Mint Chocolate Chia Pudding (vegan)

This health kick of mine has made me highly enthusiastic about my nutrition intake, and the easiest way through which I can consume plenty of vitamins. I want to spend as little time in the kitchen, but max out on the healthy benefits of nutritional cooking.

Last night I spent 5 minutes preparing a chocolate chia pudding which I would let sit overnight in the fridge all ready for my breakfast this morning. It did not disappoint, I assure you. I was in chocolatey bliss at breakfast, and was assured I was meeting all my nutrient goals whilst enjoying something a little sweet!

Chia seeds are loaded with nutrients and fibre, a good amount of protein. Did you know chia seeds used to be used as a currency at one point? They are great for the digestion and have been proven to reverse inflammation and reduce blood pressure. They boost energy and metabolism and are also used to treat diabetes. They are high in calcium which is beneficial to the bones.

Here is the recipe, if you are interested:

Ingredients:

-1/3 cup chia seeds

-1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder

-1, 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

-3 tbsp maple syrup (or any other sweetener desired)

-1/8 cup plant based protein powder

-1/2 tsp peppermint essence

For the toppings:

-Ground almonds

-Small seed mix (I used OhMyOmega mix from Holland and Barrett)

-Bananas or any other fruit

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or a measuring jug and whisk to beat out the lumps. Cover and put in fridge for 3 hours or overnight. In the photo below, I have adorned the pudding with banana disks, ground almonds and an omega-3 seed mix I got from Holland and Barrett.

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Vegan Chocolate chia pudding

 

 

Love Letters #32

I think the sky is actually white, on those grey days. Where the clouds hang heavy in the sky, and the roads blend in with the horizon. The air is coloured with a paintbrush that has not been completely washed off, so the water is a little murky. I don’t think the sky is grey, I think it is white.

Through my little window I can see the winding road leading down to the town. Pristine little houses, just like mine, sit solidly, proudly by its side. Winding along with the road, built to accommodate its wayward intent. The road chooses where it wants to go, we just follow.

The house directly adjacent to mine faces the road at a 90 degree angle from the front face of my own home. Its frosted bathroom side windows look directly into my back windows, and we are separated by my garden and a little alleyway that leads into its own garden a little further to the right. From my window, I can see the trampoline in their garden. The little watering cans. The iron and ironing board through the downstairs window, a peephole into what could only be described as a utility room.

I cannot see its roof, but I can see the side of the black slate that covers it. It forms a juttering triangle, and contrasts starkly with the grey sky fringing it. Just beneath the ebony black line of the slate, there is a board made of material painted white. At the highest point of the triangle, there is a small spike pointing downwards. Both the slate and the white board frame the top side wall of the house. Beneath the slate and white board, red brick creates the rest of the side wall.

This might seem a mundane description to you. But to me, the white of the board under the slate matches the sky on the other side of the slate. And if I lie down, so only the top triangle of the house adjacent to mine is visible, and the shrouded sky spreads out beyond, I can see a bit of the sky directly under the slate. It looks just so – just so the slate roof seems to be floating a little above the red brick.

And that is why, sometimes, I think when the sky is moody and grey, it is actually a stark, stunning white. White to wash the world out and highlight the drabness of human civilisation.

Daily Cooking

Daily cooking has become a chore now. I used to love cooking but now that my interests have expanded to include devouring Knowledge, I find that the time frame to cook a decent meal has narrowed horrendously.

Also there are financial constraints to adhere to, and also health constraints.

One must eat healthy, else one will develop all the manner of mysterious ailments. By one, of course, I mean myself. I have bad poops, acne, weight gain, hair loss, bloating – the list goes on. And all these things only occur to me when I eat instant noodles or microwave meals.

The minute I eat gluten free oats for breakfast and plenty of vegetables, my body goes back to normal and I feel fabulous.

SO, with these limitations, I have to make sure we have a healthy meal for dinner every day. Because if I left it to my husband, we would be eating – well – probably nothing served with a cup of tea.

Daily cooking for me has consisted of an oven dish filled with chopped up veggies, drizzled with olive oil or coconut oil, sprinkled with some salt, pepper, oregano and sometimes paprika. A crushed garlic or two nestled in there somewhere. And baked until just decent enough to eat.

Today it was half a sweet potato chopped up into thin ‘fries’, some green beans and some lamb mince spiced with salt, pepper, garlic, paprika and maple syrup and patted into burgers and shoved in the oven with the veggies. I had some leaves in the fridge too (don’t ask me what leaves they were, they were green and tasted like they were full of vitamin A) which we had on the side with some lemon squeezed on top sharpish. Two plates, serve the lamb burgers on the side, pile the veggies on another side, put the leaves on the third side, and there was a decent meal for two!

Prep time took ten minutes, cook time (left in the oven while my nose was in a book) was half an hour, and eating time was half an hour too.

Basically, I spent ten minutes in the kitchen preparing dinner. WHAT. Also, it wasn’t crap out of a box. WHAT?!?!?!

Tomorrow it will be gluten free oats with almond milk and blueberries for breakfast, lentil and coriander soup for lunch, boiled brown pasta, grilled chicken breast, chopped up tomatoes with some spices and all mixed up together for dinner. And hopefully that will take around 30 mins prep time all combined (ten minutes for each). And also include plenty of nutrients for my bodayyy.

Here is a photo of today’s leftovers which will go to work for tomorrow’s lunch, I will also add some steamed spinach and green beans tomorrow to add some colour!

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On Being Ungrateful

I am having the most awful day, folks. I missed my first day at work this week yesterday because I was up the night before swotting, and missed my 4am train because of it.

So I really enjoyed being at home; I cleaned my house for the first time in, well, a month and a half I should say. I scrubbed and scraped and my oven is gleaming and my floors smell like lavender and tea tree and my washing basket is empty. I showered and epilated and oiled and washed my hair and scrubbed my face and dressed up nice and – well-  clearly, it was the best day ever.

But it is my last week at work so I had to leave this morning. I simply had to, no amount of moaning about it or crying would change anything. But moan an cry I did. I groaned while I washed my face and cried in the mirror putting my cream on. I told my hair off for being such a relentless bush, and scraped it into the most atrocious bun you ever did see.

I scarfed a bowl of cheerios and a coffee as black and bitter as my mood. I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls at 3am and decided not to have a shower, dousing myself with deodorant and my husband’s manly perfume (don’t you agree ladies, they make men’s perfume so much stronger?).

I cried bitter tears whilst tying my shoelaces and told my husband I would not warm up the car even though he woke up at 5am to drive me to the station, never mind he had to be up at 7. But I did warm it up, I am not that cruel.

I was such a moany, horrible person this morning. Which is not very like me at all.

I think it was the fact that I woke up at 2:40am exactly, wide awake, heart throbbing, and was unable to go back to sleep. I am wired on exhaustion and concentrated coffee, much like a Gilmore Girl.

When I sat moodily in the train, I pulled out my phone to snap a routine snapchat of the train leaving the station at 5:21am, headed to London Euston.

I was about to caption it, ‘Ugh, thankfully this is the last time I have to take this crappy journey.’

But then. I sat. And thought.

Hang on.

That is pretty ungrateful.

It only took me three seconds.

So I wrote, ‘This is the last time I am doing this, hopefully it goes easy’

I don’t know what took over me there. I felt like utter crap, but why broadcast it? It wasn’t even about who would see it, it was about me projecting my bad feelings on the universe despite the fact that I am actually privileged to be on a train in the warmth going to a job that I don’t hate and will pay me – also, it’s the LAST JOURNEY?!

Sour puss, Lenora.

And I just realised that actually, I am pretty ungrateful. So.

Not a few minutes after that a lady passed me and smiled at me in such a lovely way that despite the dark cloud raining sorrow over me I was enticed to smile back at her. My teeth showed. She must have magical powers.

THEN, a few minutes later, the conductor came by asking for tickets. I realised my tickets were due to leave yesterday, and I had made an accident while booking. So we had a pretty decent chat about refund prices and how the Trainline is not the best website to book cross country train tickets and the better bet would be to use Nationalrail.co.uk (pssst, some good tips for you UK train travellers out there). And he got his special red pen that only conductors are allowed to use and MARKED MY TICKETS VALID AT NO EXTRA COST TO MYSELF!?

What a nice man. I think this morning taught me that actually, I should be more grateful and that there are nice people outside.

Also. My childhood American friend is coming to the UK from America for some time and while we were chatting on the phone she told me in the USA they do not travel cross country by train. They either plane it, drive it or take what they call a ‘greyhound bus’ and we call a ‘coach’. A ‘bus’ to us is that long metal vehicle that sometimes has two floors and smells of rubbish and sweat and costs four pounds return to take you ten minutes down the road to sodding Tesco; i.e. an ‘in-city’ bus. But it looks different from a ‘greyhound bus’ or ‘coach’.

 

The sun will rise, folks. That is a fact. Unless it doesn’t, in which case I stand corrected.

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Spain. Yours truly.

 

How not to murder a romance.

I am blogging this again because it is serving as a reminder to me to get off my big fat bottom and finish not murdering this romance.

Ocean Bream

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I want to write a romance (the younger version of myself would vomit at these words.. Sorry, younger Len. It had to happen) about a young boy and a young girl who are neighbours. They both have the attic rooms of their respective houses, and their windows are two dormer windows poking out of the same roof (semi-detached houses).

I wrote a screenplay about this for an assignment. I think the younger me resurfaced though and rained a vicious tantrum over this story, coating it in morbid drama. The young boy decided to kill the young girl, and he went about it in the most cruel way possible. There was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. No matter which way I tried to turn it, the act was inevitable.

He seemed so nice at first, did George. He was caring and sweet and so charming. Perhaps that was his…

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Rory Gilmore is not a nice person.

 

I am rewatching Gilmore Girls from the beginning because the revival just did not sit well with me. I needed to reevaluate my love for this show by watching it from beginning to end – and I have already reached episode 2 of season 5.

I just realised that Rory and Lorelai are not very nice people at all. Everybody in the show is always emphasising how Rory is such a nice, kind hearted girl. Such a studious bookish person raised independently by her mother well away from the privileged wealth of her family. She was raised to be self sufficient and reliable and generally quite.. well.. perfect.

But I just see that she goes against that in almost all the interactions she has with people. She is always complaining, a trait she clearly adopts from her mother, despite not really having anything to complain about, and doesn’t treat other people very well at all!

But let me get to the real reason I am writing this instead of a critical report on the theories of creativity in discourse. Rory is just horrible at relationships. Being brought up, as they say, to be the best person she can be, she certainly did not handle her relationships in the best way that she could have.

In the first relationship with Dean, when Rory started developing feelings for Jess, she just carried on leading Dean on despite knowing where her heart truly was. That could be forgivable, not everybody knows what to do in such situations and sometimes they just settle out of fear of rejection. It’s a mistake lots of youth make.

But the sleeping with Dean when he was MARRIED mistake?! That was inexcusable. And while she realised it was wrong after she had done it, she still went and did it again in Miss Patty’s dance room of all places! It just seems like an extremely selfish and short sighted thing to do.

And to add insult to injury, she tried to justify it to her mother by saying, “Dean was my boyfriend first!”

If Rory was perfect like everybody keeps saying she is, then her character would be wishy washy and just unbelievable, so it makes sense to deviate her a little. But to cheat with another woman’s husband goes against everything in her core beliefs, that it just makes her seem quite a hypocrite. She is not nice at all, she is pretty self obsessed and self centered, not bothering to think about how others would be hurt by her actions. Her strongest motivator is desire. Whatever Rory wants, Rory gets. Everybody around her serve no purpose but to magnify her pure wonderfulness. She avoids problems by running away from them. For example, going to Europe straight away to avoid facing the consequences of being a mistress.

Also, if that wasn’t heinous enough, when confronted by Lindsay and her mother next to the gazebo, Lorelai had the audacity to stand up for her daughter as though Rory was in the right, mothering her and coddling her all the way to Luke’s after that offering her ‘pie, coffee, etc on me!’ because poor poor Rory just went through the harrowing experience of having the mother of the girl she WRONGED very rightfully expressing her hurt and anger towards her! Wake up Rory, you did a bad thing, you can’t expect everybody to still love you and think you’re perfect. Rory didn’t deserve pie or root beer, she deserved a slap around her silly little frivolous head.

Rory is just good at taking from others; time and friendship and love and money, but so reluctant to give. Something she has in common with her mother.

Take the grandparents for example, they aren’t the best parents but they clearly love Lorelai to bits and want the best for her, and they had to force her to come and visit them weekly as payment for funding Chilton?! It is just so selfish.

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My Boss

So I had an awful spat with my boss.

It all started around a few weeks after we started working together. Previously we were mere colleagues who rarely saw each other, but with a sudden change in management she was put in charge of me. She had more experience in the teaching profession, but none in the subject we were teaching. I know how to speak the language and have been speaking it and also studying it from birth; she doesn’t.

She didn’t delegate, she micromanaged, she was negative about everybody and continuously found fault with other staff members. She had some excellent attributes but I just don’t like her anymore.

Her teaching methods were based on somebody who was speaking first language english, not second language Arabic. So I disagreed with her. She kept putting phrases in like ‘research shows certain things’ despite the fact that this research was not conducted on the subject we are teaching.

She said “I am afraid I will have to put my foot down.” when I suggested a change in the syllabus she had drafted up because it really was pointless. She kept arguing that it was what the management wanted regardless of the fact that the management had said nothing on the matter and have no expertise. In fact I am the only one with expertise on the subject but God forbid I put anything forward and have it accepted.

I felt resentful because I am parrot teaching children vocabulary so old that they will never use it, when I know better ways to teach them a language I grew up with and she knows nothing about.

Still, I bit my tongue. I held it in. I let it slide.

I let a lot of things slide. Time passed and I moved to another city, which meant a three hour commute to work and giving up my car. This made my journey harder, so I quit. I gave in my six week notice.

I told the management why I was quitting, and that there would be times when I would have to be late but I would always let them know prior to my arrival when I would be late. They said this was okay.

More time passed, and my boss started driving me nuts. She was so uptight and nitpicky about everything I did. I would come in saying ‘Oh that was a wonderful lesson we really made progress-” and then I would go on to detail why. She would frown and say, ‘hmmm, Lenora, I think you’re not allowed to do that. Ofstead want to see paperwork etc.”

Which, fair enough, might be true, but teaching is not about what a teaching board will say about how much paperwork your students do. My students are learning, their grades show as much. They are also steadily improving, and I have had good reports from plenty of other staff/teachers about my methods.

I just feel like if something is positive, need it be draped with so much ‘red tape’? Can it not be recognised as such?

Anyway, as time passed these little nuances of hers started really grinding on me, making me more and more annoyed. So I started keeping my distance, being as polite as I could but refraining from being too friendly.

So I gave in my six week notice but am staying an extra week because they really needed me. I agreed to help them out. I was under no obligation to do so. Also, other teachers have quit and they were allowed to leave without giving any six week notice; I felt that was extremely unfair. But, I wanted to help out.

Anyway, with this exhausting commute, arriving at work at the contracted hour was proving harder and harder. Train times were not always perfect and I relied on somebody to give me a lift in the mornings because of my heavy bags; walking for 30 minutes in the freezing cold with heavy bags after travelling three hours since 4am was just too difficult, and no job is worth that much pain. So I kept letting my boss know beforehand if I was going to arrive late.

I am ALWAYS there fifteen minutes before teaching actually begins. I am NEVER late for my students. Contracted hours begin 30 minutes before the first lesson.

She would always look at me and purse her lips when I arrived late even though I always told her I would be arriving late, which would annoy me. And it was only 5-10 minutes.

So yesterday I sent a text at 7:50 saying sorry but we have to drop the child to school so we will be late; (we have started to do this and it has affected the leaving time). She sent a text back saying:

Although I empathise with your predicament, we still need you here at the agreed time. This is the third time in two weeks and it will now need to be escalated.

This text was sent knowing that I am LEAVING in five days. Also knowing I caught two trains and two buses and have been travelling three hours to get here, to help THEM out, even though I did not need to do this and could legally have just left.

I was very annoyed.

Ok. No problem.’

I replied,

Please let me know when and with whom.

She did not reply. So when I saw her I asked her when this would be escalated (I AM LEAVING IN FIVE DAYS, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? WHY ARE YOU SO PETTY?).

She said she had reported it to management (it’s done, see?) and I would have to wait and see what they say, that they would ‘be in touch.’

I told her that I was disappointed that she had reported me, given that I had already explained to them that I would be late and I would always let them know prior. I explained that I am leaving so how can this be escalated.

I even added, ‘Will they fire me?’

She said, ‘I don’t know, we will have to see.’

How malicious is that? When somebody has already quit and is doing YOU  a favour by staying extra, how the heck does it make sense that you ‘report’ them and ‘escalate’ matters?!

She said she did not like my tone. I was not shouting, but she just didn’t like the fact that I called her bluff. How the fudge nugget are you going to escalate things if I won’t be here? What you going to do, fire me?

She is a control freak and didn’t like knowing that I was ‘getting away’ with it, in her books. Which is stupid because I had already EXPLAINED WHY I WOULD BE LATE SOMETIMES SIX WEEKS PRIOR TO THIS.

This woman made me so mad. She then rushed to the head to tell him what happened; and literally ran back to tell me he wanted to see me. AFTER she already reported the issue? Clearly wanted to get dibs on his favour. She was smirking too, which really grated on me. She was also panting, because of all that self righteous running.

He didn’t penalise me, by the way. He was very diplomatic and nice about it. He explained that he didn’t want my last week at work to be negative, and that the welfare of the staff is of equal importance as the welfare of the students.

He did not ‘escalate’ matters. He did not say anything about that at all.

I just. WHY. Why would you ‘REPORT’ me when I am leaving?! I mean, I didn’t get into trouble but it is the PRINCIPLE of the matter.

She basically ruined my last week at this school. I love this school, I love the kids, I love the staff. But my last week feels negative and miserable because of her backstabbing goody-two-shoes Miss perfect attitude. She can do no wrong but everybody else is incompetent. I just really don’t want to go in in the mornings. I never felt like this before. My memories feel tainted now.

RESEARCH SHOWS this, people. RESEARCH SHOWS THIS. Never mind what bloody research shows it. If I hear ‘research shows’ one more time I am slamming my head against the wall. In fact, no. I will say, ‘What research, exactly?’ and smile at her. Because you can’t keep quoting research without referencing said research properly, otherwise it’s just bullshit. And she won’t be able to ref the research because a. it probably doesn’t exist and b. it is not related to our subject matter.

I hate school now because of her. She has made it nasty and uncomfortable. And if I get a crap reference this travelling will not have been worth it.

The End.

 

Ashamed to be Female

This was a massive problem for me growing up.

Ashamed of being female. Up until I was eleven years old I loved makeup and perfume and I used to play dress up with my mother’s clothes, wear her jewellery and even her makeup when she wasn’t looking. She always knew, of course. Mothers do, don’t they.

When I was eleven, nearly twelve mind, I started developing tiny buds on my chest. I also started gaining a little weight, namely on my behind and thighs. I wore large T-shirts to cover it up and stopped wearing the dresses my mother used to buy me. I hated them with a passion, even though before that age I would chose them myself.

I started wearing jeans and T-shirts to cover up the boobs, and when I started my period, I cried for days. I prayed and prayed and prayed it would go away (thank goodness it didn’t, what a ridiculous thing to pray for!) and I started feeling disgusting.

Physically disgusting, like there was something wrong with me. Sanitary towels were something I hated, I used to stuff them in my mother’s wardrobe as though they had nothing to do with me. I turned my nose up at makeup and I even stopped brushing my hair because my hairbrush was pink. I even developed a manly gait where I would hung up my shoulders and swagger a little, to show that I was tough.

I wanted to be tough and strong. I played all sorts of sports and forced myself to watch football (even though I actually couldn’t care less about the sport) and was really scornful to girls who giggled too loudly or looked too girly. There is nothing wrong with playing sport, of course, but for me it was excessive and sweaty, and a way to prove I was not feminine at all. This lasted until I was about seventeen; all through high school (college in the UK) I wore oversized hoodies and boyish jeans. I would never accessorise and never made any effort with my hair or face.

I looked like a potato, in all honesty. It was beneath me to make anything of my appearance. I suppose even if I had wanted to be boyish I could have at least brushed my hair and chosen nicer looking clothes. I looked like a tramp more than anything.

I was not comfortable in my own body and I hated my boobs.

The thing is, inside and underneath all that I was actually very girly. Once I became more comfortable with being a female I started wearing makeup and girly clothes and enjoying my feminine assets.

I don’t know why I was ashamed before. Thinking back on it, I think that it stemmed from this idea that I had that women were silly and frivolous and weak. I don’t know why I thought that – my mother is an exceptionally strong woman, and she always told me I was beautiful and taught me always to be myself and stand for my rights and the rights of others. My grandmother suffered horrendously at the hands of her ex husband but came out of it with her head high, albeit with a broken heart. She independently bought her own house in the eighties, and worked so hard to make sure her kids got an education at a time when lots of people didn’t really go to university, was a mother and a father to her children (a really tough job) and when she died left behind a strong, empowered legacy.

I still don’t love my own body, but I love dressing it up and wearing nice feminine things. Also I am a great fan of bras and I love my boobs, which is a good thing because they got so much hate before

Have any other females felt this way? Do you know why one would feel this way going through puberty? If you do, please share!

 

Disclaimer: I am in no way at all saying that females should not or cannot be boyish. Some do and rock it really well, and go them. I am just detailing my personal journey with this issue.