Month: April 2016

Stories I loved this week.


The news of Prince’s death hit me like a tonne of bricks. It’s hard to describe how much his music has been a part of the key moments of my life. I Would Die 4 U helped me recover from a major emotional blow, Purple Rain, Diamond and Pearls, Cream, Little Red Corvette and so many others were the soundtrack of my childhood and teenage years and Sexy MF and Erotic City would always get me onto the dance floor at university. He will be missed.

The 13 most important essays about Prince. (Buzzfeed)

I adore this Questlove / Prince story. (Slate)

I’ve been eyeing up the bikinis here in anticipation of my holiday to Crete in a few weeks. (J. Crew)

Refinery 29 are running a series called ‘Rag Week’, full of insightful pieces on how women experience periods and menopause. This is a great piece from Caryn Franklin on embracing the change of life that is menopause.

Parenting outdoors like Phoebe Buffay runs. Made me chuckle. (Aka Peachie)

I’m going to try this spiced lamb and lentil stew for dinner this week. (Every Last Bite)

Courgetti Bolognaise


This is truly one of my go-to dishes. I love making a big pot of the bolognaise on a Sunday and then having it as a part of easy meals throughout the week.  I like to eat the sauce with spiralised carrots or courgettes or if I want to change things up a bit, I might pop the bolognaise into an omelette with a bit of rocket. Wild!

My recipe has evolved over the years to the point where I feel like I’ve almost perfected it. Note that I said almost! 🙂

Courgetti Bolognaise (serves 4-5)

What You Need
2 tablespoons fat – I like ghee
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 large garlic cloves , finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, roughly sliced
2 tablespoons Magic Mushroom powder
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
200ml bone broth
500g minced beef or lamb
1 can chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon olive oil
4 large carrots, spiralised
4 large courgettes, spiralised

How To Make It

  1. Heat fat in a large enamel pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic and carrots, with a large pinch of salt and saute for at least 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are softer.
  3. Add the peppers, 1 tablespoon each of oregano, basil and magic mushroom powder. Stir and saute for 5 more minutes, until peppers are softer.
  4. Add the mushrooms, chilli flakes and bone broth. Let this cook for 5 more minutes, but do not let the  mixture boil.
  5. If using the minced lamb, brown the meat and drain off half the fat. If using minced lamb, add to the main mixture, breaking up the meat with a spatula so no large chunks remain.
  6. Let this mixture cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Add the rest of the oregano, basil and magic mushroom powder, as well as the fresh and canned tomatoes. Stir and increased the heat, so the sauce is lightly simmering. Season to taste with salt.
  8. Set a timer for 30 minutes and let the sauce reduce, stirring occasionally so it reaches the desired thickness. I like a very thick sauce so I leave the cover off the pot and let it reduce that way.
  9. While the bolognaise has 10 minutes left to reduce, spiralise the carrots and courgettes.
  10. Heat the olive oil on a medium-low heat and lightly saute the carrots so they reach a ‘al-dente’ consistency. After 5 minutes, add the courgettes and lightly saute for 2-3 minutes. Do not cook them for any longer or they will get too soft.
  11. Take the sauce off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  12. Serve with the sauce on top of the spiralised courgettes and carrots.
  13. Enjoy!

I Tried It: The Specific Carbohydrate Diet


As I go further into my Nutrition degree, we’ve been learning more nutrition theory and practical elements, like clinical practice with patients and specific dietary models. The third assignment this year is to trial one of the dietary models we could potentially recommend to a patient. Anything from paleo to raw vegan to GAPS to 5:2. The idea is that we won’t truly understand how our clients feel until we walk a mile in their shoes.

What is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?

With that in mind, I’ve just completed  a week and a half on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). This aim of this dietary model is to help heal the intestinal wall and rebalance the good and bad bacteria within the gut. More specifically, it is aimed at those with severe intestinal difficulties, such as those with Celiac, Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis. To quote the definitive SCD book / website, Breaking The Vicious Cycle:

The allowed carbohydrates are monosaccharides and have a single molecule structure that allow them to be easily absorbed by the intestine wall. Complex carbohydrates which are disaccharides (double molecules) and polysaccharides (chain molecules) are not allowed. Complex carbohydrates that are not easily digested feed harmful bacteria in our intestines causing them to overgrow, producing by products and inflaming the intestine wall. The diet works by starving out these bacteria and restoring the balance of bacteria in our gut.

On the diet, only monosaccharide carbohydrates are allowed to be eaten as all others require extra digestion steps to break the chemical bonds down to monosaccharide carbohydrates. In a nutshell, ‘no food should be ingested that contains carbohydrates other than those found in fruits, honey, properly-prepared yogurt, and those vegetables and nuts listed here.’

There is quite a lot of evidence supporting the efficacy of this dietary model, however because it is so intense, it can be considered a ‘last resort’.

How It Works

The diet is split into two parts; a 2-5 day introductory period to reduce severe intestinal complaints, such as pain, cramping and diarrhoea and then a reintroductory period to slowly introduce foods back into the diet to see how the body reacts. The 2 – 5 day introductory period focuses on plain foods that are known to help heal the intestinal lining, reduce bloating, gas, diarrhoea and pain and rebalance gut flora. Quite frankly, it is the blandest food known to man – foodies look away now!- which is why this dietary model is described as a last resort. Sample foods include dry cottage cheese, eggs (boiled, poached or scrambled), apple cider, homemade gelatine, homemade chicken soup including broth, chicken and pureed carrots, broiled plain beef patty, broiled fish, homemade cheesecake. All food must be homemade so you know exactly what ingredients are in each meal.

Once the intestinal complaints subside, cooked fruit, banana and additional vegetables may be tried. After this, the rest of the food in the dietary model may be introduced.

My Experience on the Diet 

I did one day on the introductory diet, so I could experience what a client might feel on this  part of the dietary model. I intentionally chose a day where I was at work, so I wouldn’t be tempted by anything on offer in my local cafes and restaurants. I’ve laid out my food and drinks throughout the day below.





Day 1

3 scrambled eggs, water

Two plain beef patties, water

Plain chicken legs and breast, nettle tea

2 cups of nettle tea

I am a coffee addict, so by 3pm, I was frantically Googling ‘herbal teas allowed on scd introductory diet’. Happily, nettle tea is allowed so I had a few cups to tide me through the rest of the afternoon. By the end of the day, I was utterly exhausted and went to bed at 8pm – no joke!

Day 2 – 9 were easier in some respects because I could have a wider variety of foods that weren’t too far off the paleo template that I normally choose.





Day 1

3 scrambled eggs, water

Two plain beef patties, water

Plain chicken legs and breast, nettle tea

2 cups of nettle tea

Day 2

Smoothie (almond milk, almond butter, kale, 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 1 handful blueberries, 2 tbsp collagen hydrolysate, 1 banana, 1/2 avocado, 1 handful kale), rasher of bacon

Chicken salad with mixed leaves, flaked almonds, walnuts, olive oil, s&p to dress

Red lentil and beef curry

1 cup of coffee, 2 L water, 1 cup ginger tea

Day 3


Mixed salad with crab, tuna, string beans, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, rocket, 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 cashew & date Nakd bar

Courgetti bolognaise, 1 cashew & date Nakd bar

1 cup of coffee, 2.5L water, 1 cup ginger tea, 1 cup nettle tea

Day 4


Leftover beef and red lentil curry, 1 cashew & date Nakd bar

Steak with sautéed mushrooms and kale, 3 strawberries

1 cup of coffee, 2.5L water, 1 cup nettle tea

Day 5

Smoothie, 1 rasher of bacon


Beef ragu with spiralised carrots

Lemon water, 1 cup of coffee, 1 L water

Day 6



Red pepper, green pepper and double Gloucester frittata

Lemon water, 1 cup ginger tea, 1 cup of Dr. Stuart’s Skin Tonic, 1L water

Day 7


Small wedge of double Gloucester cheese

Beef patty with mixed leaves

1L water, 1 cup of Dr Stuart’s Skin Tonic

Day 8

Smoothie, 1 rasher of bacon, small piece of leftover frittata, 1 scrambled egg

Chicken burrito bowl with guacamole

Apple, two pieces of blue cheese

2L water, 1 large glass of red wine, 1 nettle tea

Day 9

Smoothie, 1 rasher of bacon

Chicken salad with mixed leaves, flaked almonds, walnuts, olive oil, s&p to dress

Chicken cacciatore with spinach

2L water, 1 cup of Dr Stuart’s Skin Tonic

There were two slightly tricky points.

From days 5-7, I had terrible intestinal discomfort, including stomach pain, diarrhoea, bloating, gurgling, nausea and general fatigue and headaches. On the various SCD websites, there is much discussion of ‘bacterial die-off’ (also called herxheimer reactions), where the fuel for the harmful bacteria (polysaccharides and disaccharides) has been removed from the diet, leading to ‘die-off’ of the harmful bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine in large numbers and the release of too many toxins for the liver to be able to process and dispose of at one time.

To put it simply, I was in a bad place for three days, with no appetite, no energy and a lot of discomfort. Interestingly (from a scientific, not a personal perspective), both my husband and son became ill one after the other, with the same symptoms that I experienced, so what I originally thought was bacterial die-off, may have been stomach flu. I’m still not sure.

The other tricky point was eating enough to have enough energy for exercise. After I recovered from the bacterial ‘die-off’, I found that I had to be quite conscious of making sure I was eating enough food throughout the day and in particular, before any workouts. I struggled with a spin class towards the end of my time on SCD, getting through on sheer grit and endorphins.

Final Thoughts

After I recovered from the die-off, I felt great. Full of energy, with far less intestinal discomfort, bloating and gas. I’ve actually continued a modified version of this dietary model for the last two weeks, excluding potatoes and sweet potatoes from my meals.

I’ve lost 3 kgs, my skin is much clearer and I’m enjoying spending more time in the kitchen and taking time over the meals I prepare. The other benefit is the amount of money I’ve saved from eating out less – so many wins!

Photo by Yvonne Lee Harijanto

Stories I loved this week.

colourful buildings

We’ve had a few warm days in London this week and now I’m itching for summer. London is so great in the summer, with the many parks, rooftop patios and riverside pubs. My husband and I had a day off this week for his birthday and we discovered a fabulous rooftop pub / garden on top of the South Bank Centre. And it was utter bliss to sit in the sun with a book, a glass of wine and a bit of peace. Looking forward to going back with J so he can run around the garden.

The life changing magic of tidying up for new parents. Made me giggle. (The New Yorker)

An interesting first-person view on the body dysmorphia of the men in her life. (Refinery 29)

So cool. This British astronaut is running the London Marathon in space. (CBS News)

Do you have a negative voice inside, with a running pessimistic monologue? I do and it drives me crazy. Here are some good tips on how to quell that voice. (Well + Good)

5 easy ways to overhaul your nutrition. (Elle)

How many workout leggings are too many workout leggings? Not sure what the answer is but I’m obsessed with this pair from Sweaty Betty and want to add them to my collection.

I’ve never understood ‘gingerism‘. In Canada, where I’m from, we call them redheads and it’s generally considered quite unique and interesting to have redhead. (Aeon)

Photo by Samuel Zeller

Stories I loved this week.


I love this photo. We just bought a Chemex (the wooden and glass urn) and it’s seriously revolutionised our coffee making. We can make much smaller amounts and the flavour is just unbelievable. Try it!

One of the saddest things I’ve read in a while. The emotional cost that Filipino nannies pay for moving abroad to earn money. (The New Yorker)

I want to check out UBiome, a service that sequences your microbiome.

The case against skimmed milk is stronger than ever. (Time)

The power of “I don’t know”. (The Pool)

A fascinating long read on how one of the first scientists who raised the alarm on the harm of sugar was discredited by the scientific community. How times have changed! (The Guardian)

Have you heard of trypophobia? (The Conversation)

Sourdough starters – some people think that this is the only way to make bread. Have you tried it? My husband is obsessed. (New York Times)

Speaking of sourdough, Michael Pollan talks about it quite a lot in the Air episode of his new Netflix series, Cooked. Worth watching.

The most recent version of the Good Fish Guide has been released and I’ll be browsing this to figure out which wild fish and seafood are the best to eat.

Photo by Karl Fredrickson










What I’m Reading: Reverse The Signs of Ageing

dr nigma talib reverse the signs of ageing.JPG

Written by Dr Nigma Talib, a naturopathic doctor based in London and New York, Reverse The Signs of Ageing is absolutely PACKED with information. So much so, I decided to slow down to make sure I was really absorbing all of the information.

It’s so important to state that Dr Talib is very much pro-aging and thinks it’s a natural part of life that we need to embrace better. However, as the title of the book suggests, we needn’t let the signs of ageing overwhelm us.

And that is the premise of the book – how to identify the signs of ageing and how we can use food, supplements, skin care, lifestyle, exercise and stress management to stop / slow down these signs of ageing in their tracks.

Dr Talib talks through a Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic technique called ‘face mapping’ to assess potential trouble spots in the face. The guiding principle of face mapping  is that each part of the face is connected to a major organ. For example, spots on the chin in women can be a sign of hormonal imbalances in the reproductive system and dark circles under the eyes can indicate sluggish kidney function. This is so fascinating to me because it just shows how connected the whole body is and how important it is for mainstream and naturopathic practitioners to look at the whole person, not just the symptoms.

Reverse The Signs of Ageingtakes a completely holistic perspective and demonstrates that there really are no quick fixes and to truly reverse the signs of ageing, you need to address the internal and the external.

I highly recommend this book and have been using it a resource when working with clients. A must-read for any naturopath or nutritionist!


Stories I loved this week.


It’s finally spring and there seems to be a real lightness in the air here in London. Maybe it’s the crisp yet sunny days, maybe it’s the promise of warmth and lighter evenings. I know that I’ve been feeling in better spirits recently, though a combination of more sleep, better management of my food intake and more family time. Lots of kisses and cuddles from a bub can always lighten the spirit.

“Beyoncé doesn’t mention anything about her body, or weight, or pushing herself to her limits – instead she talks how running makes her feel, and what it has done for her mind.” I love this analysis of the video launching Beyonce’s new fitness range, Ivy Park. (The Pool)

How to choose the best produce. (Vox)

A fascinating piece on India’s menstrual product market and the taboos that still exists around menstruation in this country. (Broadly)

I put collagen into my morning smoothie and it’s nice to see more evidence of its benefits to the skin. Beauty really does start from the inside out. (Well + Good)

I’m trying out this chicken cacciatore recipe for a dinner party tomorrow night. (New York Times)

How not to lose yourself in motherhood. Lots of good advice here. It takes time and for me, it’s important to remember that mother is just one part of my identity. (Mother Mag)

We’re more honest with our phones than with our doctors. (New York Times)

What you don’t know about depression. (Kelly Brogan MD)

Photo by Milada Vigerova

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