Meatless Monday: Vegan tofu spring rolls

Monday, 29 February 2016

In these spring rolls the marinade doubles up as the dipping sauce.  The noodles and rice paper rounds are gluten-free. They are packed with tofu and crunchy vegetables. Delicious! 

Meatless Monday: Vegan tofu spring rolls
Serves 2 - 3

400g firm tofu, chopped into small squares
9 rice paper rounds

Marinade/dipping sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp tamari
1tbsp sesame oil + extra to heat tofu
Juice 1 lime
pinch chilli (or to taste)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2cm piece ginger, peeled and minced

Other filling ingredients
30g rice noodles
1 medium carrot, julienned
1/2 red pepper, julienned
Shredded lettuce
Basil leaves chopped

Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the tofu.  Leave for an hour to marinade then pour off the marinade to use as a dipping sauce.  
To prepare the rice noodles place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Leave for 10 minutes then drain well.

Meanwhile drizzle some sesame oil in a wok and heat the tofu over a medium heat for 6 minutes.

To assemble dip the rice paper rounds in water for a few seconds then place on the chopping board.  

Add noodles, vegetables, basil, and tofu (small quantities or the spring roll will overflow). Fold the bottom of the rice round up, then the sides in, and finally the top over. Hold for a few seconds to 'glue' and place folded side down on a plate. Serve with the dipping sauce.  

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell  

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 28 February 2016

In the modern world, it is not always easy to have a good work/life balance but it is so important to schedule in rest and relaxation time.
In our yoga practice too Patanjali says 'sthira, sukham, asanam' that is we should balance effort with ease. In our video we balance effort with ease while practicing core strengtheners and arm strengtheners. 
This blog post was included in the paper '#YogaDealer Daily'-

In this new series we are going right back to basics with the standing poses. We will look at the correct alignment and common mistakes. We start with Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
Please see my 'sister' blog for the blog post and video-

In the new series on my 'sister' blog, we look at the health and beauty of each of the Ayurveda doshas starting today with vata dosha-

Leaky gut part 2 - The problem with gluten

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, spelt, kamut and rye.  Some people have coeliac disease, a gluten allergy but also there are many people who have a gluten sensitivity rather than an allergy.  Gluten sensitivity may cause symptoms that resemble those of irritable bowel syndrome such as bloating and diarrhoea. Other symptoms include skin problems such as adult onset cystic acne, muscle and joint pain, headaches, brain fog and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or even ADHD.  

Gluten can inflame the gut. If this continues the gut may become leaky, allowing undigested food particles into the blood stream.  The body's immune system attacks this as an invader setting up an inflammatory response which underlies many health conditions. Disrupting the mucus membranes of the gut can also lead to Candida overgrowth, GERD and ulcers. 

Gluten can deplete vitamin D in the body leading to weak bones and poor immunity.  Gluten can also lead to leptin resistance. This means leptin levels are high but the brain is not picking up the signal that we have eaten enough and this can lead to weight gain.  

This is not painting a pretty picture but you should remember that gluten-containing grains are a good source of nutrients and you should only cut them out of your diet after consultation with a qualified nutritional therapist.  

So what grains are gluten free?  Quinoa, rice, millet, tapioca.buckwheat and amaranth.  Be aware that semolina and couscous are essentially wheat and should be avoided where there is gluten sensitivity.  Gluten pops up in many manufactured foods too, including soy sauce which can be replaced with wheat free tamari. Check the labels. Oats are tricky because they are gluten free but are often processed in a factory that also processes wheat and so cannot always be guarenteed gluten free.  You can however buy gluten free oats.

The only way to find out if gluten is the cause of your symptoms is to eliminate it from your diet for 3-6 weeks and see if there is an improvement in your symptoms. 

Next week we will look at healing a leaky gut.

Hope this helps
Janet x

The organic fruit and vegetable garden year begins - tomatoes,apple trees and potatoes

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

February is the time to start your tomato seeds off in the greenhouse.  If you do not have a greenhouse you could start them off on a sunny windowsill- a conservatory would also be ideal. This year we are growing a variety called Superb, which is a sweet salad tomato with a long growing season and variety called Super Sweet 100 which is a cherry sized tomato. This was not the original plan which was to grow varieties called Sakura, a salad tomato and Sun Grape, which grown in grape-like bunches.  We duly planted these up and placed them on some racking in the greenhouse only to hear the racking come crashing down a few moments later! You never know they might germinate in the soil under the racking!

Whatever variety you growing tomatoes, fill some pots loosely with compost and water. Once watered the compost will fill the pot to about three-quarters full. Place one seed in each pot and loosely cover with compost. Clingfilm your pots to create a 'mini-greenhouse' and leave to germinate.

We also bought two apple trees yesterday, very cheaply at a local supermarket- one is Golden Delicious, the other Gala, both of which are dessert apples and these we have planted at the allotment.  Apple trees can be planted anytime from September to May, except when there is a frost. Water them in well.

If you are going to grow 'first early' potatoes now is the time to 'chit' them.  Please see Organic Gardening Update This year we are growing a variety called Arran Pilot which is a good all rounder. We are going to plant the potatoes in our raised bed this year. 

Happy gardening!
Janet x

Meatless Monday-Gluten-free-Mushroom and pepper pizza

Monday, 22 February 2016

Today's Meatless Monday can be made as either a vegan or vegetarian dish. Great for sharing with a friend! The pizza is also gluten-free because it is made with buckwheat flour.(Please see the blog post later in the week 'Leaky gut part 2- The problem with gluten')

Gluten-free-Mushroom and pepper pizza
Serves  2 

150g buckwheat flour + extra for rolling
2 tbsp chia seeds

6 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
pinch stevia
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (vegan)

1/2 large red pepper 
1 slice red onion, chopped
100g button mushrooms, halved
Olive oil spray
120g halloumi cheese, thinly sliced (vegetarian)

If you are sharing with a vegetarian friend you may want to split the base into two. Use half the quantity of sauce with nutritional yeast for one half of the base and half the quantity of sauce without nutritional yeast for the other half of the base, Top the vegetarian half with cheese halfway through the cooking time.

Place the chia seeds in a bowl and add 6 tbsp water.  Leave to stand for at least 5 minutes.

Place the buckwheat flour in another bowl and add the chia seed 'eggs'. Add around 50ml of water and mix to form a dough.   

Place the dough on a floured board and roll the dough into a roughly circular shape about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet.  

Mix the tomato puree, herbs, stevia and nutritional yeast if using and spread over the base.  

Arrange the mushrooms, onion and peppers on the sauce and spray with olive oil spray. 

Bake at 200 degrees for 20 minutes.  If using cheese add halfway through the cooking time.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell  

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 21 February 2016

So often we carry the guilt, remorse, hurt and resentments from the past. In this week's yoga video our intention is to surrender our burdens to the universe.
Please see the blog post and video by following the link to my 'sister' blog-

In this blog post, which is the last on unusual props we are using weights as a 'prop'. Adding weights to your yoga practice helps increase your body awareness, helps combine strength with flexibility, builds core strength and creates a deeper sense of grounding. If you want to incorporate weights into your yoga practice, here are two ideas to start you off-
This blog post was included in the online paper 'The Yoga Travel Tree Daily' -

Tight shoulder muscles may be the result of poor posture, repetitive movements etc. They can lead to tension in the neck and to headaches. 
Please see my 'sister' blog for tips on how to release shoulder tension using a tennis ball-

Leaky gut an introduction

Good digestion is key to good health, both physical and mental.  Sometimes however,  the gut can become 'leaky' which may cause a variety of symptoms such Irritable Bowel Syndrome, food intolerances, allergies, weight gain(especially in the abdominal area due to increased insulin resistance), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraine, skin problems such as acne, rosacea and eczema, tinnitus, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. The mental health effects may be due to the effects of inflammation on the blood-brain barrier which becomes more permeable leading to anxiety, depression, 'brain fog' and maybe even autism.

How does the gut become 'leaky'?
To some extent, the gut has to be 'leaky' in order to allow digested food particles to enter the blood and be carried to where they can be used by the body.  The problem arises when the gut lining becomes irritated and releases excess zonulin, which is a protein that controls the size of the opening between the cells of the intestine lining.  When this happens undigested food particles and toxins can pass into the bloodstream.  The immune system treats these as 'invaders' and the inflammatory response is triggered. 

What causes 'leaky' gut?
Sometimes a leaky gut arises as a result of a gut flora imbalance in which candida albacans, a type of yeast, which is naturally found in the gut, proliferates to the extent it 'squeezes out' other more beneficial bacteria.  The 'good' bacteria are important in the digestive process and can produce B vitamins which can be used by the body.  The yeast may proliferate to the extent that they start to penetrate the gut wall and enter the blood stream, triggering an immune response and allowing undigested food and toxins into the blood. Please see 'Tired all the time-could it be candida?'- The cause of this proliferation may be sugar which 'feeds' the yeast.  Long term antibiotics are another cause because they kill the good bacteria as well as the harmful bacteria they were prescribed for. Stress too, can affect the balance of gut flora because it lowers immunity allowing the yeast to grow.  It may also be that there is a link between zinc deficiency and 'leaky' gut. In some people gluten may irritate the gut lining as can certain medications such as aspirin.  We will look gluten in more detail next time before we look at how to treat 'leaky' gut.

Stay well, 
Janet x

Harvesting the lamb's lettuce and baby leaf oriental salad

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Remember the lamb's lettuce we planted last autumn? 'Organic gardening- The winter vegetable garden'-
We are just about harvesting the last of it now. Lamb's lettuce can be served in a salad, in smoothies or if you wish you can steam it and use it as a vegetable. It is bursting with vitamins A and C and has almost as much iron as spinach! We also grew some baby leaf oriental salad can be used in salad or stir fries. 

Why not try this walnut and apple salad for a light lunch with some crusty bread? 

Walnut and apple salad

You will need
Serves 1

1 pink lady apple, cored and sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
50g chopped walnuts
couple of handfuls lamb's lettuce and/or baby leaf oriental salad

For the dressing
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
pinch stevia

Arrange the lamb's lettuce and baby leaf oriental salad in a bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apple and arrange on top of the leaves. Add the walnuts.
Mix the ingredients for the dressing and drizzle over the salad.
Vegetarians can add some feta cheese.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell  

Meatless Monday: Mediterranean stuffed aubergine

Monday, 15 February 2016

This Mediterranean stuffed aubergine recipe is vegan and gluten-free. The recipe uses buckwheat. Do not be deceived by the name, buckwheat is not a grain but a seed. This means it is ideal to substitute for gluten containing grains if you are on a gluten-free diet (more on this coming soon). Also, because it is a seed, it does not cause blood sugar 'spikes' like some refined grains do. A good source of B vitamins and magnesium too.

Serves 2 
You will need

1 large aubergine
100g buckwheat
1 tbsp sesame oil plus extra to drizzle
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red or orange pepper, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
8 green olives, pitted, sliced
a few fresh basil leaves, chopped (optional)

Cut the aubergine in two lengthways and place cut side up on a baking tray. Drizzle with sesame oil and bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the flesh, leaving the skins intact and dice.

Meanwhile prepare the buckwheat. Rinse and place in a saucepan with 500ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Heat the sesame oil and cook the onion for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook a further 2 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, pepper and oregano and cook another few minutes. Stir in the buckwheat, diced aubergine flesh, nutritional yeast, olives and basil. Return the mixture to the aubergine shells and return to the oven to heat through.  

Serve with a salad if you like.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell  

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 14 February 2016

We are encouraged to be 'perfect' but this can lead to a great deal of stress. It is the same in yoga practice, we want to achieve the 'perfect' pose even though our bodies may not have opened enough yet.
In this week's yoga practice we focus on letting go of the need to be 'perfect'. Please see my 'sister' blog for the blog post and yoga video- 
This blog post was included in the magazine-'SWELLNESS YOGA'-

Our unusual prop this week is a special for Valentine's Day. We will use a red rose for meditation. Please see the blog post on my 'sister' blog for the meditation script-

Tight glutes can affect your posture. See how to release tight glutes using a roller on my 'sister' blog-
This blog post was included in the magazine 'Compassionate Empowerment News'-

Healthy start 4 - quinoa porridge

Much as I love oats, it is sometimes nice to have a change. 

Quinoa is not a grain but a seed like buckwheat and like buckwheat, quinoa is also gluten free so great if you have a gluten intolerance. Quinoa is recognised as a 'superfood', a complete protein that also provides fibre, vitamins such as the B vitamins and vitamin E, minerals such as magnesium, zinc and iron and a little omega 3.  It also has a low GI meaning it releases slowly into the blood keeping hunger pangs at bay until lunch!

Quinoa porridge
Serves 2 

100g quinoa
350ml unsweetened soya milk
pinch cinnamon
stevia to taste
150ml water
top with fruit such as berries, sliced apple or pear, chopped dried figs
chopped nuts or flaked almonds (optional)

Rinse the quinoa and soak in the milk and water overnight. 

Next morning add the cinnamon, bring to the boil and reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

Enjoy with fruit of your choice and nuts if you wish.

An alternative way to serve would be to place the quinoa porridge in a mould and let it go cold. Turn out the mixture and serve with fruit. This could also be served as a pudding similar to the French rice condè.

'Healthy start 2-Choc fruit and nut granola 'clusters' (no added sugar)'-

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell    

'Melt my Heart' Black Forest 'Ice-Cream' 'Cake'

Friday, 12 February 2016

If you are wondering how chocolate came to have strong associations with Valentine's day, it is because chocolate is an aphrodisiac. Chocolate contains phenyethylamine, an endorphin (feel good hormone) that is present in the brain when we fall in love.

Cherries, too have associations with Valentine's Day, often dipped in chocolate but maybe it is because they contain anthocyanins which help protect the heart.

The recipe below is an 'ice-cream' version of a chocolate cherry cake that originated in the Black forest region of Germany. The bananas provide sweetness but if you have a sweet tooth you could add some stevia.

'Melt my heart' Black Forest 'ice-cream' 'cake'
Serves 8

First layer
4 large ripe bananas, chopped and frozen
100g frozen dark, sweet cherries, pitted
1 cup soya milk
stevia to taste (optional)

Second layer
4 large ripe bananas
1-2 level tbsp cacao
1 cup soya milk
stevia to taste (optional)
Frozen dark sweet cherries, pitted to decorate

Line a springform cake tin with baking parchment. For the first layer, place the frozen cherries, chopped bananas, soya milk and stevia if using in a blender and blitz. Place the mixture in the lined tin and place in the freezer for about an hour.

Place the ingredients for the second layer in the blender and place on top of the first layer. Decorate with frozen, dark sweet cherries and place in the freezer for a further hour,

Take out of the freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy and have a happy Valentine's Day!

Tinnitus Awareness Week - what might help manage the condition

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Tinnitus Awareness Week is 8-14th Feb 2016- Please see 'British Tinnitus Association'-

Tinnitus is an awareness of sounds that are not external to the ears. One ear may be affected or both and there are many causes. My mother had tinnitus caused by many years of working in a noisy weaving shed (ear protection was just being introduced as she retired), whereas one of my daughters has tinnitus caused by an ear infection. There are many other causes (please see 'Tinnitus-Causes-NHS Choices'- Please see your doctor if you have tinnitus to rule out a serious cause. Eventually tinnitus may lead to some hearing loss.

Although there is no specific treatment for tinnitus there are several ways to help manage the condition. Your doctor may be able to refer you for cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) which will help you make the sounds less noticeable and help relieve stress which can make tinnitus worse.  You might also want to try yoga and meditation (please see my playlist, 'Yoga for Stress' on You Tube

Acupuncture too may help but more trials are needed to be able to confirm this is definitely the case.  

If tinnitus is due to circulatory problems, the herb gingko biloba may help but do see your doctor if you are thinking of taking this herb as it is a blood thinner and may not be suitable for you if you are on blood thinning medications. Make sure you are well hydrated but avoid caffeine and reduce alcohol which may impede blood flow to the head. 

If your tinnitus is caused by high blood pressure, eating a diet rich in magnesium may help. This may be due to the fact that magnesium relaxes muscles. Vegan food sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables such as spinach, nuts such as almonds and cashews, seeds, oats and cacao. Also you could try an Epsom salt bath (please see my blog post on Epsom Salts- Also reduce your salt intake to help lower blood pressure.

If your tinnitus is age related, increasing your intake of zinc may help because zinc levels tend to reduce with age causing inflammation. Vegan food sources of zinc include legumes, nuts, seeds and oats.  You might also want to try a supplement.

Hope this helps,

Janet x 

Meatless Monday: Butter bean and buckwheat paella

Monday, 8 February 2016

It's all happening this week. It's Chinese New Year today (please see 'Meatless Monday: Tofu stir fry with fennel'- and Valentine's Day at the end of this week.  This week's Meatless Monday is quick to prepare and great for sharing, ideal for a cosy dinner √† deux.

Butterbean and buckwheat paella

Serves 2
You will need

1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
4 tbsp frozen peas
1 can organic butter beans
1 tsp pink salt
120g buckwheat

Rinse the buckwheat and place in a saucepan with 500ml water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes until the water is mostly absorbed. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile heat the oil and saute the onion for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, peppers, tomatoes,tomato puree, turmeric, smoked paprika and salt and continue cooking for a further 3-5 minutes, adding a little water if needed. Stir in the peas, butter beans and buckwheat and heat through.  

Happy Valentine's Day
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 7 February 2016

In yoga and in life there is always more to learn. Read more on this blog post on my 'sister' blog. There is also a yoga video- This blog post was included in 'Nieuws Collectie' -

Find out how to do 'Legs (not) up the wall'. Please follow the link below to my 'sister' blog-

There is a great deal of focus on tight hamstrings in yoga but tight quadriceps (the big muscles at the front of the thighs) can be just as bad for your posture causing a forward tilt of your pelvis. Tight quadriceps can also lead to knee issues. 
Please follow the link to my 'sister' blog to find out how to release them using a roller-

Healthy start 3 - Choc chip and banana vegan pancakes

With Pancake Day approaching on Tuesday, 9th February you may want to try these healthy choc chip and banana vegan pancakes for breakfast. Alternatively they would make a great dessert served with banana ice cream.

Choc chip and banana vegan pancakes
Makes 4 

100g brown rice flour 
200ml sweetened soya milk
1 1/2 tsp chia seeds
1 ripe banana, well mashed
1 tsp vanilla essence
30g cacao nibs
Organic olive oil
Banana slices to serve 

Mix the flour and chia seeds in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Slowly add the milk and vanilla essence, mixing well.  Stir in the mashed banana and cacao nibs.

Grease a small fry pan and add a ladleful of the 'batter' to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, turn and cook on the other side.

Alternatively your can make mini-pancakes in the oven.  Place a tablespoon of the mixture in each hollow of a greased bun tin and bake at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Serve with banana ice cream for an indulgent treat. Freeze two chopped bananas overnight and in the morning blitz in a blender (makes 2 servings)

Please see also:-

''Healthy start 2-Choc fruit and nut granola 'clusters' (no added sugar)''-

For another pancake recipe please see-

Happy Pancake Day
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell    

Meatless Monday: Tofu stir fry with fennel

Monday, 1 February 2016

It's Chinese New Year on the 8th of February and this year is the year of the monkey so be prepared for anything! The monkey is clever, good at finding inventive solutions but full of tricks so be careful! 

You may want to celebrate Chinese New Year with this stir fry.

Tofu stir fry with fennel
Serves 2-3

1 pack firm tofu, cut into cubes
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, cut into sticks
4 baby courgette, chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, diced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp stevia
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp Chinese five spice
25g cashews
Spiralised squash or noodles to serve

Marinade the tofu in the tamari for an hour. 

Heat the oil in a wok and stir fry the onion, carrot and fennel until the vegetables are tender. 

Add the spices, stevia, rice wine vinegar, courgette and red pepper and continue to cook for a further minute.  

Add the marinated tofu and heat through.  

Serve with spiralised squash for a low carb meal or noodles.

You may also like to try  'Meatless Monday: Chinese New Year Special' -

Happy Chinese New Year!
Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell