I started March all keen and roaring with enthusiasm as I began tackling some long-standing tasks that have been weighing on me for months. Unfortunately it didn’t last and over the last few days I have been struggling to stick to the plan and some of my old eating/spending habits have slipped back in. In just a few days I have regained some weight and am suffering from tiredness, insomnia and indigestion.
Getting back on track
The good news is that with almost any plan it is possible to press reset at any point. It doesn’t have to wait until a new year, month, week. Every day is a new day and a reset can be done at any point in the day. Just because the morning has gone down one path, it doesn’t need to continue. It is possible to change direction at any time. Today I find myself needing to press reset and it is actually a good time to reset. It is the spring equinox and apparently the international day of happiness. Equinoxes are all about balance. Day equals night and it is a great time to address all the imbalances in your life and identify what is required to restore the equilibrium.
Today I am asking myself the following questions:
- Am I happy?
- Is my home a happy one?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- Am I drinking enough water? Are my consumption levels of alcohol, carbonated drinks or caffeinated drinks acceptable?
- Am I eating a balanced diet? Are my consumption levels of fat, sugar, fibre, carbs, protein, processed foods, fruit and veg acceptable?
- Is the amount of leisure time spent in front of a screen acceptable?
- Am I getting enough exercise?
- Am I spending the right amount of time at work? Am I taking sufficient breaks?
- Are my stress levels acceptable?
- Am I spending the right amount of time with family and friends?
- Am I doing enough of the things I enjoy?
- Am I free from any minor little health problems such as as digestive issues, skin complaints, aches and pains?
- Am I sticking to my budgets?
- Are my plans on track? Are they working for me?
To any of the questions I have answered no (and I already know there are going to be a few) I will be noting what I need to increase or let go of in order to bring my life back into balance.
My food cupboard seems to be largely full of ingredients normally associated with baking e.g. flour, sugar, flavourings, syrups, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Often these were purchased for a specific recipe and have sat in the cupboard ever since (sometimes years).
I have been slowly using up some of these items in my breakfast oats which I either have as porridge or overnight oats. Both of these dishes are very frugal and are often associated with healthy eating. I make porridge with water but if I have yogurt or non dairy milk available then I make overnight oats which is even quicker than porridge and can be eaten on the go.
I don’t find my porridge lasts me all morning unless I add some protein in the form or nuts or seeds and some fruit whuch helps flavour it. I usually soak, dried fruit, nuts and seeds especially the smaller hard seeds like linseed or chia which can pass through the system undigested unless the hard shell is softened or ground. Soaking also seems to enhance flavour.
Some of the ingredients I have used in my porridge so far this year include:
- Various dried fruits
- Various seeds e.g. linseed, chia, nettle, watermelon
- Mincemeat, jam, jelly, marmalade
- Sugar, maple syrup, golden syrup
- Frozen fruits
- Fresh fruits including apples, Rhubarb, banana, oranges, lemons
- Other breakfast flakes e.g. millet, muesli, barley
- Cake flavourings like vanilla or almond essence
- Nesquik powder and cordial (in very small quantities only as they incredibly sweet)
This is slowly helping me declutter my cupboard and provide a varied breakfast each day.
I took advantage of the lovely spring weather in February and did a lot of digging. Before I start a digging session I usually go over the ground and harvest any useful “weeds” so that they don’t get trampled. One plant I seem to have been blessed with an abundance of this year is the lovely dandelion. I find it very hard to throw a single plant away.
Dandelions are especially known for their liver and kidney benefits, but there are numerous other health benefits(1) in addition to the plant’s usefulness as a pot herb.
Over the years, as well as cooking and eating dandelions, I have preserved dandelions in numerous ways:
- Dandelion leaf vinegar
- Dandelion root bitters
- Dried roots
- Dried leaves
- Dandelion root coffee
- Dandelion flower wine
- Dandelion flower essence
- Dandelion flower infused oil
The two favourites are dandelion leaf vinegar and dandelion coffee. The first time I tried the vinegar it reminded me slightly of salt and vinegar crisps and I couldn’t get enough of it.
I have found a failsafe recipe online(2) for dandelion coffee and now automatically choose this as my preferred method of preserving the roots if I have harvested enough. The only difference I make is that I chop up the roots much smaller and skip the dehydrator phase so I have a delicious beverage in less than an hour.
My steps are as follows:
- Scrub roots
- Chop in food processor
- Roast at 200°C for 30mins (turning halfway because my oven is not an even cooker)
- Return to (clean) processor
- Return to oven for 5-10 mins at 180°C
- An optional further whizz in the processor (although if it is going to be drunk from a tea infuser rather than a cafetiere, it doesn’t want to be too powdery)
I will be honest in that it is not as good tasting as real coffee, but as I am trying to reduce my caffeine intake and increase beneficial foods, it is an acceptable alternative.
Up until a week ago I had no idea that the stems were edible, I had made this assumption based on the fact I had seen the sap from the stems recommended for the treatment of warts, plus the green caylxes at the base of the stems tend to get discarded when wine making. However, I came across an article(3) which suggested using them as an alternative to noodles. This intrigued me and following a quick Google search I found references (on more than one site)(4) to the fact that all parts of the dandelion plant are edible. This is something novel that I might attempt to try next month when the flowers are blooming. I have already started collecting recipes for the flowers so it would be a shame to waste the stems.
Dandelions can cause problems if consumed in excess due to the oxalic acid content and it is a potential allergen in some people. The reference below(5) explores this in more depth.
- Such as this https://www.fix.com/blog/dandelion-health-benefits/