Thursday, 30 December 2010

Pear poached in mulled wine with brandy sauce

This is a recipe for christmas. I've never even tasted mulled wine before so this crimbo I bought some to try it out. Now I'm not a wine person generally but I wanted to see if mulled wine is any different in case I'm missing out.

Turns out I'm not really cos it's quite dry like most wines but then that's why I cook. I changed it. I added a little sugar and made it more palatable. Then I considered dessert and thought I'd try poaching a pear in sweetened mulled wine then reducing the wine to make a sauce. I spied the brandy sauce and my plan came together.
So I had that a couple of nights ago but this morning I thought I'd experiment further.

I love having desserts for brekkie cos it feels so naughty it has to be right. The looks I get you wouldn't believe. No one seems to care that I'm starting the day with my one of five a day. I mean I'm starting with a pear, and sure, it's wine but it's mulled wine made from all sorts of fruits. That has to be good for you doesn't it?

To mix it up a little though, I decided to add some crunchy oat cereal, partly for extra crunch and partly to make it more breakfasty. Boy that did add some interest. It was only half a poached pear left over from the previous dessert but it's still a real pear and part of my five a day. The oats contain sultanas and coconut and stuff so also add to the five a day but also add to the fibre. I just like that crunchy oats can be a nice way of adding fibre with relatively unprocessed ingredients.

Anywho it certainly make breakfast interesting. Can't wait to do that again. Now I've got to wait for my rhubarb crumble to finish!!!!

Oyster mushrooms in garlic butter with roast vegetables

Ok, so the last couple of articles have been a bit intense. So I'm gonna lighten the mood. I just had a terrific meal and so I have to share. Sorry that I didn't take a pic but I'd started eating before I remembered.

What I really want to share is how darn easy it was. I've been working on this easy way of cooking for a while and it's starting to come together. The end result is that I'm now having gorgeous meals I can whip up as my mood dictates that are home made yet have the ease of being frozen.

Todays delight was oyster mushrooms I'd bought half price on offer at the supermarket. I washed and froze them in individual portions as soon as I got home. The roast veg I made yesterday and froze after. I freeze them after I've boiled the root veg then toss in some oil, this time duck and lamb fat cos that was what I was cooking, herbs, and seasoning.

So, feeling lazy but wanting something nice I checked the freezer. I spotted the gravy I made yesterday, then the mushrooms in the freezer and the roast veg, mmmmm I thought.

Just poured the veg into a tin to roast and popped in the oven. I thought about the mushrooms. They cook much quicker than the veg and I couldn't be bothered to keep popping back to the oven to put extra items in and stuff. So my answer. Put them in their own tin with a dash of butter on each shroom. Then cover with tin foil so they won't dry out and put in the oven.

Half an hour later I came back, heated up the gravy and dished up. I know it's my own cooking but it was a real treat. The flavours were big and it all worked together. Best of all I got to carry on with christmas!!!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Could sleep affect risk of heart disease?

Deep stuff eh. Again I'm just trying to make the point that balance is everything. Sleep is a big part of life and it needs to be. Western culture doesn't really value sleep that much. There are so many things to do with your time. Sleep is so often considered a waste of it.

So could the amount of sleep affect your risk of heart disease?

It's just a thought. I have an inkling that lack of sleep could be a factor in these illnesses and I think I can pull together some of the things I've learnt to make a case for it. Let's see how I go.

It's well documented and understood that we need to sleep to allow our bodies to repair. For example there's a huge release of human growth hormone during sleep. This is a natural steroid that promotes an environment that supports cell repair.

The general explanation for the cause of heart problems is build up of fatty plaques called atheroma in heart tissues, along with a reduced elasticity of heart muscle.

the accepted reason for this is a high fat diet means lots of fat gets caught in breaks in the walls of the blood vessels. Well that's fine there's mounting evidence that it's safer to be big and fit than thin and unfit in the heart disease stakes. Ok well exercise is a common thing to be measured but sleep isn't so common or atleast I feel it isn't as fashionable in our society.

the question for me is why don't the blood vessel walls just heal themselves in the first place. If they did then the crisis would be averted. this is where I think decent sleep would help. I don't think it would be the be all and end all but I think it could help a lot. If you don't sleep well you're body doesn't finsih of it's repairs for the day and has to leave it to the next day. This can build up for a few days but as long as you can up with your sleep the repairs catch up too.

Problem is that your body just tries to letyou go about your day and if you consistently lack sleep you'll adjust, your mind won't necessarily tell you that you're deprived of sleep because it assumes you've got more important things to do. If I'm correct then this could over time mean that you're just suffering from a serious form of not doing repairs. After a while though it's too late. The clots will have formed sufficiently and can no longer be removed by simple healing. Maybe they then grow over time. Maybe the body has mechanisms we don't know about yet that can clear up the clots. Sounds stupid. Well it doesn't when considering that an obese person at the age of 20 with a high risk of heart problems in the future can bring their risk back to normal by losing the weight and becoming active so that by the time they're 40 they have the same rtisk as anyone else of heart problems.

I say this because I feel it might give people hope and that is what I am taking from the research and stories that I read.

Here's a link to the original article

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

What factors make us kick the bucket?

Ok, so that's a pretty blunt title for a blog that's about play. Isn't life pretty blunt at times though. so I'm just applying play to lifes bluntness. We kick the bucket. What's the point worrying about it. Let's accept it, explore it and see if it can teach us something or help us now.

I wrote this post a while ago on my previous blog. It's about removing the fear from it and about understanding yourself and your life better. Those that do seem to, in my view, enjoy their life more. They don't get hung up on things that ultimately don't matter. They just get on and have fun but they do know their limits. They do know that too much fun is harmful so they know when to stop. Ao they have fun often but not all the time but overall they have more fun and play more than anyone else.

That's the dream any way. So check out the original article considering What factors make us kick the bucket?. Whether it changes your mind isn't the point. It will challenge you and make you think about what you want to do in life and how you want to grow old. The guarantee is that you'll grow old. The choice you have is about how you get there and what you'll have with you when you do. My intention is to have more fun then than I do now. I've met a lot of people that have done this and I'm findign my path there too. What's yours

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Hunger tips

Part of making food fun is banishing hunger. When I'm celebrating, say at Christmas, I want to eat what I want. No restrictions. Then after in the new year and other times I still want to enjoy food but eat less of it and restore the balance to my weight.

Sounds simple but, if you've actually tried it, you'll know that your body and the signals it gives you often get in the way. Hunger is obviously the main problem. When you go from eating a lot of anything to less you're going to feel hungry. I also used to worry that maybe hunger was a sign that I was missing nutrients and stuff. Maybe by eating less I'm starving my body of vital stuff.

So I wrote about my experience with hunger and how I figured it out. Now I know how to adjust between times of plenty and times when I'm cutting down. I minimise the hunger and know why it's there and how stop getting hungry. I've gained control. I know what I'm eating is good for me and giving me all I need. It's not deficient and I know that I'll be happy long term there are just a few days where my body and mind is adjusting so I have ways to make that much easier.

Try it out and let me know how it goes for you.

Enjoyment is the way to go

The title of this blog is a give away. It's about having fun. Here's a post I wrote a while ago that describes part of the journey I've taken to put having fun at the forefront of a successful life.

This is becoming more and more relevant in my life as I see the effects of the decision to make it core to how I live. the essence is that people at play become the best of themselves and achieve so much without ever getting very tired. Everything just seems so much easier when you're playing than when you're stressed or under pressure.

This blog is about showing that the benefits are real and that you really can thrive by playing. So it's worth showing how long I've been playing and benefiting from it.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Be smarter about life

I'm just going through my other blog. Just seeing the things I used to write and think. It's fun because I'm finding things that still make me think and reflect.

An essence of this life as play blog is about making life feel easy. Making the journey comfortable. To do that I advocate working smarter not harder.  At one point I was describing how I've started to do that in relation to maintaining my weight. But the process can easily be adapted to anything else you want to achieve.

The key principle is about smarter goals. A nice simple process that helps you get things done with minimum effort. I love it because it's the process behind most of my successes. Whether I actually write my goals down or not isn't the point. With hindsight I can see that I use this regularly and I trust it inherently because it just seems to simplify life when I follow it.

Try it out for yourself. See how it can help you.


Wednesday, 8 December 2010

1 Mile a day burns over half a stone in a year

It seems worthwhile pointing out a post I made on my original blog a couple of years ago. The I explained how you could easily lose over half a stone a year by being a bit more active than you already are.

I just wanted to show that weight loss doesn't always have to be fast and simple weight loss often isn't. But then weight gain is often slow too. Doing things this way is just more fun and easier to make work

Monday, 6 December 2010

Baked fish with Roast Butternut Squash and Crushed cashews

ok, I won't always talk about food but since you get 3 chances a day to treat yourself I like to make sure that atleast once it feels like a treat.

This time the treat was in how quick and easy it was to make. The ingredients weren't designed to match perfectly like a recipe. I do that a lot. I thought I'd try something out to see if it would work.

The dish is fish with roast butternut squash, sprouts and crushed cashews.

Not sure how that sounds to you but it was very nice. The main issue is that I have to take our collie Cali out for a walk when I get home. So cooking my dinner has to fit in aswell. With this meal I roasted the squash while I was walking Cali and had the fish ready to pop straight in the oven when I got back.

I had a halved squash in the fridge, I removed the seeds, scored the flesh, sprinkled with olive oil, thyme, rosemary and seasoned. Then got the fish (it's wrong but I'm not sure exactly what fish it was. It wasn't salmon, but I've bought a few different fish recently and it could be any one of them) out of the freezer. Unwrapped the clingfilm, put a nob of butter on it and seasoned it. Put in an oven dish and covered with baking paper (I've run out of foil).

With all that done I put the squash in the oven and took cali out. When I came back I took the squash out for 10 minutes and put the fish in the oven.

Then prepared the sprouts, slicing them and putting them in the squash centre where there was a puddle of oil. I added a little seasoning to taste.  Back in the oven. then I crushed the cashews and added right near the end. The fish took about 30 mins.

Then I just plated up and ate it. What I love about this is how little work I actually have to do. I'm beginning to love butternut squash cos when you roast it your really have no hassle. Roasting makes it so soft and juicy and sweet. And I love that you can use it's skin as its own bowl. No peeling needed. I loved the fish too. I used to think it was really awkward to cook cos I used a frying pan, you have to defrost it overnight and you've got a bunch of washing up to do. But this way was almost effortless.

Now I've got some spare time to watch some snooker.

Roasting, my way

Another way of making meals full of taste but simple to make is to mix cooking methods. I'm being very liberally in my use of the term cooking method.

Tonight I used a roasted chicken breast that i'd frozen a few weeks ago from a freshly roasted chicken i'd bought from the supermarket. Rather than defrost it I tried a trick I copied from the fish I cooked last week. It was wrapped in tin foil with a little butter added and put in the oven. I had no foil so I used baking paper instead.

For the veg I opened a can of tinned carrots, yep I'm really being lazy and experimental at the same time, a bit of olive oil, sprinkling of thyme and rosemary. Salt and pepper the roast carrots are sorted. Then I peeled an onion sliced the top and wedged a little butter in. Put in tthe same tray. As the carrots.

Then, cos it's christmas I'm trying out sprouts. I never liked them but feel like I might find a way. This time I've sliced 4 sprouts and mixed them with some tinned peas a little mint and sauteed them in a frying pan.

When it all came together I added some pinenuts to the sprouts and peas.

Anywho. The point is I loved it but I didn't have to put so much effort into it. Sure I do it all properly when I have time and the energy but I wanted a roast without all the effort. My dinner hit all the right spots. I had a bunch of tasty veg so I feel real healthy and now I'm just putting my feet up and chilling

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Accessorise your food

This blog is about bringing fun into life as much as possible. Exploring the ways you can do this is. In itself. Part of the fun and part of the journey.

I found a whole new way of making food fun when I watched a bunch of cooking shows and realised that a meal is often a key ingredient or two dressed up with a bunch of accessories.

A roast. For example. Centres around the meat and 'tatoes for me. The rest of the veg being accessories that I vary according to what I've got available, how much time I've got and what I fancy. Gravy is expected of course but how it's made is also up to me.

Viewing things this way is fun cos it makes it easy to keep things fresh. I've taken it further this morning though because somethings that would have made sense on their own can work together and be even more special.

It's the weekend so I didn't want the same brekkie that I have during the week but I couldn't figure out what to have. I spied a bit of cake but it's just some standard cherry cake. Didn't seem very special. Then I remembered some ice cream I've got in the fridge. I pictured the ice cream in a bowl surrounded by slices of cake with crushed nuts and oats sprinkle over. Suddenly my mouth was watering and I knew i'd hit the jackpot.

I know it doesn't sound very brekkie like but I've pushed my food boundaries a lot over the years and this is why. I get to have more fun. More often. You'd think it's unhealthy and of course it's not exactly what the doctor ordered. I did sprinkle over so standard brekkie stuff like nuts and oats to add some crunch but to be honest I eat pretty well on average so I can afford to indulge myself every so often.

So, brekkie was a delight. I may never have. That exact combination of ingredients which in itself makes it special. But combining the individual items built a dish where the whole was better than the individual parts.