Posted in cooking, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

October Pumpkin

Yesterday, I decided to cook using Pumpkin – Pumpkin chips and roasted seeds.I had not roasted the flesh of the Pumpkin or the seeds before. This was not an easy cook. You need sharp knives to cut the flesh from the Pumpkin and mine were not, even with sharpening.  I tried peeling the skin away from the vegetables’ flesh but the potato peeler snapped. I was short on time too, so this tested my patience.

Finally, I managed to produce this ( see picture one ) for roasting, cutting the flesh away from the inside of the scooped out Pumpkin. I then used a combination of Rosemary , Sage and Thyme from the garden for the extra flavour garnish.

 Next I prepared the seeds. I had seen recipes for roasting seeds and the secret of success apparently is to wash them well, boil them in water for 10 mins and individually place them on a baking tray. This was the result of 40 mins of baking at 165 degrees C. The seeds should sound dry when you shake them, on the tray, with a crisp sound. 

Family tasting:

David and I enjoyed the chips very much but Kathryn ( Daughter) didn’t. The seeds were certainly crispy and looked nice roasted. The seeds tasted better with fruit today, than on their own. Markus ( Kathryn’s boyfriend) enjoyed the seeds, especially the sea-salt seasoning but Kathryn didn’t. My husband tried them and thought they were OK.

What could have been better?

The seeds had a nice crunch on the intial bite but were a bit chewy  and bitty thereafter. On holiday last week, we tried Pumpkin soup and just had uncooked seeds in this with Pumpkin oil and that was so delicious. The seeds worked well that time. Kathryn thought the chips were a bit too soft. I think I used slightly too much Olive Oil for the roasting and this resulted in a slightly soggy texture. Also with the chips, I sprinkled the herbs on top. It would have been better to have mixed these in more.

However, overall Pumpkin has a pleasant sweet flavour and I enjoyed it. I am glad that I experimented with this and my blog post was the motivating factor to see it through. The cutting was hard but then it showed that I just needed better knives. I don’t think I would roast the seeds again though.

I am writing this post as the children are coming around for Trick and Treat. The end of the month is a busy and colourful time. Tonight, my daughter made Pumpkin soup with the remaining flesh and this was great. You can do a lot with Pumpkin ( I have even seen a recipe for pancakes) and it’s an inexpensive vegetable to do multiple things with.

What have you tried out with a Pumpkin?

Posted in cooking, families, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

October Soup

I wanted to try a new recipe for October using Tumeric spice and this is what I made.

This is not my own recipe and was taken from pinterest ( a site that is becoming a real firm favourite for ideas) which you can find here.  The resulting soup of Ginger,Tumeric and Carrot  was with without doubt one of the most tasty and delicious soups we have tasted in awhile.

Initially, I was hoping to use the vegetable of either parsnip or turnip which are currently  in season, at the moment, but as I wanted to try out Tumeric this recipe looked the most appealing. Tumeric is a much talked about spice. In the cooking and heath circles it is being described as something really quite powerful with numerous health-benefits, including its anticancer properties. You can read more about Tumeric here.

I used one and a half times of carrots, Ginger, orange juice and Tumeric on the recipe given as I wanted to make six portions. It certainly achieved that. Besides, I have a food taster to cook for too and she rang me to say how much she loved it.

Family tasting:

Everyone, as I have said, loved it. The orange tang made it for me. It had a soft and sweet texture to the mouth and it was all gone in one sitting. The roasted hazelnuts gave it an added crunch contrast. With my second bowl, I had quite a few nuts left over and I put the lot in. It was good.

What could have been improved upon?

My taster said:

” A bit more Ginger please.”

The rest of my family were happy just as it was and wants me to make it again.

Next time for the end of the month.

Looking at Pumpkin for Halloween weekend. I had no idea you could roast the seeds or make pancakes and chips with this.

Posted in cooking, Debate, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Home, nutrition

Sausage, Apple and Cider Casserole.

I decided to use apples in a main savoury dish and this is my own recipe, after looking at some ideas on Pinterest. Apples are in abundance in September and whilst I bought my cookers from the supermarket, you will find these being sold from private growers along roadsides and garden corners. The price I saw was 0.50p a bag. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop to buy.

Why we should eat more apples?

The health benefits of apples here on Pinterest.
Ingredients:

This will make you two casseroles, so you could have a meal for two days.

12 Tesco finest pork and apple sausages.

One medium sized onion.

Two cooking apples.

1/2 of a butternut squash.( tip: I cut the butternut squash, scooped out the seeds and cut the flesh away from the very tough skin from the inside of the vegetable. Peeling the skin is hard work.)

Potatoes, ( I used six but amount can vary depending on how many potatoes you want in this recipe).

Two carrots,

Five large mushrooms,

Handful of frozen peas.

350 mls of cider divided into two casserole dishes.

Two tablespoons of fresh basil chopped.

1/2 teaspoon of mango chutney mixed into an instant gravy granules gravy.

Method:

Simply layer the potatoes and butternut squash covering the base of the casserole dish.

Add the diced mushrooms and carrots.

Fry the sausages for five minutes to give a brown appearance and lay on top of the vegetables.

Fry the onion in the oil used for the sausages and add on top of the sausages.

Place the uncooked sliced apple on top.

Add the cider and pour gravy into the casserole dishes.

Add the handful of peas.

Add chopped basil.

Cooking times:

I have an electric fan oven, so set an intial temp of 200C but then turned the oven down to 180C after about 30 mins. Cook until the vegetables are soft. For me this took about one and a half hours. For the last 15 mins, I left the casserole dish top off to reduce some gravy juice and to give the sausages a final brown.

Family tasting:

Everyone really enjoyed this and we have just finished it up today. For all the cooking I have done recently, either with recipes or without, this has been the most favourite dish to date with a good thumbs up from the family. Generally, it was considered that I had the right flavour combinations and the correct amount of cider. The pork and apples sausages’ flavour was enhanced and there was not one ingredient that overpowered the rest.

What could have been improved?

I would have liked to have added a Yorkshire pudding for a contrasting crunch.Black pudding has also been suggested.

Next month will look at starters and snacks. I want to use Tumeric, as this appears to be one of the most talked about spice at present and its anticancer properties is a hot topic in nutritional circles at the moment.

Please feel free to share your ideas here with apples or sausages.

Thanks for stopping by. See you again I hope next month.

Posted in cooking, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

Blackberry Mousse: blog post 2.

Yesterday, I wrote briefly about a recipe I had adapted ( with a link ) for this blackberry mousse. This is the first dish of a new food series called Seasonal Foods, as I am on the quest to use foods that you would find in any one month of the year. Where ever possible, I am trying to look at cost and to discuss at least one ingredient, and its health benefits, to each dish. Today, we will be looking at blackberries and coconut sugar.

Firstly, coconut sugar is gaining ground in the popularity stakes as an alternative to white granulated sugar. Why is this? Well, it has a lower Glycemic Index- GI (35 compared to 68 for granulated sugar) and is considered healthier as a result. If you not sure what the GI index is all about, take a look at what Diabeties Uk has to say about it and why eating low GI foods are considered important in diabetic care and  part of weight control in one’s diet.

I bought my sugar from The Barn, here at Downham Market and these food blog posts are going to be linked to this shop, to help promote the business . Hopefully, my posts will be shared on their Facebook page very soon. The price of this sugar is £2.75 compared to an average price of £1.25. OK,  over double the cost but I did the maths and the 35 grams I used for this recipe cost 0.38p using the coconut sugar. This worked out at 0.13p a dish given I had made three. I think it was good value for money for the possible health advantages it may bring.

 Thee benefits of eating fresh fruit and vegetables are widely publicised.I decided to use fresh blackberries that were free from the hedgerows rather than frozen ones. Here is a little more information why blackberries are so beneficial for you. 

Family tasting:

The strong blackberry flavour was great but I would definitely recommend eating this in the time stated on the recipe ( see previous post) as this is not a firm mousse. It has a light, slightly fluid texture due to its low sugar content. It took me about 10 mins to make, as I wanted to make sure the egg was whisked well. It was simple to make though and tasted better, with more flavour, than anything we had bought from the supermarkets.

What I could do next time?

I would try lightly stewing the fruit first, reserving some juice for additional topping. The texture was also a slightly nutty one, due to the uncooked fruit. This did not detract from the dish but for a smoother taste I think I would try stewing the berries to see what difference this would make. I would still use uncooked blackberries for the decoration. As you can see by my picture, I used a teaspoon of Greek yoghurt as well, just to give some contrast for the eye.

Next time, I am going to cook a savoury dish. I haven’t finally decided what yet but it will involve either game or a vegetarian dish. The next post to watch out for, in this series, will be towards the end of September.

Thanks for stopping by and happy cooking. What ever you are making.

Posted in cooking, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

Blackberry Mousse. Blog one of two.

http://thetoughcookie.com/2015/01/16/super-easy-fruit-mousse-takes-3-ingredients-5-minutes/

I am having great difficulties with my blog posting tonight, and having identified the problem ( and determined to show this link) I have decided to take the unusual step of having to do this in two parts.

I have made a blackberry mousse adapted from this recipe and this is the first post concerning my seasonal food series.This recipe,of which it will not let me shortcut with a suitable header title, is vital to the blog post but so is the finished result. This link is wipping out my photo of the dessert and my post, so I have no other way but to present it like this.

Please bear with me. Having had a whole night’s work completely zapped I am keen to make this work somehow. 

So please tune in to the next post which will show the finished result. I will be sharing with you the information I have discovered about coconut sugar, the financial cost, the benefits of blackberries and what the GI index means in relation to blood sugars.

The photo is nice too and so was the taste. Please come back soon. Thanks for your patience.

Posted in cooking, goals, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

Herbs in my Garden.

I love fresh herbs and have a raised bed in my little garden. This last week I used coriander, thyme and mint in my meals and harvested some garlic.  The flavours in the finished meals seem more distinct somehow.

Today, I am blackberry picking, to have a trial run with my blackberry mousse. I have enlisted a friend who is going to be my food taster, as well as my family, to help me improve any recipe and have decided on my savoury dish for later this month. She loves cooking and is very good at it. She will be an honest opinion that I will truly value.

For now, I just wanted to see how my tablet performs uploading a picture straight to this blog site, as this will be the camera I use to photograph the end results. 

Finally, with chatting about my blog, I have found a new customer for The Barn here at Downham Market ( see my previous two postings.) She would like to buy some of the locally made cake as well as some organic honey, the later is really delicious.

So progress all round and I am pleased. Can’t wait to see how the mousse turns out for tea….

Have a great eating weekend everyone.

Posted in goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Learning, nutrition, Writing

A Potential Blogging Link to a New Local Food Store.

I have made a potentially exciting discovery in my home town of Downham Market, Norfolk. A new specialist food store opened three weeks ago called The Barn and I strolled in to take a look yesterday. It was pleasing to the eye and sold a variety of food products, some of which I had not see in any supermarket chain. 

There was Spelt flour of which I had been searching for, coconut oil and coconut sugar of which I have been reading about the possible benefits off, as well as other ingredients I had seen in several recipes just recently. Here they were, all in one place, and the other attraction for me was ( that it appeared at first glance) a lot of this food was produced locally. I purchased a Norfolk seed, apple and date cake. I knew this would not be my last visit.

As I was paying for my purchase, I struck up a conversation with the seller. I said I liked the shop and that I was trying out some new healthy food ideas. Casually, I mentioned my food blogging and the lady seemed really interested. She told me that they were creating a Facebook group soon and perhaps I would like to link up and share my postings with them. I replied that that would be great.

I went away and had a thought. Why don’t I link the products purchased at the shop with my new spin off to this food blog: a project I had mentioned to one of my closest friends on Facebook only the other day. It’s about seasonal food. I am going to be cooking two specific dishes a month, one fruit and one savoury, starting in September. The ingredients will include at least one food in season for that month and will form part of this blog’s objectives.

So, in addition the writing here could be an additional marketing avenue for this new business and also may attract more traffic to my blog site. I really do hope they set up a facebook group. This will really help my motivation with this work, as I love to have a real sense of purpose in what I am doing and this is definitely it.

For many, these types of food retailers have an image of being expensive. Well, the cake bought certainly wasn’t, at £1.49 but some things did cost more, than say at a supermarket or a shop’s own brand. So as part of my food blogging, one of the objectives is to look at price. The question being: is it possible that paying for an ingredient that is more, for example, coconut sugar be worth it as the end result?

My first dish will be a dessert using the commonly seen and free blackberry that will grace our hedgerows soon. I will be using coconut sugar and intend to make a simple mousse. I will be adapting recipes as well as using others from food sites and these will have links. I hope it will generate some interest.

I just need the September blackberries to show up now…

What do you think to the idea? Suggestions and comments are very welcome.

Posted in achievement, Art, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, Environment, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Writing

Mindfulness: the Way to Declutter your Head.

I was in a newsagents last week when I spotted a new magazine called Breathe:it was the first issue.

  This magazine is written for a growing sector of readership, just like myself,whose desire is to enhance their physical,social and mental well-being. Designed to include four aspects of living: wellbeing, mindfulness, creativeness and escapism, the magazine is beautifully presented and covers a wide range of related topics, all of which are highly interesting and fresh in presentation. I am already eager to see the next issue on sale, September 22nd and have it marked on my calender. 

But what does it say about the reading habits, especially of women, and of a movement ( gathering an ever greater momentum ) where there are now courses and qualifications for a different type of practitioner? I am talking about the subject of mindfulness, and the interest clearly is growing enough for a publisher to create a new magazine, to include this subject, to live calmer, less stressed and more meaningful lives- lived in the present moment.

For someone who has experienced anxiety and stress, sufficient to have produced depression in the past, mindfulness is helping me now in a number of ways; the main benefit being in the unclutering of the mind. This mental dejunking has had several spin offs and I would like to share those here:

It keeps my anxiety into perspective and I will only focus on a concern in the present moment. A worry about a potential, confrontational meeting, regarding a thorny issue next week, can wait until then.

It has empowered me in my relationships. I am finally shaking off the need to be liked. Believe me, this has taken me years! I can be proud of who I am and have no need to seek others approval. I recognise my own power and this power has yielded results, so that gives me more courage to be assertive. This spiral is on a trajectory of only one way which is up. This excites me.

It has helped me to think more creatively. As a result, I am now starting to doodle mindfulness scribbles and pictures. I intend to share some.

It has helped me develop new hobbies. I have taken up drawing and really enjoy it. It does not matter about the level of skill. When I draw I forget everything. The concentration of the drawing keeps me totally in the present.

As a result of drawing, I have taken up postcard colouring. This is a nice spin off. This has brought joy to my family – so much so that one has been framed. This has brought me happiness, knowing that such a simple thing can bring other people joy.

I listen more, but realise I still don’t really listen at all well. There are gaps in people’s conversations that I don’t always pick up. This has been a shock. I am tuining in more to people and can respond better to them. Challenge yourself on this next time you listen to someone. Is your mind mentally on to the next task of what to cook for dinner?

I have started meditations and have returned to a much simpler form of Christian faith which includes prayer. I am beyond astonished that how these prayers have been recently answered. I search out quiet space, churches, under skies, on my walks for these types of moments. I am grateful so much for this.

I have found time to take up blogging again and to really think about what I want to write. Words jump out of my head randomly for future blog post. In the space of my mind, a book idea and even its title is already taking shape. I just need the belief to write it now and to say I am good enough to do it.

I have uncluttered the house. This has been going on for two years now since moving and embraces the minimalist movement. I like simplicity and space. Even my clothes tastes have changed. I like minimalism and follow Joshua Becker and his minimalist blog site.

Over thinking for me has been a real problem. I think too much most of the time. This is a hard habit to break. Recycling your thoughts have a shelf-life. Sometimes, you just have to bin the trash once and for all.

So these are the main changes and observations to date and these won’t be by far the end, of that I am certain . In the meantime, I am looking forward to reading Breathe and wish the magazine every success. My close friend tells me that when you are in tune with your heartfelt desires, things like books find you. I wish I had found mindfulness years ago but am glad to have discovered it now.

Go out and find out for yourself. You might be in for a few surprises! I would like to hear what you find.

 

Posted in goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Up and Down over the Hurdles of Food

It’s been awhile now since my last food blogging, but I have been busy reading and learning more about what you could and should be doing to help you feel better.

You see, this has become more than just loosing some kgs. Over the course of these last few weeks, it has been striking what patterns are emerging: the cravings, the set-backs, the disappointments in will power, the up and downs of this journey, as I try to kick the sugar habit once and for all.

One truth that has been demonstrated to me over the course of this time is: if you keep your blood sugars stable by eating regularly through out the day, your need to snack on chocolate and other processed sweet things, like biscuits, is so much more under control. Hence, this is now my typical diet for the day:

Lemon and honey, first hot drink of the morning.

One shredded wheat with semi – skimmed milk. At first it had a teaspoon of honey on it, now there is none at all.Take a look at the sugar content in cereals: Wheetabix, porridge oats and cornflakes are lower than most others. Incidently, I could never stand shredded Wheat, it was like chewing tasteless string. Now I love it and it’s a great low sugar breakfast. One biscuit fills me up until 10.00 am when it is break time for me at school.

Fruit mid-morning,low glycaemic index fruit ( low carbon value) such as plums, pears and apples. Banana is the highest one I will eat, scoring at 65. Take care with bananas. I don’t eat them every day, as too many and the weight is back on.

No sandwiches for lunch. Instead Ryvita, thins or a tinned mackerel salad as examples. Anything that is a whole food, carrots, nuts, eggs, it does not matter which. It is surprising how little you need to fill you up. I treat myself to bread no more than once a week. Preparing lunch is easy. I just throw anything into my lunchbox at random. It takes five minutes.

A fruit or nut snack on the way home from work. A crucial time for me when the need to snack is strong. Nuts and seeds are great for you. Protein is good.

My usual dinner at night. Again,trying avoiding anything that is processed. I have a treat sometimes or when I am busy and don’t feel like cooking, though you soon don’t want to go down this road.

No dessert, unless it is Greek yoghurt with small dash of honey or small portion of fruit. Banana, blueberries or strawberries are nice with this. Desserts are treats when going out to dinner- though again, I often decline, they are simply becoming too sweet.

Alcohol is consumed largely only at the weekend and usually then no more than one glass per night.

Small amounts of dark chocolate after dinner, though this is now occasional. The need to eat it is becoming less and less.

Variety and colour and different food groups. Colourful foods are healthy foods, rich in different vitamins and minerals. I don’t eat low fat products- to make them taste better they are loaded with sugar,  but I avoid trans fats. I eat bacon and eggs at the weekend.

Keep portion sizes down. I have seen a lot of people trying to eat really heathy, but the masses of pasta and salad on their plate is self defeating.Accept one thing. You can’t eat the amounts you could get away with it at 30 when you are 50. It’s a fact. Learn to eat variety but less of it. You will soon get used to it, as your stomach adjusts.

I have been studying that the effects of high sugar and insulin levels affect your ability to lose weight, reduce the rate of your metabolism which gives me a small but never-the-less apple- shaped tummy. My next step is to undertake a  small piece of research on myself to see how my blood sugars individually react to certain foods and how this affects my overall weight.

Results have been slow but the progress is in the right direction. The biggest barrier is social and family get-togethers and a husband who wants to tempt you. Seriously, I would have been at my target weight by now if it wasn’t for the eating desires of those around me. It is hard to eat low carbohydrate food when you have a buffet table in front of you and Dad wants to go out for breakfast. Typically, after a trip to Lowestoft to see him, a kg is back on and it can take sometimes a week to get it off, though interestingly the time it is taking to do that is becoming less and less.

Other measures are exercise as part of lifestyle incorporation, taking the five-minute longer way around in the park to work when walking, some cycling, brisk dog walking, yoga and weight lifting for five to ten minutes in the evening. More about exercise in another post. Avoiding fruit juice, a killer to low blood sugars and take water with you to work and drink it throughout the day.

Top tip: don’t become a slave to any of it. Do it when you want to, embrace the small changes and don’t beat yourself up if you cave in, just start again.

This is no longer a chore. It’s becoming a way of life that I don’t want to change. I feel great, have more energy, better memory and I have deliberately put this last, have lost five pounds. Ideally, another five would be the icing on the cake, or for me now, a bowl of fruit…..

More to come!

Posted in Debate, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet

The Benefits of Lemon and Honey

Who has ever tried a cup of boiled water with one teaspoon of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey? I hadn’t until recently,after reading the many and considerable health benefits of this drink, though I decided to put two teaspoons of honey in the cup,rather than one. I like things sweet!

It looked insipid and rather weak, bland and not very exciting. It tasted OK though and it was drunk until the cup was empty.
However, I wasn’t inspired to try it the next morning (the old drinking habit of tea beckoned.) Being honest,I can see why it would not appeal first thing in the morning and why many people would not bother with it.
But, my further reading encourages me to not give up. If you read anything about this subject of lemon and honey in a drink you will find much information about why it is so good for us.

Here are just a few reasons:
1) Taken on an empty stomach, it is an excellent colon cleanser and prevention of constipation.
2) It boosts our immune system and cleans our lymphatics .
3) It reduces infection and colds.
4) It suppose to help with weight loss, though why this is so I would need to research further.

( My fact finding then took me to this site linked here:). This is a comprehensive list and one which is repeated and endorsed several times over with other health-sites explored.)

http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/why-drinking-water-early-in-the-morning-good-for-health-p214/

It would appear that the super properties of both lemon and honey makes this a source of excellent health benefits. So, I am encouraged to give this another try.If you have read my other postings, you will know that the thrust of this work is to find ways of reducing costs whilst promoting health and healthy weight. Therefore, I have been reading about ways to conserve fresh lemon.

Lemon juice can be frozen in ice trays, and can stay fresh in the fridge for two to three days. The exact cost of both these food products I need to still check on, though I recall that it is very cost-effective. I shall be adding any comments on any other information found and prices of both lemon and honey from the supermarkets in the comments box. Also, how I have got on with my next task of drinking this daily for a week, without altering anything else to both diet and lifestyle. This is to see if it has any weight loss benefits for me

So, in the meantime, what else have I been up to since last posting?
I have re-organised my kitchen, its utensils, food and general cupboards. This blog is having one very non-predicted outcome: The organisation of my time.

In order to feed a blog, this requires planning,organisation and time to write and think over ideas- time I am short off. So I have been looking at my entire day and what I am actually doing, when and how. This has been the one and most positive impacts so far in my efforts to reinvent my blog postings. I have felt more in control and more organised and my morning routine has been calmer and a good start to the day.

It’s still taking me sometime to get posts done, due to research, editing and so forth but I am hoping I will get quicker and will be posting once a week, (if not more in the school holidays,) when I am not at work full-time. So please bear with me and keep reading.

When you work in an environment where a staff-room promotes all sorts of discussion you can not help but hear the conversations of others. I have heard about soya, caffeine and headaches, a new diet, ‘getting back on the wagon’ and not slipping. You see, lots of people talk about food and health more than you think. In fact, I think this subject is the most talked about, especially in women, but the one that generates a battle most people confess to be often loosing with the most weakness and the most frustrations. So I would be keen to hear from any body who has any experiences to share with me here, not only with this this beverage, but any other topics that could be included in future postings. My blogs may be slow but they are written with serious care. Thanks for viewing.