Mung Daal (Moong Dahl)

I got tips for this recipe from a few Indian friends (everyone seems to make it slightly differently), then put my own stance on it, but only a little bit because why change something that works? So thanks to Deepa, Roshni and Abigail!

Mung beans have been part of traditional Ayurvedic diets for thousands of years and are used for their amazing nutritional values.

Not only are they absolutely packed full of nutrients (manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc and various B vitamins), they are also very high in protein (a great option for a vegetarian diet) and fibre, and are a great anti-inflammatory food. When cooked with turmeric it is the perfect anti-inflammatory meal. They’re also great anti-oxidants.

One of the main reasons I made it this week is because more than anything, mung beans help digestion and after coming back from holiday and eating way too much, I needed something nutritious that aided digestion and was also filling and wholesome enough as a meal for Braxton.

It sounds like a lot of ingredients but just get all the spices out in front of you and add one by one. Just gives it the best flavour to have all the spices.

It’s such a delicious, wholesome, comforting meal and easy to make, which helps!

Ingredients – (NB: make sure to soak the beans at least overnight. You can soak them for days, changing the water each day.)

3/4 cup mung beans / moong beans
1 tsp turmeric
Choice of vegetables. I used: okra, baby corn, carrots, onion, courgette, sweet potato (could also add beetroot, pumpkin, peas, broccoli, green beans)
1 tbsp coconut oil (you can also use Ghee if not dairy free)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
1 inch ginger, crushed
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp saffron
1/2 tsp cumin
Black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste
Handful fresh coriander

Optional spices – use what you fancy:
Cardamom, chilli, hing, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, bay leaf

Method

Once the beans have soaked for long enough, cook them. If you have a pressure cooker use this, if not, cover with boiling water, turn down the heat and put on a lid, stirring often and adding more water if needed.

Add the turmeric to the beans as they cook.

Once 3/4 cooked, add all the vegetables and continue to cook.

Once nearly ready, get a small frying pan and heat the coconut oil (and add ghee if using). Turn down the heat and add the cumin seeds and stir continuously. Once cooked, turn off the heat and immediately add the garlic, ginger and the rest of the spices except for the salt and pepper and stir. If the heat disappears too much, turn it back on to a low heat then turn off again. You don’t want the spices to burn or the garlic to brown too much.

Once cooked, add this mix to the bean mix and stir, and add salt to taste, then stir in the coriander and serve with fresh coriander and brown rice..

Love & health,
Lauren

How The Media Are Gearing Us Up For Traumatic Birth Experiences

I happen to be one of the five people left in the UK who still watches Home & Away (what can I say, guilty pleasure), and whilst watching an episode last week where one of the characters goes into labour, I got really angry.

During the hypnobirthing course my husband and I did before having our baby, we learnt a lot about the history of the fear of childbirth and although there are other contributing factors to this, much of it comes from the media. If you really think about it, where does your perception of birth come from, apart from your mother and close friends? When was the last time you watched a program, even something as inoffensive as a sitcom, where a woman in labour didn’t scream her way through it as if she was being ripped open by a demon child?

If labour ever is shown to be a non-traumatic experience that the woman breathes through, she is made out to be a crazy, unhinged hippy.

I honestly get offended when people tell me how ‘lucky’ I am that I had a good birth. It wasn’t luck. I was in active labour for twenty-four hours with no pain relief. I had a choice on how I wanted that to affect me. I could have screamed my way through it, causing my body to tense and my labour to regress and therefore end up needing intervention, or I could stay at home for as long as possible, breathe through each contraction (and not call them contractions), have my husband with me performing all the techniques we learnt on our course, have calming music on in the background, eat and drink enough, have no negative influences anywhere near and make a conscious effort to make it a positive birth experience for me and my baby.

I really hope at this point that the women who ended up having emergency interventions don’t get upset. This isn’t about that. I am aware that anything can happen at any moment. This is not about who gave birth how, this is about how everything we’ve ever seen and heard has set us up to fear childbirth, to expect to need interventions including drugs (when in fact our bodies were made to do this naturally) leading it to therefore be a torturous experience, because how could it be anything but torturous if that is what we are expecting? Like with anything, half the battle begins in our mind. If we expect something to be a certain way before we begin, we are setting ourselves up for that expectation.

During the Home & Away episode, Billie’s water breaks before she’s even felt any signs of labour (not really realistic) to which her boyfriend says ‘quick! We must get to hospital!’ They then head to hospital and she screams and wails in pain throughout the entire car journey.

I then turn on my TV yesterday while giving my son lunch and the ladies of Loose Women are talking about ‘is it really that bad to have an elective caesarean?’ Every woman on the panel spoke of at least one traumatic birth experience and none of them spoke about how birth could be an enjoyable experience, or about the risks and long-term damage that could be associated with caesarean-sections. It may not be their fault that they didn’t have good experiences, but there should have been someone there showing the other side.

It’s one thing if you don’t have a choice but women thinking of elective caesarean-sections should be made aware of the possible link between the procedure and lowered immunity in the baby. No one on the panel even seemed to know about it, so how can it be right that the viewing public are only exposed to this side of it?

Remember the episode of Friends where Rachel is in labour? She is in labour for three days and every part of it was traumatic. Or when Carol gave birth to Ben? Remember how much she screamed? Even something as tame as Friends can influence our thinking.

I’m guessing most people didn’t even register that that was how it was portrayed until now and perhaps you’re having an ‘Aha!’ moment, but now that you can see how harrowing birth is made out to be in just about any programme or film you’ve ever watched, surely we can all agree on one thing: how are women who are yet to give birth supposed to have a positive experience when everything around them tells them it will be anything but? How are women ever supposed to believe that their birth experience could be one that they look back on with happiness not fear? And what about the men? They matter here! Their perception is just as important because if they are stressed and worried during labour, it will affect the woman, and that will affect the birth.

Don’t get me wrong, my labour was long and it was hard work, that’s why it’s called labour. But it was the most incredible experience of my life and I’m so glad I did the research beforehand to enable me to re-evaluate everything I’d ever been told about birth and to therefore switch off from the negativity surrounding the subject and be able to believe that it could be a positive experience.

What we need now is for journalists, script-writers and other influential decision-makers in the media to change their own approach by educating themselves on the realities of birth. Perhaps these writers could take hypnobirthing courses themselves or read up on the history of the fear of childbirth… and perhaps if birth was portrayed differently at this level, then the impressionable women paying attention would change their own perceptions and approach to childbirth. Imagine how many births could be less traumatic and more of the enjoyable, wondrous experiences that they’re meant to be simply because we change our perceptions on it.

Blueberry Banana Bread

I had a heap of blueberries in my fridge and some ripe bananas so I thought I’d use my classic banana bread recipe and add blueberries. If you want a more chocolatey version, see here. This one is so light and fluffy and yummy and of course gluten, dairy, sugar and egg free ❤

Ingredients

3 large very ripe bananas, mashed (if they are small, use 4)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 heaped tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp flax seeds
3 tbsp filtered water
1 cup buckwheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Handful blueberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 180° and line a loaf tin with baking paper and grease with coconut oil.

Mix the flax seeds in a small bowl with the water and set aside so it can set. (this is a flax ‘egg’ and used instead of eggs.)

Mash the bananas in a large bowl and add the coconut oil and maple, then add the flax mix and mix well.

Now add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Mix in the blueberries gently and spoon into the prepared cake tin.

Put it in the oven for around 25–30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean. My oven tends to cook things much quicker than most so it’s been a bit of a learning curve, your oven may need more time.

Leave on a wire rack to cool then turn out of the loaf tin onto a plate.

Delicious served with peanut or almond butter!

Love and health,
Lauren

By Removing Sugary Drinks From Hospital Shops We Are Simply Masking A Bigger Problem

Here they are again, this government of ours, rambling on about increasing tax on sugary drinks and removing them from hospital shops. Don’t they realise they’ve missed the point?

When Jamie Oliver set about to change our diets for the better, he started in schools. Why? Because quite frankly, it’s no good aiming this information at sixty-year-olds who have created lifetime habits and most likely won’t want to change them.

If there are parents out there still giving their children Fruit Shoots and other (for lack of a better word) ‘drinks’ filled with sugar and artificial rubbish, despite the panoply of information so readily available, it is them we need to be targeting. Why are these parents still under the impression that these drinks are okay to give their children, even if it is just as a rare ‘treat’? Why are parents not waking up to the fact that if you give your child nothing but water from the offset, they will not want anything but water because we wouldn’t have created within them an unyielding addiction that leads to ‘cravings’ for sweet drinks to quench their thirst instead of water which they may then describe as ‘boring’? The human body can last up to three weeks without food, but water is a different story. Every living cell in the body needs it to function. It is essentially our life-source, so I’d say it’s anything but boring, and this is what we need to be teaching our children.

We can remove these drinks from hospital shops but the person in question can simply go and find the nearest shop or petrol station and buy their drink of choice there.

What we need to be doing is educating, on a mass level, the population of Britain about nutrition, by giving them a comprehensive understanding of nutrition and how the body responds to it, and not just by telling them to eat their five a day and cut out sugar. Because what happens when people become obsessed with one diet fad, such as removing sugar from the diet, is that they look for substitutes because they have not learnt about nutrition or the body; they have simply learnt what helps them lose weight, and at what price are we losing weight?

Weekly meet-up diet-plan groups that started popping up in the ‘80s and ‘90s are perhaps the worst thing that has happened to our collective health since cigarettes; most of them recommend substituting anything sugary with artificial sweeteners, chemicals that are (if we had to choose) worse for our health than refined sugar. The advice from these organisations to cut out fat and sugar is, in my opinion, one of the reasons that we are seeing a huge increase in early onset dementia. The brain needs fat. It cannot function or grow without it and many adults who began following this fat-free craze thirty-odd years ago are now in their middle ages being diagnosed with early onset dementia, among other things.

The ironic thing is that most of these ‘fat-free’ foods have increased amounts of sugar, which is a lot worse for the heart than healthy fats. A fruit flavoured yogurt, for example, contains about 12 grams of added sugar. This equates to eating a small cup of yogurt with a bowl of frosted corn flakes. We need to forget about all these fads, stop buying convenience food and eat fresh, whole foods that we (heaven forbid) prepare ourselves.

Studies on Aspartame (the sweetener used in Diet Coke) have shown a range of adverse effects, from nausea and dizziness to birth defects and multiple sclerosis. People substituting Coke with Diet Coke should not be under any illusion that this is better for anything other than their waistlines. MS is essentially nerve damage on the brain and the spinal cord, most likely caused by the immune system attacking the fatty myelin sheath around the brain. If we are reducing the one thing that the brain needs to function, and substituting it with a magnitude of toxins known to harm the immune system and the nervous system, we are essentially begging for multiple sclerosis.

What the government should actually be doing is making these drinks illegal, because they have a responsibility to us, the people, not to the pockets of the manufacturers and these drinks are in fact poisonous. These items need to be removed from our country altogether, and money needs to be put into education, at a grassroots level.

If midwives, ante-natal instructors and even general practitioners, most of whom have not had sufficient training in nutrition, were provided with the proper education, and this information was filtered down to new parents, we would see an entire new generation more healthy and health-conscious than ever before, and not just a generation obsessed with weight loss.

Nutrition classes could also be held in schools. Imagine the changes we would see in our society if all aspects of diet were taught to children, including reducing intake of refined sugars and not replacing them with artificial sweeteners or fat-free products, and encouraging people to understand that natural sugar like that found in fruit, in moderation—like everything—is healthy.

Despite the government’s miseducation, we are fortunate enough to live in an age where information is available wherever we are on the planet, at the touch of a button. We are hearing about the dangers of increased sugar consumption everywhere, so why are people choosing to give refined sugar to their children, especially when there are so many alternatives? There really is no excuse anymore to be shovelling this rubbish into our children.

However, the mass population will, as a general rule, do what they are told, therefore it is up to the government to take control when it comes to the health of our children and do a hell of a lot more than just removing sugary drinks from hospital shops.

 

To view this article on Huffington Post, click here

Guilt-Free Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

If you’re British, there is probably nothing more satisfying and comforting to you than a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive of an afternoon (had to say ‘of an afternoon’ instead of ‘in the afternoon’ because that’s how my nanny would have said it in that endearing East End way when talking about tea and biccies). 🍪 ☕️ So of course I wanted to make the healthy version so I can indulge my ultimate guilty pleasure. these are gluten, dairy, sugar and egg free.

I actually got this recipe from my lovely friend @mrshollingsworths. Her picture looks way better than mine because she’s more of an artist than I am with food but I’m happy to say they taste just as good! 😃 i also bake them for less time than she does – just a difference in ovens i guess.

I know food blogs and Instagram are all about the styling and the perfect pictures but guys, I have an 18 month old, a husband, a dog, arthritis to keep at bay with heaps of hard work, deadlines, and a novel to write! I can only spend so long re-arranging biscuits in the right light surrounded by random ribbons and hessian fabric before I have to give up and hope they’re good enough! So there you have it, my excuse for not having Instagram’s best pictures.

The truth is, I love making the food and feeding those I love. I love writing the recipes and the captions, but photography is not my passion so (in the voice of the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) there you go! Hope you all enjoy this recipe anyway Happy baking, lovers!

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup oats
3/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup cashew butter (or any other nut or seed butter)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate topping:
1/2 cup cacao butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp cashew butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 180c and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

Put all the ingredients for the biscuits In a bowl and mix really well.

Shape them into biscuits and flatten down on the trays and bake for 8-10 minutes. If they look a little soft it’s ok, they’ll continue to harden once they come out the oven so don’t leave them in for too long.

Take them out the oven and leave to cool.

Make the chocolate by melting all the ingredients in a saucepan over a low light.

Once the biscuits are cool, spoon the chocolate over the top of each one and put on a plate in the fridge to cool.

Love & health,
Lauren 💜

Cauliflower Bites With Tahini Dip

Don’t these just look as awesome as they tasted?! They were demolished almost instantly. Just such a tasty snack for before dinner or as a starter and really easy to make with relatively few ingredients. I used rice breadcrumbs but you can use any breadcrumbs you may have at home.

Ingredients

1 cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 eggs
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper

Tahini dip:
2 tbsp tahini paste
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
Sprinkle garlic salt
Himalayan salt to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 180° and cover a baking tray with silver foil (you don’t have to but it keeps you from having to wash the tray!)

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat with the mustard, oil and some salt and pepper.

In another bowl add the breadcrumbs and spices and again some salt and pepper.

Dip each floret into the egg mixture then in the breadcrumb mixture and place on the tray and repeat until you finish them all.

Put in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Take them out about 5 minutes before they’ve finished cooking and sprinkle the parsley over the top.

To make the tahini dip simply mix all the ingredients vigorously, adding more water if it’s too thick, seasoning to taste, and top with olive oil, paprika and parsley.

Love & health,
Lauren

Bounty Bars – The Healthy Way

My mum always makes coconut pyramids for Passover which are yummy but of course they use sugar so I thought I’d whip these beauties up as an alternative Passover (and any other time) treat.

They are gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, egg free and vegan.

Ingredients

2 cups desiccated coconut
¼ cup ground almonds
½ cup coconut oil
The cream from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk
¼ cup maple
1/4 tsp vanilla powder

Chocolate coating:
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tbsp almond or cashew butter
1/2 cup coconut oil

Method

Melt the coconut oil then mix all the coconut ingredients in a bowl.

Line a baking tray (I use a square silicone one) with cling film, leaving enough hanging over the edges, then press the mixture into it. Remember, they need to be cut into fairly substantial bar sizes once set so keep the thickness and don’t fill the whole tray if it’s too big. Put this in the freezer for half an hour.

Make the chocolate coating while it’s in the freezer by melting all the ingredients in a saucepan over a gentle heat.

Take the coconut mix out the freezer and cut into bars, then dip them into the chocolate and place on a plate and put in the fridge to set for 30-60 minutes.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Love & health,
Lauren