Feeling like a yo-yo and moroccan spiced lentil and pumpkin tagine

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Sorry for having been a bit quiet lately. It’s been a weird, exhausting and very much up and down period. Feeling a bit Stephen Fry-esque, not the high IQ (far from it), more the bipolar bit. But without the serious depths of depression and the productive highs. I’m just up and down like a yo-yo. But really what it is, I’m overwhelmed and exhausted by this whole parenting business, and all the other stuff that is going on in my life at the moment. You know, when there is so much going on that all you want to do is hibernate under a blanket, give someone your gigantic to do list and say; wake me when all is sorted thanks….

Also had my seriously delightful lumbar puncture and 1 hour long MRI scan and now have to wait for a month for the results!!! Seriously. A month!

Anyhow, next week my son will start nursery for a whole 6 hours a week and if you see me in some cafe staring blankly into space, I haven’t collapsed, I am just enjoying to stare into space!

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I tried to up my doses of vitamin B12 which usually keeps me on an even keel but not all the B12 in the world seems to help at the moment. If anyone suffers from depression, anxiety or stress ( or being Bipolar I just found out) I can’t recommend B12 highly enough.
Since the B12 doesn’t work I made my favourite moroccan comfort dish instead, and man is it comforting (and healthy of course)

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Spiced lentil and pumpkin tagine
Slightly adapted from a cookbook called Cooking Moroccan, a great book with lots of healthy moroccan food

Serves 4-6

275 gr or 11/2 cups brown or green lentils
3 tomatoes
600 gr butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
6 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut into 3 cm dice. If you are using a tagine put in a tray with a little bit of olive oil and put in oven for 15-20 min ( this will allow for much shorter cooking time) Otherwise put aside.

Rinse lentils in a sieve. Tip into a saucepan and add 1 litre ( 4 cups) cold water. Bring to the boil, skim the surface if necessary, then cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, halve the tomatoes horizontally and squeeze out the seeds. Coarsely grate the tomatoes into a bowl down to the skin, discarding the skin. Set the tomatoes aside.

Heat the oil in a tagine or a large saucepan, add the onion and cook over low heat until softened. Add the garlic, cook for a few seconds, then stir in the cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the grated tomatoes, paprika, tomato paste, honey, half the parsley and coriander, 1 teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste. Add the drained lentils and chopped pumpkin, stir well, then cover and simmer for 45 min if you are using a tagine or 20 min if you are using a saucepan or until the pumpkin and lentils are tender. Adjust the seasoning and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and coriander. Serve with crusty spelt bread.

In Morocco they eat from the tagine with their hands, we tend to eat this dish using the bread as a spoon

5 healthy tips for mornings

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1. Drink a warm cup of lemon water first thing every morning.

Lemon aids digestion and gets rid of toxins. It also contains pectin fibre which is beneficial for colon health and helps fight hunger cravings so great for weight loss. Make sure the water is warm not hot and then squeeze 1/3 of an organic lemon into it. Drink before you eat or drink anything else. I can really feel a difference when I do this in the morning.

2. Consume vegetables with your breakfast

Regardless of what you are having for breakfast, add some vegetables! If you’re having a sandwich add for example some avocado, peppers and tomatoes on the side. If it’s porridge have a vegetable juice, add blueberries and munch on a carrot while the porridge is cooking. It’s a great feeling to already have consumed 2-3 servings of fruit and vegetables before 8am.

3. Make sure you have some protein for breakfast

It keeps you fuller for longer and you have a better chance of avoiding the mid morning dip.

Good protein breakfasts
Buckwheat pancakes
Porridge with milk add some chia seeds and top with some chopped nuts for added protein

4. Make sure you have some me-time first thing in the morning

If you have an hour to do exercise, great! But even if it’s just 5 minutes for some serenity and focus before the madness of the day kicks in it’s still very beneficial for the mind and body. It can be doing exercise, yoga meditation, visualizations, drawing a picture. Whatever makes sure your day starts in a positive way.

5. Plan your day.
Check your to-do list and pick the items that has to get tackled that day. And don’t take on too much. It’s better to under-promise to yourself and then over-deliver. Then you end the day with a great sense of achievement instead of feeling that you have failed doing what you set out to do.

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Mind over medicine and beetroot chips!

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I have a lot of things buzzing in my head that I want to write about! B12, mobile free time, exclusion diet (and it’s not a loose-weight-diet), toxins…….

But I will start with talking about a TED talk that I watched the other night with an American doctor called Lissa Rankin and it truly and utterly resonated with me. ( I cried watching it, that’s how good I thought it was)

I know I go on and on about healthy food and believe me I do believe it is crucial. But Dr Rankin says that healing the mind is more important than looking after our bodies. And despite being a health-food-crazy-kinda-girl I do agree with her. If we are unhappy, stressed or disconnected, all the organic broccoli in the world won’t cure us!

Dr Rankin says that our bodies will try to tell us if there is something in our lives that needs to be changed. In the beginning it will be “whispers” as she calls them, a constant stream of small health problems. If we then don’t listen, the whispers will turn into “screams”, more serious health problems. In my case the whispers were constant colds and flus, a sore swollen stomach and difficulties sleeping and winding down. But I was too busy to listen to the whispers so they turned into screams; anxiety and panic attacks. Still didn’t listen so then my body had to resort to some serious yelling to get me to listen; my MS diagnosis. And who knows, if I had listened to my body and left my job earlier perhaps I wouldn’t have MS today?

The good thing is, she thinks we can use our minds to let our bodies self-heal. And again I agree. When I told you about my MS story I was talking about how I used the placebo effect to heal my body and I strongly believe it had a huge amount to do with my healing.
But anyway, I’m not going to tell you more (drum rolls)……..I hereby proudly present Dr Lissa Rankin!

The shocking truth about your health; Lissa Rankin

Even if you’re a sceptic I really really recommend watching this 18 min video. It might not resonate with you right now but if you one day (we really hope not) find yourself having small, constant health issues, perhaps you will then remember this video. And you will stop to think, am I happy in my life or is it something that needs to change in order for my health problems to go away…..and the 18 minutes of watching the video seems like nothing. Kind of a cheap and good health insurance right?
If the video speaks to you you can download a free self-healing kit from her website or you can always buy the book ; )

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I said I was going to tell you all how I have been doing with exercise this week. Well, I did 1h45 min spread out over 4 days. Then I had my lumbar puncture ( I’m getting to the bottom of the do-I-do-I-not-have-MS conundrum) and my back was pretty bad for the weekend so no more. But anyway a great start, me thinks! ( I also bought a gym deal so for 5 weeks I have to go at least twice a week! Yeah, I’m soooo looking forward to it! )

And here’s finally the recipe for the beetroot chips that goes together with the last posts guacamole!

Beetroot chips!

Snack for 2

2 large beetroots
1 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste

Heat to oven to 150 °C.
Use a mandolin to slice the beetroot very thinly. About 1mm. I tried to cut the beetroot with a knife but it really takes a lot of effort and time so I would recommend getting a mandolin if you don’t have one. Put the beetroot slices in a bowl. Melt the coconut oil in a pan and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the beetroot making sure all slices are covered with the oil.

Line a couple of large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Lay them on the paper so they are barely touching. Put in oven for 1 hour, one will go higher up than the other but swop the trays around halfway through so they will be equally cooked. The beetroot will crisp up after they have cooled down.

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Exercise and a yummy guacamole!

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So because my last posts (My MS story part 1 & My MS story part 2) were verrrry long I am going to say very little on this post in order to spare your eyes and my fingers ; )

Im just going to tell you quickly about my goal for this week. I am concentrating on seriously getting back to doing exercise. Why?

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” Dr Nick Cavill

I will report to you in the end of the week how it’s been going because if we let someone know we are doing something it’s much easier to stick to it. So I’m letting you know ; )

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Yesterday we had late lunch / early dinner and then we wanted something small to eat for the evening. Because I’m in exercise frame of mind I was inspired by the Super Bowl mania across the pond where apparently they eat an enormous amount of avocado ( an expected 158 million avocados during this years Super Bowl) So I made some yummy guacamole that we ate with some beetroot chips but watched the The Bridge instead!

Yummy guacamole!

Serves 2 as a snack

1 avocado
1 shallot or 1/2 small red onion
1 tomato
1 small clove of garlic
1/2 lime
1/2 red or orange chilli

Mash the avocado in a bowl. Squeeze the lime juice over the mashed avocado. Finely chop the garlic, shallot, tomato, coriander and chilli. Add to the mashed avocado mash and mix it up. That’s it!

Next blog post I’ll tell you about the great beetroot chips that goes with it!

Avocado is a fruit that unfortunately has a bad rep due to it’s high fat content…..But in fact it can help to lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of diabetes, prevent cancer…….and and and promote lower body weight! So don’t let the high fat content scare you off.