Tag Archives: plant based

1 year without nicotine – how was it for you, darling?

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If you’ve been following my posts you’ll know I haven’t found stopping smoking easy. One of the reasons was I didn’t feel any better or healthier, in fact, for a number of months, I felt dreadful. I’d made so many changes already. Why didn’t I feel any better?

More than twenty years ago, the terrible, scary pain in my side was diagnosed as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and I spent the next four years coming to terms with a massive change in diet and trying to find a work/exercise/eating balance that worked for me.

For a couple of years I ate very little because the less I ate, the less pain I was in, but gradually, I built up my eating (I was already vegetarian) and rebuilt my body with bellydance.

I believed I was strong, slim and fit due to my diet and dancing, but what I didn’t realise was that the nicotine was playing a part in this equation. Taking it out of my life, my hormones were like socks in a tumble dryer; all over the place. My IBS returned with a vengeance for a couple of months, as did violent menopausal symptoms, and on top of all this, I’d sleep for two hours and then lie awake for the rest of the night. Mood swings were violent. I experienced chronic anxiety on top of depression…

But this didn’t last! Yes, I felt terrible, but now I’m finally feeling some benefit for giving up my addiction. I’m no expert, but here are a few things I wish someone had told me….

Firstly, make sure you’re giving up for the right reasons. The Alan Carr book is really good, challenging you, making you face what you really know but don’t want to believe. Stop smoking nicotine because it is best for YOU. YOU are worth it! YOU deserve to live a healthy life.

Secondly, they say (whoever they are!) you don’t need to replace smoking with another habit, and maybe that works for some people, but I needed something else. The day I chose to begin my day walking, was the day I began to feel better. I chose walking instead of choosing that first cigarette, and that really helped me in a number of ways:

I changed my routine

I set myself a new challenge

I quickly found I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was!

Walking is the BEST exercise

Thirdly, make sure you’re supported by friends and family. I’m so glad my partner and I stopped together, and support and encouragement from my tribe kept me going at the hardest times.

My final piece of advice I can tell you, but you might not believe me….you don’t have to feel as rubbish as you do. Your joints don’t have to ache. You can feel SO MUCH BETTER than you do now.

Why did I find life so difficult without nicotine? One reason was because I put on two stone which appeared on my body like a weighty, solid belt, and undermined all my confidence. All my old hang ups about my weight and appearance returned. I felt old, heavy and weighed down and I didn’t look or feel like I was the same person. Unable to show my ladies dance moves was devastating.  

The doctor was kind. I’m back on a very low dose HRT and I sleep better now, but as far as the fat orbiting my stomach is concerned, I’m told it is my lot, middle age spread I’ll have to put up with….

NO WAY!

I’m making even more changes for 2019! If I’m going to be a different person, I’m going to be the person I want to be. I am now committed to a wholefoods, plant based diet and to exercising for a fitter, healthier me. There will be changes on my blog too…

I’ll be encouraging you to watch videos, read books and check out the data about plant based eating as the best diet for you, your family and the planet.

I’ll be trying and testing new plant based recipes and sharing them with you.

Dance will always be my favourite exercise, but I’m going to be trying out other exercise which I’ll share with you.

No longer will I ‘fit in’ those aspects of my life that make me happy….I’m going to begin with them and work my life around them.

I’m looking forward to a busy, exercise packed, fun filled, exciting 2019! Come and join me xx

 

NB: even if life throws a curved ball, don’t give up. Check out my latest video from Phoenix and the Dragon and see what I mean…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz7O480_fws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now!

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For the first time, since I was eighteen, my Christmas dinner was cooked for me this festive season. We were away at our eldest son’s house, joined by our other children and partners. I shall remember it as one of my favourite Christmas times ever.

We walked and talked, catching up on life and sharing our thoughts and ideas for the future. After four glorious days, I made some decisions….

Now! Is the time to spend days and weekends with family and friends, the ones that make my heart sing.

Now! Is the time to embrace the fitness challenge with both hands, and see what I can achieve in 2019.

Now! Is the time to commit to plant based eating and to spreading the word by sharing recipes and ideas.

Now! Is the time to get the groundwork in place for our potting shed/greenhouse and new raised beds, so we can grow lots of veg.

Now! Is the time to finish my Lizzie Martin Witchlit series, inspiring women to embrace magic in their lives.

Now! Is the time to work magic every day, be it a lighted candle of thanks to the goddess or a chosen tarot guide to seek guidance or assurance.

Now! Is the time to push all our plans on our house and land forward, creating the warm, cosy home we seek.

 

Life’s too short not to do it now! ‘It’ doesn’t have to be big, but whatever ‘it’ is, don’t put it off until tomorrow.

Bright blessings, peace, health and happiness for the coming year xx

 

Plant based recipe of the week – week 11 – Two Potato Vindaloo

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My good friend Cate loaned me her Yotam Ottolenghi cook book and I found this recipe. I’ve cooked it half a dozen times now because it’s delicious! Do not be afraid that it is a vindaloo – it’s full of tasty spice but not too hot. I rewrote the recipe in a way I could use it more easily than the way it is printed in the book, and I’ve given you the options I used when I didn’t have exactly what the recipe called for. Once you’ve made it a few times I’m sure it will become one of your ‘go to’ favourites….in our house it’s now  affectionately known as 2PV.

Two Potato Vindaloo

8 cardomon pods        )

1 tbsp cumin seeds     ) a) dry roast these and add to… * in a pestle and mortar and grind.

1 tbsp coriander seeds)

1/2 tsp cloves*

1/4 tsp turmeric*

1 tsp paprika*

1 tsp cinnamon*

 

b) cook the following on a medium low heat for 8 minutes or until shallots are brown

2 tbsp vegetable oil

12 shallots 300g (I used 4 small onions)

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (I used 1 tsp panch puran)

Stir a) into b) and add c)

c) 25 curry leaves (I left out once and dish was still fab!)

2 tbsp fresh grated ginger

1 red chilli, finely chopped

Cook for 3 minutes and then add d)

d) 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped (I used 1 tin tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tbsp ketchup)

50ml cider vinegar

400ml water

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt to taste

Bring all to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, then add e)

e) 400g potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces

2 small red peppers (I used 1 red and 1 green)

Cook for another 20 minutes then add…

400g sweet potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces.

Uncover pan for 10 minutes to thicken

I did all the prep first, leaving the skins on the potatoes. This dish tastes good immediately, but fabulous the next day and it freezes well.

Do pop back for more plant based recipes, book reviews, interviews, dance and magical musings. Bright blessings xx

Plant based recipe of the week – week 10 – Holly’s Jammy Flapjack

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My children visited at the end of August and I was looking for a different cake to bake to go with my lemon curd slice, which you can find here https://wendysteele.com/2017/12/04/plant-based-recipe-of-the-week-week-2-happy-birthday-to-me/

Camping with my tribe, we all brought food to share and Holly brought along this delicious flapjack, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you all.

Holly’s Jammy Flapjack

 200g butter/margarine

175g golden syrup

300g porridge oats

200g jam

Preheat oven 200C/Fan 180/ Gas 6.

Grease 20cm X 20cm tin and line with greaseproof paper.

Melt margarine and syrup. Turn off heat. Stir in oats.

Press half the mixture into the tin. Spoon over the jam. Spread over the rest of the mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Cool and cut into 12 bars.

 

I used dairy free margarine and doubled the recipe to in the baking tray above.

 

Enjoy this delicious sweet treat. For more tried and tested plant based recipes, type ‘plant based recipe of the week’ into the search box on the home page. Do pop back again soon.

 

Getting the balance right part 2

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It’s life, isn’t it? Mind and body, work and play, life is all about balance.

Living in a renovation project makes balancing really difficult. There’s always something to do on the house, byre or land, but since stopping smoking on 21st January, I’ve struggled to find a balance for my body.

The terrible gnawing pangs in my stomach could not be sated with food. I found that out after a couple of weeks, but even though I stopped eating so many granola bars, my hormones were going balastic. My IBS symptoms and menopausal symptoms returned with a vengeance. The new HRT my doctor insisted on didn’t agree with me and I gained weight really fast. My usual six hours of dancing each week wasn’t enough to stop me continuing to gain weight and on top of that, I wanted to cry every morning because I couldn’t have a cigarette.

That’s when I decided to start walking and counting steps every morning. It began with 1k in the morning, and then I made it morning, noon and night. It quickly rose to 2k when I discovered that was approximately one mile. Every morning when the alarm goes off, I get up and walk around our land, sometimes accompanied by Loki, who loves being carried around.

I do the same at lunchtime and in the evening and these past two weeks I’ve added in 3 barrows full of brambles and 3 Wendy barrows of stones moved, to try to achieve every day. This gives all my arm and back muscles a good work out too.

But this exercise has to fit around my writing plans for August; to complete the fourth Lizzie Martin Witchlit book, The Eloquent Witch. And then, of course, there’s marketing and promotion. I’m using my power naps, but my family is visiting next week and I’ve less than half of the novel completed.

Have I got the balance wrong? I hope not because I’m feeling more energised. I don’t know if I’ve lost weight because I don’t have scales but there’s no doubt the equator-like ring around my middle is decreasing…and last night on the river bank, I jogged the length of it for the first time. I asked myself the question ‘Can you jog?’ It’s been over thirty years since I’ve run and I’m going to build up to 1k steps, 200 jog and 200 walk and repeat, by the end of the month.

Balance of mind and body has to be a personal thing, but if walking, dancing and maybe even jogging, give me more energy and keep my depression away, enabling me to write and enjoy life more, I’m going for it. I’m sure the plant based diet helps too, with fresh vegetables from the garden.

For tried and tested plant based recipes, type ‘plant based’ into the search box on the home page.

 

 

 

First Harvest

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I know we’re already more than two weeks into August, but I wanted to share tipping out that first potato bag for potatoes to cook for dinner. Rootling through the earth, glossy potatoes appear as if by magic. Our first harvest this year, earth rubbed off and cooked immediately with sausages, peas and onion gravy. Delicious!

Our little veg garden is giving and giving, thanks to the donations of plants from friends and neighbours.

We’ve had runner beans and peas which went into curries.

This week we had our first marrow, rescued before the slugs helped themselves and cooked up in curry for our Tribal Unity camping weekend. There are some apples on the trees too and we’re hoping they grow a little bigger before they get nibbled! Our single tomato plant is laden and the onions and leeks are coming on. I’m growing fennel too, so I’m looking forward to finding tasty recipes to use that in as I’ve never cooked it before.

Eating fresh vegetables makes you feel good and I can’t wait to get our ‘potting shed come greenhouse’ up ready to start growing from our own seeds.

For tried and tested plant based recipes, type ‘plant based’ into the search box on the home page.

Appreciate the first harvest and the wonders of nature.

Plant Based Recipe of the Week – week 9 – Chickpea and Spinach Curry

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This is one of my favourite recipes at the moment and we’re eating it at least once a week, either with dahl or Tracy’s Curry https://wendysteele.com/2018/05/18/plant-based-recipe-of-the-week-week-7-tracys-curry/

Chickpea and spinach curry, affectionately known as ChiSpi (rhymes with hifi), in our house was originally a recipe by Hari Ghotra called Sholay Saag (Kale and Chickpea Curry). I enjoyed it with the kale, but I found it a strong, overpowering flavour for my taste buds. One day I had fresh spinach in the fridge and thought I’d give it a go. This is the link to Hari’s website with lots of recipes, tips and ideas for cooking authentic Indian Food https://www.harighotra.co.uk/

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

1-2 tablespoons of  rapeseed oil

½ tspn mustard seeds

1 tspn cumin seeds

1 large onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

4 plum tomatoes (I used a tin of tomatoes)

800g/2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tspn salt, or to tast

1 heaped tspn coriander seeds, crushed (can use powder)

1 green chilli, chopped (or red if you don’t have a green one)

200g spinach (or chopped kale)

1 green chilli, sliced for garnish

  • Heat the oil in a lidded pan over a medium heat and when it’s hot add the mustard seeds and then the cumin seeds.
  • Stir for a minute until you can smell the aroma of the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds stop sizzling, then add the diced onions.
  • Fry the onions for 15 minutes until they start to brown, then add the garlic. Fry together for 4 minutes before adding the tomatoes, stir and leave to cook for a few minutes. Add a little water if required.
  • Add the crushed coriander, green chilli, chilli powder, turmeric and salt and leave to cook on a gentle heat until the tomatoes start to break down and create a thick masala sauce (about 10 minutes).
  • Turn the heat up to thicken the sauce a little if required.
  • Add the chickpeas and stir to coat them with the masala. Add a splash of water and let them simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the spinach (or chopped kale) a handful at a time, stirring in between. Leave this to cook for 5 minutes until kale is soft and tender. Top with the sliced chilli and serve.

Take time to make the masala sauce… it’s worth it. This recipe benefits from reheating so if possible, make and refrigerate overnight.

 

I’ll leave you with a lovely photo of Jibby (the feral cat who came with the house) and Odin (one of the latest pair of rescued cats to come and live us), watching the sunrise.

Stay safe, stay healthy and enjoy life. Bright blessings xx

 

Plant based recipe of the week – Week 8 – Lisa’s Vegetable Curry

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Apologies for the delay in posting. I’ve not been trying new recipes, but instead eating food I know will be good while I focus on the latest Witchlit novel, The Flowerpot Witch, which will be published on Thursday 21st June.

But I did cook this curry again last week and remembered to take photos for you.

This curry is from my friend Lisa. It’s delicious with dahl and rice or with popadoms or naan…. in fact, it’s just delicious!

Lisa’s Vegetable Curry

2 tablespoons oil

2 onions

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

Vegetables:

My favourite – ½ butternut squash, 1 large sweet potato, 2 carrots (plus 1 head broccoli, 200g spinach)

2 teaspoons garam masala (I ran out and used 1 tspn madras curry powder and was good)

Salt

3 whole peppercorns

Big bunch of fresh coriander

1 tin of coconut milk

1 heaped tablespoon of peanut butter

Green pepper

150g green beans

Fresh parsley (optional)

Fry chopped onion for about 2-3 minutes until softened.

Add ginger and cook for about one more minute

Add chopped vegetables – you could try parsnips, peas, potato or swede. (I chopped up a whole butternut squash and roasted in the oven for about ten minutes and used the other half for making soup)

Add garam masala, salt, peppercorns, the chopped stalks of the coriander and, if you have it, about a teaspoon of a kebab spice mix containing chilli and dried mango. (I checked out Ras Al Hanout and used that. It contains coriander, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, salt, pimento, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and aniseed)
Continue to cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly.

Add a tin of coconut milk and a heaped tablespoon of peanut butter.
Bring to the boil while stirring then leave to simmer for about 45 minutes.

If using cauliflower or broccoli then add after about 25 minutes. (I added green pepper and green beans with the broccoli)

After about 30 minutes taste and add more spice/peanut butter if you think it is needed.

If using spinach add it about 8 minutes before the end.
At the end add a large handful of chopped fresh coriander and/or parsley. (You can leave out both but fresh coriander is fab in this dish)

If freezing don’t add spinach or fresh herbs until you reheat.

 

 

 

 

Plant based recipe of the week – Week 7 – Tracy’s Curry

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This week I’m sharing a favourite recipe from my friend Tracy. She’s a dancer and one of the most inspiring women I know, remodelling her own home and designing and building her own garden.

Tracy’s Curry

5 tblspoons vegetable oil (I use 3)

2 tspns mustard seeds

1 tspn fenugreek (I used punchpooran – cumin, mustard, nigella, fenugreek and fennel seeds)

2 fresh green chillis (Original recipe was 3 but too hot for me!), finely chopped

 

1 handful curry leaves

3 large onions, peeled and chopped

 

Veg

 

1 tspn chilli powder

1 tspn turmeric

6 large tomatoes (or 1 tin/carton of tomatoes)

 

1 or 2 glasses of water

1 tin coconut milk

Salt

 

 

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add mustard seeds, fenugreek (or punchpooran) and chillis and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add curry leaves and onions and cook until they are light brown.

Add your vegetables, depending what you have in the fridge. You could try one large white potato, one large sweet potato, two large carrots, 150g green/french beans and a head of broccoli. Mushrooms work well with parsnips and butternut squash. You can use frozen veg too but be sure to adjust the additional water.  (if I’m using frozen veg, I don’t add any water until it has all broken down with the tomatoes and I’ve added the coconut milk.)

Add spices and tomatoes and coat all the veg.

Add water (or not!). Add coconut milk and salt…I start with half a teaspoon and add more if I need it.

 

This curry is good the day you make it but even better the next day!

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I’ll leave you with a picture of our elderly cat, Tiggy, sixteen years young but loving having new family to snuggle with.  He and Odin get on really well.

 

For short stories and extracts from my books, subscribe to my YouTube channel, Phoenix and the Dragon, where I read to you from Pan’s Grotto on my Welsh riverbank

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA

 

 

 

 

Plant based recipe of the week – Week 6 – Wendy Woo’s Flapjack

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Eating plant based is about getting the balance right. I find eating enough veg a challenge, especially in the winter when a salad just doesn’t hit the spot, but chillis and curries are perfect for this. I try and include as many colours as possible too, as variety is also important.

But there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a sweet treat, as long as it’s part of the balance. This is my flapjack recipe, a merger of three old recipes plus a Wendy Woo twist! I learned this recipe by heart in ounces. I’ve used 1oz = 25g for the conversion.

 

Wendy Woo’s Flapjack

9oz (225g) butter/dairy free margarine

2oz (50g) brown sugar

1oz (25g) Demerara sugar

1 large tablespoon syrup

 

12oz (300g) oats

2oz (50g) sunflower seeds

1oz (25g) pumpkin seeds

2 teaspoons chia seeds

1oz (25g) dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, chopped cranberries, dates or apricots)

Line a baking tray ( 25cm X 35cm) with baking parchment and set oven to Gas Mark 6/200 C/400 F.

In a large saucepan melt margarine, sugars and syrup.

Off the heat, add all the dry ingredients and stir well.

Press into baking tray and bake for 12 minutes (May need two more minutes – test by lifting edge of sheet and if bottom of flapjack is light brown, it is done)

Once flapjack has stopped bubbling, divide into 16 (4X4) for big pieces or 20 (4X5) for smaller ones with a large knife. Leave to set.

 

The original recipes I merged had more than twice the sugar of this recipe. You may be able to cut down even more but your flapjack may be more crumbly and not hold together whereas this recipe travels in a tin to writing group and dance class to share!

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I’ll leave you with Jibby being cute, the feral cat who came with our house, who has adopted us as the humans who feed her.

If you’ve found me for the first time, you are most welcome. Do check out my books on my author pages https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref 

And for my friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref