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There has literally never been a better time to start making sourdough bread. Literally. Never. After a couple of months of trying the keto diet, I could feel homemade carbs calling my name. I always keep a small stash of gluten free sourdough starter in the freezer to be used in case of emergencies. I feel that current times classify as such.

So why bother making your own sourdough? Well, you don’t have to go to the shops for bread, you don’t need to keep a stock of yeast, you’re saving yourself from all of the mystery ingredients in supermarket bread and let’s face it most of us are at home with extra time on our hands. (I’ve gained around three hours every day due to not having the school run and after school sports activities).

“Think of your starter as a low-maintenance pet…” Yes, I’m actually quoting myself. Who does that?! It’s from my book The Twice as Nice Guide: Gluten Free and Dairy Free Baking. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twice-Nice-Guide-Winning-Recipes/dp/1912009978/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=twice+as+nice+guide+gluten+free&qid=1584978302&sr=8-1

There are many different ways to begin making a starter. This is an updated version from my book. Did I mention my book yet?

Ingredients:

500g millet/sorghum/teff/buckwheat flour (use whichever gluten free wholegrain flour you have to hand)

500g white and brown rice flour by Dove’s Farm

1 litre bottled water

Kit:

Freezer bags (the kind that close like Ziploc) Medium size

Large thermos flask (I like to use an Easiyo yoghurt making container)

Instructions – Day 1:

Measure 25g of the wholegrain flour and 25g of the rice flour into a freezer bag. Add 120g of water, and mix well. Seal the bag. Mix again. Open and release any air. Reseal.

Place this bag into a second bag, seal, release any air and reseal.

Fill your flask three quarters full with hand hot water, and place the double-bagged flour and water into it. Seal the flask. Check it every few hours and make sure that the water stays warm.

24 hours later:

Fish out your flour and water bag from the flask. There may be a few bubbles, and maybe some yeasty aromas. Carefully open the bag, add 25g of the wholegrain flour, 25g of the rice flour and 80g of bottled water.

Mix, seal the bag, mix some more. Let out any air. Reseal. Return to the second bag, seal, let out any excess air from the second bag.

Refill your flask with hand hot water. Place the double-bagged flour mix into the flask, and periodically check to make sure that it stays warm.

24 hours later:

Weigh the flour mix, discard half. Put the remaining half into a clean (not sanitised – it’s not jam) lidded container. I like to use a Kilner jar without the rubber seal.

Add 25g wholegrain flour, 25g rice flour and 50g bottled water mix using a wooden spoon.

Close the lid and leave on the kitchen counter for an additional 24 hours. Do not use the locking mechanism.

Your starter is now ready to bake with! If you’re going to be using it regularly it’s fine to leave it on the kitchen counter. Every day remove a tablespoon of starter, and add a tablespoon of flour and water each day. If you know that you won’t be using it for a while place it in the fridge with the lid loose. Each week discard a couple of spoonfuls of the starter and add a couple of flour and water.

Keep using the flour mix of 50% wholegrain and 50% rice flour. After about a month it’s okay to move to tap water.

I find it helpful to freeze a couple of tablespoonfuls of starter in case something happens to it. You can then just defrost it and two tablespoons of the flour mix, and two tablespoons of water to kick it off again.

You’re now ready to bake which is where the fun starts. Please do message me with any questions.

I’m lucky enough to have two parents in their 70s. My Dad, in particular, is part of the at risk group for coronavirus, as he used to smoke 40+ a day for 40+ years and my Mum was exposed to all of that second-hand smoke. Right now no-one in my immediate family is taking an immunosuppressant which would increase their risk of picking up any cold or virus going. So which vitamins and minerals support your immune system?

This is how we’re staying as healthy as possible. In addition to the common sense steps recommended by the WHO (not THE WHO) https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses we’re taking the following vitamins. While ordinarily I’d recommend a food first approach, I’m using these vitamins as back-up in case of a lack of access to fresh food.

Vitamin A: Supports cell growth, it acts as an antioxidant and is critical in maintaining the structure of mucosal cells (like those which line your respiratory and GI tracts). A lack of this vitamin results in poor night vision, keratosis pilaris aka ‘chicken skin’ that appears on the back of arms, dry skin, dry eyes, eczema, psoriasis, hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease and infertility. 

Best food source: Liver (from cows, sheep, chickens, geese, turkeys or fish) followed by egg yolks, it’s a fat soluble compound so requires fat to be absorbed.

Note: Taking Vitamin A along with Vitamins D and K2 significantly reduces the potential risk of vitamin A toxicity.

Vitamin D: Increases intestinal absorption of calcium and is a known immune modulator. If your levels of Vitamin D are outside of the optimal range then your immunity can be compromised which increases your risk of infections. You can find this vitamin in food, sun and supplements. I like the dminder app which calculates how much Vitamin D you’re being exposed to depending on your skin type, location and clothes. This article by Chris Kresser will give you more info on Vitamin D https://chriskresser.com/vitamin-d-the-new-super-nutrient/.

Best food source: Cod liver oil, fish, shellfish, grass-fed meat.

Vitamin K2: Works in synergy with Vitamins A and D. It may prevent toxicity from these other two fat-soluble vitamins.

Best food source: Natto (Japanese fermented soy product), Gouda, Brie, Poultry liver

Vitamin C: Probably the best known vitamin for supporting the immune system. It’s an antioxidant and a cofactor for many enzymatic reactions like producing collagen and neurotransmitters. It’s not stored in the body so we have to obtain it from our diet or supplements as we can’t produce it ourselves. A deficiency results in poor wound healing and fatigue. Good levels of Vitamin C reduces all causes mortality risk. That said, there’s some controversial evidence that large doses of this vitamin can block the actions of anticoagulant drugs. I prefer to take liposomal Vitamin C, but given the cost of purchasing this form I’m choosing to alternate with other types.

Best food source: Red peppers, citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, grapefruit.

Vitamin E: Another fat soluble vitamin that’s needed to maintain proper immune function. Are you seeing a theme here?

Best food source: Avocados, olives, nuts and seeds.

Zinc: This mineral is necessary for both the development and function of immune cells. It functions as a cofactor for over 300 enzymes and chemical reactions. Like Vitamin C it can’t be stored in the body and so you need to make sure that you’re consuming it regularly or supplementing. Zinc is a cofactor that helps to convert Vitamin A to its active form.

Best food source: Oysters, red meat, cheese, crab, turkey.

While I would always prefer to obtain these vitamins from food which increases their bio-availability, I’m trying to cover my bases by having them on hand in case of drastic measures such as isolation. You can see that the majority of best food sources come from animal products, so veggies and vegans should be ready to start supplementation. These vitamins and minerals are necessary to support your immune system.

So I wouldn’t be writing this if my friend Clare had been able to buy hand sanitiser last week. But she went to nine different shops and failed to find any!

Lots of businesses that typically make different alcohol-based products are now starting to make their own brand hand sanitiser, like BrewDog.

This is something that you can easily make at home in less than a minute which is significantly easier than visiting every shop in town.

You’re going to need isopropyl alcohol (min 70%) aka rubbing alcohol, aloe vera gel and some essential oil… I used lavender.

I know that most people might not have these products to hand, although you might find some rubbing alcohol languishing in a forgotten first aid kit, or essential oil in a gift pack left from Christmas.

In a bid to make our home even more eco-friendly I’ve recently started to make my own house cleaning solutions following recipes from Clean Mama https://cleanmama.com/category/diy-homemade-cleaners/ This means that I don’t have to spend my time elbowing people out of the way in the supermarket as we all embark upon an international virus-led Spring clean.

Instructions:

  1. Weigh out 125g of alcohol in a bowl
  2. Add 50g aloe vera gel
  3. Whisk well
  4. Add 7 drops of essential oil
  5. Whisk well
  6. Use a funnel to pour the mixture into a spray bottle.

That’s it. It took me longer to type this than to make it. What’s stopping you from checking your first aid box and bathroom cabinet to make your own hand sanitiser?

These gut friendly paleo pancakes are a great way to start your day! They pack almost 20g of protein per serving, along with good fat, zero added sweeteners and a hefty portion of Vitamin A, D and Selenium (>20% of your RDA).

One serving which is approximately 4 pancakes will give you a little over 5g of fibre. The combination of protein, fat and fibre will keep you full until lunch-time. They’re naturally gluten-free, and don’t feel like you’re eating ‘diet’ food.

If you have 10 minutes in the morning, then you have time to make these.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

100g ground almonds

25g dried, unsweetened coconut

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

0.5 tsp salt

0.5 tsp psyillium husk (optional, makes them a little easier to flip)

2 large eggs

125ml milk or mylk (I like Good Hemp, Creamy Seed Milk)

1T ghee or butter for frying pan

Optional add-ins to mixed batter:

1 tsp cinnamon or 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 T dried blueberry powder

Method

Mix dry ingredients together. Then mix wet ingredients together. Or, throw caution to the wind and mix all in one bowl. Put frying pan on the stove with ghee on medium heat.

Spoon/pour the mixture into the pan. Leave undisturbed for 3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2/3 minutes.

Keep first batch warm, while you repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with kefir, almond butter, berries and a sprinkle of flaxseed*.

*I’m currently using Waitrose’s Milled golden flaxseed with maca, cacao and chicory inulin. This is a gut friendly product as it contains prebiotics and insoluble fibre.

When I told my friends that I’d decided that it was time to go grey they were surprised and immediately started peppering me with suggestions about how best to cover those pesky grey roots. They’d missed the point. I know about all of the ways to cover that new growth, I was just choosing not to anymore. I wasn’t just deciding not to dye, it was more about the positive step towards embracing my grey hair.

So how did I make up my mind that it was the right time to go grey?

Let’s start with time, my hairdresser is an hour’s drive from where I live, I’d be in the salon for a couple of hours with an hours drive home. That’s half a day gone! Half a day every 6 weeks! Over the course of a year that’s literally a couple of days spent in the hairdresser’s chair. Yes, I could save some of that time by finding a salon closer to me, but I like my current one a lot. Obviously I’m not one of those people who find sitting still for hours with bits of tin foil stuck on my head and a rapidly cooling cappuccino in hand a ‘luxury’.

Next we have the cash element. Colouring isn’t cheap. Last year I decided to save some money by doing a box colour that I bought on special offer. That was a relative bargain at around £5, but was messy, and sadly didn’t cover all of the grey – the box said that it would, so it was probably user error.

Then there’s the health factor. When I was pregnant with my children I was advised not to dye my hair due to the chemicals crossing the placenta. They were all born in the US which doesn’t have the same strict rules as Europe with regards to cosmetics ingredients. As someone who purposefully eats as healthy as possible (organic veg box delivery, local butcher and greengrocer rather than the supermarket), and is fully aware of what’s in my skincare and make-up products. It seemed slightly incongruous to be avoiding parabens and sodium lauryl sulphate in shampoo only to apply who knows what chemicals in the salon.

A slightly trickier issue is the sexist one. No-one even raises a (charcoal) eyebrow when a man lets his salt and pepper start to show, but when a woman does she’s ‘letting herself go’. Somehow choosing not to dye your hair is a subject worthy of public debate. Even my hyper-aware 17 year old daughter (who is very comfortable using phrases like ‘toxic masculinity’ with irony or without) didn’t spot this societal hypocrisy.

Since starting this process in May 2019 I’ve had a couple of surprises… First, I’m not as grey as I thought I was! This is quite helpful as it means that I don’t have a grey/white demarcation line against my dyed dark hair. Also, I didn’t expect to find so much support for my venture. There are huge online communities of women who are growing out their grey with pride like Silver Sisters on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/welcometosilversisters/

By far the biggest change though has been in my attitude to the new grey growth. Before choosing to embrace my grey hair, I’d be annoyed by the new silver growth appearing at my temples a week after visiting the hairdresser. Now I eagerly search to see what new hair is appearing and what colour it is. This shift both in attitude and confidence has occurred gradually over the months that I’ve been very busy not dying my hair.

Only you can decide when is the right time to go grey.

Here's 9 tips to take action on Hair Loss now!