I wrote much of this post on the way back from a hen weekend away in Northumberland. I always forget how stunning this area is and looking out of the window at the dramatic scenery I really do believe this is the most beautiful part of the country. I went to Durham University but never really took advantage of being there to explore the countryside. For the hen do we stayed at Abbeylands House in Alnwick, a stunning 8-bedroom 19th century house with a huge garden full of wildflowers and rolling hills and woods beyond. Going away for the weekend like this reminds me, yet again, to get out of London more often than I do, just to get out into nature. I always forget how big the sky is until I’m on a train and within 15 minutes I can see a horizon! I’m sure part of the reason London is so stressful is that we don’t get to focus our eyes on distant objects for long periods of time so we forget to look beyond our computer screens or the opposite side of the street at the wider world beyond.
ANYWAY, here’s what else I’ve been up to.
What Have I Been Reading?
I’ve actually not been doing that much blog-reading recently, because I’ve been spending what time I can reading the book Gut by Giulia Enders. I mentioned this in my previous post but this is a wonderful book, all about my favourite subject! She talks about each component of digestion, from the senses (how we perceive and smell food), through the gullet and all the way to the other end. She even talks at great length about what colour, density and frequency your poos should be!! I’m only a quarter of the way through but I highly recommend it if you’re at all interested in understanding one of our most basic functions.
I thought this article on Paleo Leap about paleo-ing in the UK was excellent. It discusses why we shouldn’t be so hung up on our meat, how to translate American recipes and a fantastic table on how to choose the right cut of meat. I’m actually thinking of printing out the table and sticking it somewhere in the kitchen for when I am faced with a slab of meat and can’t work out what to do with it (and for whatever reason my grandmother isn’t available at the other end of the phone). I don’t know when this post was written (why don’t people date their articles?!) but I think the paleo world in the UK has moved on since then and there are loads of UK-based blog sites to refer to. I like Fitter Food, Natural Kitchen Adventures (not fully paleo but natural eating), Paleo with Mrs P and Paleo Britain to name just a few!
Talking about Fitter Food, I enjoyed their article on why paleo is so popular at the moment. You’ve probably noticed that I love their approach — they’re pretty laid back about it, not enforcing very strict parameters in which to enjoy paleo-friendly food. I think you could add to this article the fact that it appeals to men and women equally, and some of the most vocal advocates are men, which means it’s seen less as a very feminine ‘diet’ and embraced as a lifestyle.
This heartfelt article from Eat Drink Paleo about her addiction to her laptop and phone really got to me. As you know, I had a bit of a social media cleanse of my phone a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still trying hard to look at my phone less and less. I’m much better when I am in the middle of reading a book so I always try to have a book on the go these days. I liked her list of things to do to avoid using her phone. I’ll definitely try and implement some of them — especially the 10-minute daydreaming rule. I think I would REALLY struggle to only look at social media twice a day but I might give it a go over the next couple of days! Maybe three times a day… Having said that, a few days ago I had a really terrible night sleep and I spent the whole night with thoughts running through my head. I was so fed up the next day I decided to switch off entirely — no phone, no ipad, no computer. It was glorious! Rather than use Google to look up a recipe, I referred to physical cookbooks (and started browsing them, and got loads of inspiration again, reminded myself how much I love cooking!). I walked to the shops a long route around the Common, didn’t really know where I was going but just followed my nose — no need for Google maps. The upshot overall was that I slowed down completely, I had no need to rush. If I forgot something while out, no big deal. I didn’t know what anyone else was up to that very second but it didn’t matter. It was quite a revelation. I’m trying to keep it going by having my phone switched off during the day and only turning it on for an hour or so in the evening. What it means is that when you turn it you feel so loved — so many WhatsApps were waiting for me!!
What Have I Been Eating?
Being on the hen weekend away, when I couldn’t really control what I eat, I was reminded on why I eat the way I eat. Naturally, I decided to take a break from it all, enjoy myself, drink and eat what I want. First off, it’s actually quite hard to fully embrace a what-the-hell mindset, after being so used to being fairly strict about what I can and can’t eat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not militant about paleo on a day-to-day basis; I know the odd bit of gluten-containing soya sauce is not going to kill me. But I do try and stay within the upper limits of a paleo-template generally, and if in a real pickle (or that gluten-free yuzu-pistachio cake is staring me in the face at M1lk), I’ll at least stick to gluten-free, because I know I feel and perform best when I stick to it. However, after a day of crisps, cake and chocolate, I really noticed the difference. Overnight my skin broke out in blotches (but
was it the gluten, the sun, the alcohol??) and I was really bloated and couldn’t get comfortable. I’ve always thought that I can get away with eating the odd bit of bread here and there, but I think I’ve learnt that actually it’s best if I steer clear, and should tell people I’m gluten-free when asked. It is getting easier now since restaurants are compelled to at least be able to tell you about any allergens in their food. It doesn’t necessarily mean they can cater for you but they do at least have to tell you what’s in their food. Anyway, on my last morning it turns out that they had actually brought in a whole load of gluten-free food for another friend, so I had a sausage sandwich (really, is there anything better after a late night of alcohol and silliness??) and although it wouldn’t be my first choice, I realised that my gut was a lot better on it and that in a real pinch, it’s a better option than bread. The exciting, and altogether surprising find in Alnwick, though, was a paleo-friendly cafe! Sadly, it was closed so I’ll never know what it’s like but I was pretty amazed to find it in such a tiny little town in the North East. Word is spreading!
Since reading this article by Fitter Food on polyphenols and how good they are for you, I’ve been upping my coffee ante. I absolutely love coffee, ever since I discovered there’s a whole world of exciting coffee beyond Douwe Egbert-made-in-a-cafetiere! I tend to have one coffee before leaving the house in the mornings — I adore the ritual of filtering the water, filling the kettle, deciding whether it’s an aeropress or a moka stovetop day, grinding the beans, making the coffee, sitting down with my boyfriend to share the ritual. It’s wonderful. If I miss that first coffee of the day then I visit one of the many independent coffee shops around Covent Garden, although my favourite at the moment is Department of Coffee and Social Affairs in St Martin’s Courtyard. They recognise me now and know my order. The bliss! I’m also lucky enough to have the original Monmouth Coffee Shop near me; that’s where I buy my beans from. I was pretty excited recently when I discovered a bicycle
repair shop-cum-coffee shop in Tooting market. Beautiful little place with lovely coffee. Anyway, sorry about that brief foray into my coffee habits — I MEANT to talk about the article. So, three out of the top five polyphenol-containing foods are ones we would normally consider vices (coffee, chocolate and wine) so here’s the perfect excuse to stop feeling guilty while enjoying a cup of coffee with a side of dark chocolate, washed down with a glass of red wine! If you care about a scientific analysis, Breaking Muscle have an article on how coffee can help fight obesity.
What Has Got Me Excited?
I stumbled on this post from Eat Drink Paleo about paleo-friendly Jamie Oliver meals. I actually find most Jamie Oliver Recipes are pretty paleo-adaptable (as are most chef-y recipes, to be honest!), even the 15-/30-minute ones – you mostly just ignore the carbohydrate (which is often pasta or rice) and you’re good. But I liked the list of 20 full recipes that you can make without having to do any substituting. I’ve done the tray-baked sole before which really is lovely; plenty of other seafood recipes in there. I think Jamie Oliver recipes are always good and usually work really well with fairly minimal fuss (although often quite a lot of ingredients..) I particularly like the look of the whole baked cauliflower recipe, which reminds me that I found this link on an old post on London Paleo Kitchen to a whole-roasted tandoori cauliflower that I MUST try soon!
I loved this article on the Guardian about easy ways to pep up lunch boxes. My lunch boxes usually consist of scrappy bits from the previous night’s dinner or hastily put together salads with a side of protein. Or a takeaway from Pho (replace the noodles with vegetables!). But when I do have enough time on a Sunday I do my best to actually plan what I will have throughout the week for lunch. Some of these ideas are great; I especially love the noodle soup with pork mince one.
We had our very last lecture for the year at CNM. It was all very sad of course but it was hugely improved by the aubergine and chocolate cake made by our lovely lecturer Jodi Cahill. Yes, you heard right. AUBERGINE. Weird. Of course being hippy dippy naturopaths-in-the-making the cake was gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. The aubergine was steamed and then blitzed up, mixed with chocolate, honey, eggs and almonds. Here’s the recipe (personally I wouldn’t bother skinning the aubergines, that’s where all the good stuff is, according to Jodi. Plus it’s hassle.). It was sublime. Like a chocolate-mousse cake. Nom. I’m going to make it sometime.
That’s it for this post! Hope you enjoyed my rambling thoughts…