Hello There!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Welcome to a wellness blog aimed at those passionate about wellness in their 40's and beyond. This doesn't mean to say that you can't enjoy the vegan recipes, beauty posts, organic gardening posts and wellness posts if you are under 40.

Exciting posts are added weekly!

I also have a 'sister yoga blog, 'Flexiladies Yoga'. There are yoga posts and videos so please check that out too for the complete wellness package - CLICK HERE

Transplanting the squash - it's a learning curve

Recently it was World Naked Gardening Day (May 6th) but nobody on the local allotment took up the challenge - it's too cold in Yorkshire!  We are just about taking our thermal vests off at the end of May!!  The other news from the allotment is that someone forgot to shut the gate and a rabbit got in playing merry havoc with the produce.  The advice is don't grow lettuce until the miscreant is apprehended (the rabbit that is not the person who left open the gate!).

We wanted to try growing squash this year - a first for 40plusandalliswell. We have chosen Crown Prince squash for two reasons - we really like eating it (a good reason!! It has orange flesh and a sweet nutty flavour) and we know it grows well where we live because people bring it to the harvest service in autumn. We planted one seed in each small pot in April- if you remember the seeds were planted on on their sides which is counter-intuitive. The soil needed to be kept warm so start them off so we kept them in a greenhouse in peat pots for transplanting.  

Squash seed

Squash plants

If you want to grow squash directly in the ground, the good news is that it's not too late, you
can plant them directly outdoors now, at the end of May.  Choose a sheltered sunny spot and dig some well-rotted manure in first.  On light soils additional feeding may be required and squash are very thirsty especially as they start to swell so keep well watered.  Plant seeds about 1 inch deep and 2-3 feet apart.  Trust me - we thought this was a too much when we were growing courgettes which need distance between them too but we ended up with an overcrowding problem!!

Anyway back to our transplanting.  We thought we had it sussed - the overwinter onions would come out and the squash would take their place on the allotment. The problem was that the onions were not ready - they need another couple of weeks.  It wasn't too much of a disaster in the end - we were able to plant the squash between the onions and before they get too big the onions will be out.  Next year we will plan it better, but we are learning.

Squash and onions

Happy gardening!

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Meatless Monday : Easy vegan oriental rice bowl

Monday, 22 May 2017

This recipe is so versatile - either include the tofu and have it as a main meal or leave it out and have it as a side salad, either use fresh veg or frozen stir fry veg.  Quick and easy to make but tasty! Let's cook!

Easy oriental rice bowl

150g (dried weight) brown rice, cooked according to instructions
400g block tofu, drained and excess water removed by pressing between sheets of kitchen towel and diced into small cubes.
1 - 2 tbsp organic olive oil or rapeseed oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
300g stir fry veggies (choose from red onion, finely chopped, baby sweetcorn, mange tout, red or yellow pepper, beansprouts, shredded Nappa cabbage, broccoli florets etc or use a frozen mix)  
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
spring onions, chopped (optional)
sesame seeds (optional)

Heat the oil in a wok and add the diced tofu.  Stir fry until starting to crisp on the outside. 

Add the garlic and stir fry veggies together with the chilli, Chinese 5 spice and ginger. and cook a further 4 minutes until the veggies are tender.  

Add the tamari, rice wine vingar and stir through the cooked rice.  Heat through for a minute until the liquid is absorbed then divide between bowls.  

Top with spring onions and sesame seeds if using.


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This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 21 May 2017

This week the quality we are cultivating through our yoga is discernment- the wisdom to know what is good for ourselves and others. 

If you are just starting out in yoga and do not know how to set an intention for your practice, or if you are not new to yoga and struggle to set an intention, this blog post on my 'sister' blog is for you- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/beginners-guide-to-setting-intention.html

Thankfully yoga is relatively safe compared to other sports and activities but worryingly yoga injuries are on the increase. On my 'sister' blog there are tips to help keep you safe while you practice yoga and some links to posts I have done on preventing specific yoga injuries. Look out for more posts on this to come- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/avoiding-yoga-injuries.html
This blog post was included in the online paper 'Yoga Vitality Magazine'- http://paper.li/Yoga_Vitality/1336524135#/

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Vegan egg substitutes

Chia seed egg

Eggs are used in baking and cooking to provide structure, bind the ingredients together, act as a rising agent because they trap air or add moisture but if you are vegan there are several substitutes that will work just as well. Which you choose depends on what you are making.  
There are commercial egg substitutes that are made of a starch such as potato starch and a rising agent - they seem to work well in cakes. I have also used 1 tbsp rice flour, 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and 2 tbsp almond milk to replace an egg in recipes where baking powder is also used such as cakes or cornbread. Below are some more egg substitutes.  

Flaxseed egg - great for binding ingredients together but not so great as a raising agent so if you do use a flaxseed egg in cakes you need some baking powder and a source of acid such as non-dairy milk 'soured' with a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. On the plus side the seeds add a vegan source of omega 3 to recipes. Use 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp hot water.  Leave to stand for up to 30 minutes to form a mucilage which has a gel-like consistency.  Can be used in chocolate cakes or banana breads.

Chia seed eggs - similar to a flaxseed egg, a chia seed egg is not a great raising agent. They are however a good source of fibre. To make a chia seed egg use 1-2 tbsp chia seeds with 3 tbsp hot water.  

Silken tofu can work as an egg substitute and is great for adding moisture and protein but it can make cakes dense - an option for brownies though and can be used to make a vegan quiche.  Use 1/4 cup pureed to replace an egg.  For vegan 'scrambled egg',  heat 1 tbsp oil, crumble a block of tofu into the oil and stir fry .  Stir through 2 tbsp nutritional yeast and 1 tsp turmeric.  Nice with some chargrilled veggies added.

Mashed banana or stewed apple add moisture and flavour to pancake recipes.  Also can be used in chewy biscuits. Use half a cup.  

If its just egg white you need for your recipe, the liquid off chickpeas works really well.  I have successfully used this to make a sugar-free marzipan.  

Soy or coconut yogurt use a 1/4 cup to replace an egg in cake recipes where baking powder is also used.

Happy baking!

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Eat a rainbow - Blueberries

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Yay, blueberries are in season at last! Not only yummy to eat but good for you too, they are often referred to as a superfood. Anthocyanins give blueberries give blueberries their colour and many of their health benefits because they are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation underlies many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes etc so blueberries can reduce the risk of these. 

Anthocyanins are also antioxidant, as is the vitamin C in blueberries and these antioxidants fight free radicals which can lead to aging of skin, eyes and brain etc. This means that blueberries can help prevent wrinkles, macular degeneration and cognitive decline. The calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin K in blueberries help maintain healthy bones. The fibre helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels reducing the risk of diabetes, maintains healthy digestion  and keeps cholesterol levels at a healthy level.  

Why not try blueberries in this blueberry, 'nice cream' and granola layer dessert (or treat breakfast!).  I love different textures and the crunchiness of the granola contrasts wonderfully with the smoothness of the 'nice' cream.  I have used some fresh and some frozen blueberries which are cheaper but just as nutritious. The granola can be made in advance. Tip - if you can't get or afford organic fruit, frozen is likely to have less pesticides because the fruit can be frozen immediately after picking, it doesn't have to last on supermarket shelves.  

Blueberry, 'nice cream' and granola layer dessert (or treat breakfast)

100g mixed nuts
80g oats
stevia to taste (1-2 tbsp)
2 tbsp coconut oil + extra for greasing

Other ingredients
7 bananas, peeled, chopped and frozen 
Cup non-dairy milk
200g blueberries, frozen 
fresh blueberries to top

To make the granola chop the larger nuts, mix with the oats, stevia and coconut oil.  Place on a baking tray greased with coconut oil then in an oven at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes stirring once.  Allow to cool.

Whiz the bananas up in a high speed blender (you will probably have to do half at a time). Place 2 tbsp of the granola at the base of your sundae glass, top with frozen blueberries then half the 'nice cream'.  Repeat the layering and top with fresh blueberries and a little granola. Serve immediately. 

You may also like:-

'Eat a rainbow-Red cabbage'

'Eat a rainbow-Sweet potato

'Eat a rainbow-Grapefruit'

'Eat a rainbow - Greens'

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Meatless Monday : Vegan Lo Mein

Monday, 15 May 2017

Feel like a takeaway?  Why not make your own?  It's just as quick and tasty but healthier.  Lo mein is Chow mein's 'cousin' but whereas chow mein has crispy noodles, Lo mein has soft noodles - usually egg but you can use rice noodles, ramen noodles etc.  You can vary the stir fry veggies and if you are really pushed for time, you could even use some bagged or frozen stir fry veggies.  I have added baked tofu for a protein boost but again this only takes a few minutes in the oven (just remember to marinade the tofu beforehand).  So let's get cooking.

Serves 2

You will need
400g pack tofu
3 tbsp tamari 
2cm piece ginger, peeled and minced
pinch stevia
olive oil spray
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Stir fry veggies - I used a handful of mangetout, 8 chestnut mushrooms, sliced, 1/2 red pepper, sliced and a couple of handfuls of spinach)
2 'nests' of rice noodles, or ramen noodles etc, cooked according to the pack instructions and drained

Marinade the tofu in the tamari, stevia and ginger overnight or for an hour or two.  Spray a baking tray with the olive oil spray then place the tofu on the tray and spray once more. Reserve any marinade not absorbed.  Bake in a preheated hot oven for around 10 minutes until crisping on the outside.  

Heat the oil and stir fry the garlic and mushrooms for 3-4 minutes.  Add the mange tout and spinach and stir fry a further 2-3 minutes.  Add the noodles and any remaining marinade and stir through then add the tofu.