It’s Vitamin D Day!

Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide problem.  Given that our greatest source is our exposure to sunlight, as a population we are now, more than ever, living an indoor lifestyle, avoiding the sun daily. As we head into winter, it becomes even more important to keep your levels in check.

Since we’ve lost the daylight saving hour, leaving home in the dark to go to work, only to return home later, also in the dark, shows to highlight how little sunshine we let ourselves soak up during this time of year.

So what can we do during the long winter months to correct this imbalance?  Well food sources of Vitamin D are few and far between.  At the top of the list are oily fish, in particular sardines, salmon and tuna (preferably the wild varieties).  What’s more, food sources of vitamin D need to be absorbed with the help of healthy fats, so make sure you include nuts, seeds, and avocados on your shopping list.  In addition, reach for a good quality supplemental dose of the D3 variety.

If you think your Vitamin D levels may be low, go to your GP for a simple test, and in the meantime, get out there and absorb as much sunshine as the cold will allow!

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

If, like me, you don’t have children but feel the need to do something with a pumpkin around this time of year, why not make yourself a pot of really tasty roasted pumpkin soup.  It’s easier than it sounds and no animal will be harmed in the making of it.

Ingredients
Edible pumpkin – 1.5kg
Olive oil
Dried chilli – 1 teaspoon
Coriander seeds – 1 tablespoon
Onion – 1 large
Garlic – 3 cloves
Carrot – 1
Celery – 1 stick
Hot vegetable stock – 1 litre

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F.
2. Half the pumpkin and remove the seeds (you can keep these for roasting), then chop into wedges.
3. Place the pumpkin on two large baking trays and drizzle over a little olive oil.
4. In a pestle and mortar, grind the chilli and coriander seeds with a pinch of salt until finely ground. Sprinkle the spices over the pumpkin with some black pepper.
5. Roast the pumpkin for 1 hour, or until soft and slightly caramalised at the edges.
6. Meanwhile, roughly chop the onion, garlic, carrot and celery.
7. Heat a lug of olive oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan, add the vegetables to it, and cook for 15 minutes, or until soft and sweet but not coloured.
8. When the squash is ready, add to the pan with the hot stock.
9. Blend with a stick blender, adding a little more water if you like a thinner consistency.

Brown rice salad

This easy salad is both filling and refreshing, and there’s no need for a separate dressing.
Brown rice (often called whole grain rice) is less processed than white rice. The rice grains have had the outer hull removed, but the underlying bran and germ layers are left on the grain, and it’s the bran layers that make the rice brown. Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice because the bran contains vitamins, minerals and oils, as well as more fibre than white rice, keeping you both fuller for longer, and your blood sugar levels balanced. Enjoy!

Makes: 8 cups
Takes: 90 mins

Ingredients
Brown rice: 1 cup uncooked
Courgette: 1 finely chopped
Cucumber: 1 x medium sized, finely chopped
Tomatoes: 2 x large, finely chopped
Spring onions: 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Fresh coriander leaves: 1 x cup, finely chopped
Fresh lemon juice: from 2 lemons
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method
1. Rinse the rice and cook as instructed on the packet.
2. Meanwhile, finely chop the courgette, cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions and coriander. Mix together in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
3. Once the rice has cooked, let it cool for about 10 minutes until it’s stopped steaming.
4. Add the rice to the large bowl and stir through the other ingredients.
5. Let is stand for 30 minutes for the flavour to infuse. Can be covered and placed in fridge to chill.

We are not alone

We all need a helping hand at various stages in life, and often just accepting that help can be a hurdle in itself.  It represents a vulnerability in each of us that we’d rather not reveal.

Teamwork at its best is performed subconsciously – a seamless dance between two or more of us where needs are fulfilled and outcomes are met.  Mutually satisfying it can make us stronger, and leave us empowered as individuals, ideally rendering us capable of sharing our wisdom with the wider world.

When we’re young we have no problem believing ourselves to be invincible.  Yet to encounter the life experience that will teach us otherwise, anything seems possible.  But not being able to ‘do it all’ is OK.   More than OK, it’s a great relief if we choose to see it as such.

Ironically our networks of contacts have never been bigger.  Between our various social media accounts, we are virtually in touch with more people we ever thought possible.  But these virtual connections are just that – they lack the realism of face to face interaction where the real work is done, together, and not alone, at home, behind a blue screen.

I’ve recently ended a three-year diploma course in Nutritional Therapy during which time I connected frequently with like-minded people – a mixed bag ranging from working mums to single students, we were all together in our dedication to enhance ours and other lives with the study and clinical practice of nutritional therapy.  Now qualified and free of the lectures and clinic assessments, I’m missing those connections and friends I’ve made along the way, and fully realise the value they’ve added to my life experience.

I’ve started this site not just to stay connected to those on a similar path, but also to share information, education, support and the tools to enhance our wellbeing no matter which life stage we’re at.