A lousy Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 2

Some days are just harder than others. Sometimes life gets a bit too much. And today was just like that. I was not necessarily sad but I just felt really empty. Unexplainably empty. As a result, I found myself wishing to have my boyfriend, best friend or mum around just so they could hold me tight and I could feel safe. No words would be needed. Just a hug and their heartfelt look that speaks silently “heyI get you. It is not easy but you are gonna be ok.” (…) They are my support system and not having them around (because they live in a different country/city) makes it harder to cope with this kind of days. Nevertheless, this has also taught me how I can “pick myself up”. I called it a day, went home and allowed myself to have some peaceful downtime. As I went to bed I whispered to myself these few words in the most gentle and kind way that I know: You are safe. You are ok. You will still succeed despite these bad days. First I let it hurt and then I let it go.

So, If today is one of those days where you are feeling a little bit lost inside, do not dwell on it. Instead, show some compassionate for yourself and for how you feel and let this post be a reminder that:

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Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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10 things that are bringing me joy lately.

One of my favourite podcasts is “Chasing Joy” by Georgie Morley and that was where I got the inspiration to write this post. At the end of each podcast episode, Georgie asks to their guests the following question:“What is something that is bringing you joy lately?”. As someone who have always loved to know what makes people tick and what makes their truly happy, I am always eager to hear the answers.

Because listening to what people answer always leaves me thinking about what is bringing me joy at the moment, I thought I would ask myself this question and share the answer with you in this post. I apologise in advance for not being able to stick to only one thing. I got a bit carried away and ended up with a list of 10 different things instead. Oops.

This is just one of those good questions that imply self-reflection. Something I find very important and make time for every now and then. So, without further ado, here are the 10 things that are bringing me joy lately:

  1. Doing Yoga. This practice not only brings me joy but also peace. Peace to my mind and body.
  2. Being able to keep my house plants alive and seeing them slowly growing. I hope I won’t jinx it by saying this lol. After managing to kill 3 cacti (and countless other plants), I guess it was about time to finally be able to keep some of them alive, don’t you think? I feel like this is one of those life achievements that makes me feel like I am succeeding at this thing called “adulting” haha.
  3. Going for a spontaneous walk in the nature with the boyfriend.
  4. Handmade ceramics. A pure work of art.
  5. The days getting longer and longer as Summer approaches
  6. More ethical and sustainable purchases
  7. Reading before bed. The act of swapping my phone/laptop for a good book just before going to bed comes now so effortlessly to me and
  8. Journaling, especially first thing in the morning.
  9. Getting creative in the kitchen and feeling inspired to cook new recipes.
  10. Exploring a new cafe nearly every weekend. As an avid cafe hopper this is naturally something that brings me so much joy and that I am always looking forward to doing.

Now, I would like to invite you to share in the comment section below what is currently bringing you joy! As the curious person by nature that I am, I’d absolutely love to know!!

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My Easter weekend in pictures.

I know, I know it is nearly June and Easter is long gone but.. I still would like to share some pictures and captions about this holiday since it held some real special moments! So let’s get straight into it 🙂

Friday

Because the company I work at gave us this paid day off, my Easter weekend started earlier. This was not only great but also much appreciated given the fact that at that point in time I was running on fumes. It was such a beautiful day of Spring. The sun was shinning and the weather was incredibly warm. I bought myself two bunches of gorgeous flowers and I also got to wear one of my favourite floral-print dresses. All in all, pretty simple things that make my soul very happy.

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This  day off gave me the perfect opportunity to go to a cafe, sit down and devote some time to writing. This is something that brings me peace and makes me feel grounded, especially when I am loaded down with work and have a lot on my mind.

 

Even though I love this cafe vibes, staff and overall service, I do not get to come here often because is a bit far from my house. Thus, I was so happy I could use my time off work to pay a visit.

Firstly, I ordered a cappuccino with unsweetened soya milk. Despite being a coffee lover, I try to avoid drinking it at weekends due to my (oftentimes slightly exaggerated) caffeine intake during the working week. One of the reasons why I love to come to this cafe in particular is because they have this freshly brewed coffee, whose beans they roast and grind there, with a really low caffeine percentage. It tastes just like regular coffee. Plus, everyone working at the cafe seems to have proper barista skills. The cappuccinos are always perfectly served with beautiful latte art on them.

I did some journaling whilst slowly sipping my delicious cappuccino and it was oh-so-lovely.

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After doing my journaling,  I decided to order a teapot of Oolong green tea and a vegan raw matcha and chocolate bar. This was a delicious focus booster and made me feel so inspired to write and just keep on writing some more.  I lost track of time and ended up by staying at the cafe for nearly 3 hours.

Raw treat made of toasted nuts, dates, chocolate, coconut, chocolate, lemon and matcha. It was so good that I am tempted to make it myself at home 🙃

Back in January, I deliberately took the decision of reducing my weekly workouts for the balance of my mind and body. However, despite no longer working out on Fridays, I really felt like moving my body when I left the cafe. As I was quite close to my gym, I decided to go there for a 1-hour workout. I did some weight lifting and core exercises and I really enjoyed. I usually go to the gym for certain group classes (HIIT, strength training, body combat, etc..) but this doing this different workout on my own was exactly what I was craving. And it felt great in the body (and mind).

I am all for trying new things (like this one) that test and challenge our mind and body in a positive way. Though it is important to assess and understand why we do what we do. What it seems to be a positive habit may actually have a not so positive intention or drive behind. This is something I learnt as a result of falling into the habit of overexercising (obsessively and in an unealthy way) in the past and of experiencing its resulting negative effects both in my mental and physical health.

I have been making a continuous conscious effort since June 2018 to approach fitness (and everything it entails e.g. eating) with balance in mind. I have come to learn that if something makes you feel good, that does not necessarily mean that more is better.. and I guess that it is great to realise that nowadays I am able to exercise out of a palce of abudance, rather than of lack. It is so empowering to be able to move my body in a way that feels good; in a way that feels right and without overdoing it, you know? Anyway, sorry for digressing. Back to my Easter weekend.

So, after my gym session, I just went straight back home and cooked myself a good nourishing dinner. I actually felt inspired to try a new recipe that was on my list for a while.

How wonderful is it to feed our bodies with foods we enjoy whilst giving them the fuel and energy they so need to thrive?

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This is the vegan version of a traditional Portuguese recipe (one of my fave actually) and was developed by @madebychoices . It is called Tofu à Brás (english name: tofu and mushrooms “à Brás”) and you can find right here It is soooo dang good and the ingredients could not be more simple! All you need is: sweet potato, leek, fresh coriander, mushrooms, white onion, firm tofu and a few spices and dried herbs. I did add green beans because I somehow seem to never be able to stick to a recipe haha For the perfect final touch, you should add black olives on top but sadly, I did not have them at the time. So, if you are keen to give this recipe a go, please make sure you have them at hand because I trust that they would make the dish even tastier!

Saturday

I went to my usual Saturday morning gym class. This is a group class of strength training intercalated with cardio exercises that I particularly love. While it is true that a great sweat is guaranteed, I always end up by having great fun. It is impressive the fitness instructor makes these classes the most intense, enjoyable and entertaining!

Gym was then followed by a good shower, the usual house chores and a late lunch. I end up by eating late on Saturdays most of the times because I always like to clean and tidy up the house first. Only when that is done can I actually relax and sit down to enjoy my meal (and well enjoy the weekend for that matter). Does anyone can relate?

The boyfriend arrived just after lunch time. He knocked on my door and I opened it only to find him standing there with a bouquet of pink tulips (my favourite). This really was a lovely surprise. He also got me some super yummy chocolate. It might be cliché to receive flowers and chocolate but… after being in a long-distance relationship for several years straight, these lovely gestures really have extra meaning for me. Plus, it is impossible not to be over the moon with unexpected flowers and chocolate, right? He surely knows how to own this girl’s heart haha

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How pretty.

Because a pretty cool looking spot with lots of outdoor seating had recently opened in my street, we decided to go there for the first time. We sat down in the bustling terrace and ordered a glass of prosecco and beer. The weather was absolutely perfect and we got to spend a great time soaking up some vitamin D and sharing laughs. What a well-spent afternoon.

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Since the weather was still pretty warm when with we left the terrace, we decided to go for a short walk in the neighborhood.  How I love to be surrounded by this greenery and boat houses so typical from The Netherlands.♥

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After the sun setting down, we went back home and had a chilled evening in. I made my coconut chickpea curry (recipe here) for dinner and we just called it a day.

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Sunday

I used to spend Easter at my home country with my family up until the second year after I moved abroad. At that time, I was really busy with my Master Degree, priorities changed and… I guess that life just happened. I still make Christmas at a home a must but Easter is now usually spent in The Netherlands, which is where I live for over three years now. This does not mean that Easter stopped being about family for me or that it has lost its meaning. Not at all. Easter is still about gathering around the table with my family and sharing a nice home cooked meal (aka an unbeatable feast). It is still about waking up and starting to cook right way. It is still about spending hours at the table indulging in finger lickin’ good food, sharing funny stories and laughing out loud.  It is still about going for a lovely walk all together in the late afternoon. It is still about valuing one another… and when it comes to all that, this year was no different. The thing is that it just involved less people and instead of talking with the fam in person, I talked with them over the phone. I still enjoyed it a whole lot. I still got to spend it doing the things I’d usually do and with someone who I dearly love: the boyfriend. I cooked us a brunch, we watched some episodes of Games of Thrones (since I was still stuck in season 3. shame on me, I know) and then we went for a sunny walk by the harbour near my house.

 

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Food dEATs: Rice crackers to dip in homemade hummus spinkled with paprika + lupin beans + leek, tofu and spinach quiche, organic chickpea puffs from @Hippeas, salad with mixed greens and traditionally Portuguese Easter bread. All vegan with the exception of the Easter bread that had a boiled egg on top for the boyfriend.
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..and I finally nailed down a foolproof recipe for making the most ethereally smooth, creamy and dollop-ing hummus! Because this recipe is from the amazing @pickuplimes , all credits should actually go to her!

Anyway, it ended up by being a really special Easter because it was actually the very first time that my boyfriend and I got to spend it together. Also, I was more than happy to cook us an Easter brunch. This is mainly because I see cooking for other people, especially for my dear ones, as an act of nurturing. It is one of my favourite ways of showing my love and care. My boyfriend really praised me and showed his gratitude for the food I cooked, which made it all worth.  Knowing that he really appreciates every time I cook a good (and well, sometimes not-so-good haha) hearty meal is a big motivator for me to keep on putting all my passion into creating and trying new recipes.

Monday

I had a very slow start to the week due to the Easter Monday. I let myself to natually wake up and made two waffles using chickpeas flour for breakfast. I topped one of them with fresh strawberries and caramel syrup* (shown in the picture below) and another one topped with dark tahini and a dash of cinnamon. I dellightfully ate them whilst writing my morning pages as per usual.

 

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Homemade freshly baked waffles are such a comforting treat.
*just to clarify: this syrup is one of those that is calorie, sugar and fat free and despite not being a big fan of this kind of products that is also free of nutrients, I decided to give this one a try. The main reason for that is its really short ingredient list with no wacky names. It is good to complement my waffles toppings but not to replace them 😉

Even though I really enjoy working out in the morning, I only have the chance to do it on Saturdays due to my work schedule. So for that reason, I decided to use the fact that I did not have to go to work and went for a full-body workout gym class.

After that I went grocery shopping for the week and then went home, took a much needed shower and cooked myself a good nutritious lunch.

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Food dEATs: Oven baked sweet potato chips + roasted turmeric, turmeric and ginger cauliflower florets + concoction of meat free mince from @quorn, green beans, mushrooms and spices + smashed avocado with lemon juice + fresh coriander leaves

 

One task that sat on my to-do list for, let’s call it, ” a considerable amount of time” was to spring cleaning my wardrobe. Finally I got round to doing it! It was about time to give my closet a spring refresh.

Declutering my wardrobe turned out to be so freeing and somehow physically relieving. It was like purging physical stuff opened up something on the inside too, you know?

I think that this just goes to show how items take up both physical and mental space. I am a firm believer that physical space and mental space go hand-in-hand. Because by freeing up physical space we are also able to freeing up mental space, declutering leads to greater mental clarity. Thus, if you feel like your brain is in serious overdrive, clearing out your closet might just do the trick! It surelly did it for me.

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I donated my clothes to charity with the hope that someone out there can give them a better use than I would. Plus, I find this to be a great way to recycle and to stop clothes from going to waste and end up in a landfill (a huge problem nowadays).

Also, now that I have done this spring cleaning to my wardrobe, I feel actually somewhat inspired to make the task of “mindfully decluttering” a more frequent thing in my life. I know I can only benefit from it because stuff I own but do not need can really take a toll in my mind.

As for the rest of my day, well I just relaxed, read a good book (picture below) and watched the movie “Mary Poppin returns”. Definitelly a classic fantasy/musical that made me feel nostalgic for my childhood.

 

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All in all, a long weekend taken really easy.  I hope you had a lovely Easter holiday/weekend filled with joy, love and good food!..and for those who do not celebrate it, I still hope you had a weekend filled with all those great things. ♥

Much Love, 

Blissfully Grateful

Morning pages.

Morning Pages. A keystone habit that is now part of my daily routine for over 10 months. Every morning I write down my thoughts, worries, to do lists, goals, exciting ideas, monthly/weekly/daily intentions and/or self-realizations. I basically put everything that is swirling around my mind on paper. I find this to be very liberating.

It is so important to create habits that build us up, bring us stillness and put us in a good headspace. Journaling does that for me. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle and forget what really matters. Living in such a fast paced world makes it easy to lose track of what we want to achieve. And this is where journaling can play a paramount role. If we are consistent with it, it can lead to the important mindset shift from a reactive to a proactive lifestyle. It can help us understand what is the way forward, pull us back to the present moment and give us focus and a sense of groundedness.

Some additional and more detailed reasons why journaling has become such a life-changing habit for me are:

  • It helps me to release any pent-up emotions
  • It helps me process what is happening in my life and get my mind clear.
  • It unlocks my creativity. Oftentimes when I am in the process of writing, solutions to problems and interesting ideas unexpectedly come up.
  • It helps me name my fears, which is the first required step to overcome them
  • It is a way of cultivating self-compassion and gratitude, increasing self-awareness and of finding within

My morning pages have naturally become part of my morning routine and they are not something that require me to wake up earlier than I would normally would. I usually do my journaling whilst having breakfast and I find that doing it in the morning sets the tone for a positive day. However, I sometimes also like to write before going to bed. There are days where I get home and I feel this urge to write about something that might have happened and that left me feeling excited or overwhelmed. Though dumping always turns out to be a helpful thing and, from my personal experience, I can safely affirm that any time devoted to journaling, whether that is 10 minutes, 1 hour or more – is never time wasted.

 

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That being said, if journaling is not part I challenge you to give it a go. If you are already into journaling, I would love to hear how it is has been helping you.

Additionally, I would also be very curious to know if, just like me, you also put time aside each day to engage in an activity that calms your mind? What are some other positive habits that you have incorporated into your day-to-day life and that have comparable benefits to journaling? You can let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Three important self-realisations I want to share with you.

It was just about one week ago when I found myself stuck in a professional dilemma. I was offered a job at a company that I have wanted to work for ever since I moved to The Netherlands and became more environment-conscious. Even though the job position seemed to be the kind of challenge I was looking for, there were also some cons associated to it that required some proper clear thinking. After a couple of phone calls and two face-to-face interviews and, I just did not have a good feeling about it. I was having many inner reservations about the position and team I’d be working in. I was also experiencing a copious amount of some self-doubt about taking the job. I had never seen myself in such a situation ever before. I weighted all the pros and cons, made a proper cost-benefit analysis (haha) and lost sleep over it. I put all my questions and thoughts down into paper and I asked for advice to my family, friends and boyfriend. For roughly three weeks I could not be fully at peace within myself because I had this dilemma constantly playing on the back of my head. This whole situation took me by surprise because I was not actively searching for a now job. The entire recruiting progressed rather quickly and…All of a sudden I found myself with little time to make up my mind. I was being highly pressured by this other company to make a decision. A big decision that would undoubtedly result in a major life and career change.

I ended up by not taking the job and I feel good about my decision. It was a difficult one but I decided to trust my gut feeling and follow my intuition. I feel grateful for having gone though this experience because it led to three big self-realisations that I’d like to share with you:

  • When it comes to big life changes, if you fear or doubt it more than you want it, then don’t do it. I have no doubts that I am ready for a positive career change but I realised that the decision I was about to take would not necessarily lead to the kind of change I am currently striving for. My certainty was not louder than my uncertainty as it is supposed to happen when you are apparently given an opportunity to pursue what you want. After all, when something we want lands on our lap (like this job opportunity landed on mine), we  should feel excitement and motivation to take it but if we feel even more unease than fear itself, well that is a sign we need to pay attention to.
  • You do not have to have it all figured out, you just have to choose the next best thing and trust that everything will work itself out.
  • Take your time to reflect about the situation you are into and about how saying “yes/no” would make you feel. Then step back, surrender to the decision, welcome guidance and clear direction will be presented to you. This is exactly what happened to me.

To sum all this up, if there is one advice I can firmly give based on this experience is that: if it does not feel right, then it is not for you and that is okOftentimes what we think we want is actually not what we really want or need in our life. There is something big coming your way so do not overwhelm yourself. Trust the process and take each day as it comes. ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Hitting rock bottom.

I think that all of us, at some point in our lives, eventually hit rock bottom; whether that happens in our personal or in our professional sphere; or even all at once. I think that those who have been there already, would agree that hitting rock bottom can leave us feeling quite hopeless because the idea of  bouncing back again may seem rather out of reach but… what if hitting rock bottom is what we need to find ourselves again and find out who we really are? What if hitting rock bottom shows us the way forward? What if hitting rock bottom turns out to be nothing more than a blessing in disguise?

A lot happened during the first half of last year. I lost myself trying to find myself. I went through countless ups and downs and I eventually hit flat-out rock bottom at some point. That forced me had to face myself as well as all my fears and insecurities. Subsequently, that led me to question everything that I ever thought to be unquestionably true. Almost a year has passed now and I look back at that time of struggle with a deep feeling of gratitude and self-compassion. I learned a lot about myself and I learned how to appreciate everything good – great in fact – that I have in my life. I have also come to realise that sometimes all we need is to actually hit rock bottom and that is why I am here today. I will be sharing in this post why I personally think that hitting rock bottom does not have necessarily be a bad thing and and what are some of the things that are important to keep in mind when we find ourselves at the bottom.

  • Hitting rock bottom has the potential of showing us all our dysfunctional behaviours. It is pointless to keep doing the same things over and over again and expect a different result. It is useless to delude ourselves into thinking that everything is just great when, deep down, we know pretty well it is not. So, by hitting rock bottom I was able to see things in another light and realise that if I want a different outcome then I must change the process.
  • Sometimes we need to let go of the old to create space for the new. I had tolet go of habits that were no longer serving me so I could welcome empowering and positive new ones into my life.
  • At the beginning, when I hit rock bottom, I felt lost and clueless about how to make my way up again, how to bounce back but then I just remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. I just trust that my pain was temporary and try to see the bottom as a springboard that I could use to push myself up. It worked.
  • When you hit rock bottom and hence, your lowest point, you can rest assured that  your situation can only get better from there. When you cannot sink any lower, there’s nowhere to go but up, right? As the saying goes “It is all uphill from here“.
  • Give yourself time to understand what the situation you are into means to you, embrace the chaos and the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. Do not focus on how you feel but on how you want to feel instead. That it is what ultimately will get yourself out of the bottom.

 If you are going through something difficult and have hit rock bottom, I hope this post has given you some hope and served as a good reminder that this is just temporary. You are going to rise above whatever adversities life has thrown at you. Trust the process.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Top nutrition benefits of SPELT

As someone who suffers from IBS and who has followed a very restricted diet (mainly gluten free and low in fodmaps) in terms of quantity and variety for way too long, changing the way I approach food was certainly not an easy task. Quite frankly, it is a work in process to this day.

As an attempt of reducing my IBS symptoms, I have cut out gluten from my diet in the past. Subsequently,  this resulted in some nutritional deficiencies and in gaining fear of certain foods. As much as a specific food does not sit well with your stomach, when you leave it out of your diet, you are also leaving out all the potential health benefits that that food may have for your body. I have come to learn that micromanaging what I eat, demonising (groups of) foods and labelling them as “unhealthy”, “bad” or “off limits” is not the way to go. I ended up by wasting so much energy on obsessing over foods and it is simply not worth. We have so much mental energy per day and I realised that I could be putting it to better use.  Thus, for the past half year or so, I have been incorporating a greater and greater variety of foods into my diet. Gladly, I now feel so much better. I have gained more love and excitement for cooking new recipes and for experimenting with food. I have also gained more knowledge about what certain foods can do for us and that is one of the reasons why I am writing this post. I want to talk about SPELT today, which is one of the foods that I have introduced into my diet and that I have been loving to eat lately.

I personally do not think that it is beneficial for our bodies or minds to completely cut gluten out of our diets, unless of course we have an allergy or severe intolerance to it. Whole grains can play an important role when it comes to maintaining a well-functioning body and to having good digestion, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. They are a great source of dietary fibre, vitamins and essential minerals.

If you are not highly intolerant or allergic to gluten, I would highly recommend you to give spelt a go. The fact that there are so many different ways of preparing it, makes it really easy to be incorporated into our diet. Plus, nowadays spelt is readily available in most supermarkets and in a variety of forms (pure whole grain form, puffed or ground into flour). You can can also easily find spelt cookies, crackers and bread.

Despite not consuming gluten on a regular basis because my diet is mainly plant-based and focused on whole foods, I do eat every now and then. I like doing it so because this way I am able to keep my diet varied, which is key to getting the right nutrients in and have a well-nourished mind and body. Being mentally and physically in a good place, makes it so much easier to succeed in life and find true balance and wellbeing within.

I don’t know about you but I like to be informed about the nutrition and health benefits of the foods I put in my body. Hence, after doing some research, I have compiled some information about spelt that I would like to share with you.

First of all, spelt is an ancient grain that has been around for many years. It is a subspecies of wheat and it was actually one of the first grains used to make bread. Despite not being gluten free, it contains considerably less of it when compared to common wheat. Hence why it is actually tolerable by many people with sensitivities. When it comes to its taste, spelt has a nutty sweeter and lighter flavour when compared to whole wheat. I personally like it more as I find it to be more rich in flavour. I have gathered the 5 health benefits that I considered as being the most important. So let’s just get into it!

  • Unlike wheat, spelt has a high water solubility, making it easily digestible and quickly absorbed into the body.
  • It is high in important minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, thiamin and magnesium. These minerals are needed for the production of red blood cells and for a well-functioning human body with a healthy immune, nervous and cardiovascular system.
  • It boasts a higher protein content when compared to regular wheat
  • It is particularly rich in vitamin B-3 (niacin) and in B17, which is believed to be an anti-carcinoma, helping to fight against cancer.
  • When compared to wheat, it has a greater quantity of certain essential amino acids – namely cystine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine and neurotransmitters, phenylalanine and tryptophane – which our bodies cannot produce but need to be able to thrive!

That being said, I think we could all agree that spelt is undoubtedly a nutrient rich grain. So if this is a grain that does not cause us any abdominal discomfort or any physical health issue, why keep it out of our diets?

Lately, my favourite of consuming spelt has been in its puffed form for being so versatile. You can literally add it to anything you like: porridge, smoothie bowl, yogurt, granola, etc… One of my favourite go-to breakfasts at the moment is puffed spelt soaked in unsweetened soya yoghurt and topped with some fruit and/or a nut/seeds butter (see below). Even though I vary what I have for breakfast every morning and I love doing it, I know I could easily have this for breakfast 7 days in a row haha

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Breakfast this morning before heading to my usual cardio/strength training class at the gym: Unsweetened soya yogurt, finely chopped fresh strawberries and a spoon of dark tahini (my current seed butter obsession!). Easy, simple but so tasty.

I hope this post was informative enough to arouse your curiosity about spelt and I hope it has encouraged at least some of you to give it a try if you have not already. As always, I would love to hear your feedback on it. Also, if spelt is already part of your diet, I’d love to know what is your favourite way of consuming it. I am always on the lookout for new breakfast/lunch/dinner ideas where I can include it in a different way than I am used to.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful