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Healthy Days: Spinach and Berry Breakfast Smoothie

This has been a back-to-work week with me settling into a lovely relaxed schedule of teaching. Really, it’s been a shock to the system to not be doing a full time conservatory performance degree as well as working. So I’ve been continuing to love cooking and grocery shopping is no longer tear-inducing stress! Possibly I should be trying to fill my hours a little more diligently but right now from the *health* point of view, this is amazing.

Yesterday was the first day that I felt ‘I NEED CAKE!’ It has since transpired that I’m fight all the back-to-school bugs that come into my music room! So at least there’s a reason that I’m craving sugary food. I admit that I ate a brownie yesterday and a scone today, but now that I’ve figured out my craving, I’m going to make some soup and drink a ton of warm honey and lemon!

Carrot and Lentil Soup

Carrot and Lentil Soup I made for dinner on Thursday! Served with steamed purple sprouting broccoli and garlic.

On Thursday I has such an amazing food day! Attending the Mahon Point farmer’s market I swerved my usual salad stall and tried the offering of My Goodness, Cork’s raw vegan foodies. For €6.50 I had just the BEST lunch I’ve had in ages! Raw seed crackers, pickled daikon radish, sundried tomato and coriander pesto flavoured seed patés, bean sprouts, carrot salad, a seed burger and mixed green leaves all with a fresh apple cider vinegar-based dressing. It was beautiful and kept me munching for ages! I will definitely be having this again! Definitely satisfying. 🙂

Vegan Raw Mezze Plate by My Goodness, Cork

              Vegan Raw Mezze Plate by My Goodness 

In the last few days I made a load of Deliciously Ella’s superfood bread and flavoured it with some lovely autumnal cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  Another highlight of the last few days was this delicious breakfast smoothie:

 

Blackberry - Spinach Smoothie

A great way to use up the autumn harvest of blackberries!

Spinach and Berry Breakfast Smoothie
-2 handfuls of blackberries
-2 handfuls of spinach
-2 heaped tbsp soya yoghurt
-1 tbsp milled flaxseed
-a few strawberries
-water

Berry-Spinach Smoothie

Useful way to use up blackberries!

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Healthy Days – Rhubarb challenge!

It’s day 2 of the 100 Healthy Days and I feel it went ok today! I mean, in terms of food I ate a little more than yesterday but i’m still loving having time to cook (see food diary below!)

Today I had to figure out how to use up a bunch of rhubarb while still making healthy choices. The problem being that generally rhubarb needs a ton of sugar to make it palatable. I decided to use strawberries and cinnamon to sweeten the filling and to drastically reduce the sugar in the topping. 


Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

Low-sugar rhubarb-strawberry crumble.

Homemade and warm from the oven – and lower in sugar!

Filling:
– 1 bunch rhubarb, washed and chopped
– 1 punnet strawberries, washed and hulled
– half a teaspoon of cinnamon
– 1 tsp honey (optional)
Topping:
– 100g/ 3½oz plain flour
-75g/ 2½oz butter/vegan butter
-50g/ 2oz rolled oats
– 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar

Simply stew the filling ingredients together until the fruit has softened. Transfer this filling to an ovenproof dish.

Blitz the flour, butter and sugar together until breadcrumb-like in appearance. Stir in the oats. 

Cover the filling with this topping and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 180C.


I’ve been thinking a bit about the other elements to this project that I need to tackle. For one thing, I need to learn to turn out the light early and just go to sleep! No Tumblr or Facebook last thing at night. I think being responsible at bedtime will be very important for gaining more energy, fighting off winter bugs and keeping my appetite under control! 

Aside from that, I’ve booked in with an osteopath for the pains in my neck, side and knee that have been plaguing me for a while (…9 months…) I’m looking forward to getting it dealt with! 

Today met with my friend Áine for lunch/coffee in town. I decided to eat at home and just have a juice and a coffee when out to try to optimise my healthy eating potential!

Food diary:
-porridge with cinnamon peanut butter and banana
-Homemade roast vegetable soup, two slices of seeded rye toast.
-Beetroot, raspberry and orange juice and a skinny cappuccino. Brazil nuts.
-Veggie spanish omlette with rhubarb and strawberry crumble with a tablespoon of creme fraichefor dessert!

 

Roast Vegetables for Soup

Roasting a selection of vegetables left over from yesterday’s dinner for soup.

Homemade veggie soup

Nothing beats hearty, thick soup on a rainy autumnal day!

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100 Healthy Days – Mindfulness in every day life

vegan hot chocolate

The best way to enjoy 85% dark chocolate is to drink it! 😉

This morning I saw a post on Facebook about a woman who decided to turn the #100happydays tag into #100healthydays. Ordinarily I look at these people who transform themselves into super-toned fitness enthusiasts and think ‘It’s just not for me.’ This is because I’ve tried the gym thing and unfortunately due to frequent injury I find it impossibly to maintain the necessary consistency. 

On this occasion, however, it wasn’t the super-toned physique that caught my imagination but the idea of the tag. I completed the #100happydays tag on Instagram and, though there were a few days when everything was so horrid that I blatantly had to make something up, I did complete it. It was just one day at a time, and I never knew what the thing was that was going to make you happy, so I had to be on the lookout for it. It made me more mindful throughout the day of how I was feeling, and that can’t be bad!

So why not apply this idea to health? Personally, I know that being more mindful of what I eat and how I take care of myself is really important. I tend to indulge and obsesses over food. After finishing my all-consuming music degree I found that I had to unfollow all the food accounts on Instagram and Pinterest as I just felt overwhelmed. I wanted to make everything and try everything and felt enormous pressure. It may sound silly to someone who has never had the obsessive thing, but it became a bit of a problem! Now I avoid looking at pictures of recipes online, or buying foodie magazines and I feel much less overwhelmed. If I want to look something up, I will happily search, but I try not to let it take over my thoughts too much. 

So here was my first day of #100healthydays! I’m not aiming to be a size 0 at the end, I’m not aiming to be anything! Just more mindful of what I eat and how I move, and proud of the choices I’ve made for my body.

breakfast

Cinnamon to steady blood sugar is great in the morning!

Breakfast is always porridge for me! I just love it! I love using different ingredients for variety but this morning it was pretty basic! Banana to prevent my twitchy eye/leg/arm, cinnamon to keep my blood sugar steady, oats for slow-release carbohydrates and fiber and peanut butter because it is yummy and contains a small amount of protein! 

Rocket Man salad

Chickpeas are full of fiber and keep energy levels steady throughout the day.

At lunchtime I was out and about meeting my friend Orla at the Mahon Point Farmers Market. I love it there! There is so much to look at and so many delicious options! I steered away from the cake and had a salad from the Rocket Man, Cork’s most popular salad bar. This was a chickpea and roast vegetable/ spelt and beetroot salad combo.  There weren’t as many veggies as I would have liked but I was on the move!

Homemade blackberry jam with vegan hot chocolate.

A snack around 4pm keeps me from gnawing my arm off (or stuffing my face with chocolate!)

The 4pm snack is going to be my new best friend. I always get hungry at this time and never realised that I could just plan a snack before dinner. Well, now I know and this is what I had: seeded rye bread with homemade (by me!) blackberry jam and vegan hot chocolate made with 85% dark chocolate, unsweetened almond milk and vanilla extract. Yum.

Vegan white bean and vegetable hash with nutritional yeast.

Rosemary, garlic, nutritional yeast and black pepper made this cannellini bean hash taste so good!

 For dinner I made this recipe for Vegetable White Bean Hash. I added 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, which has added a lot to the flavour. The recipe really needed some more herbs or spices as the recipe was a little bland. The yeast really cheered it up, though! 

So, that was my day apart from a skinny cappuccino!  I’ve tried to take my time with things today. Making dinner, I didn’t want to rush and just appreciated having the time to prepare the vegetables and listen to a podcast while cooking. 

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Wilton Farmer’s Market – Tasty Goodness. Healthy Things.

If there’s one thing that can be said with certainty it’s that Cork people love good food. It may be tempting to simply brush off farmers markets as a fad, somewhere that only wealthy hipsters can afford to shop but that is no longer the case. A variety of coffee and cake stands, sandwich and pizza stalls mean that you no longer have to worry about feeling obliged to buy a ton of expensive things you didn’t want. 

 

Cork Bread

Local Artisan Bread by Arbutus

Take Wilton Farmer’s Market, for example. Every Tuesday from 10:30am – 2:30pm an array of colourful stalls pop up in the car park of Wilton Shopping Centre. Not only does the market feature locally grown organic vegetable from near Inch in Co. Cork and imported organic fruit and nuts courtesy of Organic Republic but while you mill around you might also grab a handmade marshmallow from Cloud Confectionary or a coffee from local favourite (ok… MY favourite) Badger and Dodo. The market provides a table and chairs for nibblers so that you can take in all the sights, sounds and smells of the other food producers. 

 

Wilton Farmer's Market, Cork

A delightful display of fabulously flavoured marshmallows by Cloud Confectionary!

One of my favourite companies to buy from is Arbutus Bread. Not only does this artisan company produce an impressive range of unusual and traditional freshly baked breads, you will always receive helpful information on how to get the most out of your loaf. This morning I purchased a loaf of Latvian rye bread. The lady behind the sea of bread informed me about the contents of the bread (low in gluten!) but also about the baker who made it and how best to serve and preserve it. Her expert knowledge means that I know which breads are best to freeze and which are best eaten quickly. 

Artisan Marshmallow

My reward for such diligent marketing – a caramel shortbread marshmallow!

As well as the steady favourites of Volcano Wood-Fired Pizza, The Beanie Brownie Company, The Rocket Man Salads, My Goodness raw and vegan foods and The Golden Bean (to name but a few) there is also a guest slot that changes weekly. 

What is really great about farmers’ markets is that it gives you a chance to see what is going on in your area. There are small food companies taking off all around us and these markets give us a unique opportunity to sample things first and support new businesses. After my first visit to Wilton this morning I will definitely be returning, and I do hope that it continues to grow!

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A Ripping Yarn!

Every night before I go to bed, I’m writing down everything I’ve done in bullet-points. I want to look back and not wonder what I did for the whole of June.

The thing is, I’ve been a bit under the weather for about a week now, so most of what’s up there is:

  • Poirot.
  • Crocheted a snowflake.
  • Made brownies.
It’s not quite as productive as I’d hoped! I also have a code. If I had a singing lesson: (Y) If I did singing practice: (X) and if I went for a 30 minute run ( ✔). I’m also trying to do a plank every day and build up my time. I have practically no core strength! I hit 60 seconds this week and was SO HAPPY!

Considering I can’t do a lot of running around at the moment, I’ve been doing a lot of knitting and learning to crochet!  Here are a few of the things I’ve been making!

Add caption
I love this headband! I made it in a really nice earthy green aran yarn (which was on sale!!)

Such is my amazing talent at crochet that I can follow the same pattern and come up with two completely different snowflakes. That’s talent, right? Oh… you mean that’s NOT mean to happen?!

Again, I followed the same crochet pattern and came up with different sizes of jumpers. The teaspoon is for scale. Aren’t they sweet? They’re a present for a local bar/restaurant in Cork. 🙂

This was to show the difference between using usual acrylic yarn and using proper cotton thread. The yarn looks nicer with this pattern, I think. 

I’ve been making this quilt for about four years. I’m nowhere near done! Maybe this will be the year that it finally gets done? It seems that a patchwork quilt is a massive undertaking. I wish I’d known this four years earlier… It’s pretty, though. And I’ve learned to follow patterns and to make new stitches through making this. Following a varying pattern is way more fun that plain garter stitch.

Hopefully I’ll recover in the next few days, and I can post all about my adventured with avocado chocolate mousse… 😀 x

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International Yarn Bombing Day

 This morning my knitting group engaged in a spot of ‘Yarn Bombing’ in Electric. We subtly knitted bits and stuck them to things. I am responsible for the hideous tea cosy you see pictured. Liz from Reckless Knitting made the cake-stand cosy! 
The staff at Electric must have liked them, though, as they gave my my latte for free! And later they tweeted that if my knitting group knits them a jumper, we’ll get a free lunch each! There are plans in motion…

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Seriously?

An example of a time I wanted to be taken seriously

I am quite confident that I don’t take myself too seriously. As I go about my life I literally police myself about it. Recently though, I’ve worried that I try too hard not to take myself seriously. Perhaps I should start, because if I don’t, who will. It’s possibly a symptom of what we in Ireland consider a very Irish mentality. We don’t like to make it seem like we’re anything out of the ordinary. We would like to make it seem that what we do or what we have achieved is just a trifle, that it was nothing. And if anyone acts like they worked hard for what they have, we consider them to be snobs and tend to be suspicious of them.

“Ireland is a nation of begrudgers,” is a phrase that is tossed around quite freely here. And it’s true. And I often worry that if I were to just explode my sense of containment, to say the really arty, stupid things that come into my head, people would think that I’m assuming another personality and doing it for attention. The reason I’ve been thinking about it more recently is because I want to be an artist. There is, obviously, a type of artist that is very coy and cunning about everything that they say. I would at least enjoy a period of unpoliced freedom to say and create whatever I like.

I’m always drawn to song-writers who don’t follow the rules. Marina and the Diamonds, Regina Spektor, Elbow, Florence and the Machine, Lily Allen. In art class at school, I used to detest when I was making something I was excited about and my teacher would tell me how to fix it and what I shouldn’t do. It’s that age-old argument of “What is art?” At that point I just wanted the freedom to explore my abilities and what worked and what didn’t.

That’s what I want now. I’m writing all these slightly absurd lyrics. (One song is actually inspired by the Absurdest play “The Sandbox” by Albee.) And songs about the change that has happened, the way I understand my brain, the people I know and how I feel about what’s occurring (<—pop reference!) Even though the speed at which I’m turning out complete songs isn’t what I’d hoped, I’m still getting into the lyrics which I always found the hardest part.

In the end, if I start Tweeting or blogging completely teenage things and just seeming a bit pretentious, please don’t hate me. I probably won’t even get past my self-preservation reflex anyway, but I thought I’d just jot it down… in case.