This year I have decide to try something different. Rather than focusing on moulding my life into the way I “think it should be”, I have decide to “take action without attachment to outcome”. Only a few weeks into the year and my life is already giving me plenty of opportunities to practice this intention. In reality letting go of attachment to outcome means you also have to be ok when you get a no, and as much as I am telling myself that I am ok with a no to some of my asks when I look a little closer I probably aren’t… So I just keep reminding myself of something Brené Brown said, “The courage is in the action.”
Instead I get to practice sitting with my feelings, of disappointment or even anger. I also get the opportunity to practice courage and trust. (Or should it be “the courage to trust”?). Amidst this experiment of trying to live with the openness to the FLOW of life, I found this article by Sharon Salzberg, on one of my favourite websites On Being. It spoke to some of the ambivalence I do feel in making a choice like this. Because if you are not actively pursuing your dream life are you letting yourself go and giving up? Or am I just trying to give up on the suffering holding on to an expectation of a specific outcome is giving me?
This train of thought lead me to another observation this week. One of my colleagues in one of the FB forums that I am in shared a great resource for other things to do when we notice a desire to eat even though we are not physically hungry. I definitely things it is great to have lists of ideas of other thing to do rather than using food as a coping mechanism, even though in the journey to make peace with food there still have to be an unconditional permission to eat. Otherwise we may still end up subconsciously restrict, which can then backfire into over-eating later.
The thing is though if we move directly from noticing that we are reaching for food, without pausing to check in for what it is we are currently emotionally experiencing and move right on to the next non-eating distraction, we miss the chance to see what’s underneath the habitual impulse to reach for food. In the pause we can notice what is there, and follow up with a questions of “What do I need right now?
Depending on the emotion you may discover a different need. Sadness may require the comforting from another human being, or a pet (they are my personal favourites). Happiness may require simply some revelling in, because it can be oh-so-fleeting.
Boredom is a particular interesting one.
To be honest, I’m not sure if dealing with boredom through distraction, eating or otherwise is the best strategy. If we can simply be with it, boredom can open doors to a whole world of inner discoveries. Or we may discover that it is simply a passing state and part of our human experience.
One day during this week I noticed my need for comfort. Not as a way to deal with a particular emotion, more like a way of taking care of myself. A self care ritual of sorts. Comfort eating get such a bad rap, because it is seen like a way numbing out, escapism and sometimes as punishment even. Which may be true. However to me it is only a problem if we comfort eat in a way that doesn’t leave us feeling comfortable and nourished by neither the food nor the act of eating.
This recipe is one that brings me comfort on wet, cold and grey January days. Especially when consumed in front of the fire, with a good book in hand, dog in lap (which is optional + a little risky considering the hot liquid…).
It is also one that I intend to include, or some version thereof, in my first recipe book. Which I have still no idea of how or when it will come out. Before the end of the year at least…!
So here’s to comfort foods and comfort eating that leaves you feeling comforted, satisfied and well nourished.
Spicy Hot Chocolate for Colder Days
Makes about 10 portions, depending on how much mix you use for your cup
5 tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp coconut sugar or demerara sugar (or you can leave this out and sweeten with maple syrup / honey to taste when you have the drink made up)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground dried ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves – optional
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Place all ingredients in a clean, dry glass jar and mix until they are all well combined.
To make your hot spicy chocolate drink;
Measure out your milk of choice (cow’s milk or plant milk). For practicality I tend to pour the milk first into the cup I intend to drink from, to get the right volume.
Then add the milk to a small saucepan. Allow roughly a tbsp. of chocolate powder per cup/ person. Add the chocolate powder to the milk. Whisk rapidly as you are gently heating up the milk.
Keep whisking to prevent the milk from burning at the bottom of the pan. Avoid boiling, as if you are using plant based milk it may separate.
Your hot chocolate drink is ready just before it reaches boiling point. If you didn’t add any sugar to your cacao mix, now is a good time to add it to the hot drink. Honey or maple syrup are really delicious.
Pour it back into your cup of choice for serving and enjoy!
I love marshmallows, so this time I piled them high. (Not homemade)
P.S I’ve invited Spring into my home. whilst waiting for it to take hold outside…
I have this things for grocery shopping… And trying out new foods… And sometimes this “thing” turns out to be a rather indulgent AND expensive hobby.
I’m still not sure where this love of exploration comes from, though I keep blaming the year I spent living in the Australian bush, where much, the only escape route off the farm was the weekly trip to the supermarket. But that’s now over a decade I go, so it may not really cut it as a valid excuse anymore.
This is definitely where the love affair really took hold though and I’ve carried on with it ever since.
Maybe it is part of a food scarcity things, from that time too? Though at that time I wasn’t restricting what I was buying as I had very few other expenses than buying foods. My accommodation was included in my weekly pay and I didn’t own a car either (and boy does that save you money!). But the downside of not having a car was that I was always depending on others to take me to the shop, which was a good 45 min drive away.
These days things are a little different and, though I live in a rural part of the country I have a car, I am 10 min drive from a town with some very decent food shops, and I am about 30 min from the second largest city in Ireland. No risk of starving or going without. Yet I still get excited about grocery shopping!
The recipe I am sharing here is an inspiration from one of those explorative grocery shopping trips I did last year when I was over in Stockholm, visiting my friend Louise and going to a few different nutrition / foodie events.
When I was in this small delicatessen I saw this beautifully wrapped chocolate that also contained tahini. Got totally sucked in and just had to buy it! Truth be told, it was worth it for the beautiful packaging alone. Clever marketing there, that’s for sure.
Ever since then I have been thinking of trying to re-create something similar at home.
This is it!
I used this recipe as a base, and more or less swapped the peanut butter for tahini instead. If you are not a tahini fan like me, I think using hazelnut butter would make an amazing chocolate. It’s not one I have tried yet myself, but my imagination have no problem conjuring up what that kind of taste explosion that combination will provide. I mean who doesn’t like chocolate with hazelnuts???
Homemade chocolate is surprisingly easy to make, once you’ve invested in the ingredients. And since this type of eating have become a lot more common in the past few years, finding raw cacao and raw cacao butter isn’t impossible.
No, they are not the cheapest ingredients, but you will get a lot more cacao for your bucks than the typical “chocolate” you find sold everywhere.
In writing this post I am also realising that it is a privilege to be able to both have time, money and the opportunity to find these ingredients easy enough. And for that I am grateful.
Raw Chocolate with Tahini
Makes 12 large hearts
50g cacao butter
1 heaped tbsp tahini
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup – depending on desired sweetness (less works well in for this recipe)
½ tsp ground cinnamon – optional but delicious
Melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Once the cacao butter is fully melted add the tahini and stir well. Then add in the maple syrup, the raw cacao powder and the cinnamon, if using.
Stir for a minute or two until you have a really smooth cacao mix. Taste and add a little more maple syrup if you still think it is too bitter.
Remove the bowl from the stove and pour it into a silicon ice-cube tray. Transferring it to the fridge to set. After a few hours your chocolate will have set and you can pop it out of the ice-cube tray.
** If you don’t have an ice cube tray / chocolate moulds, you can pour it on to a small lined tray instead. **
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Your raw chocolate will keep for a few days in the fridge. Probably longer in the freezer.
If you do make these please let me know what you think, and if you’ve ended up making new creations and taste combinations from this basic recipe!
Can you believe it? Just a couple of weeks left of 2016, and Christmas just around the corner…! The common phrase of “Where does time go?” is the thing on my mind. Maybe my dad has a point when he says that time moves faster the older we get. Stands to reason if we see time as a thing of perception rather than an absolute, which means of course each year, as we age each year is a smaller percent of our life. Worth pondering…
Though, I don’t know about you but some days, as a contrast to the time “flying by”, can feel like almost an entire lifetime with all the thing experienced that day.
My intention for this last recipe post of 2016 was not to get all philosophical and time conscious, even though one of my friends did point out that I am “almost” always late. Which does have some grain of truth to it… So right there is something for me to work on next year!
I’m going to share this basic dairy free chocolate truffle recipe with you, and even though I opted for a classic Swedish flavour combination, I will also give you some other flavour combinations to play around with. To be honest I think that from the basic recipe you can go wild and just let your imagination be the limit to your creativity!
These little truffles make a great gift, so if you are still looking for something to make / bring to the dinner party, hopefully this recipe will be a help.
Raspberry and chocolate is a classic combination, but in Sweden raspberry and liquorice is also a classic combination. So I thought to myself one day “I wonder if the three would pair up equally well?”. And to my mind they did! But if you don’t have / can’t get liquorice powder (I bought mine in Sweden on my last visit), then there’s some alternative pairings below.
Chocolate Truffles with A Swedish Twist
Makes about 15 truffles (try not to eat them as you roll the chocolate!)
Basic truffle recipe:
200g dark chocolate, 60-70%, broken in to pieces
100ml full fat coconut milk
2 tsp ground licorice powder
A pinch of sea salt
A few tbsp. freeze dried raspberry powder
To make the truffles; place the coconut milk in a small saucepan. Gently warm the coconut milk on medium heat. Once it if finger warm, add in the chocolate pieces. Let the warm coconut milk melt the chocolate for a minute or two, then stir the mix with a spoon until you have thick glossy mixture.
Add the licorice powder and pinch of salt and stir again until well combined. Pour the chocolate mix into a bowl and place in the fridge to set. This will take 2h or so.
Once the chocolate is set, take the bowl out of the fridge and scoop out a tbsp. worth of chocolate at the time and roll into small balls with your hands.
Place the freeze dried raspberry powder in small bowl and roll the truffles in the powder. Once fully coated place the truffles in an airtight container and store in a cool place. Eat and enjoy!
Other flavour combinations (that I’ve tried so far!):Chili + raspberry powder, mint extract + matcha and spirulina powder, orange zest and cardamom + freeze dried blueberry powder.
If you can’t get any freeze dried berry powders you could roll your truffles in other things like sesame seeds, ground toasted hazel nuts or why not melted chocolates?
Use your imagination!
And just a few winter pictures from last weekend. Which reminded me of the wise words I came across recently;
“Where ever you are now, is where you’ve never been before” – Ellen J. Langer
Wishing you a peaceful Christmas and Holiday Season.
It’s that time of the year again, when you get to indulge in making and giving, without anyone questioning it. Actually it seems much expected that you do so.
In this time of “shoulds”, “musts” and “have-tos”, a midst overwhelm and busyness perhaps a desire to slow down and take time, doing what really matters instead, is what we are truly looking for?
OK… So I do realise that it’s not everyone sees the kitchen as their creative playground (though this is surely all about perspective?!) but for those of us who do like to play in the kitchen, making sweet or savoury treats, bakes or dishes that can double up as gifts is a win-win!
And why not make a play date, not just for you and the kitchen, but invite a friend or two to come along too. The experience of cooking and eating is often elevated (in my experience) by sharing, so have fun.
These raw chocolates are really quick and easy to make and only require five ingredients. You’ll have them whipped up in no time.
Mint, chocolate and coconut is a classic combination, so if you know that you already like this combo, you will not be disappointed!
Raw Mint-Coconut Chocolate
Makes 14 hearts
100g creamed coconut ( ½ packaged)
6-8 drops of mint extract
40g cacao butter
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
Roughly chop the creamed coconut and melt it on low heat in a small saucepan. Creamed coconut is available in most healthfood shops and also in Asian grocery stores. It is dehydrated fresh meat of mature coconuts and solid at room temperature.
Once the coconut is melted add the mint extract and then give it a good stir to make sure it is dispensed evenly. Add the melted coconut mix to the molds. Try to fill each mold to about ½. Place in the fridge to set, while you proceed to make the raw chocolate.
Melt the cacao butter in a heat proof bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water. Once the cacao butter has fully melted, add the cacao powder and then mix until you have a smooth blend. And the maple syrup and mix again until your chocolate mix is again lovely and smooth.
Remove your mold tray from the fridge and spoon the chocolate mix on top of the coconut mix. Place the tray back in the fridge and let the chocolate set. This will take a few hours.
Once your chocolate has hardened, pop them out of the moulds and place in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to serve them. Or gift them!
***I use silicone ice cube molds to make these and it makes the process very easy. You can use any shapes you like of course and if you don’t have a mold, then you can try simply pouring the coconut layer out first on a lined tray and once set, add the raw chocolate layer. I haven’t actually tried that technique with this particular recipe, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
If you want some more ideas of edible sweet gifts here are a few ideas from the archives:
Valentine’s is upon us again. I never got a chance to write a Valentine’s post last year due to some incredibly stormy weather and subsequent power cuts, which lasted for days, so I’m going to have a stab at it this year instead.
I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about this whole conundrum… On the one hand I think it’s a nice idea with a day prompting you to do something extra nice for that one special person in your life. On the other hand I feel it has become such a big commercial hype, it has lost any appeal or value. And shouldn’t we take time daily to show our love and appreciation for those in our lives that matters anyway? On any given day? Oh and the whole thing (i.e commercial hype around this ONE day) can easily make anyone who happens to be single feel totally inadequate, sad and even like there’s something wrong with them because they happen to NOT be in a relati0nship at this time. To ME that sends out an entirely wrong message.
A good few years ago (five to be precise), I was dating an absolutely gorgeous guy, beautiful to the core. He wasn’t a great guy for presents or cards or anything at Valentine’s, yet during the short time we had together he gave me one of the greatest gifts of all. He gave me the amazing gift of allowing me to be completely and utterly myself. Even though, I would considered of myself to show up as me and to go my own way (most of the time at least), he allowed me to do that in our relationship too.
I was able to be true and authentic to who I am because I felt safe, loved and trusted that it was going to be Ok to be vulnerable and show sides of myself which I might have been reluctant to show for fear of being rejected or judged. (Like we all tend to do, especially when we don’t know someone all that well) It was a blessed gift to get and I’m grateful to now hold that experience in my heart.
It’s made me think though, that in today’s world, with all the talk of Authenticity and being true to ourselves so we can live our lives fully, yet the never ending snap shots we see of other peoples’ lives through social media and the “compariso-nitis it brings; we need to do two things:
1. Love ourselves with compassion and unconditional whole-heartedness. And if we don’t already do so we need to keep working at it. For if we can’t love ourselves for all that we are (and are not) then how can we let someone else in? Creating a space for self-love and a feeling of self-worth hold the key to opening so many doors.
2. Allow or hold a space for others to be authentic to who THEY are. Allow them to feel loved and safe enough to be vulnerable without being judged. Perhaps this is what’s called unconditional love…?
Maybe Brené Brown puts it better in her TED Talk. I don’t know, but I do think she’s on to something, after a decade of research into it.
It’s all to easy to try to change others, whether they are partners, friends, work mates or family members. If we DO care about them, then giving them the gift of allowing them to BE who they truly are (as opposed to who we would like them to be) is probably the most amazing gift we can ever give. And you know, this is actually easy enough to do. Being present and truly listen to someone is so rare these days, so by giving your full attention to a conversation with someone dear, you can simply make that person shine in their own right. Somehow we are often aware of those people who are naturally good listeners because they tend to make us feel good when we are around them. Thing is, we may not be aware that it’s their listening skill which is what sets them apart. Beauty is though, we can all learn or improve this skill. We simply need to practice active listening a little more.
I’m just going to throw in a caveat here; if you discover that you are trying to change someone because you don’t like who they truly are… Then set them AND yourself free. No need to be hanging around people who doesn’t bring out the best in you. And if cutting ties is not an option, then at least limit the time you spend with them…
Self-love. Something so incredibly important but so incredibly hard. The definition of the word is: care and regards for ones own happiness and well being. Can someone wise out there tell me WHY we don’t see attending to this very need, as important as it actually is? And please don’t get self-love mixed up with arrogance and self importance. Often (in my experience) people who show up with those kinds of traits have the least amount of self-love. Because when you care for and value yourself the need to make others feel inferior is simply not necessary.
Being comfortable in our own skin, being happy and content in our own company and making choices based on self compassion seems to come easier to some than others. I came across this little list of 10 things you can start doing to bring more self-love into your life. Worth a look.
In the name of LOVE I challenge you do so something to this weekend to show yourself how much you care about you. Then share the love far and wide! But start showing yourself some love first.
OK enough of ramblings, I better share this recipe with you too. I went for a floral theme of roses (of course!) as to many of us they are the symbol of love. I happen to like the taste of rose too. But if you don’t, feel free to leave it out. Or substitute with some orange zest and a little freshly squeezed orange juice instead. These little sweet treats may look complicated but they really aren’t. All you need are a couple of ingredients and food processor. So whether you decide to do something nice for yourself this Valentine’s or if you want to treat your lover, you can do it Straightforward Nutrition style! <3
Rose Infused Marzipan Bites
Makes about 15 bites
200g whole almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp dried rose petals – optional
1 tbsp rose water – you can substitute for equal amounts of lemon or orange juice
2-3 tbsp maple syrup, depending on desired sweetness
50g 70 % dark chocolate
some dried rose petals for decoration – optional
a sprinkle of bee pollen, for decoration – optional
Start with grinding the almonds into flour. I usually use a blender for this but you can use your food processor too. Half ways through grinding the nuts add the dried flowers.
Add your ground almonds + flowers, maple syrup, vanilla extract and rose water to a food processor and blend until you have a sticky dough.
Make small balls from the dough and then chill them in the fridge to harden up a little, for an hour or so.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over warm water. Roll each ball in the melted chocolate until well coated. Let them set a little on a lined tray before you sprinkle some rose petals and bee pollen on top to make your treats look extra pretty!
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The marzipan will last, I mean keep… for a few days in the fridge. These treats are vegan (without bee pollen) and gluten and dairy free.