, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the event. I knew there would be other health bloggers and a few of the brands that were taking part, but not much else.

Rightly or wrongly, I had some reservations about buying a ticket and a number of preconceptions before attending the event about what I might expect:

  • I, probably like a lot of other people on hearing the term “health blogger” tried to conjure up a definition of what that would look like – naturally it’s tempting to try and shoehorn them as food bloggers or fitness bloggers
  • people would think me some kind of “imposter”, ask me what I was doing there, tell me I wasn’t a REAL blogger, because I only do it for fun but I imagined a lot of attendees would be “pros”
  • like at food shows where brands are practically chasing after you to chew your ear off, I thought I might have to find polite ways to extricate myself from salesy conversations

My thoughts about the brands:

Pure Blend Co – I’d never heard of before, which as it turns out, was because they are pretty much brand new to the market, providing superfood protein powder blends.

Slendertone – I definitely had my own view of this brand prior to the event. And it wasn’t altogether favourable. Not because of any personal experience with them, but because in my past life working as an electrical beauty consultant, their products had been in amongst the range of hairdryers and shavers etc that I would be selling: it frustrated me at the time that people would come in and buy these and then be cross when they didn’t have a six pack in a few weeks.Watch this space for some news on my perspective on the brand since meeting them at the event.

Borough Broth Company – I don’t think I’d heard of prior to the event and as delicious as the broth smelled (I haven’t been veg very long so occasionally meat still smells tasty to me) unfortunately they didn’t have a vegan friendly one at the event. Great news is that they are currently developing one!

Cosmedix – From what I read about their approach prior to the event, I wasn’t too sure that their super sciency approach to skincare would really fit with my natural and organic approach. And as lovely as the team were, having chatted to them on the day I think they still aren’t the brand for me. But I can absolutely see the appeal, especially for people with “problem” skin: their approach to skincare was to encourage a from-the-inside-out treatment which I definitely agree with. I’m just not big on having the best parts of plants extracted and “suped up”, as it were.

Of the Earth Superfoods – It is obviously possible to live very healthily without the addition of (often expensive) “superfoods”. However, it’s a lot more fun experiementing with things like dried mulberries which are a bit of an exotic addition to a nutrient dense diet. The OTES team seemed very knowledgable and had a really wide range of superfood products.

Halo Wholefoods – I’d seen at different foody shows previously but hadn’t gotten around to trying as I’d seen their muesili type sprinkle and knew it contained gluten free oats, which sadly I can’t have as even gluten free oats set off my coeliac sensitivities. However, I was very excited at the event to find that I COULD eat their bliss balls. And I sure did eat some bliss balls. Frankly, I nearly stuffed a load of the chocolate orange ones into my rucksack when no one was looking…

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Pollen & Grace – I got my first dose of Pollen & Grace deliciousness a few weeks ago when I picked up some of their goodies on my way past Psycle post attending Dr Glenville’s Balancing your hormones naturally talk at the CNM. Since that first bite and after all the pre event emails shouting about Pollen & Grace providing food at the meet I was seriously excited to get munching!

About the event:

On arrival at the Total Chi Yoga Bar we were greeted by a member of the Health Bloggers Community team, offered protein shakes and given time to start mingling with our fellow bloggers whilst the organisers finished putting the finishing touches to the event. Total Chi Yoga Bar is 2 floors of serenity so hanging out here was a real pleasure: you enter through their cool, clean juice bar, then head down the wooden stairs into a relaxation area before reaching the studios. This place is so beautifully and thoughtfully decked out – I could have set up camp in the ladies changing rooms VERY happily (all those fluffy white towels were calling out for me to make a nest, and did I mention they had a pot of spare hair ties and disposable razors at the ready?)

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We had a quick intro from Fab, the founder of HBC before heading through to check out the brands. Naturally, I made a beeline for the food first (and I was far from the only one – food first, always!) This was a great opportunity to get to know new brands on the wellness scene, get chatting to established brands about how they’d like to work with bloggers in the future and also share experiences with other bloggers.

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Were my preconceptions well founded?

  • The community of health bloggers on the whole were holistically focused rather than solely focused on food or fitness in isolation. Pretty much everyone I spoke to had similar backgrounds and were coming from the angle of wanting to share their experiences and show people that there can be multiple facets in finding the ideal formula for feeling great in yourself
  • With respect to the issue of people asking me what I was doing there, that was pretty much the main question I was asked. But not in the way that I’d sort of half expected. I was asked this question in a genuinely-interested-to-hear-what-I-had-to-say way. And, unlike what I suspected, I was pretty bold and ended up really enjoying chatting about Can Eat Attitude!
  • I wasn’t the only one worried about not being a “real” blogger – there were a number of people I got chatting to that were just starting out and didn’t have blogs of their own yet. It was really nice to chat about our own varied blogging experiences and it was really exciting to be able to talk about my journey. Less experienced bloggers were just as welcome as those who had been blogging for ages.

What else did I learn?

  • There is no strict definition of what a health blogger is – it isn’t just fitness bloggers vs food bloggers.
  • Almost everyone I spoke to had similar concerns and many came from similar career backgrounds. The main concern we discussed was whether the health blogging scene was already saturated: with so many health bloggers visible to us, was there any point in some of the newbies getting started? What we realised during this chat was that, whilst on Instagram it might look to us like everyone already knows all about overnight oats and banana nice cream, actually in the “real world” most people are still oblivious or in some cases seemingly opposed to our lifestyles (we joked about how nice it was that no one at the event batted an eyelid at our predilection for “green sludge”). When we talked about people we knew that ate “normal” food and lived “normal” lives, it became clear that there could still be an audience for each health blogger. Because we all have different journeys that will chime with different people at different stages. My story is about being a coeliac, becoming vegan, having women’s health issues and all the things in between – there aren’t going to be a whole heap of other bloggers with the same experiences, but there are likely to be quite a few readers that this story resonates with.

Looking forward to TC and I making a day of popping along to the Total Chi Yoga bar at some stage – we intend to make a day of it: go for a run around Regent’s Park, grab a juice and yoga class at Total Chi and then head back to the park gardens for a picnic.

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In the meantime, I’ve already nabbed myself early bird tickets to the next HBC bloggers meet and am looking forward to seeing some familiar faces again as well as getting to know some new ones!