The Food Haven vegan pop up – review

Monday will never be the new Friday, will it? But I can definitely confirm it’s worth sacrificing your sofa at the end of the first day of the working week to head to The Food Haven.

The Food Haven is the vegan pop up from Romy of Real Frank Food. The event I attended was held at The Canteen in Adamsdown but these pop ups happen across the city, with a run starting soon at the equally wonderful Waterloo Tea.

Romy of Real Frank Food taking us through each course

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The welcome from Romy at The Canteen was as warming as the chai tea which preceded several glasses of bring your own. There were nearly 20 other guests on the evening I went along and it was great to meet a cluster of new and interesting people in a corner of Cardiff I’d not previously had dinner in. Continue reading

Stress is no longer a badge of honour – and it’s really bad for your health

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It’s exam time again. But this time I’m approaching things differently. I’m taking as many deep breaths as I can, doing what I can do and attempting, at all times to keep a level head. Obviously I want to do well and I’m putting in the hours to do my best to ensure that happens but I don’t want to take too much of a battering in the process. Already my neck feels stiff, my eyes are tired and my hip flexors are tighter than tight – all the consequence of longer hours spent at a desk and staring at a screen.

Throughout my revision and indeed every module of the course to date, each nugget of nutritional guidance and wisdom is underpinned by “support protocol with stress management and relaxation techniques”. But even the finest nutritional protocol – we’re talking wheat grass shots for breakfast, gold encrusted quinoa for lunch – can be totally undermined by stress.

Stress is brutal. Stress is a chemical reaction tearing through your body. It doesn’t discriminate. Stress will burn through every single reserve you have in your body leaving you with a clapped out immune system, the propensity for stomach ulcers, heart disease and a generally miserable existence. Continue reading

Nourishing the next generation

I ate everything as a child. But that was more of a curse than a blessing. I’ll never know where the insatiable appetite came from. I was greedy. Always had room for seconds, thirds, sometimes fourths. I once stole a packet of Spar burger bites from the coat pocket of a younger kid at school. My weight in stones matched my age in years until about 15 when it started to level off a bit – despite buying more than the boys at the break time tuck shop.

Aged 7 (right)

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Continue reading

How much meat should I eat on the Paleo diet?

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The most popular post on my blog to date is still this one. It remains the case that I owe Paleo everything. It started me out on a glorious journey, where every day I’m one step / mouthful closer to eternal health fuelled happiness. I’ve tweaked the blue print, staying true to its principles to devise my own kind of Paleo. Eg latest rules on cake? If I can see who made it, I’ll eat it. I even got a lesson in sponge baking from a friend this summer.

Alongside a more relaxed approach to eating cake I’ve also become increasingly vegetarian and eaten a lot less meat.

One of the most common misconceptions about Paleo puts meat before vegetables. But think about the hunter-gatherer for a moment. It’s a lot easier to gather than it is to hunt. Hunting took time. Days. Sometimes even weeks from one carcass to the next. Sandwiched in between that was a ton of in season, antioxidant rich, anti-inflammatory fruit and vegetables. When animals were caught and killed, meat was lean and of the highest grade. That animal had roamed free, eaten off the land and not been fattened on grain in a cage without enough room to swish its tail.

The 40:60 meat:veggies ratio is a good one to adopt when it comes to Paleo. And generally the greener and leafier those veggies, with a small amount of starch on the side, the better. Continue reading

How to love the life you live

On our bathroom window ledge resides my favourite of all those positive affirmations that do the rounds on the Interwebs:

“If you love the life you live, you will live a life of love.”

It would probably look nicer in the living room but, what’s the first thing you do of a morning? Hop out of bed to spend a penny, right? And what better words to be greeted with to start the day?

I’m so often called out as one of life’s insanely positive, smily people. I know I rub a lot of folks up the wrong way with my ridiculous cheeriness (especially first thing in the morning) and the extent to which I get excited about even the most mundane of things is exhausting for many. Regardless, I’m proudly positive. I’m also a little bit loopy.

Take this week for example. I volunteered to dress up as a blood clot to raise awareness around DVT. Wearing nothing but thin sleeves and lycra tights I took to the runway at Cardiff airport as it started to hail. Everyone looked on with pity. “You poor thing, having to do this.” But I reminded them, I’d volunteered to do that. It was fun, it was silly, it was supporting a brilliant cause and it was a random life experience that I’d never get to do again. That said, my clot like behaviour came so highly commended I may get the gig again some time…

Told you it was brilliant – also, see wet patch on knee. Lost my balance just prior, rolled around the runway like a dead fly. Brilliant it was…

[Photo: Matthew Horwood]

(Photo by Matthew Horwood)

Continue reading

Mindful Cooking at Lucknam Park Cookery School – Review

I was very fortunate to recently attend the Lucknam Park Cookery School’s Mindful Cookery day.

Lucknam Park Cookery School

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It was a beautiful exploration of how cooking and mindfulness so wonderfully combine.

The day began with introductions to our hosts and tutors: head chef Hrishikesh (Kesh) Desai and founder of Soul Nutrition Katie Sheen. Before we even took to the stove it was seriously inspiring to be in this kind of company. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Katie in the past but sharing a kitchen with a Roux scholar and National Chef of the Year was an equal privilege. Kesh embodies drive, passion, commitment and his journey to professional success is a seriously inspiring one. It’s one of giving it all you’ve got, harnessing your true potential and is, perhaps (un?)surprisingly, underpinned by mindfulness and meditation practices.

Katie & Kesh

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Fuelled by strong coffee and biscotti, the day started with intros; where we’d come from, how familiar we were or weren’t with mindfulness and what we hoped to get out of the day. There was room for everyone – irrespective of prior mindfulness or cooking experience. Continue reading

Walking back to happiness with Soul

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I love a good walk. We’re blessed with some incredible scenery in South Wales. Take a right out of our house and you’re in the direction of the coast. Left and it’s the mountains. But that kind of rambling and meandering takes planning and organisation. What’s much easier is fulfilling my commitment to a daily 30 minute brisk walk in my neighbourhood. The only downside being you can’t justify a picnic!

For 19-64 year olds, NHS guidelines currently recommend at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week so splitting this into 30 minute chunks is a far more manageable way to keep the blood nicely pumping.

Alongside my studies I work three days a week in the heart of Cardiff’s Bay area. Office door to bus stop it’s a 30 minute trot to hitch a ride back the remainder of the way. But those 30 minutes are wonderful. Torrential rain or blinding sunshine it punctuates the day so perfectly. It’s a chance for the mind to wander but what makes me really happy is the same spirit lifting play list I fire up come 4:30pm.

So next time you’ve got half hour on your hands and chance to stretch your legs why not put one foot in front of the other to the beat of: Continue reading