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Month: November 2016

Stories I loved this week.

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Have you read Zadie Smith’s new novel, Swing Time yet? I’ve started it and am loving it so far. I’ve enjoyed all the publicity she’s been doing around the novel, including this interview with Lena Dunham and the Proust Questionnaire in Vanity Fair.

We all need this reminder, post Brexit and US election – how to argue fairly.

I loved these tips for hosting a festive dinner in a small space with not a lot of money. Pot lucks are very underrated!

If you’re like me, seeing what’s happening in the world is putting a fire in your belly and now you’re wondering how to direct it. This is a nice piece on simple things everyone can do to make a difference. Call / write your MP and elected representative! I do this a lot and it really does help – promise!

How to navigate a mid-life creative detour.

This recipe for fruit roll-ups looks great. An easy way to get lots of phytonutrients in.

I loved this profile of Jessica Koslow and her restaurant Squirl – her passion for food is infectious.

4 women talk about going sober for a year.

Food is food – nutritious, cheap and tasty.

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This week, a prominent doctor in the UK talked about the need to reduce the 5-a-day fruit and vegetable intake recommendation because it was ‘unrealistic’ for low-income families to achieve this. She says that lots of families may struggle to afford the recommended amounts and that “many children are being brought up with a culture of not having any fresh fruits and vegetables at all.”

I was shocked when I read this headline (which was repeated across multiple websites) and decided to dig deeper into the story. What she is actually says, is that “in the consultation with patients, it’s vital that GPs sometimes need to tailor the advice to the family in front of them. That may be starting with one or two portions a day and building up to the five portions a day.”

My frustration with this misleading story (tailored advice is a good thing) reminded me of a quote I recently read in a profile of Jamie Oliver.

“It’s quite British, this association with having any degree of thought or love of food being upper class or middle class or whatever you want to class it up as. That’s not the rest of the world. On my travels, the best food has come from the most economically challenged areas.”

It’s easy to understand why there are such strong class associations with food in the United Kingdom – classism persists across all areas of life. It’s really quite remarkable. Even still, there has been a lot of great work by the likes of Jamie Oliver, Jack Munro and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to make food and food preparation more equalitarian and accessible.

It’s remains true that the more fresh fruit and veg you eat, the better for you.

So here are the million pound questions:

How can we continue to spread the message that eating well needn’t cost a lot?

That it is possible to get your 5 to 7-a-day without breaking the bank?

What role do supermarkets play in this? Schools?

I don’t have all the answers, clearly.

What I know, is that it’s our role as nutritionists and health professionals to present simple, easy to understand messages of food and health to our patients and clients. To teach them tasty and nutritious food can be inexpensive.

This lovely warm chickpea and bacon salad (47p per serving!) is a great example of cheap, tasty and nutritious.

What’s your morning routine?

What are your mornings like? Are they chaotic and rushed? Calm and serene? Or a mix of the two?

I often read articles where they talk about calm and easy morning routines with a mixture of awe and envy, and think these women are either supremely organised or lying!

As much as it’s nice to have a calm start, it’s natural to wake up with a spike of cortisol, as your body attempts to get you kick started for the day. That’s the ‘jump out of bed’ feeling that you see in children – once they’re up, they’re up!

In a ideal world, I would jump out of bed at 6am, do 20 minutes of yoga and kettlebells, before jumping into shower. Then I would slowly get dressed, letting my moisturiser (I’m obsessed with Egyptian Magic) fully sink in, before doing my hair and make up (RMS is one of the best natural beauty brands I’ve found) over a coffee, whilst listening to Radio 4. I would finally go downstairs, make breakfast for the whole family and then wake up little J, so the three of us could eat together as a family before heading out to work / school / nursery.

The reality is a little different.

My alarm goes off at 6:15am and I lie there in bed for a bit, contemplating getting up and whether I have enough time to snooze a bit longer. You know, sleep math – if I sleep for x more minutes, then I have y minutes to get ready and be out the door on time. Hands up if you do sleep math too? 🙊

After forcing myself out of bed, I grab a quick shower, get dressed and made up, while M goes downstairs to wake J and make coffee and his own breakfast. When I’m ready, we then hand off and I stay in the kitchen with J to get him to eat whilst I make my morning green smoothie and drink my turmeric tonic. I get J dressed and we hustle out the door by 8:00am to get to nursery and then work in time.

I would love to have a gentle morning routine, and probably with a bit more planning the night before, I could. I love the honesty in Veronica Webb’s account of her morning routine: “Of course, this is my morning routine in a perfect world. No matter how disciplined I try to be, I am married and have four kids, and I work as a freelancer—so every day is unpredictable. Sometimes what I want to accomplish by 7 a.m. doesn’t get accomplished until midnight, but a girl can dream!”

What’s your morning routine? What are your tips and tricks to get little ones ready and get out the door on time?

How to channel your anger in these trying times.

It didn’t feel appropriate to do my usual link round up today.

If you’re upset and angry about the events of the last week, and even the last six months, if we add on Brexit, here’s a list of organisations you should consider helping, either through your wallet or skills.

The UK

The Fawcett Society: This organisation campaigns for women’s rights in the UK.

Refugee Council: They work to support and protect refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

Repeal: This organisation is on the front lines of the fight to change Ireland’s abortion laws and give Irish women safe access to abortions.

Liberty: They campaign for civil liberties and human rights in the UK.

The US

Emily’s List: This organisation helps pro-choice Democratic women get elected.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): They work hard to protect free speech and fight against injustice.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL): This organisation works to actively combat hate, discrimination and anti-Semitism.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC): They fight hate groups using education, litigation and advocacy.

Council of American Islam Relations (CAIR): They defend the civil rights of Muslims.

Planned Parenthood: The US’ leading sexual health and reproductive healthcare provider.

NAACP: They’ve worked tirelessly for decades to protect the civil rights of people of colour.

RAINN: The US’ largest anti-sexual violence organisation.

Stop telling me to be nice.

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I wrote this on Instagram this morning and wanted to expand it out a little.

In the last three days, I’ve been seeing many posts talking about the need to ‘be nice’ to others as we all process the result of the US election. These posts frustrate me.

What I wonder is – how does it help, in moments of grief, of anger, to hear calls to ‘be nice’, to ‘turn the other cheek’?  It strikes me that these calls to ‘be nice’ are a way for people to hide their discomfort with what’s happening around them. It can be hard to grapple with an uncomfortable conversation about the true beliefs and inherent biases in those that surround you, to hear challenging words, words that may challenge core beliefs and biases.

Rather than ‘being nice’ and sweeping things under the rug, I’m a firm believer that people need an opportunity to process their emotions, especially in these macro moments of shock and horror. Let them feel what they need to feel as long as they’re not hurting anyone.

When you see the increase in racism and xenophobia, it’s hard to hear ‘be nice’. People are suffering and we need to take care of each other.

We need to try and to understand each other more. Let’s constructively challenge assumptions and build new understandings, that are based on truths. Change is messy, uncomfortable and not very nice. But it can be incredibly effective, life-changing, even. Let’s try.

The importance of self-care.

There’s been so much depressing, upsetting news recently that sometimes I feel like shutting off my phone and laptop and burying my head in my pillow until it all goes away.

 

But it’s not going away, is it? Between Brexit, the US election, even the abuse that Meghan Markle is getting, makes me feel really sad for the world. There’s so much hate bubbling under the surface, hate that’s now fully out in the open, tearing apart families, friends and communities.

 

Obviously, hiding away isn’t an option, which is why self-care is so important.

 

We all need to take time out of the relentless news cycles, the phone alert and screaming headlines to slow down and appreciate the small moments in life that bring us joy.

 

It feels more essential than ever, if we stand a chance to keep moving forward in our lives.

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What do you do for self-care?

 

I find myself drawn to beautiful bouquets of flowers, the vivid sunrises and sunsets we’ve been having recently, slow meditative cooking and long walks in nature, breathing in fresh air.

 

I’ve also talked before about how switching off and staying away from news sites & social media has become an essential part of my self-care. I don’t want to shut the world away, but sometimes I want a break from the bad news and bad behaviour. Is that selfish? Is it indulgent? It feels necessary to avoid emotional burnout.

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Stories I loved this week.

Happy weekend! I can’t wait to hang out with my husband and son and relax this weekend.  And it’s Bonfire Night on Saturday! We’re going to check out our local Guy Fawkes fireworks display and let J have a few sparklers  – can’t wait!

What are you up to this weekend?

How it feels when your friends have babies. (Refinery 29)

What to eat when you have no idea what to cook. (The Pool)

I learned how to sharpen knives on Leiths knife skills course last year and it has been a revelation for my food prep. (Lucky Peach)

I love this idea of fine dining club for young children and their parents. I was a part of one when I was on maternity leave and it was incredible to be able to try some of the top restaurants in London with my son with me. (Bon Appetit)

The woman is incredible – doing so much, with a little toddler by her side. (Motherly)

How to choose a probiotic that will actually work. (Well + Good)

This is one of the best things I’ve read in a while. (Nplusone)

In case you missed it earlier on the blog…

I made chestnut pancakes and they were sooo good.

I’ve been wondering why we don’t talk about nutritious eating more.

Chestnut and caramelised apple and pear pancakes


I’ve been on a massive pancake kick recently. It’s probably because I associate pancakes with the comfort food of my childhood and right now, I seem to like the idea of getting a bit of comfort through food. Analyse that how you will.

 

Other foods in my comfort food list include French toast, macaroni cheese, spaghetti, roast chicken, chocolate cake, reuben sandwiches, guava duff and conch fritters. Every time I eat any of these foods, I get a burst of nostalgia and craving for the comfort of family and friends. What feelings do comfort foods give you?

 

I’m sure there’s lots of science behind why we choose particular foods as our designated comfort foods – the dopamine hit that these carbohydrates, fats and sugars give us, along with the soothing levels of satiety, probably give us the first hint!

 

Do salad or fruit ever factor into someone’s definition of comfort food? I would like to meet you if this is you!


As part of my pancake kick, I’ve been trying to create more nutritious versions that give you all the comfort with all the healthy benefits. And I love these chestnut pancakes. Adapted from an old recipe for Italian chestnut flour crepes, I love topping them with caramelised fruit. Recently, I’ve been doing a mix of pears, apples and plums – generally going for whatever is seasonal.

 

What you need:

Pancakes

180g chestnut flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 large free-range eggs

250ml organic whole milk / almond milk

Caramelised fruit

2 small apples / pears

a pinch of cinnamon

a tab of unsalted butter

 

How to make it:

  1. Sift the chestnut flour and the baking soda into a medium sized bowl.
  2. Crack the eggs and separate the egg yolks and whites, adding the yolks into the dry mixture.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they are frothy.
  4. Slowly fold the milk into the dry mixture, then add the egg whites.
  5. Fold the mixture until the wet and dry ingredients are combined. Do not over fold!
  6. Leave the batter to stand for at least 10 minutes so the milk and baking soda have enough time to interact.
  7. Chop the fruit into small wedges.
  8. Put a small non-stick pan on the stove on low-medium heat and add a tab of butter.
  9. Once the butter starts to bubble and go brown, add your fruit and cinnamon.
  10. Stir your fruit occasionally and remove from heat once it has gone soft and a bit sticky.
  11. After ten minutes has passed, put another non-stick pan for your pancakes on low to medium heat so it has time to warm up.
  12. Once your pan is warm, use an ice cream scoop to drop the batter in. I like to make pancakes on the smaller side so they are easier to flip.
  13. Once bubbles start to form on the edges of the pancakes (normally after a minute or so), flip them over. Chestnut flour tends to cook a bit faster than wheat flour so you’ll need to keep a close eye so they don’t burn. I learned this the hard way!
  14. Once you’ve made all your pancakes, top with fruit. You can also add raw cacao  and enjoy!

Have you ever been health shamed?

Have you ever been health shamed?

I have, but at the time didn’t have a proper term to describe what was happening to me. It’s hard to pin point exactly what it is, but it’s generally those times where you’re talking about something new you’re trying (food / exercise / meditation – delete where appropriate) and you get a crazy look or a scoff in response.

In these moments, it never fails to amaze me how moralistic people can be about food and wellness, turning everything into a n=1, ‘it worked for me, therefore it will work for you’ non sequitur. And when you dare to think differently, especially when you eschew the false dogma of ‘moderation’ and ‘balance’, there will be questions.

I read this profile of Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon recently and was struck by how often she gets health shamed.

What’s fascinating though, is her attitude to it. She says:

“The greatest thing to ever happen was the health-shaming that went down—you wouldn’t believe all the hits we got on our website. If even 2 percent of that traffic made a difference in someone’s life, if they learned just one thing, I’ll take it. Health shame me all day long!

I actually think it’s quite a good sign that it is happening. It means there are parts of the collective consciousness that are being triggered by this, and I think that’s actually a sign of massive change to come. There are going to be people who aren’t happy or healthy right now and [my lifestyle] is confronting for them. I don’t take anyone’s reactions to be anything other than great news that we’re reaching people who aren’t looking for us.”

“If they learned just one thing, I’ll take it.” I love this. She takes what could potentially be a negative, crushing experience and turning it into a positive.

And that’s the moral of the story, isn’t it? For those of us in the natural health community to remember that some people might react negatively, but you must keep going (lots of evidence and research helps too!) and your message will eventually breakthrough.

Have you ever been health shamed? What did you do?

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