Meatless Monday: Curried rice and beans with mushrooms

Monday, 30 March 2015

The amino acids in the rice and beans together make a complete protein.  The spices help balance any excess kapha as we go into spring (See

Serves 2 

You will need
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
150g organic brown rice, rinsed
stock made from 2tsp organic reduced salt boullion in 500ml hot water
150g organic brown mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 carton organic cannellini beans
200ml organic coconut milk (optional)

Fry the onion in the olive oil for 1 minute.  Add the mustard seeds and fry for a further minute.   
Add the rice, stock, turmeric and garam masala and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  
Add the mushrooms and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Stir in the coconut milk (if using) and beans. Heat through.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

GM Foods – do I need to worry?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

What are GM foods?

GM have been developed over the last decade or so.  The first GM food was the tomato but now the main GM foods are corn, soya and cotton. They differ from the original varieties in that they have been genetically engineered to incorporate a gene that gives the new variety a quality that is seen as favourable. This quality might be herbicide resistance, higher nutrient content, drought resistance, resistance to decay, resistance to pests, viruses or bacteria etc

What are the advantages of GM foods?

Where crops are engineered to be resistant to herbicides, this means that farmers do not have use more expensive ‘selective’ weed killers, that is ones that do not kill the crops. This also means that all the weeds can be removed with a single application, reducing spraying and operating costs.  

Where crops are engineered to be drought resistant, they may be able to grow in drought affected countries such as Kenya, where in some areas yields have doubled using such seeds.

Where crops are engineered to keep longer, this may lead to less food wastage and if they have a higher nutrient content that’s even better.

What are the disadvantages of GM foods?

The greatest concern would seem to be that GM foods might cause allergies.  This is because the imported gene is expressed as a new protein and this may not naturally be found in the human diet. Research at the University of York in 1999 showed that allergic reactions to soy had increased 50% over the previous year. Some scientists  have gone as far as to say GM foods may increase cancer rates.  

Then there are concerns over wildlife.  There may be up to 50% more birds, bees and butterflies on organic farms.  Let’s face it, if the bees go, we will not be long after them.

Another worry is that herbicide resistant genes may escape into the wild causing the growth of ‘superweeds’ that weed killers cannot destroy.

Antibiotic resistance is already becoming a problem which leads to the rise of ‘superbugs’. If we consume GM foods which are resistant to bacteria this may add to the problem by giving us a low dose ‘antibiotic’ that bacteria can develop resistance to.  

So what do you think?  In my opinion research should be channeled into improving farming methods and technologies to increase crop yields to feed the growing world population. I also think that we, as the consumers have the right to know if we are eating GM food.   In the EU all foods containing GM ingredients must be labelled as such but in the US no such laws exist.  
I would love to hear your comments.

Cauliflower Dal with Parathas

Monday, 23 March 2015

Serves 4

You will need

For the cauliflower dal

1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
120g chana dal
1 tsp organic turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
Stock made from 2 tsp reduced salt organic bouillon in 400ml hot water
450g frozen cauliflower florets
Juice 1 lime
200ml coconut milk
Place the chana dal in a saucepan, cover with water and soak for 1 hour.
When the chana dal is soaked, fry the onion in the olive oil.  Add the spices and continue to cook for 1 minute.  Add the drained chana dal and stock and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until the chana dal is tender. For a smoother dal mash with a potato masher.  Add the frozen cauliflower florets and cook for a further few minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
Serve with parathas

For the parathas

Makes 8
250g rye flour (or equal parts chapati flour and plain flour)
4 tbsp organic olive oil
150ml water
1/2 tsp pink salt
60g rice flour
Place the rye flour and salt in a bowl and add 2 tbsp oil.  Mix together then add water (plus a
Roll the dough in the remainder of the oil and leave for 15 minutes.  Divide into 8 pieces.
Roll each piece out in rice flour then fold into 4.  Roll again into a 6 inch round.
Cook on a medium heat in a fry pan for about a minute each side.  Serve with the dal.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

It's Spring, the organic fruit and vegetable gardening year begins!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Don't you just love spring when everything is bursting into life after the long winter 'sleep'.
We have been planning what we want to grow to eat this year for the last week or two.  Last year in the raised bed we grew courgettes and little gem lettuce very successfully, but the carrots we grew were less successful: perfectly formed but very tiny.  Learning from our mistakes (it was our first attempt at growing fruit and veg!) we realised it would have been better to space the courgettes further apart. Thinking that it is better to grow a different crop this year, we are planning to grow onions and beetroot in the raised bed.
In the greenhouse last year we grew chilli peppers successfully although this was a surprise as we thought we were growing red peppers!  We also managed to grow a squash but our tomatoes were a failure.  This year we will have another go at tomato growing along with cucumbers, and aubergines.
In the open beds we grew rhubarb, raspberries and blackcurrants.  Unfortunately the birds love raspberries just as much as we do and were quicker off the mark so we did not actually get to enjoy the raspberries (maybe get some nets this year).  
First things first.  For a start you need to apply a mulch. This stops weeds from growing and nourishes the soil, depleted by last year's growth.  You can use organic compost and spread it to a depth of 5cm.  I came across an alpaca farm on my walk yesterday and there were bags of alpaca compost for sale at the bargain price of £1 a bag.  How could I resist??  It has now been spread on the beds.  The downside is it is very smelly!!  A week after applying the mulch, you need to dig it in.
Next job is to get the seeds planted in seed trays and keep them warm in the greenhouse or if you do not have a greenhouse you can by a 'mini-greenhouse' for around £20.  Check your seedlings regularly and water them regularly.  Some seeds can be planted directly outside, for instance the onions and beetroot seeds can be sown directly in the raised bed now that spring is here.  Check the instructions on your seed packet.  
Let me know how you go on and I will post my updates as the season progresses.

Janet x

Facts on blood fats

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Last week I looked at the importance of the right fats in the diet.  This week I am taking a closer look at cholesterol, the fat in your blood. The good news is that a healthy vegan diet is the best diet for lowering cholesterol levels.   This is partly because cholesterol is only present in animal foods.  
Now cholesterol has a bad press but is important to your wellbeing.  You do not have to get it through your food though, as your body can make it.  It is a structural component of each cell in your body, it is vital to hormone manufacture and plays a part in digestive health in that it is needed for the production of bile.  Without it our metabolism would be unregulated, our sexual functioning would suffer as would our bone and mental health.
So should we be complacent if we follow a vegan diet?   In fact it is possible to be a vegan and have high cholesterol.  How can this be?  Cholesterol consists of three fats, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.  It is LDL cholesterol that is the real villain as it forms plaque on artery walls.  In vegans this tends to be lower as does HDL.  BUT triglceride levels can be higher and this also comes with the risk of cardiovascular disease.   The likely cause of elevated triglyceride levels in vegans is eating transfats which include hydrogenated vegetable oils often found in processed foods.   Also, did you know refined carbohydrates especially sugar can raise cholesterol?  This is not something that many vegans are aware of.    
To maintain healthy levels of blood fats make sure your diet does not include more that the recommended 30-35% of calories from fat and make sure these fats are polyunsaturates (including avocados, walnuts and pumpkin seeds), or monosaturates (coconut oil, olive oil, peanuts, almonds etc).  The vegan diet should include plenty of fibre, both soluble fibre and insoluble.  Soluble fibre in particular is beneficial for reducing cholesterol. (Here is the science if you are interested.  Soluble fibre forms a gel-like substance in the gut which absorbs bile.  This stimulates the production of more bile using cholesterol from the blood so lowering cholesterol).  You will find soluble fibre in oats, oat bran, pears, peas, beans, apples, blueberries etc.  Make sure the carbs you eat are wholegrain such as wholegrain bread, wholewheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa etc and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.  Just one last thing to ensure healthy levels of blood fat - exercise regularly.  

Be healthy, be happy
Janet x 

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Broccoli, cashew and lentil curry

Monday, 16 March 2015

Some people have a nightshade vegetable intolerance, that is they develop symptoms when they eat vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, chillis and aubergines which are part of the nightshade family and considered 'edible'. Symptoms vary and may include headaches, arthritis, malabsorption of iron leading to anaemia or calcium leading to osteoporosis, diarrhoea or bloating or skin problems. If you think that you may have a nightshade allergy, get tested to confirm this before cutting out these vegetables.  For people with this intolerance, I have created this recipe without nightshade vegetables.  
The cashew nuts add 'creaminess' to the curry.

Serves 2
You will need
650g organic broccoli florets 
75g cashew nuts (soak overnight) + extra for garnish
2 tsp reduced salt organic bouillon
100g organic brown lentils
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ginger

Place the broccoli and cashews in a saucepan and add the bouillon and spices.  Bring to the boil and reduce heat to simmer until the broccoli is tender.  
In another saucepan, cover the lentils with water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. 
Blend the broccoli and cashew mix, reserving a few broccoli florets to top the curry.  For a smoother curry blend the drained lentils with the broccoli mix or return the broccoli mix to the saucepan and stir in the drained lentils.
Heat through and serve topped with a reserved broccoli florets and cashew nut garnish.
Serve with organic brown rice or cauliflower 'rice'.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Lemon drizzle cake - sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, egg free

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Show your mum you love her by making her this healthy treat for Mother's Day.

You will need

For the cake
225g dairy free spread
20g stevia
egg substitute equivalent to 4 eggs
225g rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 large UNWAXED lemon

For the drizzle 
8g stevia
juice 1 large lemon 

Cream the spread and stevia.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, adding a little water to make a thick batter like consistency.  Transfer the mixture to a loaf tin and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  Allow to cool a little then turn out.  
To make the drizzle heat the stevia and lemon juice together and 'drizzle' over the cake. 

Allow to cool fully.

Sprinkle with stevia to finish-(optional)

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

In the news ''Low-fat diet 'burns more fat''''

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

BBC News last week reported that ''Low-fat diet 'burns more fat.'''
The research reported in the BBC News which led to the conclusion that ''Low-fat diet 'burns more fat''', has been criticised for using diets that were so low fat that they could not be applied to real life.  I also agree with cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra that low fat diets could lead to nutritional deficiencies. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble so a low fat diet could result in a deficiency in these vitamins. Vitamin A is important for eye health (and it helps keep those wrinkles at bay!!), vitamin D is important for bone health, vitamin E is essential for the immune system and protecting our bodies from the effects of pollution (its good for dry skin and wrinkles too!), while vitamin K is essential for blood clotting.  
Your body cannot make essential fatty acids so you must take them in through your diet. Fats should make up about a third of your calories.  BUT there are fats and fats.  Saturated fat should be limited. You may be surprised that coconut has 30g saturated fat per 100g (which is more than butter). However coconut has no effect on cholesterol levels and is even beneficial for heart health. Such plant based saturated fat tends to be the exception. It is saturated fat from meat, and dairy that may be more damaging although science is now challenging this view. See Fish oils are indeed beneficial for heart health, but if you eat salmon you may want to eat wild salmon. See Even cheese is no longer the 'baddie' it was once considered. Studies suggest that the combined saturated fat and calcium are not as damaging as saturated fat alone.  More research may be needed to confirm this.  The real villains are transfats which include hydrogenated vegetable oil and which are found in some processed foods.  These are known to raise cholesterol levels. 

If you avoid processed foods and have coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds you can continue to include fats in your diet, but, as always remember, everything in moderation.  

Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Vegan sushi

Monday, 9 March 2015

Making vegan sushi can be a little tricky, but once you have mastered sushi making, you can experiment with different fillings.  Here is a basic (but delicious) vegan sushi to start you off. Did you know that seaweed is rich in iodine, which helps keep your hormones happy.  It is also rich in calcium and loaded with antioxidants.

Serves 2
You will need

2-3 roasted seaweed sheets
100g sushi rice
50ml rice vinegar
1 avocado, mashed
finely sliced spring onion (optional)
1/4 red pepper, thinly sliced
Tamari for dipping
A bamboo sushi mat for rolling
Cling film
A bowl of water

Rinse the rice and place in a saucepan.  Cover with water and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool and fluff up with a fork.  

Prepare to assemble by covering the sushi mat with cling film.  

To assemble place the seaweed sheet on the covered mat and top with 1/2 to 1/3 sushi rice leaving about 2.5cm (an inch) uncovered at the top of the seaweed sheet.  You may need to dip your fingers in the bowl: the rice is sticky! Add the stevia to the rice wine vinegar and sprinkle over the rice. 

Top the rice with mashed avocado and place the pepper and spring onion, if using.

Begin to roll from the bottom of the mat, squeezing each time you roll.  Wet the uncovered seaweed at the top so that it will stick to seal the sushi.  Transfer the sushi to a chopping board.

Using a sharp knife, cut the sushi in two, then each piece in two again. Serve with tamari for dipping.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell 

'Black forest' smoothie - protein power

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Combining rice and pea protein provides the complete protein package, comparable to animal derived protein. Rice is low in lysine, an amino acid which is important for growth and bone health. However pea protein is rich in lysine so that together they provide a complete protein package.

Serves 1
You will need

70g dark, sweet cherries
1 tbsp cacao + extra for sprinkling on top
1 tbsp pea protein
1 tbsp rice protein
200ml sweetened soya milk
1/2 avocado for extra creaminess (optional)
Cacao nibs to top

Place all the ingredients in a blender.  Blend, top with cacao and cacao nibs.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell 

Finding your life purpose - the carer

Friday, 6 March 2015

On the yoga blog I have been looking at dharma/ life purpose which may change at different stages of your life 

Here we are looking at very specific life purpose. A carer's role can be tough and the health of the carer may suffer.  
When I moved from Lancashire to Yorkshire, there was no way I was going to leave my lovely, kind, elderly mother behind.  She had fallen a couple of months before but was fully recovered, so it seemed, and was living independently.  Even so, I thought it best that I keep an eye on her so when a house with an annex became available in the area I wanted to move to, it seemed like the perfect solution.
Within a week of us arriving she was ill and spent the next six weeks in hospital with double pneumonia and heart failure.  Every day, I made the 26 mile round trip to see her in the hospital and several times thought I was on the point of losing her.  I was distraught.
When she came home she had gone from being independant to totally dependant, unable even to make a cup of tea for herself.  This took some adjusting to for both of us.  Afraid to leave her for long, I became almost a prisoner in my own home.  One minute I felt resentful, the next guilty for feeling resentful. But even this was not the worst of looking after her.  I know now that it was not mum's fault in any way, but she suffered from repeated urine infections which changed her personality and turned her against me. I used to cry and cry. Occasionally I would see my 'real' mum like when she would tell the doctors that I was 'the best daughter in the world' but these moments were few.
I was on a waiting list to get mum in day care just for a few hours, one day a week.  After six months I rang to see when it would be available and was told that people had been waiting a lot longer than me.  Next day, I rang back saying that I could not cope without a few precious hours a week respite and maybe she should be in a care home.  So she began going to day care just a few hours on one day each week but at least it gave me some freedom. It was good for her too.  The staff were lovely and it was a chance for her to meet people.
Things just got worse.  She had a really bad fall on her face and looked like she had been beaten up.  She would not eat and food became a battleground.  I begged the doctors to prescribe 'supplement drinks' which with reluctance they eventually did.  She died just two months after her fall and after just two years in her annex leaving me to grieve not only the loss of my  mother but the loss of the close relationship we used to have.  

Being a carer is tough.  Do I regret caring for her?  Not a bit.  Even when things were really bad and she said she would go in a home 'to give me my freedom',  I used to tell her that she belonged with us, in her home.  
The stress of being a carer can impact on your health.  It is a 24 hour job.  Mum had a monitor in her bed. If she did not return to her bed after visiting the bathroom in the night , I got a call from the monitoring centre telling me 'your mum must fallen'. I would go to check, dreading what I might find, to see mum fast asleep in bed.  Somehow she was managing to move the monitor so that it did not register her return.  The stress would trigger an asthma attack and I would be a long time getting back to sleep.  A  report, 'Always on call, always concerned' by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, estimates that 70% of older carers suffer with their health as a result of their caring role.  There are six million carers in the UK so carers make a huge contribution to the economy.
Make sure you take care of your back if your role as a carer involves any kind of lifting. Also make sure you look after your own general health. Try and fit in some exercise, eat well and try relaxation techniques, such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation. It was the psychological stress that took its toll on me. I developed IBS for the first time and this has continued for a year since her death.  Stress can manifest in many illnesses (see
If you are a carer, I would urge you to get whatever help is available in your area. You may be entitled to financial support.   Practical and emotional support may also be available. It helps to talk to others in the same situations and to know others share the same psychological stress as you. If you live in the UK as a starting point see  or for more information. There may be other sources of help available in your local area. 

Love and hugs 
Janet x

What's happening on Flexiladiesyoga

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

On Flexiladies Yoga we have been continuing with the 'New beginnings' series:-

'How yoga helps improves self esteem and relationships' 


'How yoga helps you let go of the past'

'Sankalpa (intention)'- Inviting positive changes into your life.

Facial yoga- increases circulation to the face and tones the underlying muscles:-

'Lion breath- The three minute facial toner'

Facial yoga (more exercises)

"In the news 'Inactivity kills more than obesity'''- Please try this office yoga to increase your wellbeing

Meatless Monday: Courgette 'bolognese'

Monday, 2 March 2015

I have treated myself to a spiralizer.  This 'on-trend' gadget enables you to make 'pasta' from vegetables.  If you use low carb veg, it is a boon to a low carb diet enabling you to still have the 'pasta' dishes you enjoy.  In this recipe, I have used courgettes and made a 'bolognese' sauce using soya mince.  You could also use aubergine or butternut squash instead of courgettes.

Serves 2

You will need
3 medium courgettes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
100g organic dried soya mince
2 tsp organic reduced salt boullion
1 carton organic chopped tomatoes
pinch stevia
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
fresh basil, chopped plus basil leaves to decorate

Spiralize the courgettes (see photo above) and place in a saucepan.  Cover with water and bring to the boil then simmer (they won't take long, just a few minutes). Fry the onion in the oil for 2 minutes then add the garlic.  Add the tomatoes, soya mince, boullion, basil and stevia.  Simmer for a few minutes adding a little water if necessary.
Drain the courgettes.  Serve topped with the soya mince sauce and sprinkle nutritional yeast over the mince for a 'cheesy' flavour.  Top with basil leaves.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell