Amigos! I’ve been on the prowl again for more delicious vegan, vegetarian and gluten free places to eat in the capital and these really are delish. Due to working ridiculous hours in the office (it’s been a busy news time!), I have been having to eat away from home more than I would usually prefer – but with these simple eateries right on my doorstep, I have little to complain about!
Squirrel
Price: £

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The interior is such a winner at Squirrel – love these barrel dispensers of herbal tea

Based about 2 minutes from South Kensington, Squirrel has a casual salad bar vibe with the most amazing treehouse interior. When I arrived to meet a couple of friends for dinner, the place was packed out for what looked like a health and fitness talk – which just goes to demonstrate what kind of place Squirrel is! The best part of this place is having the ability to build your own salads and warm bowls – although the menu they have put together with names like ‘Kale Yeah’ and ‘Prawn Star’ is definitely enticing! As it was dinner time in autumn I was in the mood for a warming meal, so went for the Miami Rice, which was delicious. I washed the meal down with a turmeric latte (my first ever!) and a gluten free, vegan rocky road – which again was very tasty. Unfortunately, my friends ordered two turmeric lattes which didn’t tastevquite right, and the waiter in this instance left little to be desired in terms of customer service – but in the end the lattes were swapped with green tea. Despite this, I would still definitely return – and for £7 a plate, I think the price is unbeatable for that quality organic produce.
The Good Life Eatery
Price: ££
The Good Life Eatery is a much loved favourite of many London food bloggers and once I visited, I understood why. With a few stores dotted across central London, I went to the cafe in Sloane Avenue – just a short walk from South Kensington tube station (other way to Squirrel!). This place has a great menu – a combo of raw dishes and warming bowls. I went with a friend, who went for the classic Good Life Salad, packed with raw goodies, whilst I got the veggie ‘In a Hurry Curry’.
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Delicious spread at Good Life Eatery

We ordered at the counter and then found ourselves a little spot in the compact cafe. As a matcha latte lover – I couldn’t resist ordering one to see if it matched up to my favourite Kin lattes. The matcha was great – but I have to say, I didn’t need it as my curry was extremely filling. Packed with flavour and chunky pieces of butternut squash, aubergine on a quinoa base meant I was extremely full by the end. My friend loved her Goof Life Salad – amazing colours on the plate and so many elements to enjoy. From the gluten free crackers to the kale, goji berries and roasted sweet potato. I wanted to order a cake for after – but I was too full! Would definitely recommend for dinner or a big hearty, vegan lunch. Would love to return to sample brunch!
SaladPride, Neals Yard
Price: £
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Best turmeric latte I’ve ever tasted!

I found SaladPride by complete and utter fluke – and I’m so glad I did! I was killing time after work and before meeting a friend when I stumbled into Neals Yard near Seven Dials, Covent Garden. It started absolutely pouring down and I sought refuge in this little cafe. As I walked in I saw the menu say turmeric latte and I knew I was onto a winner. I ordered one of those and then saw a range of small square cheesecakes in the fridge next to it – and low and behold, they were all dairy and gluten free! Despite the fact I was about to meet my friend for dinner, I ordered a chocolate hazelnut cheesecake on recommendation of a passing customer and sat down to enjoy them. The cheesecake was amazing and the turmeric latte was the best I’ve tasted. I was only in there for less than half an hour but have since discovered on twitter that the owner has written two cookbooks (Breakfast Love and Salad Love) and the cafe does a range of food from breakfast through to dinner. I will definitely be returning to taste some of that!
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bryonyhopkins

 

Stress is not caused by the environment, but by our reaction to the environment.

This is by far the most important and poignant message that I learnt recently when I embarked on a four-day meditation course.
I know what you’re thinking… meditation? How stressed must you be to resort to meditation??! The truth is, I’m not particularly stressed. Well, of course, I am stressed, but I’m no more stressed than Billy the postman or Leila who served me a latte this morning. We are all stressed. We all take on stress from our own lives and then feed off each other’s stress. It really is one big stress cycle. So when I signed up for meditation, my primary reason wasn’t to de-stress me (although, that has been an added bonus). My main reason was to further explore and understand the power of the mind over the body. For me stress= Crohns flare. The correlation was so alarmingly obvious; it became something I couldn’t ignore anymore.
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Throwback ten years ago, to my fourteen year old self, and I actually learnt how to meditate alongside my paediatric specialist, Dr Sullivan. I was extremely poorly. I had been on every drug under the sun and my body was still raging with inflammation. Major life altering surgery was looming and amongst this, Dr Sullivan suggested I tried meditating. I have to be honest – I didn’t get it. I was a teenager and I was full of hormones! Despite this, I went to a meditating school in London where I learnt the technique but I really couldn’t get on board with it. I wasn’t ready or prepared to understand.
Looking back now, I couldn’t be more grateful for what he did. He planted the seed, which has grown as I’ve settled into my life (ie turned into an adult). It niggled and I couldn’t get rid of it – I knew there must be some value in meditating and I had to go back and find out more. So I signed up for a four day basic meditation course at the London Centre of Meditation to see what I was missing out on.

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The door that welcomed me to my meditation course

 
The technique I learnt was ‘vedic meditation’ – originating from ‘Ayreveda’, one of the oldest holistic bodies of knowledge in the world. Vedic meditation originates from India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. The theory of this type of meditation is deep rooted and practiced by repeating a personal mantra silently in the mind. As soon as I sat down on day one, I knew I had to forget what I had previously learnt ten years ago. The technique was different, the philosophy was different and I had to give this a go with a completely open mind.
Jillian, our meditation coach got us meditating on day one. We each learnt an individual mantra in private and then returned as a group to practice our first meditation together. It’s hard to articulate the feeling of that first twenty-minute practice, but it was blissful. Whilst thoughts still danced around in my head, by coming quietly back to my mantra, I was able to relax and I barely noticed the minutes passing. I felt my muscles relax, my tense shoulders loosen and my brain begin to slow down. It was truly peaceful. I was so chilled on the way home from the session I completely missed my stop on the train! I couldn’t understand how I had missed this feeling ten years ago?!!
Over the next two days, with the homework to meditate for twenty minutes morning and evening, Jillian helped us understand the power of the mantra and how we are realistically going to fit twenty minutes twice a day into our lives. I was extremely reluctant to give up anymore sleep, ESPECIALLY in the morning, but I was surprised how keen I was to jump out of bed into my meditation. During meditation, your metabolic rate is lower than that of the deepest point in your sleep. Similarly, during a meditation session, your body will be receiving 2-5x the amount of rest you receive during sleep. I know what you’re thinking – how can that possibly be right? But the science backs it up. Read more here and here. There are real physical changes that happen during the body during meditation – changes for the better.
I was generally astonished at how quickly I began to feel the difference in my life. I began to feel more relaxed at work and more able to cope with changing demands. Decisions that I had been torturing myself over become clearer. On day four of the course Jillian talked to us about ‘transcending’ – and suddenly I had a flashback to ten years ago. ‘Transcending’ was all I was taught and all I was told to seek to achieve – the place in your mind where you travel beyond thought and sit in a blissful place of total tranquility. Reaching the stage of total tranquility on a permanent basis is known as ‘enlightenment’ – although few ever reach this stage.
fullsizerender-2Whilst I am not expecting a miracle on my Crohns through meditation, I am excited to see if the long-term effects have any impact on my physical health. I have a lot more reading and understanding to do but I feel like I’ve opened another chapter in the life of Bryony.Two weeks on from the course and I am still juggling managing to fit the 40 minutes of meditation into my life, but I’m getting there. The most fascinating thing I found was that it was just the normal Tom, John and Ben learning to meditate with me – businessmen from the city and family men. There was nothing weird about it or any cult feeling about it. Which made me wonder why more people aren’t doing it?! If you can just close your eyes for 20 minutes and feel a benefit… why wouldn’t you do it?*
Continue to follow my blog to keep up to date with the first few months in my meditation journey!
*Critics insert a long list of excuses here!
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bryonyhopkins

If you’ve been following my journey through the liquid jungle since day one – you’ll know that I’ve started to completely change my attitude towards diet and the role it plays in my life. It’s incredible to see the difference the liquid diet has made and I am determined to maintain this state of health beyond the days of elemental. I have gone through my entire life relying solely on drugs, surgery and the doctors advise without ever making any massive changes to my lifestyle. I continued to eat ready meals, takeaways, processed foods, I continued to drink alcohol more than twice a week, I have continued to have a jam packed social life with little time to rest. And I’ve only ground to a shuddering halt when my body has screamed ‘STOP!’, in the form of some flare/virus/bug/severe fatigue. (Let me just say, I don’t regret those decisions. I was a child/teenager/university student – I was LIVINNNGGG!)
But clearly my body needs a little more help than most. And since I’ve realised what it feels like to actually feel good (I have felt rubbish for too long to even remember), I am pledging to do everything I can to look after myself. There are actual things I can do to help! And I start with juicing. Welcome to my juicy epiphany.
Yesterday I spent the evening with a friend, Aisling, having my first juicing lesson. She’s been juicing for years and had some amazing tips – and equipment!

super fast Philips juicer and Nutribullet (juicing and smoothies are not the same!)

 
Below is just a selection of the ingredients we used to create 3 delicious juices – all including vegetables which had proven anti inflammatory powers. Juicing is an amazing way to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals the body needs in a easy digestible form – the juicer does the work so your body doesn’t have to! Essentially the same as my Elemental.. But a lot more delicious.

I have to say, it was pretty tough being so close to so much lush food!

The juices we made were all red cabbage based, a vegetable which has a proven healing track record with IDB (See Jason Vale’s Super Juice Me).Click here.

Aisling’s first recipe was: half a honey dew melon, 2 apples, cucumber and 1/2 red cabbage.
We washed the veg first before chucking it all in the super fast juicer. I know what you’re thinking – red cabbage in a juice?? Are you sure? I have to say I was sceptical too. But it actually tasted delicious (OK- yes, I had a teeny tiny sip) I really liked the sweet taste of the apples with the freshness of the cucumber. Surprisingly, I couldn’t taste much cabbage!

The second juice we tried was: 1/4 red cabbage, coriander, half bag of spinach, stalk of lemongrass, half of honey dew melon and cucumber

I found the taste of this juice a lot more savoury and to be honest, it didn’t suit my palette at all. To counter this, we added 2 apples for flavour and that definitely gave it the lift it needed for my tastebuds!

a proper green juice (froth is good!)

The third Crohn’s tailored juiced we tasted was: 3 apples, 1/4 red cabbage, thumb of ginger, half bag of spinach and half a cucumber.

This was my favourite! (OK I had teeny tastes of all 3!) The apples, cucumber and spinach were refreshing once again and then the ginger gave it a gorgeous kick. I am obsessed with the taste of ginger and has excellent anti inflammatory powers.

another purple monster

And the best thing about juicing? You can freeze! So now I have 6 gorgeous juices that I can drink when I’m able to. Ais also showed me many of the staples in her cupboards that she uses in various smoothies and juices, which is when I realised how much I have to learn. But everyone has to start somewhere, right?
If you also have a form IBD, I’d urge you to try a recipe from above or any other juice for the matter – they can only do your body the world of good. And if I’m not able to enjoy them properly at the moment, someone should be able to!
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bryonyhopkins