Prioritising Plant-Based Foods

We all know that there is much to be gained health-wise from including more fruits and vegetables in our diets. You do not have to always be eating the latest superfoods in order to stay healthy, and there is an abundance of goodness to be found in common fruits and vegetables.

If you know how great these plant-based foods can be but struggle to include them in your diet, then the following tips can help you overcome this problem.

Learn to Love Salad

Salad is something that you may more commonly enjoy as a side dish than a main meal, and adjusting your thinking on this is encouraged! There are many amazingly filling and super healthy salad recipes that you can enjoy regularly as a main meal. Doing so will go a long way to ensuring that you eat more greens, as well as all the other exciting fruit and vegetables that you can easily include in a salad.

Say Yes to Healthy Snacks

Snacking on junk food late at night is where many dieters find their downfall to be. Making the decision to only snack on fruit after dinner, instead of trying to avoid snacking entirely, is a great way to satisfy your cravings whilst also nourishing your body. Frozen bananas are a particularly good choice for those with a sweet tooth, and they can be enjoyed with a light topping for extra flavour, such as peanut butter or maple syrup.

Fresh Fruit for Breakfast

The majority of breakfast dishes can be very well complimented by the addition of one piece or more of fresh fruit. Try adding berries to your cereal, avocado to your toast or cherry tomatoes to your eggs. Whatever your go-to breakfast dish is, the chances are you will enjoy it even more once it is accompanied with some plant-based goodness!

Mix Up Your Smoothies

Smoothies are a simple and delicious way to consume several portions of fruit and vegetables at one time. If you primarily make your smoothies with fruit then the time has come to throw some vegetables into the mix. Try carrots, beets and fennel to get started!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Kale and Tomato Breakfast Wraps

Breakfast wraps are a great, healthy way to bring some variety to your morning meal. They involve surprisingly minimal preparation and the fantastic combination of ingredients can really help you to start the day in the best way possible! One of the many great things about my breakfast wraps is that you can make them right before you head out of the door and then enjoy them on your way to work!

As you will already know from visiting my blog before, kale is an absolute powerhouse of nutrition and I recommend getting lots of it into your diet! With these wraps you get a whole cup into your body before the day has even really begun! This little leaf is full of so many antioxidants, not to mention high amounts of vitamins A, C and K.

The addition of basil to this recipe compliments the existing flavour as well as providing an additional dose of goodness. This herb has quite a distinct aroma and contains beneficial amounts of vitamin K, manganese and magnesium! Growing basil at home for yourself is so easy to do and you can more than likely grab yourself a plant from your local supermarket with your weekly shop. This will mean that you always have fresh basil to hand, and also that your kitchen will be full of the delicious smell it is loved for.

Kale and Tomato Breakfast Wraps3To make this dish for two people you will need the following ingredients:

2 cups of fresh kale
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
1 large tomato, sliced
1/2 a medium avocado, mashed
The juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons of fresh basil
2 whole-wheat tortillas

Kale and Tomato Breakfast Wraps2The first step is to heat the coconut oil in a skillet and then fry the onion and tomato at a medium heat. While this is cooking you can take the tortillas and spread the mashed avocado over each one.

Once the onions have started to brown, remove the contents of the pan and spoon onto the tortillas. Add half of the lemon juice to each tortilla with the basil, and then place the kale on top. Fold the tortillas and serve – it’s as simple as that!

Kale and Tomato Breakfast WrapsThis is a recipe from an upcoming course on my e-learning portal, The Flexi Foodie Academy – head there now to check out what’s already on offer!

Hemp Seed Smoothie Bowl

Think of this as almost like a chocolate milkshake but one that is actually filled with all things good! You might think that this is impossible…..but give this one a go and I think you’ll agree it’s thick, creamy, and slightly chocolatey too!

If you haven’t heard the hype about hemp seeds yet then you are certainly missing out! They are loaded with goodness, from healthy fats to an abundance of protein and essential nutrients. The omega-3 fatty acids found within hemp seeds are great for nourishing your mind as well as your heart. This kind of fat reduces inflammation in the body as well as promoting cognitive function and memory. For this reason, having one of my hemp seed smoothie bowls first thing in the morning can really help you to start the day with your best foot forwards!

Hemp seeds are also amazing because they contain all of the essential amino acids. This makes them a complete source of protein which is fantastic for those on a purely plant-based diet. Just three tablespoons of these seeds equates to 10 grams of seriously high-quality protein!

Hemp Seed Smoothie Bowl2To make this smoothie bowl for two people, you will need the following ingredients:

2 cups / 5oz / 140g of spinach
2 cups / 5oz / 140g of kale
1/2 a cucumber, roughly chopped
1 ripe banana
1/2 an avocado, peeled and de-stoned
1 tbsp of hemp seeds
1 tsp of spirulina
1 cup / 8fl oz / 225ml of coconut milk
1 tbsp of raw cacao
A handful of ice (optional)

Hemp Seed Smoothie BowlTo make this smoothie bowl, all you need to do is place all of the ingredients (except the ice) into a blender. You can then blitz for approximately two minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick and creamy.

If you want to chill the smoothie, you can then add the ice to the blender and blitz again. Once everything is combined together, spoon it into bowls and serve immediately.

This is one of the recipes from my book – Eat Real Foods – which was released this week!!! You can order your copy in the UK by clicking here and order your copy in the U.S by clicking here!

Flaxseed Pancakes

Getting omega-3 into you diet by consuming healthy oils could not be easier thanks to this super yummy pancake recipe. These pancakes are light, fluffy, and utterly delicious!

As we covered in an earlier blog post this week, flaxseeds are fantastic for for your health and full of goodness! Not only do they aid digestion but they’re also good for protecting the body against free-radical damage and disease. Maple syrup is also a healthy addition to this recipe and is what makes these pancakes extra delicious! Maple syrup contains a range of minerals, such as manganese, magnesium, calcium and potassium – all of which are essential to your continued good health! Maple syrup also contains an abundance of riboflavin which aids the metabolic process.

Flaxseed Pancakes 2To make enough pancakes to feed four people, you will need the following ingredients:

1/2 a cup / 5oz / 150g wholewheat (all-purpose) flour
2 tbsp of flaxseed oil plus extra for cooking
1 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/2 a cup / 4fl oz / 125ml of dairy-free milk
2 tbsp of maple syrup

Flaxseed Pancakes1The first thing you will need to do is place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and beat until the mixture forms a smooth batter.

You can then drizzle a little flaxseed oil into a small skillet (frying pan or pancake pan) and set on a medium heat. When the oil is hot, pour two or three tablespoons of the batter into the skillet so that it covers the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Pay close attention as the pancake cooks and turn the pancake after approximately four minutes to cook the other side. Once each pancake is cooked you can remove from the pan and repeat with the rest of the batter.

Once all of your batter has been used up, drizzle your stack of pancakes with a little more maple syrup and top with your favourite berries or slices of banana. Serve immediately and enjoy!

This is one of the recipes from my book – Eat Real Foods – which was released this week!!! You can order your copy in the UK by clicking here and order your copy in the U.S by clicking here!

Breakfast Millet

When you want to add a greater variety of grains into your diet, millet is a fantastic choice and it makes the perfect porridge for breakfast. Millet contains a wealth of essential nutrients, including magnesium, manganese, and copper. This amazing grain is easily digestible and is considered to be an alkaline food, which is great for promoting balance in the body.

One especially beneficial fact about millet is that serotonin is naturally present, meaning this food is perfect for promoting a happy mood. Serotonin also has calming properties, making millet a good choice as a breakfast option ahead of a stressful day! Also, millet is free from gluten and doesn’t contain any allergens. This means that there is no limit to who can enjoy this grain as a staple of their diet!

Breakfast Millet2.pngTo make this breakfast dish for one to two people, you will need the following ingredients:

2 cups / 16fl oz / 450ml of water
1 cup / 70z / 200g of millet, uncooked weight
1 cup / 8fl oz / 225ml of nut milk
1/4 cup / 1oz / 25g of pumpkin seeds
A drizzle of maple syrup
A handful of your favourite berries

Breakfast Millet3.pngThe first step is to place the water in a large saucepan on a high heat and bring to the boil before adding the millet. You can then reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, remembering to stir occasionally.

The next step is to add the nut milk and continue to cook on a low heat for five minutes while stirring. After this time you can remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pumpkin seeds.

Finally, divide the millet between two servings bowls and drizzle with maple syrup. For an extra added antioxidant boost, top with your favourite berries (personally, I love blueberries with this one) and serve immediately!

This is one of the recipes from my book – Eat Real Foods – which was released today!!! You can order your copy in the UK by clicking here and order your copy in the U.S by clicking here!

Green Sprouted Oat and Chia Porridge

Starting your morning with a nutritious breakfast is the best way to equip your body and mind for the day ahead. Oats are an amazing low-calorie choice that are great for many functions in the body, not least the health of your heart! The addition of pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, goji berries, chia seeds and chlorella make this a superfood option that packs a wealth of vitamins, minerals and more!

Chlorella has not featured too much in my recipes before. It is a type of algae that is so nutritious that it is often used to make nutritional supplements and medicine. It is available in powder form and as well as being full of healthy essential compounds it is also high in protein and fiber.

To make this porridge for two people, you will need the following ingredients:

1 cup of sprouted oats (Rude Health is my favourite for this)
1/4 of a cup of chia seeds
1 cup of water
1 tsp. of chlorella or spirulina
Top with pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs and goji berries
*Optional strawberry chia seed jam to garnish

Green Sprouted Oat and Chia Porridge2To get started making this delicious breakfast dish you must first add the water and the oats into a medium sized pan. Turn up the heat and bring the oats and water to the boil before you then leave to simmer for ten minutes. After this time has passed the oats should be soft. At this point you can add the chia seeds into the oats and if it is still not as soft as you desire then leave the oats to simmer for a further five minutes. This will also give the chia seeds a chance to expand.

Once the oats have cooked and swelled, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chlorella.  After a few minutes you can move the oats into a dish (such as this gorgeous bowl and plate from L’Objet!!) and top with pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs and goji berries. If you have any of your strawberry chia seed jam left in the fridge from last week then, like my eight year old, you might enjoy adding this to your porridge too!

Follow me on Twitter @juliemontagu for recipes, nutrition information, exercise tips and more!

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Jam is a breakfast favorite of so many people but at the same time people might try to avoid the store bought varieties because of the high sugar count! Vegetarians and vegans often have a hard time finding jam that they can eat because several brands of jam do not qualify in either category! The best way to have control over your diet is to make things like jam at home yourself. It does not take as long as you might think, it will always be healthier than anything you can buy in the store and it will be delicious!

Strawberries are such an amazing way to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals into your diet. Even though some people opt to eat them dipped in sugar or cream, they are still very tasty without any added extras. Strawberries are particularly high in a certain group of antioxidants known as polyphenols and will provide protection for your heart as well as increasing good (HDL) cholesterol levels.

To make my strawberry jam, you will only need the following ingredients:

2 cups of strawberries, de-stemmed and chopped in quarters
¼ cup maple syrup / honey /coconut nectar
2 Tbsp chia seeds
Water as needed

To get started you will first need to add the strawberries to a pan and heat at a medium to high heat. You must also add the sweetner of your choice. The liquid from the strawberries will soon start to fill up the pan. Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a further 7-10 minutes, stirring every so often. Then, ussing a fork or masher, smash your strawberries to your desired level of consistency.

The next step is to stir in the two tablespoons of chia seeds and leave to cook for another minute – making sure to stir well. You can then remove from the heat and allow the jam to cool while the chia seeds swell up to thicken the jam. Don’t worry if it isn’t at the desired consistency as it will continue to thicken as it cools. Once the jam is cooled you can serve on your favourite piece of toast or top onto your favourite pudding! There’s no end to the many uses of delicious and healthy strawberry chia seed jam!

If you want to store this jam for later use then do so in an airtight container. If you keep it in the refrigerator then it will be good for up to two weeks.

To learn more about nutrition head over to The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Green Acai Berry Bowl

Green Smoothies were all the rage last year but for 2014, there’s a new Superhero in town called the BOWL!  Yup, the bowl is prettier and can be decorated easier than a boring glass.  So, here’s a twist on the smoothie:  The Green Acai Berry Bowl.  And trust me, it’s much easier to get your kids to eat this when it’s in a bowl and decorated with pure goodness.

IMG_1314It’s so quick and easy to make so grab yourself these ingredients:

1 banana (frozen is good if you want it nice and cold!)

1/2 cup coconut water

3 dates (pitted)

1 pear

large handful of spinach

1 teaspoon of acai powder (or more if you fancy!)

For the topping:

Well, you can add just about anything you like.  For this post, I added blueberries, coconut flakes and bee pollen!  Yum!

The acai berry is one of the healthiest berries you will ever find!  This antioxidant-rich fruit has been tooted for centuries as a healing, immune-stimulating, energy-boosting fruit.  Hurray!  A foreign relative of the blueberry and cranberry, studies have shown that this antioxidant-rich berry may be able to help in the prevention of diseases associated with oxidative damage, not to mention many other health benefits like digestion and weight loss!  I’m all over this berry……Enjoy!

IMG_1316

Six Ways to Avoid Night Time Cravings!

Night time food binges are something many people can’t resist. Even if you’ve managed the whole day sticking to your diet and getting an adequate amount of exercise, sometimes the urge to binge late in the evening wins over your will power! For some this can consist of a naughty snack after dinner, but for others it can involve over-eating late into the night when they should be in bed giving their bodies the rest it deserves. If this sounds like you then don’t worry! You’re definitely not alone and here I’ve got seven great tips to help you avoid this behaviour.

six_ways_to_avoid_night_time_cravings1)      Always Eat Breakfast

This might sound obvious to many people but it’s surprising just how many people skip breakfast. Some will say they were too busy for a morning meal whilst others will use new diet restrictions as an excuse not to eat first thing. Whatever your excuse is, stop using it! If you are rushed in the morning then simply wake a little earlier and always choose a low fat, high protein option that will give you a boost before your day has really begun. Eggs are a great option, as is fruit. Or why not try making scrambled tofu with a selection of vegetables on brown toast – delicious!

2)      Avoid Calorific Drinks

It is so easy to drink a massive amount of your recommended daily calories. Coffee, tea, sodas and juices can contain shocking amounts of sugar which can cause disruption to blood levels and leave you craving more of the sweet stuff.

3)      Eat Regular Meals

Keeping your meal times regular will help your body to form a natural rhythm too. If you have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time each day then you will create a balance and your body will be less likely to crave foods at inappropriate times. You should apply this thinking to snacking in between meals too. Healthy light snacks are fine and actually encouraged to help regulate your metabolism but try to be consistent in this too.

4)       Include Good Fatssix_ways_to_avoid_night_time_binges

It is important that each of your meals contains good quality fats and a decent amount of protein. Foods which contain good fats are nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and coconuts. Meat sources of high quality protein are chicken and fish but you can also get a more than adequate amount of protein from a vegetarian diet by consuming things like leafy green vegetables.

5)      Sleep & Relaxation

Comfort eating is something everyone has been guilty of at some point and this can have serious detrimental effects on your diet efforts. Wherever possible, try to avoid stress during the day. Depending on your lifestyle this may be hard for you to achieve but there are several relaxation activities, such as yoga and meditation that can help. There is also a range of breathing exercises that you can do anywhere throughout the day to calm yourself. Making sure you have a regular sleep pattern is also key to avoiding over eating as when your body is well rested you will have a natural energy that will prevent your body from craving sugary snacks as a supplement.

6)       Vitamins & Supplementssix_ways_to_avoid_night_time_cravings

Taking vitamins and supplements cannot only help keep your body balanced with all the things it needs, but can also help prevent food cravings. For example, Omega-3 contains some essential fatty acids that are considered necessary for human health however the body can’t make this on its own. If you’re not eating enough omega-3 rich foods then you should definitely be taking supplements to counteract this. A daily dose of Vitamin D will help to regulate your hormones and balance your insulin levels. This will lead to less desire for night time binging and a generally improved sense of well-being.

Stick to these three tips and you’ll soon find that any desire to ruin your healthy diet fades away, leaving you with a body that will thank you for it!

tibits; A Buffet with a Difference

I recently checked out tibits, a vegetarian restaurant and bar, and I absolutely loved it. Tibits offer a wide variety of vegetarian buffet food, which makes it the perfect place to dine out if you’re not quite sure what you want to eat yet! It’s brilliant for splurging or scrimping on the pennies too – it can cost as little or as much as you want. With a twist on the more conventional buffet idea, the protocol here is to select what you want from the range of dishes, take your plate up to the counter to be placed on a scale and then pay for your meal depending on the weight. It’s a pretty novel system but I thought it was great!

tibits_a_buffet_with_a_difference_the_flexifoodie (4)The buffet is apparently changed daily, and each option is helpfully labeled so that you can distinguish between the vegetarian, vegan and gluten free food. If you don’t eat meat or dairy and you’ve ever tried to dine at a regular buffet, then you’ll understand just how much easier and enjoyable this makes your dining experience. I liked the fact that there is a great selection of organic wines and beers on offer, as well as the typical fresh juices and hot drinks.

tibits_a_buffet_with_a_difference_theflexifoodieRight now there are some amazing autumn specials on the menu, such as the Onde con Funghi al Tartufo (a mushroom pasta dish) and the Focaccia Mexicana pizza, both of which are delicious! I always think the dessert is the most important part of a meal though and the dessert menu here was a treat.  The selection of sweet dishes on the list is fantastic, and with the desserts being vegan I couldn’t be happier. Needless to say, I’ll be bringing all 4 of my kids along next time for the sticky toffee pudding! The staff at tibits are really child friendly as well, great for people like me who want both quality food and good service for their kids (a rare find).

tibits_a_buffet_with_a_difference_the_flexifoodie (2)The location for Tibits is great for me as I pass through central London often. I find the problem with a lot of restaurants in this part of town is that they’re overly busy with minimal seating – not the best for sitting down with friends or for having kids running underfoot. It’s the complete opposite at tibits – as you walk down from Regent Street, Heddon Street is a blissful sea of calm away from the mad flow of tourists.

Inside the restaurant, everything is decorated to give a cheerful atmosphere, and I’d recommend it as a good spot to meet friends for lunch or for a relaxed evening meal. Tibits also offers a take away option! I’ve often wanted to grab a vegan snack as I pass through central London and seeing that all their hot food is vegan, this is ideal – it’s practically open all day. I also saw that they have “vegan day” events that are every eleven days, details on their website www.tibits.co.uk, so I’m definitely coming back for that!

I have to say that tibits is definitely one of the few vegetarian or vegan restaurants to which you can take your carnivorous friends. The friend who came with me eats meat, and to have her actively enjoy the meatless dishes is pretty astounding. I’m sure many of you reading this know just how tedious pleasing carnivores can get!

All in all, I had a great experience here and would recommend it as a vegetarian hotspot in London!  Check them out here: www.tibits.co.uk