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Foodie things Recipes The Spoon Theory

Easy Eats: Nutritious Snacks

Hello there, lovely reader. A while ago I mentioned I was going to start writing up some easy, spoonie-friendly recipes and ideas. For new readers (hi!) I actually have a form of cerebral palsy called mild hemiplegia and a painful spinal condition called scheuermann’s. My cerebral palsy limits coordination and movement in my affected side and can also be painful, and alongside my recent diagnoses of depression and anxiety these can be a tiring mix!

On painful and tired days it can be a real struggle to eat well, so I thought i’d share some tips with you.

When having a bad day I tend to snack because I can’t muster up the energy to create a really nutritious, home-cooked meal. Here’s a few snacks I’ve come up with to help me on tough days:

Homemade granola
This is a really yummy, super easy thing to make. I store it in a big Kilner jar *insert heart emoji here* and then just dig in when I feel like it. It’s fab for breakfast, but like most cereals it’s great to snack on when you’re feeling a little peckish.

What you need:
2 cups of porridge oats (make sure they’re the proper ones, not the ones that make instant porridge)
2-3 tbsps of honey or maple syrup (I used half and half)
2-3 tbsps of oil (I used rapeseed oil but melted coconut oil would also be lovely)
Pinch of salt
Any yummy additions you’d like to add including dried fruit, nuts or even chopped chocolate. I used very dark chocolate (80% I believe) for a really chocolatey hit

Method:
1.Turn on the oven to around gas mark 2/150°
2. Mix all the oats, syrup, oil and salt in a mixing bowl until well combined. If adding nuts, you can add them to the granola at this stage to get them all lovely and toasty.
3. Prepare a baking tray by covering in grease proof baking paper to prevent sticking.
4. Spread the mixture onto the tray and place in the oven.
5. Cook for around 40 mins to get the oats lovely and toasted and golden. However you must make sure you continue to check the granola at 10 minute intervals: it can burn very quickly so be sure to keep an eye on it.
6. Remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool completely.
7. Once cooled, feel free to mix in as many yummy additions as you’d like. There is no measuring needed here; it’s completely up to you!
8. Once well mixed, place into a clean jar or container and this will keep for a good couple of weeks…if you can bear to leave it of course!

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I love mine with plain natural yogurt and the addition of fresh fruit. Blueberries and raspberries are lovely in this.

Fresh zesty salsa
One of my favourite dips. When feeling like a snack it’s great with tortilla chips, but for a more substantial meal I love eating it with oven baked wedges made using chopped potatoes or sweet potatoes.

What you need:
A handful of cherry or plum tomatoes (whichever you prefer)
Half a fresh lemon or lime (again, whichever you prefer)
A spring onion
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
Half a teaspoon of sugar
Glug of olive oil
Fresh chilli if you like it hot

Method
The easiest way to do this is to use a small food processor or chopper. We have a brilliant little processor from Aldi and this is really useful if low on energy (or simply don’t want to chop everything by hand!) If you don’t have a processor or if you want a chunkier salsa feel free to chop by hand

1. Wash veggies and put them into the processor/chop up.
2. If using a food processor, gently pulse to get required texture.
3. Add salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon/lime juice, sugar and chopped chilli if using. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
4. Serve alongside tortilla chips, potato wedges, or anything else that takes your fancy!

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Sometimes I add chopped coriander which is also lovely. Sorry for the rubbish photo: I simply couldn’t wait to get stuck in!

Easy Banana “ice cream”

I’m oh so late to the party with this, but it is a delicious sweet something when you want to have dessert but feel too bad about diving into the tub of Ben and Jerry’s at the back of the freezer. Yummy!

What you need:
1 chopped banana per person
Optional toppings/flavours. I like nutella, peanut butter or Sweet Freedom’s Choc Shot

Method
1. Peel and roughly chop the banana.
2. Place into a sandwich bag and pop in the freezer
3. Leave until fully frozen and solidified
4. Remove from freezer and let it thaw out slightly
Place in a food processor or chopper, and pulse the banana until thick and creamy. Swirl any additional flavours in at this stage.
5. Serve and add toppings!

To make this really healthy omit the nutella (it is full of sugar but great for a treat) and replace with a drizzle of honey, chopped frozen raspberries, almonds or anything else that takes your fancy!

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The above pictures are an example of the less-healthy version…though choc shot is low calorie!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Be sure to watch out for some more easy recipes; there’s lots more I want to share with you. Meanwhile, look after yourself and happy Thursday!

Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Recipes

Cooking in the Kitchen with Primula cheese*

If you’ve been reading for a while you might be aware that I’m into cooking. I find cooking great therapy, and usually on bad days Drew will come home to cakes/biscuits/bread, or indeed a mixture of all three. Because cooking requires lots of preparation , I don’t  always find it easy to create fresh meals from scratch, particularly if I’m in a lot of pain.

This is where Primula comes in!

Primula were kind enough to send me some products from their range of cheeses. I’m sure you’ll remember these; they are firm favourites as sandwich fillers and, as I found out, great for handy shortcuts in favourite meals!

I decided to get creative and made a variety of Primula cheese-inspired dishes, which were very easy to prepare and extremely tasty!

Firstly, I decided to try making some cheesy stuffed potato skins.

Here’s what you’ll need:

5 medium sized baking potatoes,

half a tube of Primula Cheese and Chives,

4 rashers of smoked bacon,

a drizzle of olive oil,

seasoning to taste,

a small amount of grated cheese of your choice (I used double Gloucester).

Firstly, you’ll need to prepare the potatoes. I made sure to prick each potato with a fork several times (as it lets the heat escape) and put them in the microwave on a plate at full power for 15 minutes, or until the potato is cooked on the inside. Meanwhile, turn the oven on (about 170 degrees/gas mark 6).

As the potatoes were cooking, I chopped my bacon in bite sized pieces and grilled using my handy George Foreman grill. I remember when these were all the rage, and I must admit that we have had a lot of use out of ours as they make cooking  really easy and are very quick to clean! Perfect if you’re low on spoons/energy/just don’t want to spend ages cleaning up. I grilled these bacon pieces until they were crispy and golden.

When the potatoes were cooked and the insides like mashed potato, I carefully scooped out the flesh into a jug (you could use a mixing bowl) added my crispy bacon and put the empty skins into a non-stick oven dish. I then squeezed in approximately half a tube of Primula’s delicious cheese and chive into the potato and bacon mixture, stirring well. Here is where you should add a drizzle of olive oil; it can be really hard work to mix everything in evenly! Crack in some black pepper and season to taste, before dividing the mixture out and placing it back into the empty skins. I then topped with a scattering of grated cheese.

Pop them into the oven until they are piping hot, golden and bubbly, (approx. 15-20 mins) and voila! Delicious, easy and filling; perfect for these wintry, chilly nights we’re having.

Here’s a pic before they went into the oven:

Stuffed potatoes

I also decided to make one of my all-time favourite snacks – cheesy nachos –  using Primula’s original cheese. Again these were super easy to do, and extremely yummy.

All you’ll need:

A bag of salted tortilla chips,

a tube of Primula original cheese,

grated cheese (if you like things really cheesy!)

and a jar of jalapeno peppers to heat things up a bit! I chose red peppers, as they are hot yet sweet.

These are super simple. Just pour the bag of tortilla chips into an oven-proof dish, squeeze as much Primula original cheese onto the top as you wish (and yes, I did put plenty on there!) and add the jalapenos/extra grated cheese if you fancy. I then just popped them into the oven (again, 170 or gas mark 6) until the cheese was bubbly and the chips lovely and toasty. Just keep an eye on them, though. 15 minutes will be sufficient. They really were lovely and the Primula cheese was a perfect topping for them. Here’s a quick picture I managed to take before Drew and I devoured them all:

cheesy nachos

I’m a big fan of fresh guacamole – particularly with cheesy nachos – so I couldn’t resist making my own (with the help of Primula cheese, of course!). This time I opted to use Primula cheese in light. You will need:

2 ripe and ready to eat avocados,

juice of half a lime/lemon (I used lime this time),

Primula cheese in light (about a third of a tube)

salt,

cracked black pepper,

some coriander leaves; as many as you’d like,

cayenne pepper to garnish.

Homemade guacamole is so easy, it’s almost not worth buying it premade! All I did was scoop out the flesh of both avocados (but keep the stones in the middle; you’ll see why soon!)  and put into a food processor along with the lime juice, a pinch of salt, twist of black pepper, Primula light and coriander. I then whizzed up the mixture to form a smooth, well-mixed paste. I then placed the guacamole into a bowl after checking it was seasoned to taste, and placed one of the avocado stones into the middle of it. The reason for this is it helps the guacamole to keep its bright green colour. I then sprinkled cayenne pepper on top (just a little; you can of course skip this step entirely) and it was done! The Primula really added a creaminess to the guacamole and it’s something I’ve never thought of adding before. I definitely will now!

Here it is:

salsa and guacomoleguacamole

As you can see I also made a super-quick tomato salsa to go with it. All I used were chopped cherry tomatoes, coriander, the juice of half a lime (or you can use lemon if you prefer) a teaspoon of sugar, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then all you have to do is mix them together! Very easy and a great accompaniment to the guacamole.

All in all I’m really impressed with Primula cheeses. They taste great and make mealtimes so much simpler. You can find Primula in the dairy aisles of all good supermarkets, or check out their website here to check out more about their products and collaboration with the charity Make a Wish.

primula feastPrimula feast 2

Let me know if you decide to try any of these!

Hope Saturday is treating you well.

Heather x

ps sorry for the terrible photos; i’m having to make do with my phone camera which has no flash and is generally rubbish, so bear with me! I should have my camera soon 🙂

Categories
My Life

Validation

Hi everyone. I hope you are having a great Saturday. This will be another somewhat informative post following on from the last, https://nosuperhero.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/anxiety-taking-baby-steps/ Yesterday was a real turning point for me. In my last post you might remember I opened up about my struggles with anxiety and coming to terms with the fact that I’m at a point where I need some help. Yesterday was my first appointment with regards to my anxiety, often referred to as a mental health assessment. It was a really weird day. As expected, I was really worried about going. I knew it was the one thing I needed to do to keep the ball rolling, but that alone wasn’t enough to stop me from panicking. I knew I was going to find the day tough, so I wanted to take things slowly. Drew was kind enough to offer to come with me, so in the morning I opted to make us breakfast. I attempted to make American pancakes filled with blueberries, and although they looked alright they were slightly underdone in the middle. I got really upset about this; it’s such a silly thing, but at the time those pancakes felt like the most important thing in the world. We managed to rectify them, but by the time they were okay I was too upset to eat them. It appeared that breakfast time set the mood for the entirety of the day. They did look okay, though.

Pancakes for breakfast

The journey to the health centre was filled with anxiety. After being coerced to leave the house by Drew (which resulted in tears), I sat panicking whilst waiting for a taxi at the local taxi rank. Once the taxi arrived, I felt somewhat relieved, (at least I wasn’t going to be late) but I was on the way to a part of town I’ve barely heard of before, nevermind visited. The wait in the waiting room was horrendous. It was loud, uncomfortable and my appointment ended up being nearly half an hour later than intended. I was jumpy and close to tears, so it took all my strength to stay. Drew and I did decide that we’d make pizzas from scratch for dinner, which did help a little. At least I had the thought of homemade pizzas to look forward to! By the time I was called in I was overly emotional. Almost as soon as I sat in the room I burst into tears. It was at this point I realised I’d have to recount some very painful and traumatic memories. Once this was over however, I knew I’d be one step closer to the help I so desperately needed.

The hour seems like a complete blur to me. There were questions after questions, and lots of numerical scales to fill out. I was constantly worried that I’d give the wrong answer or say the wrong thing, but I got through it. I knew anxiety was the issue, so it came as no surprise that they said I have severe anxiety (according to the scales, so not neccessarily completely accurate but definitely in the right area). What was a bit odd was the conclusion that I also have moderate depression. Initially I was surprised, but it does make a lot of sense having thought about it. With these conclusions came overwhelming relief. Finally, someone was telling me the things I’ve been going through aren’t normal. Someone actually sat and told me that these feelings aren’t a figment of my imagination. They provided the validation that I needed, the validation that said ‘yes, I am entitled to help’, and ‘yes, I can and will receive that help’. I’m so glad I stayed. I’m so glad I got through that appointment, despite the tears and my bright red face.

I have decided that counselling will be the first port of call. I think having an outlet where I can vent my frustrations and anxieties will help me immensely. They did mention medication; that’s something I am open to thinking about, but for now I want to try alternative measures.

I left the appointment feeling both relieved and apprehensive. What will come next? Will it help? I’m certain I can get through this. I’m under no illusions and I know it will take time. But making that first step means the solution is nearer than it was before, and that can only be a good thing. I went and bought a new mini cupcake tray, pizza and cake ingredients.

Yes, we did make pizzas. They were definitely worth the wait.

pizza for two

mmm

I also went ahead and made cupcakes. Expect a recipe post soon as they were pretty good considering baking is a weakness of mine. This whole weekend is turning into a cooking weekend, as tonight I’m attempting to make a lasagne with handmade pasta. Cooking is proving to be great therapy.

cupcakescupcakescupcakescupcakes

I think brighter days are certainly on the horizon.

Have a  brilliant weekend, whatever you may be up to.

Heather

Categories
Recipes Things I'm loving

Banana American pancakes

Hi there! It’s so good to be back blogging in 2015! Christmas and New Year was a great time to relax, see friends and family and just generally have an enjoyable time. I hope Christmas was a peaceful and relaxing period for yourself. I got some really lovely, thoughtful gifts, and it was lovely giving something special to those who have done so much for me this past year.

However, now it’s January, it’s back to work and the hustle and bustle of university life! I did say in an earlier post that I adore cooking and I love tweaking new recipes to make something really tasty. So, in light of this, I thought I’d share with you a really easy breakfast recipe to really set your day off to a great start. Something to keep you going until lunchtime…perfect for busy, work-filled days!

To make measuring easy, I use a cup. This isn’t strictly the American cup measurement system, however, if you use the same cup/mug to measure out your ingredients in, it works just the same and it’s far easier than getting your weighing scales out!

Serves 2 (makes 2 good-sized fluffy pancakes each)
You will need:

3/4 cup of self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
A pinch of baking powder
Half a teaspoon of white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of melted butter, cooled
Just over 1/2 cup of milk (whichever you like: I used whole milk)
1 large egg, beaten
Splash of vanilla extract (if you can get hold of some)
Butter and a splash of vegetable oil, for frying
1 banana, sliced (optional)
Runny honey (optional)
Toasted almonds (optional)
Greek yogurt (optional)

I find it’s far easier to make the batter mix in a jug. You can then pour out the mixture into a saucepan rather than using a ladle or something similar. Put all of the dry ingredients into the jug. Whilst stirring, add your wet ingredients until combined. Try to knock out some of the lumps, but don’t expect your batter to be completely smooth. It’s best not to overwork the batter so that it stays lovely and fluffy whilst cooking. I also cook my pancakes separately so that I don’t overcrowd the pan. I then just pop the pancakes in a low oven to keep warm whilst I’m cooking the rest, so pop the oven on a low heat (50 degrees centigrade or lower will suffice).

When the batter is combined, pour the batter into the buttered pan, on a medium heat. If you add a splash of oil to the butter in the pan, it will prevent the butter burning and becoming dark brown. That’s not the aim here: we want lovely golden pancakes, not burnt ones! I like my American pancakes to be fairly large, but not so big that they won’t fit onto a side plate.

Once you’ve poured the batter into the pan, place slices of the chopped banana (if using) into the wet batter of the top of the pancake. Cook the pancake until the top of the batter (the side you’ve put the banana on) is beginning to bubble. Turn the pancake over when it’s golden brown. The side with the bananas on will only take a couple of minutes (if that) to cook. Place in the oven to warm whilst you cook the rest.

When you have cooked your lovely pancakes, stack onto a plate and top with whatever you fancy! I had honey, toasted flaked almonds and Greek yogurt which I thoroughly recommend. Chocolate spread, peanut butter and other fruits would also make lovely toppings. If you don’t like banana, you can substitute it for a handful of blueberries, raspberries, or sliced strawberries. Delicious!

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Let me know how you get on with them. Happy cooking!
Heather