Flowered grainless granola



One of my most popular recipes is my no added sugar or oil, gluten free granola.  There are numerous variations you can made to it with different add-ins etc, so it is nice and versatile, depending on your own taste.  I still make the recipe regularly for myself - often keeping it plain and simple with 3 ingredients - oats, puffed brown rice, and unsweetened apple sauce. Then I just add whatever fruit is in season in our garden and some homemade soy yogurt - and I'm a happy girl!

However, eating grains can sometimes cause issues for people and lead to bloating, gas, pain and other symptoms.  Eliminating grains, refined sugar and dairy can sometimes help in this situation.



The reason behind this is that these food items contain fermentable carbohydrates that can promote overgrowth of bacteria and other microorganisms in the gut.

A plant based diet without grains, dairy and sugar can lead to favorable changes in the quality and quantity of intestinal microflora.  You should talk to your health care provider for more information on this so they can monitor your changes.



So while many of us eat cereal for breakfast,  if you are grain free - it gets tricky!  So today I decided to come up with my own recipe for a grain-free granola.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out. Its made with seeds, nuts and fruit - and dried flowers to make it look pretty and special.  Gluten free, no added sugar or oil. It is also suitable for those on a Paleo diet.  I love the addition of the flowers.  It gives the message that this isn't a hardship granola and you are missing out on grains. It gives something extra - a bonus of pretty flowers so there is no feeling of deprivation.

Here's the recipes:
1/2 cup raw organic almonds - roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw organic walnuts - roughly chopped
1/4 cup raw organic hazelnuts - roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw organic sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
one small pot (4oz) unsweetened, organic applesauce
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 dried edible flowers


  1. Heat the oven to 375 F
  2. Combine the nuts and seeds together and stir in the cinnamon.
  3. Add the applesauce and stir thoroughly until well combined.
  4. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and stir well, bringing the edges into the center so they don't burn.
  6. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes  - keeping an eye on it so the edges don't burn.
  7. If crispy and dry - remove from the oven.  If still a bit damp, give it another couple of minutes.
  8. Let cool.
  9. Add the raisins and edible flowers and mix.
This makes a delightful trail mix as well as a granola.

Obviously the recipe is very versatile. You can choose your own combination of seeds and nuts and fruits.  Omit the flowers or use the flowers.  Basically you need one small pot of applesauce for 1 3/4 - 2 cups of nuts/seeds.  If you use more, you'll have to add more applesauce.

If you don't have dried edible flowers, you can use a flower tea blend. There are some lovely ones out there.  So take a look and add some pretty to your breakfast!

But do bear in mind that this recipe is mainly nuts and seeds. While there is no added fat, the nuts and seeds are high in fat.  If you are trying to lose weight, this should be a consideration.  Nuts and seeds are good to having in our diet - but not too many.


It's funny how I used to have granola with milk or yogurt as the add-on.  Since making my own soy yogurt and loving it so much, I now have yogurt with granola as the add-on, that is the yogurt is the predominant factor.  This new flowery granola may switch things back - or maybe it'll even things out now - so I have equal amounts of granola and homemade yogurt!

What your favorite way to eat granola?
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An apple a day....

Apples, apples, everywhere....


We've now harvested the majority of our apples - and I've already dehydrated five large bags of them. They taste yummy dried - with nothing added.


And like our pears, our apples are huge this year.  We have a few apples that weigh more than a pound each!  It sort of makes a mockery of the "apple a day keeps the doctor away" as one of our apples could feed a family of four!

In fact, it did for lunch today. I made a nice slaw with a single large apple, walnuts, spring onion and mint.  And it fed four of us nicely!


Not quite sure what has happened with our orchard fruit this year.  We've never seen it so large - with pears over a pound each, apples the same and even large nectarines!  Yet not a great year for tomatoes.

But no complaints!  We are loving it.  What are you enjoying this early September?
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Strategies for lifestyle changes: Give yourself credit

As mentioned in an email post a few days ago, one of the mottos that I live my life by is "you get more of what you focus on". This means if you focus on good things, you'll see more of them and your life will become attuned to see the positives.


This is important when we are making lifestyle changes.  It's all too easy to get bogged down with the times when we slip or don't eat according to our plan, or forget to exercise.  But focussing on these negative aspects isn't as helpful as focussing on what we are doing right.

It is much better to tell ourselves "good job" or "well done" for those times in the day when we are successful and stick to our eating plan or lifestyle change.  Doing so builds our self-confidence and proves that we can take control and exert self-discipline.


In a study at the University of Pittsburgh, participants lost more weight if they practiced skills that increased their confidence, compared to participants who didn't acknowledge their successes.

Unsuccessful dieters tend to focus too much on their mistakes, viewing themselves as weak, bad or hopeless.  They tend to ignore the small daily successes and consequently don't gain a sense of self-efficacy - which is a belief that they can reach their goals.


It may seem a little odd to praise yourself but these new lifestyle skills we are learning don't come all at once.  It is a process and so acknowledging that you are breaking old habits helps build your confidence.

A nice idea to keep you motivated is to buy a small counter - like a knitting row counter or a counter app for iPhones/Androids (there are plenty to chose from).  Keep it in your pocket and every time you stick to your plan during the day and do something right, click the counter. At the end of your day, you'll see your daily "credit" and know that you've made a real achievement in changing old habits.


It may seem silly, but it does work.  Commit to just giving it a go tomorrow and see if it makes you feel better about yourself.
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Strategies for lifestyle changes: The stages of change

We all know that change doesn't just happen.  We go through different stages in our thinking and actions before we actually make change.  And knowing what stage we are in, can help us understand why we haven't quite made the change we want.


There are 6 stages of change described in the work of Prochaska and DiClemente (1986, 1992).  These are:
  1. Precontemplation - no intention to change in the unforeseeable future; unaware a problem exists
  2. Contemplation - aware a problem exists; seriously thinking of change; some ambivalence
  3. Preparation - intending to act in the next month; reduced ambivalence and exploration of options
  4. Action - taking action through modification of behavior, experiences or environment
  5. Maintenance - work to prevent relapse and consolidate gain
  6. Relapse - a recurrence of the undesired behavior or elimination of a desired behavior

Obviously, not everyone goes into relapse, but the goal, if you do, is to move back through the stages again and find the motivation to try again.  

As well as thinking about these stages and our own motivation, they are also useful to consider when we are trying to help others find their own motivation for change.  For example, if you have a spouse who is very overweight and it is affecting their health, you want them to make changes but maybe they are in the precontemplation stage.  What can you do to help move them into the contemplation stage?



Here are some ideas that may help:
In the precontemplation stage

  • phrase questions like "have you thought about......"; 
  • explore issues of "importance" and "confidence"
  • discuss past 'failures' and reframe them as learning experiences
  • heighten awareness but also provide options for reducing fear
     if these tactics don't work - just wait.

In the contemplation stage
  • provide information and facts
  • discuss outcome if there is no change
  • discuss alternatives
  • set a short term goal
     if these tactics don't work - keep reminding

In the preparation stage
  • discuss options
  • set a time and date to just do it
  • find a partner/club also wanting to make the change
     if these tactics don't work, provide evidence that underpins your concern

As you can see, if you use the suggestion for the preparation stage on someone who is pre-contemplation, you aren't going to get very far - and vice versa.

Aim to ask questions and listen more than give your point of view or tell them what to do.  Brain storm ideas together, discuss pros and cons etc.   And you can do this for yourself too....take some paper and start writing ideas or two columns - one with pros for change and one with cons for change.


What stage of change are you in right now?

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Strategies for making lifestyle changes: Slow down and chew thoroughly

This is one thing I need to keep working on: slow down when I eat.  I eat too fast and maybe you do too?  It's not a good thing.  The food we swallow should be well chewed so that it is liquid when we swallow it.


The first part of digestion begins in the mouth.  This is where the enzyme amylase, in saliva, is mixed with starches and their breakdown begins.  If you put food in your mouth and swallow it without proper chewing, you've missed this first step of digestion and the body has a harder time digesting that food later.

Yes, I know all the excuses: "I like my food hot. If I eat it slowly it'll be cool by the time I've finished". But if you are eating your food fast, after the first mouthful, you don't even taste it, never mind being aware of its temperature.

Or then there is "I don't have time to eat it slowly".  Well, we all need to make time.  It takes just a few extra minutes to properly chew a meal as opposed to wolf it down quickly.


Take some food into your mouth and chew it for at least 30 chews.  The more you practice, the easier it gets.

Here are some studies to consider:

  • Research conducted at the university of Pennsylvania determined that diners consumed more overall food and calories when they sped up their eating pace and consumed fewer calories when they slowed down.
  • Research on thousands of Japanese office workers showed that fast eaters ate more calories than slow eaters, tended to gain more weight, and were more likely to have insulin resistance.
  • Research shows that there is a lag in time from when you have consumed enough food to trigger fullness and when you actually feel a sense of fullness. The more slowly you eat, the more time you have for the fullness signal from your stomach to reach your brain.

So how can you practice this skill?  Here are some ideas
  1. Change something at the table where you normally eat - for example, put a candle or ornament on the table. When you see that, it'll trigger a reminder to slow down.  Each night, put something different on the table - it can be something nice or something odd like a ruler or box - anything that catches your eye and makes you stop and think.
  2. Put down your utensils between mouthfuls or if it is something you are eating with your hands, put the food down between mouthfuls.
  3. Don't fill up your fork until you've finished what is in your mouth.
  4. Eat without distractions. If the television is on, or you are reading - you tend to eat quicker - so slow down and think about the taste of each mouthful.
  5. Put a clock or timer on the table and watch just how fast you normally eat.  Then chew 30 times and see how long this takes.  Seeing the clock go round is a great reminder to slow down.
Not only will these slow down tactics help you eat smaller quantities, it'll also help your digestion.

The "chew" idea is also important with foods like smoothies.  A large part of smoothies is carbohydrates and starches, so when you "drink" your smoothie, make sure you also swish it around your mouth, and use chew like action with your teeth, so the saliva can start its amylase enzyme reaction to breakdown that carbohydrate.

Let's start with our next meal or snack.  Put something on the table now to remind you.  Lets give amylase a chance!
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Strategies for making diet and lifestyle changes: When in doubt, throw it out

How did you get on last week in finding daily motivations for change? Did you spend a little time writing out your "advantages" card which tell of the advantages of making changes in your lifestyle and diet?  I hope you did and didn't let that sabotaging voice in your head stop you from doing it.

This week we are going to look at preparing your home for diet change. Its time to get organized. The state of your kitchen can influence how your follow your diet or lifestyle chosen plan. If these rooms are messy and disorganized, it can make you feel out of control and less confident.



So spend a little time organizing your food space.  If you have food items in your cupboard or fridge that aren't on your current eating plan - just throw them out.  You may hear a voice in your head saying
I don't want to throw away food. It's a waste of money.

But the money is already gone so don't add to the waste by wasting calories on bad food.  If the food isn't in your current eating plan, eating it means you waste the food in your body. Your body doesn't need that food and the likelihood is that it doesn't contain good nutrients for healing and health.  So in my reckoning, I'd prefer to see it as a waste of money and thrown in the trash instead of a waste in my body.  Let the garbage have the waste instead of my body.  I want to focus on putting food in my body that is healing and nourishing.  Not waste.

See if you can spend sometime in your kitchen and reorganize.  Throw out those foods that aren't nourishing for our bodies.  Get rid of that processed food. You can do it and then you'll feel more empowered to stick to your plan.


If you look at something and aren't sure if you want to keep it or throw it - remember
When in doubt, throw it out
You want to put good nourishing foods in your body, not waste.

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Strategies for making diet and lifestyle changes: Part 1. Motivate yourself daily

This is the first of a series of blog posts about different strategies that will help you make changes to your diet and lifestyle.  While we may have a diet all planned out, the kitchen stocked and know what we should be doing, sometimes our head gets in the way and the thoughts we have can sabotage our plans. So each week, we'll look at a different strategy for coping with changes.  We'll try and figure out what to say to ourselves, when we have sabotaging, unhelpful thoughts.


To start off, we'll look today at how to motivate yourself daily.  You can start using this even before you make any diet and lifestyle changes.  Its all about reminding yourself of why you want to lose weight or increase exercise or stop smoking/drinking or.....whatever change you are contemplating.

Maybe you are thinking that you don't need reminding - you'll always remember.   But that's not always the case when temptation arises or you start thinking the following kind of thoughts:

  • it's okay if I eat this
  • it doesn't really matter
  • I've been good all day
  • Just a little bit
  • It's too hard to resist
  • Just a little taste
  • I deserve it
  • Everyone else is eating it
To combat these thoughts or visual temptations, you need to have a written compelling list of reasons as to why you are making these changes.  And then you need to read this list regularly several times each day.

Examples of reasons or the advantages these changes will make in your life could be:
  • losing weight will improve my self confidence
  • I'll feel much more at ease with my partner if I lose some weight
  • I'll be able to join in family activities better without getting puffed and exhausted so quickly
  • I'll be proud of myself for my achievement
  • I can bend down without groaning
  • My health will improve
  • I'll be able to get off/reduce my medication
  • I'll look better
  • I'll feel better about myself
  • I won't have to worry about diabetes
  • I'll be able to go up the steps
  • I won't feel self conscious when I go into a room of strangers
  • I'll enjoy shopping for clothes
  • I can wear more fashionable clothes
  • My husband will stop nagging me
Whatever your reasons are for making the changes you want to make, write them out on one or more index cards. List them all.  Using an index card means that they are all listed on something small enough that you can carry with you. You can put it in a pocket, or a purse or handbag.  

When you've done this - read the card every morning before you have breakfast to create a reminder for the day ahead.  As you read them, think about achieving every advantage. Reading actually makes you reflect more, rather than just recalling them in your head - so take that minute or two and read through each one.  If other advantages occur to you, add them to the list as the days go by.

Now you need to read them again at least once or twice during the day, so consider putting reminders like a sticky note in the kitchen or bathroom or in the car, saying something like "take 30 seconds".  This will act as your reminder to read the list again, and reinforce your motivations. 

You may find yourself resisting reading the cards, but use those reminders and take those few seconds, as the more you do it, not only do you continue to motivate yourself, but you will also build your self-discipline. Go find some index cards now and start writing your "Advantages Card".


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Forks over Knives

The feature film Forks over Knives was released two years ago this week. Have you seen it yet?  It is a very powerful film and seems to really get people thinking  - and subsequently changing their diet and lifestyle.

It examines the claim that most, if not all, of the chronic degenerative diseases can be controlled or even reversed by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.

If you haven't seen it already, here is a trailer:



You can watch the movie on iTunes ($9.99) or on Amazon($3.99), or if you are a Prime Amazon customer, it is free to watch.

I urge you to watch this film.  It can not only change your life, it could actually save your life - allowing you to live longer and healthier.
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Take time to smell the flowers on Friday

It's time for my new Friday blog post series - where I make time to go out into the garden and photograph the pretty flowers!

Today, this rose caught my eye.  It looks like it has been hand painted.


As small buds, just the tips have a dot of deep pink on them.....

And as they open out, the paintbrush adds a little more color.


Isn't it just stunning!  We bought it just a couple of years ago - and its a wonderful addition to our many roses.


I hope you had a little moment this week to stop and smell the roses...or other flowers.  Remember, lifestyle is important. Not just diet.  Spending time in nature is a wonderful calming and relaxing distraction to everything else going on in our day.
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One small change

After the holidays and maybe a few indulgences, many of us are trying to improve our diets and lifestyle. Whether you have made specific goals or resolutions, it often helps to just consider one small change.



Big goals are important, but in order to achieve them, it takes many small steps.

So instead of focusing on big goals, go for one small change every day - all in the direction of your big goal.



Here are some examples:

Split second changes:

  • order salad dressing on the side, and dip your fork into the dressing rather than pouring it all over the salad
  • at the supermarket, select brown rice instead of white rice
  • choose a smaller portion of meat
  • drink another glass of water
  • chose not to have dessert
  • select a fruit or vegetable from the store that you've never tried before
  • add a tablespoon of ground flax seed to your cereal
Five minute changes:
  • make your own oatmeal for breakfast and omit the sugar but add some fruit instead
  • make your own trail mix with dried berries and nuts
  • meditate for 5 minutes
  • chop up some leafy greens and dry (oil free) stir fry to add to your dinner
  • at the end of the day, write down three things that you are grateful for that day
Ten minute changes:
  • exercise for an extra ten minutes - or start out with ten minutes.  If you goal is to walk for 30 minutes a day, split it into 3 ten minute intervals. You'll get the same benefits.  
  • make a salad to go with, or replace, a meal
  • try a new recipe
  • play for 10 minutes! Have some fun.

All day changes:

  • gather up and throw out all the candy and chocolate in your house. If you don't see it, you'll think less about it and won't be able to eat it.
  • pour a large jug of water in the morning - flavor it with hibiscus tea for added antioxidants - and drink it throughout the day
  • take a break for 5 minutes every hour - and just move, stretch, relax your eyes by focusing on something in the distance, have some water
  • tell a friend about what you are doing to make healthier lifestyle choices and support each other throughout the day


Big Difference Poster
Think ahead and plan "what will be my small change today?"

Daily small changes will result in big lifestyle changes.  You can do it!  Just 7 small split second changes in one week can bring a difference.  Think what you can achieve with a whole year of daily changes!


Let me know what small change you make tomorrow.
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Neal Barnard on Diabetes

Here is the latest talk, published this month, from Neal Barnard on Type 2 Diabetes and how is it curable. Recorded at the TED Talks in Fremont.

This research has been available for some time now, yet so many are still ignoring it.  Hopefully this talk will help share the information to those who need it.  I ran a Food as Medicine group yesterday - and another tomorrow which was all on this subject.  More people need to know.


If you are interested, read his great book :Reversing Diabetes  and check out the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website for more information.  They lead an online 21 day vegan kick start program - in many different languages.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to wish you a Happy, Healthy (and plant-focused) Thanksgiving.


I am currently in England have a wonderful time with family.  Hope you are sharing this special time with special people in your life too.
R x


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Eat, Fast & Live Longer

Skip an hour of television tonight and watch this fascinating BBC Horizon Documentary instead, all about  eating, caloric restriction and fasting and how you can improve your health.

The documentary, by Dr Michael Mosley, looks at different ways of reducing our caloric intake including: someone who follows caloric restriction through optimal nutrition (CRONIE); the benefits of 3 - 4 few days fasting, every couple of months; of alternate day fasting; and then 5:2 fasting - where you fast for two days out of every 5 (on those fasting days you do eat something - 600 calories of food).

I've never fasted before, but heard a fascinating lecture by Dr Alan Goldhammer  this past summer about its benefits....Dr Goldhammer runs True North Health Center in Santa Rosa which is the largest facility in the world specializing in  medically supervised water only fasting facility. As fascinating as it was, I still haven't signed up! What about you? Have you ever tried fasting?

But even if you don't fancy fasting, "Eat, Fast and live longer" is an excellent documentary, well worth watching. You'll learn a lot.


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New food of the week - Jujube dates

When I work with clients, one goal that I frequently give them when they are trying to make adjustments to their diet, is to try at least one new food a week.  There are so many foods available nowadays, so it's quite easy to try something new, whether that be a spice, or a fruit or vegetable at the farmers market or try a new non-dairy milk...It's a great goal to have and opens up your horizons, looking for new things rather than focusing on things you may be missing. It's OK to also choose something that you've only ever tried once too, and give it another go.



Generally each week, I practice what I preach! So I have decided that a regular blog post will be sharing with you the new foods that I try.

This week when I was in Whole Foods, I saw fresh Jujube dates on sale.  These are also known as Chinese dates. They were organic and grown from a farm a little further south than where I am.  I had heard of Jujubes before, but never seen one or eaten one, so I bought them.

There is a potent chemical in jujubes - Jujuboside A that affects the hippocampus in the brain and is often used as a natural sleep aid.  Jujubes are therefore used to treat both insomnia and anxiety.

Hmmm. I don't have insomnia nor anxiety....and having tried them,  I don't particularly like the taste.....so probably won't be buying them again!  They have a single small stone in the middle and taste a teeny little bit like an apple, but softer in texture than an apple.  I hesitate to suggest you try it, as it really doesn't do much for me.


One interesting fact however is that the smell of the flowers is believed to make teenagers fall in love!  Boys in the Himalayan regions take a stem of sweet smelling jujube flowers and put them on their hats to attract girls!  In China, the Jujube is often placed in the newlywed's bedroom as a good luck charm for fertility.  I think both of these are a better use than eating them! They don't taste bad, just not that nice either!

Have you ever had one? Maybe I should dry some and see if they improve??? Let's hope next week's new food works out better!
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Harvest and Food as medicine

It's been a busy week this week.  As well as many of my usual things, I started two new "Food as Medicine" groups this week, AND we harvested our Godello grapes in the vineyard! More on the harvest soon.


The two new "Food as Medicine" groups were on Tuesday and Thursday. Each group consists of 9 women, and we will meet once a month.  This month we looked at some of the benefits of eating a whole foods plant-based diet, with a focus on the benefits of avoiding dairy in our diets.

After some time in discussion, we donned our aprons in the kitchen and went about making and tasting the following:

  • almond milk
  • brown rice milk
  • oat milk
  • cashew cream
  • whipped coconut cream
  • soft cashew cheese
  • cheese sprinkles
  • cheese cake
all without any dairy or animal products in sight!


Sadly we were so involved, I forgot to take any photos!  

The recipes for the milks are already on this blog, as is the recipe for the cashew nut cheese.

The cheese sprinkles were a great hit.  They are a non-dairy alternative to parmesan cheese or other types of cheese that you may sprinkle on caesar salad, vegetables, or pasta or....  The recipe came from the book "Let them eat vegan" and here is a link to the vegan parmesan cheese recipe by Dreena Burton.


The cheesecake went down very well, so I'll have to make that again and take some photos to share with you.

I really enjoyed our time together, and hope they all did too.  Looking forward to next month already.
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Anti-cancer - a new way of life

One of my favorite books about cancer is "Anticancer - A New way of life " by Dr David Servan-Schreiber.  He got brain cancer at an early age and set out to understand the complex inner workings of the body's natural cancer-fighting capabilities. The book is both a moving personal story and also exposes the facts on the roles that environment, lifestyle and trauma play in our health.

The books is a wonderful preventive book for all of us, as well as a healing book for those with cancer.

Here's an interview with Dr S.S:



I highly recommend everyone read his book.
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