Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Pie ft Indigo Herbs* [VEGAN].



When it comes to winter food I'm all about foods that offer warmth and comfort, you know, basically like a hug from the inside. I'm thinking soups, stews, pies - basically carbs. Anyway, something I've been enjoying this autumn/winter that I feel offers the winter warmer factor in dessert form is a good old pumpkin pie. 


Now, when my boyfriend first suggested making a pumpkin pie out of the gargantuan pumpkin that was delivered with our weekly veg box, I must admit that I was a little hesitant. Maybe it's just me being fussy, but I sometimes just cannot get my head around a savoury food in a sweet dish (or the other way around - strawberries on a salad for example). But, I conceded and decided to try it out and what do you know, I was pleasantly surprised.

When Indigo Herbs got in touch and asked if I could put together a winter recipe using some of their products, I knew that I wanted to put together a slightly festive take on the pumpkin pie - which basically requires good ol' chocolate (amongst other things) and boy did it turn out tasty. 

My General Life - Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Pie [VEGAN]

DARK CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN PIE
serves: 8-10

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

♥ 425g pureed pumpkin (I found tinned pumpkin in Tesco which is just 100% pumpkin)
♥ 150g silken tofu
♥ 50g coconut sugar (I used Indigo Herbs Organic Coconut Palm Sugar*)
♥ 50g maple syrup (I used Indigo Herbs Organic Dark Maple Syrup*)
♥ 2 tbsp cornflour
♥ 4 tbsp cocoa/cacao powder (I used Indigo Herbs Organic Raw Cacao Powder*)
♥ 1 tsp cinnamon powder
♥ 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
♥ 1 tsp vanilla extract
♥ shortcrust pastry (you could make your own, however, I used Jus-Rol)

WHAT TO DO:

♥ Preheat your oven to 180°c.
♥ To make your dark chocolate pumpkin filling add all the above ingredients except the shortcrust pastry to a blender and whizz up good and proper (my blender had an unfortunate run in with a jug of smoothie and so I had to use a stick blender which, although a little more effort, did work out ok!). It may be worth tasting at this point - feel free to add extra coconut sugar or maple syrup to sweeten the pie mix to your liking.
♥ Place the shortcrust pasty into a pie dish (mine was approx. 9"). Leave a little overhang to account for shrinkage (technical term) but then trim off the excess. Prick the bottom a few times with a fork and blind bake (a.k.a put greaseproof over the top and add either baking beans or uncooked rice to the pie dish to weigh down the pastry, this helps get it nice and crisp) for about 15 minutes.
♥ After 15 minutes, carefully remove the greaseproof and baking beans/rice and put the pastry back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
♥ After 10 minutes add the dark chocolate pumpkin mixture to the pie crust, smooth out and place back in the oven to cook for a further 30-40 minutes or until the pie mixture has firmed up. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before enjoying!

My General Life - Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Pie [VEGAN]


I find that this amount of pie mixture does result in a some left overs, both in the pie mix itself and the pastry if you've used shop bought. For me this is the perfect amount for making some mini pumpkin pies - use a biscuit cutter to make circles and place these in a cupcake tin. Add 1 tsp of dark chocolate pumpkin pie mix to the centre and then place a little pastry star on top. A little brush of dairy free milk helps colour these babies up, but it isn't essential. Bake for approx 35 minutes or until golden brown. I managed to make 5 of these little bitesized beauties from the left overs.

My General Life - Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Pie [VEGAN]

Just a final heads up that this isn't a sickly sweet pie, I've called it dark chocolate because the cacao does add a bitterness which I think works really well with the sweet, spicy pumpkin mix and stops it from being too overpowering. It's delicious served up with a drizzle of maple syrup and a blob of Oatly Creamy Oat Fraiche (found in Tesco), which with it's savoury taste again stops the pie from becoming too sickly sweet.

My General Life - Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Pie [VEGAN]


Let's start a conversation:
What are your thoughts on pumpkin pie? Is it something you enjoy or would like to bake? I'd love to hear your thoughts either in the comments below, or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan


* these products were kindly sent to me by Indigo Herbs.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Fry Up/Cooked Breakfast [VEGAN].

Let's talk cooked breakfast - today we'll touch on how to make the classic fry up vegan friendly whilst keeping it tasting delicious. Click to read more!

As I vegan, I don't like to think of all the things I choose not to eat, I like to think about all the things that I do choose to eat. It's a far more positive and optimistic way of looking at veganism, rather than viewing it as this lifestyle of restriction - which is how I saw it for the 26 years before I went vegan. Anyway, since transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, I've made it my mission to find ways of enjoying "normal" foods in a vegan friendly way. So today we're talking the good 'ol cooked breakfast.

I love a good cooked breakfast and have done for as long as I can remember. I know they're not viewed as being the healthiest of meals, and let's be honest, in their traditional form they're not. However, I like to think that my vegan version not only provides some of my favourite flavours, but is also a wee bit healthier too (providing you can rein yourself in on the hash brown front). 

So what goes into a vegan cooked breakfast? Well, we've got the "meat replacer", which for me means Linda McCartney sausages, because they are the bomb. You can get vegan bacon, but I haven't tried this as to be honest the sausages are enough for me.  

Then we have the "egg replacer", a.k.a scrambled tofu. To achieve this you basically take a block of firm tofu, crumble it in a pan, add 1/2 tsp of turmeric (to make it look more eggy) and 1/2 tsp of black salt and warm through. Black salt contains sulphur which smells and tastes eggy. I picked up this tip from Hello Gemma's Ebook, The Vegan Kitchen, which is an excellent read if you're a new vegan or just fancy some reasonably simple but delicious vegan recipes. In case anyone was wondering, I ordered my black salt from Amazon*.


Let's talk cooked breakfast - today we'll touch on how to make the classic fry up vegan friendly whilst keeping it tasting delicious. Click to read more!

I also like to bulk up on the veggies. Since going vegan I've discovered an affinity for mushrooms - something which I avoided like the plague for years as I believed they felt like slugs in my mouth. These days I can't get enough of them and so I like to cook them either in some dairy free margarine or a little bit of oil and water. Either way, I like to add a bit of garlic and some spinach, because what is a meal without greens. I also love to add some tomatoes which I tend to cook alongside my mushrooms for ease, however, you can also grill or bake them. And let's not forget about baked beans (technically one of your 5 a day so they can hang out here with the veg). You can make your own, but I like an easy life so tinned do just fine for me.

Now, last but by no means least, let's get to the carbs, of which the possibilities are pretty much endless. I love a good hash brown, so these have become a welcome addition to my vegan brekkie. The crispier the better if you ask me. Other carb options include, but are not limited to, potato cakes (nom), fried bread (double nom), toast, crumpets and English muffins. You can literally go as wild as you fancy on the carb front.


My General Life - Vegan Cooked Breakfast - Make It Vegan

Now if you ask me, all of the above makes for a pretty full and tasty plate - packed full of protein (from the tofu, sausages and beans - so don't even try that vegans lack protein bull) and veggie goodness. I honestly don't feel like I'm missing out at all, plus with it being that bit healthier and less greasy, it's something I feel happy eating on a more regular basis rather than as the occasional treat.

Let's start a conversation:
How do you feel about a vegan fry up? Is it something you would try? Or, if you've tried it before what are your favourite additions? I'd love to hear your thoughts either in the comments below, or why not drop me a tweet @_hellojordan


* denotes affiliate link - it will not cost you a penny to click this link, however, if you were to purchase an item through the link, I would receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.



Saturday, 19 November 2016

DIY Deodorant [VEGAN & CRUELTY FREE].

My General Life - DIY Deodorant [Vegan & Cruelty Free]


Over the last couple of months I've become intrigued about living a more minimalist lifestyle with less emphasis on stuff and buying things and more emphasis on paring back to just what I need and being more creative. Now before we go any further, let me just say that it's still early days for me and I still have a LONG way to go before I could even be considered a minimalist, but I've started and that's a step in the right direction.

So how does this connect to DIY deodorant?! Well, as part of my quest to minimise my life I looked at all the beauty and body products that I have and attempted to pair them back a bit - and I have actually managed to significantly decrease my collection and remove items that I just don't need or even use. I love the idea of making your own products and so as I've been working through all the products that I have currently, I decided that once they ran out I'd like to try my hand at creating some of my own purpose made products. I felt that would likely work out cheaper, reduce waste over time and allow me to fully customise my makes to meet my needs. 

One of the first things on my list of DIY projects was deodorant as honestly it looked so easy that even a complete novice, such as I, couldn't mess it up. I've always used conventional deodorants and antiperspirants without giving it a second thought, however, I like the idea of using something more natural without any added chemicals that I can easily whip up in my kitchen. And let me tell you I really wasn't disappointed.

Here's how I'm making my deodorant currently (that's not to say it won't change over time as I learn more about making my own products), and then I'll share with you some of the pros and cons that I've found of using it.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

♥ 1 part coconut oil
♥ 0.5 parts bicarbonate of soda
♥ 0.5 parts  corn flour
♥ A few drops of the essential oils of your choice - I *think* I used a mix of lavender and peppermint

I've done the recipe in parts as this basically allows you to make as much (or as little) as you like, an example of this ratio would be 2tbps coconut oil to 1tbsp each of bicarb and cornflour - you get me?

WHAT TO DO:

♥ Melt the coconut oil either in a double boiler or in the microwave until fully liquid.
♥ Add in the bicarb and corn flour and mix thoroughly.
♥ Add in the essential oils and give it another thorough mix to distribute them.
♥ Place in a clean container (I use a little metal pan) and leave for a few hours to set.

My General Life - DIY Deodorant [Vegan & Cruelty Free]


See, I told you it was easy - I'd say almost foolproof! Now let's get to the pros and cons.

PROS:
- In my eyes, this deodorant is far better that any shop bought deodorant I've tried. It doesn't stop me sweating, it's not intended to stop me sweating as sweating is a natural occurance. It's main function is to eliminate the odour which it definitely does. On every occasion I have worn this deodorant I have not experienced any unpleasant body odour, even after doing exercise (NOTE:  when I say exercise I mean aerial hoop and yoga, not intense cardio so I can't comment on how you (or I) would smell after a super sweaty HIIT workout).
- The coconut oil makes for a moisurising base which is great as my skin can get quite dry under my arms.
- I've not personally experienced any skin irritation from the bicarbonate of soda used in the deodorant. I do have quite sensitive skin that is easily irritated so this is a definite win.

CONS:
- The application of the deodorant is more messy that using a conventional spray or roll on. It does involve getting your finger in there and you do have to take some care when rubbing it in a bits can crumble off in this process. Although I don't see why the recipe couldn't be adapted to make it into a stick deodorant - I think adding a tbsp or two of Candelilla wax should do the trick. I may well actually try this in the future if I can find any stick deodorant moulds.
- This is not so much a con, more of a pointer - it's worth waiting a few minutes for the coconut oil to absorb into your skin before getting dressed as I have noticed that the oil has left marks on my clothing. 

Overall I'm so chuffed with how this worked out and the results I've had from using it. Let me tell you that Pinterest is a world of inspiration, so if you fancied checking out other recipes that would definitely be my first port of call.

Let's start a conversation:
Would you consider making your own deodorant? I'd love for you to share your thoughts either in the comments below or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan



Follow my simple step-by-step to create your own vegan, cruelty free deodorant that actually works!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

5 Steps To A More Sustainable Life.

5 steps that you can take towards living a more sustainable and environmentally life. Click to read more!


Since switching to a vegan lifestyle I've really noticed a massive shift in my thinking. It's like someone took the blinkers off that I'd been wearing for the last 26 years. All of a sudden I'm so much more aware of the impact that we all have on this ball of rock that we call home. And the more I look, the more I see that our gorgeous planet is slowly but surely being ripped apart by our destructive practices. So I decided that I'm going to make a conscious effort to be kinder to the Earth, to try to reduce my foot print and show a little bit more compassion to the World.


Here's 5 tips to get you started with living a more sustainable life:



REDUCE WASTE


I've really been making a conscious effort to reduce waste and recycle as much as I possibly can, including composting my food waste too. Although I'm actually surprised at how hard I've found this because so many products come wrapped in plastic and it can be really difficult to avoid. I now find that the majority of what goes in my bin is plastic packaging and honestly it does make me feel a bit uncomfortable thinking about it just being buried in the Earth. I would really love to be able to access more foods that aren't wrapped up in a little plastic blanket - if anyone knows of any zero waste shops in Cheshire please do enlighten me!


USE MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRODUCTS


I've really enjoyed experimenting with different environmentally friendly products, many of which have become permanent additions to my life. These include Soapnuts, bamboo tooth brushes, bicarb and vinegar (a match made in cleaning heaven), the Mooncup, cloth sanitary pads and DIY deodorant - which surprisingly is pretty effective. Slowly but surely I'm trying to make more sustainable and environmentally friendly choices as and when I use things up.


GROW YOUR OWN


Using land to grow food, rather than farm animals on is far more environmentally friendly and sustainable method of food production. This year I've decided to try my hand at growing some of my own vegetables in a hope that I might need to purchase less. I'm not naturally green fingered but I'm excited to give growing my own veggies a try. I'm currently only growing a small amount as my garden isn't set up for growing lots of veg (yet), but I'm excited to watch it grown and enjoy my first crop. 


CONSUME LESS


We live in a consumerist society that encourages us to buy into things that we really don't need. I'll hold my hands up and admit that I'm guilty of this and it's something I'm trying hard to change. The more you buy, the more demand there is to produce. With this comes pollution, chemicals, deforestation, waste, the list goes on. The way I see it, it's all about supply and demand and if demand goes down then the supply will too. Think about the things you buy and if you really need them. If you do really need them then is there a more environmentally friendly or sustainable option?


REDUCE YOUR INTAKE OF ANIMAL PRODUCTS


Reducing your intake of animal products can be a huge step towards living a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle. Eating more of a plant based diet uses up less resources and is a far more sustainable option for the Earth. Livestock takes up a huge amount of land and produces far less food when compared with using that land to grow crops (plus the land used to grow the crops that actually feed the livestock in the first place).

I promise you it's far easier than you think it will be to reduce your intake of animal based products. I have plenty of recipes here on the blog to get you started, you can find them here.

I'm not writing this claiming to be perfect, I'm far from it. But I'm making a conscious effort and that, for me, is what it's about. And if I can do it, then you can too. Explore, learn and grow, we only have one Earth and it's up to us to do what is within our power to try to look after it.

Let's start a conversation:
I'd love to hear if you have any sustainability tips or tricks to share, what are you doing to lead a more environmentally friendly life? Why not leave your thoughts in the comments below, or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan.



5 steps that you can take towards living a more sustainable and environmentally life. Click to read more!



Tuesday, 5 July 2016

5 Tips For A Positive Mindset.

Here's 5 of my top tips for a positive mindset - something which is a huge contributor to overall wellbeing.

Being positive can, at times, be tricky. But I do believe that if you remain optimistic and think positively then positive things will happen , like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Having positive thoughts evokes positive behavior which in turn evokes positive experiences. You get me? 


So today we're going to chat about my top 5 ways you can promote a positive mindset in order to help encourage more positivity in your life.


BE IN THE MOMENT

Ruminating on the past or worrying about the future can cause stress and anxiety, which aren't fun. The reality is we only ever have the moment that we're in right now. Like this very second. So enjoy it, relish the opportunity, experience all the feels and just focus in the here and now and all the wonderful things that are happening in your world.


SET SMART GOALS

If you have something positive that you want to work towards then SMART goals are your guy. It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely, all of which help you break down your goal into a meaningful context that allows you to have a plan of how and when you're going to achieve it. I feel this helps keep you from being discouraged when life throws curve balls and keeps you on the positivity train - yeeha! 


LOVE YOURSELF

If you ask me, loving and accepting yourself promotes positivity. If you can feel positive within your heart about all you are and what you stand for, then it's far easier to be open and positive about other aspects of your life. 


PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Practicing gratitude and being thankful for all you have in life, even the little things, can really have promote positivity and help it flourish. It can be so easy to forget how much we do have that enriches our lives and I think it's important to acknowledge this.


EXERCISE CHOICE

Negative things happen, we can't escape them. And it's not about denying negativity, it's about choosing where to focus your energy. It's about choosing encouragement rather than discouragement. It's totally fine to acknowledge negativity, but don't dwell on it, find the positives and cling to them and let them pull you through.


Obviously this list isn't finite and remember it's only my thoughts, it's important to find out what works for you because it's your life remember! 

Let's start a conversation:
What are your top tips for staying positive? I'd love for you to share them either in the comments below or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan


Friday, 27 May 2016

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup [VEGAN].

Here's delightfully easy recipe for my extra tasty roasted cauliflower and garlic soup - it's vegan friendly too!


So I've been ever so slightly AWOL for the last week or so - my blogging mojo may have got up and done one. But I've hunted it down and we're on speaking terms so today I wanted to share a really quick, easy and super delicious soup recipe that can be whipped up with minimal effort. 

Cauliflower is not something I eat very often. I only ever really ate it smothered in cheese sauce. In fact back in my fussy eating days, cauliflower cheese was pretty much the only form of veg I would think about touching. How times have changes! Anyway, since going vegan cauliflower cheese just doesn't have the same appeal, yes vegan cheese sauces taste nice, but they just ain't real cheese. So after doing a bit of perusing of Pinterest for inspiration I decided to try my hand at creating a roasted cauliflower and garlic soup. 

This soup really does require minimal effort, all you need to do is chop and then let the oven and food processor do the rest of the work. Roasting the cauliflower and garlic brings out such a rich flavour, plus the combination of cauliflower and potato makes for a deliciously creamy soup without a drop of cream replacement in sight. As I write this post, I've actually eaten this soup for lunch and dinner today, it's that tasty (and quite frankly I couldn't be arsed to cook anything else!). Anyway, enough jabbering on, let me tell you how to make it.

My General Life - Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup - Vegan


ROASTED CAULIFLOWER & GARLIC SOUP

serves 3-4


WHAT YOU NEED:

♥ 1 cauliflower, chopped into florets
♥ 1 white onion, peeled and chopped into chunks
♥ 1 medium potato, chopped into chunks (I'm lazy and left the skin on - extra fibre!)
♥ 10 cloves of garlic, skin on
♥ 750ml vegetable stock
♥ 150g cooked bulgar wheat (or quinoa/rice)
♥ salt and pepper to taste
♥ oil for roasting

Here's delightfully easy recipe for my extra tasty roasted cauliflower and garlic soup - it's vegan friendly too!

WHAT TO DO:

♥ Preheat the oven to 180°C
♥ Place the cauliflower, onion, potato and garlic cloves into a roasting tray. Drizzle with a little oil of your choice and season with salt and pepper (or any other flavourings). Roast in the oven for around 30 mins (the more roasted the veg, the darker the soup will end up being).
♥ Once roasted, remove the garlic from the tray and take the skins off.
♥ Place half the roasted veg mix, 5 of the roasted garlic cloves, half the bulgar wheat and half the stock into your food processor and blitz until smooth. Decant into a bowl/pan.
♥ Repeat the previous step with the remaining veg, garlic, stock and bulgar wheat.
♥ Season your soup as you wish, you could also add a little more stock if your soup is too thick for your liking.
♥ Serve and ENJOY - I really enjoyed dipping a toasted crumpet into this soup!

So there we have it, I like to think it's pretty simple and honestly the flavour is delicious. If you're not a mega fan of garlic then of course use less, but I think roasting it makes it taste so wonderful and it adds great depth of flavour to the soup.

Let's start a conversation:
How do you like to cook up cauliflower? I'd love for you to share your recipes either in the comments below or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan


Sunday, 15 May 2016

Pear & Pistachio Cake [VEGAN].

Here's a recipe for a yummy, vegan friendly pear and pistachio cake. Come join the yum train and find out more!


I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love cake. All kinds of cake. Except from maybe fruit cake. But there's always exceptions to the rule isn't there? A few weeks ago I cobbled together this delicious, vegan pear cake with pistachio icing. It was a bit of an experiment but oh boy did it work out. So today I thought I'd share the recipe so that you can join the yum train with me.

The cake is wonderfully moist due to the pureed pear, although it doesn't make it taste too pear-y, it's just enough. This recipe gave me enough to make one decent sized cake along with 6 yummy cupcakes (I was worried my cake tins were too small/shallow, but the cake turned out the perfect size!) Obviously if you have deeper cake tins then just whack the lot in, it's no biggie!

To create the perfect pistachio green hue in the icing I actually used a teaspoon of pumpkin seed butter in place of food colouring. It worked brilliantly, I'm really pleased with how the icing turned out - again the flavour isn't too overpowering!

Here's a recipe for a yummy, vegan friendly pear and pistachio cake. Come join the yum train and find out more!

PEAR AND PISTACHIO CAKE

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

CAKE:
♥ 400g self raising flour
♥ 240g caster sugar
♥ 2 tsp baking powder
♥ 1 whole tinned pear, pureed in the food processor - I found this to be about 80ml
♥ 360ml dairy free milk (almond, soy, rice etc)
♥ 120ml flavourless oil (rapeseed, vegetable etc)
♥ 1tbsp vanilla extract
♥ sliced pear for decoration

ICING:
(makes enough to ice the middle of two cakes or the whole of one cake)
♥ 75g dairy free margarine (e.g. vitalite)
♥ 75g vegetable shortening (e.g. trex)
♥ 2 large handfuls shelled pistachios, blended until fine
♥ 1tsp pumpkin seed butter (I used Indigo Herbs)
♥ 750g icing sugar
♥ 50ml (approx) dairy free milk (as above)

My General Life - Pear & Pistachio Cake Vegan

WHAT TO DO:

♥ Grease the cake tins (mine were 8" diameter and about 1" deep) and preheat the over to 180°C
♥ Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar & baking powder) in a large bowl
♥ Add in the pureed pear, milk, oil and vanilla, stirring until just combined.
♥ Spoon the mixture into the greased tins (and extra cupcake tins if like me you only have small cake tins) and add the decorative pear slices - I arranged mine in a pretty circle.
♥ Bang the tins on your work surface to pop any bubbles and place in the oven for 18-20 minutes (although always double check it's cooked with a skewer!)
♥ Allow to cool for 10 minutes when cooked before turning out to cool further.
♥ While cooling start your icing - with an electric mixer beat together the margarine, shortening and pumpkin seed butter until it softens up.
♥ Add half the icing sugar and mix in slowly until combined (covering the bowl with a towel helps prevent an icing sugar cloud)
♥ Add the remainder of the icing sugar along with a splash of the milk and the blended pistachio and mix again until combined. If the mixture is too firm once combined continue adding a small amount of milk at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
♥ One the cake has cooled sufficiently, ice away and ENJOY!

My General Life - Pear & Pistachio Cake Vegan

Let's start a conversation:
And there we have it peoples, in all it's yummy, vegan glory! Please do let me know if you try it, I love to hear when people make my recipes! What you're favourite flavour of cake? Please share your thoughts either in the comments below, or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan



Tuesday, 10 May 2016

What Is Health?

I'm asking the question "what is health?". Come on over and join the discussion!


What is health? 


Well according to the World Health Organisation (1948):

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

I was introduced to this definition at University, can you believe that is has remained unchanged for nearly 70 years? When you search for the definition of health in a dictionary it tends to only focus on the physical and mental health side of things and not on the impact of well being, be it physical, mental or social. Which, for me, is what makes this definition stand out.

So, as the definition suggests, health isn't just about the absence of illness, be it physical or mental. You could be a perfectly well individual, but according to this definition you still may not be considered to be or even feel healthy because of other factors at play in your life. I, personally, like the fact that this definition takes a holistic approach to health. That it's looking past illness and focusing on what else might be going on in an individual's world.

Health is a complex issue, one that is clearly impacted by a multitude of factors. It could even be considered abstract due to how difficult it is to truly define. What constitutes health is likely to differ slightly from person to person depending on what that individuals values and beliefs around health and wellbeing are. 

I think my difficulty with the WHO definition is that it makes true health feel slightly unattainable. Having a complete state of physical, mental and social well being at any one time is pretty hard going if you ask me, because let's face it, life likes to throw curve balls (not all intentional, mind you). And so in that sense are we ever truly healthy?

Something that I feel is integral to promoting health is your mindset and how you deal with the circumstances going on around you, particularly the ones, such as social well-being, that are more of an abstract and subjective concept. Looking at health in a positive or negative light can change how you think about it. Thinking of health in a positive light or as an asset can highlight how much health you really have, when compared to thinking of health negatively and making it focused more around illness or lack of health. 

I think what is really important to highlight is how we as individuals CAN take control of our own health and we should all be aiming to do this as much as we can. OK, there may be things that you have little to no control over, such as long term conditions or illnesses, but what I think is important is how we promote health for ourselves despite this. Be it trying to think about health more positively and focusing on all the aspects of "good health" you have, or promoting health through lifestyle changes, or focusing more on your social wellbeing, for example through relationships, social contact and connections. I actually listened to a really interesting Ted Talks podcast last week on a 75 year long study on two groups of men that found the key to living a healthy and happy life was being satisfied within ones relationships. It's true, the men that were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were actually the healthiest at age 80. Thus highlighting to me the importance of the social wellbeing concept in our original WHO definition regardless of how abstract it may make it.

Although the title of this blog post is "What Is Health?", I really don't think that's a question that I can really answer on behalf of all you guys. Because to me health is subjective and I think everyone is entitled to their own view of what their health means. To me, health is about being not only physically well, but mentally well, both of which involve making time for things that are important to me, that promote my health and wellbeing from a physical, mental and social perspective. Health to me is not about being thin or only eating certain foods or exercising everyday. Health is about balance.

If you have any concerns about your health then please seek support from your GP or another appropriate professional.

Let's start a conversation:
What does health mean to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts either in the comments below or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan


I'm asking the question "what is health?". Come on over and join the discussion!


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

How To Grow Alfalfa Sprouts + Recipe ft Indigo Herbs* [VEGAN].

I'm am so far from being green fingered it's ridiculous, I can't even keep herbs alive. It's something that I honestly find a little upsetting really as I'd love to be able to grow and nurture my own food. One of my goals this year is to teach myself how to be a bit more green fingered and at least grow something. So when Indigo Herbs sent me over some of their Organic Alfalfa Seeds I knew I had to try my hand at bringing them to life. And honestly, it was so easy even I could manage it without cocking it up.

My General Life - Growing Alfalfa Sprouts plus Recipe Vegan - Indigo Herbs

It's likely that you've got everything you need to start growing your alfalfa sprouts hanging about it your house somewhere. This being a mason jar, a muslin cloth and an elastic band/hair bobble. That is literally it.

*FUN FACT*
Alfalfa sprouts are packed with vitamins, the highest being vitamin K which is essential to support blood clotting along with promoting strong, healthy bones. 

My General Life - Growing Alfalfa Sprouts plus Recipe Vegan - Indigo Herbs

So to set up your sprouts you need to place 1 tbsp of your Organic Alfalfa Seed in the mason jar and cover them with a good couple of inches of water. Pop the cloth over, secure with the elastic band and leave to soak overnight. In the morning just drain the water off through the muslin cloth and leave the jar to sit somewhere - preferably not in direct sunlight. I gave my seeds a little rinse with fresh water every morning and evening after this, making sure to drain all the water off afterwards. What I think is so wonderful about growing alfalfa sprouts is that you can literally watch them grow - they change so quickly! Within just a few days you'll have a jar full of fresh, green sprouts ready to be enjoyed! See, even an inept gardener like me can manage growing sprouts. No mess, very little fuss and you reap the benefits within days.

My General Life - Growing Alfalfa Sprouts plus Recipe Vegan - Indigo Herbs

It was only after growing my sprouts that I wondered how I was actually going to use them. It's not hard to guess that they're pretty perfect in salads, as a little side, in sandwiches etc. But I wanted to try something a little different and non-traditional I guess. So I stuck them in a ramen and it was the best idea I've had all week. Honestly, it was so bloody yum and a great way to reap the benefits of the alfalfa sprouts.

*FUN FACT*
Alfalfa sprouts are believed to help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

I'm sharing how you go about growing your own alfalfa sprouts along with a cheeky recipe for some delicious, alfalfa packed, vegan ramen. Click to read more!

UDON RAMEN WITH CRISPY TOFU & ALFALFA
serves 2


WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

RAMEN BROTH:
♥ 1 pint vegetable stock
♥ 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 3 chunks
♥ 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut into 3 chunks
♥ 1 spring onion, sliced
♥ 1/2 red chilli, sliced
♥ 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
♥ 1tsp rice wine vinegar (optional)

CRISPY TOFU:
♥ 1/2 block firm silken tofu, pressed for 15 minutes and cut into cubes
♥ 2 heaped tbsp corn flour
♥ 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
♥ 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
♥ salt and pepper to taste
♥ Oil for frying

EXTRAS:
♥ alfalfa sprouts (as much as you'd like)
♥ 300g udon noodles (I used Amoy straight to wok)
♥ Mushrooms
♥ Spinach
♥ Extra sliced spring onion and red chilli to decorate
♥ Splash of soy sauce to serve, optional

WHAT TO DO:

♥ Start with getting the broth stewing. Add the vegetable stock to a pan. Use a small amount of stock to loosen up the shiitake mushroom powder and add that to the pan too. Then add in all the other goodies (ginger, garlic, spring onion, chilli, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar). Allow the broth to simmer for around 30 minutes.
♥ In a shallow dish mix together the corn flour, Chinese 5 spice, cayenne pepper and salt/pepper (if using). Roll the tofu cubes about in it until they're coated on all sides.
♥ Heat the oil in a frying pan and when nice and hot place the floury tofu cubes in to fry. Keep turning as they turn all golden and crispy.
♥ While the tofu is cooking prepare your extras. Remove the chunks of garlic and ginger from the broth (you can leave them in if you want but I didn't fancy it) and the cook the noodles in the broth. I also fried off some mushrooms.
♥ Now it's time for the Avengers to assemble (metaphorically). Layer up the extras in your bowl of choice. Spinach, alfalfa, mushrooms, noodles and the freshly cooked crispy tofu. Add the hot, steamy broth over the top and sprinkle with spring onion and chilli to decorate along with a splash of soy if you wish.

My General Life - Growing Alfalfa Sprouts plus Recipe Vegan - Indigo Herbs

I wish I could eat this every damn day. I mean there's nothing stopping me but I would probably turn into a bowl of ramen. To me, ramen is just like a hug in a bowl. And it's definitely a dish you can throw together with whatever you have hanging around in the fridge and I totally encourage you to go wild and experiment with the extras. But for me it's a great way of getting my alfalfa in and packing in the extra nutrients.

Let's start a conversation:
Is growing alfalfa sprouts something you would try? How would you use them? I'd love for you to share your thoughts either in the comments below, or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan


*Indigo Herbs very kindly sent me some of their product for free. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.*