Solo 24 hour run around world heritage site Stone Henge.

The day I ran for 24 hours! I wanted to experience running this far and on my own outside of an event environment.

Since running my first 100 mile race in May I knew that I wanted to do something on my own.  Away from an event environment as I believe I thrive in both environments yet in very different ways and to run on my own for that amount of time was something I felt very drawn too.

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The 5 mile loop around Stone Henge was a route I had ran quite a lot as it is local to me, and every time my heart knew it was where I would carry out my 24 hour run.  I felt more than ready as I had already ran 100 miles in May, and since then a few shorter ultras and a 100k so my conditioning is always there as I stay consistent.  So one day I was on the course with some friends.  I think I ran about 4 laps, so 20 miles and shared my idea on Facebook putting it out into the universe, then I felt a deep feeling of now is the time.  The date set was the 22nd and the 23rd July!

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This was the original route and for the first two laps we (Me and Dave) had the van parked at Wood Henge.  This is quite an isolated spot and meant he didn’t really have much vision except for the grass path that cut across the field.

I set out on this adventure with only time in mind.  I ran my 100 miler in 27 hours so 100 miles wasn’t really something I thought about however the elevation on my 100 mile event was HUGE around 10,000ft in the last 50 miles itself!

My feelings in the run up to this challenge were very different to those of West Country and I think the main reason was because it was no longer a stranger.  I felt very relaxed and more excited than nervous.  The distance is inside me and I know how it feels now.  That feeling only an ultra runner will feel, some call the pain cage!  Most of the time I look forward to this point as I know my mind is stronger than the pain.  I machine through it and the pain becomes a part of me.  It doesn’t make me want to stop or give up because it is all part of taking on such large challenges, and to experience this outside of an event when I could have just said F*^K it I’m going home I felt even more determined!! I no longer fear this pain.

We set of at 7am on the Saturday morning and I had two friends Nat and Eva joined me for my first two laps.  Averaging in at around a 10.30 min mile pace I was in my all day long cage.  Which is where I sat for the first 50-60 miles, and well into the evening. I had a few welcomed slower laps when my parents joined me for a while but as you can see I was pretty comfy.

With having the van appear every 5 miles during the day I wanted to do at least 15 miles before stopping so I went round 3 times and whilst I was on route my gorgeous Dave was at costa drive through getting coffee lol!! So I stopped and just had a Soya Latte and a flap jack in the van as it was raining for most of the day and pretty heavy too!! It was nice having the van there as I got the keep dry on admin stops. We also decided to move the base camp to the track (far left track on the map) This was such a great location as Dave had eyes on the whole of that left hand loop, the route goes around the stones then a short climb onto the high ground along the tree line and back through the field.

Me with my parents around mile 30 behind base camp (the van)

Yes we have matching socks!! :O)

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So that was me, round and round and round and round.  I got asked a few times by randoms if it was boring or what do I think about?  I knew I wouldn’t be bored because I could have been running anywhere, the idea was to run for 24 hours and to learn as much as I could from the experience.  It taught me about being present with myself.  I tried really hard to not look forwards or backwards with regards to miles and just run, like I always do, just in a circle and for 24 hours!  These long runs to me are so symbolic of who I am especially doing them on my own and as I have said before I never feel like quitting or stopping until my task is done!  Running on my own for this length of time I am totally with myself.  Not subconsciously clinging onto anyone else’s pace or energy.

I stopped for lunch at around mile 30 and ate with my parents.  Dave cooked me some pasta and I probably stopped for longer than I would have liked.  And certainly longer than I would have stopped for if it was an event.  But it didn’t matter until the end when I thought DANG if I didn’t stop for as long I would have smashed 100 miles haha!! When I say long it must have been about 45 mins.  But it’s all accumulative! I also stopped for dinner at about 7.30pm and had exactly the same only cold lol!!! Dave was asking if I wanted hot pasta with mushrooms and sauce and whatever else but it literally made my stomach churn lol so just went with the plain cold pasta.

I train on food and always have and I have my periods when I struggle and it’s usually between 11pm and about 3am, this is when my appetite drops, so my usual night-time running drill is to just pop a tailwind into my water and this does me fine.  I also try to eat if I can, smoothies are great for me at night and also orange juice!!! I LOVE orange juice when running.  Luckily this time round I was fine and managed to have a dirty pot noodle at about 2am lol and was also munching on ginger biscuits and fig rolls, another pixie go too.

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Night time came, the rain stopped and the sky cleared and it was warm enough to keep my shorts on I just put a long top layer on!! when I say cleared I mean you could see every single star in the sky!! It was amazing.  We shortened the route to the 3 mile loop.

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Dave joined me until my friend Charis arrived at 11.30.  She ran with me until about 3 which was amazing, then Dave carried on until the sun just started coming up then he stopped at the van to get the coffee on hahaha!!! The night-time was so breath taking!!! the fog that lingered was around all night, dipping down into the low ground I literally felt it hit my whole body inside and out, then coming back onto the high ridge the air just warmed instantly it was unreal!!

Stopping and starting wasn’t really an option other than to take a swig of coffee I had in my flask or to have a bite of a fig roll or ginger biscuit.  So stopping for 5 mins was the longest I could take due to getting my legs going again was a lot of come on, come on, let’s go, fuck, ouch……and that’s better lol!!  My body would also become freezing and I would find myself shivering uncontrollably until I got going again then I fine.  Weeing was now “I’m just gonna wee slightly bent down and hope for the best” smelling remotely nice was not even a concern and squatting was not an option but I knew this time would come from remembering the West Country 100 lol!! I don’t know if it’s just me but I was weeing 3-4 times per loop, and each loop was 3 miles during the night, so yeah I was weeing A LOT!! my bowls were busy during the day, I got a few day time laughs emerging from bushes having had a poo!! but they didn’t know I was pooing of course, just me lol!!  another joy of ultra running.  No Neil if your reading this I was weeing when I came out the bushes and spotted you lol (Neil ran around half a loop with me as part of a 25 mile training run he was doing) I have come to the conclusion that it’s toxins! the amount of lactic acid in my body it’s gotta leave from somewhere!

It got to early hours and I was hitting 75 ish miles and knew I could potentially hit 100 miles but just carried on with my pace and I managed to run the whole thing, the whole 24 hours other than admin stops I was running so taking into consideration my stops I know in my head how far I could have went and that was fine this time round as I was running for time.  My night-time pace was around a 11-12 min average with fatigue, limited vision and having ultra zombie legs lol I like my consistency when looking at my day and night splits, and certainly took a lot from the wonderful experience.

The morning came and I finished off the last few laps on my own.  I had two hours left and was on 87 miles and knew I would finish on around 95 miles.  I remember feeling really chilled and happy knowing the 24 hours was coming to an end.  I voice whatsapped Dave and requested a coffee and my flip-flops and kept on plodding until I was done.  Post run I recovered a lot better compared to West Country.  I was back running 4 days after and ran a 35 mile ultra just 2 weeks after.  Shout out to Albion Running and the Mendip Marauder!! GREAT RACE and close to my heart as it was my first 50 mile ultra last year and this year Dave ran the 30 so I helped him out.  That’s for another blog lol!!  I totalled 93 miles on this 24 hour effort xx

If your a stats geek then you can view my effort here! this link will take you to my strava

I am beginning to learn that I am capable of so much more than I sometimes give myself credit for.  Physically, emotionally and academically!  I apply to university this year to study dietetics and I hope they see something special inside of me because I know I will work hard and get that degree!! I see myself graduating all the time, in the same way as I saw myself crossing the finish line on my first 100 mile run!! I have already achieved so much in my mind.  I know exactly where I want to be.  I just need to work bloody hard to get myself there!!

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY FINISH VIDEO

West Country Ultra 100 miler

I knew I wanted to enter this race the very day I completed my first 50 mile race in August 2016 (the men dip marauder) I looked around at other races, but my heart kept returning to this one.  I feel that was a huge part of my journey to feel drawn to a race, it was the part of the beautiful part of the country, having the sea, the energy of the west country, the fresh air, the coastal hills and Exmoor.  A guy I was running with actually called this ultra a “sacred ultra” because not many people know about it and the route is hand crafted by Dave the event organizer. You can just tell each Albion running event has the heart of an ultra runner inside of it, every fine detail is there! I would call it a self navigation ultra although the route is marked up!  a gpx files is available, I would still go in with the right navigation kit, crew and be as prepared as you possibly can.  I think that’s what ultra running is all about! finding your way.

So this is me at the start looking all fresh and everything, and that is my eldest daughter Phoebe I think was more nervous than me!! her mummy running 100 miles must be like running to the moon and back for a 10-year-old!! My mum was about to plat my hair (even planned the hair lol) I had fire in my soul and all I could see was the first mile.  It’s all I could allow myself to see at that point, I had visualized the whole thing. I knew what I needed to do. In fact Dave’s parents said to me “we will see you at Lynmouth” (mile 70ish) and I thought yes you will!! And I’ll save that story for in a little while……..

So I headed to the start line by the River Parrett in Taunton, where I met my amazing crew!! Tash and Tony!! They were like my guardian angels for the run, the faces of hope and encouragement.

I did end up on the wrong bit of the river lol, slightly down from the start, I stood there with some others thinking where the heck is everyone lol!! Heard a huge GOOOOO!! and everyone came charging round the corner.  We just joined the herd of crazy ultra people and off I went.  Getting to mile one with some guy singing 99 red balloons lol  To be fair I was in complete shock at how fast the from lot went off!! Like in serious shock. Remembering some wise words from a few dear friends, I stuck at the rear, I was about 3rd from the rear for a while, then slowly as the day went on I met with others, and it was a bit like a bat and ball game but I made sure I ran with my own spirit no one else’s, I made very sure I didn’t cling to anyone else’s pace and stuck with my own strategy and my own pacing.

The 100 mile race runs alongside two 50 miles races. So the ultra flat and the ultra hilly, meaning the first 50 were flat, around 2000ft elevation and the second 50 were hilly around 10,000ft elevation. This meant that the speedy 50 mile runners who set off 30 mins after us caught up by check point 1! 50 miles to me once felt like such a long way, so having these runners go by knowing their end point was my half way point was quite an amazing overwhelming feeling.  50 miles was also my longest run so anything over 50 was new territory for me! although it never scared me.

The first checkpoint came and went pretty quick. I couldn’t believe how quick the miles were tapping away! Greeted by my crew, parents and Phoebe. I grabbed a jam wrap and off I went, most people were just trotting through this first checkpoint.  The lady in the green behind me ran the same long journey, who knew at this point we would be hugging each other at the end! We ran bits together but knew we were in on it alone despite the short sections together.

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Check point one came and went, so far the weather had been kind! To be fair I can’t grumble at the weather over the whole thing it was spot on for my taste, even the heavy downpours were character building stuff lol.

The River Parrett was mega!!! A huge wide river we followed all the way up to the sea.   Very mixed terrain, some tow path, some grass tracks, few nettle bits but defo not your usual river running.  A friend met me at about mile 19 and followed along on his mountain bike to check point 2 IMG-20170520-WA0006

From check point two my dad joined me for 12 miles which was so nice. I loved running with my dad we have very similar souls, he ran beside me and was just present.  I was also greeted by my brother, sister-in-law and niece, who tagged along to further check points.  It was so nice seeing them all there to support me!! I love my family so much.  Always there.  Tash and Tony sorted my water out, I packed some snacks and off I went again with my Dad.

The split second we hit the coast line to rain went “WHY HEELLOOOOO CRAZY WEIRDO ULTRA RUNNERS! TAKE THAT!! AND THAT!! AND A BIT OF THAT!! hahaha  I train in all weathers and had the kit so it wasn’t a problem. I smile in the face of the elements lol Eventually you kinda forget its raining!! or is that just me?? lol

My dad left me at about mile 42 I think. By this point I was beginning to get the usual feelings in my body most ultra runners experience, that dull weird satisfying feeling that lets you know you are running an ultra!  It was nothing compared to later on lol!! My vision was to get to mile 50 feeling strong and capable and that’s what I did! arriving at Dunster beach around mile 49 I had a good feed knowing the half way point was just down the sea front. I ate at Dunster and my parents headed to Bossingdon to meet my pacer Nicholas.  When I say eat I had a vegan pot noodle!! haha It was bloody laaarvly!! and coffee and some crisps and some other stuff lol!!

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There were posh toilets at Dunster Beach so did my thing had a wee and carried on! I also got to see some very emotional 50 mile runners storm through Dunster.  The elation in their faces knowing they were nearly done, a feeling I could totally relate too!!  Having a loo at Dunster didn’t do much for my bladder!! My bladder was not my friend lol running down Minehead sea front with people here there and bloody everywhere! I had to make the ultimate sacrifice and just wee myself hahaha I got to the pub, met my crew, announced to everyone I weed my self, then went and got changed hahaha #noshame.  It’s all part of it isn’t it? baha

I saw Nicholas at Minehead (the face of kindness) gave him a huge massive squish and he jumped in with my crew to the 60 mile checkpoint at Bossingdon. The stretch from Minehead to Bossingdon was a bit of a laugh! In my head anyway!  Talking to myself a lot! Singing and feeling the sun doing on my body was incredible. This part of the race was what I had been waiting for all day, the hills, the tiredness, the darkness, the pain!! The unknown, I was just totally drawn to it.  My whole body embraced it!! Not one negative thought went through my head!  Even the descent from the top of the coastal path down the cliff!! I resorted to going down backwards lol  It took the pressure off my toes and quads! It took a while but was so much easier than going down forwards! It was so so steep.  I would have prefered to go up it tbh.

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Hitting Bossingdon checkpoint was officially my longest run (60ish miles)!! I was greeted by more family!! Woohoo felt great, had no idea they were going to be there so it was amazing lol. I changed into my night-time running kit, got my head torch packed, squared away some food and away we went with Nick, my pacer!!  as soon as I booked this race, there was not any other person I even considered asking!! Ultra running is something that only other ultra runners can relate too! for me to run with someone over that distance they needed to know me! They need to know my temperaments, my personality and they need to know how I run, and ultimately I needed to have a connection with them.

The unknown didn’t scare me, I embraced it!

The next stretch was probably my favorite part of the run.  Experiencing the day ending and the night beginning and the hills really kicked in!! I mean coastal climbs up through forests, I kept up a good pace and even went by a good few people.

So admin alert!! Learn your kit….I had serious serious tantrums around my head torch!! It was a borrowed one that was like 500 lumens.  It should have lasted the whole night if I didn’t have it on ‘can you see me from space setting’ so 2 hours into the night it started to flash, like I was at an effing rave! then dim! and then die! Yes I shouted and had a strop lol!! Luckily Nick had a handheld, and god knows what was going through his head!! luckily he knows me pretty well and was probably giggling to himself. I used the handheld for the whole night!! Really easy to use, and actually gave me more visual on the ground and wasn’t a problem to carry.  So important note! Have spare kit! Your kit is your lifeline, it can of fail you.

So coming into Lynmouth I blasted past 2 people.  I said to Nick to message Tash and Tony to get me some hot food on and a coffee ready for the very early hours of the morning section. The next section was probably between midnight and 3am.  I ran in, called my number, found the car, sat down, took my shoes off ready to put my Hoka on and yes I fainted!!! Hahaha in all seriousness it came out of bloody nowhere, I came over all sick, eyes shutting tight, swaying about, nearly pooed myself, and that was me, gone for a few mins lol I woke up with everyone around me. Straight away asked for coke and sweets,  I drank about 4 cups of coke, a plate of watermelon and took some sweets with me.  I put my warm coat on as I came over really cold, everyone seemed really concerned but pretty much as soon as I came round I began to perk up.  It didn’t take long and I was on my way again!!  It took my legs a while to remember they are meant to be moving forwards! I think they were going “what the F&*k I thought we were done” lol It actually turns out post run that I had a very very nasty bite on my ankle, and it happened prior to getting to Lynmouth, my ankle was sore getting into that checkpoint but stopped hurting around mile 90 so knew it wasn’t an injury.  It wasn’t until I had some piriton a few days later that reduced the swelling. I realized it was a nasty bite, hence the sore ankle and fainting.

Between Lynmouth and county gate car park check point I was still a bit wobbly from my little episode and it’s only speaking to Nick after that I realized the care he had to take around me! Apparently I was very wobbly and a few occasions he had to guide me away from the edge of the drop down to a rough running river.  I do remember him shouting to me to stay to the right!!  All I had in my head was one foot in front of the other.  The pain I was feeling was there yes, I knew it would come, and it had to be my friend.  It was one of the reasons for doing it.  Getting to county gate felt amazing because it was very much a really thin track that leads up to the car park! Tracks you couldn’t afford to have a wobble on!

After county gate we opened up onto Exmoor with a 12 mile stretch to Webber’s post, with Porlock to go down and round and of course back up! Probably the longest stretch and I knew it was going to be long.  However I tried really hard to maintain in my mind a mile, then another mile, then another mile, and not use the check points as a way mark in my mind. Nick said to me the check points aren’t the end, you still have to keep going, so this just held strong and made the distance between check points a lot easier.

This was also when my bladder decided to give up on me every half an hour or less.  I had to be really vigilant with my fluid and make sure I was drinking, just due to how much I was weeing.   It was rather comical looking back and defo added over an hour onto my run time hahaha!!!! I think Nick suffered more than me!! He did laugh.  By this point where I went was not a factor! I needed to go I went! I think I even went in front of some farm-house.  I wasn’t really thinking straight by this point and didn’t really care.  I also went from squatting, to weeing almost standing up and as I approached the 90 mile plus distance it was a case of my aim going out the window too bahahaha!!!!

The sun reappeared as well!! how freeking amazing is that!! OMG I had been running for a whole 24 hours!! how amazing is that…….

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Picture above!! I think the picture gives you a pretty good idea of my state of mind! lol  I laughed so much when I saw this picture.  I look so funny!! I still remember exactly how I felt to haha Nick did a few admin bits a Webbers Post checkpoint! food was no option for me by this point!! I had tailwind in my pack I think lol and also drank some coke!! (PS I had not drunk coke in like 4 years prior to this race!! that’s how out of it I was!! I hate the stuff) It was all I wanted haha coke and coffee…..It’s fine…..It’s all I need I thought haha!! This check point was about mile 92!! Up to this moment, despite how exhausted my body must have been I didn’t feel tired once.  Not one negative thought went through my head.  Quitting wasn’t even an option and neither was stopping!  I just machined on and embraced every moment.

After leaving Webbers Post the emotions and tiredness kicked in! I had been running for about 25 hours I think.  I knew we had Dunkery Beacon to go up over and back down and the terrain was far from pleasant! It was by far the hardest bit of the race.  I literally had to rely on my soul to carry me because my body was suffering!! the rubble and boulders and uneven ground was too much.  I kept tripping over rocks which was so frustrating.  I knew how close I was to the finish line yet I was in such denial.  All I needed from Nick at this moment was reassurance I was doing well.  I just remember saying “am I doing well” over and over again! his calm voice and replies was enough.  On the way up to the beacon I had my first meltdown! I just stopped and cried so so so hard.  It was almost childlike.  The emotions of running for so long and knowing I was so close to the end, the terrain, and feelings of elation coming were too much.  I brushed myself off though and carried on my way.

The thought of seeing my parents and Phoebe at the cricket Pavillion started me off again, as they left me at Bossingdon checkpoint, so I hadn’t seen them all night. I ran into that last checkpoint and cried to my mum.  I said “that was so so so hard mum!!” also by this point the styles had appeared!! so many of them, and climbing over them was just horrific.

I knew in my mind I wanted to finish in under 28 hours, so Nick hurried me along.  We had probably the biggest climb! or that is what it felt like anyway, and also about another million styles all in the space of 5k.   He literally had to pull me up the top of some of the climbs because they were so steep.

We hit the top and it leveled out.  I started running again.  OMG my legs and my body!! luckily for me the fire that was burning at the start was still going so I ran and ran and ran until I got the finish line.  I saw my mum and Phoebe and knew I was so so close!! I had visualized this moment in my mind for almost a year.  I knew I would get there.  I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that  I would make it!! And I did!! in 27 hours and 10 minutes and I came 8th overall and 3rd female.  I literally couldn’t believe it and the feeling will never ever leave me.  My bar has moved!! Once the thought of running 100 miles was only for super heroes, not me!!

What got me there was my consistency and my drive.  My want and need to be on my own, the choices I have made in the last 4 years and following my heart.  This journey had always been inside me.  I was destined to run this race!

Never ever doubt your ability to achieve great things!! let the fire inside you burn so strong that quitting and not achieving something aren’t even a option. 

My amazing dad recorded the finish line for me!! he really captured the whole thing.  Click here and enjoy the moment

Best Vegan Banana Bread Recipe!

(flour free – oil free – sugar free – dairy free – gluten free – vegan)

I cannot take all the credit for this awesome recipe, however I did tweak ever so slightly on just a few things, and will talk you through exactly how I made this awesome, wonderful, amazing banana loaf!

So first of all you will need to gather together all of your ingredients:

  • 3 Ripe bananas
  • 2 Cups of oats (normal or gluten-free or whatever oats you prefer to use or pre made oat flour)
  • 12 Big juicy pitted medajool dates (I use the tesco organic ones you find in the fruit and veg section, usually with all the nuts)
  • 1/2 cup of non dairy milk (I used rice milk)
  • 2 tbsp of flaxseed or chia seeds (I used flax)\
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Cinnamon (kinda just poured a load in, maybe 2 tsp)
  • Mixed spices (same as above)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • A loaf tin
  • OPTIONAL – Raisins, dark chocolate chips, crushed nuts.

PRE HEAT YOUR OVEN TO 150! (Make sure you bake this on a lower heat and for a longer time than it says on the original recipe, which I have linked at the bottom of the post)

First of all: Take your flax seeds and mix them with 6 tbsp of cold water and set to one side.

Then – Take your oats and grind them up in a food processor or blender, or use the nutribullet milling blade.  Once you have done that it is important that you sieve the oats, seive them as much as you can and you will be left with some gritty bits.  Just chuck them away or feed them to the birds (tweet tweet) :O) It does take a little while but I feel it is quite an important part for creating the end result.

Add the other dry ingredients – spices, baking soda, baking powder and mix.

Next step – Take your blender.  I use a Magimix food blender.  Add the banana, the dates, milk, flaxseed/water mixture, apple cider, and blend until smoooooooooth.

Then all you need to do is combine the dry, the wet and mix well.  I used a wooden spoon and allowed air to get into the batter.  From here add crushed nuts or dark chocolate chips or dried fruit.

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The mixture is quite a thick batter, you will not be able to just pour the mixture into the tin, you will have to use a spoon, so you are not looking for a really runny consistency.

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Then all you need to do is stick it in the oven.  I do not have a fan oven.  I baked it on around 150 for 50 minutes, then I checked it and re set the timer for another 20 minutes, checking it periodically.  You will know when it is done because a knife will come out clean and the top goes really crispy and brown.

 

Leave to cool – or if you are like me, don’t leave to cool!! because it smells to freeking nice, I just couldn’t.  It was straight out the tin and into my mouth.  P.S  This loaf cut perfect the next day when it was totally cool, it wasnt sticky or under cooked.

Perfect tea loaf, or breakfast loaf, or whatever time of day loaf :O)

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ENJOY!

Thank You!

<<http://sweetsimplevegan.com/2015/10/date-sweetened-banana-bread/>&gt;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you find the time?

The concept of time is made up by Man to make sense of the world around him. Without Man, the universe will proceed with or without structured Time. It is man that came up with the concept of a Day, who then proceeded to divide that into hours, mins and seconds.
I quite often get asked how I find time to eat the way I do. To which I don’t really understand, people find time to eat whatever they eat, it all comes down to a matter of choice and what we choose to eat. My meals take no longer to make if not are considerably quicker to make than any other meal.
 
Food is our life source it is something we have to do to survive and be healthy. We must prioritize in other ways and make time for the things we do around eating. I don’t feel like eating and making food is something I need to make time for because it is a part of my day.
 
A lot of this is habit, and creating a lifestyle that is sustainable and simple. Don’t complicate your mind with breakfast, lunch and dinner, or eating after a certain time, or eating too many carbs or not enough protein, or feeling like you must have breakfast ect. Eat food! get up in the morning and eat once your are hungry and make it a meal that will give you energy, even if its oats in a tub that you take to work with you and eat at your desk of on the go or just a large selection of fruit, and eliminate the things you know you aren’t good for you, because most people are aware of the initial things they need to stop or change.
 
Look at how you do your food shopping and the things you choose to buy each week, this may need to change for you to start creating change in your life around nutrition. It literally takes 10 minutes to chuck a huge salad together with avocado and beans or tofu and some brown rice pasta. It takes 2 seconds to stick a jacket potato in the oven and set a timer and let it cook, use 10 minutes to prepare a nutrient dense salad to have with it and when it’s cooked chuck in some mixed beans or mashed avocado. The muesli in the picture below took me about 60 seconds to make and it is nourishing and full of goodness and energy.  Whatever shifts you work or hours you work, however big your family is or how manic your life is it all boils down to choice.  An apple or a kitkat.  Jacket potato or oven chips.  Grapes or skittles.  Microwave meal or wholemeal pasta with veg (both of these probably take the same amount of time to make, one just being far more healthy)
If you are overweight or unhappy with your nutrition, then  keep a food diary of everything you eat and see how you are finding time to eat the things you do eat.   Doing this will give you perspective.
 
To change we have to be open-minded and invite new things and ideas into our life with open arms and embrace it. We have to take responsibility for our own choices even amongst having a family, a husband or kids.  We can’t always expect them to take on board the changes you want to create so we need to adapt our mind.
You want to create something sustainable and ongoing, something that can slowly evolve into a new normal.

Avonara (like carbonara just with avocado)

I am just going to keep it really short and sweet!!

I just absolutely love this meal, it is so easy and quick to make, and should be a go to recipe if you have a really busy lifestyle, with limited time in the kitchen.

You will need:

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1.5 Cup of rice milk (plus more)
  • 1.5 cup of cashew nuts
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • A punnet of mushrooms
  • Pasta of choice (In this recipe I used the one below)

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There are many variations of this sauce that I have made.  If I had nutritional yeast I would have added some as well but I didn’t have any, however it was perfect just like this.  You can also wilt spinach into the mushrooms as they are cooking.

METHOD:

Put a pan of water on the boil ready to add the pasta, and this can be cooking whilst you cook the mushrooms and make the sauce.

For the sauce put all the avocado, nuts and milk into a high-speed blender, along with the garlic powder, paprika and some pepper.  Begin blending then add more milk slowly until you get a sauce consistency that you can easily pour out.

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Cook the mushrooms in a pan, I usually use a small amount of water rather than oil, but cook them how you prefer.  Use a lot of mushrooms as they are the foundation of the dish.

Once the mushrooms are cooked you can then add the pasta which should be cooked by this point, then add the sauce and stir and heat through.

Serve with cherry tomatoes, or a warm whole grain baguette. (or both)

ENJOY!!!

Tip:  You can even sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese or some kind of other vegan cheese.

Banana and Muesli Cookies (vegan)

I love creating recipes by using the natural sweetness in fruit and grains.   I was in the car today and got the urge to make some cookies, but something slightly different to the usual banana foundation/base.  I wanted to add a little fat as well so I can use them for long runs as  a fuel source.  I usually make bars and add some kind of nut butter to them, so these are pretty similar.

I also wanted to add apple to make them extra sweet, as I knew the apple would caramelize and make them a little crispy on the edges as they cooked.

So for the prep I headed to Tesco and brought some ripe bananas (reduced to 58p as they were extra ripe – doesn’t beat Asda though, I got loads for 18p in there last week lol)  I also got a bag of cashew nuts, two jars of apple baby food ( Hipp Organic) as I was being lazy lol! definitely make your own, it’s so easy to stew up some apples and puree them.   I was also on the look out for some no added sugar muesli which in my own experience is usually really hard to come by, or it is sweetened with honey, which I don’t eat! However Quaker seem to have upped their game a little bit and I managed to get some, which you can see below:  I will look forward to having this for breakfast too with some rice milk and frozen fruit.

That was all I needed to buy so headed home and got too it.  I kinda just chucked it as per usual but kept an eye on measurements this time so I could blog it, as I had good thoughts about this one lol!

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The ingredients are:

  • 3 Ripe bananas
  • 2 small jars of just apple (Hipp Organic) baby food
  • 1 cup of cashew nuts
  • 2.5 cups of muesli
  • half a cup of ground up oats
  • half a cup of dried fruit. I used raisins and some diced dates
  • cinnamon to taste.  I used about 2 teaspoons

METHOD:

Pre heat the oven to 160 (mine isn’t a fan oven so may vary)

Put the banana, nuts and apple jars (not the actual jars, just their content haha) into a high speed blender and blend until smooooooooooth.  It will literally go like a thick pancake batter.

Pour the batter into a large bowl.

Add the muesli and ground oats, cinnamon and dried fruit and mix together with a wooden spoon, or metal spoon or any spoon you like :O)

 

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IT SHOULD LOOK LIKE THIS

Then simple mould the cookie to whatever size you like.  I used an 1/8 cup to scoop out the mixture onto the tray.

 

Then just wack in the oven and cook for 20 minutes – you can vary this depending on how you like them.  Longer for extra crispy, or less time for a gooeyer cookie.

Use variation as well, so add dark chocholate chips if you like, or use a different dried fruit, or no dried fruit, or extra walnuts.

ENJOY!  Please share your feedback on my social media if you decide to make them.  Feel free to friend me or follow my AimHigh-BeStrong page – Both links are below.

https://www.facebook.com/rachy.pixie.1

https://www.facebook.com/aimhighbestrong/?fref=ts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Christmas!

The Christmas period for me usually starts at the beginning of November.  I am usually one of those first people on Facebook to have my Christmas tree up, with comments under saying “too early” ect ect!  However to me it isn’t, so it is just opinions.  Christmas for me growing up and even now in my 30’s has always been a magical special time of year.  It has never been any different, santa has always been real (It’s just nice to pretend he’s real) it all adds to the magic.  I don’t think my parents ever told me he wasn’t real either, you just learn as you grow and I don’t think any adult has the right to tell a child any different.

The approach I take with Phoebe as she is now getting older is exactly the same.  She has friends at school who say he isn’t real, and she comes home and tells me the things they say, yet she believes in something, and I think she always will, as I do.  I teach her that Santa is as real as you make him out to be.  He is a symbol, a figure or happiness and joy for a lot of people, he brings people together and gives people hope.  I explain this to her and ask her if that symbol wasn’t there what would we have?  So in our eyes he is real.

From a lifestyle view-point these days, in my mind nothing changes.  Yet I still carry the same enjoyment and excitement for Xmas.  A huge part of this growing up used to be the food, and the chocolates and general “Xmas food”  Obviously now being plant-based a lot of those traditions like turkey and ham and cheese, pigs in blankets! (which to me just sounds wrong now lol!)  are no longer a part of my life.  In place of these are a whole abundance of fruit, roasted veg, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate.  I might even branch out and go and get some more hand-made artisan vegan cheese from Asparagasm.  It is a little shop and cafe about 40 miles from my house, but will be totally worth the drive.  I brought some at the Wiltshire vegan fayre and saw my way through it over a month and a bit, it was so nice just spread on some linseed toast or added to a salad.  Not something I would usually buy, but when you come across these amazing handmade foods you just have to sample to work that goes into making them.

I will also no doubt enjoy some booja-booja truffles!! I think they come out once a year at Xmas, santa usually brings me some but who knows, he might not this year and they are too expensive to just buy for the hell of it!  If he does I will be having a few with a coffee in the evening! they are so delicious.  The ingredients aren’t too shabby either!

I have done a little bit of Xmas baking this year, I have made shortbread and gingerbread men and some chocolate orange brownies.  I enjoy doing this around Xmas, yet I made them this year as gifts for my kids teachers and friends.  I kept a few here as my girls really enjoyed the shortbread stars, so they have had some of those.  I may even make some more for over the xmas period.

This year we are all gathering at my parents as usual, however they are in the process of moving into a new build house, which isn’t built until next June.  So they currently live on a farm in a little cottage and it is perfect!! huge kitchen with a huge table, cosy fire and wooden floors.  It is like it is meant to be really for this year, the little place certainly has its place at the moment!! Every Xmas our family looks different in one way or another, different faces (old partners ect) and situations.  It just demonstrates how much happens in a year, how much we all go through, to still come together each year and it all be OK.  So this year with it only being my youngest brother in a marriage it’s just our little family and my gorgeous sister-in-law and niece and this makes me happy. I feel different this year, it feels even more special.

So we will all bundle round there on Christmas Eve and the festivities will start.  The run up to Christmas for me doesn’t really change apart from being overly excited lol.  I don’t have work parties or any party’s or anything like that which kind of suits me. I just carry on as normal, and to me this is fine.  I know people do enjoy that aspect of Christmas very much. I enjoy the Christmas energy, I do my shopping and visit Xmas markets, I even managed to get myself a vegan german sausage at the Winchester Xmas market which was nice, however the buns were brioche buns so just had the sausage lol!!!  My nutrition doesn’t change, or should I say my mind doesn’t change either, alcohol is never an issue for me as I don’t drink.  My life just carries on, I don’t feel like I need to juice or detox or slim down or start again in January, and this is my 3rd year of feeling this way, and it is such an amazing free feeling.  I don’t stuff myself silly or over indulge just because I don’t like to do that anymore, I don’t like the feeling it gives me.  I may eat the odd mince-pie or Bendicks over Christmas day and boxing day but not to the indulgent extent, oh and my mum has managed to find a vegan Christmas pudding, so will have this after my dinner :O) It is so wonderful that even the oldest traditions are still available being plant based.

I wonder how many people right now are preparing to start again in January? I always wonder, start what? Joining the gym or taking up running.  Talk about a vicious yearly circle, and one I wanted to see the end of.  However it has taken me a whole lot of work to see life differently, and it is difficult for me to explain it.  I guess it is just generally how I see the world and nutrition and how I see myself, and most of all the choices I make.

So Christmas dinner you might ask?  As a family we are having THIS!!!!! With my brother being the only meat-eater, my mum has ordered a small turkey that my brother will cook and the rest of us will have a mushroom Wellington, with all the trimmings, sprouts and roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots and some vegan stuffing.  I was going to make some vegan yorshires which I have posted at the bottom of the blog with the other recipes, but can’t find garam flour anywhere, so if anyone knows where I can get some comment below and let me know? I was going to try and make them without all the oil in the tin as well!  I will also make the wellington minus all the oil they use in the recipe.

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Here are some of my meals on the lead up to Christmas.  The sandwhich was just amazing, it was from The Green Rocket Cafe in bath – The jacket potatoe was filled with a tomato sauce I made, just using passata, herbs, extra basil and paprika and pepper.  Then added lentils, quinoa and red rice.  Then this morning I had breakfast at Rivo Lounge in Chippenham with Phoebe, their vegan breakfast was just what I needed before finishing off Phoebe’s Christmas shopping.

Then we move onto my joy – I don’t like calling it training or exercise because it is just a natural part of my life.  Kind of training my mind and just seeing it as movement as I don’t run for weight loss or diet, I don’t think anyone needs to move for weight loss or diet, just find something you enjoy doing and do that, finding something you enjoy doing is they key to consistency and success.  Then just make the right food choices, work on changing your thought processes around how you choose to nourish your body.  You are looking for something sustainable.  Doing one to make the other work is not the way it needs to be done.

So this week I have covered 40 miles over 4 days and 20 of those with my daughter on her bike.  I won’t run on Christmas day, but probably get one in on Boxing day and even Xmas eve if my dad lets me haha, we may be a little too busy for me to go off gallivanting!!  Then on the 30th I am doing a 54 mile social ultra which I am SO excited about.  It is basically a double Gordano Round leaving at midnight!  It is the most beautiful route, and will be my first proper run through the night, so I am looking forward to how my body responds to the enhanced senses and generally being awake when I am usually asleep!  I have a pretty good idea of how it will feel when I look back on my army days and being out on exercise for weeks with very little sleep!!  All I know is it is going to be fun.

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Below are some of the recipes I have made this year, the shortbread recipe is my favourite because it’s so simple and you can even buy a nice mincemeat or make your own and sandwich it in the middle of the shortbread then pop in the oven.  You could also use it as a pie crust and make a sweet apple pie with cinnamon and raisins.

For starter on Christmas day I think I am going for Tofu with a small side salad, maybe a little home-made vegan marie rose sauce.

Shortbreadhttp://wallflowerkitchen.com/vegan-shortbread/

Gingerbread http://wallflowerkitchen.com/gingerbread-advent-cookies-vegan/

Mushroom Wellingtonhttps://www.facebook.com/boshtv/videos/1161685957243236/

Chocolate Orange Brownies ( I just added the juice from half an orange and its zest to the batter) – http://creativeandhealthyfunfood.com/amazing-flourless-sweet-potato-healthy-brownies/

Another thing I wanted to share, which I am not making but you might enjoy are vegan yorkshire puddings – Really easy recipe here if you can get hold of garam flour – https://www.facebook.com/Homemadebyyou/videos/829453370529181/

If you are thinking of moving away from meat and dairy, why not use January to make a start.  Sign up to Veganuary -You can access information via the link below.  You can also contact me as well if you would like any help or advice or general information around the nutritional – environmental or ethical aspect of veganism.  I am happy to help where I can.

<<<<<<< https://www.facebook.com/Veganuary/photos/a.184870438385735.1073741828.170911309781648/594233110782797/?type=3 >>>>>>

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To my children I am perfect!

Do all mum’s cope all the time doing this on their own? Do all mums feel the way I feel doing this on their own? All I ever see is a window on social media of single mums coping, and the same goes for people looking in my window, all they see a strong women who is living her dreams, and that she is coping.

I wonder if they ever think, how is she coping? what is she doing that I am not? or, her kids must be really well-behaved, every post she posts on Facebook tells me she is coping and has the perfect children, and her life just looks so perfect, or that I am perfect!

I am just going to fill you in with a little honest secret today!  Being a single mum is the absolute most hardest thing I do, some may beg to differ, yet I hope other mums will relate to me when I express how difficult it actually is.  I am not perfect in any way, I shout and lose my temper, I am impatient and impulsive and I find it hard.

Becoming a single mum for me was the beginning of my new beginning.  A choice I made that allowed me to progress on with my life in a way that I wanted to, to be able to grow myself in the ways I wanted to and to be the kind of mum that I wanted to be.  In the midst of doing the things I want to do, like studying, running, being in nature and helping other people reach their own health goals. I am a mum, and sometimes I feel like a failing mum.  A mum with no patience or tolerance.  A mum who sometimes just wants to run away and hide!!  It sometimes feels like a vicious circle because I do the things I do for myself and for my girls, yet I have no time to refuel my heart with the patience and tolerance that they need. I do it because I love them so much, yet sometimes I forget to tell them, and I want them to see me succeed, yet them being so young they probably don’t even care right now, they just want their mummy.  I want them to have a healthy mum who is achieving things, and I want to be a good role model for them, yet they will always adore me and love me whatever I do.

All I ever think about is giving them a future that they deserve, a house of our own and me bringing in a wage that I can support us on, rather than living off the benefit system, or thinking a man will come along one day and alleviate some of the pressure, because maybe he wont.

If you choose to work then everything you earn goes straight to a childcare provider, so I have ended up in a full-time job getting Phoebe out of bed at 5am to get her to a child minder for them to take her to school, and pick her up then getting paid and pretty much giving all that money to the child minder, for me to never see her and not actually be getting anywhere with my life.  Yes single mums get help  with benefits yet that is most of the battle! I don’t want to spend the rest of my life just working a job I don’t want to be in because that’s what the government expects me to do.  So I left work and started to use the time I was using to work to learn and grow my own business, which is a very slow process, however requires consistency and time.  Which in the long run will be the key to get me out of this situation I find myself in, and away from the benefit system.  The more I rely on it and work with it the longer I will be inside of it for. For now I need to use it to get me by, be thankful for the small income I have, whilst behind my door work hard to become self-sufficient. I want my kids to see me in that graduation gown! a simple byproduct of hard work and determination.  Not an end point!

It is so so so lonely, for me anyway, yes I feel lonely a lot.  Just to have someone to make dinner, or bath the kids, or be here so I can go shopping on my own, or someone to get up in the morning with the kids so I can lay in (yet to be fair I never had this when I was married anyway) it was more like an elbow in the back when the baby cried in the night and an expectation that I should be coping because I don’t do anything other than be a mum and he’s out all day working blah blah blah!  In a way this was so much harder!  I get jealous of the mums who have a supportive caring partner because I never have, and I assume there are others out there who do not either, yet it was one of the main reasons why I left!

Just having someone to drown out the constant talking or crying or moaning or screaming or laughing or shouting or wanting and needing.  That by the time bed time comes I sit in the quiet on my own and turn to my friends inside my laptop, on social media.  I do have real friends, I have friends who I grew up with and good friends I have met on Facebook who are huge parts of my life, yet I find myself never making time to see them or do anything with them because I get so overwhelmed with things I need to do to create this wonderful life for my kids and myself that all the spare time I do get, I just want to run or curl up and sleep or go to Glastonbury or do something that I want to do, which to most probably comes accross as selfish or that I just don’t care or want to try.  That is not how it is, and sometimes I wish all these people could see in my mind and the amount of times I think of them.

So inside of the loneliness and sometimes having this urge to be around people a bigger part of me just wants to be on my own a lot of the time and isolate myself.  Sometimes I sit on my own in the evening and think how nice it would be for my door to go and it be a friend, then another part of me just wants to  study or blog or listen to podcasts!!

It takes my family to contact me and give me perspective, I am lucky because I have that, I have my parents to say Rachael you are burnt out emotionally, and to know that all I need to do is acknowledge that fact and realize that it is OK to feel the way I feel.

Unless you realise the strain and the stress and the pressure you put on yourself being a single mum it is very easy to slip into thinking that there is something wrong with you when you are not coping, this is something I have been told in the last week and it was this bit of information that made me cry, because a lot of the time I do feel like I am not coping and that I am failing at everything, because something doesn’t go right I try to blame it on something else, then think if I could do this I would feel better.  When really all I need to do is accept and acknowledge that the job I do every day being a single mum is worth that feeling and that I am allowed to feel that way, and that it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me, or that im depressed or that I need a doctor.  I just need to rest my mind of all the pressure and take every day as a day to move forwards, and know that I am doing all I can at this present moment in time to get to where I am going.  I need to stop seeing an end point, a finish line, I need to stop seeing a perfect life because in reality I already have that right now, today.  I will always be moving forwards and progressing, there will always be something else to aim for.

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This here was a moment I went into my bedroom to just be on my own for 5 minutes, swiftly being followed and being jumped on!!  Sometimes I might shout and tell them to get off me, when all they want to do is play with me.  I shared this on Facebook.  People didn’t see what I was feeling!

So you may be reading this now thinking, oh my, I thought she coped I thought she was OK and I thought she was happy.  Not realising that in fact you are right.  The moments I share on Facebook are real moments, they are happiness and perfection.  They are my beautiful children and my food lol! they are my running posts , or nature or pics of me studying.  That is all very real, and it is my happiness and it is my life. Yet I just wanted to share with everyone that I am not like that 100% of the time and I do struggle and I do feel like i’m failing sometimes, and I do go through periods of time that I just want to stand on a mountain and scream, and that I do long for a man who adores me and my children.  I recognise that sometimes I need to give myself a break emotionally and know that I am doing my best!! I recognise that I am a perfect mum to my girls, and I must not allow myself to get so consumed in the bigger picture, because it only leads to me loosing myself, and my girls suffer the blow.

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What Works?

Almost every single person I come across are seeking a diet “that works” and the only reason why I am writing about this is because I used to search for a diet that worked as well, and now I don’t. So maybe when you tell someone you are on a diet, maybe the response should be “a diet of what?”

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I feel like I have been in a lot of people shoes and I have experimented on my own body with high this and low that. This many calories and that many calories, that I know how it feels!!! Yes! It’s bloody tiring I know!  I have weighed out my food, carrots and potatoes and even put one carrot back to make the amount exact because I thought something would happen if I ate “over” on a specific food group.

I can’t even remember when the transition happened, all I know is that it has been a slow transition over the period of about 3 years, maybe a little more.  My interest in nutrition and health has just grown and grown right from the start of my journey.

One of the major aspects for me was how people are healing themselves from Cancer and heart disease and other diseases by eating a whole foods plant-based diet, cutting out animal products, eating for health and longevity and reversing diseases.  Nearly all disease is brought on by poor dietary choices, so to me it is only common sense that they can also be reversed by dietary choices.  Please take some time to watch the video in this link, it will give you an insight into what I see.  It is the reason why I am venturing into nutritional medicine because I want to help the ones who want to be helped, and it can be a lot easier than we are led to believe.

The biggest transition for me was the volume of fruit and veg, grains and beans I started eating that kind of replaced the other food I was eating before and I found myself actually feeling “satisfied” and when I say satisfied I mean my body was getting exactly what it needed from the food I was eating.  I make huge green salads and struggle to finish them.

I was talking with a client last night about this, and literally sat there and thought “what do omnivore’s eat?”  Because I know for me before going plant-based my diet hugely lacked any source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.  Fruit and veg rarely went into my trolley and if it did it would go mouldy in my fridge! I guess I used to eat a lot of processed food as well as meat dairy and eggs.  They would dominate my plate.

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This is a way of life and I feel for most it’s a struggle or it’s restrictive, or it’s too complicated! But it is a way of life I have had as a goal, to me it is just food, it hasn’t come overnight and I have invested my whole self into changing.  Not just in what I eat but in who I choose to be around, what I choose to do as a job, how I choose to move.

You can ignore the ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ aspect of why I choose to eat this way because for me health overrides any of the other reasons, and for me it is difficult and painful to see how much people abuse their body to get to their “Goal Weight”

People are obsessed with what they eat!  everyone has different ethical views, different bias, different opinions and views on what health is, what health looks like.  Most like the idea of moderation, yet is it effective for weight loss?  Moderation can be seen as holding onto habits that really need to be said goodbye too, demons that will eventually come back and bite you in the bum.

Keeping your previous needs topped up whilst trying to create change, some may call it a vicious circle!  You might be better just creating new choices around the moderation, scrap the moderation and make the changes you actually need to make, to be where you want to be on a long-term basis, rather than having a goal weight as a finish line, then putting it all back on again, which in most cases is what happens.

When you see food as “food” so one ingredient item, whole foods.  Nothing added, no added sugar, just natural sugar already inside the fruit or vegetable. When you see that protein is in everything you are able to let go of “adding protein” to meals! you do not need to add anything to meals.  By eating whole foods you are getting proportion, amino acids, fat and energy, and you also get to feel satisfied.  When your body says to you “aahhhh yes I needed that” and it stays like that for a good while, if you are eating the right kinds of food you should never feel hungry after eating a meal, because you aren’t hungry, you have just eaten a nutritious meal.  Eat a meal that lacks nutrients yet packed with calories you may feel bloated and full and a bit “stuffed” yet your body will still be hungry, because you haven’t given it what it needs.

Most of the time the body is craving rather than hungry (over fed under nourished) type thing. So the body is hungry for nourishment rather than calories. But then people just grab any old thing, pumping in more calories rather than what it needs, then round we go again.  So an obese person can be just as malnourished as an underweight person just through the food choices they make.

Why feel hungry when you have access to food pretty much 24/4. I believe food is massively over thought about and complicated, it really is very simple, but in front of the simplicity we have addiction, impulse, social pressure, family pressure, wants, needs, tradition, moderation (which ethically generally does not work in the long run) Let go of all these and it all appears very differently.

Use your body as a guide, eat whole foods.  An abundance of dark leafy greens, mushroom, bulbs and vegetables.  Add energy were needed, beans, legumes, lentils, fruits (including dried fruit like dates, figs and apricots) veg, potatoes, wild rice, whole grains.  Eat nuts, seeds and flax daily.  Just go into a supermarket and look at how much choice there is around whole foods. Please also download the Dr Gregor Daily Dozen app its awesome!  Introduce these things into your day, and allow the animal products to reduce.

Ultimately you have a choice with everything, what you choose is up to you.  This picture below was a “I’m in a real rush and need to grab something quick to eat” moment.  Something I hear a lot from people.  Generally this would look like crisps and a packaged sandwich for most people.  This is the other option, fruit dates and nuts! perfect combo! and I felt satisfied after eating it.

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Ask yourself these questions.

What do you think your body looks like? Write it down now……….

What do you think other people see when they look at your body?  Write it down now…….

What do you think your children see when they look at your body? Write it down now……

What do you want? Write it down now……….

When you get what you want, then what? Write it down now………….

What does your ‘Goal Weight’ look like?  Write it down now…………

How will your ‘Goal Weight” feel?  Write it down now……..

When you reach your ‘Goal Weight’ then what? Write it down……..

What are you prepared to do to get to your ‘Goal Weight’? (realistic or unrealistic) Write it down now………..

What does health feel like to you?  Write it down now…………

 Then just read the answers and see how you feel, reflect on them.  Why do people over think food when there is so much choice out there.  Why are you forever searching for something that works, to me there is only one way to eat food, and that is to just eat “food” – look deeper into what I am saying, not just what it appears like on the surface.

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My thoughts on B12

B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is critical for the correct functioning of the brain and nervous system and also the formation of red blood cells, so it is essential that vegans or non vegans ensure they get the right amount of vitamin B12

First of all, I just want to say that having to take a natural supplement does not make a plant-based diet deficient.   B12 is probably one of the only supplements that I advise vegans taking on top of an optimum caloric nutrient and energy dense lifestyle (which varies with everyone) unless they are demonstrating symptoms of any other deficiency.

B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is critical for the correct functioning of the brain and nervous system and also the formation of red blood cells, so it is essential that vegans or non vegans ensure they get the right amount of vitamin B12, non vegans become deficient as well, not as many of them, in fact the percentage is small compared to vegetarians and vegan, however they still do, although it is probably more down to absorption rather than anything else.

B12 is synthesised in bacteria, so is found in areas of bacterial growth, most commonly in soil and dirt. B12 is also synthesised inside the small intestine, however cannot be not reabsorbed into the body, otherwise no one would have to supplement because we would be able to use our own supply.  So to be able to sufficiently supplement the body with B12 using our own synthesised supply it appears that we would need to eat our own poop! and studies have been carried out showing this being done, and to be very successful!

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Soil degradation or otherwise known as the ‘silent disaster’ is a very real problem.  We cannot rely on our soils as a source of B12 as we may have done many years ago due to where it are so damaged.  Farmers will have used animal manure to fertilise soil and crops, even by doing this they are getting dirty,  dirt gets under the nails ect!  This fertilised soil is what our root vegetables and grains would have been grown in.

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So you may be wondering where do the animals get their B12 from? it certainly doesn’t just naturally produce.  Animals get their B12 exactly the same as we do.  It is to my knowledge that most animals do actually eat their own poo (coprophagia), and we already know from the study linked above that eating poo is an awesome way of getting adequate B12! However that’s pretty gross right?

Animal products contain very high levels of B12.  Could this be present based on the process the meat goes through? once the animal dies, the body of the animal starts to rot and decompose.  This process will naturally generate bacteria, with the knowledge that B12 cannot be absorbed via the colon it puts into question the whole concept of animals ‘naturally’ synthesising B12? Do they? Yes they will have a supply in their colon but similar to humans this will not be absorbed back into the body.   It is also a common practice in current years for farmers to inject their cattle with B12.  Animals also eat a LOT of soil and dirt, bugs and insects and grass.  Humans do not!

“In over 60 years of vegan experimentation only B12 fortified foods and B12 supplements have proven themselves as reliable sources of B12, capable of supporting optimal health. It is very important that all vegans ensure they have an adequate intake of B12, from fortified foods or supplements. This will benefit our health and help to attract others to veganism through our example.”

“vegans are taking their B12 from the same source as every other animal on the planet – micro-organisms – without causing suffering to any sentient being or causing environmental damage.”

For the everyday reader just wanting some simple easy information regarding B12, my advise to you is, don’t try to be a hero! use your common sense, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone and it doesn’t make you any less superior to anyone else, if you take a B12 supplement.  Yes you can get B12 if you eat meat and dairy, and it is generally nothing to worry about for omnivores, however, along with the B12 you are getting the baggage and byproducts of meat and dairy.  The saturated fat, IGF-1 cancer growing hormones, the carcinogenic compounds in meat, higher diabetes and heart disease risk, and the catastrophic impact that animal agriculture is having on our environment.  I know what I would rather do!

There is not enough evidence based information out there to convince any plant-based doctor or dietician to not supplement with B12, so who am I to advise clients or friend and family any other way, and to be honest, it’s just not worth it.  The repercussions and health implications of a B12 deficiency can be pretty serious.  So just play it safe, make it a daily practice to ensure you eat some kind of fortified food and take a supplement.

Ways of supplementing B12 are:

Take a daily supplement – You can see what the daily requirements are using this link, it will take you to the vegan society website which holds most up to date information.

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Supplementation also comes in the form of a spray or injection you can request at your doctors.  You may also want to make it a regular practice to get your B12 levels checked each year to ensure the supplement you are using is actually being absorbed by the body, there are different variations of B12 – and there are different variations of humans, check you are using the right one for you.

Fortified foods like, non dairy milk, whole grain cereals, marmite and nutritional yeast.

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Or you could just eat your own poop!

You can view several short videos by Dr Gregor regarding B12 which will just add to your understanding, then I guess you are just left with your own choices.

Click the image below for more videos from Dr Gregor regarding vitamin B12.

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I would like to leave this article up to discussion, and if anyone is being advised by their doctor, nutritional therapist or dietician that they do not need to supplement with vitamin B12, I would really really appreciate your comments.  I would be interested in listening to them regarding why they advise this.  They may have some data they can send me to look and that I can pass on to get looked at too.  I am yet to find any valid information saying it is safe to not supplement.

I hope you enjoyed this blog.  I just wanted to send something out that demonstrates common sense, and offers really simple, easy to read information that just an every day person will understand.

Have a look at my plate

The examples below are a pretty good example of how I eat myself.  I focus on nutrient density first, so high volume nutrients like greens, mushrooms, bulbs, bright vegetables.  Then I add in energy density.  This is a practice I take from Ray Cronise, although I have eaten this way for quite a while now,  the knowledge I have gained and that I am able to pass onto clients has come from people like Ray and Dr Gregor.

I add in the energy density on a varying level based on my training, how much I’m running and how far I have run, so it varies a lot.  My main sources of energy foods are, potatoes, wild rice, spelt pasta, sweet potato, starchy fruit like banana and papaya, oats and dried fruit like raisins and dates.

I always try use herbs and spices to flavour my food, again focusing on the goodness they bring to my plate over taste, I just get the fabulous benefits of the taste they bring to my mouth.  My favourite at the moment is adding cinnamon to dry roasted vegetables.

My main focus is always, how can I make this meal more nutritious? So I might add some seeds into a salad and aim for a tbsp of flax a day, I will generally sprinkle this in oats or a salad or in a smoothie.  Unlike other seeds, flax is ok being heated up, all other seeds you should avoid heating.

I do not use any oil in my meals,  or have oil in the house.  I might eat something rarely that contains sunflower oil or vegetable or coconut oil but this is very rare, and again this is with health and longevity in mind.

Even when making things like curry, I will use wild rice rather than any other and I will use button mushrooms to add density and goodness.  This is a really good tip for people just moving over to a plant-based diet, as lots of people struggle visually and feel something is missing from a meal, as they are used to chicken or pork being added, so adding chunky vegetables adds to the dish visually as well as nutritionally.

A GREAT TOOL FOR KEEPING ON TRACK WITH NUTRIENT DENSITY IS THE DR GREGOR DAILY DOZEN APP!!

 I eat when I get hungry, some morning I will do my run and then eat, other mornings I might wake up hungry and have some porridge or some pancakes.

The same ingredients in each of these, just in a different form!!  You can see again I always add nutrient density, seeds, nut, chia, berries.  These are the things your body needs, the more of them you eat the more satisfied your body will feel in the long run.

During the day I snack on fruit, usually apples and satsumas or grapes.  Then when I get hungry again I might have a wholemeal wrap, or just some nuts and more fruit.  Here are a few examples of the wraps I get so you can see how easy they are to put together.  Usually I will beans and avocado, or I will add tempeh or some tofu.

JUST KEEP IT SIMPLE!!

Tomato and Mango Pasta Sauce

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Sometimes I make things that blow my mind, food is such a beautiful thing.  To be able to combine foods together to create something of pure joy.

The joy is in the simplicity.

So I am keeping this short and sweet and I hope you find as much joy and pleasure and taste in this dish as I did.

You will need for the sauce:

  • 3 large organic vine tomatoes
  • Half a bag of oil free sun-dried tomatoes (I use these ones)
  • 1 mango
  • 3 pieces of dried mango
  • Handful of basil
  • 3 large roasted red peppers (I use these ones)

You will also need:

  • Half a can of sweetcorn or raw corn
  • Half a red onion
  • Other half of the sun dried tomatoes
  • About 10 cherry toms
  • Half a small bag of spinach
  • Pasta of choice (I used this one)

The method is very simple.  Put a pan of water on to boil and cook the pasta, it doesn’t matter if this cooks before the sauce as you add it to the sauce at the end anyway so will heat it.

Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a food processor and pulse until you get a sauce type texture.

Once you have made the sauce you can just leave to one side.

So by now you have your pasta cooking away and a scrummy pasta sauce just waiting to be devoured.

In another pan fry off the onions and cherry tomatoes, I dry fry these days, just use a good pan.  Add the sweetcorn and even some garlic and pepper, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.  Can you tell how spontaneous I was!  Add the sauce followed by the spinach and allow to heat through.

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Once the sauce is nice and hot and the spinach has wilted in just add the pasta and serve.

I had mine with some lettuce wraps.

I find it really hard to explain the taste of this sauce.  It just has so much flavour, I can still taste it.  Absolute taste explosion!

Enjoy and please share some feedback if you choose to make this sauce.