Time to eat! Parenting lessons from my husband

It has been a busy couple of years. In this short space of time I have been blessed to become a mother to two beautiful boys, now 17 months and 8 weeks respectively. Going to post some blogs with things I have discovered and info that I'd find useful. A bit nervous about posting parenting related content as there are as many different approaches to parenting as there are parents so please know that I expect and respect that others will have different views and approaches. While my husband and I have similar approaches and views on parenting, one thing I always struggled with was him taking care of himself before he looked after our son. For example he would always ensure he was fed and had something to drink before/during my son's mealtimes. On the other hand, I would often wait for my son to be napping before I had 'the chance' to eat. This often meant skipped or very late meals, even when I was pregnant with our next child. The reason I'm posting about this is that a lot of moms talk about not getting the chance to eat. Now I'm on my own with two really young children, I am realising that it is more important than ever to look after me. By taking a page out of my husband's book and letting the kids be delayed, restless or unsettled for a couple of minutes so that I can eat / drink / go to the loo, I feel better and have more patience and energy for them throughout the day. We are all happier and calmer as a result. This may seem completely obvious but it's something I'm only just realising. I would often be too involved in looking after my kids to remember to look after me. I put myself under so much pressure to be the perfect mom that ignoring my screaming child for a minute so I could look after myself always felt really selfish. We all have different approaches but if this post helps one other person out there then it worth taking the time to post it.

Steak, Guacamole and Salad Burger in a Sweet Potato Bun

Paleo / Gluten Free / Dairy Free



This burger is delicious and fed the family on a Sunday - they all loved it. If you are making it for a lunch / dinner party, I would recommend making the ingredients for the sweet potato buns in advance.  This recipe is inspired by this one which provides a salmon option 
 http://paleomg.com/salmon-blt-avocado-in-a-sweet-potato-noodle-bun/

Ingredients and Method (per two burgers)

Buns
- Sweet Potatoes x 3 (cut in a vegetable Spiralizer / julienne peeled)
- Eggs x 3
- Horseradish 

Mix the prepared ingredients in a bowl, cut into quarters and fry in a pan on each side.
Put a small amount of Horseradish on one of the buns

Burger filling
- Red onion slices
- Tomato slices
- Green leaves (rocket / spinach / salad)
- 120gms steak cooked to taste
- Guacamole

Guacamole 
- avocado x 1
- olive oil x 1 tbsp
- cumin x 1/2 tsp
- salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together until in a pasty consistency and add to your burger.



Guide to Buying a Yoga Mat

Yoga mats aren't necessary for practising yoga.  For centuries yogis have practised in nature, on a level surface or on a bit of cloth.

I recommend using a yoga mat for the following reasons and have included a guide to finding something comfortable and affordable too!


  1. When you are in a yoga class, a mat provides a hygienic surface for you to practice on.
  2. It provides cushioning for your knees when you are kneeling on the floor (mine are pretty knobbly and grateful for it!)
  3. It demarcates a clear space for you to practise on.
  4. You can use your position on the mat to help with alignment.
Where and what to buy?

Buying a mat can be really confusing as there are so many kinds. Standard yoga mats are made of PVC with newer, more earth-friendly options include natural and recycled rubber, jute, and organic cotton or natural cotton (which means the fabric is not treated with synthetic finishes during manufacturing). If you're allergic to latex, avoid yoga mats made of natural rubber. If you want to stick with the tried and true sticky mat, choose a yoga mat made out of PVC, which can endure your use and abuse for more than a decade. Sponginess can vary widely with different blends of materials, but in general, PVC has the most "give" of any yoga mat material; jute and cotton have the least. 

Mats typically range between 2mm and 6mm in thickness.  The thicker your mat the more cushioned and expensive it is.  I personally prefer to practice on a 6mm thick mat due to my aforementioned knobbly knees although the cushioning does make it trickier to balance in postures like the tree pose.




Mats are pretty much available everywhere.  The cheapest mats on the market can be found in shops like Sport Direct and Argos for about £3 - £5.  For about £7 - £12 you can buy a mat in TKMaxx. These tend to be made by companies like ‘Gaiam’ and 'Elle' are a bit better quality: although still lacking in much support or grip. 

Just start with something simple, figure out your needs and then invest in a mat when you've figured out what works for you.

Yoga is meant to help relax you so don't stress! :-)

The Full Yogic Breath

A pregnant friend posted on Facebook recently that she was looking to deal with anxiety through walking.  I tried to find a quick post about the full yogic breath to send her without any luck.  So here it is in a few easy steps.  Detailed info on benefits at the end of the instruction.


  1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  2. Place your hand on your abdomen and inhale deeply into your diaphragm (you should feel your tummy stick out as you inhale). 
  3. Continue to inhale into your lungs feeling your chest expanding from the bottom to the top (all the way to your clavicles / collar bones)
  4. Hold the breath for a couple of seconds.
  5. Exhale, first from the chest, then the diaphragm.
  6. Repeat
This can be done for as short as a minute to calm your nerves or as long as an hour during meditation.

Extra notes
  • Relax your body, if you are sitting focus on being comfortable and opening the chest and abdomen rather than having a perfectly erect spine.
  • Try to inhale for a count of 6 seconds and exhale for a count of 8 seconds.  It may take some time to build up this capacity so don't worry if your breathing is shorter, just remember that slow rhythmic breathing will steady your nervous system.


Benefits of the full yogic breath:
  • Feeds your brain and body with oxygen!
  • Releases acute and chronic muscular tensions around the heart and digestive organs.
  • Helps sufferers of respiratory illnesses such as asthma and emphysema to overcome the fear of shortness of breath. It actually increases lung capacity.
  • Encourages proper nervous stimulus to the cardio-vascular system
  • Dramatically reduces emotional and nervous anxiety
  • Improves detoxification through increased exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen
  • Amplifies the auto immune system by increased distribution of energy to the endocrine system
  • Calms the mind and integrates the mental / physical balance.




Red Wine and Chocolate Beef - Hearty French Aromatic Stew

Low-Carb / Paleo

So I am leaving my husband to fend for himself for a week and made this massive stew to tide him over - please halve the quantities unless you are cooking a meal for a large group.   Coming from a French-background family, I am accustomed to making a basic French aromatic stew and altering the ingredients to taste. The primary principal of French cooking is fresh, quality ingredients.  If you are interested in making any type of stew you can make a basic French aromatic stew and then add or subtract ingredients to taste.  With this in mind I have put an * next to any of the items that form the basis of a basic French aromatic stew, enjoy :-)



Ingredients

2 tbsp Olive oil*
2 x Onions*
4 x sticks of celery*
4 x carrots*
4 x chestnut mushrooms*
3 x medium sweet potatoes
4 x cloves of garlic*
800g x lean diced beef (venison / lamb / chicken etc can all be successfully substituted)
2/3 x bottle of red wine (can be substituted for white wine if making white meat or ale for game / water if alcohol free)
1 stalk of rosemary*
1 stalk thyme*
1 bay leaf*
1 x cube of vegetable (or chicken) stock*
200mls water
6 x juniper berries (crushed in  pestle and mortar)
1 x tin of tomatoes*
1/2 x cup of ground almonds (cornflour or regular flour can also be used as thickener)
2 x teaspoons of cocoa
Pinch of salt and pepper


Method

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a high heat and add the diced onions, while those are heating chop and add the celery, carrots, mushrooms, diced sweet potatoes and garlic in that order. Stir every 30 seconds through this process.

2. Add the beef and brown slightly, then add the wine, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, juniper berries, stock cube, 200mls water and tin of tomatoes.

3. Stir occasionally until mixture comes to the boil then place lid on saucepan and simmer for 75 mins.

4.  Stir. Add ground almonds to thicken sauce (necessary if having low-carb option), add cocoa, salt and pepper to taste, stir again, continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.

5. Turn off heat, stir and serve when ready.   This stew can be served alone or with rice / potatoes although you should be cautious of thickening the sauce if serving with an accompaniment.

Enjoy! :-)




Yummy Carrot Cake

Vegan / Paleo / Diabetic Friendly


This is the second time I have made the healthy enough for breakfast recipe!  Original recipe is at the following link http://ourfourforks.com/carrot-cake-bars although I have taken a couple of shortcuts on this version and it also contains less sugar.  For information about the diabetic friendly nature of dates check out this link http://www.prevention.com/health/diabetes/diabetes-prevention-healthy-diabetes-diet-foods




For the carrot cake base:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup packed pitted whole dates, Medjool or soaked overnight (or at least a few hours)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts (plus more for garnish, optional)
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened, dried shredded coconut
  • cup grated carrots
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Instructions
  1. Line a small pan or tupperware container with parchment / baking paper
  2. Drain the dates and add the ingredients together and pulse until the fruit is finely chopped and blended and the mixture begins to stick together. This should take a couple of minutes and you may need to scrape the sides with a spatula occasionally.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly in the parchment lined container and place in the freezer until set, about an hour.
  4. You will need the container you used for the base for the next step so don't wash it.

For the cream cheese frosting:
Ingredients
  • ¾ cups raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk (or water)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to the container you used for blending the carrot cake base and blend until very creamy.
  2. Spread mixture evenly on top of carrot cake base, sprinkle with chopped walnuts and cinnamon (if desired) and put back into the freezer another hour.
  3. When set, remove from freezer, allow to thaw for a couple of minutes and cut into desired shape. Keep the bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or freezer for up to 3 months.

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

Vegan / Paleo

Wanted to post this quickly as I had a flash of inspiration this evening and wanted to get the ingredients down before I forgot!  As a fan of creamy white sauces - am pretty pleased with the result of this.  It makes enough for 1 person so increase quantities as needed

Ingredients

1 tsp coconut oil
4 chestnut mushrooms (chopped or pulled by hand)
4 cherry tomatoes
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbps nutritional yeast
2 tbps ground almonds
A pinch of salt and pepper.

Method


  1. While the coconut oil warms in a wok / saucepan, add the mushrooms and tomatoes.  Fry for approx 1 minute or until they have started to brown slightly.
  2. Add the unsweetened almond milk then the nutritional yeast and bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer for a couple of minutes and then add the ground almonds and stir (this will thicken the consistency of the mixture so use as much or little as needed).
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
I placed mine in butternut halves, covered with a little foil and baked at 180C for 30 mins.  Garnished with fresh basil when finished - hope you enjoy as much as I do! :-)