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.

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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.

 

 

 

Night owl or Lark

It’s a couple of days since my last blog and it’s taken me most of the day to summon up the right amount of enthusiasm to write one.

Everyone suffers when they have too little sleep or are just weary.  Atthe beginning of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, she decides to try and get the right amount of sleep instead of watching an extra TV programme.  I did not make this rule for myself, however, I did think that I would just go to bed when tired instead of denying that’s how I felt.  Interestingly  I found myself going to bed earlier and earlier, and waking earlier and earlier.  Nothing wrong with this,  I hear you say.  Actually, for me there is.

It goes against my long built up sleep patterns.  As an entertainer I work late and it’s impossible to suddenly switch it around to being a morning person.  I have long held the belief that I am, in fact, allergic to mornings.  My favourite way to wake up is quietly.  Alarms grate on every nerve and make me feel annoyed.  Once I am conscious, I still need quiet.

My ex-husband was a morning person.  He would wake up with a happy and loud “Good morning!”  and insist on holding conversations even though the only response I gave was an “ugh!”, which translated into any language means “be quiet and leave me alone.”  Having never learnt my morning tongue, we usually ended up having a huge argument as I got more and more wound up.  This was not the reason we divorced but if there is anything positive about that institution, it was the return to quiet mornings.

Luckily for me, my now husband is also an entertainer and a night owl.  Mornings for him are not the best time of day, so we gently wake up over the course of an hour in silence.  Sixteen years later we are still together so it works for us.

Going to bed early is a no no.  We need to be ready to entertain until the wee small hours.  In fact we can spend day feeling exhausted and only become compos mantis just as most people would be retiring.  The difficulty though is when we have a few nights of going to bed after 2am.  In my youth, it seemed easier but now….oh dear.  Age has caught up and I need my 8 hours, but it only works if I am in bed before 2.  I blame the scientists for figuring out our body clocks, Rem sleep patterns and educating us.

Maybe, if work had made me feel so exhausted, I would feel rewarded.  However, on my previous post I blogged about visitors.  So I have concluded that perhaps being in the Jacuzzi till 2am when you have visitors has the same effect as working till that time and is the least conducive to writing.

My resolution therefore, is to sleep earlier and write more.  It’s just today you will have to excuse my ramblings!!

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The truth about visitors

imageThe arrival of guests usually signals the beginning of so many things.  On a negative side,  the preparation is exhausting.  Trying to fit in a whole house clean, ironing, bed making, towel matching, fridge and freezer cleaning and spider web demolition while working is a test in itself.  Then, after they leave there’s a whole house clean, ironing, bed making and emptying the fridge and freezer of all the naughty foods that they leave behind.  Standing on the scales afterwards can prove a very scary experience as there will have been an awful lot of calories taken in during your time of entertaining.

In times gone by, with back to back visitors, it has proved tiring and expensive, and we would breath a sigh of relief as we waved off yet another car full.

On the positive side, the arrival of familiar faces brings hugs, kisses, smiles, new stories, precious time in each other’s company and a renewing of friendships.  It’s a touching of hearts, morals, belonging and kinship.  There are new experiences, the making of new memories and most important of all, there is laughter.

Even though I have to leave and go to work every day, there is the anticipation of returning home and recognising something different from the norm.  There is enjoyment in a change of routine and a sense of holiday even for the workers.

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After four years of hardly any visitors due to our circumstances, it is so wonderful to, once again, have people to stay.  To welcome people back into our lives has made me realise that the negatives are insignificant.  In fact they have changed to the opposite.

I love the fact that the discipline of having to clean means that I sort out my rubbish and get rid of it at more regular intervals.  Having to iron and sort bedlinen equals no excuses to avoid the ironing, thus removing the piles.  My fridge and freezer stay a lot more organised and the spiders don’t stand a chance.

I am a happier person for the laughter, more educated because of other people’s experiences, more social because I have to be and perhaps a little kinder or tolerant.  In all, visitors enrich, I look forward to time in their company and feel honoured that they chose to spend time in mine.

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A stressy day.

Ok, so it hasn’t been a particularly stressful day but irksome would probably be more accurate.  I had many plans, but for some reason I don’t feel like I have achieved much.  I have started making a check list every day.  It’s mainly for one reason and that is to make sure jobs get done, so that I have enough time to write.

I read a blog this morning which issued a challenge and I decided to take it up.  For the next 30 days, I am going to make sure I swim for 30 minutes.  I do have this procrastinating attitude to exercise and although I promise myself faithfully that I will stick to my regime, I can be found convincing myself that 3 times a week is enough and I’ve done them already.  By swimming first thing when I get up, it gets it out of the way and I can concentrate on other things.  In theory anyway.

That done, I then turn to phone calls and annoyingly having to sort out something that I thought had been organised yesterday, but no, apparently it’s too difficult to give me the correct number when I first ring in.  I have to waste time, my frustration and phone calls to get someone to answer the question.  Nothing too bad, just a little irritating.

Then shopping.  Food shopping is one of my least favourite things to do without my hubby on hand.  It’s always way too heavy for me to lift inside in one go and invariably one of the bags breaks.  Then there’s finding a home for it all.  Boring!  Never mind though, it has to be done, so off I go.  I notice that the door lock spins a couple of times before locking, but it’s done it before, so I wasn’t too bothered.

I bought a box.  It’s a collapsible plastic thing.  Perfect, I think.  I can get quite a lot of shopping in there.  It will fit in the boot of the car and stuff won’t roll around.  Pleased with myself for my organising head, I pack all the fruit, veggies and bottles in it, wheel the trolley to the car and… Find the boot of the car full of equipment. Husbands car! No other box is going to fit in there.

There is is a law here in Spain, that prohibits “stuff” being put on the seats and it’s a hefty fine if you are caught.  Ok, I can’t put it there then. I know, I’ll put it in the front footwell.  So I pick it up and realise it’s really heavy.  In fact, it’s so heavy that the box suddenly seems a bit flimsy.  Add to the fact that the temperature has soared into  the 30’s and I am struggling in full sunshine to manoeuvre this box that weighs a ton, between 2 parked cars to open the passenger door and deposit said box.  I wheeze and sweat and manage to get it in, only to find it’s about 2 cm too big and the door won’t close.  Oh joy.

The box ends up, with some not too gentle persuasion, balanced precariously on top of the stuff in the boot.  I drive home, praying that it won’t fall and break the eggs.  Luckily the eggs did survive, but yes, it fell.

I had to make a couple of trips to get things upstairs to my front door and the sun was not letting up.  I arrived there, overheated and in need of a drink, with my hands full and a bag of rapidly melting ice cream that I had, kindly,  bought for my husband, only to find that I couldn’t get in.  The front door key was just spinning and spinning I the lock.  Wonderful, thinks me and I ring my husband.

Suffice it to say that I eventually got in.  My head was pounding with the sun, my shoulders feel like I’ve just done 10 rounds with Lennox Lewis and it’s now much later than I expected.  Lunch, that’s what I need. So I start to prepare something and plan what I need to do next.  I have an hour of ironing, then cleaning for guests that are arriving on Thursday, I want to do some writing and I also need an hour practicing the piano.  I also have a gig tonight and looking at how many hours I don’t have left, I realise something is not going to get done.  Then the phone rings.

Its the owner of the bar that I am working at on Saturday.  Cancelling!  Great!!  No work, no money and little chance now of getting another gig at such short notice.  So my day has been irksome.  It is a day designed to take away pleasure.

This is now a decision for me to make.  Do I remain irked or shall I change it.  Well, first thing now is to take some pain killers to get rid of the tension headache, to have a quick jacuzzi to wind down and then enjoy my night.  I chose, you see, to change it.  Tonight I get to sing to some fabulous people in a fabulous place that has a view to die for.  The breeze will be in my hair and the music will flow.  Life doesn’t get much better than that!!

 

A Life of Sundays

It’s Sunday, she thought as she opened her eyes.

Sundays, as a child, had always been mind blowingly boring.  Apart from helping to cook Sunday lunch and the long winded trip to church, the day seemed to drag on forever.  There was too much time spent in the company of irritated parents who couldn’t wait to get the kids back to school the following day.  A childhood full of disappointing Sundays.

Sundays as an older teenager and young twenties, was spent sleeping and recouperating from the crazy partying that seem to accompany that age.   If enough time was passed in sleep, the monotony of the day never broke through the drink addled haze.  If there was a boyfriend on the scene, the afternoons would find her lips glued to his or slouched on the sofa, watching a movie. Sunday was a wasted day.

When the children came along, Sundays were a crazy day.  There was little chance of a lie in as there was always someone ready to bounce on the bed, shout “Mummy, I’m hungry.” Or  “Mummy, look what she’s done!” Or a high pitched wail as someone got their fingers caught in the door again. The only chance of the day not being spent in a state of mayhem, was to take the cherubs out and let them run off some of their pent up energy.  Sundays were exhausting.

Sundays with teenagers was different again.  Time was spent standing at the bottom of the stairs, either yelling for them to get out of their lazy beds or trying to be heard above the sound of the latest music craze.  There was the inevitable “Is your homework done?” followed by the excuses as to why it wasn’t, the ensuing argument and the “I hate you.” stomp up the stairs and slam of the bedroom door, shaking the whole house off it’s foundations.  Sundays were spent praying for Monday morning to arrive early.

Then came the Sunday when the front door closed for the final time. The car packed with boxes, pulled off the drive as the last child disappeared to their own home.  After years of looking after so many people, nothing could prepare her for the devastation of no longer having anyone to care for.  Sundays were silent, eerie and sad.

It’s Sunday, she thought as she opened her eyes.  Today is a day full of possibilities.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the garden is full of flowers. There is music to play and art to behold, dogs to walk, books to read. What shall I do today? She smiled. I think I shall do everything I want to.  Sunday is my day.