Friday, February 21, 2014

Talking to yourself

I think I need to do a bit of this today.  What about you?
Friday, February 7, 2014

A day of acceptance

Why don't we have a day of acceptance - of ourselves, today?

  1. 1.
    the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.

  2. 2.
    the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.

Or in Psychology:

  • Acceptance
  • Acceptance in human psychology is a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition without attempting to change it, protest, or exit.

  • How often are you focusing on changing yourself?  Always trying to do better at work, put in more hours, work smarter…..and then in our leisure life, not being content with where we are.

    I am so guilty of this in all aspects of my life. For example:

    • In my singing - I'm always focusing on trying to incorporate everything I've learned in my lesson…..always wanting the group to sing better.  So much so, I forget to enjoy where I am right now in my singing and just enjoy what we are singing and the connections with others.
    • In work - I'm working a new job for Ceres and so trying my best, trying to get a grips with everything, feeling bad when I don't do as I had hoped….instead of ever just recognizing the joy in what I am doing and the wonderful people I'm working with.
    • In my studies - I'm trying to get everything done perfectly, figuring out how I can schedule everything, how to keep a balance….and forget just how fascinating what I'm learning is.
    • With my friends, I'm trying hard, not wanting to let anyone down, worrying I am forgetting something I should be remembering….and not just having fun with them.

    So today I am going to accept myself.  I am where I am, I am who I am. I'm happy to be in the process of continually getting better at all I do - but today, I am going to enjoy where I am right now.

    Do you need a day of acceptance of yourself?  I think we should try it once a week.  Friday is acceptance day. There! Let's do it.  We've done what we can all week. Now lets enjoy what we do today without trying to change it.  Sing because I can. Learn and revel in the joy of it. Work and enjoy the connections.

    I accept myself today.
    Wednesday, February 5, 2014

    Castagnaccio - chestnut cake

    I recently taught a couple of classes on managing blood glucose levels.  One of the recipes we cooked together was a Tuscan dish called Castagnaccio. Its a sweet/savory cake made with chestnut flour and no added sugar.

    This winter I've actually had a bit of a chestnut obsession, to be honest.  I just love chestnuts and keep finding new ways to use them.  I think I'm just going to have to find space to plant a chestnut tree.

    Edible  sweet chestnuts - not to be confused with horse chestnuts, nor water chestnuts, are in the beech tree family.  They are one of the lowest calorie nuts, containing no cholesterol, very little fat (mostly unsaturated) and gluten free.  They have similar carbohydrate content as rice and wheat and are the only nuts to contain vitamin C.  We always think of nuts as being high in fat - but not the chestnut.

    I throw them on my salads, add  them to lots of other dishes and now am using chestnut flour in baked goods.  You can also buy them dried and reconstitute them, and pureed, and as "chips" which you can use to make a chestnut type hummus.  See - they are so much more than just a subject of Christmas songs! Get out there and buy a jar of roasted chestnuts - or roast your own, before they are all gone!

    Castagnaccio is a little different from what you imagine a cake to be. It is solid with a more unusual texture - and combines the flavors of sweetness from sultanas (golden raisins), with pine nuts and then fresh rosemary.  I love the combination - but I have to say, I haven't tasted anything else quite like it.  I've tried a couple of variations using walnuts instead of the pine nuts and regular raisins or cranberries instead of the sultanas.  And with or without the orange zest. I like them all and its a great portable food that I take with me in the car on my trips to the city.

    I've never had Castagnaccio from Tuscany. Have you?  I'd love to know how this recipe compares.....

    Anyhow - if you are feeling like something a little different, give it a go:

    1 1/2 cups chestnut flour (I bought mine online)
    1 1/2 cups warm water
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1/4 sultanas/golden raisins
    1/4 pine nuts
    1 large sprig of rosemary
    Grated zest of 1 orange (optional)

    1. Preheat the oven to 400F
    2. Soak the sultanas in the 1 1/2 cups warm water for approx 5 minutes.  Drain - reserving both the sultanas and the water.
    3. Meanwhile, remove the rosemary leaves from the sprig.
    4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chestnut flour and drained warm water until smooth.
    5. Place the olive oil in a pie dish and place int he oven to just a couple of minutes to warm.
    6. Pour the batter into the pie dish and swirl with a whisk to carefully mix in the oil into the dough.  
    7. Sprinkle on the nuts, orange zest and soaked sultanas.
    8. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until the whole surface is dry and a little cracked.
    9. Serve hot, warm or cold.
    Monday, February 3, 2014

    Buckwheat Muesli

    Did you miss me?  I decided to take January off from blogging as so many other things were going on. Maybe more on that later! ...... But I'm back now - and one year older!! It was my birthday yesterday and I feel just as young as I did on Saturday - so that's good!

    It must be the great food I eat :-D

    Here's a good breakfast cereal for you to try and see if it keeps you feeling as young as me!

    Its made from buckwheat. Little tiny pyramids - as you can see above. Buckwheat isn't actually a grain but rather a seed and is in the same family of plants as rhubarb.  It is a useful crop to grow as it has a short growing period, producing seeds at around 6 weeks which ripen at 10 - 11 weeks. So its great as a fill-in crop, between other crops.

    It has reasonably high protein levels (approx 18%) including all the essential amino acids.  It is also rich in iron, zinc and selenium, and rutin.  Rutin is a bioflavonoid that helps strengthen our blood vessels so it particularly useful for varicose veins, hemorrhoids etc and may lower blood pressure.

    In this recipe, I've used raw buckwheat.  You can generally buy it either raw or toasted. When it is toasted, it's often called Kasha.  You can also buy it as a flour...and you may have tried it in buckwheat pancakes for an example.

    I like the crunch, texture and chew of it in the cereal. You can obviously change up this recipe to use ingredients you like best, so this is just a canvas recipe -that you can adjust to your own particular tastes. For example, I didn't have sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds one time, so subbed 1 cup of walnuts instead.

    Hope you'll give it a go:

    120g or 3/4 cup raw buckwheat
    90g or 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
    70g or 1/2 cup raisins
    70g or 1/2 cup sultanas/golden raisins
    40g or 1 cup flaked coconut or 40g or 1/2 cup shredded coconut
    35g or 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
    20g or 1/2 cup puffed unsweetened brown rice
    20g or 1/4 cup ground flax seed
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Mix all the ingredients and you are done! As simple as that.   I don't think it needs any oil or sweetener - just pour some non dairy milk/yoghurt on top and add some fruit, which will sweeten it - and enjoy.

    Vegan, free from added sugar, gluten, oil, and good source of omega fats.  Good source of fiber.


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