Inflammation Workshop

I enjoyed a fantastic morning cooking up foods which help to support our immune system and fight inflammation. A menu packed with brightly coloured vegetables, rich in Omega 3 and literally packed with super food heroes known to help combat inflammation such as ginger, garlic, flaxseeds, chia, berries, and of course some fermented probiotics.

Inflammation is the body’s means of self-protection; it can be acute and sudden, caused by an injury, or it may be chronic and persistent, acting as a precursor to many grievous disease states. Inflammation is part of the body’s adaptive immune system; it is a fast-acting chain reaction of events. Whether we strain a muscle in the gym or stub our toe on the way out of the door, the swelling, pain, heat and redness, which flare up at the site of the injury, are all signs of the inflammation cascade leaping into action; blood vessels dilate, enabling white blood cells to rush to the area, engulfing and destroying bacteria and toxins that have entered the damaged cells. The result of this first line defence initiative is to eradicate infection, but it may also result in collateral damage of surrounding cells, leading to the production of damaging free radicals.

Acute inflammation, whilst aggravating and sometimes painful, is a ‘necessary evil’ to help us recover from injury or infection and all living organisms depend upon the ability to protect and heal themselves from trauma. Nevertheless, the effect of chronic and recurring inflammation resulting in over-reactivity of the adaptive immune response, is now shown to be a trigger for many chronic diseases.


The chronic inflammation response can be activated by food sensitivities, by toxins in our external environment, by stress and by over exercising; in short it may be aggravated by a modern Western lifestyle

Omega-3 rich Flaxseed and carrot crackers

Flaxseed Crackers

Flaxseed Crackers

(recipe @hemsleyhemsley )To help reduce the action of pro-inflammatory white blood cells in our bodies it is important to increase the quantity of anti-oxidant polyphenols in our diet, those found in richly coloured fruit and vegetables and especially abundant in anti-inflammatory super heroes, including turmeric, ginger, green tea, dark chocolate and berries. We should also look to increase our intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, flax seeds, chia, walnuts, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Omega-3 is used by our bodies to produce ALA, EPA and DHA, required by the body to reduce the action of the body’s’ inflammatory response system.


1 large carrot; peeled and chopped

100g ground almonds

100g flaxseeds

1tsp raw honey

1/4tsp chilli flakes


Mix all the ingredients together in your food processor until they form a dough • roll out to cracker depth between 2 sheets of baking paper (so that the sticky dough doesn’t stick to your rolling pin) • remove the top piece of baking paper and bake for 10-12 in a moderately hot oven (190) and then leave to cool •if the middle crackers are still soft, cut them up and put them back in the oven for a further 5 mins) once cool I break off into pieces and store in an airtight tin •  (or cut them out with a cookie cutter as i did today). Delicious with dips, for breakfast and just as a simple anti-inflammatory boost during the day

The modern Western lifestyle exposes us to myriad conditions including diets high in saturated animal fats, salt and sugar leading to an increase in the prevalence of obesity; exposure to external toxins including pesticides, chemical pollutants and solvents is associated with an increased prevalence of asthma and allergies (Yang et al. 2014) and high levels of stress. Studies show us that a high BMI and obesity are strongly correlated with inflammatory conditions including the metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (Manzel et al. 2015) and many cancers are known to arise from sites of infection, chronic irritation and inflammation (Coussens and Webb).

High-fat, high-salt, high-sugar diets are associated with an increase in Leptin, a key hormone, crucial in the regulation of energy expenditure and body weight, but also associated with stimulating white blood cells during an inflammation response. White blood cells are implicated in almost all autoimmune diseases and also in sensitivities including gluten intolerance. These flaxseed crackers are a great gluten free alternative to regular crackers and pack a mighty omega-3 and protein punch.


Korean Kimchi

Korean Kimchi

Korean Kimchi

Kimchi is a Korean sauerkraut, quicker, easier and (if you ask me)
 tastier than a more traditional sauerkraut • it’s made with cabbage, ginger, garlic and chillies so your kimchi will pair beautifully with simple salmon or chicken dishes • the natural sugars and starches in the cabbage are converted into lactic acid, a natural preservative and probiotic superfood (lactobacillus) • during fermentation, the lactobacilli produce numerous beneficial digestive enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic compounds • start with a whole Chinese cabbage, and shred into small slices • next add a bunch of chopped spring onions, a thumb of peeled and grated ginger, 3 grated garlic cloves and a generous tsp of chilli flakes • add these to your bowl with 1 tbsp of sea salt (here I used Himalayan pink salt packed with minerals) • the next part is really important, get a rolling pin or a wooden pounder / pestle and really thump the cabbage and spices in your bowl, mashing them down until all the juices run from the cabbage (see pic) • now add to a mason jar with an airtight lid • ensure all the cabbage is submerged in its liquid juices and close up the lid • leave the kimchi out in the side for about 3 days before transferring to the fridge to store.

Boosting the beneficial bacteria in your gut is a valuable means of boosting your immune system. Today we also tried Kefir, a fermented milk drink, but you may also like Kombucha or regular pickles and sauerkrauts. Sourdough bread is also easily digested.

Inflammatory foods
Anti-inflammatory Foods
Foods high in saturated animal fat 
red meats, cheese, processed meats of any kind including ham, bacon, sausages.


A high intake of salt and sugar


Fried foods


Diets generally low fibre

To improve the mechanisms by which the body converts food into energy and to reduce inflammation you need a diet containing:

Foods rich in Polyphenols
including flavonoids and non-flavonoids, Resveratrol, Quercetin and Curcumin,       

Resveratrol: pistachios, grapes, red & white wine, blueberries, cranberries and dark   chocolate and cocoa

Quercetin: citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, sage, tea, olive oil and dark berries

Curcumin: Turmeric, you can now buy this fresh from supermarkets looks like         ginger, so get adding this magic spice to your curries

Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3: your oily fish, mackerel, sardines, salmon and also flax seeds, walnuts and    soybeans

Foods high in fibre
High fibre: (avoiding gluten proteins found in wheat), alternatives include oats,             dried fruits and almost all fresh fruits especially apples and pears; black beans,             chickpeas, avocado (around 10g in a whole avocado ) brown rice. Raspberries are             fibre rich and also full of Polyphenols (these are great bought frozen and added to             a flaxseed or oatmeal porridge for brekkie). Think also peas, broccoli and almonds.


A commitment to regular physical exercise

These foods all activate the transcription factors involved in inflammation, these are the genes that switch a cells’ activity potential either on or off; these foods also induce an imbalance of your gut microflora causing DYSBIOSIS (an over-accumulation of bad bacteria) and prevent the breakdown of food molecules to release energy.

So start thinking of your meals as an opportunity to support your athleticism, to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery after exercise.

Thinking about what you eat in this way changes the perception of “treat” foods from something that harms to something that heals.

Tropical Fruit with a ginger and mint dressing


Pineapple and Papaya with fresh ginger dressing

Serves 4


2 papaya, peeled, seeded and sliced

100g pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks

100g coconut slices


Ginger and mint dressing


Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

10 – 20 leaves of fresh mint, finely chopped

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp coconut palm sugar or maple syrup

First slice your fresh papaya and pineapple – you can also buy ready chopped pineapple and coconut slices. To serve, mix all the dressing ingredients well and drizzle over the fruit.

This delicious zingy fruit platter is rich in digestive enzymes and fibre to support bowel health and soothe the digestive tract. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and fresh mint soothing on the digestive system. Serve with full fat probiotic natural yogurt to further boost the healing properties of this lovely plate.


Chia Breakfast Pots


Acai Chia Pudding

 Serves 1

2 tbsp chia seeds

half a cup of almond milk

1 tsp of acas powder (optional)

Soak your chia seeds + acai in half a cup of almond milk the evening before and stir well. The chia seeds will swell and become gelatinous in the liquid.

In the morning you can add toppings. I take my chia out of the fridge as soon as I’m up and leave it to come to room temp before eating.

Toppings including; raw caca nibs, bee pollen, crushed almonds, berries, banana, kiwi, toasted pumpkin seeds, a grated apple, coconut flakes…

Excellent source of soluble fibre, omega-3 and antioxidants from the toppings. Seeds are a source of protein and this breakfast will keep you going all morning long! Due to the high fibre content of these mighty little seeds, go slow to start… 2 tbsp / day is ample.

Bone broth

Bone broth is really just a fancy word for chicken stock. Start with an organic chicken… Riverford sells great value organic chicken. I get an organic meat delivery once a fortnight. Once you have cooked your chicken and are left with the carcass (and the giblets, which can be stored in the fridge until you are ready to start making your stock), you are ready to get started. Find a large heave pan / crockpot or slow cooker if you have one and add the chicken carcass, the giblets and cover well with water. Add a tbsp.. of apple cider vinegar to help leach all the collagen and gelatine out of the chicken bones. Add a couple of bay leaves, a carrot and a peeled onion to the mix and some salt and pepper. Cook overnight or simmer for several hours on a low heat with the lid on.

Once you have your lovely gelatinous stock you can either leave it to cool and freeze (ice cube trays are good for this), bag it up to be used for soup or casseroles or make it into an Asian broth as I did today.

Take your broth and reduce it down on the hob. This is also a good idea even if you are freezing as it concentrates the flavour and reduces the volume…. You can always add more water back at a later stage of cooking!

To your reduced broth add a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, a tbsp. of Tamari Soy Sauce, an inch of peeled ginger. For more of a soup you could add a couple of chopped spring onions and chopped coriander to serve.

Other serving ideas include adding a sachet of miso paste. Miso is a fermented soy product, which is probiotic and good for gut health). Itsu sells a version in the supermarket.


Chicken Liver Pate


Chicken liver pate

A rich source of Vitamin A and Zinc. I love this recipe because it doesn’t contain cream or butter, it leaves me feeling light and nourished.

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

4 chestnut mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

250g organic chicken livers (Ocado)

2 tbsp port or red wine

1 tsp tamari soy sauce

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme and parsley

Salt + peps to season.

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the onions, musrooms ad garlic until soft and translucent. Add the chicken livers and brown, before adding the port, soy sauce, and fresh herbs. Keep cooking for a further 5 minutes until the livers are cooked through.

Blitz the mixture in your processor or blender until smooth and season to taste.


Cauliflower tabbouleh


5 tbsp pine nuts

1 cauliflower

1 tsp coconut oil

1 small white onion

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

Handful each of mint, parsley and coriander

Juice of 1 lemon

1 preserved lemon, rind only

60ml olive oil

½ cucumber, chopped and deseeded

6 baby plum tomatoes, chopped and deseeded

4 spring onions finely chopped.

This is one of my favourite recipes for summer lunches. Packed with nutrient dense cauliflower it is perfect for boosting detoxification pathways and makes a nutritious gluten free alternative to a traditional wheat based tabbouleh.

Start by lightly toasting your pine nuts in a dry pan and then setting aside.

Next heat the diced onion in 1 tbsp of coconut oil, add the ground cumin and coriander and gently fry to release the fragrant flavours of the spice and sweeten the onions. Set aside.

In a food processor, take your raw cauliflower, break up the florets and gently pulse until you have a fine rice like consistency of raw cauliflower to form the basis of your tabbouleh. Transfer the cauliflower rice to a large bowl, but keep the processor out to now add the fresh herbs, lemon juice, preserved lemon rind and olive oil and blitz to make a lemony herby dressing. Pour this over your cauliflower rice. Add the sweetened spiced onions from earlier and stir over your cauliflower rice. Add in the toasted pine nuts, the chopped cucumber, tomatoes and spring onions and mix really well. Season to serve.

Pad Thai Dressing for raw veg.

I ran out of time to make this today, but I really recommend you try it – so delicious… you’ll never think of pad thai in the same way again! I love spiralising raw veg and serving in a really fragrant nutritious dressing. This is one of the best.

2 tbsp almond butter

Juice from half a lemon

1 tsp of maple syrup

1 tbsp of tamari soy sauce

1 tbsp of coconut oil

½ tsp. ground cumin

pinch of chilli powder

Ground black pepper

Almond butter has greater health benefits than peanut butter (peanuts are actually classified as a legume, rather than a true nut) and almonds are an excellent source of Vitamin E and antioxidants as well as being a nourishing source of protein.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small blender and mix well. I love to stir this through raw carrots and red peppers, and sprinkle with toasted cashew nuts, almond flakes and a scattering of fresh herbs such as coriander, mint and basil.





Today’s Yoga + Nutrition workshop with Helen Bishop was a total treat as ever. Not only did Helen have us meditating on a raisin, but also with chocolate buttons… what’s not to love? We also had a wonderful dynamic strength and flexibility session, opening up our lungs and our airways for some deep relaxing breathing.

Yoga was followed by lunch in the kitchen. To keep in line with the theme of mind + meditation I focused on a mix of healthy proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and a wealth of antioxidant nutrients, Vitamin C and E, Zinc and magnesium provided by an array of dishes from seeded snack bars, to a dairy free mackerel pate, baked falafels and 2 superfood salads. Here are some recipes from todays workshop. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!



Seeded Protein Bars

Seeded Protein Bars

These delicious snack bars from The Functional Nutrition Cookbook combine a mouthwatering array of nuts and seeds providing all the essential amino acids needed as the dietary raw materials to synthesise vital neurotransmitters. As well as the dietary proteins themselves, the seeds also provide zinc and magnesium, essential co-factors in their conversion.  With no added sugars and plenty of low glycemic carbohydrates these bars would make a great post-workout snack to take to the gym.

INGREDIENTS 225g pitted dates     Juice + Zest of 3 lemons      115g almond butter    60g melted coconut oil      150g gluten-free oats     150g buckwheat flakes    50g protein powder (eg. pea / hemp)      30g pumpkin seeds      30g dessicated coconut      30g sunflower seeds      2 tbsp chia seeds       1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

METHOD Preheat the oven to 190*C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the dates, lemon juice, zest, nut butter + coconut oil in a food processor and blend to a thick paste. Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour over the date paste and mix again. This may be easier by hand. Press the mixture into your prepared baking tray and flatten firmly. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the top is light gold. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and cut into 15 bars. Store in the fridge or freeze for up to 1 month.



Baked Vegetable Falafels

Baked Vegetable Falafels

FOR HEALTH: Chickpeas, when consumed even over a relatively short period of time have been shown to improve blood sugar regulation and insulin secretion. Chickpeas have a remarkable antioxidant composition. They contain small but valuable amounts of co-factor Vitamin C and E but also more concentrated supplies of phytonutrients and ALA.  The dietary fibre found in chickpeas is especially beneficial to lower LDL cholesterol, which makes them healthy for our hearts. They are also an excellent source of manganese, which our body uses to support strong bones and healthy skin.


INGREDIENTS             1 tin chickpeas, low-salt, drained and rinsed             1 small medium onion             1 clove of garlic             1 tbsp. parsley             1 large carrot (2 medium carrot)             Juice of half a lemon             2 tbsp of buckwheat flour             1 tsp ground coriander             1 tsp ground cumin             ¼ cup of frozen peas             Salt and peps

METHOD          Preheat the oven to 200”C and cover a baking tray with baking parchment          Place all of the ingredients except for the frozen peas into a food processor and blitz until fairly smooth.             Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in the peas and season to taste.             Now form your mixture into 8 – 12 patties with your hands and place them on your prepared baking sheet.             Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully turn over and bake for a further 15 minutes on the other side.             Serve with a little cucumber raita of full fat yogurt, mint and cucumber or with a serving. Also lovely with broad beans in a cashew nut dressing and chopped fresh mint.



Leon Superfood Salad

Leon Superfood Salad

Old favourites • this was my original superfood salad using the recipe from the first @leonrestaurants cookbook ?it’s packed with antioxidants, cruciferous vegetables, healthy Omega-3s and I’d forgotten how amazingly delicious it is on hot sticky days.

INGREDIENTS 2 tbsp cooked quinoa, 1 head of steamed broccoli (refreshed under cold water to keep its vibrant green colour), frozen peas, sprouted mung beans, toasted seeds; pumpkin, sesame and sunflower and a hefty squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of flaxseed oil and KAPOW. Here with a crumble of FETA cheese for added protein.

METHOD Assemble with grace and flourish




Quinoa Tabbouleh with mindful raisins

This recipe was in the Sunday Times Magazine this weekend from a selection of dishes at The Ivy.  I was really surprised to see so many nutritious dishes on the menu, I’m not sure why I felt like that as I have never eaten at The Ivy, but other examples included a cauliflower tabbouleh… (check! Love that!), Pan Fried Sea Trout with white beans, fennel and herbs (Check!), and this quinoa tabbouleh…. the mindful raisins are in particular homage to Helen!

INGREDIENTS           100g cooked quinoa          2 tbsp raisins          1 tbsp sunflower seeds                     1 tbsp chia seeds          1/2 red onion, finely chopped          1/2 preserved lemon, skin shredded, fleshy bits discarded          Seeds of half a pomegranate          bunch each of mint, coriander, parsley          Juice of half a lemon,           1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil,           1 tbs pomegranate molasses,      pinch of salt.

METHOD Comine all your ingredients in a bowl, add your dressing allowing all the flavours to mix and mingle. Quinoa is a unique grain, or pseudo-grain as it is rightly known, being more seed than grain and containing a full complement of the essential amino acids we require from our diets. The combination of raisins and herbs with the smokey preserved lemons makes this a vey Ottolenghi-esque salad that has a place on every summer menu for me, being as quick to assemble as it surely is x delicious!

And there you have it, a delicious summer menu jam packed with antioxidants to shield our brains from the dizzying array of toxins which can deteriorate our health. Vitamin C + E, Vitamins B6, B12 and Folate, found in foods with foliage, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, beans, peas, whole grains. Eat a variety of nuts and seeds, including flax seeds and walnuts for Omega-3, so too oily fish.

A note on toxins. Aluminium is one toxic metal, found in research papers to be present in higher levels in individuals diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. It is worth considering ways to limit your exposure to aluminium, where possible; consider filtered water, the use of baking parchment instead of aluminium foil for coverage foods and also anti-perspirants. There are deodorants on the market which do not contain aluminium.

Exercise is also important to keep our arteries clear and open, delivering oxygen in and waste out! So too brain exercises, sufficient sleep and of course meditation.

Namaste, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti x




Falafels with peas and lemon

Moorish and Delicious, fresh baked veggie falafels

Chickpea falafels

Homemade falafel’s are a world away from the deep fried versions you can buy; fragranced with warm spices and fresh with a squeeze of lemon, these fibre dense falafels are quick and easy to make and impossibly easy to devour!

Chickpeas, when consumed even over a realtively short period of time have been shown to improve blood sugar regulation and insulin secretion. Chickpeas have a remarkable antoioxidant composition. They contain small but valuable amounts of co-factor Vitamin C and E but also more concentrated supplies of phytonutrients and ALA.  The dietary fibre found in chickpeas is especially beneficial to lower LDL cholesterol, which makes them healthy for our hearts. They are also an excellent source of manganese, which our body uses to support strong bones and healthy skin.


1 tin of chickpeas

1 medium onion

1 clove of garlic

2 carrots

1 large handful of fresh parsley

1 tsp found cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

juice of half a lemon

handful of frozen peas.

Add all of the ingredients to your food processor, except for the frozen peas. Blitz until you have a coarse mixture, then season and add the frozen peas.

Told the falafel mixture into patties about the size of your palm. Lay them on baking parchment on a flat baking tray, as shown, and bake in a medium hot oven, approx 190″C for 15 minutes on each side.

Serve with a cucumber raita or, a cashew nut dressing, stirred through with fresh mint and parsley.

These falafels will also freeze well X