This year I have decide to try something different. Rather than focusing on moulding my life into the way I “think it should be”, I have decide to “take action without attachment to outcome”. Only a few weeks into the year and my life is already giving me plenty of opportunities to practice this intention. In reality letting go of attachment to outcome means you also have to be ok when you get a no, and as much as I am telling myself that I am ok with a no to some of my asks when I look a little closer I probably aren’t… So I just keep reminding myself of something Brené Brown said, “The courage is in the action.”
Instead I get to practice sitting with my feelings, of disappointment or even anger. I also get the opportunity to practice courage and trust. (Or should it be “the courage to trust”?). Amidst this experiment of trying to live with the openness to the FLOW of life, I found this article by Sharon Salzberg, on one of my favourite websites On Being. It spoke to some of the ambivalence I do feel in making a choice like this. Because if you are not actively pursuing your dream life are you letting yourself go and giving up? Or am I just trying to give up on the suffering holding on to an expectation of a specific outcome is giving me?
This train of thought lead me to another observation this week. One of my colleagues in one of the FB forums that I am in shared a great resource for other things to do when we notice a desire to eat even though we are not physically hungry. I definitely things it is great to have lists of ideas of other thing to do rather than using food as a coping mechanism, even though in the journey to make peace with food there still have to be an unconditional permission to eat. Otherwise we may still end up subconsciously restrict, which can then backfire into over-eating later.
The thing is though if we move directly from noticing that we are reaching for food, without pausing to check in for what it is we are currently emotionally experiencing and move right on to the next non-eating distraction, we miss the chance to see what’s underneath the habitual impulse to reach for food. In the pause we can notice what is there, and follow up with a questions of “What do I need right now?
Depending on the emotion you may discover a different need. Sadness may require the comforting from another human being, or a pet (they are my personal favourites). Happiness may require simply some revelling in, because it can be oh-so-fleeting.
Boredom is a particular interesting one.
To be honest, I’m not sure if dealing with boredom through distraction, eating or otherwise is the best strategy. If we can simply be with it, boredom can open doors to a whole world of inner discoveries. Or we may discover that it is simply a passing state and part of our human experience.
One day during this week I noticed my need for comfort. Not as a way to deal with a particular emotion, more like a way of taking care of myself. A self care ritual of sorts. Comfort eating get such a bad rap, because it is seen like a way numbing out, escapism and sometimes as punishment even. Which may be true. However to me it is only a problem if we comfort eat in a way that doesn’t leave us feeling comfortable and nourished by neither the food nor the act of eating.
This recipe is one that brings me comfort on wet, cold and grey January days. Especially when consumed in front of the fire, with a good book in hand, dog in lap (which is optional + a little risky considering the hot liquid…).
It is also one that I intend to include, or some version thereof, in my first recipe book. Which I have still no idea of how or when it will come out. Before the end of the year at least…!
So here’s to comfort foods and comfort eating that leaves you feeling comforted, satisfied and well nourished.
Spicy Hot Chocolate for Colder Days
Makes about 10 portions, depending on how much mix you use for your cup
5 tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp coconut sugar or demerara sugar (or you can leave this out and sweeten with maple syrup / honey to taste when you have the drink made up)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground dried ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves – optional
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Place all ingredients in a clean, dry glass jar and mix until they are all well combined.
To make your hot spicy chocolate drink;
Measure out your milk of choice (cow’s milk or plant milk). For practicality I tend to pour the milk first into the cup I intend to drink from, to get the right volume.
Then add the milk to a small saucepan. Allow roughly a tbsp. of chocolate powder per cup/ person. Add the chocolate powder to the milk. Whisk rapidly as you are gently heating up the milk.
Keep whisking to prevent the milk from burning at the bottom of the pan. Avoid boiling, as if you are using plant based milk it may separate.
Your hot chocolate drink is ready just before it reaches boiling point. If you didn’t add any sugar to your cacao mix, now is a good time to add it to the hot drink. Honey or maple syrup are really delicious.
Pour it back into your cup of choice for serving and enjoy!
I love marshmallows, so this time I piled them high. (Not homemade)
P.S I’ve invited Spring into my home. whilst waiting for it to take hold outside…
What do you do when life throws you unexpected curve balls?
Do you go in to defense mode, get angry and start blaming yourself, and / or those around you?
Or do you recoil, and go into hiding out mode, become passive not knowing what to do?
Each life event, depending on what it is, will have us reacting in expected AND unexpected way. For some of them, we truly can have no idea how we will end up handling it until one day we are faced with it. Like loss and grief.
The month of October turned out to be one of a pivot point in my own life. One of breaking point, where I realised I had gotten the end of my level of toleranc. And the only way out was letting go and move forward into the unknown in whatever way that would look like, as long as it was different from my current reality. Because how things were was no longer working.
It had become evident that it was time to move and find another place to house myself and my dogs.
Considering I had lived the past 8 years in the same spot, this did feel like a pretty daunting move, and I have had a whole lot of “excuses” to why I couldn’t make it happen any sooner…
But when push came to shove, I let go. And I did something that is very hard for me to do, I asked for help. What happened felt like nothing short of amazing!
Through one of my close friends I managed to find a suitable place, just a few miles away (which made hauling my belongings so much easier!) So in just one week I had moved in to my new home.
I doubt that I will live here for the next 8 years, but it is perfect for now, and gives me a lot of space to get back to creative mode again. Now that the initial stress and overwhelm have passed, I am actually excited to see what this new chapter of my life will bring.
Change has not only just taken place in my own personal life…
You may also notice some minor changes to the blog?!
Like a NEW LOGO! And a new tagline. (This is the third tagline I have had since this website was birthed into life four years ago…)
Because, like I said, life is forever changing and evolving I felt it was time for a new logo, and tagline(!) to better reflect where I am at with my work and my message. So.This.Is.It.
I would love to know what you think of the new logo and tagline.
What does Wholehearted Living look like to you?
And when you hear Mindful Eating? What comes to mind?
To be honest, these past few weeks definitely put my intention of wholehearted living to the test. I realised why I have been working on myself over the year, reading umpteen self-help books, getting coaching, taking courses and training and gone to retreats. Because in the midst of it all, I realised that I have now lots of tools to draw upon, as well as kind supportive friends (thankfully) that is really beneficial when life takes unexpected turn like this. Which it inevitably will, it’s just part of being human and alive.
So, just a small glimpse of my life, and the reason for why it’s been a little quiet on the blog.
Now let’s get to the recipe!
This is actually one of those “deconstructed” type recipes, based on a really delicious recipe by Dale Pinnock aka The Medicinal Chef. His books and recipes are fab and well worth checking out.
In his version the sweet potato is mashed and added on top of the cooked spinach and chickpeas, and then the blue cheese added before it is all baked in the oven. It is such a comforting dish! Perfect for this time of the year.
Here I have pared it down in to a baked potato version and serving the chickpeas et.al. on top instead.
It had been a really long time since I had a baked potato, something that was really popular in Sweden when I grew up. But with ordinary white potatoes instead. It is really a simple dish, that you can whip up anytime. Just don’t start the project of cooking one when you are already approaching a ravenous state of hunger though… As you do need a good 45 min for it to cook in the oven.
If you are cooking for a crowd, just double the quantities accordingly.
Baked Sweet Potato with Mashed Chickpeas & Sundried Tomatoes
Serves 1 (double quantities as necessary)
1 decent size sweet potato, washed, leave peel on
½ tin of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
Approx. 7 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
A large handful (about ½ cup) fresh spinach leaves, if using large leaves roughly chop them
½ tsp of smoked paprika powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper
50g blue cheese of choice
Sea salt & Black pepper, to season
Heat the oven to 200˚C. Place your sweet potato(s) on a baking tray and put in the oven. Cook for approx. 45 min until it is soft right the way through.
To make the chickpea mash; Gently heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chickpeas, spices and seasoning. Cook on medium heat until heated through and then roughly mash the chickpeas with the back of a fork.
Add the spinach to the pan and cook for a few min until wilted down.
Take out your cooked sweet potato. Allow to cool slightly, make a cut through the middle and squeeze open. Then add the spinach-chickpea mix on top. Add some blue cheese or feta if you prefer to top it all off.
Serve and enjoy.
What do you do when you feel like celebrating or treating yourself? Do you go shopping, buying a jumper, or a book or something else nice that you’ve been wanting for some time? Treating yourself with something as a way of celebrating a recent success, a break through or when achieving something you didn’t believe possible, is such a nice thing to do. Or perhaps you want to get something to cheer yourself up after a long week at work or after receiving sad news. You know, that feeling of “I deserve something nice”. Self-love and celebrations of any achievements are ever-so important. They help us recognize the work we do and gives us less dependance on others praise. I believe to be truly happy, it has to come from within.
Treating ourselves with food though, is usually not the smartest choice, since (most of the time) the food we tend to go for is not the nourishing kind. Treating yourself with sugar laden, heavily processed, calorie dense food is not what your body needs if you are feeling down. At those times it needs even more wholesome goodness, as it is drawing on every reserve it has, to keep going. Trust me. I’ve done my fair share of comfort eating… It doesn’t work. It usually makes you feel even worse.
And if you are going to celebrate a new personal milestone in your life, then why would you not choose the very best of the best? Top quality food stuff. So you can both nourish your body and feed your soul at the same time. I mean, if you are going to eat cake or chocolate (or what ever your favorite food is) then get the best quality you can find, so you are guaranteed to satisfy ALL your senses at the same time! And no need to feel guilty about it either.
When I finally gave up dieting, almost eight years ago, I also gave up food as a way of rewarding myself. Instead I made one single rule only. Well two actually. One: Eat only when hungry and stop when satisfied. Two: You can eat anything you like at any time with out feeling guilty about it, as long as you follow rule number one. I’m not pretending it was easy. But years down the line, it has been such a relief to no longer be on the “dieting treadmill”. OK so I am still rewarding my body, almost every day with food. But REAL food. Clean fuel. Stuff that will nourish it and make sure it will do the job it is suppose to. Day in. Day out. Because that’s what my body deserves. If I want to reward myself for any personal goals I have achieved or to give myself some much needed TLC, I pick something else, that’s not food. Like talking a walk, hanging out with friends, spending time with my dogs, or perhaps buying a new cookbook!
Last year I bought Green Kitchen Stories’ beautiful App. Little did I know then, how much that App would inspire me to take my cooking, photographing and blogging further. I was totally blown away by the stunning images and the simple, clean recipes that went with them. It felt almost like coming home. So many wholefoods put together in such a tasty way. The natural progression was to go from the App, to their blog and then I found out that they had a cookbook coming out. So, I treated myself to it. Sure enough, it did not disappoint.
This Baked Oatmeal (Porridge, to the rest of us) is a slight variation of the original recipe featured in the cookbook The Green Kitchen. You will find the book on Amazon, if you are keen on getting your own copy. The recipes are clean and fairly straightforward to make. The images are gorgeous.
They also have this amazing recipe on their blog. Who would have ever thought of putting carrots in to porridge and still have it tasting divine? This breakfast has all you need for a good start to the day, or your day off. Healthy fats, antioxidant rich berries and some slow releasing carbs, to keep you powered for the day. Weather this day is spent hiking in the mountains, at a GAA match, as a day out with your family or simply resting on the couch watching a good movie, this dish is worth getting up a little earlier as it such a treat.
Or if you are in need of some TLC and looking to indulge, while still nourishing your body AND satisfy ALL your senses (Yes, I do believe that is possible to do all of that.) Totally guilt free. Then do make this recipe. It is simply so good! I promise 🙂
Baked Oatmeal A´la Green Kitchen Stories
Serves 4 comfortably
2 cups porridge oats – Use gluten free if you are celiac
400g raspberries, fresh or frozen – You can easily substitute for any berries you have in your freezer
2 eggs – Preferably organic
150 ml coconut milk
250 ml plant milk of your choice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
A pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of almonds, roughly chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil, at room temperature
2 tbsp liquid honey or maple syrup
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Use an ovenproof 8 x 10 inch baking dish and place all your berries in it. In a bowl combine the oats, baking powder, spices and a pinch of salt. Mix and pour over the berries. Add eggs, coconut milk, plant milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined. If you end up with a few lumps of coconut cream, don’t worry, it does not have to be perfect. Pour the wet mix over the oats and berries.
To create the crunchy top layer, place almonds and seeds in a bowl. With your hands rub the coconut oil in. Then add the maple syrup or honey and stir with a spoon until evenly coated. Spread the nuts and seed layer on top of the oats. Bake for about 30-35 min or until the seeds are just golden on top. Let the bake cool down slightly before you tuck in.
Satisfaction on all levels guaranteed! Perfect breakfast for a lazy Sunday.
Don’t forget to take some time out to rest and recover. It can be a Dog’s Life after all. Buddy is taking Sunday resting very seriously…
I was really planning on posting a more “dinner” type of recipe this time, but with food blogging things sometimes just don’t work out as you intend. I try to eat what I cook and photograph. So anything I post may depend on what happens to be in the fridge. This time of the year it is also harder to use natural light for images, simply because it isn’t available for that much of the day. So timing is an essential part of the process. So instead of a nourishing bowl of warming food, I give you these lovely pancakes or crêpes. While planning, cooking and shooting a recipe for the lovely website Food&_ which I also contributed to back in the autumn, I also made these pancakes. They fit perfectly with the particular soup recipe, I have submitted to them.
Do you have food memories? Particular tastes, flavours and scents that triggers certain emotions? Pancakes for me is one of those loving comfort foods, holding some sweet childhood memories. I can remember almost always having pancakes when staying over at my grandmother’s. Her pancakes where so much nicer than my mother’s. (I hope I’m not going to upset my mammy too much now…)
There are two reasons for this, I think. One, my health conscious mother always used whole meal or added bran to the flour, whereas my gran did not. And then there was the flipping off course. My mother never cooked both sides of the pancake. I have no idea why not… I love mine turned and hate the sogginess you get if you don’t. If you use a good pan, flipping them isn’t really a big deal either. However I must admit that I have not yet mastered the art of turning pancakes / crêpes mid-air. Perhaps I need some more practice. What better excuse to eat more pancakes?
I have changed the ingredients here from your usual wheat flour and cow’s milk. Often when I do food intolerance tests with people, wheat and/or dairy shows up as reactive foods. Once you start looking out for these two foods, you will be surprised how much they feature in a “Western style” diet. And pancakes are a typical food.
But once you start looking a little further, the transition to a gluten and dairy free diet does not need to be that difficult and it certainly does not need to be of sacrifice in flavours by any means. I also find that by going gluten and/or dairy free naturally lends to a healthier diet as you simply will have to eat more wholefoods (i.e fruit and vegetables) as they are naturally gluten free.
Eggs are an integral part of this recipe as I believe you can’t get that crêpe style pancake without it. If eggs does not float your boat or if you are intolerant, fear not, I have another recipe up my sleeve. But you will have to wait until Pancake Tuesday 😉
I prefer using organic eggs, mostly because they taste better, but also because I know that they are free from antibiotics and the hens have a good life while producing the goods. I use buckwheat flour here. It is naturally gluten free as it is actually not a grain, but a seed. Buckwheat is closely related to the rhubarb plant. The seeds are small and triangular shaped. You can buy whole seeds too and use in cooked dishes. Both buckwheat flour and whole buckwheat is readily available in healthfood shops. Instead of cow’s milk I’ve used almond milk. You can make your own or these days it is available even in Supermarkets. Just keep an eye on the labels so your bought milk isn’t full of additives.
Makes about 10 crêpes
2 eggs – preferably organic
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla exctract
A pinch of sea salt
coconut oil, for frying
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and the milk together. Add the flour bit by bit while whisking. Keep whisking until you have a smooth batter. It will be pretty loose as this will makes thin crêpe style pancakes. Let the batter rest for at least 10 min. This will make your pancakes stay together a lot better. Heat your frying pan and add some coconut oil to it. Add a soup ladle of pancake batter and gently swirl it around, until you have a thin pancake. Once the batter has set on top, flip it over and fry until golden on the other side. Keeping the pan at the right temperature is the key to perfect pancakes. Personally I find somewhere between the mid and the highest temperature setting is just about right. Play around with it. It often takes two or three pancakes until you get it right.
I like eating my pancakes the classic Irish way with sugar and lemon, almost straight out of the pan (!). Since the white stuff is banned in my house I serve them with dark unrefined cane sugar. Simply delicious. You can off course serve them anyway you like.