Eat more plants for a happy, healthy life

Just as it’s important to build strong foundations to create a healthy business, so we need to build strong foundations, or pillars, for our personal health.

These health pillars relate to our physical health in both mind and body, and can also relate to spiritual and financial health.

Eating a diet rich in organic fruit and vegetables is great, but if at the same time you’re living unhealthy practices in mental health, spiralling into debt or stuck in a toxic relationship, then you aren’t going to achieve the vibrant health and vitality you dream of.

Food is not the enemy, but equally it isn’t the saviour. Clean food won’t instantly transform your life nor make the fat, inflammation or disease formed from years of destructive self talk disappear over night.

It’s time to think about food as just one part of a happy, energetic, harmonious life.

I’ve long held the mantra (and the hashtag) ‘Eat More Plants’, in fact, it was even the title of my very first recipe e-book back in 2015 as well as the name of the cooking class I taught at a local college.

To me, the essence of eating more plant-based foods revolves around nourishing your body at a cellular level, being more connected to nature and the seasons and filling your plate with a rainbow of foods created the way nature intended.

A whole food, plant based lifestyle means that we naturally consume far less processed and man-made foods (including junk food and snacks) as well as less sugar, less salt and less saturated fat than the standard British or American diet.

Eating this way means that you have to get back in the kitchen to wash, prepare and cook ingredients – which for many people is the one thing that sends them running straight back to the supermarket for ready meals or sauces in jars.

But one of the most important things I’ve realised over the years is that once you slow down and make time for home cooking, the more connected you feel to the food you eat and the greater the satisfaction in eating. This connection is heightened by more family meals around the table, children helping you cook and prepare food or even going foraging together or creating your own veggie patch in the garden.

It’s like a positive version of a catch 22. The more you slow down, the more relaxed and happy you feel and the lower the chance of stress eating, bingeing or grabbing that chocolate bar or bag of crisps from the petrol station or corner shop.

You’ve switched from running around at warp speed, unsuccessfully multi-tasking in every aspect of your life (we all know that when you try to spin too many plates they invariably fall and smash spectacularly at your feet), to slowing down to a pace where you have time to breathe.

To stop and smell the metaphorical roses.

To just be in the present moment.

To take that evening walk. To visit the friend. To take grandma out for Sunday tea.

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After a few months, your body catches up with your mind. You realise your sleep is better; no more staring at the ceiling at 3am or waking up with a feeling of dread hanging over you. Your body moves more freely; you sign up to the gym or a local exercise class or dip your toes in the sea. Your skin is brighter with less need for a mask of heavy make up – freeing up more time in the morning for reading, writing or creative passions. Your clothes fit better and you feel a sense of confidence return; perhaps you will join the dance class or dating site after all….

Eating (and enjoying) a plant-based lifestyle isn’t just about you though. It evokes a wider sense of community: a desire to meet other people following the same path, to share information and recipes or to swap home grown produce.

Helping the planet reverse the impact of catastrophic climate change is another crucial benefit of eating more plant based food and less meat, fish and dairy. If you’re interested in the statistics, just ask Google (or Ecosia – the eco-friendly search engine which plants trees as you search).

While switching your diet overnight is generally pretty difficult (particularly if you have a partner and children eating in the same house), there are many simple ways you can tip the balance in favour of plants. 

Here are some of my favourite top tips to help you to Eat More Plants:

  • Switch the balance of your current family favourites in favour of plants. Take out half the mince and add a can of brown lentils to a lasagne, shepherd’s pie or bolognese. Take out half the chicken or fish from a curry or stir fry and add more vegetables. Try courgette noodles instead of pasta with a home made tomato sauce blended with roasted vegetables (try carrots, onion, garlic, red pepper and tomatoes with fresh basil). Swap cheese sprinkled on hot dishes for toasted pine nuts or broken pieces of cashew nuts.
  • Try eating meat free one day a week. Or one meal a day every day. There are probably lots of meals you already enjoy that are either vegetarian or could be easily switched to plant based. Easy choices are pasta with tomato sauce, lentil or chick pea curry, mushroom risotto and bean chilli with potato wedges. There’s a global movement based around meat-free or meatless Monday – simply search for the hashtag across social media.
  • Learn something new. Learning is a huge part of human life. We’re constantly learning, growing and evolving in relationships, work, sport and creative pursuits. Learning how to cook, trying new recipes, joining an evening cooking class, watching a documentary, listening to podcasts, buying a book…. there are billions of bite sized pieces of information out there created by passionate, knowledgeable and artistic people.
  • Share information and resources. Once you’ve learnt something new, share it. Lend a book, write a blog, share a meal, comment on a social media post. If you have friends already embracing a plant-based (or vegan) lifestyle, ask them a few questions, invite them to eat with you, share their information with others if they’re running a plant-based food business or website.
  • As Brené Brown would probably say, ‘dare greatly’. Be confident and courageous and try something new in the kitchen. What’s the worst that could happen? If the food tastes really bad or you burn it it’ll end up in the bin and you’ll eat something else. But chances are, it’ll be edible – and better than that, it could be totally delicious! Explore, experiment and enjoy your new food adventures.

If you’d like to buy my two original plant-based recipe e-books, click here for more details.

Lorraine xx

Meal prep Sunday: plant-based and packaging-free

Today, I thought I’d share something a little different; an insight into my meal prep Sunday and food shopping over the past few days.

Now, I don’t meal prep EVERY Sunday,  in fact, I’ve been pretty rubbish about planning in general lately which has led to rather too many simple meals of pasta in tomato sauce, or noodles with vegetables or yet another lentil curry. (Nothing wrong with lentil curry but it can get a bit monotonous!)

Now Jersey has not one but TWO package free / zero waste shops to enhance our sustainable lifestyle goals, I decided now was the time to put my money where my mouth is and buy ONLY package free (or recyclable/compostable materials) ingredients and cook or prepare meals and snacks in advance.

On Friday, I went out armed with my mesh food bags and canvas shoppers to our great new cooperative initiative – SCOOP – based at Vermont Farm in St Peter. They stock a selection of seasonal, organic vegetables plus a whole host of dried ingredients to scoop straight out into your own jars or containers. We came away with some beautiful cooking apples, a giant bag of dark green kale, cashew nuts, almonds, broccoli, toasted coconut and dried mango (which won’t last long in our house!). I also treated myself to a new bamboo toothbrush (ahem – I may have had my last one for over a year) and some Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. All excellent value for money and you can walk away with that sweet smile of smugness plastered across your face!

My daughter and I then headed off to one of our friendliest farm shops on the island, Lucas Bros on La Haule hill, St Aubin. Here you can get the most delicious fresh flat leafed parsley (I literally eat it by the handful) as well as beautiful locally grown lettuce, fresh tomatoes of all varieties, giant mushrooms and so much more. We stocked up on lots of our favourite ingredients -like avocados, cucumber and ripe bananas – and my daughter is always astonished by how cheap it is compared to buying the same items in packaging in the supermarket.

First stop on Saturday afternoon – a local health food store (Barannes) for raw, organic apple cider vinegar and almond butter. Both in glass jars – check!

Then I headed off to Mini Mall, a fantastic new shop in the centre of St Helier, Jersey, where you can take your own jars and stock up on all your dried goods, plus olive oil, teas, spices and more. Oh, and they stock the most delicious raw vegan and gluten free treats from Wild Health. I couldn’t make up my mind so came away with a mint-matcha-chocolate slice and a chocolate-raspberry torte. I’ve sliced each one into three pieces and frozen the leftovers to share with my teenage daughters. (But only if I don’t eat it all before they find out!) *cue evil laugh*

In Mini Mall I bought chia seeds, cacao powder, cacao nibs, hazelnuts and organic ground cinnamon – yummy! It works out so much cheaper buying everything this way, plus, you’re helping to save the planet from unnecessary single use plastic and packaging. Win-win. They also have strong paper bags should you ever be passing by without your own jars.

Today (Sunday) I’ve been to Rondels’ farm shop in Trinity for more ripe bananas (did I mention they’re my favourite food?), frozen fruit, some other veggies – including a giant 2.5lb sweet potato – and more avocados. The only items that had to be in a plastic bag (because I’ve run out of containers – they seem to enter the void known as ‘school’ and never return…) were the frozen berries, but I reuse the bags as many times as possible for covering food in the fridge. (Note to self, buy more large Kilner jars.)

With all the shopping out of the way, I started my Sunday morning with 500ml water, a small glass of water with apple cider vinegar, then a freshly made apple and ginger shot which boosts immunity and warms you up on a cold day. This was followed by a giant blood-boosting juice of the organic kale and carrots from Scoop, fresh parsley, a little apple, fresh lemon juice and a giant raw beetroot. Dee-lish-uss!

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Our main breakfast was a chocolate-oat smoothie bowl topped with toasted coconut, almond butter  and cacao nibs – a nutrient rich start to the day.

Smoothie recipe: almonds, chia seeds, water, vanilla powder, ripe bananas, maca powder, ground flaxseed, cacao powder and medjool dates. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and whizz until smooth and creamy. I made a thick smoothie with less water than I would if I was going to drink it. Pour the smoothie over the oats (gluten free) and top with fruit and toppings of your choice.

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Lunch: A fresh bowl of raw salad ingredients with stuffed vine leaves (bought from Waitrose in a tin = recyclable) and a home made tahini dip.

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Then I started with all the food prep for the week ahead.

I haven’t made a specific meal plan, but I have made a selection of individual ingredients that my daughter can use for school lunches and I can eat at home for lunch to save precious writing time.

(Note: While I’m completely plant-based, my daughters do eat some meat, fish and eggs, though primarily it’s when they’re out with friends or with their dad. However, on this occasion I bought some skinless chicken breasts – straight into my own glass container – from the friendly couple who run The Country Butcher at Rondel’s Farm Shop so that my eldest daughter has a little more protein in her school lunches. I rarely cook meat for my kids at all so this is a rare occurrence!)

Here’s what I’ve been busy making, chopping and cooking all afternoon (is it bedtime yet?!):

  • Apple compote (stewed apple) – a great addition to breakfast dishes, as an ingredient in healthy muffins or to use as apple crumble… yum! Peel and chop cooking apples straight into a saucepan. Add a little water (about half a cup for 3-4 small cooking apples), and your choice of spices. I added cloves, star anise, ground mixed spice and cardamon seeds. However, a dash of cinnamon works perfectly well if that’s all you have. I don’t tend to sweeten my cooking apples but feel free to add a little maple syrup or agave if desired.
  • Cacao energy balls – a perfect mid morning snack for busy teenagers or an after dinner treat if you have a sweet tooth. They’re also great as a post-workout snack alongside a ripe banana. In a food processor add gluten free oats, chia seeds, cashew nuts (or any nut of your choice), cacao nibs, ground flaxseed and cacao powder. Blitz until it’s a coarse consistency but not a powder. Add soaked medjool dates and coconut oil and blitz until it starts coming away from the sides and can be easily rolled into balls. Roll the mixture into balls and store in the fridge or freezer in a container. I made about 15 balls which should keep us going for a few days!
  • Brown rice and bulgur wheat – staples for a plant-based diet, I made these in bulk and separated into portion sizes so that my 17 year old can easily put together her own lunches (dream on, mummy!). Cook until al dente, then rinse in cold water, drain and store in the fridge immediately. *Note, bulgur wheat is not gluten free. 
  • Sweet ’n’ spicy roasted sweet potato cubes – another family favourite, I roasted peeled, cubed sweet potato in a little olive oil, sea salt, smoked paprika, turmeric, chilli flakes and cinnamon. Once cooked, allow to cool and store in the fridge in a sealed container.
  • Roasted pumpkin and courgette – the last of the Halloween pumpkin has now been cooked!! I peeled and cubed the pumpkin and chopped the courgette into chunks and popped them in a roasting dish together with sea salt, black pepper and a tiny bit of olive oil. Again, once cooked, allow to cool and store in the fridge in a sealed container.
  • Dehydrated pineapple slices – Am I the only one who buys pineapples with good intentions and then watches them slowly become overripe…?!! This one needed eating asap so I peeled, sliced finely and dehydrated in the oven on about 50 degrees celsius for a few hours. (While I was cooking the roasted vegetables I sat these in the top oven which gets slightly warm from the main oven anyway. Then I returned them to the lower heat once the oven had cooled down.) I never manage to make these as dry as the ones in the shops but they’re so yummy (and so small) that they generally last all of about 4 minutes anyway….
  • Chopped red bell peppers and organic carrots – washed, sliced and ready to use in salads or as a snack.
  • Soaked almonds – soaking in water ready for tomorrow morning’s almond milk (because I’m trying not to buy cartons of milk anymore as they’re not recyclable …)

Plus, for those of you not yet on a plant-based or vegan diet, you probably need time to transition. So here’s what I did with the chicken and eggs… (and I’m not even going to crack a joke… *groan*)

I roasted the chicken breasts in turmeric, sea salt and black pepper, then sliced into lunchbox chunks and popped half in the freezer and half in the fridge in a large Kilner jar. I hard-boiled two of the eggs and saved the others for omelette or cakes. (Just for the kids…) If you want more meal-prep inspiration for meat and fish based dishes, just search on YouTube as there are soooo many vloggers and fitness experts who share their tasty, healthy recipes. 

Hopefully you’re exhausted (but inspired) just by reading this… and I’m now off for a long soak in the bath with candles! 

I’ll leave you with a couple of questions to get you on track with meal prep and planning.

  • How could you be more organised this week and plan ahead to give yourself more time?
  • What meals or snacks could you prepare in advance? Even making a slow cooker casserole is a great way to free up the early evening when everyone is tired and hungry after a busy day.
  • Have you got any local sustainable shops near you? If you’re not sure, your challenge this week is to do some research.

If you live in Jersey, do pop in to the shops I’ve named above and tell them they were featured in a local blog. They’ll be really happy! Or share your photos on Instagram and tag me @lorrainepannetiercreative or @bowlsofsoul. I’d love to see your take on meal prep. 

Have a wonderful, slow, relaxing Sunday evening,

Lorraine xx

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Cacao energy balls sprinkled with toasted coconut… just because 😉

Every time I commit 100%, energy shifts and transformation begins…

Every time I commit 100% to something, energy shifts, changes happen, transformation begins and life changes … 

Forever.

There’s a massive difference in energy when we decide to jump in completely, versus dipping our toes in here and there.

If you really want to declutter your home but keep putting it off until tomorrow (and we all know tomorrow never comes), then you’ll forever be feeling that constant energy drain that comes when you feel you should be sorting your wardrobe, deep cleaning the kitchen or moving that pile of paperwork off the dinner table.

If you really want to get fitter, stronger and leaner but after an initial 3 week burst of three-times-a-week gym sessions or early morning runs you slowly run out of physical and mental energy, then you’re always left feeling not-quite-good-enough and revert back to your comfort zone.

Some people believe that others who can achieve consistent success have some kind of genetic super-power that makes them never lose focus and stay on track through all kinds of challenges. Others might say those high achievers have an inbuilt stubbornness and extra helping of willpower.

But I don’t believe that’s true.

When I reflect back on my own experiences I find it easy to pull out all the failures.  All the diets that lasted just a few days, all the fitness plans written and never accomplished, all the beauty routines that disappeared long before the tubs of creams and lotions…

It’s really easy to remember our failures. It’s even easier to tell ourselves that we’re simply not someone who achieves their goals or that we don’t have enough willpower.

For just a few moments, I’d love you to think about all the things you’ve planned, started and never finished. They may not be health and fitness orientated but perhaps projects around the home, learning a language or keeping your car filled up with petrol all the time (I still can’t manage this one!!).

(If you have some paper or a notebook nearby, do feel free to write this down as it’s a really useful and motivating exercise.)

Now, switch it around and look at all the things you have achieved, stuck to or completed.

I’ll share some of mine…

Back in 2013 I decided to stop drinking diet coke (other brands are available!). I’d gradually realised it made my skin itch and as someone who is very intuitive with her body, I knew it wasn’t doing my health any favours. So after a night out with a friend I decided that was it. My last diet coke. Ever. Admittedly there were moments later that summer where I could easily have given in and tasted that first, ice cold, fizzy sip… but I stuck to my gut instinct. A few weeks became months and suddenly I found myself able to say ‘I haven’t had a diet coke for a year’. That was almost 5 years ago and I can honestly say that not only do I not miss it (sparkling water with ice, fresh lime and mint is far more refreshing), but I also feel better for not drinking it.

When my children were little I spent a lot of time with other mums who complained about how much time home cooking took or how they resorted to oven-ready meals like fish fingers, beans and chips. Somehow, I knew that it felt different to me. Sure, there were plenty of busy days, fish finger days and let’s-go-out-for-dinner days, but in my heart I knew that cooking fresh meals with real ingredients gave me far more than good nutrition. It gave me peace of mind that I was nourishing my children in the best way I could, with love and care. The more I realised the importance of home-cooking to me, slowly my life evolved in ways I’d never imagined. I began to run cooking sessions in people’s homes, got a ‘healthy family food’ recipe column in our local newspaper, ran a cooking project for young mums with a local charity and became an adult education tutor for healthy cooking at college. I remember calculating one day that I must have prepped and cooked more than 25,000 family meals in my lifetime!

In more recent years as my spiritual awakening seemed to speed up, I realised that watching television news reports was a massive drain on my energy. Since childhood I’d seen more than my fair share of plane crash or car accident images and these haunted me frequently. I think, like many of us, that 9/11 was a turning point. I know something shifted in my mind that day, sitting breastfeeding my newborn baby wondering what kind of world I’d brought her into. It took a few more years before that final lightbulb moment. It happened slowly though…. Our television broke and as it was almost the school summer holidays I just didn’t replace it. We played more outside and I enjoyed the time to read or do things around the home rather than mindlessly flick through the channels. When I finally bought a new TV some weeks later and reverted to old habits, I felt a massive, instant, crushing negativity, sadness and drain wash through every cell in my body. I knew at that point I had to protect my energy (and my sanity!). From that day forward I haven’t watched any more daytime TV or a complete news report. In fact, I sold our TV over 2 years ago and it’s the best thing I ever did! If something important is happening then I choose when and where I want to watch it on some form of social media or online news channel. As a positive side effect, I’ve used that time to watch motivating TED talks, read, study and take my business to a whole new level.

The point I want to make here is that the things we really want to commit to are the same things that resonate with us deep inside our hearts.

The things we just know we want to change.

It’s not about starting a new diet or exercise plan because we feel we should be slimmer or achieve some kind of stereotypical ideal body shape, it’s about changing an aspect of our health and lifestyle because the consequences of not doing it far outweigh our desire to live in the comfort zone.

Starting a 30 day challenge can be a great way to kick start you into action.

An opportunity to open your mind and body to new possibilities. Along the way you’ll get those lightbulb moments that tug deep at your heart strings.

For me, switching to a plant-based diet opened up a whole new world about the plastic problems in the environment and the effects of the meat and dairy industry on global warming, together with a desire to learn more about zero waste and minimalism. What started out as a love of animals and a health boost to help my auto-immune condition slowly became a way of life that introduced me to new people, places, experiences and tastes I’d never otherwise have experienced.

The most exciting part of a challenge is not getting to the end and reaching an arbitrary goal, but the journey you undertake and all the discoveries and awakenings you have along the way.

You’ll notice new opportunities, connections and friendships that fill your life with a richness and joy you’d  never previously imagined.

Ready to commit to a daily practice now?

Join my 30 Day Plant-Based Challenge and see where the adventure takes you…

For more details and sign up form, click here: 30 Day Plant-Based Challenge

Doors open Friday 15 June (2)