Meatless Monday : Spicy lentil and chickpea burgers

Monday, 29 May 2017

The weather might not be up to much - it's drizzling here in Yorkshire - but who cares when there are these spicy lentil and chickpea burgers to enjoy.  

Spicy lentil and chickpea burgers 

Makes 10

You will need

1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can chickpeas, drained well
1 can brown lentils, drained well
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 chia seed eggs (use 1-2 tbsp chia seeds with 3 tbsp hot water and leave for 10 minutes)
80g rice flour
Olive oil spray

Pop all the ingredients in a high speed blender.  Spray a baking tray with olive oil spray. Divide the chickpea and lentil mixture into 10 and shape into burgers on the baking tray. Spray with the olive oil spray once more and place in an oven at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes until firm.  Serve on burger buns or lettuce leaves.


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This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 28 May 2017

It is hard to talk about joy after the terrible bombing in Manchester. The arena is somewhere I am very familiar with because when we lived in Lancashire, my daughters and I often went to shows there. My heart goes out to those innocent people caught up in this tragedy.
This yoga video was filmed in advance. If you would like to see the yoga video 'Qualities cultivated by yoga-joy' please see my 'sister' blog-

In this blog post we think about how to practice yoga seated and standing twists without causing problems for our lower backs.
Just as you have channels for the flow of blood and lymph in your body, you also have channels for the flow of prana, the life force.
Read more about how these affect your wellbeing on my 'sister' blog-

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Treat for the weekend - vegan lemon curd scones

It may not be quite strawberry cream tea time yet (although at the 40plusalliswell allotment, the strawberries are shaping up nicely) but theses lemon curd scones are yummy to be going on with.  If, like me, you are making your scones gluten free, be aware that your scones may be crumbly (but no less delicious) and therefore hard to split in two.  I have found a way round this  - make your scones a little less thick, say 1/2 inch thich and use the lemon curd to sandwich them together.  

Last week we looked at 'vegan egg substitutes'. In curds, eggs are used for thickening but in this vegan version cornflour is used as a thickener.  How much stevia you use really depends on whether you like your lemon curd tart or sweet so the amount given is a suggestion. Any remaining can be used to top porridge or on toast etc.

Vegan lemon curd 

vegan lemon curd

250ml lemon juice
100ml water
100ml almond milk
40g cornflour
10g stevia

Mix the lemon juice, water and almond milk in a non-stick pan.  Stir in the stevia and whisk in the cornflour. Bring to the boil, whisking all the time and reduce the heat until the mixture thickens (about a minute) - it will thicken more as it cools.

For the scones

Makes 4-6

175g rice flour 
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt 
3 tbsp stevia
40g dairy free spread + extra for greasing
90ml almond milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
30g sultanas (optional)

Place the rice flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add the dairy free spread and rub into the flour. Stir in the stevia. Mix the lemon juice with the almond milk (it will curdle) and add to the mixture.  Form the mixture into a dough, adding the sultanas if using and knead lightly.  Divide the dough into 8-12 and form into rounds (remember you are going to sandwich two together).  Press down lightly onto a greased baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes. Sandwich together with the lemon curd.  


Hope the sun is shining where you are!

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Transplanting the squash - it's a learning curve

Friday, 26 May 2017

Recently it was World Naked Gardening Day (May 6th) but nobody on the local allotment took up the challenge - it's too cold in Yorkshire!  We are just about taking our thermal vests off at the end of May!!  The other news from the allotment is that someone forgot to shut the gate and a rabbit got in playing merry havoc with the produce.  The advice is don't grow lettuce until the miscreant is apprehended (the rabbit that is not the person who left open the gate!).

We wanted to try growing squash this year - a first for 40plusandalliswell. We have chosen Crown Prince squash for two reasons - we really like eating it (a good reason!! It has orange flesh and a sweet nutty flavour) and we know it grows well where we live because people bring it to the harvest service in autumn. We planted one seed in each small pot in April- if you remember the seeds were planted on on their sides which is counter-intuitive. The soil needed to be kept warm so start them off so we kept them in a greenhouse in peat pots for transplanting.  

Squash seed

Squash plants

If you want to grow squash directly in the ground, the good news is that it's not too late, you
can plant them directly outdoors now, at the end of May.  Choose a sheltered sunny spot and dig some well-rotted manure in first.  On light soils additional feeding may be required and squash are very thirsty especially as they start to swell so keep well watered.  Plant seeds about 1 inch deep and 2-3 feet apart.  Trust me - we thought this was a too much when we were growing courgettes which need distance between them too but we ended up with an overcrowding problem!!

Anyway back to our transplanting.  We thought we had it sussed - the overwinter onions would come out and the squash would take their place on the allotment. The problem was that the onions were not ready - they need another couple of weeks.  It wasn't too much of a disaster in the end - we were able to plant the squash between the onions and before they get too big the onions will be out.  Next year we will plan it better, but we are learning.

Squash and onions

Happy gardening!

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Meatless Monday : Easy vegan oriental rice bowl

Monday, 22 May 2017

This recipe is so versatile - either include the tofu and have it as a main meal or leave it out and have it as a side salad, either use fresh veg or frozen stir fry veg.  Quick and easy to make but tasty! Let's cook!

Easy oriental rice bowl

150g (dried weight) brown rice, cooked according to instructions
400g block tofu, drained and excess water removed by pressing between sheets of kitchen towel and diced into small cubes.
1 - 2 tbsp organic olive oil or rapeseed oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
300g stir fry veggies (choose from red onion, finely chopped, baby sweetcorn, mange tout, red or yellow pepper, beansprouts, shredded Nappa cabbage, broccoli florets etc or use a frozen mix)  
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
spring onions, chopped (optional)
sesame seeds (optional)

Heat the oil in a wok and add the diced tofu.  Stir fry until starting to crisp on the outside. 

Add the garlic and stir fry veggies together with the chilli, Chinese 5 spice and ginger. and cook a further 4 minutes until the veggies are tender.  

Add the tamari, rice wine vingar and stir through the cooked rice.  Heat through for a minute until the liquid is absorbed then divide between bowls.  

Top with spring onions and sesame seeds if using.


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This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 21 May 2017

This week the quality we are cultivating through our yoga is discernment- the wisdom to know what is good for ourselves and others. 

If you are just starting out in yoga and do not know how to set an intention for your practice, or if you are not new to yoga and struggle to set an intention, this blog post on my 'sister' blog is for you-

Thankfully yoga is relatively safe compared to other sports and activities but worryingly yoga injuries are on the increase. On my 'sister' blog there are tips to help keep you safe while you practice yoga and some links to posts I have done on preventing specific yoga injuries. Look out for more posts on this to come-
This blog post was included in the online paper 'Yoga Vitality Magazine'-

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Vegan egg substitutes

Chia seed egg

Eggs are used in baking and cooking to provide structure, bind the ingredients together, act as a rising agent because they trap air or add moisture but if you are vegan there are several substitutes that will work just as well. Which you choose depends on what you are making.  
There are commercial egg substitutes that are made of a starch such as potato starch and a rising agent - they seem to work well in cakes. I have also used 1 tbsp rice flour, 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and 2 tbsp almond milk to replace an egg in recipes where baking powder is also used such as cakes or cornbread. Below are some more egg substitutes.  

Flaxseed egg - great for binding ingredients together but not so great as a raising agent so if you do use a flaxseed egg in cakes you need some baking powder and a source of acid such as non-dairy milk 'soured' with a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. On the plus side the seeds add a vegan source of omega 3 to recipes. Use 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp hot water.  Leave to stand for up to 30 minutes to form a mucilage which has a gel-like consistency.  Can be used in chocolate cakes or banana breads.

Chia seed eggs - similar to a flaxseed egg, a chia seed egg is not a great raising agent. They are however a good source of fibre. To make a chia seed egg use 1-2 tbsp chia seeds with 3 tbsp hot water.  

Silken tofu can work as an egg substitute and is great for adding moisture and protein but it can make cakes dense - an option for brownies though and can be used to make a vegan quiche.  Use 1/4 cup pureed to replace an egg.  For vegan 'scrambled egg',  heat 1 tbsp oil, crumble a block of tofu into the oil and stir fry .  Stir through 2 tbsp nutritional yeast and 1 tsp turmeric.  Nice with some chargrilled veggies added.

Mashed banana or stewed apple add moisture and flavour to pancake recipes.  Also can be used in chewy biscuits. Use half a cup.  

If its just egg white you need for your recipe, the liquid off chickpeas works really well.  I have successfully used this to make a sugar-free marzipan.  

Soy or coconut yogurt use a 1/4 cup to replace an egg in cake recipes where baking powder is also used.

Happy baking!

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Eat a rainbow - Blueberries

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Yay, blueberries are in season at last! Not only yummy to eat but good for you too, they are often referred to as a superfood. Anthocyanins give blueberries give blueberries their colour and many of their health benefits because they are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation underlies many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes etc so blueberries can reduce the risk of these. 

Anthocyanins are also antioxidant, as is the vitamin C in blueberries and these antioxidants fight free radicals which can lead to aging of skin, eyes and brain etc. This means that blueberries can help prevent wrinkles, macular degeneration and cognitive decline. The calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin K in blueberries help maintain healthy bones. The fibre helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels reducing the risk of diabetes, maintains healthy digestion  and keeps cholesterol levels at a healthy level.  

Why not try blueberries in this blueberry, 'nice cream' and granola layer dessert (or treat breakfast!).  I love different textures and the crunchiness of the granola contrasts wonderfully with the smoothness of the 'nice' cream.  I have used some fresh and some frozen blueberries which are cheaper but just as nutritious. The granola can be made in advance. Tip - if you can't get or afford organic fruit, frozen is likely to have less pesticides because the fruit can be frozen immediately after picking, it doesn't have to last on supermarket shelves.  

Blueberry, 'nice cream' and granola layer dessert (or treat breakfast)

100g mixed nuts
80g oats
stevia to taste (1-2 tbsp)
2 tbsp coconut oil + extra for greasing

Other ingredients
7 bananas, peeled, chopped and frozen 
Cup non-dairy milk
200g blueberries, frozen 
fresh blueberries to top

To make the granola chop the larger nuts, mix with the oats, stevia and coconut oil.  Place on a baking tray greased with coconut oil then in an oven at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes stirring once.  Allow to cool.

Whiz the bananas up in a high speed blender (you will probably have to do half at a time). Place 2 tbsp of the granola at the base of your sundae glass, top with frozen blueberries then half the 'nice cream'.  Repeat the layering and top with fresh blueberries and a little granola. Serve immediately. 

You may also like:-

'Eat a rainbow-Red cabbage'

'Eat a rainbow-Sweet potato

'Eat a rainbow-Grapefruit'

'Eat a rainbow - Greens'

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Meatless Monday : Vegan Lo Mein

Monday, 15 May 2017

Feel like a takeaway?  Why not make your own?  It's just as quick and tasty but healthier.  Lo mein is Chow mein's 'cousin' but whereas chow mein has crispy noodles, Lo mein has soft noodles - usually egg but you can use rice noodles, ramen noodles etc.  You can vary the stir fry veggies and if you are really pushed for time, you could even use some bagged or frozen stir fry veggies.  I have added baked tofu for a protein boost but again this only takes a few minutes in the oven (just remember to marinade the tofu beforehand).  So let's get cooking.

Serves 2

You will need
400g pack tofu
3 tbsp tamari 
2cm piece ginger, peeled and minced
pinch stevia
olive oil spray
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Stir fry veggies - I used a handful of mangetout, 8 chestnut mushrooms, sliced, 1/2 red pepper, sliced and a couple of handfuls of spinach)
2 'nests' of rice noodles, or ramen noodles etc, cooked according to the pack instructions and drained

Marinade the tofu in the tamari, stevia and ginger overnight or for an hour or two.  Spray a baking tray with the olive oil spray then place the tofu on the tray and spray once more. Reserve any marinade not absorbed.  Bake in a preheated hot oven for around 10 minutes until crisping on the outside.  

Heat the oil and stir fry the garlic and mushrooms for 3-4 minutes.  Add the mange tout and spinach and stir fry a further 2-3 minutes.  Add the noodles and any remaining marinade and stir through then add the tofu.  


This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 14 May 2017

In this week's yoga video we clear the windows of the mind for greater mental clarity by calming 'monkey mind'.
Please see my 'sister' blog-

The bandhas are the energy locks that can direct the flow of prana. On my 'sister' blog there is a guide to Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha for beginners-

In spring when kapha dosha is dominant, allergies may result. On my 'sister' blog I look at the Ayurveda solution-

I'm passionate about producing quality yoga and wellness content that everyone can access for free, as I want Flexiladies Yoga and 40plusandalliswell to benefit as many people as possible. However, keeping these blogs up and running isn't cheap- although I do get a small amount of revenue from adverts, it's your donations that will secure their future.
If you are enjoying these blogs could you please consider a small donation via the page on my blog -
Thank you
Janet x

The 40plusandalliswell guide to growing herbs

Whenever I visit a historic house, I am always head off to the kitchen garden to discover what herbs they are growing.  Herbs are easy to grow requiring very little maintenance and so are are a great introduction to gardening.  You don't even need a garden!!  You can grow herbs in pots on your kitchen windowsill and your kitchen will smell amazing.  Herbs can usually be grown indoors all year round and think what you will save from not buying supermarket pots.  

When deciding which herbs to grow there are several things you might want to consider. Firstly what herbs do you like to eat and which herbs are best suited to where you will grow them?  If you are growing herbs on your kitchen windowsill parsley, basil, coriander, dill, and chervil are all good because they are fast growing. Choose a south facing window for preference and avoid a north facing window.  You can sow them at intervals through spring and summer. If you are growing pots indoors, place a plant pot saucer under your plant pot to avoid mess.

basil starting to sprout

If you do have an outdoor space you can also consider slower growing, perennial herbs, that is herbs that grow each year.  These include oregano, thyme, sage, mint, thyme, rosemary, chives and hyssop. Plant them in spring and place them somewhere warm like a greenhouse then harden off in a cold frame before planting them out.  We have a cheap cold frame (around £10) with a metal frame and polythene cover.  We open it's vents during the day and close them at night. This prevents thermal shock which can kill the plants. Herbs grow best in an organically enriched, sheltered but sunny spot that is well drained.  This can be in a herb bed, a raised bed or in pots on a patio.  Ideally the soil should not be too acidic.

Another consideration is that you might want to choose herbs that are bee friendly. These include hyssop, rosemary, lemon balm, mint, chives and thyme.  Bees need all the help they can get at the moment.


So what are we growing here at 40plusandalliswell this year? Once again we are growing basil. If you would like to grow this herb too, you can sow it in pots of moist compost - about 5 in a medium pot.  Cover lightly with compost and keep in a warm place (either on a sunny kitchen windowsill or in a greenhouse). Keep moist - if you have them on a kitchen windowsill you need to put a plastic saucer under the plant pot). We like to sow basil little and often because we love this versatile herb which complements tomatoes recipes beautifully - it can be used in soups, stews, to top pizza and in pesto.  We also have chives, parsley and mint in the garden.  

New for this year is hyssop.  This herb has been used for centuries - it is even mentioned in the Bible— verse 7, Psalm 51, “Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.” Hyssop, one of the mint family, is a shrub with dark green leaves and fragrant flowers.  It can be used in soups and salads and is high in antioxidants. Among its many benefits are that it helps respiratory conditions, aids digestion, promotes good circulation and helps immunity.  To grow hyssop we have planted the seeds in a seed tray.  Now that we are sure that the winter frosts have gone, we are about to plant it out.  Plant about 6 -12 inches apart.  

We are also growing lemon balm.  This lemony herb is nice on fruit salads and in smoothies. It can be used to make a tea and you can mix the tea with clay to put on your skin to soothe bug bites!!  Again we have grown the seeds in a seed tray and transplant in the garden after the frosts.  

In the next few days we are also going to plant some coriander, just because I use so much of it in cooking. It's great in Chinese dishes, Indian and Mexican food. I am going to grow this on the kitchen windowsill (around 5 seeds per pot). Water it well to start and then when the soil is dry. It will only last a few months so have another pot ready to go. Keep using it to stop it 'bolting'.

Just one thing - herbs are generally safe for everyone in food but if you do have a medical condition check that they will be safe for you.

Supplements for the brain

Friday, 12 May 2017

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week I am sharing my top supplements to keep your brain healthy.  Never think that you are 'too old' to be able to improve your brain function - that simply isn't true.  It used to be thought that we were born with a certain number of brain cells (neurons), but these died slowly over the years, and because new ones could not replace them, we decline as we age.  Now we know this is not the case - we can form new neurons throughout our lives. Even more exciting we can also form new neural pathways, that is connections between neurons in the brain.  This explains why people with brain damage are able to heal and gives us hope that age related decline of brain function may be preventable.  
As always seek permission from your medical practitioner before taking any supplements. 

So here goes

Gingko biloba - I have been taking this herb for some time.  There has been some excitement about it recently because it has been shown to have the potential to treat Alzheimer's and in fact it is prescribed in France and Germany.  It works by thinning the blood so that more oxygen and nutrients reach the brain.  The brain is an oxygen 'guzzler' using  20% of the oxygen taken into your body and around 20% of the body's glucose in the blood (glucose is the end product of the digestion of carbs.  Glucose can also be the result of protein digestion where there is more protein than your body needs).  Where the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients brain function will be impaired.  Just one thing - don't take this herb if you are taking NSAIDS such as aspirin or ibuprofen or blood thinners such as warfarin.  

As you can see from reading the above it is important to keep your arteries clear so that blood can flow freely to your brain.  Regular cholesterol checks are important.  If your cholesterol is higher than it should be I would recommend Serraenzyme.  This reduces plaques and inflammation which can lead to memory loss, brain fog, anxiety, depression and Alzheimer's. Also cut out foods that trigger inflammation such as processed food, sugar, and limit saturated fat.  Include plenty of good oils in your diet from nuts, seeds etc Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains for fibre and antioxidants.

Omega 3 - omega 3 is rich in fatty acids such as DHA which is essential to normal brain function. In fact it helps build brain cell membranes and can reduce inflammation. It appears to have a role in memory and behaviour. Please see 'Where do vegans get their omega 3s from'. Vegan omega 3 supplements are derived from cultivated algae.

Curcumin is a constituent of turmeric.  This can help the brain in several ways.  Please see 'Turmeric  - the brain protector spice'-.  Although you can take curcumin as a supplement (which is why it is included in my list of top supplements for the brain) studies show that it is better to take you curcumin in your food.  Curry tonight it is then!

Ashwagandha can help reduce stress.  This is important because stress can alter the structure of the brain and neural connectivity.  Stress also affects sleep and poor sleep can impair brain function.   Please see 'An ayurveda herb for anxiety'-

Acetyl-C-carnitine is the only supplement on my list that I haven't actually tried but it has been shown to benefit early dementia and mild memory impairment.  It is said to improve mental energy levels.

You might also like 'Yoga to help make new neural connections' and
'How can vegans eat to beat inflammation

Meatless Monday : Buddha Bowl

Monday, 8 May 2017

A buddha bowl is a bowl of healthy food so full that it domes resembling the belly of the Buddha.  There are many variations but all are loaded with veggies, have some protein such as beans, tofu, lentils etc, whole grains and a dressing plus some toppings such as nuts or seeds.  Great for when you are feeling super hungry!  So here goes with my first buddha bowl.  

Buddha bowl
Serves 2 generously

You will need
1 pack firm tofu, remove excess water with kitchen towel then cut into cubes 
Marinade for tofu 
2cm piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp tamari

Other ingredients 
150g brown rice
4 tbsp frozen sweetcorn kernals
Dressing for rice 
2 tbsp tamari
1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp stevia

To serve
cooked beetroot wedges
cherry tomatoes, halved
avocado slices
red pepper slices
shredded lettuce
sprinkle pumpkin seeds
lime wedges to garnish (optional)

Mix the ingredients for the tofu marinade and place in a bowl with the diced tofu.  Stir then pop in the fridge for an hour or so then transfer to a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes until crispy.  

Meanwhile cook the rice with the frozen sweetcorn kernals for around 25 minutes or according to the packet directions.  Drain well then stir through the tamari, lime juice and stevia.

To assemble arrange the tofu and rice in a bowl, surround with the veggies then sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Garnish with lime wedges if using.


This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 7 May 2017

In this week's yoga video we continue to look at qualities cultivated by yoga. This week we focus on compassion.
Yoga blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog-

In this week's beginners' guide to yoga we are looking at the eight limbs of yoga.
Please see my 'sister' blog-

In this week's yoga anatomy bites we look to stretch and strengthen the psoas muscle. When this muscle is tight or weak it can cause problems such as back pain, knee pain and breathing problems.
Please see my 'sister' blog-

Reduce the effects of air pollution on health and skin aging

There has been a lot in the news recently about air pollution.  As individuals we can feel powerless to do anything about it but the health effects are very real - greater risk of respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.  According to the World Health Organisation there are an estimated 3 million premature deaths worldwide because of air pollution.  

Did you know also that tiny air pollution particles (PMs) such as nitrogen dioxide, NO2 and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can lead to age spots and wrinkles?  The age spots are caused by PMs activating melanocytes in the skin.  The particles also generate free radicals leading to inflammation which in turn causes breakdown of collagen, the 'scaffolding' of the skin, resulting in wrinkles?  

How can you protect yourself from the aging effects of pollution on your skin?  I would suggest an anti-inflammatory diet - plenty of fruit and vegetables, preferably organic, nuts and seeds for your omega 3s and wholegrains.  Avoid sugar, processed foods, hydrogenated fat and too much saturated fat.  Also your skin has a barrier which will help keep the particles out so it is important to maintain the integrity of this barrier. Moisturise well preferably with a product that includes antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, which neutralises free radicals and include a good sunscreen.  Vitamin B3 in a product restores and strengthens the skin's barrier and increases hydration. You could also take a good multivitamin and mineral and a vegan omega 3 supplement. Avoid over exfoliation but have a good cleansing routine (never use soap on your face). A good mineral make-up may also help.

There are some other steps you can take to help reduce pollution and its effects - try switching to greener energy, carsharing, riding a bike or walking to work (choose a route where there is less traffic if you ride a bike or walk).  

You can also take steps to minimise the effects of pollution.  If you like to run or power walk, it is best to do this in the morning when the ozone is lower.  

If you work in the city, try to avoid going out in the rush hour traffic. If you are stuck in standing traffic, recirculate the air. Even here in the village people have real fires in autumn and winter which makes the air smokey and I have lost count of the times I have had to run away from farmers spraying pesticides.  
Did you know that there is a pollution forecast along with your local weather forecast so, if you can try to avoid going out on days when pollution is at its worst.

Inside your home use natural cleaners.  Please see 'Spring clean your cleaning products' Houseplants are helpful too as are salt lamps. Please see 'Bring the outside in - houseplants' 'Salt pipes and lamps'. When we had chinchillas (8 of them! I bought two 'males' that turned out to be two pregnant females) I bought an air filter to take their dander out of the air but this is a good investment whether or not you have pets.   

Hope this helps,

Late spring planting at 40plusandalliswell

Friday, 5 May 2017

The weather is a little warmer at last!  We were beginning to think it would never happen here in Yorkshire!  At last we have been able to plant the broad beans directly in the ground of the allotment.  We have used a technique called triangular planting which maximises space.  This involves planting a double row.  Mark out your bean patch and plant the first seed in one corner, 5 cm down (use a dibber). Plant another seed 23cm away from the first and 12.5 cm down.  Mark each with a plant marker or you will 'lose' them. Continue then down the double row with a spacing of 23cm until you reach the end of your patch.  It is a good idea to use a row marker so that your rows are straight.  Your next double row should be 60cm from the first double row.  This allows 'walking' space so that you can weed between your bean plants.  The runner beans have been planted singly in pots of compost in the greenhouse but the dwarf french beans will not be started until mid-month. 

Meanwhile the squash and sweet peas are hardening off in a cold frame. We have a relatively cheap one (around £10) with a metal frame and polythene cover.  We open it's vents during the day and close them at night. This prevents thermal shock which can kill the plants.  This weekend we will be planting the sweet peas out.  If you do not have a cold frame you could take your plants out during the day and bring them in at night.  

The various lettuce we are growing are going to stay in the greenhouse.  The hyssop is also starting to grow.  More about the herbs we are growing to come.

Some allotment owners have already planted their potato maincrop and we intend to get ours in soon.

Meatless Monday : Sweet potato crust pizza with vegan 'mozzarella', tomato and basil

Monday, 1 May 2017

This recipe is a healthy version of pizza with all the goodness of sweet potatoes, oats and nuts and yet really tasty - definitely a thumbs up in our house!  The 'mozzarella' is creamy, a great vegan alternative, and this creaminess is balanced by the saltiness of the olives.

Sweet potato crust pizza with vegan 'mozzarella', tomato and basil

Serves 2 

You will need

For the base
1 medium sweet potato, baked or diced and boiled until tender.
100g oats
1 chia seed egg (1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp water - leave to thicken for 5-10 minutes)

For the pizza sauce
1 tbsp oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
4 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces 
100g tomato puree
100ml water
1/2 tsp pink salt
pinch stevia 

For the vegan 'mozzarella' 
100g cashews (no need to soak if you have a high speed blender otherwise soak a minimum of 4 hours, then drained)
160 ml water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp cornflour 
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Cherry tomatoes, halved
More basil leaves
Chives, snipped and used to top the 'mozzarella'

Line a baking tray with baking parchment.  Mash the sweet potato and mix with the oats and the chia seed egg. Place the mixture in the centre of the baking tray and flatten with your hand until 1/4 inch thick.  Place in an oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.  

Meanwhile make the pizza sauce.  Heat the oil and add the onion.  Cook for 3 minutes until the onion is softening then add the remaining ingredients.  Simmer for a few minutes adding a little more water if necessary but the sauce should be thick.

To make the 'mozzarella' whiz all the ingredients for the 'mozzarella' in a high speed blender then transfer to a saucepan.  Heat over a medium heat until the mixture thickens.  Allow to cool then form into balls to top the pizza.  

Top the pizza base with the sauce then the 'mozzarella' balls.  Return to the oven for a few more minutes then top with the chives, tomatoes, olives, and basil leaves.

Happy Bank Holiday!