Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Depression and Burn Out

Depression has been on the public mind this week after a sad event. Much finger pointing has been going on, with everyone having the right answer or solution.

I do not dare to present a solution.

What I can tell you is how it has been for me sometimes. I am an expert on myself and am pretty good at knowing when I need to step back as I recognise burn-out symptoms. If I don't take heed of the signs, it is to my peril, and usually to those nearest and dearest to me.

So based on my experience of what might help, here goes...

* Where possible, take an immediate break from everything you can. If that means having someone mind the children for a morning or a day, or a whole weekend, do it.
* Ask for help. I know this is hard but it's important. The chances are very good you'll find empathy. There are few people who do not know the cold fingers of depression.
* Choose carefully to whom you share the deepest parts of your heart. You don't want one who tries to 'fix you'. You want one who will listen, give you a hug and tell you it's all going to be alright. Because it will. Maybe not today, but the sun will shine again and Spring always comes after Winter.
* Remember behind a lot of smiles are aching hearts - you are not the only one. That's one of the lies. Nothing is 'wrong' with you, you just need a break and maybe some help.
* Get to bed at a decent hour.
* Go for a walk or get some other exercise. Fresh air is good for the mind and noticing a garden, or waves, or a bee visiting a flower can have a balancing effect.
* Eat as much fresh food as you can. There is research to shows 'feel good triggers' when eating fresh and raw food. This is a hard one for me as I tend to default to traditional comfort food and forgo what my body and mind need to heal.
* Drink water before anything else. Alcohol does not drown your sorrows, it just smothers them for a while.
* Avoid people that are an effort. You know the ones I mean - see them when you feel stronger.
* Choose not to watch sad movies or ones that are emotionally expensive. Ditto books.
* Avoid music that could be depressive.
* Laughter is medicine. Watch reruns of a favourite sitcom. Mine is The Good Life or Black Books.
* Have a beautiful book to go to. My favourite Escape Hatch book is the Darling Buds of May. I practically know the words off by heart. It is my friend.
* Take a break off Facebook. There seem to be so many happy people on it. And an abundance of Life Coaches all saying encouraging things that can make one feel worse. Don't they ever have Black Days?
* Let the phone go to answer phone. No, you don't have to answer it.
* "No" is a perfectly good word. Say it more often.
* If you need to see a counsellor because the black days won't go away - see one. It could be one of the best things you ever do. A good counsellor will equip you to be stronger.

Well, I hope this week's musing doesn't depress anyone. I nearly didn't write about it but I don't like Image Maintenance when it creates a different woman from what I am in the minds of my readers. Yes, I laugh and love life but there have been times when I've had to take my own advice. Yes, I am normal.

Oh, and chocolate helps!



The Anglo-Far East Company
The Original Private Gold and Silver Bullion Custodian
Your reference when you order: an-001

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Make Muesli

Did you check the article I posted from The New Zealand Herald this week? I said I feel a blog coming on and here is my first response.

Many moons ago I used to toast our muesli, now I don't bother. Our Smith-Standard comprises of rolled oats, cinnamon, dried fruit and nuts. That's it.

This is not a total raw breakfast as it takes heat to roll oats. However, it's perfectly good as not-quite-raw muesli.

Work out the ratio of these ingredients to suit your taste but watch out for the amount of dried fruit you add. They might be good for you but they are also concentrated bundles of sugar (fructose).

A cereal bowl breakdown (serving portion) is around 1/2 c oats, 1/4 - 1/2 t cinnamon (I love it so tend to be generous), 1 d dried fruit and 1 T chopped nuts/seeds.

Use what you've got. This week's batch included raisins, sultanas and chopped macadamias (NZ). Other batches might have apricots, dates, cashew nuts, almonds or sunflower seeds. Chuck it all in a really big bowl or clean bucket, mix and store. I fill our cereal container and keep the rest in large plastic baggies. For the time it takes to make a mix, I may as well make it a big one. It saves time in the end.

For extra nutrition you could add chia seeds, ground flaxseeds or maca powder (work it out at around 1 t per serving). I don't bother; I save the super foods for smoothies and unbaking.

However, if I'm making sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat muesli then all manner of nuts, seeds, fruits, super foods are added. But that's for another blog.

Much easier to stick to this one most of the time.

I serve mine with seasonal fruit and home made yoghurt or kefir.

Good for you and good for your purse.



The Anglo-Far East Company
The Original Private Gold and Silver Bullion Custodian
Your reference when you order: an-001

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Eating Healthy Food at Work

It can be difficult to consistently fulfil your healthy eating desires outside of the home.

This week I offer a few tips so you can continue to enjoy the food that you want whether you're on the road or in the office.

1. Plan in the weekend. Buy and make what you need. For example, flaxseed crackers. You could vary the flavours each week to keep your interest. Or maybe you quite like the same dependable version.

Crackers are quick and easy to make up. The time is in the drying. It's just as easy to mix a large batch as it is a small one. If your crackers go soft, (as they can do in Auckland humidity) pop them back into the dehydrator to freshen up. You don't need a dehydrator but it helps.

2. What fresh fruit and vegetables are seasonal and best value? Try to pre-make your salads and keep them in jars (see photo), baggies or plastic containers. Take your chosen salad dressing to work in a small jar and toss through when ready to eat. This is important for salad made up of 'softer' greens such as lettuce.

If you have a hardier green such as cabbage or broccoli or cauliflower (yes, I know it's not green) then Premix with dressing at home. It will be better for having the flavours marinating together. Include a small amount of raw nuts for good oils, protein and the satiating effect.**

If you want to pre-make salads, bear in mind that lettuce doesn't keep too well when cut. Cutting for eating the same day should be fine but not for tomorrow. Ripping is better. However, pre cut Brassicas keep beautifully for a few days. So, lettuce salads early in the week, the tougher stuff later.
Salad in a Jar (courtesy

3. In the weekend, make a batch of Chocolate Date and Nut Rolls, divide recipe in two and add sour cherries to one batch. Or two or three drops of peppermint essential oil (food grade). Perhaps you fancy some mini cheesecakes this week. There are so many delicious sweet treats to be made that are raw.

4. If you have a secure kitchen area at work, then invest in a Personal Blender and keep frozen berries in the freezer. Perhaps in your desk area, keep a drawer with provisions to be added to a smoothie: raw nuts (nut milk), coconut oil, honey, chia seeds and whatever superfoods you prefer, such as maca powder. Take a banana to work and you are set up to make a smoothie that will carry you all the way to home time.

5. If #4 isn't an option, make your smoothie at home using frozen fruit and take in an insulated big mug.

6. Keep some 'nibbly bits' handy. If you get peckish and hear the snack dispenser calling your name, then reach for your supply of raw nuts, kale chips, raw chocolate or flax crackers.

No post-lunch slump for you!

If you have any other handy tips, please do share them.

**if you include egg, cheese and especially cooked meat pieces in your salad, be sure to pack a mini ice pack. We have a small plastic bottle half filled with water in a snap lock baggie that is returned to the freezer after each use. Pack the ice pack right next to your salad container and keep it out of the sun during your commute.



The Anglo-Far East Company
The Original Private Gold and Silver Bullion Custodian
Your reference when you order: an-001

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Big Mac v Homemade

A post that a Big Mac has 72 ingredients began a conversation on my Facebook page earlier this week. Questions and responses resulted in research and truth finding. As I gathered it all together I realised it was too big to post on Facebook but was perfect as the blog for this week.

Were our MacDonald’s using less ingredients than the US? No, they’re not. This surprised me – why all the ingredients in the cheese? We make some of the best cheese in the world. Shop bought cheese has four ingredients. MacD’s has 16. Why?

To be the same no matter where you go in the world is not a good enough reason to load our food with unnecessary ingredients that aren’t contributing to our nourishment.

Another Facebook friend asked how many ingredients in a homemade burger. Good point.

We make our own patties for Hamburger Night, which is supposed to be Friday’s but sometimes I forget. Our youngest said to me the other day, “Hey mum, what happened to Hamburger Night?” Indeed. Next week, Sweetie.

 #1 Homemade Everything
Buns - 6 including sesame seeds
Meat - 11 meat, egg, salt, pepper, carrot, onion, bread (5)
Veggies - 2
Cheese - 4
Pickles - 7
Sauce - 6
Total - 36

#2 Using Shop Products
Baker’s Delight buns - 7
Meat Patties Angel Bay - 20
Cheese - 4
Veggies - 2
Sauce (Tui) - 11
Pickles (Delmaine) - 10
Total -  54

# 3 As above but with DIY patties.
This is standard Smith version. Total 45

I’ve totted up several ingredient-count options depending on how you do your burgers at home. You will need to adjust according to your own recipes.

If there are any of you that DIY everything (and I’d really like to meet you if you do) then you have my serious admiration. But I didn’t include DIY cheese as there’s probably no difference in the ingredient list. And I don’t want to believe that you’d make your own cheese as well. That’s just too perfect.

There are some variables in the gluten free choice. Since it was tricky to get ingredients for a range of burger patty choices on supermarket website, this will not be a gluten free patty. You’ll have to do your own maths for this one.

The less than ideal ingredients in the homemade (my opinion) are in the shop-bought patties but I’ve found it nigh on impossible to buy practically-perfect-to-my-standards meat patties. So we always make our own.
There is also preservative in the tomato sauce.

The main point of the Food Matters article wasn’t how many ingredients in a Big Mac versus a Homemade Job but what are some of these ingredients. This includes ingredients that are not your everyday household pantry items; I’m not being vague on purpose, just diplomatic. These would not be found in DIY burgers, these ingredients are found in processed, store-bought food. Where the saving of our time is sacrificed for shelf life disguised as fresh food that looks homemade.

When I counted the ingredients I conservatively included each time salt or sugar was added. This pushes the number up somewhat. If, for example, we count salt as one ingredient instead of the three or four times it turns up, then that makes more sense to me. Done this way, (including sugar, spices, flour, etc.) here are the numbers again.

#1 version: 23
#3 version: 32

Please bear in mind that this is not a scientific research paper, peer reviewed, double blind and placebo. Just a comparison done by an interested blogger. That said, we have purse-based choices we make every day and never forget: you always get what you pay for.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a Big Mac it was so long ago. Nor am I saying that it is wrong to buy your children (or yourself) a Big Mac. An occasional not-the-best eating choice is not going to do serious damage to a body. Probably not even a small amount of damage. Our bodies are marvellous things but it pays not to stress them too often! Make it an irregular event not a normal one. You may find you get so good at DIY you’ll knock a Big Mac out of the water any day.

* Tui doesn’t list the ingredients in its beer for the sauce.
•    Christine’s burger usually comes in lettuce leaf ‘buns’ since I’ve lost the taste for the bread buns.
•    Ingredients for products found on company websites, including Baker’s Delight, Delmaine, Tui, Alpine, Angel Bay.
•    Ingredients for DIY found on recipe websites and not my own cookbooks. I do have them but it was quicker to ask Uncle Google. I have never made pickled gherkins but I have pickled onions. I don’t remember ever making tomato sauce. I have made buns but that was a long time ago.
•    Hamburger Night usually includes other veggies and maybe an egg, too but for the sake of this blog I have made our burger as close to a Big Mac as possible.


The Anglo-Far East Company
The Original Private Gold and Silver Bullion Custodian
Your reference when you order: an-001