October Favourites.

It seems I haven’t wrote a favourites post in a while and October is one of my favourite months so this is probably going to be a long one. I apologise if it’s a little all over the place to, this month I have enjoyed a variety of things from talking mental health to seeing The Rocky Horror Show with my grandmother, I kid you not. Continue reading “October Favourites.”

Advertisements

An oh so cosy Autumnal feeling.

Every year my aunt and I take a walk through the pumpkin fields, it has turned into quite the tradition and each year I seem to enjoy it more and more. This is my second favourite walk of the year, the first being the walk I spot the first of the Spring lambs. I guess I am a little bit in love with the change of seasons and well, as much as I love Spring, my love for Autumn comes close.

Our pumpkin walk never fails to fill me with that oh so cosy Autumnal feeling. This year we added to our tradition by putting Osca into a little pumpkin costume, isn’t he truly adorable? I think he was glad of it to as the wind soon picked up.

I came home to two sleepy dogs, the fairy lights on and a salted caramel candle lit. Now to finish my lovely Sunday with a cosy evening catching up with some work followed by a couple of episodes of Gossip Girl, my new but actually old obsession and a hot chocolate, if only I had bought another one of these sweet chocolate covered marshmallow sticks .

IMG_3497.JPG

What is your favourite walk of the year?

Wishing you well, Nicole

World Mental Health Day 2016.

Today is World Mental Health Day- a day to talk. Along with Time-To-Change, today I wanted to share with you here a small part of my experience with mental health.

I spent most of my childhood and teenage years hiding my mental health, partly because it was never spoken about, I didn’t know what mental health was and the little I did know was based on what I had seen on the television. I grew up believing that a person had to be thin to have an eating disorder and that mental health hospitals were all straight jackets and restraints, my beliefs were wrong. It was because of these beliefs I hid more, I never spoke up or asked for help, I was ashamed, confused and lost.

From the ages of thirteen to twenty-one I hated myself; my mind, my body and my whole existence. Don’t get me wrong, I was still able to smile, enjoy days and have some good memories to but underneath it all, at the back of my mind, I wanted to disappear.
I remember friends saying to me ‘you have the mind of an anorexic’- healthy on the outside yet living a life of obsessive calorie counting, food restriction and over exercising. Those friends soon disappeared, as did I, loosing myself more and more each day. My life became what I can only describe as a nightmare, I was a puppet to the voices inside my head, the ones that called me fat, ugly and pathetic, the ones that were in complete control, pushing my friends and family away, taking everything I was. I became weaker at every moment and felt utterly exhausted both mentally and physically.

If only somebody could have seen, not my body or a number on the scales but what the illness was doing to my mind. If only more people didn’t believe in the mental health stereotypes seen in the headlines and knew that eating disorders are mental illnesses, not physical, not based on appearance.

At the age of nineteen and after just finishing a very dark first year of university, I was diagnosed with ‘Anorexia Nervosa’- finally a name, something in black and white, an illness, something to end the confusion and feeling of being completely lost. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that, a diagnosis is no cure, it is just the beginning. People would stare, point, blame my family, say it was ‘a phase‘, that I was ‘attention seeking‘ and that I ‘just need to eat‘.

After a very long up and down journey, at twenty-one, I was admitted to a mental health hospital. I spent six months there and for the first time in what felt like a lifetime of being alone in it all, I met people who truly understood. I was given the right treatment, taught how to feed myself, cope with fears, anxieties and truly begin my recovery. Like the diagnosis, hospital didn’t cure me, there was no ‘quick fix’, recovery is a journey and one that takes time.

My time in hospital is one of the hardest, most challenging things I have ever and probably will ever do but I did it and it is something I am now extremely proud of. Thanks to organizations like Time to Change I no longer feel the need to lie about why I left university, the two years missing from my CV or the time I spent at hospital, because of it I am who I am today. I am strong, brave and no longer the girl wishing to disappear instead wishing to be seen and more importantly wishing to be heard.

The stigma and discrimination around mental health is partly what led myself to suffer in silence, to feel ashamed and confused. The mental health stereotypes people often believe in led me to think I was not ill enough, that I did not deserve help and allowed the illness to go unnoticed by those around me.
Please let what I, and so many, have experienced teach us that we must stand up to stigma and discrimination, we must try to understand, educate future generations and hopefully prevent anyone who experiences a mental illness from feeling ashamed or embarrassed.

Today is the perfect day to talk mental health, make a pledge to help challenge mental health discrimination and of course do something for your own mental health and wellbeing, whatever it is that makes you feel mentally healthier.

Thank you for reading,

Nicole
Helpful links: Mind, Rethink, Sane, Heads Together, Student Minds, Young Minds

Personal links: Mental health postsMy first blog post for Mind, WMHD 2015, Time-To-Change

Five simple ways with almond butter & product review.

Since becoming gluten-free and vegan I have tried all kinds of healthy, organic superfoods and finding the right ones for me has been harder than I originally thought, that’s why I thought I would share with you two easy to have, daily superfoods that help me feel super (sorry could not resist!).

First up, if you haven’t already guessed by the title is almond butter, I am sure by now you all know how much I love almond butter and if you don’t this post will show you. I like almond butter on pretty much everything, but liking every jar of almond butter is impossible. Call me fussy but I do not understand how a one-ingredient almond butter can taste so different. I have tried countless brands and even made my own but none compare to finding a good tasting, easy to buy, ready to use, jar of almond butter. Continue reading “Five simple ways with almond butter & product review.”

My kitchen cupboard essentials (gluten-free, vegan & affordable)

Herbs, Spices & Seasonings: Chilli, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, ground ginger, garam masala, pepper, smoked paprika, parsley.. ALL THE FLAVOUR. Many moons ago, before I had even gone vegetarian, spice and flavour did not enter my diet, not much anyway. Now, they are one of the things I love most about experimenting in the kitchen. I love finding flavours that go well and creating my own sauces and dressings, making all kinds of combinations. My cupboard filled with tiny jars doesn’t just come in handy when I am cooking but also with the simple things like cinnamon sprinkled onto fresh fruit and ginger stirred into porridge. You can pick them up in pretty much in every supermarket but always check the back as sometimes the mixes can contain wheat flour.

Nutritional Yeast: Please don’t be scared (as I was!), I have mentioned this in previous posts and I can not recommend it enough, it creates the most creamiest sauces, seasons crispy kale and gives toast a nutty taste, a lot of people say it tastes cheesy but I find it more nutty. Simply mixed with water, herbs and a little tomato sauce and you have a great pasta sauce. It is in most health food shops now but I just order mine online, it seems pricey but one tub goes a long way, it also contains vitamin B12, bonus.

Sauces: I am a huge lover of tomato, soy and hot sauce, I wish I had miniature versions for when I’m eating out. Tomato and hot sauces are usually always gluten free and vegan but I would double check just to be sure, more often than not there is no need to buy a special free from sauce. As for soy sauce you have to buy the gluten free one, which is usually double the price but I assure you it’s worth it.

Nut Butter: Almond is my personal favourite- M&S’s if I am being particular, I also like Meridian’s cashew butter but of course peanut butter is probably the most popular or at least it is with Syd & Archie. Whatever your type nut butter has to be an essential! It is so handy to have in the cupboard although a jar never lasts long, maybe buy two.. just in case. Nut butters are great and can completely convert a plain and boring meal or snack into something truly delicious, nutritious and satisfying. My favourites have to be a dollop of almond butter in my porridge or on the side of my apple slices and cashew butter smothered on toast.

Chickpeas, Lentils & Beans: Of course chickpeas are here, I don’t think I go a day without at least some form of chickpea, whether they be roasted, boiled, in a curry, stir fry, soup or stew, made into falafels or hummus, chickpeas are great! As beans are to, my favourites are butterbeans, haricot, mixed beans and of course Heinz baked beans to. I did go through a faze of soaking my own overnight and then cooking them but call me lazy, it’s just too much faffing and canned in water are very cheap to buy and handy for just one.

Quinoa, Brown Rice Pasta & Rice: I have put these three together as I pretty much use them the same way with most of my meals, all can be bought at supermarkets and are long lasting, which is perfect when you are cooking for one. Again, being a little lazy I love microwave rice & even quinoa to but I only buy these when they are on offer.

Oats & Cereal: Call me a creature of habit but starting my day with a bowl of porridge sets me up for the day, not all people with a gluten intolerance will need gluten free oats however I am one of those who do, luckily the price of gluten free oats have come down in price and it always surprises me how long a bag can last. Cereal is a little more expensive I like to buy plain cereals such as rice and buckwheat puffs and add my own flavours with almond milk, chocshot, dried and frozen fruits. Both always come to the rescue after a busy day or when dinner hasn’t quiet hit the spot.

Dark Chocolate: A bar of dark chocolate is a must or a packet of dark chocolate buttons.. Ooo dark chocolate buttons. Stay on track, gluten free, vegan chocolate isn’t hard to find and there are plenty of supermarket, affordable options. Me being me I am a little bit of a chocolate snob but I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for a nice bar. I have to be careful I don’t eat too much late at night as dark chocolate contains caffeine and I am a little caffeine sensitive.. It’s just one of those staples that is great to have in for when I need a little boost, to have along side a coffee or even a square or two added to some porridge.

I think I will have to stop myself here otherwise this list will go on, maybe I will have to write a fridge and freezer essentials post to! What is your favourite kitchen cupboard essential?