Make your own almond milk and almond flour

I came across this item on Wellnessmama site a few weeks back and have been making it and enjoying it (and the financial saving) ever since. I thought I’d already blogged about it but I must have dreamed it.

I love the taste of this and I love that I’m getting so much good out of it. I do still use milk, we get raw milk once a month at the farmer’s market but it only lasts us a few days then we go back to organic filtered whole milk.This is just because we can’t get to the farm very easily, it’s a fair way off and also our nearest farm doesn’t operate like that, you can only order your milk for a farmer’s market pick up and there is only one farmer’s market near enough for us to reach regularly. Nick checks the garden every time he comes home as he’s fully expecting a couple of cows to be grazing out there but I wouldn’t go that far.. if only I could though…

I did try to  use almond milk to make Kefir but it didn’t work the Kefir culture died and I guess that had something to do with lactose not being present. You live and learn and fortunately my Kefir cultures are big and I only lost a small chunk.

I’ve used almond flour to make a pasta type substance. I mixed some with an egg and rolled it through my machine into sheets and made a lasagne with it and to be honest it wasn’t too bad.

I buy my almonds loose from here and get 3kgs for under £30 which is pretty good going. Bear in mind when you make it that you use 4 cups of water to one cup of almonds and that you end up with more than 4 cups of almond milk as when you blend it it froths and obviously swells in volume, even after straining. One cup of water is equivalent to around half a pint in UK terms, and a cup of almonds is equivalent to about 100 grammes in UK terms so you get something like 2 pints of almond milk per 100 grammes (this works for me) and so you get 20 pints from one kilo of almonds which means you’re looking at a cost per pint of almond milk of a maximum of 50p or £1.00 for a litre so it’s not bad much less than what I pay for it ready made.

Anyone who can’t get the above link to work type this into your browser address bar: http://wellnessmama.com/366/organic-almond-milk/

Organic farming in a tiny space. Freebie!

I’ve posted on this before because so often I hear people say they’d love to grow some of their own organic produce but they don’t have space or time or the skills to do so. Here’s another fab little book to help you available free at the moment for Kindle on Amazon it’s called Mini Farming: Fast and Easy Guide to Mini Farming For Your Own Organic Fruits and Vegetables and is by Raiden Steven. Just click somewhere on the title of the book to go straight to the download page.

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Image from here

I know some people really do have no space at all but have a scout around and see if there are any communal gardens or allotments you can get involved with in your area. Around here there are a few parks which have volunteer groups which have started communal gardens in a corner of a local park with the permission of the local authority and with input from local colleges and even sponsorships from local businesses. They encourage people to get involved with tending the area and then they share produce when it’s ready. If there isn’t one in your area and your really have no room not even for a planter on a balcony or some pots on a sunny windowsill then think about getting together with some like minded local people and starting your own.

Everyone knows that I’m seriously into growing my own produce now, not just at home for us to eat but also taking an active role in a communal allotment for the GP surgery’s over eaters self help group. I have to say that right now we’re very busy with the garden and allotment projects and so grateful that everyone is taking their turn to get involved and that our number in the group is swelling as more members join and get involved. It’s great to see a few teens joining us too and to see everyone losing weight is an absolute joy. I’ll have to update on the group progress as soon as I have time to do it justice.

It’s a good time to set a group up as more and more people are looking to take more control of what they eat and looking for ways to do do trusted organic on a budget.

Healthy Chocolate

If you’re going to be naughty, make it as nice as possible. Now chocolate is a special treat when I do have it I make sure it’s good stuff and lately I’ve been testing out not only the good tasting stuff but the healthiest good tasting stuff I can find.

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I have no idea how to share an Instagram post to a blog so I did a screen shot. The credit for the info and picture is contained within

I stumbled upon the info in the picture to the left on Instagram today while taking care of my business social media and it reminded me to blog and share my fave ‘good’ choc.

I can recommend Wilkie’s Organic Amazonas as a really nice tasting and ‘healthy’ chocolate and you can buy it here from the Chocolate Trading Co who also sell recently out of date bars at around half price. I’ve bought them in the past and they were just fine. You can buy cheaper from Wilkie’s direct on their website and check out their amazing range (perfect for a luxury gift treat) and see what goes into their award winning chocolate. I defy anyone to visit this website and not be drooling and gasping for chocolate at the end of it. What I love about this, which is perhaps the top of the heap when it comes to chocolate is the little chunks of raw cocoa it contains which not only give it crunch and texture but also is a fab way to get raw cocoa into your body. It has a very slight liquorice taste and is quite bitter but I like that and you can always push the boat out like I do and take the edge off that bitterness with a nice glass of rich red wine. Wilkies do a version without the ‘nibs’ as they call them too, so that doesn’t have the crunch. They do a milk choc variety, gift packs, a hot chocolate variety and also bags of nibs.

What I find is that the more rich in terms of cocoa content the chocolate is the less I can eat of it anyway due to its richness… the mass produced deliciousness of confectionery is clearly made to make you want more and more. This kind of balances out the cost for me as nearly seven quid for a bar of choc is a tad excessive but really you can only eat a little and so it lasts a long time. Nobody else in the house likes chocolate so I’m lucky that nobody shares it either.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Yum

We came across this on My Recipes site and tried it this evening for dinner and it really was yummy. A great alternative to bread if you’re a low carb or carb free guy or girl. In the ingredients it mentions riced cauliflower but don’t worry if you don’t know what that is, the video shows you how to make it. We substituted olive oil for coconut oil and it was lovely and with no real taste of coconut.

This site is cool. At the bottom you will see slots with days of the week where you can just click on a recipe and drag it into a menu planner so you have it there with all of the ingredients and a video to follow too… have a look at it if you need some help with menu planning, it does more than just that as you will discover when you check it out.

You may have to create a log in in some regions to see the video.

You Shall Have a Fishy On a Little Dishy…

Today Nick made lunch and he surprised me with delicious salmon fish cakes and a raw green leaf salad (kale, cabbage, spinach) with a huge glass of icy cold water and then after we had a glass of chilled white vino in the garden because I was supposed to drink it yesterday and didn’t. I’ll blog about that disaster later.

He confessed that he used the  recipe under the picture below as inspiration so I thought I’d share and forgive me the mush and slush but yes, he made them heart shaped. He increased the salmon, decreased the potato left out the lemon and threw in dill and parsley instead of chives. So he used the recipe but varied it according to our tastes and dietary preference… ie more protein less carb. He fried them in a tiny bit of fat too instead of oven baking.

Image from here
Image from Pink Recipe Box

He did a good job and they tasted divine and looked so sweet but our photos didn’t look as good as Nicola’s from the Pink Recipe Box so I’ve shared hers. Go check out her blog it’s full of fab and yummy ideas.

Two things: take inspiration from recipes you find for good healthy food online or anywhere and make them your own to make them really appeal to you and suit your dietary needs. If there’s an ingredient you don’t like or can’t eat but otherwise you’d love to try it then tweak it and try it, don’t give it a miss. We’re not totally zero carb so the potato was fine for us but even so we reduced it and increased the protein and it was still delicious.We used herbs that we love to eat with fish and which are growing wild in the sunshine and heat we are experiencing. There are loads and loads of recipes out there for healthy meals and snacks but don’t forget that you can simply adjust treat recipes or special occasion recipes too and often lots of them may not be marketed as healthy but they actually are… like this one.

Second thing: fishcakes are a great way to get kids who will not eat fish to eat it. My son will not eat a fillet of fish unless it is deep fried in batter and called haddock. But he loves fishcakes so this is how I get some of the fish I manage to get him to eat into him. At 15 he was a bit grossed out by the uncoolness of his tea time after school snack being a couple of heart shaped fish cakes but he was happy to scoff them and said he loved them… before asking what was for dinner two minutes later. Nick said that perhaps if he’d thought the heart shapes were for him he wouldn’t have been so grossed and perhaps it was the thought of us having had a ‘romantic’ lunch that phased him. He could have a point. Anyway, I started giving the boy a fish cake variant when he was first weaned – mushed up flaked fish and potato with some pee puree… he loved it and it has always been a recommendation of mine to encourage fish resistant kids to eat the good stuff. My daughter is a fish so she has never had a problem eating the stuff. The other way I get the son to eat fish is to put it in soups.

So thank you Nicola for the inspiration and for our LOVEly lunch 😉

Low/zero carb progress update

I’m so busy right now and hardly have time to breathe but I wanted to do a quick update on our revised eating plan.

I’ve chosen what to me is the most significant and telling difference we’ve noticed… my 15 year old rapidly growing son is finally not complaining of being hungry. He is sticking to three protein and dairy rich meals a day and lots of water and he has finally stopped eating everything that wasn’t nailed down.

I believe that this is because I am allowing him to eat what his body is telling him it wants instead of denying him the steaks he’s been asking for every day and preventing him from eating a whole chicken and guzzling two pints of milk before bed. I’m giving him those things and not trying to force feed him nutritious smoothies and juices and twenty pieces of fruit a day.

I believe that because he is actually getting a regular supply of the protein and fats he needs to build man sized bones, organs, muscles and skin he is no longer suffering cravings. Some of his cravings he would satisfy with not so healthy foods before because he (and I) mistook it for hunger instead of yielding to what his body was calling out for… fuel and nutrition for healthy cell building and maintenance.

There have been other side effects of feeding him what his body needs and they are:

1. He doesn’t eat as much food and everything he eats is healthy, he’s not filling gaps with snack foods and I can already see that he has lost body fat. This is a good thing because he is growing so fast weighing him is not really going to tell us much so with him monitoring progress will be more about visible signs and measurements.

2. He is sleeping better. He’s going to sleep at 10pm and sleeping soundly until 6am. He had been struggling to sleep before 1am which was really unusual for him and mostly the reason was he was fighting a food craving and couldn’t relax. His body was crying out for the ‘stuff’ it needed to do do what it was going to do through the night while he slept and build him millions of new cells. At least that’s what I believe. I thought about it and there are two times when we experience rapid cell growth in our lives, as babies (from conception to toddlerhood) and then through puberty, but boys experience far more rapid and significant change in size than girls. When they are babies we accept that we feed them lots of protein and fat and they sleep and grow, so why don’t we get that when they are teenagers? We know that a baby who has been fed watered down milk will not sleep well or for long and some babies need fortified milk to really keep them sleeping and constructing those cells. We just accept that yet we don’t accept that when our 15 year old son wants to eat two chickens and a gallon of milk before he can get a good nights sleep. I might be wrong here but it does make sense to me and I never even thought of it before.

3. Because he is sleeping better he is happier, more active, more alert, doing better at school, just all round functioning well. His skin is glowing, his eyes are bright his curls are shiny and he’s just happy and content, getting taller and stronger and slimmer by the day. He also said yesterday that he felt fitter, like he had more stamina during a footie match.

Now I don’t know about anyone else but to me that is priceless, knowing that my son is getting what he needs for optimum cell growth and general well being is making me feel pretty content right now. I thought his diet was healthy before but now I can see that I wasn’t getting it right, I was giving him what I believed to be healthy not what his body was telling us it needed. I do believe our bodies send out signals to warn us and inform us and we really need to listen more to them.

Next time (hopefully not long before I get time) I’ll update on the daughter’s progress as she’s had some interesting changes occur too.

Sometimes going back takes you forward

So the projected start of the eat good meat and dairy and barely any carbs plan has had a delay. Firstly because the organic meat delivery was not placed on time and wasn’t  received on time. Secondly because we had a couple of celebrations going on so it wasn’t the best time to tighten any belts. So it starts tomorrow.

BUT, I can attest to something and this involves a horrific confession of over indulgence which I am never ashamed to make. I have little to no ADDED sugar in my diet and I’m already eating very little carbohydrate, why the transition to a low carb lifestyle is going to be slightly easier for me. I do however eat a lot of naturally sugar laden foods, which I didn’t realise before. I eat copious amounts of berries, seeds, nuts and a few grains. I didn’t even know some of these contained sugar at all but you learn something new every day. I’m not  a measurer. I am a big eater, anyone following me knows I have gradually been reducing the quantity of what I eat more as an accident and consequence of the other health benefits going on in my life over the past 11 months. My portions are not meagre by any means, I know I can’t succeed with any weight loss if I’m hungry so I’ve never let myself be hungry. My weight loss has come via what I eat not how much I eat.

Besides eating a lot of fruit and vegetables I drink a lot of juices and use juices as dressing for salads and I squirt lemon and orange into and onto everything, believing it a better flavour adder than oils. I also have green juice three times a week.

So anyway, that’s kind of the back ground to what I discovered this week. At a celebration yesterday there was a sweet stall cart thing. Now I’ve not been near chewy, sugary, bright sweets really for a long time. I have sucked on a Ricola or two for a sweet fix but I’m more of a chocolate and cake kind of gal than a Skittles and boiled sweets one. BUT, here on this stall that I just happened to find myself seated beside, was an array of colourful bright little sugary temptations and I yielded to ‘just a few’ chewy, tangy morsels of deliciousness. Now ‘just a few’ in an obese, over eater’s world is never that is it? Let’s be honest. Just a few hands full more like.  I totally lost all of my will power and my common sense approach and my tactics for coping with temptation went right out of the window and I sat chatting to people and popping into my mouth, one by one, just like the old days. Eventually not even registering they were going in there. Old habits eh? They sure do die hard.

So let’s just suffice to say I lost my mind and probably ate at least a whole regular pack sized amount, maybe two, definitely not a family size bag… oh lordy I hope I didn’t do that but who knows?

I only stopped when I noticed that I was starting to become a little hot, my temperature was rising at an alarming rate and I started looking for an escape to get some air, at that point I noticed that my heart was positively pounding in my chest, audibly and sensorily, I could hear it in my ears and feel it in my chest, thumping away like someone had put it on overdrive, more so than when I’m exercising to my  max even. I started to feel nauseous from the temperature I think and I started to panic a little as I became convinced I was having a heart attack. I tried to check my breathing which was starting to become shallow and rapid through the panic and I made my way to the exit, got outside into the cold air, sat on a bench and breathed deeply. Nick had noticed something was wrong and had followed me and he immediately went back in and came out with water. I sipped the water and started to calm down, things started to go back to normal.

Only then did he ask what was wrong and I told him what I’d experienced and we both realised that it was my body’s reaction to those sweets. That sugar, perhaps the additives and colourings I don’t know, but my body did not like what I had done to it and it was letting me know in no uncertain terms.

I sat there with Nick feeling very stupid, very greedy, very gluttonous and strangely very fat. I’d felt amazing when I’d put my new outfit on earlier in the day but suddenly I felt swollen, ugly, bloated, trussed up, miserable and everything felt too tight. I don’t know if that was a mental thing with my mind playing tricks on me making me feel like a fat failure and so I imagined myself fatter than I am or if I had physically swollen. I kind of felt ashamed of myself too and I had to quickly dispel those self loathing type feelings and the shame because they are no good for me, I know that and I had to put things into perspective with a “Good God woman you had a few sweets at a party, get a grip, you are not the anti-christ you didn’t go and slaughter half a dozen women and children”. I have to talk to myself like that sometimes to keep it real because I know that self loathing, shame, blame and all that are my enemies and always have been.

One thing it did do for me though, and this is the reason why I’m glad that I did sit and gorge myself, was it made me wonder how I had coped for years with that kind of pressure on my body. I realised that my healthy body really didn’t enjoy being abused like that and yet I had abused it for years and years and never ever listened to it groan or felt it shudder. I had just carried on treating it bad and not caring. I realised that there was no wonder I felt so bloody miserable all of the time, no wonder I had no energy, no wonder i was so stressed, no wonder I couldn’t cope with things, I was poisoning myself on a daily basis. I poisoned myself so much that my body was probably dealing with one toxin and then another and then another to the extent that it didn’t have time to alert me to what I was doing to it, it was just trying to keep me alive.

How sad to think that I just did that to myself for so long. How lucky I am to not have suffered any long term damage (that I know of yet). How grateful I am to be finally freeing myself from that awful cycle I was locked in.  How fortunate I am to be getting better now, to have the opportunity to reverse that damage and to make mistakes and to see why they are mistakes.

I’ll never ever eat a sugary, bright coloured sweet again as long as I live. That was scary and I’m not going back there again. I’ve learned a lesson and one thing about eating and living healthy that we often underestimate is that power we give ourselves to be able to notice when we eat something that is not good for us, our body does let us know, it tries to warn us and only when we make those attacks on our health rarely do we really get the message and it definitely makes us think about what we were doing wrong.

This is why I think the gradual small steps approach to changing our lifestyle is important for morbidly obese people, we need to learn lessons that will stick with us forever, we don’t need quick fixes. Through a gradual process we learn and we refine our way of eating, our exercise, our whole lifestyle. Because of all the changes I have made thus far I was able to spot the harm those sweets were doing to my body and I have learned that I really don’t want to put that stuff into my body again, ever. I know something now which I didn’t know last week and I don’t just know it from reading about it, I know it from experiencing it and that’s another point I’d like to make; it’s OK to trip up, it’s OK to make a mistake, it’s OK to go backwards now and then because then we really learn the lessons, then we really see the effects our old ways have on our new bodies and believe me this lesson was poignant.

So now the meat is here and I’m ready to roll, more ready than ever. Let’s see what happens, we’ve all recorded weight and measurements this morning and we’re all in this, so we will have views on how this approach affects a middle aged woman, a middle aged man and a growing teenage boy and a young lady. By good fortune all of us had full bloods done recently too so we’ll all have a repeat health check in sixty days and see if there is anything going on in the inside that we hadn’t bargained for. My son is convinced that if we eat bacon with the fat every day we are going to put weight on but let’s see.