Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Brown Cremini Gravy

I can't stop thinking about Thanksgiving. It was wonderful. Totally relaxing for me, even though we were hosting 15 people. Why? Because I was ridiculously organized about the whole thing. Not to toot my own horn, but this kind of organization has become one of my strong suits.

I was conversing on Facebook yesterday about stuffing recipes and other Thanksgiving stuff, mentioning that I was going to record all of my notes and recipes so that next year would be even more of a breeze. Someone had asked if I could share those notes publicly, so here is the document that I created and will reference next year as I begin shopping for Thanksgiving:

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speculaas mini muffins

Maybe it's my Dutch background, but I've always had a mild obsession with speculaaskruiden. It's a spice mix made up of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, coriander seed, anise seed and white pepper. It's traditionally used to flavour sweet biscuits. I wanted to bake something with the lovely spiced flavour, but without the sugar and flour. So I came up with these little muffins.

They are grain-free, fructose-free and deliciously moist (I can't stand the word 'moist' but can't find an appropriate synonym) thanks to the secret ingredient: sweet potato. I've simplified the spice mix to suit what I always have in my pantry, while still maintaining the key flavours. So hopefully you won't need to go out and buy a whole range of new spices. 


  • 1 cup baked sweet potato, mashed
  • 2 tbsp raw virgin coconut oil, softened
  • � cup rice malt syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1� cups ground almonds, plus extra for sprinkling
  • � tsp salt
  • � tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1� tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg


1. Preheat your oven to 170�C.

2. Beat the sweet potato, coconut oil, rice malt syrup and eggs until well combined. 

3. Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a bowl, then fold through the wet ingredients until just combined.

4. Spoon mixture into mini muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops starting to crack. 

Makes 20 mini muffins.

NB: I use a 20ml tbsp. If you have a 15ml tbsp (if you're in the US or UK), you can measure out 4 tsp in place of each tbsp.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Friday Recap (Week 7) and Next Week's Cooking

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family, friends and healthy food--the American readers that is. For everyone else from all over the world, and there are readers from all over the world, please bear with us as we go on and on about Thanksgiving. It must be sort of annoying.

Our Thanksgiving was a huge success. I didn't take any photos of food, because once the guests arrived, my mind was totally elsewhere. But here's what the tables looked like right before our festivities commenced:

I'm up early this morning blogging because one of our cats woke me up with some crazy screeching about this other neighborhood cat that comes right up to our downstairs windows. It's okay, I have to drag my butt to work (yep, work) anyway. I might be a bit of a zombie today, or I may need to indulge in a little bit of caffeine to get me through.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013


I am back at my Dad's now having caught the train after work. Tomorrow/today - Friday I mean - I'm picking up the courtesy car while working from (his) home. Luckily the automatic is available so I won't have to try to remember how to change gear while driving around Lincoln. I just have to remember to collect the TomTom charger from my car while I'm there.

Food today:
Breakfast: Microscrambled eggs - overcooked & dry again, I usually add tomatoes and haven't this week - they go annoyingly watery in the microwave but they do keep the eggs moist
Lunch: lamb-stuffed pitta from the canteen
Dinner: cottage pie (topped with sweet potato mash) & peas; gf cranberry & pecan flapjack to follow
Snacks: Greek yoghurt with fruit & seeds.

grain-free tacos

These grain-free tacos are a regular on my dinner circuit. They aren't authentic, but you get all the nice fillings and flavours without the grains. I keep it quick and simple with spicy beef, red cabbage, seasoned mashed avocado and fresh herbs. But if you have more time, you can get creative with different meats, marinades and a proper guacamole.

  • 400g beef mince *
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more if you like things really spicy)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 baby gem lettuces
  • � red cabbage
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Handful of fresh parsley or coriander
  • Fresh lime wedges to serve (optional)
1. Heat a frypan on a high heat. Once hot, throw in the mince and start breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Continue to fry until the mince is cooked through.
2. Snap off the gem lettuce leaves and give them a good rinse. Finely slice the red cabbage and roughly chop the parsley or coriander. Mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork, then season with salt.
3. To serve, place a gem lettuce leaf on a plate and top with some of the spicy mince, then some red cabbage, a dollop of avocado and a sprinkling of the fresh parsley or coriander. They're also nice with a squeeze of lime. I find it easiest to put all the ingredients out on the table so everyone can construct their own tacos.
Serves 2
(Potentially with some leftover mince, which could be added to an omelette, frittata, salad or scrambled eggs for breakfast the next morning).
* Grass-fed meat is best if you can get it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Protective Style Lookbook || 2 Quick Styles for Mini Twists

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

Model: Kim

Difficulty level: 2/5

Description: Two rolled and pinned updos on mini twists

10 Household Uses for Lemons

Did you know lemons have household uses beyond cleaning?  Here are just a few of those uses:

- derust brass
- revitalize paintbrushes
- despeckle glass
- polish wood furniture

For more, check out this slideshow on

Doing better... more or less

I took a taxi in to work this morning, it arrived outside the hotel early and so did I, so I was in the office by about 6:05 am!
I have fewer aches and pains today although if I sit still for too long my upper back / shoulders stiffen up and that's uncomfortable until I get up and move around. Its really nothing though, all things considered. I managed to walk back to the hotel again without problems from my knees, but felt really tired by the time I got back (unsurprisingly I haven't slept well the last couple of nights)
The garage that will be fixing my car have told me they expect to finish with it by the 9th of December. The work shouldn't take that long but they're having to order parts of course. I'm hoping to get a courtesy car, but mine is an automatic and I haven't driven a manual since May 2011 so I want an automatic; unfortunately they only have one so it depends if they finish another job on time. It's due back tomorrow at the moment and I'm going back to my Dad's for the weekend (all or part of it depending whether or not I get the courtesy car on Friday.) I feel like I haven't been home for years rather than a week & a half... I'm feeling a bit lonely tonight to be honest, which is why I had dinner in the hotel restaurant before my hot bath...

Food today:
Breakfast: Microscrambled eggs - overcooked & dry sadly
Lunch: Beef chilli from the canteen
Dinner: Roast chicken with green beans followed by a peanut chocolate parfait (how did that happen???)
Snacks: Greek yoghurt with fruit & seeds, and cashews

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Back to work

First off thank you so much for your lovely comments after yesterdays post - it really gave me a much needed boost! And I'm taking your advice to take it easy - absolutely no training (I have no real choice there since I have backache, shoulder ache, a sore elbow and a twingey knee) and lots of hot baths, and no dieting until I'm feeling better.
My Dad drove me to work this morning, a 100 mile round trip for him, and showed me the route I should have used yesterday, which was much better (mind you we left after rush hour, when it was light, as opposed to around 6am in the pitch black, so it was bound to look better) - wider, straighter roads with more warnings where there were bends, fewer ditches and more villages to provide light & landmarks. We got here around 10 and he took me to my hotel first so I won't have to manhandle my suitcase this evening. Which is good given the backache. Everyone in the office was really nice and sympathetic. At the beginning I was feeling over-emotional, I think because once dad left I felt kind of alone in what is still a strange city to me, and got a little bit tearful in the face of people being kind,but I managed to settle myself down after a bit by focusing on work.
And then it just got everyday boring, which was kind of a relief :-)
I know I'm not fit to train but I'm not that smart either so I walked the 3.7 miles from office to hotel this evening. Possibly more than I should have done given that earlier in the day my left leg was bothering me, but in the event it was fine. However I had some more back pain as a result of carrying my rucksack - with a laptop in it - all the way back.
When I got to the hotel I went to the bar for some comfort food, then did a little shopping before taking a hot bath with Epsom salts as some people believe it helps with healing or at least alleviating muscle pain. Unfortunately the plug in the bath didn't fit brilliantly so the bath slowly drained away, which made it less relaxing than I'd hoped.

Food today:
Breakfast: Omelet with diced tomato, yellow pepper & mushroom
Lunch:  Chicken fajita from the canteen
Dinner: Fish & chips from the hotel bar (and a beer) followed by a mini pannacotta from Tesco
Snacks: pork rinds & a dark chocolate (70%) Green & Blacks mini bar

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Black Forest Cream of Mushroom Soup

You might have noticed that there's no glamour shot of Dr. Fuhrman's Black Forest Cream of Mushroom Soup on this blog posting. I've got a good excuse, I promise! I'm so busy preparing for Thanksgiving that I just haven't had a moment to style, photograph and edit a shot. But don't let the lack of photograph stop you from making this soup--it's amazing! Plus, I promise to add a photo by the end of the week, okay?

Edited to add: I got it in! Phew! I was just so excited to tell you all about this delicious recipe that I couldn't wait for a photo. But I had my chance this morning and I took it.

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banana, coconut + dark chocolate babycakes

This recipe all started with an overripe banana that I didn't want to throw out. As it turned out, it wasn't a bad way to use it up. Banana, coconut and dark chocolate is a ripping combination (in my opinion). Bananas are high in fructose, but we're talking about one banana spread across 12 mini muffins here. 

I think the dark chocolate ganache icing is what makes these so good. It sets semi-solid, with a fudge-like texture. But the little muffins are also nice on their own if you want to keep things a bit lighter.


for the muffins:
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • � cup coconut flour

for the dark chocolate ganache:
  • 100g dark (85% cocoa) chocolate
  • 2 tsp raw virgin coconut oil


1. Preheat your oven to 170�C.

2. Mash the banana in a bowl with a fork until smooth, then stir in the coconut oil, desiccated coconut and cinnamon. Beat in the eggs with a fork and then beat in the coconut flour until you get a smooth batter.

3. Place mini cupcake moulds or paper cases on a baking tray, spoon the mixture into the moulds, and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until the tops are starting to crack. Allow the muffins to cool completely before icing.

4. For the ganache, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a bowl. I chop the chocolate up finely and place it in a bowl with the coconut oil. Then I place the bowl in an inch of hot water in the sink and stir until the chocolate is melted, being very careful not to get any water into the bowl.

5. Leave the chocolate mixture to firm up slightly, then spread it onto the muffins.

Makes 12 mini muffins.

NB: I use a 20ml tbsp. If you have a 15ml tbsp (if you're in the US or UK), you can measure out 4 tsp in place of each tbsp.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A wonderful weekend�with a horrible ending :-(

So, I love Lincolnshire and have reluctantly forgiven my Dad for moving up here.
On Friday he & I strolled around the village and stopped in a pub for a pint (of beer � yes, I did!)
On Saturday the three of us went to another little village nearby called Woodhall Spa. This is a lovely village, with some really nice shops including a fantastic deli, an excellent butcher, a lovely Victorian / Edwardian hotel called The Petwood, where we had a little lunch, and a truly unique retro cinema called the Kinema in the Woods � a tiny little 2 screen cinema literally buried in a small woodland area, with an actual live organist who plays in the intermission when they play old movies!
On Sunday we all went into the beautiful city of Lincoln. I was born in Lincolnshire when my Dad, who was in the RAF, was based in a camp here, and apparently I visited Lincoln a few times in my early years, but I�ve no real memories of it apart from a very steep hill in the middle (It�s called Steep Hill � truth in advertising!!!) which you can climb to visit the castle and cathedral, and the lovely old shops in the Cathedral Quarter. We didn�t tour the castle or cathedral as it was a taster visit and we wanted to see everything, but did go into a few shops, and a cute little tea room which tempted me to forget the gluten thing and eat a scone with clotted cream and jam (best scone I�ve ever had!) while drinking hot chocolate with Baileys in it � amazing!!!
Then the horrible ending� If you�ve been to Lincolnshire you�ll know its very very flat, with acres and acres of sky, lots of reclaimed (drained) fenlands and enormous fields like something from the American midwest (I imagine � I�ve never been). At 5:45 this morning I headed off into the darkness (because these rural bits have no street lights ANYWHERE) on my way back to Nottingham. My TomTom took me on a bluntly horrible route through dead black countryside on a road that was dead straight for several miles, then right before a small village, it went into a series of sharp bends � also unlit.
I drove round a bend that I misjudged.
The road surface was damp and a little slick.
I went off the road and into a ditch.
The car was sitting nose first in a heavily overgrown drainage ditch with its ass sticking slightly out into the road, right after an almost blind bend, that is apparently a rat run, AT A 45 DEGREE ANGLE.
It wasn�t coming out without being towed out.
I was being followed along the road by a lovely and very helpful lorry driver on his way to work. He stopped and helped me by calling the police (I had NO idea where the hell I was at this point) and let me sit in his car in the warm while we waited. Then another lovely thing (in context) � another car stopped. in that car were a couple, who happened to be police officers on their way to their station to start their shift. They let the first man go off as he was going to be late for work, and waited with me for the responding cars to arrive before going to work.
When it first happened I�d called my dad saying I was about 13 miles from his house, but unfortunately, as the tomtom had taken me on a route he wouldn�t use it took ages for him to find me (I didn�t know where I was and he didn�t know that area) so I sat in various police cars while waiting. I have to say that all the officers I spoke to today were lovely, very helpful, sympathetic and reassuring when I was feeling upset about things. Even being breathalysed (A new experience for me! And not one I want to repeat) wasn�t as freaky an experience as it could have been because they were so nice � if you have to have an accident I�ll recommend the Lincs police to anyone!
Eventually Dad showed up to get me and my stuff, and the officers let me go off while they waited for the recovery vehicle to come and get it. I think I was probably cursed by many, many commuters this morning especially when they had to close the road (briefly I hope) to let the recovery vehicle do its thing. Later I realised I�d left something I needed in the car and we drove to get it from the recovery site. I was nervous of seeing my baby in that place but actually it looked really pretty good, just one small dent in the front wing (and some foliage), lots of dirt and probably scratches, but I didn�t even break a head light (and the airbags never deployed either) so you can tell I nearly managed to stop it before the ditch happened. I will confess that when I realised what was happening I screamed like a little girl� I don�t think I ever have just screamed in fear before, at least not as an adult, its weird�
My car, as a flower pot�
Anyway, I didn�t hit hard but I still do have some aches, pains and stiffness today. At the time I was absolutely fine � but of course in shock slightly, or at any event under the influence of a major adrenalin surge. As the day has passed I�ve had new and different twinges and aches, most of which passed on by. I think the stress / tension I�ve been under today are as responsible as my accident itself � unless I get dramatically worse I can�t claim much sympathy. Consequently, assuming that I�m able to move tomorrow morning Dad is going to help me get back to Nottingham so I can go back to work, and I�ll have to decide what happens next as I get an update on the car and it�s immediate future. It looked like I could have driven it right away, but they still need to check it over, fix the dent and clean up some scratching before they�ll release it to me.  I got off lightly, but that doesn�t mean I�m taking it lightly. It was a horrible experience, a real downer after a great weekend (though not so bad that it put me off coming back to Lincolnshire again � it feels kind of like home) and an expensive mistake in terms of car recovery charges, repairs to the �road furniture� I damaged, a lost day�s work, etc etc� But I was very very lucky in terms of the lovely people I dealt with today, and although none of them will ever know about this post I still want to thank them for making a bad morning a little less bad.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

nutty protein cookies

These cookies make a great portable breakfast when you don't have time to eat at home. They also do well as a snack. I like to sandwich some nut butter between two of them for a healthy macaron-ish experience. They're packed with protein and good fats, so they'll keep you going for a while.

The cookies are an adapted version of Get Real Living's coconut & flax protein bars, available here. I made them fructose-free, changed up the nuts and seeds to suit what I had on hand, and made them in cookie format because I didn't have the baking dish necessary to make bars. So have a play with what you've got.


  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1� tbsp water
  • ? cup raw virgin coconut oil
  • � cup nut butter made with 100% nuts (I like peanut or almond butter)
  • � cup rice malt syrup *
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 1� cups finely chopped almonds
  • ? cup raw sunflower seeds
  • � cup plain protein powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt


1. Preheat your oven to 170�C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Stir the flaxseed and water together in the bottom of a large bowl.

3. Place the bowl in some hot water in the sink, then stir in the coconut oil, peanut butter and rice malt syrup until all melted together. (If your coconut oil is liquid, you won't need to place the bowl in hot water).

4. Take the bowl out of the sink and beat in the egg.

5. Stir through the desiccated coconut, chopped almonds, sunflower seeds, protein powder, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt.

6. Press the mixture into little patties and place on the tray. They won't spread when baking, so you can place them quite close together. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until slightly browned. 

Makes about 30 cookies.

* I use rice malt syrup because it's fructose-free. You could substitute raw honey or pure maple syrup.

NB: I use a 20ml tbsp. If you have a 15ml tbsp (if you're in the US or UK), you can measure out 4 tsp in place of each tbsp.

Friday, November 22, 2013

green eggs


My version of green eggs is scrambled eggs pimped with greens and served with a fresh green salad for added textural interest. It's a great way to add extra nutrients to eggs in the morning. I also often eat it for a quick lunch or dinner.

It's so simple it barely needs a recipe. If you have any leftover vegetables in the fridge, throw them into the scramble too. Kale is a great addition. Or spinach that is starting to pass its prime. Just chop it up and saut� with the zucchini before adding the eggs.

for the scramble:
  • 1 tsp raw virgin coconut oil
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 zucchini
  • Salt *
  • Pepper
  • Fresh parsley, roughly chopped

for the green salad:
  • Large handful of leafy greens, such as baby spinach, rocket or valeriana
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt *
1. Heat the coconut oil in a frypan over a low heat.
2. While the frypan is warming up, beat the eggs together in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Grate the zucchini.
3. Throw the grated zucchini into the pan and saut� in the oil until it starts to soften and the moisture starts to evaporate.
4. Pour the beaten eggs into the pan and stir into the zucchini. Keep moving the egg and zucchini mixture around the pan until the eggs are just cooked through. I usually take the pan off the heat just before the eggs are done and finish them off with the residual heat in the pan. This way you're less likely to overcook the eggs.
5. For the salad, simply toss the leafy greens in a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt.
6. Serve the scramble on a plate with the salad, and top with the fresh parsley.
Serves 1.
* I use Himalayan crystal salt because it's high in minerals.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Testing... testing

This is an experiment with blogging from my phone (no clever apps, just using the phone to access directly instead of through live writer on my Pc or iPad. I thought I wouldn't like doing it this way because of writing the post on a virtual keyboard, then realised that was daft - I always do, its just that usually I email it to myself from the phone so I can finish by publishing it on the pc.
If its totally lacking formatting you'll have to forgive me...
I decided to try this because I wanted to mention something I forgot to post yesterday - I'm not going home this weekend, instead I'm spending the weekend at my Dad's new house. I'm pretty excited about it as I haven't even seen it yet (apart from the advert on rightmove when they found it) and I haven't seen Dad and his wife since they moved either. Obviously.
I am accepting the strong probability that my new plan for healthier eating will probably go by the wayside for the weekend and I'm fine with that since this week has demonstrated how quickly I start feeling better on reverting to plan. Its my Dad's wife's birthday this weekend, so whereas I have inflicted my diet on them in the past, this time I won't. Expect some moaning on Monday, but hopefully more rambling about how good it was to see them!!!

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Friday Recap and Next Week's Cooking

How excited are you for Thanksgiving?

I know I don't need to remind you of this, but Thanksgiving is coming in one week! Tee hee! To be totally honest, I'm focusing on getting ready for the holiday because Thanksgiving is by far my favorite food holiday of all time. I've got to clean the heck outta my house, set the table and do a whole lotta cooking. In case you are wondering what will be at our Thanksgiving feast, you can read about that here.

But since I did manage to miss one of the recipes that I planned on cooking this week, and the ingredients are waiting there in my fridge, calling my name, there will be one more Eat to Live post coming soon.

Speaking of Eat to Live, I feel like I am in the middle of a nuts vs. potatoes war. I just want to state for the record that I do not have an opinion on this matter AT ALL, as I am not a doctor or a scientist. I am simply one real person testing and trying out plant based recipes and attempting to find what works for moi. Each of us needs to find our mojo with food, there are no short cuts. I see plenty of success stories on both sides--those eating nuts and those eating starches.

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Operation Back to Gluten free day 4

Still going (relatively) well - gluten free, real foods, less salads in dressings made of cheap crappy oil & artificial sweeteners etc. I'm still not entirely grain free obviously but keeping it to white rice which is at least not allergenic as far as I can tell - certainly not for me. I have still been eating packaged meats, which of course are cooked with lots of salt and some added sugar. Yesterday I finally bought some cheap microwave safe crockery - hence the ability to cook breakfast, though I know a purist wouldn't use a microwave, but there are some things I just can't afford to worry about.
I slept much better last night and woke up feeling better as a result. That might not be cause and effect but I think eating more - and some of it hot! - helped yesterday.
Today I didn't train after work because my knee had been bothering me all day - just an uncomfortable twinge, but I felt it every time I bent my leg. So bloody annoying, but I will rest it now to be able to train properly next week. Instead, faced with going food shopping again - I do find having to shop more or less daily because I can't store anything that needs refrigeration annoying - I went to the pub in my hotel for a hot meal (it was freezing when I left work and I couldn't fancy cold meat & salad as I'd planned.) The canteen at work has been partially closed since I joined and I was hoping once it reopened fully - which happened today - I might find enough to eat my main meal in there daily. I should have known better, the extension seems focused on increasing the number and type of grain based foods available for breakfast & lunch. At breakfast they did add poached eggs and tinned tomatoes to their previous offerings of bacon, sausage (not gf), and hash browns (not gf) in bread rolls(you guessed it), but they also added baked beans (probably gf but not low carb / Paleo),  black pudding (not gf) veggie sausages (not gf) toast & bagels (not gf) and porridge (not gf). And lunch follows a similar theme... I enjoyed my dinner anyway, nothing special again but actually very tasty. Now its time for the daily bath�

Food today:
Breakfast: Eggs scrambled in the microwave with a diced tomato
Lunch: Microwaved sweet potato with a portion of tuna mayonnaise from the canteen
Dinner: Flat iron steak with a fried egg & salad. It normally comes with fries rather than salad, and when I decided to order it I told myself I'm allowed potatoes at the moment, but my mouth wasn't listening and asked to sub the salad before I could stop it! As a result my dinner was absolutely Primal / Paleo except, I suspect, for the oils used to cook the meat & egg.
Snacks: nuts & Greek yoghurt

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Spicy Thai Braised Kale and Tofu

There's so much that I want to say about this recipe that I almost don't know where to begin. But begin I must.

First off, I think this recipe is fantastic.

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Operation Back to Gluten free day 3

Got into work at 6:15 this morning,switched my PC on, blue screen of death.... The service desk doesn't open until 8am, so this was not the most productive of early mornings (and the early mornings are generally the best time of day for me)
I was feeling a little bit rocky this morning to be honest anyway. I slept a but better but woke up with a niggling headache, I think dehydration as I don't think I drank enough fluids last night to make up for training. I won't make that mistake again!!! Anyway, that being so, I was quite glad that today was an IT away day - permies only - so the office was quieter than usual. Although there was a slight 'holiday' atmosphere due to the absence of most managers. Around 10 I stopped waiting to feel better through eating breakfast / drinking lots of ginger tea & sparkling water, and bought some pain killers - which didn't noticeably improve the situation. As I was feeling rough I decided to eat a 'proper' lunch in the work canteen... Nothing special, but a hot meal is always comforting. After eating lunch I finally started feeling better, but decided not to train tonight since I'm just getting back into it - I'll train again tomorrow. I settled for relaxing with a little shopping followed by a hot bath (this is now my established technique for avoiding any temptation to go to the bar for a drink / extra food, it not only kills time but also makes me unlikely to bother getting dressed just to go misbehave afterwards

Food today:
Breakfast: Boots salmon, cucumber & potato salad followed by Greek yoghurt
Lunch: beef madras with rice
Dinner: chicken & tomato 'sandwich' - the chicken breast was the bed, the filling was the tomato
Snacks: nuts & Greek yoghurt

Healthy Hair Feature || Maicurls

1. What made you go natural?  How long have you been natural?
I have been natural for about 3 years. I use to have my hair relaxed from about the age of 14 till I was 24. I simply got tired of using relaxers so I stopped. I was tired of having hair that was damaged, dry, brittle and always shoulder length. I was also using hair dyes at the time so my hair would end up in odd colors because I think the hair dye would react funny to my relaxed hair.

2. Did you transition? If so, for how long?  
I transitioned from mid-2009 to 2010. I was not brave enough to do a big chop so I would just trim my relaxed ends as my natural curly hair grew out.

3. What is your Healthy Hair routine?
At the start of 2013 I decided that I wanted to integrate more natural products into my hair care. So I make and use about 90% natural/organic products in my hair care routines and I am loving the results. It was all the trial and error I did during my Natural Hair Journey that helped me determine common ingredients that my hair liked and I use those for my hair now.
Once a week I Wash, Detangle, and Deep Condition (DC) my hair. I have three different DIY DC�s for different purposes (moisturizing, strengthening and protein).

Daily I use my DIY Leave-In conditioners (Spray or Creamy) depending on how dry my hair feels and then I seal in the moisture with my mixed sealing oil. To me the important parts are making sure my hair is well moisturized and my ends are protected. I try to do a lot of protective styles e.g. Twists and Buns but I do have my moments where I love wearing my hair out!

4. Do you have a Healthy Body routine?  If so, what is it?
My new mission of integrating a healthy hair care routine this year also pushed me to do the same for my skin care! I make a lot of the products I use for my skin whereby I focus on using natural/organic ingredients. I always liked doing sports but again with this new mission I bought a few pieces of workout equipment to exercise at home. I also started to eat healthier. I cannot say I avoid ALL �unhealthy� dishes (I have my moments of weakness) I LOVE food but I do try and make sure I have balanced meals, eat enough fruits and vegetables and drink enough water.

5. What advice/tips do you have for naturals?
Stick with it! I can just speak from my experience, it is so worth it! Give yourself the time to get to know your hair. I learnt that I needed to be patient, gentle, not to stress or give up! I think I kept on expecting my hair to miraculously turn into a head full of lovely bouncy curls overnight during especially during my transition (after years of overdoing the chemical treatments). I realized that if I wanted my hair to grow in a healthy way I needed to nurture, protect, understand and love my hair. I also found out it is a new ending journey! I keep on finding out new things about my hair even 3 years later. There are so many innovative and creative people online who are just a click away and I love learning new things with and through them!

6. Where can we find you?  (Include links/urls)

Studies || Avocado Oil on the Skin + Collagen and Wounds

Avocado oil is a fairly popular oil used in the natural hair community.  It is great for sealing in moisture and enhancing conditioners.

But what about avocado oil on the skin?  Well, a few studies have demonstrated that this oil can increase soluble collagen (when consumed) AND help to heal wounds better than petroleum jelly (when applied topically).  Check out the abstracts below:


The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Quinoa Breakfast Pudding

I want to warn you--this is an unusual dish. It's like rice pudding with kale and spinach in it. Who does that?

Dr. Fuhrman does that.

Quinoa Breakfast Pudding
from The Eat to Live Cookbook by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, p. 66

Did I like it? Yes, I did. Very much. In fact, on the day that I first made it, I just kept going back for more and more of it. It had the perfect mild sweetness going on, with the crunch from the walnuts and almonds, and the creaminess from the almond milk. It didn't help that I kept telling myself "it's quinoa, kale and spinach, so how bad could it be for you!"

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chocolate superfood clusters

These little clusters contain raw cacao nibs, chia seeds, maca powder and a coconut 'triple-threat' (oil, flour and flakes). Basically, they are overflowing with superfood goodness and thus, I say, deserving of the superfood title. 

They're fudgy, chewy and crunchy all at the same time. Bit of a party in the mouth really. And a great way to get your chocolate fix.

  • 50g dark (85% cocoa) chocolate
  • 1 tbsp raw virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp almond butter or peanut butter (made with 100% nuts)
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • � cup raw cacao nibs
  • � cup broken up coconut flakes (snap the flakes into little pieces before measuring out)
  • Extra raw cacao nibs and chia seeds for sprinkling
1. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together. I do this by finely chopping the chocolate and placing it in a bowl with the coconut oil, then placing the bowl in some hot water in the sink and stirring until everything is melted (making sure no water gets into the bowl). Chopping the chocolate finely speeds up the melting process.
2. Stir in the nut butter, coconut flour, maca powder and salt.
3. Place the bowl in the fridge until the mixture starts to thicken, then take it out and give it a good stir. It should be a paste consistency, which will allow the chocolate mixture to 'hold' the bits you're about to add. If you leave the mixture in the fridge for too long and the mixture gets too hard, place the bowl in some hot water again and stir until you get a paste consistency.
4. Stir in the chia seeds, raw cacao nibs and coconut flakes, making sure everything is coated with the chocolate mixture.
5. Spoon the mixture into mini silicone cupcake moulds or paper cases and sprinkle with the extra raw cacao nibs and chia seeds. Place in the fridge to set.
6. Store in the fridge as they will start to melt at room temperature.
Makes 8 mini clusters.
NB: I use a 20ml tbsp. If you have a 15ml tbsp (if you're in the US or UK), you can measure out 4 tsp in place of each tbsp.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Operation Back to Gluten free day 2

I went to the gym today! God, it felt good to work up a sweat!
I plan to look into exercise classes there as the hotel gym offers a reasonable range including a few I've considered trying for a while such as Body Pump, Body Combat, and Spin, but today I just wanted to get on a machine and cardio my ass off, so that's what I did, using my old favourite - an elliptical machine. The gym in my hotel is open to non-residents to join and includes a proper swimming pool (I currently feel too fat to go swimming in public) so its quite well stocked and much larger than the average hotel gym, it was a pleasant surprise and I kind of wish I'd tried it last week. I followed the session with an indulgent bath again - ever since we moved from Wales I've been settling for showers due to low water pressure so it feels good to take a bath again!
I stayed gluten free again today as well. I was tempted by some sausages at breakfast time but was pretty confident the company wouldn't buy gf as standard so I didn't risk it. I'm feeling much less bloated already but, annoyingly, I'm still constipated and I have a (massive, painful, hideous) cold sore on my lip so clearly I'm not 100% yet.
I'm also still quite tired today after waking up early again. I tried to relax over my wine in a soothing bath last night and did fall asleep fairly easily, but it just didn't last long enough. My hotel is still quite noisy even though I'm in a different part of the building from last week, which doesn't really help any. At one point as I was in the bath I could hear the TV next door almost as clearly as if it had been on in my room...

Food today:
Breakfast: smoked salmon and cashews
Lunch: chicken & bacon salad followed by Greek yoghurt
Dinner: mackerel & salad
Snacks: more cashews...

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Pesto Salad Dressing

Every once in a while I have to have a gut check with myself to remind myself why I really blog.

This is going to come off sounding really selfish, but . . .

I blog for me.

Every blogging choice that I make? Totally self-centered. If what I blog about is of interest to you and helps you in any way on your journey, bonus!

This Eat to Live Cookbook Project? I'm doing it for me. To keep me on the path, focused and inspired, when I want to poop out and shove pizza into my pie hole. And sometimes do.

So if I confess that I ate something (or many things) that are off "the plan," it's because blogging (which includes Facebook) about something and being publicly honest helps me to get up each and every day and reaffirm my intention to eat a healthy diet. Some days are WAY better than others. But I'd be nowhere without you blog.

And by "blog" I really mean YOU. The folks who come here every day, every week or every once in a while to check out how I'm doin' or what's goin' on over here at Healthy Girl's Kitchen.

So I thank you for that, from the bottom of my heart.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

grain-free olive crackers

These grain-free crackers are great by themselves, with a drink or with antipasti. They work well with black or green olives, particularly if the olives have been marinated in herbs and spices.

  • 1� cups almond meal
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • � cup marinated olives, finely chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 180�C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Mix the almond meal, egg and olive oil together in a bowl until well combined. Fold through the chopped olives.

3. Rub your hands with a little olive oil and press the mixture out flat onto the lined baking tray about � cm thick in a rough rectangular shape (or shape them into little biscuit shapes now, which means you won't have to cut them later).

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until evenly browned. Allow to cool then cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

Makes about 20 crackers.