Coconut Yogurt – Finally!!!

I’ve been trying to make my own coconut yogurt for an age. I’ve read so many recipes on Pinterest and tried numerous different ways and it’s never worked until now!

While I love the shop bought COYO brand, it’s SO expensive at £1.99 for a small 125g tub or £2.99 for a 250g one. It’s a treat. I wanted to create something I could be a bit more generous with myself with and not limit it to a spoonful at a time.

I’ve gone down the route of  heating it until a precise temperature and letting it cool and then adding the content of pro-biotic capsules, but that was a dismal failure. The top gained pink mould, probably due to my not cleaning things well enough to stop the bad bacteria setting in.

So I decided to keep it simple.  Forget the probiotic capsules (for the moment) and the thermometer and head for the shop bought option. While £2 for a pot of yogurt is pricey when you’re eating it, using it as a starter seemed a good option seeing as the special ‘vegan’ ones seem to be impossible to get in the UK and then even more expensive. Some people have said that this method doesn’t work, but I seem to have been successful with it.

Ingredients:

1 x  400ml tin coconut milk

2 tablespoons Coyo coconut yogurt. Like this one I use this or the 125g size

1/2 sachet gelatin, made up according to instructions (this makes it NOT vegan, but you could try agar flakes. I haven’t ventured down this road as I eat meat so it doesn’t worry me)

All I did was literally mix it all together in yogurt maker container and then put it on for AT LEAST 24 hours. It did separate in that time (see picture) but I just stirred it.IMG_1271IMG_1272

After 24 hours, I gave it a good stir and put it in the fridge overnight. This allows the gelatin to set.

Some might say it’s a little like jelly, but I’m happy with it.

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I’d really like to get it to work with tapioca starch as then it would be vegan and I’d not worry so much about the source of the gelatin, but that’s an experiment for another time. If anyone has tips, please do share.

Time to Write

 

writing-tips

I aim to write for 30 minutes a day. So far, I’ve not managed it. And I’m annoyed about that. I keep thinking of things I want to write about and then not getting round to doing it. I’ve baked things and forgotten to take photos.

 

I want to write in order to share and also to get better at it. I don’t think I should beat myself up about it, and maybe I should enjoy being in the moment of things, but I’d like to be just a little more consistent.

 

Any tips from bloggers out there?!

Caught in a Hurry

 

It happened almost as soon as I tried to turn out of my road on my bike. I’d chosen peak time to try and get out and as soon as I joined the main flow of traffic I felt like I was in a rush – I wasn’t. Again, as I hit the railway station, there were dozens of people all with heads down and coffee in hand, hurrying to the train. I could almost feel my breathing becoming quicker as I got caught up in the hurry of a commuter’s day.

 

I had to stop myself from getting caught up in it.

 

So easy to be caught, it’s almost unconscious.

 

I cycled deliberately slower and slowed my breathing right down. I wasn’t in a hurry; I didn’t have a strict time deadline. But I got caught up in the pressure of others.

 

How?

 

And how can I avoid it?

 

This is what I pondered as I swam, and even in the pool I was having to remind myself that it wasn’t a race to get to 2000m and if I didn’t make it before I did need to get out and pootle to school – that was ok!!

 

I think being aware of it is half the battle. I knew I was being caught, so could grab on to the metaphorical post and slow myself down. I’ve been trying to be more ‘mindful’ of late. Deliberately slowing down if I feel myself speeding up. Taking 5 deep breaths and just being aware of my breathing as I do it. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Relax

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So the summer holidays have come to an end. What have I learnt about relaxation? Well, I already knew that I found it hard, and this summer has probably taught me that it’s a choice I make and that I need to be pro-active about engaging in relaxation.

This may sound like a contradiction, but in order to relax, I often find it easier to ‘do’ something. To do something that I find relaxing helps me to find a place of relaxation better than if I do nothing.

So what do I do?

Cooking and baking feature highly on my list. I find there’s something intensely relaxing about pottering in the kitchen and creating something that can then be enjoyed by people. Add a good few tunes and I’m happy. Discovering a new recipe that is all ‘free from’ friendly gives me great pleasure.

Knitting is also an activity of relaxation for me. I find it next to imposiible to simply sit and watch TV, so knitting enables my hands to be doing something whilst I watch a film or programme. Added bonus is that I create something… hmmm, I’m spotting a theme here! My latest creation is arm extentions for a fleece that wasn’t quite long enough for my gangly limbs – mmmm, cosy.

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In additon to knitting, I’m learning to crochet at the moment. This, however, could not be classed as  ‘relaxing’  yet as I get so frustrated when I do it wrong  and undo it all- which is frequently!! I’m sure it will gain relaxation status in the future as my skills improve.

I’m sure there’s more things if I thought about it some more.

What do you do to relax?

 

 

Why I Quit Sugar

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It seems to be the latest ‘evil’ in the media, with voices from all around telling us we should eat less of the stuff… but why?

 

I gave up sugar a little while before it grabbed the media’s attention, but I’ve been slow to quit it. I thought I had a pretty healthy diet, but was surprised by how much sugar I consumed when I began to look at it.

 

I think it was a sort of psychological substitute. As I can’t have gluten, I’d almost reach for other sugary things that I could eat. I couldn’t have the cake, but I could have a meringue or a lovely packet of Haribo Tangtastics (other jelly sweets are equally to blame!)

 

I started to investigate the sugar thing when my mum was diagnosed with cancer and we begun to look at how diet could help with her treatment and in fighting the disease naturally.

 

WHOAH, it’s a HUGE topic.

 

I’m not an expert and certainly do not have all the answers. I only know the conclusion I came to for the situation our family was in based on what I read extensively both in book form and on the internet.

 

I’m not here to preach about what’s right, I wanted to merely share some of the sources I used and then if it makes sense to you and you want to try it – for whatever reason- sure, give it a go.

 

Initially, my reasoning was that if mum was going to go through treatment and having to drastically change the way she ate and give up a whole load of stuff, I wanted to share in that journey, even a little bit, by giving up sugar in solidarity with her. It’s turned out that it’s been good for my health too – bonus!

 

The most influential sources for me have been Chris Woolam’s ‘The Rainbow Diet’ and Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar.‘ These are the two sources that I kept going back to time and again to check things or clarify details.

 

I found Chris Woolam’s book informative and scientifically based, using his background in biochemistry. It was a thorough summary of many options for natural or alternative treatment, written in a way that could easily be understood by a non-scientifically minded person like myself -someone seeking the best way forward when faced with a sea of options.

 

The message I kept hearing was ‘cancer cells need sugar to survive. Starve them of it and you’ll be helping to slow down the advancement of the disease, if not reverse it’. Worth a try.

The more I read, the more I think that there’s just no need for any of us to consume the amount of refined sugar we do.

Historically, fruit was scarce and was rarely eaten, except when it was found in abundance in the environment. Then it was gorged on and is apparently, according to Sarah Wilson of ‘I Quit Sugar’, the reason we have no ‘I’ve had enough’ gene when it comes to the sugary sweet stuff and eat it to excess.

 

In modern history, we ate a mere 2kg sugar a year in 1700. By 1900, this had sky-rocketed to 41kg. In today’s society, we consume approximately 82kg a year, more than our body weight – Crazy! (source: Wellness Mama)

 

I don’t want to eat so much of something I don’t need. So I stopped – gradually. It’s very hard to avoid. Turn over the ingredients label and you’ll see it’s everywhere. From the obvious cakes and biscuits to the hidden sugars in sauces and condiments. I’m an avid label reader. For me, anything over 5g sugar per 100g is out.

 

What about fruit? Is the question most people ask. Personally, I eat a little fruit, mainly berries and other lower fructose fruit. Having said that, I do eat bananas which are high in sugar, but where I’d formerly put a whole one on my breakfast, I now put a few slices. I know people who eat no fruit and others who eat it freely. I don’t eat dried fruit either – sugar per 100g is too high. I also try not to have substitutes like honey or maple syrup but I’m not religious about it. I use rice syrup if I need a sweetener. I tried Stevia but the powdered stuff was simply horrid. The disgusting aftertaste was most unpleasant.

 

The fruit/honey/maple syrup thing may change in the future. I don’t think those alternatives are as bad as refined sugar, but that’s where I am for now. The white (or brown) stuff is out – for good.

Gluten Free Artisan Boule

I’m into baking bread at the moment. I’ve become fed up with the standard gluten free bread machine loaf that I’ve been making for years and wanted to break out from the loaf tin and find something a bit more interesting.
I turned to Pintrest (as you do) and stumbled upon the very lovely people at  artisan bread in five minutes. They have a wealth of experience in bread making and when I saw they have gluten free loaves as well – heaven!

The recipe and method I’ve used is all theirs, so I’ve included the video which I used to create my first batch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxw1iqgJkQE

I now make it by the bucket load and bake a loaf there and then, have dough in the fridge for when I gobble up the first one because it’s so delicious, and then the rest of the dough goes in the freezer.

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Using Sorghum flour was a first for me, but it seems to work really well. I used this one from Bob’s mill. A bit pricey and harder to get hold of, but my local health food store, Manuka Wholefoods, stocks it. Expect to pay about £3.50 a bag.

The result…

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Yes, it takes longer than the bread machine, but the loaf is so much more like ‘proper’ bread. Delightful.

Walking Simply

1083301.largeI’ve been thinking about writing a blog for some time. With the summer holidays in full swing, now seems like the time when I have the space to put that plan into action.

This is primarily a space for me to explore ideas and share things that I  magpie from others and stumble upon whilst trawling the internet, talking to people, reading or scouring recipe books. Perhaps there will be others who find the content to come of interest or useful. Be there many readers, or be there none, this is my space to explore, welcome.

Looking at my Pintrest boards gave me more of an idea of the kinds of things that I’m likely to post about. So stay tuned if you’re into any of the following. These seem to be the things that occupy my mind most frequently.

Food – specifically eating within dietry restrictions for whatever reason. Be that gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, paleo or things that are simply nutritious and yummy. I seem to spend a lot of time thinking about, reading about and preparing food!!

Craft, reashioning clothing, upcycling. I hate throwing things out.

Sustainable living – oh, that’s a whole host of things! Pursuing ethical shopping choies, building sustainable, environmentally ‘good’, quirky (and beautiful) property and many more things that come under this umbrella.

Finally, and probably importantly, learning to write more eloquently!