Active April

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Daylight savings has ended here in NZ and the colder mornings have begun. Thankfully though after a rainy and mixed bag of weather over Easter the sun is shining again to help me ease into the day. Getting out in nature each morning while I walk the dog is one of the things I love to do and one of the things that really helps me to feel balanced and on top of things for the day.

Making the most of the blue and green effect to positively impact our health is easier than you think. Check out these ideas for getting Active in April and just move them into nature ….. or move nature into your space a bit more 🙂

Hope this finds you happy, healthy and enjoying the life you have.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Alternative Vegan shortbread (Paleo too)

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Time to get baking again! I’m planning a baby reflexology course next term and on the outlook for some new recipes. So when this little gem came into my inbox courtesy of The Minimalist Baker I had to give it a whirl; an alterative to vegan shortbread which is also grain free! While we didn’t do the whole shebang of making s’mores like they did we did indulge in the shortbread recipe and we’re loving it! Even the diary eaters among us are saying it is good and asking for more 🙂

Fresh out of the oven … with a few bits already sampled.

I haven’t bothered to change anything in the recipe; didn’t need to! It is already a one pot wonder and it is already super quick and easy. The only thing I think I would do next time is just cut it into squares and bake like that rather than worrying about cookie cutters. In saying that though it does look pretty in different shapes and it stays together much better than the other vegan shortbread recipe when using a cutter.

Below is the recipe as I created it and the tips I used however if you want to make some s’mores out of them – by adding a caramel and chocolate layer – than check out the original recipe here. I have to confess that the way she spelt her s’mores was what got me to open the link, due to confusion, and explore!

Vegan, Grain Free Shortbread

  • 1 1/4 cup of ground almonds (almond meal)
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 2Tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/4 tsp salt

-Melt the coconut oil. Once melted add in the maple syrup and vanilla essence.

-Add in the ground almond and salt and combine fully.

-Form the dough into a ball and then place in between two sheets of baking paper.

-Keeping the dough between the baking paper; roll into a rectangle shape a few mm thick depending how crunchy you like your shortbread. If you do this on the baking tray you can save yourself a job of transferring the dough 🙂

-Place in the fridge for at least 15 mins to chill.

-Remove the top sheet of baking paper and cut, gently, into squares

-Bake in a preheated oven, at 160 Celsius, for 7-10 mins or until the edges are golden. I went for 8 mins which was just right.

-Cool and enjoy

Hope this finds you healthy, happy and loving the life you have.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Read an e-book week!

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Just a bit of a heads up that all my e-books are now 50% off for the ‘Read an E-Book’ week over at Smashwords!

My five titles available through Smashwords

I have 5 books now for under $2 US including a 12 week life coaching course to keep the year rolling along in the right direction, a guide to living a ‘Stress-Less’ life and a comprehensive guide to Bach Flower Remedies. They are all easy reads with loads of health and life coaching tips in them; the best bits I use on myself and those I work with 🙂

Check it out while the deals are still on and enjoy an e-book as the changing seasons play outside.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Mindful March

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Hello again! Here we are into the third month of 2021 and officially (here in NZ anyway) we are in autumn. I don’t think the planet knows it yet though as we have been enjoying warm balmy days lately and they don’t seem ready to end anytime soon 🙂 We are making the most of the sunshine, getting out for walks, enjoying strawberries and tomatoes in the garden along with having our day brighten by the sunflowers blooming next door.

The neighbour’s sunflowers in full bloom

Today I was teaching the first day of my course ‘Balancing Life as a Mum’ and it was fantastic to be back in the Kāpiti Women’s Centre. Though we still have some social distancing requirements it was wonderful to be with a group of women for the morning doing what I love. One of the topics was around journaling, which is one of the oldest forms of self help and one of the easiest, though sometimes one that we don’t make time for. When I arrived home I saw an email from Action for Happiness and was pleased to see that the action for today was all about noticing the good around you, which was one of the journaling options. While they don’t mention to jot it down, if you did it would help you boost your happiness even more 🙂

So I thought I would share Action For Happiness’ Mindful March calendar all ready for making the month ahead a great one!

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

A Merry Vegan (& GF) Christmas Cake

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Well, I thought I would be good and post this before Christmas all ready for Christmas Eve baking ….. as with many GF recipes it is best eaten within a day or two so plenty of time to get the ingredients ready 🙂 It is the same one that I share each year but figure better to have it in your face than searching for it!

Decorating the letterbox

Themselves have been super busy, in and out of activities over the past month: combinations of activities, lessons, competitions (both Judo and sailing), broken collar bones (himself), holidays and a tummy bug (herself) has meant the time has flown by and it is hard to believe that the end of the year is so close. This year we are hanging close to home which will be the first time in a while … have to say I’m looking forward to not having to travel! The excitement is building for themselves though and while they have decorated the letterbox for a neighbourhood search, Christmas Eve is the big night when we get the tree up and the decorations out proper. Another Christmas Eve highlight each year is to drive around the area looking at all the Christmas lights ….. though this does mean a tight schedule for Santa to arrive 🙂 Now all we need is for the weather to improve as it still doesn’t really feel like Summer is properly here with all the muggy, overcast days and rain we have been having.

Merry Christmas …. the non vegan have also been doing some gingerbread reindeer making

This recipe is pretty easy and great for us as it means the vegans amongst us still have a taste of ‘traditional’ Christmas fare. I have halved the original recipe so that it fitted into my bread loaf tin which also meant that it was consumed in a timely manner (it is best eaten within 2 days). Sadly, I can’t remember which book I got the recipe from all those years ago and I have altered it quite a bit over the few of times I have baked it so if you recognize it please let me know so I can credit the original correctly.

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while I like simple and quick recipes. This one is a little out of the norm for me as it required cooking and mashing some kumara prior to mixing everything in one pot …. thankfully I survived the ordeal as it wasn’t quite as daunting as it seemed when I first read it 🙂   I figure one extra dish for some yummy Christmas cake was worth the effort ….. at least once a year that is.  The almond essence and decoration definitely gave it that Christmassy look and taste while using the vanilla essence instead, and flagging the decoration, produced a good fruit cake for any occasion.

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So here is it for you to play around with and enjoy over this festive season and beyond ….

A Merry Vegan Christmas Cake

1 Tb maple syrup

250 gm of raisins or sultanas

1 Cup of water

1 small apple (peeled and grated)

62 gms chopped almonds – or in my case bashed almonds 

1/2 cup of mashed kumara (doesn’t matter if it is cold or warm)

1.5 Tb olive oil

1 tsp almond essence (vanilla also works fine if you just want a fruit cake)

3/4 Cup rice flour

3/4 Cup buckwheat flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

extra almonds to decorate – optional

  • Bring maple syrup, fruit and water to the boil in a large pot then remove from the heat.
  • Add apple, bashed almonds, kumara, essence along with oil and mix well.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well again.
  • Pour into a baking paper lined tin and gently press in extra almonds to decorate.
  • Bake at 160 C for 45 mins and then leave to cool in the oven for the next 15-20 mins before placing on a cooling rack.
  • Store in an airtight container and enjoy.

Hope this finds you surrounded by those you love and who love you, enjoying each other.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Shortbread -Vegan style

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I have posted this one before but though it is such a quick and easy make that it was worth sharing again ….. especially as I have just been baking it for an Infant Massage the other week.

This recipe comes from a great wee book we got when himself (then aged eight) decided that he wanted to become Vegan.  As I tend to feel better without gluten I was trying to find a way to still bake yummy treats without gluten, eggs or butter  being involved and began trawling the library for books.  Thankfully Jennifer Katzinger was a step ahead and had already written her book; Flying Apron’s Gluten Free and Vegan Baking Book.  It is a great ‘go to’ resource as it has a mix of sweet and savoury treats which have all been tested in her bakery.

As close as I get to homemade shortbread 🙂

The end result of the she calls Maple ‘Butter’ Bars is so like shortbread that I have just given it that name 🙂 It is a super quick, easy and very delicious recipe.  The only thing we have altered from her original recipe is to use coconut oil instead of palm oil.  I have noticed though that the quality of the coconut oil does change how it bakes in the oven so wanted to mention here that if you find you have coconut oil bubbling away on top of your shortbread as it bakes then fear not.  We have had this once or twice and simply pour a bit of the excess on top then return to the oven for a little extra baking with the same delicious results.

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Scored into bite size pieces while it is still warm in the pan

We have also played around with the flour that we use over the years.  I love a mix of brown rice flour and buckwheat however the non-vegans on the bus prefer it when I use the Edmonds GF flour so I guess it is just personal taste for you and yours.  I have given the full recipe below however I usually just do a half recipe as it is very sweet and moreish.  I also cut them into bite size biscuits so that it goes a bit further. 

Vegan Shortbread

  • 2 3/4 Cups GF flour (1 3/8 buckwheat and 1 3/8 rice, all rice or premixed works)
  • 1 cup of coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

-Heat the coconut oil in a pot until it is just liquid then add the maple syrup in along with the vanilla essence and stir well

-Mix in the flour until it is well blended in.

-Spread the mixture into a baking paper lined tin.  Preferably a tin that you can open and slide the baking paper out of at the end. You want a layer about 1/2 to 1 cm thick.

-Bake at 190C for 30 mins or until the edges are golden and hardening a little.

-Remove from the oven and use a knife to ‘cut’ into small pieces.

-Slide the baking paper with the scored shortbread intact onto a cooling tray.

-Cool and enjoy.

Hope this finds you warm where ever you are 

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Best vegan & GF brownie

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Well it has been a very long time since I have been on here. Life just seems to have ticked along and without any Infant Massage course mamas to nourish I haven’t really been doing that much baking.

Checking out the Manawatu over the long weekend here in NZ

It is the first time I have had lots of allergies in the class so my planned chocolate cookies were out and I needed to find a good alternative. Start the internet search for something just as chocolatey! Thankfully Loving it Vegan came to the rescue with their awesome Vegan Gluten Free Brownie recipe

I have to say that this is the best brownie I have had in a long time – both before and after becoming vegan. Even the non-vegans in and around the house were fighting to get a piece of this delicious stuff 😉 While it is vegan and gluten free it is far, far, far from being sugar free! Probably best baked when you have a crowd to feed as it is very hard to resist having ‘just one more piece’.

Delicious vegan and gluten free brownie

I haven’t made any changes to this recipe however as there is quite a lot of ads and writing before the recipe appears on Loving it Vegan, I thought I would share it here as I used it and highlight some key parts.

The original blog post has both cup and weight measurements however I found that my NZ cup measures didn’t equal the South African weights given. For best results I just went with weights which is what I’ll share below along with the NZ options for great vegan chocolate ….. Whittakers of course 🙂

Another thing I learnt when trialling this recipe was that you need a tin that can separate (expandable ones are perfect). The brownie is very dense and trying to remove it from the tin only resulted in ripped paper and broken up brownie …. much to themselves delight I must say. Thankfully I had one that I picked up in a second hand shop ages ago that expands from a square tin to a rectangle. If you can’t find one or don’t have one then the circular tins with the removable bottom would be the best bet.

The last bit of vital information is to know the actual temperature of your oven. When I first cooked this brownie it came out a bit too gooey so taking the advice from in the blog I got my trusty oven thermometer out – thanks Linette 🙂 – and checked where things were at. The inside oven temp was about 30C below what the dial said so once I cranked it up a bit and retested we were good to go. Of course you can just bake it a bit longer too 🙂

So without anymore chatter onto the recipe ……

Vegan GF brownie

  • 272gm GF flour (I used Edmonds)
  • 84gm cocoa powder
  • 400gm white sugar
  • 1.5 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tb instant coffee
  • 240ml soy buttermilk (240ml regular soy milk and 1Tb fresh lemon juice combined and left to curdle)
  • 240ml coconut oil (melted)
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 88gm vegan chocolate chunks (Whittakers Dark Ghana smashed up)
  • 88gm vegan chocolate chips (Pak n Save have these)

– Pre heat the oven to 180 C (check your oven temp and adjust if necessary)

– Mix the soy milk and lemon juice and leave to curdle

– In a separate bowl combine all the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder and mix well

– Add melted coconut oil and vanilla essence to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined

– Add buttermilk and mix well

– Add chocolate chips and chocolate chunks. Mix well.

– Pour into a lined square tin (preferably one that you can separate)

– Bake for 40 mins or until the top cracks and only thing on the cake tester is possibly chocolate.

– Leave to cool for 15 mins before removing from the tin then put on a cooling rack.

RESIST the urge to slice and eat now …. it is so much better completely cold – we know, we tried 🙂

– When the brownie is completely cooled then cut into pieces with a hot knife.

Well that is it for this week ….. see you next time I’m inspired to get into the kitchen 🙂

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

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Today we took some time to harvest the last of the baking apples from the tree.  It is the last of our fruit … excluding tomatoes …. and makes it feel like autumn is really here, especially as the rain has just begun.  Apple crumble on the menu tonight I think however what to do with all the extras and the peels?

I have an apple cider on the brew which I’m hoping will be drinkable so thought I’d get some more apples ready for a second brew ….. fingers crossed.  I also was reminded about an easy apple cider vinegar recipe I had, only uses the peels and cores of the apples, which was successful many years ago.   I have decided to just be lazy and re-post it below with a few notes in italics 🙂  I’ll keep you posted on the Cider!

‘A while ago I was given a link to making your own apple cider vinegar and I have to say that at the time it fell into my ‘lovely, but no time to do now’ basket.  However as the apple harvest time came and I was given some apples along with all the apples coming from our trees I thought it was time to get cracking and make some!

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This recipe from Janella Purcell (sorry link doesn’t seem to be working now) is almost too easy for words!  It is simply making the most of your waste as you prepare your apples for stewing or baking…… I know isn’t that awesome 🙂  So, as I cut, peeled and cored I popped all the skins and cores into a large jar beside me. Then when it was full I added a couple of tablespoons of honey (I’m trying with maple syrup this time due to veganism on the bus now) and covered with filtered water.  Yes, that is it …. oh and the patience to let it mature 🙂

Once you have your jar full of honey, water and apple leftovers you need to cover with something breathable and wait.  After 2 weeks you can take out all the apple for composting, leaving behind the liquid, and then stir daily for 4 weeks while the mixture turns into Apple Cider Vinegar then bottle up.

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Now while it all seemed (and is) very easy I have to say that the end result was a little different from what we were all expecting.  I’m not sure if it is because there were a few stray seeds that lingered in the liquid or just the type of apple used.  Either way there is a distinct taste of ‘corn chips’ when we tasted it neat ….. no, not what we were expecting either but there you are.  (This makes me laugh as I forgot about that!! The longer we had it sitting in the cupboard the nicer it got so I think the moral of the story is to brew and let it sit for as long as possible) All in all, I think that it will be a recipe that I’ll venture to try again 🙂 True to my word I am :)’

Hope this finds you making the most of what you have at hand.

Arohnaui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Connection Challenge & Vegan Flapjacks

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We are into our second week of lock-down here in New Zealand though many here have decided to use a Māori reference of rāhui instead.  I kind of like that term so may begin adopting it … rather than using a term of imprisonment! I have to be honest though and say that not much has actually changed for our whānau aside from Himself working from home and the few activities we partook in being cancelled.  We are now adjusting to online keyboard lessons, judo via YouTube and Rangers (Girl Guides) on Zoom 🙂

Rahui

It has given me a bit more time to do some other work, hence the time to blog and bake 🙂  It has also inspired me to create a bit of a challenge for people – a connection challenge.  With the mail stopped (well for us anyway) and all these businesses bombarding my inbox with their updates I thought it would be great to receive some real mail from friends and family.  I have begun with an email to a friend, themselves have done likewise.

The best thing is that it made me feel great that I may be putting a smile on someone’s face and that there may just be an email coming back to put a smile on mine!  I know that everyone has gone on social media more but there is nothing like a personal letter/email to really make you feel that you are connected.  All the more important at the moment when you can’t physically connect. It could be to a loved one, a friend or even someone you have admired for a while.  Copy the photo below and share as much as you want on Social media …. just get writing as well 🙂

Connection challenge with border

Give it a go … it will make you feel great!

 

So I thought I should give you a bit of nourishment to see you through all those letters/emails of connection that you’ll be writing 🙂  This is a flapjack recipe which I have adapted to make it vegan.  I only discovered these delicious morals when we lived in Ireland and then I couldn’t get enough of them!  Those of you in Ireland and the UK will know them well with the name flapjack.  Those of you in NZ may know them as porridge biscuits … so I have been informed.  Either way they are a quick, easy and delicious treat.

Vegan Flapjacks

300gm rolled oats (the smaller ones are better)

50gm desiccated coconut

75gm coconut sugar

125gm coconut oil

40ml maple syrup

  • Melt oil and stir in sugar and maple syrup until well mixed.
  • Add to rolled oats and coconut mixture and mix well again.
  • Place in a baking paper lined tin (I used 23cm x20cm).  Pressing it down flat as much as possible.
  • Bake at 180C for 20-25 mins or until you can see that the oats are golden. 160 C if you have a fan oven
  • Take out of the oven and score into squares while it is warm.
  • Allow to cool fully in the tin.   You can put them in the fridge to really set them too as the coconut oil does soften quickly
  • ENJOY!

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Warm out of the oven

 

Until the next blog … whenever that fancy grabs me …. kia ora, kia kaha ā kia manawanui (Be well, be strong and be patient)

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Tapping World Summit

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Apologies for the lack of blogging!  I haven’t been doing much baking lately as I have been spending time taking part in activities which make me feel renewed ……I have to confess that while I love baking the scoffing part of it doesn’t usually fill me with feelings of renewal 🙂  Hence it has taken a back seat for a while.

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Sunset walks with himself

Instead I have been focusing on learning some languages, getting into nature each day, playing my guitar and getting on top of some emotional baggage.  It is amazing how much ‘rubbish’ I was holding onto, even when I thought I had dealt with issue!  After tapping each day and doing my other renewing activities, I have been blown away by the changes I have been experiencing and how much more my days are flowing.

So in case any of you want to feel a bit renewed I thought I would share this link to the Tapping World Summit.  It has been on for the last 10 days however this is a link to be able to listen and tap along to all the talks.  It is time sensitive so it will be ending very soon however I thought it was worth sharing; Tapping World Summit

I hope it gets to you in time … if not then check out YouTube for some free tap along videos on a host of topics.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz