wordless wednesday

October 18, 2017 at 6:00 am 1 comment

just keep trying

”Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep trying” – Barry Finlay

October 17, 2017 at 11:53 am Leave a comment

baking with chickpea flour

I’ve dabbled lightly with using gluten free flour in baking before but steered toward savoury recipes or pancakes to avoid being duped by the palatability of gluten free puddings laden with sugar.   I do have a gluten free lemon drizzle cake recipe on my blog but that is a case in point – it’s so totally delicious and moreish because it contains a ton of butter and sugar!  To be honest I’m not too keen on gluten-free flours, the results have always tended to be brick like and unattractive.  But today I happened across the gold medalist of gluten free flours judging by the totally spongy cake produced.  I found this recipe for chickpea flour banana cake on Camilla’s Power Hungry website and the result exceeded all expectations – I never imagined I’d be using the words “light and fluffy” to describe a gluten free cake! As Camilla describes in the comments section of her blog this recipe is intentionally sweetened for a more cake like texture.  I always look at the comments from other readers for insights into successful adjustments to a recipe, particularly sugar quanitities, the changing of which can have more than just an impact on the flavour.   I thought two bananas would have enough sweetness for a not-quite-savoury gluten-free carb alternative so I only used 2 teaspoons of honey melted with the coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of cashew nut butter (just using up almost empty jars). The result was a terrific texture and not very bananary at all as I only had newly bought firm bananas in stock (I’m guessing it would have tasted sweeter the more ripe the bananas are). Luca and I enjoyed it buttered and topped with jam and I’d happily dunk it in soup too.  I shall definitely be using this as my go to base recipe and re-work it with other favourite additions like lemon curd, spicy ginger and grated carrot and walnuts.    The other variation I made to the recipe was the addition of Pulsin pea protein powder. Camilla had suggested reducing the amount of yoghurt if using honey instead of cane sugar but as I’d already whizzed mine up I decided adding another dry ingredient would work just as well. I’m not generally very experimental with protein powders other than blending them into smoothies but as the Pulsin pea protein is flavourless I thought it would be a good opportunity to try it out. You would never know it was there and with no added sugar or sweeteners and 80% protein there’s really no limit to what you could sprinkle the pea protein powder into. It was lovely to do some baking with L. It doesn’t have to be complex cooking with children, a bowl and a wooden spoon suffice more often than not. L even had a go with my Oxo good grips hand held mixer which E tried for the first time around the same age. 4 years later stainless steel bowl and mixer still look like new and continue to survive being used in the bath for whizzing up bubbles and as a hat and accessory, as well as for so many different cooking tasks!

Making Camilla’s chickpea flour banana cake (with variations)

  • 1.5 cups chickpea flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 0.75 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons honey (Camilla uses 0.5 cups sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons nut butter (your own choice preference)
  • 0.5 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 large mashed bananas
  • 0.25 cup melted coconut oil
  • 20g Pulsin Pea Protein powder
  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.  Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking tray.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon).
  3. Whisk the eggs, sugar, yogurt, banana and oil in another bowl until well blended.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture stirring just until moist.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan
  6. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes.
  7. Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.

October 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm 3 comments

Woops, the downside of blogging from a phone

Dear followers,

I apologise for publishing 2 incomplete draft posts accidentally this week. Using my phone to take photos and write posts in order to blog more frequently has not resulted in the connection with you that I’d intended. I can’t even blame the kids now that this new phone requires my thumb print to even turn on. I am having words with my errant thumb even as I type. I’m hopeful it will not happen again. (I shall remove this post in a couple of days!)

October 12, 2017 at 12:31 pm Leave a comment

big shadows

worry gives a small thing a big shadow

.
”The nice thing about being a second time Mum is that you know what to expect (from pregnancy through to life with a newborn). And the wisdom that comes with age is that fretting about ifs, buts and maybes doesn’t prepare you any better if those worries become reality. So with less than 6 weeks to go now until baby I’m waddling along in a bubble of ”I’ve got this” Mumma courage”
– Me, Feb 2016

It can be so amusing looking back through journal entries, emails or in this case, unfinished blog drafts. It’s true that caring for baby second time round has been easier and less fraught with worries about little things. What hasn’t been so easy is juggling the needs of two children, as well as my own (practicing self-care is not something I’ve ever really mastered in all honesty). It can feel so messy sometimes when my own emotions are becoming frayed, energy is low and both boys need me at the same time. We get through it of course and with not too many wounds but the Mum guilt around attending to one child at the expense of the other is heavy baggage to carry. And sadly my own tendency to anxiety in such moments sometimes leads to impatient, abrupt juggling rather than the calm, unflappable response I’d prefer. I’m learning in tentative steps to keep my own niggly, lecturing voice in check when I’m feeling tense and snappy (if I’m talking I’m not listening afterall) and reach out instead with a warm, silent embrace. Loving touch and calm connection, with a soft ”I’m right here” is always the better choice for everyone.

17-7-16 - boys in a bucket_cuddle 4BParenting is hard and we bring to it familial conditioning about how things should be done, what is expected of us, how children should behave. It can be hard to tune in to your own intuition and forge your own path. Especially if you feel a sense of judgement from others who observe your way is different to theirs and mistakenly feel criticism of their choices in your opposite view. When hurtful experiences from your own past, triggered by your child’s outburts or mis-behaviour, are thrown into the mix it can be difficult to remain calm or respond tenderly (there is a brilliantly insightful article on Aha Parenting about why we get so angry when our kids act up and how to handle it). Understanding why we overreact sometimes to small things can be really helpful. Being empathic is where healing lies, for ourselves and our wounded past self and for our children.

If I had to give our parenting choices a label ”gentle parenting” would be the closest I guess. I’m not about to write an essay on what ”gentle parenting” encompasses – if you’re interested L R Knost has it covered and has tons of fab resources. She very simply says

”Gentle Parenting is about guiding instead of controlling, connecting instead of punishing, encouraging instead of demanding. It’s about listening, understanding, responding, and communicating”.

Alongside other gentle parenting websites I read like Sarah Ockwell Smith’s and Dr Laura Markham’s Aha Parenting I also love the Hand in Hand parenting approach developed by Patty Wipfler. All four parenting experts have empathy, respect and kindness at the core of their approach but Patty also recognises the need for peer support as parents precisely so those toddler like reactions we all have from time to time have an outlet that is not directed at our children. Patty advocates listening time with a non-judgemental adult to release the frustration and hurt our child’s behaviour may be triggering in us. Developing a listening partnership with another parent also helps develop listening skills for responding to our children’s complaints!
Hand in Hand parenting meme - deep hurts are erased by many cries copy
Children naturally release their hurts through tears so it’s important we respond lovingly and supportively to allow them to release their tension/fear/upset completely. If we shame them with our response (”what are you crying for? You’re ok, don’t be silly. Stop crying right now or we’re going home” ) we risk plugging up their emotional release system. When E gets upset we tell him all feelings are allowed and do not limit his need to cry and rage (safely of course ensuring no-one gets hurt and nothing gets broken). As an adult I find it hard to extend this free expression to myself after years of swallowing down my feelings when I was younger. I wrestle with difficult emotions inwardly and don’t expose big shadows cast by worrying to the light in the way that I should – ‘‘no I’m fine, really {said through gritted teeth}. As a parent if I allow my feelings of impatience or frustration to create a response that is anything less than kind I risk chipping away at my child’s self-esteem and making him feel responsible for my emotions. E hasn’t yet learned to filter out negative comments yet at 5 years old so the way he is spoken to shapes how he sees himself. He believes everything he hears so feels the pain of being told his pictures are rubbish by a classmate or is paralysed by fears about drowning if he goes in water when he cannot swim (both true examples for my lovely sensitive boy). I always want the words he uses to describe himself to be kind and empowering and while I can’t protect him from others negativity I can do my utmost to ensure he always feels supported and championed by us.

E wears his heart on his sleeve and has such love and compassion for his brother and his friends. Slowly he’s learning to check in with himself if someone says something that hurts him. ”I felt sad when they said my pictures were rubbish with such a mean face. But I like my style and I am an artist aren’t I. I’ll just ignore them and keep drawing’.

Love wins.

October 9, 2017 at 7:06 pm 3 comments

wordless wednesday

L peeping out from behind tree copy 4B

October 4, 2017 at 8:50 am 1 comment

Pulsin power packed snack bars

Pulsin power packed snack bars. That’s quite a mouthful for a post header isn’t it!
It goes some way to describing the virtues of a great new range of snack bars we’ve discovered from Pulsin and Beond though. If you’re looking for a healthy, nutritious post-workout/after school/mid-afternoon slump snack there is something to suit everyone, even baby Luca.

When I say new I actually mean ”new to us” as Pulsin have been around for 10 years making snack bars that contain 100% natural ingredients and no refined sugar. Three University friends started experimenting with recipes for high energy protein balls and 15 years later their current range now includes Raw Chocolate Brownies, kids’ Fruit Oat bars, organic Beond fruit bars, Protein Boosters and a variety of protein powders. All Pulsin products have been designed with guilt-free snacking in mind and maintain energy levels througout the day. Pulsin bars are gluten free and vegan so it’s no wonder they’ve been winning awards since 2010 and are currently in the running for the occolade of Best Vegan Snacks at the VegfestUKAwards2017 (vote here until 1 October).
We first came across Pulsin’s Beond bars in Roots Coffee and Community, our favourite local cafe. Alongside the beautiful home-made cakes and delicious sugar laden brownies sit the Beond Organic fruit and nut bars. We do sometimes indulge in baked yummies but E always knows that if he wants an extra treat for the walk home he’ll receive a no to everything except a Beond fruit bar. When I looked more closely at the wrapper I was intrigued to see Pulsin and Beond is a Gloucester based company. So I contacted them to see if Chief Taster E could review their bars seeing as we’re practically neighbours {wink}. ”Of course, what would you like” came the reply and before we knew it an assortment of snack bars arrived at our door.
E eating Pulsin porridge oat bar_copy 4B

Porridge Oat fruit bars
E couldn’t believe it when I said yes to trying one of the Pulsin porridge oat bars straight after breakfast and before school. Especially as he’d chosen the Orange Choc chip bar (”can I really have chocolate at breakfast?’) he asked aghast. I explained it was a ok because Pulsin use no-added sugar chocolate chips and that a porridge oat bar was really like having a healthy, power packed second breakfast. As he ran off to call for his best friend on the way to school he did seem to have an added spring in his step!
Collage - brothers reviewing Pulsin porridge oat bars_copy 4B
What’s more 17 month old L was delighted (if not a little confused at first) when I allowed him to have a bar of his own. Pulsin porridge oat bars have 30% less sugar and double the fibre of other oat bars. They were nice and crumbly too so no worries about chokey oat bites for toddlers.
L eating Pulsin porridge oat bar_copy 4B

Raw chocolate brownies
”Can I have another Pulsin bar as my after school snack?’‘ E asked eagerly. He chose a Peanut choc chip brownie bar and stopped several times on the walk to school to check it was still in my pocket for later. The Pulsin brownies are pretty hearty for a 5 year old’s tum so E didn’t mind giving L a couple of nibbles. They tasted sweet and crumbly and treat-like despite all their healthy ingredients. The inventing of these vegan brownies is a complete mystery to me as they are free from gluten, dairy, soya, refined sugars and non GM yet taste great (contrary to any attempts I might make to re-create them).
Collage - brothers sharing Pulsin Raw Chocolate Brownie bar copy

The real measure of how nice the Raw Chocolate Brownies are is in getting my husband G to sample them. He generally rolls his eyes at my efforts in the kitchen to ”make cakes without any of the stuff cakes should have in them”. His verdict on the Pulsin brownies? – ”pretty nice, I like that slightly bitter dark chocolate taste. When brownies are really sweet I just want to keep eating them.  I felt satisfied after eating this.”.

Protein Booster bars
Of the three kinds of Pulsin bars we tried the Protein Boosters are my personal favourite. Partly because I know they’re so good for me as an after swim snack choice and as a low carb/high protein option when I’m feeling that mid afternoon slump. But mostly because I like their sweet, fudgy texture and flavour (Mint choc chip being my all time fave). Interestingly enough G was not so keen on the fudgy texture and described them as ”a bit powdery”. I put this down to his hungry scoffing of a whole bar post badminton training whereas E (who also loves them) and I prefer to chop the bar into nibble sized squares to share (sucking and savouring or chewing hungrily depending on how we’re feeling!). Anyway the couple of Protein Boosters we had were scoffed so quickly I don’t even have photographic evidence of us eating them. I do have this pic instagrammed from the pool after my visit on Tuesday though.
Collage - Pulsin protein booster bar
I was curious to see how the Pulsin Protein Boosters compared with other protein bars I’ve tried. They’re definitely a great choice for me after my weekly gym/swim trip and putting this little chart together is helpful for seeing just how sabotaging squares of my favourite mint chocolate are (albeit 72% dark chocolate) for curbing the carbs and keeping within a daily calorie range.  I’ve been keeping a food log using an app called Myfitnesspal and found it extremely helping for making me more aware of the nutrient levels of the food I eat.   I’ve finally shifted some of my post-baby weight just by starting the day with a protein rich egg based breakfast and not snacking in the evening.

I’m really interested in Pulsin’s range of protein powders too as I’m trying to eat a lower carb diet and increase my plant based protein intake. There are some gorgeous recipe ideas on their website which is helpfully broken down into vegetarian/vegan/snack/lunch/dinner options. Even if you’re not looking to order something the Pulsin website is well worth a browse.  I have pea protein powder and no-added sugar chocolate drops on my new recipes wish list and these simple chickpea and beetroot burgers are top of my recipes-to-try list as I usually have most of these ingredients in the house.  Hoorah for forthcoming food experiments.  I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out!

Disclosure: I received free samples of the Pulsin bars to review. I was not required to right a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own (with a little help from E and G)

September 30, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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