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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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Carob and maple syrup shake

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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The low fat life

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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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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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Day 28: HELLOOOOO FOOD

Day 28 and I’VE DONE IT. I’ve completed the month… and oh my god. It feels AMAZING! I would apologise unreservedly for the delay in this blog post – but I’ve been enjoying my first weekend of (some) food far far too much!

On Friday evening I had my first solid food and the first taste really was the sweetest. I have to be honest – I was worried about starting to eat again. The devil in my brain was telling me that as soon as I started eating again everything would instantly unravel. Once I had that first mouthful, I literally didn’t care. I died and went to potato heaven! I have never ever appreciated how fluffy and warm the inside of a potato could be!

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Genuinely the best thing I’ve ever tasted

Before we all get over excited – the diet I’m on now is bland with a capital B. And I haven’t quite waved goodbye to my beloved Elemental, it remains a staple snack for now. This next part of food introduction is absolutely crucial to remaining well. For the next two weeks I will be eating something called a LOFFLEX diet – the Low Fat Fibre Limited Exclusion Diet. Which in layman’s terms, means I’m on a diet of peeled veg and rice cakes! (Not that I’m complaining!!) The diet was formulated by dieticians working at Addenbrookes NHS Trust in Cambridge, were they poured tonnes of money and resources into the effectiveness of an exclusive elemental diet for Crohn’s patients. The LOFFLEX diet excludes typically troublesome foods (wheat, dairy) and also products which are hard to digest (heavily fibrous foods like lentils, beans, veg with pips, sweetcorn etc). After doing this for two weeks – and everything is still going well – you introduce other foods and see if you get a reaction – such as eggs, onion, oats, wheat, alcohol (booo!).. the list goes on and on! So I could well end up with a completely different diet at the end of this… For more information on the LOFFLEX diet, click here.

Now we’ve got the boring medical stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the amazing things I did eat AND appreciate this weekend! (No juicy steaks or Starbucks here unfortunately) Saturday morning I enjoyed a gorgeous Pukka mint tea with rice cakes (which I am surprisingly enjoying!).

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Bland = yum

Unfortunately, the Elemental lives on for now. It’s the perfect way to bridge the gaps between some of my meals in the early stages of food introduction – and keep the hunger at bay when I’m out and about and don’t have a rice cake or peeled potato to hand!

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Which means I continue to be the boring sober one.. and the designated driver!

Yesterday I went to an actual restaurant. I went to an actual restaurant with actual people and sat down for a meal – something I haven’t done in far too long! Navigating my way around the menu was a total minefield, as I don’t fall into any single category like gluten free, vegan or vegetarian. I finally selected a salad, but still had to be the person who said ‘can I have it without the nuts, and without the dressing, and without the pumpkin seeds… in fact, can I jut have a plate of lettuce??!!’ My stomach has shrunk to the size of a pea, so I only managed half of this plateful. I relished every mouthful though!!
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Interestingly, I have felt noticeably more relaxed this weekend. I didn’t even realise how tense I felt all the time, constantly making sure I didn’t give in to the temptation of food. Willpower is tiring! Of course, not being in pain is also a massive relaxant!
As I said above, my journey is nowhere near over. I’m not saying this liquid diet will keep me well for years,  maybe not even months, (Crohn’s has a habit of sneaking up when you least expect it), but I feel extremely optimistic. It has opened my eyes up to so much more – more than I ever could have imagined. After the appointment with my consultant where I took matter into my own hands, by putting the liquid diet on the table and refusing steroids, I called my Mum in floods of tears. Have I made the right decision?! What if it doesn’t work??!! Why am I taking matter into my own hands when I’m not even a doctor!? Now I know I 100% made the right decision. I am reading books I never thought I’d read (list of recommended reads below) and I’m finding new ways to keep my symptoms at bay without being at the mercy of toxic drugs – something I felt only 4 weeks ago.
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Now that is a HEALTHY food shop!

If you’re reading this with Crohn’s or Colitis and are suffering a bad flare – I would urge you to suggest a liquid diet to your consultant. It is not used widely in adults as patients often struggle with compliance. Yes, it requires a hell of a lot of willpower. But the results are so worth it – without any nasty side effects. Read on below for a list of books which will totally get you thinking in a different way.
Lots of people have asked me if the blog will continue past the liquid diet – and the answer is of course YES! I’ve loved writing the blog and seeing the positive feedback from sharing my story. I will continue to write through this transitional period and share any hints and tips I pick up along the way! After that, thefoodfree blog will change guise – so watch this space!!
I also must say a big thank you to everyone who has been following my journey. Thank you for the love and support (and donations!) – I can’t even put into words how much it means to me.
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Love, (a very happy and healthy)
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Recommended reads:

  • Mind over Medicine by Dr Lissa Rankin – will completely change your thinking towards your illness
  • Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr – hear from amazing Kris Carr, cancer survivor and wellness warrior
  • Deliciously Ella Everyday – tonnes of fabulous plant based recipes for Eleanor Woodward, who ate herself back to health
  • Get The Glow by Madeleine Shaw – more amazing healthy recipes
  • Juice by Liz Earle – the beginners guide to juicing
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