Packed Lunches

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One of my sons recently sent me this excellent lunchbox from Sistema. He and I have a thing about great storage and great food and this hits the nail on the head on both counts. Bring out your lunchbox on a train with a napkin and a proper fork and notice how little appeal those trips to the buffet have when you’re not hungry any more. Pack yourself a salad, maybe a yoghurt or a few squares of chocolate for afterwards and you are about £5 better off and all the healthier for it. And making yourself something good to eat also builds self-esteem.

When you are trying to eat healthily being out and about can be your undoing. On the road or in city centres it is quite difficult to find a lunch as healthy and delicious as one you might make before you leave home. If you never have time to do this I have a word of advice – you would expect no less – keep your home made salad dressing ready to go in the fridge. Throwing in the leaves and the protein is literally the work of an instant but the minute I think about making salad dressing I realise I’m going to miss my train. Having a couple of jars in the fridge with a choice of dressing can make the difference between a cheap and lovely salad (like my picture) and another wearisome trip to Pret or M&S and all that choosing.

Eating healthily is a lot to do with being prepared and I guarantee you will feel just a little bit smug when you are.

So here is the standard recipe for A Travelling Salad :

A handful of your favourite leaves.

A handful of your favourite protein (chicken, prawns, cheese, beans, tuna, nuts)

Optional extra veg such as tomato or shavings of courgette or carrot

An apple chopped up

And the all important dressing : (courtesy of Rayond Blanc)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons walnut oil (replace with olive oil if you don’t have any)

salt and pepper

 

Shake all together in a jam jar before spooning over the salad.

Pleasing variations can be made by replacing the water with single cream or yoghurt, replacing the walnut oil with another flavoured oil (basil, chilli, garlic) and by sweetening the dressing with a teaspoon of honey or pomegranate molasses.

Stress and Addiction Eating

Under stress our addictions pop right up again even when we thought we’d sorted all that. If you’re under stress (who isn’t?) look after yourself. Here’s how.

Have in a wide range of food in healthy proportions. (That means a packet of biscuits in the tin, sure, but a fridge and a fruit bowl overflowing with fresh raw things. Cheesecake is not a raw thing.)

  1. If you feel the need to eat and it’s not a meal time reassure that anxious part of you that it’s not going to starve and lay your hands on as much fruit as you can. Eat it straight or arrange it like a still life first. Don’t want fruit? Always have access to some tomatoes and miso soup, maybe a hard boiled egg too. Keep reassuring the anxious part which is not your stomach. If your anxious part is afraid of the food, reassure it just the same. There isn’t going to be any force feeding. There is only kindness. Sense into the part of you that panics. How old is it?
  2. If part of you is always afraid of being deprived, eat off large plates. A large plate filled with raw foods and a small amount of protein/carbohydrate/fat (meat, fish, cheese, bread, mayonnaise, salad dressing, butter etc) . This feels generous and is less likely to send that hungry frightened part into orbit.
  3. Equally if your small and hungry part is frightened by food, make it a small and tempting plate. Imagine you are looking after a toddler.
  4. Make it tasty! Anchovies, lemon juice, fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, coriander on your salad mean you don’t need so much oil.
  5. I’m all for healthy eating but this isn’t the time to start giving up salt. If you’re trying to eat sensibly in terms of quantity make it delicious. If you try to revolutionise your eating in one go (from a Full English diet to no-salt, low fat)  you are asking to fail. One thing at a time. Don’t feed the part that believes in all or nothing. Feed the grown-up part that knows to take it slowly. Someone needs to look after that toddler.
  6. Make soup. Make soup often! Making it is incredibly therapeutic and eating it is pretty good too. My current favourite is root vegetables such as carrots, swede and parsnips – whatever you have in but go easy on the potatoes. Chop and saute and onion. Peel and chop your root veg and add to the pan with enough Marigold vegetable stock to cover generously. Cook until the veg are soft and then liquidise. Freeze some and meanwhile season what you are keeping out for the next few days. By seasoning at the time of eating you can vary the soup. I like to add cayenne and curry powder for quite a spicy taste, then add some good yoghurt or a dash of cream to your bowl when serving. Next time you can add ginger and lemon and parsley or some other wonderful combination you’ve discovered.

 

Today’s recipe is for Pasta with Prawns.

Prawn Spaghetti

 

Chop finely some parsley and garlic and put in a small bowl with the prawns (room temperature), the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper. Heat some good olive oil in a small pan and when your pasta is drained and ready add everything from the bowl with the prawns in it and a teaspoon of Harissa pasta or a sprinkling of chilli flakes. Warm through and divide between the pasta dishes. This also works beautifully with crab meat or sautéed courgettes or roasted broccoli instead of the prawns.

When is a brownie kinder than a fruit salad?

Imagine you live in the stone age when wild animals were not just going through your dustbins of an evening but threatening to eat you and your children. The regime, we may surmise, was feast or famine. After a prolonged period of stress (how much fun do you think living off berries and roots and fending of the local bear actually was?) comes at last the day when the young bucks are successful and bring home meat for dinner. Party time. The big fire gets going, alcohol is unleashed, the resident shaman is warming up and at last there’s hot food, streaming with animal fat. General rejoicing. Nobody back then said ‘I only want a little’, ‘No meat for me’ or ‘I’m sorry I’m on the 5/2′. When there was food, everybody ate what they could get because who knew how long it would be before there was meat and fat again. Simple.

Now imagine you are a new baby, unused to being out of the womb, unused to being on your own, oh and you’ve never been hungry before. (The placenta used to deliver all of your needs before you knew you had them.) Suddenly you’re out in the world and hunger is pretty frightening. Warm sweet milk (our own animal fat), when it arrives, is an end to all suffering. Party time. Eat all you can get. This regime too is feast or famine because just a few moments’ hunger feels like a famine to the infant – witness the noise they make which rivals a fire alarm and produces just one desire in any nearby adult. Make It Stop. The milk almost invariably arrives with a caring person attached so you get company, physical pleasure and an end to some nasty feelings all in one hit. You feel great. Simple.

These two scenarios explain how it is second nature to cheer ourselves up and relax (or self-medicate as the psychs say) with ‘unhealthy’ food. It wasn’t unhealthy food back then (either in the cave or in infancy). It was just what we needed. Have you noticed that under stress the body effortlessly chooses high calorie foods? Bad morning? Before you can turn round the body will have hoovered up a bag of dried fruit and nuts from Pret. (Real food but high cal.) Adding insult to injury, it then tends to hang on to all the calories as long as possible, slowing down your metabolism, rather than burning them up efficiently. When the nervous system has been under threat and then that threat is removed the body wants to eat, eat, eat – and we’re not talking salads here. The body, in its wisdom, wants to restore its wellbeing by wolfing down the highest calorie food it can lay its hands on.

What was an intelligent response in the stone age isn’t so great today when the only threat has been a ticking off from the boss, a tube strike or a visit from your mother. Your nervous system does not distinguish between the agony of the working mother with a sick child and the heart-pounding flight from the sabre-toothed tiger. Your nervous system has all its alarm bells ringing (‘My office, now!’ ‘Can you come home?’ ‘It’s only me…’) just as if your life were in danger. When your break comes a doughnut or some chocolate or a Big Mac may feel like the very thing that will restore your sense of well-being because you feel as though you’ve run a marathon and it’s only 11am. But then comes the kick-back. The voice that makes you feel worthless.

That endless monologue about what you’ve ‘earned’, what you ‘deserve’ has no place in your food choices. What to do?

Back to basics. When we eat those high-fat, high-sugar things we are trying to restore our sense of well-being. They taste good in the mouth but they also signal to the body that the threat is past and the sympathetic nervous system (what a misnomer) can throw itself on the sofa and watch TV for a while. Chill, if you will. In a word, our evolutionary heritage is on the side of MacDonalds. Show it a burger, steak and chips, pancakes with maple syrup and butter and it rolls up its sleeves and digs in before you can say Weightwatchers. As so often, our evolution into human beings is in microcosm replicated by our journey from embryo to adult. If we call ‘bad’ the very foods that produce the sensations of physical safety and which mimic our earliest, sweetest experiences of love it is a short step to confusion, anger and eventual revolt. (The revolt will be high calorie, trust me).

So how can we drag our bodies out of the stone age, out of infancy and into the present where there is no shortage of food and where the ever-present danger is of ruining our health through over-eating? Here is a step by step guide.

  1. Abandon the notion of good and bad. This is not about being good. Reward and punishment have no place in our diet.
  2. Focus on what the food represents for our physiology – that loving attempt to restore our well-being.
  3. Feel into the kindness of that attempt – this is love for ourselves, a way of looking after ourselves.
  4. As you feel into the kindness bring in the knowledge you have of your own situation and what you know about food so that something can emerge which will respect exactly where you are.
  5. ‘Your own situation’ means your health, how much running about you’ve done today, what the rest of the day holds. If you’re in ill health, can’t run about and tonight you’re out to dinner somewhere fun, you need to choose your lunch and snacks with a kind and light hand. If you’ve already done a work out, you haven’t sat down all day and tonight will be a boiled egg and soldiers (my favourite supper when I’m on my own) you need some energy and your lunch should reflect that.
  6. Never again think of things you put in your mouth as ‘treats’. Inherent in the word is that good/bad splitting which keeps us rebelling and eating heavy.

 

So here is the best brownie recipe I know of. It is also shamingly easy. Humour your body by making them and having a taste each day for a couple of days. Share them widely and you will be much loved and go straight to heaven.

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies (adapted from Gary Rhodes’ recipe)

10 ozs caster sugar

4 eggs

8 ozs unsalted butter

3 ozs cocoa

3 ozs plain flour

8 ozs plain chocolate

4 ozs hazelnuts or pecans, chopped

4 ozs white chocolate in chunks

Whisk eggs and sugar. Melt the butter and add. Then add flour and cocoa. Melt the plain chocolate and add that. Then the nuts and the white chocolate.

Grease a shallow tin and bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool before cutting into very small rich cubes. Eat with creme fraiche and raspberries adjusting the ratio of cake to fruit according to your situation.

 

 

Eating in the Now

Have you all heard about the now? It’s kind of big at the moment, if you’ll excuse the tautology. It’s big because mindfulness has become so fashionable that even the government thinks it might be good for us and that’s usually about the time that a craze is o-ver. But let’s not hold that against the now. At the risk of being annoying I would just mention it is all we’ve got. Yesterday, you will have noticed, has popped off somewhere you can’t get at it any more and tomorrow, well we all know about tomorrow, that temptress who never delivers.

in-the-now

If you’ve been told you’re too fat since you were just a child you may be standing at the fridge eating just because you can! There’s no-one to look at you and make you feel uncomfortable. Overeating can be a way of having your own back on your past but because it’s not very kind to your body, it is a strategy that could do with some adjustment. Overeating can also be an unconscious behaviour. When there’s a serious derailment of our connection with our body we often behave unconsciously. Smokers who light two cigarettes at the same time are unconscious. Over-eaters on autopilot are unconscious as they wolf down a burger on their way home to a Weightwatchers dinner they spent their weekend making.

So what does eating in the now mean? It means not eating off other people’s plates, or straight from the fridge, or standing at the kitchen counter without getting a plate because those are ways we sort of pretend we’re not actually eating. You know that joke about food being calorie free if someone else ordered it? It is just a joke, sadly!

Eating in the now means being present as you eat, enjoying what you eat, noticing that you are eating, noticing what you are eating and how you feel when you start and how you feel when you stop. As I am writing this I realise that it means being grown up around food and if that feels scary take as much time as you need, as often as you need to look after the part that isn’t ready to grow up.

Let’s own up to eating! We’re allowed! Let’s make pizza and eat it in full consciousness and without apology. What is the right amount to eat if you’re not having your own back or pushing yourself but having a good time?

Pizza!

pizza

Bread Dough

500g strong white flour

1 x sachet easy bake yeast

0.75 pints of hand warm water

Salt to taste

  1. Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and bring together with a flat knife into a dough that you can eventually tip onto the counter.
  2. Knead briefly and scoop back into the bowl. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. While the dough is proving make your passata by barely simmering some good chopped tinned tomatoes, or over-ripe chopped fresh tomatoes, or bottled passata with a garlic clove, a little salt and a good splash of olive oil.
  4. When the dough has grown and has visible air bubbles in it after about an hour put your oven on its highest setting and set a shelf half way down the oven.
  5. Tip the dough back onto the counter with some flour and knead it back and forth until it feels like a baby’s flesh, soft and springy. Roll it out as flat as you can and put it on a parchment lined baking tray. Use your hands to stretch it to the edges of the tray.
  6. By now your pasta should be thick and oily and you can spoon it onto the dough and spread it to the edges.
  7. Again leave for about half an hour – because it’s pizza not bread we don’t need the full rise.
  8. Now you can add your pizza toppings of choice, bake on high for 20 minutes and eat. More delicate toppings like mozzarella or prawns can be added half way through the cooking.

Toppings

sliced mushrooms

salami or ham

tuna or crab or prawns

basil or oregano

roasted peppers or aubergines

cheese : mozzarella, goats’ cheese, cheddar

cooked spinach

Eating What You Are

Over the disconcertingly long time that I have been giving this some thought, I have come to realise that our lives are all about eating in different dimensions. For physical growth we need food. For psychological growth we need food and the food we eat is our selves. What do I mean by that? I mean that in order to grow our work is to digest the defences that we put in place during our formative years. With support we gradually allow ourselves to feel things which were too big or conflicted for us to feel as small children. We allow those parts of ourselves which we abandoned to come back to life, to thaw out. We feel into what caused those defences to form in the first place. In my work I encourage sensing into the body which is where all those experiences are stored.

And what has this to do with food? Two things. Firstly the process of digesting our psychic structures is remarkably similar to our physical digestion. When emotional work allows insights to arise and awareness to increase it can feel as though you are digesting the old ways of seeing. With practice you can actually feel it happening. Secondly addictive behaviours around food are like every other addiction. They are strategies, albeit misguided, of delivering pleasure to the brain when it is in emotional distress. Usually they are accompanied by self-punishment AND THE PUNISHING FEELINGS RESULT IN MORE OF THE ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOUR. You will notice that I am shouting and with reason. The first step away from addictive behaviour is to challenge the self-punishing and bullying thoughts and acts and replacing them with love from you to you.

Clients often ask ‘How do I do that?’ and the answer is very simple. Your own internal bully is much the same as a bully in the external world and the same techniques work.

How to Deal with Bullying

There are more than two parts of you (the bully and the victim) there is also a wiser, more adult part that can step in. Make use of this. Treat that bullying voice which belittles you and goads you in just the same way as you would handle a bully in real life. Treat the cowering part as you would a frightened child. (There is excellent advice about overcoming bullying here.)

These conversations can take place in your head or somewhere you can shout if you need to. (If you run it can be a great time to have this out!) They need to become a second-nature routine whenever the voice starts up. Here are your strategies. Rotate them.

  1. Ignore – don’t listen. (Mentally) walk away and keep walking. Don’t play the victim and don’t reason or argue with the bully.
  2. Stand up for yourself – really get angry with that bullying part so that it isn’t the only part of you with any energy. Remind the bully that bullying arises out of fear and weakness not strength. Tell the bully where to get off.
  3. Tell someone who can help – locate that third, authoritative and wiser part of you that can mediate.

These are the internal processes, boringly simple, which can bring the bullying to a less damaging level. Don’t be put off by the simplicity. With practice this works.

And now for todays recipe which also works.

Blackberry and Apple Cheese

blackberry-apple-cheese-2

Just a quickie to make you feel that even if you live in a city centre you can participate in making lovely things in jars. I made a couple of jars of this one morning when I had some left over stewed apple and some supermarket blackberries and blueberries in my fridge which were going to go off if they weren’t used pronto. It is a good way of making very expensive berries go a long way.

1. If you need to start by making your stewed apple peel some Bramleys and core and slice. Put in a microwave dish with lid and cook on medium to high power for 10 minutes until blitzed.
2. Now see what berries you have to hand. Blackberries, blueberries or raspberries, red or black currants. Fresh or frozen will do well.
3. Weigh the total fruit you will use and put it in a large heavy pan.
4. Add the same weight in sugar.
5. Heat gently  until the sugar is dissolved and then bring to the boil.
6. Stir often and simmer as high as you can without it boiling over for 10-15 minutes.
7. Start testing for setting. If a droplet hangs down instead of falling off a clean wooden spoon, it is nearly ready for potting. If a droplet on a cold saucer forms a skin after a few minutes which wrinkles to the touch, it is likewise ready.
8. Sterilise your jars in the oven, the dishwasher or rinsing out with gin or vodka.
9.For a true cheese you should really sieve the jam before potting but it’s really just as nice with all the lumps and bumps.
10. Eat in cake, on scones, on toast or alongside some sharp cheese.
blackberry-and-apple-cheese

Comfort Eating

risotto

When we arrive in the world after a taxing journey into the unknown, the comfort of another human being awaits each one of us. Warmth, holding, safety, love if we’re lucky, are accompanied by and communicated through food. This is our first act on earth. Instinctively we are able to nourish ourselves in all the ways we need. If you’ve seen a newborn turn its head towards the breast before it’s seen its mother you cannot ever again underestimate how important food is to us and how bound up with relationship. Comfort and eating are for that infant synonymous, as they are for most of us.

Using high calorie foods to comfort ourselves because we are miserable in ways too complicated to address easily is an attempt to be kind to ourselves. When warmth, holding, love are missing we can at least do this and for brief moments that fabulous high we associate with being held and being fed are there. We need those feelings. However, as we all know, grown adults don’t need that many high calorie foods in a day and the crunch of an apple (a much more grown up food that needs teeth) does not produce anything like the same feelings. My understanding is not very sophisticated in this area but I’m reasonably sure this is to do with the chemistry of our brains. Apples are very little like breast milk.

When I have worked with people whose overeating has come to dominate their lives they also have something else in common : shame. Now imagine the cruel cycle that even the moderate eaters amongst us may recognise : we feel a bit down, we follow our most basic cellular memory and head for the kitchen to try and cheer ourselves up with something tasty in the mouth. It works momentarily but soon comes the black shame attack within. So our inadequate efforts to cheer ourselves up lead straight to feeling worthless. (I exaggerate to illustrate.) The cycle gets worse when we then try to blank our the shame attack with more  food. The pleasure of the food is hardly tasted. The self-loathing and shame reach epic proportions. If you would like to read more about the psychology of shame look up Dr Phil Mollon on Amazon. (And needless to say this also goes for our other addictions such as smoking, drinking, drugs and spending money we don’t have.)

What to do instead, I am frequently asked? Tricky but it can be done. It’s about building self-worth. Catch the low mood as soon as it starts. Maybe catch what kicked it off. It can be as insignificant as the way the bus conductor looked at you. Something about that made you feel not so good. Or maybe you have money worries and a big bill has come in so you don’t feel safe. Catching the not-so-good feeling is a kindness in itself. You are paying attention to yourself. Kindness is all here. Start by not shaming yourself for feeling miserable. Notice what kind of miserable. Get curious as to what will make you feel better not for the next five minutes but later today as well. It might be a walk, a radio programme, a phone call, a swim.

This is a big subject but we will stop here today and squeeze in some real comfort food, risotto. If you want food that leaves you feeling loved I recommend risotto. It is cheap. It is an act of love to cook it as it takes time and it is the creamiest dish in the world with no cream in it. The creaminess is all down to the unfathomable mantecare process. In fact mantecare means to cream as in to beat or to whip but the magical thing here is no intervention is needed. Risotto achieves it all on its own, off the heat with the lid on at the end of cooking.

I find it helps to put a small and tidy mound in a large white dish. If you want a more slimming version replace half the rice with finely diced vegetables. Have a small helping with a large salad and if there is some left don’t worry! It will disappear next day or thereafter as it heats up successfully in the microwave and makes an excellent filling for stuffed peppers. The quantities are for 4-6 people.

 

Rosemary and Lemon Risotto with Spinach

500 g risotto rice

50 g butter

50 g olive oil

1 onion or leek finely chopped

80 g grated Parmesan

2 litres of beef or Marigold vegetable stock (hot)

2 glasses of white wine

lemon zest

Rosemary finely chopped

4 handfuls of washed spinach

  1. Saute the onion unbelievably slowly until it is translucent.
  2. Add the rice and saute for a minute or two before adding the wine.
  3. Stir until the wine is completely evaporated and the rice is dry again.
  4. Add the stock one ladleful at a time until it is all absorbed. This should take 20 minutes but I find it takes longer so be patient.
  5. Stir in the spinach as soon as the rice is cooked.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest, butter, rosemary and Parmesan
  7. Leave to ‘mantecare’ for 3 minutes and then serve with more cheese and rosemary.

Alternative versions

Fish or Meat

Leaving out the lemon and rosemary and  use fish or vegetable stock instead of beef. Add cooked seafood during the ‘mantecare‘ process so that it gets warm. Alternatively you can fry some good raw prawns or chicken livers in chilli oil and garnish each serving with a few. Venetians do not add Parmesan to fish dishes but it is very good with chicken livers.

Low carb risotto

Replace half the rice with a mixture of extremely finely diced vegetables : celery, carrot, leek, broccoli (or what you have). You can only retain the authentic feel and look of risotto by dicing the vegetables so finely that they are practically indistinguishable from the grains of rice. Not a task to do in a hurry but a lovely meditative thing to do for yourself. Taking care of yourself in a wise way adds value – to you!

Stuffed Peppers

If you have risotto left simply halve the peppers, removing the seeds and soften 10 minutes in a medium oven. Fill with risotto and then turn up the heat for half an hour until the peppers are crispy around the edges. If you don’t mind a few extra calories, add mozzarella or Parmesan in the last ten minutes.

Sunday is Granola Day

granola-close-up

Hugely nutritious and easy peasy to make, granola makes you feel like Nigella in her prime even if it’s the first time you’ve ever stirred anything. You don’t really need a pinny to stir a dry mixture in a pan but put one on anyway. Indulge the part of you that might like to feed people. A gorgeous, warm and comforting smell comes off the toasting seeds and nuts pretty much as soon as you turn on the gas. By the time you’ve got it in heaping sackfuls on your larder shelf you’ve  written your winner’s speech for Bake Off in your head and you’re Ready For Anything.

Granola’s secret is that is is very very satisfying. Satisfying to make. Satisfying to eat. I expect a proper analysis would reveal that the combination of protein and fat (the nuts and seeds), the complex carbs (oats) and the sugars in the maple syrup and honey speak directly to our lizard brain about security and love. Can eating home-made granola make you feel loved? Take a look at an amazing book by Sue Gerhardt called Why Love Matters : How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Love-Matters-Affection-Shapes/dp/1583918175 and see what you think. The connection between nutrition and affection is not transparent but I believe it lies at the heart of our eating disorders.

Back to the granola! A large dessert spoon of home-made granola on top of your yoghurt or porridge can give you the strength of ten. It is definitely the thing to eat before you go in to negotiate a pay rise or ask your teenager to tidy his bedroom or run that 10k you’ve been working up to. If, like me on the other hand, you are stumbling towards your computer or an armchair, go easy. I have been known to have it for dinner when I was feeling low because it is a truly nourishing thing and the fact that you made it yourself makes it all the more so.  Keep it in your cupboard for days when you need a treat or extra feeding because, let’s not be coy, it is highly calorific. Treat it with respect. That’s why I keep it for Sundays.

BEST DIETING TIP EVER

The voices of punishment and deprivation that show up when we feel overweight are treacherous. Think of them as Odysseus thought of the sirens and stop your ears with bees’ wax; have your men tie you to the mast. But how? I’m going to tell you. Silence them by refusing to start with denial and self-hatred. Refuse to deny yourself porridge or granola or bacon and eggs or croissants (what kind of a life would that be?) but ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a huge fruit salad first. I mean a large dinner plateful, albeit charmingly arranged. An apple, a pear, a banana, a few grapes maybe. Elegant slices of kiwi. Chunks of mango or pineapple. Your fruit salad will reflect your resources and the seasons but make it significant – not that unfilling expensive pot from Pret. And if your fruit bowl habitually contains old biro tops and Lego, at least make sure it also has a couple apples and some passion fruit as well. While we’re on the subject, passion fruit should indeed be mentioned in despatches for they are heroes amongst fruit. Unlike the prima donna pear or peach it appears to be impossible to keep passion fruit too long for however wrinkly they become, they can jazz up an otherwise uninspired breakfast salad into a exploding taste fest.

So here’s the deal.

  1. Reassure the hungry one inside that food is coming.
  2. Now take your time to make and eat your fruit salad.
  3. And pause. Take a moment to sense into yourself and enquire what you really want next.
  4. Have whatever that turns out to be. I guarantee it will be a smaller and kinder helping than otherwise. Now the recipe.

Granola Recipe

First what my Aunty Ruby (she was great) used to call the ingreediments :

Oats – any old kind will do including the unloved ones at the back of your cupboard

Seeds – sunflower, sesame, poppy, pumpkin, all are good.

Nuts – all kinds or whatever you have to hand. Blanched or otherwise. Flaked or otherwise.

Dried fruit – dried cranberries are especially delicious but sultanas work too as do apricots or prunes chopped small.

Vegetable oil

Runny honey

Maple syrup or the imitation from Tate and Lyle

1. Pour several cups of oats into a large, deep frying pan. Add seeds and nuts so that the oats ideally form about half of the mixture.*

2. Add a tablespoon or so of e.g. sunflower oil – enough for a scant coating of the oats and nuts and seeds when you stir it well.

3. Toast** over a medium heat stirring frequently until you can smell them and they change colour. Breathe deeply. Enjoy.

4. Turn down the heat and add a good squirt of runny honey and a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup. Keep stirring to prevent burning but make sure the mixture is really toasted..

5. Stir until the sugars are evenly distributed and the stickiness recedes. Remove from the heat.

6. Add the dried fruit when the granola is still warm but not hot and stir it in.

7. Let it cool in the pan and then transfer to a tupperware. Bash it up if it’s stuck together.

*Nuts and seeds and fruit are expensive so if you are a bit pushed on the cash front this week, increase the proportion of oats.

**If you are using sesame seeds or poppy seeds add these towards the end of the toasting as they burn easily.

 

granola-photo

 

Christmas

You can pop this in cellophane bags (Amazon) and tie with twine and a few orange slices (you’ve dried in the oven) for presents. We are all domestic goddesses now!