Sensible Snacking for Kids & Wise Yoda!

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a great week so far ūüôā

I had lots of fun this afternoon with the kids at my ‘Wednesday Workshops’ (the little Buddhist meditation classes I teach at our¬†local primary school). After a beautiful meditation on ‘the kindness of others’, I thought it’d be fun to¬†watch one of my favourite Star Wars clips.

 

When it ended, I asked them if they’d learnt¬†anything¬†from watching it. Their hands shot up in the air and they started reeling off the lessons they’d learnt including…

  • Never¬†give up (even if you’re finding something difficult or have already failed in your first few attempts)
  • Don’t get distracted
  • Control your mind
  • Believe in yourself
  • Size doesn’t matter

All that wisdom from watching a¬†5 minute clip of Yoda! Just imagine how wise they’ll be after they’ve watched all¬†six Star Wars films ūüėČ

After watching the clip, we had great fun making paper fortune tellers and filling them with Yoda quotes and kind messages.

[Source]
Think you the relationship between Master and Padawan is only to help them?
Oh, this is what we let them believe, yes! But when the day comes that even old Yoda does not learn something from his students – then truly, he shall be a teacher no more.

 

WIAW – Sensible Snacking …¬†Lil’ L Style!

¬†This month,¬†the lovely Jenn over at Peas and Crayons has set ‘Sensible Snacking’ as the theme for our weekly¬†‘What I Ate Wednesday’ foodie parties. I think this is a great theme as it’s all too easy to reach for the junk snacks when we’re feeling a bit peckish.¬†

For me, the¬†most important thing¬†is making sure that¬†Lil’ L has¬†snacks that are going to sustain his¬†energy levels.¬†On weekdays, he has a morning snack¬†at playtime and an after-school snack. I try to make sure that these snacks contain whole foods, complex carbs and minimal sugar so that his energy levels¬†don’t peak and slump. I also want encourage him to develop healthy snacking habits for the future.

Now that he’s older, I involve him in the decision making about¬†his¬†choice¬†of snacks. Here’s a run down of some of his current favourite snacks (all of¬†which¬†he’s eaten in the past week).

Morning Snacks

 

  • 2 seeded¬†flatbread crackers with bean pate or houmous filling (his¬†number 1 current favourite snack)
  • 2 wholegrain rice cakes with yeast extract (these taste like the Marmite rice cakes but they have the added bonus of being wholegrain)

  • 2 sesame wholegrain rice cakes with St Dalfour Strawberry spread or Manuka honey filling (the honey was a gift from his grandma!)

  • Packet of wholegrain mini biscuits with no added sugar or salt.

After School Snacks

 

  • Roasted pistachios nuts (salt free).¬†

 

  • Almonds and sunflower seeds roasted in a tiny amount of low-salt soy sauce (recipe here)

 

  • ¬†Apple cinnamon pancakes with chopped pecans, ground linseed and a drizzle of maple¬†syrup.¬†
    I make pancakes every Sunday and Lil’ L likes to have the leftover pancakes on a Wednesday before his swimming lesson (warmed in the microwave).

  • Wholemeal choc chip¬†or almond cookie.

We also¬†make a fruit smoothie after school. This week, he’s made smoothies with different combinations of pineapple,¬†blueberries , banana and strawberries, non dairy milks and yoghurt, and chia seeds for an omega-3 boost (the seeds are completely obliterated in a high speed blender, so you don’t even notice them).

We’re always on the look out for new snacks, so do let me know if you have any suggestions.
If you have kids, I’d love to hear what their favourite snacks are.
And equally importantly, what’s your¬†current favourite snack?

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone! ūüôā xx

 This time last year: Sugar Free Jam Tarts

 

A Trip to Lanzarote & a Buddhist Exam

Hi everyone!¬† I’m back at long last!¬†¬†I hope you all had a wonderful Spring Break. ūüôā

And thank you so much for all the lovely comments you left while I was away. I really appreciate them, and can’t wait to¬†catch¬†up with you guys!

I’m sorry I’ve been¬†away from the blog for so long, but we ended up going away for a couple of weeks.¬† Then, four days after my return, I had a 3-hour written Buddhist exam.

I’ve treated the last 3 weeks as a bit of a ‘retreat’, spending lots of quality time with the family and studying hard.¬† I’ve really valued this¬†‘down time’. It’s been wonderful to escape (briefly) from the busyness of daily life, switch off the phones,¬†computers, TV, and just ‘be’. It’s been bliss!

Here are a few of the highlights of our Spring Break…

For 14 nights we stayed in an apartment on the outskirts of Costa Teguise, on the volcanic island of Lanzarote.

To reach the main resort, we walked along a beautiful coastal promenade, which¬†had some handy exercise equipment which we had fun using every day.¬†I’m in serious¬†need of¬†some upper body strength!

We first visited Lanzarote a couple of years ago and loved it so much that we wanted to return.  The volcanic landscape is magnificient.

For six years, commencing in 1730, there were continuous explosions, tremors and lava flows in west-central Lanzarote, and at least 23 hamlets were buried.  The centre of the volcanic activity was in Timanfaya.  Since 1974, a surface area of 542 square kilometres has been designated as a National Park, and you can explore it by coach or camel.

 

It’s an incredible experience!¬† You really do feel like you’re on another planet!

Another of our¬†favourite sites on Lanzarote is the¬†Cueva de los Verdes.¬† This is a section of the largest known¬†lava tube in the world, created during the eruption of Monte Corona.¬†¬†After walking along a twisty-turny labyrinths you come to a truly spectacular site.¬†¬†Our photo doesn’t really do it justice.

Another section of this great lava tube can be visited at Los Jameos del Agua.¬† In 1968, the artist Cesar Manrique worked on this site, turning it into a beautiful architectural attraction.¬† There’s a lava cave with a lake, in which live a rare species of small, blind, albino crab.

The site also has beautifully designed cafe areas, an outdoor pool, exotic garden and volcanic education centre.

Sitting in cafes studying for my exam was a common sight of me¬†this holiday ūüėȬ†¬†I really appreciate how supportive M and Lil’ L were. They gave me all the¬†time, space and encouragement¬†I needed to revise for my big exam.¬†¬†One day, Lil’ L returned from the shops with¬†a little Buddha statue that he’d bought me with his own money!

A section of cave at Jameos del Agua has been turned into an auditorium with seating for 600 people.¬† It’s¬†such an atmospheric place.¬† I’d love to see a concert there one day.¬† I bet the acoustics are out of this world!¬† When M and I entered the auditorium cave, we¬†found Lil’ L sat on one of the seats meditating!

After his meditation, he¬†went back outside and resumed his climbing adventures….

… and¬†seeing how close he can stand to the edge of water without falling in. (He didn’t actually fall in this time, which makes a nice change!)

We also loved spending time at the Jardin de Cactus, another attraction designed by Manrique.¬† My Dad was a huge cactus fan and I wish he’d got to see this garden.¬† He would have loved it!¬† I’ve never seen so many cacti… and some of them were seriously huge!¬† It was a great place to spend the afternoon and there was another stylish cafe for me to install myself¬†in ūüėȬ† The view below is actually from the cafe.¬† Isn’t it amazing?

As well as the volcanic landscape, another reason why M and I love visiting Lanzarote is to see the legacy of artist/architect Cesar Manrique.¬† His style is so distinct, and¬†clearly influenced by his love of the natural landscape.¬† He was involved in the design of all the major attractions on Lanzarote.¬† Since his death, his¬†home has been converted into a museum.¬† It’s one of¬†the most incredible houses that I’ve ever visited.¬†¬†It’s built in a lava field,¬†and¬†some of¬†the rooms are actually lava bubbles!

How cool is that?

Lil’¬†L found himself some nice little spots to sit and read.

This is the first holiday that he’s really been into reading.¬† It was so nice to see him enjoying books (even if it is the Wimpy Kid!)¬† He must have got through at least 5 ‘fat’ books (as he calls them) during the 2 weeks.

Wimpy Kid is not my thing at all, but I did love Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which he read to us every night ūüôā

And finally, no blog post of mine would be complete without the mention of¬†FOOD!¬† We¬†ate really well this holiday, except for a minor blip on our first day when we¬†went to the nearest cafe we could find and ended up eating a¬†‘junk lunch’ of veggie¬†burger and chips.¬† M and I felt so rubbish after this lunch¬†that, from then on, we avoided the junk food.

Most lunch times, we returned to our apartment, and prepared simple lunches of salad, Spanish tortilla and freshly made baguettes that we bought from the local supermarket, followed by a dessert of fresh fruit, nuts and yoghurt.  We even found soya milk and soya yoghurts in the local supermarket, as well as British rolled oats for our morning porridge!

We really enjoyed these lunches and felt a million times better after eating them, compared to¬†our first day ‘junk lunch’.¬† They left us feeling¬†feeling full¬†of energy¬†and ready to head straight out for an afternoon of site seeing ūüôā

There were lots of great restaurants in Costa Teguise which had veggie options on their menus, and we¬†ate out¬†most¬†evenings.¬† We also came across this lovely little veggie cafe, tucked¬†away in a corner of Costa Teguise on the strip of beach known as ‘Las Cucharas’.

It was run by a friendly German guy, who would cook stir fries and other delicious dishes using fresh produce from the local market.

This week, Lil’ L has kept telling us that he wishes he could go back to the Surfer’s Veggie Cafe and have one of their¬†Mexican wraps.¬† He really loved them… even though they were filled with lettuce which he normally doesn’t touch with a barge pole!¬† I must have a try at¬†re-creating them at home.

My favourite dish was the wok stir fried veggies, accompanied by rice and toasted sunflower seeds.  So simple, yet so tasty!

I can’t wait to have a try at re-creating this dish too.¬† The flavours were amazing!

So that’s what I’ve been up to these last 3 weeks.¬† My¬†time in Lanzarote¬†gave me the chance to take a ‘breather’, check where I am in my life and ‘realign’ myself back onto the path where I want to be.¬†¬†I’ve made some big¬†decisions about my future, which I’ll tell you¬†about in another post.¬†¬†It’s all very exciting (and a little¬†bit scary!)

My weeks away¬†have also¬†renewed my enthusiasm for cooking¬†plant-based meals and¬†this week I’ve made a couple of simple, new dishes that Lil’ L has described as ‘winners’.¬†¬†I’ll be posting the recipes¬†shortly.

I’m¬†also really looking forward to catching up with my wonderful friends, and that includes you guys out¬†there in blogging world.¬†¬†I can’t wait to see what you guys¬†have been up to!

I look forward to catching up with you all very soon xx

 

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WIAW – I’ll Bring the Spinach & Cashew Pesto Pasta & Sun-Dried Tomato Humous (with recipe!)

Hi Everyone! I hope you’re having a great week so far!

I’ve just got back from another wonderful afternoon with my meditating kids ūüôā¬† Some of these children have only been meditating for 3 weeks, but they’re already so good at it!¬† I’m sure some of them will be meditation masters by the time they’re 10 ūüėȬ†¬†

The object of¬†today’s meditation was to teach them a method to calm themselves down whenever they feel¬†negative emotions, like anger, starting to arise¬†within their minds.¬†¬†We visualised our¬†minds as a¬†blue sky and negative emotions¬†as dark, black clouds.¬† On the out-breaths, we blew the clouds away until we were left with a crystal clear blue sky, symbolising the return to a calm peaceful, happy state of mind.¬†

[Source]

The¬†children¬†were¬†certainly chilled out after the meditation¬†… perhaps some were a little too¬†relaxed.¬†¬†One girl¬†asked¬†me¬†whether she¬†could¬†lie down on the floor after the meditation and have a little sleep!!¬† All in all though, it was a great, relaxing, fun afternoon ūüôā

I hope you don’t mind me mentioning these meditations in my posts, but¬†they’re helping me to recall what I do with the children in these Wednesday¬†Workshops.¬†¬†Just like my recipes,¬†most of the meditations are saved in my head, which isn’t a great place for them to stay.¬† When¬†I get a spare moment, I will¬†start¬†to write them out¬†properly. Until then,¬†the blog post record will have to do!¬†¬†¬†

In¬†half an hour, Lil’ L and I will be heading to the¬†swimming pool but, before we go, I thought I’d¬†give a quick rundown of today’s eats for¬†the lovely Jenn’s What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) party.¬†¬†Today’s eats were all leftovers from Sunday, Monday & Tuesday!

Breakfast
Hot lemon water
2 Apple & cinnamon pancakes with a sprinkling of ground flaxseed, chopped pecans and a drizzle of agave syrup. 

Sorry for the old pic, but I had to dash out this morning¬†and didn’t have time to photograph the breakfast! It pretty much looked like this… except I had 2 pancakes rather than 3 (it’s Lil’ L that’s the pancake monster round here!)

 I often make a big batch of pancakes on a Sunday morning and, if any are leftover, we eat them in the week for breakfast or after school snacks. 

Lunch
On my return from Bristol, I had a quick lunch of wholegrain rice cakes, topped with sun-dried tomato humous, black olives and roasted red peppers. 

Along with¬†Nairn’s Oatcakes, Kallo wholegrain rice cakes are one of our favourite shop-bought snacks.¬†¬†While I use them for quick lunches, Lil’ L loves to take them to school for¬†his play time snacks.¬† His current favourite flavour¬†is¬†yeast extract, while I prefer the sesame seed (no salt) version (not pictured as I’ve eaten them all!)

When I read the nutritional blurb on the back of the packet, I was amazed to find that each rice cake only contains 30 calories!

I find them really filling too!¬† Especially when they’re covered in delicious home made humous ūüėȬ† I’ve finally jotted down how I make the sun-dried tomato humous.¬† It’s so easy and quick!¬† It only takes me a couple of minutes to whip up enough humous to last us the week.¬† Sometimes I make a double batch and freeze half for the following week.¬†

Here’s how I make it:

Drinks
1 soy cappuccino in Bristol, 1 peppermint & nettle tea, 1 pure apple juice, water

Snacks
1 sugar free jam tart (left over from yesterday’s¬†study class).¬†¬†I use¬†St Dalfour fruit spreads as the filling for these tarts.¬† This spread is¬†deliciously sweet without any¬†added sugar or sweetener.¬†


I’ve¬†recently started using Chapatti Atta as my wholemeal (wholewheat) flour for pastry making¬†(I¬†found this in the¬†Indian product aisle at Tesco).¬† It’s got a beautiful texture, with the wheat flakes very finely ground into the flour, making it perfect for¬†pastries.¬† As an added bonus, it’s way cheaper than the regular wholemeal flour I’ve been buying.¬† My next mission is to seek out organic chapatti atta but, for now, I’m happy to use this one:

Dinner
For dinner¬†tonight, we’ve got¬†leftover black bean burgers from¬†Sunday, with a side dish of¬†wholewheat pasta leftover from yesterday, into which I’ve mixed some spinach, basil and cashew nut pesto with a selection of lightly stir-fried¬†vegetables (red pepper, mushroom, red onion, mange tout, courgette (zucchini)) and black olives.¬†I’ve also sprinkled in some pumpkin seeds and Marigold Yeast Flakes with B12 for added goodness.

If I’ve only got a few minutes to make a dinner, pesto pasta is often the one I choose to¬†make.¬† The pesto only takes a minute to prepare and I find it tastes so much nicer than the shop bought stuff!¬† Plus, if you make it yourself, you can sneak in lots of extra goodness (like a whole cup of spinach) and reduce the oil content.¬† I’ll make sure I write down this¬†pesto recipe soon and post it!

Dessert
For dessert, we’re having the ‘goji yogi surprise’ – apple compote (using¬†our home-grown, over-wintered apples) layered¬†with¬†Alpro¬†natural soy yoghurt and a sprinkling of¬†chopped¬†gojis and nuts.¬† I haven’t put it together yet, but this is what it looks like:

This month, Jenn’s WIAW parties are going green.¬†¬† To find out more and get inspired¬†for this month’s eats, click on the image below.¬†

Time to head to the pool!  Happy Wednesday everyone!  xx

Spring is in the air! The Joys of Blossom… and Living in the Moment!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend! ūüôā

On Saturday we had glorious weather in Bath, so I took the opportunity to get out into the garden and do some tidying up.¬†¬†It was so warm that we even managed to eat our lunch outside ūüôā

It¬†really does feel like Spring has arrived in Bath.¬† The crocuses and primroses are popping up everywhere in our¬†little garden…

along with the daffodils and cute little narcissus ūüôā

 

One of my favourite things about Springtime is blossom.  Trees look so severe in Wintertime without their leaves, but come Springtime, their bare branches are covered in the most delicately coloured, beautiful flowers that are an absolute joy to see.

One of my favourite types of blossom is found on the japonica tree. 

This tree is situated outside Lil’ L’s bedroom, and¬†it’s such a nice¬†sight to be greeted with as¬† I open his curtains first¬†thing¬†in the morning.

To reach school, we have to walk up a very steep hill.¬† Even though I consider¬†myself to be¬†pretty fit, I’m totally out of breath as¬†I reach the top!¬† But what I focus on as I’m climbing (and huffing and puffing!)¬†is the cherry tree that marks the end of the hill.¬† This tree is absolutely glorious at the moment…¬†

with¬†the most beautiful blossom ūüôā

And check out how blue the sky was on the school run today!

¬†In last week’s Wednesday Workshop (a little primary school Buddhist class that I teach each Wednesday) we read the story of the Four Princesses and the Kingshuk Tree (a beautiful story!) and I used the example of blossom to teach the children about impermanence¬†and the importance of living in the moment.¬† Most of us are so busy in our lives, with our heads filled with a million and one thoughts and plans, that we risk losing sight of all the beauty that surrounds us in our natural environment.¬† When we do live in the moment, everything becomes brighter, clearer, more beautiful.

Time to enjoy the blossom… it’ll be gone before we know it!

Has Spring arrived where you live?¬† What’s your favourite thing about this season?

 

WIAW – Scrummy Porridge, Rice Salad & Roasted Veg Pesto Pasta

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a wonderful week so far ūüôā

I’ve just got back from a wonderful afternoon with my ‘Wednesday Workshop’ children. During term time, I teach two workshops every Wednesday afternoon on Buddhism at Lil’ L’s primary school. We meditate, read and discuss a Jataka Tale, and then do some arts & crafts or perform a play. Today, the subject of our meditation was ‘our precious human life’.

[Source]

It’s the first time that I’ve led an analytical meditation with this particular group of children and it went really well. Not only were the children totally chilled out all afternoon, but so was I! That’s just the sort of afternoon I needed ūüôā

Just before we dash off to Lil’ L’s swimming lesson, I thought I’d make an early entry into Jenn’s WIAW party and share today’s eats.

Breakfast
Hot lemon (drank as I tried to wake up… mornings are soooo dark at the moment ūüôĀ )
Yummy warm porridge made with Alpro Fortified Soya Milk, a sprinkling of cinnamon and mixed spice, topped with chopped pecans and walnuts, goji berries, ground flaxseed and a drizzle of agave syrup. This was the perfect breakfast for a dark, damp morning.

Lil’ L is loving Ready Brek at the moment. It seems to be one of the better children’s cereals. It’s made with wholegrain, no added sugar or salt, but fortified with B1, B2, Niacin, B6, Folic Acid, B12, Vitamin D, Calcium and Iron. He has it with the same toppings as me, minus the goji berries. I haven’t found a single dried fruit yet that he actually likes!

For a fruit and calcium boost, he also had a glass of Innocent fruit smoothie mixed with Kara fortified coconut milk.

Lunch
For lunch, I had some turmeric rice left over from last night’s dinner (brown rice cooked with turmeric to add flavour and colour), to which I added shredded romaine lettuce, pieces of sun dried tomato and roasted red pepper, black olives, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and a drizzle of oil from the sun dried tomato jar. It was delicious… and took less than a minute to make ūüôā

Drinks & Snacks
Nettle tea, water, fruit smoothie, 1 black coffee, handful raw almonds, 1 orange, 1 cinnamon bagel

Dinner
When we get back from swimming, I’ll be cooking vegan pesto pasta with roasted vegetables. Into the roasting tin, I’ll throw some chopped carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, red onion and some pumpkin seeds. The veggies will be lightly roasted while the pasta is cooking. I’ll then mix in the vegan pesto, roasted veggies, a sprinkling of pine nuts and nutritional yeast, and a drizzle of walnut oil.

Since I haven’t made the dinner yet, here’s a pic from when I made it last month.

It’s a great dinner for those nights when you need something quick and don’t fancy toiling in the kitchen (plus there’s very little washing up ūüôā )

Right, gotta dash! I look forward to checking out all the delicious eats over at Jenn’s tonight and gathering inspiration for next month.

Happy Wednesday everyone! ūüôā

 

Buddhas, Shortbread Stars, Winter Soundtrack and WIAW!

Gosh the weather has been rough the last couple of days!¬† We’ve had wind, sleet,¬† and a spell yesterday where it rained ‘slush puppy’ (Lil’ L’s words).¬† I hope you’re managing to stay dry and warm.

Today, it was the last Wednesday Workshop of the term¬†so, this morning,¬†I was busy making certificates …

Wrapping little Buddhas to give¬†to the children at Christmas gifts…

and making shortbread stars for them …

I used my Sesame Shortbread Star recipe, but omitted the sesame seeds just in case any of the children had allergies.

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in the kitchen over the past few days, and this has given me the opportunity to listen to lots of great tunes and put the finishing touches to my Winter Soundtrack.¬† The Winter version is way more mellow than the Summer one.¬† Here are my top 8 tracks (in no particular order).

Winter Soundtrack 2011

1. Joe Goddard ft Valentina  РGabriel

2. SBTRKT feat. Lil Dragon – Wildfire

3. Emeli Sande – Heaven

4. Drake feat. Rihanna – Take Care

5. Wretch 32 feat. Etta Bond – Forgiveness

6. Coldplay – Paradise

7. Lana del Rey – Video Games

8. Birdy – People Help the People
This is such a beautiful song!¬† She’s¬†only 15!

Wow do I feel chilled after listening to those tunes again!  This is going to be a very laid back WIAW entry this week.  Thanks once again to our lovely host  Jenn @ Peas and Crayons.

Breakfast
Hot lemon and water (before school run)
‘Festive’ porridge (eaten as soon as I got back from the school run, which was cold, wet and dark.¬† I wanted to eat this porridge super hot, hence no photo ūüėČ )

Lunch
2 slices of toast with cashew nut butter, quickly eaten before I had to dash to school
1 orange

Snacks & Drinks
Nettle tea; 1 Black coffee; 1 shortbread star; no way near enough water!

Dinner
Thai-style noodles in coconut milk.  At last a photo!!


This noodle dish¬†is a firm family favourite.¬† Lil’ L¬†loves this meal,¬†providing that I finely chop the peppers and pak choi for him.¬† I’m not sure why as he normally eats large chunks of pepper but, in this dish, it has to be finely chopped.¬† Whatever it takes hey? ūüėČ

This shot of the noodles¬†made me realise that there might have been a slight improvement in my¬†photographic¬†skills over the last¬†6 months.¬†¬†I first took a¬†photo of this meal back in June and I was really pleased with it.¬† Having looked at it again today, I’ve realised that¬†the old photo is¬†totally pants!¬† I certainly haven’t got ‘natural’ photographic skills, but perseverance seems to pay off ūüėČ

Or maybe it’s my cooking presentation skills that have improved?
Or maybe both have improved??
Well, at least things seem to be moving in the right direction!

I’m still not off the ‘auto’ setting on the camera though.¬† Every time I try and set the camera myself, the pictures are blurred or over-exposed.¬†¬†Thank goodness the camera know what it’s doing ūüėČ

Dessert
For dessert, we had stewed apples with¬†crunchy coconut croutons¬†(seeded, wholegrain bread cubes coated in coconut oil, Sweet Freedom fruit syrup and dessicated coconut).¬† It’s amazing how Lil’ L won’t eat a bowl of stewed apples on its own, but add a topping and he scoffs the whole lot and then exclaims¬†‘delicious!’

Well that’s me done for another week!¬† Time to head over to Jenn’s, check out¬†all the beautiful foodie photos and get inspired ūüėČ

Oh and don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win 10 of my home made raw chocolates!¬† The closing date is this Friday, 9am GMT¬†x


What are you¬†listening to this month?¬†¬†Do you have a favourite track that sums up¬†this season for you, or¬†perhaps a track that¬†sums up how you’re currently feeling?¬† I’d love to hear from you! x