Recipes

Recipe – Gluten and dairy free, berry nice chocolate chip granola!

It’s National Chocolate Week! So it would be wrong if I didn’t post a recipe that had something chocolatey in it right? Right. However, as I am still low sugar, I wanted to make something that tasted naughty but actually isn’t too sugary. So I have come up with this granola recipe to tickle your taste buds in the mornings. Of course it is gluten and dairy free, and also suitable for vegans 🙂

When I think of chocolate these days, I obviously think of dark chocolate, and when I was thinking of what goes well with dark chocolate I thought ‘What goes better with dark chocolate than cherries?’ and the answer of course was not much! Maybe orange, but it’s too close to call!

Then I instantly thought of almonds and suddenly I had the idea of cherry, almond and dark chocolate chip granola, but I couldn’t find enough cherries to my liking that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg so it turned into cherries, cranberries and blueberries. I also can’t bear to not put pecans in my granola, so chucked them in too, and some pumpkin seeds for a bit of colour.

What I was left with was a rather lovely little granola recipe that I am just dying to share with you all, so here goes!

Gluten and dairy free, berry nice chocolate chip granola

Ingredients – Makes 850g – 1kg

  • 100ml maple syrup (or you can use honey/agave syrup)
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 250g gluten free oats
  • 100g pecans
  • 100g almonds
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 200g mixed berries, I went with cherries, cranberries and blueberries
  • 100g dark chocolate chips (dairy free of course!) – you could replace with a few cacao nibs if you like!

Method

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Preheat the oven the to gas mark 4 (180 degrees). Pop the maple syrup and coconut oil into a small saucepan and heat over a gentle heat until oil has melted and the oil and syrup are combined.
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Meanwhile mix the oats, nuts and seeds together in a large mixing bowl. I choose to leave my nuts whole, and I like it this way, plus chopping them also hurts my hands because of my fibromyalgia, but if you like your chopped then go ahead! Pour the melted oil and maple syrup over the mixture and give it a good stir until all the mix is well coated with the oil and syrup.
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Line a baking sheet with some baking parchment and spread the granola mixture onto the tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, removing to turn the mixture over every five minutes or so, this way the bottom won’t burn!
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Leave to cool completely on the tray. When you first take the granola out of the oven it will still be soft, but as it cools it goes all nice and crunchy. Once completely cool, place into a large mixing bowl and mix in your berries and chocolate chips so that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

Enjoy! I personally love to eat my granola with some thick coconut yoghurt, and if I’m feeling really fancy I might chuck some fruit compote on too, but you could also enjoy with some nice cold non dairy milk. Or maybe even sprinkle over some porridge (imagine the dark chocolate going all melty, yum!)

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I hope you have enjoyed this recipe, do leave your comments down below should you so wish 🙂 or pop over and say hello on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. also don’t forget to check out my other recipes here!

Toodle Pip!

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Sleep Hygiene

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles #10 – Whats on my bedside table?

As this series draws to an end (I don’t think I’ve missed too much out), I thought it would be fun to move it forwards with a once per month round up of whats on my bedside table. What’s on your bedside is really important when it comes to sleeping (check out this post as to why!) Think book recommendations, things that will help you to sleep, and anything else that I happen to find delight in. Simple really, and I’m going to dive on in by sharing with you what is currently on my bedside table. These are all things that help me with my fibromyalgia, in ways that aren’t always obvious but still work!


Candle – Sweet orchid and coconut candle from Sainbury’s, cheap and cheerful at £4 but it lasts for ages, and smells divine. I like a good sized candle on my bedside table to provide and gentle and relaxing reading light.

Tea – Currently drinking Heath and Heather Sleep tea, with spearmint, chamomile, rosehip and nettles ,amongst other lovely herbs. A beautifully relaxing cuppa before bed.

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Magazine – The Simple Things. Really lovely magazine promoting mindfulness, gratitude and full of stories from awesomely inspirational people!


Book – Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – Sequel to the mazing Wolf Hall, this second book looking at the downfall of Anne Boleyn from Thomas Cromwell’s point of view, and a great view into life at the court of Henry VIII. Not everyones cup of tea but I love it! Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2012 and the Costa Book of the year 2012.


Book – Little book of Lykke by Meik Wiking, sequel to the Little Book of Hygge, a wonderful little companion book all about finding happiness from the simple things in life.


Whats on you’re bedside table at the moment? I am always very much up for recommendations! Remember, to keep it calm, relaxed and inspirational!

Come say hi on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

Toodle Pip!

Naturopathic Nutrition

Fibromyalgia and diet – My top ten tips!

I’ve come to realise that these last few fibromyalgia and diet posts I’ve just warbled on about me and my food loves! I hope that you are finding it helpful, particularly if you are thinking about going gluten or dairy free, and also hoping that it shows that gluten and dairy free doesn’t mean boring or the end of good food!

So this week is a little bit more of the food Ive eaten recently, but also wanted to give some tips that I have picked up along the last 8 months or so since I have made the changes to help manage my diet, particularly from the gluten and dairy aspect. So here’s my top ten tips!

  • Make a food plan for the week and try to stick to it.
  • Cook as much in advance on a good day as you can, that way if you have a bad day you have something to fall back on.
  • Have plenty of fruit in the fridge to snack on for your desperate times!
  • Don’t alway be drawn towards the food that is labelled as gluten or dairy free, check out the labels on some regular foods too and you might be surprised and you’ll save money.
  • Cook things from scratch where you can so you know exactly what has gone into your food.
  • Get some good cook books! My particular favourites are 26 Grains, River Cottage Light and Easy and The free from cookbook from the Intolerant Gourmet. I have the Leon Cookbooks and Deliciously Ella on my wish list.
  • Try to alter some regular recipes and replace some ingredients with those suitable to your diet, for example replacing butter with coconut oil. Sometimes it may be a disaster but other times it will be a triumph.
  • Visit a decent health food shop for inspiration. While they can be expensive, I often go just to get ideas and then make food out of ingredients from my local supermarket which is much cheaper.
  • When eating out, check out the restaurant menu online if you can so you aren’t under pressure to work things out when you are there.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask what the chef can do for you if there isn’t much on the menu that fits your needs, most places are very accommodating.

I’m really keen to know what your top tips are, and also what you would like to see on the blog from a diet point of view. I’m planning on carrying on with the anti inflammatory series and whizzing up some more easy recipes for you, but what else would you like to see? Do you like to see what I’ve been chowing down on, or is that getting boring now? Please let me know in the comments section below!

Now for the food porn. Admittedly I’ve not snapped much food this week so this is more from the past month or so….

Honey, Lemon and Blueberry cupcakes from the intolerant gourmet cookbook. Refined sugar free!
Honey, Lemon and Blueberry cupcakes from the intolerant gourmet cookbook. Refined sugar free!
Smoothie
Raspberry and banana smoothie made with coconut milk
Gluten and Dairy free Yorkshire pudding
Gluten and Dairy Free Yorkshire pudding and featured as Recipe of the Week on the blog. Click here for the recipe.
Coconut Porridge
Gluten and Dairy Free Coconut Porridge with almonds, nut butter and banana.
Thats all for this weeks food dairy, see you next week! Don’t forget to come and say hello over of social media on Facebook, Twitter Pinterest or Instagram!

Aromatherapy

Fragrant Fridays – Fibromyalgia Massage Blend

Welcome back to another instalment of Fragrant Friday…. its been a while!

Anyway, following on from my first three posts looking at the benefits and use of Lavender, Peppermint, and Black Pepper, I would like to share with you an easy and effective massage oil blend to help with those niggling symptoms of Fibromyalgia, or if you don’t suffer with fibromyalgia, any niggling aches and pains you may have.

This massage blend is for me, effective in easy any joint and muscle pain I may have and it is super relaxing, so I find it best to use after I have had a bath and when I’m winding down to bed. I sometimes use it for a little bit of self massage, particularly if I have pain in my joints, and if I’m good, my husband will give my back a good run for me, which is where I get the worst of my pain, mostly because I can’t reach it to do anything about it.

I’ve already been through the benefits of these three essential oils in my previous posts, so will mostly concentrate on sharing the ‘recipe’ with you today, but I will leave the links to these posts for you to read should you wish to. This is just one way of combining and using these three essential oils, but as you will see in the original posts there are so many ways you can use them!

 

Fibromyalgia Massage Blend

  • 100mls base oil – I like to use sweet almond oil
  • 40 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 40 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 20 drops of black pepper essential oil

Simply mix into a glass bottle and use! This blend smells great too and works really well if you pour a little of it into a bath!

If you would like to know more about the essential oils I have used in this blend then please visit these pages –

Fragrant Fridays – Lavender

Fragrant Friday – Peppermint

Fragrant Friday – Black Pepper

Are there any massage blends you find helpful? Share your recipes here!

Toodle pip!

 

 

Fibromyalgia UK Magazine

Fibromyalgia – When you can’t see the wood for the trees

As featured in the August Edition of Fibromyalgia UK Magazine

For many, a Fibromyalgia diagnosis can come after a very long time of trying to work out what is happening to your body. There will likely have been numerous appointments, many tests, sometimes misidiagnosis, and before you have even embarked on becoming better, your brain is already full to bursting with information. So how can it be possible to know which way to turn? I’d like to share with you my way of working all of this out.

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There’s the old saying “You can’t see the wood for the trees” and that can often be true when working out which treatment course to embark upon. There are many pieces or research, lots of data, even more articles, and there is alway someone who wants to tell you about their daughters, friends, cousins wife who has fibromyalgia and what works for her.

After diagnosis and my initial grief, I managed to dust myself down, and stand up against the fibromyalgia, but choosing which path to take was not always easy, and I had to do many u turns on my journey to becoming well enough to return to work and the life I love.

Which medication should I choose? Should I choose any medication at all? What about complimentary therapies? I’ve heard diet makes a difference, is this true? How do I even talk to specialists about treatment without a referral?

This first step for me was to think about what I truly wanted for my treatment. Now, I’m not somebody who takes even paracetamol particularly easy, so would I realistically be able to take the opiates and sleeping tablets I was being offered? Probably not, so while not striking this path off my list of options entirely, I did put them to one side. Which ultimately meant going down a less medicalised, more complimentary approach.

I started by looking at what was available to me either on the NHS or privately within my very small budget, and then looked at the research behind whether or not these treatments were effective. There was no point in looking up treatments for something I couldn’t afford as I would only have felt resentful that it may benefit me but I would simply never know. You also have to think outside of the box a little if you don’t want risk not being able to put food on the table in your quest to treat your fibromyalgia. Do you know someone who may be able to offer some therapy for mates rates? Is there a local college or university nearby that offers heavily discounted rates for essentially the same treatment overseen by a qualified practitioner? Are there any trials going on within your NHS trust that you can participate in?

Even with my limited budget and NHS offers there was still a wide range of things I could try, CBT, physiotherapy, mindfulness, acupuncture, looking at my nutrition, exercise, massage, but it was difficult to know where to start. In the end I started by looking at what I could get for free, for obvious reasons, before working out what I would need to fund myself. I asked my rheumatologist if there were any trials I could participate in and this is where I accessed my CBT, and I got it very quickly. I asked my occupational health department what they could offer and from this I managed to access Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. I then asked around my friends and family via social media if they know anybody that offered complementary services and from this I managed to get acupuncture and nutrition very cheap. And finally I looked at what I could teach myself and from this I developed my own exercise programme in collaboration with my free physiotherapy and taught myself mindfulness with the aid of a cheap phone app. I’m currently exploring massage through a local college which offers an hour long full body massage for £18!

However, even with all of these wonderful services at my disposal I was careful not to jump in and try them all at once. I staggered my trials of each treatment by a few weeks and kept a symptom diary to monitor the impact on my symptoms. Had I started them all at once, I wouldn’t have known what was helping and what wasn’t. By staggering my approach I managed to ascertain what worked well and what didn’t and as a result I have almost completed a course of CBT, have a manageable exercise program, have made permanent changes to my diet, made permanent changes to my work environment, and most importantly I feel a whole load better.

So I guess the trick to finding a treatment that works for you is to think about what type of person you are and what type of treatment you can commit to. Can you commit to doing your own physiotherapy everyday? Will you be honest and open enough for CBT? Do you mind taking medication? Do you have a needle phobia? What is available? What can I afford? Once you have answered these questions you can then start looking at ways to access the treatment and use them to hopefully, one day, thrive with fibromyalgia.

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Recipes

Recipe – Gluten and Dairy Free Yorkshire Pudding

The quest for a yorkshire pudding I can eat is over! I have finally perfected my gluten and dairy free yorkie, and isn’t it a thing of beauty??!

It took my some time to get this right but now that I have I am delighted to share it with you all!

Gluten and Dairy Free Yorkshire Puddings

Ingredients – makes 10 muffin sized yorkies

  • 120g gluten free plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 175mls rice milk
  • Olive oil to cook

Method

  1. Place the eggs and flour into a bowl and whisk together until well combined
  2. Slowly add the milk to the flour and egg mix, whisking together until well combined, ensuring there are no lumps, between each addition
  3. Add a pinch of salt and leave to rest for at least an hour
  4. Place about half a teaspoon of olive oil into each hole of a muffin tin, and place into a hot oven of at least Gas Mark 6/ 200 degrees until hot but not smoking (about 5 minutes)
  5. When the oil is good and hot take the tin out of the oven, and pour the batter evenly into the holes of the muffin tin before the oil cools down. Replace into the oven and try not to opewn the door while they are cooking.
  6. Cook for 20 minutes. or until golden and crispy.

Enjoy with your favourite roast dinner and gluten free gravy!

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and it helps those who have missed yorkies as a result of a gluten or dairy free diet to become reunited with this neseccary part of any British sunday roast!

As ever, feel free to coment in the section below, or come and say hello over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

 

Sleep Hygiene

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles #9 – To nap or not to nap?

That is the question! Now, around the time and just before my diagnosis, I was napping, A LOT, and back then I could, I wasn’t working the kids were at school, and it allowed me to escape my pain. However, my sleep at nighttime was completely and utterly screwed. I would spend hours and hours just lying there awake, in pain, and not getting any better, and my fibromyalgia was running a muck!

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t nap, or that I shouldn’t nap, and sometimes I still do, but it is about napping smartly. That right, smart napping. Because napping can be smart (the word smart is now beginning to sound a bit odd and so I should probably stop saying it).

So how exactly should you nap? I should probably point out here that this is more about what I have found useful and what I have learnt along my journey to achieving healthier sleep and overall wellbeing. We are all individual, and just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you, but if your sleep is up the swanny, you have nothing to lose.

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As ever I would always recommend you beginning your journey to sleeping better with the beginning of this series, which you can find here, and working your way through, practising each section for a week or two before moving on.

So here are my top tips for smart napping –

1. Stop calling it napping and start calling it recovery periods

When we say we are taking a nap we automatically think of sleeping, and if we haven’t slept for that nap, it can feel like we have somehow failed and feel even more tired than before we started to go for a nap. By calling it a recovery period it take the pressure off actually sleeping and using the time to ‘recover’ and regain some energy (which you do not necessarily have to sleep to do). Taking any time out to just rest your body and your brain can be helpful, I often take myself for 20 minutes just to do some guided mindfulness, which often leaves me feeling better and more energised than if I sleep.

2. Time it well

Whatever you do, DO NOT nap at the wrong time. That’s right, there is a wrong time to nap. If you take into account your circadian rhythm, the optimal time to nap is between 1-3pm, any later and you are likely to disrupt your sleep at night, any earlier and you are likely to throw your rhythm completely out of whack and feel tired for the rest of the day.

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3. Nap for just the right amount of time

Maximum napping time should be no longer than 40 minutes to 1 hour (they don’t call it 40 winks for nothing), especially if you are going to actually sleep. Any longer, and you will fall into a deep sleep, and wake up feeling drunk and disorientated and the rest of your day is likely to be very unproductive, and you probably won’t sleep well that night which means you’ll feel crap the next day. So set an alarm, have a big drink of water when you wake and get into some daylight to make your day go better.

4. Practice something other than napping

As I said above, you don’t have to actually fall to sleep to recover. If you find it hard to fall asleep in the time you have, practice some other techniques that will help you feel better. You could shut yourself into a quiet room and do some reading, practice some meditation and mindfulness, or even just sit in the garden with your eyes closed listening to the birds.

5. Keep a sleep journal

Keeping a journal can help you to recognise what napping practices are affecting your nighttime rest and recovery, as well as how you are feeling in the day for the better and the worse. You will be able to quickly identify what is working well for you and eliminate what isn’t helping you.

6. Nap for the right reasons

Whatever you do, do not nap as an escape method from your chronic illness symptoms. If you find you are taking multiple naps, and you are using it to get away from how you are feeling then you may be susceptible to low mood and depression, which you may need to seek help for. If this is you then I urge you to seek help from you family doctor, and find other ways of managing your symptoms. Excessive napping is unlikely to help and you need to find another solution. I now physically nap very rarely, but when I do it is often because I have had a particularly physically challenging morning and need to just get a little rest before the day continues. I do however have recovery periods during the day to help me recover mentally from challenging and my favourite activities are mindfulness and walking in the fresh air, particularly during my lunch break at work (which I must do more often!)

So there are my top tips for recovering like a smart ass. Give it a go (but not before you have worked through my other posts of course!).

Remember, you can find my very easily over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, come give me a wave and share your experiences with chronic illness! You can also leave a comment down below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!

Toodle pip!