Julie’s Vegan Pizza

If your kids are anything like mine, then there’s a good chance that pizza is one of their favourite dishes. The problem with a lot of store bought pizzas is that they can be high in fat, high in calories, and also contain additional additives and preservatives that aren’t going to do your health any favours!

My recipe for vegan pizza is a simple way to create a fresh, healthy pizza that the kids will still love – all four of mine certainly do!

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The bases that I recommend are the stone-baked variety from BFree Foods. In case you didn’t catch my last blog post, I’m now a Brand Ambassador for this incredible company,! BFree Foods provide allergen-free foods so that more people can enjoy amazing tasting dishes!

To make two pizzas, you will need the following ingredients:

    • 2 BFree pizza bases
    • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced long-ways
    • 1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced long-ways
    • 10 stalks of tender-stem broccoli
    • 2 handfuls of rocket
    • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
    • 2 heaped Tbsp of tomato paste
    • 2 white onions, thinly sliced into 1/2 moons
    • 2 tsp of paprika
    • 2 Tbsp of pine nuts
    • Olive oil
    • Agave syrup

Begin by pre-heating your oven to 200C and preparing all of your ingredients.

Take the sliced onions and fry at a medium to high heat with a splash of olive oil. Once the onions have begun to soften, which should take around five minutes, you can then add one tablespoon of agave syrup. This will allow the onions to caramelise, so leave them to do their thing for a further few minutes. After this time, you can remove them from the heat and set aside.

Next, in a food processor, whizz the tinned tomatoes with the tomato paste and one tablespoon of the agave syrup until smooth. Set this aside as you’ll be using it as your red sauce.

Place the red and yellow peppers on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over them. Roast in the oven for ten minutes, as they just start to get soft.

Place the broccoli in a shallow pan and cover with 2cm of water. Heat at a medium heat for just five minutes. You can then drain and remove from the heat.

Now it’s time to create your pizza!

Slather the BFree pizza base with your red sauce, top with the caramelised onions, red and yellow peppers, and the broccoli. Each pizza should then get a tablespoon of pine nuts and a sprinkle of paprika!

Cook for 10 minutes (pine nuts will be perfectly toasted) and once out of the oven, top each pizza with a handful of rocket. Enjoy!

BFree Foods Pizza Julie Montagu Vegan

Don’t forget to check out the BFree Foods website for these pizza bases, as well as to see the other amazing foods that they have in their range. You can also like their Facebook page to stay up to date with what they’re up to!

How To Improve Your Sleep Cycle

If you caught my blog post last week then you will have discovered just how important it is to have an optimum sleep cycle. This is unfortunately not something all of us enjoy, but there are ways to improve the quantity and quality of the sleep that you are having!

Set an Alarm

Your alarm clock is more commonly used to wake you up in the morning, but you can also set your alarm to remind yourself to go to bed. Having a bedtime may sound like something better suited to children, but as adults we can benefit greatly for inviting this kind of routine into our lives. If you get to bed at a reasonable time, then you are much more likely to sleep for longer. You should also then of course set an alarm to wake you in the morning, and try to resist the urge to snooze it when it goes off. Falling back to sleep and then waking again between snoozes can actually leave you feeling groggier and more reluctant to get up and start your day!

Be Conscious of Your Diet

Consuming alcohol or caffeine in the second half of the day can play a part in disrupting your sleep cycle. You may find that these things prevent you from falling asleep with ease, and can also cause you to wake up multiple times during the night. Furthermore, alcohol can continue to have a negative impact on your mood and how you feel physically the following day.

Create the Right Environment

The place in which you sleep can influence how easy it is for you to fall asleep, and also the quality of sleep that you enjoy during the night. The majority of people find it easier to sleep well in the dark, and also in a room that is comfortably warm, but not overly so. If it is impossible for you to sleep in an entirely dark room, then consider investing in a comfortable eye mask. Similarly, if it is not possible to keep your bedroom at an optimum temperature during the night then acquire some suitable clothes for sleeping.

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!

Is Your Sleep Cycle Causing You Harm?

Getting a full eight hours of undisturbed sleep every night is something that many of us are aware that we need to do, but the reality is that it is not always achievable!

There are many reasons why you might not get enough sleep – or enough good quality sleep. This could be because of a busy schedule that keeps you up late, a young child that wakes during the night, or perhaps disturbances from other sources, such as noisy neighbours!

Whatever the reason for a poor sleep cycle, it is important to address and work to resolve the problem in order to preserve and boost your health. The following issues can quickly appear when you are sleep deprived, and can lead to further health issues.

Fatigue

Fatigue can often be accompanied by a short temper and a lack of focus, which can quickly cause problems during your day! Being fatigued can also become a safety issue as your ability to drive and complete other tasks will become impaired.

Obesity

Studies have shown that those who sleep less tend to be at a higher risk of obesity. It has been suggested that this is because there is a higher presence of leptin when a person is sleep deprived. Leptin is the chemical that makes you feel full. Sleep deprivation also causes increased levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger.

Illness

If a poor sleep cycle is a consistent problem then your immune system will soon become compromised and your overall health will suffer. This can contribute to the onset of relatively small health problems, such as a cough or cold, but can also lead to much more significant issues over time, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The risk of developing diabetes appears to be particularly prevalent in those who regularly sleep for less than five hours each night.  This is thought to be because a lack of sleep changes the way that the body processes glucose.

If you are aware that your sleep cycle is becoming damaging to your health, and your life in general, then it is important to take steps to improve the length and quality of the sleep that you enjoy. This is something that I will be discussing in a blog post next week, so check back soon!

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!

Goji Berry Ice Cream

Making ice cream absolutely does not have to require an ice cream maker! This recipe shows you how to use your blender to create a tasty yet nutritious sweet ice cream treat. It is the perfect thing to enjoy on a hot summer’s day. This recipe is so great for your kids because there is nothing bad in it but it still tastes just as amazing as regular ice cream – your kids certainly won’t be complaining about this healthy dish!

Goji berries are one of my favourite superfoods. They are super easy to include in recipes and also have a fantastic flavour. They have a gorgeous pink colouring which adds an interesting twist to recipes when you blend them in. Just a quarter cup serving of goji berries contains as much as 180% of your RDA of vitamin A. This natural antioxidant works to protect your body against free radical damage. Vitamin A is also linked to the health of your vision and goji berries are often connected with decreasing the prevalence of age-related loss of sight. These powerful berries are now commonly available in shops and health food stores, making them easy to include regularly in your diet.

Goji Berry Ice Cream2To make enough of this ice cream to serve four people, you will need the following ingredients:

1 ripe banana, peeled and frozen
1/2 cup / 2oz / 55g of goji berries
1/2 cup/ 2oz / 55g of blueberries
1/2 cup / 3oz / 85g of pitted dates
1 tsp of ground cinnamon

Goji Berry Ice CreamThe first step is to pre-soak the goji berries in a bowl of cold water for ten minutes before rinsing and draining. You can then place the berries in a blender with the rest of the ingredients and blitz for two minutes, or until the mixture forms a smooth creamy consistency.

Then all you have to do is spoon the mixture into an airtight container and freeze for three to four hours. It is then ready to be served with fresh fruit or alone for a deliciously simple treat.

This is one of the recipes from my soon to be released book – Eat Real Foods! You can pre-order your copy in the UK by clicking here and pre-order your copy in the U.S by clicking here!

How Stress Affects Your Health

Our mental wellbeing has a huge impact on our physical health and taking care of yourself should involve practices related to both of these things! If your mind is frequently busy with negative thoughts and stress then you will observe that your energy and general health will decrease over time. It is often difficult to measure how much stress a person is experiencing, and for that reason it is regularly dismissed from being a health concern. However, that does not mean that you should take your stress levels any less seriously. Stress can cause some serious changes in your body that can actually be quite dangerous. Being aware of this can help you to understand why it is important to avoid stressful situations and reach resolutions to conflict quickly.

Stress has the potential to change how your genes function. This means that during periods of extreme stress the way your body stores fat can change, your immune system can become compromised and visible signs of aging can increase. When your immune system is affected in this way, you are more likely to develop infections, especially ones that can lay dormant such as cold sores.

Research has shown that those who experience high levels of stress as children can have dramatically altered responses to stress as adults. This means that these people might find certain situations harder to deal with than those who were not exposed to this early in life. High stress levels can actually damage certain parts the brain, such as those responsible for memory. During incredibly intense periods of time, the brain will often trigger adrenal shutdown in order to preserve as much energy as possible for its own function. Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc in your life and will drastically diminish your energy levels. The simplest of tasks, such as getting out of bed for more than a few hours, can seem incredibly difficult.

Studies have proven that the body’s ability to detoxify prescription drugs is negatively affected by stress. Similar studies have also shown that a person is much more likely to crave fatty, sugary foods during periods of moderate to extreme stress. If your lifestyle is causing you to compromise your nutrition then you will experience these negative effects much more rapidly.

As you can see, keeping your stress levels to an absolute minimum should be a priority in your life if you want to remain a positive and productive person. Distancing yourself from toxic relationships and negative influences should be an immediate action. You can also look to activities such as yoga and meditation in order to promote relaxation and optimum health! Check out my previous post on How to Make Time for Meditation for tips on getting started.

Why it’s Okay to Cry

For many people apologising for their negative emotions is an instinctive response. We are told from a young age that we shouldn’t cry or express anger and that is an incredibly damaging concept! If we can’t express our sadness or our anger then these emotions remain inside of us, causing us unnecessary harm. We are told, as children, that crying is a sign of weakness and that we need to “suck it up” and be strong. However, it is important to be aware that crying isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a natural response to certain emotions and situations.

Not passing this negativity on to our own children is incredibly important if we are to teach them how to understand and process their emotions. Teaching them that crying is shameful is detrimental to their emotional development and will cause them to associate sadness with shame. Creating an environment in which our children feel safe and able to cry is an essential part of creating a loving environment for them to thrive.

In order to eradicate this negative association from our own lives, both for our own benefit and also to prevent psychological damage to our children, we must work to embrace our pain and anxieties. Allowing yourself compassion is the best way to extend your compassionate thoughts to others and to break the cycle of shame.

When you’re in a situation that makes you feel like crying, it’s important to remember that it’s totally okay to do so! Trying to stem your tears will cause you to lose focus of your emotions and lessen your ability to deal with the problem constructively. There are several additional reasons that you might not want to express your emotions with crying, such as being in public or the fear of making someone else uncomfortable. However, we have to be aware of the fact that everyone else around us is human too! Everybody has, at some time, felt what you are feeling and nobody is going to show any negativity towards you for simply expressing your emotions!

By first undoing the damage that has been done to us by acknowledging that there is no shame in crying, we can move towards accepting our emotions! It is only then that we will be equipped to navigate upsetting situations with a clear head, resulting in a more satisfying solution!

Sweet Potato and Pear Donuts

One of the most common questions people with children ask me is, “How can I make healthy sweet snacks for my kids”?  This recipe is just the thing if you want to appeal to your child’s sweet tooth but also fill them with a snack that’s going to nourish them! All four of my children absolutely love these donuts and when there’s a plate of them in the kitchen I’m much happier for them to be snacking between meals! Traditional donuts are completely nutritionally pointless and full of all the bad stuff we want our children to avoid SO getting them hooked on these instead is a great move!

I use a lot of coconut based products in this recipe which is where a lot of the goodness comes from. Coconut in most forms is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. It also has a high lauric acid count which encourages HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the body. Studies have suggested that consuming coconut regularly will have anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic and anti-thrombotic (blood clot reducing) effects.

To make 12 of these mini donuts you#ll need the following ingredients:

1 sweet potato, grated
1 pear, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp. chia seed soaked in 3 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
90g coconut flour
90g buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp. flaxseeds, ground
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the glaze:

1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut butter, melted
1/2 tsp. honey

AND for a chocolate glaze:
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut butter, melted
1/2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. of cacao

sweet_potato_pear_donuts_the_flexi_foodie2So, to get started, pack 1 cup of your shredded sweet potato and place it in your food processor along with your shredded pear, soaked chia seeds and coconut sugar. Once it’s well combined, add the remaining ingredients and mix into a soft but wet batter.

Next, preheat your oven to 180C/350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using your hands roll the batter into large golf ball shapes and then slightly flatten it out on the baking sheet. I used the back of a pastry tip (about 1 inch diameter) to create the donut holes. You can keep all of the donut hole batter to create another donut at the end.

Bake the donuts for 15-20 minutes or until slightly golden and a toothpick comes out dry. Allow the donuts to cool before you ice. In separate bowls, combine the ingredients for the icings and spoon over the donuts and spread. Top with coconut flakes, goji berries or cacao nibs! Yum!

For more recipes like this one connect with me on Facebook or purchase a copy of my cookbook for yourself!

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Cabbage and Raisin Mash

I needed a new twist on the good ol’ cabbage for my kids…. and so as I was cooking the cabbage, this literally came to me! Make it a mash! And that’s exactly what this is – super quick, easy and totally delicious. I think you will love it and if you have kids, so will they!

Cabbage is so so so full of goodness and children often miss out on this fantastic source of nutrition because they are perhaps not fond of the appearance, texture or taste. However, with mash this is no longer a problem and the inclusion of a selection of sweet ingredients ensures that they are more than happy to eat it!

Cabbage’s potential in regards to cancer prevention has been explored extensively with promising results. Close to 500 studies have taken place relating to cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention, with cabbage proving it is well worth including frequently in your diet. This is mostly because of the high antioxidant count but is also attributed to its anti-inflammatory potential. Cabbage is also an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C – both of which are absolutely essential if we are to maintain optimum health.

To make this meal even healthier, the dash of cinnamon has been included. Cinnamon has been appreciated throughout history for its healing abilities. Among the amazing things it can do for your body are maintaining blood sugar levels, preventing the growth of bad bacteria in the body and also it helps blood to clot properly. All of that aside, it tastes great and is easy to add into your food everyday!

To make enough to serve 4-6 people find the following ingredients:

1 head of savoy cabbage,
1/2 a cup of coconut milk
1/4 of a cup of raisins
A dash of cinnamon

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The first thing you’ll need to do is cut the cabbage into quarters and then slice off the stem. You can then take the quarters and cut them into one-inch strips. The next step is to bring a large pot of water to the boil and add in the cabbage. Boil this pan for 3-5 minutes until the cabbage is somewhat soft. Next, place the cabbage, coconut milk, raisins and cinnamon into your food processor and whiz away until smooth. Finally, place the cabbage mash into bowls and then top with a few more raisins and a sprinkle of cinnamon!

To find more easy recipes like this to nourish you and your children, pre-order my first cookbook!

Courgetti Spaghetti, Grapefruit and a Brazil Nut, Coriander and Lemon Pesto

Courgette/Zucchini noodles are seriously becoming the biggest craze and I absolutely love them not only because they taste so good, but that it’s actually rather fun to spiralize them!  Even Nestor, my youngest, always wants a go and I always love to find new ways to get the kids involved in the kitchen!

Courgettes are incredibly low calorie with approximately just 17 calories in a 100 grams! They have immense anti-oxidant value which, as we know, means fantastic things for your body and overall health. Although they contain a great range of vitamins and minerals, potassium is one of the best components contained within and is found in abundance! This means that your heart will really feel the benefit when you include courgettes in your diet frequently. Adding grapefruits into this recipe also means amazing things for your heart as they are a tasty source of potassium too! Grapefruit also boasts a healthy dose of vitamin A which has many essential functions in the body.

Getting an adequate amount of essential fats in your diet is important for maintaining your health and can also aid weight loss. Brazil nuts are a great source of this kind of fat and eating even a small amount of them can provide huge benefits. Some people choose not to eat nuts because of the high calorie count but in moderation this is not something that you need to worry about!courgetti_spaghettiTo make enough for four people, find the following ingredients:

2 large courgettes
2 grapefruits, peeled and in segments
1 cup brazil nuts
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. of water
1/2 cup basil
1/2 cup of coriander
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 small garlic clove

So let’s get started making your spaghetti! Using a spiralizer or mandolin, create spaghetti like ribbons and then put them to one side. Next, in your food processor, combine the brazil nuts, sea salt, water, basil, coriander, olive oil, lemon and garlic to create the pesto. If necessary then you can add more water if you like to make your pesto smoother. You can then thoroughly mix the pesto into the courgette noodles and top with the grapefruit segments after serving into bowls.

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