Veggie Steady Cook


Hare Krishna!

I was asked by a dear friend if I’d like to be involved in Veggie Steady Cook, a fun vegetarian cooking demonstration in one of the tents for the Janmashtami festival (Krishna’s birthday) at the Hare Krishna Manor in Watford.

I spend a lot of time at the manor, and over the past 4 years have been learning about the culture, taking yoga there and making some amazing friends who have taught me how to be a better person through learning about Krishna Consciousness.

When Braxton was born, the wonderful president of the manor, Srutidharma Das, kindly offered to do a ceremony for the baby, and it was wonderful. Braxton seemed very happy and content there – probably because he was so used to hearing the chanting from all the chanting I did during pregnancy and labour. I grew up in a Jewish home, so at first it seemed a little counter-intuitive, but I do believe that we all come from the same God, regardless of the title we give this God, and chanting just makes one feel that little bit closer to God, to Love, to the enlightenment we all crave. It is a form of meditation that almost transcends you to somewhere else, and I have never taken part in a kirtan where I didn’t leave feeling better than I did when I started. Titles don’t really matter to me; what matters is that I continue to grow, to evolve, to learn, to become a better human being. The friends I have met through the Hare Krishna Movement have taught me about this and I continue to embrace anything that makes me a better person. Even my husband embraced it and it has become a big part of our lives. I highly recommend reading Radhanath Swami’s book – The Journey Home – a story about how a young Jewish boy growing up during the counterculture in 1960s Chicago, became the head of the Hare Krishna movement and one of the most respected spiritual figures in the world.

So, when I was asked to help out at Janmashtami I was really excited. We honestly had the best day creating some incredible vegetarian dishes and we had a little cookbook made out of all our 37 recipes. There are still some available if you are interested!



Please join the Veggie Steady Cook Facebook page for more info and to hear about all our recipes.

Here is a video of me doing one of the shows

Here are some pictures from the day…


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Love & health,





I had an idea of the kind of parent I wanted to be long before getting pregnant. In fact, when it came to certain aspects of parenting, my mind was quite made up. I felt that my years of research about health and diet, and my subsequent remission from rheumatoid arthritis, had led me to look into things that most women don’t need to look into until motherhood approaches so I felt fairly confident that I had accumulated enough information by the time my baby was due to confidently make those decisions.

The most annoying thing that happened, however, was the condescending comments from friends who already had kids; ‘Oh, just you wait,’ they’d say, ‘you’ll change your mind once your baby arrives. It never happens how you think it will.’ Or something equally derisive. It really riled me up, and it happened a lot; about my hopes for a natural birth, my desire to breastfeed and my excitement at after all these years of running a health-food blog, finally being able to nourish another human being fully and totally. Were they right though? Would I change my mind when I was exhausted beyond measure, covered in sick and hadn’t showered for three days? Would I give up on breastfeeding because my body was battered and bruised from the birth and I needed someone else to take over? Would I give into an epidural because the pain was beyond anything I’d ever imagined? Would I offer ready-made microwave meals because I was sick of my expensive, organic, freshly prepared meals being chucked over the kitchen walls and wasted? I knew motherhood was going to be a challenge, but I also believed that if I’d made a decision based on health, there was a 99% chance I would stick to what I said I’d do because I’d spent enough years learning about the power of natural healing.

But not every parenting decision is based on health so here we are, ten months down the line, and of course there are things I’ve done that I said I wouldn’t. So I wanted to make a brutally honest list of all the things I swore I’d never do before I was a parent and see how it compares eight months on. ‘Brutally honest’ might not mean me guiltily admitting to all the things I didn’t keep to, it could be me proudly – yet with a degree of uneasiness (because of people’s reactions) – declaring the things I persevered with. But this is by no means a judgement on anyone else, it is simply an account of my first ten months of parenthood; the hardships and the happy times, the fear and the guilt, the exhaustion and frustration and the overwhelming, all-consuming, enduring feelings of love.

Let’s start from the beginning:

  1. Pregnancy

What I said I’d do:

Eat as healthily as possible, no fizzy drinks, no caffeine, plenty of exercise, embrace my changing body.

What I actually did:

I ate totally organic, apart from when we ate out, had no fizzy drinks or artificial sweeteners, one chai tea latte in nine months (God how I missed Starbucks) and minimal gluten, dairy and sugar. I started off exercising then had a bleed due to a low lying placenta and got put on bed rest, so God had other ideas – but the intention was there! (I won’t lie, being ‘forced’ to lie around reading, writing and watching boxsets was pretty awesome.) I spent £50 on the best prenatal supplements on the market that were suitable for the gene mutation I found out I had which inhibits the body’s ability to process folate, and I also took probiotics, Vitamin B12, iron and Vitamin C.

In terms of my changing body, I loved being pregnant. It was the first time in my life that I truly loved my body. I loved it for all it had achieved and all it was doing to keep my baby alive. I adored my bump and miss it now. I did embrace my pregnant body because I appreciated the miracle it was. My post-pregnant body, however, well, that takes some work to embrace!


  1. Labour

What I said I’d do

Before ever hearing of hypnobirthing I always knew I wanted to give birth in as natural a way as possible. Even as a teenager I dreamt about the day I would birth my baby, and in these daydreams the process was a calm, tranquil experience. When I once voiced the desire for a natural birth to someone I would consider, at best, an acquaintance, during a group discussion about childbirth, her response was: ‘why the hell would you do that? Do you think you’re going to get a medal at the end? Why put yourself through the pain if you don’t have to? Don’t be a martyr.’ Was it because she’d already had two children and opted for an epidural that made her say it? That perhaps if I managed to do what she didn’t want to even try it would prove that it wasn’t impossible? I’m not sure. But what I do know is that she was not the first person to have a reaction like this and when I finally got pregnant and went on the hypnobirthing course, I learnt that decades, if not centuries, of scaremongering has led people to view birth in this way. Learning about how the female body is built to give birth, how as women we are intrinsically wired to be able to get through it, about how, before doctors were present at births women supported other women by encouraging them to move around, stay upright and breathe, no matter how long it went on for, strengthened my belief in my body even more.

The day the course finished my husband told me that he was always going to support whichever method of birthing I wished to adopt but he never actually believed I’d be able to do it and assumed I’d resort to the epidural when things got tough but he now understood how brainwashed we all are by society, doctors and the media about how agonising and traumatic childbirth is and he now totally believed we could do this, as a team, and not only were we going to do this, but we were going to make sure it was the most amazing experience of our lives. We were going to bring our baby into this world in as calm a way as possible. And no, not because I thought I was a martyr but because I believed it was what was best for me and my baby.

What I actually did

I hypnobirthed my way through twenty-four hours of labour without pain-relief and I gave birth to my beautiful boy in the birthing pool and lifted him up to my chest myself. I didn’t scream and I didn’t swear. Was it the hardest thing I ever did? Of course. Was it worth it? Without a doubt.

I’m not saying it in this brusque way for acknowledgement or praise, nor is this a judgement on anyone who chose another method of childbirth. I’m simply highlighting the fact our mindsets without a doubt determine our capabilities. If I had said, ‘I’ll get as far as I can without an epidural but if it’s too hard I might have it,’ then I would have had it; of course it’s going to get hard – it’s childbirth! It just wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to feel it. I wanted to experience what my body was capable of doing and I wanted it to be a non-traumatic experience. But still, people didn’t accept that I’d done this myself. I’ve had people say, ‘you’re so lucky you had a good birth.’ I’m sorry, but it wasn’t luck. Doesn’t that take away from all the work I put into preparing myself? People had advised me to just get the Hypnobirthing CDs and book and that would do that trick, but I didn’t, I went full-throttle and did the course. I read book after book about natural childbirth, childbirth without fear, the history of the fear of childbirth. After the hypnobirthing course, I did the daily hypnosis and meditations and my husband and I practiced the affirmations and massage techniques every night and, when the time came, I stayed calm – a feat in itself! – and breathed my way through it. I had learnt that staying calm would ensure the labour didn’t regress so it was a conscious effort, I certainly wasn’t staying calm because it was easy, or not painful. I made a conscious effort to not scream or swear, to breathe deeply, to visualise my baby coming into the world calmly. My husband had learnt how to take control of the situation, how to care for me while we laboured at home, the right things to say to the midwives to keep the experience in the birthing centre as calm as it had been at home. It wasn’t luck, it was a choice and I find it almost offensive when people try to take away from the effort I put in. There are of course situations where women end up having to have emergency cesarean sections or other interventions, it could happen to any of us, but I truly feel that my efforts contributed to the natural birth I ended up having.


  1. Breastfeeding

What I said I’d do

I wanted nothing more than to breastfeed my baby. My journey to remission from autoimmune arthritis taught me how dangerous cow’s dairy can be for the immune system (and immune problems are what lead to autoimmune diseases) so I didn’t want him on cow’s milk-based formulas. My research had also taught me how important breastfeeding was to ensure that he got as much immune boosting goodness and antibodies as was humanly possible. This would also help prevent him from ever getting JRA himself. That was all well and good, but I’d always had the world’s most sensitive nipples and I although I knew I had to breastfeed, I honestly didn’t know how I would get over the nipple thing. But just like with the birth I knew it would come down to mindset. Everyone told me I wouldn’t be able to do it but I just had to keep telling myself that despite how hard it would be, I would just have to persevere, there would be no other choice. I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding which taught me not only about the importance of breast milk in the early days, and the innumerable other benefits of breastfeeding, but also about all the obstacles I could potentially face and how to overcome them. This was key as it prepared me for things I may not have otherwise known about and what I have since learnt from friends who chose not to continue breastfeeding, was that it was due to lack of support and preparation. If you are aware of the obstacles you are likely to face, like how to deal with mastitis, low supply, sore nipples, blisters and tongue tie, along with solutions, you are more likely to continue. In my mind I had prepared for it to be ‘work’, just like childbirth, and I had made a decision to persevere no matter what.

What I actually did

This is such a controversial one, and I don’t want this to seem like a list of all the things I soldiered my way through (trust me, there are things I gave into later on in the list!), but a bit like with childbirth, I found people getting very defensive about breastfeeding. They didn’t do it so kept going on about how ‘lucky’ I was that I ‘could’ do it and they’d proceed to tell me why they couldn’t. Brace yourself for another brutally honest and perhaps provocative statement: the obstacles I faced with breastfeeding were far worse than those of any of my friends who told me they ‘couldn’t’ breastfeed.

I got mastitis twice, my nipples bled, cracked and got blisters, Braxton had tongue-tie and couldn’t latch, and I found it excruciatingly painful. I remember the first few days not just because of that unbearable pain, but because of that insufferable feeling of hypersensitivity when he was feeding that resulted in me making the most stupid faces and moving my limbs around in frenetic hysteria that somehow needed to be controlled so the baby wouldn’t feel it. I sometimes think that the first few weeks of breastfeeding were harder for me than twenty-four hours in labour. And then the cherry on the cake…The postpartum hormones had caused a flare up in the arthritis that had been in remission for years, so by the time Braxton was eight weeks old, I could barely walk and some days, even holding him was a struggle.

Everyone, including my husband, my mum and my mother-in-law told me to stop breastfeeding. ‘Happy mummy happy baby,’ they’d all say. Well I’m afraid I don’t agree, and I actually hate that statement. We make a choice to have a baby and although we have to look after ourselves, the baby should be the priority. You know what makes a happy baby? When he grows up without arthritis. So I continued. The mastitis passed and I learnt how to avoid it in the future. We had his tongue-tie cut and after a (long) while, he eventually learnt how to latch. The nipples grew tougher and therefore were less sensitive and eventually it became second nature. It wasn’t easy during the four months of arthritis flare from the ages of two to six months, but then again, would preparing bottles have been any easier? I think it may have been more hassle when I think about it. He’s now ten months old, on only two or three feeds a day and I am so happy I chose to continue and unlike with the birth, of which people’s views don’t bother me, I do wish more people would acknowledge that I really struggled with breastfeeding, in every way possible, and so yes, I did put my baby before myself and I would appreciate people’s understanding and support and to know that the fact that I breastfed isn’t a judgement on the fact that they didn’t, but it would be nice for them to say, ‘well done!’


  1. Calpol

What I said I’d do

I had learnt about the importance of fevers in children and knew that bringing down a fever with paracetamol would inhibit the body’s ability to process the virus. I was shocked when learning about this, as all my life I’ve been taught that if you have a fever you must bring it down. No wonder we have so many suppressed toxins in us. I made my way through pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding issues with my homeopathic home kits so I knew I’d have to treat my baby with it too.


What I actually did

It’s all well and good when it’s yourself but when your baby is screaming in discomfort you feel so helpless that you’d do just about anything for them at which point you have an internal battle with yourself about getting him through it right now versus what is best for him long-term. He got chicken pox at four months which, although really bad, I was able to treat with homeopathy, oat baths, breast milk and lots of skin on skin, but at five months we both got a chest infection which, with me, led to pneumonia as my immune system was so low from the flare up.

I felt worse than I’d ever felt before in my life with a raging fever that had me shaking violently, with unbearable muscle aches and pains in my chest that made it feel as though I couldn’t breathe. If I felt this bad how must he feel? I wondered. He looked so tiny and helpless and our usually happy, content little boy was miserable. I somehow had to keep feeding him through my shakes which was the hardest part as I felt absolutely dreadful but he only seemed to calm down himself when he was feeding. So I just tried to feed through it and finally understood the term ‘the strength of a mother’, and kept repeating this phrase to myself over and over. I knew that bringing down his fever would be the worst thing for him long-term so I somehow managed to hold off on the Calpol but once his fever had passed I gave him some Calpol to ease his discomfort. I’ve now given it three times in his ten months, which is three times more than I wanted to, but I still haven’t given it for a fever and still strongly believe that this is what is best for his immune system. I actually haven’t given it to him since he was 7 months and we have managed to treat his teething naturally.


  1. T.V.

What I said I’d do

I assumed I’d let him watch a minimal amount of carefully chosen television programs, but that mostly, if the TV was on, it would be with DVDs or nursery rhymes or other such things or if he was eating in the kitchen I’d put my favourite radio station on.

What I actually did

He’s pretty much in front of the TV every time I need to do something. When I get showered every morning he’s crawling round my bedroom floor watching telly, when I am preparing his food and he sits getting impatient in his highchair the TV goes on – as you can imagine he’s not overly enthusiastic about listening to the latest podcast of Desert Island Discs – and when I leave him to play in the playroom I put his DVDs on. Suffice it to say he watches way more TV than I thought he would. Do I feel it’s a problem? No. We go to music classes and playgroups at least twice a week, we socialise with other friends with children and I play with him and read to him a lot. Hopefully he’ll survive this major parenting faux-pas!


  1. Using My Phone While Feeding

What I said I’d do

I really didn’t want to use my phone around him. Firstly, because I can’t imagine that wifi is very healthy for young bodies when exposed to it constantly, but also because even though I have grown up in this age of communication, I cannot bear when you are talking to someone and they are looking at their phone. And no, husband, I don’t care if you were already on your phone before I started talking to you!

Anyway, I didn’t want Braxton seeing me on my phone all the time. I wanted to connect with him and watch him while he was feeding, or playing, and use my phone only when he was asleep.

What I actually did

Why doesn’t anyone tell you just how many hours a day you will be feeding for during those first few months?? I would literally sit on the couch all day with him resting on a pillow while he intermittently fed and slept. If this went on all day, when else was I supposed to get back to emails and messages? So I would have him lying in one arm and type with the other. I did try to keep it as far away from his head as possible.

A few months passed and I promised myself that when he was old enough to actually know what I was doing and start to look at the phone and acknowledge what it was, I’d stop. But that time has come and gone and I’m afraid I still use my phone around him. My husband leaves the house for work at 5.30am and gets back at 7pm, which means it’s just me and Braxton together all the livelong day, and you know what? Some days, he decides he doesn’t want to nap, or to play on his own, or to even give me a single, solitary moment of peace, even in the toilet, so therefore I have resorted to using my phone around him, lest I’ll never get back to anyone. I’m sure there are mums out there who put their phones away until the baby really isn’t around, but, alas, I am not one of them. Shoot me now.


  1. Not Vaccinating

I said I wouldn’t vaccinate, and haven’t given one single vaccination and never will, but that is a whole other article – which I promise I’ll write soon!


  1. Judging people’s parenting choices

I guess, if I’m being totally honest, like everyone else, I was a bit more judgmental before having a baby; why is she giving her child an iPad at the table, don’t give him Calpol again, sending to nursery versus not sending to nursery, friends who didn’t breastfeed for a millisecond versus friends who are still breastfeeding at five years old, friends who cook everything from scratch versus friends who can barely navigate themselves around their kitchen. But we’ve all done it, haven’t we?

Motherhood is the most exhilarating thing you will ever do; it fills you with sensations of love you could never even begin to understand before having a baby, but it is also harder than you could possibly imagine and if it has taught me one thing it is that everyone is trying to muddle through the best they can. Everyone loves their children as much as everyone else and all we want is the best for them. We may not always be doing the best, but we try. Yes, I still believe that if we make a decision to bring a child into this world, there are sacrifices we need to make and we should try hard to do things that we know will benefit them, even if it is difficult for us, but on the whole, let’s stop the judgment and support each other through this remarkable, exhausting, laborious yet extraordinary journey we call motherhood. Whether or not we agree with someone’s approach, let’s end the bitchiness and judgements and empower one another through this odyssey of uncertainty, instead of pushing each other down. If we are mothers to our babies, we are sisters to each other, and sisters may argue, but in the end they would kill for each other. So let’s get together with our mummy friends, despite how different we may do things, and have a glass of wine together. After all, none of us ever said we’d stop drinking!

Love & health,

Gioia – An Amazing Plant-Based Restaurant in Marbella

IMG_8375Braxton trying to steal my juice!

We spent two weeks in Spain recently. We are fortunate enough that Daniel’s parents have a place in Estepona so it makes it really easy when travelling with a baby as we already have everything we need there.

When we arrive the first thing we usually do is take ourselves to the natural health shop down the road to stock up on superfoods, smoothie ingredients (Braxton loves his breakfast smoothie!) and other foods and bits, so that we can eat at home some of the time. But we also love eating out; after all, what is a holiday if you have to cook all the time? And I love Spanish food. I do relax with my diet a little bit on holiday but I still don’t have dairy or sugar and still don’t give Braxton dairy or sugar; for me, they are the worst ‘foods’ and once you’re used to it, it’s not hard to stay away from them. I could be a little more lax now I’m back in remission but it’s just not worth it, for my remission, my stomach and Braxton’s all-round health. I do enjoy the odd glass of wine or a gin and tonic though!

So anyway, when we were in the health shop, the guy in there told us about a new vegan restaurant that had opened up in Marbella, only 20 minutes from where we stay. My husband, who used to be the world’s biggest meat eater and couldn’t fathom the idea of a vegan diet, got so excited and made sure it was our first meal out. It still amazes me how he’s embraced this lifestyle so openly.

We arrived at the place and although it was small and discreet, it was perfectly shabby chic; English country garden-style wrought iron chairs outside underneath a tree, reclaimed-wood chairs and small wooden tables indoors within a bright, minimalistic yet warm atmosphere with a dessert bar and a book stand. The only drawback was that they don’t yet have any high-chairs for babies as they have just recently opened, but they promised us they’d be getting some soon. When Braxton eats these days the surrounding area ends up looking like a school food fight so we prefer to have him not in the buggy or on our laps. But he sat on Daniel’s lap and we all just got a bit dirty which is also fine every so often!


gioia-plant-based-cuisine (1)

The menu was mouth-watering. I just love going to places where I know I can order anything for Brax and not worry about it. All organic, plant-based produce with nothing processed and not a fish finger or a chicken nugget in sight.

We ordered 2 green juices and 4 dishes for us all to share:

  • ravioli that used cashew cream instead of ricotta and a dairy-free pesto
  • Mexican salad
  • buckwheat spaghetti with Sicilian sauce
  • and the bean burger





I honestly can’t pick which one was the nicest – they were all seriously delicious. The ravioli was so creamy you’d think it was dairy; the spaghetti was just so indulgent and the bean burger – Daniel’s favourite – was out of this world.

We finished with dessert – of course, would be rude not to! – of an after-eight slice which was a mint cacao brownie type thing, a blueberry cheesecake and a mini white chocolate ball.

We’ve never seen Braxton eat so much before – he just loved it all – and it was a nice feeling knowing that it was all healthy and nutritious for him.

We left feeling so full but my god was it worth it. So good in fact that we went back the following week for another lunch even though we usually make a rule on holiday not to go to the same restaurant twice.

The chef, Carlo, was so inviting and the guy that helps him, Carlos, was so friendly and talkative. We spoke to them about the restaurant and their hopes for it. Carlo hopes to hold some plant-based cooking classes there over the winter so if you live in the Costa-del-Sol or are visiting over the winter, please get in touch with them.

carloThis is Carlo

We need more places like this all over the world so I’m posting this in the hope that if you’re in Marbella, you’ll go. Even if you’re not vegan and never plan on even being vegetarian, it’s an eating experience – I promise you’ll enjoy it. If we can help restaurants like this survive it means I get to go back and have more cashew cream ravioli next year! J

Here are the details, ask for Carlo:   Address: Avenida Bulevard Principe Alfonso De Hohenlohe, S/N | Junto Al Hotel Guadalpin, 29602, Marbella, Spain 

Tel: 0034630441834

IMG_8377Excuse the bruise on his head. No, I’m not beating him! he’s just started crawling so that should explain it 🙂

Love & health,

The Pursuit of Happiness – Writing My First Novel


I am constantly surprised by life, by how it brings us to exactly what we need at exactly the time we need it.

Throughout my childhood and teens I was always labelled as ‘average’. ‘She’s not a high-flyer, middle of the road,’ is what teachers used to say. The fact that I heard the word ‘average’ in reference to me more than once tells me that it must have been the general consensus. Even my parents, who always encouraged me in everything, thought I was average so I was never really encouraged in what now seems like the career path I should have chosen from the beginning – writing.

I remember as a young child winning class spelling competitions, looking to improve my vocabulary by always learning new words and looking forward to the kind of homework most of the other kids dreaded – writing essays about something to do with ourselves: What I Did This Summer, What I Want To Be When I Grow Up, My Favourite Things etc. I immersed myself in Enid Blyton books and I’d read them over and over again, trying to submerge myself fully into their magical realms. But still, I wanted to be a vet – for which I was told I needed to be better at science; a physiotherapist, for which I was told I needed to be better at maths; and then an actress, which seemed to everyone around me a more plausible option, and when that failed, an interior designer. ‘You’re quite arty and you can probably get away with not going to university for that,’ I was told. I never even considered being a writer, that was for people who were way above average.

For GCSE English coursework we had to write an essay about a topic that interested us. I chose the American civil rights movement and slavery, a topic that is still close to my heart. It evades me how I even knew about this topic at sixteen when we’d never once been taught about it at school, but I wanted to write about it. The teacher graded it as A* and told me it was the best GCSE piece she’d ever read and she would use it as an example for her A Level students. I’m not sure why, at that point, she didn’t say, ‘Hey, Lauren, why don’t you stay on at Sixth Form and study English, and perhaps go on to university to study English literature, instead of going to performing arts school?’ I wasn’t just good at it, I LOVED sitting down to write essays. Why didn’t she or any of my other teachers see this and encourage me?

As a child who’d grown up with an illness, who had always been so different to everyone else, I just craved acceptance, I didn’t look deep to see what I was great at, what I could be great at with the right amount of work. Writing could have been my escape, but I never considered using it as that, so acting was the only way I knew how to escape from life and drama school was the only place I felt truly accepted.

But then life happened and the arthritis took over my body and it is only now, with hindsight, that I can appreciate that this was the best thing that ever happened to me. Not only did it lead me to learn about the body and enable me to heal myself, but it led me to write. Out of nowhere I decided one day that I just HAD to write about my story, so I did. It really was out the blue – I’d never considered it before and it just came to me like an epiphany one random evening while I was lying in bed watching Grey’s Anatomy. After its publication, people would occasionally ask if I was a writer, but still, I lacked the confidence, even after writing a book, to accept that this is what I was. ‘I’m not a writer,’ I remember once saying to someone, ‘I just wrote a book.’

And once again, the epiphany: I remembered that I always wanted to write a novel based on my grandmother’s stories about the East End of London. Eventually I thought, OK, I can do it. I’ll just do it as a hobby in my spare time and see how it goes. But, as any writer can tell you, it took possession of my soul and sent me back to the Enid Blyton days and I realised that I could be the person who does for adults what Enid Blyton did for me, what, as I grew up, Isabel Allende, Yann Martel, Paullina Simons, Paolo Coelho, Oscar Wilde and countless others had done for me. Writing fiction became more real to me than real life. I fell in love with the characters I was creating and at the end of a day of writing, when I had to turn the computer off, I became upset that these characters weren’t real people and I couldn’t wait to get back to them the next day. Writing fiction had me in its tight restraints and wasn’t letting me go anytime soon, and I didn’t want it to.

It took until my late twenties to realise that I had more potential than I was ever made to believe and the only reason I came across my own potential was because of the illness I so hated, which is why I called my autobiography ‘My Enemy, My Friend’. It was my enemy for so long but it led me to the best things in my life. Would I have found my passions without it? I’m not sure. I may have worked as an interior designer all my life, which isn’t a bad gig, but I was destined to be taken elsewhere.

Life, with its endless disappointments, offers us boundless opportunity. How huge is our planet, how monolithic our universe. How can we believe that we should be confined to do only one thing for the rest of our lives? Why does the society we have evolved into tie us down to choosing one career at sixteen years old and sticking to that for ever? We are human beings with souls and passions and loves and hates and the more we live, the more we become capable of. We are made to believe that when we are young we can do anything but as we get older it’s too late. It is in fact the opposite. Why should we subscribe to this idea that we have to find a job and stick to it for fifty-odd years when living makes us capable of and interested in so much more?

I am so excited by life right now, by all the things I can do with my future. Every time life changes a little bit it gives me new interests. Having a baby and hypnobirthing my way through twenty-four hours of labour has made me want to explore, one day, the possibility of helping women through birth naturally and calmly. Reading history books has made me want to go to university one day to study history. Learning how to heal myself of an autoimmune disease has left me with a desire to continue teaching people how to do the same. This doesn’t make me fickle, it makes me ALIVE!

For right now, I am concentrating on this novel, a romantic drama set in the East End of London during WWII. I’ve had to research a lot, which has been part of the fun, and in writing a novel after having never been to university, I’ve realised how much there is to learn – I never knew how much I didn’t know! – which is why, at thirty-two years old and after having a baby, I’m going back to creative writing school for a second course. I crave the opportunity to study and can’t wait to go back.

I’m working tirelessly (or as tirelessly as is possible with a nine-month-old), to perfect my novel so I can get it published. And after it’s published, I intend to write another one, and another, until I eventually give myself the gratification I’ve longed for for so long, of calling myself an author and if life’s constant ups and downs have taught me anything, it’s that I believe I will get there if I work hard enough to do it.

Love & health,


You can buy My Enemy, My Friend here

My Spiritual Journey


I first came across the idea of meditation as a lifestyle fourteen years ago, when I was eighteen and wheelchair-bound. I’d had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since the age of two. My amazingly spiritual parents had taken me first to healers, psychic surgeons and homeopaths before ever considering embarking on something as preposterous as chemical drugs, so you could say that my quest for spiritual enlightenment had been prevalent from a young age – at least it had been something I was aware of, and it was the norm. But when a flare-up turned into something much worse when I was seventeen (it is a long story which I won’t go into here, but if you’re interested have a look at, I had no choice (or so I was led to believe) other than to take a chemo-based drug which left me hairless, immobile and with damaged organs.

Conundrum. Especially when you’re eighteen and about to embark upon what you believe to be a life-long acting career. So there I was, an eighteen year old with half a head of hair, a whole body full of swollen and painful joints and the knowledge that my now-damaged liver meant I could not drink, which would subsequently lead to the demise of my social life. (According to my eighteen-year-old mind.)

Surely it was a mistake. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me, you see. I had a life to lead, dreams to achieve. So I set out to ‘fix’ myself.

I came across a book by a lady called Brandon Bays who had managed to shrink her grapefruit-sized stomach tumour all on her own using meditation. I started listening to her tapes and followed ‘The Journey’. It was an illuminating experience, and so a longing for meditation – not just for cure but as a lifestyle – emerged from within. Through that I was led to Louise Hay and Deepak Chopra books, and then to chakra and crystal meditations. I learned all about the chakras, how to open and close them and how to strengthen them, and my bedroom glistened like the skin of a My Little Pony from all the crystals that I had accumulated over the years but still, however wonderful it was, nothing ever felt like it was being ‘released’, which is something I felt that I should be achieving. I felt rested and more calm – which is always a bonus when you end up in anger management due to anger born of resentment towards something you cannot change – but nothing else seemed to happen.

Over time I looked into Buddhism, and frequented the Buddhist Centre in Holloway. Again, what a great religion / way of life. Peace, harmony, love for all creatures. This was how I wanted to live my life! But when in meditation, I was unable to sit comfortably in the Lotus position because my knees and hips and ankles were so painful, but no one offered me a chair. No one said anything like, ‘if you can’t sit on the floor don’t worry, grab a chair.’ Everyone just looked so effortless on their thin, Buddha-printed cushions on the floor with their legs all octopus-like, as if they could bend in any position with no pain. So I stayed where I was for fear of being judged and never asked if I could sit on a chair but decided that, although I liked their way of life, and the fact that their meditations send positivity out to the world – which, let’s be honest, is just fabulous – I wouldn’t go back there anymore. My poor old/young legs needed chairs.

I joined my mum at her spiritualist circle and went there every Wednesday evening to meditate, connect with life beyond what we can see, and share positivity. I also learned how to perform the healing that I had had on me as a child and spiritual healing became another part of my life. I went along to talks by rabbis and even once went along to a Methodist church where a healing ‘doctor’ claimed that, ‘Hallelujah,’ he had cured me. He hadn’t. More of that story in my book.

Then came Kabbalah, just another stop-off village on my pilgrimage towards enlightenment. I am Jewish after all, I thought. This is the ancient wisdom of my ancestors. Not for the first time in this arduous expedition in the hunt for spirituality, I concluded that Kabbalah was just not ‘the one’. A bit like if you’re single and dating, but you set your standards high and don’t want to just settle for whatever comes along, you can meet someone who you think would be great to have in your life and has all these wonderful qualities that would benefit you and others a great deal, but just isn’t the one you want to agree to spend the rest of your life committing to. That’s what all these avenues were for me; I could appreciate them all and loved how each and every one started from the same philosophy – love – and aimed to spread this out to the world in a bigger capacity. All of them believe they can change the world and make it a more positive place and after being a part of so many, I believe that this is a possibility. So many people are now out there trying to make a difference, something must be happening!

I didn’t regret trying any of these teachings, I learned so much through each one and I am glad to say I am all the more knowledgeable because of each and every one of them (perhaps not the ‘Hallelujah’ guy). But why could I not find what I was looking for?

What, when it really came down to it, was I looking for? Well, I knew that after years of learning about a myriad of different spiritual practices, after trying tirelessly to find the right balance of health, eventually curing myself of JRA through all natural means, that I held a firm belief system. That belief system was that to follow any one religion or movement wasn’t for me. All religions started for the same, peaceful reasons and we should be able – in this day and age of spiritual refinement and knowledge – to accept that willingly and be open and non-judgemental to the fact that taking the best bits of all of them should be a good thing. I suppose I had discovered myself as the non-fiction version of Yann Martel’s Pi Patel. I believe in being a good person, in helping others, in helping animals and caring for them as we would our own children, in caring for the environment and all that Mother Nature has to offer. I believe that in order to gain enlightenment we have to accept that what we can see and what science can tell us is only a tiny morsel of what actually is. We have to connect – and connect on a monumentally deep level – with something other than the five senses we are consciously aware of. We have to take our consciousness to another level and by doing that we enable ourselves access to a deeper, more profound level of happiness, ones we are not necessarily afforded through material means.

Despite all these deep-routed, unwavering beliefs that were an amalgamation of many belief systems put together, I was still looking for ‘the one’ in terms of a daily meditation lifestyle. And I was about to find it. My mother-in-law went on a month long tour of India and through a friend, met the unparalleled, indelible Radhanath Swami, the spiritual leader of the Hare Krishna movement. When she returned to London, she invited me along to an event that Radhanath Swami was speaking at, and I was sold. When I was in his presence I felt nothing but love and acceptance. I began reading all I could about him and Bhakti Yoga and I ended up making many friends through the Hare Krishna Temple in Watford. We would often – and still do – engage in group Kirtans (chanting) and Bhakti Yoga get-togethers and I adore the philosophies and ethos behind the movement. One thing was missing, still (and this is the last time, I promise!). Although the Hare Krishna movement is one I feel comfortable being involved with (and let me stress here that although I say involved, I do not confine myself or limit myself to being a devotee of any one set of rules), the chanting was not something I felt was an appropriate way of life for me on a daily basis (though I still love our group Kirtans) – my husband thinks I’m loopy enough as it is – and I was still, after all these years, looking for a form of meditation that would become an effortless part of my life, all the while incorporating all the wonderful lessons I had learned without excluding any of them.

Then one day, I’m on YouTube and in ‘videos that might interest you’, Russell Brand pops up, talking – as eloquently as ever – about Transcendental Meditation. This divine (Bill Gates / YouTube) intervention led me to that page for a reason. I watched video after video, in awe of how he spoke about this movement and thought, that’s it! I had always felt a connection to Russell Brand, and not one of those juvenile celebrity-crush types of connections. When I read his first book, I couldn’t help but marvel over how much of it was similar to the stories in my book. Our lives were somehow, perhaps spiritually, on a similar journey and I trusted this skinny-trouser wearing, big hair sporting man whose extensive vocabulary and pervasive knowledge makes it hard to believe that he was ever a drug addict, and whose views about people, animals, the world and the universe were so in sync with my own.

I didn’t know why it was so easy, but after twelve years in pursuit of the perfect meditation, I had found it in TM. It was effortless in the way I needed it to be. I found that it only encouraged all my beliefs and the spiritual lessons I’d learnt over the years, without asking too much of me in a meditation sense.

I took a course and within the first few days I had a hugely profound experience that only became apparent after our coach, Michael, asked, ‘has anyone had any strange dreams or nightmares since starting TM?’ Then it hit me like a slap in the face and it was as if the cartoon image of the light bulb epiphany appeared above my head instantaneously and I realised; Transcendental Meditation had given me exactly what I had been looking for all those years. Apart from the fact that it is an effortless, uncomplicated, unpretentious, yet beautiful way to meditate that is perfect to incorporate into the lifestyle of someone who isn’t a cave-dwelling Himalayan monk, I had this profoundly significant moment early on which released something in me (through a dream after 3 days of meditation) that had been living in my subconscious for a while, something I hadn’t been dealing with but didn’t realise and I suppose that was the ‘release’ I had been looking for earlier on in my journey.

I often find myself doing chakra meditations still, if I feel unbalanced, and I chanted my way through twenty-four hours of labour, so I really have learnt to incorporate all the wonderful lessons I’ve learnt throughout the years into my life without subscribing to one particular method, but Transcendental Meditation is the ‘easy’ one, the one I can do wherever I am or whatever is going on around me, which is sometimes necessary.

I’d like to bring my son up knowing that there is no one religion or way of life that is more important than another. I want to bring him up to be accepting of everyone, to be kind, to love animals, to respect nature and to find his own way. I want him to know that beneath the shell of someone’s image, there is a soul. I can draw the outlines of the picture for him, but he has to fill in the colours and my goal in life is to make sure he is encouraged to to this in a positive way.

My spiritual journey has been an interesting one that has led me to some of the most wonderful, interesting, kind people and I’d like to dedicate this to them – you know who you are!

Love & health,



Welcome to Organic Spoon!


Welcome to Organic Spoon! Some of you may be wondering why the name has changed from Two Kitchens One Lifestyle to Organic Spoon. Well, the lovely Raine who I used to run Two Kitchens with is fulfilling her dream of opening a yoga and pilates studio so just doesn’t have the time to devote to recipes anymore so it’s just me – Lauren – on my own! I want to take this opportunity to wish Raine the best of luck with her very exciting venture. I know we’ll remain lifelong friends regardless and hopefully still do our ‘virtual’ baking every so often!

I had wanted to change the layout of the website for a while as it wasn’t the most user-friendly, and the name TWO kitchens isn’t really accurate anymore so it seemed like a great time to rebrand.

So what will change? I will still be posting the same sort of recipes using only chemical free, ‘happy’ ingredients that everybody’s bodies love, but I will also now be posting baby food recipes – just a little something to give other mums ideas and inspiration for your little ones, things that are easy and accessible but totally healthy – along with other motherhood-related posts; tips and suggestions when it comes to yours and your baby’s health, as well as possibly sometimes a good old moan! I will also be moving my general blogging over from to here. This website is about sustaining a healthy lifestyle through food and all my blogging is health-related so I figured it best to combine the two so that you can all be a part of what I do daily – whether it be motherhood, cooking, the articles I write, my books or my charity work and speaking engagements. It’s all about one thing: NATURAL HEALTH and I’d love my Organic Spoon followers so join me on my journey of remission maintenance and continued health.

So I hope you enjoy the new layout of the site but it’s still under construction so please bear with me!

If you have any suggestions, comments or would just like to get in touch, please do, I’d love to hear from you.

Love and health,

MTHFR – The Gene Mutation That Could Damage Your Unborn Baby


I owe a lot to my pregnancy, it revealed the final missing piece in my perennial search for answers to questions about my health and for that I am eternally grateful. I should be even more grateful, though, to Jessica, a lady in Florida who told me about the gene mutation, MTHFR.

If you are pregnant, a parent, planning on having children or have stomach issues, allergies, autoimmune or other ‘unexplained’ health problems that continually persist, despite your best efforts, I urge you to read on, despite the length of this post. It has taken me thirty-one years to figure out what I am about to tell you, and it has changed not just my life for the better, but that of my unborn baby, too.

I came across this invaluable information during my own quest for remission of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, which I was diagnosed with when I was two. Thankfully, through my own stubbornness and determination to not spend my life being disabled, I finally conquered the disease for good, through diet, a range of complementary therapies including homeopathy, naturopathy and kinesiology, and an extensive understanding about the human body, despite never having ‘actually’ studied, and I have been in remission for two years.

In order to understand fully what MTHFR entails, it means being able to understand complex biochemistry, which I’m assuming, like me, most people reading this will not be overly familiar with. So I will explain it in simple terms;

What Is MTHFR?
The MTHFR mutation inhibits the body’s ability to methylate, or convert folic acid into Methylfolate. Methylfolate is the active and usable form of folic acid – which is why it is more sensible to take it in the form of Methylfolate in the first place, especially if you are pregnant, as opposed to taking the synthetic version of folic acid. The body also finds it hard to process vitamin B12 and other vitamins, and instead, the liver converts them into toxins.

The body is constantly taking in toxins, but the liver of a healthy person will be able to detoxify and release these toxins. When you have MTHFR, the toxins get trapped and will continue to build up over the years, causing a slew of different illnesses. This suppression of toxins could show itself in any way from persistent headaches or migraines, unexplained allergies, autoimmune issues, low immunity, gastrointestinal problems (which, after every test under the sun would probably have been labelled as IBS), Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, deficiencies, hormone problems and a myriad other ailments.

You can have the Homozygous gene or the Heterozygous gene. Homozygous is the worst one; it means your body converts 70% of these nutrients into toxins. Luckily for me, I have the heterozygous gene, which means that my body processes 30% into toxins and before I explain what this means for me and my baby, I’ll explain first how I found this out.

This lady in Florida, Jessica, is the mother of a little girl with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis whom I have been in touch with for a few years. She also decided to go down the complementary medicine route and thankfully, like me, her little girl is now doing really well. Jessica found out that she had the MTHFR gene mutation, and, unfortunately for her, she had the worst kind. She realised that this gene mutation in her was probably the reason why her daughter got autoimmune arthritis. For years she urged me to have the blood test but I kept putting it off because there was always something else to contend with.

But then I had to have IVF. When I (thankfully) got pregnant, I noticed that the blood form at my IVF clinic had an option to test for MTHFR. I had to pay extra for it, but I decided it was the perfect opportunity to have the test. Ten days later it came back positive. Now, had I not have spoken to Jessica, I would never have known what MTHFR was and I would have totally overlooked it on the sheet of paper. More than that, not one doctor in all my life had ever advised me to have the test.

Bad Advice
My doctor, who told me that the test was positive, prescribed folic acid in very high doses. ‘If you have MTHFR’, she said, ‘your body doesn’t absorb as much folic acid so you need more.’ This was their understanding and the extent of their understanding of the gene mutation ended there.

My history of illness and subsequent self-acquired remission of course encouraged me to look elsewhere and get information from a more reliable source and not simply walk out of the clinic accepting that ‘the doctor must know everything and I don’t need to think about this anymore’. Doctors, we must remember, are humans, just like us, and despite their panoply of knowledge and accomplishments, they can’t possibly specialise in everything so we cannot and must not assume that they can know the answers to every last medical problem. We have a responsibility to ourselves and must take responsibility for our own bodies. (If we all did this, we would help relieve pressure on the NHS drastically, but this is another story altogether.) I was in early stages of pregnancy, it was my first baby, I was worried and determined to understand everything I needed to about what this meant for me and my baby. I spoke to Jessica and she led me to the website of Dr Ben Lynch, the primary resource for everything MTHFR-related. He is based in the States but recommends specialists for MTHFR all over the world. It turns out there were only three in the UK and only one in London. I got in touch with him and had two phone consultations and, between him, Dr Lynch, Jessica and other research I did, this is what I learnt…

What It Means For My Baby
My body cannot absorb many nutrients, but two of the most important ones (for right now anyway) are folic acid and vitamin B12. That being said, ‘folic acid’ in the way we know it, is synthetic. It is folate we need, and in higher quantities when we are pregnant in order for the baby to develop.

Folate is found in plenty of foods but we don’t eat enough of those foods anymore so ‘folic acid’ was created. My body cannot absorb this synthetic form of it. Not only can it not absorb it, but my liver turns it toxic, leaving me feeling ill (and probably never knowing why) and meaning that my baby is not receiving crucial nutrients at a critical time. In order for my body to be able to absorb folate properly and process it in a way that it gets fed through to the baby, it needs to be in the form of Methylfolate, the primary biologically active form of folic acid used at the cellular level for DNA reproduction.

Because I had done a lot of research prior to falling pregnant, I already knew that Methylfolate was the healthier way of taking folic acid (even though I knew nothing about methylation at the time), so luckily for me, my prenatal supplement was already in the form of Methylfolate and my B12 was in the form of Methylcobalamin. I learned about the B12 side of things when my arthritis pain got so bad that it started affecting the nerves. Once I made the decision to heal myself, I did research into B12 and realised my body wasn’t absorbing it properly but I never knew why, so I got Methylcobalamin, have been taking it ever since, and that pain went away almost instantly. Obviously I never fully understood why until now.

I was six weeks pregnant when I found this out so I was pretty lucky that I’d already been taking this prenatal supplement but the MTHFR specialist recommended a different brand and I have been on that ever since.

My obstetrician, just like the doctor who gave me the MTHFR blood results, knew nothing about MTHFR other than that it meant that I ‘needed higher doses of folic acid’. In my experience, doctors do not like to be told what they don’t know by their patients, but my lovely obstetrician listened, seemed shocked, and thanked me for passing on information that he didn’t know. He said it could help many women who came his way and that he was going to go off and do some research on it. (EDIT: 2.5 years later, he still has not done anything about it). He said that the MTHFR could leave my baby susceptible to miscarriage, a brain defect, and spina bifida. By the time I saw him I was ten weeks pregnant and at that scan he ruled out the brain defect but said that the other two were still possible and had to be ruled out at different stages, the last one at sixteen weeks.

I am now twenty-one weeks pregnant and have surmised that the reason that all these things have now (thank God) been ruled out, is because my body got the right nutrients it needed in the right forms. My baby was not susceptible to spina bifida because he received the folate he needed. The reason most women in my situation would still be at risk of that is because they would still be taking the synthetic folic acid without knowing that despite their best efforts of taking this, the baby was not receiving it and was therefore at risk of these awful conditions. (EDIT: My baby is now 21 months old and thank God healthy.)

MTHFR is responsible for a HUGE number – though we don’t know how many – of miscarriages. If your OB tells you that there is no evidence linking these 2 things, it is because your OB is not educated on MTHFR. (Please have a look at the information by Dr Ben Lynch in the link embedded at the beginning of this paragraph.) This is a massive deal. We know that women are miscarrying because they have this gene mutation and don’t know about it or how to treat it, and doctors don’t know either. So if you are reading this and have had miscarriages for ‘unknown’ reasons, it could be that you have MTHFR. And let me tell you, with a little bit of research and lifestyle-tweaking, it really isn’t that hard to stop this being the cause of your miscarriages. What sort of relief would that be!

A study published on US National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health stated that ‘We provide evidence to support the relationship between MTHFR C677T mutations and recurrent fetal loss.’

This study shows the clear link between MTHFR and recurrent miscarriage but simply advises anticoagulation meds as a possible solution as opposed to methylfolate and healthy lifestyle. Each of the 8 women in the study was found to be positive for MTHFR, 7 homozygous and 1 heterozygous, which concludes that heterozygous women need to be treated in the same was as homozygous. It shows a link between MTHFR and preeclampsia, intrauterine growth retardation, placental abruption and neural tube defects. Therefore this is not just about miscarriage but complications in pregnancy, too. Fertility clinics who have had successful pregnancies, along with GPs, midwives, OBs and GYNs should be testing all women for MTHFR and advising them against synthetic folic acid and prescribing a healthy, bioavailable source of methylfolate instead, and should be monitoring the pregnancy and advising on diet. Fertility clinics especially should be prescribing methylfolate as standard.

If your OB is one of those trying to convince you that there is no link between your miscarriages and MTHFR, it could be to do with the fact that some studies found no concrete link. However this is most likely to do with the fact that if someone has MTHFR, they need to be taking the right prenatal supplements during the study. If a study was run whereby it was documented which out of the women was taking methylfolate and methylcobalamin, coupled with a healthy lifestyle low in toxin exposure, and which women were continuing with synthetic folic acid and did not do anything to support the mutation, it is highly likely that we would see the link very quickly.

Missing Pieces
In terms of the missing pieces in my own life, the time of my diagnosis was when they all started fitting together: my mum must have this mutation or at least be a carrier for it, and because she didn’t know about it she took folic acid. She didn’t miscarry and I didn’t have spina bifida, but it severely affected my immune system, which, of course, was another thing she would not have known about when I was born. So, I already had low immunity (which was unknown at the time), and then I had the Measles / Rubella vaccine and immediately after that the swelling in my ankles appeared and a few months later (a month before my second birthday) I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid (Idiopathic, as it was then known) Arthritis, which I subsequently had for the rest of my life. The vaccine was too strong and filled with too many toxins for an underdeveloped and very lacking immune system to handle so the susceptibility in that immune system just needed a trigger. Although I got myself into remission, it is only now that all the pieces fit together but I am so glad I know this. Not only does it confirm my belief that nothing is ‘idiopathic’ (no defined cause) and that everything has a root cause or a reason for happening, it also means I can now make sure that I give my baby the very best chance at staying healthy.

It is thought that an estimated 60% of the population have this gene mutation, but most don’t even know about it. 60%! That’s huge! So why isn’t it spoken about more? Why have we never heard of it? Why do doctors not know about it? And if they don’t know enough about it, why are they prescribing anything at all? Taking folic acid in its synthetic form is highly dangerous if you have MTHFR. We need to be aware of this but our healthcare professionals also need to be aware of it. How would the average person know to look out for it if the people we trust with our healthcare have no idea about it? Fertility doctors, obstetricians and midwifes especially need to be educated on this subject.

Knowledge is power and we must stop being complacent with ourselves and with our children and know that we are allowed to – and should! – research, that the doctors can’t know everything and that we need to figure stuff out for ourselves. If doctors don’t know much about MTHFR, how many other conditions are leading to our decline in health that they don’t know about?

If 60% of people have this gene mutation, you could be one of them, so I hope this article encourages you to get the test, if not for yourself then for your children. Imagine if this gene mutation is the reason behind so many of us having such a range of illnesses and ailments, all because our bodies can’t detoxify.

And even if you don’t have the test, perhaps you will take away from this the knowledge that there is a reason and a trigger for every illness or ailment and we can access that reason and fix it before it’s too late. If you are pregnant – or planning – and even if you don’t plan on getting the MTHFR test, consider taking folate in the form of Methylfolate instead of synthetic folic acid.

I hope that by writing this article, I can help some people avoid the unthinkable.

Love & health,
Lauren Vaknine

The prenatal supplement I take is called Optimal Prenatal by Seeking Health and can be purchased at

For more information about MTHFR please visit Dr Ben Lynch’s website.

For more information about my story and subsequent remission, you can purchase my book, ‘My Enemy, My Friend’ on Amazon.

Everything You Need To Know About Dairy, And Why To Stay Away…


Here it is, the post you’ve been dreading, the one that will make you re-evaluate everything you’ve ever been told about nutrition. Don’t worry, I was in your boat not so long ago. This wasn’t information I was brought up knowing, it is information that I have taught myself over the years. So here it is: you don’t need milk or yoghurt to benefit from highly bioavailable sources of calcium. In fact, contrary to popular belief, most dairy products do not possess any type of calcium that is easily absorbed in the body. Can you believe it? Read on to understand why…

The pasteurisation process involved in the manufacture of most dairy products creates calcium carbonate which has absolutely no way of entering the cells without a chelating agent. When we drink milk, the body pulls the calcium from the bones and other tissues in order to buffer the calcium carbonate in the blood. This process gradually weakens bones, so all that rubbish we were told growing up about milk making our bones stronger, is completely false. Milk also has little to no nutrient density because pasteurisation destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6 and kills beneficial bacteria. (Nutrient density is the ratio of nutrient content to the total energy content. Thus, nutrient-dense foods are those foods that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals and relatively few calories.) It’s the main reason pasteurised milk promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. In its raw form, cow’s milk does contain lots of nutrients, but too much bacteria is carried in raw milk for us to consume it safely.

One of the main reasons we should stay away from dairy is because of its effect on the immune system. Dairy kills good bacteria in the gut, making way for lots of bad bacteria to flourish and creating the perfect environment for parasites to nest. If you are bloated, get tummy aches, flatulence and cramps, it is likely to be caused by either gluten or dairy, or a combination of the two. So what does this have to do with the immune system? Well, believe it or not, the immune system is predominately housed in the gut, so if your gut is weak with too much bad bacteria, your immune system will also be weak and will subsequently lead to susceptibility to common colds and viruses, as well as leaving us open to autoimmune issues. I never used to realise that one part of the body could so drastically affect another. What, I would have asked, does my immune system have to do with my stomach? But our bodies are one big vehicle needing all parts to be in good shape in order to work fully. The stronger your gut is, the stronger your immune system will be. By cutting out dairy and taking a good probiotic or drinking Kombucha and / or Kefir, you are aiding the growth of the good bacteria and the demise of the bad, making way for a healthy gut and strong immune system. (You can get infant and child probiotics also.)

To summarise, (and to destroy everything we’ve ever been taught about milk!) the calcium in cow’s milk is NOT bioavailable to humans. Think of it logically; we are the only species on Earth who not only still drink milk after infancy, but who drink the milk of another species. It was never meant to be, it was just what was done in days when people were poor and lived off the only resources they had available to them (EG: in Russia people lived predominately off fish as this was available, in Morocco people cooked with fruits and sweet herbs such as cinnamon and dates as this is what was available, in England they drank milk as they had an abundance of cows so they utilised all of their produce), the Inuit live predominantly off whale blubber… You get my point; these eating habits became just that – habit – and we forgot to question them, we just assumed it was the best way to eat. Today, everything is available to us, so we really don’t need to resort to drinking the lactation of another species to sustain ourselves. Which leads me to the question of why people think it is totally abhorrent to try breast milk- the milk of our own species- but absolutely fine to drink the milk squeezed from the nipples of a totally different species. Because we’ve been told to? Because we know no different? Surely in this age of information it is about time we start thinking for ourselves and stop following blindly the things we’ve always been told, things that benefit industry but not our health.

Cow’s milk is for baby cows. Human babies are much smaller than calves, therefore our bodies find it very difficult to break down (along with all the other reasons listed above). If you ever wonder why so many babies suffer from colic and allergies these days, you may just have found your answer. Our bodies and our babies’ bodies are rejecting this milk. Mother’s milk is best for human babies. If you can’t breastfeed, there are alternatives, but cow’s milk should not be one of them. Cow’s milk is healthy only for baby cows (who, by the way, often don’t get to feed off their mother’s milk because they are taken away early so that dairy and meat farmers can mass-farm their produce to sell). As well as the health issues it causes, the fact it has no nutritional value to us and that the babies are taken away from their mummas, another reason to stay away is because the mass-farming of dairy means that these poor cows are kept lactating all year round so that their nipples swell to inhumane, unnatural sizes and they are in pain and uncomfortable. (and as a breastfeeding mother, I know how painful mastitis and nipple pain can be!) For this reason, the nipples create pus and this is filtered into the milk we end up drinking, as are the steroids, antibiotics and hormones that are injected into the cows to keep them ‘strong’.

You’re probably wondering then what you can substitute milk with, and where you can get your calcium from… Substitutes come in the form of nut milks that we can make ourselves for minimal cost and in minimal time. Check out Raine’s Almond Milk. We also use nut milks in most of our breakfast recipes (check out the breakfast page) and we even make our own yoghurt with cashews or coconuts. Have a look at my cashew yoghurt and the to-die-for cashew butter. If you have nut allergies you can opt for rice milk or oat milk – still highly nutritious and much better for the gut than cow’s milk.

Can’t breastfeed and not sure what you should do as all formulas are cow’s milk-based? Try this Nannycare goat’s milk-based formula. Much gentler on the gut than cow’s milk and all the ingredients are high-grade.

Many natural food sources have high bioavailable calcium meaning they are absorbed and become available for the body to utilise physiologically after consumption.

Eating a combination of these foods will give you all the calcium and nutrient density you’ll ever need.

In order of highest calcium:

  1. Dried herbs (dried basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, dill). 2113mg per 100g
  2. Sesame seeds (dried). 975mg per 100g
  3. Chia seeds (dried). 631mg per 100g
  4. Fireweed leaves. 429mg per 100g
  5. Sardines 382mg per 100g
  6. Grape leaves. 289mg per 100g
  7. Chilli powder. 278mg per 100g
  8. 264mg per 100g
  9. 255mg per 100g
  10. Collards raw. 232mg per 100g
  11. 217mg per 100g
  12. Amaranth greens. 215mg per 100g
  13. 181mg per 100g
  14. Kelp (seaweed). 168mg per 100g
  15. Lotus seeds. 163mg per 100g
  16. Brazil nuts. 160mg per 100g
  17. 138mg per 100g
  18. Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, kale). 99mg per 100g
  19. 86mg per 100g

To make sure Braxton gets enough calcium I make sure his diet has heaps of leafy green veg and nuts and I make a bowl of tahini (if using this recipe for babies just omit the salts) once a week from a tub of raw tahini paste, and I dollop it over pretty much everything he eats. The sesame seeds give him all the bioavailable calcium he needs.

I really hope this post gives you something to think about. We are all on a journey of learning and all we can do is try to pass on information that we are learning ourselves, in the hope that we can help people become healthier. The way I see it is, just because you have been brought up being told something, it doesn’t make it right. We were all brought up in a time when milk was delivered in cute little glass bottles to our doors and we drank it endlessly and were contributors to the clever consumerist advertising campaigns all around us telling us that we need milk for calcium. We don’t! Imagine how many other things we got wrong… there is so much for us to learn, the possibilities are endless!

Health and happiness,



(Reference: @tuneintomyfrequency)