Category Archives: health

Happy Healthy Wholefoods

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Happy Healthy Wholefoods

From all the research I’ve done, I believe a whole food, plant based diet is the healthiest way to eat. It should be the default diet that everyone begins with, as the way to keep healthy and I wish I’d known about it years ago!

Having turned vegetarian at the age of 22 years, from what I believed was an ethical stand point, I’ve been vegan now for almost four years after realising that I hadn’t gone far enough, but if you’re looking at diet from a health perspective, you can’t beat a whole food, plant based diet. This way of eating can cure disease. I’m going to say that again….eating a whole food, plant based diet can cure disease. It has been proven it can reverse heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many more illnesses. Don’t take my word for it…check out the factual videos and science at http://www.nutritionfacts.org On this website, Dr Michael Gregor provides facts, gleaned from medical papers, made easy to understand by non medical professionals.

Whatever your ethical standpoint, doesn’t everyone want to be well and fit, especially at a time when having a decent immune system is a bonus? I’m often asked what I eat on my whole food plant based diet and the answer is….as much whole food plant based food as I can! I’ve shared recipes with you before, but over the next few months, I’m going to revisit a few, share some updates and share new recipes of dishes I’m eating regularly.

So, what is a whole food plant based diet? Dr Gregor has a free App you can download called the Daily Dozen, and this guide really helps focus on the parts of our diet, essential for wellbeing and health. Beans, pulses, legumes, combined with vegetables, especially cruciferous, fruit, whole grains and healthy fats like nuts and seeds, form the basis of my diet, and my lentil loaf plays a big part in that.

Mine is a High Carb Hannah recipe and you can find it here https://wendysteele.com/2019/04/12/life-begins-at-fifty-healthy-life-11-hch-lentil-loaf/

I now add extra turmeric and black pepper to my loaf, and love chopping in dried apricots, sultanas or raisins. Drowning under a glut of runner beans from the garden one week, I added beans to the loaf and they worked well chopped small. The courgettes however, made the loaf a bit soggy!

Lentil loaf is one of our staple foods. We eat it most days for lunch with a huge salad, ticking off lots of boxes on the Daily Dozen without having to try very hard. It’s filling, really sustaining when there’s renovation work to do on the house, or wood to chop.

Consider including a lentil loaf into your cooking repertoire….easy to make, delicious, sustaining and really good for you. Check out the recipes on this site by typing ‘Plant based’ into the search box.

Visit again for more recipes and thoughts on the benefits of plant based eating. Blessings x

The latest from The Riverbank Witch!

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It’s been a soggy July here in Wales, but it’s given me plenty of time for writing and crafting. I’m delighted to present to you the latest product from The Riverbank Witch……..

Fresh Face

1 soft, cotton midi cloth for washing

1 mini cloth, knitted in worsted cotton, perfect for exfoliating

9 face pads for cleansing

1 bag to wash them in, just secure the top and pop into the washing machine

Fresh Face is the perfect, eco way to glowing skin! No more facewipes. No more disposable face pads.

Choose the colour of your midi cloth from White, Ecru (creamy), Moondance (shades of blue and lilac), Key Lime Pie (shades of vibrant, zesty lime) and this week’s new colour, Fruit Punch ( blue, lilac, white and and a touch of green)

Mini cloth is crafted in Blackcurrant (Ecru is also available for a gentler wash)

Face pads in various colours

Buy your Fresh Face bundle for £15 with FREE postage to the UK this week. I’ve sets ready to post out immediately!

These hand crafted, beautiful cotton bundles, are perfect for you or as a gift.

Contact me today to order yours.

New moon blessings to you all xx

The Riverbank Witch is here!

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The Riverbank Witch is here! You can find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/The-Riverbank-Witch-107997124171331/

There are new crafted items for sale on a weekly basis including cotton cloths, jewellery and books.

You can also visit the new page on this website https://wendysteele.com/the-riverbank-witch/

This week’s new products are Everlasting Scrunchies. Postage to the UK is FREE on all orders placed this week, so why not pop over for yourself, a gift for a friend or for ideas for presents for parties and hen nights. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, message me and I’ll do my best to help.

Thank you to everyone who has supported The Riverbank Witch. Full moon blessings to you all xx

Plant based recipe of the week – Week 15 – Ikarian Stew

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Apologies for my lack of recipe posting, but the writing muse has put her slippers under the bed and my new novel is taking most of my time at the moment.

I discovered the Ikarian Stew recipe on The Happy Pear Youtube page, and now it is one of our weekly staples. Packed full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals, it’s a real whole food plant based super stew. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AXpf3YiuIU&t=165s

I’m thrilled to say, the last batch I made had chickpeas, lentils and black beans that I’d cooked myself from scratch,rather than using tins. You can find out how here https://wendysteele.com/2020/04/23/how-to-cook-dried-beans-and-legumes/

In the next few weeks, I’ll also be able to use my own home grown kale, which is starting to get going in one of my raised vegetable beds.

This stew is simple, hearty and delicious. As long as you keep the basic recipe, variants are fine. Our last one was abundant in carrots but lacking a leek, but still tasted scrumptious.

Ikarian Stew

 2 medium onions

2 cloves garlic

2 carrots 150g

2 leeks 400g

½ teaspoon salt (I left this out)

1 tin black beans -240g drained

1 tin chick peas

1 tin cooked lentils

150g dry wholewheat pasta (or brown rice)

200g broccoli (I use 1 head)

100g kale

1 tin chopped tomatoes

100g tomato paste

2 tablespoons tamari (or soya sauce)

2.5 litres vegetable stock

½ teaspoon black pepper

 

1 Chop and sweat onions and garlic in a large pan without oil – add 2 tablespoons, or more if necessary. of the veg stock to stop it sticking

 

2 Add carrots, leeks, broccoli and kale stalks and salt and 50ml stock. Put lid on and sweat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

3 Add rest of ingredients. Lid on, simmer for 10 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning and add chilli flakes if you like. I then simmered for another 15 minutes, again with the lid on, then turned off the pot and left it. It thickens up beautifully.

Depending how big your portions are, this feeds 6-8 people, and it freezes well. Enjoy!

Check out other tried and tested plant based recipes by typing ‘plant based’ into the search box on the Home page.

I’m not only a passionate eater and advocate of delicious plant based food, but a writer, healer and crafter. Check out my Youtube channel Phoenix and the Dragon for free stories and updates on my riverbank. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA?view_as=subscriber

 

 

How to cook dried beans and legumes

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Where we live in Wales, we have no mains gas, so I do my cooking with calor. I experimented once with dried chickpeas. I soaked them overnight and set them boiling the next day in my Great Aunt’s marmalade making saucepan. I topped up the pan with boiling water on numerous occasions, and it bubbled away for five hours before I forgot it and boiled the pan dry. The aluminium pan cleaned up fine, but I was shocked to find that the chick peas inside were still hard. I tried a second time, even managed to boil them for more than eight hours, but they were still slightly crunchy. I gave up. What was the point of using so much time, effort, gas and electricity when the chickpeas I was aiming to produce (2 tins worth), I could purchase for 70pence?

And then we went into lockdown in the UK, and chickpeas were no longer abundant on the supermarket shelves. Our health food shop had plenty of dried ones though, so I bought some, having come across a photo I’d kept that I’d seen on Facebook last year.

I apologise that I can’t credit whoever posted it, as I didn’t keep a note, but I’ve been using this list and my slow cooker, and finding the best way to cook my beans and legumes, here in the UK.

Firstly, I soak everything, even the lentils, and I soak for 24 hours. Start at midday, say, and use twice the water to the dried bean. (I’m going to say bean from now on, but you know I mean legume too!) Before you go to bed, tip out the water and add fresh. The beans will already have begun to swell, so make sure they are covered in plenty of water.

This sheet tells you to cook the beans on the low setting on your slow cooker. I have a Crockpot and it doesn’t cook on the low setting. On the high setting, it works brilliantly! So far I’ve cooked chick peas, black beans (turtle beans when buying dry in UK) and brown lentils.

Without anywhere to go while we’re on lockdown, it’s been fun developing a routine of soaking and then slow cooking beans, ready for the dishes I want to cook. Check out all my plant based recipes by typing ‘plant based’ into the search bar on the home page.

Day 2 of lockdown on our little Welsh hillside, my cooker broke. My partner dismantled it. We managed with a couple of camping stoves for three days. My partner put it back together, giving us four cooking rings, but disconnecting the oven as it needed a part. It’s been over four weeks since we had an oven. Most lunchtimes we have lentil loaf https://wendysteele.com/2019/04/12/life-begins-at-fifty-healthy-life-11-hch-lentil-loaf/

We ran out of supplies of lentil loaf in the freezer in a week, so I began experimenting with burgers….I love burgers for lunch or dinner! Burgers have been my saviour without an oven. Because they freeze so well, when we come in after digging and pulling brambles on the riverbank, all I have to do is grab a bag of burgers and a box of special rice (I’ll post this recipe soon!) from the freezer and with a handful of salad leaves, a few walnuts and sunflower seeds, dinner can be assembled in minutes on the top of the stove.

Keep popping in for more recipes, health and fitness and musings from the riverbank. Stay home and stay safe xx

Plant based recipe of the week – week 14- Bean Burgers

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I enjoy discovering new channels on Youtube with recipes, thoughts and ideas on plant based eating. At the end of last year I discovered Brian Turner. Yes, he is handsome and ripped, and his approach to eating is to complement his fitness regime, but his recipes are simple and nutritious, and definitely worth a look.  He’s been incredibly honest about his battle with acne too, which has helped a lot of people. This is his channel https://www.youtube.com/user/HumerusFitness/featured

Today, I’m sharing his recipe for bean burgers.

Brian Turner’s Bean Burgers

Sauté in a pan:

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

6-10 oz (170-280g) mushrooms

(You could soften these without oil if you wish, add a tiny drop of water if it begins to stick)

In food processor, blend 1½ cups of oats.

Add mixture from the pan.

Rinse 30 oz of beans from a tin (½ black, ½ pinto) and add.

(If you’re struggling to get pinto beans, buy a cheap tin of baked beans, tip into a seive and rinse off all the sauce. If you’re struggling to get black beans, use any beans!)

Add ½ cup of barbeque sauce

Blend all.

Dollop scoops onto two lined baking sheets and bake in hot oven for 40 minutes.

(We have no working oven at the moment, so these can be cooked in a frying pan if necessary)

I make my own barbeque sauce, but you could buy it ready made if you like:

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons tomato purée

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of tamari (or if you can manage wheat, you can use ordinary soy sauce)

These freeze really well, so they’re perfect for lunch or dinner.

I know you’ll enjoy this recipe, so pop back for more, and some tips about cooking beans and legumes from dried, at this time when we’re relying on staples from our pantries. Have a wonderful weekend…stay home, stay safe xx

 

 

 

Plant based recipe of the week – week 13 – Chickpea Korma

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I was looking to share a recipe that works every time. This is another ‘Happy Pear’ recipe, and one I seem to be making on a weekly basis, it’s so good. It makes masses, so plenty to freeze too. You can watch Stephen and David make there’s on Youtube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4x4zz15kZE&t=236s

This recipe requires a blender or food processor to make the sauce.

Ingredients

2 bell peppers, eighths

2 large carrots, eighths

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

½ thumb size piece of ginger, chopped

1 tin tomatoes

1 teaspoon garam masala

3 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon coriander

½ teaspoon turmeric (I use 1 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tin coconut milk

3 tablespoons dessicated coconut

2 tablespoons ground almonds

2 tablespoons maple syrup (depending on the sharpness of the tomatoes, I used 1 tablespoon)

2 tins drained chick peas

60g washed baby spinach

Method

In a pan, boil peppers and carrots until soft.

While they are cooking, add to frying pan 2 tablespoons of oil, and gently soften onions, garlic and ginger. (I tried this recipe without oil and it’s okay, but onions aren’t as soft and succulent) Put pan to one side.

Into blender/food processor, add peppers and carrots, and ingredients down to maple syrup and blend.

Put pan back on heat and add contents of blender. Heat until bubbling.

Add chickpeas and spinach. (I used ordinary spinach)

Taste and add a little more salt if you wish. I added a little pepper. You can also add fresh coriander if you’re serving immediately.

This recipe is great freshly made, but it freezes well and once defrosted and reheated, the flavours are even more intense. Enjoy x

Plant based recipe of the week – week 12 – Gluten Free Bread

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I know it’s been a long time coming, but I’ve found, tried and tested a whole food, gluten free bread recipe that’s really tasty….and it works!

The original recipe is from Lilykoi Hawaii on YouTube, a vlogger who I follow and have learned an awful lot from, especially about nutrition and the workings of the gut. You can find her and her videos here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7ZkWBYAAMKgcl1eMjCt3jQ

This bread recipe was originally for a bread maker, but this method works, and cooks the loaf right through.

Gluten Free Bread

 1 cup brown rice

1 cup groats

1 cup rolled oats (I used porridge oats)

½ cup millet

½ cup buckwheat (I used gluten free plain flour blend)

Blend all the above and place in a large bowl.

Grind 4 tablespoons whole flax seeds and add to the bowl. (Makes approx. 5 tablespoons of ground seeds)

3 tablespoons of psyllium husk powder

½ tspn salt

2 tablespoons sweetener (I used coconut sugar)

 

Mix all together.

 

Add 1 tablespoon instant yeast

3 cups of water, all in together

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (optional)

 

Mix well with a spoon and don’t stop!

 

Into 11/2 pound loaf tin (I used a silicon one)

Place in warm oven in the middle for 30 minutes.

Turn the heat up for a further hour, approx. 350 – 375 degrees.

A few tips….

If you’re using a metal tin, grease it lightly first.

Leave loaf in tin to cool before turning out.

If using the silicon loaf ‘tin’ and you don’t want your loaf to bulge like mine did, you can put a couple of tins in the oven on either side of the loaf, to stop it spreading out so much.

My loaf needed the full half an hour in a warm oven, and a full hour baking. On one trial, I was worried it was burning because I could smell it (I think it’s the molasses making it smell!) and I took it out ten minutes early and it was a bit damp in the middle.

Find someone to share this loaf with, because it doesn’t freeze well, or you can do as I do which is to enjoy the loaf for three or four days, and then use what’s left for breadcrumbs to make five minute mushroom burgers. Here’s the recipe https://wendysteele.com/2017/11/27/plant-based-recipe-of-the-week-week-1/

I love the flavour of this bread! It works well as toast too. I’m going to experiment over the next couple of weeks, using half the mixture to make a loaf and the other half to make a pizza base….I’ll let you know how I get on.

Do pop back for more recipes, healthy eating tips and ideas, updates on our house renovation and all the news about my writing and books. Be sure to share this website to anyone else who might be interested in the world of Wendy Woo. Bright blessings to you all xx

 

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life #16 -Sleep is your super power

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Deep down, I’ve always known how important sleep is for happiness and health, but over the years, I’ve made a lot of excuses.

During my teenage years, I could stay up late and snooze anywhere, determined not to miss a thing.

As a mother, sleep was a luxury for a number of years, especially when child no3 decided to sleep no more than two hours, day or night, for the first two years of her life, bless her. And then there was the Christmas Eve I didn’t sleep at all when same child decided she was putting up a stocking for Big Ted and Magic Ted, so I sat up all night knitting them scarves!

When I was poorly, I grabbed as much sleep as I could, especially when I was recovering. At this time in my life, in my mid thirties, I discovered the beauty of a power nap, and used it whenever I could. I took a lot of hurtful banter in the school playground, where other mother’s were critical of my need to have a break in the middle of the day, but if I was up at 6.30am and often didn’t finish teaching dance until after 9pm, I needed 40 minutes rest to keep going.

My family grew up, and I needed my sleep to pack in as many things into my day as I could manage – dancing, cooking, writing and looking after elderly parents, to name a few

And then we moved to Wales, and embarked on a new adventure! I’ve never needed good sleep more in my whole life! But you don’t have to believe me – believe the science! Watch this video in your tea break (just 20 minutes) and you’ll soon realise why I do my utmost to get 8 hours of sleep EVERY night! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MuIMqhT8DM&t=1035s

Matthew Walker is an English scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the impact of sleep on human health and disease.Enjoy….and good night!

 

Life Begins at Fifty – Healthy Life #15 – Everything is changing

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Finding the perfect, balanced vegan diet for my body is taking time, but I’m enjoying the challenge. Abandoning calorie restriction was the best move I made, as I’m loving eating bowls of plant based whole foods and feeling full and energised…and I’ve lost another two pounds.

Due to my daughter asking to come and live with us in June this year, everything has changed, and that’s one reason I’ve not been posting as much. I’ve taken my books to book fairs…

But there’s been little time for writing as I’ve been lime mortaring and painting to get a room ready for my daughter.

My eldest son married this year too, so it’s been a summer of family love.

The biggest change is the best one, and I’m going to shout about it….I’VE MORE ENERGY THAN I’VE EVER HAD! Eating a whole food plant based diet keeps me fuller for longer and nourishes my body so well. I’ve enjoyed my dance so much this year too, now I bend in the middle again! I’m not the same shape as I was, that’s definitely changed, but I don’t care…I can fit in my jeans and I feel well and healthy.

My lack of novel writing made me sad and angsty for a while, so I started writing short stories again and had a few published…

Witch Lit: Words from the Cauldron was produced by myself and the rest of the Witch Lit Admin team, Laura Perry, Sheena Cundy and Ruth Aitken. All proceeds go to Books for Africa https://www.amazon.co.uk/Witch-Lit-Witches-Who-Write-ebook/dp/B07SCVXR88

Zimbell House publishing brought out 1969, and my story is the first one in it. https://www.amazon.co.uk/1969-Zimbell-House-Anthology-Publishing-ebook/dp/B07S2L2HQX

But as the Wheel turns, making its way into autumn, I’m back writing ‘The Able Witch’, the fifth book in the Lizzie Martin series. Once its finished, I’ll continue with the final book, before publishing four, five and six for your enjoyment. You can start the series here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV

or here for my friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV

Don’t forget, you can listen to me reading you stories on my Welsh riverbank at Phoenix and the Dragon on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA?view_as=subscriber

Plus I’m talking books and everything magical on the Witch Lit Podcast, as well as interviewing other magical writers https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHtAJO5uh6c9TSai1lhwF7g

I’ve continued my daily walks and using Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen App, but I don’t worry too much about my activity levels anymore. I know that if I eat whole food plant based, and take my B12 supplement, I’m taking in all the nutrition and goodness my body needs. If I want a berry, banana and spinach smoothie, I’ll have one! I drink two or three mugs of hibiscus tea daily, which I love, boosting my antioxidants and keeping the colds away. I dance a minimum of six hours a week, not including performances, and I’ve been barrowing, chopping wood, fixing barns and moving stuff outside….

So I won’t be joining the gym anytime soon!

Apologies for my lack of posting, but I’m starting to create a new routine out of all these changes, and I’ll be back soon trying out new recipes and sharing useful and informative posts and videos to inspire you to eat well, nourish your body and live your life to the full. Bright blessings xx