Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Please Don't Call Me "Fussy"

I’ve been feeling this surge of passion bubbling in me for quite some time now and have a need to share this.

As a child I woke most nights with horrendous cramps and nausea, more often than not resulting in me being up all night with diarrhoea - very pleasant start to a blog, I am aware - and I would go downstairs where my Dad would stay up with me, rub my stomach  and give me Alka-Seltzer to settle me. I had quite a bit of puppy fat, bloating, bad eczema, psoriasis and terrible dark circles under my eyes. My Mum also suffered throughout her whole life with the same. The cramps would get so bad we would have a tag team of heat pads in the microwave and a sizeable stock of strong painkillers to make any pharmacy jealous. My Dad finally had enough of his girls being ill and booked my Mum into ‘The Food Doctor’ in London, hoping whatever she was eventually diagnosed with would be helpful to me too. Here, she underwent rigorous, horribly invasive but vital testing to finally conclude she was Lactose Intolerant. We both cut out cow’s milk lactose from our diets and automatically saw huge improvements. I was thirteen and finally felt and looked healthy, energised and pain free.

However, back in 2007 food intolerances were still not widely understood, especially socially. The fear of going round a friends' house to eat, having a school dinner or going out to a restaurant started to creep in. I couldn’t count the amounts of times my Dad would explicitly explain to restaurant staff our allergies and yet we’d still receive baffled looks, comments such as “Oh, that should be ok” or “I doubt that’s got milk in” without them thoroughly checking or being made to feel as through our illness was a nuisance. I’d get anxiety on car journeys to new restaurants that we’d have to face massive confrontation before we felt the staff were taking it seriously enough that we could feel safe enough to eat there.

I also started experiencing some quite scaring comments; a supposed “friend” of mine said to me when we were fifteen “Abbie, you’re going to really struggle to get a boyfriend because you’re lactose intolerant.” I mean, what!?! At the time this had a huge impact on me to the point where I would hide my intolerance from boys in case they thought I was weird or “difficult”. I look back now and I wish I could give my fifteen year old self a hug and that “friend” a slap.  Years passed and there I was, suddenly twenty, moving out, about to start drama school in London. I began meeting loads of new people, explaining why I had “special” milk, snacks etc. and being met with comments like “What do you even eat!?”, “How do you live?” and “I would die if that was me!” At this point I’d heard these comments time and time again and they just made me laugh. I’d always respond “Trust me, if you were really ill when you ate *insert food here*, you’d do the same and be FINE!”

During my first year at drama school I started to get noticeably ill again; dreadful cramps, gas, diarrhoea, nausea and worst of all, to me at the time, wide-spread, fierce acne. As a training actress, seeing myself back on camera was AWFUL. I started plastering my face in makeup, resulting in me pretending to touch my face in voice classes and an overall feeling I was hiding. I went on a series of antibiotics which softened the blow but didn’t get rid of it. My dark circles were back with a vengeance and my energy was at an all time low. I met my wonderful boyfriend during this time and if he stayed over or I over his, I found myself turning the light off before taking my makeup off (which he would promptly turn back on and ask me to look at him - he fought hard to help me feel beautiful). But I can honestly say my skin was making me depressed. I HATED looking at myself and didn’t want to leave the house some days. 
Image result for food doctor

My Dad, one again, the saviour he is, picked up the phone and said “Abs, you’re going to The Food Doctor”. For my first consultation I had to go without any makeup on which was a real bloomin' challenge for me but a necessary one. I took a food diary that I’d kept for a few weeks and we chatted about having tests. Once these results were in I went back and the nutritionist showed me a graph and explained she hardly ever comes across someone as intolerant to gluten as me and she thought I had 
long-term damage in my gut causing holes in the lining where bacteria could leak through into my blood stream, hence my rashing, spotting skin. I was put on a different course of antibiotics, garlic, oregano and a mix of probiotics for 6 months to heal my gut wall and get rid of the infection. She told me I really needed to completely cut gluten inc. Barley, Rye etc out of my diet. Suddenly I was lactose AND gluten intolerant but on the road to recovery. 

Why am I telling you all of this? 

I’m not seeking sympathy nor a platform to share my “life story” but more to support my following comments. Having a food allergy / intolerance (or several, in my case) comes with a massive stigma. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been called “fussy” or “one of those” etc. Dude, I WISH I WAS FUSSY! One scenario that sticks in my mind was in a cafe and I was ordering food with a group of friends and I purely asked the waiter if he could check if the mayo had any milk in. I was met with an eye roll directed about me to my friends and a chuckle. I felt a bubble of anger inside me and confronted him after a few other comments he made and said “I’m a customer, asking very politely to find out if I am going to be safe eating your food or not, I don’t really see how that’s funny?” He was stunned to say the least and apologised. I completely understand this could be classed as “banter” but when it’s to do with someone feeling safe and taken seriously enough to trust what you’re serving them won’t hurt them, you need to leave the humiliating jokes to one side. I hope it taught him a valuable lesson. I don’t think many people who haven’t been exposed to intolerances/allergies truly understand how vulnerable you feel when trusting food that is made for you when it could very easily poison you, leaving you ill for days.

  I also feel this stigma in social situations. As an actor I am constantly meeting new people and being catered for in events/ workshops/ meetings etc. That dreaded email comes (as grateful as I am for & important as the email is) “Please let us know of any food intolerances/allergies.” I’ve found myself on several occasions replying, apologising for being “one of those annoying people who can’t eat gluten or milk products.” I actually feel ashamed to admit that I’ve said that and would like to say a big sorry for ever buying into that stigma and calling us “annoying”. What on earth is it that made me feel ashamed enough to apologise for an illness I have? if I had a different illness, would I be pre-facing emails with an apology? 

I also found myself, whilst having tea with a new group of actors during rehearsals, pulling my Oat Milk out of my bag and being asked why I had “different” milk, replying “I’m lactose intolerant” but purposefully leaving “and gluten” out through fear of being judged. I feel, on reflection, annoyed with myself for not being proud of who I am. My intolerances effect me very single day on multiple occasions, yet I can’t be proud of them? Why? What is socially, stopping me from this? I didn’t choose this, I don’t preach about it nor am I “fussy” but yet something about my past and recurring experiences when it comes to me exposing that I have food allergies leaves me feeling judged, thus, I find myself apologising for the way my body works just as it’s different to “the norm”. 

Having said all of this, I am so overwhelmed and appreciative of how far companies and every mindsets have progressed in the understanding of these issues with food and how this had reflected in the ever-growing food substitute market; an absolute saviour for us GF/ DF etc. folk. 

I am also fully aware that a lot of this said stigma I’ve spoken about derives from food “fads” where people choose to cut, for example, gluten out of their diet for 5 out of 7 days a week. By no means do I see this as “fussy” (grr, I hate that word) but I can see how this “trend”, per say, has cultivated a casualness when it comes to intolerances/allergies. But to put it plain and simply, eating any sort of food that has gluten and a product made with cow’s milk (butter, yogurt, cream, whey powder… the list goes on) makes me really poorly. I don’t see why I, or other’s like me, should face ANY sort of hostility or “mick-taking” about this. I am a chilled person who can laugh at herself quite freely but I feel it’s got to the point where too many times I have been made to feel a nuisance, fussy (Oop, there’s that word again), difficult or over-sensitive about an illness I have that makes me, ME. 

Ahh… Sigh of relief… That feels a heck of a lot better to have off my chest. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this ramble. Please do reach out to me if anything from the above has resonated with you.

x Abbie x

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Trying to go Naturellleeee: Organic Products

Hello again lovely readers and a very Merry Christmas! 

Today's post is inspired by my "little" (in inverted commas as she's taller than me now...) sister as she has recently become super eco aware and has totally educated me on the dangers of the parabens and chemicals we so ignorantly put on our skin every single day. Not only this, but also made me aware of how many ethical brands there are out there which adhere to strict policies when it comes to animal testing and using vegan ingredients. I, myself, am neither vegetarian nor vegan (if I wasn't dairy and gluten intolerant and already pushed for food I can actually eat, I would really consider changing my lifestyle... however that's for a different post), BUT I really care about what I have been unknowingly putting on my skin and into my body and about the unnecessary suffering of animals in the cosmetic industry. So, without further ado, I'm going to take you through some of my top natural/ eco friendly products.

Firstly, is Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap range. This amazingly versatile, completely natural, Castile Soap has 18 uses and you can grab it in 5 different sizes plus a massive range of scents. I have used the Tea Tree one as this essential oil really helps keep my skin clear but you can also get Lavender, Citrus, Almond, Peppermint, Baby Unscented... the list goes on. However Dr Bronner's isn't just for skin, you can use it on your teeth, hair, body, food, pets and any surface you need cleaning. It's a miracle bottle. Not only this, the story of how these soaps came about is incredible. You can get these soaps from £2.50 online (my sister got a 1L bottle for £16 and in 6 months has only used 1/10th of it... We're talking 5 years worth, people!!!)

Next on my list is my all time favourite moisturizer which I have re-bought time and time again. My Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser in 50ml bottle. I get this directly from the Liz Earle website for £19.50 and it will last me a good 6 months with a twice daily application. Liz Earle is a major favourite company of mine as most of my regular readers will know. They are ethical, organic, botanical and based in Britain so all the more reason to love these home grown beautiful products.  

My Dad is currently doing a Masters of Science - he's a boss. But during his studies he has been reading about a major link between our daily uses of Aluminium and Alzheimer's Disease. I made a choice, after learning about this, to cut out the use of foil and any aluminium pots, pans or baking trays I had in the flat. I now only use ceramics and baking paper and I haven't missed it at all. The reason I'm bringing this up is because one day I was intrigued about what exactly was in my roll on deodorant. To my utter disbelief I found Aluminium right there on the ingredients list. I straight away stomped off to Boots and picked up an organic, paraben and aluminium free deodorant called BioSen. However, I found it just didn't keep me feeling (or smelling) fresh for more than 5 hours... However I have recently been recommended Salt of The Earth in spray form. For £3.99 in Holland & Barrett, this wonderfully, all natural deodorant actually works for me! I feel far better about putting my deodorant on now as it's SUCH a sensitive part of the body especially with us girls and the vast amount of links to breast cancer caused by harsh chemicals is frightening so I feel like I'm doing a good thing for my body. 

To complete our facial routine, this exfoliator from Lush is a total winner. If you don't like the smell of herbs then I suggest you move straight along but if you love the feeling of lathering up your skin with THE best ingredients to keep you looking youthful, glowy and clear then this is the one for you. Lush are renowned for their ban on animal testing and use the best quality, natural ingredients in all of their awesome creations.  This product is currently £7.50 for 100ml and you just use a tiny bit with a splash of water and Herb away.

Next up on my big ol' list is this wonderful new company I stumbled upon whilst doing a bit of YouTube-ing. Tarte cosmetics is an American based company and they strive to create beautiful, long-lasting, "high performance naturals" (as says their slogan). I recently bought their Amazonian Clay Powder Foundation and am absolutely in love. The moisture it gives to my skin is INCRED. The first time I wore it one of my best friends said "You look gorgeous, have you done something new with your make up." BOOM. I love the thought that I'm treating my face with Amazonian Clay, haha. But not only that, not covering the only face I'll ever get with chemicals that have been tested on animals -not a pleasant thought. I also bought their Swamp Queen eye and cheek palette and use this every single day. They are having a 70% sale right now so hit them up here

It took me a long time to find a make up remover that my skin doesn't reject so learning my Micellar water that I currently use has some undesired chemicals in and is made by a company that... AGAIN... tests on animals, left me seriously face-palming. However, to the rescue came Yes to Coconut's ultra hydrating Micellar Cleansing Water. This really handy pump means you just pop your cotton pad on the top and push down twice and have the perfect amount to take off your everyday makeup. It's completely natural and full of coconut-y goodness. 

Another thing I became concerned about was the use of harmful chemicals around my flat when I am cleaning. Walking down the cleaning product isle in Tesco is like a sea of colour but this brand caught my eye. So cheap, so colourful and SO natural and eco friendly! I only buy this washing up liquid and this multi-purpose spray now. I feel so much better that I'm not breathing in bleach or leaving harsh chemicals from the washing up bowl on my plates. Also, they smell gorgeous! You can grab these for £1 (Washing Up Liq) and £1.50 (Spray) from your local big Tesco.

I feel tonnes better about the health of my body plus my contribution to the health of the earth by changing just a few of the products I use every day. The price difference is minimal and a lot of these products last for far longer and require much smaller amounts when applying. I hope this little Blogger Faves post has inspired you to see if you could change up some of your own products too. Who knows the change we could all make!

Loads of love

x Abster x

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Gluten & Diary Free Sweet Treats Recommendations

Hello again gorgeous people of the blogosphere. Here I am again, writing to you whilst shoved up against the radiator because I am dying of coldnessssssss... What else is a better cure for the winter blues (other than going on a luxurious holiday) than to share some tried and tested favourite sweet treats for us Gluten and Diary free peeps. At this time of year, especially, I crave that little sweet treat after dinner or as an afternoon munch with a cuppa. A lot of these end up being Vegan as well so that's an added bonus for all you egg avoiders too!

I have to start with this bad boy because I found it in Tesco this week as a new product for £2.30 and oh my did I fell in lorrrrve. Freaks of Nature do a whole range of little puds inc Mandofandango, Cocoaloco and my new fave Choc & Awe! This little wonder of a 'cheesecake' is a dairy free chocolate & caramel cheesecake with a gluten free oat base. Trust me... it's DIVINE. If you eat raw as well, this one is for you as Freaks only use completely raw ingredients. They are miracle workers. Yeah, £2.30 is a little costly for just one pud BUT these a quality puddings that are actually rather healthy and they do other flavours at the mo in Tesco for £1.80 a pop! 

Dang that looks gawwwgjus...

*Advance apologies for any more outbursts of love for food that I exhibit... sorry, not sorry... if you know, you know.*

NEXT UP are these little pots of utter joy. The Coconut Collaborative's 'Little Chocolate Pots' are honestly a fridge staple of mine. You get 4 in a pack at usually £2 however are often on offer in Tesco for £1.50 - basically less than 50p per pot... I mean YAAAS. These are SO delicious and don't taste like they are good for you but they actually are. WIN. If you, for some bizarre reason, needed another reason to try these then they are only 105 calories per pot... You. Are. Welcome. 

Image result for genius blueberry muffins gluten freeNext to join our taste-bud tingling line up is... Genius' Blueberry Muffins! Now, before I knew I was Gluten Intolerant I would quite often enjoy a Blueberry Muffin from Costa (in the days that they were milk free) and then the dreaded diagnosis came and my Blueberry dreams were dashed. HOWEVER, one day my boyfriend brought home these bad boys. As appreciative as I was, inside myself I was eye rolling at the thought of a dry, un-glutenous, lacklustre muffin that I would be putting into my body. Lo and BEHOLD they are more flipping moist then the 'real' thing... I am a Blueberry Muffin REVERT. Although my conscience would never allow me to eat one of these for breakfast, I would/ and DO enjoy one of these on the odd movie night ;) You can pick these up for £2 as well. Yup, also milk free.

I don't know whether I've got some pals out there who also do this but I will happily accept and welcome cereal for pudding. You feel me?! These next two products are my go to faves.

Up first we have a relatively new release by the gorgeous Deliciously Ella. I have unashamedly tried all of her products and have all of her cookbooks too. Big fan, big fan. Her new Granolas are so delicious, nutritious and guilt-free as they are completely natural. My favourite of the two is the Original Granola (also available is the Nutty Granola) as it has slightly more of a sweet kick. This is currently on the shelves for £3.99 is Tesco and Boots. Super yum.

Next on my cereal LOVE list is Nestle's Gluten Free Coco Rice. This big ol' box of the childhood favourite is genuinely a go to pud for me. This cereal got me through a whole series of Bake Off... Made with MUCH better-for-you ingredients than the normal Coco Pops, this gorgeous stuff retails at about £2.40 in most big food stores. Tis a little bit too sugary for me for breakfast, hence my pudding suggestion.

There is a rather large and ever-growing market for coconut yogurt and other yogurt alternatives these days. Trust me, I have forked out the dosh and tried every single bloomin' one going and I can safely say KoKo Dairy Free is my fave. Not only does it beat all the other brands on price, it's just as delicious and keeps for a while too. For just £2 for a big tub this lasts me all week and is a perfect snack to have with fruit (I love topping it with mango and crushed Walnuts if I'm feeling mad fancy). It's also naturally quite sweet so I don't often add any honey or anything.

I'm a big chocolate fan, but as a gal allergic to cow's milk my Cadbury dreams go unfulfilled... However, a few years ago my lovely Mum discovered a company called Billy Goats Stuff. These guys are GENIUSES and have saved my mum, sister and me countless Easter's of miserableness. In a non-contaminated-nut-shell, this family run business creates countless chocolate products all made with Goat's Milk which are all Nut, Soya, Egg, Gluten, Cow's Milk and additive FREE. For all you lactose intolerants and chocolate lovers out there I cannot recommend this company enough.

Check these guys out here.

Lastly, I just want to quickly chat about how gosh darn hard it is eating out as a Gluten and Diary intolerant food lover... It is a sad sad process sometimes. However, having said this, in the past years I have seen a huge shift in how seriously restaurants are starting to take intolerances and allergies and are becoming much more aware of how to make their customers feel informed and safe to eat with them. Many a time I have had to sternly say to a waiter "I really need you to take this seriously because right now it feels like you aren't." Sometimes people just aren't aware of how ill it can really make you and see it as a 'fad'. Two chains I HIGHLY recommend for us allergic ones are Zizzi and Pho. Both of these chains offer extensive allergen information online and in branch and produce delicious gluten and diary free choices which make you feel like you aren't having to miss out at all. They are leading the way at the moment and I really hope the rest of the restaurant industry take note! 

Really hope you've gained some food inspo through this post even if you don't suffer from any allergies! It's great to try new foods to get rid of the stigma against GF and DF foods. Also for my fellow intolerant brozzz & sisterzzzz out there this has been of some use to you lovely people. 

Loads of gluten & diary free love

x Abster x

Monday, 16 October 2017

REVIEW: Best Gluten Free Savoury Buys

Hey lovely bunch. I'm now into my second year of being completely gluten free after a lovely nutritionist told me she hardly ever sees someone as intolerant to gluten as me... Fun bit of news that was. However, this led me on quite an exciting venture as I can now proudly call myself quite an expert on the Gluten Free Product Market as I have flippin' tested everything out there. I'm gonna rock you through some fave finds of mine as well as introduce you to an awesome person who has helped me massively in my discovery of some amazing gluten free replacements that leave me without cravings for anything I used to be able to nosh. 

I'm going to go ahead and start with the biggy... BREAD. Firstly though, Schar is THE best gluten free, easily accessible, high street brand out there. Their bread is soft and doesn't fall apart like so many others do. This pack is normally retailed at £2.50 and the slices are quite small so I would go through this pack in about a week or two. It's made with a blend of gorgeous grains including Quinoa and it made using a Sourdough method. This makes it taste SO dang good. For my fellow lactose free peeps, this one is a totally safe option for you guys too. Schar has already been voted best Gluten Free Brand but now they have my vote too. 

Image result for schar

Another GOD SEND by Schar is their gorgeous Margherita Pizza which is ALSO lactose free. Finding this in Sainsbury's by my flat was... on a scale of 1-10... freaking 100. Pizza is life. Being gluten and lactose intolerant means pizza is also death. BUT THIS PIZZA IS LIFE. Sorry... the excitement is real. I've been back and bought this a scary amount of times but for just £3 and 8 mins in the oven... you got yourself a delight right there my friends. 

You can grab this in most big Sainsbury's and some Waitrose chains too. 

Thank me later. 

Next we have the beloved British classic Crumpet... Warburtons' GF Crumps are the one. I've tried a couple of other brands but they are quite stodgy and don't seem to crisp up well. BUT these little gems toast like a gluten filled Crump but keep a chewy middle. You can grab a pack of 4 for £2 in the below stores. Whack a bit of butter and peanut butter on and BOYYYY. 

This next one is a life saver for us bakers out there. However, I am torn between two of my favourite brands of flour as both deliver great results but one is just slightly more pricey but has some other benefits. 

Dove Farm is the cheaper, more widely available brand and an absolute cupboard staple. For around £1.80-£2 you can pick up a bag and get busy on rivalling Bake Off. I've made tonnes using their Self-Raising and Plain ranges inc. Apple Crumble, Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake, Vicky Sponge and loads more. The good thing about Red Mill's blend is it is All Purpose so you can use it for any recipe and get a really well held-together bake. This flour gives a dextrous and dense finish just like normal wheat flours. It's fab but just a bit more expensive at roughly £4-£5 in most health shops. I'd be more likely to buy the Red Mill for pastry making as it holds together really well.

I constantly prep my own lunches as it's pretty impossible to find a lactose & gluten free, healthy lunch on the go for less than a deposit on a house. Ok, exaggeration but it's bloomin' expensive. Hence why BFree's wrap range is gorgeous! Yes, they are a little costly as an average of £3.50 a pack however they come with 6 in a pack which is roughly 60p per wrap so I ain't complaining. These Sweet Potato wraps are SO filling, hold together amazingly well and taste so good. Stuff one of these with spinach, cucumber, red onion, goats cheese, avocado and some pine nuts and ooooooo yes. 

Now on to my FAVOURITE THING EVERRRR. Garlic Bread. Who doesn't like this eh..? EH!? This amazing creation from Tesco is even VEGAN, people. This is a freezer jobbie and cooks from frozen in 12-15mins. I can't express enough how good this is. I would eat one whole baguette a day if I didn't care about my arteries or waistline. Annoyingly, I do care however I definitely have one of these in the freezer at all times. It's a must and at only £1.50 ermmmm... NO BRAINER. 

Eating out can be CRAZY hard as a gluten intolerant/ coeliac so learning how to cook some amazing alternatives at home will not only keep your tummy healthy but also your bank balance. Someone who helps me a lot is myglutenfreeguide on Instagram. Check her out here. This fab account goes is constantly trying out new products, travelling abroad and writing accounts of best places for us Gluten Intolerants. Big thanks to her for this amazing support page! 

Let me know in the comments below which Gluten Free Products are your favourite out there. I'm going to follow this post with a Gluten Free Sweet Buys very soon.

Loads of love

x Abstermac x

Monday, 12 December 2016

London @ Christmas: Blogger's Best Bits

Hello lovely people! So here I am finally sat, glass of Sparkling Rose in hand (well... by my side as I type) and onesie on... That means one thing - it's Christmas holiday! This marks my last ever Christmas as a student. Argh... I cannot tell you how nice it is to have some time off to enjoy London at this gorgeous time of year. In this post I'm going to go through some of my favourite hang outs and cute spots at this time of year in this beautiful city I get to call home. 

First things first though... Today I grabbed this little bargain from New Look which I am very excited to go and strut my stuff in round London this weekend as my sister is coming down to visit for the weekend. I'm planning to take her to all of the following places so here's your glimpse into what we'll be up to! 

This bad boy was half price in New Look's amazing sale that I just stumbled across today, you know, as you do. It cost me £24.99 Reduced down from £49.99. Happy Abbie. I've been looking for a perfectly fitted long, warm coat and have been so disappointed this season until I found this gorgeous thing. I can't wait to team some black skinnies, winter books and cozy scarf with this newbie this weekend. 

My Favourite London Hang Outs This Season

1. Harrods

I popped along to Harrods last weekend with my best friend when she came to visit after 3 months away travelling. I hardly ever go to Harrods but do you know what, at Christmas it is so perfect. As you walk up the lights are stunning and automatically make you want some mulled wine and a cheeky mince pie - Harrods own, of course ;)

Inside, my favourite section is of course the Food Hall! I could spend hours in there, I swear. The array of perfectly designed and finished cakes is mind-boggling. Definitely find myself wishing I was one of those Knightsbridge livin' peeps who buy their carrots from there but I'm satisfied just doing the tourist thing and standing there in awe of the cabbages thanks. 

The third floor also holds the biggest Christmas shop I ever did see; from baubles, wrapping, wreaths and Christmas puppy leads, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy with Christmassy goodness. 

We found ourselves strolling around the evening gown section in complete bliss and then headed down the crazy decent of excavators and found we'd walked six kilometres around the store and it was suddenly dark outside. Harrods is the perfect little selfie stop... Guilty as charged. 

2. Yorica

Ok, so this place is far from Christmassy but it's complete and utter heaven and I'd go there any day of any week in any month of any season of the year (get my point...) it's amazing. So as many of you know I'm lactose and gluten intolerant... Gulp... Yeah so this place solves every single one of my cravings under one roof. Located on Waldour Street in Soho, this little FroYo Hippie Heaven is somewhere to whack on your must-go-to list. For £4.95 I recently grabbed myself their holiday promotional deal of waffles, 2 scoops of ice cream/ 2 flavours of fro yo and a topping of your choice! The portion is massive and you can chose from awesome flavours like Chocolate Orange, Wowbutter, Passionfruit, Match... You name it!! It's so amazing to me that I can indulge in something like this and it's totally vegan and gluten free. Happy HAPPY Abbie :)
Even if you don't have an intolerance it's still a lot healthier and the perfect funky hang out. 

3. Free From Food Festival 

Along the same 'food' lines is The Free From Food Festival happening this weekend (they also have several events throughout the year) at Oval Space near Hackney. This festival celebrates all things gluten, dairy and refined sugar free foods and as you can probably guess I'm beyond excited for this. I bought my tickets in July... JULY. Wow. From cakes, bakes, pizzas, festive treats, drinks and so much more, this festival is for total food fanatics  and also for people who may have just been diagnosed with intolerances and they need some serious food-aspiration! It's been so exciting in the past few years to see how many companies are filling such a niche in the market for us peeps who have been lacking festive treats and safe snacks! 

If you want to check out details about this event and their future festivals head to Free From Festival's website here.  

4. Winter Wonderland

I was toying with the idea of not including this one to the list but it's got to be one of the most festive feeling places in this marvellous city at the moment and deserves a mention. Walking along Green Park you see the crazy amount of lights coming towards you and the smell of Bratwurst, Mulled Wine and pure Christmas just hits you! As packed as it can get, the atmosphere is second to none. Last year my boyfriend and I had one of our first dates here and danced away in one of the tents with live music for hours over mulled wine and a big old hot dog. We had the best time and he bought me a cute little christmas bell to hang on my tree at home which I still have and shall be putting up again this weekend. It's obviously a place with special memories for me but I honestly think it doesn't get more Christmassy than this hang out right now. The wonderful thing about Winter Wonderland is you literally don't need to spend a penny and you can still go and soak up such an amazing atmosphere or just spend a fiver and stroll round with a really nice Galaxy Hot Chocolate or  perfect Mulled Wine. 

5. Carnaby Street

I'm a bigger lover of shopping in London but sometimes it's far too manic around this time of year... Oxford Street is incredible but way too jammed for me. My favourite place to go for some independent and alternative shops is Carnaby Street. If the atmosphere isn't enough for you, the lights are always amazing at this time of year and it's worth a visit purely to see them! You can find the perfect little stocking fillers, designer main presents and mad secret santa gifts that no one else would have even knew existed. It's epic, check it out. 

These are just a few of my favourite places in this magical city. Even finding a quiet, independent coffee shop and getting cozy with a book is the perfect way to experience London at this time of year. I absolutely love it. 

I'm off home for a week after cracking down (probably in one of said coffee shops) and getting my school work done and on Boxing Day I fly out to Gibraltar to see my gorgeous fella and spend some time with his lovely family. A post shall soon follow that trip, eek!

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Loads of love, as always,

x Abster x

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Going Gluten Free...

Hello gorgeous ones. This month has been pretty life-changing to say the least. I told you guys in my last post I was seeing a nutritionist at The Food Doctor in London for ongoing digestive problems and my adult acne and skin irritation. So, I've now got all my results back from my tests and it turns out this girl is severely gluten intolerant. I couldn't quite believe it at first, the fact I'm also lactose intolerant daunted me a bit about what on earth would I actually eat... Turns out, I can eat a lot of stuff with all of the alternatives to gluten now on the highstreet and I have managed to change my diet quite easily to something way more healthy and my-poor-body-friendly!!

I want to share a load of recipes I have come up with that are getting me through each busy day of drama school with a full tummy and big smile on my (hopefully, soon) acne free face, haha.


Breakfast is without a doubt my favourite meal of the day. I genuinely go to bed most nights excited to wake up to purely eat my brekkie... I know right... Wow. 
I was worried when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance that my crazy addiction to porridge would come to an abrupt end BUT I found the miraculousness that is gluten free oats which you can now find in practically every high street food store. I've stocked up majorly on my oats... Happy girl! Something I've recently tested out is the combination of oats with almond milk, honey, goats yogurt, crushed walnuts, chopped apple and cinnamon... IT'S EXACTLY LIKE APPLE CRUMBLE. It's amazing and definitely worthy of those capital letters. Sorry not sorry. Also, I absolutely adore porridge with cacao. Cacao is one of natures most amazing things... It's cocoa before it's refined so has an abundance of fibre and antioxidants. I love love love it. It's 100% healthy chocolate. I also add in some Brown Rice Protein Powder for an extra bit of sustenance to keep me going through my crazy days. I pop on top some mixed seeds, blueberries and strawberries. Total heaven. Of course, I've also popped on my Banana Pancakes... These will forever be my favourite brekkie. You can find my recipe here

Lunch/ Dinner

In my opinion, anything I make for dinner, I can have the next day for lunch and vice versa hence why most of my recipes double up for the heartiest of lunches or the lightest of dinners etc. One thing I've found a challenge since cutting gluten completely out my diet is the lack of carbohydrates. However, such things as brown rice pasta and brown rice, itself, have filled the gap that bread, normal pasta, pitta breads etc. used to fill. I've really enjoyed creating new, yummy recipes! Here are three really quick, easy recipes that never disappoint. Firstly, baked sweet potato with a salmon fillet sprinkled with paprika on a bed of avocado, spinach, cucumber and feta with a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar. This ingredient is something I always cook with now as my nutritionist told me it's amazing for balancing acids in the stomach and speeding up the digestive process. The next recipe looks quite bizarre and is a slight mish-mash but an amazing result! I bakes half an aubergine along with butternut squash and a salmon fillet with a side of brown rice pasta with spinach wilted in. Yum yum yummmmmm - super food central! Lastly, one of my favourite dishes is Thai Green Curry. Here, I popped together chicken, chickpeas and tonnes of spinach cooked in coconut oil and a tsp of Thai Green Paste. I then had this with a good amount of brown rice. DELICIOUS. 

Snack/ Desserts/ Drinks

I'm a big dessert girl... Love finishing a meal and having a little sweet something-something to top it all off. Being a gluten AND lactose intolerant you'd think dessert was completely impossible... Yeah so did I but noooooooo... I've recently discovered an incredible recipe to make a raw cheesecake. This wonderful creation is made from soaked cashews which cream up which, along with coconut oil and a few other natural ingredients form the perfect textured cheesecake filling. I made the base from purely grinding mixed nuts and dates with some cacao powder. This keeps me going all week for a mid-afternoon sweet snack. It's so healthy too! Also, when you have as amazing a boyfriend as I do who is constantly on the hunt for treats I can eat, life is good. Recently he found Bouja-Bouja ice cream from Planet Organic and this stuff is to die for. It's also all completely raw so super good for you even though it feels so indulgent. I love me a cheeky cocktail too so am so glad I can still have one or two when I go out and about and enjoy the beautiful, electric city I am so fortunate to live in. 

I count my lucky stars I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance now rather than 5 or more years ago when the food industry just didn't have a clue these intolerances existed so eating out was so hard as well as finding any suitable alternatives to any gluten or dairy filled products. 

I am really enjoying getting back to health and finding exciting recipes to keep my food-obsessed side of me completely satisfied.

Love you all

x Abster x