‘Sometimes in the waves of change, we find our true direction’
We have all been forced into so much change this year. Everyone’s lockdown experience has been different, but in some way, all our lives have been changed by this pandemic. Lessons have been learnt, big and small. Lockdown forced us all to stand still, and now as the world wakes up for better or worse, we are all taking a step forward, albeit in different directions.
For me, my life started to change about 6 months before lockdown, before the pandemic. After hitting my own limits in nearly every way possible – I essentially had to take one big step backwards. I had a lot of healing and learning to do.
I wrote in a journal back in September 2019, that I didn’t want to get better and return to ‘normal’, I wanted to embrace the change in my own life and I knew that if I wanted to change how I felt, I had to be ready to put in the work and grow into my very own ‘new normal’. The work continues, but every day I feel stronger. Personally, lockdown gave me even more time to centre myself, grow and embrace a new chapter of my life, and for that I am grateful.
‘Embrace uncertainty, some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives, won’t have titles, until much later’
I am going to bang the ‘wellness’ and ‘me-time’ drum again and tell you all that in times of stress, change and uncertainty it is more important than ever to look after yourself. Be your own friend. Sounds simple doesn’t it? We can be so hard on ourselves, the expectation and pressure we put on ourselves is intense. At times, when I am being particularly mean to myself- I stop and ask myself, would I say this to a friend? Would I treat a friend this way?
Be your own friend.
Have patience and kindness.
Be on your own side.
The Nook. Clavering, Essex
I’m sitting in Clavering, Essex in a beautiful holiday home called The Nook. The sun is streaming in through the French doors. I’m listening to Spotify Playlist, ‘Feeling Acoustically Good’. A cup of tea next to me and my laptop open, a few minutes to write. Perfect.
This is definitely one of my happy places, and my time to reset.
We wanted to get away, find some peace and quiet. Step out of our routine and take a breath away from our ‘every day’.
The Nook is a converted barn in Essex. It is beautiful. The perfect place to relax, and I must say – I feel more relaxed here than I have done in months. The Nook has a wonderful feel, a small but perfectly formed little slice of happiness.
Through the front door, into a boot room (man, I wish I had a boot room at home!) and then into the open plan living, dining and kitchen which forms the real heart of The Nook. The kitchen has everything you need, which is good for us – as a big part of any trip away in holiday homes is cooking.
Upstairs is a comfortable King Size bed, the most beautiful window seat with gorgeous views out into the countryside and an en-suite bathroom- with a Japanese Style Bath. A Japanese soaking tub is a small, deep bath that has become the new “rave” among bath fixtures. The traditional tub is small and deep. The bath is designed to sit upright instead of lying down. I can confirm, it is amazing.
We ordered our Gousto food box to be delivered for the week away, so that our evening meals were catered for. A couple of our favourites were the chickpea dishes! Chickpeas are so versatile and packed full of protein, fibre, and complex carbohydrates. They are nutrient-dense, meaning they have lots of useful nutrients but are relatively low in calories. We use chickpeas mostly to make hummus, but after these two chickpea recipes we are inspired to cook with them more!
This week we plan to take it pretty easy- long walks, good food, good wine and a lot of quality time to check in with each other and ourselves. We are lucky to have a beautiful setting this week- but remember you can check in on yourself any time- snatch those few minutes out of your day and create that ‘me time’. We are made of strong stuff but a little helping hand – even if that hand is from yourself has real power.
Look after your mind, body and soul.
Do what makes you happy.
Take the time to reset.
Recipe: Chickpea Coronation Salad
1 little gem lettuce
300g waxy potatoes
1 can of chickpeas (400g)
1 red chilli
1 bag of sultanas (30g)
1 mango chutney pot (20g)
1 tbsp curry powder
1 bag of flaked almonds (15g)
80g coconut yogurt
- Boil a kettle. Chop the waxy potatoes in half. Add the chopped potatoes to a pot with plenty of boiled water and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil over a high heat. Once boiling, cook for 12-15 min or until fork tender, then drain, return to the pot and set aside for later
- While the potatoes are cooking, slice the cucumber finely. Tear the outer little gem leaves into large bite-sized pieces then finely shred the inner core.
- Cut the red chilli in half lengthways, deseed (scrape the seeds out with a teaspoon) and chop finely.
- Add the coconut yoghurt to a large bowl with the mango chutney, sultanas and the juice of 1 lime. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and stir it all together – this is your yoghurt mix
- Combine the juice of the remaining lime with 2 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper – this is your lime dressing. Drain and rinse the chickpeas
- Heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with a drizzle of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Once hot, add the drained chickpeas with the curry powder and cook for 2-3 min or until warmed through and fragrant. Once fragrant, add the chickpeas to the yoghurt mix and stir it all together – these are your coronation chickpeas
- Add the drained potatoes to a large bowl with the little gem and sliced cucumber. Add the lime dressing and give everything a good mix up – this is your crunchy salad
- Top with the coronation chickpeas and garnish with the flaked almonds and chopped chilli (can’t handle the heat? Go easy!). Enjoy!
Recipe: Smoky Chickpea Rice and Red Pepper Salsa
1 brown onion
1 red pepper
1 pinch of saffron
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp smoked paprika
130g basmati rice
120g butternut squash (cubed)
1 Knorr vegetable stock cube
15ml red wine vinegar
½ tsp ground turmeric
160g blanched peas
1/2 can of chickpeas (185g)
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Boil a full kettle. Peel and finely slice the brown onion. Heat a large, wide based pan with a drizzle of olive oil over a medium heat. Once hot, add the sliced onion with a pinch of salt and cook for 6-7 minutes or until beginning to soften.
- Meanwhile, deseed the red pepper and scrape the seeds and pith out with a spoon- then cut into thick strips. Add the chopped pepper and butternut squash to a baking tray with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Give everything a good mix up and put the tray in the oven for 25 minutes, or until golden and tender.
- Peel and finely slice the garlic. Dissolve the Knorr vegetable stock cube in 350ml of boiled water and stir in the saffron. This is your saffron stock. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- Once the onion has softened, add the sliced garlic to the pan with the smoked paprika and ground turmeric. Cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Add the basmati rice to the pan with the drained chickpeas and stir everything together. Add the saffron stock and bring to the boil over a high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered for 12-15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Be careful, not to let the rice dry out so check regularly and add more water if necessary.
- Whilst the rice is cooking, chop the parsley finely, including the stalks. Transfer the cooked pepper to a clean chopping board and carefully chop it up finely (it will be hot!). Add the chopped pepper and parsley to a bowl with the red wine vinegar, 1 tsp of sugar and ½ tbsp of olive oil. Give everything a good mix up- this is your red pepper salsa.
- Once the rice is almost cooked, add the blanched peas to the pan with the roasted squash and cook covered for 2 minutes further or until everything is warmed through. Fluff the rice with a fork and add the juice of ½ lemon – this is your Spanish veggie rice. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges.
- Serve in wraps, with the smoky chickpea rice topped with red pepper salsa and garnish with a squueze of lemon and a drizzle of tahini.