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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 – Frugal Beans and Tomato Rice

Today’s dinner was one of those everything-in-the-store-cupboard affairs. As long as you have beans, rice and a stock cube you will never go hungry! You can use ANYTHING else including frozen peas and sweetcorn and it will be delicious! Here follows my slap-dash recipe for tomatoey beans and rice.


Comforting and Frugal Beans and Rice

 

Store Cupboard dinner

A comforting autumn-winter dish.

Recipe:
– 1 cup/jar of beans (I used turtle beans!)
– 1 box of passata (Aldi!)
– 4 sundried tomatoes, chopped (Aldi!)
– 1 cup of brown rice (Aldi!)
– 1 vegetable stock cube (Aldi!)
– 1 onion, diced.
– Assorted vegetables that might be on the cusp of going on the compost heap. (In my case: 3 small carrots, 1 red bell pepper, 6 mushrooms, a handful of cherry tomatoes and half a leek.)

Method:
 Prepare the beans as instructed on the packet if you are using dried. If you’re using tinned, just open that bad boy up!

When the beans are ready, set aside and cook the rice. Pour the rice into a pan with the passata, the stock cube, the sundried tomatoes and a little water. Cook for approximately 25 minutes until all the passata has been absorbed by the rice. Watch carefully towards the end as it may need some extra water.

While the rice is cooking, fry your onions for about 5 minutes in a teaspoon on olive oil until the begin to caramelise. Add whatever assorted veg you have and fry over a medium-high heat until tender.

When the veg and rice are cooked, mix them together with the beans et voila! Enjoy!

Bean packet

Cheapest ingredients ever!


I had a feeling that today would be a difficult day to stick to a healthy eating plan as i) it’s Saturday and I love to go for coffee and a scone after teaching with my friend and ii) it’s day 3. Day 3 is always meant to be the most difficult time for a challenge.

It was ok, though. I did get caught out and about at about 4pm not having eaten in a few hours with rapidly approaching hypoglycemia. My solution to this was to stop into Aldi (sensing a trend?!) to buy some mixed seeds and dried mango to steady me.

WORST SNACK EVER.

It did steady my blood sugar but it was not satisfying at all! Very disappointing!

Incredible vegan breakfast

Natural peanut butter and banana sprinkled with cinnamon on seeded rye toast. We ran out of oats… I regret nothing.

DAY 3 Food Diary:
-banana and peanut butter on seeded rye toast, sprinkled with cinnamon, coffee
-leftover white bean salad and roast veg soup
-handful of mixed seeds and dried mango, vegan hot chocolate
-beans n’ rice, leftover rhubarb and strawerry crumble with 1 tbsp creme fraiche

Healthy lunch

Leftoverrrrssssss

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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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Autumnal Apple Tart

My attitude to apple tart is a bit ‘rough n’ ready.’ I firmly believe that you should just go with your instincts on this. Here’s a rough recipe for my favourite Autumnal twist on apple tart. I used nine apples that varied in size. If you make too much filling for your tart, the left over apple sauce is delicious in steaming porridge on a cold Autumn morning.

In Ireland and the UK we like to use a sharper variety of apple for baking with, commonly called ‘cooking apples.’ For this reason it’s necessary to sweeten them – just make sure you taste your filling as you go along as some apples are more tart than others, and personal preference plays a big part in apple tart. 🙂

INGREDIENTS:
. 6 med-large cooking apples (approx)
. 50g sultanas (or raisins/dried cranberries)
. 1.5 tsps cinnamon
. 4tbsps honey (approx)
                                                          . 30g walnut pieces
                                                         . 20g sunflower seeds
                                                          . shortcrust pastry
1: Peel and chop your apples into a pan, discarding the cores and skins. Allow enough room for them to expand.
2: Add in the sultanas  and cinnamon. Drizzle over enough honey to cover the tops of the peeled apples.
3: Add 2 tbsps cold water and turn on to a gentle heat for 15- 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the apples have broken down into the sauce.
4: Test for sweetness (be careful not to burn your mouth!) and add more honey if it needs it.
5: Tip the sauce into a pie plate lined with shortcrust pastry. Sprinkle over the walnuts and sunflower seeds before covering with more pastry. Brush with a beaten egg, pierce the lid.
6: Brush with a beaten egg, pierce the lid and bake for 20-30minutes at 180°C/350°F/fan assist 170°C until the pastry is golden brown and firm.
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September Makes Me Insane

September approaches. It’s the new school year, and for me that carries more meaning than the start of the calendar year. It’s deeply rooted psychologically – the excitement, the new stationary, school bag, putting on your school uniform again. It’s also the promise of something stable, secure and familiar – the routine of getting up, going out, doing things and coming home to relax.

OH HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED! Well, to an extent. Now I work in the evenings, so I wake up in the morning and wait for the day to begin at 3.30pm. It does seem that I am learning how to do life on a very gradual basis. For example, this end-of-August I have quite a detailed schedule of work I do from waking up time until about 6pm, after which time I can read, watch TV or Skype my friends. (Mostly the latter.) This is so lovely, and so reassuring and just like the days of yore. In a way, I am a little but wary of going back to the routine of getting up and waiting to work.

At this time of the year I start to get anxious that I’m not fulfilling my potential, and that I’m basically wasting my life because of sheer laziness. This year, at least, I can take a step back and say to myself: ‘No. I am working towards goals. I am doing as much as I can.’ A lot of this feeling of inadequacy comes down to being distracted. I look after people and let them take my time, even when I have a defined schedule. At least I recognise this now, and I can work towards fixing it.

Does anyone else have a panic in late August/September? Or do you just think: “I WANT NEW STATIONARY!!!” (I think this too….)