Thursday, July 26, 2018

Chia Pudding with Banana and Blueberries - A Boost for the Day

My mornings are busy and hectic and easily sucking all the energy for the rest of the day. Besides the classical coffee, I need a lot of good and healthy food to load my energy reserves to last until late in the night - and maybe over midnight too.
A couple of years ago, I discovered the strength of chia seeds. Those small poppy-like dots, doubling their size if left in water at least for 15 minutes, are strong enough to keep me energized for a very long time. The chia-based recipes are easy to prepare and a good breakfast opening for busy people, with a complex agenda ahead for the coming hours.
This pudding was the result of some creative brain-storming. As usual, was out of time and with a couple of ingredients in my fridge, so tried to combine them in a smart way for delicious results.
Here is the recipe:

2 teaspoons of chia seeds
1/2 cup of cold milk - you can also add other milk-substitute 'milks' or just water
1 medium sized banana, smashed in the blender at medium speed for 2 minutes
100 gr. fresh blueberries


Smash the banana in the blender. Add the milk, chia seeds, smashed banana and the blueberries. Leave it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. If you want to have your pudding breakfast ready in time, you can store it in the fridge overnight. The seeds will grow even bigger and the all ingredients will bond together perfectly.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Serves: 1

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Cherry-Banana-Nectarine Fresh Summer Smoothie

Long time no smoothie...Not only since I've written a recipe on my blog, but since I've actually prepared one at home for myself. There were many reasons for that, but most of the time I was too busy for being able to focus a couple of minutes only for writing down and blogging a recipe - not only a smoothie one, but a recipe in general.
Let's hope those times are long gone and I'm far away from the cooking blogging's block. Today I was not only full time back in the kitchen, but I also had a brilliant smoothie idea. 
For a long time, I wanted to use cherries - my favorite fruits on earth - as ingredients of a smoothie, but wasn't not sure how to match them. Cherries are for me the perfect fruit in terms of natural sweetness therefore, enjoying their taste without any other add-on was always what I did. However, creative cooking means that my mind should keep finding interesting solutions and ideas. I had a look over my fridge and found: a ripe banana and two fresh nectarines. What about ?
The rest is (tasty) history...

150 gr. fresh black cherries
1 big banana
2 nectarines, medium size sliced
250 cold water
If you want, you can also add half a spoon of white/brown sugar or honey, but the fruits used are all too sweet naturally to need additional sweetness.

Mix all the ingredients in the blender at moderate speed for maximum 3 minutes.
Drink it cold, preferably outdoors while reading a relaxing - why not, foodie - book.
Your fresh smoothie is ready!

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Monday, July 23, 2018

Reconnect to Yourself Through Painting

When is the last time when you really connected with yourself? When after a busy day, or week, or month - or even a year - you took some time off from all the other people and assignments from your life and spent some half an hour or 45 minutes or even an hour only with yourself?
It is what I asked myself a couple of weeks ago, when during my time of 'rest and relaxation' I decided to book some creative classes for getting my self back My creativity boost is not something new for me, as once in a while I do take some time off and keep myself busy with various creative, self-centered activities. I did when I booked a full class of over 3 months of Chinese painting, or when I developped various idea-inspired home-made decorations projects, jewellery or even painting. 
However, the last 3 years as a fully self-employed single mother were particularly difficult - although rewarding - and the last priority on my agenda was painting or anything connected with art. After all, when think and schedule some artsy moment when you have way too many bills to pay, parenting priorities and other house chores that too often are overwhelming for just a simple human being?
I was only partially right. The positive energy and focus spent in one hour of 'me time' is as valuable as a healthy afternoon nap. It is regenerative, positivity boosting and healthy for your mind. Although not a great painter, that one hour quality time I spent with myself scribbling with colours, was a deeply reconnecting time which I recommend to anyone, especially those busy women coping with a lot of home and work stress. 
From many points of view, it is as valuable as a one hour of therapy: you can freely talk - but with yourself, you are enjoying a space of freedom and creativity. I also recommend to use some light, meditation music which will create a special relaxing ambiance.
This art class I took was just two weeks ago, but it looks so far away in terms of my inner time. I didn't schedule a new class but I know that my weekly program should include at least one hour per week of creativity. This time, I am decided to keep the promise to myself...

What about you? When was it the last time when you took some 'me time'? Would love to hear your impressions.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

'How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings'...As Simple as That

As someone who worked her whole life in environments where men feelings were put on a precious tray and displayed carefully in glass boxes with the specific direction 'do not hurt', I know quite well what comedian and public speaker Sarah Cooper says in 'How to be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings'. But compared to over the half of the women that were probably the inspiration of the book I grew up to simply not care about feelings when it comes to work. Should I really care about 'how I feel' when I have a good mind? Although I was aware of harassment, unfair gender paid gap, neglect of family needs of a woman - especially if single and with a child eventually, it was no man that ever scared me enough to give up my rights. I raised my voice when my - excuse my French  - idiot male boss harassed me and tried to belittle me for months, but also when some women in power positions were just tried to wrongly emulate the masculline management. And I survived pretty well.
Sarah Cooper's book - coming up in a bookstore near you this end October - is for those weak of heart women looking for a hilarious survival guide in a male-dominated tech, or publishing or high-end corporation environment. Add what is close to your professional home. 'Being ambitious, seeking power, showing knowledge, these are all dangerous paths if we really want to be successful and get a head'. 
In order to help you out, this book offers creative yet simple illustrations with simple explanations, blank pages to doole while men are explaining things and highly  inspiring titles such as: 'How to talk like a man but still be seen as a woman', 'How to advance your career without blowing it in everyone's face', 'How to bury your true self to work and then hide it completely'. Plus stickers suggestions for accomplishments 'such  as treating a woman like a human'. 'When all else fails, a set of wearable mustaches is included to allow women to seem more manlike, canceling out any need to be less threatening'. In case you need some easy to understand references, the chart 'toddler vs. CEO' helps you perfectly to figure out what some highly displayed emotions are all about. 
It is a hilarious but 'oh, so true' read. Read it loud and laugh out louder, and keep being authentic doing exactly the opposite the women characters in this book are doing.

Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Getting Rid of Toxic Parenting

Parenting is a very complicated task, that requires not only a lot of time and dedication, but also an introspection process in order to settle down problems created by our parents and even grand-parents family environments. 
Bad and toxic parenthood doesn't have to do with financial and social status, but most probably, is usually more frequent in environment where various addictions and limited financial possibilities are predominant. In What Kind of Parent Am I by Dr. Nicole Letourneau different parenting styles and risks are evaluated through individual questionnaires revealing not only the problem, but leading to at least one possible solution to correct the situation. Some cases rely on the mistakes and failures of our parents. Some of them are just the result of our pressures and adverse social and economic situations. In every single situation, the victim is always the child which doesn't have to pay for it. 
A quote mentioned in the book is revelatory about the ways in which we have to try to raise our children: 'Let's raise children who won't have to recover from their childhoods'. Strong family and social networks, a permanent contact with educators, psychologists and pediatrician, a positive attitude keen to correct the misgivings of the past. The earlier it starts the more reversible the process is, therefore the proper feedback and support is necessary to eliminate the toxic risks. 
Written based on the knowledge of the everyday life situations, this book serves as an inspired guidance in the complicated world and relationships of parents and their children. With the main encouragement do not hesitate to ask for support and the right resources for correcting your relationship and attitude. According to the author, parenting is a 'balancing act: it requires you to pull back at times but also to pay close attention to your child'. The most important question in this case is: 'Am I the parent my child needs me to be?'. The answer may differ from a development period to another, but it is always relevant to update the content based on various circumstances and the specific children history. 
This book offers practical guidance and inspiration to parents worried about the weight of the past into their parenting while offering a serious scientific psychologic background for different choices and decisions regarding the education of children from the very beginning onwards. 

Rating: 5 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Taking a Summer Break from Online Dating?

The Dating World is such a narrow bridge...
Is summer the right time to reconsider and re-evaluate your dating standards and aims? To sum up all the experiences you had over the year and take the right step towards a final decision or just freezing all the dating attempts for a while?
Especially if you are into online dating - and not the classical matchmaking, which is also good - you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of messages or 'likes' to your profile, but almost no real-time dates. It seems that many guys are there only to kill some time, while browsing profiles but nothing serious to consider. Is this because free dating sites are, you know, free and people just set up as many free profiles on those free dating websites mostly for having some fun not necessarily looking for a serious and stable relationship?
Sometimes it is easier to judge and make fast assumptions, as the reasons people are avoiding a real-time date may be as many as the motivations of creating a profile on an online dating website. Some may be not ready for a date, some may be afraid of moving forward some are just to shy. Of course, when you feel out of time and annoyed that after months of chats and time wasted online nothing really happened, taking a break, or completely breaking out is also a good decision. Good or bad, it is your decision and especially if you are on a free dating site, there is no financial loss involved therefore no big regrets.
When online dating is no more fun, and your stress level is higher than in one of your previous failed relationship(s) my recommendation will be to just to take a break for a short while or longer. Especially when summer is around the corner, and there are so many things to see and social opportunities to meet people in real life, such a break may in fact open your eyes to the potential available men that are out in the wild life and not only on the other side of the computer. It is a different communication which is completely worth the try.
In fact, if you want to have all your options open, you have to always try juggling between the online and offline dating. Thus, you have more open options that can only bring you good luck.
Another advice would be to change the dating website. With so many free or paid apps and online sites, you can easily switch to one or two more tailored to your interests. Using too many of them is also not too good, as it may be too hectic and exhausting. I personally recommend using maximum 3 apps, preferably one general, one more geographically confined and another another one eventually paid. 
As I am right now on a rest-and-relaxation wellness break, I decided to take a short break from online dating, reconsider my options and aims and return to the busy life with a different, hopefully more relaxed perspective on life - and dating too.

A Touch of Urfa Biber to Your Asparagus

Asparagus - or spargel, in German - is one of those foods that I can easily live without, but once the year, when the season is in full bloom - mid-May and end of June - I want to try it, for creating at least one new recipe. In most cases, I consider it a relatively bland food, without any special features and no taste to long about for the rest of the year.
This year, I tried to use my treasure of spices from the multi-awarded Spice Kitchen UK, part of their Brand Ambassador Program. Not an easy choice given their exquisite collection of top spices, but in the end I decided to add to my hard boiled - 25 minutes at 250C - asparagus the Urfa Biber (Isot Pepper). Part of the red pepper family, this spice adds a mild flavor to the dish, not too salty, not too hot, just that pinch that bring taste to the otherwise neutral asparagus. I usually add salt - especially when matchen with boiled potatoes, but this time it was just enough to bring the healthy life - read it taste - to my dish. All you need is half teaspoon of this magic black spice spread all over your dish.
You can pair it with a cold white wine and life couldn't get any better... 

Disclaimer: Spices offered by Spice Kitchen UK, part of their Brand Ambassador Program, but the opinions are, as usual, my own