Hello There!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Welcome to a new wellness blog for those passionate about wellness in middle youth. 
Keep checking back for exciting posts on everything from yoga to superfoods, anti-aging to holistic beauty. 

Berry good for you

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Every year a kind neighbour shares his bountiful harvest of blackberries with his neighbours. They are large and luscious although this year's harvest has been slightly delayed by the cool summer.  Blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C.  They also have high antioxidant level including the anthocyanins which help prevent cancer, inflammation, aging and dementia .  They are also a good source of fibre, both soluble and insoluble. Please see 'The vegan diet and weight gain - Part 3' for more information on fibre http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/the-vegan-diet-and-weight-gain-part-3.html

You can enjoy blackberries on their own, you could top your morning cereal with them, or enjoy my 'Blackberry and apple 'Eve's pudding' Please see http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/blackberry-and-apple-eves-pudding.html
or why not try this Blackberry, raspberry  and apple cobbler. Blackberries pair well with apples - Bramley apples would be best to use and are available all year. The raspberries were ones we had frozen after harvesting them from the allotment earlier in the year. 

The recipe below is great served with 'nice' cream- simply whiz up some chopped, frozen bananas with a little almond milk in a high speed blender. 

Blackberry, raspberry  and apple cobbler
Serves 4-6

You will need

For the apple and blackberry 
600g blackberries and raspberries
3 medium Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
stevia to taste

For the cobbler
200g rice flour
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp cinnamon
100g dairy free spread
10 tsp stevia
200ml almond or soy milk
25g flaked almonds

Place the apple in a saucepan with the lemon juice a a little water.  Cook over a low heat until the apple pieces soften then add the blackberries and raspberries.  Cook for a further minute or two then transfer to an ovenproof dish.  

To make the topping, place the rice flour, cinnamon and baking powder in a mixing bowl and combine.  Add the dairy free spread and rub into the flour. Stir in the stevia and add almond or soy milk to make a batter.  Drop tablespoons of the batter on the fruit mixture. 

Sprinkle with almonds then bake at 200 degrees for 25-30 minutes.


Meatless Monday: Vegan cottage pie with pumpkin mash

Monday, 17 October 2016

This hearty autumn dish was served with a side of parsnips from the allotment. Please see 'Harvesting the parsnips and cavolo nero'-http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/harvesting-parsnips-and-cavolo-nero.html 
Pumpkins are in season right now bursting with fibre and beta-carotene which the precursor of Vitamin A which helps protect your mucus membranes, is good for your eyes and your immune system. In this dish pumpkin makes a lower calorie alternative to potato mash.

Vegan cottage pie with pumpkin mash
Serves 4 

You will need

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tsp pink salt  
1 leek, trimmed and sliced
1 large carrot, diced
4 tbsp peas (optional)
2 cans mixed beans

Vegan cottage pie and the roasted parsnips 

For the pumpkin mash
600g pumpkin flesh, skin and seeds removed
pinch salt
1/4 can coconut milk 
1 tsp dried rosemary
4 tbsp nutritional yeast

Serving suggestion 
Roasted parsnips (parsnips, olive oil)

Heat the oil and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and leeks and cook for a further minute.  Add the carrots, salt, tomato puree, peas if using and 300ml water.  Bring to the boil and reduce heat to simmer until the vegetables are tender. Drain the cans of beans and stir into the vegetable broth.  Place in an ovenproof dish.

Meanwhile place the pumpkin flesh in a saucepan with a pinch of salt, rosemary and a little water and bring to the boil. Simmer until tender and drain well.  Return to the pan and mash. Stir in the coconut milk and nutritional yeast. Return the pan to the heat to reduce the liquid- be careful it doesn't catch. Top the bean mixture with the pumpkin mash. Place in the oven for 30 minutes with the parsnips if using.

If serving with roasted parsnips, quarter the parsnips lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil and place on a baking tray. Roast at 200 degrees for 30 minutes.


This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 16 October 2016

To mark 'World Mental Health Day' on the blog there are yoga videos to help with depression.
There is also a playlist to help with stress on my YouTube channel and this week we will be starting a new series to help with anxiety. 
Anxiety is epidemic in our society. In this new series we will look at ways to help ease chronic anxiety. We start in this week's video by releasing the physical tension we hold in our bodies as a result of chronic anxiety. 

A digital detox can help with anxiety. Read more on my 'sister' blog-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/anxious-try-digital-detox.html

Many people become sad at this time of year but this yoga sequence to balance the lung and large intesting meridians will help support us through this time by helping us let go of the summer so we can enjoy the autumn.

Fragrant healing - Essential oils for anxiety and immunity

Anxiety is epidemic in our society.  Symptoms include feelings of panic and fear that reaches the point where it interferes with everyday life.  We build up imaginary scenarios in our minds then get upset about them.  As panic sets in we can feel tight in our chests, short of breath, have palpitations and feel dizzy.  Long term this can lead to endocrine imbalances which cause nausea, low immunity (the last thing you want at this time of year), fatigue and muscle tension leading to pain in the body.  It is telling that use of pain killers has increased dramatically over the last decade.    

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years.  They are generally safe, easily excreted by the body and do not leave toxins in the body.  Even so if you have any health issues or are pregnant please consult your doctor before using.  Also, if you do suffer from anxiety please see your doctor.

So how exactly can essential oils calm anxiety?  Smelling certain essential oils affects the limbic system of the brain which controls emotions such as fear in a positive way so that fear, which underlies anxiety is reduced.  The limbic system affects breathing which can become quick and shallow when anxious.  When using essential oils breathing can, in this way, be restored to its normal pattern. Affecting the limbic system in a positive way can also slow down the release of hormones from the adrenal glands such as cortisol which cause anxiety. This in turn also helps boost the immune system since cortisol dampens down the immune response.  

My favourite essential oil for anxiety is lavender.  It is especially good if anxious thoughts keep you awake at night - a few drops on your pillow will calm and relax you helping you to have a restful sleep.  Lavender is also good if you are prone to panic attacks.  Keep some with you and if you feel yourself getting anxious dab a little on your wrist or a cotton pad and inhale - I always dab some on before visiting the dentist!  Note that lavender is the only essential oil that can be safely used undiluted on your skin - if you use other essential oils on your skin I would recommend you use 10 drops of essential oil in around 5ml (a teaspoon) of an oil such as almond oil. Alternatively you can add a few drops of lavender to your bath.  This relaxes your muscles which in turn relaxes your mind.  

Other essential oils that can help with anxiety include geranium, sandalwood, German chamomile, ylang ylang and bergamot.   

As well as using them in the ways already described you could use them in a diffuser or massage yourself with them diluted in a carrier oil such as sesame or almond oil .. A massage using warm oils is ideal before you take your morning bath.  Use long strokes for your arms and legs, circular movements fr your joints.  Massage your tummy in a circular motion - up the right side, down the left. 

PLEASE NOTE - do not self-massage if you are pregnant, menstruating or have any medical problems (check with your doctor). If you can, leave the oils to soak in for 10 minutes before taking a bath (care you do not slip). 

On the yoga blog I have just started a new series to help with anxiety.  Please 'Yoga for anxiety- An introduction and yoga video'-see http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/yoga-for-anxiety-introduction-and-yoga.html

Harvesting the parsnips and cavolo nero

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Harvesting the parsnips-ugly but delicious

If you remember we planted the parsnips in spring.  Most seed packets will say February but parsnips are slow germinating and do better if the seeds are sown in April.  

Traditionally they are not harvested until after the first frost but ours had grown to such whoppas that we thought that if we left them any longer we would never get them out - it took a great deal of tugging as it was!!!  If like us you decide to harvest yours now you might want to leave them to become sweeter for a week or two.  

Enjoy them cut into quarters lengthways and roasted with a coating of olive oil.   Great with a vegan cottage pie- (see next week's Meatless Monday recipe).

Please see also Organic gardening update: spring planting two-

Harvesting the cavolo nero

The cavolo nero is also ready to harvest and is 'cut and come again'.  Cavolo nero is actually a kale - its dark green leaves are bursting with folic acid for healthy cholesterol levels and therefore a healthy heart.  It is a good source of fibre for gut health and it is also good for your eyes.  It is lovely stir fried with rosemary, garlic and a few chilli flakes as a side dish. Please see also this week's Meatless Monday recipe which was 'Meatless Monday: Stir fried kale with barley and mushroom risotto' - http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/meatless-monday-stir-fried-kale-with.html

Happy gardening and eating!

Meatless Monday: Stir fried kale with barley and mushroom risotto

Monday, 10 October 2016

We made the stir fried kale in this recipe using curly kale from the allotment.  Kale is good to grow for a winter harvest. It is easy to grow so ideal if you are new to organic vegetable gardening and it is a hardy plant.  If you are going to grow kale, you need to plant it six to eight weeks before the winter frosts, ideally this would be by the end of July - maybe put this in your garden calendar for next year if you haven't grown kale this year.  Kale is good for you too.  It is  a source of folate for healthy blood and fibre. It is anti-inflammatory and it can even improve your eyesight.

I have used barley for this risotto.  Although less used than rice, it is packed with fibre, protein, selenium and magnesium.

Stir fried kale with barley and mushroom risotto

Serves 2
You will need

For the barley risotto
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
160g quick cook barley
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp pink salt in 500ml water
2 tbsp nutritional yeast

For the stir fried kale
1 tbsp oil
250g kale,
25g flaked almonds
1tbsp tamari

Heat the oil and cook the red onion for 2-3 minutes then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.  Add the mushrooms and cook a further minute or two. Add the barley (no need to soak), lemon juice, thyme, and a little of the salt water.  Stir often until the salt water is absorbed and continue until all the salt water has been added and absorbed.  Stir in the nutritional  yeast.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a wok and add the kale and a tablespoon  of water and the tamari. Stir fry for around 5 minutes then add the flaked almonds.  Serve with the barley risotto.