How To… make a great salad.

At the moment I am living off salads. Love them. But too often people go wrong with salads, especially for weight loss. Either they’re just a pile of tasteless leaves or they’re so swimming in dressing, croutons, mayo, cheese or other calorific foods that they’re no better than any other lunch.

Personally, I primarily use salads to get some vitamins and minerals, some pickles, some fluid and other assorted things into my diet and only secondarily use them as a calorie-control method. Still, by using these techniques you should be able to make a largely raw, plant-based, low carb, low fat, low calorie salad that is also textured, flavourful and filling.

Step 1: Your base.

The first thing you need is a base of greens. Fill almost the entire bowl with greens. I like using lettuce, spinach and finely sliced cabbage, but all mild-tasting, leafy greens are good.

Step 2: First layer of texture and flavour.

Skip the croutons and crunchies. Leave the nuts and cheeses for now. What we need to add is around a fistful of onion, pickles, celery, carrots, etc per serving. Good quality tomatoes, radishes and watercress is also part of this category. The best bet is something crunchy and something strong, so a fistful of onion on its own, or half a fistful of carrots and half of pickles. Make sure these are all very finely diced.

Step 3: Booster texture and flavour.

This is literally a pinch of something. Maybe chopped chilies, sunflower seeds, fresh basil or pomegranate seeds. Not even enough to make a calorific impact, just for visual stimulus and a little variety of texture and flavour. Some things from the first layer can be added here in smaller quantities, but many boosters are just too rich, calorific or textured to use as the first layer.

Step 4: Topper. [Optional.]

You don’t need a topper. You can just have the salad as-is, or with the dressing. But, if you want to feel a little fuller for longer, then a topper may help. Pick something rich in protein and moderate to low in fat and carbs. Keep the portion fairly small. So a handful of walnuts, 20g of cheese, 50g of lean meat or a boiled egg. Increase if you need more calories or protein, decrease if you want a little bit but don’t want to eliminate it entirely.

Step 5: Dressing. [Optional.]

This is the bestest way to make a very low calorie dressing that helps you digest, adds lots of flavour and keep you healthy.

1 part (olive, coconut) oil to 3 parts (white, cider, balsamic, brown, rice) vinegar.

1-2tsp dry herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, mint, etc) and spices (chilli, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, anis, cumin, etc); any mix

1tsp mustard (fresh, raw, unsugared, unsalted if possible)

1-2tsp honey or sweetener (agave, stevia, coconut, sugar, cane, etc)

Put all the ingredients in an empty jar and shake until well mixed. Shake before pouring every time. Around 300ml makes enough for 6-8 well dressed salads or 8-12 lightly dressed salads.

And that’s how I make my salads. Some examples, to give you an idea.

Spicy surprise.

Base: lettuce and savoy cabbage.

Layer 1: onion.

Layer 2: chillies.

Topper: 50g cambozola cheese.

Dressing: brown vinegar, olive oil, smoked paprika, onion powder, dijon mustard, honey.

Pork salad.

Base: lettuce.

Layer 1: onion, pickles.

Layer 2: chillies.

Topper: 100g roast pork.

Dressing: brown vinegar, olive oil, onion powder, salt, dijon mustard, honey.

Light salad.

Base: lettuce, spring cabbage.

Layer 1: tomatoes.

Layer 2: onion.

Dressing: brown vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, american mustard, honey.

Egg salad.

Base: lettuce, spinach, cress.

Layer 1: tomatoes.

Layer 2: onion.

Topper: hard boiled egg.

Sweet salad.

Base: lettuce, spring cabbage, cress.

Layer 1: tomatoes.

Layer 2: pomegranate seeds and orange bits.

Dressing: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, onion powder, salt, palm sugar.

Hopefully that gave you some great ideas for light Spring and Summer salads!

What about you? What are your favourite salads? What is your biggest issue with salads? Do you prefer them sweet or spicy? Are you all about the greens, all about the fruit or all about the starch? Leave your thoughts, ideas and recipes in the comments.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

WWW. Rhubarb&Apple Crumble, Mascarpone Sauce.

The best main and best pudding we had this week! The crumble is a lower sugar twist on a classic and the mascarpone sauce is so easy, you won’t believe it!

Mascarpone Sauce.

If you’ve never made a rich and creamy tomato sauce from scratch, this is amazingly rewarding.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6-8.)

-1kg/35oz chopped tomato

-80g/2.8oz mascarpone

-1 large onion

-3 cloves garlic

-1/2 a jalapeno chili

-butter or another cooking fat

-herbes de provence

-black pepper

-salt

-assorted vegetables

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-pot

Recipe:

1: Finely mince the onions and garlic. Fry in the fat.

2: Once browning, add the tomatoes and the herbs, bring to a boil and then turn down to reduce.

3: Once all the flavours have blended, add the mascarpone and chili.

4: Simmer.

5: Chop your vegetables and cook them in the sauce.

The one pictured is with broccoli, savoy cabbage and parsnip. I topped mine with hard boiled eggs and Jon topped his with peppered fried mince and bacon.

Mascarpone1

We actually enjoyed it so much that I recently made another one, with olive oil, red onion, loads of red peppers, some green pepper, mushrooms, broccoli stem and butternut squash. I absolutely recommend that one, as the butternut squash melts into the sauce, thickening it even more and the sweet peppers make it unbelievably sweet contrasted with the spice of the chili. An amazing burst of flavour.

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble.

An old classic I made almost properly.

Ingredients:

(Serves 4-6.)

-2 large stalks of rhubarb

-1 large cooking apple

-60g/2oz flour

-60g/2oz butter or another fat

-20g/0.7oz palm sugar, honey, molasses sugar or maple syrup

-cinnamon

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-mixing bowl

-baking tray

Recipe:

1: Remove all leaf from the rhubarb (poisonous!) and the core from the apple. Clean your chopping board to be on the safe side.

2: Cut the rhubarb into small segments and the apple into similarly sized cubes. Place in the tray.

3: In the bowl, mash the fat, flour and sugar with your fingers until golden crumbs are formed.

4: Sprinkle over the apple and rhubarb. Bake at 200C/390F until crisp on top.

5: Dust with cinnamon and serve.

Crumble

And those were our favourite main meal and pudding this past week!

What have you been cooking? What was the best thing you ate all week?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

25 Maxims and Philosophies to Live By.

1. Have fun, enjoy yourself. Don’t necessarily go out of your way to avoid work, just try and find pleasure in everything you do.

2. Don’t live assuming you will die tomorrow. What if you make it to 100?

3. Work hard at something you love. There’s reward in everything, even monetary reward, when you look hard enough.

4. Don’t expect anything. Nobody owes you gifts, kindness or time. Be grateful for everything you have been given.

5. What is good and right is not always what is true. Live life according to life’s law.

6. Don’t get too obsessed with this, but: You are actually the protagonist of your own life and it happens to be a choose-your-path story.

7. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. If it’s broke, fix it. If it’s broke and determined to stay that way, leave it to itself.

8. There are consequences and reactions to everything you do. Accept them and carry on.

9. Don’t get caught up in anger, sadness, thrills or worry. Intense emotions are habit forming if indulged.

10. Respect your body, the way that it’s made and its needs. It has got you this far and will carry you further. It is not a mistake.

11. Think about your future self, their needs, wants and concerns.

12. Harden yourself to critique, pain, fear, solitude, etc. You will experience them again and again, so learn to bear with them.

13. Set yourself goals for everything you do. It keeps your mind on track.

14. It’s better to invest 80% of yourself in one thing and 20% between nine than to invest 10% in each thing.

15. The numbers you are judged by matter very much to the people you have yet to meet.

16. Keep going as long as you get a step further each day. Give up when you haven’t advanced a step in three days.

17. Satisfy your desire to eight tenths of its maximum. Feel rewarded and happy, but not fully satisfied.

18. Everything has a purpose, and a second purpose, and a third purpose. Reuse and make the most of everything.

19. Only invest in something that will at least return 100% of what you put in.

20. Someone who makes many accidents is as troublesome as someone who is trying to do harm.

21. If you’re in your neighbour’s melon field, he could assume you were stealing them. Only stand there when absolutely necessary.

22. Excess of one thing usually means limitations on another.

23. Not every once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity is worth taking.

24. Others are blind to some truths and have seen truths you are blind to.

25. If it doesn’t matter, then don’t worry about it. If it matters, see what you can do about it.

Embrace Your Inner Tomboy to Be More Feminine?

Often in the West we tend to think of tomboys and feminine as a dichotomy. Either you’re a tomboy or a girly-girl. Whether you’re a child or an adult, those are your choices. If you’re lucky you can be “tomboyish” or “girlish”, rather than in one camp or another, but generally you’re stuck with those choices. Especially so in modern Western countries, but even in old Spanish texts do we find girls being called “Marimacho” (male Mary) and in Japan they call a less delicate girl “otemba” (from the Dutch for “untameable”). Whatever they used to mean and whoever they used to be assigned to, as Americanization advances, slowly these terms come to mean any woman who isn’t girly enough. Either you are feminine and virtuous or butch and unruly.

However, as I explored in “Should Femininity be a Primary Duty?“, femininity isn’t quite that simple. On the one hand, there does seem to be a form of pure Western femininity.

So femininity, in terms of dress, is “somewhere between pretty and beautiful”. I’d say that summary applies to most other aspects of femininity also. Not girlish, but not boyish. Mature, but not sexy. Well-kept, but not overdone. Attractive, delicate, coquette, coy, friendly, open, reserved and polite. Somewhere between a girl and a woman, miles away from a whore or a man.

I’d say that makes good sense, wouldn’t you?

When we look at images of conventionally feminine women, we see skirts and dresses from just above the knee downwards, maybe slightly higher if it’s obviously warm or she’s on a beach. We see long, well-groomed hair and long-ish, well-groomed nails. We see a splash of make-up; not attention-seeking, but pleasing to the eye. We see women who stand with their backs straight and their shoulders back, their chins not too high in the air, their hips and busts not tilted alluringly, no slouch; just a graceful, unabashed, non aggressive woman. We see women who write, who sew, who clean, who care, who cook and talk. We see mothers, secretaries, teachers, nurses and cooks. Examples abound in the pictures I have inserted between these paragraphs. That is what feminine looks like. That is what feminine is. If you seek to be purely, wholly feminine, be everything described, everything portrayed and nothing else.

But this femininity, whilst superficially perfect, is still incomplete. If you strive to be feminine, then you need to also strive for more. A porcelain doll, a Disney princess or a Stepford wife is perfectly feminine. But that sort of femininity is also empty. Porcelain dolls are fragile and purposeless, Disney princesses are infantile, Stepford wives are inhuman and loveless. Which is where the tomboy comes in. You see, tomboys are not, as is often and increasingly assumed, gender-challenging, masculine girl-beasts. A tomboy can be anything from butch to just a girl who’s a little rough around the edges, and the latter is more common than the former. Tomboys are still part of the spectrum of femininity and whilst a butch or masculine girl could learn a lot from porcelain dolls and princesses, princesses could also learn a lot from tomboys.

So what are the benefits of being a tomboy?

Well, the first one is physical and mental resilience. Tomboys grew up falling out of trees, almost drowning, getting bitten by animals and other children, being shoved around by larger, stronger boys, practicing martial arts. Tomboys grew up being called ugly or butch, being insulted for neglecting fashion and celebrity drama, being teased and sworn at by the boys they spent the day with. Everyone eventually builds up some resilience to life as they grow up, but a tomboy specifically builds up that physical toughness, pain endurance, internal fortitude and emotional coolness that so many dramatic princesses could use once in a while.

Secondly, all this rough and tumble has an effect on your body. If you love looking good, having curves and leanness and good skin and lustrous hair, then you may be surprised to know that under the dungarees, dusty hair and makeup-less face, the tomboy has it in spades. Humans are meant to be physically active. Otherwise in the wild we would starve or be eaten, die of cold or drown. We need endurance, muscle and lightness. So it’s not really surprising that the sort of figure we find most attractive in a woman, be we male or female, straight or gay, is a lean one with a bit of muscle for shape and a bit of fat for health. To boot, keeping active and healthy encourages the rest of your body to follow suit, leading to clearer skin, better hair and nails and brighter eyes. In short, playing football, going hiking, gardening or lifting weights is making tomboys primally sexy.

And you best start lifting weights, playing sports, taking apart engines or climbing trees, because all this love of or indifference to mess is beneficial in and of itself. If you plan to be kept by a man, then you need to add something more to the table than what he can get from a doll. If you plan to keep yourself, then you need to be ready to keep your own home and pull your weight at work. Whatever you do, some strength in the face of mud, rain, bleach, drool, dust, paint, oven cleaner, polish, ink, etc will improve your ability to be a functional human being.

And whether you plan on being kept by a man, keeping men, dating men, being one of the guys or just surviving work, some ability to relate also helps. Whilst not everyone fits into their designated “camp Mars” or “camp Venus”, some stereotypes are there because people are clichés. Most men like some sort of sport, either watching, playing or discussing. Most women have a vague idea of some sort of sport and know more athletes’ names than they do rules to any given sport. Most men keep clean and tidy and minimalist. Most women dress up and load down with makeup, jewels, house decoration and accessories. Whilst a tomboy could still dress like a woman and learn the names of famous athletes by heart, the formative years she spent around boys have given her a healthy appreciation for the things that most men like and a deeper understanding of male conversation. The tomboy can discuss the latest scores, throw some insults around, receive some insults with good grace and stay friendly or intimate with a man in a way the princesses can’t even understand.

Finally, where a tomboy’s character can often be too brash, loud or generally rude to attract many romantic partners, when used carefully it can be a lifesaver in everyday situations. Being able to take a parking space without worrying about it, to turn down a guy’s advances loudly and clearly, to eat her meal even if she forgot her fork and its a mess, to carry her own luggage, to get an annoying coworker to shut up… Being able to do all of this makes life much easier for the tomboy and those around her. Provided she knows when to use it and when not to.

As you have probably guessed from all the qualifiers, these tomboy traits have their pros and cons compared to the feminine alternative. In fact, they are actually best combined with more feminine traits. It’s better to be a woman who can relate to men, but still mother and nurture them, than to be a woman who is unreleable to men or who is harsh and masculine. It’s better to be a woman who looks after herself but is happy to get messy when it is vitally necessary, than to be a delicate doll or a scruffy, unwashed kid. However, and I hate to break this to you, but a lot of tomboys seem to naturally find that balance at some point before they hit 25. They learn to do just enough to please their partners, to get taken seriously at work and to have conversation with other women. Some may benefit from being a little more feminine, but there are far fewer tomboys without any feminine traits than there are feminine women without any tomboy traits.

And how does this balance actually work? Well, as mentioned, tomboys aren’t masculine. They’re often more a Farmer’s Wife and less a greasemonkey. Likewise, not all butch behaviours are tomboyish: some are just plain masculine. So this balance is found outside the masculine, but not quite into porcelain-doll-feminine. Expressed as a table, it would look something like this:

Soft Feminine. (Urban Wife.)

Rough Feminine. (Farmer’s Wife.)

Soft Masculine. (White Collar.)

Rough Masculine. (Blue Collar.)

Soft Feminine. (Urban Wife.)

Very feminine.

Mostly feminine.

Mostly feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Rough Feminine. (Farmer’s Wife.)

Mostly feminine.

Mostly of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Soft Masculine. (White Collar.)

Mostly feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Not feminine.

Rough Masculine. (Blue Collar.)

Sort of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Not feminine.

Not feminine.

Soft Feminine is dominant makeup, dress up, nurturing, pleasantness, very light activity and cleanliness. Stereotypical princess, kept wife, precious daughter, welfare queen.

Rough Feminine is dominant cleaning, washing, playing, mothering, harshness and straight-forwardness. Stereotypical farmer’s wife, professional athlete, working class woman, SAHM.

Soft Masculine is dominant professionalism, elegance, politeness, business, cleanliness and strength. Stereotypical secretary, accountant, programmer, lab tech.

Harsh Masculine is dominant manual labour, frankness, bluntness, strength, pride and honesty. Stereotypical lorry driver, manager, warehouse worker, working with animals.

Of course, there is some overlap of traits, but those are the positives generally found in that personality. Therefore, the girly tomboys lie in the green “Mostly Feminine”. If you seek to be feminine, these are actually the sort of girls you want to emulate. The “Very Feminine” soft girls may be more superficially feminine, but are less humanly feminine, less practical as people. In some situations being very feminine may help, but generally, if you plan on being feminine, it will lead you to hurdle after hurdle. The “Sort of Feminine” girls are the sort that pass as women, but are unrelateable to many other women and unattractive to most men. These are often immature tomboys or cliché tomboys. The “Not Feminine” girls are the only group that is actually properly butch.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each group, so of course it’s up to you which you wish to be. But if you wish to be feminine, confusingly, you actually reap more of the rewards of femininity if you add a touch of tomboy and try and keep in the green zones.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

And you? What are your goals in terms of femininity? What do you expect to get out of them? Where would you put yourself on the scale?

FitFriday, FatFriday. 6 Things About Eating Disorders.

So, in the USA and UK it’s currently National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. In the spirit of that, rather than my usual ranting about body struggles, feeling fat/thin, laziness and food, here is my experience with disordered eating and 6 thoughts about eating disorders. Unlike similar posts I’ve done, I haven’t managed to keep this post very short, so this time I would really like you to go through it well and, if you or someone you know is affected by disordered eating or a clinical eating disorder, think about how these things affect you or them.

I don’t usually do trigger warnings, but if you’re still in the early stages of recovering from an eating disorder, either give this a miss or put on a brave face and be prepared to see words relating to eating disorders. There will be no images.

My story.

Like pretty much every human in the Western world, I have often had access to too much food. Like around 9/10 of us, I have had to actively control my food intake to look after my weight and health. Like 20-35% of dieters, I went from just exercising a little bit of control over what I ate into proper disordered eating. To this day I’m not sure whether at the time I was meeting the requirements for an early stage eating disorder or just a normal teenager eating in a disordered manner under the mistaken impression it was good for me. Currently I meet the criteria for ED mentality, even if I am keeping healthy.

I have been unhealthily underweight and overweight in my life. At a couple of points I have had visible ribs even when bent over, some visible spine and heavily protruding hipbones. Likewise, at 5’4″ I have weighed around 80kg and possibly up to 90kg when I was not weighing myself.

Both these situations came about from disordered eating and a pretty shoddy perception of my own body. Most people experience slight fluctuations in our perception of the world. For some of us it’s a little more extreme. Some days I will think I look big, or tall, or broad, or short, or skinny. But at the time I started eating in a disordered manner, even when I felt I looked skinny it wasn’t enough. Not only was I not seeing things properly, when I was seeing them properly I wanted to see more. I was absolutely fascinated with bones and leanness. I somehow knew that I was a little broader than the typical Mediterranean girls I lived around, but it entranced me to see how broad and large my ribs, hips, collarbones, etc were compared to theirs.

Ultimately, the only way to push back was to ignore it. When I say I don’t know how I got fat, I seriously don’t know. I know I ate too much. But I can’t remember much of it. Just looking in the mirror one day and saying “Hey, I’m actually fat now. Not just tubby or deluded. I’m actually fat.” I made sure to keep covered up. I didn’t like the way I looked but I didn’t want to undereat again.

I did eventually get my weight and health under control, but I do still deal with distortions close to BDD, confusion about my actual appearance some days and the odd cycle of wanting to overeat, to starve or to purge. Just because I resist these thoughts and drives doesn’t mean they’re not there. It just means I don’t really need help any more.

So, with that said, here are 6 things about eating disorders and disordered eating that you might not be aware of.

1: There’s An Eating Disorder, Then There’s Disordered Eating.

Eating disorders and disordered eating are two separate things, though often disordered eating will become an eating disorder and most people with eating disorders eat in a disordered manner. If that makes any sense.

Disordered eating is probably the norm in the West. Pathological dieting, overeating, binge eating, comfort eating… These are all disordered from the natural state. Sure, overeating one day and fasting the next is natural to your body and natural in the wild. And eating when you’re hungry and not eating when you’re full is also natural. But when we live in a state of permanent abundance with all sorts of unnatural foods around us, very few will eat naturally.

An eating disorder is something different. There’s an element of compulsion, of a mental state to it. At the extreme end, it can take five or six healthy nurses to force-feed a 40kg teenage girl because she’s that afraid of food. At the mild end you see people eating kilos of leafy salad to keep full, or rewarding themselves with candy and food. The line between a habit and pathology is very fine and we don’t really have much of an idea what a healthy human eats like because we aren’t living in a natural state. Giving in and eating what we want isn’t natural any more. Even trying to copy the diets of healthy hunter-gatherers can become pathological.

2: There Isn’t A Reason.

Everyone has their own reason. Some people get depressed and forget to eat, leading to a habit that becomes impossible to break. Some people fast to be thin. Some people binge eat to be huge. Some people binge and purge because they love food and love being thin. Some people don’t realize what size they are. Some people think they’re being healthy.

Mentally, there is no one reason for being a certain weight or for having an eating disorder. Not everyone is a delusional teen brainwashed by the media into seeing themselves as 400lbs when they look in the mirror.

3: It’s As Much Habit As Desire.

A desire to recover is the first step, but never enough.

Often, an eating disorder born of self-punishment, fear, mental health issues or confusion can persist even after the root cause is gone. The reason for this is, as far as I’ve experienced and seen, twofold.

Firstly, habits that form are very hard to break. When you eat something that makes you sick, next time you smell it you may feel sick. Likewise, someone who associates eating with purging may automatically feel the urge to purge or even do so when they eat. Someone who has got in the habit of turning down food may feel awkward accepting meals, or even forget to. Someone used to binging may not think twice at a buffet until they see the five plates in front of them. Even when you’re not thinking about it, your habits can creep back in.

Secondly, giving in or not giving in to the habits can cause a mental relapse. It can depend on the person, the day, anything. One moment you’re having dinner at your parents, the next you feel a bit sick and thoughts of inadequacy start rushing back. Or you’re just eating a little less to lose your Winter pouch and your depression kicks in hard.

So not everyone with an eating disorder wants to have it or is currently battling every aspect of it. Someone may want to recover and just be trying to get out of the habit of having an eating disorder.

4: BDD Is Probably More Common Than You Think.

Again, when most people picture BDD they tend to think of the skin-and-bones teenage girl looking in the mirror and seeing a 400lb version of herself. In reality, it’s more subtle and less specific than that.

The two sides to BDD are:

1: Excessive worry or shame about your appearance despite being seen as normal by others and

2: excessive preoccupation with improving your appearance, hiding your flaws and trying to look “as you should”.

So, obviously someone who is very underweight or overweight, disfigured or similar, whilst suffering poor confidence about their state isn’t healthy, wouldn’t qualify as having BDD. But these same people becoming obsessed with a trivial mark on their skin, or a particular piece of their fat or bones? Or someone who at a healthy weight thinks her arms look too fat, even though nobody else can see it? Or someone who is convinced they’d look better at a certain weight, maybe a weight they’ve never been at before? These people are likely to have BDD.

It more often manifests as obsession with little details about yourself rather than all round loathing your body. It’s more a visual distortion than schizophrenia. A sufferer isn’t looking in the mirror and thinking they’re 400lbs. More likely, they’re looking in the mirror and choosing to look at that tiny pocket of fat on their thigh than at their visible ribs. The ribs are fine. Or too thin, even. But they want to keep losing weight until that tiny bit of fat is gone.

Again, everyone’s experience will differ. But I’m sure how you can see that BDD is not actually as extreme or, probably, as uncommon as many people would like it to be.

5: Everyone Needs Help.

Here’s my bit of tough love. Ignore all the nonsense about skinny shaming or fat shaming. If someone is all skin and bones and scared of food, they need help. If someone eats 2000kcal a meal and then rushes to be sick, or exercise, or fast, or take a laxative to “compensate”, they need help. If someone is 400lbs with a goal weight of 800lbs, they need help. If someone is convinced they eat enough and are bony and malnourished, they need help. If someone is convinced they don’t eat and morbidly obese, they need help. If someone lives off lettuce and spinach thinking it’s a recipe for longevity, they need help.

You can’t recover from an eating disorder without realizing you have one. And sometimes, often in fact, people will not know. It isn’t kind to let someone starve or eat themselves to death because you don’t want to offend them. It’s cruel. I’m not saying you should approach anyone who’s over or underweight and tell them. Just that if you have a friend or relative who is eating in a disordered manner, obviously not healthy and not dealing with their size or diet, they are suffering. And they don’t need to be ignored or left to sort it out. They need a friendly nudge or twenty in the right direction.

6: Good Diet Education Helps.

Now, you can’t exactly play the part of diet counselor, therapist or nutritionist in anyone’s life. But being well educated about diet, health, energy, fitness, etc can help you and anyone around you. Firstly because you will understand whether someone’s habits are actually problematic or whether you’re making a rash judgement.

Secondly, because people with eating disorders often seek a sense of control and stability. That stability isn’t found in a disordered eating habit, but in actually understanding your body. How many calories it really needs, what sorts of foods make you energized and happy, what sort of foods make you lethargic, etc. Learning about healthy diet was something that helped me regain control over my eating and start eating to properly feed my body, rather than as a reward, for the sake of it or as a punishment.

And I haven’t any more of vital importance to say.

I’m happy to answer any questions or hear about your experiences in the comments.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… declutter a room.

If you’re a housekeeper, you are familiar with clutter in a way that bachelors or kept people rarely are. That slow, creeping mess of things. You can’t remember who they belong to, who brought them in, why they are there, but there they are. Glasses on the bookshelf, a pile of papers on the table, an abandoned mug or a toy in the middle of the floor.

Generally you keep on top of it. Just put the glasses somewhere sensible, ask the paper-owner to sort the papers, put the mug in the sink or dishwasher and return the toy to the toybox or child’s bedroom. But sometimes rooms get out of hand. Very, very out of hand. Like an episode of Hoarders in the making. Usually this is an office, a spare room, a child’s bedroom or a shed, but sometimes it can happen to kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and master bedrooms as well. No space is safe from clutter explosions.

So, when you next walk into a room that looks like it was hit by a hurricane, here’s what to do to straighten it out and try and prevent this happening again.

1: Clear a floor or furniture surface.

Just throw everything to one side, if you must. Give yourself an open space to work with.

2: Arrange clutter into piles.

One for books, one for laundry, one for toys, one for kitchen stuff…

3: Work by sections.

Once you have sorted a certain cluttered area, take everything and put it where it belongs. Then move onto the next area until the room is tidy.

4: Find a collection.

Basically, if there are many books, clothes, toys, CDs or anything in one corner, that’s a collection. It may not be intentional, but there are probably a lot more things to get rid of from collections than anywhere else.

5: Work through one collection at a time.

Don’t overburden yourself. Pick a collection or a piece of furniture and take everything off it.

6: Sort everything.

Create three piles: things to return to the furniture, things to donate and things to throw away. Don’t put anything aside for storage, that’s just more clutter. When you have finished, clean the furniture and the items you’re keeping before returning them.

7: Organize everything.

When you’re returning the items you’ll keep, think of how they will be best used and how they’ll look best. You want everything to look nice, but also to stay tidy. The things that will be used more often should be in easy reach, where the things you use rarely can be hidden.

8: Rearrange.

If everything doesn’t fit, go through and remove things. Assume you have to throw something away, what would it be? Take those things out and put them to one side. Maybe you can keep them, or maybe you will decide you don’t need them after all.

9: Move to the next collection.

Go around the room, working through each collection. Finally you should have a large pile for donations, a small pile of rubbish and a small pile of things you’re yet to make your mind up about.

10: Finish the room.

Whatever you have in your undecided pile, try and find a place for it. If you can’t, choose some items to donate and some to keep. Put the ones you’ll keep in a storage box.

You can also get a basket or item or furniture to keep them on or in, if you really want to use them.

Finally you’ll be left with a tidy room that is easy to use and unlikely to become a mess in the next two hours. Enjoy the tidiness until someone leaves a plate in the middle of the room for no apparent reason.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Did you find this how-to useful? How do you go about decluttering your house? What are the biggest sources of clutter? How do you prevent mess?

WWW. Lentil Chicken and Protein Cookies.

This week’s recipes are lentil chicken and some protein cookies.

I made the lentil chicken firstly to test whether I can digest red lentils efficiently and secondly because both of us are eating lower carb meals and more stir-fries at the moment, so rice was out of the question and plain veg was getting a little dull. Lentils are a good middle ground.

I made the protein cookies because Jon’s been having a few sugary snacks on the job and he wanted to replace them with something more wholesome.

Lentil Chicken Stir-Fry.

stir fry

Actually made in a wok, though not essential.

wok

Ingredients:

-1 cup dried lentils

-1.5kg assorted veg (cabbage, carrots, onions, bean sprouts in any combination)

-the meat from 1/2 a chicken

-spring onions, some cucumber and sweet peppers for garnish

-1/2 a habanero chili

-2tbsp salt

-1tbsp pepper

-2tbsp onion powder

-olive oil

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-a large (1l) jar or pot

-a large wok or frying pan

Lentil prep:

1: Rinse in boiling water.

2: Soak in th jar for 24h.

Recipe:

1: Chop the chicken and all vegetables besides the spring onion and sweet pepper.

2: Coat the base of the wok with olive oil. Add the vegetables, chicken and lentils.

3: Sear the mix at a high temperature. Keep stirring.

4: Turn the temperature down and add the seasonings.

5: Cook until all combined.

6: Serve with diced sweet pepper, cucumber and spring onion.

Protein Cookies.

Ingredients:

-4 small bananas

-1 heaped tbsp peanut butter

-1 heaped tbsp almond butter

-2 eggs

-1.5 cups oats

Utensils:

-mixing bowl and fork

-greased or nonstick baking tray

Recipe:

1: Mash the bananas and eggs together.

2: Slowly combine the nut butters.

3: Once smooth, add the oats.

4: Pour out onto the tray as a single lump or as separate cookie pieces.

5: Bake at 150C for 20min.