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

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

A Low Fat Fibre Limited Elimination diet may not sound particularly tantalising – but there are LOTS of ways to eat some yummy tasting food that is also good for your stomach in the early stages of food reintroduction. Here are some tips & recipes I’ve learnt to add flavour to the LOFFLEX way of life! (For full LOFFLEX diet booklet click here.)
All of the below are gluten free, dairy free, egg free! 
Rice cakes are versatile!
Rice cakes currently make up a large chunk of my diet. They are so versatile and so easily digestible. Here are a few of my favourite rice cake combinations

  • Smashed avocado and basil. This is currently my favourite weekend breakfast. Mash avocado and basil with a touch of olive oil in a bowl and top your rice cake. By far my favourite topping.IMG_3111
  • Humous & roasted jarred peppers. A delicious savoury snack and a great alternative to my previous beloved crisps and dip. I either dip the rice cake straight into the humous, or spread on top with some roasted jarred peppers (these are super soft). The peppers do have skin on them – check with your dietician before trying these, in the very early days the skin may be an irritant.
  • 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! Again, check with your dietician re skins.
  • Keep it classic with seedless jam or honey. This is perfect for a breakfast or something to get a sweet hit. Hartley’s do an amazing seedless raspberry jam.

Jacket potato is your best friend
I am currently eating a jacket potato at least 4 times a week. It’s my completely safe option and I adore the softness of the potato with the soya spread. My absolute fave is the green jacket – crispy kale with avocado. 
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First pre heat your oven to 180c.
I do my jackets in the microwave for speed (I’m just too hungry to wait after work!!) Prick your potato with a fork a few times and put in the microwave for around 8-10 minutes, depending how big your jacket is!
Once you’ve stuck the jacket in, cover a baking tray with kale and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Stick this in the oven for 8 minutes, until the kale has gone gorgeous and crispy!
Smash an avocado with some olive oil in a bowl and put to one side.
Take your jacket out of the oven and pile with avocado and kale. The combo of textures are SOOOOO GOOD.
Also try other root vegetables if you get bored of the classic jacket – a melt in the mouth sweet potato jacket or even a large roasted butternut squash. Cook the squash in the oven on 180C with a large dowsing of olive oil for around 45 mins- 1 hour, depending how big your squash is. I like to stack some green veggies or crispy kale on top.IMG_3073
On the go salads
When you’re reintroducing food and you’re still working, prep is IMG_3122essential. There have been a couple of evenings where I have been too tired to prep and I’ve tried to grab something for lunch in nearing eateries – near impossible, unless I was prepared to shell out. So now I’ve formulated my go to salad combination – lettuce, avocado, a selection of other cold veg, some kind of carb and prawn/chicken. 
For the carb: New potatoes (peeled and boiled) with a little olive oil and chives. Try rice mixed with spinach until it wilts, rice pasta or cold rice noodles. Cold roasted sweet potato or other root vegetable also works well – butternut squash, parsnip etc.
Salad: lettuce, cucumber (peeled), avocado, beetroot, green beans (blanched and served cold), tomato peeled and a little fresh herb. Basil is my favourite.
Chicken/Prawn: 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.
*(Grains such as buckwheat, quinoa can be tried in isolation later on. If tolerated, these would make great additions!)
Find your replacements
The hardest thing about moving onto this diet is not being able to eat so many of the things you ate before you started the liquid diet. My best piece of advise here is to findIMG_3010 a replacement – whatever you miss, head into a whole foods shop and you will be able to find an alternative. I am going totally nuts for all coconut products at the moment. I’ve replaced milk with coconut milk, my morning porridge (oats aren’t well tolerated at this stage) with coconut yogurt and my big crisp fad with these gorgeous coconut curls. All products you will be able to find in a whole food store or even your local supermarket! Look for your ‘Free from’ aisle to see the amazing alternatives. Other good alternatives: soya products, almond milk/yogurts, cacao or carob instead of chocolate, rice pasta, tamari sauce instead of wheat filled soya sauce.
Blend, blend, blend
It’s important to get your 5 a day in the reintroduction phase, as I’m sure your dietician will tell you! I urge you to try smoothies to help boost your vegetable intake – AND help your body digest the gorgeous nutrients, without having to do much work! I have a Nutribullet and I have used it everyday since I’ve used it for a breakfast smoothie.
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Here’s a quick recipe to try. Spinach & berry blast
Serves 1
Half a mango
Half a banana
Handful of spinach
Big handful of frozen berries
300 ml coconut water
Add all to the blender and whizz! Enjoy straight away.
I hope you enjoy these tips as you start on your new food adventure! Follow my blog on Bloglovin’ or WordPress to see more fabulous recipes to come!
*I should add that these are in addition to the LOFFLEX recipe booklet – click here to have a read. The above are additions I’ve created in my kitchen, that I am finding a lot quicker whilst balancing a full time job!*
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bryonyhopkins

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It’s Thursday 19th May and it’s World IBD Day. A day of raising awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Even if you don’t know much about it, chances are you know someone who suffers from it! Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, affecting more than 300,000 people in the UK – that’s a lot!! To learn more about IBD and Crohn’s Disease, click here Day 13: Let’s get medical.
Of course – I’m doing my bit to raise awareness (apart from always writing about it!).In July, I will be running the London British Vitality 10k for Crohn’s and Colitis UK. It’s not a marathon, or even a half marathon – but given everything my body has been through, it’s a pretty big deal to me! If you have a penny to spare, visit my Justgiving page- Bryony & Josh run 10k.

world IBD day

Find more information of IBD at Crohns and Colitis UK, website above

Today we’re facing the truths of the LOFFLEX Diet. I’ve been back on solid food for nearly three weeks now, yet I am ploughing through the LOFFLEX diet at a snails pace. Literally. The LOFFLEX Diet stands for Low Fat Reduced Fibre Diet, so we’re talking bland. Bland bland bland. The plan initially was to just stay on the LOFFLEX diet for two weeks after the liquid diet (elemental is still living strong btw!). Here’s a snapshot of my current yes list -foods that I’m tolerating well:
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I am totally coco for coconut at the moment

  • White fish and salmon
  • Prawns and crayfish. All other shellfish okay
  • Chicken
  • Olive oil
  • Lightly salted kettle chips
  • Vegetables – carrot, kale, courgette, green beans, butternut squash, ginger, red cabbage, aubergine, herbs (dry or fresh)
  • Salad – lettuce, cucumber, pepper, avocado, beetroot
  • Soya butter
  • Rice cakes, rice, rice based thins, rice noodles
  • Tamari (wheat free soya sauce)
  • Humus
  • Potato – mashed, boiled, jacket, fried
  • Sweet potato – jacket, baked
  • Coconut milk, yogurt and coconut pieces
  • Cacao
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Seedless jam
  • Mint tea

Foods that haven’t gone well so far:

  • Quinoa flakes
  • Apple
  • Alcohol! 🙁

As I sent this list of to my fabulous dietician auntie ahead of our catch up, I knew I wasn’t ready to start trying the more difficult foods (we’re talking dairy, gluten, oats). As she rightly pointed out, I hadn’t even tried half the other foods included in the LOFFLEX diet manual (lamb, beef, duck etc). For the full diet booklet, click here.
‘Are you scared?’ she asked me. I suddenly realised I was. Having now experienced first hand that I have some control over whether I am in pain, I am EXTREMELY reluctant to try anything new. Because let’s face it, when is actually a good time to have terrible stomach pain? This is a fairly ridiculous way to continue, I’m scared of food??! I didn’t see that one coming – given the volumes I would consume before. In light of this severely low fat diet, I have also lost 5 lbs. Whilst this may signal a woohooo for many – this is not a good sign. Especially as I train for a 10k run! So the elemental intake increases! And I have been tasked with trying four new things: tomato, garlic, lamb and a boiled egg. I know – my life is pretty rock and roll right now.

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Does this girl with A BIB on look scared of food?!!?

So the roller coaster continues, and I’m still having good days and bad days. Despite the blandness of my current diet, it has forced me to be creative with what I can eat. Look out for the next blog post where I’ll be sharing some of my LOFFLEX hints, tips and recipes.IMG_3107
 

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