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Zucchini Spaghetti

I do feel very lucky to have a husband who enjoys cooking as much as Mr P and experimenting to create different meals for us. This recipe is one of his concoctions. He originally started to make it with bacon, cream and parmesan cheese, but has since altered it to fit in with a vegan diet. He has used plant-based cheese previously, but I have found I prefer it without. So, the recipe today is my favourite version, but you could add extras such as vegan cheese and more seasoning to flavour to your taste.

 

Ingredients

400g dried thin spaghetti pasta

1 small brown onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 large zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated

250ml plant-based cream (we use Alpro)

Pinch of oregano

Salt and pepper to season

 

Method

  • Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.

 

  •  Meanwhile, cook the onion in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until it softens. Add the garlic and zucchini and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the zucchini softens slightly. Stir in the cream. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

 

  • Add the zucchini mixture to the pasta and toss to combine with the oregano. Divide among serving dishes and season with salt and pepper.

 

 

I post plant-based recipes that we love every Friday, so if you are interested in reading more, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Mrs P x x x

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Toddler Tales – March 2019

Ah, toddlerhood… it has been a while since I wrote about you, but one thing is for sure, you are always interesting. Since the last time I wrote a Toddler Tales post, DB2 has definitely been busy. He’s grown, explored, learned, destroyed and continued to keep us on our toes every minute of the day. There has been good, but as with most things, there has also been a bit of bad along the way too.

DB2 The Destroyer!

Over the past few months, DB2 has been eager to learn and explore as much as possible. This is wonderful in so many ways, for it means he is constantly experimenting and learning. His language and understanding improves every day and physically he tests himself, so he is becoming very coordinated and strong. Being this inquisitive, also means that he often wants to find out about things that we would not expect him to. Such as, wanting to know what happens when he tugs on a loose piece of wallpaper in his room, or wants to see where the edge of the carpet goes, or even assessing to see how sturdy his bedroom door is. Having a curious mind is fabulous, but it does also mean that he has now ripped all the wallpaper he can reach off his walls, pulled up the carpet in his bedroom and yanked the door off its hinges (like I said strong!). My constant mantra at the moment is “This is why we can’t have anything nice!”, while crying into my tea.

In all seriousness, I think all children go through a destructive period at some point. My eldest (DB1) had a tantrum once and drew all over his white wardrobe in protest, but to be fair after facing our reactions, he never did anything like that again. DB2 is a slightly different kettle of fish and there are times when I just think he does not give a flying fig, but then there are other times when he knows he has done wrong and will not be happy until he has apologised and received our forgiveness. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back, might have been last week when he ran full pelt at the TV arms outstretched, banged into it and caused it to fall forwards off the unit. Thankfully, Mr P did a true Indiana Jones and caught it before it hit the floor. The falling TV, mixed with our reactions shocked DB2 quite a bit leading to a very apologetic two year old, who now avoids approaching the TV too closely and is slightly warier of following through with destructive… I mean explorative intentions upon the hearing of our voices.

Life with a toddler can be challenging and my experiences with DB2 are completely different than with my eldest, so another mantra has been, “DB1 wasn’t like this!”. It is unfair to say that though, because every child is different (my two are proof of that) and where one is destructive, another will be timid. Where one is outgoing, another will be reserved and so on. As toddlers they are different and as they grow I am sure they will change and differ again, but isn’t that what makes life interesting? That is what I have to keep reminding myself, because even with the redecorating, laying of new flooring and potentially replacing already new TVs, motherhood is amazing and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

 

If you are interested in reading more like this, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Mrs P x x x

Mindfulness Monday – Week Two

This week has been a bit of a trickier week for me, as my shoulder, neck and back injury started to play up again. This has caused several problems: I have not been able to be as active, I have been unable to look after my children as I would wish and this has triggered feelings of guilt, which have led to anxiety. Mindfulness activities have been important to keep harmful thoughts of blame and self-deprecation at bay. I have found this week’s activity very useful as a way to help manage this. It has helped me stay present and calm and avoid slipping into over thinking mode.

Listen Mindfully

The website www.mindfulnessexercises.com says,

“One of the simplest, most direct ways to connect with the present moment and further cultivate our awareness is to become aware of the many sounds that are constantly arising around us. Intentionally paying attention to the sounds filling our ears can not only help us to come back to the present but can also stabilize the mind and further refine our sense of hearing and deep listening.”

 

There are a number of ways to complete this task. I have been taking 5-10 minutes at a time to practice this activity in the following way:

 

  • Sit down, making sure you are comfortable. Gently close your eyes.
  • Allow sounds to enter your awareness and let them pass over you. Listen to sounds from near and far, coming and going. Try not to label the sounds – a car, a bird and so on – as we do not want to get involved with thoughts or stories associated with them. We want to be present to the sound.
  • Your hearing may become more focused allowing other brain activities to move to the background of your awareness. If thoughts arise, which is natural, gently and without judgement return your awareness to simply listening.

 

It did take me a while to tune out my thoughts at times, but eventually I found I focussed my awareness on the sounds around me much more successfully. Every time I undertake this activity there is a slightly different outcome and there are times I find it easier than others. I have found that my breathing changes when I perform this by becoming deeper, but this may not be the effect it has on you. We are all unique so everyone will experience this activity in different ways and as so many professionals say, there is no right or wrong way of practising mindfulness.

 

If you are interested in reading more like this, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Mrs P x x x

Kidney Bean Curry

This week I thought I would share my favourite recipe since becoming vegan. Growing up, I absolutely hated anything spicy. Even the hint of spice would lead to the ruining of a meal, but for some reason in the past year my favourite foods have consisted of very spicy curries and chilly. Taste buds do alter as you age, but I think my preference to spices has come about due to changes in my diet. I can’t explain why changing to a plant-based diet has had this effect. Perhaps, it is because many foods containing spices also happen to be meat and dairy free and this has caused me to have more exposure to them. I couldn’t say for sure, but my enjoyment of spicy food has caused me to love eating this Kidney Bean Curry. I found the recipe in the BBC Good Food Eat Well Vegetarian & Vegan Dishes book and besides it being incredibly tasty, it is so easy and cheap to make. It is a definite ‘rescue recipe’ when your cupboards are a bit barer and my whole family loves it.

 

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 small pack coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly shredded

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground paprika

2 tsp garam masala

400g can chopped tomatoes

400g kidney beans

Cooked basmati rice, to serve

 

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a low-medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to colour. Add the garlic, ginger and coriander stalks and cook for a further 2 mins, until fragrant.

 

  1. Add the spices to the pan and cook for another 1 min, by which point everything should smell aromatic. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and kidney beans in their water, then bring to the boil.

 

  1. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 mins until the curry is nice and thick. Season to taste, then serve with the basmati rice and the coriander leaves.

 

 

I post plant-based recipes that we love every Friday, so if you are interested in reading more, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Mrs P x x x

World Book Day 2019

It is World Book Day this week and many parents and teachers will know, part of the fun of this day is dressing your child up as their favourite book character. My son is now ten, so we’ve been through Tin Tin, Harry Potter and Alex Rider to name a few. This year he was very certain who he wanted to dress up as and I am now scrambling around to find all the pieces that will make up Spoiled Brad from The World’s Worst Children 2 by David Walliams (thankfully, this is not the hardest character to recreate).

In previous years, I too have had to don a bit of fancy dress; which anyone who knows me will tell you isn’t too much of a hardship. I have stood at the front of my class as The Queen of Hearts, Bagheera, Alice in Wonderland and last year my school had a bedtime story theme, so I spent a whole day in my pyjamas (the comfiest work day ever!).

Having replaced teaching with stay at home mum life this year, I thought I would substitute the dressing up and leading of educational literary fun, with a post about our favourite books. As much as I love exploring book shops, recommedations are so appreciated and some of my great favourites have been suggested by others. Having been through the baby, toddler, child and now pre-teen stage as a mum, I have come to find books which have entertained my children and us for years and hold a very special place in my heart. Some are incredibly popular, and I am sure you will have heard of them, but there might be the odd few that are slightly less well known and could become a treasured favourite of yours too. Whatever you get out of this post, I hope it does a bit to encourage the celebration of books and the wonder of reading.

 

My Recommended Reads

 

Baby and Toddler

These are books that both my children have loved, and we have loved reading to them. All have wonderful illustrations or images that engage this age group perfectly.

  • Where’s Spot?Eric Hill
  • There Are Cats in This BookVivian Schwarz
  • Stories for BedtimeUsborne
  • Baby Sparkle Funny FacesDK
  • Dinosaur Roar!Henrietta Stickland
  • Each Peach Pear PlumJanet and Allan Ahlberg 
  • PeepoJanet and Allan Ahlberg
  • Pirates Love UnderpantsClaire Freedman
  • All books by Julia Donaldson

5 – 8 Years

I have shared some books that my son has loved in this group, but also books I adored as a child and others I enjoyed reading with the children I taught.

  • The Emperor of AbsurdiaChris Riddell
  • The Adventures of the Dish and the SpoonMini Grey
  • All books by Jonny Duddle
  • Oliver Moon SeriesSue Mongredien
  • Beast Quest SeriesAdam Blade
  • All books by Roald Dahl
  • Pirate AdventuresRussell Punter
  • Dragons at Crumbling Castle – Terry Pratchett
  • Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandLewis Carroll
  • The Worst Witch SeriesJill Murphy
  • The Firework Maker’s Daughter – Philip Pullman

Pre-teen/Teenager/Young Adult

I am so happy that my eldest son is at the age where he is starting to read some of my favourite books and loves them as much as I do. As well as sharing books my son enjoys, I have included a number he has not yet read and possibly will not want to read, but they grew up with me and are the reason I love reading and writing.

  • DragonologyDouglas Carrel
  • All books by David Walliams
  • GoosebumpsR L Stine
  • Horrible HistoriesTerry Deary
  • Harry Potter SeriesJ K Rowling
  • Alex Rider SeriesAnthony Horowitz
  • All books by Louise Rennison
  • His Dark MaterialsPhilip Pullman
  • Witch Child/SorceressCelia Rees
  • Gone SeriesMichael Grant

Adult

Although World Book Day is very much aimed at the younger generation, you are never too old to get lost in a book. So, I thought I would finish by sharing some of my favourite books that I have read as an adult.

  • The Languedoc Trilogy (Labyrinth/Sepulchre/Citadel)Kate Mosse
  • Books by Philippa Gregory – particularly The White Queen, The White Princess and The Lady of the Rivers
  • OutlanderDiana Gabaldon
  • One DayDavid Nichols
  • Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen  (I read this for the first time at 13, but I have re-read it several times since because it is my all-time favourite!)

 

Continuing the theme of sharing, if you have a wonderful read that you would like to let me and others know about, it would be lovely if you could write about this in the comments below.

If you would like to see more of my posts, please click the ‘Follow’ button and let me know you enjoyed this by giving it a ‘Like’. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

Thank you for reading and in the words of Dr Seuss, “…find magic wherever you look” this World Book Day!

Mrs P x x x

Mindfulness Monday – Week One

Mindfulness has been very important to me during this past year. It has helped me feel less overwhelmed, positively changed the way I think and feel about experiences, increased my ability to manage difficult situations, reduced levels of anxiety, depression and stress, helped me to control over thinking and given me greater self-compassion. Now, that sounds like quite a list of benefits, which is why I would think mindfulness is so highly spoken of and promoted in mental health circles. It was my CBT therapist that advised I try some mindfulness techniques, and from there I was able to incorporate them into my day-to-day life and routine.

Many mindfulness activities can be utilised at various points during your day or in different situations, but as with any skill it takes time and practice. This is why I try to start each day with a quick mindfulness task. I find it helps me focus and start my day in a positive head space.

Because I have found this so beneficial and I’m wanting my blog to be a space of positivity, I thought I would share a 5-10 minute mindfulness activity on my blog once a week every Monday. Being a lover of alliteration, I have decided to call these posts ‘Mindfulness Monday’ (sorry for the lack of originality). I am by no means an expert and have only been practising for a short time, but I wish to start the week with positive, mindful vibes. If you wish to do the same, I hope you enjoy reading this and get as much out of these activities as I do.

 

Awakening Breath

This is a 5-minute activity, taken from The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr Patrizia Collard, to help us ‘be in the now’.

Dr Patrizia Collard says ‘Living moment by moment, and seeing everything afresh without judgement and worry lets us experience life rather than simply get through it.’ She continues that ‘This exercise helps us to breathe more fully, and strengthens and awakens us to face the day with confidence and calm.’

The activity can be done standing or sitting if need be.

  • Stand in Mountain Pose (see below for more details), with the spine lengthened upwards and the legs and feet hip-width apart. Position the arms by your sides, palms to the front, so the thumbs face outwards.

 

  • Inhale and sweep/lift your arms slowly up and overhead until the hands meet above the head, palms touching. Exhale slowly as you lower the arms back down to your sides, moving slowly with your breathing. See if you can deepen and lengthen your breathing, and try to feel the pause after each breath.

 

  • Repeat 5-8 times.

Although simple, this is one of my favourite activities. I find focussing on breathing linked with the movement of the arms incredibly calming and I always feel mentally lighter after performing it. This is an activity I always try to start my morning with.

Note: 

Mountain Pose – This is a yoga pose that helps you feel connected to the earth, letting your body and mind exist in the here and now. It strengthens legs and improves posture. For more information on how to perform this pose go to: https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-mountain-pose-in-yoga.

 

If you are interested in reading more like this, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

Mrs P x x x

 

If you wish to read about mindfulness in more detail, the document below has a lot of very useful information:

https://www.mind.org.uk/media/23908255/mindfulness-2018.pdf
Continue reading “Mindfulness Monday – Week One”

Vegan Victoria Sponge

Since becoming a vegan, my family and I have tried and tested a number of new recipes. As with all cooking, some have worked and some haven’t. Knowing how useful it is to find good, tried and tested recipes that the whole family, vegan and non-vegan can enjoy, I thought I would start to share some of my plant-based food findings.

The first I want to share was actually discovered by my husband. He surprised me on Valentine’s Day morning with a beautiful vegan Victoria sponge cake. To my surprise, he had stayed up most of the night to bake this beauty, knowing how much I loved and missed eating cake since my diet change. I have enjoyed a few vegan cake variations when out and about, but it is a rarity that there is a dairy and egg free cake option on menus. So, when I was presented with this I was very excited, and I was right to be because it tasted amazing. I can honestly say if you weren’t told, you wouldn’t know there were no eggs in it and that it was made with dairy free butter. Even my omnivorous husband, who usually sticks his nose up to most things vegetarian or vegan, couldn’t get enough of it. So much so, we have now made the cake three times since Valentine’s Day.

The recipe my husband used was from the Tesco Real Food website and it is very straight forward and cost effective.

Recipe Link: https://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/vegan-victoria-sponge.html

 

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 400g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 115ml sunflower oil
  • 400ml almond milk (or soya milk)
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 150g strawberries, halved or quartered depending on size, to decorate

For the vegan buttercream

  • 200g dairy-free spread, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Grease and flour the sides and line the base of 2 x 23cm loose-bottomed cake tins.
  2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar into a large mixing bowl and mix together. Whisk together the sunflower oil, milk, syrup and vanilla in a jug and pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, then whisk using a hand-blender for 2 mins until thick and creamy.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins and bake for 35–45 mins until risen and cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 mins in the tin, then remove and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. While the cakes are cooling, make the filling: beat together the spread, icing sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl, cover and leave to firm up in the fridge until needed.
  5. Spread the jam evenly over one half of the cake, followed by two-thirds of the cream mixture. Top with the second cake, spread the remaining cream on top and decorate with the strawberries

 

The Tesco Real Food website has many more vegan recipes and is definitely worth a visit.

 

I will be posting plant-based recipes that we love every Friday, so if you are interested in reading more please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Mrs P x x x