Over Ripe Banana…Lets Them Eat Cake

 So you know how it happens. You buy in lots of fruit and veg with the weekly shop and suggest to the family that they try healthy snacks instead of chocolate and sweets. So they have a run on fruit and veg and it is all gone in 2 days. So what do you do???

Well the following week you buy double the amount of the favourites, banana, apples, etc. But this week they have gone off bananas so you end up with the one lonely banana sat in the bowl turning freckly, then brown and eventually if you don’t do something it will be black and liquified.

Now if you are like me you don’t want to bin it, you don’t want to eat it so time to find a recipe hence

Banana Cupcakes

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1 lovely freckly banana
1tsp vanilla essence
4 oz caster sugar
4 oz veg margarine
2 eggs
4 oz self raising flour
12 Muffin Cases

1. Turn oven on to 160°C

2. Mash your banana with a fork until it is lovely and sloppy

3. Cream the marg, vanilla essence and the sugar until fluffy.

4. Beat eggs into the banana and slowly add to the marg and sugar mixture.

5. Using a metal spoon fold in the flour.

6. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes

If you find the recipe too sweet, I prefer slightly tarter snacks, reduce your sugar. Kids will hardly notice the difference

When Life Gives You Lemons (A Lesson in Thankfulness)

Since I can remember my life has been a series of deliveries of lemons. Particularly my adult life, I have always been a silver lining kinda gal and so I did as I always have done, when life sent its frequent deliveries of lemons,  I made lemonade to ensure life at least felt sweeter than the reality I was living.

Now something has happened that has thrown me for a loop. Life appeared to be sending me lemons once again at the end of last year but instead of me making the lemonade and trying to work towards a happier life I sat back, relaxed and trusted. This isn’t an easy thing for me to do.  I have a deep felt need to be in control of all aspects of my life. For example I hate other people driving whilst I’m a passenger I need the accelerator and the brakes please, not that I don’t trust you but I trust me more.

As I sat back, relaxed and trusted my life began to flow again. I rediscovered the love of my family who I moved away from 26 years ago. I realised how much I had missed them and recognised all the amazing qualities they possess that wow me everyday. I managed to get back in touch with old school and college friends who were friends because we made each other laugh, held each other when we cried and we friends for friends sake not because we could advance each other’s careers or fulfil any other function than just being together.

Now these things were a bonus they made relaxing and going with the flow seem worth it, but the thing that has really thrown me for a loop is meeting someone who at first glance looked as if we would just be good friends. We could make each other laugh, we had so much history in common it seemed funnier than the jokes we shared. Our paths have crossed so much in the past 45 years it almost seemed like the Universe was playing a game seeing if we could spot one another before It instigated our meeting.

I am a big believer in soul mates, but I have never been a believer that I needed someone to complete me or that I have a missing part that needs to be filled by someone else.  I have always believed that soul mates should make you better by inspiring you and supporting you, as you do for them. They are an amazing addition to the whole you that makes you shine, makes your heart sing and makes you see why all the lemons delivered so far have been there to pave the way to how life is supposed to be.

I am so grateful for the loop I have been sent. He is what people call a “Good Man” but that does not even come close to describing him. He is an Amazing Man, a Generous Man and someone I feel so at peace with everyday feels bright and full of possibilities. So Universe Thank You for all the lemons, Thank You for all my lessons, and Thank You for my Amazing Man I love getting to smile everyday and  that I am sharing my life with him.

 

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Healthy Chicken Lime, Chilli, Ginger, Garlic and Soy Stir Fry

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So it’s that time of year when you want to get healthy but you don’t want to be eating salads everyday just yet, it’s just not quite warm enough. Stir fry is the perfect solution, not only does it provide you with a great opportunity for mindfulness whilst chopping your vegetables, but it takes very little time to cook.

Now I know you can buy those lovely little packs of prepacked vegetables from the supermarket and they make the purchase all that more exciting by adding a free sauce to the mix, but there are a couple of reasons why this may not be your healthiest option. Did you know cutting vegetables increases the surface area where oxidation (contact with air) and nutrient loss can occur. Also, cutting a vegetable is “damaging” to the plant and some of the plant’s nutrients get used up in an attempt to repair the damage. These nutrients will then not be available to you anymore when you consume the plant. SO if you buy a prepackaged stir fry you may be eating vegetables that which are not as nutritious as you would want. 

As for those little packets of sauce provided so generously by your supermarket, just have a quick look at the ingredients, particularly the sugar content…not so healthy now hey!

So here is my simple recipe for Healthy Chicken Lime, Chilli, Ginger, Garlic and Soy Stir Fry

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1 inch fresh ginger, grated

3 cloves garlic, chopped

juice of half a lime

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

pinch of dried chilli flakes

2 small chicken breasts diced

 

 

Grate the ginger on the side of the grater that you would grate nutmeg, use a knife and ease all the juice and pulp into the bowl with the diced chicken.

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Chop garlic into really small fine pieces, add to chicken, add a pinch of dried chilli flakes, the soy sauce and squeeze over the lime juice, mix well and set to one side for about 20 minutes. This will give you a chance to chop your vegetables.

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Now with stir frys the key is to have lots of vegetables and lots of variety of vegetables, otherwise you will be bored when eating and starving about an hour after dinner.

Start by adding a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to your wok and heat on a medium to high heat, add the chicken and keep moving it around the pan until it is almost cooked through.

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Add the vegetables and keep stirring, make sure you flip the bottom contents with the top regularly so you can ensure everything is piping hot and that the sauce mixes with the vegetables.

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Now I did buy fresh noodles from the supermarket and added these straight to the wok so they pick up the flavour of the chicken and the chicken. It will take a good 3-4 minutes with rapid tossing and turning to ensure they are cooked through.

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Once cooked through stir straight away. This is quick, healthy and moreish. Happy eating xx

Passion, When Did You Discover It?

Passion, When Did You Discover It?

When you think of passion what do you think of? Do you imagine lovers entwined, or excitement at your team winning, or just the plain old feeling of being thrilled?

Passion to me does not mean just in the sexual passion, it means heart soaring, euphoric light headedness, the “where has this been all of my life?” feeling. I knew from the moment I discovered it that if I read, or wrote or did something that made me feel this way it was one of the things that I needed in my life.

I can remember exactly when I first discovered passion I was one of the lucky ones I discovered passion at the age of 16. I was sat in an English Literature class and studying Metaphysical Poets…wow I can hear you say, how on earth did that make you realise what passion was about?

Well you see I discovered John Donne, a man whose life was as varied as it was full. He was a womaniser, a soldier, a priest and he wrote the most amazing poetry based upon all of these things. His poem The Good Morrow was the catalyst for me recognising the passion in my life.

I can remember the first time I taught a yoga class to class of 30 2 year olds at a nursery school. Whilst the class progressed I was completely absorbed in the centre of our little universe where we travelled on our adventure and the children used their imaginations to make our journey alive and vibrant. I soared on the smiles and thanks of the teacher and children as they put aside real life for just 45 minutes and focused completely on breath and joy. As I left the Nursery I felt as if I walked on air and floated to my car with a huge grin on my face and my heart singing.

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That day I realised that the activities I should be doing in life should always make me feel this way. When you discover what makes you feel like this you have found one of your purposes in life. It may be that you go to the gym and after every session where you have pushed yourself a little further you feel that soaring. Or maybe you find that when you draw a picture the world outside melts away and you feel peace inside. It could be the sales job you do that even the prep for your sale feels like it makes life worthwhile.

SO what has made you feel this way recently? When you find it you will ask why it has taken you so long to discover this one thing. Don’t ponder too long, don’t question why or where or how, dive in enjoy and accept. And never settle for one passionate heart soaring moment we are multifaceted beings, discovering all our shining sides is part of our purpose.

The Good-Morrow

BY JOHN DONNE

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I

Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

 

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,

Which watch not one another out of fear;

For love, all love of other sights controls,

And makes one little room an everywhere.

Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,

Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,

Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

 

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,

And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;

Where can we find two better hemispheres,

Without sharp north, without declining west?

Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;

If our two loves be one, or, thou and I

Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

Source: The Norton Anthology of Poetry Third Edition (1983)

Slow Down You’re Going Too Fast

I woke up with the realisation this morning that the sense of anxiety I am feeling is not just to do with my life turning upside down, it is to do with my need to have everything sorted immediately.
You know that feeling you get when you start a job and the day dream turns to the promotion or company car when in reality you have only just set foot in the door. Or when you book your holiday and you are already running through scenarios in your head of what each place will feel or smell like and how you will be happy then.
I know I need to let go and all will turn out ok. I also know I need to be kinder to myself and let myself mourn the loss of previous hopes and dreams whilst making baby steps towards my new life. But it is hard, I want to be loved, have my own home, be running a successful business, all whilst being an amazing Mum. What my ego doesn’t want to accept is that this will take time.
I am a very feet first sort of gal, to the point where I rush head long into situation and only realise how miserable I am after it is impossible to back pedal. But this morning I awoke knowing that this time I have been given an amazing opportunity. I have been given a roof over my head, food in my belly and the love of my amazing family so that I can this time look and see what I really want and really need. I have the time to build my business, look for a little extra part time work in a field I love and take the time to gentle build up friendship and love with new people in my life.
SO today I will take baby steps as the gorgeous Heather Bestel advised in her video blog this week. I will set up my business systems, call my inspirational coach, Jo, and start creating slowly a new fantastic life.
Time to slow down, breathe and let go.

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A Lesson Learned..Hello 2014

Well 2014 arrived, and I was still trying to sort out the mess from 2013. I don’t think I’m the only one, I think lots of people want a fresh start as a New Year is welcomed in with alcohol and singing and most likely a stonker of a hangover, but they also find that bits of the messy thing we call life are carried into the New Year.

2013 was a really difficult year for me. It started with the collapse of a relationship, homelessness, no job, no money and a child that needed support as the rug was pulled from under us.

Gradually as the year progressed I started to rebuild a life. I got a good job, my son was happier and then as it always does the pull of my old life appeared. A very close friend of mine wisely said, don’t go back, leave the past in the past, keep moving forward. But you know how it is, the remnants of love, the want to be back and stable and happy in the home you thought you would be in for a very long time.

So I stepped back. Now this was not easy, there was hurt and distrust to overcome but you know what, if  you cover your ears and lalala instead of listen to your instinct then guess what? Yep thats right you just do it.

I cut myself off from the nay sayers, I decided if they couldn’t support me I would do this alone. I wanted to be 100% present and positive in my choice.

So the end of 2013 arrived. All the stress I had buried, all the worry I had ignored, all those voices from my instinct decided it was time to burst out. I started to get panic attacks, I felt sick, I cried all, and I mean ALL the time. The doctor offered counselling, I went to one session and decided I didn’t want to dig any deeper, I didn’t want to find what was buried in the true reality.

The end of 2013 was a big bad wake up call. All the worries and fears were realised, once again I was on the verge of losing my home, and I had no-one to blame. You see I ignored my instinct throughout 2013, I knew that something was up. I had avoided people I knew would support me but only after saying “we told you so”.

SO  the decision has been made, I am moving home to my parents. 46 years old and living at home, hhhmmm that wasn’t really in my life plan. But you know what was in my life plan, working for a company whose ideals I love, writing more and more and being surrounded by people I love and who care for me no matter what.

Life, The Universe, “God”…however you view it just had to wait for me to stop being so stubborn and turn up for my life, for me to take responsibility for the part I have played, to release the blame and anger for others parts in my poor choices, then and only then can I move forward and thrive.

SO HELLO 2014, I’m ready for my life now

You Know Those Leftovers…Leek and Bacon Hash

Leek and Bacon Hash 

You know the day after the huge Christmas dinner you had with family and friends, when you open the fridge and survey the leftovers and wonder as it’s past breakfast and not quite lunch what on earth you can rustle up to feed the hungry hoards who never want to look at turkey or chocolate again? Well why not give this a whirl

 

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½ a leek sliced (you could use leftover brussel sprouts )

6-8 rashers of smoked bacon cut into cubes (use scissors, so much easier)

Handful of sliced almonds

10-12 left over roast potatoes or boil some to par boil stage as you would prepping hem for roasting and squish them slightly with the potato masher

 In a large skillet or frying pan heat about a tablespoon of veg oil, you don’t need much as bacon is quite fatty.

Toss in the bacon and leeks, and keep things moving around the pan, as the bacon starts to cook add the potatoes. Now these will stick to the pan, but this adds to the flavour as long as you keep them moving and do not let them burn.

Everything should be cooked in about 15 mins, but check the centre of spuds hot before serving, just before removing from pan add the sliced almonds

I like mine with brown sauce but you could always jazz it up with a splash of Tabasco or sweet chilli sauce.

Magic and Alchemy in the Kitchen

Magic and Alchemy in the Kitchen

I am an avid reader, fiction, non-fiction, magazines, leaflets even labels…if there’s writing on it I read it. One of the habits I have noticed recently in my reading is being drawn towards food writing. Not so strange you may say considering that is what you write about and work with, but you see it’s more than that.

The fiction I have been drawn to recently has been about the alchemy and magic of food preparation. Now this isn’t a new thing, hearth magic is something that fascinates me, I’m not talking witch stirring a cauldron type magic, or making food appear out of thin air whilst your broom sweeps the kitchen on it’s own. I’m talking about the magic that happens when you prepare food.

If you’re like me you love having the time to make a meal from scratch, you plan your meal, collect your ingredients and chop, sauté, roast, baste, boil and prepare them with a love of what you do and a vision of what the final dish will look like. My Mum always claims you can taste the love in anything prepared for you by another be it a sandwich or a cup of tea, I think she is right.

Food since ancient times has had a magical connection.  People left food as offerings to Gods, used food as protection for a new home or feasted to celebrate the changing seasons. Some of these traditions have continued today, how many of us have baked a Birthday cake to bring luck and love to the Birthday Guy or Gal?

It struck me that my bedtime reading Chocolat by Joanne Harris is openly about alchemy and magic in chocolate, it links Easter with earlier pagan rites and the heroine of the tale Vianne is very aware of the effect her food has on her customers.

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One of my other casual reads at the moment is Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham, ooo Wicca isn’t that woowoo. Well it depends on your point of view, for me the fascination is learning about the ancient lore and rites surrounding certain food and also thinking more about the foods I choose to put in my body, if eating more wheat can attract more money I don’t mind giving it a whirl.

I am a great believer that our bodies tell us what we should be eating. That if we eat a healthy diet and listen to our bodies when we feel a little off balance, we can be lead to the mineral or vitamin we are lacking by our desire for certain foods. I say if you eat a healthy diet because believe me if you live on a diet of high fat high salt food that will be all your body will crave and you will be a long way from your body being able to tell you what you need to eat.

So before you dismiss the alchemy and magic of food just take a little time today to listen to what your body is saying, if you’re feeling a little low try a meal with bright colours tomatoes, sweet peppers, carrots, avocado I bet you have at least a little lift in spirits.

Another way food can lift the spirits or evoke vivid memories is through scent. This week I have been doing my training with Weleda and one of the important points raised was if someone dislikes the smell of a product, be the lead plant rose, almond, iris or pomegranate, then that product is not right for the person at this precise time. It is the same with food. Here’s a little test…Walk into your kitchen and open either the ground ginger or cinnamon jar, now what does that make you think of…I bet it’s Christmas and I bet a memory that makes you smile just popped into your head, that my dear is part of the alchemy and magic of food.

So just for today follow what your body tells you, what do you feel you need to eat? You may need to sit quietly away from the hustle and bustle of a busy work day but I bet you find something that scratches your itch, and just before you eat your chosen food take a deep breath and breathe in it’s scent, how does it make you feel? It’s worth a try, you never know you may learn something new about yourself.

So I Bought My Son A Pumpkin

So I Bought My Son A Pumpkin

Well it was Halloween and I thought as he is thirteen it may be the last time he wants to carve a scary pumpkin.

So Halloween came and went, the pumpkin was covered in black ink designs but he found it impossible to tear himself away from friends, Xbox and t.v. long enough to actually carve it.

I could have been annoyed but instead I thought right guess we’re eating pumpkin for the next couple of weeks. So what can you do with a pumpkin.

Well I made Pumpkin Fairy Cakes. The last time I used squash to make cakes I had a lot left so froze the remainder and just defrosted what I needed when guests came, they were really delicious and moist.

I made soup with lovely garlic, chilli and cumin, Garlic and Chilli Pumpkin Soup.

I toasted the seeds. This is sooo easy, the seeds are fiddly to remove from the stringy middle but do like I did and use it as meditation.

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Place seeds in a colander and wash thoroughly. The dry off in a clean tea towel. Heat a frying pan without oil on a medium heat and keep the seeds moving in the pan until they start to colour. Tipp into an air tight container and you have something to snack on over the next week.

Now after all that you would think I would be out of pumpkin but no, I still have a quarter left so I will be roasting some with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to add to couscous and hiding some in tonights veggie pasta sauce. Not bad for just one smallish pumpkin.

Now I think I got a lot out of one pumpkin but what would you make?