Ginger Balls

You want to have more energy?   Stay longer up the mountain (or out in the ocean)?  Well cut out processes sugar and move onto energy balls.   These are full of protein and slow release energy.  Your muscles will love you.  So, ask for a blender for Christmas (your nutribullet will die doing these) and make in bulk.  Bust these out at Xmas parties, in little packets for the teachers, or keep them in the freezer and just pop a ball in your mouth whenever you need a little treat.    Below are my 3 favourite recipes....but I have more....

Please be aware you do not have to stick to these quantities, I am very loose with my balls.   Oh and store in freezer and then take out half an hour before eating. 

Ginger Balls

-400grams activated cashews (soak overnight in water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt) 

-2 teaspoons of ground ginger

-6 dates (pitted and soaked)

-2 tablespoons of cranberries

-100ml of water to pour in slowly (you may not use it all)

-100grams desiccated coconut to roll in

Put rinsed cashews, ground ginger, dates, 1 tablespoon of cranberries and small amounts of water into  mixer, mix until all is ground up. 

Roll into little balls the size of a large cherry tomato in your hand, sneak a piece of the dried mango into the bottom then roll in desiccated coconut which you have emptied onto a plate. 

Put in a container in freezer and then take out half an hour before eating

Cranberry Snowballs

-2 tablespoons of cranberries chopped finely

-200grams ground almonds

-2 tablespoons activated cashews

-4 soaked & pitted dates

-Tablespoon cinnamon 

-Tablespoon Vanilla 

-1/2 cup water

-1/2 cup desiccated coconut

In mixer put ground almonds, soaked dates, cinnamon, vanilla & cashews.  Slowly pour water in to help them blend but don’t add too much as you don’t want it to turn into a paste. 

Add chopped cranberries and roll into balls the size of a large cherry tomato. 

Roll in desiccated coconut

Peanut butter balls

Peanut Butter Protein Energy Balls

-1.5 cups peanut butter (homemade, just blend peanuts in blender for 5 mins)

-2 cups oats

- 12 Soaked Dates OR 1/4 cup date syrup 

-1 teaspoon vanilla burbon paste

-Chopped dried apricots

-100ml water (or more, just check on consistency as you blend) 

In mixer put peanut butter, soaked dates, & vanilla.  Slowly pour water in to help them blend but don’t add too much as you don’t want it to turn into a paste. 

Add chopped cranberries and roll into balls the size of a large cherry tomato. 

Roll in desiccated coconut 

Put in freezer and then take out half an hour before eating. 

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The secret to daily happiness

Last week was a very happy week.  For what feels like the first time in a long time (I'm thinking 2 years), I had 2 happy children, happy on the same day, at the same time, the same minutes, they were pee-your-pants-laughing-happy, day after day.

"We are only as happy as our unhappiest child" 

is a phrase that has run over and over in my head for the past 2 years.  They are so good at tagging in and out of happiness.  It's as if there is an unspoken agreement between them that both can't be peaking in joy simultaneously.   Ok maybe I'm exaggerating, of course they have been happy on weekends and in the summer holidays, but during the daily course of life (school), until they started at Lemania International School, it was a day to day struggle for them to see any positives in their wee existence.    
I am, naturally, a very happy person.  I love a challenge, and can usually see positivity in a tricky situation.  But when you become a parent you are no longer in control of many areas of your life, including your emotions.  Every cell in your body is programmed to be in line with theirs.  Well at least that's how mine operates.    And this is life, isn't it.   

I said to my daughter last week, the reason we have these very challenging periods in our life is so we can be happy with mediocrity.  We can be happy with what is not in our life. We can be happy that we wake up without a headache, nausea or stomach pain.   We can be happy our legs aren't aching so much we can't sleep.  Then we can be happy with what we do have. We can be happy that we have the energy to walk in fresh air to school.  We can be happy we have teachers who encourage us to think differently and ask questions.  We can be happy we have peers who find it easier to speak kindly than cruelly. 

Feeling gratitude is, like mindfulness, everywhere you turn these days.  And rightly so.  When we feel gratitude, actually take the time to visualise something we are very grateful for, we lower our heart rate, our blood pressure, decrease cortisol production, increase serotonin, feel present, and, as it says on the tin, feel grateful.   The more we practice it the less we live in a state of 'I'll be happy when....."  Instead we can be happy all the time because we are eternally grateful for small things.  We eliminate fear and unhappiness during those moments of appreciation. It’s impossible to feel fear and gratitude at the same time.

So, without any further ado, I gift you an additional tool to feeling happiness when it is illusive.  Music.  Here is  'Sian's Happy playlist".  I put this on when I am walking to collect the kids from school, walking to work, vacuuming, cleaning the loo, sometimes I bust it out in the middle of a vinyasa flow class. 

I don't expect you to love it as much as I do, because these are songs that trigger endorphins in me.   I associate them with people, occasions, places, smells, happiness.   Make your own happy playlist,  fill it with cheese, it doesn't have to be 'cool' it just has to make your soul sing. 

In the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” 
 

https://open.spotify.com/user/12154526561/playlist/2BNnZB1rmp0EuH0Ws3kjFz

 

 

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Not-so-shit paleo bread recipe

Let's be honest here, bread without gluten is pretty average.  I recently was so excited to share the local GF pizza with my parents.  To my deprived pallet it was the best thing since sliced bread (see what I did there).  They dip in and out of gluten, it's not their best friend, but it doesn't affect them in the same way as me so they can have the occasional real pizza.  They broke it to me that in a blind taste test they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the box it was packaged in and the crust itself.   My point here is that once you have been without a certain food for a long period of time your tastebuds change.  My client this morning was so excited to tell me that a peppermint tea satiated her post dinner sweet craving now, and that's only 4 months into working with me.   SO! For all you gluten eaters out there, don't expect this to taste like your freshly baked loaf from the local patisserie, but for anyone who has been deprived for a fair while, you'll love this, topped with Anita's Pate (recipe to come) and a bit of Ed's Salsa (recipe to come).  And it's full of protein and fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and calcium.   So there baguette. 

Seed and Nut bread 

Ingredients

3 tablespoons activated sunflower seeds chopped plus extra for sprinkling

3 tablespoons activated pumpkin seeds chopped plus extra for sprinkling

1 tablespoon black or white chia plus 1 tablespoon extra for sprinkling

1/3 cup activated almonds chopped 

1.5 cups almond meal

3 tablespoons LSA

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons coconut flour

6 eggs

1 tablespoon apple cider vinega

4 tablespoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon salt 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Greace a 20cm x 10cm loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Mix the sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds in a large bowl.  Stir through the almonds, almond meal, LSA, baking soda, and coconut flour.  Add the eggs, vinegar, coconut oil and salt and mix well to combine.  The mixture will resemble a batter rather than a dough.

Pour the dough into the prepared loaf tin and smooth out evenly with a spatula.  Sprinkle the extra seeds on totp. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  (You will need to do a skewer test because this bread is much denser than regular bread and won't sound hollow when you tap it) Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out. 

I usually slice this up and freeze half of it so I can grab a piece out each day for toast.   Now I didn't invent this recipe, I stole it from somewhere but have no idea where, if it's yours please let me know and I'll credit you! 

Best ever healthy GF pacman flapjack recipe

I've always felt children are like small drunk adults.   They close-talk loudly about themselves, spit food as they talk, knock things over, dance whenever music comes on, fall over often, and frequently wet themselves.  Mine don't wet themselves any more, unless they are in full winter kit and can't get it off in time.  And even I'm guilty of that.  Oscar (9) is all skin and bone, so much so that when the Parisian neighbour (age 8) punched him this summer he bruised his knuckles and screamed loudly (in French) for an hour.  It was the first time I've heard Oscar talk in rapid French. I think he was explaining how it wasn't his fault his ribcage was so strong. Or he may have been telling him ribs were his favourite food.  Either way, there's no padding on that wee frame.    I digress, he is ALWAYS hungry.  His feet are almost the same size as mine (40) and his legs are as long as his sisters.  He eats as much as his dad, but moves more, I calculated this summer he needs at least 6 hours of full activity a day - 4 hours mountain biking, 2 hours in the pool.  Then I have an angel on my hands.   So without further ado I present to you my number one filler for him, flapjack.  He isn't totally Gluten Free but I used GF oats for this so the whole family can pick at it.  You can use normal oats though.  And as I always say, I'm a rubbish baker, so rest assured this recipe is 100% failsafe, if you muck up the quantities or change things around to suit you it will still work and you'll be the Queen (or King) of the house for at least 3 minutes. 

Ingredients

  • 150g ready-to-eat stoned dates
  • 100g organic butter
  • 3 generous tbsp honey
  • 50g ready-to-eat stoned dried apricot, finely chopped
  • 50g chopped toasted almonds or walnuts or both or any nuts you fancy
  • 3 tbsp mixed seeds
  • 50g raisins
  • 150g GF porridge oats

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Line an 18cm square tin with baking paper. Melt the butter & add to dates into a food processor and process until they are finely chopped and sticking together in clumps.

  2. Put the butter & honey & dates into a saucepan and heat gently. Stir until the everything is blended together. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and stir until well mixed. Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread level.

  3. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Remove and cut into 12 pieces. Leave in the tin until cold. Store in an airtight container (although I never have enough left over as you can see from this pick my monsters got to it before I could)

Pacman Flapjack

My tooth obsession (and why oil pulling is so amazing)

I’ve got a bit of a tooth obsession.  Well it’s more than a bit, if I’m trying to describe someone, I always start with their teeth.  “You know them, their incisor on the left is longer than the right”  Or “Oh her, she’s got amazing teeth, I love the way there’s a gap and the 2nd tooth along is slightly crossed”  It’s the first thing I notice when I meet someone.   I’m not sure where it stems from, it could be that as a teenager I had numerous operations to bring teeth down from up by my nose (don’t worry, you couldn’t see them, it was internal).  And possibly the following 4 years of braces to straighten them up after the massive hole in the roof of my mouth healed.     Strangely I also love going to the dentist (my children have inherited this love, which the dentist seems quite overwhelmed by, I’m guessing patients doesn’t usually fight over who gets in the chair first) Regardless, teeth are everything to me.  

When I was sick with Chronic Fatigue I tried EVERYTHING to alleviate my headaches and constant sinus infections.  So when Oil Pulling was presented to me as a solution, with the side benefit of whitening my teeth, I felt as though it was a gift from god.   I also hurriedly put my husband onto it, as obviously his teeth are of the utmost importance to me, I mean I’m the one who has to look at him right?  He is now a zealot, and does it much more than me.  And to be honest it kind of irritates me when I look over at him swilling whilst I’m answering all of the morning questions or hurriedly trying to cram with the kids before one of their daily verb tests.  (But it is a small price to pay for the endorphin pop I get when I see his pearly whites.)  By the time I have the time to keep my gob shut for 20 minutes so I can pull, I’ve already ingested my morning smoothie and I've learnt the hard way that you can’t pull with food in your stomach unless you want to see it back up again within minutes. 

It’s usually one of the last things I introduce with clients, I think they’d think I’d cracked it if I pulled it out of bag of tricks at the first consultation.  But really I should.   It can seriously cure sinus infections, help clear up skin conditions, arthritis, asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances, infections, liver problems, gum issues, sensitive teeth and it bloody makes your teeth whiter!!   

SO, what exactly is it? it’s an age-old Ayurvedic medicine that uses natural substances to clean and detoxify teeth and gums and draw toxins from the surrounding cells into the mouth, which then get spat out.   There's no scientific evidence it works, but it has worked for me, and for numerous clients, so I'm in.

Oil Pulling Instructions

-Put 1-2 teaspoons of oil into the mouth (start with 1 and build up to 2). The oil traditionally used in oil pulling is organic sesame oil, BUT we use sunflower oil) and this is also the oil that has been the most studied for use in oil pulling.  It is also possible to do oil pulling with organic coconut oil (which some people reckon makes your teeth whiter).

-Swish for 20 minutes. Apparently the timing is key, according to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy, as this is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria. The oil will get thicker and milky as it mixed with saliva during this time and it should be creamy-white when spit out. It will also double in volume during this time due to saliva. At first, it can be difficult to make it the full 20 minutes, especially if you have a nose full of snot and are having difficulty breathing. 

-Spit oil into the trash can or the toilet.  Don’t spit into the sink!  The oil thickens and clogs your sinks (we have experienced this!) 

-Do not swallow the oil as it is hopefully full of bacteria, toxins and pus (tasty) that are now not in the mouth and have been pulled from all around the mouth

-Rinse well with saltedwarm water. Warm water seems to clean the mouth better (my opinion). I swish a few times with warm water to get any remaining oil out of my mouth. Some sources recommend swishing with warm salt water.

- Floss (I always skip this bit but husband always does it and his teeth are blinding me currently)

-Brush well with a brush that isn’t your normal brush, there’s a lot of toxins coming out and you don’t want them sitting on your nighttime brush. 

So, if you are currently battling this nasty winter virus that seems to have nailed the entire resort of Verbier, get pulling.   And don't be surprised if I notice.  

Look what happened when Tom pulled for just over one month! 

Look what happened when Tom pulled for just over one month! 

Studies About Oil Pulling

S Asokan, J Rathan, MS Muthu, PV Rathna, P Emmadi, Raghuraman, Chamundeswari. Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry. 26(1):12-7, 2008 Mar

D Anand, C Pothiraj, RM Gopinath, et al. Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria (PDF). African Journal of Microbiology Research, Vol 2:3 pp 63-66, MAR 2008. (PDF Link)

HV Amith, Anil V Ankola, L Nagesh. Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis. Journal of Oral Health & Community Dentistry: 2007; 1(1):Pages 12-18

S Thaweboon, J Nakaparksin, B Thaweboon. Effect of Oil-Pulling on Oral Microorganisms in Biofilm Models. Asia Journal of Public Health: 2011 May-Aug. (PDF)

Love like you've never loved this Christmas

Grief is a terrible beast.  It sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Yesterday I was wrapping my still warm Christmas cake in newspaper and my Nana, who has wrapped our Christmas cakes in newspaper for as long as I can remember, just filled my soul.   All I could think of was all the years I have spent with her at Christmas, and her relief last year when I took over making the Christmas Cakes for the family.     I remember watching her nervously as she took her first bite, worried it wouldn’t cut the mustard, but she closed her eyes and hummed in pleasure.  I passed.    3 years ago I gave her a present that wasn’t really a present for her, it was for me.  It was an empty recipe book for her to record her recipes.  For me.  

My mum and dad built her a new house on her 1/4 acre of land 10 years ago (when she was 90) as we all decided it was time she had an inside toilet.  But she still did all her baking in the old house as she ‘knew that oven’.   Her lunches and baking were legendary.  It was always scones when I was young, then when my children were born she moved to apple pies.  As soon as we’d arrive at the house they’d run to her and ask for their apple pies.   She always had a beautifully laid table of food with finely cut lettuce, pickled cucumber, and tomatoes, homemade mustard (for you Siany) all set on her finest dinner set.  When we ate with Nana it was an unspoken lesson on how to eat; Chew your food 30 times, eat slowly, breath, enjoy every mouthful, enjoy the company.   I think of her every time I sit down to eat and try to practice her art of eating, and indeed am passing it onto my clients.    She then moved onto banana cake, which I used to pass off as my own at any opportunity (should I feel guilty?).  She used to pop them into the plastic bags her NZ herald came in, and then suggest I used them to put the nappies in. 

There is so much we can learn from our elders, we can learn practicalities of life, because honestly, they do know best, they’ve been here for the longest.   We can also learn dignity, we can learn to not sweat the small stuff, we can learn to forgive and move on, we can learn to be our true, honest selves, because lets face it, most people at age 100 are their true selves.  They’ve realised who they are, and really what means the most to them.  And this, it seems to me, is love. The greater lesson we can learn from our elders is unconditional love.   Love is what makes this world go around, whether it’s the love you feel for a newborn, or whether it’s love in the form of grief that fills your heart with both pleasure at memories, and pain at the hole they have left.   

My nana only left me 2 months ago so my grief is still raw, overwhelming, sudden, physically painful.  I try to cry in private now as I could see the kids starting to get worried at the amount of tears I seemed to be shedding.    Often I cry as I am walking back up the ski slope to my house after delivery the children to school, which is a pretty impressive act as I’m usually struggling to breath given the gradient.   I cry when I see my daughter in Nana’s nighty (they were the same height). I cried when I chopped the end off my finger last week and thought of all her injuries over the years and how brave she was.  I know crying is part of a process so when they need to come, I let the tears fall.   I know the more I cry the easier it will be to move on.   

I have been listening to a lot of Deepak Chopra lately, and I am clinging onto his theory on death “The key to the conquest of death is to discover your true self. Your true self is not in form. Your true self is formless. Your true self is inconceivable. When we connect with our true self, which is in the field of infinite possibilities, infinite creativity, infinite synchronistic correlation, where the power of intention resides, then we are liberated from the fear of the unknown because the so-called unknown has become known to us.”

This time of year can be so difficult, whether it’s near the anniversary of losing someone, or whether their presence is missed as you gather with others   I’m no Deepak Chopra, but I firmly believe that the more we give to people, the more our soul is filled, and the more satisfied with life we feel.  We don’t desire more, because we have enough when we give.  And I don’t mean tangible giving, I mean giving time, giving love, listening with your whole being to what someone is saying.  This is the biggest gift we can give in this world where no-one has time to really listen.  And if you still have a grandparent alive, visit them, sit with them, ask them questions, rub their feet, hold their hands, and make sure they know how much they mean to you. 

How to survive Christmas if you are a 'Freaky Eater'

I've done 3 Christmas's now as a 'freaky eater' so I reckon I have the authority to write this.  It's really important to remember that surviving isn’t just about what you put in your mouth.  Here’s 8 tips on how to survive this coming month without resorting to physical violence on a distant relative. 

GO DANCING: 

We love our endorphins (especially at Christmas), and the best way to keep these pumping through the body is sadly not through necking booze or drugs, it’s through exercise.  My favourite exercise, dancing, ticks all the boxes, not only are you listening to music, letting it enter your cells, but you are having fun with friends (or solo) and getting those muscles moving.   Also, when those who class you as a 'freaky eater' see you cutting  a rug on the dance floor they'll forget you didn't indulge in that mini-burger.  If you have to stick to traditional exercise, give yourself little rewards for every time you partake, we all love a star chart, “yes I can have that vodka and soda with berries (no sugar thanks) at the office Christmas party if I do my Vinyasa flow today.”  If it’s too hard fitting it in, walk to work, walk up and down the stairs at work, sit on a fit ball at your desk, have a snowball fight, do squats in the lift (weirdo).   Not only does this mean that those reading this in the Northern Hemisphere will keep the old SADD at bay, but those in the Southern Hemisphere are going to feel happy in togs for the month of January and thus get in all the Vitamin D required to keep immunity, and mood, high. If you maintain your exercise regime right up until Noel, give yourself the next week off.  Allow yourself a ‘deload’ week, where your muscles have a welcome change to relax and repair themselves. NO guilt, enjoy every second. 

ENABLERS:

These are people who can’t bear the fact that you aren’t eating ‘normal’ food.  They fall into 3 categories: 

Enabler A/ They think you are a twat for joining the ‘Paleo Fad’ and want you to know how much of a twat they think you are. 

Enabler B/ Because food is the cultural language of choice during the holidays, when you eat their food they see it as emotional reassurance that you care about them.  They want you to like/love them, via the medium of their Caramel Tarte/Turkey Stuffing/Garlic Bread and don’t understand that you would like them more if they didn’t keep sneaking those ‘treats’ onto your plate with a conspiratory wink.

 Enabler C/They wish they had the will-power to do what you are doing.  They want quit drinking a bottle of wine a night but can’t find the energy to break the cycle (understandable, because life is stressful right?)  They want to feel better about themselves, they see you looking smoking hot and clear eyed and sparkling and the way they deal with their emotions is to pull you down to their level by ‘proving’ you wrong with your food choices and giving you grief. 

CHANGE THE SUBJECT: 

‘Tell me about your job/mother/cat/dog/gastric bypass/prolapse’ is the easiest way to deal with enablers.   When they start asking questions about your dietary choices, don’t explain yourself, change the subject and ask them a question about themselves.  People love talking about themselves and you’ll address A,B & C all in one by doing this.  Whatever you do though, don’t make the question about food.  Anything but food.  And make sure you listen to the response.  Practice your belly breathing while you listen, unless the afore mentioned A, B & C person has bad booze breath, and then I give you full permission to mouth breathe. 

Enabler A/ Will re-think the fact you are a twat because you aren’t talking about your ‘diet’.

Enabler B/ Will know you love them because you are genuinely interested in them enough to ask a question. 

Enabler C/ Will hopefully lose the feeling of resentment because you not only look good but your inside is running clean, kind and non-judgmental too.  

Lastly on the subject of Enablers, don’t preach.  If someone won’t give up until you’ve explained why you aren’t eating something, say ‘I’ve realised it doesn’t agree with me’ or ‘I don't feel well when I eat gluten’.  Definitely don't launch into a detailed description of the damage that white bread roll is doing on their gut lining at the very moment the missile is entering their gob. 

FAKE AN ALLERGY:

I have a very good friend who has faked a peanut allergy for years, just because he doesn’t like them and he’s sick of people saying ‘what?? why??’ when he says ‘no thanks I don’t like nuts’.   This is a highly controversial subject but I think it’s a winner way out when you know you are pushing shit up hill and it means you will immediately get someone off your back.   People respect a physical disability far more than someones attempt to stay healthy.  It’s a shame we can’t wear a bandage around our bellies .

IMMUNE SYSTEM:

It’s not so bad for those down under as you are coming into summer and thus it’s not your time of year to spend weeks horizontal with the flu.  But for those of us currently nearer Santa it’s the perfect time for a flu to hit. You’ve been working hard all year, and now you stop, of course you’re going to get sick.  Not only have you been sharing snot off those shopping trolley handles, packing yourselves into indoor places with heating like malls & shopping centres, but you aren’t getting as much Vitamin D as you get in summer.  Fortunately increasing your water intake, cutting out complex carbs, increasing your fresh veggies and fat is the perfect way to keep those bugs at bay.  Sleep is too, so if you are out on a bender, make sure you have a nana nap the next day. 

PREPARATION:

This is the key to surviving.  In the lead up to christmas double your recipes, and fill that freezer with good stuff. Pate, energy balls, truffles, banana cake, nut and seed bread, nut christmas cake, casseroles, have them all on the ready to take with you to particularly ‘unfriendly’ places or pull out if you are caught out late and don't have time to cook.  

If you are hosting Christmas make an abundance of roast veggies and some particularly fancy salads to go with your ham/turkey/prawns/oysters and no-one will even notice.   

Eat before you go out so you aren’t tempted by those vol-au-vents, and have a green smoothie ready in the fridge to neck when you get home to help alkalise your gut and stop the hangover. 

CUT YOURSELF SLACK:

Right I’m not giving you permission to eat every candy cane on the tree or demolish the stuffing out of the Turkeys ass, but seriously, if you are dying on the inside because you ‘aren’t allowed’ Champagne, let yourself have it.    If your mother in law insists on making a mind-blowingly tasty christmas cake that certainly isn’t DF, GF, V, FFGFDV (I made that one up), for the sake of your relationship, eat it.   And beating yourself up afterwards is highly unproductive. Enjoy it, accept you’ve ‘slipped’ off eating what makes you feel good, and then just have another serving of greens and a digestive enzyme so you can help your body process it through ok.   Some people like to ‘plan’ a cheat day, so a whole day where you can eat what you want (or what you think you want), but I don’t recommend this as you will feel awful for days after. 

BREATHE AND LAUGH:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the key to surviving both food and emotional stress over Christmas is to breathe and laugh your way through it.  If you haven’t yet read my article on breathing, click to it now, read it on the loo, in bed, whenever, but just make sure you do as this will keep those stress hormones low and the digestion working well to process everything you put in.  Well maybe not everything, but most things.  Laughter has the same effect, as do hugs.  So turn that frown upside down, enjoy those hurdles that leap up to meet you, smile as you listen to boring Aunts and Uncles, and just take a moment to feel gratitude for your life.  And the fact that you only see these people once a year. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting down on Sugar (with the help of a Winning Cookie Recipe)

Oh that beast, processed SUGAR - responsible for everything bad that is happening in your life.   Honestly, it is.   Anyway, you all know you shouldn't be eating it so I'm not going to preach to you any more about it, there's a million articles out there about how it destroys every cell in your body (and brain) and causes cancer, I'll leave you to do the research.  Today, I am going to offer you two of my many sneaky tricks when it comes to getting it out of your life.

The first,  lie down.  When you crave sugar it is very often because you are tired.  So take 10 minutes to put your feet up, get a herb tea and one of the delicious treats I'm sharing with you below.  I hear you shouting silently at me 'I don't have time to lie down'.  Make time.  It will change your life.  Turn off facebook and you'll have more time.  

So, my 2nd sneaky trick.  Before you crave it,  replace it.  If you know you are going to crave it around 3pm, make sure you have sweet veggies for lunch, carrots and sweet potato, and then, be ready with some dark chocolate, full fat yoghurt with banana and nuts, or chia seed pudding (recipe to come) or these cookies.  LET YOURSELF HAVE A TREAT.  Your body is talking to you so don't ignore it.  And then you won't be trying to push that annoying voice out of your head that is screaming at you to eat sugar.   

So I stole this recipe from The Real Food Forager, so good.  

GF,DF Killer Cookies (even the kids love them)    

Here we use shredded coconut to give the texture and softness of an oatmeal cookie. We add the raisins to give the sweetness and they come out chewy, moist and delicious.  

Raisins Add Sweetness and Nutrients

Raisins add sweetness and nutrients. They are a concentrated source of energy, vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals. In addition, they are packed with polyphenols, anti-oxidants, dietary fiber, and other phyto-nutrients. They are high in minerals, particularly iron and potassium.

Raisins also contain resveratrol, which is an anti-oxidant, that has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Studies suggest that resveratrol has been found to have protective action against cancers like melanoma, colon and prostate, and diseases such as coronary heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease and viral/ fungal infections.

If the cookies are too sweet, next time you make them use less honey — but keep the raisins as they pack a good nutrient punch! They are very sweet, but paired with the coconut fat from the shredded coconut, they will be balanced.

Ingredients

  • 1 organic apple cored and peeled 
  • 2 eggs, pastured if possible
  • 3 tablespoon honey 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (wean yourself off adding this in as you kill the baddies making you crave sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup organic raisins (use organic raisins as grapes are heavily sprayed)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoon coconut flour 
  • 1/2 cup almond flour 
  • 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Equipment

  • Food processor 
  • Cookie sheet with parchment paper

Instructions

  1. In the food processor process the apple until it is pureed with some small chunks
  2. Add the eggs, honey, coconut sugar and vanilla and mix
  3. Add the almond flour, shredded coconut, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and mix until just combined (not processed)
  4. Add the coconut flour in small increments until you get a firm batter (you may not need it all)
  5. Mix in the raisins
  6. Place a tablespoon of the batter onto the cookie sheet
  7. Fill the cookie sheet
  8. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the cookies and with a spatula flatten the cookies so that they are all even
  9. Bake at 180 degrees for 14 to 18 minutes until they are golden on top
  10. Cool on a rack
  11. These freeze well if you have any left over

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
For 15 – 17 cookies

OK so they may look like squashed dried up old dog turd but they taste bloody good 

OK so they may look like squashed dried up old dog turd but they taste bloody good 

Breathing - the key to domestic bliss

I was having a heated discussion with husband earlier in the week about something so trivial I can't recall what it was.  It may have been over the fact I never screw the lids on jars properly, or perhaps it was the state of our Tupperware division (my bad), either way, the moment I took my focus to my breath it all became much like white noise.   Although this served to calm me dramatically, I did notice my long slow deep breath through my nose and my lowering of my lids seemed to only make him more riled.  Mental note, need to teach husband more about breath.  

So, L'aspiration.  For me, yin yoga has been my inroad into breathing properly. Before my diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I was having trouble getting the breath into my lungs.  At that time I didn't understand that I had become a chronic shallow breather and this was a massive contributing factor to a lot of my symptoms.   I remember sitting in the waiting room at my Dr's for the hundredth time thinking omg, I actually can't breath.  Am I having a panic attack?  It was so odd for me, having never been a 'panicy' sort of person, to feel this sensation.   I had always thrived on the buzz of life.  I mean really?  Breathing is something that our body just knows how to do right?   

Onto the next health practitioner,  I was offered the following list: 

DO YOU SUFFER FROM ANY OF THE FOLLOWING? 

  • Fatigue
  • Tension
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Indigestion
  • Chest tightness
  • Compromised immune function

I was so devastated I had to answer yes to everything.  But I couldn't believe that something as simple as the breath could make all of those things disappear. Surely nothing that simple could fix my poor failing body.   I now understand that shallow breathing can cause all of the above.  I was so busy keeping up with life I frequently 'forgot' to breath.  Through my day I was dealing with sick toddlers, a flailing business, an absent husband and my shallow breathing just became a habit, I was emptying too much carbon dioxide out of my blood and my stress levels were just  rising and rising...and thus I was shallow breathing more....and on and on.  

UNDERSTANDING THE BREATH

For you folk out there who need the science behind the etherial guff, read on.  Yes, breathing is controlled by the respiratory centre of the brain and is an automatic body function. Relaxed, slow, steady, easy breathing allows for the exchange of gases our cells need to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.

The stress response can cause the breathing pattern to change, lets face it, we all face some sort of stress every day.   I usually ask my clients to notice whether they breath into the chest or belly.   They often use their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air in and out of the lungs.  I then ask them if they have neck and shoulder pain and they look surprised as if I have read their mind.   Frequently neck and shoulder pain can be dissipated through the introduction of basic breathing exercises. 

When we breath properly we use the abdomen and diaphragm to suck and exhale air into and out of the lungs, soothing the autonomic nervous system.  Belly breathing can reduce tension in the neck and shoulders, massage the heart, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for rest and digest) through the phrenic nerve that runs down both sides of the diaphragm.  

BREATHING DEEPLY TO REDUCE STRESS

Just as the sympathetic nervous system turns on the 'fight or flight' response, stress can be managed and reduced with proper breathing. Although breathing is an automatic body function, we can control it. With a little awareness, we can consciously shift into abdominal breathing, which has been shown to calm the autonomic nervous system and create a relaxation response.  I make a conscious effort to take a few deep breaths before I sit down and eat at every meal (also when I'm on the loo and sitting at traffic lights too). On my inhalation I think 'rest', and on my exhalation I think 'digest'.

Abdominal breathing has been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of stress hormones. Furthermore, it boosts the immune system and promotes a sense of calm. Breathing and meditation assist you to feel high on life.   They balance you, clear your brain and really help in decision-making.  The next time you have a difficult decision, ask yourself the question and then meditate or take 5 deep breaths to your belly. The answer will come from a gut feeling, taking you beyond the thinking mind. Yogis call this dhi or buddhi, which means 'knowingness'.   

If you, like me, find it hard to sit and focus on your breath, get there through movement.  When you are practicing yoga, or doing anything to get the blood pumping, take your mind to your breath.  It's a good way to start.  

The following breathing patterns can be used beyond traditional meditation and applied for immediate stress relief. Need more convincing?  Read about a brilliant Harvard study which gives you living proof.  Link is below the pic.    

SOFT BELLY BREATHING

Practice in bed in the morning or evening with your knees bent. If sitting in a chair, sit upright so you’re able to support your own spine.  I do this whenever I can, especially before I respond to a heated discussion about lids and Tupperware....

Place your hands on your belly, thumbs at the navel and finger tips below. Allow the belly to expand under your finger tips on the inhale and to contract on the exhale.

Envision an ocean wave: The belly expands on the inhale – the wave rises; the navel contracts on the exhale – the wave returns to the ocean.

If you aren’t getting any movement, press your finger tips gently into your belly so you know it’s contracting on the exhale. Release the press on the inhale.

As the expansion and contraction become more natural, focus on keeping a rhythmic breathing pattern, where the inhale and exhale are equal.

When your mind wanders, call it back in again, sometimes I find it easier to say 'I am inhaling, I am exhaling' or counting, 'inhale 2,3,4, exhale 2,3,4'.  

Take it slowly, be kind to yourself, and in the immortal words of Rachel Hunter  'It won't happen overnight, but it will happen'. 

 

I breathe to you, god of Tupperware, let my lids all find their bases and the drawer become miraculously tidy by morning Photo Credit: Melody Sky 

I breathe to you, god of Tupperware, let my lids all find their bases and the drawer become miraculously tidy by morning

Photo Credit: Melody Sky 

Bananarama Bread

I am a rubbish baker.  I like to blame it on the fact I lost my glasses toboggoning home drunk on my birthday last season.  Well not blame it on that, but because it's too expensive for me to buy new ones here in Swiss,  I can't see the ingredients properly.  But if I'm 100% honest with you it's because I hate following recipes.  When I'm cooking it's a meditative process for me, I like imagining a taste in my head and then thinking what ingredients will make it taste like that.   I usually win on the cooking front, but very rarely when baking.    That is why this GF DF Banana Bread is a winner every time. (That said not even this filter can hide the fact I may have left it in slightly too long.)  It is SO resilient, last time I substituted one of the cups of almond meal with coconut flour AND  dropped it as I took it out of the oven, and still managed to get those little folk in the house to eat it.  How rad is that!    Another reason I love it is because Oscar has a mad sweet tooth and this helps satiate that, if I can get a piece of this into him he forgets he asked me for an ice cream (every day) when he gets off the school bus.   I also really love it because my best friend Senka gave it to me, my Nana always made me banana loaf (old school styles) and I gave this recipe to my mum (she uses half carrots, half bananas) so I think of them when I bake.  Which makes me feel good.  

So here you go, here is the worlds easiest banana bread recipe stolen from Senka, god knows where she stole if from so sorry if it's yours and we stole it.  But we love it so you should be stoked! 

Mix in one bowl

4 eggs

3 ripe bananas

1/4 cup honey 

1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk 

1 T vanilla (I just hurl a pile in)

Mix in other bowl

2 1/4 cup Almond Flour

1/2 t sea salt

1/2 t cinnamon 

2 t baking soda

Combine and bake for 35 - 50min on whatever heat you normally bake for (about 175 maybe? Don't ask me I burned it last time...maybe you could let me know.) 

 

Best ever easiest ever banana bread

Best ever easiest ever banana bread