Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting One (Guest Post)

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Hello lovely readers : ) I’m Becky, Janet’s daughter. Mum asked me whether I’d like to do some guest posts about spring planting, and I’m absolutely delighted to be here sharing my little bit of gardening know-how with you. 

Over the weekend I’ve been planting turnip and radish seeds in my raised bed. Although turnips and radishes might not be the most glamourous of veg, they’re actually garden superheroes. They are quick cropping as veg crops go (turnips can be ready in as little as 6-10 weeks and radishes in 4-6 weeks), you can pack a lot of plants into a small space (making them ideal for smaller gardens), and they will grow quite happily in partial shade (although full sun is fine too).

Convinced of the joys of turnips and radishes? Here’s what you need to do:

Before you start planting your seeds, you need to prepare your soil by removing weeds and dead plant material. Give it a good rake over to remove any stragglers and break up big lumps of soil.

I’ve divided my raised bed up so two-thirds of the bed is planted with turnips and one-third with radishes, but it’s of course entirely up to you.

For turnips, you need to plant the seeds 15cm apart with 15cm between the rows. Plant seeds at a depth of 1.5cm. Although the tape measure might seem a bit bonkers, I’ve learnt the hard way that plant spacings really do matter. Planting seeds too close together is a no-no, as a few weeks down the line your plants will be fighting for space and ruining all your hard work into the bargain.

Turnip seeds

Measuring the spacings between turnip seeds- 15cm or 6 inches apart

To make sure that you have no gaps in your bed you can sow two or three seeds at every position and then thin out to the strongest seedling once they have germinated (thinning out just means to pull up the weaker seedlings).

Radish seeds can be planted 2.5cm apart with 9cm between the rows. Plant seeds at a depth of 1.5cm. Once you are done planting, water well. Water at regular intervals and feed with organic fertiliser/good vibes every week : )

Radish seeds

Measuring the spacing between rows (radish) -9cm or 3. 5 inch apart

Happy gardening!

Love, Becky x

Meatless Monday: Spiced chilli beans topped with cornbread

Monday, 28 March 2016

This Mexican inspired dish is a different way of enjoying your chilli. It originated in the corn growing areas of North America. The cornbread topping provides a sweet contrast to the spicy beans. Delicious! 
If you are feeding a crowd this Bank Holiday Monday you might want to scale up the quantities.

Serves 3
You will need

For the spiced beans
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 red pepper
4 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp stevia
1/2 tsp pink salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch chilli flakes or to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cans organic mixed beans

For the cornbread topping
25g dairy free spread
120g cornmeal (polenta)
50g rice flour
1/2 tsp stevia
1tsp baking powder
Egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg
200ml almond milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice (mixed)

Heat the oil and fry the onion for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the red pepper, tomato puree, stevia, salt spices and 200ml and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Drain the beans, add to the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Meanwhile make the cornbread topping.  Place the polenta, rice flour, stevia and baking powder in a bowl and rub in the dairy free spread. Add the almond milk mixed with the lemon juice and mix to form a batter.  
Place the spicy beans in an ovenproof dish and top with the batter.  Bake at 200 degrees for around 30 minutes.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

Happy Easter!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Over 2,000 years ago the Resurrection gave hope to a troubled world and continues to do so today.

Wishing you a joyful Easter x

This week on flexiladiesyoga

You will have seen me fall out of Tree pose many times and that is not important. What is important is not giving up. 
In our yoga video this week we explore how to improve our Tree pose and in the accompanying blog post we discuss 'failure' in life-

Warrior 2 is a good grounding pose that strengthens the legs and arms. It also builds confidence.
This blog post and video will show you how to do the pose and common mistakes to watch out for-

Men tend to be tighter in their shoulder muscles. Please see the blog post and yoga video to help improve shoulder flexibility-

Detox your skin- bentonite clay face mask

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Bentonite clay is a volcanic ash. It can be used as a face mask as it draws toxins out of the skin. If you are interested in the science - when bentonite clay is mixed with water the resulting colloid is negatively charged and attracts positively charged toxins to it.  It is for this reason you should not use a metal spoon as there is a possibility that metal particles will leach into the clay and contaminate it. 

Using bentonite clay could not be more simple.  Using a plastic teaspoon measure a teaspoon of clay and mix in a teaspoon of water or rose water in a non-metal dish. Apply to your skin avoiding your eyes. You may notice a tingling or a tightening sensation which is normal.  Rinse well. Use weekly to detoxify and cleanse your skin, treat acne, exfoliate, reduce pores and wrinkles.

You can also use bentonite clay in your bath to draw out toxins from your body. This has the effect of reducing stress and anxiety on your body and mind.  Add a 1/4 cup of clay to your bath- DO NOT BREATHE THE PARTICLES IN, WEAR A MASK IF NECESSARY.  Also be aware that the clay may make your bath slippy and I would advise you not to get your hair in the water.  Enjoy up to a 20 minute soak then rinse well (ensure that no lumps of clay get washed down the drain).  Moisturise your body well (I would recommend coconut oil).

If you are pregnant or have a health condition, please check with your doctor before having a clay mask or bath.

 Janet x

Healthy snacks-Hot cross bun loaf

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

This tasty vegan treat for Easter has no added sugar and is low fat (as long as you do not put lashings of dairy free spread on your slice!!). If you don't want sugar added to yours, you will need to make your own mixed peel - I will show you how. You can also make the recipe gluten-free by using gluten free strong bread flour. Please be aware that because it is sugar-free, it does not keep too long, but I wouldn't expect it to anyway!!!

Hot cross bun loaf

Makes 8-10 slices
500g strong bread flour (I used gluten free)+ extra for flouring
50g dairy free spread + extra for greasing
pinch salt
7g stevia
7g sachet easy blend yeast
mixed peel - see below
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
75g sultanas
1 egg equivalent
300ml almond milk

For the 'cross'
30g rice flour
Almond milk to glaze

Mixed peel
peel half unwaxed lemon, chopped
peel half unwaxed lime, chopped
peel half unwaxed orange, chopped
juice half orange
2 tbsp stevia

To make the mixed peel, place the mixed peel in a saucepan with the stevia and the orange juice.  Heat on a low heat until the orange juice has reduced.

Mix the strong bread four, salt, yeast  and stevia. Rub in the dairy free spread. Warm the milk to lukewarm and add to the dry ingredients with the egg equivalent and mix to a dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead for a few minutes.  Flatten and place mixed peel and sultanas in the centre. Knead in the sultanas and mixed peel. Place the dough in a loaf tin and cover with cling film.  Leave to rise for an hour.  To make the cross make a paste with the rice flour and water.  Pipe a cross onto the top of the dough then bake at 200 degrees for 45-55 minutes.
Turn out and while still warm, brush with almond milk.

Serve sliced with dairy free spread.

Please see also-

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Lentil, roast vegetable and 'bacon' bake

Monday, 21 March 2016

It's Easter weekend this week and if you are feeding a crowd here is a recipe that you can scale up.  You can roast the vegetables the evening before if you have your oven on to make your main meal, saving time and energy. Keep them in the fridge until needed. You do not have to use the same roasted veg as I have, you can also use aubergines, beetroot, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower florets etc  - whatever you have to hand. The shiitake mushroom substitute for bacon is amazing - try it and see! You might also want to use it with your tofu 'scramble'.

Lentil, roast vegetable and 'bacon' bake
Serves 2-3

You will need 
120g brown lentils
pinch pink salt

Roasted vegetables
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
10cm piece squash from 'neck' end, peeled and cut into pieces
2 baby courgette
1/2 red pepper

Olive oil spray

Shiitake 'bacon'
6 Shiitake mushrooms, stalks removed and sliced
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tamari
pinch smoked paprika

50g dairy free spread
40g oats
40g rice flour 
40g chopped walnuts

Place the vegetables on a baking tray with the squash cut side down. Spray with olive oil spray and roast at 200 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes.

Rinse the lentils, place in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and cover with water.  Bring to the boil and reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes until lentils are tender.  

Meanwhile make the shiitake 'bacon'.  Heat the oil and fry the sliced mushrooms.  Add the paprika and tamari and continue to cook until the tamari is absorbed.

Cut the roasted veg into bite size pieces (allow to cool if necessary) and place in a casserole dish with the lentils and shiitake 'bacon'.

To make the topping rub the dairy free spread into the flour, stir in the oats and walnuts and sprinkle over the lentil/roast veg/shiitake 'bacon' mixture.  Bake at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Happy Easter!
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 20 March 2016

To go with the flow means to let go of the need to control. We like to have control of what is happening in our lives but this is not always possible.
In this week's yoga video the intention is to remove 'blockages' to the flow of energy in our bodies and 'blockages' in our lives that make us feel 'stuck'.
Blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog-

Warrior 1 strengthens the muscles of the legs, shoulders and back. It is often used as a preparation for back bends as it stretches the chest, shoulders and psoas muscles.
This blog post and video on my 'sister' blog will show you how to do the pose and common mistakes to watch out for-

Yoga originated in India more than 5000 years ago and at that time was practiced by MEN. If you go to a class these days, it is more likely to be full of women so WHERE ARE ALL THE MEN? Find out more about why men need yoga on my 'sister' blog-

Healthy snacks - apple crisps

Last week we talked about the benefits of snacking.  This week I have another healthy snack for you - no added sugar apple crisps.  With all the benefits of apples (Please see, 'Granny knew best - An apple a day really does keep the doctor away'- and less than 70 calories per portion these are great to have handy for when hunger strikes.  

Apple crisps
For two portions core and finely slice two Granny Smith apples.  Place on a non-stick baking tray.  Take a pinch of cinnamon and sprinkle over the apple slices.  Sprinkle stevia to taste over the apples and place in a low oven (120-150 degrees) until dry, around 45 minutes. Store in an airtight container.  

If you like apple crisps, you might want to try pear crisps which are also delicious.

Please see also-

'Healthy snacks-Chocolate and coconut bliss balls'-

Healthy snacking!
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

Get crafty - its good for you

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Easter Tree, a dead twig from the garden, origami lily 
and bunny, paper cut out butterfly 'tinsel' and card, paper 
cut out flowers. 

With Easter coming up, even if you have never enjoyed doing crafts before, it is a great time to get crafty.  It is so special to receive a hand-made Easter card and you fulfilling to make a decoration for Easter such as an Easter tree.  Making cards or an Easter tree may also be a way of bringing the family together - all ages love doing crafts and it may even become a tradition in your house.  To make cards use either white or coloured card, folded into a square or you could make a chick or bunny shape.  Then use your imagination to create the card you want. 

To make an Easter tree you can use some bare branches, gathered from your garden or local area or you could use some pussy willow branches. You may wish to paint the branches. Decorate with paper cut-out egg shapes, butterflies, chicks, bunnies, spring flowers or any other spring-like decoration. If you are not good at drawing you might want to print off a template from the internet or get one from a local craft shop.

How about an Easter banner? It can be as simple as cut out shapes threaded on a string.  
There are many more crafts you could try - pottery, cross-stitch, candle-making, and origami to name just a few.  Not only are crafts fun to do, but they are also good for relieving stress. 
While you are absorbed in a craft activity, you are not fretting about what has been happening or what might happen.  In this way getting crafty has been shown to promote feeling of well-being, reduce negativity, create positive emotions and boost immunity.

So what are you waiting for? Get crafty, have fun and increase your well-being!
Janet x 

Meatless Monday: Provencal soup

Monday, 14 March 2016

Spring may be on the horizon but there is still a nip in the air, so a soup is still welcome!

There's an old Welsh saying 'eat leeks in March, wild garlic in May and all the year physicians may play.'  This is because leeks and garlic are anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial and so help fight off the early Spring colds and flu. 

This substantial soup has onions, leeks and garlic which will help protect you from the Spring colds and flu and contribute to your 5 + a day.

Provencal soup

Serves 2-3
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 stick celery, chopped
1 leek, sliced (white and pale green only, discard darker green ends)
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1/2 carrot, julienned 
4 tbsp frozen peas
1 tsp pink salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp majoram
400ml water
50g fuselli pasta
1 can butter beans

To top
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
handful basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Crusty bread to serve

Heat the oil and fry the onion over a medium heat for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further minute.  Add the celery, leek, carrot, fennel,  peas and herbs and cook a further two minutes.  

Add the water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the pasta and continue to simmer for 10-12 minutes. Stir in the butter beans and heat through.

Combine the ingredients for the topping.

To serve divide the soup between two bowls and spoon topping over.  Serve with crusty bread.  

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 13 March 2016

In this blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog, we explore how small changes can make a big difference in our lives and on the yoga mat-

Extended side angle pose strengthens your legs, stretches the legs and side body and engages the core. It helps reduce stress, energize and can stimulate digestion and elimination.
This blog post on my 'sister' blog and video will show you how to do the pose and common mistakes to watch out for-

In the last of our series on the health and beauty of the Ayurveda doshas we look at kapha dosha. Please see the link to my 'sister' blog-
This blog post was included in the paper 'My Yoga Corner'-

Healthy snacks - Chocolate and coconut bliss balls

I'm all for snacking - it helps reduce those blood sugar dips which can make you feel irritable. By stabilising your blood sugar snacking can maintain focus and concentration.   Many people avoid snacking because they worry it will cause weight gain but people who snack within reason are likely to eat less at mealtimes.

These healthy snacks have the goodness of coconut.  Please see 'Coconut-An anti-aging wonder food'- Dates provide sweetness and almond butter provides healthy fats which lower cholesterol and so help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. For the for the benefits of cacao please see 'Surprising superfood -Chocolate'-  

Simple to make too!

Chocolate and coconut bliss balls
Makes 15

12 Medjool dates 
60g coarsely grated coconut + extra finely grated for coating (if using)
3 tbsp almond butter
3 tbsp cacao

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.  Roll into balls between your hands and if you wish roll them in extra grated coconut.  They will keep in the fridge until ready to eat (Hint- these taste even better next day!)

Stay healthy 
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

Organic gardening update - the manure has arrived!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

An email went round the allotment holders last week to the effect that the compost had arrived.  When we went down to the allotment to claim our 'share' of this 'bounty' we found it had arrived indeed - a HUGE pile of well-rotted horse 'muck'.  If you are serious about organic gardening this natural means of nourishing your garden is ideal and you just have to get over the slight revulsion at using 'poo'.  Honestly, well rotten horse manure has very little smell!

We spent an afternoon fertilising our 'patch'.  Taking advice from another allotment holder, we dug trenches away from where our beans, garlic, spring cabbage and onions have started to grow and half filled them with manure collected in our (donated) wheelbarrow.  We then refilled the trenches.  Do not apply horse too near the plants.  In the soil the horse manure breaks down and provides essental nutrients for plant growth such as nitrogen which the plants access through their roots.  

If you know someone who keeps horses or has a farm they will probably be more than happy to let you have some of this precious garden commodity.  

Happy gardening
Janet x

Meatless Monday: Sicilian inspired stew (Caponata)

Monday, 7 March 2016

My mother's sister married a man from Sicily who brought to the family Italian flavours introducing the delights of bread pizzas, spaghetti bolognese etc to our Lancashire cuisine. This dish which is a vegan version of a dish originating in Sicily is bursting with Mediterranean vegetables.

Sicilian inspired stew (caponata) 
Serves 3-4

400g firm tofu
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 small aubergine, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pink salt in 250ml hot water
pinch stevia
1/2 tsp cacao
25g raisons
1 tbsp capers
6-12 pitted olives
Flaked almonds or toasted pine nuts (optional)
Basil or mint leaves (optional)
Pasta or couscous to serve

Heat the oil and cook the onion for 3 minutes.  

Add the garlic, aubergine, and celery and continue to cook over a low heat for a further 3 minutes.  

Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, pinch of stevia, red pepper, celery, apple cider vinegar and pink salt in water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced.  

Stir in the raisons, cacao, capers, olives and tofu. Cook for a few more minutes over a low heat.

Serve with couscous or pasta and top with flaked almonds or toasted pine nuts and basil or mint leaves if using.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Being true to yourself means acting in accordance with your values, beliefs etc. It means accepting yourself for what you are and not striving to be what you think others want you to be. Sometimes this means saying 'no'. 
See how your yoga practice can help you be true to yourself-blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog-
This blog post was included in the paper '#YogaDealer Daily'-

Triangle Pose is still my favourite pose. It opens up your shoulders and chest and is a good stretch for the sides of your body, hips and legs. By opening the chest, Triangle encourages deep breathing which helps relieve stress.
This blog post and video on my 'sister' blog will show you how to do the pose and common mistakes to watch out for-

In the second of our series on the health and beauty of the doshas we look at pitta dosha. Please see the link to my 'sister' blog-

Leaky gut part 3-Healing a 'leaky' gut

Healing a 'leaky' gut is a three step process:
1. Firstly, you should remove the foods that are causing the gut to become leaky. It may be useful to keep a food diary to identify which foods cause a worsening of symptoms.  A common culprit is gluten. Please see 'Leaky gut Part 2-The problem with gluten'-

Another likely cause is caesin, which is found in dairy products and goat's milk. This should also be eliminated, because many of us do not have the enzymes required to break  down this protein. This can result in undigested particles entering the blood stream, causing problems where the gut is leaky.  Please see 'Leaky gut an introduction'- 

Sugar should be eliminated to stop feeding the yeast which inhabits the gut.  This includes natural sugars from fruit and starchy vegetables. Avoid processed foods and alcohol, and eat organic wherever possible.  Another useful tip is to filter your drinking water.  You may also need to speak to your doctor if you are on long-term antibiotics or NSAIDS.  Include wholefoods in your diet, plenty of allowed vegetables, and fermented foods (see below). 

Coconut is anti-fungal, and so good to help kill the yeast in the gut. Digestive enzymes should be taken to ensure food is completely broken down, making it less likely to cause problems.  This elimination diet should be continued for 4-6 weeks before slowly re-introducing foods.  When re-introducing foods, try a small quantity of one of the eliminated foods for several days and notice how you feel.  If your symptoms return, you might need to eliminate the food for longer.

2. Heal the gut.  Simply removing the foods that caused the leaky gut will help the gut to heal, but certain supplements are worth considering.

Caprylic acid: this coconut based supplement will help kill candida if your 'leaky gut' is caused by a gut flora inbalance.  Be aware, however, that the yeast do not die quietly.  As they die they give off toxins which can make you feel awful.  Potential symptoms include nausea, headaches and fatigue.  If this happens, stop taking the anti-fungals, drink plenty of water and rest as much as you can.

L-glutamine helps repair the intestinal lining because it helps prevent the breakdown of the muscosal lining of the gut.  It also helps stabilise your blood sugar. Candida overgrowth can cause low blood sugar, so this can help curb cravings.  Start with a low dose.

Quercetin helps the gut heal by promoting the formation of the proteins that create tight junctions between the intestinal cells.

As well as looking to your diet, reducing stress will help with the healing process.  Yoga and meditation can help with this. Please see the yoga playlist on my YouTube Channel-'Yoga for stress'-

3. Step three is to repopulate the gut in order to create a healthy gut flora.  I would advise taking a probiotic supplement. Probiotics deliver 'good' bacteria directly to the gut flora. You could also eat probiotic foods which include miso and raw saukraut which are fermented foods. Prebiotic foods on the other hand encourage the growth of 'good' bacteria in the gut and include leeks and onions.

The importance of healthy gut flora should not be underestimated - it underlies good health -  physical, mental and emotional. Did you know that 90-95% of your body's serotonin (the 'feel good' hormone) is found in the gut? If your gut is healthy, that is the gut flora are in balance, then the production of serotonin is boosted.

Hope this helps
Be happy, be healthy
Janet x

Mother's Day-Lime curd and lavender cake

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Traditionally Mother's Day is celebrated on the forth Sunday of Lent.  In times gone by, servants, apprentices and anyone else living away from home would be given a day off to go and see their mothers.  They would usually take their mother a simnel cake but this cake has now become associated with Easter.  Even earlier that that, in Roman times, there was a festival of women called Matronalia in March which is thought to be the reason why we celebrate mother's day in March.  Later it was adopted by the church to encourage people to return to their mother church. 

I am making a sugar-free, vegan Lime curd and lavender cake for Mother's day because lavender reminds me so much of my late mum who often used lavender essential oil.  If you make this cake too, make sure that you use culinary lavender.  

Lime curd and lavender cake
Makes 8-10 slices

You will need
For the lime curd
120ml lime juice
10g stevia
zest 2 limes
60ml almond milk, unsweetened
60ml water
2 tbsp cornflour

Other ingredients
250g dairy free spread + extra for greasng
10g stevia
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp culinary lavender
Egg substitute equivalent 2 eggs
250g rice flour

Heat the lime juice, stevia, lime zest, coconut oil and almond milk.  Mix cornflour in water (add a little water at a time to avoid lumps) and heat until the curd thickens.  Leave to cool.

Cream the stevia and the dairy free spread.  Add the egg equivalent, flour, culinary lavender and cooled lime curd.  Mix thoroughly and transfer the mixture to a loaf tin.

Bake at 180 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

Please note-Sugar-free cake do not keep very long so please make the cake as near to Mother's Day as you can.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell