Rewind six years and I was a fresh faced fresher arriving in earnest at university. First time living away from home and I didn’t have A CLUE how to cook. No, seriously, I could just about to do baked beans on toast. In fact, on one particular occasion I managed to burn a jacket potato to a crisp in the microwave. The first ever dish I ate with my new flat mate (and now best friend), was a stir fry. And I didn’t even cook the stir fry!! From that moment on, stir fry was my staple meal and I genuinely ate it about 3-4 times a week! I was all about pre chopped veg, egg noodles and packet sauce though. Hey, I was a lazy student!IMG_3705
Stir fry has continued to be my comfort meal but since my culinary skills have expanded, I use fresh ingredients and a wide range of my favourite vegetables. I absolutely love this recipe – so many super food vegetables AND it’s gluten and dairy free! Your golden ingredient here are the Tamari sauce. It is extremely similar to soya sauce in flavour and texture and it still derives from the soy bean, but it’s wheat free. Winning! The sweet peppers also add colour and a sweet kick to the dish.
This recipe is so super simple! Perfect weekday dinner and still gorgeous if you reheat for lunch. It is gluten free, dairy free and vegan! This recipe could be LOFFLEX friendly if you replace some of the vegetables.
Ingredients  – Serves 2
2 garlic cloves – crushed/chopped finely
Thumb of ginger – finely chopped
3 tbsp Tamari sauce
Half a red chilli – finely chopped (more if you like it spicy!)
Brown rice noodles
Mixed sweet peppers (I like different colours but pick up what’s available!)
100g pack of asparagus – chopped in half
One large pak choi – finely chopped
Large handful of kale
Half a pack of mange tout
Half a bunch of coriander – roughly chopped for garnish
Method
Start by putting a pan of salted water on to boil – get this ready for your noodles.
On a chopping board, finely chop your garlic, ginger and red chilli, and put to one side. Then chop your asparagus in half, roughly chop your pak choi and slice your sweet peppers into slithers.
Once your water is boiling, add your noodles. Now heat a large glug of olive oil in a wok. Wait until your oil is hot and add your crushed garlic and ginger. Bring the heat down to a medium level and stir for a minute.

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Look at those colours!

Then add your mange tout, asparagus, red chilli and peppers. Give these a couple of minutes, before adding the pak choi. Stir these all together until the pak choi has started to whilt. Now add your tamari sauce and watch it sizzle! The kale comes last, as it cooks extremely fast. Stir everything together and let your veggies sizzle in the tamari sauce. Your noodles should be done by now, so drain these and add them to your wok. Stir through. If it’s looking a bit dry, add a little more tamari sauce.
 
 
Serve with roughly chopped coriander on top and some fresh chilli if you like it spicy. Delicious!
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The best thing about this recipe is versatility. Swap up the vegetables to your taste – in this dish I used green beans instead of asparagus and mange tout – still just as yum!
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Apart from cooking, my other major love in life is going out for dinner. In fact, not just dinner – make that lunch, brunch and breakfast too! Yes, I am that person who Instagrams all my meals out! IMG_2812I absolutely love eating out and it was obviously a bit of a shock when I first went out to dinner after the liquid diet to discover how little I could eat on restaurant menus. It was a complete minefield – especially when you are faced with a menu of which you can barely eat anything and the waiter/waitress doesn’t have a clue either!
In my first few meals out, I was going to my usual favourite food chains. You know, Pizza Express, Cote, Revolution Bar etc and my local pubs/cafes. At first I thought it would be easy enough to just have chips if all else fails – but soon learnt that sometimes chips have a gluten batter. WHAT? Chips in my eyes are just potato and oil!! And so my knowledge of vast food manufacturers expanded and I realised that there is a tonne of hidden ingredients in a multitude of foods you eat in restaurants. I mean really – why do we need a gluten batter on a potato?
I’m still off gluten, dairy, beans & lentils and most grains such as quinoa and buckwheat. So as you can see, options are slim! After several dinners out with friends and family where there was no other option other than sit there with a side salad, it became clear I had to scrutinise every menu in advance.
Mid May, I went out with my flatmates and I (rather bolshily) said I would research all our nearby eateries and make a decision about where we should eat. Enter Pho….
PHO
Price range: £
Pho is a Vietnamese chain restaurant. I was unbelievably happy to see that their entire menu was certified gluten free by the Coeliac Society, apart from their beers and chocolate cake (this is understandable!) Their menu is plentiful, so many amazing starters including lettuce and meat wraps, vegetable rice spring rolls, crispy prawn crackers and obviously the most famIMG_3092ous dish, Pho – a Vietnamese soup dish. I ordered vegetable spring rolls and the prawn ‘Bun’ noodles, which is vermicelli rice noodles with a lemongrass and chilli wok-fried topping. Served with fresh herbs, beansprouts, veggie spring roll and peanuts. It was amazing to be able to choose out of anything on the menu!
In excitement, I returned a week after. This time I tried to order a curry – turns out these are not dairy free, containing condensed milk. So if you’re dairy free as well as gluten free, its worth asking about the curry options. Would definitely recommend for a delicious but casual meal with lots of choice and it’s not a meal that’s going to break the bank!

 
PING PONG
Price range: £
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Keeping with the oriental theme, my next recent favourite is Ping Pong, a chain specialising in dim sum, cocktails and chinese tea. I was at some midweek after work drinks with a friend, when we started getting seriously hungry. IMG_3320Ping Pong was next door and initially, I just thought no. No way, there won’t be anything on the menu I can eat. I thought dim sum and thought instantly gluten. However, on further investigation, it turns out they have a
selection of gluten and dairy free options.Granted, the list wasn’t as expansive as Pho, but their menu was clearly marked. They even gave me a special ‘dairy free menu’, which also had gluten free options marked off. I was so impressed with this. Especially as I’ve been given so many ‘nutrition charts’ in restaurants where you have to work out each individual ingredient in each dish.  I went for the Seafood Dumpling and the Har Gau – so delicious!! Find Ping Pong chains across the UK.
 
MAE DELI
Price range: ££
Mae Deli is the brain child of Deliciously Ella – an extremely prominent health and food blogger. Deliciously Ella believes in a gluten free and vegan way of life and I loved creating some of the recipes in her book. So I was really excited to find that her deli was only twenty minutes from work! I ventured there on a day off in centraIMG_3233l London. The deli is small but the range of products on offer is amazing. They have a wide range of salads and hot dishes, all made of completely natural and whole ingredients. Although I have to be honest, it wasn’t this that got me excited. It was the MASSIVE RANGE OF CAKES! I hadn’t eaten a proper cake in eight weeks when I went in there and I completely zoned in on a strawberry and coconut cake, resembling a victoria sponge. There were numerous options on the drink list too – a whole smoothie bar in fact. I went for a matcha latte to go with my cake, as I’d never tried one and opted to have it with coconut milk. The cake was delicious, as was the latte. I even purchased a couple of cacao and nut energy balls for a snack later! I would definitely go back to get a takeaway salad or sample some of the hot dish for dinner. Be prepared to spend the dollar here though – a cake and a latte came to £8. Which in comparison to your usual coffee chains, is fairly pricy. At the moment there is only one deli in London – find the address here.
ETHOS FOODS
Price range: £££
IMG_3296 (1)On my exploration for gluten and dairy free dining, I found Ethos Foods. A completely meat free restaurant in the heart of central London, serving a wide range of dairy free, gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free options. The spread was amazing – more breathtaking than Mae Deli. Massive bowls of salads, humous, fresh dips, fresh bread, hot dishes and a HUGE STAND of sweet treats. It wasn’t just the quantity of options on show, it was the creativity of the dishes. Delicious sweet potato scotch eggs and miso aubergine, potato and pesto salad. DAIRY FREE FRESH PESTO! The cake stand was another level, full of energy balls, cookies and huge chocolate cakes. The idea is you take a plate it and load it with whatever you want. Although at £2.80 per 100g, it does work out quite expensive. I filled my plate and had a fresh juice, with the bill coming to £14.09. Having said that, Ethos is by far the favourite restaurant I’ve visited. It is worth the journey if you’re coming into London and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. YUMMMM!
 
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bryonyhopkins

I’ve been shamefully quiet here for the past week and for that I must apologise. I’ve just started a new job and I feel like I blinked and missed this week passing! I have however still managed to get in the kitchen and experiment with more gorgeous gluten free and dairy free delights – of which I will be sharing with you soon!
Apart from starting the new job, I have just got involved with a really exciting project. Some weeks ago, during the liquid diet fandango, I was invited to get in touch with the GCASFM team. gcasfmStanding for ‘Give Crohns a Slap From Me’, the project works to raise awareness and money for Crohns & Colitis UK through articles by contributing writers, as well as art, culture and music events. Founder, Matt Strutt, created GCASFM in a eureka moment during remission (he told me!) when he received 2000 UPS postal labels from a friend in the US. With a keen interest in graffiti and street art, he sent the stickers across the globe to artists, inviting them to create a sticker (‘a slap’) to raise awareness of Crohn’s Disease.
Two years on and the project has gone from strength to strength with many contributors. So I’m really excited to now be one of them! Have a read of my first article, just click here. The article also features an interview I did for BBC News two years ago – something I haven’t yet shared on this blog!
bryony bbc news
Keep your eyes peeled for more delicious recipes to come! See below for GASFM social media sites.
GCASFM online
GFASFM Twitter
GCASFM Facebook
GCASFM Insta
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bryonyhopkins

When I first started the LOFFLEX DIET diet, the first recipe in the recommended food booklet was potato cakes. I absolutely loved these and started having them for breakfast, lunch and even dinner! I also love sweet potatoes and wanted to crack a recipe which was similar. I adore the naughty crunch after you fry these – just like hash browns (which are another guilty pleasure of mine!) This is a lovely lunch or a light supper – the chunky avocado and tomato salsa providing a refreshing counterpart to the rostis.
This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and vegan! The rostis and spinach are recommended in LOFFLEX diet – watch out for the lime and the tomato skin in the salsa though if you are in the early stages of food reintroduction.
Ingredients – this makes about 3-5 rostis (depending how big your sweet potato is!) and a small dish of salsa. Double quantities for more!
For the rostis:IMG_3380
One large sweet potato
One clove of garlic
1 tbspn olive oil
Tbspn rice flour
Salt & pepper
For the chunky salsa:
2 ripe avocados
2 large ripe tomatoes
Juice of 1 lime
Bunch of coriander
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 small red chilli (add to taste)
Method 
We’re going to start with the salsa! Take your ripe tomatoes and chop the green tops off. Scoop out the pips (I do this as I don’t tolerate pips well, but feel free to keep them in) and chop into small pieces. Add to a bowl. Scoop out the avocado from the skin and chop into chunky medium pieces – add them to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the juice of your lime, large glug of olive oil, half your bunch of coriander (chopped), your red chilli if you like it spicy and season with salt and pepper. Mix together and your salsa is ready! Cover and put to one side.
Now for the rostis. The critical point here is to get rid of as much moisture as you can. Peel your large sweet potato and chop in half – it’s just easier to grate this way. Grab a large bowl and grate your sweet potato into a tea towel. Once you’ve grated, squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Now add to a bowl. Add a tablespoon of rice flour, a large glug of olive oil and a finely chopped clove of garlic. Season with salt and pepper before mixing together.IMG_3384
Heat olive oil in a frying pan until it is extremely hot. Gather together a ball of your sweet potato mixture and form a little patty. Add to the hot oil and repeat until you’ve used all your mixture. If you find that your mixture isn’t sticking together very well, add more olive oil. Fry your rostis for three minutes on each side (keep the heat high), until they are slightly charred on the outside. May need to fry for longer if your patty’s are thick. Try not to poke around with them too much so the mixture falls apart – just flip when one side is done!
Serve on a bed of spinach or rocket, with your salsa! Yummmmmm.
BRUNCH IT! Add an fried egg and place on top of the rostis to make this a gorgeous brunch. The runny yolk is delicious with the avocado and the sweet potato.
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bryonyhopkins

It’s been one whole month since I started eating again. ONE WHOLE MONTH! It’s alarming how fast the time has gone. It’s been a while since I’ve written a health update and some of you have been asking how I’m getting on.

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It’s been one whole month since this amazing jacket potato moment!

Well – I’m still introducing food! I have been quite brave in the past couple of weeks, introducing more meats and garnishes (hallelujah for garlic!) and even started testing eggs. I EVEN HAD A STEAK! It was totally delicious. My daily food diary has become a lot more diverse and I’m absolutely loving trying new things in the kitchen – I feel like I’ve found my calling! I have also enjoyed dining out at many of the lush dairy and gluten free cafes near work – central London perks! Look out for a blog post on this soon.
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Unbelievable start to the working week with this plate of loveliness from Ethos Foods. ALL vegan and gluten free – winning! 

I am of course, still 90% LOFFLEX and I haven’t even started trying more challenging food groups, such as gluten, dairy, oats, barley etc. I have been completely dairy free for over two years now, so I doubt I will even touch that in the introduction stage. I am so looking forward to working some more grains and breads into my diet though, if I can tolerate them. I love rice, but there are only so much rice products I can take!! (Rice Pasta, rice noodles, rice cakes, rice bread- rice rice!!) In my kitchen adventures I have found a few ways to make the LOFFLEX diet more interesting – and quickly! Click here for some simple LOFFLEX recipes.
Here’s what I’ve been eating on an average day so far:
0730 – Carton of elemental
0930 – Berry, spinach, peach and almond milk smoothie
1230 – 2 carob rice cakes (with a mint tea)
1330 – Lettuce, rice pasta, garlic, basil, prawns, spinach, roasted peppers and tomatoes.
1500 – Coconut curls
1700 – Carton of elemental
2000 – Crispy butterfly chicken, garlic greens and chive mash Click here for recipe.
2130 – Rice cake with soya/jam/honey
Rice making a strong feature as you can see – as well as the Elemental. It’s incredible how much my day to day life has benefited. I am no longer bloated, I am no longer in constant pain. I can move freely and wear jeans without worrying they’re going to be too tight on my stomach. These are all things I had considered to be ‘normal’ before – yet now, I don’t have to worry.
Unfortunately, there is a horribly harsh reality that I’m facing. Some of my most niggly symptoms still persist – we’re talking blood. Whilst I am basically pain free, there is still active Crohn’s Disease in my gut. To say I’m out of the woods would be a lie! And this is something I am still struggling to come to terms with – despite changing my entire lifestyle (conscious effort to sleep more, exercise more, drink less, eat lots of veggies!), it’s not budging immediately like I thought it would do.
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The elemental lives on!!!

I’ve also had to invest in a set of scales. Low fat living = weight loss. Weight loss + Crohns = bad news. Whilst I am secretly enjoying a flatter beach stomach, my consultant would scream if he saw I’d shed 6 lbs. (I am only little anyway!) In light of this, I also have to consciously make an effort to up my elemental intake to fill my body with more nutrients. Whilst my body continues to fight the disease (albeit, painlessly), I need as many nutrients as I can get!
 So what’s the plan for the active disease? Well – I don’t know yet. I am still taking a weekly shot of adlimumab and will continue to do so. At the beginning of the liquid diet the plan was to take Azathiaprine to keep me well in the long run. Unfortunately, this tablet contained a large amount of lactose that my stomach simply couldn’t tolerate. My next appointment with my consultant isn’t for a couple of weeks – so until then, I am keeping optimistic and hoping my new lifestyle will slowly work its magic. Whilst also reminding myself that I have made huge leaps and bounds since pre liquid diet, and improved my day to day life a thousand percent! GO ME!
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Luckily for me, I’m still well enough to socialise with my gorgeous friends. Things really cannot be that bad when you’re hanging out with beauties like this!

The last thing I wanted to address was something in the news earlier in the week – an article on ‘clean eating becoming a fad which is seen as cool’. Chef Ruth Rogers, founder of The River Cafe, worries young girls see clean eating as a ‘cool diet’ and will be excluding food groups without knowledge of what they’re doing and why.
Read full article Daily Telegraph article here.
I have to say, that even though I’ve taken on many elements of the clean eating/paleo diet, I do agree with some of the things she says. Excluding food groups shouldn’t be done because it’s seen as cool or ‘current’ – it’s about what feels right for you. It worries me that young girls might be afraid to eat a donut because ‘it’s not cool to eat gluten’. I would eat all the donuts in town if it didn’t give me awful pain!! It’s all about balance, moderation and getting enough nutrients from all your food groups. This includes carb and protein – as well as vital vitamins and minerals. Having said that, I absolutely adore my food and I am also enjoying the feeling of a pain free life. If clean eating is helping me get there, then I am not ashamed at all! Choosing what you eat is about feeling good and doing what is right for your body. NOT BECAUSE IT IS COOL.
Feel I got a lot off my chest there 🙂
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bryonyhopkins