Spicy Balsamic Butternut Squash

1501160938928A simple and delicious recipe for you all today. Butternut squash is a massively under-used veggie, considering its something so delicious. It feels like it’s somewhere between a sweet potato and a pumpkin flavour-wise.

This butternut squash recipe requires minimal prep, and you can then just leave it to look after itself in the oven. Even though butternut squash may seem a bit autumnal, its great added to big salads in summer- which is why I’m giving it to you now. You can also use this root veg as a side in any meal where you would usually use sweet potato, and so make it all year long. I personally love it with omelettes and greens, or veggie burgers and a side salad topped with feta…

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1 medium butternut squash, end removed, seeds scooped out, and flesh cut into small chunks
  • Balsamic vinegar (NOT “balsamic dressing”), approx. 2tbsp
  • Chilli flakes, to taste (I went with about 2tsp)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Italian herbs 1tsp
  • 2 garlic cloves, VERY finely sliced

Continue reading “Spicy Balsamic Butternut Squash”

9 Top Dystopian Reads (and what I want to read next…)

Hello and welcome to another Top Reads post! I’ve covered quite a few adult and YA dystopian reads in my 21 years, and below are my top picks for anyone wanting to try and get into dystopian literature. These are my absolute favourites (I’ve even thrown a poem in there). There are a couple of YA dystopian series I’ve read but haven’t included here, as I thought they just became plain boring after the first book and a half. The very last series I mention (the Divergent series) I have mixed feelings on, but have included it anyway because overall it was a great read.

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley- This is a dystopia disguised as utopia. A world where people are drugged up and constantly kept happy- but art, culture, books and general free thought isn’t allowed. Loved the twist at the end. Full review right here.

1984, George Orwell – This is a parallel to the above. This dystopia is obviously a dystopia. The media lie and cover things up, the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. The poor have the man power to overthrow the ruling Big Brother, but aren’t encouraged to think and so to see a different future. Forbidden relationships, fake news, brutal law enforcement, and torture in Room 101. Full review here.

We, Yevgeny Zamyatin- This is massively underrated as a dystopian book, although it has a lot in common with 1984. The ending is very similar, but no spoilers in this post! I don’t believe I’ve written a review of this novel yet, and so keep your eyes peeled in the future. One of my favourite dystopian novels of all time, possibly in the top three.

The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins- This is my favourite YA dystopian series. I completely fell in love with it. Its one of the only things (excepting London Grammar), where I can say that I liked it before it was cool. Katniss is one of the best female YA characters I have come across in this specific genre of fiction.

Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, Anna Letitia Barbauld – This is actually a poem. It criticises Britain’s role in the Napoleonic Wars, and imagines a future where Britain as an empire has declined, and America’s empire is on the rise. Barbauld gives the vision of London (and Britain itself) joining other ancient civilizations long gone. Its got some pretty dystopian elements, and wasn’t well received at the time because of this. Continue reading “9 Top Dystopian Reads (and what I want to read next…)”

Recovery update: What’s the difference between “binge eating” and “overeating”?

When I first sat down to think about the above question, without trying to figure it out in the moment it was affecting me directly, I quickly came around to the opinion that its actually easier to separate the two out than I previously thought. In the moment this question is affecting you it can be hard to sit there and figure out “have I binged, or have I just overeaten a bit?‘. Feeling you’ve engaged in the first can lead to some serious guilt-tripping if you suffer from binge eating, and this question is one that at the beginning of recovery I really struggled to figure out. The immediate difference is that whilst binge eating disorder (BED) is an eating disorder (obviously), overeating is not.

First though: why does it matter? As a recovering BED sufferer I like to keep an eye on how I’m doing. If I can identify that I am binge eating before it gets too far I can maybe reign it in. Furthermore, knowing the difference between binging, and just a little bit of over-indulging has really helped to reduce the guilt I felt when I was, say, going out for a big meal. Previously, eating an extra serving of something or a three course dinner would push me into worrying that I was binging. I’m sure many of you understand the “fuck it” mentality of binging: you feel you’ve started binging, you may as well carry on. Not being able to separate out the above things in my mind meant that I was binging more and more frequently. I was avoiding occasions where I would be going out for food, and generally missing out. So in summary, once I got the difference between binging/overeating I was able to:

  1. Pre-empt a binge by tuning in to how I was feeling around food.  As I practiced, this then helped me to avoid slipping deeper into binging.
  2. Minimise the guilt surrounding occasions where I’d maybe eat a bit more than normal, which eventually allowed me to relax around certain trigger foods and in turn begin to eat them without binging. I never actually thought this was possible, but I’m getting better at it.

Obviously, I am not a healthcare professional, and if you have an eating disorder then you need to find someone who is. This post is just something I wanted to share from my own experience, in-case it helps anyone out. Having been through ED I would encourage you to seek help before yours goes any further; you can do this by booking a doctor’s appointment, or by visiting a support website such as B-eat (link at the bottom of the page). Okay, now we can begin… Continue reading “Recovery update: What’s the difference between “binge eating” and “overeating”?”

Alpro Ice-Cream Review (Hazelnut-chocolate; Vanilla; Coconut)

1500666268552Its summer and we all know summer means ICE- CREAM. Some of my favourite ice-cream brands are Oppo, Booja-Booja, and Frill  (this happens when one of your best friends is allergic to dairy: many of your favourite brands become non-dairy), and now I am adding Alpro to that list. I made it my mission to try all the flavours available to me (they were on offer), and let you know what I thought.

Overall I was REALLY impressed with the vanilla and hazelnut-chocolate ice creams. The coconut one needs work and tasted a little artificial, but if you have a sweet-tooth then  you may like it. I really hope Alpro develop some more flavours of ice cream. I’m also hoping they’ll eventually find a way to cut the sugar from their ice cream completely, in the same way brands such as Booja-Booja and Oppo have. However, been as the flavours are so delicious I can definitely let this slide, and I have to say that Alpro can really hold their own against these more high-end brands. When you consider that Alpro is £3.50 per pint, and the other two brands are in the region of £5-£6, it was a pleasant surprise to find it had such a lovely flavour and texture. To be fair, the ice cream also has 30% less sugars than it did previously already! Lets get down to the individual flavours in more detail though… Continue reading “Alpro Ice-Cream Review (Hazelnut-chocolate; Vanilla; Coconut)”

Vegan Banoffee Cheesecakes (quick and easy!)

IMG_20170720_185805_776Since the last vegan cheesecake recipe I posted was such a success with you lot, I decided to make another flavour variation of this easy dessert. This particular flavour was actually made for my brother, who can never turn down a banoffee pie- and who told me that these cheesecakes were the first thing I’d made that didn’t “taste healthy” but tasted “like normal food”. Any other banoffee pie fans out there: you’re welcome.

 

Ingredients (Serves 9)

For the base

  • 8 medjool dates, soaked for 10 minutes in boiled water, then drained
  • 1 cup oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon – just a tiny one, omit if you don’t like cinnamon

Continue reading “Vegan Banoffee Cheesecakes (quick and easy!)”

A Female Dr Who? About chuffing time…

For anyone who has been living under a rock: Jodie Whittaker is the next Dr Who. Although many have taken to social media feeds criticising this, many have also praised it- and I am about to join their ranks.

This isn’t going to be a long post, but I just needed to say this: my generation grew up with brilliant female companions (I was a huge Billie Piper fan), but they were never the main focus. I grew up never being able to play the hero if we were playing Dr Who. I could be the bad guy or a companion maybe (the former was more fun), but come on, I wanted to be The Doctor sometimes.

Even though shows like GoT have overtaken Dr Who for my viewing of choice, I still have a soft spot for the show. I remember watching Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and a bit of Matt Smith, and when Dr Who was one of the highlights of my day. In the past little boys have always played the hero, and the girls the one being saved. I think the fact that we now have Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and Whittaker as Doctor Who is revolutionary, and its about time little girls grew up with amazing role models on the screen. The show is about discovery, and so it needs to be continually moving forwards, pushing viewers to discover new things too. Continue reading “A Female Dr Who? About chuffing time…”

My University Experience: went for the degree, found a home.

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I’m on the left, and Hannah and Ellie are two of my best friends

I don’t know where three years have gone, but I have finished my English Literature with Creative Writing degree at Newcastle University- and I would go back and do it all over again tomorrow without a second thought. My title is no joke: reading numerous books, writing on them, and writing poetry for three years straight in a beautiful city was absolute paradise. I love my family, but Newcastle definitely provided me with a sense of being at home that I have never had before- I think because I chose it for myself and built what I would go as far as to call my ideal life there. When I finally settle in one place, I plan on it being Newcastle.  Obviously if you have found this post you are probably considering going to university, or you have applied and been offered a place. Congratulations if you have (especially if you’re headed to Ncl). You’re in for what could potentially be some of the best years of your life. My own degree is what I’m focusing on here, as I know a few universities offer it, and I am of course a huge advocate for Newcastle, as one of their alumni. I’m certain that I’m going to forget something in this post, because how do I cram three years into one piece of writing? I’ve tried to cover some of the bits I think you’ll want to know, but if you have any more questions please do contact me via the form filling in thing on this blog, and I’ll get back to you right away. Continue reading “My University Experience: went for the degree, found a home.”