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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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

This is one of my favourite dinners at the moment – ultimate warming comfort food, especially when this english weather takes a turn! The crispy butterfly chicken is the perfect counterpart to the creamy chive mash and the garlic pak choi and kale brings a little Asian fusion to the dish. Simple, yummy and TOTALLY Lofflex friendly!!
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Serves 1. Gluten free, dairy free and egg free.
Ingredients: One chicken breast, one large potato, soya spread, olive oil, chives (fresh is ideal but dried is a good substitute), one pak choi, half a small bag of kale and garlic.
Slice up your potatoes and chuck them in salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes. You must wait until your potatoes are soft or your mash will be lumpy!
Whilst your potatoes are bubbling away, chop up your pak choi and finely chop a large clove of garlic. Put these in a bowl to one side.IMG_3305
Put your chicken breast onto a chopping board, smooth side down. Make a slice through the middle of the breast, without cutting it in half! Turn the breast over and cover in a sheet of cling film. Now is the fun part – bash the chicken breast with a rolling pin/masher/any utensil you can get your hands on until its super flat. The flatter it is, the crispier and tender the chicken will be!
When your potatoes are about 8 minutes off being done, heat a frying pan with a glug of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add your chicken breast and fry for 3 minutes on each side on a medium-high heat. May take longer if your breast is thick.
In another frying pan, add your garlic. Fry for a minute before adding your kale and pak choi. Bring down to a low-medium heat and stir occasionally.
Now to get the mash going! Drain your potatoes, add a large dollop of soya spread and your chives. Now mash until creamy and smooth.
Your chicken should be ready now, looking lovely and crispy. Your greens should be slightly wilted. Pile your greens on top of your mash and finish with your crispy chicken – voila!!
 
 
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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

This weekend I FINALLY purchased a Nutribullet. Even as I picked up the blender in my local Argos store, the woman serving me said ‘that product will change your life – I’ve never eaten soups so smooth!’ She couldn’t have been more accurate, and I’ve only had it 48 hours! It’s speed and power is incredible – I have blitzed my breakfast smoothie and afternoon shakes in a matter of seconds.
This simple recipe is a godsend for me at the moment, as I’m not tolerating cacao very well and as a result, my sugar cravings are in overdrive! Carob is an amazing alternative to cacao. To be frank, no it doesn’t taste exactly like chocolate – but it’s a good place to start. Especially for those who are caffeine sensitive, like me! Carob is a natural sweetener – is low in fibre, low in fat, packed with calcium and caffeine free! The fruit carob is the pod of a tree- which grows in the Mediterranean. Maple syrup provides the perfect partner to carob – packing a punch of sweet flavour. HURRAY! A one stop shake to replace your chocolate milkshake cravings..
IMG_3091Carob & maple syrup shake
Serves 1. Gluten free, dairy free, egg free, vegetarian, vegan.
2 tablespoons of carob powder
2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup (depending how sweet you like it!)
300 ml coconut milk (or any other plant based milk)
Optional: 1 teaspoon of nut butter (Peanut/almond/cashew work nicely)
Method: Spoon in the carob powder, maple syrup and nut butter to your blender. Add the coconut milk and blitz!! Delicious replacement for a chocolate milkshake in seconds!
LOFFLEX friendly: On the LOFFLEX diet, plant based milk with maple syrup should be easily tolerated. Carob powder is debated – but I’ve found it works perfectly for me!
Enjoy!
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