Lauren Lovatt is a plant based chef. Currently she holds pop-up events in London, designs healthy snack recipes worldwide and teaches for PlantLab currently in Europe, the US and next year in Bali.
Here she shares her journey with mental health and a gluten free snack recipe, to start a conversation about how to feed our Minds:
“This Mental health awareness week I wanted to start a conversation about mental health through sharing my story. Over the years I’ve found it quite hard to talk about my experiences with bipolar, suicide and eating disorders, but have seen over time that through opening up and sharing, other people can feel less alone. We need to talk about these things and by doing so we can literally save lives. So, here is a snippet into how mental health issues have effected me and ultimately helped me to find a passion, purpose and a journey I want to be on. I hope I can help someone out there in some little way!
Ive always loved food. My earliest memories are scented with wafts of freshly picked strawberries, homely roast dinners and tuti fruity ice-cream. Growing up I would cook three course meals for my family, spend hours inventing mystery sauces and doing everything possible to get two… or three lunches from the school canteen. Food has always made me happy. It was my way to connect with people, share delicious experiences and please myself.
It was only when life turned a dark corner this passion turned into obsession, which was definitely not good for me or those around me. Until this time I hadn’t really known about mental health issues, then at uni my boyfriend was diagnosed with Bipolar and I learned the hard way how crippling this illness can be. After a difficult time trying to support him, searching for answers, managing crazy moods and desperately trying to understand confusing traits of the mind we discovered there was nowhere to turn or any information to be found; the amazing campaigns out there now just weren’t as visible at that time and others suffering didn’t yet have a voice.
After a long trail of events, he took his life. This was devastating for everyone around and for me, my life turned upside down. A year of sleepless nights, painful grief and flashbacks followed and I started to get very sick. As a distraction from the pain I became obsessed with food; all consumed by a concoction of eating disorders and depression I isolated myself from the world and turned the one thing I had always loved into something very dangerous.
For some years the illness was my way of coping and when bad became worse I had to seek help. Through counselling, alternative therapies and good support something clicked that made me want to get better. This had to come from within and what came was my need to rebuild positive relationships – not only with food, but with wellness and more specifically wellness for the mind. I wanted to learn how to live in a way that would enable me to manage moods, find stability and passion through nurturing my mental health. To do this I unlocked a new toolbox of ingredients, plants and superfoods that sparked a new passion far from any old issues I had.
Long story short – I battled my way through uni, finally finished my degree specialising in wellness deign and lifestyle trends. Then as quickly as you can say “kale” I retrained as a raw chef; setting out on a new path finding a way to connect everyone with the links between plant based food, lifestyle and mental health.
Most recently I’ve been teaching for PlantLab – a life changing plant based cookery school – and also independently collaborating with the World of Wellness in London to get the world excited about plants.
To me, ‘Mind Food’ is about natural ingredients elevated. It is about nourishing the gut, feeding the soul and letting the mind flourish. For more information on this follow @feedyourmindcandy which will soon have its own site full of recipes and ideal to find balance, invite passion and feed your mind.
This recipe is designed to nourish your brain. Laced with probiotics, balancing oats, good fats and shows how vegan snacks can be delicious and still healthy.
Pineapple Tepache Cheesecake
Makes: One large cake for 12
For the base
One cup gluten free oats ( i like rude health sprouted oats)
One cup sesame seeds
One cup coconut chips
One cup dried pineapple
¼ cup melted coconut oil
¼ cup water
Large pinch salt
For the cheesecake
500g Coyo coconut yogurt
One cup cashews (soaked for 8 hours in filtered water)
One cup pineapple
One cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp good quality honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp turmeric
Grind of black pepper
Toast the oats and coconut chips then pulse all dried ingredients until pineapple is well broken up. Pulse in the wet ingredients to form a dough that you can roll into a ball.
Put the mix into a cake tin lined with cling film and chill.
Rinse cashews very well then blend everything apart from the coconut oil together until silky smooth. Adjust sweetness to taste (this is designed not to be too sweet).
Stream in the melted coconut oil then pour over your base.
Chill for up to 12 hours until set (freezing is also ok), serve with more toasted coconut and fresh pineapple.
Tip: If you’re after something even more brain powered, ferment your cashews by blending the soaked nuts with the coconut yoghurt and 1 tsp of kombucha or a probiotic capsule. Leave in a covered glass bowl on the side overnight then proceed as above.