Apricot Soup

apricotsoup

“Cold Apricot Soup”

Here’s another yummy fruit soup recipe. Because it’s supposed to be served cold, I think it may be a good pouring sauce over ice cream or other dessert. Anyway, here goes…

 

Ingredients

450g / 1lb ripe apricots

1litre / 1.75 pints / 4.3 cups of water

100g / 4oz / ½ cup of sugar

½ stick of cinnamon

2 slices of lemon

4-5 tablespoons of cornflour (cornstarch)

Few drops of vanilla essence

Lemon juice

 

Method

  1. Cover the apricots with boiling water, drain and peel. Cut in half and remove stones.
  2. Reserve a few apricots for garnish and cut the rest into 1cm (½inch) wide strips.
  3. Put the water, sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon slices in a pan and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the apricot slices and cook for about 15 minutes.
  5. Discard the cinnamon and lemon slices, then liquidize or sieve the soup and return to the pan and re-heat.
  6. Blend the cornflour with a little cold water, mix into the soup and stir until boiling.
  7. Stir in the vanilla essence and lemon juice to taste and leave to cool.
  8. Stir in the reserved apricot halves into the soup.
  9. Serve with snow dumplings if liked. Recipe below.

 

Snow Dumplings

Ingredients

500mls / 18fl.oz. / 2¼ cups of milk

½ teaspoon grated lemon rind

25g / 1oz. / 2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

150g / 5oz. / scant 1 cup semolina

1 egg

 

Method

  1. Bring the milk, lemon rind, sugar and salt to the boil.
  2. Remove from heat, add the semolina and stir vigorously until mixture forms a ball.
  3. Heat for one minute, stirring all the time.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and beat in the egg.
  5. Fill a large pan two thirds full with salted water and bring to boiling point.
  6. Using two wet teaspoons, form small dumplings from the semolina mixture and drop carefully into the boiling water.
  7. Cook gently for 5-7 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, drain and serve with the soup.

 

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

Banana Soup

bananasouprecipe

I’ve been sorting through my old cookery books and found some delicious looking recipes from a book called ‘Cooking for Today’ published about 30 years ago. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’d love to hear from you if you try them 🙂 The first ones I’m going to copy are all soups based on fruits.

I think it may work to change things like chicken stock for vegetable stock if you are vegan or vegetarian. Also, one of the ingredients in this first recipe is onion powder, which seems a bit ‘processed’ – so maybe try with a couple of spoonfuls of finely grated onion?

So, numero uno on the list is Sweet-sour banana soup

Ingredients

5 ripe bananas

150ml / ¼pint / ⅔ cup / whipping cream

4-5 tablespoons of wine vinegar

1-2 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon onion powder (or maybe a couple of teaspoons of very finely grated onion)

750ml/ 1¼ pints /3 cups chicken stock

salt

few sprigs of mint to garnish

 

Method

  1. Peel and mash 4 of the bananas
  2. Mix in the cream, and stir in the vinegar, sugar and onion powder
  3. Heat the stock in a pan and gradually whisk in the banana mixture
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes
  5. Season with a little salt to taste and serve garnished with slices of the remaining banana and sprigs of mint.

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

Grow your own Beans

Although green beans have been cultivated for home use since the 16th century, string-less varieties weren’t really known until the turn of the 20th century. Most hybrids we buy now are string-less unless left too long on the plant.

Delicious green bean types include:
Runner Beans
French Beans
Broad Beans
And there are plenty of varieties of each.
Some bean plants grow as a small bush, others need to climb. Make sure you know what type you are growing as you may need to put up a structure if you have a climbing variety.

If you are in the UK, Thompson & Morgan have a whole range of beans to grow at home, including this variety:

beanstandm

 

Dwarf Bean ‘Delinel’

 

 

Healthy Reasons
Green beans are a good source of vitamins A and C, and Folate. They should be cooked before eating to remove any toxins in the skin.
Beans are also high in protein and dietary fibre.

Try this quick and delicious recipe. All quantities are approximate. Go with your instincts!

Green Beans with garlic and basil
Ingredients:
1lb (450g or 2½ cups) of green beans, washed and cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon of chopped basil
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Black pepper

Method:
1. Cook beans in boiling water, or steam, until just tender. Drain well
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok
3. Cook garlic for a minute then add beans, basil and black pepper
4. Stir thoroughly and heat through gently for a few minutes.
5. Serve immediately

Bon Appetit!
Linda x

P.S. Recipe and intro from How to Grow Beans

Beans

 

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Supermarket Survival Tactics

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“Supermarket Survival Tactics”

Supermarkets can drain your pocket, your energy and your time. Here are nine supermarket survival tips for successful supermarket shopping….

1. Eat before you go – an empty stomach is sure to guide you towards the chocolate and snacks.

2. Don’t take the kids! – they always find something they ‘must have.’

3. Do it online – no petrol costs, no browsing the shelves wondering what treats to buy.

4. Prepare a detailed list – and stick to it 🙂

5. Be brave and check out shop’s own brand – some are good and often a lot cheaper.

6. Avoid sweets and snacks aisles – you don’t NEED to visit these shelves – so don’t.

7. BOGOF – Buy one get one free if you NEED it – not just because it’s half-price – twice as much chocolate is twice the calories and sugar if not twice the cost.

8. Go on your own or with a good friend – on your own you can think more clearly, and a good friend can steer you in the right direction!

9. Don’t ‘pop-in’ every day – if you have a freezer, a monthly shop could work.

Happy Shopping!

Linda x

Healthy Baby Steps

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“Healthy Baby Steps”

The secret to good health, including your perfect weight is to get the right balance of food, liquids and movement.

** An adult human body needs anything from 1400 calories a day upwards to function properly.
**It also needs a fair amount of vitamins, minerals, sugars and fat

**Our skeleton has joints, indicating we were built to move
**And every one of a trillion or more cells in our bodies is surrounded with water. We need to keep those cells fresh and alert!

Before processed foods were introduced, it was much simpler to work out the right balance. Now we are bombarded with ‘healthy eating’ packaged foods containing ingredients that are a complete mystery to the everyday shopper.

But what’s the alternative if you have a hungry family to feed, little time to spare and are just getting exhausted with the whole food issue thing?

“Baby steps”

There are hundreds of little things we can do every day that will improve our own lifestyles, as well as helping the planet out a little. Sticking to food issues though, here are a few ideas to steer you on the path of healthiness ……

– Herbs: This is a personal passion of mine and a soap box special! Herbs are magical plants and can save you money, time and trips to the doctor…..

Grow an aloe vera plant: it doesn’t need much looking after and will soothe and heal minor burns. Ointments and creams contain various chemicals that you wouldn’t necessarily want to rub into your skin if you knew what they were.

Aloe vera contains 20 of the 22 human required amino acids, and is a perfect treatment for healing skin lesions and burns.

In fact, there are so many claims around the qualities of this plant, that it’s almost impossible to list them all…. some are still just claims, others have been proved. ( Find out more about aloe vera here.)

Replace pasta sauces with a few herbs and tomatoes (home-grown if you can). A bunch of fresh chopped coriander will spice up a tomato base and will hardly take any longer than opening a jar of processed sauce… oh, and it won’t cost you much either!

– Fruit & Veg: You don’t have to have a garden, or an army of willing workers, to grow a few fruits and vegetables.

There are large containers, specially designed strawberry planters, potato barrels and many small hybrid plants you can grow to boost the family’s immune systems and encourage them to enjoy the true taste of ‘real’ food. These containers take up very little space and there’s no digging involved!

Custom made containers could cost a little more initially, although once set up, you’re probably good to go for a few years. There are cheaper ways of doing it. Look out for large pots and containers at markets or thrift shops. Make sure they are well-drained before you start growing. Drill a few holes in the bottom if necessary. Remember to use a drip tray indoors or raise them slightly off the ground if you’re planting outside.

– Water: Lots of controversy about tap water, flouride content etc; Unless you have a good bottled water supply, most of us are kind of stuck with it. Drinking water isn’t that exciting unfortunately, and the taste of chemicals coming through is very off-putting.

If you have the time, boil it first… but otherwise a small squeeze of fruit juice will encourage you to drink more. I’m still not quite sure about the wisdom of drinking 2 litres of water a day when it’s been recycled so many times and contaminated with chemicals…but we’ll go with it for now.

Within these ideas there are hundreds of options, and whatever you decide to do, the healthier option will help you:

*improve your diet and health
*maintain your ideal weight
*and enjoy that magic spark you deserve 🙂

To your good health!
Linda x

Diet Pots

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Diet Pots
The most important step to having a healthy body is to eat healthy food. What better way than to grow your own diet in a pot. Many fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers can be grown in pots on a balcony or a patio and some can even be grown successfully on a windowsill.

Use decorative and imaginative containers for your plants. As long as they are well-drained and deep enough to accommodate the roots of your plants, almost anything goes!

The following nine fruits, veggies and herbs represent good sources of all the healthy vitamins you can grow yourself.

carrot

 

Carrots: (Vitamin A)

Carrots are a root vegetable and traditionally grown in deeply dug soil to allow space for the roots to develop. However, there are many new varieties available these days that will grow in shallower soil or in pots. Grow carrots in a deep trough-like container. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on seed packets, as each variety has different needs. Keep watered and weed-free and you will be able to grow vitamin A literally on your own doorstep!

potatoes2

 

Potatoes: (Vitamin B1)

Potatoes can be grown in purpose designed containers or old car tyres. A good harvest is possible without the trenching, earthing up and digging so often associated with growing potatoes. And of course, there is nothing as tasty as a home-grown potato. Forget the butter and grated cheese and enjoy spuds in all their natural glory. Purpose built potato barrels can be found at most good garden centres and are well worth a go if you have a little outside space.

garlic2

 

Garlic: (Vitamin B2)

Garlic is an ideal crop to grow in containers although they shouldn’t be too shallow. Garlic cloves can be planted fairly early in the year and a few bulbs will go a long way. Use a good organic potting compost and make sure the pots or containers are well-drained. Water regularly but don’t let them become water-logged or the cloves will rot before they start to develop. Wait until the leaves start dying back before pulling and using the bulbs, although if you have quite a few growing, use as you need them.

mushroom

 

Mushrooms: (Vitamin B6)

Mushrooms are ideal container foods. Large garden centres and suppliers often have a choice of mushroom kits available, so if you like mushrooms try out different varieties. Always follow the manufacturer’s growing recommendations when you buy your kit to get the most from your mushrooms! Mushrooms contain a number of B vitamins and are a useful ingredient in a healthy diet.

pepper

 

Peppers: (Vitamin C)

Peppers are a great container plant, especially chilli peppers. The plants are attractive and look great in even the most modern décor. Sweet peppers will grow well in containers, but should always have enough light and water to develop the fruits. In a short growing season, peppers grown outdoors don’t always fully ripen, so with a little extra light and warmth, peppers grown in pots can often produce better crops. Use a good potting compost and make sure the pots or containers are well-drained.

blueberry

 

Blueberries: (Vitamin E)

Blueberries are particular about the ph level in the soil but make a superb container plant. Keep the growing recommendations that come with your plant when you buy it, as it should have pruning suggestions, as well as advice on keeping your plant healthy. Generally blueberries like a sunny position with a little light shade if necessary. Tap water tends to make the soil less acidic and as blueberries prefer the soil to be on the acid side, you may have to adjust the ph balance every now and then.

parsely2

 

Parsley: (Niacin – vitamin B3)

If you are growing garlic in containers, then parsley is a must-have! It helps freshen the breath and is also packed with goodness. Parsley is a heavy feeder taking many nutrients up into the plant itself. Grow in well drained pots or containers and feed with an organic food every now and then. Parsley is a biennial plant and will produce flowers and seed during its second year of growth. Collect the seed if you can, to sow the following year. Finely chop parsley and add it to your dishes rather than using it only as a decorative garnish.

spinach2

 

Spinach: (Folate)

Most leafy green vegetables provide a healthy dose of folate and spinach can be grown in containers or large pots as well as in the veggie plot. Again, make sure the pots or containers are well-drained. Fill with a good potting compost. There are many different varieties of spinach available. Check on the seed packet whether there are any notes about growing in containers before you buy. Some varieties just simply do better out in the open. Spinach can be used as soon as the baby leaves are a couple of inches long, although never strip a plant completely. Grow a few plants and take a few leaves off of each one at a time.

broccoli

 

Broccoli: (Pantothenic acid – B5)

Broccoli is one of the more popular super-foods and is packed with healthy minerals and vitamins. It likes the sun, so if you are growing in pots they should be positioned on a sunny balcony or patio. Grow in deep well-drained containers and use a good potting compost. Broccoli won’t thrive if left to dry out, and containers tend to dry out quite quickly so water regularly, but don’t let the pots become water-logged. Plants shouldn’t be grown too close together as they will need space to develop. There are mini-versions of broccoli seed available. Always buy your seeds from a reputable supplier.

There are so many fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be grown in pots, experimenting will naturally help you eat the best possible food on the planet and in turn, create the healthy body you deserve. Check out this quick downloadable guide for more healthy growing ideas…

gardenvitaminscover2

 

Garden Vitamins

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Happy Gardening!
Linda x

“Creating Butterfly Gardens”

Butterfly Gardens-pin

“Creating Butterfly Gardens”

Butterfly gardens are featuring more and more in regular backyard gardens. Growing beautiful flowers to attract butterflies is an added bonus. Scroll down the page to see what I mean!

There are well over 100,000 species of butterfly in the world.

Human behaviour is affecting the quality of butterfly life and there are a number of species on the endangered list. A good enough reason to create butterfly gardens – an environment for butterflies to visit.

The decision to create a butterfly garden shouldn’t be taken too lightly, however. There are a number of factors to be considered to make a success of any themed wildlife garden, butterfly gardens included.

-If you hope to attract butterflies to your garden, insect eating birds have to be discouraged. That means no nesting boxes, bird tables or even berry bushes nearby. If you’ve been growing fruit, your whole gardening system may have to be changed!

-Butterfly gardens can be created in window-boxes, back yards, suburban gardens or even greenhouses and conservatories. BUT the spot must be in as much sun as possible ( 5-6 hours a day ) and fairly well sheltered from the wind or cold air currents.

-Butterfly gardens need water. Create a ‘butterfly’ puddle by sinking a shallow bucket with a broad diameter in the soil. Fill the bucket with a mixture of soil and sand, and pour water over until the sand stops absorbing it. This will provide the butterflies with a nice watering place. Top up regularly with water. You may even manage to drown a few slugs – always a help with vegetable gardening 🙂

-There are two types of plants butterflies need. Nectar producing and larval food plants. If you provide larval food plants, you will undoubtedly attract more butterflies to your garden, BUT the baby caterpillars will polish off the greenery and you will need to replant regularly. Growing cabbages to eat may be a thing of the past!

-Create butterfly gardens in quiet positions – where humans are not forever passing by is ideal. A little shade is okay. Butterflies are cold-blooded creatures and can sometimes overdo their sunbathing. Shade is often welcome! Although shy of humans, butterflies will be happy to join you when you’re gardening.

-Choose your spot and analyze your soil if possible. Decide on nectar or larval food plants or both. Plan the layout of your plants, placing larval food plants in a more sheltered position and get planting! Growing beautiful flowers will be a pleasure even without the butterflies.

NB: On a more general note:Fill a warm sheltered spot with herbs, wildflowers and nectar-rich plants and the butterflies will love you!

Which flowers should you plant?

Butterflies will obtain nectar from many flowers, usually single petal types. Each species has a different shaped proboscis. This dictates which plants they can extract nectar from. Growing the right flowers is important for the butterfly population..

In general, sun loving brightly coloured flowers will attract all butterflies.

tandm-butterflygarden

 

Butterfly Mix – This beautiful collection is available from Thompson & Morgan UK If you type butterfly mix into the search box on their homepage, you’ll find a few butterfly garden choices.

 

Here’s a short list of easily obtainable nectar producing plants.. There are many many more, BUT beware of introducing non-indigenous plants to your garden, it can mess up the local butterfly community. Butterfly gardens must be for the butterflies after all!

*Aster

*Buddlea

*Clover

*Geranium

*Honeysuckle

*Marigold

*Mint

*Pinks

*Sweet William

*Zinnias

These are a few general Larval Food Plants

*Asters

*Cabbage

*Daisy

*Lilac

*Nettles

Which species feed on which plants will very much depend on your particular region. Try and attract certain species to your butterfly gardens, but avoid the exotic trap. Keeping to local wildlife culture will encourage lots of butterflies to your garden.

Happy Gardening!
Linda x

 

 

New Day Resolutions

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New Day Resolutions
Seeing as most of us break our new year resolutions by the fifth of January every year, why not start at any point and see how long we can keep it up!

One of the biggest problems we have with ‘resolutions’ is that they are often based on what the rest of the world thinks you ‘should’ do:

– should be a size zero — (aaargh!)
– should be further up the ‘career’ ladder
– should be working out every day

And resolutions can often involve giving up something:

– cutting back on your favourite red wine?
– stopping all chocolate frenzies!
– not watching your favourite soap, cos you gotta go do a run?

It’s time to get on track – not ‘back’ on track, because, after all, the point is that you want to make some changes.And not on ‘any old’ track, because it must come from ‘your’ heart – not someone else’s view of what should or shouldn’t be happening in your life.

In the words of the wonderful Mike Dooley, “Thoughts Become Things!” The Universe, God or whatever else you choose to name the ‘ultimate’ power, makes no judgements or individual choices… YOU choose your life through your thoughts…. so how can the next twelve months be the best year ever?

1. Create a new list of goals and dreams
2. Take steps towards those goals every day.

and most importantly..

1.think the thoughts that serve you
2.be grateful for all you have and will have
3.be happy! – success doesn’t bring happiness – happiness brings success.

Write down your new list of goals and dreams and keep the list where you’ll see it often, or make a point of reading through it every night and morning, feeling the good feelings you’ll have when you achieve each goal and be grateful for them as if you already have them.

if you find it hard to be grateful for something you haven’t actually received yet, start by feeling gratitude for the lap top, phones, job, imagination and opportunities that are in your reach. If you’re reading this on the internet, hi! Isn’t this great? 🙂

There are an infinite number of tools you can use to kick-start your ‘good’ thoughts – AND you don’t have to spend money!

– Vision board: these are becoming more and more popular. If you have a cork notice board where you see it every day, take down all the notes and copy them on to a list – then choose your dream! Put up pictures of your dream home, car, body, holiday resort… anything you desire. Then add inspiring words like ‘Thank you’ (gratitude before receiving) or ‘my dream lifestyle’ – anything that makes you feel good.

– Books and websites galore! As well as ‘The Secret’ website, book and film, there are plenty of self-help and motivational folk out there sharing some wonderful insights to our world, spiritually and physically.

– Yoga: If you think you can’t possibly re-arrange your body into the complex structures that we see in the best yoga exercises, and you’re not alone, start from the beginning! Learn to breathe, sit still for a few minutes, be master of your thoughts.

These are just a few ideas. There are many more. The best way to create your dream lifestyle is to start living it right now. For example:

Losing weight: don’t commit yourself to an impossible diet, just adjust it every day. And get into the mindset of being healthy. Health comes first before being a size zero after all. When you begin to think healthy thoughts, your body will start to crave proper food, rather than processed ‘non-foods’.

A better job: If you are absolutely fed up with your present job and want to move on, the best way is to be happy in your job, grateful you have one, and prepared to do your very best every day. This mindset will put a spark into your ‘moving to a better job’ goal.

Working out: Wow, this must be the number one resolution we all make and break in the first week of a ‘resolution’. Logically, if you’ve over-indulged for a week or year, then thrown yourself into burning up those calories, inevitably there is going to be a slump! Your body just doesn’t know what’s hit it and needs a rest. Then your thoughts have a party at your expense and suddenly workouts become a chore, open to every available excuse under the sun.

Take it slowly. Baby steps will get you to where you want to go. If you only do 10 minutes of yoga every day for a week, that’s okay. Over the week, that adds up to an hour of me-time, more learning about yourself, and also a deeper awareness of your body and its needs.

And one last note: keep the balance right. Baby steps and increasing pleasure and happiness every day, is far better than throwing yourself at something full blast then being disappointed and not starting again for another year.

Make this your year!
Linda x

Let the Sunshine in

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“Let the Sunshine in!”

Welcoming the sunshine into your home can highlight all sorts of murky corners and piles of stuff littered about. So it’s opening windows and cleaning time!

The easiest way to spring clean is to de-clutter first. The word ‘clutter’ comes from, I believe, a Latin word meaning to coagulate. There is no way you want to be coagulating up your world. Sometimes it seems impossible to keep a house tidy, especially if there are little peeps sharing the same space!

The way to do it is to get organized. Take it one step at a time. When we get overwhelmed with anything, we tend to fall into a place of stress – anxiety, panic, sheer lack of motivation. And the job won’t get done. Clutter can be a very dis-empowering state and, after all, our environment does make a difference.

So, start from the top. If you have an attic packed full of ‘stuff’ and you don’t use the space for living, ignore it for now. Get the rest of the house in order, then you can start bringing things down and sorting them slowly. If the clutter in the attic isn’t actually in your way or in your face, it can be postponed.

Things to have before you start:

**rubbish bags
**boxes/containers
**perhaps a cleaning cloth or two.

And most importantly

**A desire for tidiness!

TIP: Don’t try and tackle it all at once. Be realistic. If the house hasn’t been tidied for more than a couple of months, take it slowly. Decide on one room at a time. Then choose one particular category in each room; clothes, toys, etc;
Once you get in the swing of tidying you are rewarded with more creativity, productivity and a boatload of feel-good. Once the house is tidy, cleaning is a piece of cake!

De-Cluttering

 

De-cluttering will help you organize your space. Choose from your favourite retailer:

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Let the sunshine in!
Linda x

 

Grounding

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Apart from all the wonderful fruit, veg and herbs and flowers you can grow in the garden to keep everyone healthy and away from the processed food, gardening is one of the best hobbies you can take up for grounding reasons.

Since I was little, I remember being told that it’s good for you to go outside without shoes, and lately there has been scientific research proving that grounding is one of the best possible things you can do for your health – mentally, physically and spiritually, but notably, at first glance, definitely physically.

The atmosphere is charged with positive electrons and the earth with negative. Because we tend to live in carpeted houses, go to work in insulated offices, and wear rubber soled shoes, many of us are actually carrying a huge amount of positive electrons in our bodies which in turn can put the system out of sync!

As soon as you touch the earth with your bare skin, the positive electrons are released into the earth and neutralized. Wow – nature is amazing isnt it?:-)

Obviously we can’t run around on the beach or the lawn whenever we want to – shame – but we can remember to get in touch with the earth from time to time – it’s good to get about 45 minutes of being in touch with the earth every day – but one minute is better than none!

To your good health

Linda x