Change: and the important business of being AUTHENTIC

‘Death & Taxes are the only constant in life’ – or so the saying goes.. I’d disagree a little and say that change is the true constant.

Even though I haven’t felt like I have grown/been challenged in a professional sense for some time, theres certainly been a evolution of my spirit and my outlook on life.

I remember back to when I first undertook Coach training, born out of an incredibly deep-seated desire to help people – yet I was so afraid that people wouldn’t take me seriously, or value what I had to offer, that I became so focussed on people perceiving me as professional, and that overtook my real aspects of value:

The ability to empathise

My intuition

My spirituality 

Genuine desire to connect and to help

My (very) cheeky sense of humour

This spilled into my ‘day job’ too, and for so long I was focussed on proving myself, being ‘outcome focussed’ – ‘committed to delivery’ and all those typical phrases we throw around in HR. I wasn’t true to myself and being so utterly focussed on one aspect of your personality is stifling.

A couple of years ago, I got a new boss.. this woman was everything that had been lacking up till that point, she was warm, honest, genuinely looked out for my team and I, had my back, and not to mention had a wicked sense of humour to boot! So for the first time in a long time, I felt as though I could in turn be myself.. and my sense of humour and enjoyment of my job increased exponentially as a result.

When people are genuine and authentic – it encourages others to be authentic in return.

Women in the workplace can feel threatened by other women, they often feel like they need to overcompensate, or even put others down and bully them to make themselves look better.. and it’s damaging. A lot of the behaviour is false, two-faced and downright mean.

We are not robots. We have emotions, feelings – and more often than not, when we are in tune with these aspects of ourselves, and being our full, true, authentic selves – we thrive.

I’ve realised that I have very little energy, time or interest in collaborating with people who insist on playing this game. And through that realisation, and my ongoing desire to be authentic in what I do, I’ve bought authentic people into my life – we can’t avoid the bullies all the time at work, but we can decide how much energy and thought we spend on them.

So as I continue to move towards my passions with greater velocity, I look back with an increasingly clear head about where I am in my life – professionally, personally, mentally, emotionally and spirituality – and I’m proud to say that its been my hard work and determination, combined with an attitude of gratitude for some pretty special people in my life, that has allowed this change… 10 years ago I would have never shared my thoughts and emotions in such a public way, but if by sharing myself and being authentic allows others the grace to do this to, then that will be the most rewarding part of all.

 

Quinoa Salad: Two Ways

We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Quinoa over the past few years, and it has a well deserved reputation as a ‘super grain’… it doesn’t have to be a pain to make this in your salads, and one of the best ways to prepare the grain of use is through utilising your trusty rice cooker.

Today I made two salads from the same double batch of red Quinoa:

  • Spicy Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
  • Fresh Quinoa, Butternut Squash, Feta, and Spinach Salad

 

Spicy Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
2 cups of organic red quinoa, rinsed in fresh water, drained, then cooked in a rice cooker covered in 4 cups of fresh cool water for 15 minutes. (this will give you soft fluffy quinoa with minimal effort)

  • Put this into a large bowl and let it cool.

In a separate bowl, add the following ingredients:
Finely diced 1/2 onion
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
Juice of two limes
Circa 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1x finely chopped green capsicum
1x tin of drained black beans
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons of the hot sauce of your choice
Finely chopped coriander
3/4 cup finely diced celery

Once the Quinoa is cool, stir through the mixture, combine, add salt & pepper liberally and serve. I also added a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves (always try and use up what is fresh in the fridge where possible)

 

Fresh Quinoa, Butternut Squash, Feta, and Spinach Salad
Prepare the quinoa as above, then in a bowl, combine the following:

Finely diced red onion
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1x medium sized diced cooked & cooled butternut squash*
Finely diced celery
Circa 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or sub for white or red wine vinegar at a pinch – not balsamic as it will over power the flavour)
3/4 cup finely diced capsicum
One large handful fresh parsley chopped very finely

Crumble in around 150g feta then add to the cooled quinoa and stir through.

Add to this 3-4 handfuls of baby spinach leaves before serving. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper – and if you think it needs a kick – squeeze a little lemon or lime juice and toss through as this makes the flavours come alive.

  • Dice the butternut squash finely, into 1cm cubes, coast in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven on 18 for circa 18-20 minutes or until cooked.

 

 

The things we humans obsess over (Part 3)

I’ve had several conversations about this of late, both face to face as well as online… and if I were to define this aspect of contemporary human obsession it would be “online persona“… let me dig a little deeper here and explain what I mean:

You’re in a room gathered together with a bunch of friends, on the pretence of ‘catching up’ – at any one time you will have:
One person texting, pxting or checking their emails
One person wanting to take pics of you all together to post later (once they’ve edited our their dark circles, wrinkles or spots)
One person checking and/ or sending a snapchat, checking into foursquare (for some reason people still use this?)
Three people posting pics of their food to instagram/ twitter / facebook
One person updating Facebook to tell the world that you’re all there in this location, having SO MUCH FUN, tagging you all to articulate that fact..

You’re all there, together, but you’re not.

Since when did posting about what you are doing, rather than being in the moment and experiencing it become more important?!

We are so obsessed with trying to reassure the world that we lead these awesome, exciting, glamorous lives, that we’re not even living them. 

How do I know this? I’m part of it. I blog, tweet, update, instagram, snapchat along with everyone.. but it bugs me that in a room full of people, I can be the only person who leaves their phone in their bag. It’s a sign of respect, of wanting to actually listen and engage with the people you are physically with. And its amazing what it can do for the quality of conversation.

Why are we so obsessed with creating this online persona? This BEST person that we could possibly be? The one with the flawless pics, interesting social life and outgoing winning personality? We work SO HARD on this, and then spend the rest of the time trying to live up to this unrealistic image and expectation that we have created for ourselves…

And we wonder why people are more unhappy now than ever before?

Perhaps if we spent a little more time barefoot, walking on the grass, or dragging our toes across the sand, and left the smartphone at home for a wee bit, we’d start to experience our lives again in an organic way. We could connect in the ways that humans are supposed to, with conversation, listening, smiles, questions, touch and laughter.

 

Rather than WIFI.

 

 

 

Sunday Muffins: Zucchini, Mushroom, Onion & Feta

Since I had bought these amazing portobello mushrooms, I was determined to make as many yummy things with them as possible (hence the stuffed mushrooms of Friday morning, and the Brunch Bake with mushrooms today)

We are HUGE fans of my savoury muffins, and they don’t last long around here… I thought that I had actually already posted a recipe for my (literally award winning) muffins before because I have shared this one so many times… turns out, no.. and now (since going through my nutritional healthcare course) I have made a few subs to most things (in particular for this one, subbing out white self raising flour for certified organic wholemeal flour – yus!)

You can literally use this muffin recipe and sub in and out your favourite things – the key binding ingredients and the stuff that makes them moist and delicious just must remain the same, in the same quantities:

2 cups organic wholemeal flour
2 eggs (beaten lightly with a fork)
1 cup light milk
1/2 cup sour cream or aioli
2 cups grated cheese

You literally just combine all the above and add what you want for the unique flavours… for these ones I added:

Finely diced onion
Finely diced streaky bacon
Roughly diced portobello mushrooms (remember that mushrooms naturally shrink when you cook them)
Finely diced zucchini
150g crumbled feta
Cracked pepper, and circa 1/2 teaspoon salt (most people don’t season their muffins, bread etc and it makes them BLAND.. trust me, this makes a HUGE batch and therefore it’s not a lot of salt given the size of the mixture)

I combined the above, stirring till fully combined, and then used two spoons to put into the muffin cups.. when full to the top (remember – there is no raising agent so fill them to the top) I put a small handful of pumpkin seeds on top (these toast beautifully and add a crunch and butteriness to the muffins) I have also used pine nuts and sesame seeds before.

Best to TRY and let them cool down, as they are quite gooey when they come out of the oven… these should be baked around 180 for circa 12 minutes or when they go golden brown on top.

This combo NEVER FAILS. I have made muffins with chorizo, with carrot, sausage, you name it – whatever flavour combos you love can be combined and this mix will make them MOIST and delicious.

 

Easy Breakfast Bake

After consuming the better part of an easter egg for breakfast this morning, I decided we needed something a little bit more nutritious for brunch… this took circa 5 mins prep (chopping, fetching ingredients) 7 mins in the pan, and a further 10 mins in the oven (which was ample time to get the vogels into the toaster!)

INGREDIENTS/ METHOD
Finely diced 1/2 medium sized onion
Circa 100g streaky bacon sliced finely (helps it cook faster)
1x large zucchini diced evenly

Toss this all into a large frypan, start heating through…

5x medium sized portobello mushrooms (diced about the same size as the zucchini) thrown into the pan, continue heating through
Add circa 1.5 teaspoons of basil pesto
Then crumble around 100-150g feta and fold in (don’t stir as you want this chunky as it melts)

Pour everything into an oven proof dish (which you will serve it in) then make two ‘wells’ in the dish – crack in two fresh eggs into the wells, and pop the whole dish in the oven on high…

This is the part where you clean as you go… the vogels goes in the toaster, you wrap up/ store/ refrigerate any ingredients not used, wipe your benches, and then put out the cutlery and finely dice fresh parsley for your garnish.

Serve with cut and buttered toast on the side, little plates, spoons for digging in – and don’t forget to pop a wooden chopping board underneath the dish!

Enjoy 🙂

 

Spicy Thai Chicken & Basil Mince on Cous Leaves

So I found a recipe for this dish, which I LOVED in Thailiand… and I changed it, this traditional dish is called LARB.

INGREDIENTS
500g Chicken Mince
3 cloves minced garlic
2x thumb sized nubs of fresh ginger chopped as fine as you can get them
4x teaspoons crushed chilli
2x small pinches of kaffir lime leaves
2x tablespoons oyster or fish sauce
circa 1x teaspoon minced lemongrass
2x tablespoons chicken stock (powdered)
1x tablespoon brown sugar
3x spring onions roughly chopped
small handful coriander roughy chopped
Large handful of fresh basil roughly chopped (which goes in right at the end)

METHOD
Add the garlic, ginger, chilli to a wok with oil, once this softens, add the chicken mince and turn to high. Cook through and as this is cooking add the stock.

Slowly add the remainder of the ingredients – stirring continuously: fish sauce, brown sugar, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, spring onions, coriander… just before you are ready to serve, add the basil so it’s fragrance will be one of the first things you smell…

I then spooned this mixture onto washed/rinsed cous lettuce leaves, onto a platter and you’re ready to serve.

This was my first time trying the dish and I have to say, it was AMAZING.. as with anything, follow your instincts, taste as you go, and don’t forget that thai dishes are all about balancing your sweet, sour, freshness, crunch, and spice…

This took about 10 mins to prep, 15 to cook in the wok and 3 mins to serve up…

 

The things we humans obsess over (Part 2)

So I’ve done 22 days no alcohol now, and I’m feeling pretty good. Previously I’d done 5 weeks in 2013 and that was a monumental exercise in fabulousness. But with this new-ish clarity of thought comes the inevitable reflection on just how utterly obsessed we are with the ‘demon-drink’ …..and I’ve realised how much alcohol is a knee-jerk reaction in modern western society.

 

Had a bad day? A glass of wine will sort that.
Nailed that project at work? You deserve a drink!
Survived the working week with all your limbs intact? Time for a beverage!

 

It’s like drinking is so ingrained into what we do literally day to day that it takes a concerted effort to minimise the ingrained knee-jerk reaction to relax with a drink…..

Think about it:
Oh it’s a beautiful sunny summers night, I’d better make the most of this and go out and have a beer in the sun!
Oh it’s a rainy winters night, freezing out there! I should tuck up with a yummy glass of red wine in front of the fire…

It’s the elixr for the masses, comes in all shapes and sizes, flavours and strengths, colours and packages, it picks you up when you’re down, transforms your face to a smile from a frown, helps lubricate communication all over town, makes you think you can dance and ‘get down’ – it’s what?! ALCOHOL! Yay! *cue mexican wave*

Now I don’t propose to have all the answers to this (or anything for that matter) what I want you to do is simply stop and think for yourself.

To start asking yourself how you feel about drinking…. to see if you resonate with anything I’ve mentioned, and to see if you too could start to challenge the assumptions modern society has placed upon you about drinking. *glug glug*

Could you go a week without drinking? A month? What changes in your social habits would you need to make in order to do this? How would your friends and workmates react?

After almost 10 years in Recruitment (an industry body known for enjoying the ‘odd tipple‘ *cough*) I can hand on heart say that I still enjoy a deep spicy glass of Shiraz, and smooth and velvety Central Otago Pinot Noir, and love the giggly brain-fuzz and silliness from a ridiculously over-priced glass of Champagne…. but my attitude to drinking is slowly changing.

With glorified boozing in adverts tempting me… And bars full of laughing, smiling, beautiful people – waving about their bottles of beer and oh-so-tempting glasses of chilled Pinot Gris as I wander past …I almost feel like I’m ‘sticking it to the man’ some days…. so yeah, fight the power and whatnot, I’m off to pour myself a stiff tea.

 

The things we humans obsess over (part 1)

Lounging around in bed this morning, putting off the inevitable part of the day where I get up and pretend to be a responsible adult, I found myself reading an article about the Oscars most important fashion moments (or some equally inane drivel) and promptly gave myself an internal donk on the head.

This was an article about image, style, impression, capturing a moment, icons, zeitgeist and the like all wrapped up in a piece of material draped around a body. Because that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s material? Didn’t we first decide to wrap ourselves in things because we don’t have fur? Wasn’t it so we didn’t freeze our nips off in the ice age? Or was it because of a gaping realisation that we were cruising around nekkid in a fabulous garden (and had been for ages, why didn’t someone say something??) and thought that a leaf would be an appropriate cover for the bits the god gave us?

So when did necessity (the mother of invention, and by that logic the father of pants) become such an obsession? It’s not ‘what you’re wearing’ but “who are you wearing dahhling?” and since when did we judge a persons worth on their ability to look good in a piece of fabric?

And why (this is the biggest issue of all really) do I own so many dresses, and yet constantly find myself looking for more?

Pants are overrated, but what’s so awful about the human body that we’re all more obsessed with covering it up, than embracing the glorious-ness of our own bits?

Why do we need to primp, preen, nip, tuck, starve, paint and hide ourselves…. why do we let that piece of material speak for us?

 

Chickpea & Blue Cheese Summer Salad

Another quick & delish easy salad combo to share….

INGREDIENTS/ METHOD
300g reduced salt tinned chickpeas
Two large handfuls mix lettuce leaves
Circa 150g creamy blue cheese cut into squares
Handful fresh picked green beans cut roughly the size of your thumbnail
1 red capsicum, cut same size
Small 1/3 handful of pumpkin seeds (toast them in a pan for extra nutty-ness)

This is super-quick to throw together, and great with a small drizzle of balsamic vinegar… perfect for a filling healthy late summer lunch…

 

Easy Homemade Bread

This is something I tend to do more in winter, but I was so inspired by the markets and their delish offerings yesterday, and it was a good warm day, perfect for raising dough….

The pic below is the black pepper, garlic and thyme focaccia I made yesterday, and it’s topped with fresh smoked mozzerella from the market (that stuff is amazing and almost deserves it’s own post, you can cook it like haloumi for goodness sake!)

Back to the bread…. making fresh bread is so freaking easy. Seriously. Once you do it for the first time you’ll be blown away by how simple and completely rewarding it can be to combine what is essentially four key ingredients…. (Flour, Active Dry Yeast, Water, Salt)

All bread recepies have slight variations, I love focaccia and it’s a great starter for your bread-making journey….

INGREDIENTS
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (NB: can sub wholemeal flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 pinch ground black pepper

METHOD
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the vegetable oil and water.

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

 

Some of my fav combos:
Rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt
Thyme, mushrooms, olive oil, salt
Black olives, salt, olive oil
Semi dried tomatoes, feta, salt, olive oil

 

Seriously… Go nuts. Cooking and play are best friends, creating something totally new out of different ingredients is one of life’s simple pleasures.

NB: one of the first things I’ve learned about in my nutrition course is the way that ‘white flour’ is processed, this is why I’ve put the sub in for wholemeal flour. Another post coming to outline this.