I haven’t actually written or posted a recipe or blog post here since early March. It definitely wasn’t my intention to take a writing break, but like so many other times, life happens and it’s not always possible to fit everything in, even if there’s a desire to do it.
If I’m really honest though, I am not sure that the urge to sit down and write was there over these past few months. My life took some turbulent directions for awhile and I am still trying to adjust to a new rhythm. Transitions are not always easy, but they are necessary and most definitely a part of life. (Sure I even have a tattoo that says “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional…”)
During these past couple of months cooking took a complete backseat, well at least the consciously creative part of it. Instead, because of limited time, energy and funds it became about practicality, speed and ease. And a necessity to just eat food in enough quantities so that I could get on with the other parts of my life that needed tending to.
My overall creativity took a nosedive too, or rather, was put on hold. It is difficult to create from a place of survival…
My meals of choice over these couple of months have been bowls of bits and pieces put together. Minimal cooking and effort required. To make life even simpler I also visited the freezer section in my local Aldi and found some really neat frozen bean mixes that added some crunch and protein to my stir fries.
I keep reminding myself, as well as many of my clients, that neither cooking nor eating have to be complicated. The ever increasing information and an evolving science on nutrition can make this basic act of survival feel so complicated that it ends up feeling overwhelming. When it does, it is good to come back to basics.
This salad recipe is one of those simple throw together meals. It looks pretty perhaps, but truly it contains some readily available ingredients you can get in any supermarket. Sans the nasturtium flowers perhaps(!). Way back when I first started my blog, what I wished for was to make eating vegetables to be fun, exiting and accessible. Far, far from the boring, bland and punishing dieting type recipes and mentality. This Summer Salad recipe hits on those intentions pretty well, I think.
Before I share the recipe with you I also want to share with you two wonderful new cookbooks I bought this Spring which I am still slowly making my way through. Because I seldom cook from recipes, or at least following one to the letter, I’ve been looking for some new cookbooks that can teach me some new technique as well as inspire my kitchen creativity. In Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat and Lateral Cooking by Nikki Segnit, I’ve found exactly what I was looking for.
Both books are pretty extensive, but written in a very accessible style. Cooking is a tactile experience that actually lends itself pretty well to creative curiosity, providing we are not in a state of “hangry” or survival mode. If you are looking to ignite your kitchen creativity, I can highly recommend these two.
Now let’s get on with the salad recipe!
Summer Salad With a Mustard Vinaigrette
½ small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
2 – 3 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves, washed
1/3 cucumber, diced
½ avocado, stone removed & diced
A large handful fresh raspberries, washed
50g feta cheese
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
5 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
Bring some lightly salted water to the boil, then add the broccoli florets and cook for 1-2 min until bright green. Remove from the stovetop, drain the hot water and give the cooked florets a quick rinse in cold water to let them cool down and remain somewhat crunchy.
To make the dressing; place all the ingredients except salt in a small glass jar and then give it a good shake until everything is evenly dispersed. Taste and add a little bit of salt and black pepper if you wish.
Place the mixed salad leaves on a large plate, add the cucumber, avocado, broccoli florets and raspberries. Crumble the feta over the salad and then scatter some pumpkin seeds. Decorate with some edible flowers, if you have some!
Pour over some dressing and serve immediately.
This salad is best eaten once plated up. The dressing will keep a few days, stored in the glass jar in the fridge.
I have been running this blog for just over five years at this point, yet I feel like I still have really no particular structure for how and when to put out content in a more organised and orderly fashion… Maybe it is because this space doesn’t earn me any money directly. Indirectly sure, because it serves as part of my marketing strategy and is a continuation of putting my message and my voice out there.
Maybe my blogging often feels so hap-hazard because I don’t tend to have a longterm schedule of what to write when but much rather prefer to let my inspiration and creativity guide me… Then there’s of course finding the time to cook, test, style and edit photographs and recipes. And life gets in the way sometimes. Paid gig takes preference. Rest becomes important. Normal stuff. Life in general.
It’s been ages since I planned, cooked and styled some new recipes. I feel like I’ve been floundering about a bit over these past few weeks since the start of the year. Perhaps this is not entirely true but my blogging has definitely been an afterthought.
The recipe I am sharing with you here, is one that I adapted from one of my all-time favourite food writers and cooks, Emma Galloway. I simply cannot tell you how much I love her work and both of her cookbooks, My Darling Lemon Thyme and A Year In My Wholefood Kitchen is my all-time favourite books and the ones I use the most, if I want to follow a recipe.
During my late teenage years I used to use baking as a stress reliever. I used to take a night of from studying and then try a new recipe for a cake or some cookies from the classic Swedish book “ Sju Sorters Kakor” (“Seven Types Of Cakes”).
I don’t what it is about baking that feels like such a stress reliever. Sure you will hopefully get something nice and tasty at the end of it, but that’s not necessarily the main point when you bake with the intention of stress relief. It can be this opportunity to be present with the moment.
The reading of the recipe, weighing out the ingredients, mixing, observing the consistency forming, tasting (of course licking the spatula is compulsory!). Then keeping an eye on your cake or cookies or whatever it is you are baking, watching it patiently until you can see the rise and a heavenly aroma is wafting through your kitchen. And finally, when your baked cake has cooled (at least sufficiently for your mouth not to get scalded), tucking in, filling your senses with the magic that comes from mixing sugar, butter and eggs in suggested ratio and baked to perfection.
Some people say that baking is an exact science, but I am not fully convinced… Baking like anything else does allow us to learn from observation, a willingness to fail and a willingness to try. A bit like other things in life that are worth doing.
Blueberry Banana Muffins
(Slightly adapted from Emma Galloway’s original recipe)
Makes 8 small muffins
2 large bananas over-ripe, mashed
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup ( I have tried them without and then are more bread-like than cake-like then)
20g porridge oats
110g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
A handful of frozen blueberries
Preheat your oven to 170˚C. If you have a muffin tray line it with ten paper cases. If you don’t have a muffin tray you can place the paper cases directly on a normal flat baking tray.
Place ground almonds, porridge oats and baking powder in a large bowl and stir together.
In another bowl whisk together the mashed bananas with the two eggs, maple syrup, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Which until you have a smooth mixture.
Add the mixed dry ingredients to your wet mixture, mixing well. Add the frozen blue berries and give another stir to make sure they are evenly distributed.
Spoon the muffin mixture into the paper cases and fill about 2/3 up.
Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for approx. 35 min or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. They should have risen and golden looking.
Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. I know it is really challenging to wait, but unless you want to consume the paper as part of your muffin, I strongly recommend holding off until they have cooled completely. Then the paper case comes off a lot easier!
These muffins, since they are flour free are very moist. They store well for a few days in the fridge and they freeze well too. Great portable snacks or as a quick breakfast option.
Have you ever pondered this question? Even though we know that diets and dieting doesn’t work, it can be so challenging to not try another one. After the initial high, diets usually leave us feeling miserable, defeated and perhaps even heavier than before we started…
I can honestly say that I lost about 10 years of my life to dieting. Much obsessing around my eating and my weight with on-off, yo-yo dieting efforts. My efforts neither made me happier nor healthier. Besides a preoccupation with my body and binge eating episodes, I also ended up with digestive issues and fatigue.
Science tells us that intentional weight loss pursuits don’t work for the vast majority of people and that dieting is a pretty good indicator future weight gain. They tend make us MORE preoccupied with food and our bodies, not less… So why do we keep coming back for more?
Why on earth is it so difficult to let go of dieting?
I’m not claiming that I have all the answers here, what I would like to do is offering you some reasons to why it may be so difficult to let go of dieting, that are worth reflecting on. You are not wrong for wanting to lose weight. And there’s nothing wrong with your body if your attempts to lose weight hasn’t worked out either. It is the Culture we live in that is wrong.
Dieting gives us an illusion of control.
When life feels unmanageable it is so easy to use dieting as a way of trying to regain a sense of control. Planning, counting, restricting can all give us a sense that we are “in charge” and “doing something”. When in fact what we may actually need is some kindness and care and space to recognise that life IS hard. What we need are tools for self care and self compassion, not fuel to hate ourselves more.
It also gets tricky when dieting is done under the disguised as “a lifestyle change”. I have used brackets here because if your lifestyle change carries a main focus on making your body smaller, then it is in fact a diet. This is NOT the same thing as eating foods that makes you feel good, work on reducing stress or moving your body to feel stronger. Doing all of these things can support your health and wellbeing independently of change in body size.
Dieting is packaged and sold as the path to happiness.
Just have a look around at the endless messages that the multi billion dollar Diet Industry that are flung at us everywhere we turn. We are being told, and sold, that the pursuit of weight loss is the gateway drug to happiness.
We are also being told essentially, that we are not good enough as we are. A subconscious message that is all too often clothed as “female empowerment”. But that in truth is anything but. How can we become truly empowered when we are being told to spend our precious time, energy and money, to make ourselves anything but what we already are? Empowerment comes from owning the truth that we are already enough as we are, right now.
The final myth / lie that falls under dieting as the path to happiness is the sneaky one that convince us that if we could just get dieting “right”, then the rest of our life would just magically fall into place. This lie can make it particularly difficult to challenge when we are in the midst of a weight regain period. Please don’t beat yourself up if you’ve find yourself stuck here, time and time again. It’s cultural conditioning.
We get treated different when we are thin(ner).
To be honest this is not a myth, this is a fact. It is something that is continuously being upheld and perpetuated by fat phobia and weight stigma. Even if someone has lost weight due to a serious illness, they will get congratulated by other on how “well they look”… We also continue to up hold the Thin Ideal by assuming a person’s health, simply by looking at their body size.
Because we all live in this fat phobic culture the result is that those in a larger body desperately try to get thin, and people who live in smaller bodies live with a fear of getting fat. This does nothing to create an environment in where we can foster self care, but rather drives us further apart and disconnect our trust in our own bodies.
If you have done a multitude of diets, and are still searching for the one (that will work), please don’t be hard on yourself.
We’ve all been conditioned for almost all of our lives that thin = health. That we are “better people” if we could just learn to control our weight and that if we can’t, then the fault is our own.
I also appreciate that even if you have reached a place where you simply cannot do another diet, it may still be very difficult to put any weight loss desires to the side. That’s ok. It is difficult to live in this dieting culture. Be gentle with yourself.
Just know that letting go of dieting is not the same as letting yourself go.
Letting go of dieting is an opportunity to cultivate self care, body respect and body trust. It is an opportunity to end the war with your body, free your mind from obsessive thoughts about food and put your time and energy into things that will truly enrich your life.
I often think about this relentless striving to be more, do more and to continue to better ourselves. The beginning of each year is a time when this message becomes excessively loud. The “how to” of creating a “new you” is E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.
Of course I believe in self development and growth, because that forms part of the work I do in my clinical practice, yet this message of striving to become a new version of ourselves feels like it carries an undertone of unworthiness to me. Why else would we want to be a NEW version of ourselves? Are we trying to eradicate the very truth that we are actually worthy human beings just by being here?
One of my ambitions last year was to attend a 9 day Vipassana retreat, which I was very blessed to actually achieve. I have done a couple of shorter silent meditation retreats in the past, so this time I had a fair idea of what to expect. What I didn’t expect though was the intense tiredness I felt for the first few days. Every spare moment, in between the formal sittings, I took naps. I meditated, ate and rested. It took a few days before I actually had enough energy and desire to go for some longer walks. My body was tired because my mind was so full and had been so overstimulated. The thing is, it is only in this intentional stillness that I can really notice how much my mind is racing.
Though I don’t consider myself someone who is extreme, doing something as radical as spending time in silence and meditating for hours over the course of a week has been one of the best forms of resting and recovering for me. I know this is not for everyone and you have to find what works for you, of course. Going on retreat where the outside stimuli is virtual nil has been the only way for me to completely let go. It’s not easy, but it has been possible, and so rewarding.
With this experience freshly in my mind one of my intentions for 2019 is definitely to let go more, to be more present and to allow my life to unfold more than me constantly pushing and striving. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have ambitions for things I’d like to happen, places I’d like to see and conversations I want to have, it just means that I am more open than attached to outcome. Basically I am taking more of a curious approach this year. Let’s see what will happen!
Before I move on to sharing my first recipe of this year, a green smoothie with some seasonal ingredients, I want to circle back to the self development topic. If we stop striving for being some different version of ourselves then what? Should we just give up on the self development project altogether?
I like to think about self development work more like a homecoming. A way to really get to know ourselves and to develop the skills, resilience and courage to live our lives on our own terms. To be able to be more of whom we are, rather than what society think we should be. So any tools and practices that helps us returning home to ourselves, to peel of all the layers of expectations and external driven motivations get my vote.
If you want to spend this year getting curious about your strengths and weaknesses, about what makes you tick and about what brings you joy, just know that I will be here cheering you on all the way. Just know that regardless of what you do, or don’t do, you are still enough and worthy just by being you.
So now to this recipe. Yeah, posting a green smoothie recipe in January does feel a little like playing into the hands of Diet Culture, but I also know that my body craves fresh foods and greens after all the holiday foods. However, when we’ve given ourselves full permission to enjoy all foods and eat (at least mostly) from a place of attunement, having a green smoothie doesn’t HAVE to mean that we are jumping on the diet bandwagon.
I have to admit that cold smoothies in cold weather is not my usual go to either, but this seasonal combination is so delicious and having a smoothie is a quick and easy way to consume something green, when you are craving it!
Apple & Kale Green Smoothie (For The Winter Season)
1 small apple, core removed & roughly chopped into chunks
1 small banana or 2 Medjool dates
A few leaves of green kale, stems removed & roughly chopped – I used cavolo nero here.
1 tbsp protein powder of choice – I tend to use an unflavoured pea protein – optional
100 ml full fat coconut milk
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
150 ml soy milk or other plant milk of choice
Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. If you are using dates, don’t forget to remove the stones!
I personally like my smoothies at room temperature, but if you like them colder you can either use frozen banana slices in place of the fresh banana or ad some ice. Just make sure your blender can handle it. Enjoy!
So here we are in December and the holiday season is upon us. This time of the year can be a challenging time to navigate, especially if you are just in the beginning of your make-peace-with-food journey.
Food is in abundant supply and so it the media’s continued supply of mixed messages. If you open any women’s magazine you will most likely see a miss mash between “How to bake delicious cookies and sweet treats” to “How to beat the Christmas bulge and look fabulous in the little black dress”.
Years ago, long before I became firmly rooted in a non-diet approach, I both followed and gave out advice such as “ How to make sure you don’t got to your Christmas party hungry” and “How to avoid temptations” (insert face palm here…). Anyway, these days when I know better, I would like to rectify this past advice with something more useful and something that won’t backfire into deprivation driven eating or binge like behaviour, just because diet mentality is reinforced.
Though the Holiday Season can be challenging to navigate for many reasons, not just food alone, but dealing with family, in-laws etc. often have their own challenges and if the relationship with these people are strained normally, just because it is holiday season may not make it any easier and we may turn to food (or alcohol) in order to cope. Don’t beat your self up about it, if this is the case, we all do what we in have to in order to survive.
The hallmark of diet mentality is this All Or Nothing thinking. Intuitive eating helps us live in the grey (though I prefer to think of it as a rainbow…) Of course it may feel easier to roll with an all or nothing approach, sussing out all the nuances in between is so much messier. But it is here, in the mess and the nuance, that peace and freedom resides.
So actually, even though this time of year IS challenging to navigate, between family stuff, diet talk, overwhelm and perhaps fear of how to cope with it all, it can also provide us with rich soil for practice and growth.
These are my five suggestions for How To Navigate The Holiday Season As An Intuitive Eater.
- Give yourself full permission to eat ALL foods
This is the basic tenet of intuitive eating. In order to create space for choice, we have to first let go of all the rigid food rules we’re holding on to. If ALL foods are ‘allowed’ then there’s no reason for feeling guilty for eating anything. Pick what you truly enjoy of the seasonal feasts on offer and feel free to say no to the rest.
- Practice honouring your hunger and fullness ques
Now is a prime opportunity to truly listen to your body. Of course there may be some overeating past comfortable fullness, that’s to be expected simply by the share amount of food that tends to be serves on Christmas Day alone. However, if you can let go of any sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) then there’s truly no need to any extremes of uncomfortableness. Because you are not starting (another) diet in January, you’re just respecting your body’s cues and that’s that.
- You don’t need to repent anything
Adopt this as a mantra if one of your struggles are with over exercising and/ or a fear of weight gain. Move your body because it feels good to do so. You don’t need to earn food, or burn it off. Not over the Holiday Season or any other time of the year for that matter. Trust that your body know how to regulate itself.
- Set boundaries
Say No, if you have to. Your body, your rules. If you are surrounded by diet talk, try changing the conversation or excuse yourself. Leave if you have to, in order to keep your sanity and if it is too triggering.
- Rest, Move, Socialise, Eat – Do whatever you need to take care of YOU
Allow yourself some time to do what feels best for you. This may be the greatest gift you can gift yourself.
Happy Holidays xx
(All images from Unsplash/ Rawpixels)