Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year to You! 2014 Here We Come.


Hello! How are all of you? Long time no contact!

Apologies in advance, this is a bit of a self indulgent blog post. As 2013 wraps up, I find myself feeling more relaxed than I have in years. It's allowed me to have a peace and clarity that I haven't had in a while, and will probably come to an abrupt end once I return home from sunny Marco Island, FL, but I'm enjoying it while it's here.

Most importantly, I want to wish you the happiest of New Years and all great things for 2014.
Read more �

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy Christmas & New Year

Hi there!

So I haven�t been blogging or reading blogs for the past week +. Can�t stay away long though!

I went away for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & Boxing Day � we booked into a hotel for the 3 nights. It was a lovely little hotel in the New Forest � Carey�s Manor & Spa in Brochenhurst. Every year when I�m at home I try to fit in so much entertaining of my family, cooking, shopping and general over the top hard work that I wind up knackered, beyond cranky and hating Christmas, so this year, with the working away thing, I just refused to go there.

My Mum & her OH, A, visited us on the 21st and stayed the night. I had plans that involved being out and about, but the weather disagreed and it peed down all day long, so we all drove to Loch Fyne for lunch and spent the rest of the time sitting chatting and watching tv, which was possibly more relaxing than the local tour I�d been planning. They headed home on the Sunday and I started a marathon of laundry to get us ready for our trip.

Brockenhurst was beautiful, even in the rain, and it was lovely to see the New Forest ponies and donkeys wandering around the village looking muddy and annoyed at the rain Winking smile

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On Boxing Day we popped into the village to buy a few bits and bobs in Tesco and saw a bunch of them apparently queuing up outside the coffee shop waiting for breakfast � brilliant!

The food at the Manor was amazing and I was about 80% GF (couldn�t resist a couple of dinner rolls and a fruit scone on the first day, or free canapes) The deal included afternoon tea (hence the scone), champagne reception, dinner (not drinks) in the Zen Garden Thai restaurant, 3 full New Forest breakfast buffets, Christmas Lunch and a seafood buffet, and a Gala Dinner (black tie) on Boxing Day. Every main meal (not breakfasts obviously) was preceded by free champagne and canapes. We discovered an excellent cocktail called a Frosty Jack, and had several over the few days.

It was a really relaxing break, and I even managed one visit to the gym.

Now we�re back, and back to slightly real world. Tomorrow M�s parents are coming to visit and staying over the New Year. Not 100% delighted as this will be a bit more effort for me, but we�re eating out once or twice so that will help.

I have a cold brewing, and a mouth ulcer, and backache. Apart from that I�m not too stressed by things. I�ve been far from good at the old diet so far, but not as bad as I usually am. I have drunk more than I planned to and the New Year visit is going to extend that, but no hangovers so not that excessively. I�ve had a few walks around here, not very long due to the back pain which I am trying to fix before I go back to work.

So how have your Christmas�s been? Hope everyone is enjoying the festive season!!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

banana bread


Everyone seems to love banana bread (including me, although I cannot stand bananas by themselves). There are a lot of grain-free, refined sugar-free versions out there. But most still end up being quite high in sugar as they often use quite a few bananas, added sweetener (i.e. honey) and sometimes dried fruit as well (i.e. dates). There�s nothing wrong with this if you�re just having it now and then, but I personally find that high sugar banana bread just leaves me craving more (and liable to eat the whole loaf).

So I developed this low sugar version, which harnesses the natural sweetness of coconut oil, coconut flour, desiccated coconut and two bananas across the whole loaf. I don�t use any further sweeteners. The coconut oil adds a good dose of healthy fats and the coconut flour provides fibre, which makes this bread all the more satisfying.

You could add some of your favourite sweetener to the recipe if you want to make it sweeter. But maybe try it without at first and see what you think. My boyfriend has a massive sweet tooth, but loves this recipe as it is. I think it tastes best once it�s cooled or the next day (rather than straight out of the oven), after the flavours have had time to develop.

ingredients
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ? cup raw virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • � cup coconut flour
  • � cup desiccated coconut
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • � tsp baking powder
  • � tsp salt

preparation

1. Preheat your oven to 160�C and line a loaf tin with baking paper (I use a 23 x 7 cm loaf tin).

2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl, then beat in the coconut oil and eggs.

3. Stir through the remaining dry ingredients until well combined (if your coconut flour is quite lumpy, it�s worth sifting it into the bowl).

4. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 � 45 minutes.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Protective Style Lookbook || Flat Twists with Marley Hair

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)



Model: Denise

Difficulty level: 3/5

Description: Flat twists blended with Marley hair for fullness.


Studies || Argan Oil + Hyperpigmention, Oily Skin and Cardiovascular Health

Argan oil is the new "it" oil in the hair care community.  Ladies are talking about it online.  Companies are including it on the labels of their conditioners and shampoos.  Many of us have heard about it.

Well today, putting hair care aside, let us look at argan oil in skin care and overall body care.  Here are a few findings worth mentioning:
  • Argan oil may be effective against hyperpigmentation disorders (e.g., acne scarring).
  • Extract from saw palmetto and sesame seeds in an argan-oil base was shown to control oily skin.
  • Findings suggest that regular consumption of argan oil can lower "bad cholesterol" (i.e., LDL cholesterol).

SOURCES:
ARGAN OIL AGAINST HYPERPIGMENTATION (2013)
SEBUM CONTROL VIA SAW PALMETTO, SESAME SEEDS, AND ARGAN OIL CREAM (2007)
ARGAN OIL AND LOWERING OF LDL CHOLESTEROL (2004)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

sardines with pumpkin + silverbeet


This makes a wonderfully nutritious and filling lunch or dinner (or breakfast if you're like me and enjoy slightly unusual breakfasts). I made it for lunch today with my leftover Paprika Roast Pumpkin

It doesn't really need a recipe, but I thought I'd share it as more of an idea for you to play with because I really love the flavour combination. Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are also low in mercury, so they're one of the better fish options. I use sardines tinned in olive oil. 

ingredients


preparation

1. Remove the stalks from the silverbeet and roughly chop the leaves. Steam or boil the leaves until just tender, then drain well.

2. Remove the sardines from the tin, draining the oil. Place the silverbeet in a bowl and top with a handful of the leftover Paprika Roast Pumpkin and the sardines. (I don't dress the silverbeet with any oil as the sardines are quite oily).

Serves 1.

Monday, December 23, 2013

paprika roast pumpkin


This is one of my favourite ways to eat pumpkin. I regularly roast a tray of it to go with dinner, then add the leftovers cold to eggs in the morning or a salad at lunch.

I usually use butternut pumpkin (butternut squash) because its texture is smoother and less fibrous than other varieties of pumpkin. I haven't given exact quantities because it will depend on the size of your baking tray. You want enough pumpkin to cover your baking tray in a single layer, without overcrowding.

ingredients

  • Butternut pumpkin
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Coconut oil, melted

preparation

1. Preheat your oven to 200�C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Remove the skin and seeds from the pumpkin. Cut the remaining flesh into 2cm cubes. (I cut the pumpkin into small cubes to reduce the cooking time and also to improve the paprika coating to pumpkin ratio). 

3. Place the pumpkin cubes in a bowl and shake over a generous amount of paprika, some salt and a good drizzle of melted coconut oil. Toss everything together so that each pumpkin cube is nicely coated.

4. Spread the cubes out onto the baking tray in a single layer, allowing a little bit of space between each cube. 
5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 - 30 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked through. If you have cut the pumpkin into larger cubes, it will need longer in the oven. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

coconut, almond + flax loaf


























This grain-free loaf was born out of a need to use up some coconut flour. It has a subtle sweetness and dense texture that reminds me a bit of corn bread. It's delicious warm with some really good quality butter,* or you could just have it by itself alongside a big salad.

It's incredibly quick and easy to make. I had it on the table in 30 minutes (including baking time). Perfect for the days when you feel like something bready but don't want the gluten and grains. It's not a light loaf: coconut flour gives a dense texture and requires quite a few eggs to hold it together. But it's nutrient dense and very filling, so a little goes a long way. I like to use an extra virgin olive oil in the loaf to give it a savoury flavour, but you could substitute coconut oil.

ingredients

  • 1� cups coconut flour
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • � cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 eggs
  • � cup olive oil    

preparation

1. Preheat your oven to 180�C and line a loaf tin with baking paper (I use a 23 x 7 cm loaf tin).

2. Combine the coconut flour, ground almonds, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, baking power and salt in a bowl.

3. Lightly beat the eggs and olive oil together to combine, then stir through the dry ingredients until everything is well combined.

4. Press the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting. 

* I go for organic, grass-fed butter. 

Not a low carb / paleo day - but I dont care!!

Between the ongoing stress at work (easing up a bit because it looks like I'll be going back to my last contract in February and therefore no longer working on this project, or 150 miles away from home), the approach of Christmas, the fact that I've screwed up so much this week, and a very stiff, sore neck all day - I must have been sleeping in a VERY weird position last night (until I woke up at 2:50 am and never went back to sleep) I couldn't give a rat's ass about diet, weightloss, exerclowing on from eating gluten. So for a change, although I have eaten a bag of crisps and some chocolate / yogurt coated banana today, I don't feel guilty (which makes a nice change). Given that my office was liberally scattered with mince pies, cakes, sandwiches & sausage rolls all afternoon I feel things could definitely have been worse!

Food today:
Breakfast: eggs scrambled with tomato
Lunch: chicken & ready salted crisps
Dinner: chilli burger (no bun) & fries from the hotel bar
Snacks: Greek yoghurt; nuts

Winner Announced and The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Ginger Almond Dressing

The winner of the Eat to Live Cookbook is entry #87, Jana who wrote:

"I do not have a copy. I borrowed one from the library for three weeks and I really want a copy to keep in my cupboard. Your blog posts have been very inspiring and I would LOVE to be able to flip through the book any time I had an ingredient on hand and needed to find something to make. Please please please choose me!"

Jana, please contact me at healthygirlskitchen@gmail.com

This dressing recipe is one of the few Fuhrman recipes that I made in the past, far before this project began. You can see my post on the dressing, and get a good laugh at the photos I was taking in 2011. I cannot remember why, at the time when I originally made it, I "adapted" it, but after making the recipe that is published in the Eat to Live Cookbook, I can take a guess.

Read more �

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Not a gluten free, paleo or low carb day


Damn it!
The stress and rushed off my feet busy continues, and with it the questionable decisions. Food I mean. I was having a little trouble focusing (doing millions of database checks... Millions may be an exaggeration but it felt like it) and wanted / needed an energy boost to clear my brain. A walk around the office might have been a better choice, and certainly wouldn't have blown me up like a balloon so my previously reasonably comfortable skirt wouldn't become ridiculously tight in approx. 3 seconds flat.
Yes. I'm a genius. And the queen of self control. Sigh....
So, bloated, windy, stressed & knackered... No gym again, just tv, reading, and a long soak in a hopefully soothing lavender scented bath...

Food today:
Breakfast: eggs scrambled with red pepper
Lunch: homemade soup - vegetables in really thick homemade chicken stock
Dinner: chicken & tomato
Snacks: Greek yoghurt; nuts; slice of cake (not Gf); dried fruit (approx 700lbs)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Life - well, work - gets in the way

My project at work has been shaken up & shuffled seismically over the past week, and now I have a new manager. Remembering how well it went when that happened on my last contract I am not filled with delight - especially as its happening less than a month before the first release, with Christmas falling in the middle of that period. I had agreed two weeks off from Friday this week with my last manager; as that would mean coming back to work on release day, that's not going to happen now, though I managed to agree that I would work from home in between my holiday / family commitments if absolutely necessary - I'm just not prepared to drive up here for a day or two then drive home for a day or two throughout that period (and was prepared to hand in my notice over it)
So once again my work life has become more stressful and political. I'm sure it wasn't like this back when I started in testing, I don't know what's gone wrong / changed...
As usual I handled it brilliantly by eating sweet gluten. Not too much, thankfully, I got it out of my system.
After work I intended to go to the gym and make an attempt at fitting in some weights machines as I am aware that I never do any strength work. But after the day I'd had I didn't feel like it, so instead I languished in the bath till I turned into a wrinkled prune

Food today:
Breakfast: eggs scrambled with garlic &herb boursin & red pepper
Lunch: homemade soup - vegetables in really thick homemade chicken stock
Dinner: cold meat & strawberries
Snacks: Greek yoghurt; nuts; mince pie (not Gf)

Monday, December 16, 2013

christmas spice truffles


If you're a fan of Christmas spices (like me), these dark chocolate-dipped, soft centred truffles spiked with cinnamon, ginger and allspice are for you. They provide the taste of Christmas, but without the sugar overload. A great addition to Christmas drinks parties or serve them up after Christmas lunch.

The quantities I've given below make 12 truffles, but you can easily double (or triple) the recipe if you've got a bit of a crowd coming over.

ingredients

  • 2 tbsp raw virgin coconut oil, softened
  • � cup ground almonds
  • 3 tsp rice malt syrup
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • tsp ground allspice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 80g dark (85% cocoa) chocolate
  • Desiccated coconut for decorating

preparation

1. Mix the coconut oil, ground almonds, rice malt syrup, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt in a bowl until well combined.

2. Roll the mixture into balls and chill in the freezer (this will make the chocolate dipping easier).

3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl, then let it cool slightly so it starts to thicken. Line a tray with baking paper.

4. Take the balls out of the freezer, dip them into the melted chocolate to coat completely (I do this using two teaspoons), then place onto the tray. Once the chocolate coating has set, I dip them into the chocolate again to get a thicker coating and then top each truffle with a pinch of desiccated coconut while the chocolate is still wet.

5. Store the truffles in the fridge.

Makes 12 truffles.

NB: I use a 20ml tbsp. If you have a 15ml tbsp (if you're in the US or UK), you can measure out 4 tsp in place of each tbsp.

Monday again

Apologies for disappearing for several days there... Thursday I was really busy at work, then drove home so I could work from home on Saturday, so no time to write or post a post. On Friday I was still busy, spent most of the day on the phone, and had nothing interesting to report on (even more so than usual) - just moving from desk to sofa & back again :-)
Over the weekend itself I stayed Gf apart from the odd beer, stayed grain free, and was largely low carb apart from a few dates on Sunday. I didn't do much, just a couple of not very long walks, lots of laundry and a bit of cooking.
Today my journey in to work went very smoothly, not really fun, but no hold ups or problems. I was a little less busy at work, which was nice because I'm always tired on Mondays but less nice because it was less interesting and I was back to working on my own after enjoying working with someone else last week.
After work I didn't go to the gym. I intended to do a mini workout in my room, but I had such an early start that I lost interest in the idea. I then considered going to the hotel bar for a drink & meal due to being a bit down in the mouth, but while I was waiting for a reasonable time to go down I realised that didn't really appeal to me, so I stayed in my room & watched TV instead, while eating an unexciting but low carb dinner to compensate for a slight splurge earlier.

Food today:
Breakfast: 2 rashers bacon, 2 poached eggs - from the canteen
Lunch: homemade soup - vegetables in really thick homemade chicken stock
Dinner: beef & chicken roll ups
Snacks: Greek yoghurt with dried fruit; nuts; packet of crisps

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Giveaway!


As you all know, I've been cooking and blogging my way through Dr. Fuhrman's new Eat to Live Cookbook for the past ten weeks. I've made forty three recipes (I think) so far, and it's been quite a learning experience for me--both in learning to enjoy food totally without salt (which has sometimes been a challenge) and in learning new ways to prepare Whole Food Plant Based meals.

Now is the time to have a little fun. I love giveaways because I get to ask you whatever questions are on my mind and you have to answer me to enter. Mu ha haa!

Read more �

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Thai Vegetable Curry

Like many of the recipes from the Eat to Live Cookbook, there is a good idea in there that could benefit from better execution. I'm not a trained chef, but I have been cooking for thirty years and have come to be a little picky as the years have passed. Perhaps it's the awareness of food that I now have as a food blogger, or the fact that my business partner has taught me to be a very critical (in a good, productive way) taster and cook. This dish falls into that category--good , but should be so much better.

Read more �

Hair Diary || Mini Twist Takedown AND Future Style

(Summer 2013) Loose twists on straightened hair.
After a little more than three weeks in mini twists (see previous post), I spent almost a week in the resulting twist-out before commencing to finger detangle.  I have to say that this is the EASIEST mini twist experience I have ever had, and I can only speculate why.
  • For one, I only kept them in for three weeks and a few days.  In the past, I would wear them from 4-6 weeks.
  • For two, I was big on deep protein conditioning (Aphogee 2-Minute) and lubricating my hair while in the twists.  In the past, I would just use my rinse-out conditioner and not as much lubricating.
  • For three, I did slightly "stronger" twists (read this post to see what I mean) AND twisted (loosely though) all the way down to my ends.  In the past, my mini twists have been weaker and not twisted all the way down to the ends.
So I think those few things made my wear of mini twists easier this time.  The take-down (for a twist-out) was not bad at all and barely took a couple of hours.  The finger detangling did take time (I spread it across three days while catching up on "Dracula" and "Scandal") but was not all that difficult.  (I remember wearing mini twists for 6 weeks one time and having the most PAINFUL takedown AND finger detangling session ever ... so much so that I wanted to give up and just cut all my hair off.  I almost cried y'all.  However, that was not my experience this time.)  I soaked my hair in a mixture of coconut oil, olive oil, and shea butter beforehand.  I also took my sweet time so as to not rip through my hair.

I plan to wear my hair in plaits for a couple of days before washing and re-twisting.  I think I want to do loose twists on flat-ironed hair (again) for my next set.

'Til next time (and with more pics).

Mixology || Rose Petal Scrub

This will make a great, refreshing natural body scrub ... and additionally a Christmas gift!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups of brown (turbinado) sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet almond or jojoba oil
  • Petals from one rose (pink or red)
  • 1 clean mason jar with a lid
This scrub has to be made a few days before you plan to use it, or to give it as a gift. Pour the coconut oil into the jar, and follow it with a handful of rose petals. Then add the raw sugar, and top with the almond or jojoba oil. When you're ready to use it, mash it all together with a large spoon, slather it all over your body, massage into your skin, and then rinse well.

{Recipe Source}

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Eat to Live Project: Friday Recap (Week 9). Project Hold.



I hope you have been enjoying my reviews and photographs of the recipes from the Eat to Live Cookbook. To be totally honest, I have found the last few weeks to be a struggle to keep the project going while maintaining my other commitments. It's a temporary situation resulting from increased demands at work, so again, I am a little bit behind in my best laid plans for cooking and blogging at a pretty rapid pace. It's okay, I'm not beating myself up over it, just letting you know where I'm at.

We spend the end of the year in a warmer climate in a rental condo on the beach. For the past few years, I have continued to cook and blog from our vacation spot. But I know that making a commitment to myself (and to you) to keep this project going during my only downtime of the year would be a big mistake.

The most interesting thing that I have to grapple with is that wherever I go, I need and want to do most of the cooking for myself. On vacation in a foreign city with a makeshift kitchen? Still need to cook. That's just what happens when you eat a Whole Food Plant Based diet and enjoy it so much that you don't enjoy eating in most restaurants anymore. Stock up on convenience foods so that I can have a real rest for two weeks? Not going to happen.


Read more �

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Polenta Frittata

The Polenta Frittata is one of the most interesting recipes to come out of my experience cooking my way through the Eat to Live Cookbook. It's different than anything that I have ever made before and lends itself to all sorts of creative tweaking.

The basic components are cooked cornmeal with some seasonings and cooked vegetables. Stir the two together, pour it into a casserole dish and bake it--you've got the formula for something really great.

Read more �

quick lemon + garlic chicken with kale


This meal takes me 15 minutes to make and it only uses one pan. Sometimes the thought of having to wash multiple pots and pans puts me off cooking, and I'll end up eating a less than ideal "picked from the pantry" dinner consisting of handfuls of whatever I can find (usually eaten whilst still standing in the pantry). 

When I'm in a cooking mood, I'm all for marinating a chicken for a few hours. But when you need a quick dinner, this recipe provides the lemon/garlic flavour in a very short amount of time. I like to serve it with kale because it's incredibly nutrient dense (I used curly kale in the photo above), but you could substitute silver-beet or spinach. 

I cook this meal in olive oil because I cook it over a medium heat only and I prefer the flavour of olive oil with lemon and garlic. (When cooking over a higher heat, I use saturated fats like coconut oil because they remain stable at high temperatures).

ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts (or a few thighs)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Half a lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bunch of kale
  • Handful of flaked almonds
  • Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil

preparation

1. Cut the chicken into strips about 2cm thick (this speeds up the cooking time).

2. Heat a frypan over a medium heat and finely slice the garlic. Fry the garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan for a minute or so, then add the chicken. 

3. Sear the chicken pieces on both sides, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid or some foil and leave it to simmer until the chicken is just cooked through. 

4. While chicken is cooking, remove the stalks from the kale and tear the leaves into bite sized pieces.

5. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken and the garlic from the pan, leaving the juices in the pan. (I tip the chicken and garlic onto the plate I'm going to eat off - more saving on dishes).

6. Throw the kale into the pan, adding a little more olive oil if needed, and move it around the pan in the chicken juices until it is slightly tender and wilted. Throw the chicken and garlic back into the pan and stir everything around. Top with the flaked almonds and parsley.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reader Advice Day: Orthorexia Concerns for a Nutritarian


I received an e-mail last week that I really need to share with you, so here goes:

"Hello,

I wanted to let you know how much I love your blog and your photos!!

Here is my issue.........I suffer from major OCD/food anxiety. Since eating this way, 7 years ago, I have become so OCD about food. I think of nothing else. I have anxiety around food that I have never had before reading all of these plant based books. I obsess over salt, sugar, and oils. I want them then I don't, I want them, then I don't. Dr. Fuhrman especially makes me incredibly anxious. Have you ever heard of this or do you experience this?

Read more �

Busy busy busy

Another busy day at work today so I didn't have time to write a post in the gaps - there weren't any! I was working with another tester who knows a lot about the background of the project - and is only available for brain picking until the end of the week, Aaarrrggh!!!
I did however leave work on time, as my head was threatening to explode at anytime, and therefore was able to train after work in the hotel gym, 45 minutes (and 3 km) on an elliptical machine.

Food today:
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with the last (thank god!) of the tinned fish
Lunch: chicken & cheese 'sandwiches'
Dinner: chicken, celery & nuts
Snacks: Greek yoghurt with mixed seeds; almonds

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I worked out!

Well, falling asleep early yesterday did me some good, I felt a lot better this morning though it would have to happen a few more times to really make up for my usual problems sleeping.
I was busier than usual at work so its just as well I was feeling a little bit more alert - I spent the whole morning trying (and not entirely succeeding) to get my head around some fairly complicated and technical information. I even had to work on a little bit after my usual finishing time.
After I got back to the hotel I went to the gym & spent 40 minutes on an elliptical machine, which felt pretty good.
That was followed by a hot bath, a not great tea, then TV & chamomile tea to complete the relaxation part of the problem.
FYI... I'm sick of fish now :-)

Food today:
Breakfast: peppered mackerel, Greek yoghurt with mixed seeds
Lunch: warm chicken & ham salad
Dinner: tinned tuna and sardines, rollmap herrings & cockles - just a mixture of all sorts of stuff I had in my room as I didn't feel like shopping.
Snacks: bacon; almonds; cheese

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Cara's Apple Strudel

Yes, there is a typo in this photograph. I was in a rush this morning!
But that's really no different than any morning . . .

I'm so excited about the next recipe that I can hardly contain myself. You see, a few weeks ago on the Whole Foods hot food bar was this:


Now let's not get into a thing about this Whole Foods recipe being Vegetarian and not Vegan. That's not the point. I tried it and it was outstanding. I took this picture of the label with my phone thinking that I needed to either find the recipe on the Whole Foods website or just hunker down and try to recreate the recipe myself.
Read more �

Monday, December 9, 2013

Belated Monday post

Back at work again...
This weekend I managed to keep my food under control completely despite being so knackered by the time I got home (after detouring to Lincoln to collect my car - a total driving time of approximately 4 and a quarter hours) that we went to a nearby pub for dinner. I was gluten free all weekend except a few beers - 2 small bottles on Friday and one pint yesterday, also grain free apart from those, and low carb to boot (again apart from the beers) I had meat, eggs or cheese with veg for every meal and only snacked on Greek yoghurt or nuts. And as usual feel so much better for it that I can only wonder (again!!!) why its so easy for me to stop doing the thing that makes me feel better in favour of doing the things that make me feel bad....
Speaking of feeling bad, well tired anyway, my god I've been tired all day today. I was too busy being pathetically terrified while driving in in the dark this morning to notice early on, but as soon as I hit busier / street lit roads towards the end of the journey it really hit me and once in the warm office I really just wanted to curl up and nap... I'd set my alarm to get up at 4:30am, woke up about 3:10, and only dozed after that until I had to get up needing the bathroom so I guess I don't have to look far to figure out why I've been so knackered... I had a 2 hour meeting this afternoon and its never been so hard to stay upright and (apparently) conscious...
ETA I meant to post this last night, but after wandering around some local shops for an hour, then taking a hot bath, and  then eating my weird not entirely satisfactory dinner, I fell asleep in front of the tv and didn't get round to hitting Publish...

Food today:
Breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs, 2 rashers bacon and an avocado in caesar salad dressing
Lunch: chicken & cheese 'sandwiches' minus the bread
Dinner: peppered mackerel, rollmap herrings
Snacks: cashews; almonds; cheese

The Eat to Live Cookbook Project: Wild Rodeo Salad


So sorry for the delay on this recipe's review. Real life, hard work, kid care and The Walking Dead are getting the best of me right now. I know you understand!


The great news is that right out of the gate, my daughter Maya picked a winner from the new Happy Herbivore Light & Lean cookbook. I mentioned a few days ago that I need to start making some new things that are more kid friendly (at least to my children) than the recipes in the Eat to Live Cookbook. So I'm here to report that the Peanut Soba Noodles (p. 158) were quite a success! Here's the evidence to prove it:


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spiced almond cream cookies


If a gingerbread man and a macaron decided to start a family, these would be the children. They are ginger-spiced cookies filled with vanilla almond cream. Their spiced flavour makes them perfect for Christmas (and they're grain-free, fructose-free and dairy-free).

I use white almond butter and vanilla powder to make the almond cream filling. White almond butter is made with blanched almonds and has a slightly sweeter flavour than almond butter made with skin-on almonds. You can buy it (make sure it's 100% almonds) or make your own by processing blanched almonds in a food processor until you get a smooth cream. Or you could just use normal almond butter. Vanilla powder is simply vanilla pods ground into a fine powder. It's amazing stuff but it can be hard to find. You could scrape the seeds out of a vanilla pod and use that instead (even better), or use a dash of vanilla extract (keeping in mind that vanilla extract is often made with an alcohol base, so it will give a slightly different flavour).

ingredients

for the cookies:

  • 1� cups ground almonds
  • 2 tsp ground ginger 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp rice malt syrup
  • 1� tbsp raw virgin coconut oil, softened

for the almond cream:

  • � cup white almond butter
  • 1 tbsp raw virgin coconut oil, softened
  • � tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tbsp rice malt syrup
  • Pinch of salt

preparation 

1. Preheat your oven to 170�C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. To make the cookies, combine the ground almonds, ginger and cinnamon in a bowl. Beat in the egg and then the rice malt syrup and coconut oil, stirring until well combined.

3. Pinch off pieces of the mixture, roll into balls and press down flat onto the baking tray. I wrap some baking paper around the lid of a jar and use that to press the balls down to get an even thickness across each cookie (make sure you wrap the lid in baking paper, otherwise the cookie mixture will stick to the lid).

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until browned. Depending on your oven, you may want to turn the tray around half way through to get even browning. Allow the cookies to cool completely before filling with the almond cream.

5. To make the almond cream, stir the almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla powder, rice malt syrup and salt together in a bowl. Spoon a dollop of the cream onto a cookie and place a second cookie on top, pressing down slightly.

6. If the weather is hot, it would be best to store the cookies in the fridge, as the coconut oil in the almond cream may start to melt.

Makes 10 cookie sandwiches (20 cookies) and enough almond cream to generously fill them.

NB: I use a 20ml tbsp. If you have a 15ml tbsp (if you're in the US or UK), you can measure out 4 tsp in place of each tbsp.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Eat to Live Cookbook: Friday Recap (Week 8) and Next Week's Cooking



Salt has been a popular topic of conversation during the entire Eat to Live Project. Many people have expressed dissatisfaction with this or that recipe, and what immediately comes to my mind is . . . SALT. If you are cooking out of the Eat to Live Cookbook and you haven't (for the most part) gotten salt out of your life, you might find it very difficult to enjoy these recipes.

Getting the salt out of your home cooking is so worth it! It was a long and slow process for me, and I'm finally there. Anytime I eat at someone else's home or a restaurant, I'm overwhelmed by the salty taste of the food. Yuck!

It happened for me like this: I just used less and less salt until I was using almost none. Then about 8 weeks ago I started to exclusively use salt substitutes in my home cooked food and it now tastes very flavorful to me. But it took me years. I wouldn't go from salting your recipes to using Benson's Table Tasty overnight and expect miracles. Like anything worthwhile, there is time and pain involved. But oh the freedom when you get there!

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It was a wild & windy winter's day

Hope nobody had serious weather problems today? We had very strong winds (not Scottish strong, but strong enough) early morning - they woke me up - then again mid morning and early afternoon. I was quite entertained watching a pigeon (aka dirty sky rat with wings) struggling to land in a pretty strong gust - then a few minutes later,when it got even stronger, fighting against being blown away with the rest of the rubbish... We had some brief rain showers as well, but the cloud was swept away virtually as soon as it started, so we got off very lightly, although flosed due to fallen trees.
As I slowly chugged through rush hour traffic this evening the garage fixing my car called. I didn't take the call at the time but when I called back I learned that my car is ready for collection - so tomorrow I'll be taking a detour to Lincoln to pick it up. Yay! The courtesy car was absolutely useful and necessary but I won't be sorry to get rid of the tin box on wheels, however cute it is.
I continued with the very low carb thing today, though less so then yesterday as I ate nuts & seeds. Looking in the mirror (not something I enjoy but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do) I can see my abs beginning to get more defined as I've clearly dropped some retained water. For some reason I generally have the beginnings of abs even when I'm heavy & puffy (not at my heaviest but ever since I
lost the majority of the weight) but they do become less distinct with puffiness when I'm bad. I always like to see them return!

Food today:
Breakfast: eggs scrambled with goat's cheese
Lunch: ham, & cheese 'sandwiches' minus the bread
Dinner: ham & goat cheese
Snacks: Greek yoghurt; mixed seeds; cashew nuts

Healthy Hair on Youtube: KinkyStyles1980


It has been a while since I put up a "Healthy Hair on Youtube" post.  Well here is one featuring a Type 4 natural I just recently discovered - KinkyStyles1908. This past August she did a length check upon becoming 3 years natural. Her growth and length retention are impressive considering that she is only a couple inches from waist-length.  Her regimen consists of various protective styles (twists and mostly braid extensions).  Check out her hair below and view her other videos for more details about her hair care routine.

Study || Oil Pulling + Oral Health

Oil pulling is an old Ayurvedic practice that consists of gargling with (or holding a mouthful of) oil for several minutes to detoxify the body thus eliminating many health issues.  Some of us have heard about it.  Some of us practice it.  But is there any research that shows its efficacy against health issues?  Well, while I could find nothing concerning the effectiveness of oil pulling against migraines, diabetes, asthma, and many other claimed health benefits, I did find a study involving oral health.

This study was conducted back in 2008 with the use of sesame oil, to be exact, and 10 minutes of gargling daily for two weeks.  So what was the conclusion?  Oil pulling prior to brushing was effective in reducing bacteria related to tooth decay (specifically the Streptococcus mutans that was found in plaque).  Thus, oil pulling can be used "as a preventative home therapy to maintain oral health" [1].

SOURCES:
EFFECT OF OIL PULLING ON S. MUTANS COUNT IN PLAQUE ... (2008)
A REVIEW OF OIL PULLING AND OTHER HOLISTIC APPROACHES TO ORAL HEALTH (2011)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Eat to Live Cookbook: Orange Peanut Dressing






This review is going to be short and sweet . . . I'm ready for bed!

Orange Peanut Dressing
from The Eat to Live Cookbook by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, p. 89

Did I like it? Like, yes. I would have loved it with a little tweaking at the time that I prepared it.

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salmon cakes with smashed broccoli


I love these salmon cakes for dinner, breakfast, lunch...pretty much at all times. I get three meals out of them: I have them hot for dinner with broccoli, cold with avocado for breakfast, then crumbled up over a salad for lunch. Win, win, win.

I usually use canned salmon to make the cakes. I buy Fish4Ever brand wild Alaskan red salmon, which includes the skin and the bones (the bones are really soft so you don't notice them at all and they are a great source of calcium). But if you have leftover salmon steaks, they would work well too.

ingredients

for the salmon cakes:
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 x 213g tins of salmon (or equivalent weight of cooked salmon steaks)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Coconut oil for frying
for the smashed broccoli:
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

preparation

1. Separate the broccoli head into florets, then roughly chop the green tops and finely slice the stalks. Boil or steam until just tender and set aside.
 
2. Heat about half a teaspoon of coconut oil in a fry-pan and finely chop the onion and garlic. Saut� the onion in the coconut oil until it starts to soften, then add the garlic and saut� for a further minute or so.

3. Tip the salmon into a large bowl and break it up with a spoon. Stir through the cooked onion and garlic, eggs, parsley, coconut flour and paprika. Season with a good pinch of salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. If the mixture is too runny at this stage, add a little more coconut flour.

4. Heat some more coconut oil in the frypan. Form the salmon mixture into patties and fry on both sides until browned. You will need to do this in a few batches (depending on the size of your fry-pan).

5. Dress the broccoli in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt and serve on top of the salmon cakes.

Makes 10 salmon cakes.

Low carb gf crunchless...

I'm going ultra low carb for a few days to ease the bloating I've been experiencing since skipping Gf & low carb over the weekend (which obviously spilled over into Monday & Tuesday). Its kind of similar to the induction phase of the Dukan diet except I'm deliberately going higher fat than that as I don't think low carb & low fat together is a good idea for me, which allows me to include dairy that isn't part of Dukan's plan.
I do feel less bloated already. I know damn well I gained real weight over these past couple of weeks as I've been comforting myself excessively with food - both excessive quantities and making poor choices, particularly the ones involving gluten. Even so, carbs do cause water retention and that clears fairly quickly once the carb intake drops.
Surprisingly enough despite going totally overboard with sweet stuff yesterday (and at the weekend) I haven't been missing sweetness today at all. But I have been missing varied textures - I always feel that all meats once cooked are of a similar texture, maybe more or less chewy, finer grain or coarser - and none of it is crunchy or crisp. Neither is cheese of course, though the silky softness of Greek yoghurt offers a little variety. But I want crunch, damn it!!! I did include spring onions with my dinner for a different texture (luckily there's no-one here I want to kiss) and it helped - a bit... Ah well, its only for a little while...

Food today:
Breakfast: eggs scrambled with cheese
Lunch: ham, chicken & cheese 'sandwiches' minus the bread
Dinner: smoked salmon, spring onions, goat cheese & prawns
Snacks: Greek yoghurt with pumpkin seeds, chicken breast

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

So far off the wagon I can't even see it heading over the horizon...

Slept poorly last night due to noisy neighbors. I woke up multiple times and was horrified when my alarm went off forcing me to get up this morning.

I'm thoroughly bored by my job now and really wish it was January already. Sadly unless the job market picks up I might not have any choice about accepting an extension if one is offered, but for now that's all I'm committed to so I'm clinging to that. But I'm a little depressed at the moment and not happy about the prospect of extending OR the prospect of being unemployed - and it's two months before either of them become an issue. So why am I letting it get me down now??? Especially given that I might find a more local job in January or win the lottery or something???

All I know is that my work clothes feel tight and I binged on chocolate today. Just realized after admitting to that - I believe it may be TTOM, which would make sense of it all... Especially the heavy duty carb cravings...
It's also been a very grey day today after such beautiful (cold) weather over the weekend so maybe that is also contributing to my generally feeling low and cranky.

Food today:
Breakfast: Scotch egg & Greek yoghurt
Lunch: baked potato with tuna mayo & a little side salad
Dinner: chicken & cheese
Snacks: chocolate brazil nuts & snickers bar

The Eat to Live Cookbook: Too-Busy-To-Cook Vegetable Bean Soup

This soup totally lived up to it's name. It was so quick and so easy to prepare.

Too-Busy-To-Cook Vegetable Bean Soup
from The Eat to Live Cookbook by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, p. 168

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Another week begins

I am proud to report that today I demonstrated the amazing ability to drive out of Lincolnshire without entering a single ditch!!!! And that on a cold foggy morning in the dark... I'm so happy about that I can't tell you!
I had another lovely weekend at my dad's this weekend. Friday I worked from home and collected the courtesy car, which went very smoothly apart from some road works in Lincoln. Its a doddle to drive but as you'd expect of a courtesy car, a very basic model which doesn't compete with mine in power or comfort - in fact the 45 mins or so I spent driving to Dad's house was enough to numb my bum & thighs :-) As a result of that and the fact that I am still not fully recovered from the aches and pains post-ditch, I decided against the 3 hr drive home on Saturday.
On Saturday Dad, his wife C and I went to a local stately home called Doddington Hall & Gardens. The gardens would be better in Spring / Summer obviously, though still impressive

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the house was lovely

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and the farm shop an absolute treasure trove of exciting produce and treats (most of which I couldn't buy due to having another week of work ahead of me.) This was followed by popping to a large local garden centre for lunch and some gift shop browsing.

A quiet evening with a beautiful sunset followed�

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Sunday we had no plans until 4 pm when the village Dad lives in was having its Christmas Market. We spent the morning very quietly - just a stroll into the village to buy a paper, reading that paper, and prepping a room for some work they were having done today. After lunch Dad & I walked to the next village through beautiful sunshine and happened to arrive at the village pub just as we were getting thirsty... It was a nice pub, which did a Sunday carvery that looked good, and they served a very nice guest ale indeed.

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The sky in Lincolnshire goes on forever�

We got back about half an hour before the market was due to start, so we grabbed a quick cuppa before heading off. Unfortunately I forgot my phone when we dashed off (its rubbish at night time photography anyway).
When we got to the village square the choir was singing carols until the market officially opened. Then the stalls started selling, the free (donations requested for next years) coffee, tea, mulled wine & mince pies started being served, and kids started queuing for Santa's grotto. My Dad & C have some friends in the village they've known for years and as a result have been introduced to lots of other locals, so chat and laughing and eating roasted chestnuts were the order of the day. It was a lovely evening, though it did get cold by the time we left. Then it was home for supper and a sadly early night for me given my earlyish start this morning.
It was chilly but not frosty this morning; there was fog part of the way and I was damn glad to have gone a different route (one I'd practiced twice over the weekend) and not have hit the fog on that road in the dark. I was very tense driving in and slow enough to be overtaken by at least half a dozen locals  but I'd decided that getting here at all had to be top priority, regardless of the time, so didn't let it phase me. And I made it!!!
My drive to the hotel was surprisingly painless (I'm back at the hotel I used in my first week this week) but there was a disappointment in store for me... No bath in the ensuite! A massive shower, very nice I suppose, but no bathtub. Sob whimper
Sigh

Food today:
Breakfast: Scotch egg & slice of C's homemade tea loaf (neither gf)
Lunch: chicken fried rice sort of, from the canteen
Dinner: chicken & lamb shish kebab
Snacks: cashews & wine gums

The Eat to Live Cookbook: Artichoke Lentil Loaf


Dr. Fuhrman's Artichoke Lentil Loaf was this year's turkey substitute for those "enlightened" individuals at our Thanksgiving table. Considering all of the other delicious dishes that were present at the meal, this loaf may have been a little out of place. It wants to be the star of the show but it had to compete with too many other things.

Next year I will go with something simpler. But that doesn't mean that I am regretting making the Artichoke Lentil Loaf. We have been enjoying the leftovers tremendously all weekend. I might be particularly weird, but I am especially enjoying it with cranberry sauce on the side.

On another note, did you hear what happened to all of Dr. Greger's NutritionFacts.org videos that are hosted on YouTube? The account was flagged as having inappropriate content and YouTube took all seven hundred and something videos down. Uuuugh. Get the full story here and find out what you can do to help. I was so moved that I made a donation.
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