Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Coconut Slice

Sunday just comes around so quickly! Seems like just yesterday that I was on a high from running the City 2 Surf, yet that was a whole week ago now! I ran again for the first time today. I found it really hard to motivate myself without a goal so I’ve set myself a new one. I’m now aiming to get my average splits below 6 minutes, I’m currently sitting at 7 minutes 21 seconds. I haven’t given myself a time limit for this but it certainly got me going this morning.

I’m very pleased to report that I am finally getting close to being completely caught up at work. I still have a way to go, but it’s no longer a daunting amount of work left to do. I have a lovely workmate to thank for that, taking some of my workload off certainly helped.

I’m now reaching the end of my tenth week of my elimination diet. So far I’ve reintroduced eggs and cheese with no issues. And this week, I reintroduced chocolate, just in time for Easter!

I was worried about chocolate. A lot of people with eczema can’t eat chocolate because it flares up their skin. A lot of this is to do with the ingredients, so I chose carefully. Dark chocolate is also known as having antidepressant qualities so I made sure to choose by percentage too.

My skin did flare up a little on the first day. Of course this upset me. Intolerances for foods means that you can still eat them, but only as treats and only if you’re prepared to deal with the consequences, for example skin issues or stomach pains. I really didn’t want chocolate to be on this list of foods for me.

Lucky for me, the very next day my skin was fine. Relieved! I have a feeling that some of my eczema is stress related and because of my anxiety I do have a tendancy to stress easily. Not as much as I used to, but it still happens.

I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate this week, way more than I would in a normal week, but still in a healthy way. I had some right off the block, some in gluten free dairy free chocolate chip cookies, I made some chocolate Amazeballs (with little chocolate crosses on them so that I still get a ‘hot cross bun’ this year) and also popped a couple of pieces in a smoothie.

My favourite creation this week I’m about to share with you now. It was very hard not to scoff this. Even Zombie liked it! That means it’s good because even though he tries most of my creations, most of them are ‘too healthy’ for him and don’t get the tick of approval.

Chocolate Coconut Slice

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It started out as an ice cream bite, but it was a little too icy, so I adapted it to make it a refrigerated treat instead.

This is gluten free, raw vegan and nut free, hopefully will tick all the boxes for a lot of people.

16 squares dark chocolate
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
A few drops of liquid Stevia or other sweetener
10 dates, soaked overnight

Line a slice tin with baking paper.

Using the double boiling method, melt 14 pieces of chocolate.

Once melted mix in coconut flour until smooth.

Pour evenly into the slice tin.

Open the can of coconut milk. The white part should have hardened at the top. Scoop this part only out into a bowl. The rest can be used for smoothies.

Add the dates and coconut oil and Stevia or sweetener.

Using an egg beater, beat until creamy.

Pour over the chocolate base.

Using a fine grater, grate the remaining chocolate over the top layer.

Refrigerate for half an hour to set the cut to desired sizes. The chocolate base is very hard so be careful with this part.

Store in the refrigerator to keep the topping set.

This is seriously yummy. I took some with me to my depression support group and it was received well there also. Pretty easy to make too which is always a bonus.

I’m off until Wednesday now. I found a 30 day blogging challenge online from Live Love Simple. 30 days in April so that’s when I’ve decided to do it.

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Join me on Facebook or Instagram too, I share lots of my journey on there also.

Hope you all have a wonderful week. I’m looking forward to eating peanuts again tomorrow, I’m hoping that too will go well.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

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Poem: Some Days

Some days I just don’t
No rhyme or reason
To-do list so long
No consequences
Except my brain
Just my brain

Some days I just can’t
Even though it’s all good
No outside world
I’m hiding away
Just because
Just because

Some days are like this
Unexpected
Unprovoked
Few and far between
At least I hope
I so hope

Some days are not happy
But neither are sad
They just are
Just get through
Tomorrow I’ll shine
I’ll shine, I’ll shine

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The Importance of Me Time

So many of us lead busy lives today. Work, exercise, ‘after-school activities,’ keeping a household and social commitments, it doesn’t take long before the days start to blur.
Personally, I struggle with this. If I don’t get at least one night a week where I don’t have to rush home, grab a bite then rush out the door again, I start to get worked up.

Some weeks, a night off isn’t an option. But I’ve learned that giving myself a little ‘me time’ every day works wonders at resetting my mood and stress levels.

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Me time is important for all of us but so many of us deny ourselves this important time. And with good reason, it’s hard to find the time.

But it’s not impossible. Here are some of the things I do that make me feel less stressed and ready to go on.

Me time: Blogging

Writing a blog post has become one of my favourite me times. I’ve always loved writing, fiction or non fiction, there’s just something about putting pen to paper. Obviously my blog isn’t handwritten, but I still feel the same happiness typing words out just as much as handwriting them.

Me time: Yoga

I’m not one of those people who uses exercise for me time, however yoga is the exception to this. I try to do at least 20 minutes a day, regardless of how busy I’ve been. It’s 20 minutes of just being. I especially like doing it ouside on a sunny day. I’m at the point with yoga now where I can clear my mind while doing it (this took a while), and I always feel relaxed and refreshed afterwards.

Me time: Zoning out with Sheldon.

Sheldon is our pet turtle. He is a Red-Eared Slider, about 6-7 years old and so much fun! He’s not a people’s turtle, he doesn’t like being picked up or having us too close, but he does enjoy watching us live our lives and I enjoy watching him live his life. Sometimes I like to sit in front of his tank and just watch him swim around. It’s very mesmerizing and like I said, a good way to zone out for a little while

Me time: Experimenting in the kitchen

I love cooking and I do it most nights but what I really enjoy is experimenting. Taking an idea and tweaking it until I have the desired result. There is something so satisfying about having an idea turn out the way you wanted it to and knowing that you made that happen. It can be a little frustrating when it doesn’t work though.

Me time: Reading

I love reading, especially fiction. I don’t have as much time for reading as I used to, but I like to chip away at novels, it’s relaxing and a great escape from reality for a while. This is also a good anxiety indicator, as it is very difficult for me to read when my anxiety is raised.

Me time: Singing

I know I’m heading for depression when I stop singing, because singing is hands down my absolute favourite thing to do. I mostly do it in the car but often I’ll sing while I’m cooking or cleaning. Karaoke used to be a regular escape for me too.

Me time: Listening to music

Headphones up loud or stereo blaring, I don’t care, I just need to listen to music and feel it. I love a wide range of music, from metal, to pop, to some really random alternative genres. Some days I’ll rock out to Metallica only, other days I’ll mix it up. It always makes me feel good though.

Me time: Daydreaming

This might sound silly, but sometimes I like to just sit and imagine. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I think about, because it’s always gone by the time I pull myself out of a daydream, but I always feel happy afterwards.

Me time: Going for a walk

Not a brisk exercise walk, but a stop and smell the roses walk. I’m lucky enough to live in an area with a lot of parks and cycle tracks nearby and there’s something very satisfying about strolling through a park on a nice day.

I try to do something from this list everyday, to keep myself balanced. Some days I do miss out on a little me time and it always shows. I get grumpy and frustrated and the best thing I can do when that happens is to sit by myself for a while and just unwind.

I used to feel selfish about me time, but in today’s world we spend so much time doing things for other people that we deserve to spoil ourselves with something that makes us happy and relaxed daily. What do you do that’s just for you?

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Recipe of the Week: Gluten Free Zucchini and Feta Fritters

A couple of days late due to my eventful weekend, which I’m still on a major high from. I’ll be sharing two recipes this week, one today for last weeks cheese test and one on Sunday for this weeks – drumroll please – chocolate test!

That’s right. Cheese passed the test. No itchiness, no stomach pains, no noticeable negative impacts on my body after eating cheese all week, so now I’m moving on to chocolate.

As with the egg test and the cheese test, I’m nervous. I know that chocolate can be a trigger for skin issues in some people. And to be fair I don’t eat a heap of chocolate, but I’m really hoping for another positive result because I really don’t want to cut chocolate completely from my diet.

I bought dark chocolate. It’s lower in sugar and additives plus it’s known to be a natural antidepressant, which is always a plus in my books. In moderation chocolate is a great thing. If you can eat it without going overboard or having intolerances I personally see no issue with having a few bites here and there. I always feel my mood lift, even if I’m already happy, after chocolate.

But we’re talking about cheese today. I like cheese. A lot. I’ve yet to try a cheese I don’t like (aside from those processed plastic-like slices). And cheese goes with everything savoury. Egg meals, casseroles, salads, sandwiches, it’s only limited by the imagination.

And like with everything else, in moderation it’s not a bad thing. I’m not about to go out and eat it by the block, but it’s a tasty way to add protein to a meal so I’m happy to eat a little of it everyday.

I had quite a bit of cheese last week. More than I would in a normal week, but I needed to get a lot of it into my system to see if it would disagree with me at all. I made some cheesy egg baskets for breakfasts and lunches, had some on a quiche, added some to a clean pasta dish I made, had some pumpkin and feta muffins for snacks and even had a couple of slices straight off the block.

Any changes? No. My skin is still healing, I’m still sleeping well, I haven’t felt sluggish or had a sore stomach, so I’m counting it as a win. Very relieved about this because I’d like to have at least one more burger in my life and you can’t have a burger without cheese!

I’m sharing my favourite and most successful cheese recipe from last week today.

Zucchini and Feta Fritters

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Gluten free, sugar free, nut free and delicious, these are great for breakfast, lunch or even a meat free dinner. They’re super quick to whip up too which is becoming a necessity for me these days.

1 zucchini
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1/2 onion
20 grams Feta
2 eggs
2 tbsp buckwheat flour
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp olive oil.

Grate zucchini into a mixing bowl.

Slice spinach into ribbons and add to the bowl.

Dice onion and add.

Crumble feta into the bowl and add all the other ingredients.

Mix well. If it’s a bit too wet add some more buckwheat flour.

Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add olive oil.

Spoon fritter mixture onto the pan and heat until golden on the underside, approx 3-4 minutes.

Flip and brown the other side.

I served the fritters in the picture as a stack with a poached egg. They would be delicious dipped in smashed avocado too.

Hope you all have a fantastic week, I’m off to eat a little chocolate!

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Goals and Whether You Should Keep Them

I am on cloud nine right now. I feel such a sense of achievement. For those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram you will already know that I absolutely smashed last year Katie in the City 2 Surf today.

I don’t have a recipe to share this week, but I will make up for that next week  Today was a little out of the ordinary and I thought it was a relevant time to talk about my goals that I made for the year.

I decided towards the end of last year that this year, was going to be my year. This was the year I was going to lose all the extra weight, get on top of my mental health and achieve something. I prepared for it last year by eating well, exercising more and attending my support groups. I felt better pretty quickly.

Christmas holidays came and went. A lot of junk food was consumed, exercise was still done but not as much as I should have and some of the weight came back on. But I’d decided that after my holiday was when it would really get serious.

And it did.

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Before I went back to work I wrote down a list of 10 goals to achieve over the year. At the time I felt that they were all achievable with a little bit of effort. And I have grown dramatically this year. Sure, I had a panic attack a few weeks ago, but the thing about anxiety and depression is that it’s for life. You can get on top of it, but it will always be there. Having a relapse doesn’t make someone a failure.

Goal One: Become debt free.

This was on track anyway. I was hoping for August but it will be a little later than that due to unforseen circumstances. It will still happen though.

Goal Two: Read at least one book per month.

I used to spend all my time reading, but not so much lately, so i wanted to get back into it. We are nearing the end of the third month and I have completed 2 books and just started my 3rd. The problem with anxiety is that it makes it difficult to concentrate. Reading basically goes out the window when anxiety is raised. I actually thought I wasn’t enjoying the second book until I realized I was headed for a panic attack.

Goal Three: Complete a full elimination diet.

I’m about to start week 10 of this so I’m on track completely. It’s taken longer than I expected but I’ve had results and that’s the main thing.

Goal Four: Run the entire City 2 Surf of 14 km.

Today, I achieved that. The longest run I’d been for in my training was just over 6 km, so I wasn’t expecting to complete this goal today, but once I got to the 10 km mark I figured there was no point stopping from there.

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I also shaved 18 minutes off last years time!

Goal Five: Be able to do the splits.

I am currently no closer to doing this. However with my yoga practice almost everyday, I am noticing more movement in my hips and hamstrings. I have confidence that I will achieve this.

Goal Six: Bike to work at least once a week (unless raining).

Admission time, I have not yet biked once. I did not factor in that work might be busier than usual and that I would be starting early and finishing late regularly. And why would I? January to March are usually very quiet months.

Goal Seven: Volunteer time to a cause each month.

I regret to admit I haven’t done this yet either. I have signed up for a few collections later in the year and I did offer assistance to a family that lost everything in a house fire, but I haven’t volunteered physically yet. Again, I have just been to busy. I feel bad about this, but based on my panic attack I feel it is valid.

Goal Eight: Learn ‘Lonely Day’ (SOAD) on my guitar.

I’m yet to pick up my guitar.

Goal Nine: Fit comfortably into my goal pants, dress and jacket.

I’m wearing my goal jacket and goal pants right now. And they’re getting too big for me. Unfortunately, my dress still does not fit, but it will. I did not expect this goal to be hit so soon, although my elimination diet has helped. 23 kgs total lost. I also wore a size 10 dress to a wedding yesterday, last year I was wearing size 16. Incidentally my goal dress is a size 12. It’s just very small in the bust.

Goal Ten: Be grateful, stay happy.

If you read my post Gratitude and Family, you will know that I have achieved this. I am also the happiest I have been in a long time, even with the anxiety. This is in part due to all my achievements, but it is also a side effect of being grateful. I seriously recommend gratitude.

So as you can see, I’ve done well and not done well. What I didn’t take into consideration when I set these goals, was biting off more than I can chew. I didn’t factor in outside influences like work, stress and overdoing it.
I’d never set goals before and I was raring to go, but sometimes we need to do things one at a time. I forgot that I am only one person, that I would still need to be living my life while striving for these goals.

I do not feel that I have failed. I’ve absolutely smashed three of my goals and I’m on track for another five. When I set my goals for next year, there will be less, or I will break them down into time frames. I’ve learned to be more realistic and that I can only do what I can do. It’s still great things and that’s good enough for me.

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This is me about a minute after I crossed the finish line. I was exhausted and still am, but I smashed last year Katies achievement so I’m still on a major high.

What are your goals and how are you going with them?

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Gratitude and Family

How’s everyone’s Thursday? Mine was long, another early start, another busy day. I’m in a much better place than I was last Thursday though. I’m tired, don’t get me wrong and I’m still a little stressed, but nowhere near as bad as I have been for the last few weeks. I’m still no closer to catching up with everything at work, but I’ve found the last two days my concentration has returned and I’ve been achieving more.

I’ve got one more training run left before the City2Surf. Tomorrow morning is my last chance to prepare for it, before giving myself a break the day before. I’m starting to get quite excited about it! I’m nowhere near my goal of running the entire 14 km, but I’m a lot closer than I was last year so I’m hoping for a better time. The weather report isn’t too good though, really hoping the rain holds off.

I wanted to talk today about gratitude. For the longest time, I was an ungrateful person. I expected way too much from everyone and everything but I wasn’t willing to put in any effort in return. I spent my days angry at the world for it not being what I wanted it to be.

I knew there were people out there with less than me and I did feel bad for them, but I genuinely had no idea how lucky I was.

Unfortunately I think this is a trap a lot of us fall into these days. Maybe not as extreme as I used to be, but I see so much expectation for so little return, so many complaints, so many ‘first world problems.’ I believe that term might have started as a joke but there are certainly plenty of people out there who feel genuine annoyance over things that we are actually lucky to have.

Now, I am grateful for a lot of things.

I am grateful to wake up every morning. Some are harder than others, but at the end of the day I’d much rather wake up tired or flat than not at all.

I am grateful to have a roof over my head. It’s not a nice place, it’s not worth the rent we pay and it’s cold, but it’s so much better than the alternative of being homeless.

I am grateful to have a job. Plenty of people don’t have that luxury. I’m especially grateful to have a job that I love and for a company that cares.

I am grateful to have friends and people who support me. I haven’t always made a lot of effort with my friends so I’m grateful that they stick around.

I am grateful for Zombie. He is supportive, encouraging and showers me with compliments, just because. Not so much lately but in the past I’ve been quite a headcase and yet he still cares enough to love me no matter what.

I am particularly grateful for my family at the moment.  My father died when I was eight. Obviously it wasn’t something I’d ever thought would happen. I loved my daddy. I was daddy’s girl. From what I’ve been told I was always following him around ‘helping.’ I still think about him everyday. Sometimes I still cry. But I am grateful for the eight years I got with him. I’m grateful that I can remember him.

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I’m grateful for my mother. She was unexpectedly landed alone with four young children and she did an amazing job considering. When I was younger I used to help, but as I got older I began to rebel, as most teenagers do. I made life very difficult for mum. We clashed a lot. I ran away a few times and was even brought home by the police once. They told me that if they found me again I’d be put in a foster home. I didn’t care. I felt like that would be better.

It took a while for me to grow up, but I appreciate that mum stuck around for it. She always helped me when I needed it and still does now. She checks up on me regularly and tells me she is proud often. I don’t see her as much as she would like. There’s no reason for it, I’m just not very good at visiting people. I don’t know what I would do without her though.

I’m grateful for my little sister. I was a major source of embarrassment for her when we were younger. I didn’t have a lot of friends so I used to bug her and her friends all the time. She used to get teased at high school for being ‘Vampires sister’ because of my teeth and braces (I got called Vampire). She got hassled because I was the weird kid. As sisters are, I was mean to her. I put her through a lot and pushed her away many times.

But she still likes me. She’s one of my biggest supporters. The other day when I had my panic attack she got in touch within minutes to see if I was ok. A couple of years ago for my 30th, she organized a trip to Melbourne for me, because I’d never been overseas. She showed me heaps of sights and took me to some amazing places. I wouldn’t blame her if she hated me, but instead she helps me when she can, even though she has her own life to deal with and even though she lives in another city.

I’m grateful for my brothers. I have two younger brothers. I don’t have a lot in common with them, but they like to see me succeed and encourage me along the way. When I started showing an interest in running the got together with mum to buy me some Nike’s, because they knew I wouldn’t spend that kind of money, even though I probably needed to. Twice they have gone to collect my car and return it to me when I’ve had to leave work early.

One of them loaned me some spending money for my Melbourne trip, even though he was saving for his own trip. He said it was because he wanted to make sure I had a really good time. And even though I took ages to pay him back, he never complained.

The other came and rescued me at three am one Saturday morning when I’d had a fight with my ex. I was too drunk for my own good that night. He had been out himself, although not drinking, but he came right away and took me for a drive to calm me down. He’s coming with me on the City2Surf this Sunday.

Each of these people should have written me off so many times. I failed them so often, treated them badly and said nasty nasty things. I know I hurt them and I feel terrible for it. But they still love me and for that I am so grateful.

Since I’ve stopped being ungrateful, my life has improved. I can’t exactly explain how, because nothing in particular has changed, other than my attitude. I’m able to see silver linings in almost everything which makes me a lot happier and generally nicer to be around.

I like to start the day by writing
down 10 things I am grateful for. The list changes daily, as there are so many things, but family and Zombie are almost always on it.

What are you grateful for?

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie