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The super stir fry

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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bryonyhopkins

Exciting new project!

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

Honesty hour

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

Simple LOFFLEX recipes

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

A diet revolution

HELLO strangers! This post is well overdue – as I promised the blog will live on, and it does! It’s been a roller coaster two weeks to be honest, with my birthday falling slap bang in the middle of it and so I have been entirely consumed with enjoying my new found zest for life (and eating, obvs).

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Birthday joy

Since my last blog post, I have been slowly weaning myself back onto food. I have been on something called the LOFFLEX diet – Low Fat Fibre Reduced Exclusion Diet. This diet was developed by nutritional researchers at Addensbrooke University in Cambridge, and excludes foods which have been found to aggravate Crohn’s. You are recommended to follow this diet for two weeks after finishing the liquid diet, before introducing other foods. The LOFFLEX excludes all the staples that I used to eat – goodbye wheat, goodbye all oats and grains, goodbye citrus fruits and goodbye all fortified sugars (ALL SWEETS AND CHOCOLATE!) Of course that’s totally doable, but I also cannot eat any nuts, dried fruit, any gluten free products, eggs, sesame… basically anything fun.
Here is what I’ve eaten on a typical day: 
Breakfast – 1 carton of elemental. 2 ricecakes with seedless jam/honey/soya spread
Morning snack – Mint tea or elemental. 2 more ricecakes if hungry!
Lunch – lettuce, cucumber, avocado and prawn salad. Drizzled in olive oil.
Afternoon snack – 1 carton of elemental
Dinner – mash potato or jacket potato, with olive oil or soya spread. A piece of white fish and veg (carrots/kale/courgette peeled)
So as you can see the elemental lives on… and I think it will do for a while. I’ve come to find it to be my security blanket when I’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with me. It’s also the only thing I feel 100% safe about putting in my body – it’s amazing how much trust I have in it. I’ve focused a lot on the positives throughout this blog and I can’t lie, the benefits have been tenfold. I want to get real for a moment though – for all the fellow Crohnies out there who have been following my journey through the liquid diet and who may go through the same themselves. It’s not all roses the garden. What I’m coming to understand is that Crohn’s are is far more complex than I ever could have imagined. It’s clever and it’s fierce – and it reacts to the things you least expect…
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Currently living off veg, veg and more veg

I have been keeping a strict food and symptom diary to document how my body reacts to various foods. Since introducing food 13 days ago, I have had 3 ‘elemental days’. These have followed a day where I’ve consumed something that clearly isn’t my friend. As you can see above, I have kept it pretty bland – but on days where I’ve felt brave, I have introduced something new. Last week, I decided to introduce a fresh fruit juice for my breakfast – one of the juices I prepped in my previous blog post – Day 23: The juicy epiphanyIt was delicious – so refreshing and filling. I followed it with lunch and dinner that I had trialled and tested before…
Later that day I experienced a solid 4/10 pain. Let me put this into context – this is NOWHERE near the pain I was getting before. I was easily on 8/9 before I started the liquid diet. However, I’ve gone from, no pain, to some pain. Hmmm. Looking back at the LOFFLEX I realised apple was a known irritant and the juice contained 3 whole apples. I had the culprit. I followed this with 2 elemental days – where I reverted to feeling grumpy and fed up. The pain did ease though.
Furthermore, yesterday I had a gorgeous breakfast of quinoa flakes, soya yogurt and maple syrup. It was unreal to eat something with actual flavour. Whilst on my sugar high, I experienced a 6/10 on the pain scale. Hmmm!! I will have to go back to figure out which element of that breakfast was the irritant (praying it wasn’t quinoa!) And so, you see, the trial and error continues. At times it is frustrating – especially when I am eating the same things day in day out and I am feel nervous about what to eat. I haven’t even reached the reintroduction stage where I try the more difficult foods – I’m still hopscotching around step 1!
Revamping your diet is HARD. It’s a total lifestyle change. I know it will all be worth it though. How do I know I hear you ask?! The proof is in the pudding (or lack of pudding…). Watching this totally gave me the boost I needed – Kris Carr Super Soul Sessions with Oprah
Life is for LIVVVINGGG and last weekend I enjoyed my 24th lap around the sun in the best possible way. Just five weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been equipped to celebrate in any way. Least of all with one dinner, two lunches and a night dancing in a club! So while I still can’t eat a plethora of interesting foods – at least I am eating. I am LIVVVINGG with the power in my hands. I can take some control some of my healing process.
BUT I HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN! Anyone embarking on a dramatic diet will vouch for this – it’s overwhelming at times. I hope that following my journey will help many of you. I’ve read tonnes of books where I’m told to eat this/eat that but I just end up asking myself, HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? I am learning, condensing and translating for you.
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bryonyhopkins

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