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!

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

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So I was recently approached by Schwartz to review their ingredient ChatBot. The idea is you type in your ingredients and it generates recipes for you based on what you have in the fridge. I work a lot and sometimes am too exhausted to think about what I want for dinner and was up for giving it a go. At least I’ll learn some new recipes right?
I have to say; I was quite sceptical at first. I have previously used ingredient search websites and they have often given me extremely complicated recipes containing a number of ingredients I don’t have in the cupboard. However, I went into the trial with an open mind and as soon as I typed my first ingredients into the ChatBot on Facebook, I quickly had more faith in the tool; the responses were extremely quick. Here’s my week cooking with the ChatBot…
Monday: So the ingredients I typed in for my first evening cooking with the Schwartz ChatBot were salmon, broccoli, pepper and courgette. I entered the paprika for the spice and it generated over 400 recipes for me! The function to flick through them within Facebook was really effective and I selected the third recipe in the list – salmon skewers with spicy tomato sauce. The ChatBot offered the option to send it to my email, which worked really well and meant I could bookmark the recipe in my emails for later in the evening when I was ready to cook. Recipe I used is here.
The first thing that struck me was that there were obviously other ingredients needed in the recipe aside from those entered. Luckily on the way back from work I went via the supermarket, so could scoop up the extra bits I needed. The recipe was extremely simple and easy to prepare – but did also rely on you having a food processor to make the sauce, which could be problematic. This particular recipe also skipped a fairly important step regarding how you actually cook the skewers (bake/fry/BBQ). As someone who regularly cooks, I made the call to pop them in the oven for 16 minutes and they came out beautifully succulent and tasty. However, if you didn’t have basic culinary knowledge, that would have thrown you a little.

Schwartz Recipe 1.2

The finished product!

I served the salmon skewers with the spicy sauce and they were delicious. I had never created or consumed salmon on skewers before and I really liked the olive oil and parsley coating.  Although I definitely wouldn’t have the tomato sauce again – it came out really warm and liquidy.  However, I did eat the leftover salmon skewers on a bed of spinach for lunch the next day and the salmon was still really tasty cold. The whole process, including prep, took me around 30 minutes. I would definitely cook this again and adapt the recipe for future consumption.
 Wednesday: On this occasion I didn’t have time to go to the supermarket to pick up anything extra for the recipe, so I was purely relying on the recipe and what I had in the cupboards! The ingredients I entered were sausage, peppers, tomatoes and paprika for the spice. Again, it gave me over 100 recipes and this time I had to flick through a few more, to ensure I had the majority of the ingredients. I chose Chorizo and Tomato pasta, after scanning the recipe and my cupboards. I replaced the chorizo with the sausages and luckily, I had the tomato sauce ingredients to hand too. See the recipe I used here.
The recipe was very simple and clear. I added a little garlic to the homemade tomato pasta sauce and I cooked up gluten free pasta to accompany it. Dinner was ready in less than 15 minutes and was very tasty. To be honest, this is the kind of simple dinner I have quite regularly, so I didn’t feel any new dinner inspiration.

Schwartz Recipe 2

Simple sausage pasta with tomato sauce and peppers

Friday: I was particularly tired after this day at work, so I was really looking for something tasty, comforting and quick! I really adore prawns but often cook them in the same way. So to stimulate some new recipe ideas, I kept it simple for the ChatBot and entered prawns, chilli and tomatoes. It gave me over 300 recipes and I went for the third – Thai Prawn Curry. The recipe is here.
I did go to the supermarket to pick up extra ingredients – mainly the Schwartz 7 Thai Spice for the dish. This recipe was extremely simple and took about twenty minutes altogether. I served with fresh lime wedges and coriander on a bed of coconut rice, and thoroughly enjoyed the dish. I put the curry I didn’t eat in the freezer, meaning I now have a delicious meal to defrost when I’m short on time. This was a delicious and quick thai curry – but obviously didn’t beat a recipe created with fresh paste.
Essentially, The Bot is perfect for people on the go and needing recipe inspiration. Sometimes I stare blankly at my fridge ingredients, willing them to do something interesting and different with minimal effort from me when I’m exhausted. The Bot did take all thinking out of the equation, but does require a cupboard full of basic ingredients and some culinary experience.

Schwartz Recipe 3.3

Thai red prawn curry

If you want to check it out, visit Schwartz FB page and type in your ingredients in a Facebook message. The rest is easy!

*This is not a sponsored post. It was a genuine culinary experiment!*

BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

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Working, whilst keeping up with life admin and juggling other life demands in general makes it extremely hard to eat healthy on the go. Never fear – I have you covered! Below are some extremely simple and healthy on the go lunches that will keep you full. The key idea here is preparation – and mass preparation at that! You can make up at least two or three batches of the good stuff below, and keep in a Tupperware in the fridge. (I told you organisation is key… as is actually remembering to take it out of the fridge in the morning!!)
On the go salads
I love a filling salad, and if I’m organised can make two or three at a time for my weekday lunches at work. I’ve formulated my go to salad combination – some kind of carb, a veggie filled salad, an animal protein (optional) and a sprinkle for crunch! Dressings also optional!
For the carb: New potatoes with a little olive oil and chives. Try rice mixed with spinach until it wilts, cold pasta with pesto or a little cheese or blanched noodles. Cold roasted sweet potato or other root vegetable also works well – butternut squash, parsnip etc. And not forgetting super grains! Quinoa, buckwheat, couscous and bulgur-wheat can all pad out your salad.
For the salad: lettuce, cucumber, avocado, beetroot, green beans (blanched and served cold), cold peas, sundried tomatoes olives, tomato peeled and a little fresh herb. Basil is my favourite.
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Protein: Optional. I like to butterfly my chicken breast and fry until crispy, then slice onto my salad. Or find yourself some juicy king prawns. Crayfish is also a yummy addition. Also try bacon cut it into bits, or some lovely honey roasted ham. Tofu is another favourite – which I’ve used in this snap!
Sprinkle:I like a bit of crunch to top my salad. Go for pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, croutons or if you’re feeling really naughty, I sometimes sprinkle on crunched up tortilla chips!
Dressing:I would advise you to pop this into a separate container to avoid the salad getting soggy. One my favourite dressings is simple – teaspoon of tahini, olive oil and lemon juice. If you don’t have time to prepare a dressing, you can always pop a lime wedge in with your salad and squeeze over before you eat!
Rice cakes can be jazzy 
Rice cakes & corn cakes currently make up a large chunk of my diet. ricecakesbhThey are so versatile, cheap and easily digestible. They are also LOFFLEX – hurrah! Here are a few of my favourite rice cake combinations – easy to stick in a Tupperware for a light lunch or snacks.

  • Smashed avocado and basil – Mash avocado and basil with a touch of olive oil in a bowl and top your rice cake. By far my favourite topping.
  • Hummus & roasted jarred peppers – Either dip the rice cake straight into the hummus, or spread on top with some roasted jarred peppers.
  • Tomato and basil – Get yourself a big plum tomato and pit of all seeds. Chop into small pieces and pile on your rice cake with basil. So simple but yummy.

Frittata
Frittata is so easy to make and lasts for 2-3 days, so is perfect to prep, stick in a Tupperware and eat for quick and easy lunches! The best part of cooking a frittata is you can literally fill it with whatever you have in the fridge – so it’s perfect for using up leftovers and old veg! Here is a super simple way to cook up a frittata.
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Ingredients

  • 8 – 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (or milk alternative, almond milk works well)
  • Cooked vegetables (literally anything goes here – peas, green beans, onion, peppers, asparagus)
  • If you’re a meat eater, try some bacon, chorizo or even ham
  • Salt & pepper and some dried herbs (whatever your preference is – chives, oregano, thyme)
  • Fresh herbs if you fancy – I like a little bit of basil

Beat together the eggs with the milk, dried herbs and salt and pepper. Whisk until fully combined in a large bowl and then add your cooked veggies. Meanwhile, get a shallow medium sized saucepan on the heat with some butter/coconut oil/olive oil on a medium heat. Add the egg and vegetable mixture so it fully covers the pan.
Meanwhile, heat the grill to 180C. Let the frittata cook on the hob for around 4-5 minutes, or until the edges go golden and cook. Now transfer to the grill for 5 minutes to cook the top.
Slice up and serve hot with salad or separate into Tupperware’s and enjoy for a quick and filling lunch!
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

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Long gone are the days where we all have time to sit down and properly enjoy breakfast on a weekday. I am finding that my breakfasts are becoming increasingly flighty and I know I am not the only one! Sometimes I find myself eating a nut bar for breakfast and I’m ALWAYS so dissatisfied and hungry after about an hour!
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These are a few of my favourite and easy on the go breakfasts. Prepped in advance, these can be eaten at your desk, in the car, on the train – well; they can be eaten pretty much anywhere! make sure you scroll to the bottom for the most versatile and delicious recipe of them all!
 Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seeds are an absolute powerhouse of goodness and so its no surprise they are classified a superfood. High in zinc, calcium, iron and many other vitamins, this breakfast is an excellent way to kick start the day. Prep this the night before and store in the fridge for the morning!
3 tablespoons chia seeds
250ml almond milk (although any other nut milk would work!)
1 tbspn date syrup or honey
1 tspn cinnamon
Suggestions for the topping: nut butter, desiccated coconut, fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds, dried nuts and fruit

This couldn’t be simpler. Mix the chia seeds with the milk in a jar or airtight container. Add the date syrup or honey and the cinnamon. Mix together and then leave in the fridge overnight (or for 8 hours until it’s set). Top with whatever you fancy in the morning – I like fruit and desiccated coconut!

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Overnight oats to the left and chia seed pudding on the right

Overnight Oats
Another super easy breakfast that can be prepped and stored in the fridge overnight for grab and go in the morning. Try this super simple base recipe and adapt the toppings!
100g of coconut yogurt
150g rolled oats
150ml of coconut milk
1 tbspn chia seeds (optional)
2 tbspn of sweetener (maple syrup, honey, date syrup)
1 tspn of cinnamon or ginger

Combine all the ingredients together and put in an airtight container in the fridge. Leave for 4 hours or preferably overnight!
Top with: granola, fresh fruit, dried fruits and nuts, nut butter, coconut or jam!
Granola
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Granola will take a little longer to prep but it is so worth it to have this in the fridge. Once baked and cooled, granola can pretty much go with anything. Can be served with yogurt in a Tupperware to take to work or even on top of your chia seed pudding or overnight oats! Here is a super simple granola recipe to get you going.
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2 tspn coconut oil
125ml maple syrup
2 tbspn honey
1 tspn vanilla extract                                                                            
100g macadamia nuts
200g rolled oats
50g pumpkin seeds

100g pecans

100g cashew nuts
100g dried fruit
50g flaked coconut

Heat the oven to about 180C.
Mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a large bowl. Tip in all the ingredients, apart from the coconut and dried fruit and mix.
Tip the granola across a baking tray (use two if need be).Bake for 20 minutes and then add the coconut and dried fruit. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until beautifully golden brown (and your kitchen smells divine!)DON’T LET THEM BURN! Keep checking and turning in the oven whilst cooking. Let cool and store in an airtight container. Serve with fresh fruit or yogurt!
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

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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

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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.

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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.
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