Category Archives: health

Woman 1 – Bracelet Inspiration

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Woman 1 – Bracelet Inspiration

Woman 1 is the latest in the chakra bracelet range at The Riverbank Witch, inspired by the new moon and a very special lady.

The first bracelet, Chakra Balance, was created following a weekend at a friend’s house, where a group of us dancers came together to chill, chat and share our talents. We danced, and ate delicious food, tried our hand at a drop spindle and made wooden ‘roses’. We learned to crochet and had unlimited access to two bead boxes. Using coloured beads, I created my first chakra bracelet, a gift for our hostess, and by the time I’d arrived home, I knew I wanted to make the ‘real thing’. Chakra Balance was born.

In February 2021, almost a year since the first lockdown, I began dancing the chakras, focussing on a different one each week in an effort to restore my confidence. Unable to teach dance classes or set up my stall at book fairs, I’d withdrawn, feeling safer at home, away from people. The first chakras were challenging, especially the solar plexus, but on reaching the heart, something changed inside me, and I stayed with the heart for a few weeks, embracing new ideas that surfaced. From this work with the heart chakra, I was inspired to create Moss Agate and Rose Quartz bracelets.

I continued dancing through the chakras, and at the third eye, I sought solace in the wisdom of Cerridwen. I took her advice, immersing myself with inspiration from the budding nature all around me. I purchased flower spacers for a new bracelet, certain a ‘nature’ bracelet was to be my next creation, but instead, Lapis Lazuli was born, linked to third eye wisdom but inspired by the immense beauty of the starry sky, worn by the goddess Inanna as a girdle. Practical wisdom was still at my finger tips from Cerridwen, but it was Inanna in her aspect as Queen of Heaven, that helped me see ‘beyond the veil’, and opened up new potential for me, and in me.

At the latest dark moon, I felt no qualms embracing the goddess Lilith. As hand maiden to Inanna, I felt confident in her hands, and we’ve worked through many of my shadow thoughts together. At this time, while one dancer friend is getting married, I remember another, our beautiful friend, Anna, taken from us too soon. Woman 1 is a bracelet for inspiration and well being, inspired by Anna.

Moss Agate – allow your heart to expand with love, both for people, all living creatures and the natural world. Drop pebbles of love and kindheartedness into daily life, and watch the ripples spread out into your communty.

Lapis Lazuli – be open to possibilities you may not have considered before, trusting your own judgement. Don’t be blinkered by the past or other people’s beliefs. You don’t have to ‘do’ – you are allowed to ‘be’.

Amethyst – Love purple! Don’t be afraid to wear whatever you like, and embrace all aspects of yourself – jumping in puddles and making daisy chains are good for you. Be aware of your dreams. Be all of you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the story behind the bracelets. Fiction writing is not yet flowing from my fountain pen, and though I’ve tried to encourage it, I’m drawn back to my beads and my knitting needles. There will be a time to write, but in the mean time, I hope you’ll purchase a bracelet that calls out to you, and helps you on your journey.

New moon blessings xx

Where did all the words go?

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Where did all the words go?

After celebrating the Winter Solstice with all my children on 21st December 2019, I turned my attention to the coming year, and the launch of The Riverbank Witch. I submitted my short story ‘The Dance of Love’ on the 26th December for an anthology, and was accepted. I uploaded another short story, ‘Lowri’s Forest’ to Book Funnel, to send out to volunteer readers, to decide whether to turn it into a novel, and the feedback was unanimous that I should.

Tribal Unity Wales dance classes began in Lampeter and Aberystwyth on 7th January 2020, with new ladies, as well as regular dancers. My diary began filling up with annual dance gigs like Lampeter Food Festival and The Steampunk Extraordinarium in Blaenavon with The Wee Crafty Folk. I joined prayers at 7am on Friday 10th January, the full moon, praying for rain for Australia. I woke the following morning, dizzy and disorientated, and my heart racing. Fear, swamped me, according to my diary. I had a real feeling that something more than the fires was going to happen. I organised knitters to knit joey pouches, and liaised with those transporting to Australia, and delivered our boxes to Bridgend.

At the end of January, my story ‘Leap of Faith’ was published by Zimbell in their Time Guardians anthology, and the idea, to combine all my magical creating under one, and operate as The Riverbank Witch, was underway. At Tribal Unity Wales, we learned Bollywood choreographies with the fabulous Kritika, and I began a list of possible craft fairs/book fairs/ faery festivals/craft markets and pagan markets, where I could set up a stall as The Riverbank Witch.

Throughout February I knitted and danced, and wrote and planned. I was eloquent and alive, and living a useful, worthwhile, helpful life, supporting and inspiring, creating a safe space for women to dance and be, as well as writing fiction about strong, practical, resourceful, amazing women. Inspired by the countryside around me, the magic and the muse were flowing with ideas and words…..and then the world was halted………..and my life was cancelled.

Then began the painful months, begging banks and mortgage companies, and signing on for benefits for the first time in my life. How I found the words to speak, I don’t know, but I still have my roof over my head.

Online dancing was difficult from the start, living on a Welsh hillside with a pathetic WiFi signal, and many of my ladies don’t have space in their homes to set aside to dance uninterrupted. Cancelling events in my diary began, each loss like a stab in the heart. I didn’t celebrate the publishing of my short story ‘The Dead Game’, not when there was a killer disease on my door step, and people I knew were getting sick.

With my partner at home, there was no time or space to write even if the words had been there. But instead of the usual ideas that had pervaded my head for so many years, magical fiction, linked closely with the Earth, now I was grieving for her, ripped apart by forest fires and devastated by acres and acres of cattle and pig farms, spewing pollutants into the earth, rivers and atmosphere.

We worked outside when the weather allowed, creating new vegetable beds and an area on the riverbank for fruit, anything to keep our minds and bodies active; anything we could do that cost next to nothing.

Not being able to go to the beach was almost as unbearable as not being able to see my sons. My riverbank was my solace, but I yearned for the sounds and smells of the ocean, embracing me and enhancing my magic and my life. I focussed on expanding my knitted, cotton range for The Riverbank Witch, determined to make a small difference, encouraging people to ditch throwaway wipes in favour of more sustainable options. I picked up my WIP, the sixth and final book in the Lizzie Martin Series, The Real Witch, and began to read it through with a view to write on, but my head was full of forest fires, rising hospital admissions and death rates.

In the middle of the summer last year, my partner secured a job that could be done socially distanced, but would take four weeks of long days and nights. On a whim, I abandoned The Real Witch, and began writing a new novel, out of my short story ‘Lowri’s Forest’. It’s a post apocalyptic kind of book. I wrote the first half, just over 50k words. They flowed out of me with ease. I allowed Lowri to feel some of my pain, as well as hers, and together we reached the half way point in the novel. I stopped. My partner had no more work and I had no words. Why? Because in order to complete the book, I needed a sense of hope.

It is the 1st March 2021, St David’s Day in Wales, and a bright but cold day, here on my Welsh hillside. The birds join me now on my early morning walk, and beneath my feet, the earth is warming up to spring. After the blessings of the full moon on Saturday, I’ve chakra bracelets to make for Artemis Soul Sanctuary in Monmouth, and seeds to plant to begin my vegetable growing this year. The Riverbank Witch has already launched a new product, our Twisted Headband, updated our Fresh Face bundle with extra face pads, and I’ve done the product testing on a new creation, launching on 21st March.

I haven’t seen my boys for over a year, but I am hopeful.

My depression takes my spoken words from me. I turn inward, protecting myself, keeping silent, knowing that one rebuke will be one too many to bear.

My fear takes my written words. The natural world, that has ruled my life since I was a small child talking to the moon with my toy rabbit, is hurting, because humanity takes with no thought of giving back. Fires, melting ice sheets, rising sea levels and tsunamis, are Nature’s way of fighting back, seeking to rectify the imbalance we cause Her. But I don’t fear for Her. No, I’m afraid that humans won’t listen until it’s too late. The devastation caused by animal agriculture has been known for decades, as has the possibility that an animal virus can and will spread to humans if given the right circumstances, yet the appalling, barbaric conditions animals are reared in, continues. The world is talking about coronavirus, but I’ve heard nothing from any government about urgent meetings to discuss animal agriculture practices or help or subsidies for farmers to diversify, away from animals and into crops. There is no talk of a different, new, sustainable future, but instead, it’s all about getting back to ‘normal’.

‘Normal’ is putting power, politics and profit first. Isn’t it time to put people, parity and the planet first?

I cannot change the world on my own, but I need to be true to myself. As The Riverbank Witch, I stand up for sustainablity, recycling and working with the planet, rather than against her. Every day, I am mindful to do my best in this regard, and encourage others to do the same. The vaccine has given the world hope, and we must not abuse this wonderful blessing, but use it as a platform to create a better world than the one pre lockdown.

And hope is rising in me. My partner is working next week. I’ll be ready and waiting for the words and ideas that flit around the universe, to land in my head so I can write again.

Thank you to my friend and sister, Sheena Cundy, for your love and support, encouraging me to share, even when I feel that I don’t have the words xx

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