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Creamy Tandoori Comfort Soup

Well, it’s the end of June and we’ve had a handful of sunny days so far. Mostly, this month has just been very humid, with lots of big, thick clouds filling up the sky daily.

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It’s not been too bad. Quite nice to cycle and walk in actually – it’s been warm without the chance of getting burnt 😉 it has its benefits. It’s great for spiders, and apparently, flowers, too!! 🙂

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On Wednesday, I spent most of the day inside, feeling quite drained after not sleeping the night before. The weather was making me feel drowsy and I fell asleep whilst reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 😛 . But I kept waking, the first time, I got up and looked at my clock. It had only been about an hour. It continued all night, so I had a very sleepy day after that, giving up at about 09:00.

So, what to do on a day like this, feeling very tired, unwelcoming weather outside, in-between applying for work online and watching inspiring YouTube videos??

A lot of people ((especially my age)) might say “play games”; “watch some DVDs”; “listen to music”; or something along those lines 😛 . I didn’t feel like doing any of these things, so I made soup!! It’s a filling, comforting, doesn’t-taste-healthy-because-it’s-so-creamy soup and I am glad that I thought to write down what I did after tasting it!!

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You can make it as thick as you like, add more or less rice, add beans, use coconut milk for added creaminess, make it spicier, add extra veg, …. Making soups can be so versatile. You can change so many things, opt for one ingredient over another, change the texture, and make it exactly how YOU like it 🙂 . This is one of those dishes.

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 ((Excuse the dragon 😉 , and the scattered table!!)) It was difficult to show just how thick my soup is, here. You can see the rice in the first picture, so you can tell it’s going to be filling.

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That one should help 🙂 it’s quite thick and sticking to the spatula well. Give this recipe a try if you fancy something comforting and creamy, if you crave curry, and on rainy days 🙂 – they’re good for something!! As usual, it’s vegan, low-fat, healthy, and high-carb-approved!!

Creamy Tandoori Comfort Soup

2T Hemp Seeds / Sesame Seeds / Tahini ((I only had hemp on-hand, and it turned out great))

200ml – 300ml Orange Juice

1.5T Tandoori Spices / Curry Powder ((I used a mild curry powder))

1 large / 2 small Sweet Potatoes ((300g – 450g))

1 medium Potato of choice ((180g))

120g Wholegrain Basmati Rice

2 Vegetable Stock Cubes ((I use Kallo Organic Very Low Salt))

350ml – 600ml Milk of Choice* ((I used Almond Breeze Unsweetened))

1 – 2tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Begin by placing the hemp/sesame seeds, orange juice and curry powder into a blender/food processor and setting aside to blend later.

Cook your rice according to pack instructions, in a large pan, adding in the stock cubes and stirring to break them up a bit.

While the rice is cooking, roughly chop the sweet potato((es)) and potato into 2cm squares, and place them in a separate pan or a steamer basket. Cook for 10 minutes, or until easily-pierced with a knife.

Check the rice, and if it’s ready, remove from heat and set aside. Do not drain it!!

Once the potatoes are done, drain and allow to cool slightly, before adding to the blender/food processor and blitzing with the curry powder until smooth, adding in some of the milk of choice, if needed.

Pour this mixture into the rice pan and then add in the rest of the milk. Stir and taste, adding in lemon juice a little at a time, until satisfied with the taste.

Stir it all together and heat through gently for a couple of minutes if needed, before serving.

* – By milk of choice, I mean a dairy-free alternative, as this is a vegan blog 🙂 . There are loads to choose from.. Rice milk will give you a slightly sweeter-tasting soup, oat milk will yield a slightly thicker soup than almond, but not as thick as coconut milk. Soy milk would be fine, and hemp milk might give you a slightly nuttier-tasting soup.

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Enjoy on a lazy day, in your favourite soup mug or bowl, listening to some of your favourite music or watching a good movie 😉 .

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in Recipes

 

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Holly Hill!!

Hey!! I’m sorry for my last post. I won’t be surprised if I have lost most of my subscribers :S

Yes, I have had struggles, and of course, still do. Who doesn’t?? It’s how you deal with problems and struggles, that matters. Thinking about them and letting yourself “stew” will only make matters worse. If it’s something that you can talk about, DO IT!! It may take time, but opening up with someone you trust can make so much difference.

Anyways, on with todays post 🙂

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This was a walk that Pat and I went on the other day, from his house, up a long road, that felt about 5x longer thanks to how steep it was!! We had to stop a few times to catch our breaths. These pictures are of the most fun part of our walk to Holly Hill, a very hill-y woodland a few miles away from Pat’s house….

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….By this point, we thought that we must be near the top of the big hill. That looks like it should be the top, right??….

Wrong 😉 . It took another 15 minutes or so, getting steeper and steeper as we got higher!!

So the weather wasn’t great, as you can see, but ohh well, that didn’t really matter at all 🙂 by the time we got near the top we were pretty warm and had to take off our jackets.

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We sat right near the top of this hill and the sun came out for a few minutes 🙂 . We just watched the shadows moving across the fields below and enjoyed the quiet. We couldn’t hear the road below and it felt as if we were miles from anywhere 🙂

We’ll be going there again and again, and next time I’ll make sure to take my DSLR 🙂 .

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It was quite hard to believe that this view could be so close to home 🙂 but it’s definitely a view that won’t be forgotten soon!! I wish that I could paint this scene. It’s something that I have always wanted to do – just go out for a walk in the countryside and take some good paper and pencils or paints, and just do it. Maybe I’ll photograph it next time and paint from the photo when I get back home 🙂 .

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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in Photography

 

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A Personal Story To Look Back On..

Warning – This is a serious post and it took a lot to write it. This is more a personal story for me to look back on, than a post for everyone, so if you want to read it, do. But you have been warned.

Over the years, I have had a growing interest in health and well-being. Of course, a few years ago, I had a bad relationship with food, and was also diagnosed with moderate-to-severe depression. I have always had an issue with medications, pills, tablets of any kind, worrying that it wasn’t natural or good to put chemicals like that into my body. So, I researched and researched, looking for alternatives. I asked my G.P, who said that there was no other way but medication ((but what does he know..)). So, reluctantly, after putting up with the symptoms for months, I finally agreed to take the prescription. I took the tablets ((Prozac)) for a while and felt really tired, all of the time. Soon I even started to hear and see things that weren’t there – all the time.. I still don’t know if that was the medication, or my anxiety, but it scared me. I was feeling worse. I wanted out, now. My Dad talked me into taking the medication for a bit longer, just to see if I was adjusting, but it had already been over 5 months, and I felt terrible. I soon had to start going to work with my Dad, my anxiety growing so bad that I was afraid to be alone..

So, at month 7, I went back to my doctor after a day at college, and explained what had been going on ((with Pat beside me)). He was very confused, saying that nobody ever had so many side-effects from that particular medication, but agreed that I could gradually stop taking them. After a couple of weeks coming off them slowly, I felt a lot better than I had before. I wasn’t as tired, I could sleep most nights and I could stay at home on my own again without being terrified by my thoughts. But, the depression still lingered, and after a while, worsened again….

One day at college, only a few months before the end of the course, I was consumed with anxiety and feeling extremely emotional. Even a raised voice would scare me :/ which sounds pretty silly, now. I felt like I had crashed. I couldn’t concentrate on the project I was working on, nothing made any sense, the words had no meaning. It was pretty scary, and I got so worried that I walked out at the break. I walked down into town and got the soonest bus home, trying not to cry, looking behind me every 5 minutes, with a feeling that I was being followed.. Yup, I was extremely paranoid, too.

My depression and paranoia have caused many arguments with Pat in the past, and I can never thank him enough for being there for me. Slowly, every day, things get a little bit better. Obviously thee are a lot of bad times, but then I simply find something that I still enjoy, to put all my attention on, instead. Finding the high-carb low-fat vegan lifestyle has helped me immensely, as well as Pat’s constant support. I’m starting to yoga again, slowly, which is helping a lot, as I sleep better on the days that I do it, I don’t feel anxious and feel more in-control of my emotions and actions.

“Take it one day at a time”, most people say. But it is difficult, feeling this way every day. It’s taken a long time to get to this point. I know that I can do this. I will do this.

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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Serious Stuff

 

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British Summer Over Already??!!

So, it would seem that our summer has already been and gone!! Or so my Dad says 😉

We did have about 10 nice days in a row. Some time last month. Is that all we deserve?? Well, let’s hope not!! It’s pretty rare for the sky to be this blue and this clear over here..

Blue Sky!!

But now we have rain again. Rain and wind. Cold rain and wind. Why am I so frustrated by this?? Well, a few weeks ago, Pat and I started going to the lakes again, where we used to sit and hang out in our first 2 years, before college and everything else started. We’ve found a nice quiet spot on a “pond dipping” platform, where we can watch the ducks and swans, and dip our feet in the water without getting splash-attacks from playful dogs 😛 which aaaalways happens to us!!

Swan @ the lakes

The thing is, after a little while, we decided to get a picnic mat to sit on, so that we don’t have to sit on the dirt and lots of duck mess.. on the platform. We also wanted to do some yoga in the sunshine ((I’ve got Pat into yoga 😀 !!)). But, of course, now that we have the mat, we’ve had no more warm sunny days. I’m sure that we bought the mat on the last sunny day that we had!! Grr..

Clear day @ Leybourne Lakes

If you’re not in the UK, you may not be aware of the floods and storms we’ve been having over the past 2 weeks. People have had their driveways flooded, their garden fences collapsing in from the force of harsh winds, and even had their pathways blocked by fallen trees.

Me?? I’ve been spending a lot of time inside. When not doing my 100 squats every day, I’ve been bored into doing housework, watching bad movies and just trying to keep warm!! Just kidding, I actually like housework 😛 ((weird teen..)), but it has been very cold here!!

Pat has kept me company a lot 🙂 we watched a film the other day, called Battle Royale.

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It’s quite a scary Japanese film about a high school class of students who are kidnapped and gassed, unknowingly thinking that they are just going on a fun school trip. When they wake, they all have metal rings around their necks, that can explode at the push of a button. Furthermore, they have to spend three days on an excluded island, where they must fight to the death, until only one remains. If they fail to kill each other, they will be blown up!! So, each and every one of them are being forced to fight for their own life. It’s a pretty grisly movie, to say the least!! If you’re interested in watching it, I hope that you’re not in school, or that you watch it with someone else!!

Of course, I’ve been up to more than just watching movies and swans ;P . I’ve also been cycling on the days that it hasn’t been pouring so hard that you can barely see a thing a bit, trying to average about 10 miles a day, over the month. I’ve cycled about 80 miles this month, but now have misplaced my Velo 😦 . I’ve been keeping up to date with fitness by getting inspired by TribeSports. It’s an awesome site, where you can challenge yourself and others to try new sports and test yourself to go further in your current routines. I love it!! If you check it out, follow me here and I’ll follow you right back!!

Right, that’s about it for now. To leave you, I’ll share with you a picture of my dinner the other day. I had an awesome steak and chips….

My Steak n Chips ;)

Portobello Mushrooms = Juicy Steak 😛

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Serious Stuff

 

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Spring Is Here!!

So, the weather here in Kent has been erratic the last month or so. One day it’s cold all day until the evening, the next it’s really hot with no breeze at all. Then on the weather they tell us it’s going to snow the next day!!

Just a few days ago the wind was so strong around here that it sounded like the windows were going to cave in!! Yesterday, I got sunburn all over my face 😉

Anyways, we have had some gorgeously sunny days, and I have definitely been taking advantage of the weather 🙂

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I’ve been cycling and walking more, taking photos of everything of course 😛 and just generally trying to soak up as much vitamin D as possible!!

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These pictures are of Mote Park and Leybourne Lakes. I have some more and will be taking a lot more, as well as snapping some pics of Pat’s Dad’s amazing garden ((and Elle, too, of course!!)).

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So, that’s all this post is about really 🙂 .

The weather and making the most of it. Getting outside even when you don’t feel like it, is important. Once you’re out there, you won’t regret it!! Just push yourself to take that first step out of the door and you’re set. The rest is easy.

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Make A Choice!!

🙂

See you soon!!

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Photography, Serious Stuff

 

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Coming Out….

So, it’s been ages since my last post. What’s the big deal??

I’ll get to that..

What’s this blog about, really??

Well, I first started MySparx in January last year. Why?? Well, I had been reading recipe blogs for about 6 months, like every day. Without fail…. I guess I wanted to be a part of the community, maybe even make my own recipe blog. But a lot has happened since then, I have learned a lot about myself and am always learning more every day.

When this first started, I was in a pretty bad place. Mentally. Physically. This is going to be quite hard to write, and is a sensitive issue, so if you’d rather not read, stop here. Sorry in advance if it sounds like a therapy session….

I had a very bad relationship with food, which started when I was about 14 and used to read my Mum’s magazines with models on the front. They always look so perfect and healthy. Right?? Well around that time, I was in school and found Pat. I had a small crush on him that led to a bigger crush.. and a very huge crush soon after!! I’d try to hang around with him and get his attention. Sounds quite sad now :/ …. Anyways, after a while we started hanging out in the playground a bit. We would laugh and talk for a while, and we soon started to really get on well. I hadn’t realised that he liked me, too. When I found out, we would text for hours on end, sometimes into the next morning on school days!!

I wanted to impress him and show him that I was good for him, that I could be beautiful. So, with the magazines and finding out about diets and weight loss, I started to lose weight, myself. I stopped eating breakfast, wouldn’t eat at school because I was very anxious, picked at meals at dinner time and would generally just try to follow the “rules of dieting” that I saw in the glossy magazines.. Which basically just said to eat less and less..

This went on for a while, I didn’t even realise that I was losing so much weight 😦 but had people asking me about it a few times, which felt ..good, in a strange way…. I think that I wanted the attention at first, but my anxiety problem was getting worse and after a year or so I got incredibly paranoid, which led to losing a lot of friends. I didn’t know how to be anymore, didn’t feel anything…. I would go out for walks because I felt trapped inside the house, but didn’t really have friends to go out and meet. So I’d just walk. For miles. Often I would end up at my Dad’s house, talk to him if he was home, or continue walking to his workplace, hoping that he’d be there ((he’s a lorry driver)).

People started to ask me what was wrong after a while, but I didn’t know what they were talking about, felt fine, just ..anxious. But anxiety had just become a normal part of my life, I didn’t know other feelings, really :/ .

Pat and I got together in January 2008, the second-to-last year of school. We have been together since then, which is now over 5 years!! People are always shocked when they hear that 🙂 which feels awesome. He has been with me through so much and I can never thank him enough. Pat has supported me through it all. He has been so patient, understanding and caring through everything. I love you, Pat, so much. Thank you for everything.

With Pat

Now this blog is about anything and everything. It doesn’t have to be a recipe or about food, about crafts or photography. So, now I’m going to write about anything I want to. There will be recipes, there will be photography, and there will be StitchUps.

I have been learning more about the low fat raw vegan lifestyle, been reading and watching YouTube videos for tips and stories, and even started another blog, specifically for the lifestyle!! Interested?? Check it out here 🙂

See you soon!!

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Serious Stuff

 

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Balance.

Balance.

Such a simple word.

The act of good balance though, is not so simple.

Or isn’t it?? Perhaps to gain balance, one simply needs to think calmly.

Picture this….

You’re standing on one leg, trying to do Palm Tree pose in your first attempt of yoga, for example. You get flustered just trying to keep your body still. You don’t even realise that your back is not straight, you’re hunching over and tensing your abs. You’re wobbling from side to side and your body threatens to topple. How irritating this is. The simple thing to do though, is to just think calmly.

Focus. You need to pay attention to the positive. You haven’t fallen over. You’re still managing, all on your own, on only one leg.

What’s my point here?? Am I struggling in a yoga class or something?? No. It’s simply about perspective. About letting go of some negative thoughts so that there’s at least space for some of the positive to shine through. Don’t dwell on past mistakes. Don’t feel sorry for yourself for what you don’t have. Celebrate the small victories. Stop dragging yourself down and beating yourself up all the time.

Smile.

It’s time to find some balance. Because you’re on two feet and you’re making it alright. It may feel as though you’re unsteady and about to fall at any second, but if you just changed your perspective a little, you’d really see. You will!!

I like to try to see the positives in situations, lately. I’m generally very pessimistic in daunting situations and always fear the worst outcome. But family and close friends can change all that, can’t they. They can make you feel better in an instant. All with a hug or a few simple words.

So if you’re having a hard time, if you’re struggling and feel yourself falling, remember the messages of family and friends. Remember that it’s one day. Tomorrow you can wake up to a brand new one. A day filled with happiness from the start. It’s up to you. Nobody else can live your life for you. Just smile. It can make the world of difference.

Change your perspective and you change your world.

Hopefully my next post won’t be so serious. Thank you and I hope that this can help some people.

See you soon….

🙂 don’t forget to smile 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Serious Stuff

 

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