Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of Food, Food Dairy Co

The gorgeous pages from the Food Diary Co. Scroll down to find my 10% off discount code – exclusive for you guys!

‘Why don’t you start a food diary Bryony? You might actually be able to see what is making a difference rather than speculating’. That was my Mum, talking to me after I had my sixth open stomach surgery. I was at home undergoing a mega recovery and felt frustrated I was still in pain and discomfort. With nothing else I do, I started a meticulous food diary, which went on to dramatically change my quality of life.

That was back in 2015 and so when Laura from the amazing Food Diary Co got in touch with to share her amazing food diary, I was made up. And also in disbelief. It is so useful and life changing to document what you eat and your symptoms, that someone has actually made a business out of it? What a brilliant thing. At the beginning of the this summer, with my new diary, I started documenting my lifestyle and diet again and just as it did before, I found some hard to ignore patterns. (Scroll down for my discount code to buy your diary!)

But before I get to that, let’s rewind back to 2015. It was the first time I had even thought about documenting my diet and my symptoms and I didn’t really know where to start. I was first diagnosed with Crohns Disease when I was four years old and nobody had ever suggested to me that this might be a good idea. Which seems mad now even three years on – but back then it was a bit of a breakthrough. I started by simply writing down what I ate and rated my pain out of ten. I thought it might be quite poignant to show one of my diary entries, which I dug out of the archives below.

A Belly Full of Food, Bryony Hopkins

You can see dramatically how much my pain changes when I had a drop of milk!

Even just with this very basic method, I was able to deduce that dairy was causing me major problems. My pain shot up to 8 or 9 out of 10 on days when I had milk in my tea, a slice of cheese or even milk chocolate. When you see changes like that, it becomes incredibly hard to continue as normal. I went through a similar process in 2016 to discover gluten was having a similar effect and since I cut them both out – I’ve never looked back, and I’ve never documented what I was eating since.

So when I received my diary, it seemed like a no brainer to start again. The most brilliant thing about The Food Diary Co, is the ability to document SO much more than just your diet. Like so many other people with gut conditions, I am massively impacted by many lifestyle factors outside of my diet. A busy day can impact my stomach. A run of late shifts, lack of exercise or drinking alcohol, can all impact my stomach. Even just a bad nights sleep – that can impact my stomach! And it was brilliant to have a place to jot all this down in my new Food Diary. It became almost like a journal for me – as I was able to write down so much more than just my pain.

A Belly Full of Food, Bryony Hopkins

You can see here the layout of the page, where you can jot down everything from mood, sleep, stress, drinks, medicine and exercise.

Having a place where I could write down everything from sleep, drinks, stress and medicine essentially gave me place where I could actually identify patterns. I’m sure I’m the same as many in the fact that I am very time poor – with a demanding job, a busy social life and juggling lots of commitments constantly. It seems strange saying it out loud, but sometimes I genuinely can’t remember what I ate for breakfast – let alone how it made me feel! It actually became incredibly refreshing to see how I was doing every day – and be able to look back on it, see it in black and white and absorb the patterns appearing.

Living with a condition like Crohns Disease is a minefield – every day is different and sometimes in the fog of fatigue, it can be hard to see the wood from the trees. From looking back at every entry over a month and then looking at the ‘month’ round up page at the back, some of my triggers became clear. I am majorly impacted by stress, lack of sleep, alcohol and unfortunately my one love, coffee. My summer with The Food Diary Co has also made it pretty clear that I can’t do oats in large quantities and I can’t do soya milk everyday. Who knows why this is the case and I am still in the process for hunting for other patterns for other niggles. What I do know now though is that I have the knowledge and tools to make better decisions for my health – based on my scrawly biro writings in my Food Diary. I’ve started reserving my energy so I don’t get burnt out and I always make sure I get 8 hours sleep. These lifestyle changes have essentially made it easier for me to put one foot in front of the other.

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of Food

A veggie pasta packed with goodness

So what top tips would I give if you are starting a diary for the very first time? Throw everything at it and literally write down everything you can possibly think of. Even if it doesn’t seem relevant – jot it down. What this diary is amazing for, is making you see that everything you do has an impact on how you feel. I will even write down ‘cried today about X’ or ‘felt really happy about Y’, because I know my mood is detrimental to my wellbeing. I’ll also write down what medication I took, as well as how much water I’ve drunk. I asked Laura, the fabulous founder of The Food Diary Co, what her advice was.

‘I would say firstly, congratulations! You’re starting a journey to taking control of your gut and health again, and I am so excited for you! Secondly, be sure to check out our blog on the website because we have lots of really great posts that can help you, including our big bumper guide to using a food diary (if you want a downloadable copy of your own to keep, be sure to sign up to the newsletter for your free download!), and the 8 ways I used my food diary to heal post. That one is all about the habits I formed to help me successfully keep a food diary.’

I hope this post has given you some food for thought on starting on a food diary journey, I would love to hear your thoughts. Better yet – to get you kick started you can use my exclusive discount code for 10% off a beautiful Food Diary Co! 

Use the code ‘BELLY10’ for 10% off at the check out – and get in there fast! The code ends on 31st October 2018. Click here to buy.

Cannot wait to hear what you think!

img_6295

** I was gifted the diary for free, but was not paid for this post. All reviews completely honest.**

bryonyhopkins

Scarlett Green | Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of Food

Last Thursday, my fellow gluten free blogger Alex, aka The Gluten Free Suitcase, and I were treated the most magnificent brunch at the brand new branch of the Daisy Green Collection, a chain of feel-good Aussie eateries.

Scarlett Green | Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of Food

Almond milk latte, my fave

Scarlett Green, based in the heart of Soho, welcomed us with open arms on Thursday morning and as we browsed the menus, it quickly became clear how brilliant they were at catering for those with allergies. The choice was eclectic and every dish was clearly marked as to whether it was gluten free, dairy free or vegan – and a special note on each for dishes they could switch up for us and make allergy friendly. Everything from the full ‘Aussie’ breakfast, to yogurt and granola and delicious smoked salmon and eggs, this menu had something for everyone!

Scarlett Green | Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of Food

Bondi Breakfast, Coconut Bread and Salmon Royale.

For anyone who is gluten AND dairy free, you know how much a nightmare the double whammy can be. Thankfully Scarlett Green had us covered, and it took us a great deal of time to choose what we wanted! First up of course, was a coffee. Alex opted for a flat white, whilst I enjoyed my favourite almond milk latte (soya milk also available). The coffee came quick, which meant we could peruse the menu whilst getting a quick caffeine hit.

Scarlett Green | Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of Food

The lemon cashew hollandaise was to DIE for.

After much deliberation, Alex went for the full Bondi Breakfast, consisting of soft gluten free bread, bacon, sausages, beans, avocado, poached eggs and mushrooms. After seeing there was a Salmon Royale option which could be made gluten AND dairy free (yes my friends, a dairy free HOLLANDAISE!), I had to oder it, served with a side of avocado. On the menu was also sweet french toast with berries and greek yogurt, which could be replaced with coconut yogurt to make it dairy free friendly. Unfortunately they didn’t have much coconut yogurt left, but that didn’t stop them from creating something unbelievably stunning, especially for us!

Scarlett Green | Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of Food

If you’ve never tried a turmeric latte, I would greatly recommend it! Delicious, and a great caffeine free alternative to coffee.

Along with the two turmeric lattes we ordered to wash the meal down, we were served divine gluten and dairy free coconut cake with fresh mango, berry coulis and a drizzle of soya and coconut yogurt. A side of maple syrup was served in a gorgeous rose gold pourer and although I don’t normally have a sweet tooth at breakfast time, I adored this.

Scarlett Green | Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of Food

Coconut bread, which you can buy in store to take away, with coconut and soya drizzle, edible flowers, mango and berry coulis. Divine.

The gluten and dairy free Salmon Royale was something else. They used lemon and cashew to create a vegan alternative for the hollandaise, and with soft poachies, delicious smoked salmon and soft gluten free bread, I was in brunch heaven.

If that wasn’t enough to book yourself a table at Scarlett Green, they also had fresh shakshouka, courgette fritters, smashed avo on toast and a ‘fancy bacon roll’. They even offer a bottomless brunch at the weekend – absolutely winning.

Scarlett Green | Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of Food

One happy girl!

The Daisy Green collection has branches all over London – so you are spoilt for choice. The atmosphere is relaxed and the venue’s are stunning, yet laid back. Also menus for lunch and dinner.

If there is three words I would use to describe this place it would be HOT ON ALLERGIES. And let’s face, that’s all we really want!

Scarlett Green is located on Noel Street. Book a table in advance to prevent disappointment.

See my ultimate GF and DF guide to brunches in London on the Metro here.

BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

 

bryonyhopkins

A few weeks ago in the height of one of our sunny spells, I took a trip down to St Johns Wood to see the newly renovated Panzer’s Deli, a delicious delicatessen and grocery store.  It’s just had a million pound makeover, with a coffee bar, sushi bar and shelves of absolute treats.

The outside of Panzer's Deli, A Belly Full of Bryony

The outside of Panzer’s Deli looking gorgeous in the sunshine

Stepping inside felt like I was entering somewhere special and as a foodie, I was overwhelmed to find so many items I hadn’t even seen more. From white asparagus, to round courgettes and pumpkin tomatoes, the colours literally burst off the shelves.  The deli imports from 80 countries across the world, with an entire row dedicated to Italian goods for example and products you might find in the US or Scandinavia.

Almond milk latte, A Belly Full of Bryony, Panzer's Deli

Iced almond milk latte and all the summer vibes in Panzer’s

I picked up an almond milk iced latte, before browsing the store, finding so many sumptuous products. The Deli’s pièce de résistance is the smoked salmon, of which they have an entire deli counter with all the different cuts. Not only that, but also whole counter of fresh salads, meats and sandwiches for the impending lunchtime rush.

Fresh smoked salmon, A Belly Full of Bryony, Panzer's Deli

Fresh smoked salmon counter

Panzer's Deli

Lunchtime rush, a spread of fresh salads and sandwiches

And I haven’t even mentioned the cakes! Created by the chefs which work in-store, I tried delicious dairy and gluten free macarons with a jam filling and a sweet marshmallow rice crispy cake. Literally in heaven!

gluten and dairy free macarons, Panzer's Deli

Gluten and dairy free macarons with a sticky jam filling – divine

Panzer's Deli

Macaron heaven!

After browsing the shelves, I was inspired to create a summer dish using some of the more unusual ingredients found in store.

A round courgette, which we use further down in the recipe!

Spot the white asparagus amongst the bright coloured fruit

This summer smoked salmon and lemon spaghetti is the most perfect supper for a hot evening, and the perfect stomach filler! You can buy all of the ingredients for this dish in Panzer’s Deli.

Serves 2. Gluten and dairy free.

Smoked salmon and lemon spaghetti, gluten free, dairy free

The perfect summer dish, gluten and dairy free smoked salmon spaghetti dish.

Ingredients 

1 red chilli

1 lemon

1 round courgette (or 1 normal courgette)

Bunch white asparagus (or normal asparagus)

120g smoked salmon

100g vegan feta cheese such as Violife, or feta cheese

250g gluten free or normal spaghetti

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Zest the whole lemon, peel the courgette into ribbons and de-seed the red chilli, slicing it up very small. Chop up the tops of the asparagus into bite size pieces. Cut the feta into small chunks, you will crumble this later.
  2. Put the spaghetti on to boil in a salted pan and cook per the packet instructions.
  3. Put a small frying pan on a medium heat and add a glug of oil. Once getting warm, add the chilli and half the lemon zest. Now add the asparagus and stir for 2 mins.
  4. Now add the courgette ribbons and mix together for 4 minutes. (Note: white asparagus much chunkier than normal asparagus, so if you are using green asparagus reduce the timings on here by about a minute)
  5. Drain your pasta and add a glug of olive oil, pepper and ¼ of the lemon zest. Mix together and then add the courgette, asparagus, lemon and chilli mixture.
  6. Now crumble the feta or vegan alternative into the pasta mix, it should melt quite quickly with the heat of the pasta whilst maintaining some chunks. Mix together.
  7. Serve on your plate and then top with your beautiful smoked salmon. Season again with black pepper and top with the rest of the lemon zest.

What I love about this dish is the freshness of the lemon zest. It just works gorgeously with the pasta, olive oil and smoked salmon.

Dairy and gluten free smoked salmon pasta

Who fancies a bit of that!

Would love to know if you give this a try or what else you find if you visit Panzer’s Deli! See A Belly Full of Food a the top of the menu for more dinner recipes.

BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

bryonyhopkins

This blog post has been in the pipeline for a few weeks now. Well, since my gastro consultant told me for the first time in my entire life that I’m in ‘clinical remission’ from my Crohns Disease. Big announcement. Big two words – two words I wasn’t expecting to hear, AT ALL! (See below for what remission means)
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be in remission and how my body feels and I think it’s important I share this. Let’s rewind quickly first though… why was being told I’m in ‘clinical remission’ such a big deal – yet such a surprise at the same time? I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease at the age of four – which now at the age of 25, is a staggering 21 years ago.

IMG_2726

Loving the liquid diet life back in April 2016…

I recently candidly told my story for the first time for World IBD Day, which was featured in the Huffington Post. You can see the article here.So 21 years of fighting, dealing with medication, being cut open time and time again… until spring 2016 when I found myself in the middle of ANOTHER FLARE. All I could think was geez, not this s**t again.I was told outright I needed to go on high dose steroids to get things under control and I just couldn’t do it. I made the decision to go on a four-week liquid diet – which turned out to be a massive turning point in my entire Crohns journey. You can read about my liquid diet journey here.
So fast forward a year, and I’m sitting opposite my consultant who has seen me through thick and thin since I was 17. He’s a straight talking man, but a man I know has a lot of time for me (it’s a personal challenge every single appointment to make him crack a smile! I succeed every time, obvs). We run through the usual things and out of nowhere, he says ‘well, it looks like to me you’re in clinical remission’. There was a long pause, until I said, ‘well, nobody has ever said that to me before!’ Cue the smile from Doc and he said I’m by far the healthiest he’s ever seen me. He let me go after agreeing to reduce my adlimumab injections to every fortnight and told me to enjoy the summer.
I walked out the hospital in a complete state of disbelief. CLINICAL REMISSION – WHAT THE F**K? How did that happen? How did I not even see that coming? I still suffer stomach pain, bloating and fatigue. Whilst I’m not passing blood, I still have to manage my lifestyle to contain my symptoms. I evaluated the past year since the liquid diet and it finally dawned on me. This remission isn’t a result of adlimumab , a drug I have taken for over 7 years now. This remission was a result of me changing my diet and lifestyle. As I travelled back into London from my specialist hospital in Oxford I thought – I BLOODY DID THIS. And how have I gone 21 years without anyone telling me to evaluate my diet and lifestyle sooner?!? I felt weirdly elated yet frustrated that I could have done something a lot sooner if I had known what impact a year of change would make.
IMG_8266
I continue to feel extremely lucky that I’ve reached this point in my life, but I still won’t be lured into feeling secure. I have had a few people say to me now ‘oh you’re in remission? Well brilliant, you’re alright forever now then!’ Well no, that’s not quite how it works. As we all know, IBD (I’m talking Crohns & Colitis here) is a chronic condition and can rear its ugly head at any time. A fact that I’ve been conditioned to never forget (although I wish I could!) Additionally, being in ‘remission’ doesn’t mean I no longer feel pain, bloating and extreme fatigue. I still have to very carefully manage my life and diet. Eating one thing that disagrees with me, being too exhausted or stressed can quickly send me in a little downward spiral. Self-management and self-care doesn’t stop at the phrase ‘clinical remission’… the journey never ends!
Having said that, the biggest lesson I have learnt is that the medical professionals don’t always know EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the incredible support from my Gastro team at the John Radcliffe in Oxford, but it was my decision to do the liquid diet and make a lifestyle overhaul. That being said, it’s not always easy and there may be a lot of trial and error. What I’m saying is try different things, do your research and know that you can make a difference to your illness.
And for me – I’m going to live life the fullest and continue sharing the journey with you!

IMG_6942

Sunning in Marbella with my favourite people and smiling because I can!

**So what is ‘remission’? Achieving remission means stopping symptoms as well as inflammation. Another way to think of remission is as a span of time when your disease becomes inactive or quiet.**
As always, I’d love to hear what you think.
Follow me on Instagram here. And on Twitter here.
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

bryonyhopkins

With easter round the corner, I’m sharing a super simple recipe for vegan and gluten free chocolate truffles. They are sooooo delicious and decadent and the best part is, you can customise them to your taste! This recipe makes around 20-25 truffles and they keep in an airtight container for weeks! Make ahead and it makes a perfect easter treat <3

IMG_4986

INGREDIENTS

For the truffles:

  • 300g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 240ml light coconut milk
  • Teaspoon of peppermint/orange/vanilla/almond/coffee extract (I personally love peppermint flavour!)

For the topping:

  • Cacao or carob powder
  • Desiccated coconut
  • Chopped up nuts

 METHOD
1. Break the chocolate up into little pieces in a large bowl. Add the coconut oil and coconut milk to the bowl. Mix together and transfer to a saucepan. Heat the mixture on a low heat, until the chocolate is fully melted and combined with the coconut oil and coconut milk.
2. Remove the warm mixture of coconut milk, coconut oil and chocolate from the stove and transfer back into the bowl.  Add your desired extract and gently mix together.

IMG_4985

It doesn’t matter if they are random shapes and sizes – adds character!

3. Leave the mixture to stand and cool down for at least 30 minutes to an hour – until it is completely cool.
4. Cover the bowl in cling wrap and transfer to the fridge. Leave to cool for four hours – or even overnight.
5. When the mixture is nearly set, remove from the fridge. If it’s been in overnight, you may have to allow the mixture to warm for 15-20 minutes.
6. Now the fun part! Get yourself a few bowls and fill with your desired toppings. Use a teaspoon to scoop small amounts of the chocolate truffle mixture and roll them into balls in your hands. Now roll them in your favourite toppings! I personally love cacao powder, chopped nuts and desiccated coconut.
7. Repeat until your mixture is finished! Store the truffles in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy after a dinner… or even with a cup of tea! 🙂
Really would love to hear what you think of these! Get in touch 🙂 I’m on Twitter @BryonyEHopkins or Instagram @abellyfullofbryony.
img_1729

bryonyhopkins