Hungry? Well you've stopped at the right feature. This is the first portion of our regular food and dietary article. This month we put you in the capable hands of the lovely Emily Clews. Here is a step by step recipe to kick you off from our very own accomplished chef and fellow Crohnie.
Food, glorious food! Sadly not always something that we can all shout about, with our differing diets, having to succumb to our bodies needs and tailoring our input, monitoring our output and working around what won't trigger the beast within to raise it's ugly head. With that in mind we are resurrecting our dietary feature, and calling it 'The Recipe For IBD'. We will be calling upon the help of our dietary contributors and chronic foodies, to share with you recipes, ideas and advice on what to eat and drink. Hopefully when we raid the larder, we will find something suitable to your diet.
First in front of the stove is Emily, with this easy to follow recipe for a tasty little sweet treat, but here is her story, I'm sure many of you can relate.
Emily's IBD Story
Hello! My name is Emily, I’m a 26-year-old chef from Hertfordshire, UK. I’m so pleased to be working with the GCASFM team to raise the awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
A little background about me and my journey with Crohn’s disease – I was diagnosed in July this year after battling symptoms for over 18 months. At first, as so many of us are, I was misdiagnosed as having IBS.
As my symptoms worsened I found myself in constant pain with stomach cramps, exhausted, unable to eat without either vomiting or needing to rush straight to the loo and having blood in my stools. As a result, I lost close to four stone in as many months and was constantly exhausted. I had never heard of Crohn's disease and had no idea what on earth could be wrong with me. All I knew was that something was wrong, very wrong, yet doctors didn’t seem to be listening to me.
I went back and forth to my GP, finally getting the referral to hospital that I had been asking for. Despite the weight loss I wasn’t deemed as urgent, so waited three months for an appointment with a gastroenterologist, only for them to spend five minutes with me on the day before being told I needed to come back for an endoscopy in another three months! A few weeks later I ended up being admitted as an emergency and was in hospital for nearly three weeks, during which time I had numerous tests carried out and finally got my diagnosis of Crohn's disease. At first, I was just relieved to know what it was, I WAS sick and not going mad! However, as the reality of the condition sunk in and I learnt more, I realised I was going to have to make some big changes to my lifestyle.
As mentioned before, I work as a chef. What is ironic about this profession is that we spend our days creating beautiful food for our customers while neglecting to take the same care of ourselves. Long shifts leave little room for proper nutritious meals and by the time you get home late at night, the thought of cooking is the last thing on your mind before you go to bed ready to do it all again in the morning. And so, you find yourself stuck in a rut that so many chefs find themselves in, getting through their day on coffee, energy drinks, cigarettes and the occasional greasy staff meal or burger that you grabbed on your break.
Is it really any wonder I got sick?! I had to take a step back and re-evaluate what I was doing to my body and learn to treat it with the respect it deserved. Too long I had been fuelling it with junk and wondering why it was failing me. And so my journey began…First of all out went the energy drinks which I had been drinking daily. Then cigarettes were cut down, now to the point that I will only have the occasional one when drinking (Hey, I’m only human).
I started for the first time listening to my body, when I listened I was surprised at what I learnt. To begin with dairy seemed to be an antagonising factor for me, so that was cut. Now I use almond, rice or oat milk. Fried food has to go too and instead of skipping breakfast I stocked the freezer with fruit and veg for a daily smoothie. I replaced vegetable oil with coconut oil in my everyday cooking. I cut out wheat and gluten, which bloats me terribly, and started experimenting with alternative baking using almond and coconut flours.
The experiments have not always been a success, but every time I do finally perfect a recipe, it makes me so happy to know I can share it with others who have the same dietary challenges as me.
Within weeks I was surprised at the change in how I felt. Don’t get me wrong, I still had symptoms of my IBD – it is a chronic and lifelong illness after all. But I was realising that I could help myself too and give my body the love and care it needed, alongside my medication. Food and diet is very personal for everyone and no two people with IBD are the same. For instance, I can tolerate nuts and seeds whereas others would be in pain after eating them.
With that said I am no expert, just someone learning to adjust their life to their illness and hoping I can help others along the way too. Once I started my healthy lifestyle journey I decided to share it on Instagram. Firstly, as motivation for myself, secondly to say thank you and raise awareness for my fellow Crohnies, who have been so supportive after my initial diagnosis when I needed reassurance that my life wasn’t over! This is how the amazing team at GCASFM got in touch and I’m so pleased to be working alongside them.
Now, who doesn't like a sweet treat? I thought it only appropriate to share a recipe for chocolate chip cookies!
This recipe has taken a lot of trial and error and different ingredients for me to finally get a result I’m happy with. The result is a delicious, soft and indulgent biscuit (if I do say so myself) and they really do taste as good as regular cookies. They are also extremely quick and easy to make!
They are grain, gluten and dairy free. They can also be made vegan by using an egg substitute, although I have not personally tried this yet.
You will need:
260g Ground Almonds
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
50g melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vanilla extract or two vanilla pods
80g dairy free dark chocolate chips
• Simply put all of your ingredients, bar the chocolate chips, into a food processor and combine, stirring through the chocolate last.
• Or you can go old school and use a mixing bowl and spoon – there is no need to sieve the almond flour although you may want to break up any clumps with your fingers first. Mix your dry ingredients together in the bowl before adding the wet, then chocolate chips.
• Roll your cookie dough into a sausage and let it set in the fridge for half an hour before slicing and placing onto a lined baking tray. Bear in mind that these cookies do not spread out when baking, so the shape you bake them at is how the end result will look. Bake the cookies at 160 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges.