I’ve tried out some new recipes lately and have been throughly enjoying both making and eating them. It can be so easy to get caught in the same old routines and meal plans and sometimes you just need to give yourself a bit of extra encouragement to be more adventurous in the kitchen! Added to which, even though I was a little sceptical at first, I invested in Fearne Cotton’s new book this week (Cook Happy, Cook Healthy) and there are some GORGEOUS recipes in it. Anyway, none of these recipes have actually come from that book……most have been sort of mish mashy ones that I have adapted from various other recipes I’ve picked up along the way.
Here’s my current favourite breakfast! Vanilla and coconut chia pudding topped with Pip and Nut’s coconut almond butter, bee pollen and goji berries. Despite looking like frog spawn, it tastes divine, keeps me full until lunch and I know that I’m getting a gert big hit of goodness first thing in the morning thanks to the chia (a great source of protein, amongst many other things), goji berries (the most nutritionally dense fruit on earth don’t ya know! Chockablock full of amino acids, protein, vitamin C, iron, calcium, zinc……I could go on!! ) and the delicious bee pollen (which is just so full of goodness, I don’t even know where to begin!!! An amazing super food which really boosts my energy first thing in the morning.)
I’m including this primarily because it just looks so pretty!!! We have a new Waitrose in town, complete with a Cornish food store which sells food only produced in Cornwall, and from the fridge I picked up a box of Cornish grown edible flowers. Look at the impact they make! Aren’t they amazing?? How could you not be wowed when presented with a salad topped with those beauties??! Just beautiful!
This dinner was a definite winner! A vegan black bean chilli, gorgeous creamy guacamole and an amazingly zingy mango and sweetcorn salsa. Oh and some homemade tortilla chips on the side. A great Saturday evening dinner!
Talking of Saturday evenings………When Ben gets home on a Friday night, we both like to chill out and ease ourselves in to the weekend with a couple of beers, but rather than accompanying that with shop bought beer snacks, I’ve got quite into making my own. I definitely prefer to know exactly what’s gone into them and they’re so quick and easy to whip up, it really is no hassle at all. So, from the top, we have sea salt and apple cider vinegar almonds; tamari almonds and chilli and lime pumpkin seeds.
My latest favourite sweet treat…….refined sugar free millionaires shortbread, adapted from a Livia’s Kitchen snickers slab recipe. Yes, they contain dates and maple syrup and yes, I realise that that means they contain a lot of fructose, but the way I see it is that they act as a great transition food. Not so long ago, I truly was a total sugar monster. Seriously, I could devour a whole packet of biscuits in one night. Easy peasy! Now I know that the hardcore quit sugar lobby say you should quit cold turkey by cutting even fruit sugars out right from the start but, I tried and failed! For me, it was back to another all or nothing diet, and I have personally found that having home made, refined sugar free treats available in the house suits me far better. Yet again, it’s all about balance. The added bonus is that I am truly satisfied after just one or two small pieces…..something which NEVER used to happen when we had “normal”chocolate or biscuits in the house!
This week I have a whole new list of gorgeous recipes to trial and I’m going to have a go at experimenting with tofu for the first time. Wish me luck!!!!
………If only it was that bloody easy!! I’ll be honest with you, this is definitely the most difficult thing that I have struggled with over the last couple of years. When I first started on this journey, I was happy (due to my pre-conditioned way of thinking) to stockpile so called “clean eating” recipes and practice cooking them. I was happy to head to the local health food store (heads up Archie Browns!) and invest in exotic ingredients with mysterious names that I’d never heard of before. I was happy to search for a form of exercise that excited me and encouraged me to move my body for pleasure (although the search still continues to a certain degree!) I was happy and prepared to do these things because in theory, they were no different to the preparations I used to make when starting any new “diet”.
But then things got a bit deeper. I finally acknowledged the fact that the time had come where the biggest obstacle I had to tackle was not my bingo wings or my wobbly thighs, but my mind. The demons who had occupied my head and the majority of my conscious thoughts for most of my life. The demons that were always telling me that I was disgusting, hideous, sickening, not good enough, too fat for that dress, too fat to sit on the beach in a swimming costume, too fat to go on holiday to a tropical destination, too fat to audition for various singing gigs (yes, I am a frustrated singer!), too fat to learn to surf….. you get the general gist. The demons who had encouraged me to put my life on hold until I finally achieved the perfect size 10.
And then a year or so ago, I had a moment of clarity. I FINALLY realised that:
- So far, despite 30 years of dieting experience I have NEVER managed to achieve the perfect size 10 , so lets face it, my chances for the future aren’t looking great!
- Even if I was to manage to starve myself into a size 10 (a la meal replacement shakes) then the effort it would take to maintain such a figure until the day I die, would be nothing short of life-long mental and physical torture…….not really my preferred way of living!
- Why do I need to be a bloody size 10? Who has brainwashed me into believing that this is by far the best and only acceptable body size. Oh and while we’re on it, it’s not just about the dress size; you need also to refer to the very specific body shape pre-requisites ie. Totally flat tummy, toned lightly muscular arms with absolutely no hint of excess flesh, pert, round bum with just the right amount of wobble, exposed, graceful collar bones, the much sought after thigh gap, slim ankles and feet …..Yes, ankles and feet…… I’ve thought about it that hard……..I could continue………
Once these questions occurred to me, I couldn’t escape them. They took up residence in my head alongside the demons and it felt as thought they were arguing with each other (just like the characters in Inside Out!) until I slowly but surely began to break free of the shackles………the shackles of the media who constantly perpetuate the myth of the perfect female body; the shackles of clothes manufacturers with their ridiculous, arbitrary women’s clothing sizes which vary dramatically from shop to shop; the shackles of the GPs who tell us that we can only be healthy if we fit into the correct, ludicrous BMI band that our height predetermines for us; the shackles of the insidious diet industry with has brainwashed pretty much every woman I know so that we refer to food not as gorgeous, mouthwatering or bland, but instead as “good”, “bad” or “naughty”……….. I mean, seriously……WTF??!?!
So, I have put a lot of time, effort and work into improving my relationship with my body and altering my mind-set. And in fact, while my diet has changed for the better, I think that my biggest shifts have been psychological rather than physical. I have done a lot of soul searching, a lot of reading, and I have listened to a lot of fabulous people talk about the issues that I have struggled with and how best to overcome them. I could regurgitate their main points for you, but instead I thought it would be more helpful if I were to share what I feel are the most important lessons I’ve learned along the way. Things that I wish someone had told me at the start:
- Understand that you are most definitely not the only person who feels this way!!! There’s loads of help out there if you search for it (although obviously Happilicious.co.uk is THE place to be!) And the thing to bear in mind about this is that if so many other people are wasting their energy on focussing on the negatives of their own bodies, they sure as hell aren’t focussing on yours, right???!!! Just pause and think for a minute….Imagine what fabulous things we could achieve if we channelled all of that negative energy in a more positive direction…….
- This is something you will need to work at. It will not suddenly fall into place because you’ve read one body positive article. Throw yourself into it. Let it consume you. Let it take the place of all of your obsessive calorie counting and weighing! Read everything you can get your hands on; join Facebook groups; sign up to mailing lists; listen to podcasts. Study it. Live it. Focus on it. You wouldn’t expect to suddenly develop a monstrous 6 pack after one visit to the gym and learning to love and accept your body is exactly the same. It takes time, effort and practice. It is most certainly a journey. A bloody fabulous and very worthwhile one!!
- Don’t give up when you have a set back. This is certainly one that I have had to come to terms with……Every now and then, I get dressed, look in the mirror and have a bit of a breakdown because I don’t like what I see! We’ve all been there right? But here’s the thing I’ve come to realise, It happens to me now every 3 or 4 months……..It used to happen nearly every day!!! How’s that for progress? And I bet even Kate Moss has her moments where she doesn’t like what she sees in the mirror – we all have our off days!
- Listen to the way you talk to yourself. Ask yourself how you would feel if you heard someone talking to your mum/best friend/daughter in the same way? If you’re anything like me, you’d be outraged. So don’t do it! Focus on changing your inner script. Be nice to yourself. Use positive affirmations. It will feel really odd at first, but I promise you, it works. Remember: Our thoughts create our reality.
- Understand that loving and accepting yourself doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly feel compelled to enter Miss Baywatch Bikini 2016…… (Although, if you do, crack on and best of luck to you, I’m sure you’ll rock!!!) And neither does it mean that you have to stop striving to make you feel like the best version of you. On the contrary, once you have accepted where you are, right now, you can then figure out all of the marvellous things you can do to make yourself feel even better. Self love is fuelled by self care, and that comes in many wonderful guises.
Do you know what? As soon as I started writing this list, I realised that I could probably just keep on going! Honestly, I cannot over-emphasise the power of working on your relationship with your body. I urge you to give it a try! If you want any tips or guidance, I’d be happy to help. Just leave a comment in the box below.
In case you can’t guess from my jaunty post title (!) I am just back from an uhhhh-maz-ing family holiday in Mallorca! I honestly had no idea what a truly beautiful place it is and after a week spent basking in perfect temperatures, swimming in warm turquoise blue, crystal clear seas and exploring the stunning coastlines and hills, I am definitely ready to start planning a return visit!
We opted to stay in a private villa, mainly for the fabulousness of a private pool (oh-SO-fabulous!), and also because we wanted to be able to cook and prepare our own food. Since starting on this journey, my priorities have definitely altered and whereas the old me would have been looking forward to eating anything as long as I didn’t have to make it (its supposed to be a holiday goddamit!!!!) this time, I was really keen to make the most of the amazing fresh fruit and veg that was available in Mallorca. I also didn’t want to return from holiday feeling bloated, fuzzy headed and as though I would need a monumental effort of get “back on the bloody wagon”.
On our first morning on the island, we headed to the local market in the old town of Pollensa where we were greeted with phenomenal stalls chock full with the most amazing fresh, colourful produce.
Ben getting carried away at the olive stall!
We went slightly OTT and spent a fortune on fruit, veg, olives, local honey and cheese, but it was worth every penny because it all tasted totes amaze and lasted us for the rest of the week. I had also brought a few bits and bobs with us (pre-soaked black beans, quinoa and freekeh, veg stock) and I was able to use those as bases to add to the market haul! Now don’t get me wrong, I did not cook every single meal we ate. In fact, we ate out a lot (mmmmm, paella!) but even then, we always searched for the places which were selling freshly caught fish and amazing veggi dishes rather than the pile them high, sell them cheap joints.
Do you know something……..It’s only when I stop to write this down that I realise i just how much my mindset has shifted over the last 6-12 months. My whole attitude to and relationship with food has changed dramatically and I LOVE IT!
Anyway, getting back to the food that I prepared, I thought that it might be a nice idea to share with you the sort of things I made. Now as I’m still getting used to this blogging malarkey, most of the time I totally forgot to take photos of the food that we ate (mental note to self- stop scoffing, start clicking!) but I did manage a couple and thought you might like to see them along with a list of the basic ingredients I put in each.
- Cooked and cooled quinoa and freekeh mix
- Red pepper
- Medjool dates
- Sundried tomatoes
- Cashew nuts
- Halloumi cheese
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt
- Fresh basil
This salad was a TRIUMPH! I had no idea what I was going to do for lunch and so basically went through the fridge and added whatever took my fancy. The sweetness of the dates and nectarine worked so well against the salty cheese and all of the different textures were wonderful too – crunchy cashews, creamy avocado. Yum, I could do with a hefty bowl of this right now! This is one I will definitely attempt to recreate.
Spot the can of beer – it’s all about balance!
- Tomatoes (as many different varieties as possible!)
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Leftover sweet and salty salad from the previous day
Tomato and mozzarella salad is a firm favourite with us, which is odd, because as a rule of thumb, I’m not mad keen on uncooked tomatoes! However there’s something about the combination of sliced toms, good olive oil, basil and creamy mozzarella that makes this irresistible and its one of our regular summer lunches whether at home or on holiday.
One morning I also made a huge breakfast fruit salad which went down a treat with everyone and although I don’t have photographic evidence, I’ll try to remember what I put in it!
- Water melon
- Medjool dates
- Plain natural yoghurt
- Unsalted mixed nuts
- Local honey
I basically chopped the fruit into manageable bite sized pieces and topped with the yogurt, nuts and honey. Simple and so delicious!!!!
None of this food prep was difficult or particularly time consuming. I didn’t follow any recipes and neither did I weigh or measure any of the ingredients. And yet, the food that we ate was so tasty and made us (I think I speak for the rest of the family too!!) feel brilliant.
Although many people will try to convince you that there are complex rules and regulations that you must follow in order to gain the most amazing health benefits from your diet, I believe that the reverse is actually true. The most amazing thing that you can do for yourself (and your family) is just to stop eating processed food! Its that simple!! I think that it is very easy to feel overwhelmed by the cult of clean eating. It can feel a bit like a cult or a club which you can only be a part of if you know how to make perfect pesto or have untold hours available to prepare a complex meal with ingredients which you can only track down on-line! I guess that what I’d like more people to realise is that as long as you buy fresh ingredients that you like the look of, you can’t really go wrong. Experiment. Throw things together. Remember what worked and what didn’t. And eat what lights you up and makes you feel vibrant!!! Its not about right or wrong, good or bad, naughty or saintly. Its not about calories, points or syns. It’s about gorgeous fresh food that you enjoy preparing, eating and sharing.
Oh and talking of freshly prepared food, check out what we found in a tiny roadside cave in the middle of the mountains……..
Without a shadow of a doubt, the sweetest, most beautiful, and certainly the freshest orange juice any of us had ever tasted! Bonkers but totally brilliant!
Anyway, let me know if you’d like me share some of my other concoctions. I always seem to be faffing about with food and I’m more than happy to show you what I’ve been eating. I even promise I’ll try to get better at taking food photos!!