Healthy Living

BHK Lockdown Diary – Sunshine, Cakes and Frogs

Welcome to lockdown BHK style.  I’ve lost count how long we’ve been hanging out around the garden and house, but we’re the very lucky ones, with a garden and loads of Snowdonian sunshine!  It’s been like Bermuda up here for the past couple of months which has made this whole time feel much brighter for us.  

We’ve been getting on with cooking new recipes, playing with new ideas in the kitchen and in the garden too.  The veg patch is up and running, we have modest ambitions and if we get a few Broccoli floret and a cabbage out of it, we’ll be very happy.  The slugs round here resemble ugly anacondas (I like snakes).  We’ve been really fortunate with all the foragables in the area, loads of sorrell, nettles, hawthorn and crab apple flowers, fresh hawthorn leaves, mints, dandelions, wild garlic, all the joys of spring and early summer.  All that makes for some pretty awesome salads!  

 

Slice of our White Pizza, Vegan Style! Middle-Eastern Flavours – Roasted Cauliflower and Red Onions, Za’atar and Roasted Garlic Puree, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Sumac

 

In these uncertain times (how many times are we reading those words of late!!) we feel blessed to have a local supply of organic veggies.  Our veg box is one of the highlights of the week and Tyddyn Teg are producing an amazing array of fresh local veg for us to base our vegan dreamin’ on.

People keep talking of a new world sprouting out of this, we’re ever hopeful that things will get better and we’ll start taking better care of each other, animals and the world.  One of the key factors for us is a vegan lifestyle, but also keeping food local.  Focusing more on local, sustainable, organic farming.  I don’t like the idea of massive corporations feeding us. I can’t trust those who put profit before health and wellbeing.  I can see from our groups and your emails that many of you are growing your own and from a produce point of view, it doesn’t get any better than that!  I don’t really have very green fingers, but I’m good at getting my hands muddy.  Does that count?        

 

Jane out by the pond, there are loads of frogs, newts and toads this year. We’re keeping it topped up and making shelters for them around the ponds.

 

Vegan Shish Kebab – Marinated Tempeh, Tofu and Oyster Mushrooms with Apricots, Tahini Sauce and Pilaff. Oh, there’s a Beetroot and Ajwain Flatbread too:)  Got to have big colours!!

 

We think we’ve noticed more birds and insects in the garden.  There’s definitely more newts and frogs this year, we’re being invaded!  They try and get into the house, which is very cute.  I was hanging the washing out the other day and a Peregrine Falcon leapt out of a bush.  What sight!  It was amazing to see such a bird of prey up close.  We get the buzzards overhead, but they rarely land near the garden.  We’ve also made friends with the local horses, see below.  Bob, Tanny and Hera are our names for them and they seem to be warming to us.  They’ve started to hang our beside our wall and even lie in the sun just outside our bathroom window.  It’s lovely to wake up to see horses chilling and rolling around.  Every sunset we get a crescendo of grunting horses, blackbirds twittering and the occasional croak from the pond.  

 

Meet Bob – One of the neighbourhood horses who keeps us company in the garden.  We raided there fields the other day and now have a mighty pyramid of horse poo.  For the garden next year. 

 

Pineapple and Pistachio Up-side Down Loaf with a Rose and Cacao Sauce.  Gluten-free.  I’ve had some extra time to experiment with new recipe ideas.  I cook something everyday and have realised I’ll never get through the backlog of recipes I’d like to share here.  Maybe you could give me an idea of what you’d like to see?  I’m sure I’ll have a recipe tucked away somewhere for yah!!  

 

Plenty of brews in the garden to wash down all the cake;) Apparently we’ve both got sun tans from being out in the garden, hanging out with frogs and cabbages.  

 

Sunsets!!!

[caption id="attachment_10516" align="aligncenter" width="470"] We’ve got Sorrel coming out of our ears. I love the zesty flavour in salads, stews/ soups

 

Summers really kicking in over here. We’re enjoying loads of salads, this one includes Korean Mint, an interesting member of the mint crew. It looks like marijuana, but tastes like mint crossed with liquorice. Apparently bees, butterflies and hummingbirds like it. So it must be cool.

 

We try to keep the BHK blog up-to-date, but there’s plenty more vegan cooking action and chat over on our Facebook cooking group

 

We’re loving our afternoon walks up the hills. Appreciating more than ever right now!  

 

This is part one, more BHK lockdown pics coming soon.  

 

We’re ever sending positive vibes and best wishes your way. 

 

 

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Peace and Parsnips, photography, plant-based, Summer, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Sending Good Vibes! BHK news and how we’re keeping well

Nourishing, simple, vegan cooking skills and knowledge is so important at times like this, giving our bodies and minds the good fuel and flavours they need to be healthy.

    

All of our plans and work for the year are cancelled, which feels both expansive and daunting, sometimes at the same time.  We’re sitting, chilling and breathing it all in at the minute.  Seeing what arises and getting prepared for a lengthy spell of uncertainty and big changes in the way we live.  Most of all, we’re staying at home!  

 

Spanish Dreams

We were moving to Spain a month ago and were in the final stages of buying a olive/ fruit farm in rural Spain.  A little slice of paradise, tucked away in the mountains of Murcia, where we could grow Mediterranean crops and make our own olive oil and wine.  I would be cooking homegrown in an outside kitchen and it even had it’s own spring.  We were over the moon to have found such a place, but it turned out that this idea was affected by Brexit and then, BOOM, Coronavirus lands and the rest of our year is turned upside down, shaken, then plonked back down looking bewildered, exasperated and a little afraid.  I’m sure you know the feeling. 

We know that what is to come will be tough, for us all in a variety of ways, each of us will experience uncertainty, loss and fear in one way or another.  We realised we are in a very privileged position and feel deeply for those who are suffering globally from health issues, themselves or within families, friends and communities.  The poorest in the world are the first and worst to suffer.  Also, those who have pressing financial worries and are trying to run businesses and have uncertain work futures.  We especially feel and offer fortitude and support to healthcare and charity workers, as well as other essential, frontline workers. Keeping the systems going that support our societies and our most vulnerable.  We hope you are well protected, healthy and rewarded for your bravery and incredible efforts.   

 

Compassion, community and kindness will get us through.  

 

Support local 

Big shout to our local organic farm superheroes, Tyddyn Teg, who will be supplying ourselves and the local community with organic veg throughout the year. Re-focusing on local produce and small businesses, growing our own food, simplifying and living a more sustainable life is more relevant now than ever.  If you have the means, distributing and investing money locally and to small businesses is so important. 

 

We are well!

Jane and I are well.

I am sure many of you are being creative and flexible in the way you’re looking at the future. How can we adapt, stay safe and earn a living in these times?  We shall see, but good energy and positivity will go a long way.  

It would be awesome to communicate and we invite you to be part of our positive on-line communities:

Our Faceboook vegan cooking group is here

Let’s eat well!  Share good vibes and tasty treats!  Develop grounding rituals and healthy habits. We hope the BHK is somewhere you can escape to for a while, topping up on happiness and inspiring recipes.   

Looking out towards Ireland, across the Irish Sea. I love this rock formation, it looks like an ancient settlement (with a view!) and makes me feel connected to the land and my impermanence in this majestic landscape

Take good care

At this time, we feel it’s essential that we focus on self-care.  Understanding how we can find balance, peace and good health in our lives.  We ever wish to take you on that journey in a holistic way, feeling that good health isn’t just good eating, but good movement, good breath, good mentality, good connections with nature and others, good vibes from the heart and lots of love and positive energy.  

Self-care beginning with the heart, opening up to love.  We feel that having clarity and peace of mind will help us make good decisions, for us and those around us.  

The world may seem to be spinning out of control but nature tells us otherwise.  Beautiful weather and the sights and smells of early Spring are in the air.  

Good health does not need to be complicated, and even with extended self-isolation and uncertainty, we can still find peace.  Good health does not need to cost anything, we have our mind and bodies, these are the only tools necessary to unlock vitality and wellness.  With regular practice, discipline and good intentions, the techniques below can transform our lives! 

We can exercise well in a small space.  Check out our friends Complete Unity Yoga and their guide to starting a yoga practice at home:

Find Peace and Calm – Yoga at home

We also love these yoga sequences

Also, here are some relaxing and empowering breathing techniques with that dude, Mr Wim. Boost your immune system and find peace:

Life Changing Breathing techniques

Meditation is an excellent practice to calm the mind and boost the immune system.  Jane’s favourite is Tara Brach:

Meditation practice 

Breathe in, smile.  A beautiful meditation here

Fermentation is a delicious way of preparing and preserving food, as well as boosting our health and immune system in general.  We have fermenting recipes here and our favourite fermentation website is Nourished by Nature:

Fermenting Foods – Immune system support and health

You’ll find most of our recipes, except the most recent, right here.  Plenty to choose from:

Simple, healthy vegan recipes from the BHK

We can also put you in touch with excellent therapists and healers; herbal, homeopathic, nutritionists and much more.

 

Our plan

We don’t have one!  Things are changing too quickly at the minute.  We’re getting prepared and trying to be as proactive as we can.  Staying at home and educating ourselves about the situation at hand.  We’ll be regularly turning our thoughts inwards and reflecting, adapting, finding balance, allowing creativity to flow and embracing what we have and the opportunities presented.  Staying alert and aware, asking questions.  Taking regular breaks from phones, social media, news and the like.  Going outside, spending time in nature.       

We’re focusing, as I’m sure you are, on our local situation, supporting family, friends and the local community.  What we can control, we try our best in, what we cannot, we are aware of, but let go.    

 

So, how are you feeling? 

Can we help and support you at this time? 

What kind of foodie things would you like to see us doing? 

 

So much beauty, even in the smallest parts and details of nature.

 

We light a candle for peace after sunset each evening and you’ll all be in our thoughts and prayers.  This BHK community means a lot to us and you’ve all contributed in making our lives a brighter and more fulfilling place to be.  Thank you.  

Wishing you all good health, safety and fortitude!

 

Another storm is here, but they always pass. 

 

Peace and Love,  

Lee and JaneX          

 

We’ve a decent stash of foraged logs. When we get around to chainsawing, we’re looking forward to a summer filled with fires under the stars.

 

Join our MAILING LIST here for exclusive recipes and BHK news 

 

Email us now – hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com

 

 

 

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sustainability, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Vegan on the Road – Walking the Portuguese Camino de Santiago, Spain (Pt. 1)

Just outside Porto Airport, the shells and yellow arrows began to appear. BHK on the Camino Portuguese ’19

“Camino!  Camino!!”  We made it!

Jane and I completed the Camino Portuguese this summer and would like to share with you our experience of being pilgrims; our pictures, the food we ate and the challenges we faced. There is way too much to say in one blog post, so there will be a few.  Looking back, they were precious times and well worth a few words.

Arriving in the main square of Santiago de Compostela is one hell of an experience!  The breath-taking cathedral complex, the general buzz and merriment of the joyful pilgrims, the sense of achievement and history that surrounds ‘El Camino’.  It’s intoxicating, even before the Estrella Galicia’s are cracked!  A fitting finale to the days, weeks, and sometimes, months of endurance and fortitude.  We’d all started at different points, for different reasons.  Pilgrims are attracted to these routes (or ‘caminos’) from all over the world; Japan, Peru, Slovenian, Cuba, USA, Korea, Mexico, are just a few of the nationalities we met.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims complete the minimum four days walking per year and all routes finish at this point, outside the ornate facade of the cathedral, built over the tombs of the apostle St James.  Pilgrims have been gathering here, celebrating and venerating, since the early middle ages.  Back then, being a pilgrim was fraught with dangers and was undertaken as an act of penance and religious devotion.  It’s a little different now.

A waymarker in the middle of a forest. You see a lot of scallop shells on the Camino, traditionally used as a small bowl for offerings, eating or drinking.  It is mainly used now as an unorthodox wine glass!

Pilgrims pour through the narrow streets of the cities old town, past the ancient churches and inns, to see their first glimpse of the cathedral towers in the clear blue skies, it’s an emotionally charged experience.  It’s a carnival of battered walking boots, lycra shorts and limps.  There are bagpipes whining (a Galician staple), Ecuadorian missionaries singing songs with guitars, dreadlocked dudes meditating, Spanish kids tearing into the square barefooted (many pilgrims choose to walk the last day barefooted).  Most pilgrims are strooned out in the sun like lizards, propped up on colourful backpacks, staring off into space, halfway between exhaustion and elation.  No beatific, blister induced epiphanies going on here, just mild forms of sunstroke/ dehydration.

This is July and the shadeless square is like a pizza oven, +30oC and counting.  Those medieval architects were not into parasols and pina coladas, they had the divine on their mind.  Mingling in this multitude are streams of tourists snapping selfies, looking well showered and shaven.  To the pilgrims, they seem like people who’ve got a free ticket to the best gig in the world (and have never heard of the band).

We’ve all followed many little yellow arrows over mountains, along coastlines, through vast plains and cities, all imagining what the end would look like.  How we’d feel when the walking is over, like a stylus leaving a well loved record.  Pilgrims leap, pilgrims sing and for most, there is a sense somewhere within that we’re glad it’s all over, but we can’t wait to do it all again!  Or was that just me!!

Jane still had some energy!  Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Being a pilgrim for a while is a way of life I’d recommend, if you’re looking for something, you might find it by walking the old pilgrim trails of Spain and France (some stretch all the way across Europe).  A good, old-fashioned long walk can make all the difference, a one-way ticket out of the daily grind.  There are sprinkles of magic out there, somewhere in-between the blisters, bunk beds and crescendos of snoring hikers, you’re sure to find some peace of mind and a good slice of soul.

Walking the Camino from Porto to Santiago de Compostela was a kaleidoscope of vivid and beautiful scenery, a glorious patchwork of people, from the quixotic to the capitalistic, the righteous to the rogue.  There were churches and challenges galore, not to mention many laughs, fragrant fields and feet.  We both had no expectations, we had just walked most of the demanding Rota Vicentina skirting the very South West of Portugal, with it’s precipitous coastlines, raging winds, mad surfers and quaint villages.  We felt fairly confident we could have a crack at the less arduous Camino and enjoy it.  We were in good fettle, could take it a little easier and just cruise.  We loved the pilgrim lifestyle, focused on walking and nature, exploring different terrains and trails.  There is a liberating rhythm to it.  It’s an empowering way to see the world, to arrive on your own steam, carrying all you need on your back.  It’s a little taste of freedom.

Pilgrim plate! We cooked most of our food on the Camino. We always carry herbs, spices, knives, a chopping board etc. It means the BHK is a mobile, moveable feast!!

I loved cooking in the hostels and the host of weird and wonderful kitchens we stumbled upon, generally basic, sometimes indoors, but with one constant, stunning local produce.  Vegan food is a little off-piste for most local restaurants, so we focused on hearty homemade dishes, heavy on the veg.  If you’re a vegan and you don’t want to eat bread and bananas 24/7, it’s worth planning a little before you set off.  Make sure you’re ready to do some cooking.  Pack a grater.  A peeler?

Portugal, and latterly Galicia, know how to garden and grow!  It’s a plant-based paradise down there.  The Camino is regularly flanked by family owned fields of various produce, poly-tunnels and little veg patches, most gardens in houses are filled with fruit and vegetables.  Large scale agriculture is rare.  Corn, grapes, nuts, berries, tomatoes, leeks, olives and lots of potatoes.  Official organic farms are rapidly growing in number.  In the South especially, we saw many idyllic, self-sustained places tucked away in the valleys.  It seems mainly elderly couples tend to the small plots, pulling old rickety carts filled with potatoes over cobbled streets, many driveways are covered with garlands of onions drying out in the sun.  I’ve rarely seen this before in my travels, a country so dedicated and skilled at growing their own.  It’s very exciting for a meandering vegan cook!  Whets the wandering appetite.

A rural garden beside the Camino Portuguese, filled with fruit and veg. Notice the ‘verde’ growing in the foreground. These are juvenile versions!

On your vegan ventures, you will find the ubiquitous Caldo Verde lifeline everywhere.  It’s more than a soup, it’s a national treasure in Portugal.  It’s a bowlful of vegan blessings (sometimes served with cornbread.)  A nourishing bowl of pureed potato and collards.  Light on the pocket and heavy in the belly, ideal pilgrim potage.  It’s easy to make at home, I’ll post a recipe soon.  Almost every garden is bordered by funny looking plant protrusions, like baldy broccoli on steroids.  This is the ‘verde’ in your ‘caldo’.  They are trained collard plants, leaves picked with precision, to grow tall, like kale palm trees swaying in the sunshine.  I still have no idea why they do this?  Any ideas?

VEGANS!  Always order your Caldo Verde without the sausage surprises.  You never know when they’ll rear their fatty heads.  The combination of potato (great fuel) and dark collards (loaded with vitamins and good stuff), a drizzle of olive oil and you’re looking at a decent lunch for a couple of euros.  It’s also served in Galicia.  We normally love a simple potato and leek soup in the Welsh wintertime, but this year, we’re adding some greenery.

A particularly good Caldo Verde, on the Camino Portuguese. CV, olives, bread, fruits and nuts. Perfect pilgrim fuel (tasty too;)

People walk the Camino for a variety of reasons, we had none.  Many of the best things I’ve done in my life have been without a reason.  It is a popular topic for conversation along the way, “Why are you walking?”  I just know that it felt right and Jane liked it too. With no reasons and few expectations, the door was open for us to just experience what was happening, step by step, until we got to shake hands with old St James.  He who brought Christianity to the Iberian Peninsula, a right hand man of Jesus.

We met many people going through big life changes and being on the camino, with a large group of generally disparate, yet supportive people, does seem to help and inspire.  Bringing objectivity and clarity.  Must be all that fresh air!  Even though sometimes you’re walking alone on the trail, it never really feels like you’re alone.  You’re part of something greater and there is a bubble of acceptance and kindness that is palpable.  You’re following in some pretty big and often saintly footsteps.  That alone is humbling and makes this no ordinary stroll in the countryside.  Walking everyday, with a shared purpose, means that your fellow pilgrims become a mobile community.  A gang of sweaty seekers.

The trail is flanked by historical niches, shrines and atmospheric churches, all immaculately maintained, with small candles flickering and a sense of piety in full flow.  Some roads are Roman by design, the worn rocks bearing the marks of millions of pilgrims through the ages.  Smiles are easily found and horns are peeped, “Buen Camino/ Bom Camino!!” is a phrase that echoes throughout the day as locals and passers by wish you the best.  Experiencing the reverence that many locals had for the whole pilgrim game changed something deep in my waters.  As it has no doubt changed many folks at levels unknowable, a shared spirit on the myriad routes that lead to Santiago.

Let the yellow arrows lead the way. The Portuguese Way is well ‘arrowed’ making it difficult to lose your way (unless you want to)

There are three main reasons for walking the camino, religious, spiritual or other.  At least they’re the options you have to tick on the check in cards at the government ran hostel (the cheap ones where you get the full Camino experience; a reasonable amount of snoring, sweaty boots, disposable bedding and an acceptable level of discomfort).  Pilgrimages are not meant to be 5 star!

Getting out of our comfort zones was something we were expecting and quite looking forward to. That comfort zone is a cold-blooded killer of zest, verve and vitality.  If life is one long camino, from ignorance to eventual enlightenment, surely, we’ve got to get off the couch!  Get out there into the world, start a journey, an adventure, embrace the unknowable outcome. These camino-style wanders seem like a ideal launch pad for such intentions.

Generally, when you travel like we have around the world, namely on a flimsy budget, off-piste and rough round the edges, most of the camino hostels were actually pretty comfy. Especially when you consider you’re paying 5-7 euros per night and are only there for a quick kip, shower and the joys of hand washing one’s smalls in outdoor sinks.  Al fresco, armed with underwear.  Actually, some hostels have washing machines.  Free of charge.  There are also more up-market options if sleep depravation and communal showers are not your bag.  But…

The coastal route of the Camino Portuguese begins with many small villages and then a long walk by the seaside!

The Camino Portuguese should be 260km, but we were wanton meanders, we took our time, we explored some nooks and crannies. Many pilgrims leave at 6am on the nose, we took it easier, it was a holiday after all!  Leisurely breakfast and we were happy to be out and on the trail by 9am.  Most days were flexible from a distance point of view, you could walk for a few hours or really push on for as long as you like.  The average day is probably about 20-25 kms.

We were lucky in the sense that we had no real time constraints, so we just wandered and picnic’d as we saw fit.  It was always nice to see fellow stragglers tucked away in the woods having a packed lunch, or having a dip in a stream, a beer at noon in a small cafe.  We gradually formed a group of strays with a shared pace on the camino, it might not have been with the traditional pilgrim zeal but it was about experiencing a distinct way of life and viewing the world at a relaxed rate of knots.  Going at our own pace, taking in a fuller experience of where we were, and why not!  Where we were was regularly beautiful.  I’m not one for routines as such, but the Camino did work it’s magic on me.  I got into a good groove.

Plant-based pilgrims!!  Jane and I taking a stroll in some old vineyards.

If you enjoyed this, there will be a Pt. 2 soon.  Probably less of a ramble, more details and how we nearly didn’t make it!!

It’s not all wide open spaces, there are lots of towns and cities to navigate along the way. Vigo, Portuguese Way (Caminho Portuguese)

 

More Vegan on the Road here, our travels around the beautiful regions of Andalucia

 

 

 

 

Categories: Healthy Living, photography, plant-based, Travel, Vegan, vegan travel, vegan traveller | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie – Plus Smoothie Jedi Tip

Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie

I’m gonna smoothie all the way through Autumn! Winter too! The flavours of chocolate and cherry were made for each other. This one’s got that black forest vibe to it, really simple to make and something a little different in your breakfast bowl.

Start the day with something beautiful, something that inspires your tastebuds, something that gives your body a nice healthy hug.

Today we find ourselves halfway up a mountain (where we live) eclipsed by grey mist, grey skies, with the slate grey ocean raging beneath us.  So, I popped out in a window of sun rays to get this shot of breakfast.  I don’t have anything against the colour grey, I have a grey sweatshirt, but in the foodie sphere, I can’t think of a decent grey food.  Nature did not want us eating grey it seems!

Colours!  Vibrancy!  That’s where were are on this hillside.  BHK bowls packed with things to make you purr.  In fact, we had a grey cat named Buster once (some of you will remember that legend).  He was the greatest dash of grey in this old world I tell you.  I miss him.

Smoothies are one way of fixing yourself up for superb things!  There is no way that a smoothie can be anything but awesome.  Vegan, gluten and sugar free, loaded up with everything the body needs, we even add coconut yoghurt here for a probiotic, gut-friendly, boost.  What is not to LOVE!

If this tickles your fancy, let us know below and let’s talk smoothie and vibrant things, beauty bowls, happy days.

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**Smoothie Jedi Tip**

Start slow, then build it up.  Start blending your smoothie on low and gradually build it up to full steam ahead.  This helps to incorporate all the lumps and chunks and means less scraping and shaking to get it blended properly.  A Jedi fact.

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Recipe Notes

We buy frozen cherries from the supermarkets.  Buying frozen fruits is a great way of preparing for a smoothie-fest.  It also works out cheaper and many of the fruits are frozen ripe, meaning good flavour and a higher nutritional profile.

Go wild with toppings!  We sometimes sprinkle other nuts, muesli/ granola, funky green healthy powders (spirulina, wheatgrass etc), dried berries like raspberry and strawberry are a knockout too!  Occasionally, I rock a drizzle of nut butter or tahini.

 

I’m on Instagram.  Yes, it’s taken me a while…..remember, I’m a mountain dweller, some would say a bit of a caveman in some ways.  But, I’m over there now and sharing my little heart out.  Come and join me, click here!  

 

Beauty bowl! Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie – Sugar-free, vegan, gluten-free

 

Cherry, Pistachio and Cacao Smoothie

The Bits – For 2

2 handfuls frozen cherries

1 handful frozen banana

2 tbs vegan coconut yoghurt (cultured preferably)

2 tbs cacao or cocoa powder

Plant Milk (of choice, we used hemp milk)

 

Toppings

Chopped pistachios, goji berries, extra frozen cherries

 

Do It

In a large smoothie cup or blender (we use a Ninja), add all the ingredients and half fill with plant-milk.  Blitz on a low setting first, turning it up to high.  Jedi style!

Give it a shake or a scrape down if it’s not blending straight away.

Pour into a bowl, sprinkled with your toppings.

 

Serving suggestions – Sit somewhere sunny and quiet, take a moment, breathe deep (x5 times), enjoy the peace, grab that spoon…..:) 

 

Foodie Fact 

Cherries are wickedly high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients!  Loaded up with vitamin C and fibre, they’re an ideal winter wonder food.  They can also be awesome for our heart and even help us get a restful sleep.

Cherries.  Yes!  More please.

See, grey can be beautiful!!  Here’s a view from the top of our hill/ mountain. I love this spot!  

 

Categories: Breakfast, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The art of scrumping and the great British apple

Scrumping – a great way to make the most of our autumn abundance

Yes!  It’s that time of year.  Apples are falling from trees and we’re loving them.  But I find something very sad about piles of crushed and fermenting apples scattered around pavements and fields, left in piles to rot around trees.  What a waste.  I’ve been travelling quite a bit around the UK recently and seen many great apple trees, laden with fruits, fit and ready for a good scrumping!

There are over 2500 varities of apples growing in the UK, so I’m not talking about the handful of varieties we can pick up in the supermarkets, I’m talking about the real deal, heritage, local apples.  The ones which flourish in certain areas because of the specific climate, regional apples, that’s what gets me excited.  Most of these are growing wild and many may be falling right now, grab a bucket and get out there!

A neighbour kindly donated this bucket load to the BHK

When I travel, I love nibbling global dishes, exotic fruits and the like.  But there is one thing I miss, sensational UK apples!!  Best in the world.  No question.  (Although, they’re pretty good in France too.)

 

Wild Fruits, Great Names 

Most of the apples you’ll pick up in the supermarkets are pale imitations of a proper apple.  Something local, and in my opinion, the more bumps, the uglier the apple is, the better it tastes!  We have such a rich history of apple cultivation, which is still there, if we shop local and take advantage of the natural abundance at  this time of year.  Many of the best apples I find come from neighbours gardens (please don’t tell them;)

Jane’s Mum sent across a fascinating little article that prompted this post, I find the names of heritage apples so inspiring. They just sound fun! Here’s a selection, just a wee taster (by region).  Do you know some of these?:

 

Scotland – Coul Blush, Bloody Ploughman, Scotch Dumpling, Tower of Glanis, Dog’s Snout 

 

North England – Golden Spice, Cockpit, Carlise Codlin, Rilston Pippin, Lord Hindlip

 

South England – Newton Wonder, D’Arcy Spice, Crawley Beauty, Fearn’s Pippin, Pitmaston Pineapple, Oaken Pin, Tom Pitt, Cornish Gilliflower

 

Wales – Bardsey Island, Pig’s Snout, Cissy, Ten Commandments, Saint Cecilia, Croen Mochya

 

Ireland also has some great varities and names going on:

 

Ireland – Greasy Pippin, Lady’s Finger of Offaly, Kilkenny Pearmain, Irish Peach, Ross Nonpareil, Scarlet Crofton, Ecklinville Seedling   

 

Maybe you have some of these growing in your garden?  Or a local park?  I love these names, many are poetic, rustic, some amusing, but they all speak to me of a different time of food production.  When it wasn’t just about business and high yields.  I think it’s paramount to protect the heritage and diversity of locally grown food, in the UK and around the world.  Most of the varities are just about hanging in there (no pun intended), mainly growing wild or in gardens, but we can always ask for them in our local shops and supermarkets.  If we can get together, in enough numbers, and demand real, local, British apples, maybe we can see apples like the ‘Dog’s Snout’ back on the shop shelves where they belong.  These names really brighten up my day.

 

The Legend of the Bardsey Apple

There is a great story here in North Wales about a local fellow, Ian Sturrock, who discovered a single apple tree on a remote island off the Llyn Peninsula.  Bardsey Island.  When it was tested, it was the last of it’s kind in the world.  This variety has now been saved and it’s grown around the world, from Japan to the USA.  We have one in our garden.  Lovely golden, sweet apples.  There is also a variety of Snowdon Pear which is very rare, tastes like sweet fennel and has a light pink colour inside.  You just don’t get such variety and range of flavours in the most shops.  We are missing out big time!  This is one of our greatest British foodies assets.  Our amazing fruits.

 

The Art of Scrumping 

Scrumping!  It’s a doorway to the best of British apples and fruits.  Go find some nice looking trees, grab a bucket and go and fill your boots/ bucket.  I know people who only scrump at night, but we’re day light scrumpers.  Unabashed.  It’s loads of fun and leads to a bounty of fresh and delicious local apples.   A few basic guidelines for new scrumpers:

 

Just make sure that you’re picking edible apples.

Don’t climb and fall out of trees.

Don’t blatantly nick your neighbours apples, this can lead to bad vibes and unneighbourly jams.

If councils or land owners have put up signs saying ‘DO NOT PICK THESE APPLES’, best to leave them dangling.

 

Local apples, ready for cookies/ crumble

Scrump Away!

Picking fruit gets me in touch with nature again, you plug straight back into the natural world, it’s relaxing and a great excuse to get out in the fresh air.  One friend told me that the art of scrumping is to not get caught.  I think there has to be a slightly more moral approach than that. .

You don’t need to live halfway up a mountain like us to scrump well, urban scrumping is on the rise.  Inner city fruit foraging.  It may take a little research at first, trying to understand what apples are best for eating, which are best for cooking etc.  But once you’ve identified a local tree, that’s it.  Every year you can pick a crop of delicious local apples.

The benefits of scrumping are free food!  Plus, no packaging or plastic and the only food miles are the steps you take.  I just don’t understand why we don’t plant more fruit trees.  Local councils, lets get more orchards going. We can organise groups of fruit pickers and jam makers, free neighborhood jams and chutneys all year!  Some local councils have done this in the past, after complaints from residents about being hit by falling fruit and apples impeding their driving.  They provided fruit pickers and yes, gave the chutney away for free!  This seems like a wonderful idea.  We know people who pick your apples for you if you’re too busy/ can’t be bothered and make them into a cider and sell it.  Their business is based on free or donated apples.

 

Apple Recipes

What to do with your new found apple bounty?  Chutneys, apple sauce, soups, add to stews and casseroles, make into jam….the list is almost endless.  Here are a few of our recipes to get your going :

 

Simple Apple and Oat Crumble

Jane’s Apple and Plum Chutney 

Apple and Beetroot Sauerkraut

Apple Mint Herbal Vinegar

 

One of the best ways of using up LOTS of apples is to make your own cider.  You do need loads.  You will also need a cider press for this, but again, there will no doubt be someone in your local community who has one you can borrow or use.  Especially if you offer them a small cut of your cider.

Of course, we’re not just looking for apples when we’re in scrumping mode; sloe berries, rosehips, blackberries, damsons, mushrooms, bilberries (see our Bilberry and Spelt Scone recipe), pears, there is a bounty of fresh fruit growing on trees and bushes all around the UK.  We just need to get out there and have a look.

If you are really not fancying scrumping, you can still access local fruits.  Check out freecycle, there may well be someone in your area looking to offload some apples or other fruits.

 

If you do scrump, remember that it is illegal to profit from the fruit you harvest from common or council land.  On private land, you’ll need a ‘scrump pass’.   If you are not a comfortable single scrumper, it can make for a great family activity or form a small local group.  Scrumpers unite!  Some people feel scrumping is a bit cheeky, but that’s the fun bit!

If you’re a serial scrumper of have some scrumping tales or advice, please let us know in the comments below. 

National apple day in the UK is 21st October ’18.  Let’s celebrate local apples, fruits and produce!  Autumn is the perfect time of year to cook and shop local.

 

Look out from my next post if you’re an apple lover, we’ve got an Apple Crumble Cookies (Gluten-free) recipe coming your way very soon.

 

 

Categories: Autumn, Foraging, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Local food, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sustainability, Wales | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Plant-based Protein – It’s everywhere!

Tooooo many sources of plant-based protein

Plant-based protein – It really is everywhere!! The question is more, which plant-based foods don’t have protein in them? It’s so abundant. There are NO worries at all on the protein front if you are a vibrant vegan or rockin’ a plant-based diet.

I still get asked the protein question regularly and these graphics are a good reminder.  Thanks to Meow Meix for this one.  Please share if you like.  Let’s get the message out there once and for all.  A balanced plant-based diet is THE way to go!

Switching to a plant-based/ vegan diet is easier now than ever.  There is so much nutritional support out there and of course, plenty of tasty, wholesome recipes to get you started.  I’ve added a few of our favourites below.

We are here to help also, any questions you have, just fire them across or the Vegan Society is always a great source of bang on nutritional information.

Even desserts can be high in protein! This is our Lebanese Choc Ice recipe, made mainly with tahini which is choc-a-bloc filled with protein.

 

All veg and fruit contain small amounts of protein, here are the better sources; broccoli, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, avocado, artichokes and yes, even Brussels Sprouts. Bananas, blackberries, nectarines are fruity sources.

Also high in protein are; tofu, most beans, tempeh, soya milk, oats, wild rice, nut butters, nuts, seeds, seitan, spelt, quinoa, amaranth, nutritional yeast flakes (nooch), chia seeds.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies – Quick, healthy and very chocolaty.  Gluten-free, made with black beans, which are very high in protein.  

So, really, don’t sweat the plant-based protein question! Eating a balanced diet based around fresh fruit, veg, legumes/ beans, whole grains, seeds and nuts and you’re well on the way to a super healthy, whole hearted diet.

Green Pea Hummus – A delicious twist on chickpea hummus.  Full of protein and so simple.

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Parsnip, Cranberry & Chestnut Roast

Chestnut, Cranberry & Walnut Roast

We all need a good nut roast up our festive sleeves!!  This is a tasty centre piece with all the flavours of Christmas, that won’t take an age to cook.  It is also remarkably healthy, but we won’t dwell on that, after all, it’s nearly Christmas, time to feast and be merry!!

I’m sharing this one on the fly, its a busy time of year in the BHK!  As I’m sure it is in your home.  I took this picture whilst cooking for lovely people at the weekend, I haven’t had anytime for blogging of late, but this recipe is one we’re enjoying and lets face it, us vegans need a nut roast to lean on (then gobble) at this time of year!

I did a little poll recently in the BHK Vegan Cooking Group, asking what was the stand out vegan dish for Christmas lunch and Nut Roast ruled.  1st by quite a bit.  I was a little surprised, I love nut roasts, but many people have nightmare stories about bland, crumbly roasts, which is the last thing we want when we are mid Xmas feast.

This is a substantial nut roast (aren’t they all!?), with a nice layer of roasted parsnips in the centre. It cuts nicely into slices and I like the idea of glazing things at this time of year.  Makes it extra special and gives it an attractive finish.

I served it with full trimmings at the weekend, roasted Parmesan sprouts, mash, proper gravy, roast squash and swede, a few types of kale and a little red onion and parnsip tart tatin thrown in.  It was snowing outside and Snowdonia was looking like a winter wonderland.  The perfect Christmas scene.

Let us know if you make this roast, it would make our week!  I’m heading off to Spain for Christmas and New Year very soon and Jane is having a nice quiet time with family, then an even quieter time at a silent meditation retreat;)  We hope you have a wonderful festive time and get right into the Xmas groove.  Have fun. jingle bells and spread the love:)

Merry Christmas everyone!!X

The Nantlle Valley looking good and wintery (Snowdon hidden in the mist)

Recipe Notes

If you have some leftover mix, this would make awesome burgers.  Festive burger twist?  Why not!

Don’t dig parnsips.  That’s cool, any root veg will be fine here, something like carrot or squash would be great. Nice colours too.

Walnuts are great in these dishes, they break down nicely, adding flavour and texture.  You might prefer hazelnuts, which are also very delicious here.

Just use gluten-free breadcrumbs to make this a GF treat.

 

———–

Parsnip, Cranberry & Chestnut Roast

The Bits – For 4-6

2 medium onions (skin on and quartered)

300g/ 2 largish parsnips 

1 head garlic

2 tbs rapeseed oil

 

200g chestnuts

100g breadcrumbs (g.f.)

100g toasted walnuts

3 teas dijon mustard

2 teas dried sage

1 teas dried rosemary

1/2 teas cinnamon

2 tbs ground flax (mixed with 7 tbs water)

4 tbs Cranberry Sauce

 

Serve

8 tbs cranberry sauce

2 tbs whiskey/ brandy or water

 

Fresh thyme leaves

 

Do It

Slice the thick end of your parsnips into thin discs, with a few smaller discs from the thinner end.  This will be used for decorating the top of our roast.  Cut the rest into thin batons.

Preheat an oven to 190oC.  Trim the top of the garlic off to slightly expose the cloves.  On a baking tray, toss the onion, garlic and parsnip batons (set aside the thin slices) in oil and a little salt.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until all is soft and caramelised nicely.  The onion may need a little longer to go nice and soft.   Leave to cool and pop the roasted garlic cloves from their skins.  Remove any skin and roughly chop the onion into small chunks, keep enough parsnip batons for a decent layer in the middle of your roast, chop the rest up.     

Pulse the chestnuts and walnuts into a rough crumb in a food processor.  Place in a bowl and mix in the roasted onions, chopped parsnips and garlic, herbs, breadcrumbs, mustard, cinnamon, cranberry sauce, flax egg, salt and pepper.  Mash together well and taste to check seasoning.  Remember that flavours will develop when cooked.  If it’s a little lumpy, that’s fine!    

Line and oil a 900g/ large loaf tin with baking parchment, lay out your parsnip discs until they cover the base of your tin.  Arrange them nicely, this will be the top of your roast.  Spoon in half the chestnut mix, press down snuggly and level out with the back of a spoon.  Arrange a layer of parsnips batons, press down a little until snug and spoon over the rest of your chestnut mix.  Smooth and press down evenly to make a nice neat finish. 

Cover with foil or baking parchment and bake for 45 minutes, then take off the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes.  There should be a nice brown crust.  Leave to cool for 15 minutes in tin before turning gently out onto a serving plate and again, leave for 10 minutes before slicing.  Makes it easier and slices stay together.   

In a small pan, mix together the cranberry sauce and whiskey, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minutes.  Keep warm.  Glaze the top of your roast with the cranberry sauce and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Looking for a quick and easy Christmas dessert? 

Why not try this Spiced Apple & Pecan Tart.  Follow the Apple Tart recipe in Peace & Parsnips, adding some spices to the marmalade, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and maybe a few shots of whiskey/ brandy.  Top it all off with chopped roasted pecans.

Spiced Apple & Pecan Tart

 

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Living, Peace and Parsnips, plant-based, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Top 10 tips for new vegans

Travelling around, meeting and cooking for new vegans and the vegan-curious, reminds me how tough it can be at first.  Many people ask me for some tips to get started, so here’s my top ten.

Changing the way we live and have eaten is not something that happens overnight for most of us.  There are may ways of approaching this transition, but here are a few tips from my experience that can make things easier and result in a new healthy and positive lifestyle.

VEGAN FOR ALL

Eating a vegan diet has never been so accessible and popular. Many of us now realise that it can be such a healthy and vibrant way to feed ourselves and our loved ones. Eating vegan minimises the suffering of animals, drastically cuts pollution and can open up a lifestyle that is based on compassion and greater awareness.  Yes, we do have to read the ingredients on packets and meal planning will take a little more thought at first, but these things seem minor when we take into account how much benefit we can do for animals, the planet and, with a balanced vegan diet, ourselves.  Vegans generally have lower cholesterol, body fat, risks of type-2 diabetes, cancer and blood pressure.  It’s a no lose situation and it doesn’t have to be difficult.

MY STORY

I was a vegetarian for years before becoming vegan and the transition was an instant thing.  I watched a documentary and that was it.  I was down to only occasionally eating cheese, but when I realised that there is no major difference between the meat and dairy industry as far as the cruelty to animals, I dropped the Christmas day Stilton for good.  It just didn’t seem worth it.  As things go, looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I hope these tips help in your transition to a more peaceful and totally delicious way of living.

Going vegan seems to be infectious, I look around me, years later, and see many people I know and family members giving the lifestyle a go or at least cutting back on meat and dairy.  I didn’t have to say anything, I just cooked!

So here’s my Top 10 tips:

1 – Easy does it… – I think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we all go vegan overnight.  For most people, a transition period is needed.  Start to incorporate vegan staples into your life and try out your new batch of vegan staple recipes, things that are quick, healthy, easy and filling that can replace all your favourites; things like lentil spag bol, shepherd-less pie, macaroni cheeze, bakes/ casseroles, stews, salads, soups, curries, omelettes, pizza, cakes and cookies.  These are the old school favourites that are easy to prepare and we know, most people love.  They are also awesome when made vegan, everyone loves them!

Also, try out some vegan staple ingredients like nutritional yeast flakes, tofu, tempeh, nut butters, sweet potato, hummus, seitan, jackfruit; these are all interesting new additions to anyones diet and with the correct cooking, are delicious and nutritious.  Of course, who doesn’t love a bit of avocado on toast.  Avocado is an ingredient I find most vegans love to use.

You’ll find over 200 of our vegan recipes here.  

If you are struggling at first, maybe start with one day at a time and expand on that.  Say, Tuesday I’m all vegan, see how it goes and if you run into issues, see how you could avoid them.  Most people find it easy at home, but at work or when travelling/ eating out, slip up.  Slipping up is cool, don’t beat yourself up about anything, but there are lessons to be learned there and it normally involves planning a little better.  Calling restaurants in advance to check about vegan options, travelling with vegan snacks, taking out packed lunches/ dinners.  It’s also sometimes a case of just being happy with whats on offer, if its only chips and a salad, no problems.  By mentioning that you are vegan, the staff/ management will become aware of their growing need to adapt.  Sometimes I may write an email if there are no vegan options and it’s a restaurant that I like.

2- Try a plan – I’m no great planner, but I know they can help and will certainly assist with your weekly shopping, as you begin to seek out and buy new ingredients.  A vegan diet is in no way more expensive than any other, but you may need to gradually re-stock your cupboards with some new and exciting ingredients, keeping a good stock of fresh fruit and veg, dried fruit, nuts/ seeds, wholegrains and beans.  Plan a little extra time for cooking vegan dishes, it will take time to learn new techniques and there can be a few more ingredients to play with in the kitchen.

You could think about trying out Veganuary, I know many people who have used it as a base to go vegan long term.  There is loads of support and inspiration there.  Also, the Vegan Society have a 30 day vegan pledge that is well thought out and has all the nutritional information you could need.  For the record, a balanced vegan diet, based around fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts, dried fruits and whole grains is going to give your body and mind amazing nutrition, but I’d recommend your read more about vegan nutrition on the Vegan Society website.   The information there is easy to follow and practical.

I don’t know about you, but I love to learn more about the foods that I eat, the fuel for my body, and how it affects my health.   Nutritional deficiencies are an issue across the board, not just solely for vegans, there is a lot of misleading studies and articles out there; calcium, iron, omega fats and protein can all be readily found in a vegan diet.  Read up on Vitamin D, Iodine and B12 would be my advice.

All the nutrients without the animals

3- Fill up – When you’re getting used to a vegan diet, many people say that they feel hungry.  This is where I’d say fill up on high protein and carb foods.  Things like pulse/ legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa etc are all high in protein.  I guess the idea is to not just drop the meat or dairy from meals, but replace it with something nutritious and plant-based.

If you feel fatigued and weak at first, this will pass, remember that many athletes are now vegan and praise the diet for enhancing their recovery times and overall performance.

If you eat a lot of dairy, meat, drink alcohol and coffee etc, then just drop it all, your body will go through a detox period that can lead to fatigue, nausea and generally feeling rough.   Again this will pass, but unless you’re on a planned and even supervised detox, I wouldn’t recommend just dropping everything at once.  Meat and dairy also contain lots of fat, your body may crave it, maybe up the plant fats in your diet for a while.

You will most probably get cravings, stay strong and satisfy them in plant based ways.  After all, things like vegan chocolate, pizza, burgers and crisps are just as amazing as the other stuff.  The cravings go, hang in there!!

Key facts about a veganism

4- Find alternatives – This is becoming ever easier.  Cheeze, sausages, burgers, pizzas, yoghurt, milks, mayo, single cream, even creme fraiche are all available in most supermarkets.  You can also make your own if you have time, that is of course, our way, but the vegan diet is now convenience friendly for sure.  We all need a little convenience sometimes and this can help make things more sustainable in the long run.  Once you’ve found where everything is in your local shops, there will be vegan options in most places now, you can get into a new routine and whizz around in no time.

You’ll find that substituting the vegan options into your favourite recipes works.  There is cheese now that melts, cream that is creamy and mayo that hardly anyone can tell the difference between.  With the increased vegan market, there has been a general increase in vegan food quality.

Check out cereals and milks fortified with vitamins and minerals, these can be a great source of what we need.  Most new vegans I speak to mention how much more they think about their diet and the choices they make revolving around food, for me, this is one of the added bonuses of going vegan.  Educating ourselves and eating in new ways, it’s all fresh and creative.

It doesn’t all have to be pizzas, falafels and burgers, vegan cooking can be more refined. Pappardelle with Artichoke & Almond Sauce.

5 – If at first…. – You think tempeh and seitan are uurgh and tofu is not your thing, all is well.  These things need to be cooked right, and when they are, I find that most people love em!  However, a vegan cooks options are huge and they don’t need to be based around the classic vegan staples.  There are so many ways of making plant-based ingredients shine and you will get the hang of it.  Tastes change with time and who knows, maybe soon you’ll be digging seitan?!

6- Hit the umami – The big, savoury flavours, that we are used to in a meat/ dairy diet may not always be there for you when you are learning your new vegan recipe repertoire.  I say, go umami!  Giving  up our favourite foods is not easy, we’ve enjoyed them all our lives.  Things like mushrooms, yeast extract, olives, balsamic vinegar, fermented foods (kimchi!), sun dried tomatoes, tamari/ soya sauce, miso are high in umami and vegan cheeses are packed with it, like cheddar/ blue-style and Parmesan.

We can’t just rely on one big piece of roasted meat for flavour, we need to be creative, layer our flavours, tantalise our palate in new ways and be more conscious of pairing textures and colours.  Roast things, fry them up, get out a griddling pan or even better, a barbecue, use big and bold sauces and dressings.  The options for amazing vegan food are endless.  All of this is can be a challenge, but a great one, we’ll become better cooks and no doubt, more connected with the food we eat.

I travel a lot and know that it can be easy to be vegan on the road.

7- Vegan on the road, no probs! –  Check out local vegan restaurants, Happy Cow is a great source of info, and keep your eyes out for Lebanese (see above). Indonesian and Indian restaurants especially, there will be many vegan options there.   I find that most countries I travel to have a wide range of traditional dishes that are already vegan.  Of course, some countries are easier than others.  Also, always keep plenty of snacks on you, just in case.

8- Be gentle and kind with yourself – If you slip up, that’s normal.  If you are persistent, you will get there.  If you miss your daily kale smoothie hit, no problems.  Our diets have to be flexible and fun.  Having positive intentions is the key thing and not being disheartened when you first start out.  Your body, and digestion especially, may take a little time to get used to the shift, but after a few weeks, you’ll be flying!!

I believe that anyone can be vegan and very healthy, regardless of body type.  Many of the difficulties that arise in the transition period are in the mind, stay positive, join friendly and supportive local or on-line vegan groups and remember that you are joining a family of people, millions strong, who live well all over the world.  You’re not alone, but some people around you may be critical, which is their stuff entirely.  Stay true to the ethical reasons you chose to go vegan and spread your new lifestyle by communicating positively, not being drawn into arguments (which can be tough) and living the vibrant potential that a vegan diet offers.

9- Supplements are fine – I was a little put off at first about taking supplements, but they can really help us get what we need.  Many vegans take iron, omega fat, iodine and B12 supplements.  Also, maybe some vitamin D unless you live in a sunny place.  These are all good ideas and something that many people need a boost in, not just vegans.  There are fortified foods out there which will help with keeping us shining and well.

10- Stay positive and open – If you want to do it, you will.  If you stay positive, the whole process will be much more enjoyable.  This is not a punishment in anyway.  Going vegan should be a enjoyable thing, where you can learn and grow, meet new liked-minded people and gain new insight.  There will be times when people question your choices, you don’t have to go into detail or in at the deep end all the time, you can say you like the food or just change the subject.  Sometimes we don’t have the energy or resolve for a full-on debate and that is fine, many people hold strong views about a vegan lifestyle, but in my experience, most people are curious and open minded about it all, asking questions in good faith.

Just simple answers can work; good for animals, good for the planet, good for us.  Keeping our positive energy topped up is so important, conflict is draining, we need to take good care of ourselves physically and emotionally if we’re going to be at our best.  If we want to be shining lights for a brighter future for us all, we need to charge up!  If we are empathetic, and let’s face it most of us were not born vegan, we will have a much better platform for talking about veganism and a better chance that our message will be understood and considered.

How your diet can change the world

We should never feel bad or shy about speaking about veganism, but should be sensitive and constructive at the same time.  Again, these sometimes challenging conversations are an aspect of being a vegan that we can get used to with a little experience and support.  Ask fellow vegans for advice and don’t judge others.  If I communicate clearly and with sincerity, I find most people are open and receptive.  My approach is, preach from the plate, cook amazing food and enjoy it!  Good vegan food is a powerful message in itself.

If after, say a few months, you are no closer to being fully vegan, maybe revisit your original reasons for choosing this path.  Remind yourself of the motivation, ethical or otherwise, that stirred you into wishing to make a change.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about your vegan adventures and any challenges you faced.  What were the best bits?  I think one thing is clear, there is no one way, but there is always your way!  I feel that going vegan is not giving up anything, we’re actually gaining so much.  Peace and Good luck!

Here’s our vegan cooking group on facebook if you’re looking for inspiration and support.

I also like the group Vegan Food UK, lots of like minded, friendly vegans over there.

My favourite book relating to veganism is The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle.  Here’s one of my favourite vegan interviews with Will.

Carnage by Simon Amstell is brilliant and the Okja movie on Netflix I enjoyed.

Some popular vegan documentaries are What the HealthForks Over Knives (Health), Cowspiracy (Environment), Earthlings (Animal Agriculture/ Meat and Dairy Industry), Vegucated (New Vegans)

 

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Nutrition, plant-based, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Homemade Blackberry Vinegar – Free Food!

Blackberries.  You can't escape them in Autumn!

Blackberries. You can’t escape them in Autumn!

Its that time of year, when blackberries are everywhere and we need inspiration outside crumbles and cakes.  Jane and I try to pick as many as possible, although sometimes its a thankless task.  They are not the easiest fruits to harvest (especially wearing shorts!)  Braving all those thorns is well worth it though.  Blackberries are one of my favourite berries and so versatile.  Vinegar may not be the most obvious way to use them but turning fruit into vinegar is wonderfully simple and the best thing about it is, they last for an age. Perfect for preserving our seasonal berry gluts.  Fruit vinegar is also quite an expense in the shops so you’re saving a few pennies.

REASONS TO GO BLACKBERRY PICKING

  1. Once you’re out there, it’s actually loads of fun!
  2. Eating blackberries makes our brains work better and also make our skin look younger.
  3. They are FREE!
  4. You can use the leaves of the blackberry plant.  We dry them out and use them to make tea.  The most tender leaves work best.

FREE-STYLE FORAGER

Its a good idea to have some bags or punnets in your car, when you see a blackberry hot spot, you can leap out and share in the wealth.  You can also arrange a family/ group of friends collective forage.  This means you can prepare vinegar or blackberry jams or compotes together in big pans.  This works out more cost effective and there is something very rewarding about a jar of homemade, foraged jam in the heart of winter.  Full of good memories and nutritional vitality.

Blackberry vinegar can be used in salad dressing or drank with some hot water (think a hot cordial) for a vitamin boost on a cold autumn day. You may also like to try roasting beetroots with the vinegar, similar to when we use balsamic vinegar in roasting roots. The results are delicious and are all the more satisfying because you made it! For free! From the hedgerow!!

So get out there with your punnets (or buckets).  Free berries for all!  That’s (almost) free food!

Beach House Blackberries

Beach House Blackberries

The Bits – Makes roughly 300ml Vinegar

250g blackberries
125ml white wine vinegar
150g unrefined light brown sugar

Do It

Soak blackberries in vinegar for 5 day to 1 week. The longer you leave them, the more concentrated the flavour. We left ours for 10 days.

You can use a sieve to support the muslin if you choose to lightly press the blackberries.

You can use a sieve to support the muslin if you choose to lightly press the blackberries.

Strain using muslin. You can either leave hanging above a vessel for 12 hours or pass through the muslin. The blackberry pulp left over should be relatively dry.

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Add the vinegar and sugar to a saucepan and bring gently to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes stirring regularly. The sugar should be completely combined with the vinegar.

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Leave the vinegar to cool and the store in a clean bottle with a decent cork/lid.

Bottle it up and enjoy!

Bottle it up and enjoy!

Foodie Fact

Blackberries are high in vitamin C and the very dark colour of blackberries means lots of anti-oxidants.  One of the highest in fruit.  The high tannin content of blackberries helps with intestinal inflammation, it has a soothing effect.  The high vitamin K content in blackberries is said to regulate menstruation and aids in muscle relaxation.

Categories: Autumn, Foraging, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan, Wild food | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Top Tips and Health Benefits of Juicing plus Kale, Beetroot and Green Pepper Juice Recipe

Beetroot, Kale and Green Pepper Juice

Beetroot, Kale and Green Pepper Juice

Here is your five a day in just a few gulps!  Juicing is the easiest way of supercharging your day and getting loads of shining fruits and veggies into your diet.

I love experimenting with new flavour combos in our morning juice.  What do we have available and will they sing together in a glass?!  This one is backed up by a hit of ginger and lemon (whole, the zest is awesome in many ways), apples, carrots and a handful of mint.  Its a feast and a massive wake up call to the immune system.  When you juice, you can forget about the need for expensive supplements, vitamin pills etc.  Nothing can compete with a fresh juice.  Juicing also helps in weight loss and makes you much sexier!!!

SUPERCHARGE YOUR DAY

Our favourite way to start any day is a glass of freshly made juice. It just seems to make perfect sense. Our bodies have just woken from (hopefully) a nice long sleep, when we have basically been fasting for many hours. We’re dehydrated and a little depleted, we need a serious boost of something nutritious and preferably, charged with vitality and vibrant flavours. Juicing is the easiest way to get loads of essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc) down the hatch, very easy on the digestion and we can feel the benefit soon after. Energy levels rise and we get a healthy glow about us.

The contents of this juice are a sign that things are really flying now this summer. You could call this our ‘Veg Box Nectar’, basically whatever we get from the farm in a juicer with a little consideration for overall flavour. Really though, all these sensational veggies and fruits cannot taste bad in a glass. There are probably a few guidelines to a good juice; go easy on the cabbage, turnip or swede, too much whole citrus (with pith on) can be a little challenging.

We always try to add greens, like Kale, Chard or Spinach, to our juices as they are the bodies best friend.  Greens contain so many amazing nutrients, not to mention things like protein, calcium, iron….the list goes on and on.  They also contain bags of chlorophyll which helps the liver detox and purifies and rebuilds blood cells, also helping with high blood pressure.  Eating a lot of greens regularly, daily if possible, is our number one suggestion for staying healthy and feeling amazing.

TOP JUICING TIPS

EAT YOUR FRUIT AND JUICE YOUR VEGGIES – As a basic rule, this works a treat.  Many fruits are high in sugar and unless they are packed with fibre, can make your blood sugar levels rocket.  Its best to drink a balanced juice, with sweet fruits as a sweetener and not a base.  Some root vegetables can also be high in sugar, worth bearing in mind.  Having said that, a pure fruit juice is an awesome treat!

PREP WELL – Get everything cut down to size and peeled (if needed) before you start.  This will make juicing a breeze. We always fill our juicer shoot up (wide funnel juicers are best) before turning the machine on, this is more efficient.  Wash up before you drink the juice, for some reason, this seems to make it less of a chore!?  Not juicing because of the washing up is a very poor show.

DON’T HANG AROUND! – Juices are highly perishable and are best drank as soon as possible to get maximum flavour and health benefits.

REASONS TO GET JUICY

INTENSE NUTRIENTS – Juicing condenses down produce into a glass, you can cram so much goodness into a juice.  One glass can contain 5 carrots, 3 apples, 1 lemon, 5 kale leaves…….whatever your imagination can come up with!  To eat all of those in one sitting would take a long time and lot of chewing….

DIGESTION – Juices take almost no digestive energy, meaning the body is getting loads of nutrients and expending very little in return.  That energy can be used for other things like replenishing and rejuvenating.

LOSE WEIGHT, LOOK GOOD – Juices can really help here, accompanied by a good, balanced diet (we’d of course recommend a vegan diet) and regular exercise.  The intense nutrient hit you get from juicing helps keep the skin shining and hair and nails strong, it will also help to make you feel and look younger.

WHICH JUICER?

There are two main types of juicers, cold press or centrifugal.  We have always used a centrifugal juicer and if they are well made and powerful, produce good results and extract plenty of juice (you can check this by pressing out the waste pulp – this pulp can be made into tasty burgers or muffins).

Centrifugal juicers basically extracted the juice using a spinning blade.  Cold press (or masticating) juicers normally extract more juice and at low temperature, maintaining all of the nutrient content.  They are quieter and can be used to make nut milks, however, they are more expensive.

We’ve tried out many juicers and our favourites are Sage.  They sent us a juicer over a year ago and its been brilliant since then.  Very well made, easy to clean and powerful.  They are not the cheapest, but if you are serious about getting into juicing, its well worth the investment.

First Summer Strawberries

First Summer Strawberries

BERRY NICE SUMMER:)

We just ate our first wild strawberries from the garden and they were so sweet.  The song ‘Summer Wine’ by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra sprang to mind.  A classic with a proper retro video.  Lee knows how to wear a moustache!  A perfect tune for strawberry munching in the sun.  Jane and I have been playing it recently on guitar and it’s a cheeky tune that makes people smile.  The raspberries are coming at Trigonos and we’ve been inundated with gorgeous gooseberries (so sweet) and blackcurrants (potently purple).  This time of year is just one long celebration of sensational seasonal produce, even the cauliflowers are making an appearance!

FAT, SICK AND NEARLY DEAD

This documentary came out a while back and has influenced loads of people and certainly spread the good juicing word around the globe.  Going on a juice fast can have wonderful health benefits, incredible transformations, as highlighted by the personal stories in this film.  Some friends of ours are going to try it out, although a shorter version, it will be interesting to see the results.  Jane and I feel that juice fasts can be an incredibly cleansing and revitalising opportunity, although we’d not recommend carrying them on for too long.  Juicing does take fibre out of your fruits and veggies and we love fibre in the BHK.  Its essential for maintaining good health and digestion.

Along with a healthy balanced diet, juicing can be a brilliant habit to get into, the benefits of which are best experienced to be believed!!!!

Here’s a recipe for a seriously tasty juice, full of zing and good things:

The Bits – For 2

3 kale leaves (with stems)

3 large carrots (scrubbed)

1-2 inch fresh ginger (peeled – with a teaspoon is easiest)

2 large apples (halved)

1 large beetroot (scrubbed – with leaves if you’ve got any)

1 green pepper (deseeded and halved)

1 small lemon (whole)

Do It

Pop all into a high speed juicer, leaves first, then ginger and lemon.  The carrot and apple will flush everything through.

Serve

In your favourite glass (or jars if you are trendy, or poor, or both) with a smile.

Foodie Fact

Beetroots are in the same family as chard and spinach.  The beetroot leaves (greens) are exceptionally high in iron, calcium, vitamin A and C.

Many athletes are now getting into beetroots.  Apparently it lowers muscle fatigue and is of course, amazingly nutritious with huge amounts of beta carotene and a good hit of sugar to keep you well fuelled for a workout.  Beetroot is also ideal for detoxing, as it kick started the detox process in the liver.  Ideal for a morning juice.

TOP BEET TIP – If you have beetroot fingers, all purple, try rubbing some lemon juice over them.  This helps.  Or wear gloves in the first place.

Categories: Breakfast, Detox, Healthy Living, Juices, Nutrition, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A million miles from partial, self-sustainability (but trying!) – Beach House garden pics and update

Enjoying a cuppa at the Pant Du Winery (just down the road).  Yes, Richard is making wine in Wales!  Very nice tipple as well (the cider is especially amazing)

Enjoying a cuppa at the Pant Du Winery (just down the road). Richard and his family are making wine up here in North Wales! Very nice tipple as well, red, white or rose (the cider is especially amazing).

Here we are again, challenged by our beautiful hill side climate. The Beach House Garden is a wild place to be. We’re 400 metres up Tiger Hill, staring out towards Ireland and Angelsey and the weather so far in 2015 has been unrelenting and way too chilled.  The veg patch is not very photogenic at the moment, the plants look a little timid, not sure whether they’ll bother this year.  But, when the sun is out and you’re lying on the grass, watching the apple tree dance; the world seems bountiful and ever generous.  Thank you nature, I’m not complaining.

The back of the garden, where the wild ones live.....growing freely for all the little critters, bees and hedgehogs.

The back of the garden, where the wild ones live…..growing freely for all the little critters, bees and hedgehogs.

Now Buster (our semi-feral part-time cat) seems to have found a better deal, small birds are flocking to our garden. Its wonderful. Goldfinches and all sorts of busy tits.  We even have a robins nest directly opposite our kitchen window in the dry stone wall. We can see the little Mum robins head poking out of the nest when we’re washing up. I have to say, the Dad robin is working a hard shift getting the twigs sorted and gathering fat worms.

Mrs Robin keeping an eye on us.

Mrs Robin keeping an eye on us.

Jane bought me a very cool, Snowdonia Pear Tree for my birthday, so that will be going into the earth very soon. We have a lovely little sunny spot ear-marked for Percival (2.5/10 for originality there!)  I’ve always thought an orchard would be beyond me, but it seems we’re getting a nice little gathering of fruit trees together.  Even the cherry tree has decided to burst into life.

The herb garden is doing well, we have some funky varieties of mint growing, I’ve gamble on some tough ‘bush’ basil and of course, the rosemary, thyme and sage are doing well (they’re toughies).  Mint is such a trooper, we now have ginger mint growing in our grass.  A nice surprise!  I’m in charge of edibles and Jane loves to work with the frillier plants.  The colourful ones that look nice.  Jane’s favourite plant is a ‘Lady Shallot’ Rose, beautifully peach.  It gets favourable marks from me just for having an onion in its name.  Our Acer tree is loving it this year and has doubled in size.  Acers always remind me of Japan.  I love the little red guy for that.

rsz_p1190200

Our noble red acer

When the sun does get out and we are both at home, we chop wood.  The chainsaw gets cranked up and we fill our garage full of scavenged trunks and branches.  There is something very reassuring having a garage half filled with logs for the fire.  Jane’s brother in law, Paul, will be coming up soon to help us get one of our years biggest projects finished.  A new woodstore.  Knowing Paul, it will be a work of art!

Choppin'  logs

Chopin’ logs – Feeling warmer already

I think one of the highlights of our garden is the succulents. They are an interesting plant, like a cactus meets a rose, normally on a stony wall. I planted a little succulent and couple of years ago, wedged it between a few stones with some soil and it now looks like a perfect, crimson, lotus flower.

The Lotus Succulent

The Crimson Lotus Succulent

Our apple and plum trees went wild with blossom, which is now blown all over the garden. Hopefully the bees did there work and we’ll have some fruit again this autumn. This year is, so far, nothing like last, which was a bumper year for fruit and berries. Come on plums!

Plum blossom going strong.  Last year we had a festival of plums.  This year will be more like a quiet get-together.

Plum blossom going strong. Last year we had a festival of plums. This year will be more like a quiet get-together.

We are growing our own lettuce this year and have trays of seedlings all over the place, we’re also going for plenty of rocket. Our veg patch is sporting tiny shoots of cauliflower, cavolo nero, beetroot, fennel, potato, chard and savoy cabbage. We’re realising that the veggies we grow up here on Tiger Hill need to be the equivalent of a very enthusiastic SAS commando to even stand a chance. If Bear Grylls was a carrot, he wouldn’t last long in our veg patch!  Anything like a creeping bean will soon be blown over to the curious sheep (or horses) next door and turned into a tasty bite.

Orange, gold and black, at sunset, Tiger Hill lives up to its name.

Orange, gold and black, at sunset, Tiger Hill lives up to its name.  Overlooking Nantlle Valley.

One of the advantages of the plants being small, is that the slugs seem to have followed suit. They’re tiny little guys, still doing a slugs-worth of damage, but in smaller nibbles than usual. I have built up some of the edges of the veg patches, but have generally given up on slug traps/ assault courses. I think the best way is patience and surrendering a decent portion of each crop to the greedy little critters.

Eeking out a few veggies is more than a hobby though, it helps to keep me connected to the seasons and what’s going to be good on the BHK menu and the menu at Trigonos. When the weather is beautiful I feel great for the garden, when the storms set in, I just hope they survive another day!

Pond ferns

Pond ferns

The pond is doing brilliantly.  We rarely touch it, which seems to do the trick.  Everytime you walk past you can hear small amphibians throwing themselves into the safety of the overgrown water feature.  We have many newts living there, and frogs.  We have also noticed baby red dragonflies.  I think this all points towards a nice clean pond.  Again, since Buster left us (we miss you little man) the frogs especially are thriving.

At this time of year sorrel is really doing its thing.  We’ve tried growing it in beds, but our sorrel prefers to grow through the slates in the front garden.  It seems very happy there and is thriving.  Its one of my favourite leaves, full of bitter apple twang, I’m happy to see its found a home.

Sorrel is a star

Sorrel is a star

It looks like the garden this year will be more play than productivity, I can see the fire pit being cranked up later in the summer.  Apparently, September is going to be a stunner.  Only another three months to wait then!

So after four years of Beach House gardening adventures, we’re still roughly a million miles away from our wonderful goal of partial self-sustainability. But I know we are on the right track!  If all else fails, maybe we can dive into the world of poly-tunnels.  We’ll keep experimenting until we figure something’s out, we learn a little more each year and for that alone, the Beach House garden is ever valuable and fertile.

Some blue skies......

Some blue skies……

Categories: Healthy Living, photography, Summer, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Happiness is the highest form of health – The Dalai Lama

No matter how many kale smoothies we drink, no matter how much we avoid processed sugar or potatoes, “happiness is the highest form of health.”  I found this little quote put much of our current eating habits into focus.  Enjoy your food, whatever you’re cooking or eating!  A healthy, content and happy mind inevitably leads to a healthier body.

Happy gardener, happy cook, happy food, happy eater.

Jane and I are up in Mcleod Ganj, India, at the moment, spending time with the Tibetan Community in exile.  Read more about our antics here.  If you like this quote, we post regular things like this on our Facebook page.

Chagpo Nang (take care)……

Long life to the Dalai Lama!

FREE TIBET

Categories: Friends of B.H.K, Healthy Living, Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soapnuts – Detergent that grows on trees!

Save the planet one wash at a time!!!!!

We’d like to share with you all the wonders of these miraculous little nobly shells, Soap Nuts.  They are completely biodegradable, hypoallergenic, vegan, organic, chemical and cruelty free.  We love them and you can’t even eat them!  I realise that we normally write about the food that gets our bellies singing, but forgive us a slight deviation from filling our faces with happiness and shift focus to what are, for us at least, the future of household cleaning!!!!!  I know, cleaning is normally not that fascinating, but soap nuts at least make it an environmentally friendly pursuit.

Unfortunately most of the household cleaning products on sale are full of bad things; phosphates, chlorine, petro-chemicals, formaldehyde, parabens and loads of other toxins.  These will all end up in the earth; in our rivers and lakes, negatively affecting animals and nature generally.  This may sound simple, but when it goes down the drain, loo or plughole that is not the end of the story.  Mainly due to the media and the control of large corporations we are constantly sold ‘lifestyles’ that would seem bizarre without things like shampoo, deodorant, washing up powder, anti-bacteria spray, washing up detergent, toothpaste, etc etc (basically whatever they want us to buy).  These products are made by the same companies who have built up this ‘utopian’ way of convenience living and its bogus.  Totally bogus.  You don’t need all this stuff, nature meets all of our needs to live in a healthy and balanced way.  What we found was, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way and when we looked into natural, biological and ecological detergents and cleaners there were long lists of easy to gather bits that we could use effectively in and around the house.  There were so many benefits to switching to eco and soapnuts are certainly one of the stars!

ECO/BIO SOLUTION TO REPLACING CLEANING CHEMICALS

Soapnuts are natures answer to all of our household cleaning jobs.  They are cheap to buy, easy to use and totally non-toxic.  Soapnuts are very versatile and when you use them, there is no need to buy lots of different household cleaning products…… admittedly this is starting to sound like a corny advert, but its true!  When we started using soapnuts, we became quite excited, it seem like we had found a natural way of keeping our house clean and tidy and the fact that it was nasty chemical free meant that the waste water from washing dishes or clothes could be used on the garden, cutting down dramatically on waste water (a standard washing machine uses 50 litres of water per wash!!!!!!!)  I am sensitive to most chemicals and when I touch pretty much any household cleaner I get a reaction, of course with soapnuts, no probs.  They are brilliant for folk with allergies.

Soapnuts

Soapnuts in their raw state

WHAT ARE SOAP NUTS?

They’re the dried shells of the Soap Berry tree.  The Saponin (natural soap element) is contained in the shells and these are harvested after they fall naturally from the trees.  Linen cloths are spread under the trees and farmers wait for big gust of wind I’d imagine.  The shells are dried in the sun after being removed from the berry, this berry can be replanted, aiding reforestation.  Most soapnuts are freighted by ship to the UK making it better for the environment (although still not ideal of course).  Soap nuts are processed without the use of chemicals of any kind.

SCIENCE BIT

When soap nuts are agitated (boiled or scrubbed) they release saponin which is the detergent part, breaking down the surface tension between water and oil, making things clean.  This is the same process that most detergents create, but soapnuts does it all without bubbles (which is a shame because we quite like bubbles), synthetic chemicals and weird/ alien fragrances.  The bubbles and fragrances that we associate with detergent products do not make things cleaner, they are just  the frilly bits that we have become accustomed to.

Soap nuts are completely cool with our environment, no phosphates here, so lakes, river, frogs, fish and algae are all unaffected by our washing up and clothes washing.

P1060361

Soap Nuts – pre-boil

NATURAL STAIN REMOVER

If you’re looking for a potent household stain remover look no further than white wine vinegar and bicarb of soda.  Together they form a natural, affordable and generally available answer to tough stain removal, without using poisons like bleach et al.  If you soak clothes in 2 cups of bicarb of soda and 2 cups of white wine vinegar with some tepid water your clothes will be shining after a good wash.  You can also add this concoction to your washing machine to add extra poke to your soapnuts, put 1 tbs of white wine vinegar and 1 tbs of bicarb of soda in the drawer of your washing machine and BHAM!  Spotless results everytime, say goodbye to those pasta sauce splatters.

USING SOAP NUTS

There are a variety of ways that soapnuts can be used in the hoose.  We buy ours from Living Naturally and they send you a small muslin bag with the soapnuts inside.  This bag can be used in the washing machine, you simply pop a few soapnuts in the bag and let the washing machine do its thing.  You can do this in any type of washing machine and they work on any fabric.  Another great advantage is that they work at low temperatures, around 30oC will do nicely.  You may need to use more soapnuts if you live in a hardwater area.  As mentioned above, you can collect the ‘grey’ (waste) water at the end and use it on your garden.  You can also hand-wash clothes using the soapnut liquid (see below) instead of detergent, 1-2 cups is enough for one bucket of washing.

Soap nuts are also great when you’re travelling, pop a few in your bag and use in warm water.  Add your clothes and leaves them to soak for a while.  Then give them a good wash and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the earth-friendly results.

Soap nuts need no additonal softener, they actually act as a natural softener.

P1060397

Soap Nut Liquid – Ready for action!

OTHER AMAZING WAYS OF SOAP NUTTING

Multi-Purpose Spray Cleaner – Fill a standard sized spray bottle with 400ml soap nut liquid, 100ml white wine vinegar, 20 drops lavender essential oil, 20 drops tea tree essential oil, 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 10 drops of peppermint oil.  Make your house shine and smells ace.  Essential oils are optional and of course, can be a little costly.  We dribble in the oils we have handy.

Pet Wash – Pour 100ml of soap nut liquid into a blend and blend until frothy.  Use on your cheeky pooch or friendly goat or animal of your choice.  Soap nuts act as a natural pest inhibitor; fleas, lice etc don’t like it so stay away!  No scratchy pets, hoorrayyyy!!!!

Organic Pesticide – The same applies to plants, pests don’t like it so fill a spray bottle with soap nut liquid and add 10 drops of neem, eucalytus, peppermint, geranium and lavender oils and you have a perfectly natural pesticide that does the job.

Watering the Garden – Use leftover water from washing up or from your washing machine on the garden.  It will have bits of food (mini compost hit) and bits of soap nut (mini pesticide hit).  Its just all good!!!

Soap Nut Liquid Recipe

Boil 50g of soapnuts in pan with 1 litre of water for 25 minutes.  Leave to cool and strain into a suitable bottle.  This makes roughly 500ml of soapnut liquid.

Add the leftover soapnuts back to the pan with another litre of water and boil again, you can repeat this process 3 times at least making 2 litres of chemical free detergent.  Nice one!!!!  Store the soapnut liquid in a fridge.

If you would like a fragrant detergent, simply add essential oils to the liquid or to the bag before you pop into the washing machine.   The essential oils mentioned above are helpful, especially as they have anti-bacterial properties.

If you’d like to buy some soap nuts, we find these guys helpful and they can deliver all over the UK.  Not sure about the rest of the world guys, but I’m sure you’ll find some locally on the web.  If you are lucky enough to live in India, just go out and pick some!  When we are travelling around India we always have a healthy stash of fresh picked S.N’s in our backpacks, keeping us quite clean and tidy.

At present, we are only using 1% of the total worldwide soapnut crop.  There is huge potential there to utilised this brilliant resource and save vast amounts of potentially harmful household waste affecting the environment.  In one swift shift towards the wonderful soap nut, we are cleaner and greener!

The only downside of Soap Nuts is they do travel a long way to get to rural Wales.  Does anybody know of an natural detergent alternative that can be sourced closer to home?

Jane has a new blog and has just been writing about a similar subject that most of don’t even think about.  It relates to needless household waste which could have a drastic impact on our environment in the near future.  Find out more The Moon and The Womb.

Our friend Yolanda over at the Byzantine Flowers blog writes extensively about ecological replacements for household cleaners etc, here’s a great article about natural, organic pest control remedies, one of many.

All info taken from the great guys at Living Naturally, they have a large range of soap nut variations from shampoos to fancy bath stuff.

PS – We support folk like ‘Living Naturally’ because they supply brilliant products, not because we get sent freebies.  Just thought we’d clear that up.    

 

Categories: Healthy Living, Organic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Primitive Juice Man Conquers Mighty Mountain!

Primitive Juice Man - on the way up

Primitive Juice Man – on the way up

I did.  Two days ago I climbed the second highest mountain in Britain, Snowdown, which is just behind our house.   I climbed it in record time (for me) fueled only by a beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger juice.  Wahee!  Juice power.

Super Juice

The Super Juice

As many of you will know, the Beach House is tucked away in the valleys of Wales, overlooking Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula.  We have the most spectacular views and on days like today, when the skies are clear, I can see some of my favourite landscape anywhere.

Britian is experiencing a  heat wave at the moment and we are getting some of it, with temperatures in the mid 20’s for the past two weeks.  The garden is loving it (post to come soon) and our veg patch is looking amazing.

RAW EARTH MONTH UPDATE

The weather has come at the perfect time for our Raw Earth Month and it is definitely salad and smoothie weather at the moment. The only down side to a proper British summertime is that I get chronic hayfever, which is a huge drag.  We have consulted Jane’s homeopathic/ magician friend and she is sending up some remedies as we speak, hopefully this will stop my sniffles.

We are going to extend our Raw Earth month by two weeks, we are loving it!  The candle light at nights is perfect as it doesn’t get dark until 10ish anyway.  It adds a very peaceful feel to the house and there is something timeless about reading by flickering candlelight.  Handwashing our clothes has been interesting.  It takes a while and a little effort, but with the sun out and a special herbal soap, we are getting great results.

We have been making once a week trips in the car to pick up our amazing veg box from some wonderful people a couple of valleys away, full of the finest organic produce and the courgettes are coming thick and fast at the moment!

 

One thing we are using alot is the dehydrator.  Jane is taking full advantage of the abundant herbs and wildflowers at the moment and we are drying them for use in teas and infusions.  We realise that it uses a bit of electricity, but know that we will have to buy less in the long run.  It seems to at least balance out.

We watched an interesting documentary recently ‘No Impact Man’ about a guy giving up many things in a one year project, in the centre of New York.  We can draw alot of parallels with Colin and his family, but we are lucky to live in the country and have no TV anyway!  We are well from many temptations up here on the hill, no restaurants, bakeries or cafes.  No cinemas, shops, pubs!   It would be alot more difficult to do this kind of thing in a city.  Hats off to Colin and his family for sticking to it and setting an amazing example, his project became huge and was all over the media.  I am sure it made a big impact and they seemed to be having a good time doing it, which is surely the main thing!

I think we’d do this all again, especially the raw food part.  We are consuming alot less, recycling most of our water on the garden and generally life has slowed down.  So far, the experiment is going well and the sun is shining.  What more could you want!

View from the bottom - Snowdon, Nantlle Side.

View from the bottom – Snowdon, Nantlle Side.

View of Nantlle Valley from Snowdon

View of Nantlle Valley from Snowdon

What has this got to do with food you may ask?  Very good question.  I guess it highlights the fact that you don’t need a full English/ Welsh breakfast and 5 mars bars to go walking in the hills and that juices are super cool and full of energy.

I also realise that the weather is chilly in some parts of the world now (Tasmania especially I hear!) and it is surely nice to look at little wet Wales bathing in glorious sunshine for a change!  Long may it continue…..

OK, heres something food related, todays smoothie.  It’s a:

Green Banana, Coconut and Almond Smoothie

Makes one large jugful, enough for three glasses:

The Bits

2 bananas, 2 cups coconut milk (watered down), 1 apple, 1 cup cucumber, 3 cups spinach, 1 cup soaked almonds, 2 teas green powder (barley powder, spirulina), 1 cup grapes, 1 lime (juice and zest)

Do It

In the blender and blend, scrape down the side, blend, scrape down the sides and blend…….repeat until all is smoooooth.

Banana, Coconut, Almond and Spinach Smoothie

Banana, Coconut, Almond and Spinach Smoothie

We Love It!

Very sweet and filling smoothie, packed full of nutrition.  Anything green is great.

Foodie Fact

Spinach is regarded by many as the best thing you can eat.  Ever.  We agree.  Not only does it taste so, so good, it contains more iron than beef, pound for pound.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Healthy Living, Raw Food, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Raw Earth Month – What’s it all about?

We are running late on Raw Earth Month, the big day is now tomorrow (for a variety of mundane reasons).  I know Jane has already told you a little about what we’re up to, but here’s my take on the whole shebang.  Lee

The Beach House is going full-on this June – July (24th – 24th), its:

!………………RAW EARTH MONTH……………….!

We are rather excited about the whole dreamt up project.  It came like a bolt from the blue, we wanted to do another raw food month (because it makes you feel great and raw food is seriously interesting for the taste buds and from a nutritional point of view) so we took it to the next level, a huge step towards a more natural, peaceful lifestyle.

Raw Earth Month means:

–  A raw/ vegan diet only

–  No caffeine/ alcohol

–  No consuming

(not buying anything other than staple food)

–  No detergents/ unnatural chemicals

(i.e. toothpaste, washing up liquid, clothes washing detergent, shampoo, soap etc)  

–  Minimal use of electricity

(other than recharging computers, dehydrating, juicing, blending)

–   Minimal car use

(other than going to work and shopping on the way back)

–  1 hour internet use per day

–  No electric lights

(candles are allowed!)

–  No washing machine

(we are hand washing clothes in the bath)

–  Waste water to be recycled

(in the garden on our veg patch)

–  Use as much organic produce as possible  

(has been difficult this year with the wet, wet conditions)

–  Forage as much as possible

(nettles, elderflower, hawthorn, wild herbs, red clover, dandelion)

–  Composting all our waste and only buying packed produce when absolutely unavoidable.

Yoga, walking, meditation, gardening, playing music and smiling; definitely allowed.

We have loads of cool books to read about sustainability, organic/ biodynamic gardening, raw food, etc and are taking this month as a huge learning curve.  Jane is really getting into herbal remedies and potion making, with wonderful results (elderflower champagne anyone!!!!!)  We have both been super busy with work recently and are looking forward to this little window of peace.

Jane and I are also going to be making some music and this may appear on the BHK soon.  We may sing about red clovers and rosemary, we may not!

We’d love to hear your experiences of a similar lifestyle/ project and any advice is very, very warmly appreciated.

All in all, we hope to live the life we want to live, free from the troublesome add-ons of the modern world and co-existing within it.

VIVA RAW EARTH!x 

For more info on our Raw Earth Month, see here.

PS – I’ve no idea what we’ll do next year, maybe move into a cave or become wandering mendicants?!

Categories: Healthy Living, Raw Food, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Top 10 Detox Foods

Great healthy info here from veglov.com

Top 10 Detox Foods

Top 10 Detox FoodsLemon
Lemons are a staple of many detox diets, and there is good reason for this. Firstly, lemons are packed with antioxidant vitamin C, which is great for the skin and for fighting disease-forming free-radicals. Furthermore, the citrus fruit has an alkaline effect on the body, meaning that it can help restore the body’s pH balance, benefiting the immune system. Try starting your day with hot water and a slice of lemon to help flush out toxins and cleanse your system.

Ginger
If too much fatty food or alcohol has caused problems for your digestive system, it may be worthwhile adding some ginger to your diet. Ginger is not only great for reducing feelings of nausea, but it can help improve digestion, beat bloating and reduce gas. In addition to this, ginger is high in antioxidants and is good for boosting the immune system. To give your digestion a helping hand, try sipping on ginger tea or adding some freshly grated ginger to a fruit or vegetable juice.

Garlic
Garlic has long been known for its heart benefits, however the pungent food is also good at detoxifying the body. Garlic is not only antiviral, antibacterial and antibiotic, but it contains a chemical called allicin which promotes the production of white blood cells and helps fight against toxins. Garlic is best eaten raw, so add some crushed garlic to a salad dressing to boost its flavour and your health at the same time.

Artichoke
If you have recently been overindulging in fatty foods and alcohol, adding some steamed globe artichoke leaves to your meals is a great way to help get your body back on track. Globe artichokes are packed with antioxidants and fibre and can also help the body digest fatty foods. On top of this, globe artichoke is renowned for its ability to stimulate and improve the functions of the liver – the body’s main toxin-fighting tool.

Beetroot
For those needing a quick health-boosting shot of nutrients, you can’t do much better than beetroot. Packed with magnesium, iron, and vitamin C, the vegetable has recently been hailed as a superfood due to its many reported health benefits. Not only is beetroot great for skin, hair and cholesterol levels, but it can also help support liver detoxification, making it an ultimate detox food. To enjoy its benefits, try adding raw beetroot to salads or sipping on some beetroot juice.

Green tea
While it’s not technically a food, no detox plan would be complete without regular consumption of essential liquids. Fluids are essential for keeping our organs healthy and helping to flush toxins from the body, and drinking green tea is a great way of boosting your intake. Green tea is not only a good weight-loss drink, but it is extremely high in antioxidants. Research has also suggested that drinking green tea can protect the liver from diseases including fatty liver disease.

Cabbage
Many celebs have resorted to the cabbage soup diet to help lose weight and get in shape quickly before a big event, however cabbage is not only good for weight loss – it is also an excellent detoxifying food. Like most cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli and sprouts), cabbage contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which helps the body fight against toxins. Cabbage also supplies the body with glutathione; an antioxidant that helps improve the detoxifying function of the liver.

Fresh fruit
Fresh fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre= and are also low in calories, making them an important part of a detox diet. If you’re after brighter eyes and skin, shinier hair and improved digestion, try boosting your intake of fruit and eating from a wide variety of different kinds. The good news is fruit is easy to add to your diet, so try starting your day with a fresh fruit salad or smoothie and snacking on pieces of fruit throughout the day.

Brown rice
If you want to cleanse your system and boost your health, it is a good idea to cut down on processed foods. Instead, try supplementing your diet with healthier whole grains such as brown rice, which is rich in many key detoxifying nutrients including B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. Brown rice is also high in fibre, which is good for cleansing the colon, and rich in selenium, which can help to protect the liver as well as improving the complexion.

Watercress
Like most green herbs and vegetables, watercress is an excellent health-booster and detox food. Firstly, watercress leaves are packed with many vital detoxifying nutrients, including several B vitamins, zinc, potassium, vitamin E and vitamin C. Secondly, watercress has natural diuretic properties, which can help to flush toxins out the body. To reap the benefits of this nutritious food, try adding a handful of watercress to salads, soups and sandwiches.

 

Categories: Detox, Healthy Living, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Beach House Garden – Summer Update

The Beach House Garden

Well there has been little summer to speak of really. The clouds parted today, so I went outside and took a few pictures, but really this summer has been very strange.  Even the old timers down the farm say they cannot fathom what is going on.  The soil should be warm and it is cold and damp, meaning the plants don’t know what to do.

White Rose

Our lonesome Kori Squash and Rainbow Kale

We have had a few minor successes, mainly down to raiding our neighbours horse field for massive piles of poo.  It’s like magic dust. One sprinkle and the plants shoot up. The potatoes love this environment and sprang up, they are just starting to flower and we may have a look soon to see if we have any tasty little tubers.

The Potato Patch

Rampant Foxglove

 

 

After an epic battle with slugs and snails, we have managed to get one squash plant through the madness. We have been trying all sorts, beer traps, gravel and jagged rocks, I have been on many stealth nighttime missions to snatch them off our precious green friends. Sometimes it felt like a losing battle, but now things are established and semi-blooming, all these efforts seem worthwile. The squash is growing nicely and we hope to have our first Welsh kori squash soon. Beetroots, rainbow kale, runner beans and hannibal leeks are all holding in there.

The Beetroot Jungle

Flowering Succulents

We have also diversified in the herb garden, with some different types of thyme and our new favourite, ginger mint. A wonderful thing that has its own bed to go wild in. We have been loving wandering out to the herb garden and cutting our own fresh herbs. A real cooks treat (even in the howling gales).
We think it will be a late summer (we hope!) and in late September, we will be cooking with our first batch of Beach House Veg. We will keep you posted.

Beauty Beets

Kori Squash and Runner Beans

Tomato plants (hiding in the green cupboard)

 

Categories: Garden, Healthy Living, Organic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Mood Foods – Top Nine Happiest Plant-Based Foods

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Moods.  What can we do?  Sometimes you’re up and then for no reason whatsoever, your down.  Can food help?  Most people realise that moods affect what we eat, but does it work the other way.  Do foods effect our moods?

There has been much research into the matter which has shown a link between moods and the food we eat.  A recent survey has shown that a large proportion (over 80%) of people felt better when they changed their diet.  Eating healthier makes us feel better inside and out.

From what we can tell this is down to serotonin, the happy chemical, produced in our brains.  Serotonin cannot be produced without tryptophan (an amino acid), so its a good idea to eat foods high in trypophan to make us happy.  Simple enough!?  Low serotonin levels are blamed for anxiety, cravings, mood disorders and IBS.   The concept of eating foods high in trypophan is similar to that of taking an anti-depressant like prozac.  Holistic anti-depressants.

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Smile away!!

Moods cannot be gotten rid of, but can be brought under some kind of control.  The extremity of the ups and downs can be lowered, minimised, meaning we feel more centred and grounded in a good place.  Evidence suggests that eating and living well can be essential in maintaining not just our physical, but also our mental health.  We certainly feel the benefits!

Here are some plant-based foods that can help:

Mung Beans

Top Ten Good Mood

1) Mung beans

2) Asparagus

3) Sunflower seeds

4) Pineapple

5) Tofu

6) Spinach

7) Bananas

8) Nuts

9) oats

Taken from the e-book The Serotonin Secret, Dr Caroline Longmore

Foods high in fibre, whole grains and protein can also help boost moods.  Food with a low glycemic index, like oats for example, will help the brain absorb all of these happy amino acids.  Tryptophan absorption is boosted by carbohydrates.

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These foods should be combined with lots of clean water and fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating regularly and not skipping meals also boosts our mental health.  As ever, a balanced diet is always the best way forward, lots of fresh veg and fruit, with wholegrains, plenty of green leafy veg and some sweetness!  Treats are essential!!

Foods that have the opposite effect are sometimes called ‘Stressors’, the main culprits are listed below:

Food ‘Stressors’

  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Wheat-containing foods
  • Additives
  • Dairy
  • Saturated Fats

 

Provided by the food and mood project, backed by the mental health charity Mind.

A diet heavy in the ‘stressors’ can lead to all sorts of problems including anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, lack of concentration and unfortunately, many more…

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Roast Carrot & Ginger Hummus – Healthy, happy, get dippin’!

Sugar has a powerful effect on our sense of well being, if we eat too much, we can get into a ‘sugar roller coaster’, which is never nice.  Our blood sugar levels are all over the place and we feel drained and fatigued when the sugar is lessening and high as a kite when its peaking.

If you do over indulge, one of the worst things that you can do is feel guilty about it.  Feel great about it!  You have just treated yourself and you deserve it. Move on and make efforts to eat better and feel better, step-by-step, slowly slowly.  It’s a long road without any fixed destination.

Apparently we all have ‘triggers’, foods that can take us up and down.  This depends on you, have a little experiment.  If you are feeling a bit sluggish and down, think about what you have eaten that day or the night before.  Trends will inevitably form.

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We found it really helpful to take the plunge and go for a full raw diet.  Our bodies became sensitive to what we ate and we learned alot about what makes us feel good and otherwise.  You don’t have to go this far of course, just cut out certain foods for a period of time and see how you feel.

Eating well is one thing, but thinking well is another level completely.  Think positively, practice thinking only positive thoughts for 5 minutes at a time and build on that.  You will eventually develop a brilliant habit of a positive world outlook.  This is a helpful tool.  Add that to your new found passion for mung beans and you’ll be shining away for all to see!

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For more information on mood foods, check out the ‘Mind’ site.  There is information here for Brits on how to contact dietitians and nutritionists to get started on a new diet plan and lifestyle.  You could also check out the website food for the brain.

Take it easy, have a handful of sunflower seeds and shine onX

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Wonders of Honeygar and the Alkaline Body

Hagar (Honey and Cider Vinegar)

Honey and cider vinegar combined with just boiled water is normally called ‘Honeygar’ and a mighty fine thing it is.  This potion is not only a lovely brew (an acquired taste) it also has great health properties and may help to cure many ailments.  

Both Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians are said to have appreciated the healing properties of cider vinegar.  It has also been used as an anti-aging elixir in history, which is always popular!

Good quality cider vinegar (with the mother) is a natural product, made by allowing crushed apples to ferment in oak barrels.  It has cleansing properties which help to detoxify the body and is a powerful cleansing agent which naturally helps to fight germs and bacteria.  

Cider Vinegar can also help to keep the body nicely alkaline.  Vinegar is acid but when broken down in the stomach becomes alkaline.  An alkaline body has been shown to better fight germs and disease.

Raw fruits, leafy green vegetables, tea and legumes are examples of alkaline foods.  Interestingly a foods actual pH is not a good indicator of a food that has acidic effects on the body, for example, lemons and limes when processed by the body actually have an alkaline effect.  The ideal ratio of alkaline to acid foods in a diet is around 70/30.  High stress levels can also effect the amount of acid produced in the body.  

Cider vinegar has been used to help treat arthritis. Many people are looking for alternative methods of treatment.  There have been articles recently in the press verifying these healing effects.

Lillies on the windowsill (nothing to do with Cider Vinegar, but lovely non-the-less)

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the famous explorer and endurance chap, suffered with arthritis in his hand and hip and turned to drinking honeygar.  He says “Without it I wouldn’t be able to have done all the things I have done…it has completely kept my arthritis at bay.”

Honeygar is best drank regularly and can take a while to kick in, so stick with it.  It also must be combined with a low acid diet, that means no nasty foods high in sugar, nothing too processed (factory food) and alcohol.  

I have a hip that clicks and a dodgy neck, which are probably old injures from when I was young and used to do terrible things to my body, all in the name of sports.  I have started to drink honeygar and will keep you posted on the progress.

I think the message is, there is enough evidence out there to suggest that honeygar can work well.  

When buying cider vinegar, check that it contains the ‘mother’ and is organic.  This ensures that it is completely natural, the good stuff, and has not been distilled.   The distillation process kills of enzymes and minerals.

‘Hagar’ Recipe

Add 2 tbs cider vinegar and top up with freshly boiled water, add honey to taste (1 tbs is normally good for us)

Some of the info for this post came from the great benefits of honey site and an article in the Daily Telegraph 

Keep up with all the Beach House Kitchen cooking and travels, you can follow us via our newsletter, click here to easily join our e-mail list.  

 

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Living, Infusions, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 76 Comments

The Beach House Kitchen voted for a ‘Thought Provoking’ Blog Award

Lovely Ivelinax

Our dear Ivelina at ‘Mother Nature Loves You’ has kindly bestowed the B.H.K. with another little blog award, the ‘Thought Provoking’ Blog Award.  We love to receive these awards, especially from a wonderful lady like Ivelina.

Ivelina has created a very special space, where she conveys her wisdom and gifts on a daily basis.  Ivelina’s insight into living and her shining energy is a constant source of inspiration for us and we are blessed to have such a friend supporting the Beach House Kitchen.  Ivelina is also very knowledgeable about all things vibrant food and holistic living.  Thank you ‘Mother Nature’X

This award actually started off at my other blog ‘Riding Effortlessly On A Large Green Turtle’ a blog for travel, poetry, philosophy and whatever else I encounter along the way; but eventually found its way to the Beach House.  I have found so many great new blogs and like minded folk through such an award, I love to pass them on and spread the good word.  We hope you find the same!

At the Beach House Kitchen we aim to create a home for folk who love healthy vegetarian food, a place for vibrant ingredients and energies to mingle and create; a little hillside retreat from the grey modern world where we can add a little colour and spice to living, a place that nurtures body and mind.  We also have a very good laugh at the same time.

Here are a few foodie blogs that inspire us and get out thoughts flowing in the right direction (just a handful and in no particular order):

   the bear and the blackberry – Beautiful vegan blog.

freeflowfoodie – Wonderful energy to be found here (and veggie bites)

the veggie nook –  Gabby is a real sweetie!

sacred strawberry – Emily writes from the heart and heat of Madrid

veganchopnchat –  Inspirational words and food abounds.

mumtopia – Many Mum’s join us in the BHK, it seems a great time in life for healthy food!  The is lovely Ali (Jane’s sisters) brilliant blog about all things motherhood.

travelbutterfly – Because we love travel and Savannah gives us wings!

lucysfriendlyfoods – Lucy has the luckiest family around.  Cordon Bleu treats and balancing a busy, busy lifestyle.  A real inspiration.

postpunkkitchen –  The PPK is a constant stream of amazing recipes and huge library of gorgeous dishes.

Peace the consciousness, the transitoriness, your existence – What is cooking without a little poetry?!  Beautiful words that light up our days.

  Thank you to the whole blogging community for being so kind and supportive and enriching out lives.

Lee and JaneX

Categories: Awards/ Recognition, Blogs, Healthy Living, Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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