Vegan Breakfast: a Story About Healing, and 3 Recipes

I would like to share a story that has a lot to do with breakfast.
I usually don’t like to talk about such things, but I think this post could be of some help to others who lived through similar struggles.

Last week, something amazing happened: I got my period.

Now, this might sound like a weird statement, but let me explain why I was so happy about it.

When I turned 16 I was diagnosed with a condition known as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). This condition occurs when many cysts that are present in the ovaries develop and grow bigger, wreaking havoc in our hormone production and balance. The effects of PCOS can be many and diverse amongst women who suffer from it, and, worst of all, are ever-changing. Some might experience depression, mood alterations, weight gain or loss, and all ailments that are common to hormonal imbalance. This includes, obviously, irregular or absent periods.

At first, I realized there was something wrong because I was losing a massive amount of hair. When I ran a hand through my hair and saw whole locks trapped trough my fingers, I got really, really scared. I was put under some heavy medication for the following years: a birth control pill with three times the amount of hormones than normal pills, combined with another pill, which was actually used to treat prostate cancer (!!) but had hair growth as a side-effects, combined with yet another pill that acted as an anti-inflammatory for the previous two that I was taking. Sure, I had lush, lucid hair and smooth skin, but I definitely did not feel right. I was always bloated, I lacked energy and had frequent cravings and mood swings.

I later tried to switch up medications and experimented with several lighter options, but things did not change much. I still felt like everything in my body was completely off. At some point, symptoms started adding up and I started getting headaches, more mood swings and, worst of all, my digestive system started tolerating less foods and not working as well as it did before.

Two years ago, when I really started to get into nutrition and health things (mostly thanks to an awesome site called Fitocracy, which I encourage you all to check out), I decided that it was time to change something in the way I nourished my body, and I started eating ‘healthier’, so to speak. In agreement with my doctor, I decided to stop taking all medication altogether.
I started lifting, I rearranged my diet and my body seemed to have completely readjusted itself. I was happy! After a year, my hair was not falling even without meds, I had dropped 20 pounds and, for the first time in my life, I did not feel bloated at all.
There was just one tiny problem: for a whole year, I did not get my period at all.
After a while I started getting worried and decided to take some blood tests. When my doctor took a look at the results, he sighed and went “Oh, well. the people at the labs must have mixed up your results with somebody else’s. It happens every now and then. I’ll have you re-take the test.”
That is how absurd the results were. unfortunately, no – those numbers were mine. My cholesterol level was at 360, when the maximum acceptable level is 90. There was not a single value that made sense.
I got extremely frustrated. I was eating healthy, keeping fit, and did not drink or smoke. Damn, I  didn’t even drink coffee, how was that possible? What was wrong?

During that year, my caloric intake was extremely restricted, extremely low in carbs (low to the point that I didn’t even eat carrots), and I never had breakfast. I did not feel tired or weird at all, and the PCOS symptoms seemed to be leaving me alone, but being period-less makes your body think that it is somehow heading towards a declining phase. As a consequence, my hair was extremely frail and brittle, my nails flaked, and my skin came off my belly and arms and left a layer of white dust on my clothes. Furthermore, the longer I went without my period, the larger the cysts in my ovaries grew, hindering menstruation more and more. The longer I went without my period, the less chances I had to get my period again.

I tried getting on my meds again, and it was a disaster. I got horribly bloated, and for the first time in my life I experienced symptoms of depression and panic, plus other extremely unattractive things. The fact that it was also when I had to leave New York did not help. I decided that it was time to take control of the situation again. I tried to do all the things that could be good for my digestive system, first and foremost. It is important to make sure that all the good things we feed our body are actually being absorbed, so, after lots of careful research and some diet optimization, for the first time in 10 years I managed to make my intestine work the way it should.

Vegan Breakfast Recipes: Toasted Spiced Nuts and Buckwheat

Vegan Breakfast Recipes: Rose water Turmeric Almond Milk

Now, I’m not sure what it was. It could have been these rearrangements, the added fats, the added calories, or a combination of everything. But after a couple months, my period came by itself. I was on the verge of tears. It skipped a couple months again, then it came. then it skipped a month, and it came again. Last month it came, without me really expecting it.
And now, for the first time in my entire life, after 28 exact days since the last time, I got my period.
I think back of all the times I heard girls complaining about their period and saying things like ‘I wish I could just not have it’. No, you don’t. Trust me, you don’t. There are so many things we take for granted about our health.

This approach to the vegan diet helped me a lot. To adjust my diet, I drastically reduced my animal protein intake and started making my own almond milk (which sells for about 6$ a carton here in Italy. SIX $ A CARTON), And I occasionally eat yoghurt, better if sheep or goat’s milk. I do not skip breakfast now, and I started experimenting with vegan breakfasts which involve seeds and some occasional superfood like bee pollen. Avocado, nuts, tahini and olive oil are now a daily staple as far as fats are concerned. I keep animal product consumption mostly for the weekend, but enjoy an egg and yogurt or light cheeses throughout the week. My body works best with a prevalence of fat and protein in the morning, so I’ll have a smoothie with avocado, chia, berries, almond milk and tons of spices, or some seasonal fruit with goat’s milk yogurt. I was never big on pasta or grains, but I added to my diet some gluten-free foods like buckwheat and millet. This does not mean I keep gluten-free, though! I love rye and barley, and I firmly believe that the quality of my life would significantly decrease if I were to be completely deprived of my biweekly pizza. I have always been a huge veggie lover, so those still make up 80% of my diet.There are foods that I have a hard time eating because they just make me feel bad: beef, lamb, chicken, some kinds of cheeses, cream, bread, white potatoes, and most packaged foods. Basically, I eat a little bit of everything, but with a plant-based prevalence.

I think that every vegetarian, or every omnivore, should approach a vegan lifestyle for at least a little bit. This past month helped me learn about foods that are usually not considered as much as others, but absolutely delicious in their own right: seeds, nut butters, plant fats, and incredible ways to use and eat vegetables. Sometimes, it is also a matter of what you are not eating, not only a matter if what you are eating already.

Vegan Breakfast Recipes: Rose water Turmeric Almond Milk

Vegan Breakfast Recipes: Rose water Turmeric Almond Milk

Unfortunately, every ailment gets incredibly worse with stress. The past year has been difficult and full of emotional struggles that are still far from being over.
But, every day, we can take a little step forward towards our peace of mind. I am a believer in the fact that every day we can do something to live through everything, even struggles, with a sense of beauty for the world. If beauty can be seen once, and that one time helps us see it in the most unexpected places, then a day without seeing it is a day wasted.
Learning photography, and learning about food, helped me greatly in learning to see it in my everyday. I will never stop thanking all the people I met through this blog and every single person who visited it. I love you all.

I shoot in an old storage room in the back of the house, or in an unused room of the house.
“Who would have thought,” said both my mom and brother today. “That someone could see some beauty in those filthy rooms. It’s cool that you’re putting all that trash to good use!”

—————

Italians are not big breakfast people. In fact, I wouldn’t consider the average Italian breakfast pattern to be amongst the best. Most people (especially men) start the day with just espresso, and can even drink 3 or 4 before lunchtime. Many times they’ll have it standing at the counter of a café, and eat it along with a pastry. Others (mostly woman) have rusks and jam or coffee cake in milk. While it doesn’t seem that bad after all, this is the perfect way to send your blood sugar through the roof first thing in the morning. Most men seem to be fine, but all the women I know who eat like this are ravenous within a couple hours, me included. I don’t know how they do it. There are, though, a lot of people who have breakfast with yogurt and fruit, and nuts are finally being used more often. Here are 3 recipes for some of my breakfast staples, and some of the ways I use them. For that chia smoothie I mentioned before, well…stay tuned!

Spiced Nuts & Crispy Buckwheat

1 cup mixed nuts (I use almonds, cashews, walnuts)
1/4 cup buckwheat
1 tbsp Maple syrup
1 tbsp Rose water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 tsp if you like it)
1/2 tsp turmeric
A pinch of salt
[EXTRA] 1/2 tbsp orange water

Turn on the oven at 350 F˚.
Roughly chop the nuts and add them to a bowl. Sprinkle the cinnamon and turmeric on top.
In a cup, mix the maple syrup, rose water and vanilla, and add them to the nuts. Mix everything thoroughly, and spread them on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake until golden, tossing them with a spoon halfway through. It might take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your oven and depending on how brown you like them. Let them cool completely.

USES
They are obviously addictive on their own, but I like to sprinkle them on creamy breakfasts like an oatmeal or yogurt bowl with fruit, or even add them to thick smoothies.

CHOCOLATE VARIATION: Sprinkle 1 tbsp of raw cocoa powder before mixing in the liquids. you might want to use a little more sweetener. They are also great sprinkled on desserts, of course!

Vegan Breakfast Recipes: Toasted Spiced Nuts and Buckwheat

Rose & Turmeric Almond Milk

2 Cups homemade almond milk*
1 tbsp Maple syrup
1 tbsp Rosewater
1/2 a vanilla bean pod, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
A pinch of salt

* The internet is full of guides on how to make almond milk, but I loved this one from The Kitchn. Some people like to remove the skin from the almonds after they soaked, but I most definitely don’t. Not only it is time consuming (and peeled almonds are more expensive), but I love the added nutty taste of the skin.

You can either make it while you make the almond milk, or add the flavorings later. If you make it in the blender, add all the ingredients in, blend, and  strain. I personally add the flavorings after, as I prefer to be left with a neutral-tasting almond pulp. In this case, mix all the flavorings in a cup. In this case, it is easier to use vanilla extract. Adding a couple tablespoons of hot water makes everything a lot easier. Mix in the almond milk. If you used a vanilla pod, you might want to let it infuse overnight.

USES
Use as a liquid base for fruit smoothies, to add to coffee or tea (see below), or as a soaking liquid for oats, chia seeds, etc. I soak chia and/or rye flakes in it and use them for smoothies with peach or apricot (or berries) and more spices.

Vegan Breakfast Recipes: Almond Milk

Rose Ginger Iced Tea 

4 cups boiling water
1 tbsp Earl Gray green tea leaves
2 tbsp rose water
1 tbsp dried rose blossoms
1 thumb sized piece of ginger
A squeeze of lemon
[EXTRA] sweetener of choice

Peel the ginger and thinly slice half of it, keeping the rest for grating. Boil the water, and add it to a bowl or jar where you’ll make the infusion. Add the tea, and let it steep for 2-3 minutes. Do not let it steep for too long, or it will turn bitter. Strain.
Add the sliced ginger, and grate in the rest. Add the rose water, rose blossoms, and some sweetener if you like. Let it sit overnight in the fridge for best results, then strain everything before serving. Serve with ice cubes and plain almond milk, or with the rose & turmeric almond milk.

USES
This one pairs perfectly with almond milk. It is really a great drink for all times of day, but in the morning pair it with a slice of whole grain toast with nut butter and fruit compote in it, or with some homemade energy bars. Or, again, soak chia in it and use for smoothies. It is really a great drink for any kind of breakfast and brunch and, if you feel like indulging a little, drink it alongside some vegan brioche, croissant or pancake.

Vegan Breakfast Recipes: Rosewater and Ginger Iced tea with Almond Milk

Vegan Breakfast Recipes: a tea, almond milk, and spiced nuts

Vegan Breakfast Recipes: Toasted Nuts, Rosewater Ginger Tea and Spiced Almond Milk

  1. Wow!! That post really touched me! I am happy that you are adjusting to normal — whatever is normal. I have a lot to say but I’ll say it in an email. But I do want to mention — have you thought about the benefits of coconut oil– the pure virgin kind. There are so many good things about it and I’ll also mention it in the email I’ll send you. A lot has been written about it and i’s funny that at one time it had a bad rap :-) A presto.

    • Hi Marisa!
      I’d love to use coconut oil, sure, and I’ll gladly implement it in my diet if and when I’ll be again in a place when I can find it at a reasonable price. Much like almond milk, coconut oil is insanely expensive here, so I am skipping it since I already have access to lots of healthy fats (especially a killer extra virgin olive oil).

      I’ll be waiting for your email :)

  2. Aside from the beautiful photography and gorgeous recipes as always, thank you for sharing something so personal which so many women can relate to, myself included. It was brave decision to stop your medication and change your lifestyle, I hope your story offers hope & encouragement to other PCOS suffers.

  3. Oh, Valentina! I wish I could reach through the screen and give you a huge hug. I’m so sorry you had to endure so much. I know there’s very little as terrifying or psychologically debilitating as when your body won’t do what it should. But I’m so glad to hear the good news :):) and keeping my fingers crossed it continues! I’m also in LOVE with these photos. So stunning, and so sharp! Camera upgrades are so exciting :) and these photos show it. Love that rose-turmeric almond milk, especially. Sending you hugs across the pond (and can’t wait for your trip in a few months!)

  4. Hi!
    Thank you souch for this beautiful post! I identified myself so much in this! I have been diagnosed with pcos when I was 15 and I know what you’re talking about. For so mant years I took medication for diabetes and I was bloated, moody, depressand over weight. Though I had a normal hormonal level. Finally a progestrone treatment regularized my mensturation. And of course a serious change of diet and life style. i have also become a faithful breakfast eater and I try to keepy blood sugar balanced. But I love sweet breakfasts! I loved your tips, will try to make them.
    Amazingly my last post too was about protein, breakfasts and italians’ cappuccino e cornetto :)

    • Hi Saghar, thanks so much for sharing your story. THANK YOU THANK YOU for mentioning your blog!!! It’s AWESOME – I love middle eastern food and Iranian cuisine is one of the best underestimated cuisines in the world. Please keep on writing! Your ‘about me’ is also incredibly inspiring!

      So happy to hear you found a cure that works. You look beautiful!
      Grazie, ci leggiamo presto :)

  5. I can imagine somewhat what it is like to struggle with mental illness, but I can’t imagine how hard it was to have to deal with that in addition to health issues (“physical” I guess?). You are so brave to go through all of that and then have the courage to open up publicly. Many virtual hugs to you. For me, I find that if I have a good breakfast, I usually have a better day mentally, so to me this post is perfect. <3

    • Yeah, at one point the two things collided and it was the worst I’ve ever felt in my life so far. Thank god it only lasted about 3 months.
      Breakfast is awesome! No matter how difficult the day ahead is going to be, at least you wake up knowing that the first thing you do is eat. Not too bad :3

      Also I want to make your zucchini brownies and instagram about it, and I love you for writing all the ingredients in grams <3

  6. oh man, you are one brave sista. thank you for opening up and sharing this story with us! i don’t think i would have had the courage. i hope you continue one this healthy journey (with maybe a pause in the middle to have a sushi corn dog with me a josh? :) and i’m sending good thoughts your way!!! beautiful recipes and photos :) :)

  7. valentina, first, yay! i’m so happy you got your period! second, you are so brave. it’s hard to be open and honest, but you have so much courage – it’s beautiful, much like your photos. thank you so much for sharing your story. xoxo

  8. So boring to read about somebody’s health problems.. And whose are these strange looking hands?

  9. I’m so happy you’re feeling better, Valentina. Thank you for sharing your story. You are truly an inspiration. Lots of love..

    P.S. can’t wait to make that almond milk!! :)

  10. Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story with all of us, Valentina. I am glad you have found the routine that works with your health. I am glad that your health is getting so much better now. I am glad that you are happy & healthy now. That is such a wonderful news. :)

    Your story is so useful to me as one of my beloved cousins has had similar symptoms as well; I wonder whether she, too, has PCOS. I will suggest she read your blog/post. Thank you so much again :) I am sending you huge hugs from San Francisco for the brave things you have endured and overcome. :)

    • Hi Pang! Thank you, you’re always super sweet!
      If your cousin has similar symptoms, then she could have the same thing. It’s very common. After all, PCOS it’s just a little frustrating, but it gets better! It’s always better to start treating it sooner rather than later.

    • Hi Jenn! Thank you!
      No, I don’t make my own – that’d be a little too expensive…but I use a brand called ‘Cortas’ which comes from Lebanon. They also make orange water.
      Love your website btw! I didn’t mention it yet because I was keeping it for another post, but I love Yoga. That was an important part of my life process as well :)

    • Thanks Valentina! I will look for that rose water brand, i’ve been trying to find a good clean brand, so thank you! And thanks for your kind words on our website! Yoga was what first got me on to the healing natural path as well, it’s an amazing practice of awareness.
      Thanks for your lovely posts and amazing photography – always an inspiration!

  11. Valentina ~ Your story is one of many similar stories I hear from young women these days, my own daughter included. Hormonal disruption early in life by toxin exposure is so prevalent and PCOS is just beginning to be understood. You are inspiration and intuitive guide, your recipes so timely. Grazie!

    • Hi Deborah! I hope your daughter feels better, too. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s just one solution to the PCOS problem as it’s different for everyone, but removing (or at least reducing) said toxins surely helps everyone. It does get better as you get older.
      Thank you!

  12. A very touching post. You are so right. There are so many women who can relate to this post, me included. In my case a plant-based diet has been so important in bringing my health back on track.It is wonderful how intuitive and creative you are in your work and it really shows. It is a pleasure to behold. Lovely recipes. Your almond milk recipe is calling me. Thank you so much! Aleksandra

  13. Beautiful words Valentina. I’m afraid I’m one of those women who just have a morning coffee (in milk) from Mon-Fri… I’m always in a rush (Maybe a Mediterranean trait?). Only on the WE can I just sit down and have a proper breakfast (nut milk, fruit, yogurt…).
    I’m happy for you and what have you explained has made me think a lot about what to eat. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Aha, yes, just coffee in the morning must be a Mediterranean thing! And you’re Catalan, and from what I noticed in Barcelona is that the Spanish are super similar to Italians (only nicer). Breakfast on the weekend is such a joy if life.
      Thank you for commenting!

  14. Angela Grassi is a nutritionist/dietitian in US who has spent her life working on PCOS. I have met her at several conventions for nutritionists ( I am one too). Anyway, she is on Facebook and she has a book which many sufferers have found very helpful. I just thought, if you have not run across her yet, you might find her information helpful.

  15. Hi Valentina,

    I really hope you’re on the right track to getting completely healthy. It’s true that we take so many things for granted, health included. Last year I was hit by a car when crossing a street (with the traffic light green for me!!!!) and I’m still recovering from some damages in my cervical. So I know the feeling (at least some part of it). This year I decided to make a good change in my food choices: go sugar-free and substitute all refined carbs with whole ones. Feel soooo much better you wouldn’t believe :)

    • Dammit! At least I hope that whoever who put you through that got properly punished. I noticed how cutting sugar is probably one of the major keys to health (but enjoying the occasional desserts is probably one of the major keys to happiness! Ha!) so yeah, I don’t cut out sugar 100%, but I really don’t need any sweeteners in my tea. Hope you recover fully!

  16. Foto stupende, come sempre, ricetta meravigliosa come sempre. E posso capire quanto ti possa rendere felice i ritorno del ciclo. Io stessa ci sto lottando (un po’ di ovaio policistico, un po’ di arretrati dell’anoressia, un po’ forse psicologico), e so cosa significhi… Anche se non ci conosciamo…un abbraccio

    • Ciao valentina!
      Mi spiace che tu abbia un trascorso così negativo…ma se il tuo presente è migliore, l’importante è non rinunciare mai a migliorare nell’amore per noi stessi, credo, anche se non è mai semplice. Credo sia una di quelle cose che più eserciti, e più viene facile.
      Continuerò a leggerti su Kabocha (e spero senz’altro di conoscerti meglio)!

  17. How encouraging! I also struggle with PCOS and have just stopped my medicine. Please post more of your favorite PCOS recipes.

    • Hi Meg!
      Please don’t be discouraged! I think that as long as you eat lots of veggies and avoid foods with hidden stuff like corn syrups, thickeners and similar junk, you’re on the right track already. Our bodies are pretty good at telling us what to do! Also, lifting helps a lot – from my experience, more than cardio. Give it a go!

  18. Amazing the power of the diet! Glad you are feeling better. I love that you shoot with ‘trash’ – well it is the utmost beautiful of trash! beautiful post:)

  19. Valentina,

    Thank you for your honesty and for sharing something that is so personal. I love this new wave of truthfulness in blogging and writing – it is so refreshing.

    I myself have been diagnosed with PCOS since the age of 17 (? maybe earlier), and have been taking birth control pills for the last nine years. I have been considering going off the birth control because of mood swings, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, lethargy, and simply feeling like I am not myself. It’s difficult to put into words, but I really want to know what life would be like without the medication – what “I” am when not taking pills.

    Your post has inspired me to follow my intuition on this one. Birth control for nine years just does not seem like a good fix. Hopefully a clean diet and thoughtful living will act as medicine good enough. Do you have any more suggestions as far as making the switch?

    Thank you again. You are an inspiration!

    Libby

    • Hi Libby!
      Wow, 9 years is a lot. It is definitely time to try and stop it for a little bit, even my doctor said that It would have been best to take a break after a couple years. Still, before you do anything, make sure your doctor knows.
      Just a little warning: because you’ve been on the pill for so long, your body could take this break as a real shock. It might take a while to adjust, maybe even a whole year, and you might feel even Worse for the first two or three months. Of course, you just *might*. Or you could just go off the pill and immediately feel like a new woman. Who knows. My point is that we all react differently, so whatever happens just consider that it might take time for your body to adjust and don’t get discouraged! For example, the first time I got off the pill I felt perfect, but if was constantly bloated all the time. Eventually that went away in 4/5 months.
      Good luck! If you ever feel like sharing any kind of feeling feel free to reach out!

  20. Wow, thank you for sharing your story. I think its important to share, for so many reasons. And your story in particular – so inspirational. Glad you found a way to keep yourself healthy and happy. And I love your food philosophy and approach to eating.

    And of course, your photographs! So incredibly gorgeous!

  21. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Valentina. What a brave and strong women you are. So happy for the newest signs of your bodies recovery! Hopefully you’ll continue to get better, healthier, stronger; hopefully this is only the beginning. Sending you lots of love. xoxo

  22. Amazing. You tell your story in a wonderful way.
    What you eat really changes how you fell. And we need to know our bodies and learn to understand it!
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  23. Hi Valentina,

    thank you soOOOO much for putting yourself out there. I am sure there are lots of women with PCOS who daren’t leave a comment here, but are utterly grateful to you for being so brave and sharing your story. It is lovely to hear about your adventures in the vegan kitchen. I so, so so strongly believe that a mainly plant based diet holds the key to happiness and health and therefore it’s wonderful to hear that it’s worked for YOU!

    As for the pictures – I must confess I am beyond jealous. I WANT YOUR CAMERA :)!
    All the best. Kimberly

    • Hi Kimberly!
      This seems to be true for women more than for men, but it’s great to see how many women thrive on a plant based diet!
      I don’t think it’s about being brave here… The internet can be of some use, right? So, since there are so many of us with this pesky condition, might as well talk to each other and share some support :) so thank you for yours!

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  25. This is really brave, but surely inspiring for all of those who wish to find a natural way to heal their bodies through a balanced diet – it’s so important. I went through something similar after months of hospitalization caused by an untreated infected appendix. It took me years to get my weight and bodily functions, including period, back to normal. Food and a balanced diet definitely helped, but for me, what helped the most was letting my shield of insecurities down, and allowing myself to love, and being loved. That made a whole lot of difference. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos with us, your new camera is surely a treat, but your eye for detail is always what makes the difference. x

    • Valeria, that sounds awful. Thanks for stating the most important point of this whole thing – sometimes, we just don’t love, ourselves or other things, enough. Maybe one of the biggest problems we have today, especially as women, is that we don’t think we’re that worthy of what we have or could have. Lifting this kind of stress off us is crucial to good health. Thank you so much for this precious comment.

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  27. OMG I’ve been following your beautiful blog for a while and never commented before but I had to today: Congratulations on having your period back!! I can but understand your joy after what you’ve been through. Hugs.

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  29. Really happy to hear your news, a very touching story and inspiring to hear about the power of the plant based way of living…x

  30. Thank you for sharing your struggle with us. I’m so happy that you’ve found a way to find a balance in your diet to become well again. It really is a testament to the power of good eating and cooking. Beautiful photos as well!

  31. What a moving post, Valentina – thanks for sharing your struggles with us. It’s really inspiring to hear how you’ve managed to heal yourself through listening to your body and nutrition. Xx
    PS such magical images!
    PPS I’m loving the healthy breakfast recipes – when I’m in England I start the day with a bowl of oats and almond milk, but when I’m in Italy I find it nigh on impossible to resist the siren call of my morning brioche alla marmellata… xx

    • Well, that probably happens because you’re not here too often! I treat myself to a café breakfast every…oh well, maybe 2-3 times a year? My favorite brioche is with hazelnut cream or chocolate…dunked in cappuccino, obviously. I keep it occasional so I enjoy it so much more!

  32. oh valentina – generous of you to share your story. life is all about persistence, and i am cheering that yours has paid off. and on a separate note – your photography! i lack the skill or patience to produce good photography myself, but i know enough to appreciate it. yours is stunning every time.

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  34. Beautiful story. Five years ago I was diagnosed with an overlap autoimmune disorder (a mixture of three) and decided to embark the journey holistically. Very brave of you to share and to switch off meds.

  35. Turmeric is very beneficial for regulating the female hormones/function. The addition of this “spice” to your diet may be the reason for the return of your period in a timely monthly manner. Also, certain hot peppers such as jalapeno, chili, etc. are also beneficial for female functions.

    Eat well and regards.
    JMorhead

    • Thanks for pointing out this thing about turmeric! i am an avid turmeric consumer, but I didn’t know it also helped hormone regulation of all things. It is such a powerful food!

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  37. Dear Valentina,
    I have just read this post after reading about your blog in the UK’s Stylist magazine and I just want to cry with relief that someone shares similar symptoms to my own. My periods stopped at 18 after being on birth control and have never returned. I am now 26 and after being on and off the pill during this time I have suffered with panic, depression, eating disorders, my hair falling out, hair growing where it shouldn’t, terrible skin and the constant fear that I will never feel like a woman. Unfortunately the doctors in the UK only want to put you back on the pill again. I have sought help from homeopaths, acupuncturists, nutritionists who have diagnosed me with many intolerances however nothing seems to work.

    In 2013 I spent a year in Rome as an Au Pair which turned my relationship to food around. The family I lived with, like a lot of Italians, ate only seasonally, organically and socially. Making it an occasion to celebrate and share the love with each other. I greatly applaud the idea of healing through food which you promote and this story has inspired me to get back into the natural way of cooking (in the busy chaotic London city).

    Thank you so much for writing about your struggle, you have made me as a young woman realise that I am not alone in this and I cannot give up my fight.

    Alex xxx

    • Hi Alex!
      Sorry it took me so long to reply to you! I was searching for a great answer for you, but…well, I guess there’s nothing extraordinary I can say except: Never, NEVER feel like you’re not a woman! :) Your value is not determined by how much hair you have or by your skin, though all these things are really annoying. You might not get rid of PCOS right away, but you can definitely find ways to improve it. Reducing dairy, eating whole foods and reducing junk food to the absolute minimum helps a lot. Never give up and no, you are not alone! Whenever you want to talk, feel free to shoot me a message!

  38. Dear Valentina,
    I have read this post a few times now but I have finally presuaded myself to actually comment. I have just turned 15 and have not had my period in a year and three months, I got it when I was 11. I over the past year, especially in the last 6 months, I have had up and down issues with obsessive eating, and am actually going to see a psychologist for the first time next week about it as my parents and I have recognised it is becoming more serious and we need a bit more support :)) Anyway, I went vegetarian, almost vegan 4 months ago because I really believe in not eating animals, however it has significantly added to my eating problems even though I did not want it to be like that in any way at all. I have struggled a lot with not having my period and the likelihood that purposeful weight gain could make me get it again and I just really wanted to say how much I relate to this post, even though you didn’t have an eating disorder. It really resonates with me and I am really thankful for it. I’m very sorry if this seems a very heavy and detailed kind of comment, I don’t mean that at all, but yes, thank you very very much, for writing this post and reading my comment, I appreciate is must have difficult for you to write about. I am so so happy that your period has returned and you are feeling more content now.
    Olivia xox

    • Hi Olivia,
      I am really glad you posted this comment! I remember well how frustrating it was to struggle with my period at your age. Please try and look for all the support you can get, you don’t really need any eating disorder! Eating clean and healthy will help you a lot. My period hasn’t returned regular…I still have to go on the pill for about 3 months a year, and in the remaining months I only get it 2 or 3 times. But…I get it! And this is thanks to healthy living in general, not just healthy eating. When you’ll get over your ‘mind’ struggles, your body will feel so much better you won’t even believe it. Feeling at peace is probably the best way to help your period return. If you need or want to talk, feel free to shoot me an email anytime.
      Thanks :) xo

  39. Hi Valentina, would you mind if I sent you an email? My comment is far too long and too personal for this space, but your incredibly beautiful and personal post has left me with a story to share. I don’t want to impose, is an email okay? Thank you as always for a wonderful post! x

  40. Valentina, you are totally speaking my language with these recipes – all of them include my favourite ingredients and are exactly the types of things I love to make for myself. I absolutely cannot wait to make those gorgeous nuts, the almond milk with rosewater and spices, and the iced tea. I, too, love floral and spicy notes in my food and everything here looks amazing.

    I also am grateful that you’ve shared your healing story, which I know can sometimes be difficult to speak about. I came to my current healthy diet out of illness too, and with it have found myself feeling better than ever. There is something beautiful about coming to feeling one’s best out of uncertain or difficult circumstances. I feel blessed to have worked out a solution and I love hearing that you are doing so well now too!

    • Hi Christine! Thank you so much for your comment, I’m happy to know you’d like to give these recipes a try! I’ve been reading through your blog for a few days now and I really love it. I can’t wait to try some of your recipes as well!
      I am super happy to know that food helped you heal as well. It’s great that people who had such benefits from their diet are willing to share their story! :D
      I’ll be following you <3

  41. This is a lovely post, Valentina, and a lovely story of healing. In my work as a nutritionist, I see stories like this one often. Restrictive diets wreak so much havoc on the body (hormones, hair, mood, and more–high cholesterol can also be a symptom of restrictive diets). Much of the work I do is a gentle effort to push people toward more whole grains (healing foods!), healthy fats, legumes, plant-based proteins. It’s great that you’ve found this direction through trial and error. Here’s to your continued healing!

  42. Hi Valentina! I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am that I found out about your blog. I was surprised to learn Hortus is from an amazing Italian girl, and also, kind of a neighbor! I am from Bologna (even if I live in Milan) and apart from loving graphics and videos (I am an architect and you honey have an incredible “eye”, so to speak), I am grateful to find this blog because I have been having so many health problems that you mention (bloating? tell me about it) that finding someone who has finally reached an equilibrium and a balance with food struggling with similar dramas… well, I admire you very much. Thank you for putting all of this out here, to help me and a lot of other people. Amazing work! (and expect a request like.. please please please can I offer you a coffee somewhere and learn all about you! :) )
    Here’s to you!
    Ludovica

    • Hi Ludovica!! Thank you so much for your comment!!
      Scusa, ti rispondo in iIaliano :) daiiii se mai vorrai propormi un caffè io sono pronta! Grazie davvero di essere passata e aver condiviso la tua esperienza. Se vuoi fare due chiacchiere manda una mail, o scrivimi su facebook, o qualunque cosa!! :D

  43. thanks for sharing your story and remind me there’s beauty around me even when things are hard, i lost touch with that, i just have to choose to look for it. Ciao

    • Hi Blanca! Thanks for the comment, glad you like it here <3 I work as a web designer for half the day, and blog/help run the farm the rest of the time. It's super cool here!

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  45. Wow…this article. I am amazed sometimes, when I feel alone in my struggle to heal and in my thoughts and then an incredible blog post pops up where someone has taken my thoughts an dput it into words, describing what they are going through. I am not alone in my struggle, and god knows it’s a struggle. In your suffering and research you have helped so many of us who are right there with you. Thank you for this.

    • Whoops, just realized I never replied! So sorry Lori! You are definitely not alone. There are so many of us with endocrine diseases out there. We can do a lot for ourselves – I think that our minds and will to change are crucial in the process of healing. Do not give up!! :D

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  47. Such a great read. I was vegan for about four years, but switched to vegetarian recently because I felt that I didn’t have the time or money to invest in making healthy vegan food at home. Now that I’m being more intentional with my time and am trying to be more involved with my food, I’m having a hard time feeling motivated to fully switch back to veganism. This post was such a perfect reminder of why I loved eating vegan. (Also absolutely can’t wait to try out your tea and almond milk recipes!)

  48. I randomly came across this post and had to leave a reply (even if it’s a year old) after reading about your struggles. I really feel for you and wanted to suggest Maca if you haven’t already tried it. It’s been known to help women with menstrual problems and maybe it can help you a bit, if not a lot. Take care and I’m happy to hear your eating habits have helped you more than medication.