The limbo is over and a base salad

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I received a letter last week regarding my MRI. It seems as if I definitely have MS…..which I am fine about, I was kind of expecting it. I have a lot of loony ideas but deep down inside I didn’t really think that one of the best neurologists in the country had got it so wrong. And furthermore my relapse in 2007 when I was diagnosed was just prime example/ textbook case MS. But…but I just wanted to double check since I am so well in myself. Really……do I have MS?

The other news that I got a bit surprised and not so happy about were…that apparently I have some further scaring since 2007, meaning that I have had another relapse or several. Looking back I can’t really see when that could have been, apart from maybe last Autumn when I was a bit more exhausted than I should have been.

Anyways, after having got over the initial shock I realised that I must have had a relapse without hardly noticing it which is a good thing. As far as I understand the relapses are supposed to get worse and worse but believe me, whenever, however I had this relapse, it was much, much, much milder than the one in 2007. That certainly didn’t sneak by unnoticed. It was all I could think about during the couple of months it lasted for. It was one body part after another acting really weird or shutting down.

And for all of you thinking that ha, I knew healthy eating and living won’t cure all ills and who are getting ready to go home and with a guilt-free conscious scuff a tub of ice-cream, some Mc Donald’s followed by microwave popcorn in front of the telly, don’t! Healthy eating and living does work. I’m still well hey ; )

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I can understand how it could have happened though, I have been doing too much cheating regarding my health regime. The longer you stay well the reasons why it’s so important to look after yourself are starting to diminish and then you let body destroying foods and habits back into your life again. So the bottom line is I’m really glad that I got this wake up call. I can cheat once in a blue moon, as long as once in a blue moon doesn’t come around every week and last for days. Once in a blue moon means once in a blue moon. No other interpretations!

Some questions that I have been asking myself; Do I wish I didn’t have Multiple Sclerosis? Do I wish I didn’t have to eat really, really healthily? Do I wish I didn’t have to strive towards a happier, better life in order to stay well? No, not at all. (Do note it’s easy for me to say no since I don’t feel unwell, my MS is more or less under control. My answer would probably be different if I felt unwell) But as it stands, my answer is no. But regardless I would never go back to eating any other way. Perhaps at my darkest moments I wish that I had learnt the life lesson that if you take good care of yourself 80% of the time you can do whatever the heck you like for the remaining 20% of the time without having to get ill first. For me now the ratio has to be more like 97%-3%. I wish I had learnt that once the body collapses you can most likely fix it with a lot of hard work but it’s much much harder than looking after yourself so you don’t get ill in the first place.

Anyways, new regime for me is;

I’ve been completely gluten and diary free since Monday and am aiming to continue being so…..forever. There’s just too much evidence that gluten and diary causes inflammation in the body and it’s really not good for someone with MS.
I have also decided that once and for all take control over my stress and become some sort of Zen like Buddha figure…..now that’s a challenge and a half given that I’m at home with an 18 month old and a nearly 3 year old and I was born with a Latino temperament…..Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi here I come!!!!

Today’s recipe isn’t really a recipe, it’s more like a suggestion. I have been struggling with lunch since I don’t have time to cook a new healthy dish everyday for lunch. It has to be fast and easy. So what I have started doing recently is that one evening I prepare a base salad that will last for 3 days. Then when it’s time for my lunch I just have to take out one portion, add some goodies and eat. I love it!

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Base salad
( use as many vegetables as you like but make sure you vary them, be brave and buy vegetables you normally don’t eat)

Suggestions;

Spinach
Rocket
Watercress
Steamed green beans
Peppers
Shredded kale
Shredded cabbage
Raw or steamed broccoli
Radishes
Tomatoes
Asparagus

Goodies to add on the day you’re eating the salad

Avocado
Home made coleslaw
Sprouts
Small pieces of goats cheese
Tuna or salmon
An egg

Then I just sprinkle some Aceito balsamico de Modena over the salad. (Thick creamy balsamic vinegar) or you can find some healthy dressing recipes online. There’s loads out there.

5 healthy tips if you don’t have time to be healthy

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If you really are super super super busy or you feel as if you are (sometimes we feel as if we don’t have time to be healthy but it might just be that we are not juggling our demands correctly, I’m certainly good at doing that) Firstly I would say look at your life and check if there’s some tweaking you can do in order to have more time to be healthier. If you really have no spare time there are still some small things that you can do that will help.

1. Swop a coffee for a vegetable juice

With living a busy life usually comes a lot of eating and drinking on the go. Try swooping one coffee a day (or more) for a fresh vegetable juice. In a big city such as London there are lots of juice bars around, otherwise a container of juice will also work (not as well but hey, better than a coffee) In a fresh vegetable juice there are tons of macronutrients. Getting the goodies from 2 carrots, 1 beetroot, 2 apples, 2 stalks of celery and 1 cube of ginger (for example) in one go is a good thing….and gives you way more energy than a coffee.

2. Set the timer for 10 min

If you feel overwhelmed because you have sooo many things to do and you don’t know where to start, set the timer for 10 min and just start doing whatever first comes to mind. When the timer is up you can have a break or stop but I find that I just keep going because I have the momentum going and the I-don’t-know-where-to-start-freeze has been broken.


3. Think positive thoughts

It doesn’t take more time to think happy, positive thoughts than negative ones but it’s a great way to better health and happiness. I found it very easy to only think positive thoughts when I was faced with Multiple Sclerosis since I knew I had to if I wanted to stay well. But on a day to day basis it’s more tricky but something well worth working on. Try to pay attention to your thoughts. Are they mainly positive or negative? If negative try to change them to positive ones.

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought” Peace Pilgrim


4. Do the items on the to do list that you really don’t want to do straight away

I’m an expert in leaving the have-to-do-but-really-don’t-want-to-do items until last minute. Which really is a huge waste of energy, they them become “clouds” hanging over you and every minute that they are hanging over you is not good for stress levels hence bad for your health.

5. Swop afternoon cake, crisps or chocolate for nuts, seeds and fruit

Again it’s easy when the afternoon slump after too much coffee kicks in to reach for a-pick-me-upper that would do nothing beneficial for your health. As often as possible go for some nuts, fruit, seeds and dried fruit

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Feeling like a yo-yo and moroccan spiced lentil and pumpkin tagine

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Sorry for having been a bit quiet lately. It’s been a weird, exhausting and very much up and down period. Feeling a bit Stephen Fry-esque, not the high IQ (far from it), more the bipolar bit. But without the serious depths of depression and the productive highs. I’m just up and down like a yo-yo. But really what it is, I’m overwhelmed and exhausted by this whole parenting business, and all the other stuff that is going on in my life at the moment. You know, when there is so much going on that all you want to do is hibernate under a blanket, give someone your gigantic to do list and say; wake me when all is sorted thanks….

Also had my seriously delightful lumbar puncture and 1 hour long MRI scan and now have to wait for a month for the results!!! Seriously. A month!

Anyhow, next week my son will start nursery for a whole 6 hours a week and if you see me in some cafe staring blankly into space, I haven’t collapsed, I am just enjoying to stare into space!

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I tried to up my doses of vitamin B12 which usually keeps me on an even keel but not all the B12 in the world seems to help at the moment. If anyone suffers from depression, anxiety or stress ( or being Bipolar I just found out) I can’t recommend B12 highly enough.
Since the B12 doesn’t work I made my favourite moroccan comfort dish instead, and man is it comforting (and healthy of course)

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Spiced lentil and pumpkin tagine
Slightly adapted from a cookbook called Cooking Moroccan, a great book with lots of healthy moroccan food

Serves 4-6

275 gr or 11/2 cups brown or green lentils
3 tomatoes
600 gr butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
6 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut into 3 cm dice. If you are using a tagine put in a tray with a little bit of olive oil and put in oven for 15-20 min ( this will allow for much shorter cooking time) Otherwise put aside.

Rinse lentils in a sieve. Tip into a saucepan and add 1 litre ( 4 cups) cold water. Bring to the boil, skim the surface if necessary, then cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, halve the tomatoes horizontally and squeeze out the seeds. Coarsely grate the tomatoes into a bowl down to the skin, discarding the skin. Set the tomatoes aside.

Heat the oil in a tagine or a large saucepan, add the onion and cook over low heat until softened. Add the garlic, cook for a few seconds, then stir in the cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the grated tomatoes, paprika, tomato paste, honey, half the parsley and coriander, 1 teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste. Add the drained lentils and chopped pumpkin, stir well, then cover and simmer for 45 min if you are using a tagine or 20 min if you are using a saucepan or until the pumpkin and lentils are tender. Adjust the seasoning and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and coriander. Serve with crusty spelt bread.

In Morocco they eat from the tagine with their hands, we tend to eat this dish using the bread as a spoon

5 healthy tips for mornings

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1. Drink a warm cup of lemon water first thing every morning.

Lemon aids digestion and gets rid of toxins. It also contains pectin fibre which is beneficial for colon health and helps fight hunger cravings so great for weight loss. Make sure the water is warm not hot and then squeeze 1/3 of an organic lemon into it. Drink before you eat or drink anything else. I can really feel a difference when I do this in the morning.

2. Consume vegetables with your breakfast

Regardless of what you are having for breakfast, add some vegetables! If you’re having a sandwich add for example some avocado, peppers and tomatoes on the side. If it’s porridge have a vegetable juice, add blueberries and munch on a carrot while the porridge is cooking. It’s a great feeling to already have consumed 2-3 servings of fruit and vegetables before 8am.

3. Make sure you have some protein for breakfast

It keeps you fuller for longer and you have a better chance of avoiding the mid morning dip.

Good protein breakfasts
Buckwheat pancakes
Porridge with milk add some chia seeds and top with some chopped nuts for added protein

4. Make sure you have some me-time first thing in the morning

If you have an hour to do exercise, great! But even if it’s just 5 minutes for some serenity and focus before the madness of the day kicks in it’s still very beneficial for the mind and body. It can be doing exercise, yoga meditation, visualizations, drawing a picture. Whatever makes sure your day starts in a positive way.

5. Plan your day.
Check your to-do list and pick the items that has to get tackled that day. And don’t take on too much. It’s better to under-promise to yourself and then over-deliver. Then you end the day with a great sense of achievement instead of feeling that you have failed doing what you set out to do.

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Mind over medicine and beetroot chips!

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I have a lot of things buzzing in my head that I want to write about! B12, mobile free time, exclusion diet (and it’s not a loose-weight-diet), toxins…….

But I will start with talking about a TED talk that I watched the other night with an American doctor called Lissa Rankin and it truly and utterly resonated with me. ( I cried watching it, that’s how good I thought it was)

I know I go on and on about healthy food and believe me I do believe it is crucial. But Dr Rankin says that healing the mind is more important than looking after our bodies. And despite being a health-food-crazy-kinda-girl I do agree with her. If we are unhappy, stressed or disconnected, all the organic broccoli in the world won’t cure us!

Dr Rankin says that our bodies will try to tell us if there is something in our lives that needs to be changed. In the beginning it will be “whispers” as she calls them, a constant stream of small health problems. If we then don’t listen, the whispers will turn into “screams”, more serious health problems. In my case the whispers were constant colds and flus, a sore swollen stomach and difficulties sleeping and winding down. But I was too busy to listen to the whispers so they turned into screams; anxiety and panic attacks. Still didn’t listen so then my body had to resort to some serious yelling to get me to listen; my MS diagnosis. And who knows, if I had listened to my body and left my job earlier perhaps I wouldn’t have MS today?

The good thing is, she thinks we can use our minds to let our bodies self-heal. And again I agree. When I told you about my MS story I was talking about how I used the placebo effect to heal my body and I strongly believe it had a huge amount to do with my healing.
But anyway, I’m not going to tell you more (drum rolls)……..I hereby proudly present Dr Lissa Rankin!

The shocking truth about your health; Lissa Rankin

Even if you’re a sceptic I really really recommend watching this 18 min video. It might not resonate with you right now but if you one day (we really hope not) find yourself having small, constant health issues, perhaps you will then remember this video. And you will stop to think, am I happy in my life or is it something that needs to change in order for my health problems to go away…..and the 18 minutes of watching the video seems like nothing. Kind of a cheap and good health insurance right?
If the video speaks to you you can download a free self-healing kit from her website or you can always buy the book ; )

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I said I was going to tell you all how I have been doing with exercise this week. Well, I did 1h45 min spread out over 4 days. Then I had my lumbar puncture ( I’m getting to the bottom of the do-I-do-I-not-have-MS conundrum) and my back was pretty bad for the weekend so no more. But anyway a great start, me thinks! ( I also bought a gym deal so for 5 weeks I have to go at least twice a week! Yeah, I’m soooo looking forward to it! )

And here’s finally the recipe for the beetroot chips that goes together with the last posts guacamole!

Beetroot chips!

Snack for 2

2 large beetroots
1 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste

Heat to oven to 150 °C.
Use a mandolin to slice the beetroot very thinly. About 1mm. I tried to cut the beetroot with a knife but it really takes a lot of effort and time so I would recommend getting a mandolin if you don’t have one. Put the beetroot slices in a bowl. Melt the coconut oil in a pan and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the beetroot making sure all slices are covered with the oil.

Line a couple of large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Lay them on the paper so they are barely touching. Put in oven for 1 hour, one will go higher up than the other but swop the trays around halfway through so they will be equally cooked. The beetroot will crisp up after they have cooled down.

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Exercise and a yummy guacamole!

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So because my last posts (My MS story part 1 & My MS story part 2) were verrrry long I am going to say very little on this post in order to spare your eyes and my fingers ; )

Im just going to tell you quickly about my goal for this week. I am concentrating on seriously getting back to doing exercise. Why?

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” Dr Nick Cavill

I will report to you in the end of the week how it’s been going because if we let someone know we are doing something it’s much easier to stick to it. So I’m letting you know ; )

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Yesterday we had late lunch / early dinner and then we wanted something small to eat for the evening. Because I’m in exercise frame of mind I was inspired by the Super Bowl mania across the pond where apparently they eat an enormous amount of avocado ( an expected 158 million avocados during this years Super Bowl) So I made some yummy guacamole that we ate with some beetroot chips but watched the The Bridge instead!

Yummy guacamole!

Serves 2 as a snack

1 avocado
1 shallot or 1/2 small red onion
1 tomato
1 small clove of garlic
1/2 lime
1/2 red or orange chilli

Mash the avocado in a bowl. Squeeze the lime juice over the mashed avocado. Finely chop the garlic, shallot, tomato, coriander and chilli. Add to the mashed avocado mash and mix it up. That’s it!

Next blog post I’ll tell you about the great beetroot chips that goes with it!

Avocado is a fruit that unfortunately has a bad rep due to it’s high fat content…..But in fact it can help to lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of diabetes, prevent cancer…….and and and promote lower body weight! So don’t let the high fat content scare you off.

My Multiple Sclerosis (MS) story- part 2 Healing and Recovery

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This is the part of the story where I’m going to tell you about my road to recovery. It’s a tricky part because I don’t want to give the impression that I have found a magical, one-size-fits all cure to MS..because I haven’t. I have found what works really well….for me. Nor do I want to give the impression that I’m Mrs super-fit who is never tired, never has a sore back or never ever has any health problems. I’m just like any regular person who does get worn out if I push myself too hard and who struggles to find time to do exercise….But hey that’s pretty good….being just like anyone else, given that 6 1/2 years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was faced with a very uncertain future in regards to my health……

So after I had been diagnosed I had a couple of days or a week of feeling terribly sorry for myself ( I most likely scoffed one or two or three tubs of Ben & Jerry’s during those days ) Then I guess I found some sort of fighting spirit within me and I quite firmly decided no, I’m not going to let this thing beat me, no way, no way, no way!
The neurologist very kindly offered me disease modifying drugs and steroids. ( yes I’m being slightly sarcastic by using the word kindly) Since I had already started to read about nutrition and a more holistic view on health I strongly believed that there was a different path to stroll down rather than using conventional medicine. I felt fairly certain that medicines wouldn’t “fix” my body since I instinctively felt that I was “broken” because of stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. The last thing on earth I wanted to do was to put more toxins into my body. And anyway, the medicines would just give me a 30% chance of having less episodes but had exactly the same side effects as the illness. Seemed absurd to me.

So I declined their very kind offer and started on my path as a healing detective : ) I was reading anything I could find about MS and holistic treatments. Found lots of stories of people who got better and started to connect the dots between them. Vitamin D, B12, eating minimal saturated fats, a positive mindset, eating lots of vegetables, meditation, exercise, getting rid of toxins in your body, staying away from processed food. I also started to find lots of stuff that seemed really relevant to my own health.

For example if the thyroid gland has been under stress for a long period it can start attacking it’s own healthy cells…ok, sounds like MS and is true for me, I certainly had been very stressed for a long time
B12 deficiency has almost identical symptoms to MS. And stress, alcohol and crap food depletes B12……umm….aha I see!

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Decided to see a nutritionist ( See details below ) who took some tests and as I suspected, my body was completely wrecked. My thyroids and adrenals were exhausted, my vitamin levels were all over the place. I tested intolerant to several types of food. She also suspected I had candida and leaky gut. And after quite a bit of convincing I went on a 3 month candida diet with added extras (as if the candida diet isn’t strict enough ; ) no sugar, no fruit, no alcohol, no dairy, no meat, no coffee, no rice, no peas, no wheat, no soya, no yeast, no citric acid….the list goes on! The first week was diabolical, seriously difficult to get out of bed. I felt awful. Really! But as the weeks progressed I started feeling……well pretty good. I stuck to the diet over Christmas and New Year’s Eve which was interesting to say the least but in the end of the day what is one Christmas amongst many if I could have my health back.

I also tried to get rid of as many toxins as possible so started using deodorant without aluminium, shampoo and shower gel without parabens and other toxins, toothpaste without SLS, stopped colouring my hair, used cleaning products without toxins, natural make-up, ate organic vegetables etc etc. I even started making my own paraffin free candles. It’s unbelievable
how many toxins we get into ourselves on a daily basis!
No wonder the body has little capacity left to fight illnesses.

I continued to work really hard on continuing the mindset I was thought through CBT, searching for the positive rather than the negative. So for example when going to the gym and looking in the mirror instead of screaming I haaaaaate my varicous veins I smiled and thought this is an amazing body because it is healthy, it has legs that can walk, it doesn’t hurt and it can lift heavy weights ( I went back to bodypump shortly after having been diagnosed using tiny tiny tiny weights in the beginning)

I tried a lot of other alternative treatments, reflexology which is amazing and I still do sometimes ( see details below) I tried bee pollen, visualisations, meditation, the placebo effect….you name it.

And how did it all go. Well 6 1/2 years later and I still haven’t had another episode and I’m not in the slightest bothered by my MS. The doctors think I am lucky. I think I am lucky that I listened to my inner voice that told me to go down an alternative route and refused the medicine. ( please note I’m not recommending to anyone to not take their medicines, this is my story and this is what felt right and worked for me ) I honestly believe that my body was imbalanced and toxic and that I needed to get it back into balance. I don’t dare to think about how I would feel today if I had taken the medicine and hadn’t changed my life style (which my then GP suggested)

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So what things would I recommend for a person who has recently been diagnosed with MS? Like I said before, I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution. Every individual should look at their own life and ask, what’s not working really well? Using lots of toxins at work, is that part of what’s making you ill? Lots of amalgam fillings in your teeth? Is removing them part of the solution? Is there a part of your life that you are unhappy and stressed about, partner, work? Are you eating food that damages your body rather than foods that will help your body to heal? And so on and so forth. You get my drift.


For me my way to recovery was definitely a combination of many things.

Seeing a nutritionist who looked at me as a whole and who could take tests that showed imbalances in my body and helped me correct them. Super important!

The 3 month diet, definitely! It allowed my body to have a long break where it fully could concentrate on healing, our own bodies have a great healing capacity if we just let them.

B12 is of mayor importance, the only time I have felt slightly unwell was when I stopped taking it. I am taking 400 micrograms of sublingual powder every day. And B12 is a water soluble vitamin so there’s no harm in taking large doses to see if it makes a difference. It’s important that it’s sublingual powder, shoots or patches since it appears to me that a lot of people with MS has difficulties taking in b12 from food or tablets.

Changing my diet was of paramount importance. I now eat a plant based diet (some raw and some cooked) I don’t eat a lot of meat and I rarely eat butter or cream. I try to stay away from wheat and sugar as much as possible and I eat mainly organic food. Processed food is a rare event. It may sound strict and boring but it most definitely isn’t.

Waving bye bye to as many toxins as possible is significant ( while writing this I realise that I have let some toxins back into my life so time to get a grip…)

Exercise is of course really really really important. ( which I’m struggling to re-introduce in my life after the birth of my two kids…..time, I neeeeeeed more time ; ) Even if you have just been diagnosed with MS there are always some exercise that you can do. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of stretching!

The placebo effect or the mind is a powerful tool. I read a lot about using your mind to think yourself well and I am going to use a quote by Henry Ford that I find explains it. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right” I believe this statement is true for the healing process. ( And no I don’t think you can heal a broken bone with the power of your mind ; ) In the beginning when I was diagnosed my husband sometimes wanted to talk about the future and the conversations went something like this;
Him; Let’s say you would get another relapse
Me: But I won’t
Him: but let’s just say you would
Me: But I won’t
Him: ok but let’s just say for arguments sake that you would
Me: hmmmmm…..ok…….but as long as you understand that I won’t.
Him: ok so let’s say you would have another episode
Me: but I won’t

Needless to say these discussions could take aaaaaalll night. What I was doing was using the placebo effect to heal myself hence not allowing me to doubt for a second that I would get better. Denial it might sound like to some but it has been proven that if we really believe something is going to make us better, there will actually be measurable positive changes in our bodies. Here’s an interesting study conducted at Harvard. The placebo effect has long been accepted as something that works by conventional medicine but they are still baffled about how it works, and how to use it.
I also used visualisations where I visualised the scars in my brain healing and disappearing. Visualisations also have been proved to have real effects on our bodies.

My dream is that one day a holistic approach using nutrition and lifestyle assessment would be the first call for treatment and that medicines would be the last option. I don’t think that the “there’s a pill for all ills” mentality works. In fact these days we take more pills than ever but many illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease are on the increase.
Ideally it would be no need for hospitals but hey I’m a dreamer, not completely crazy ; )
Don’t get me wrong, there has been some incredible advances when it comes to traditional medicine. Surgery of today is unbelievably good. But seeing the individual a a whole needs to become standard.

I also dream we will have healthcare where there’s a choice! You want to use medicine and operations? Fine we support you wholeheartedly. You want to use nutrition and exercise? Absolutely, we support you wholeheartedly. Currently this is definitely not the case. The medicines that I was offered and declined would have cost the NHS £8000 per year. Was I offered any support for vitamins, seeing a nutritionist or exercise? Nope, I don’t think so, not a penny!

The most important lesson that I have learnt from my MS story is, do your research!!! Very few people goes to buy a car without having done any research about pros and cons of what’s out there. Yet when it comes to our own health we take the doctors word for that what they are offering is the best remedy (this also goes for if you are seeing a nutritionist, naturopath or healer) Don’t take anyone’s word for what’s the best remedy. Keep an open mind and listen to what people have to say but do your research!

Nutritionist, I saw Annie McRae who has now relocated to California to be closer to her sons. (Lucky California) She does skype consultations so if you are struggling to find someone close to where you live, do contact her!

Reflexology, I am seeing Anna Lee at Shine on the Green who has magic hands! I always feel really good afterwards. And the great thing is that she can tell you if there is something wrong……..she told me there was something up with my teeth shortly after I had removed my wisdom tooth!

For recipe I picked another one with turmeric. This is a fantastic breakfast smoothie that was posted by Emily Ho on thekitchn.com. It’s perfect to prepare the night before and then you have your breakfast ready in the morning.

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Sunshine breakfast smoothie with coconut, clementines and turmeric

1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut water
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
Fresh or frozen segments from 2 (or 3 if they are small) clementines (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2-inch fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
1/2-inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maca powder

The original recipe called for honey it every since my post about sugar I’m trying to reduce my intake of sugar ( even natural ones)

If you are going to use frozen clementines prepare and put into freezer a couple of hours before. Then prepare the ginger and turmeric and put into blender. Add all other ingredients and blend until desired consistency. Enjoy!

My Multiple Sclerosis (MS) story-part 1 Destruction and Diagnosis

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Putting my entire MS story up on my blog like this is very personal and I have been debating with myself for a while about whether or not to do it. In the end I decided that if my story can help someone else then it’s worth it. I’m also sure that a lot of readers are thinking, my god why does this woman go on and on and on about healthy food….so here we go, here’s the answer

The summer of 2007 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a neurological disorder with many variations of symptoms such as fatigue, visual problems, balance and pins and needles in hands and feet to mention a few. It’s an auto-immune disorder where the body gets confused and starts attacking it’s own healthy cells, mainly the protective substance (myelin) around the nerve fibres. This leaves scars on the nerve fibres and signals from the brain to various body parts slow down or can’t get through at all. Imagine a dog chewing through a telephone cable before hands free existed. Our brains really should go wireless!

I’m quite sure my MS, or imbalance in my body as I tend to think these days, didn’t start that summer. I think it started a few years earlier when I was going through some extreme stress. I was working as a restaurant manager in a busy restaurant in Notting Hill. It was really hectic at times but that wasn’t the main problem, it was more that it was a job that I didn’t want to do. A part-time job during university led to an assistant manager position. I was offered and thought, what the heck until I find something else. Then shortly thereafter I was offered the position as the general manager and again I thought what the heck, until I find something else….

I was getting my portfolio ready but as the perfectionist I used to be it had to be super perfect and before I knew it I was too stressed, too exhausted and had too low self-esteem because it had taken far too long to get my portfolio ready. (Apparently people with MS tend to be perfectionists who are never happy with anything they do) It’s not that I didn’t like my job, the people I worked with were great and a good night was as good as a great party…..that we got paid for! (Not all easy-peasy though, some days and nights were very very hard)

Lesson to be learnt; if your gut feeling is telling you that you are not happy with something in your life, leave it, change it, do anything but don’t stay stuck. It might be hard to change but the consequences of not changing are harder to deal with, believe me.

Anyway I started to feel more and more unwell and exhausted. I used caffeine and sugar to get me through the day and I used to have to drink a large brandy after a 14 hour shift to wind down so I could go to sleep. I was partying hard, eating crap food and very little exercise. Then I started having some serious chest pains. I was absolutely sure I was going to have a major heart attack any day and went to my GP time and time again but he just kept trying to reassure me that all I had was a cold ( I kept going back to him with chest pains for a whole year). I went to the emergency twice, crying and shaking and they just said…..you guessed right, that I had a cold. Eventually I struggled to leave the house because the chest pain and sense of imminent death just got too strong. I went back to my GP and thankfully he was not there that day. The female GP that I saw just took a look at me and said, you are having serious panic attacks girl. You need to take time off and I panicked ( all I knew how to do at that point ) I could not take any time off, don’t be ridiculous! But I took a week off and then went back to work on prescribed Valium. (Only took Valium for a week)

In hindsight it was quite funny, there were times when we had enormous queues of people and I just swayed around in slow motion in the midst of all the craziness. Another time after having been on a mad holiday in Sicily, when boarding the flight back I brought out the brown paper bag that I used all the time to breathe into ( it helps when having a panic attack) and we ended up having a whole row of seats to ourselves. No one wanted to sit next to the crazy lady with the brown paper bag! There were also some sad stories during that time when I didn’t function as I should, and wasn’t there for loved ones.

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I was ordered by my GP to do a CBT ( cognitive behavioural therapy) group therapy course and it helped me enormously. I was thought how not to always think the worst and to be positive. I forced myself to get back travelling on the underground and it was hell but I just kept repeating my affirmations; I’m ok, I’m not going to die, I’m ok I’m not going to die! And all the while reassuring people on the tube that I was ok despite the flood of tears streaming down my face and the heavy heavy breathing! I said; It’s ok, I’m just having a panic attack and then fired of one of my best restaurant manager smiles! ; )

Things got a bit better after the CBT, I could control my panic attacks and felt a bit less anxious but then one day I woke up and couldn’t see a darn thing on my left eye. Not a thing ,completely blind. I was told I had optic neuritis which is an inflammation of the optic nerve, that I most likely would get my eyesight back but that I now had an 80% chance of developing MS. So my husband and I thought enough is enough and left our respective jobs and went travelling in Thailand and Australia for 5 months, a great trip with lots of experiences and lots of relaxation. Already then did I start reading about alternative medicine and food, thinking about health and reflecting about what my body had gone through. Came back in May and in June I had another body-really-not-acting-like-it-should-experience. Parts of my body had no sensation, had difficulties walking straight, no bladder control, tingling in hands, feet and legs, double vision ( I had to wear special glasses in order to be able to see ) and an enormous tiredness. It felt like walking through quick sand. I also had the MS “tight belt around my chest” sensation.

I signed up for a clinical research trial at the neurology department and went to do an MRI scan and afterwards was taken into a room where a couple of people were working. The neurologist who did the study showed me slices of my brain on the computer screen and cheerfully said, isn’t this great, look at the stuff modern technology can show us. Meanwhile my vision got blurry from lack of oxygen ( I stopped breathing) and tears because while he was busy being delighted about modern technology, I just kept on staring at the scars on my brain that of course I knew from having done some googling meant that I had Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis basically means; several scars. The neurologist has since apologised after I wrote him a long letter explaining my distress. Shortly after that they confirmed my suspicion, I had indeed multiple sclerosis

End of part 1 of my MS story.

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Because MS is an inflammatory disease I wanted to mention Turmeric ( the orange spice that colours curry ) probably the best anti-inflammatory stuff you can get into yourself. So if you have any problems with inflammation just consume lots. It’s sooo good for so many reasons that really I think everyone should eat it ….all the time. Turmeric has a really strong smell but you can easily put 1/2-1 teaspoon in scrambled eggs, a chilli, soup, fried rice, a smoothie…..anywhere really.

This amazing tea recipe was given to me by a dear friend. He prepares the tea in a large thermos in the morning and then travels around London with it on his cool motorbike with a roof! I’m not quite that cool but the tea is nevertheless amazing!

Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon & rooiboos tea

7-8 thin slices of ginger
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
3 cloves
1/2-1 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 bag of rooiboos

Peel and slice the ginger. Add all ingredients to a thermos or teapot or whatever you want to use. Add 1 liter (18oz) hot but not boiling water. Enjoy throughout the day!

Evil sugar and “sugar free” bounty bars

20140119-213153.jpgI’m detoxing….uggghh! After 7 days I haven’t reached the I-feel-amazing-state yet. Currently I’m in the I-feel-rotten-please-give-me-some-sugaaaaaaaar state. But I’m not going to let the evil white stuff win. I know that if I just hang in there a couple of more days the sugar will realise that it’s defeated and I will then feel truly good and won’t crave it any longer.

You see sugar is a drug (of sorts) that creates a dependency. The food industry knows this and hence keep on putting lots of sugar or sugar substitutes in their products so we will keep on buying them. And this is the problem these days, even if one doesn’t eat that much obvious sugar (candy, cakes, sugar in coffee or tea etc) it’s everywhere ( bread, yoghurts, pasta sauces, cereals, you name it ) Unless you cook everything from scratch it’s very hard to not eat a fair amount everyday. A 200ml glass of orange juice and a 150ml pot of fruit yoghurt and you have almost reached the recommended daily intake of sugar (50gr for women in the UK) Add a 39gr of sugar can of coke and you have way surpassed the RDI…

Apparently your average 15 year old boy in the UK eats 40kg of sugar a year. And the rest of the world is no better. In my birth country Sweden it’s 43kg per person per year. That’s more than double of what’s recommended

A diet high in sugar is bad for your health, certainly not just for weight gain but for diabetes and apparently cancer and moods. Here’s an interesting story in the Telegraph about a woman giving up sugar in order to fight cancer.

So can I never eat sugar again? No, I believe that I can have a treat every now and again and this is exactly what sugar should be. A treat, not an every day occurrence. When I was a kid I used to get a small amount of money so I could go to the local shop and get a bag of candy and a Donald Duck magazine. But that was it for the week, no sodas, ice-cream or candy during the week. And that’s how I believe it should be but somewhere down the line we lost sight of this (or the food industry started cramming so much sugar into every conceivable product so even if you stuck to a candy only on Saturday approach you still potentially would be consuming lots of sugar everyday)

I’m not going to talk too much about about various sugars and sugar substitutes. It’s confusing. Personally if I want a special treat with some sugar in it my first choice would be raw honey or maple syrup for their nutritional benefits. (Very important that it’s raw honey since processed honey has lost most it’s nutritional benefits) Here’s an article in the guardian about different sugars. Bottom line is whatever you use for your sugar fix, use it sparingly!
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There’s an Australian website called I Quit sugar, they are dedicated to giving up sugar (no shit Sherlock) so check out their site for more info, recipes and if you are really addicted you can join an 8 week program to quit.

If you however have developed a candida overgrowth which I believe I had at one point you have to go on a much stricter diet than the one I quit sugar suggests. Check out mindbodygreen for more info.

Anyway here’s a yummy Saturday night treat recipe slightly adapted from I quit sugar

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Bounty bars

Coconut Filling:
2/3 coconut milk
3 tablespoons rice malt syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups desiccated coconut
Pinch of sea salt

Raw Chocolate Coating:
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
2 tablespoon rice malt syrup
Pinch of sea salt

To make the coconut filling, place the coconut milk, rice malt syrup and coconut oil and salt in a saucepan. Over a low heat, stir the ingredients together until combined. Mix through desiccated coconut.
Line a tray or container with baking paper. No need to use all of the tray, you can just roll up the baking paper on one side if it’s too big. I used a 13cm x 23cm tray. Press the coconut mixture into the pan so that it is about 1.5cm thick. Put in freezer for 20 min or so. It needs to be quite hard but not so hard that you can’t cut it.

Cut the coconut filling into bars, roughly 1cm x 4cm. Cool in the freezer until very cold (this will make the chocolate coating step easier).
For the chocolate: place all ingredients in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

I found that the easiest way to coat the bars with the chocolate was to dip them all individually in the melted chocolate. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate for 5-10 min. Then dip the chocolate bars for a second coat. Put in fridge for another 10 min before serving.
They can be frozen. The problem with these are that they are so yummy that it’s difficult not to eat all in one go…so if you like me struggle to apply self-control make half a batch and then share with as many people as possible!

My 10 favourite recipes from last year

So my white month started today , also my no sugar, no dairy and no gluten month. I know I only mentioned booze, the evil white stuff and dairy but what the heck if I’m going to be good I might as well be very good.
I’m probably also feeling inspired to be very good because I watched a fairly cheesy ( I cried a lot in the end ) but also very inspiring Australian/ American documentary last night called Fat, Sick & Nearly dead. It’s about a guy, Joe Cross, who goes on a 60 day juice fast to heal himself and take the one foot that he has in the grave out of the grave. He also meets another man with the same issues as himself. Can he convince him to start the fast as well? If you want some motivation for living a healthier life, this is a good film to watch.

Anyway, I have gone through the recipes that I wrote about on my blog last year to find out which ones do I keep coming back to over and over again! It always annoys me whenever tv-series do these episodes when the characters are just thinking back to things that has happened previously. I always get the feeling that the writers must have been very busy so they haven’t had time to write something new. And it’s sort of true for me as well, I have been very busy preparing for my meeting with the Neurologist tomorrow. I want to be armed to the teeth when I go there. But me being busy isn’t the only reason I have done a “10 favourite recipes” I also find it’s good to evaluate your year when it has come to an end so here we go;

My favourite 10

Peanut butter smoothie
This smoothie is fantastic! It’s a great combo of being that perfect healthy treat and a pre-sports drink, snack! It contains both short-term and long-term energy and is also quite filling. For me it has been more of a healthy treat but since I’m going to be doing more exercise this year……..

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Raw cacao, macadamia, goji and coconut balls
I’m hooked on these yummy little things. Full of anti-oxidants! They are lovely to eat straight out of the freezer so great to have handy if you are craving some chocolate.

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Roasted parsnip and garlic soup
My latest addition to my soup collection and I love it. It’s soo good for keeping those pesky flu-germs away given all the garlic. And delicious!

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Pineapple, ginger, chia seeds and coconut water smoothie
Refreshing and ideal before or after sports due to the coconut water. Also very good if your stomach is upset or as a hangover cure.

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Mozzarella, quinoa, peach, chilli and pomegranate salad
Haven’t made this in a while given how hard it is to find decent peaches this time of the year but it’s a great salad that I make lots of when good peaches are plentiful

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Macademia nut butter smoothie with mint dark chocolate covered macademia nuts
This is quite high in fat and calories so shouldn’t be eaten everyday but it’s a lovely, very nutritious and good for you treat. Waaaaay better for you than my old pals Ben & Jerry

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Fake sushi
A super nutritious and very easy way of making sushi.

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Beetroot goat cheese salad
Good enough to be eaten throughout the year. Perfect for lunch since beetroot is an energy booster

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Liquorice smoothie
A recipe from Ascension kitchen.com. Delicious and so good if you are feeling a bit stressed out

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Giving up coffee
Isn’t obviously a recipe but it’s one of the best things I did last year. Believe me next time I go to Sicily I won’t say no to that perfect espresso. But on a regular basis I feel more balanced, focused and calmer without it.

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