Festivals: 3 Essential Factors for a Healthy Happy Festival

Don’t want to feel awful on Monday?

Glastonbury is easily one of my favourite long weekends of the year. It’s not just the headliners that have had me rebooking for the last four years, it wouldn’t be half as much fun if I wasn’t for the great company or the unique atmosphere we all share on Micheal Eavis’ farm once a year. 

However, there is always the impending Monday post-festival dooooom which tends to hit during the field departure debarcle. One my festival of my festival blues was actually spent in hospital… So I can definitely say i’ve learnt (the hard way) how to maximise fun and not get sick. So whether you’re off to Creamfields with ya mates or glamping at V-fest, here’s some advice to feel happy, healthy and awake on that Monday.

 

Step one: be prepared

 

1 Food

Big clue: your gut is where the majority of your serotonin is produced and where the majority of immune system is.

Don’t rely on eating from food trucks at festivals. The choices are often fried, full of sugars and unhealthy fats. What’s more is that they are also pretty pricey. Unfortunately .. they’re not just going to burn a hole in your pocket.. Pounding your stomach with fast food is not a good way to stay friends with your gut. Avoid sugar highs and lows, tiredness and get the most out of your festival. Don’t waste the Monday after.

I recommend packing breakfast so that you can promise yourself you’ll eat at least one healthy meal. It also means you don’t have to leave the tent in the morning.. Double win. I usually bring:

A loaf of gluten free homemade bread (i’m wheat intolerant)

2 nut butter Pip and Nut squeeze packs for each day 

A jar of peanut butter

Apples

Honestly these three together are the dream. They also balance out the fruit sugar with fats.

Don’t get hangry and make bad choices! So easy to do.. Instead stock up on some healthy snacks to keep with you:

Energy balls (Deliciously Ella, Bounce Balls..)

Tangerines

Brown rice cakes (I like Kallo chocolate coated)

For lunches I would recommend Jamie Oliver’s lentil packets but inevitably you’re going to want to try some of the food at the festival. I certainly did! 10/10 burrito by the Pyramid Stage. However when you’re choosing, choose well. For example if you’re wheat and dairy free, don’t choose a pizza. If you suffer from intolerances in anyway like me, you’ll be left with a foggy brain and semi-pregnant belly. Instead of a recipe for intolerance disaster, indulge in a Thai curry or some sweet potato fries.

 

2. Alcohol

Most of us enjoy a few drinks at a festival. I respect those who are t-total for health reasons. I have had periods of up to a year where I haven’t touched alcohol for the benefit of my health. However, as time has gone on, I’ve learnt that drinking alcohol is about balance. Principally the balance of mental and physical health: enjoying a few and feeling included in social situations. Undoubtedly,  I also try to balance frequency and quantity so that essentially, I feel happiest during, and after drinking.

I do often enjoy 24 hours of not drinking at a festival. Try it! You realise that you really don’t need to be under the influence to soak up the atmosphere and it’s important for me to remember every single second of some acts.

When I do choose to drink, I tend to stick to white spirits such as gin and vodka. They contains less tannins than rums, whiskeys and wines. Tannins can exacerbate a hangover. I also choose mixers with less sugar such as slim line tonic. Although alcohol already has sugar in, choosing a low sugar mixer can reduce sugar peaks and falls. 

Water is so important at a festival. Flush out toxins and stay hydrated. Bring a refillable water bottle with you. (A BIG ONE).

 

3. Sleep

I have no shame in taking a nap during the day. The amount of times I heard “sleep when you’re dead” brashed around by campsite neighbours and toilet queues. Been there. Done that. You end up moody, spotty and miserable. Festival nay. Napping allows me to make the most of the evenings.. so you’ll find me cosied up with eye mask and sleeping bag around 4pm with alarm set.

So that was three key elements to bare in mind. Maximise how much you enjoy that festival and minimise the festival Monday (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…) blues.

Get packed and have the best time!

 

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Lazy. Remember when lazy was a mood and not an insult?

2005

Alice: “I’m having a lazy day tomorrow”

Best friend: “Me too”

 

2017

Alice: ‘I’m having a lazy day tomorrow”

Bae: “I’ve booked us into a 7am spin class, then we’re going to the other side of London for brunch, there’s an event at 11am i’ve got us tickets for and we’re going out tonight. Be lazy another day.”

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The health industry has developed and thrived in the last decade. We’ve gone from skinny to strong, low-fat to balanced and low-cal dieting to exercising. The focus shift away from being skinny is a mark of success for the health industry; how much the industry has learnt as a collective and how successful it has been in educating others.

However, as we seem to get forever and ever busier, squeezing in a HIIT class here and  some food prep there, we seem to have forgotten the importance of rest. There are of course ‘rest encouraging’ voices around. For example the recent popularity of yoga has helped spread the message of the importance of rest and respect for our bodies. I would also argue that Instagram is trending towards a more honest approach including whispering about the need to chill out.

Whispers are great but the importance of rest in our day to day lives requires a slightly louder approach. When we don’t give our body the break it needs, our stress levels rise which affects the body both mentally and physically. Aside from stress related injuries and grumpy moods, I’m talking about the effect on our gut which can lead to IBS and further issues. 

Rest can mean being horizontal on the sofa but it can also mean a lie in, having a day off from the gym, having an early night, having a break abroad, not drinking alcohol.. If you listen to your body, it’ll tell you when you need rest. Hints: tiredness, injury, headaches and pain in general.

My lazy days are often on a weekend. I lie in, tell my friends i’m busy till the afternoon (or sometimes evening) *embarrassed face emoji*. I love resting. I have guilt-free me time. I whip out my yoga mat and just do what I feel like doing. I make an easy lunch of brown rice pasta and pesto. I read my book in bed or if i’m really lazy, a magazine. I eat some chocolate (as seen above). I leave my phone in another room. It’s bliss. Try it.

Busy people like ourselves need lazy time. 

Anybody else got any tips for how you rest? Tell me! If you like what you see hit the big red follow button on my main page here. I don’t have anyone to sell your email address to! You’ll just get a notification when I write a new yummy/thoughtful post every few weeks.

Happy Sunday. I’ve got plans till 3pm….

Cacao and chocolate in 2 minutes

Where does chocolate come from? 

Chocolate originates in Mesoamerica (South America area) where it was consumed as a drink among the Aztecs. In the absence of sugar, corn and spices were added to flavour the “xocoatl” drink. Chocolate was not developed into a bar in England until the 1800s. Since then we have been adding sugar, cacao butter and all sorts of flavours to our chocolate. What was “xocoatl” and what we know as chocolate, are two very different foods.

 

What on earth is the difference between cacao, cocoa and chocolate?

Cacao pods grow on Theobroma Cacao trees and produce cacao beans. These raw beans can be fermented, dried and shelled to produce cacao nibs and pressed to make cacao butter.

Cocoa nibs, cocoa butter and cocoa powder are produced from ROASTED cacao beans. After the cacao beans are fermented and dried they are roasted at 130 degrees Celsius. Some of the antioxidants and nutrients are lost in exposing the beans to heat.

Cacao nibs or cocoa nibs are conched (grounded and stirred), until they produce a liquid. Chocolate makers add sugars, milk powder, cacao butter and other flavours to this liquid. The mixture is solidified to make chocolate.
So what’s raw chocolate?

Raw chocolate is made from raw, unroasted, cacao beans. There is no legal definition for “raw”. Hence “raw chocolate” makers use raw cacao beans and then temper their chocolate. Tempering involves heating the chocolate to 34 degrees Celsius in order to improve texture. So if the chocolate is tempered, it’s not actually raw. Nutrients from the raw cacao can be lost at the tempering stage so double check with the supplier that there has been no heat exposure.

 

Is chocolate good for you?

It is is one of the highest whole food sources of magnesium which happens to be one of the most deficient minerals in the modern diet. Moreover, it is also a great resource of iron for all my fellow anaemics out there (more than spinach!).

Even better, antioxidants actually make up 10% of the weight of raw cacao! Antioxidants repair damage caused by free radicals and supposedly reduce the risk of some cancers. Raw chocolate has even more antioxidants than acai, goji and blueberries!

Sounds great right? Pass me the family size Galaxy!

Unfortunately processed chocolate exposed to high temperatures and chocolate with added sugar, milk powders, stabilisers do not contain the same amount of nutrients. So if you’re looking for healthy chocolate, look out for:

– raw chocolate (check that it is not exposed to heat even at tempering stages)

– no added refined sugar

– a small percentage of milk powder i.e 70% cacao

– no added scary ingredients like E470b !!! Like what even is that..

Or grab yourselves some cacao nibs (not cocoa nibs)


How can I make my own healthy chocolate?

Check out my next blog post! Don’t forget to subscribe to the Super Lucie blog or follow me on Instagram @iamsuperlucie (link below on the right).

Love Plantains Love Life

When I told my mum that I had developed a new addiction whilst travelling around South America, she prepared herself for the worst. PLANTAINS MUM! I cannot get enough of my yellow friends. Plantain crisps, fried plantain halves (for breakfast, lunch & dinner), plantain flour pancakes.. they´re everywhere! I am certainly not complaining.

Despite their association with the Caribbean and Latin America, plantains originated in Asia. They became popular in Latin America centuries ago when they were harvested and consumed by slaves. Nowadays plantains feature in almost every plato principal on the menu del día in Colombia and are often served for breakfast with rice and eggs across Latin America.

Delicious and nutritious, plantains are a good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, iron and have more vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium than their closely related friends, bananas. Plantains are a fibrous alternative to other carbohydrates such as potato or white rice.

So I went on a mission to make myself some delicious plantain containing food for breakfast lunch and dinner. When I whipped this plantain lasagne out of the oven in the hostel, there were a lot of envious hungry travellers!

R E C I P E S

Here are three recipes for..

1. Gluten Free Plantain Pancakes

2. Plantain Coconut Rice

3. The Famous Plantain Lasagne

 

GLUTEN FREE PLANTAIN PANCAKES

I’m really missing making pancakes at home and I love plantains so these babies were born. I boil all the plantains I use to reduce frying.

Ingredients (one person)
1 big yellow plantain

1 cup maize flower

1 egg

Coconut oil / olive oil

Vanilla essence (optional)

Honey to put on top! (optional)

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Mash the plantain and add a beaten egg to the mixture. Mix them until you have a liquid consistency batter.

3. Pour in the flour and mix thoroughly.

4. Heat up the oil and pour in enough mixture to make a fist sized pancake.

5. Flip and huzzah



PLANTAIN COCONUT RICE

A filling delicious lunch or dinner.

Ingredients (one person)

1 plantain

1 cup of rice

1/2 onion

1 bell pepper

1 handful of green beans

Paprika

Aji / spicy pepper

Coconut oil/ olive oil

 

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Boil more water for the rice and simmer for 20 minutes

3. Chop the onion finely, cut up the pepper and green beans.

4. Fry the onion for 2-3 minutes in the oil then add the pepper and green beans. Keep stirring the vegetables until cooked between 10-15 minutes later

5. Meanwhile they’re cooking, cut half of the plantain up into bite size pieces and the other half slice laterally.

6. Add the bite size pieces to the pan and the other larger circles brown off separately.

7. Strain the rice, put it back into the pan, mix in the coconut milk and cook gently for two minutes on a low heat.

8. Add the vegetables to the rice pan and add paprika and aji.

9. Serve the rice with the larger pieces of plantain on top. Ta- dah.

 

 

PLANTAIN LASAGNE

Just the best thing ever. Why would you ever have pasta when you can have PLANTAIN! And it´s gluten free.

Ingredients (3 people)

4 yellow plantains

500g minced meat

1 onion

1 carrot

4 tomatoes

1 egg

1 tbs tomato paste

Aji

Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

3. Chop the onions, tomato, carrots

4. First fry the onions for 2 minutes in oil, then add the chopped carrot and tomatoes. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile slice the plantains into roughly 5mm strips. Cover the bottom of a 20 inch baking tray with the slices, making sure to leave enough plantain for 2 more layers.

6. Stir the vegetable mixture and in a separate pan cook the meat for 5 minutes

7. Pour the beef into the tomato mix and add the paste , aji and seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes.

8. Pour half of the mixture on top of the plantain layered baking tray, top with another layer of plantains, add the remaining mixture then finish with a final layer of plantains. For a final touch whisk an egg and pour over the top covering all of the plantain.

9. Bake for 45 minutes.

Enjoy the plaintain madness!!!!

Do you know where quinoa comes from?

Did you know it is used to produce beer? Comes in five different colours? Grows in inhospitable conditions?
Until today, I knew quinoa as a black and white gluten free carbohydrate digested as a protein and available in most supermarkets. A recent trip to Bolivia taught me a little more about the food I love and consume so much in the U.K!
Where does it come from?

Does it grow on a tree? Under the ground? Nope. It actually grows much like wheat. The quinoa plant is a small green shrub which can reach a metre or so. The “flower”, quinoa granules, are collected and then sent for purification.

Where does it grow?

The quinoa plant is a tough one. It only requires water when quinoa seeds are sowed and it grows in the desert. I’ve just passed through the Bolivian desert in between San Atacama in Chile and Uyuni in Bolivia. Quinoa production is popular here. Since this area falls on a tectonic plate border, the land is fertile from the volcanic minerals which the quinoa crop benefits from. On my journey through the desert, I saw quinoa plants growing in lines and surrounded in make shift fences marked with plastic bags to deter hungry llamas (see above). Looking further afield, you can see the mountains seem to be divided in colour. This is simply due to quinoa farming and separation of crop on the mountain side.

Types and uses

Bolivia produces five different coloured quinoas and each has a different use locally.

1. Quinoa amarilla (yellow): the most common type which is used much like rice in Bolivia.

2. Quinoa blanca (white): mostly eaten like cereal with rice unlike our western savoury uses

3. Quinoa rosada (pink/red): grinded up to produce a flour

4. Quinoa negra: sometimes eaten but mainly used to produce a gluten free beer

5. Quinoa verde: a bitter quinoa only used to make beer for example the brand Lipena (actually quite tasty).

Popped quinoa is another use. It’s popular and cheap in Bolivia. You will find it in cereal bars, upmarket chocolate and packeted on its own.

It’s a pretty impressive plant. However Bolivians aren’t too keen on it! They would prefer to exchange it for pasta or noodles. Each to their own.

5 healthy breakfasts for backpackers

How to breakfast healthy whilst backpacking around South America

Good news: free hostel breakfast 

Bad news: it’s cake and squash..
..Oh and no blender, juicer, nutribullet, working oven.

Whether you’re going from hostel to hostel like me, or hotel to hotel, breakfast can be be tricky. On one hand you want to take advantage of what’s on offer for FREE, on the other hand, what is actually on offer is often unhealthy, sugar spiking and wheat/dairy filled. 

Travelling across Brazil and Argentina this past month, I have found the most popular morning options to be cake, bread, processed ham and cheese, cereals, milk and, fruit-wise, watermelon, melon, papaya, apples and bananas. Occasionally I have been lazy and tempted but the result is bloating, bad skin and dark circles. It’s just not worth it. AND there is no need.
Here are 5 quick fixes for a healthy gluten and dairy free breakfast:

1. Cheap and quick chia seed pudding

No kitchen needed 


 Chia seeds are a great source of Omega 3 and fibre. The great thing about travelling South America is that they’re so much cheaper to buy here than the U.K or U.S (about £2 for 500g). Health shops are common in city centres and here almond milk is readily available. Failing that coconut, soya and lactose-free milk are stocked in most supermarkets. Altogether you’re looking at about an extra £5 per week for a delicious and nutritious breakfast which will stop you splashing out satisfying sugary cravings later in the day. Prepare this the night before so there’s no need to miss out on socialising with others at breakfast.
Ingredients: 

3 tablespoons of chia seeds

1 cup almond milk

Fruit (take advantage of what’s on offer at breakfast!)

Cinammon (extra) 

Nuts (extra) – brazil nuts are about £1 / 350g
Method:

Mix the chia seeds and almond milk (and cinnamon) in a bowl or glass. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge. In the morning add the fruit (and nuts). Ta-dah. 

2. Great British Porridge

No kitchen needed



I am wheat intolerant I have found that I have no reaction to normal oats. Traditional porridge oats are available in most supermarkets and cost about £2.50 and lasts me about 2 weeks. If you need gluten-free certified porridge, it is stocked in most health food shops which are plentiful in the city centre. Invest in some dairy free milk as described in the above recipe. You can either prepare this in the kitchen (normally next to where breakfast is served in the hostel) or simply take your oats to breakfast and let them soak for about 10 minutes in boiling water (availble at breakfast). 

Ingredients:

Oats

Almond milk

Fruit 
Method: 

Add 50g porridge oats and 350ml almond milk. Put in microwave for 3 mins or on the hob for 6!

3. Versatile eggs

They’re cheap. They’re protein. They’re versatile. Go omelette with tomatoes, scrambled with avocado, poached with spinach or fried with mushrooms. Eating fruit for breakfast is tasty and free. However avoid the morning sugar spike and mix it with protein from eggs (and fats from coconut oil!)
Ingredients:

Eggs.

4. Banana pancakes 


Top your hostel breakfast. Yes everyone may be enjoying the toast but up your game. They’re really easy to make, a good mix of sugar and protein and toppings provide an additional source of nutritionist.

 
Ingredients:

2 bananas

Half an egg

Toppings (see below)
Method:

Mash the bananas till smooth and add a whisked egg. For full on gluttony add toppings. I love walnuts, peanut butter, dark chocolate, berries and more banana.

5. Acai (Brazil exclusive)



I’m afraid this one only really works if you’re travelling around Brazil. There are minimal steps to this one. Leave your hostel. Walk a maximum of 5 minutes until you find a corner shop which sells fresh acai. Spend less than £2. Enjoy. 
Look forward to backpacking breakfasts!

Backpacking with intolerances and allergies

Daunting. To leave local shop shelves stacked plentifully with wheat and dairy alternatives was no easy decision. Neither was saying goodbye to my nutribullet, juicer, steamer and cupboard full of ingredients.

I get a lot of enjoyment from cooking. Whether it’s whipping up a gluten and dairy freequiche or some raw brownies. I appreciate great tasting food (which is always that little bit more delicious if you’ve made it yourself). Even more important still, is the satisfaction of filling my body with maximum nutrition and avoiding those foods which do not agree with me (wheat, dairy, onions, apples..). The last few years I have relied on my diet to keep me in good mental and physical health following personal illness. Although my diet is important to maintain, it shouldn’t stop me from travelling around South America!
In fact many packaged “superfoods” we see on our shelves are from in South America. First stop Rio, home of coconut water and açai!! Looking forward to trying some Yucca and cupuaçu.

Stay tuned!

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