Recipes

I just had to share this with you…it is the most dreary Sunday afternoon, it has literally not stopped raining all day.  It is the kind of afternoon I just want to sit in front of a movie with Kit and snack on rubbish food, mostly because of boredom, so I was trying to think of something healthy to eat and Kit asked for some of that revolting microwave Butterkist popcorn that makes your kitchen smell of it for days afterwards.  Anyway I thought I would try to make some ‘healthy’ popcorn without him realising and I have to say it was delicious!  Instead of unhealthy caramel made from butter and sugar I melted some coconut oil and coconut syrup together and then coated the popped corn into it, sprinkled it with a little sea salt and he loved it, apparently not as much as Butterkist, but that is ok with me considering it probably has about a tenth of the sugar and fat and it is not made with processed white sugar and saturated fat.

popcorn pic

Method

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil (I used non virgin olive oil) in the largest pot you have, I used the massive one I use for making chicken stock, it is more fun if it has a glass lid as you and your kids can see the popping!  Let it heat up for a few minutes on a medium heat, then add about 100g of corn, swirl it around in the oil then put the lid on, shaking the pan occasionally.  Leave the heat on medium and then hopefully you will start to hear some popping in about 30 seconds, lasting for a few minutes.  You don’t want the heat too high as you don’t want the corn to burn but it is a balance between not burning and having enough heat for the corn to pop.  When it has stopped popping, shake the pan and take off the heat, DO NOT TAKE THE LID OFF YET, I remember a girl at school doing this and a piece of corn popping near to her eye and she was rushed to A and E. After a minute or so take the lid off and let the pop corn cool a little and crisp up, the lid keeps the steam inside and the pop corn can get a little soggy.  Then empty the popped corn into a large bowl and heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil and coconut syrup in the same large pan until it is beginning to look like caramel, just a few minutes, add the corn back in and stir it round to coat, tip it onto a large baking tray to crisp up and sprinkle with a little sea salt.  Pile into bowls and enjoy without feeling guilty!

Banana and choc muffins

So I was making a banana and chocolate chip loaf for Kit today and the smell was so divine that I thought how can I make a healthier version? The smell of baking banana bread is the best baking smell in the world, well I think so anyway. I can only describe it as a ‘fug’ that envelops you as soon as you walk into the room and you just can’t wait for that damn thing to come out of the oven! Don’t get me wrong I am not averse to eating the white flour and sugar version but as I was a little hungover today I felt the need to make something a little more nourishing, so I came up with these babies, and they are divine. So if you have a bowl of black spotted bananas (which I always make sure I do, any excuse to make banana bread), then maybe make the healthy and slightly more unhealthy versions below.

 

Banana and chocolate chip loaf/muffins – sometimes I make a loaf, sometimes muffins, I live such a crazy life…

Ingredients

4 small really ripe bananas, mashed

170g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon salt

120g melted butter

120g sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate cut into chunks

 

Method

Preheat over to 170 degrees C. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl, flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt. Beat together the melted butter with the sugar, then the eggs and the vanilla extract. Add the mashed bananas, then add the dry ingredients and mix again, trying not to over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips then scrape into a lined loaf tin or muffin cases. Cook the loaf for about 50 mins and the muffins for 20 minutes, depending on their size

 

Gluten and sugar free banana and coconut muffins

Ingredients

4 small really ripe bananas, mashed

150g ground almonds

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon salt

80g melted coconut butter

80g maple syrup or honey or a mix of the two

50g chopped walnuts

30g sunflower seeds

50g dessicated coconut

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate cut into chunks

 

Follow instructions above for the loaf but bake for c. 15-20 mins depending on size.

 

Life After Tragedy

 

Mine is the story of a perfect life destroyed in a split second. It is one that clearly illustrates that none of us knows what is around the corner and that we must all live for now and appreciate what we have life.

 

The morning of the 5th May 2013 started like any other morning. My husband, our four children and I were staying in our holiday home in North Cornwall for the bank holiday weekend and what a weekend it promised to be, the weather was glorious. After a morning of walking on the beach, sand castle making and splashing in the sea, we decided to go out on our speedboat, a RIB, and had a heavenly afternoon picnicking and driving up and down the stunning Camel estuary. It was the first time that we had been out on the boat all year and everyone was in a good mood, laughing and screaming as we rode the choppy waves. It was only when we were coming back into our mooring that disaster struck. Not wanting the day to end, one of the children shouted the fateful words, “Lets go round again!” It was a combination of an exaggerated turn and the kill cord not being worn which meant that all 6 of us were flung out of the boat into the freezing cold water and the out of control boat sped away from us. I didn’t know where anyone was in the water, all I could hear was my 4 year old son shouting “No more cold water mummy, no more cold water!”. My maternal instinct set in and I swam to him, thinking that I could drag him to the nearest beach and away from danger. The wheel of the boat had been on full lock, which meant that the boat kept circling us at full speed, hitting each of us as it went. I could hear the roar of the boat behind us and as we turned around to see where it was the hull of the boat hit me in the chest and the propellers cut my left leg and Kit’s right one. I lost my left leg below the knee and I thought Kit had too as I saw his little trainer floating on the surface. Over 12 operations later and 9 months wearing a huge metal frame, and his leg has been saved. Incredibly my other two daughters only suffered from minor physical injuries but immeasurable mental ones from the trauma they experienced at such a young age.

 

We were rescued by the RNLI and taken to the nearest trauma hospital in Devon by RAF helicopter. I knew my husband Nicko had been killed as I heard my eldest daughter screaming in the water “Daddy’s dead, Daddy’s dead”, but I didn’t know about little Emily, I just presumed she was in a different helicopter, my brain wouldn’t even contemplate the thought that she had been killed. It was only later, in the hospital that a policeman came to tell me the news, that Emily was dead.

 

The first sensation a bereaved parent feels is one of total numbness, a sense of this not actually happening to you.

But eventually this period of detachment and numbness comes to an end and in its place came the acute pain of grief, deep, searing, gouging pain is the only way I can describe it. It would knife through me, pulling away only to let me recover from the last round before it stuck again. I was terrified of my grief as surely no one could cope with this level of loss. How was I going to carry on living without Nicko and Emily? The fact is that time doesn’t stop. I would look at the clock on the wall in the hospital and couldn’t believe that the seconds were still ticking, how could time possibly be carrying on when my loved ones were dead?

 

There is no secret strategy to cope with grief, no little door to go through to the other side to avoid the pain, you have to face the emotion in order to heal. Working through the pain of grief will enable us to rebuild our trust in life again and give us a chance of a stable and happy future. It is a combination of inner strength, powerful maternal instinct, love from family and friends and support from the charity Child Bereavement UK that I am still here today, almost three years on, surviving. Not only surviving but learning to live again with my new normality. I was determined that my three children would not lose me too, they had lost so much at such a young age, they were not going to lose their mother, I had to find the strength to be both parents to them, to give them a good life, an altered one but still a happy one.

 

I was terrified of my grief in the early days, terrified that I wouldn’t be able to handle it, that I would collapse in a big grief puddle on the floor. I gave myself very small achievable goals, in the early days it would be as simple as getting of bed and getting dressed, a huge achievement in itself. Then the goals became surviving until the end of the day or until Kit’s leg was healed, then I could collapse. But I didn’t collapse, I kept going and I learnt that our bodies have an incredible self preservation mechanism, it gives you just as much pain as you can cope with and then pulls away, letting you recover for the next round.

 

I was determined not to let my loss of limb define who I was so my goals became more physical, proving to myself that I could still live my life to the full despite my disability. I learnt to ski again, play tennis and run on my blade. I now take part in regular 10k runs and my latest challenge is a sprint triathlon in July. I have no idea if I will complete it but I don’t have a fear of failure like I did before the accident. I used to be such a perfectionist, not risking taking on a challenge for fear that I wouldn’t do it well enough. Now I know that I am lucky to be here and that life is for living and for challenging ourselves, for this