It’s Bacon, Sausages and Burgers……made of fish!

A few months ago a van pulled up to the house and a man got out carrying a large white Styrofoam cooler. This is not unusual, it happens often. What was unusual was what was in the cooler…..and entire range of bacon, sausages and burgers made from salmon.

Actual salmon sausages

Actual salmon sausages

It’s by salmon makers MacKnight and the bacon at least has already been a huge hit in Canada and Denmark. The idea is that you can replace your normally meaty breakfast (or dinner) goodies with versions higher in omega 3 fats and with fewer calories. Sounds good right. But what do they taste like….?

Well we certainly got to find out quickly as what else was unusual about this particular shipment was that they arrived a little bit defrosted so we had to eat everything in one go. Which made for good comparison but did leave us a bit, erm, full……..Still, the verdict was not swayed by our inability to shift off the sofa for the next few hours.

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Actual salmon burgers

While there is no way you’re going to be fooled into thinking you’re eating a few rashers of piggy fineness or a quarterpounder, when you serve these up, if you forget that and think of them as stand alone products they are actually pretty good. I liked the burgers best, followed by the sausages, then the bacon…..The Boyfriend, was the other way round. He was keenest on the bacon.

There isn’t an overly fishy taste, or texture which could be a bonus if you’re normally not keen on fish. In fact, if you’re cooking for kids this could be the protein equivalent of hiding the veg in their potatoes (do mum’s still do that?).

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Actual Salmon bacon

Caloriewise, I only have details for the bacon as when I tried them there wasn’t proper packaging for everything but here’s how it compares to a piggy-tastic rasher….

Salmon Bacon per 100g
Cals 132
Fats 4.6 (of which saturates 0,91g)
Protein 21.9g
1.2g of Omega 3
Piggy Bacon – back – per 100g
Cals 262
Fats 14.6 (saturates 5.7g)
Protein 32g

Now, considering how long ago I tried this, you may wonder why it’s taken me so long to tell you about it. Simple, it was so new when I tried it that they hadn’t got distribution sorted out yet and I thought I’d best wait until they had – which is now. So, if you want to try the products yourself you’ll find them in Wholefoods branches. If you want to see more details, click here to go their website. Upon which I’ve just spotted they now also do Ikea style salmon based Swedish meatballs which even though I’m typing this at 7.30am in bed, sound AMAZING……….erm, Mr Man with the Styrofoam container, you know where I live right?

So many blogs, so little time

Read till the end, there’s a poll and everything…….

I’m in a quandry – I’ve come up with another blog idea that I’d like to pursue, but I can’t see how I can do that blog, do this blog, do my work, run and have a life all at the same time. Do any of you have the same issues? Too many blogs, not enough hours for typing? I know that the new idea would be really good fun, and has an angle that I could probably monetise in some way in the future – but taking that leap has always been something I’ve avoided up until now.

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I came to a similar crossroads after I won my prize at the UK National Blog Awards last year. It seemed the perfect time to take the blog ‘professional’ then if I was going to do it – I started focusing the content more so it was just about fitness and nutrition and pretty much lost the beauty, psychology and general health side of things that I started out doing.

But that was all I did – when it came to taking the first step toward ‘going professional’ – moving the blog to self hosting – I kept putting it off. In my world that level of procrastination normally means whatever I’m avoiding is something I shouldn’t be doing – so I parked the idea. A couple of things convinced me that it was the right decision – the SEO monkeys took a brief dislike to me and my numbers fell overnight (thankfully they like me again now) and I started writing The High Fat Diet book and realised how time crunched I was. I felt bad enough as it was that my daily postings went down to once a week – imagine how I would have felt if I was running this ‘for real’ – rather than simply because writing about bizarre healthy stuff makes me happy.

Also, let’s face it – when you look at the mega health and fitness bloggers they all look, and live, the part. Me, not so much (see Exhibit A below) – yes, I eat my veggies, have a supplement habit that makes vitamin manufacturers around the world rich and I run a lot – but I’ve bought/eaten six packets of cashew nuts in the last few weeks and still haven’t made Deliciously Ella’s cashew cream (let alone invented my own version) and I don’t even have decent gym kit to be pictured in, just a load of Disney running shirts and some Aldi shorts – though I do have a fetching running tiara (also see Exhibit A). So, as it stands, Health-e-Helen is here merely for your – and my – enjoyment (unless anyone would like me to front my own range of soup makers/alcohol-free pub drinks/gluten-free, calorie-free Cornish pasties – or even running tiaras – then forget I said that, where do I sign?).

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Which brings me to my question and the point of this post (yes, it has a point)….not should I start the new blog (although anyone interested reading Health-e Part II raise your hands and say me, me, me)… but I’m wondering should I widen the blog out again? I’ve been looking over past posts and some of the ones I like the most are those about things other than fitness and diet…..posts like these.

When Helen gets hit by a hammer (and finds it relaxing)

The peely feet sock review

Tittoing – it’s a thing

So I figure I’d ask you guys what do you think via the handy poll below…….if you’ve got 2 seconds, can you fill it in. I might completely ignore you, it might help me make a decision, it might confuse me so much I go lie in a dark room eating more cashew nuts for a fortnight, but we shall see…..

It’s Healthista Day

Okay, it’s not – healthista day was over a week ago, but I didn’t get a chance to post on the day itself (too busy waxing lyrical about the soup maker). So, what’s on there this month if you decide to head over. Lots and lots of things actually – most importantly, mermaid swimming.

Real life mermaids  Used with permission of l'Academie Aquasirene

Real life mermaids
Used with permission of l’Academie Aquasirene

Yes, at the Ecole de Sirene in Montreal you can have swimming lessons dressed in full Ariel outfit – and it tones your abs at the same time. Sadly I am not going to Montreal (or Toronto where they are opening a second location, or the Philipines where it seems there is another school doing the same thing)I  therefore I won’t get the chance to try it until some enterprising gym-bunny (well technically swim bunny) brings it over here. I’m growing my hair super long ready for when that happens – and training a lobster to sing.

Other things under discussion

The book that reveals why supermarket fruit and veg don’t always taste great – and how growing your own can change that

A new fitness boot camp run from a London restaurant

The new coconut yogurt that made me very happy

The new grain pouches I’m loving

And why anchovies are more than just a good pizza topping

So, if you want to head over there and check things out – here’s where you need to click

Echo Falls – Alcohol Free Fizz. Tasted.

So, I’m still seriously limiting gluten, dairy and sugar in my ‘let’s heal from within’ plan – it’s going okay except for the sheer amount of nuts I’ve taken to eating. I’m having to ban them from the house before I become the size of said house. However, there was one other step to the diet that I have hesitated about putting in print until now – I’m also supposed to give up alcohol.

Now I’m aware that any counsellors reading this will say ‘well the fact that you’re afraid of saying that says you have a problem’ – yes I do – but don’t get me wrong, it’s NOT with not drinking booze. As I’ve said before on this blog, it’s with drinking water, coke or sickly sugary stuff aimed at teenagers instead of it – and that becomes even worse if you’re also giving up sugar. Yay, let’s go to the pub and drink sparkling water for five hours – brilliant. As such I’ve been ignoring that part of the plan when I go out – but for the next two weeks at least I’m committed to dumping alcohol too.

560g Sparkling Tisane

Last Saturday night though I was feeling miserable. It was bad enough that I was staying in, I didn’t want to drink water (again) too, So I decided to try the bottle of Echo Falls Sparkling Infusion that’s been sitting on my ‘must test that’ shelf since early January. I’d been avoiding it because, if it doesn’t have alcohol and it isn’t water, it must have sugar or sweetener in it and true enough it does (6.4g per 100ml serving – slightly more than J20, considerably less than normal Coke)- but, sorry gut, you can’t win all the time, today I want to please my brain – and it wants something it thinks is champagne.

Thankfully I did it a night The Boyfriend was home as this thing has a real popping cork, and I’m scared of those, but it did make it all feel a bit special. Sadly my taste buds when they hear that popping sound expect something super dry and champagney, so at first I was like ‘oh’ (imagine disappointed voice) – but once I’d got past my mind and into reality I realised this isn’t actually too bad. It’s a mix of grape juice and green tea – and the latter cuts through the sweetness you normally get with these kind of alcohol substitutes. It’s not champagne, it’s not even Prosecco (mmmm, Prosecco) but it did make a lovely change from water. At 25 calories per 100ml – so about 30 in a flute, it also doesn’t do badly for calories.

Sadly, the whole ‘no sugar’ either thing means I can’t make it my permanent tipple for the next few weeks and I’m back on the water, but if you’re celebrating something and can’t drink for any reason it’s pretty good swap. As yet it’s not available in pubs (aggghhhhhh, when will pubs wake up to the fact that we want decent alternatives) but you can buy it in Tesco priced £3.49.

5 Reasons Why Mr Blue Sky is A Great Running Song

So yesterday was a nice day, the team over at healthista.com named me as one of their top 10 health bloggers to check out. They said lots of nice things in the article – my favourite being the quote below…..

She’s honest and funny and like someone you’d like to have a glass of wine with (she’s laid back and chatty and we get the feeling she wouldn’t even force you to choose an organic version – actually we know her and she wouldn’t!)

Their reason for picking this site was that I like to pick up on new trends and stuff that’s a bit different and so, accordingly to them if you want to find out about what’s the latest news in health and fitness you should come here….so, let’s just ignore the fact that in today’s post I will mostly be writing about a song released in 1978!

Why am I doing this – because yesterday I managed to snatch time to run in the middle of my working day. This is not normal because when I run when I’m supposed to be working I feel guilty and always cut things short. That was my plan yesterday too, I went out aiming to just go round the block for 10 minutes – it was better than nothing – but then just at the point when I needed to turn left to go home, Mr Blue Sky by ELO came on. Within 5 seconds my mood had lifted, my energy soared – I turned right and got home 30 minutes later, nothing bad had happened in the office and frankly I felt fantastic for that longer run. Hence my deciding that today’s post would be dedicated to the random running song of joy that is Mr Blue Sky. I will now state my case as to why it’s so brilliant to run to….

1) The lyrics begin ‘sun is shining in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight’ – if that actually is the case, nothing makes me feel happier to be reminded of it – yesterday afternoon was exactly that. I even took my gloves off.

2) It’s 176bpm – which according to jogfm puts you at a 4.36 minute kilometre. I always run in time to it as it feel so easy to do so – despite the fact that if you told me to run a sub 5 minute kilometre, I’d possibly fling myself hyperventilating on the floor crying that it’s impossible. Not to Mr Blue Sky it isn’t.

3) One hundred and 24 people on jogfm have it on their playlist – so I’m not alone in my love for it.

4) It came out when I was 10 – I was actually a pretty speedy runner when I was 10. I reminds me that athletic Helen is in there somewhere, probably hiding underneath prone, hyperventilating, whining girl.

5) It was played at the 2012 Olympics Closing ceremony – therefore it’s practically an athletics anthem. It’s also been played in space (to astronauts on the shuttle Atlantis!) – that pretty much reminds you that anything is possible – even that last 100 metre sprint – or a 4.36 minute kilometre!

Go on, download it (or just click on the video above) and spend about 4 minutes being happy….

Run or Dye….will I finally get my Powder Run of Joy?

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Long term readers of this blog will remember how excited I was when the Color Run hit our shores….and while I still thought it was a fun event how disappointed I was when I finally ran it and ended up virtually clean. And that while I had ended up messy after the much smaller Colour 5k, the atmosphere was a bit more subdued than I’d been hoping for.

So, when the team organising Run or Dye events around the country this year offered me a place, I thought ‘third time lucky’, emailed my friend Jackie to see if she wanted to come with me (The Boyfriend gets all competitive and speeds off to beat me so he’s rubbish to run one of these with) and entered the North London run on May 9th. I’m hoping it will be noisy and messy and I can finally see what all the Powder Run fuss is about.

What I looked like after the Color Run

What I looked like after the Color Run

What I wanted to look like after the Color Run

What I wanted to look like after the Color Run and would like to look like after Run or Dye (image @runordye)

This is my first organised run this year. Which is good as I really do need something to keep me motivated. I’m currently dragging myself out for runs (though once I’m out there I’m enjoying every minute) but they aren’t frequent enough, fast enough or long enough and finding time for the gym is non existent. It’s been so long since I set my foot in there apparently they’ve had an entire redesign and I didn’t even see them put up the ‘pardon our dust’ signs.

This is bad, I’m virtually sedentary. My lack of time and slumping fitness is also putting me off testing new classes – hmm, can you say downward spiral? I need a fit-tervention where a group of trainers come to my house and thwack me with a battlerope or something and fast.

Still at least there’s an event on my calendar now. If you want to try it yourself, there are 17 Run or Dye runs taking place across the country. Check out the full list here. If you end up running London let me know.

The good news is that even just writing about my slump is making me itch to go for a run……time to get my trainers on sharpish before I change my mind.

Reviewed: The Lidl/Crivit Sports Bra

Okay this might be a slightly redundant post as Lidl sold out of these pretty soon after they went into store, but just in case they bring them back, or you see the Crivit brand (that it was made by) somewhere else I thought I’d post it anyway. It’s not a long review, basically it says ‘for the love of your boobies try it on.’

They wouldn't look as perky as this for long

They wouldn’t look as perky as this for long

They do say you get what you pay for in life so perhaps buying a sports bra for £6.99 could have been predicted to be a mistake but I’d been so impressed with the Aldi sportswear range that when I saw Lidl had kit too a while back I thought it would be just as good and so I should stock up. The only thing I really need is sports bras – some of mine have lived in three countries – so I was a bit disappointed when I got to Lidl and saw there was only one left in my size -particularly as they were purple. But it seems other people’s enthusiasm did me a favour.

I realised this this morning when I went to put it on for my run. Used to pulling at least four muscles when putting on a new sports bra I was pleasantly surprised when this slipped over my head with no protest. However, once I also got it over the relevant area I didn’t notice any squishing, crushing, lifting or general supporting. At this point I decided I best go look in the mirror. The fact that there was no supporting was quite clear just by looking at it standing still. As I jumped up and down I was frankly terrified by what was happening to the ladies. I’m not exactly overly blessed in the boobage department, but seriously it was like the Mitchell brothers on a trampoline.

Admittedly, perhaps I’d bought the wrong size. I’d bought a medium which said size 14/16 and I am normally a medium/12/14 in a top but as I am never a 10 and sports bras normally come up tight I thought a 10/12 would be too small – maybe if I had gone for a small I’d be singing its praises, but trying things on next to the sliced ham didn’t seem an option. As it stands though, the medium has gone in the bin without even being worn once.

So, my advice if Lidl sell this same brand again is to wear a t-shirt you can try it on over (turn your back on the ham) and have a jump about just to check you aren’t going to bash yourself on the chin as you run.

Image :Freedigitalphotos.net

The Morphy Richards Lifechanging Soup Maker

I made an interesting discovery the other day; the only source of sugar in my diet for a week was in tinned soup. As I’m attempting to avoid all the yummy sources of sugar like chocolate, biscuits and ice cream I had to ask myself, why am I eating it in the shape of Scotch Broth?

The answer of course was because soup without sugar has to be made at home from scratch, and while this does happen in this household, it requires the culinary skills of The Boyfriend, three hours boiling of a chicken carcass and something that involves a bones, sieve and kitchen roll that I choose not to watch so soup making must therefore always remain the domain of The Boyfriend.

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However back in January I mentioned a new soup making gadget on my healthista.com page. The Morphy Richards Soup and Saute Maker. They didn’t have samples at the time but recently the nice people at QVC asked me if I’d like to try one…..erm, yes. Was the answer.

Admittedly, I wasnt expecting much. I certainly wasnt expecting to be eating scrummy lentil and bacon soup a few days later with The Boyfriend shaking his head, asking ‘so this is just stock, lentils and bacon?’….cue another head shake.

Frankly, this thing is amazing. You pop in anything you want to saute and stir for four minutes, then you add stock, lentils and any other ingredients, put the lid on, choose if you want smooth or chunky, then let it to its thing. Which it does. IN 21 MINUTES. That’s right you ignore the bubbly kettle looking thing for 21 minutes then open it and you have soup.

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We’ve made four more different types since and, other than a brief onion related disaster which had to be saved with beans and nutritional yeast, they’ve been really good. We’ve just bought the ingredients for chicken and sweetcorn which is Friday night’s experiment.

If I did have to criticise it, the only thing I don’t like is that they don’t give a foolproof formula to use when trying to make your own recipes so it’s a bit trial and error when you branch out on your own. Other than that though, it’s THE best kitchen gadget I’ve ever owned. It’s even easy to clean, so, long as you do it before things dry. …. And can I just mention the 21 minutes thing again, with no stirring.

And no I’m not on commission as my friend suggested after a particularly out of character Facebook rave about said item. I’m just souper impressed (sorry). Check out the QVC page for it here

Oh and if you want to make the Health-e Celery and Bacon soup above, here’s what I did.

Chop 2 slices of unsmoked back bacon – I have learned that smoked overpowers the soup
Then chop 6 sticks of celery.
Add oil to the soup maker, switch it on to heat for a minute then saute the bacon and celery for four minutes.
Make up one litre of chicken stock with two stockcubes while you stir.
Add the stock and 75-100g of dry red lentils to the gizmo (split peas work too and are even cheaper).
Chuck on the lid, go bath, run, type and blog post for 21 minutes and wait for lots of beeps.
Open. Pour. Eat soup!

A post of happy things – dogs and Oppo ice cream

It’s been over a week since I posted. This is normally a sign that I am ‘on a project’….which is true, but no, before you all get super excited it’s not The High Fat Cookbook some of you are after. Not yet. But I am super busy and dont have enough hours in the day to work, run and blog on a weekday right now – which sucks a bit.

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Normally I’d catch up at the weekend but I spent last weekend with the pampered creature above….this is Toby Dog and every so often I take myself down to my mums to go walk him (or just scratch his back which seems to be my role in life as far as he’s concerned) which also cancelled out blogging time – but did make make me happy and gave me 48 hours off from work which was nice. And more importantly mentioning this gives me an excuse to show everyone this picture of him and his toy lobster which just makes me laugh.

Before I headed off down to dog-world though, I also went to the Good Food Eat Well show and spent a morning on the healthista.com stand getting people to sign up for their site. It was really good fun and I met loads of lovely people. Including a man called Harry.

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Harry was on the stand opposite for Oppo super-healthy ice cream. I’d heard about them because they had been trying to get me to sample the brand, but between high fat dieting and the ‘no dairy’ gut boost plan I had been avoiding temptation and their emails. I went over to say hello though to be greeted with the fabulous ego boosting statement……. ‘you’re Health-e-Helen. I read your blog.’

Turns out Harry is one of the founders of the brand and between him and their lovely PR Plum, I was soon enticed into trying tiny, weeny portions of each of their flavours. At which point I started internally yelling ‘damn you dairy free diet, I want my own body weight of the Salted Caramel and I want it now.’ Sadly sense reigned though and so I didn’t prostrate myself across their stand with my nose in the fridge. I didnt even have seconds, despite how much I wanted them. Sensible gut cleansing Helen really is rather dull.

Oppo’s USP is that while they still use milk, they have replaced sugar with stevia, cream with coconut oil and that instead of artificial flavourings, they use superfoods to give everything an added boost. As such the caramel flavour on the ice cream of magnificance is actually created using a powder called lucuma which has a butterscotchy taste but is made from a South American plant that looks a bit like a coconut (that’s it below). They also use spirulina to turn their Mint Choc Swirl flavour extra green which is frankly slightly mind blowing as it doesn’t taste slightly like mud and I thought that was impossible. I thought that even if you waved spirulina at things they tasted like mud!.NB: I like spirulina, but it does taste like mud.

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If they hadn’t told me all these exciting facts though, I really wouldn’t have known. It tasted exactly like normal ice cream – my waistline would have known though. All the ingredient swaps mean that Oppo slashes calories – and I mean hugely. A two scoop portion is under 80 calories, that’s roughly a third less than Ben and Jerry’s and even less than Weight Watchers. I was seriously impressed.

If you want to try it yourself, you can buy Oppo in Waitrose and via Ocado. To see more about them check out their website. As for my dairy, gluten, sugar free diet, it’s going well (at home at least, as soon as I leave these four walls, it collapses in disaster but I do notice a difference in my symptoms when I’m on it so I am going to have to suck that up soon and make an effort when I’m out too). But if I do, I really need to start testing some exercise classes or it’s going to get very quiet round here……!

The Mind Switch That Makes Any Eating Change Easier

So, last week was different…….I went to hospital and had a camera shoved down my throat to try and see why it’s been driving me bonkers since September.

The good news is there’s nothing seriously wrong with me that a heap of medication can’t hide – but, now that I know that I have decided that rather than just take that medicine to mask my symptoms, I’d prefer to try and tackle what’s causing them. As such, I am attempting a pretty radical diet makeover for a couple of weeks to give my gut some time off. I am limiting – note I’m not saying quitting, just not consuming 90% of the time – gluten, dairy and sugar. While still attempting to limit starchy carbs to 2-3 meals a week (which adds a new dimension of fun).

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Now normally this would be impossible for me – my brain would immediately go into some kind of tantrum of the first order and start screaming for all of the above louder than a tween at a One Direction gig. Demonic like possession would ensue that would see me buying foods like crumpets that I haven’t eaten since I was about 10.

However, one thing I have learned doing the High Fat diet is the absolute best way to go on any kind of restrictive eating plan is to live by this  simple rule

Forget about the things you can’t have and just focus on everything you can.

 

In the last few days following this rule has seen me doing things like….

Eating my own body weight in beans and pulses – I never normally eat them because there doesn’t seem like there’s room on the plate if you have meat, veg and carbs – but I absolutely love them. Dinner twice this week has been beans, chorizo, veggies and passata eaten with a spoon from a bowl. Note: eating things with a spoon from a bowl, has also become a theme – I’m not sure why, but it just seems easier to eat ‘unconventional’ meals, in an unconventional way.

I have pureed frozen bananas to make ‘ice cream’. I have also learned that frozen bananas take half an episode of Man Men to defrost and you should take them out at least 20 minutes before you want to eat them.

Cauliflower rice is actually amazing – I didn’t want to believe it but it is

I have made hummus – and it made me stupidly happy. I have been skipping round the house like I found the meaning of life via the blender. Along with the rest of the world I bought the Deliciously Ella book (I had to see what the fuss was about) and used her hummus recipe. It was really creamy and tasted pretty much like my M&S fave. I didn’t feel like dipping though so I’ve been eating a bowl of hummus with chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber and chopped red pepper mixed in it – and crispy bacon on top. Who needs crudites?

I admit I haven’t got through it without any cravings. I’d pretty much quit carbs while on High Fat anyway so I’m not missing them, but I am desperate for cheese, milk and sweet stuff (I normally soothe my sweet cravings with milk). The ironic thing about this is that the fridge is full of ALL the cheese because The Boyfriend, has taken to the High Fat diet like a duck to water, but instead of staring at the shelf drooling and cursing that it’s denied to me, I think about the fact that I can have cashew nuts instead! Thankfully I’m not trying to do this to lose weight!

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So, what can I eat? Well here’s 40 odd answers to that question that I’ve found so far…….

Instead of pasta/cereals
Courgetti, c-oodles – and a billion other veggie noodles
Rice, quinoa, buckwheat – if I do want a starchy carb
Cauliflower rice
Sweet potatoes
Squash
Black beans
Butter beans
Soba noodles
Lentils – red, green and Puy
Chia seeds
Chickpeas

Instead of bread
(these work as wraps or sandwich bases)
Cucumber strips
Half a bell pepper
Lettuce leaves
Seaweed
Flat mushrooms
Celery sticks

These are a bit more out there but trust me….
Bacon, smoked salmon and ham….pile stuff on top like inside out sandwiches
Crushed nuts work like breadcrumbs
Omelettey eggs make a good base too, pile stuff on them

Instead of milk/cheese
Nutritional yeast
Soy milk
Almond milk
Coconut milk
Cashew cheese (another Ella creation, I havent tried it yet)

Instead of sugar when sweet cravings hit
Frozen pureed bananas
A teaspoon of coconut oil (I suck it off the spoon)
Cashew nuts – super sweet
Nut butter
Dates
Coconut Yogurt

Every day the list grows a little more. So do I feel any better? Possibly – I’ve noticed I’m not as mucusy before, my eyes are super white and my skin looks less sallow. The throat symptoms are more of a work in progress, it might take a bit longer to tackle those but at least I’ve got 40 odd foods to play with while I try…..so,, do you have got any more suggestions for me? What can I add to the list?

 

Images: freedigitalphotos.net