Houmous recipe!

hummus

Made this delicious batch of houmous, here’s the rough quantities to make a big batch for dipping (it made triple what’s photographed)

Ingredients

2 cans of chickpeas, washed and drained

Juice of 1 and a half lemons

7 garlic cloves

7 tbsp olive oil

5 tbsp tahini paste

Chuck it all in a blender and add more olive oil or a splash water as you like for texture you’re happy with.

Have with chopped up vegetables or crisps or whatever you fancy! Enjoy 🙂

Warm Spiced Greens with Brown Rice

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This is a nutritious lunch or dinner which doesn’t take too long to prep.

You’ll need:

-1 teaspoon of cumin powder, 1 tsp mustard seed, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

-Coconut oil or olive oil

-Fresh greens, cabbage and/or kale chopped

-New potatoes

-Onion & Garlic

-Brown Rice

-Sunflower and pumpkin seeds with Tamari sauce

Start the rice with 1 cup of brown rice to 2 cups of water, bring to boil then leave to simmer until the rice has cooked.

Boil the potatoes. Put the spices in hot coconut/olive oil in a wok and add onions, cook until onions are soft. Add in the chopped greens, crushed garlic and potatoes. Stir for about 10 mins or so until the potatoes start to brown on the outside and the greens are cooked through.

Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan for about 5 – 10 mins stirring with a wooden spoon and adding tamari sauce to taste.

 

 

 

The Link Between Coeliac Disease and Mental Health

As it’s both coeliac awareness week and mental health awareness week, I decided to write about the effect coeliac disease can have on mental health.  

Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition where the body has an immune reaction to gluten causing damage to the lining of the intestine. This prevents the body from absorbing essential nutrients which keep the brain healthy such as B vitamins, zinc and tryptophan. Doctor James M. Greenblatt has studied the link between depression and coeliac disease. He says “These nutrients are necessary for the production of essential chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, a deficiency of which has been linked to depression.” 

The only treatment for people with coeliac disease is following a 100% gluten free diet. Many of the symptoms for undiagnosed coeliac disease are physical such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and unexpected weight loss. But of course being malnourished and fatigued can lead to all kinds of emotional difficulties too. There is ongoing research to suggest the link between our brain and the gut with studies that say coeliac disease doesn’t just damage the digestive tract but can also have an impact on the psychological health of sufferers. Some of the psychological symptoms for untreated coeliac include anxiety, depression and panic attacks.  

One study found that anxiety, but not depression, in patients with undiagnosed coeliac disease decreased after one year following a gluten free diet. Another concluded that autoimmune disorders increased the risk of mood disorders by 45% and having coeliac disease increased the risk of developing a mood disorder by 91%. 

It’s important that we break the stigma so because I believe we all need to be more open about mental health, I’m going to share a bit about my own personal experience even though it feels like a scary thing to do. 

Personally, talking openly about the physical side of my coeliac disease has always been far easier to do than discussing my experience of depression and anxiety. I have difficulty even using these labels, I’ve previously opted to use terms that play it down like “low mood” or “feeling fragile”. These phrases barely even begin to cover the debilitating reality of panic attacks and feeling hopeless or being smothered by complete despair. However mental health and physical health are so interlinked that it makes little sense to talk about one without the other.  

As a teenager I was underweight, constantly fatigued, incredibly anxious and went through periods of depression. I struggled with self-harm in various forms. I felt sick all of the time, especially after eating. I had skin rashes, candida overgrowth, dizziness, a few episodes of fainting and a general feeling of being unwell. When I was 18, three years after my first trip to the doctors complaining of the above symptoms, I was finally tested for coeliac disease by a GP who couldn’t believe he was the first to think of it! Following the endoscopy I was officially diagnosed.  

I’d just moved a 10 hour train ride away from home to go to university so I began my gluten free life at the same time as becoming independent for the first time. It took years for the physical and emotional symptoms to ease up. The damage caused to the intestine from eating gluten can’t be repaired overnight. It takes time for the gut to heal and the body to slowly start to level out. I still struggle at times with depression and anxiety, but going gluten-free to treat my coeliac disease eased the severity of my anxiety significantly. 

The interesting thing I have noticed is that every time I get “glutened” (the term for accidental ingestion of gluten due to cross contamination or mistaking something for being gluten free that’s not) my mood drops dramatically. All the physical symptoms come back in a tidal wave knocking my system out completely and it takes days or maybe weeks to feel balanced again emotionally and physically. This is why it’s so important that food handlers and restaurants understand the severity of a coeliac’s reaction to even the smallest amount of gluten, making it absolutely essential that there is no risk of gluten cross contamination when preparing a meal for someone with coeliac disease. 

The link between coeliac disease and mental health cannot be ignored and it is of the upmost importance that people are offered tests for coeliac disease so that they don’t go undiagnosed, risking the damaging physical and psychological effects.  1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease, you can find a list of symptoms here so please get tested if you have any of the symptoms and remember there is support out there for those going through mental health difficulties, you can check out Mind and Samaritans.

Going gluten-free changed my life. I am so grateful to have caught my coeliac disease sooner rather than later so that I could focus on getting my physical and mental health back. I now run a gluten-free travel blog called Coeliac on The Road to celebrate that being coeliac doesn’t have to hold you back and it can actually lead you to some unique, unexpected places. 

 

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Gluten free in Mysore

Mysore is a vibrant city in Karnataka a state in the south of India. It’s home to countless yoga schools, especially ashtanga where the term “mysore style” originates from – a type of ashtanga class where students practice a set sequence at their own pace.

I came here to practice yoga and get some downtime after doing “workaway” for 3 weeks. So here’s a quick guide for any other gluten free travellers visiting Mysore. I’ve been staying in Gokulam so all the places I mention are based there.

I have been very well fed with no gluten mishaps so here goes:

Chakra House

My favourite dish here is the ragi wrap which is naturally gluten free, ragi is a millet flour full of protein and at chakra house they do ragi wraps or pancakes, sweet and savoury with a variety of vegetarian fillings. Other good dishes include fresh salads, steamed veg & rice and loads of smoothies & juices. There’s yoga classes here too and the decor of the cafe is really beautiful.

Depth n green

A homely organic cafe with loads of fresh juices and delicious traditional indian cuisine. My favourites are the veg tali (just ask with no chapati) or the budha bowl pictured above. They have a selection of yogic literature and philosophy books to read and an organic store round the corner.

Street food

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Local stalls and food places serve dosas with a coconut chilli chutney and a spiced potato side. Dosas are a bit like pancakes but they’re made just from rice. Very cheap and a good taste of traditional south Indian food.

Nature’s nectar food store

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An organic shop with gluten free foods, pricey for india in comparison to local foods but worth it once in a while for a little treat from home! I got gf pasta, cheddar cheese and organic broccoli for a quick and easy pasta dish cooked at Resside serviced appartments.

I’ve probably not even scratched the surface as I’ve only been here a few days but if I can find this much to eat already then that’s a pretty good sign!

Enjoy 🙂

Holistic Healing in India

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Yoga Shala @ Anahata by Hogg Photography

Across the world, communities are coming together to find a more balanced way of life. The stresses of modern day living are taking their toll and people are searching for deeper connections with each other and the natural world. Many are feeling a pull to go back to the roots and lead a simpler day to day routine, getting in touch with a mindful approach to being.

Kiran is one of these people. He has become disillusioned with the typical capitalist model of economic growth and projects centred around profit so he returned back to his home village after working in the city. He had a dream to create a healing space where he could practice therapies based on ancient Ayervedic wisdom. As a yoga teacher, and ayervedic practitioner with experience treating people with injuries, illnesses, disabilities and special needs he wanted to have his own land where people could come to heal.

So he founded Anahata healing arts centre, situated in Ravandur, not far from Mysore in South India. His focus is on a holistic approach to health, cultivating balance between the body, mind and spirit with the belief that this will help people to heal naturally from within and prevent certain illnesses developing in later life.

The yoga classes, Ayervedic massage and meditation classes that he runs are all part of finding this balance. Another essential component to holistic health is the food we eat. Organic fruit, vegetables, grains and herbs are grown on the grounds at Anahata and are cooked from scratch to make healthy vegetarian meals. Anahata also has juicing and detoxing programmes to cleanse the body and focus on getting certain nutrients.

One of my favourite nutritious foods here is the gluten free roti (made with jowar flour which is full of protein) as well as the delicious broken rice and grated coconut vegetable dishes bursting with flavour from different spices and fresh herbs.

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Gluten free Roti

Anahata welcomes local people, international guests and volunteers from around the world, forming a global community. Currently there are various different projects running such as the construction of new rooms, made with natural materials such as mud, water and wood. Kiran says it’s important to be as sustainable as possible in order to work alongside nature and have respect for the environment around us.

Another ongoing project is the development of a rehabilitation centre where people can come to get back in touch with their inner strength and work with treatments such as physiotherapy, yoga and massage. For children there is a strong focus on play and sensory stimulation to enable them to enjoy the movement of their bodies and gain confidence in themselves. Kiran says that in the village it can be difficult for kids with special needs to get out and socialise so he hopes to provide a space where they can come and enjoy spending time with others, feeling part of the community.

Kiran, has a lot of experience working in this way and has helped visitors to move forward from pain. Kamalamma, an elderly woman from the local village had damaged both her knees and the hospital said she must get a knee operation for each leg which would have been very expensive. However instead, she came to Anahata and with rehabilitation therapy there and no surgery she found a way to walk again.

Kiran told me that his philosophy is to put people before profit and ensure that all those who need it have access to the right care and treatment. This is why he runs his centre on a donations basis, as well as offering volunteer exchanges through the international site “workaway”.

It’s always inspiring to see people living in a way that is aligned with their principles, working hard to benefit both the local and wider community. Spending time here at Anahata, I have been reminded that another way of life is possible and we can carve a path that is right for us, being sure to take care of our health.

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Fresh organic produce from the farm by Hogg Photography

Don’t Worry, Be Hampi!

After a strange feverish travel of 1 taxi, 1 bus, 3 tuk-tuks, 1 train and a boat we finally arrived in the peaceful place of Hampi. I write this sitting in ‘The Laughing Budha’ restaurant overlooking the river and intricately carved temples on the other side. Sitar music with devotional chant is playing on the speakers and despite my travel bug, I’m feeling very calm sipping on lemon & ginger tea.

Arriving here was much easier than expected, the trains are pretty self explanatory and local people have been so helpful if we get lost or have any questions. Backpacks strapped on, we manoeuvred our way off the blue train and onto Hospet station. Following the flow of people moving to different platforms we headed in the wrong direction until a man pointed us towards the exit and started making offers for a ride to Hampi.

We piled into his rickshaw and set off on the rickety journey across busy roads, with the city well into the swing of late afternoon hustle and bustle. Soon enough we had reached the country side and passed banana plantations with their vibrant green jungle leaves flapping in the breeze. A breed of cow I’d never seen before walked with purpose past the road. They had grey, tough skin and low hanging skulls with thick horns balanced on top.

When we reached Hampi, we rolled down rocky, winding roads to reach a river where we clambered into a packed rowing boat. Women in brightly coloured saris washed their clothes, slapping the wet fabric off the rocks and laying them out to dry. Once on solid ground we had to sneak past a pack of growling dogs kicking up dust to mark their territory.

Next, we had a bit of that travelling synchronicity that makes you wide eyed with disbelief yet also gives you a simple knowing smile because things have a habit of fitting into place in unexpected ways. We stumbled upon exactly the person we were hoping to see but were doubting we’d actually bump into. Timo, a guy we met in the hostel in Vagator (12 hours journey away) had left his ID card and we picked it up for him, thinking we’d post it or try to organise finding him. As it happened he was leaving with his bags in tow at the same moment we were arriving with all our luggage and just like that we gave him back his ID card, exchanged news and said our farewells.

And so we ended up here at The Laughing Budha, with a lovely little hut and settled in for the night, anticipation bubbling away for the upcoming days spent in Hampi.

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After a trip to the local doctors I took medicine for 3 days and got better. One day when I was having an afternoon nap JJ came to get me because there was an elephant crossing the river with a man, we sat in awe watching the huge animal plod up a steep, stone staircase in the distance.

We spent the days relaxing, eating delicious food, drinking fresh coconut water and seeing all the local sights like beautiful temples, natural lakes and ruins. Our three friends from home came to meet us so we spent some fun days with them, catching up on our different adventures so far and sharing meals together. It was good to spend some time socialising and having a holiday before getting stuck into out next month of workaway placements where we will be working with local projects in exchange for food and board.

Before we knew it it was time to leave again. I had my last Astanga yoga class with a great teacher I’d met in Hampi and JJ chatted on to some other travellers before we got ready to pack our bags. Leaving on a high, just like in Vagator, we stepped back onto another blue train and spent the night sleeping on a hard bunk in a busy carriage, waking up to the sound of a man shouting ‘chai, chai, chai, coffee?’ doing his rounds for morning teas.

At first I had been really worried about eating out all the time in Hampi but in the end it was absolutely fine, I just stuck to things like salad, potatoes and rice based dishes.

Next up we are staying in a rural village outside of Mysore.

Coeliac Travel Difficulties

I like to be positive about travel and life with coeliac disease, and of course it’s good to make the most of what you have and be grateful. That doesn’t mean that it’s always easy though. This week I’ve been completely out of my comfort zone.

We couldn’t find somewhere to stay in Hampi island with self catering (also can’t seem to find any veg/food markets apart from fruit stalls) so I’ve been eating out everyday which makes me really anxious as I never can tell if the waiter has a 100% understood the severity of cross contamination or what does and doesn’t have gluten in and it feels like a gamble everytime.

Well meaning friends & family in England can find the strictness of a coeliac diet hard to grasp, so of course strangers in a foreign country who have never even heard of coeliac are going to struggle to get their heads around it. Even places in the UK, with it’s food safety laws, that claim to be gluten free can forget to put warnings on their menus about deep fryers used for gluten and non gluten foods etc so it’s no wonder I’m left feeling paranoid whenever I eat out!

Yesterday I was so tired and hungry that I suddenly felt really left out in the restaurant watching everyone around me literally break bread and dip it into each others curries, sharing across cultures and enjoying food together whilst I was scared of what was on my own plate not being sure whether it was safe or not.

So, I let myself be a bit sad about it, got an early night and this morning I’ve taken myself out for breakfast. I’m drinking fresh fruit juice, tea and have just ordered a rice pudding with raisins – all things you pretty much can’t go wrong with gluten wise!

I’m overlooking beautiful paddy fields with vibrant, rich green shoots growing beneath the palm trees and ancient rock formations behind. Ill get lots of fresh fruit for lunch with some nuts and seeds then I will clearly and calmly explain celiac again tonight at a restaurant and get an omelette and salad. It will all be okay and I’ll have a lovely time and be well fed.

Because I know eating out can be difficult I’ve fit my travel plans around my gluten free diet and next week will be going to stay with an ayervedic doctor near Mysore through “workaway”. He has said I am welcome to eat and cook gluten free at his place. This will be considerably better fitted to my needs!

So, sometimes it does get hard. Sometimes I do question how realistic it is to globe trot as a coeliac. But where there’s a will there’s a way and we can definitely find ways to make it work.

I look around me at the breath taking beauty of this place and I’m glad I pushed my comfort zone and dared to travel without being held back by a health condition. Like many challenges in life, it’s well worth the highs and lows.

With love from India x

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