The Brownie Quest

There comes a point in any diet, when I need a chocolate brownie fix. Usually I have to resist because of either calories or the sugar interferes with the protein thing.

Well, now I am doing the 5:2 fasting diet and it’s such a relief to know that I can have an occasional brownie.

The next thing that causes an issue is that I am vegan and I have had some good vegan brownies, but I decided to hunt for the perfect vegan brownie and boy, did I find it. Luxurious, gooey and tastes of heaven.

The question I am always asked is “what do you eat?” And just lately I overheard the comment, “I couldn’t be a vegan, I’m too lazy.” Which got me puzzling as to what people think Vegans really eat. My response is, I eat what you eat. You have spaghetti bolognese and so do I, you have chilli, so do I, you have fajitas, me too. The only difference is that I substitute the meat with other proteins such as lentils and chickpeas. I love flavour and good food. Vegan is not only healthier and low fat, it’s cheaper and equally as versatile as meat. I don’t just eat vegetables, I need protein, as does everyone and I need as much variety as everyone else. There are some strange ingredients from time to time and vegan cheese really is quite disgusting. I also refuse to eat soya, but on the whole, there is nothing wierd or frightening about my food.

So back to the vegan brownie we go. The ingredients are basically the same. Eggs are substituted with baking powder, milk chocolate with plain chocolate and butter with sunflower oil. The result is not knowing the difference between a vegan brownie and a “normal” one. image
Then there’s the added luxuriant touch. Ice cream. Creamy, delicious and vanilla. Homemade in my machine, using coconut milk instead of cream. It’s all glorious and I am in heaven. The quest for the perfect brownie is satisfied.

image

Fasting again

For a day off, yesterday proved to be a really busy day. The vampires were out in the morning drawing blood for a cholesterol test. I spent too much money on new clothes and then I played taxi service for my hubby before joining him in the evening for dinner and raising money for charity. It was a good night with good friends and lots of laughter. The whole theme of the evening was Ye Olde English Night, with lots of old songs with changed lyrics to suit the occasion. There was a fining system where people had to pay fines for various misdemeanours or sometimes for being too good. Anyone who snitched on someone else also got fined and it became quite loud and hilarious.

Mondays, however, have been designated as fasting days and after a disastrous weekend, where I put on almost a Kilo in 2 days, I was quite desperate to get back to it. With a dinner booked for the evening, there was little point though, so today is the day. Being a vegan means that my two meals can be low calorie as long as I miss out the carbs, so I intend to make a huge batch of chilli today and can’t wait to scoff it.

Chilli made with different beans is one of my favourite dishes. It took me a long time to develope the taste for this Mexican dish. While a meat eater I always found it on the hot side and because there is no sweetness to it, I was not a great lover. Enter my husband, who loves chilli and it was necessary to like it. Thus over time I was converted and when I decided to become a vegan, I had to find a good substitute to the carnivore variety.

I really like this 5:2 fasting diet, because I don’t feel deprived. I do get tired and with gigs this week and working day and night, I am a little worried about how I will cope. Also because Of missing my fast day yesterday, I have to do my 2 fast days close together. Only one eating day between them, which could spell trouble. My poor hubby might be in for a rough time. I will try desperately not to snap his head off, whilst in the throws of tiredness, but can’t promise I will be completely sane. Bless him. Duck love, duck!!

Wooden Peace

I love trees.

I grew up in a house at the edge of a large wood. The trees ranged from young to old and the favourite of all was a huge sycamore that stood just across the lane. That tree seemed to stand guard over us. It’s seeds gave us toys to play with, it gave us shade from the sun, music when the wind blew through it’s branches and, if us kids were home alone at night, it would scare us with ghostly creeks and groans.

The woods were our playground. From one tree hung our tyre swing and we wore a huge grove in the earth below from dragging our welly encased feet through the dirt with each sweep of the swing. Just a little further on was the garlic wood. Wild garlic grew in abundance underneath the tree foliage, watered by a tiny stream. The smell was pungent but when the plants produced their little white flowers, there was a magic to it.

There were tracks all through the woods that were worn in by the sheep that grazed there and us children would spend hours following them one way or another. They always led somewhere. One way would lead the the neighbours, half a mile away, but if you turned right at a certain point, you could zigzag down to the best swimming site in the river.

It was through those woods that I desperately ran, to get help from our neighbours, after my baby brother toppled into the river. I saved him from drowning but his head was bleeding profusely after hitting the stones below. Poor Mum had just turned her back for a moment. She carried a screaming child while I ran on to get help. Apart from a small scar all turned out well.

Many times we helped Dad to cut up trees and haul the logs back home. We were never allowed to be there for the felling, but we got the donkey work. The logs provided a lot of warmth with their burning but, more than that, Dad appreciated the beauty that was held in each grain of wood. He was a very artistic man and would make coffee tables, stools and even the old rugged cross that still stands in the local Methodist church. Our dining table was hewn from a huge tree and it took him and a friend many months to complete. He would cut small pieces and smooth them and burn the most amazing pictures onto them using something that looked like a soldering iron. I still have one.

If trees could talk, I wonder what stories they would tell. They stand sentinel in a constantly changing world. Each tree is so unique, each species brings its own beauty. There are flowering ones and evergreen ones. Those whose leaves change colour throughout the year until they fall and those whose leaves are more like spines. A tree is a tactile thing. Each bark is different and range from silver to red, rough to smooth. They are numerous, various and historic.

I almost feel their spirit and easily understand where the myths about tree nymphs and fairies cam from. Trees bring me comfort through their scent and walking amongst them brings me a sensation of safety. I challenge you to sit surrounded by trees and not feel a connection to the natural world around you.

Even writing this has brought me the realisation that when life throws it’s challenges, the place I need to be, is amongst trees. Maybe to me peace equals trees and that is why I love them.

Energy sapping heat.

The heat saps my energy and I feel the trickles of sweat down my back.  Wearing make up becomes impossible in the summer as moisture forms beads under my fringe and they merge into rivulets to drip from the end my nose.  My top lip glistens and I purse my lips to catch the salty taste on my tongue.

I have a constant need to replace the water my body is fixated on losing in it’s efforts to keep me cool.  My whole body is  sticky and feels unclean.  The dust that hung in the air is now attracted to the magnetic force of sweat and my hair, normally full of styling products hangs limply, unable to withstand the onslaught of  humidity.

With a rise in temperature comes a rise in temper.  Hauling bottles of water upstairs to the kitchen leaves me breathless and irritated.  Why don’t they bundle them into four’s instead of sixes.  I struggle to heave the weight of water in each hand, but I also need the balance.  It’s a difficult choice between two trips or too heavy.  My hands are so slippy that it’s difficult to keep hold of the thin cardboard strip that supports the weight of  24 litres.

My brain feels as though it has swelled beyond the capacity of my skull under the oven temperature of the sun and the pressure is making my eyes want to pop out of their sockets.  Each beat of my heart sends a throb of blood filled pain to my brow causing me to frown.  My breathing becomes shallow as I tense against the agony of a heat induced headache.

I drop one lot of bottles as I fumble for my keys, but they are in the pocket on the other side so I drop the other hands burden.  I try and spear the lock but the bunch slips from my greasy fingers and hits the floor.  The sun belts it’s unrelenting force against my back as I bend to retrieve them.  Come on, come on, I urge them, just work.  I need cool now.

This time I manage to open the door but heat hits me from the inside of the house as well.  I grab the bottles of water and deposit them somewhere on the floor between the living room and kitchen, and stride straight to the bedroom shedding clothes as I go.  It’s little cooler without my thin layer but my anticipation of what’s to come spurs me on.  I grab and don my bikini, pick up my towel, slip my feet into my flip flops and head back out into the belting heat.

Cool blue water beckons me like a smooth talking lover and I kick off my footwear, drop the towel and lower myself down into the refreshing blue depths of the pool.  As the water washes over my body and my blood temperature descends to normal, the little elephants that were stampeding through my head begin to slow under its caress.

I tip my head back into cool peaceful tranquility and float with closed eyes.  I feel the corners of my mouth turn upwards as my smile returns and just in that moment reflect on the pleasure of living in a hot country.

Soya versus cancer

As usual this morning, as soon as I awoke, I reached for my iPad and logged into Facebook.  Reading down all the new posts, I came across one that was  originally added by Health digest and is entitled Latest Cancer Information by John Hopkins.

As I am a complete health nutcase and do believe that we are what we eat,  I am always interested in what these articles say.  I have also lost a lot of relatives to cancer, including my father, so any information on a cure, is a must read for me.

To be honest, there was nothing in the article that was new to me.  It talks of the occurrence of cancer cells that naturally occur in the body and that our immune system, if built up using the correct nutrition, can fight and kill these cells.  It goes on to explain that someone experiencing cancer is nutritionally deficient in many areas and changing the diet can bring about a cure, whereas chemo and radio therapy causes scarring and is poisonous to the human body.  It goes on to recommend food substances that can help.  Most I agree with but not soya. Never soya.

Years ago, I read a lot of articles about cancer and it causes.  I also met someone who was given 6 weeks to live because his body was riddled with cancer.  The fact that I met him 2 years after that death sentence and after he healed himself using a macro biotic diet, instilled in me the knowledge that our westernised diet is possibly not the healthiest.

At the time I lived in the Uk and had access to plentiful organic produce.  I bought a book about detoxing and found by following that and staying on a vegan diet, I felt healthier, happier in myself and was able to loose weight.  I was so wrapped up in my new found health regime that I believed nothing could touch me.  In a way I was right because for 3 years I was never ill.  Not even a cough, cold or sniffle.

I was appearing in Pantomine as Prince Charming in Cinderella over Christmas of  2002.  I was a very young looking 38 year old and had the legs needed to play the part. My husband was one of the ugly sisters alongside his brother -also and entertainer- and we were having a ball.  During the time, I experienced my usual monthly event, but I never had a problem in that area, so continued as normal.  It progressed in its normal way and after a couple of days had gone, or so I thought.  One night after the show, upon returning home, I experienced something I hadn’t before.  On getting out the car, I felt a rush of liquid and on running to the toilet found all of my nether regions, pants and trousers covered in clots of blood and the next eight years, every month continued in this way.

It was horrendous. Every month was filled with dread for that time of the month.  It  loomed at me and filled me with fear.  Many a time, I ran away from a social evening in order to save my dignity.  Medical examinations found that I had a fibroid in my womb and because it was touching the inner wall, it was causing these problems.  The doctor prescribes a pill that I would take on the first day and that would lessen the flow to some extent.  It wasn’t perfect but it helped me avoid a hysterectomy, which was my worst fear.

There was no education as to what caused it or what could help it naturally.  It was purely what medication could help the problem, so I struggled on.

In 2005 we moved to Spain and I continued to have problems.  My stomach was larger than before as the fibroid continued to grow and people often asked when the baby was due.  Once, on a flight, I was told that I couldn’t sit in an emergency exit seat, because pregnant women weren’t allowed to open the doors if there was an emergency landing. It was very embarrassing.  In the end I started saying, “I am not pregnant, just fat.” As it was easier than explaining that I had a medical problem.

After another trip to the gynecologist, I was telling my female neighbour that I may need a hysterectomy.  She questioned me closely and I told her most of the details.  She went inside her house and then presented me with a book. It was entitled “What your doctor will not tell you about menopause.” by Dr John Reed MD.  She explained that a friend of hers from the USA had exactly the same problem as me and that she had cured herself using the methods in this book.  Also my neighbour had been diagnosed with osteoporosis about 6 years ago and was healthy because of this book.

The book was an eye opener and I urge every woman on the planet to read it.  Many of our women’s problems are caused by our bodies becoming oestrogen dominant.  It’s a state that occurs when we stop ovulating and producing progesterone.  Drugs companies who produce HRT  to combat symptoms of menopause bombard women with more oestrogen and women who are diagnosed with osteoporosis are also prescribed drugs containing the same.  When our bodies become oestrogen dominant, we can develop breast cancer, ovarian, uterian and cervical cancer.  Polycystic ovaries and fibroids can also result from this.

The book advocated the use of progesterone cream and I started to use it.  It was brilliant.  Although it didn’t cure me, it helped so much.  My neighbour with osteoporosis had been told she would be in wheelchair in 5 years, but she was defying all the doctors by being perfectly healthy and exercising normally with no degradation of her bones.  Wonderful, I hear you cry.

Well, no.  Eventually I had to give in and have a hysterectomy because after 8 years of battling it, I was weary, very anaemic and desperate for an end to the worry.  My fibroid had continued to grow and I looked 6 months pregnant.  I think even the doctors were relieved when I finally had it done.  Thankfully, I have been very healthy since then although I continue with the progesterone treatment.

It was the birth of my grandson that brought me the final bit of information I needed to explain why I hadn’t been able to shrink my fibroid.  He had a problem with formula milk and as his sister experienced the same when she was a baby, we moved him onto soya milk.  If formula milk was a problem it was insignificant to the problems he had with soya.  It was terrible, so being me, I logged on to the internet to do my research.  There was website after website that warned against men drinking soya milk.  Why?  Because soya is a natural oestrogen and feeding a baby boy soya milk was equivalent to him taking 5 contraceptive pills a day.

Needless to say, we took him off it straight away, but the shock to me was without president.  All the years I had been battling my fibroid whilst eating a vegan healthy diet was being countermanded by my intake of soya.  I drank it as a milk, ate it in its tofu form, it is in 60% of all manufactured food. It is rife.  The tropical rain forests are being cleared to make room to grow more soya than any other product, so our planet is also paying a high price for this so called healthy food.

So, my advice to anyone is to boycott soya.  It is NOT the health food it is made out to be.  In fact, it is the opposite in my book.  It promotes cancer, premenopausal and menopausal problems, and can cause infertility in men.  I will never eat this stuff knowingly again and wish that there was more education for the people that do.  It’s all there in black and white for anyone willing to look.