Valentine’s is upon us again. I never got a chance to write a Valentine’s post last year due to some incredibly stormy weather and subsequent power cuts, which lasted for days, so I’m going to have a stab at it this year instead.
I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about this whole conundrum… On the one hand I think it’s a nice idea with a day prompting you to do something extra nice for that one special person in your life. On the other hand I feel it has become such a big commercial hype, it has lost any appeal or value. And shouldn’t we take time daily to show our love and appreciation for those in our lives that matters anyway? On any given day? Oh and the whole thing (i.e commercial hype around this ONE day) can easily make anyone who happens to be single feel totally inadequate, sad and even like there’s something wrong with them because they happen to NOT be in a relati0nship at this time. To ME that sends out an entirely wrong message.
A good few years ago (five to be precise), I was dating an absolutely gorgeous guy, beautiful to the core. He wasn’t a great guy for presents or cards or anything at Valentine’s, yet during the short time we had together he gave me one of the greatest gifts of all. He gave me the amazing gift of allowing me to be completely and utterly myself. Even though, I would considered of myself to show up as me and to go my own way (most of the time at least), he allowed me to do that in our relationship too.
I was able to be true and authentic to who I am because I felt safe, loved and trusted that it was going to be Ok to be vulnerable and show sides of myself which I might have been reluctant to show for fear of being rejected or judged. (Like we all tend to do, especially when we don’t know someone all that well) It was a blessed gift to get and I’m grateful to now hold that experience in my heart.
It’s made me think though, that in today’s world, with all the talk of Authenticity and being true to ourselves so we can live our lives fully, yet the never ending snap shots we see of other peoples’ lives through social media and the “compariso-nitis it brings; we need to do two things:
1. Love ourselves with compassion and unconditional whole-heartedness. And if we don’t already do so we need to keep working at it. For if we can’t love ourselves for all that we are (and are not) then how can we let someone else in? Creating a space for self-love and a feeling of self-worth hold the key to opening so many doors.
2. Allow or hold a space for others to be authentic to who THEY are. Allow them to feel loved and safe enough to be vulnerable without being judged. Perhaps this is what’s called unconditional love…?
Maybe Brené Brown puts it better in her TED Talk. I don’t know, but I do think she’s on to something, after a decade of research into it.
It’s all to easy to try to change others, whether they are partners, friends, work mates or family members. If we DO care about them, then giving them the gift of allowing them to BE who they truly are (as opposed to who we would like them to be) is probably the most amazing gift we can ever give. And you know, this is actually easy enough to do. Being present and truly listen to someone is so rare these days, so by giving your full attention to a conversation with someone dear, you can simply make that person shine in their own right. Somehow we are often aware of those people who are naturally good listeners because they tend to make us feel good when we are around them. Thing is, we may not be aware that it’s their listening skill which is what sets them apart. Beauty is though, we can all learn or improve this skill. We simply need to practice active listening a little more.
I’m just going to throw in a caveat here; if you discover that you are trying to change someone because you don’t like who they truly are… Then set them AND yourself free. No need to be hanging around people who doesn’t bring out the best in you. And if cutting ties is not an option, then at least limit the time you spend with them…
Self-love. Something so incredibly important but so incredibly hard. The definition of the word is: care and regards for ones own happiness and well being. Can someone wise out there tell me WHY we don’t see attending to this very need, as important as it actually is? And please don’t get self-love mixed up with arrogance and self importance. Often (in my experience) people who show up with those kinds of traits have the least amount of self-love. Because when you care for and value yourself the need to make others feel inferior is simply not necessary.
Being comfortable in our own skin, being happy and content in our own company and making choices based on self compassion seems to come easier to some than others. I came across this little list of 10 things you can start doing to bring more self-love into your life. Worth a look.
In the name of LOVE I challenge you do so something to this weekend to show yourself how much you care about you. Then share the love far and wide! But start showing yourself some love first.
OK enough of ramblings, I better share this recipe with you too. I went for a floral theme of roses (of course!) as to many of us they are the symbol of love. I happen to like the taste of rose too. But if you don’t, feel free to leave it out. Or substitute with some orange zest and a little freshly squeezed orange juice instead. These little sweet treats may look complicated but they really aren’t. All you need are a couple of ingredients and food processor. So whether you decide to do something nice for yourself this Valentine’s or if you want to treat your lover, you can do it Straightforward Nutrition style! <3
Rose Infused Marzipan Bites
Makes about 15 bites
200g whole almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp dried rose petals – optional
1 tbsp rose water – you can substitute for equal amounts of lemon or orange juice
2-3 tbsp maple syrup, depending on desired sweetness
50g 70 % dark chocolate
some dried rose petals for decoration – optional
a sprinkle of bee pollen, for decoration – optional
Start with grinding the almonds into flour. I usually use a blender for this but you can use your food processor too. Half ways through grinding the nuts add the dried flowers.
Add your ground almonds + flowers, maple syrup, vanilla extract and rose water to a food processor and blend until you have a sticky dough.
Make small balls from the dough and then chill them in the fridge to harden up a little, for an hour or so.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over warm water. Roll each ball in the melted chocolate until well coated. Let them set a little on a lined tray before you sprinkle some rose petals and bee pollen on top to make your treats look extra pretty!
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The marzipan will last, I mean keep… for a few days in the fridge. These treats are vegan (without bee pollen) and gluten and dairy free.
It’s the day before the day, or the eve before the day before Christmas day. I’ve been hanging out in the kitchen all day. Trying to get into some festive spirit by enjoying the kitchen all to myself, (well my dogs kept me company) with endless Christmas songs on Spotify. I had actually decided NOT to make any treats this year as it is a lot of work when it’s something you HAVE to do. I’ve been away the past few weekends so there has been little time to do fit it in anyhow. Yet today I found myself in the kitchen all day making stuff. You know what? It was so much fun! I’ve missed the creativity of cooking just for the fun of it and not just because of the necessity to eat.
A couple of random things were created today. This “alternative” Rocky Road for example. I also experimented with some homemade vegan marzipan, made some date truffles for a hamper for some friends to enjoy on Christmas Day and then of course these addictive little buggers!
Making sweet treats for Christmas was a tradition we used to do at home as children. A few of our friends + their mums from the village used to meet up a Saturday in Dec and make lots of traditional holiday treats. Well it was our mums that did most of the baking and cooking while we had fun playing and then got to eat the treats afterwards… Fond memories.
Five years ago, one of the years I spent Christmas in Ireland, we enured the coldest winter here in forty years! I was suppose to be working but the roads had turned into a sheet of ice and traveling anywhere was out of the question. So what does one do with an unexpected day off? Cook of course! Off I went to the shop (on foot) to get a couple of basic ingredients to enjoy my day off and to make some treats which I hadn’t made since childhood. Things I made that year was a little more sugar laden than what I made this year but the pleasure of creating edible things while enjoying festive songs at full blast is still the same. Little did I know back then, that this would be a new festive tradition to get myself into the perfect holiday mood.
If you are still stuck for an edible gift this close to the big day, then I suggest you give these sugar coated almonds ago. They (almost) cook themselves and all you need is some demera sugar, almonds, water and some cinnamon. Store-cupboard ingredients really. Don’t be fooled though, this classic treat is more addictive than your average tin of chocolate. As I reach for “just one more”, I try to convince myself that they are somehow a little healthier as it’s unrefined sugar and whole nuts… But perhaps I’m just kidding myself. Regardless, I’m done with food + guilt, so I keep enjoying each bite mindfully and so should you 🙂
150 g whole almonds – organic if possible
150 g unrefined Demera sugar
50 ml water
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir to mix the sugar, water, cinnamon and almonds together.
Bring to the boil and cook on medium heat until all the water has evaporated and the sugar begins to crystallise around the almonds. Stir on occasion. This part will take about 10 min or so. You want all the water to slowly evaporate.
Once the sugar has crystallised keep the pan hot until the sugar begins to melt. Stir to make sure all the almonds are well coated. Be careful not to burn the sugar. Remove the almonds from the pan on to a plate or tray. Separate them with a fork and allow to cool completely before eating.
The almonds will keep for up to two weeks. Wrap them in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container, in a dry cupboard.
N.B I tried using raw cane sugar but since it’s very finely crystallised, the end result was not as good as when using Demera sugar which has bigger crystals.
This is my last post of 2014 and I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU for visiting my blog / website through out the year, for following along here and on various social media (Instagram & Facebook) and thanks to all of you who have used my nutritional therapy services this year too. Having each and every one of you being a part of my life and my business means so much. So thank you again.
Wishing you a week filled with love, family, friends, health, blessings and most important of all Good Food! See you in the New Year.
P.S Some new exciting things coming up next year, like our new online programme! If you would like more details about this please shoot me a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org I love helping people getting back to the healthiest version of themselves. 🙂 So why not work together in 2015?
We’re turning one! A little over a year ago this food blog was born. It all started with an idea that it would be so much more fun to cook, photograph and blog about the food I cook in my own kitchen and the type of food I recommend to my clients. Getting a brand new website built last year brought it’s own challenges but has it been worth it? Oh yes. And I hope you think so too.
I’m delighted to have so many people stopping by here each month, a few 1000 of yous now (!) And even more people over on Instagram. Heading for 10K now. This time there was about 500. How things change. So many things has happen this year. So many opportunities opening up. Guest blogging, cooking demos, online programmes (in the pipeline) and new friends. I’m so grateful.
Anyway. To celebrate Straightforward Nutrition’s blog first blogiversary I have teamed up with Waifair.co.uk to give one lucky reader here the opportunity participate in a Giveaway on the blog.
If you want to be in the draw to be given a £150 voucher to spend on kitchen appliances over on their site, this is what you need to do:
I believe sharing is caring and that we can all learn from each other to lead healthier and happier lives, so to be in the draw Leave a comment below, on this post, about the ONE Change you have made to help you live a healthier life. This could be anything from a change in habit or mindset to making shopping lists /menu plans or what ever it is that you have changed in order to live a healthier life and that you found made a profound difference.
I can’t wait to hear what brilliant changes you have all made! Please note the draw will close on Nov 20th. So do drop us a line before then.
**N.B Unfortunately this competition is only open to Irish & UK residents. I hope I will get an opportunity to run another giveaway in the future for the rest of you.**
I was tossing with the idea of making something savory as to celebrate with but somehow I just felt it would look a little weird sticking a small flag on a slice of pizza… Maybe next year!
These little lemony paleo muffins were actually featured as the recipe of the month on my old website, a long way back. And there wasn’t a pretty picture to go with it then either so what better excuse to make them again. If you like lemons, poppy seeds and want to bake something Paleo and gluten free, chances are you will like these muffins.
As far as gluten free go and baking with almond flour these are very easy and does not have an ingredients list the length of your arm, which is so often the case with gluten free baking. Gluten free baking is an art in itself, and I with confidence, hold my hand up, declaring it’s one I have yet to master. You really need to know what you are doing and, cooks like me which often just “add a little of this” and “a little of that” do better when strictly adhering to someone elses tried and tested recipe.
Almonds are a great source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and vitamin E. They are also a good source of unsaturated fatty acids as well as protein. If you make your own almond meal from whole almonds, leaving the skin on, you will get plenty of fibre too.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Makes 8 small muffins (they are seriously filling so no need to stuff yourself)
1/4 cup of oil of your choice – I normally use a nice fruity olive oil but I’d imagine melted coconut oil would work well too.
3 tbsp of clear runny honey – Local & Organic preferably
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice
2 1/2 cups of almond flour – 250g of whole almonds will yield this amount when ground
2 tsp poppyseeds
1/2 tsp of baking powder
A pinch of salt
Lemon zest of one lemon, finely grated
Preheat your oven to 180C. Place eight small muffin cases in a muffin tray. Or use an ordinary baking tray if you don’t have one.
Start by separating the egg yolks from the egg whites. Leave the yolks in one bowl and the egg whites in another one. In the bowl with the egg yolks, add honey, lemon juice, oil and vanilla extract and mix together well. Add in your dry ingredients and mix until you have a stiff batter.
Now proceed to whisk your egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. I normally do this by hand as it is such a small amount. Try using a large bowl so you can get plenty of air in . Or use electric whisks and spare yourself a work out. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Taking care to make sure it gets well blended but try not to be too heavy handed as the air from the egg whites is what will make your muffins nice and fluffy.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, filling them to about 2/3. Bake for about 20 min in the oven. After 10 min place a sheet of tinfoil loosely on top to prevent the muffins from burning while they finish baking. They are ready once a scewer comes out clean. Keep a close eye as they get too dry very easily if left in for too long.
Place the muffins on a wire rack and allow too cool completely before tucking in. Any leftover muffins will keep for up to a week if kept in a cool dry place in an airtight container.
Don’t forget to leave a comment below about The One Change you have made to make it easier to live a healthier life, to be in the draw for £150 to spend on some useful kitchen appliances to make you cooking easier!
And thank you for stopping by over the past 12 months 🙂