November Highlights

  • I finally completed 30 days of Yoga…it only took me 2 months! On to the next challenge.
  • I’m very late to the party, but I finally watched La La Land and absolutely loved it! Although the ending broke my heart a little…wasn’t expecting that!
  • Made and consumed a delicious gluten and dairy free orange and chestnut cake, from River Cottage Gluten Free.
  • Listened to a really interesting documentary on Radio 4 about adoption, definitely worth a listen to understand how it effects everyone.
  • Finally used my birthday voucher from last year and had a fantastic massage, just need one everyday!
  • Assignments galore this month! And still more to do! At least some of the vocabulary and concepts are beginning to take root!
  • Lots of lovely celebrations with birthdays and bonfire night, with my first attempt at making Parkin…a veritable success, we may have begun a new tradition!
  • More recipe firsts…making dahl (which the girls thought must have originated from Roald) and homemade waffles.
  • The woolly jumpers are out, alongside crackling log fires…it’s feeling very cosy around here!
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This week has involved lots of baking, creating and bonfire night celebrating! All of my favourite things!

D has a new topic at school on the theme of chocolate! What could be better than that! She is so excited to do her homework, next on her list is making rocky road…yum!

M and I made Parkin for the first time, especially for bonfire night. A traditional Yorkshire cake made with treacle, ginger, golden syrup and all things delicious!

This was topped off with a bonfire and sparklers, still so much joy to be had even at my age!

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July highlights

A little bit late….the summer holidays don’t seem to have slowed the pace of life yet. Lots of exciting things happened throughout July, I’m always surprised by how many things get packed into our little lives.

  • We had some beautiful sunshine throughout July (which has rudely disappeared for the summer holidays!?), which has been great for being out in the garden, school sports day and lots of BBQs. 
  • The two oldest children took part in the school production at the end of the academic year and really gave it their all in both acting and singing. We also had a treat seeing the youngest two performing their ballet during their last class before the holidays.
  • M kicked off the summer birthdays, with much hilarity during her party where we played some good old fashioned party games, including the cereal box game, after eight game, flour game and a treasure hunt.​
  • I tried out some delicious new recipes, one using aubergines (the yummiest dish using aubergines that I’ve ever made) and some scrumptious mexican rice
  • I really enjoyed reading The Muse by Jessie Burton. I have previously read her first novel, The Miniaturist, a few years ago. It was a gripping plot and I was really drawn into it through her eloquent writing style.
  • An ongoing issue that keeps popping up in the news….something I can never fathom, the justification behind a gender pay gap even being existence.
  • We took advantage of a beautiful, sunny day to visit Blaise Castle and the Toy Museum there, for the first time. The grounds are expansive, with woodland, streams and plenty of open space to set up cricket and football matches. 
  • And of course, a family camping trip to Wales!
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A winter warming recipe

Roast Pumpkin Soup

Can you believe I still had a pumpkin left over from Halloween? We bought a pumpkin for each of our children to carve on the actual evening of Halloween, but then ran out of time to actually carry out the carving…and it never happened. For months they have been staring at me from the huge amount of space they have taken up on the kitchen worktop, so it was time to take a deep breath and dive into cutting, chopping and cooking them into something more than a kitchen ornament.

So here is an adapted roast pumpkin soup recipe, free from dairy and gluten.

Ingredients:

Splash of oil (I used coconut oil)

onion

pumpkin

1-1.5 litres vegetable stock

tin of coconut milk

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Slice the pumpkin into 8 segments, scooping out the seeds and pulp. Brush/spray with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place on a baking tray and roast for 25-30 mins at 180 c, until soft.
  2. Dice the onion and cook on a low heat with a little oil for 10-15 mins.
  3. Scoop out the roasted pumpkin from its skin and add to the pan along with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Continue to cook on a low heat for 15-20 mins.
  5. Blend the soup to desired consistency, add more stock, salt & pepper if needed.

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Baking up a dream

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Sun streams through the window, marshmallow clouds gently flow through a faultless, blue sky as little hands gently and seamlessly press out symbols of love from the cushion soft dough. The sweet, warming aroma of ginger floats from the oven, with the promise of something both delicious and satisfying soon to be enjoyed by all.

The anticipation becomes too much and little morsels of dough sneak into little mouths. Only moments after the scorching heat leaves the tender treats, warm pockets of delight fall into eager mouths and tiny tummies are content….for now!?

Ok….maybe this isn’t exactly how it happened…but we can pretend can’t we?

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Have you tried a vegetable box scheme?

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I love my weekly delivery of organic fruit & veg (plus a lot of other grocery items to choose from, if I so desire). One of the changes I have made to our family’s diet this year is to try and eat as much organic food as possible – which fits into our budget!

I chose to try out the veg box delivery scheme offered by Riverford thought the recommendation of a friend who has used them for years. The quality of the food is great, with the bonus of sometimes receiving fruit or veg that I have never heard of, which always arrive with handy recipe cards!

In a recent veg box I received some tomatillos, which look like a green tomato in a husk. They originate from Mexico and are a key ingredient in many Mexican dishes, one of the most popular dishes they appear in is a salsa verde. This is the dish that I made with the tomatillos, using the recipe card that came with my veg box….I substituted the red onion with spring onions as that is what I already had to hand.

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How to:

  1. First I mixed the sliced onion with the juice and zest of 2 limes and a sprinkle of sugar and left it for 30 mins.
  2. In a food processor I whizzed the tomatillos with a red chilli.
  3. Then I mixed it in with the onion mixture, some minced garlic and chopped coriander.

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Simple, easy and delicious!

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To substitute or not to substitute?

There has been a transformation in my kitchen cupboards and the ingredients which they now hold. Once cutting out gluten and dairy in my diet, I ventured into a whole new world of ingredients, recipes and meals. I have read many articles and books which explore food intolerances and the possible causes and reactions in the body, which has opened my eyes to how the food I eat is processed by my body.

Some of the big changes to staple kitchen cupboard ingredients include:

coconut oil – replacing animal fats

Nut, coconut & rice milk  – instead of cow’s milk

Honey & maple syrup – rather than processed sugar

Organic fruit & vegetables via a vegetable box scheme

I have tried some gluten free products that can be found in the supermarkets, some of which are delicious, however there is a lot out there that I’d happily never eat again. Rather than trying to replace ingredients for gluten free items to try to recreate the same dishes I have always eaten (which can often be disappointing), I decided to find new recipes and meals which produce yummy results using ingredients and food items I can eat with any problem.

Some of my favourites…….

Dark chocolate & almond cookies, huevos rancheros, stir fry with rice noodles, spiralised vegetables, banana & oat cake, chocolate beetroot cake, roast squash & quinoa salad, frozen banana bites, courgetti & pesto.

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Having the stomach for it…..

 

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Did you know that 70% of your immune system is located in your gut?

I didn’t know this until recently, but it was something that made a lot of sense to me when I found out. I had been suffering from problems with my digestive system for a long time and it seriously affected my ability to fight off infections, resulting in both minor and more serious illnesses.

Unsurprisingly, I reached breaking point. It was completely miserable feeling ill all of the time, with the added responsibilities of family and work commitments. I didn’t have much luck with my visits to the GP for a diagnosis, so I began to investigate how to resolve these issues myself (I am not recommending this as a course of action for those suffering with severe digestive issues, this is just my own personal journey).

Due to some food intolerances already being prevalent within my family, I decided to restrict these from my diet. Positive results were apparent within a few weeks and continue to be so. I also take some excellent supplements, which have really boosted my immune system and energy levels.

I have learnt so much about food and nutrition throughout this experience…and I’m still learning! I am enjoying exploring this new way of eating and the positive impact, over time, this has had for my health and also my outlook on our family lifestyle.

Much more to come on this subject in future posts!

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