The Green Food Girl in London

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Avocado on Kallo balsamic rice cakes with a pinch of sea salt. A delightful snack.

Just over a week ago, I moved to London and I have found myself in a city where everyone is extremely well-dressed, well-connected, well-paid (or so it seems) and well-fed. Last week, I visited four different grocery stores: Waitress, M&S Food, Sainsbury’s and Wholefoods. In the span of five days, I had eaten at Itsu, Wasabi, Pho, Wholefoods Market, and an American-style grill that I cannot remember the name of because I had reached a level of “hangry” that propelled me into another parallel universe. So far, I have resisted the temptations of Krispy Kreme and Froyo but recently fell victim to the Hotel Chocolat near my hotel. The famous American chains- Five Guys and Chipotle- are both right around the corner from where I work. However, not too far from the office, I have found a smatter of Paleo and Raw-food restaurants. This excites me! If you’re going to eat raw, clean food, where better to eat it than London or LA where the menus will most certainly reflect whatever is “hot” right now on the health-food scene. Raw cashew cheesecake? Dehydrated coconut wraps? Cauliflower rice? Sign me up!

Although the large supermarket chains appear to offer “healthy” offerings, it is all a facade. I spent a lot of my evenings scouring the aisles for healthy guilt-free treats only to find that the majority of any “gluten-free”, “health-conscious”, or “paleo-friendly” snacks were laden with hidden sugars in the form of apple juice, dates, raisins and other high-sugar foods. What a disappointment. So, I defaulted to 85% cacao chocolate (which is beginning to bore me) and berries. Yes, of course it is better to eat dates than refined sugar, but sugar and sweeteners are still things I am trying to avoid or at least keep to a minimum. My Christmas was spent devouring chocolates and cakes and more chocolates! I am feeling fluffier than ever, my skin is breaking out, and I feel very down; it is time to get back on track with my low-sugar lifestyle.

At the moment, I am living in a hotel until I move into an apartment on the 24th. My hotel has a little kitchenette but it isn’t practical for doing any heavy-duty cooking. So, I’ve been buying bags of mixed vegetables (peas, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale, spinach and more) and steaming them in the microwave. I’ve been pairing these veggies with tinned fish, which retains its omega-3s, and the least-shitty pre-cooked chicken that I could find (i.e. the one with the fewest ingredients and no added sugar or weird unnatural ingredients). This can be quite expensive but today, I struck gold and arrived at Waitrose just as they were marking down a ton of vegetables that were approaching their sell-by date. Now, remember that “sell-by” and “best before” are two different things. Supermarkets have an extra window of three days for most of the items they sell. These three days after the “sell-by” date are usually still fine to consume the food. The “best before” date is a guideline. It’s based on science but it is still “best before” not “not OK after” if you get what I am saying! I never ever get sick from food (touch wood) and I eat things that are past their “best before” date all the time. Smell it, look at it, touch it, and examine it. If it looks OK, it is probably OK to eat.

What’s on the menu tonight? A bit of rest after two big workouts in Puregym Holborn over the weekend and a couple of big runs. Oh, and for dinner I’m having grilled chicken with a colourful mixture of peas, sweetcorn, cabbage and leeks. This is off-topic but I have been watching Making a Murderer along with the rest of the world, and I have been looking forward to the next episode all day, so that is what I will be doing this evening!

As I have more food and fitness adventures in the hugely exciting city of London, I will share them with you on my Instagram page, Facebook page, and of course, on the blog. I am looking forward to tasting the fermented drinks, raw desserts, superfood smoothies, and the strange-smelling herbal teas. A twerking class? Trampolining? A run through a park filled with deer? I will try anything once so bring it on London; I am ready.

Carrot Cake Pancakes

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I LOVE pancakes. I mean, who doesn’t? Traditional, fluffy pancakes smothered in butter and maple syrup may taste delicious but they will rapidly expand your waistline. Recently, I have been experimenting with different variations of pancakes made from ingredients like coconut flour, protein powder, and courgette. These carrot cake pancakes are one of the tastiest versions I’ve made. The carrot is naturally sweet so they don’t require any extra sweetener. The spelt flour helps bind them together and is a high-fibre, low-GI flour which is a much better option than any traditional white flours.

Why not try making these for breakfast and topping them with turkey bacon, fresh berries, or some greek yoghurt and flaked almonds? If you want them served the traditional way, cook them in Irish butter rather than coconut oil and top them with a drizzle of honey rather than maple syrup. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised at how yummy they are!

Ingredients:

  • 300g of Carrots
  • 1/4 Cup of Spelt Flour
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of Coconut Oil (for cooking)

Method:

  1. Heat up the oil in a pan.
  2. Peel the carrots and grate them into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the eggs and mix it up well with a fork.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and the vanilla essence and mix well.
  5. Use a 1/4 cup measure to add the mixture to the pan and cook the pancakes on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.
  6. Check that they are cooked all the way through before taking off the heat. They will have a slightly more moist consistency due to the carrot.
  7. Add your toppings and enjoy!

RECIPE: Cauliflower Mash

Cauliflower Mash

A light, tasty, healthy substitute for mashed potato.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on vacation with my best friend in Malta and we decided to go all-inclusive, which meant that breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner were all served up buffet-style. As a former fat girl, buffets are a bit of a danger zone for me. The old me would have gone crazy and self-control would have been non-existent. Hunger would have just taken over like this unstoppable force, and I would have eaten with my eyes rather than my brain, choosing what looks good rather than going for sensible, healthy, nutritious options. However, thankfully now that I am more informed when it comes to nutrition, I was able to make much better choices.

The food choices in Malta were dishes containing lots of fish, salads, eggplant, artichoke, tomato, olives, capers, and other healthy foods. However, when I was carb cycling, I would have stayed away from many of these items. In fact, somewhere along the way, I became too scared to eat anything that wasn’t sweet potato, broccoli, or plain boiled rice. But, I decided when I was on vacation that I would eat whatever I pleased, and filled my plates with lots of different veggies, salads and oily fish. When I returned home, to my surprise, I had not gained weight. Now, I was exercising when I was on vacation, but not as much as usual. Most days were spent lying on a sun lounger by the pool, so even with the mini-workouts in the gym, I was much less active than normal.

Eating all these interesting, colourful, delicious combinations of healthy foods was the inspiration I needed to get more creative in the kitchen. I don’t want to “diet” this autumn/winter season. I still want to eat healthily and workout as much as I can, because I love how it makes me feel. But I know that eating a restrictive/repetitive diet of broccoli, boiled eggs, quark, tuna, and chicken, is depriving my body of some of the nutrients it needs.

Cauliflower is a vegetable that I have only just begun experimenting with. Many of you have seen, and tried, my cauliflower pizza. Now, I give you ‘Cauliflower Mash’ which you can serve up with chicken, fish, a good steak, or whatever you please! If you try it, please tag me on Instagram or Facebook. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of Cauliflower
  • 3-4 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 tsp of ground Nutmeg
  • 120ml of Semi-skimmed Milk (or Unsweetened Almond Milk)
  • 1/2 tbsp of Coconut Oil

Method:

  1. Chop the cauliflower into small pieces and boil for 10-12 minutes.
  2. Drain the cauliflower.
  3. Place the coconut oil in the pan over a low-medium heat.
  4. Finely chop the garlic cloves.
  5. Add the garlic to the pan and toss it around in the oil for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add the drained cauliflower to the pan and stir it up with the garlic for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the milk and mash it up well.
  8. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes, season with salt and pepper, serve, and enjoy!

*Tip: sprinkle chives over the top to add a little extra flavour!

RECIPE: Spinach, Ham and Onion Omelette

Spinach, Ham and Onion Omelette

This breakfast will keep you going all the way until lunchtime! Or if you like, have it for lunch or dinner instead.

An omelette is a great way to get lots of protein and nutrients into your daily diet, and they don’t just have to be eaten at breakfast time. Adding extra egg whites, which are just pure protein, can help keep you full and help you maintain lean muscle. This is a really simple, easy meal, and contains a whopping 41g of protein, and only 10g of fat and 8g of carbohydrates (macros may differ depending on which brands you use). Ditch the ketchup, the toast, and the Heinz baked beans, and spice this up with hot sauce and some sauerkraut. Your tummy and your waistline will thank you. If you try it, let me know about it on Facebook or Instagram!

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites, 2 yolks
  • a big handful of Fresh Spinach
  • 50g of Cooked Ham
  • 1/2 a Red Onion
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Coconut Oil

Method:

  1. Whisk the egg whites and yolks in a measuring jug.
  2. Heat up approximately a teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan on a low-medium heat.
  3. Cook the red onion for 4-5 minutes until softened and then put it aside on a plate.
  4. Pour the eggs into the pan.
  5. Chop the spinach and the ham.
  6. When the eggs are mostly cooked, add the spinach, ham, red onion, salt and pepper, and carefully fold the egg over.
  7. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the egg is cooked all the way through.
  8. Serve with sauerkraut for gut-friendly bacteria, and a little Frank’s hot sauce if you’re feeling like spicing it up!

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Tip: Hot sauce, peri-peri sauce and most of the spicy sauces in Frank’s range contain zero (or very little) sugars. This is a great alternative to ketchup or HP sauce, which are notoriously high in sugars and syrups.

RECIPE: Emma’s Spicy Slaw

Spicy Slaw

White or green cabbage, carrots, chilli flakes and a few other ingredients make one delicious mayo-free slaw.

Those of you who have been following me for a while now will know that I am very “passionate” about vegetables. I try and get raw veggies into my meals whenever, and wherever, is possible. Raw veggies are packed with vitamins and fibre. One of my pet peeves is over-boiled veggies because you lose so many nutrients by cooking them that way! Roasted veggies are great in the winter time, but if you’re pouring oils over them to roast them, you are ruining them.

Even I, lover of green food, cannot eat just plain raw carrots or plain raw cabbage. But when you mix a bunch of veggies together with a light oil and vinegar dressing, magic happens. This is basically a coleslaw without the mayo, refined sugars, and all the other added rubbish. The beauty of this slaw is that you can eat it with pretty much anything. Throw it in with your salad, have it as a side dish with chicken or fish, or even have some with your eggs in the morning.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as it is one of my favourites! If you make it, give me a shout on Instagram or Facebook. And if you make an even tastier version, please share it with me on Instagram.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a head of White or Green Cabbage
  • 3 medium Carrots
  • 2 tbsp of Extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp of Chilli Flakes
  • 1 tbsp of Organic Honey
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Finely chop the cabbage and place into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Grate the carrots and add to the bowl.
  3. Add the wet ingredients and the spices.
  4. Stir well with a fork.
  5. Separate into tupperware containers, refrigerate overnight and serve the next day.

Tip: The reason for overnight refrigeration is that the acidity of the cider vinegar actually breaks down the cabbage so that it is easier to digest and isn’t so harsh on the gut.

RECIPE: Berries n’ Cream Smoothie

Berries n' Cream Smoothie

Frozen berries, greek yoghurt, flaxseed and so much more, are what make this smoothie nutritious, delicious and perfect for a post-workout fix!

When I was younger, and less-informed about health and nutrition, I used to drink those Naked smoothies and Innocent smoothies, and even tried using them as meal replacements. Needless to say, the crashes were intense and I became very frustrated as I found myself feeling light-headed, grumpy, and starving only a couple of hours afterwards. Why was this happening? Because most fruit smoothies are absolutely rammed full with sugar. Yes, the sugars may be ‘naturally occurring’ but they are still sugars! What happens when we eat sugar? Our blood glucose levels spike and our body uses that energy very quickly, and then craves more of it. Stop believing that these smoothies are “healthy” and are an acceptable snack or beverage.

Maybe if you have just run a marathon, you need one of these to replenish your depleted, exhausted, drained body. If you are a normal person looking for a healthy drink or shake, try my version instead! The only sugars in this are from the berries, which are actually lower in sugar than most fruits. But thanks to the sucrose (a sweetener that your body does not actually absorb) in the protein powder, this smoothie is sweet enough. The greek yoghurt adds creaminess without any fat. But this isn’t fat-free as there are healthy fats from the added seeds, which also help slow the absorption of sugars and aid with digestion.

This is my favourite recovery smoothie and I hope you try it! Get yourself a Kenwood smoothie maker and start experimenting with your own recipes. Or if you can’t be bothered coming up with your own, follow me on Facebook and Instagram and I will share all of mine with you. Happy smoothie making!

Ingredients:

  • 50g Frozen Blueberries (or raspberries)
  • a handful of fresh Spinach
  • 1 tbsp Linwood’s Flaxseed
  • 1 tsp of Chia Seeds
  • 100g Total 0% Greek Yoghurt
  • 1 scoop of Diet Whey White Chocolate (or Vanilla Creme)
  • 1/2 a cup of Alpro Unsweetened Almond Milk

Method:

  1. Place the berries in the blender and pour a little hot water over them to thaw them out.
  2. Add the spinach, flaxseed, chia seeds, protein powder and greek yoghurt, in that order.
  3. Add the almond milk.
  4. Blend and drink it up immediately (before your roommate or other half gets their hands on it)!

Tip: If it’s too thick, add a little water or more almond milk until you reach your desired consistency!

RECIPE: Cajun-Style Beans n’ Rice

Cajun-Style Beans and Rice

A healthy version of one of my favourite side dishes. This can be eaten with Mexican, Southern or Cajun cuisine.

I love carbs. I mean, who doesn’t? But when I eat egg-fried rice or any “fast-food” rice, my stomach goes absolutely haywire. I am bloated for days and sometimes, it’s actually borderline painful. I know it’s not the rice, because when I eat rice at home, I am fine! Therefore, it must be the oils that are used during the cooking process. Rapeseed oil? Vegetable oil? Sunflower oil? I have no idea what most fast-food restaurants use, but whatever it is, it really irritates my gut and I find it hard to digest.

This rice dish is a great alternative to those rapeseed-oil-filled Uncle Ben’s rice packets and it is super easy to make. I usually serve it with fajita chicken or jerk chicken, but it would work as a side dish with any meal.

There is a lot of discussion about beans containing phytonutrients, which inhibit the absorption of other vital nutrients such as iron, for example. However, other sources state that beans are a great source of fibre and protein, and fibre is super important for a healthy gut and healthy bowels. I haven’t quite made my mind up about beans yet, but when I do, I will let you know!

If you make it, let me know! If you come up with an even better version, let me know too. And enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin of Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 cup of brown or white Basmati Rice
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 stock cube

Method:

  1. Boil the rice with the stock cube for 10-12 minutes.
  2. Drain the rice and rinse with cold water to get rid of excess starches.
  3. Return the rice to the pan.
  4. Drain the kidney beans and rinse well.
  5. Add the kidney beans, spices, and coconut oil to the pan.
  6. Stir well on a low heat for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat, serve, and enjoy!

Tip: Try adding fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice to this dish if you are serving it with Mexican food!

5 Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy on Vacation

Post-holiday Status

After a month of vacation, I was feeling a little puffier than before I left. To my surprise, I actually lost a couple of pounds but this doesn’t necessarily mean I am leaner. Read on to find out why!

For many of us, vacation is all about indulgence. Hotel buffet breakfasts, fresh gelato and ice-cream, afternoon cocktails during Happy Hour, and unlimited room service. If you are really lucky, you might even have a personal pool boy to feed you frozen treats. If you know a resort that stocks those, let me know.

We are bombarded with advertising for ‘Summer Body’ weight loss plans, and ‘Bikini Body’ fitness classes and supplements. We work our asses off all spring to get in shape for summer and then as soon as we return home from our long-awaited holiday, we face the fear of stepping on the scales. How much holiday weight have we gained? How much muscle mass have we lost? Have we undone all those hours we spent in the gym?

Recently, I spent a month away from home staying at hotels and friends’ residences in the Canary Islands, Scotland, and Malta. Before going away, I decided that I was not going to stop working out because I genuinely love how running and exercising makes me feel, and that I was going to try and stick to my healthy eating regime whilst enjoying a few treats here and there. Balance, balance, balance.

When I came home, I weighed myself and found that I had actually lost a couple of lbs. But this could mean that I have lost muscle mass as muscle weighs more than fat. There’s no way of knowing without taking my body fat percentage, but I don’t like to obsess over numbers, so I’m going to roll with it and get back to my regular routine of a weights, HIIT and cardio mix. If I can indulge in treats (chocolate, wine, and ice cream to name a few) whilst on vacation, and not gain weight, then why can’t you?

So, I want to share my top tips for staying fit and healthy on vacation with all of you so that you too can enjoy your holiday without feeling bad when you return home!

  1. Pack Work-Out Clothes: Before you go, decide realistically how many days you are going to work out. If you are going on vacation for a week, perhaps commit to 4-5 days in the hotel gym or outdoors if the weather permits. Take enough gym clothes for your work-outs and don’t be afraid to re-wear them if you won’t have access to laundry. Think that’s gross? You could take a small bottle of hand-washing soap with you and wash them in your hotel sink or bathtub. When you are a fitness-lover like me, squeezing in a great morning gym session before breakfast is much more important than how you smell for those 45-60 minutes during your workout! If you have work-out clothes with you, you will have no excuse not to work-out. Even 20-30 minutes each day will help you retain the muscle you’ve built, and will help keep your mood, energy levels, and sleep in check.
  2. Drink lots of Water: If you are going somewhere sunny and hot, make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated. You might not feel sweaty when you are splashing around in the pool, lying out on the beach, or swimming in the ocean, but your body is losing water. Overheating can make you feel sick, dizzy and just plain rough. Dehydration is often confused with hunger, so make sure to hydrate right before meal times. Also, if you are drinking alcohol, try to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is a diuretic and will dehydrate you. If you are already dehydrated before you start drinking, you also risk drinking too much and will suffer a double-hangover.
  3. Green Tea: If you’re a green tea drinker like me, or you need caffeine in the morning, try drinking green tea on vacation instead of your usual latte or breakfast tea. Your body will thank you for the detox! Plus, when you are relaxing and getting away from your hectic daily routine and your 9-5, what better excuse to curb your caffeine consumption? Green tea is also lower in caffeine than other alternatives, and full of antioxidants. I always travel with a stash of green tea bags, and I always have a cup in the morning before my workout.
  4. Beware of the Buffet: Mealtimes at hotels and holiday resorts usually consist of buffets. Breakfast time means pancakes, bacon, waffles, eggs, donuts, pastries, and all sorts of not-so-healthy options. Dinner time usually means an ice-cream buffet, bread assortments, unlimited french fries, and beer on tap. Buffets are a danger-zone. You control your portion-sizes so be careful! Most people will tend to eat more, simply because there is literally unlimited food. Eat as you would in a restaurant. Take your time, eat slowly, and have an appetiser, salad, main, and dessert, in that order. Make sure your meal is an even spread of carbs, fats, protein, and greens. Take breaks between plates and don’t over-eat!
  5. Treat Yourself Daily: If you stick to healthy options during your meals, there is no reason why you can’t have treats! If you pick the tasty, nutritious options at meal times like salads, fish, and veggies, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy desserts, ice creams, and a couple of cocktails or glasses of wine.

Add me on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat for more health and fitness tips!

Feeling Casual and Comfortable

Today, I am wearing H&M leggings with a Forever 21 sweater. Who says you have to spend a fortune to look fashionable? I love this outfit and I feel great (and very comfortable) in it!

RECIPE: Pink and Purple Slaw

This is a bulk recipe for one of my most successful coleslaw alternatives yet! Goodbye boring white, mayonnaise-filled and refined sugar-filled coleslaw. Hello pink and purple mayo-free slaw! If you make this amazing recipe, let me know about it here! And please also give me a shout-out on Instagram if you make an even better version.

Pink and Purple Slaw

This is such a delicious, colourful and MUCH healthier alternative to traditional coleslaw. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a head of Red Cabbage (650-700g)
  • 1 bag of Radishes (240g)
  • 3-4 Medium Carrots (300-325g)
  • 2 tbsp of Organic Honey
  • 3 tbsp of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp of Chilli Flakes (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Finely chop the red cabbage.
  2. De-head the radishes and chop them finely.
  3. Peel the carrots, chop off the ends, and grate them into a bowl.
  4. Add the three veggies into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the wet ingredients and the spices to the mixing bowl and stir it up well with a fork.
  6. Place the slaw into tupperware containers and refrigerate for those weekly lunch boxes!

Chopped Veggies

Red cabbage, radishes, and carrot.

RECIPE: Creamy Broccoli Salad (Mayo-Free)

Broccoli Salad

Easy to make, and absolutely delicious!

Ok, let’s just be honest for a second here. Plain boiled broccoli is boring! (Try saying that five times fast.) Trust me, I ate it for more than six months straight. Today, I knew I had to make a delicious dish with the broccoli that was patiently waiting in my refrigerator, and I had a few other food items that needed using up as well. This is how the creamy broccoli salad happened.

Raw Broccoli

This dish is absolutely delicious, and packed with fibre and vitamin C. Also, the apple cider vinegar helps soften the harshness of the broccoli and red onion on your tummy, so bloating and wind (for people with sensitive tummies like me) should be kept to a minimum. It’s sweetened by the tomatoes and the honey, but if you’re on a no-sugar diet, consider the honey optional!

Broccoli in the Mixing Bowl

Summer may be over, but there is no way I am saying goodbye to my summer body! In fact, I am more excited than ever before about eating healthy and staying fit during the upcoming winter months. Autumn and Winter foods are the best. Hello pumpkin, cinnamon, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, vanilla, and more! I am really looking forward to getting creative in the kitchen and sharing all of my creations with my readers.

Broccoli Salad

As you know, this blog is all about green food, so as much as my diet may turn a little orange this season, I will still be giving you plenty of recipes to get your greens in wherever you can. I hope you enjoy this salad and please give me a shout-out on Instagram or Facebook if you make it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of Broccoli
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 2 medium Salad Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup of Skyr Icelandic Yoghurt or 0% Greek Yoghurt

Method:

  1. Chop up one head of broccoli into small florets and place in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain, season with a little salt and place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Chop up the salad tomatoes and the red onion and add to the broccoli.
  3. Add the yoghurt, mustard, honey, oil, vinegar, and stir it all together.
  4. Season with the salt, add the chia seeds, and toss it up.
  5. Serve and enjoy!