Dairy-Free Frozen Chocolate-Flavoured Breakfast Smoothie Bowl

16D342DD-5171-499D-A90A-59CCFB55A00DI keep rescheduling this post because the weather insists on returning to winter temperatures!  Plus, I think the colour and the fact that it has spinach in it may put you off. If I hadn’t written ‘smoothie’ in the title, you would probably have thought it was soup!

However, I’m relegating porridge bowls for now, I need a change, and I have to hope that things will warm up sooner rather than later.

Admittedly, this smoothie doesn’t look very appealing, but appearances can be deceiving and it is chock full of the good stuff.  Using frozen instead of fresh banana makes the smoothie thicker and creamier. Slice over-ripe bananas and freeze them in the amounts you’ll want to use them. Bananas that start to have black spots on them are much easier to digest, fresh or frozen.

Use less milk than you would for a normal smoothie in a glass.

Vegan, Gluten-free and can be Nut-free.

All quantities approximate.

Ingredients

1 Banana (frozen)
½ cup of Blueberries, washed
1 small handful of Spinach, washed
2 Tbsp Peanut (or any nut or seed) Butter
1 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder*
½ cup of Tiger Nut Milk (or any plant milk, click link for how to make)
Optional: 1 Medjool Date, but as I’d put one in the milk, I didn’t add another
Optional: 1 Tbsp Moringa**, or a scoop of Vivolife ‘Thrive for Her’ Green Superfood, Wild Berry flavour*** or any other flavoured Protein Powder
Toppings: I went for a crunchy mix to offset the creamy texture of the smoothie. Chopped nuts (I used Walnuts here), Mixed Seeds, (I used Sunflower, Pumpkin & Chia*), Cacao Nibs*, Blueberries or other berries, Buckwheat

Blend until smooth, but don’t overdo it or it will become too thin.

Sprinkle with chosen toppings.

Nutrients include: antoxidants, b vitamins, iron, magnesium, prebiotics, probiotics, protein, calcium, zinc, potassium, healthy fats, dietary fibre. Great for breakfast, dessert or a healthy pick-me-up.

Here are some links to other smoothie recipes:

Frozen Mango, Banana & Passionfruit Protein Smoothie

Monday Meditation: Two Year Old Frank’s Berry Good Smoothie – Made With Love & Smiles

Almond, Chia & Spinach Super Smoothie

Heart-Healthy Carob, Walnut & Lucuma Smoothie

Monday Meditation: Indulgent No-Banana Cherry & Chocolate Smoothie

The Mood Booster: Raw Chocolate Mulberry, Banana & Walnut Smoothie

Kumquat & Cacao Protein Smoothie

*I buy from The Raw Chocolate Company, their products are Vegan, Organic, Fairtrade, Kosher, Gluten-free, high quality, ethically-sourced and made in the UK.

**Also Vegan, Organic, Gluten-free & Kosher Aduna support African small businesses, often run by women.

*** From Vivolife also Vegan, Organic, made in the UK and Carbon Neutral.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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Monday Meditation: Two Year Old Frank’s Berry Good Smoothie – Made With Love & Smiles

011DD6C8-E951-4474-BE0D-59A3DD11B990Two year old Frank watching his Berry Good Smoothie blending in the  Froothie Optimum, he has his own special ear defenders just for creating smoothies 😊 As soon a I mention making a smoothie he’s there like a shot, dragging the kitchen stool up to the counter, washing his hands and ready for action. Just like his dad at the same age, though he likes to make chilli-with-everything these days!

When cooking with Frank, I am always glad to have the opportunity of this time together, one on one: yes, it’s messy and yes, he can get a bit over-enthusiastic – I think we got about a third of a tub of baobab powder in there! – but I love watching him taking it all in, soaking up whatever I tell him and storing it away. I love his enthusiasm. I know that at some point in the future he will use it all and hopefully remember some of these times together.

He (and his older sister) have been cooking since they were literally babes in arms. They have always been willing to taste anything, and although they still go through the picky two-year-old stage, the fact that they have always been encouraged to be present in the kitchen and help with preparation means that they are familiar with cooking from scratch, using a wide variety of fresh foods.

They are already creating their own recipes: Frank’s four-year-old sister decided to try banana on her pizza and Frank likes the idea of dipping carrot sticks in strawberry spread! He loves homemade chips with balsamic vinegar and juices that contain ginger and turmeric. Olives and almonds are also favourites. The fact that actual vegetables are not allowed on his plate at the moment is irrelevant (except cucumber and raw carrot), he gets everything he needs in other forms* and is slowly acquiring the knowledge and skills to transform them into healthy meals when he does eventually give them house room. I have seen a photograph of Emily standing on a stool at the counter rolling pizza dough and chopping vegetables, and Frank sitting on the counter chopping cucumber! Children love to be involved in the kitchen and will be all the healthier – and self-sufficient – for it. Emily recently sliced a mushroom so thinly and precisely, with perfect control of the knife, just by copying her dad.

This is Frank’s smoothie recipe:

Large handful of frozen cherries, large handful frozen mixed berries, more than we wished for baobab powder, about 3 tablespoons oats plus what he spilled 😉 most of a medjool date minus a bite for tasting, a banana, a carefully tilted amount of cashews from the jar (with ‘help’ from Grandad), 2 tablespoons soya yogurt and a lot of coconut milk! It made enough for 3 of us and he had seconds and thirds, he said it was ‘berry good!’ Unfortunately, he doesn’t do washing up, our dishwasher is defunct (and so is my husband after a weekend without it!).

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*Frank doesn’t eat vegetables – apart from raw carrot and cucumber – but he will have juices and smoothies, even green ones, so seeing him have so much fun in the kitchen leads us to hope that one day he will be as much of a foodie as his dad and grandma.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Going Vegan: Keep Calm & Lead by Example + Tips

F8D68843-623C-4F1E-A097-C4C02293352CI was vegetarian for 40 years for all the usual reasons: ethics, sustainability, health, and thought that was enough. I gave up milk a long time ago, for health reasons. I still ate cheese and eggs. A couple of times, when I became a raw foodie and when my son lived in a tree (don’t ask), I almost became vegan, but couldn’t sustain it. I didn’t have the support and there wasn’t as much by way of articles, products or recipe ideas all those years ago. I finally became vegan accidentally after doing a 14 day juice challenge.

I realised after 3 months I hadn’t wanted to eat cheese or eggs, and I was a real cheese addict. Now I was vegan. And if I could do it for 3 months, I could do so permanently. But I was scared of committing myself and actually saying, I am vegan.

D09AC6B8-9C45-40EB-A436-2382AE979ECEI started following vegan accounts and began reading about the cruelty of egg production and dairy farming. There is so much information available now on social media, via blogs, in the press and documentaries. All I had back then was a library book and a cookery book to turn me on to becoming vegetarian. I had no idea then that male chicks are surplus to requirements in the egg industry or male calves to the dairy industry. I thought that if I bought organic, free range eggs, that was ok.

After several months, I took the plunge and in great trepidation began writing vegan recipes and informational posts on my blog. I fully expected to lose a lot of followers. It didn’t happen. In fact, quite the opposite happened, I gained a whole host of new ones!

The current wave of interest in sustainable living is being driven and adopted by young people in droves, because they now have access to educational tools, support, recipes and like-minded groups.

1AF63E27-2F18-436B-B556-CFD924E73DFFFive friends and family have  become vegan, are transitioning or making gradual changes, from observing my experience, seeing how healthy I am and that it is possible to be vegan, enjoy food and not waste away!

I have never tried to persuade anyone to be vegan. I only engage in the issues if it comes up organically and I know they are in a receptive mood. People need time to process and to work out how it will affect their lifestyle and family obligations. Being aggressive or judgemental is counter-productive. Being calm, understanding and the healthiest you can be is more likely to have people follow your example.

Education is the key, and support and encouragement. It was relatively easy for me as I was used to a vegetable- based diet and already bought cruelty-free toiletries and cosmetics. It can be very difficult for people unused to cooking from scratch, relying on processed convenience foods, on a tight budget (see link for Jack Monroe’s site below) or who don’t have family support.

F7CBF554-7687-422C-AC60-94ABF557C5FABecoming vegan also doesn’t necessarily mean you become healthy. It is quite possible to be vegan living on predominantly processed foods and be quite unhealthy! Food manufacturers and retailers are producing increasing amounts of fake meat products and convenience meals to cater for those who like meat-based meals. These products – not all, but some – can often read like a chemical experiment.

FF65FC84-2504-4B4B-9074-49D2637251A9It’s important to learn about nutrition, to know what constitutes protein and good complex carbohydrates, where to get good plant-based sources of calcium, iron, B12, D3, and so on, so that you have a balanced diet – and so that you have all the facts to hand when you inevitably get asked the questions! Because people who rarely allow a fresh fruit or vegetable to pass their lips will suddenly become concerned experts on your nutritional input. You don’t need a diploma, just Google it!

D47273E0-A5FF-452A-8FF8-C6AD4639A4AEYou can take baby steps by swapping to cruelty-free household products, toiletries and cosmetics. You can reduce your dependency on plastic packaging and this will often automatically mean you include more fresh food in your shopping as well as helping reduce the plastic waste that is filling our oceans, seas and water supplies.

IMG_8582Adding more fresh vegetables and fruit will reduce your intake of sugary and fatty foods which will help reduce inflammation and pain, provide more energy and fewer slumps, and make you more alert. Your skin will be amazing! Skin loves fresh food, especially avocados.

Why not try Meatfree Mondays? Plantbased rice, pasta or quinoa dishes like curries, for example, or pizza (there are some great vegan cheeses*), are often acceptable to families not yet on board with giving up meat. We sometimes give meat-eating guests Quorn or Linda McCartney pies without telling them and they are often uncomfortable and somewhat puzzled, believing they are eating meat, and very surprised when we reveal the truth.

imageBeing vegan is not all brown rice and lentils! Just look at any of the many vegan Instagram accounts and you will find colourful, appetising meals, snacks, treats, desserts, smoothie bowls and cakes for all occasions.

There are many websites, Instagram accounts, blogs and so on where you can find facts, recipes and support to help you make small changes that can eventually lead to bigger ones. Do you know, for example. you can substitute a chia ‘egg’ or flaxseed ‘egg’ for a hen’s egg in cooking? Just soak 1 Tbsp of seeds with 3 Tbsps of seeds to form a gel. Or use mashed banana. I have several informative posts here on the blog and I’ll include some links at the end.

All the recipes on this blog are vegan and gluten-free, just look in the Menu or among Top Posts and Pages, there are also posts on how to make Nut & Seed Milks & Smoothie Recipes

We Are Veganuary have a best-selling hardback book ‘How to Go Vegan’ and The Guardian’s Jack Monroe has a great blog with budget vegan recipes called Cooking on a Bootstrap.

 3C80CBB1-C6B6-4695-B227-0738ECAD1C08Over 165,000 people signed up this year to try being vegan for a month. If you were one of them, well done! You have helped save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, hundreds of kilograms of grain and dozens of animals, not to mention the reduction in greenhouse gases, just in a month!

img_6589If you missed it but would like to give it a go, Veganuary is open all year, providing support whenever you’re ready – see link below.

I hope you found this post helpful.

Remember, there is no failing. You do what you can. Everyone is on their own journey, we are all at different points on our journey, don’t be put off because you think it’s all or nothing and you wear leather shoes. Baby steps.

***

The Vegan Society  Lots of info, nutritional advice, supplement advice, articles

The Green People Company for award-winning vegan skincare, toiletries, cosmetics

*Bute Island Foods for Dairy-free Cheese – available in Waitrose, Holland & Barrett, online & other retailers – and recipes

 Veganuary for Recipe Book, Support, Information & to sign up to try being vegan for a month

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Vivolife – a great resource, Josh does supportive, informative videos, newsletters, blogposts as well as selling good quality organic, vegan protein powders.

Where to Get Nutritional Advice for Young Vegans and Newbies 

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Frozen Mango, Banana & Passionfruit Protein Smoothie

E1AC46C3-BBEF-4EBA-952B-FBEDCC1F62C7It’s January, it’s freezing cold and blowing a gale that is shaking the rafters and here I am writing out a recipe for a frozen smoothie! Well, the reason is, we did an inventory of our freezer because we just couldn’t squeeze any more into it, and I was astonished at how much frozen fruit there was in there. No wonder there was no room! I have a habit of saving some of the summer fruits and freezing them for the winter when they’re not available or very expensive, but inevitably they get covered with other foods and I forget about them.

I found lots of frozen mango and frozen banana, I had a passionfruit in the bottom of the fridge that was too small to use on its own and in danger of going off before long, so in the blender they went.

The colours are uplifting in these grey January days of endless rain and winds and this smoothie is full of antioxidants to help ward off winter viruses. I love the smell of passionfruit, so delicately subtle but cheering. It has plenty of protein too for a post-workout drink, it’s quite thick though, so you may want to add more coconut water.

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten-free, can be Nut-free if you substitute with seeds)

Half a Frozen Mango

Small Frozen Banana

Passionfruit

2 Tbsps Buckwheat Flakes

Approx. 200mls Coconut Water

1 Tbsp Pulsin and Beond Pea Protein Powder*

Small handful Cashew Nut Pieces

Heaped Tbsp Live Soya Yogurt

Blend all ingredients except for half the passionfruit which is served on top of the smoothie along with any reserved juice.

Enjoy, then go and sit by the fire to thaw out! (With apologies to my readers in the southern hemisphere).

*I have recently begun using pea protein as an alternative to hemp protein powder, I ring the changes also with moringa powder and Vivolife Thrive for Her in Wild Berry flavour. Here is a £5 discount code for Vivolife products:  

http://vivolife.refr.cc/chrismcgowan

Apparently, your body can get used to the same brand and the same type of protein powder, so it’s best to alternate for optimum absorption.

(The candle burner was inspired by a mushroom and made by my 14 year old grandson).

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*Aduna Moringa Powder

Pulsin Protein Powders

The Raw Chocolate Company Hemp Protein Powder

Vivolife Perform Protein Powder & Thrive Raw Green Superfood

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan Gluten-free Chilli-Spiced Bean and Buckwheat Burgers

0C719D06-88BB-4E34-A3DB-93CA9871BB8EThese were made some time ago, so the raison d’être is a bit hazy! I’m not sure what inspired me to try another version of vegan, gluten-free burger, I think it might have had something to do with buckwheat flakes, tiger nut flour and half a tin of beans that needed to be used up. I had also eaten up all the Nutty Bean & Beetroot Veggie Burgers I had put in the freezer (they were my favourites, I even like them cold). I was really pleased with how this new burger came together, how they handled. They were so easy cook and stayed whole. They are quite soft but the sunflower seeds give a bit of texture. Add as much or as little seasoning as you like. I was quite conservative. It’s all done in the food processor, the actual shaping takes longer than the making. I had one during Christmas week for lunch when our son cooked, he did glazed purple sprouts & carrots*, roast potatoes, mushrooms, while they all had cheese and herb sausages made by my husband (originally a Delia Smith recipe from the 80s!) Unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph! Sorry.

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten- free, Nutfree, Organic where possible)

1/2 Cup Dry Buckwheat, cook in stock using a third of a vegetable stock cube

A heaped 1/2 Cup Mixed Beans (tinned), rinsed and drained well

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds

1 Celery Stick with leaves, chopped

2 Large Chestnut Mushrooms, chopped

1 Onion, chopped

1 Medium Carrot, scrubbed and chopped

1/2 Cup Buckwheat Flakes

1 Tsp Cumin

1/2 Tsp Chilli Powder

Black Pepper & Pink Himalayan Salt to taste

Tomato Purée

Tamari

1 Chia Egg (1 Tsp Chia Seeds soaked in 3 Tbsps Water)

Gluten-free flour for dusting hands and board – I used fine Tiger Nut Flour*

Coconut Oil for frying

0C90A5A0-12F1-4D08-91C0-4B4B6447F64DMethod

Cook and cool the buckwheat.

Process everything in bursts until it comes together but still some texture.

With flour-dusted hands, scoop out some mixture and shape it into patties on a dusted board. Makes about 10, depending on size and thickness.

Cook in hot (but not smoking) coconut oil.

Drain and serve.

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*Sprouts: quartered and sautéed with lid on. Add juice of one lemon plus the rind, and paprika and salt about halfway through. Carrots: roasted with ginger. Normally uses honey too, but maple syrup would be nice.

Vegan Gluten-Free Burger (and Sausage) Recipes for National Burger Day!

Vegan Leek, Carrot & Ginger Sausages

Vegan ‘Cheesy’ Almond, Leek & Herb Sausages

Copyright: Chris McGowan

 

 

 

 

Almond, Chia & Spinach Super Smoothie

5656F9D4-244D-4343-A8A6-245F953B8B09With all the colds and coughs my family brought into the house over Christmas and New Year and the fact that I was feeling wiped out from all the festivities, I began flooding my system with nutrients as soon as they left. This smoothie has everything: antioxidants, minerals including potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium to help me relax and aid my digestion, protein, probiotics for a healthy gut, b vitamins for a healthy nervous system, healthy fats and dietary fibre. This is a thickie and intended as a meal, I had it for breakfast. So far, no colds.

The sunset scene next to the glass was hand-felted and hand-stitched by my 12 year old grandson.

Ingredients

Oats, banana, spinach, chopped almonds, medjool date, homemade almond milk,* almond butter, chia seeds,** moringa powder (high in protein, vitamins and minerals),*** live soya yogurt.

Blend and serve.

See also: Juicing My Way Through The Cold Wars + Golden Milk Recipe

This Spicy Watermelon & Grapefruit Juice Will Help Stave Off Those Winter Bugs!

Guacamole with Avocado, Coriander, Moringa & Chilli

*How To Make Almond Milk

**The Raw Chocolate Company

***Aduna

A Colourful Supersalad, A Supergreen Smoothie & A Discount Link

After all the cooked food and overindulgence of the Christmas/New Year period, it was time to get back on track. Despite continuing to have a daily juice, I felt bloated, heavy, overweight and lacking in energy. I am not used to having a big cooked meal midway through the day and I had been seduced by all the savoury snacks which had invaded our cupboards and are my one downfall.

By the time all our visitors had left, my body craved raw, healthy, crisp and colourful foods again, it was time for a supersalad!

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I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this! It was so good to have fresh, nutritious plant foods and to eat at a time of my body’s choosing rather than fitting into a family timetable. I tend to work up to my main meal of the day, I’m more of a grazer, and this one was amazing and covered all the nutritional bases.

The salad was made of: purple chicory, little gem lettuce, spinach, rocket, watercress; cucumber, celery, baby plum tomatoes, avocado, homegrown mung beans, cress, homemade coleslaw with cashew mayo and some Heck Foods Bollywood veggie bites I’d bought for New Year’s Eve snacks and forgotten to use.* They have Indian spices and are delicious, I like them cold the day after. Now, don’t make me say where I get my protein from;-)

By now you know that practically every plant food contains some protein and no protein is superior to others, not dairy, not meat, protein is protein. Eat a wide variety of wholefoods and you will get all the protein you need (which isn’t as much as people often think).

Coincidentally, when I was about to schedule this post, Josh from Vivolife** sent an email with this easy to read graphic on the subject of protein on a vegan diet.

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***

FDC31486-BFAE-4C72-83FA-07C32F91F82CNext up is the  Supergreen Smoothie I had next morning. I needed to boost my energy levels. I’ve just started trying a raw supergreen powder from Vivolife called Thrive for Her, in Wild Berry flavour. It contains powerful supergreens, minerals, vitamins, including B12, and Vitamin D (essential for mood boosting in the long grey January days) plus probiotics for a healthy gut. You take one scoop a day in water, juice or smoothie, it’s very pleasant and I already feel more alert and more energised. I like this company a lot. Their products are ethically and sustainably sourced, vegan, gluten-free and organic, and they donate 20p from each sale to the Streetgames Charity for disadvantage children. They also produce health information videos, and provide advice when needed. I bought the product, I wasn’t asked to review it, but when I asked permission to reproduce the graphic above, Josh kindly sent an exclusive £5 discount link for my friends and followers:

Get £5.00 off my favourite health and fitness brand Vivo Life with my referral code! You’ll love their PERFORM protein! Check it out: http://vivolife.refr.cc/chrismcgowan’

Ingredients for Supergreen Smoothie

Small Banana

Pear

Homemade Almond Milk***

Romaine leaves, chopped

Medjool Date

Heaped Tbsp Coyo Live Yogurt

1 Scoop Thrive Supergreen Powder

Blend and enjoy!

*Heck Foods

**Vivolife

***How To Make Almond Milk

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: Time to Reflect, Give Thanks & Set Intentions

C8F8B40E-AE15-4D77-BD09-C6C1F10CC09EAs many have commented, the beginning of the new year is a time when many of us take a look at who we are and how our lives are panning out. We often don’t like what we see as our weaknesses or shortcomings and we decide on some resolutions in the hope of rectifying any flaws in our current lifestyle, character or appearance, in order to set our lives back on the track we mapped out.

I’m all in favour of periodic reassessment, but I think we can be too hard on ourselves. I think resolutions can be too hard and fast, too black and white, and can be a means of setting ourselves up to fail because they don’t take account of circumstances beyond our control and don’t allow us to take babysteps or even missteps. We can’t always live up to our own high expectations, and once we miss that gym session or we are pressed to have a celebratory glass of wine, or we can’t cope with the craving for bacon, that’s it, we’ve failed, so we may as well give up and revert to our previous lifestyle.

I do, however, like to reflect and take stock. To see what worked and what didn’t. To look at relationships and my part in them. To make adjustments. But also to give thanks and acknowledge my achievements. I try to learn a new skill every year: this year I took over my mum’s affairs, something I never thought I would manage, and added rock painting to my creative interests.

7E5BB4E1-67C2-42A5-B846-E66EF28DE333

I also like to express hopes and intentions, send healing thoughts out to the universe and ask for support, not just for myself, but for all those struggling in difficult times.

For many, the planet has seemed slightly off-kilter this past year, not just politically or economically, but, for those around me, health and welfare issues have dominated our concerns. For me, I know that this year will be a significant one concerning my elderly mum and also a much younger family member coping with a terrible disease. It is difficult to watch loved ones suffer and not be able to take away the pain and the confusion, restore the memories fast disappearing, or provide enough support for those doing the hands-on caring, and in particular for the children of a sick parent.

I have friends who are caring for 3 parents in various stages of dementia as well as serious physical conditions. They themselves are suffering physically from the exertions of lifting, cleaning, cooking, driving back and forth and being called out in the middle of the night, all while working full-time jobs and looking after their own children. My heart goes out to them and I feel bad that I can’t ease their burden. I worry about them.

I have to remind myself periodically that I do what I can. I am here to listen to their worries. I check up on them regularly.  I offer advice and information when I can see where something might help. I lend equipment to ease back pain. I give treats. And that’s all we can do: do what we can. If we all do what we are able, then that is all we can ask of ourselves and everyone will benefit.

Of course, this applies to our new resolutions, our goals, as well. If we do what we can at this stage in our lives, and we do better as we move forward, then we should be proud of our efforts. As the tag line on my Home Page says: You did then what you knew how, when you know better, you do better. (Maya Angelou). There are bound to be times when Life conspires to make things extra tough and we weaken, but that’s ok, it’s human, it’s not a reason to give up. We reflect on what’s occurred, the possible reasons why, acknowledge them and begin again. No recriminations are necessary, just self-care and self-support.

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My Reboot Salad

Every Christmas and New Year, despite my confidence in my ability to stay on the healthy food wagon, I succumb. Not at Christmas, but at New Year. What happens is, we buy all sorts of foodstuffs we – and especially I – don’t normally consume, especially snacky things. We get them in for the teenagers in particular. We also try to find me some vegan equivalents of the foods they like: pizza, sausage rolls etc. I’m not tempted by the cake or biscuits or any sugary foods, it’s the savoury foods that get me every time. I don’t like eating them, but they are completely addictive for me. I can refrain from them all year round, they are not in the house. I rarely crave them. They make me feel heavy and uncomfortable, but once I have them, I have to have them again, and so it goes on until they are gone. I try to send much of what’s left over with them when they go home, but by then the damage is done. I put on weight easily, so by January, I am having trouble fitting into my jeans, I feel bloated and unhealthy. My energy levels have dropped.

FDC31486-BFAE-4C72-83FA-07C32F91F82C
Supergreen Smoothie

It would be very easy to jump on the scales every morning and berate myself while comfort-eating the very things that have got me there. But I know this never works. I acknowledge what’s happened, that it is now an inevitable occurrence at this time of year. I sort out my cupboards, get rid of anything I don’t want to eat (some to the foodbank) and gradually steer myself back to what is normal for me. It’s not easy, I have always been a compulsive comfort-eater and I find January a particular challenge, having said goodbye to all my family for a while and facing the dark, cold days until the first signs of Spring. Changing my lifestyle has helped a great deal, and learning to be gentle on myself has also played a big part. (The Supergreen Smoothie recipe above will be in my next post).

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Election Day Special*

Starting a juice program, doing some work on past hurts, meditating and repeating affirmations, using aromatherapy oils and decluttering my home and my mind have all been beneficial to my health and wellbeing. You can read my story in the links below. Adopting an organic and vegan lifestyle, cutting down on plastic and waste also give me a sense of contributing to the welfare of the planet, of animals and those working with toxic products. I feel proud of my efforts.

We do what we can. Everyone has their line in the sand. If we all do a little bit, we will see positive change in our own lives and in those of the people that surround us. Hopefully, we will see positive change in the way we are governed and in attitudes towards this precious planet and to all its many and diverse inhabitants.

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Mango Chia Pudding**

For those of you trying to change to a more sustainable plantbased diet, looking for ways to improve health conditions or move about more, there are links below to posts that may help motivate or keep you on track.

***

At this point, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that at some point over the Christmas period I reached over a thousand followers. I’m not sure how this has occurred, it’s a little overwhelming to be honest. I am very grateful that you all take the time to read and comment on my posts, and for the support you give me when I’m struggling with the stresses in my life.

***

Over the next couple of weeks, I shall be taking a break for some much-needed rest and back treatment. I have scheduled some Monday Meditatios for while I am away, but won’t be able to reply to your comments for a while. Thank you all for reading them, they have proved quite popular and I hope I’ll be able to go on more rambles and explorations as soon as the weather (and my back) improves.

Thank you all! Be kind to yourself: look after you body, it’s the only home you have.

PS These links should help keep you out of mischief and on track while I’m away, I shall be asking questions when I return, so make sure to do your homework 😉

About Me: From Vesta Curry to Vegan Sushi

My Road to Raw – Going Veggie

Raw Energy

Pears But No More Parsnips: In Which I Confront My Parsnip Phobia!

Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did!

My Top 20 Tips for Juicing – updated to 25!

*Election Day Special Fruity Beetroot Juice

**Monday Meditation: Mango Chia Pudding or Sunshine in a Jar – no blender required (plus hidden smoothie recipe)

Invisible Disabilities Week – My Story

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Monday Meditation: Mindfulness and Rock Painting

Painted Christmas Card Rocks & Taking A Break

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: Mango Chia Pudding or Sunshine in a Jar – no blender required (plus hidden smoothie recipe)

81E39081-4E5E-4799-9FDD-F06C804F0520(I apologise to those of you experiencing snow and freezing temperatures while reading this, I wrote this post only 3 weeks before and now there are 3″ of snow on the ground and more promised next day! I feel like I should be posting about a bowl of piping hot porridge!)

The previous day had been soul-sapping: it was one of those depressingly endless steel-grey November days with rain, biting chilly wind and a need for continuous artificial light; one of those days where you feel yourself slowly desiccating in the central heating. I find it hard to motivate myself on these days, no energy whatsoever, I just want to stay under the duvet or sit in front of the tv wrapped in a shawl with chocolate and licorice tea for company!

This particular day, however, was its polar opposite and I was up with the lark: endless blue skies and bright sunshine greeted me when I woke up. I had my early Morning Glory juice (see 7 Juice Recipes) and went for a walk. I love being out in the fresh air with the warmth of the sun on my face, I feel I am a completely different person and I can do anything I put my mind to. I am full of gratitude for my surroundings: for the proximity of parks, fields, woodland, the creatures that inhabit them, and I greet everyone I meet with a cheery smile.

45EE5A14-5195-457D-A60E-D9FDE8B83B40I passed a garden being landscaped and found some small smooth pebbles in the pile of earth that I could use for painting. I saw a couple of squirrels running rings around a tree and digging up hidden larders of acorns. I stood and admired a soaring buzzard before leaving a painted rock on a war grave in our nearby cemetery.

I came home invigorated and ready to be creative with my rocks. First, though, I made breakfast: Mango Chia Pudding, the bright orange fruit reflecting the weather and my mood.

Before I left for my walk, I had put some chia seeds to soak with some homemade Tiger Nut Milk in a jar, and removed some chopped mango from the freezer. It was just a matter of layering my chosen ingredients in the jar, quick and easy. It looks and tastes yum! A nutritious jar of autumn sunshine.

Recipe

(vegan, gluten-free, organic where possible)

In a jar, tall glass or glass dish, mix 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds in 4 Tbsps Tiger Nut Milk (or any other plant milk) and stir vigorously (I get my organic, peeled tiger nuts from The Tiger Nut Company)

Leave in the fridge until the seeds have swelled.

Layer cashew pieces, live coconut yogurt (or any other kind) and mango pieces, until the jar is full.

Add your favourite toppings. I used goji berries, raw dried mulberries, cacao nibs, raw chocolate covered mulberry chips* and more mango. You can use seeds, coconut, blueberries, grated raw chocolate.

Order up some sun and some birdsong, relax and enjoy.

30200944_UnknownI sat outside on this early November morning to eat my breakfast pudding and it could have been Spring. The hanging baskets were still showing off, if a little windswept, the nemesia was still in full delicate bloom and I had seen daisies growing in someone’s lawn on my walk. The robin was hopping about, busying himself collecting insects where my husband had edged the garden path. What a contrast to the day before. I felt so much better. (The picture here shows the nemesia and the smoothie I had the following morning: banana, mango, blueberries, romaine, walnuts, golden linseeds, chia seeds, coconut water, live soya yogurt. There, two recipes for the price of one!).

(PS We now have 6″ of snow, it’s magical, like a winter wonderland from the old black and white Christmas films).

*I buy mine from The Raw Chocolate Company

Three Cheers for Chias! What Are Chia Seeds & How Do I Use Them? Recipes included

Painted Christmas Card Rocks & Taking A Break

Monday Meditation: Mindfulness and Rock Painting

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Heart-Healthy Carob, Walnut & Lucuma Smoothie

29934304_UnknownI can’t describe how heavenly this is! I surprised myself, even though I love carob. This is one of those thick smoothies that can be served for breakfast or dessert. It’s very filling so maybe split between two if having it after a meal.

I used buckwheat flakes* because I had no oats left and lucuma powder as I’d run out of baobab. Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit grown at high altitudes, the powder has a subtle malty flavour. It is nutritionally healthy, containing protein, calcium, iron, B3 as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals.

Carob is also from South America and is a tasty alternative for anyone who can’t eat chocolate or cacao. I discovered it in the 1980’s when I was trying to find a healthier alternative to commercial chocolate bars and hadn’t yet come across raw cacao. It’s caffeine-free, low in sodium, contains calcium and is high in fibre. Carob contains gallic acid which is antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, acts as an analgesic and antioxidant.

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Organic)

1 Heaped Tbsp Carob Powder

1 Banana, chopped

3 Dried Figs, chopped

Good Handful Walnut Pieces (and a few to serve)

1 Dsp Peanut Butter

1 Tbsp Buckwheat Flakes or Oats

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Coconut Water

1 rounded Tsp Lucuma Powder or Baobab Powder

***

Blend, chill (if you can wait!), add a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, and serve. Bliss.

29934272_Unknown

*See also:

Vegan Chilli with Aduki Beans & Buckwheat

Three Cheers for Chias! What Are Chia Seeds & How Do I Use Them? Recipes included

Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Ageing Cherry, Chia and Lucuma Smoothie (no bananas necessary!)

Copyright: Chris McGowan