The bit I don’t share much….

I share my story a lot, but a part of the story I don’t share much is the journey my kids have been on since I left the corporate world.

My kids were just 8, 6 & 3 when I left JLR. They were in 10 hours childcare a day, either at nursery or school and wrap around club.

They knew no different; it was just life. I didn’t realise the impact it was having on them.

My eldest had been in 10 hours a day childcare for 7 years and he’d had enough. He was often in tears before school as he couldn’t face another long day. Once I left work that stopped. 

These days he's 14 and quite often hangs out with his mates after school instead of coming home. That's fine with me. Some days he'll come home and disappear into his room to work on the teenager shaped mattress he now has. That's fine with me. And some days he needs me. Not often, but when he does it's important. Even though I'm only a few minutes behind him arriving home as I'm picking up his sister, he'll call me as he needs to talk straight away. And I always answer, because I can. I have the flexibility to hang around in the park with my daughter when he's OK and bolt straight home when he needs me. 

My middle child was incredibly quiet and withdrawn and not engaging at school. I now know that it was linked to the surgery he had at 12 weeks old. He’s now happier, more outgoing, has friends and settled into secondary school really well last year. I worked hard with him to help overcome his challenges.

It's taken a while to get to the bottom of his issues, it's hard to believe that something that happened when he was just 12 weeks old could continue to have an impact throughout his childhood. But learning about the brain as part of my own development, I realised that it was bound to have a big impact and I've been able to work out what is going on with him and seek help. 

I spent hours standing in the park after school encouraging him to make friends. Giving him the space and freedom to create those relationships outside the school environment where he was struggling. It was a long, and sometimes very cold process but so worth it to see him now. He still has a way to go but as his rugby coach said this season, it's great to hear his voice.

My youngest was happy enough at nursery but loved the move to preschool. The shorter days and trips through the park on the bike were much more fun and she is a happy and confident little girl (sometimes too confident!)

She never got to the point where she was worn out with continuous 10 hour days. Where her only break was the allocated annual leave I had to take. And I'm grateful for that. By switching to pre-school, she got to ditch the early morning commute and instead gained an extra hour in bed and a trip through the park on the back of my bike. And the shorter days and term time worked well to give her the rest she needed. She started primary school without any worries at all and continues to go from strength to strength.

I wonder where they’d be now if I hadn’t been ill, if I hadn’t been forced to spend the time with them they needed. It's hard to imagine how the last few years would have worked out if they'd have gone through it with the level of childcare they previously had. Without me around to help them when they needed it.

I look at their benefit as the silver lining of my illness.

It’s nice to be recognised!

I am still smiling that I got a rugby award on Sunday, I mean I’ve never played rugby at all in my life ever!

So why the award you may ask…….because I support our local rugby club where all 3 of our kids play. Not just turning up and freezing my bits off every Sunday morning while consuming copious amounts of tea and bacon rolls. But getting involved in the running of the teams and the club.

And I love it. Of course I sometimes find myself wondering why I do it, but ultimately, I just enjoy helping people. I get a real buzz, a real satisfaction from doing something positive to impact other people’s lives.

It’s what I love most about the work that I do. Gone are the politics, climbing the corporate ladder shenanigans and endless pointless meetings, and in return I get to be part of someone else’s journey to create a wonderful life for them and their family.

Naturally it’s hard at times. I find myself switching between coach, mentor, trainer, counsellor and any other role I need to provide them with but wow, when people hit their goals there’s no feeling like it.

The best bit about all of this is that my kids are watching me. They’re learning that helping people and giving back to the community is just what you do in life. And that’s a great lesson for them to learn.

And although my kids don’t really know what to make of my rugby award yet, I have to say that as embarrassing as it was to collect it, it does feel amazing to be re recognised.

Mixed pea, mint & feta salad

You just can't beat a good salad, it's what barbecues are made for! And this one is very yummy while being really quite healthy and will impress any dinner guest.

Ingredients

  • 200g fresh or frozen peas
  • 200g sugar snap peas
  • 200g mangetout
  • 100g pea shoots
  • 2 cups mint leaves
  • 200g feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to season

Dressing

  • 1 garlic glove crushed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint

Method

  1. For the dressing, combine the crushed garlic, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Stir in the mint and season with black pepper
  2. In a large pan of boiling salted water, cook fresh peas for 5-6 mins (3 minutes if frozen), adding the sugar snap and mangetout for the final 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Cool completely.
  3. Place the vegetables in a large bowl with the pea shoots, feta, mint and dressing and toss gently to combine

Smoothies

I need to stay as healthy as I can to combat my ME symptoms as well as keeping up with everything that goes with being a mum of three and running my own business while providing support for my husband's building business. And smoothies are a quick and easy way to pack in those nutrients our bodies need. So here's a few ideas of what to throw in them. All you need is some kind of blender (I do have to admit to having gone with the well known nutribullet myself which I love), add the ingredients and whizz until smooth. 

FOOLS GOLD

  • 1 ripe mango, cubed
  • 1/2 ripe banana, peeled
  • 120 ml milk (any milk of your choice)
  • 122g plain Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp unsweetened matcha powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 0-2 tsp Forever Bee Honey (to taste)
  • handful of ice cubes

GINGER NINJA

  • 120ml carrot juice
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop Forever Lite Ultra in Vanilla
  • 210g ice cubes

BEETS AND BERRIES

  • 1 medium beetroot, peeled & cubed
  • 288g strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 175g apple slices (optional)
  • 1 scoop Argi +
  • 200ml almond milk


Proper Pulled Pork

So this isn't really a recipe at all.......there's no ingredient list and no method but......there's nothing yummier than a perfectly crackled, pulled roast pork served either with roast potatoes, a pile of veg and gravy or in fresh rolls with a stack of delicious salads.

Over the years, I've tried, failed and succeeded to cook beautiful roast pork but I'm now pretty good at getting it consistently right.

So, here's my tips

  • Buy the biggest joint you can. The bigger the joint, the longer you can cook it and the nicer it will be. 
  • Stick to a shoulder cut, leg just doesn't work
  • Take the joint out of it's wrapping and dry it with a paper towel
  • Then score it well. I go really deep with my cuts, almost through to the meat. And keep them quite close together, about 2 cm apart
  • Sprinkle salt over the joint and leave for a few minutes
  • Then pat it dry again with a paper towel. The salt draws out more moisture and you want it as dry as you can can get it
  • Salt it again before putting in the oven
  • I loosely cover my joint purely because I'm lazy and don't like to clean the oven!
  • Start the meat at a low temperature and slowly work up to 180 degrees. Timing completely depends on the size joint you have. When I'm cooking a really big one I'll put it in the night before.
  • 20 mins before the end, remove the foil, turn the oven up to 240 degrees and watch the skin crackle!

Just one final point, making apple sauce is one of the easiest things you will ever do so try to avoid the super sweet sticky stuff you can get in jars. It will ruin your beautiful meat! Simply peel, core and chop 2-4 cooking apples, add a little water and sugar and put on a low heat with the lid on. Stir occasionally and watch as the apple cooks and turns into a sauce. Check the flavour and add more sugar to taste. Then put it in a bowl and let it cool until you need it.  Simple and yummy!

Pumpkin and Rocket Salad

This is a gorgeous looking and tasting salad that works at any time of year. It's an Aussie recipe so it's called a Pumpkin salad but here in the UK I make mine with Butternut Squash. Try it in Autumn with roast beef for a lighter Sunday roast.

Ingredients

  • Butternut squash cut into 2cm thick wedges
  • 100ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (or more if you like!)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cups wild rocket leaves (I tend to just use a small bag from the supermarket)
  • 1/2 cup (75g) Macadamia nuts roughly chopped & toasted
  • Salt to season

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line two baking trays with foil
  2. Arrange the butternut squash in a single layer on the baking trays. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, scatter over the chilli flakes and season. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tender and lightly golder. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile whisk the lemon juice with the remaining 1/4 cup (60ml) oil and set dressing aside.
  4. Place the butternut squash in a serving bowl with the rocket and toasted Macadamias. Drizzle with the dressing, then toss to combine and serve.




No Bake Protein Bars

A super easy and healthier treat to have round the house to stop you reaching for those more indulgent snacks!

Ingredients

  • 2 Scoops Forever Lite Ultra
  • 140g oats
  • 60g ground flax seed
  • 35g sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Forever Bee Honey
  • Dark chocolate chips for topping

Preparation

Depending on the texture you want, you can either use your oats as they are, or blend using a hand-held stick blender or food processor until they have a flour-like texture.

Put all of the ingredients (aside from the dark chocolate chips) into a mixing bowl and combine until you get smooth-textured dough.

Line a five-inch loaf tin with baking paper and spoon in the mixture, compressing down until it covers the bottom of the tin.

Sprinkle some chocolate ships over the surface, pressing them slightly into the dough.

Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer and lift the mix out with the baking paper. Using a sharp knife cut into approximately eight pieces.

Either wrap in clingfilm individually to take as a snack on the go, or store in a box in the fridge.

Other options: swap the almonds for chopped cherries, raisins or dates for a fruitier protein bar.

Aminotein Ice Cream

This is a clever way to make a yummy banana ice cream that’s packed full of the protein and nutrition you get from Ultra-Light power.

Ingredients

  • 1 scoop Forever Lite Ultra
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 75ml milk

Preparation

  1. Cut a banana into about six pieces, then wrap in clingfilm and freeze for at least four hours
  2. Take the banana pieces out of the clingfilm and place in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the Forever Lite Ultra and milk to the bowl and blend with a handheld stick blender until smooth.

Then all you need to do it enjoy knowing that it contains one of your five a day plus a stack of protein and vitamins. Bliss!

 

Banana & raspberry lollies

This recipe couldn’t be easier and it’s a fab little trick to get healthier treats into the hands of your little ones!

Ingredients

  • 4 medium bananas
  • 360g raspberries
  • 4 tbsp low fat yoghurt
  • A few drops of vanilla essence

Preparation

Blend all ingredients until smooth, then pour the mix into four lolly moulds and freeze overnight (you can get lolly moulds in pretty much everywhere these days!).  Enjoy straight from the freezer.

And that’s it…….I’m almost embarrassed to call it a recipe but the kids (both small and big) will love them!

Be yourself, everyone else is taken!

Being authentically yourself is something that should come naturally.  We should just grow up that way and never have to give it a second thought…….shouldn’t we?

We’re living in an inauthentic world

Sadly we’re moulded by a world that favours the inauthentic.  From office politics in traditional jobs, to false information in news feeds and celebrities pretending to be anyone but themselves, we are surrounded by the inauthentic.

How often do you  pretend to be someone you’re not?  Or mimic people around you? Or compromise on what you feel is right?  If you’re being inauthentic you’re likely to feel uncomfortable in your own skin. Continue reading “Be yourself, everyone else is taken!”