Roasted Butternut Squash, Pear and Goat’s Cheese Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pear and Goat’s Cheese (and a Lime, Honey & Garlic Vinaigrette)

For me, simple meals are the best meals.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy spending time in the kitchen chopping, mixing, stirring and otherwise chef-ing, but when I want a chilled evening, the meals I choose are ones that can be left to do their own thing, whilst I enjoy whatever it is I want to be enjoying.

This roasted butternut squash salad with pear and goat’s cheese is one of those easy-peasy meals that, despite being packed with flavour, mostly takes care of itself bar a touch of prep (this can be done in advance) and a quick throw-together at the very end. Enjoy a generous portion for dinner, or serve as a starter when entertaining friends. Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pear and Goat’s Cheese (and a Lime, Honey & Garlic Vinaigrette)
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pear and Goat’s Cheese (and a Lime, Honey & Garlic Vinaigrette)

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pear and Goat’s Cheese

Served with chopped walnuts and a lime, honey and garlic vinaigrette.

Ingredients, serves 2

– 1 small butternut squash
– 100g goat’s cheese, roughly sliced
– 100g baby spinach leaves
– ½ a pear, thinly sliced just before serving
– juice of 2 limes, plus a touch of zest
– handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
– a generous pinch of coriander seeds, roughly ground
– small or ½ clove of garlic, crushed
– olive oil
– honey
– sea salt
– black pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Peel, deseed (keep the seeds aside to roast, recipe below!) and dice the butternut squash into roughly 1½cm cubes. In a roasting tin, drizzle with oil and juice of one of the limes. Sprinkle with ground coriander seeds, salt and pepper. Mix well and transfer to the oven to roast for 1 hour.

2. For the vinaigrette, mix 2 tbsps olive oil, juice of the other lime (zest this lime before juicing, we’ll be using it later), ½ tbsp honey, ½ a crushed garlic clove (feel free to use the whole clove, however I like the lime to shine through here) and sea salt/black pepper to taste.

3. When the butternut squash is ready (the edges of the cubes should be beginning to blacken), remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

4. When ready to serve, lightly dress the baby spinach leaves with the vinaigrette in a bowl, before arranging the squash, goat’s cheese and pear slices on top. Sprinkle with the walnut pieces, any leftover ground coriander seeds and the lime zest.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pear and Goat’s Cheese (and a Lime, Honey & Garlic Vinaigrette)
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pear and Goat’s Cheese (and a Lime, Honey & Garlic Vinaigrette)

Spiced Butternut Squash Seeds

Ingredients

– butternut squash seeds
– olive oil
– paprika
– chilli powder
– sea salt

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 150℃. Clean your butternut squash seeds and remove any leftover stringy pieces of butternut squash. Once clean, place the seeds in a small saucepan filled with salted water and boil for 10 minutes – this helps to make them crunchier when roasted!

2. Drain the seeds well and run them under cold water to cool. Drain again and pat dry with kitchen towel.

3. Transfer the seeds onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of the paprika/chilli powder. Mix well.

4. Place the baking sheet onto the middle shelf of your oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are just starting to brown.

5. Once the seeds are ready, remove the oven and allow to cool. Eat as a snack or sprinkle over salads.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pear and Goat’s Cheese (and a Lime, Honey & Garlic Vinaigrette)

4 Life-Changing Apps to Download in 2018

4 Life-Changing Apps to Download in 2018

Hey guys! Of my 18 ways to nurture yourself in 2018, detoxing from technology is one of my main priorities.

However, it has to be said, there are so many ways technology has improved our lives and it would be misguided to banish it completely. There are a handful of apps that have entered my life in the last few years that, rather than gluing me to my phone, encourage me to spend time away from it and have improved the way I live.

Here are four apps that have enhanced my life in the last year(s) that I recommend you try in 2018!

4 Life-Changing Apps to Try in 2018

1. ForestFor increased productivity and focus

I often find myself scrolling through my phone when I’d actually sat down to do something productive. I cycle between apps, mindlessly taking in content that provides no real value. With Forest, you set a timer and plant a seed. Leaving the app for more than a few seconds will cause your new tree to die. If you successfully stay off your phone for the allotted time, a new tree will be planted in your garden. This effectively turns your productivity into a game, and it’s very satisfying to see the minutes of focus tot up throughout the day.

Looking for more productivity tips? Check out my post on kickstarting your day when you work from home.

2. HeadspaceFor a more mindful life

Headspace is a mindfulness companion, providing guided meditation practice. Get comfortable, select a pack (a set of up to 30 sessions that cover a wide range of topics, from health and happiness to sport, work and study) and allow yourself to be lead through each session.

The timing of each meditation can be changed to fit in with your routine, and the app also provides stand-alone, single sessions to cope with more specific areas of your life or those emergency, SOS moments. If you’ve so far struggled to embrace the idea of mindfulness, or would like to start meditating this year, Headspace is the perfect app for you. My favourite of the life-changing apps on this list.

4 Life-Changing Apps to Download in 2018
4 Life-Changing Apps to Download in 2018

3. RuntasticFor fitness coaching and motivation

A few years ago I went through a period of running three to four times a week. I felt amazing, but a creeping sense of laziness and an unpredictable job led me to give it up altogether. Things have changed a bit since then, and I’m now reintroducing running back into my routine using Runtastic. 

Along with the classic tracking abilities most running apps provide, Runtastic offers a wide selection of coaching packs, each of which give you a detailed running programme to help you reach your fitness goals. You are kept up to date with how you’re doing and instructed when to change pace during the run. I’m looking forward to using this app more in 2018 and completing my first training plan.

4. Skillshare – For broadening your skillset

I take great pleasure in learning something new, and Skillshare is an app that both encourages and facilitates exactly that. Log on to Skillshare, search for a skill you would like to pick up or improve, and you’ll be presented with a plethora of tutorials to hold your hand along the way to success. I have a number of classes saved, and I’m planning on completing one each month this year. By the end of 2018 I will have grasped (or at least attempted to grasp) twelve brand new skills! How exciting! 

I’d love to hear your favourite, life-changing apps!

4 Life-Changing Apps to Download in 2018

Sweet Vanilla and Mocha Iced Coffee Recipes

Sweet Vanilla and Mocha Iced Coffee Recipes

It’s a complete cliché, but I simply cannot live without coffee.

And since I was given my first stovetop coffee maker last year, my obsession has continued to flourish. Instant is absolutely fine if I’m desperate or need to rush out in the morning, but there’s something very satisfying about filling my coffee maker with water, piling in the ground coffee and waiting to hear it bubble away. It feels more mindful, and gives me a window of time in which to start my day slowly, meditating or filling in my gratitude journal. My love for this method only grows upon sipping – the coffee itself is richer and stronger, with a much deeper flavour.

One of my favourite ways to drink my coffee is poured over ice. It’s such a refreshing start to the day, and there’s something about it that, still, a year later, feels really fancy to me, like I’m running my very own mini Starbucks out of my kitchen. Quite often I’ll simply have this black or with a splash of milk, but if I want a treat I’ll jazz it up with different flavours. Today I’m sharing a couple of my favourite iced coffee recipes, my sweet vanilla and mocha versions. Enjoy!

P.S. You’ll need some good, strong coffee for this, from a stovetop maker like mine or from a machine.

Sweet Vanilla and Mocha Iced Coffee Recipes
Sweet Vanilla and Mocha Iced Coffee Recipes

Sweet Vanilla Iced Coffee

Ingredients, serves 2 in small glasses

– 100ml strong coffee
– 100ml almond milk
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– ½tbsp agave syrup
– ice cubes

Method

1. In a small jug, mix the almond milk, vanilla extract and agave syrup. Add more of any ingredient to taste.

2. Fill your serving glasses with ice, and pour an equal amount of coffee into each.

3. Top up each glass with the sweet vanilla almond milk and enjoy the sight of your beautiful, marbled coffee before stirring.

Sweet Vanilla and Mocha Iced Coffee Recipes
Sweet Vanilla and Mocha Iced Coffee Recipes

Mocha Iced Coffee

Ingredients, serves 2 in small glasses

– 100ml strong coffee
– 100ml almond milk
– 2 tbsps Sweet Freedom Choc Shot Liquid Chocolate (or similar chocolate sauce)
– ice cubes

Method

1. In a small jug, mix the almond milk and chocolate sauce. Add more chocolate flavouring to taste.

2. Fill your serving glasses with ice, and pour an equal amount of coffee into each.

3. Top up each glass with the chocolatey almond milk, stir and enjoy!

How do you drink your coffee? And let me know your fave iced coffee recipes below!

Sweet Vanilla and Mocha Iced Coffee Recipes

18 Ways to Nurture Yourself in 2018

18 Ways to Nurture Yourself in 2018

Hey guys! And a belated Happy New Year to you all!

At the beginning of 2016 I wrote a list of 16 ways to nurture yourself in the coming year. It was a post I very much enjoyed writing and, looking back, I feel that it really captured the sense of hope I had for myself, my future and my blog at the time.

A whole lot has changed since then, I’ve grown immensely as a person and my life is in a very different stage, but a lot of what I strived for back then remains the same. I do however have some revisions and additions, so I’m reworking that post into, you guessed it, 18 ways to nurture yourself in 2018.

18 Ways to Nurture Yourself in 2018

1. Fight for your own happiness 

Don’t let anything come between you and being happy. Stop putting up with people and things that make you sad, frustrated or angry. Find the things that make you smile, laugh and jump for joy, and hold on to them for dear life.

2. Evaluate your sacrifices

We all make sacrifices. Whether yours is seeing less of family and friends, setting aside a particular hobby or spending less time on looking after your mind and body, make a habit of looking up and checking whether what you’re giving up is really worth it. If it is, keep going! If not, think about making a change.

3. Recalibrate your bullshit threshold

It’s easy to keep taking crap from people, especially if it comes in small packages that seem harmless when taken individually. However, if these are sustained over a long period of time and you feel stuck in an unhappy position, take a step back and realise that it might be time to reevaluate how much you are prepared to put up with and speak out against whatever it is that’s bringing you down.

4. Just do it

Spend less time planning and writing lists. Spend more time getting the f**k on with it! 2018 is my year to finally do the things I’ve been wanting to do for the past two years, that I set aside due to the demands of a job I didn’t love.

5. Surround yourself with nourishing people

This is staying firm on the list. Spend time with individuals who make you feel alive, happy and confident. Hold interesting conversation, laugh out loud, share memories and love freely.

18 Ways to Nurture Yourself in 2018

6. Eat beautifully

Find your groove in the kitchen, and pack your plate full of fresh, bright, delicious food. Get your friends round, share recipes, enjoy the act of preparing and providing healthy, hearty food.

7. Move your body

Run, skip and jump. Dance until you’re out of breath. Join a gym, pound the streets, take a yoga class. Whatever it is that gets you moving, make it a priority and plan it into your week.

8. Start a gratitude journal

One of the best things I did last year was to start a gratitude journal and it’s had such a positive effect on my mood and outlook on life. I’m becoming used to collecting happy moments, recognising even the tiniest of plusses and now have a record of what’s kept me ticking each day. Here are thirty gratitude journalling prompts to get you scribbling.

9. Make time for self-care

Take a bath, look after your skin, go for a run, prepare a delicious dinner for one. Whatever it is that you can do for yourself, whatever makes you feel good, make time to do that more often this year.

10. Learn to be alone

Enjoy solitude. Make it a priority to spend time by yourself and for yourself. Get in touch with your own emotions and realise that you are enough to make yourself happy.

11. Create a healthy bedtime routine

Enjoy and appreciate the time before bed. Read a book, drink peppermint tea and be grateful for your day. Unwind and unplug.

12. Rise with purpose

After your restful night of sleep, rise with a sense of readiness and zest for life. Set your alarm twenty minutes earlier than necessary and use this time to create your own morning rituals. Write in a gratitude journal, meditate, stretch, make a proper stovetop coffee. Set yourself up for a successful, productive day.

13. Detox from technology

Ban screens and notifications, disconnect yourself. Make room for activities that don’t involve your phone or laptop.

14. Live without clutter

Free up your living space, live simply and without mess. To quote Marie Kondo, “keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.”

18 Ways to Nurture Yourself in 2018

15. Bring the outside in

Fill your home with green. Buy yourself fresh flowers every Sunday. Swap cuttings with friends. We live in an ever-advancing society, one that relies more and more on technology and less on the natural world. Combat this by embracing nature and nurturing your green thumb.

16. Meditate and be mindful

Take a few moments out of each day to refocus and be present. If ever you slip up, remember that you needn’t wait until tomorrow to start over. Just sit down, breathe and start again. Here’s a one-minute, emergency meditation routine to start you off.

17. Redefine your dream

Check you’re moving in the right direction by pinpointing your goals and making them a priority. Allow yourself to be flexible and understand that dreams are malleable and always subject to change.

18. Flourish and be

Work on yourself. Never stop improving your mind and caring for your body. Grow and develop continuously. At the same time learn to love the simplicity of existing and being alive. Be thankful for what you have. Live in the moment.

What are your favourite ways to nurture yourself?

18 Ways to Nurture Yourself in 2018

A Twenty-Minute Morning Ritual

I’m a firm believer that one’s actions upon waking are a fundamental element in setting oneself up for the day ahead.

Once upon a time my morning routine consisted of snoozing for three or four ten-minute intervals, getting up at the last possible minute and a mad dash around the house trying to get myself together. Mornings were a hectic, stressful blur, and the act of waking up became a chore. I had no time to set myself up for the day and frequently left the house in a blind panic.

Soon enough, I realised that my frantic mornings were playing havoc with my mood. Their effects leaked into the following hours and marred what might otherwise have been an okay day. I needed a morning-overhaul.

I’ve now found myself in a comfortable groove in regards to my morning routine. I’ve adopted a few personal rituals that set me up for a productive, successful, happy day… and the best part? These add-ons only take about 20 minutes in total to complete, meaning I’m not sacrificing too many precious moments with my head on the pillow.

A Twenty-Minute Morning Ritual

My Twenty-Minute Morning Ritual

I set my alarm for an hour and ten minutes before I need to get up. The hour is for my entire routine (this morning ritual plus showering, getting dressed etc.), the ten minutes for snoozing. There is nothing better than turning back over for a little extra shuteye, so I plan this in so as not to let it infringe on the rest of my morning.

After I’ve taken my extra sleep, I grab my phone, headphones and gratitude journal and head straight to the kitchen. Here I set about making my morning coffee in my stovetop coffee maker. Instant is fine, but there’s something so much more mindful about making it fresh. I spoon out the ground coffee, filling the base and wait to hear the soothing sound of bubbling water.

Whilst I wait for my coffee, I move to the sofa and start filling out the day’s gratitude journal entry. Noting what I have to be grateful for is such a heartwarming way to start the day. It refocuses me on the positives in life, rather than anything that might be worrying me or causing negative feelings. As well as the given headings I may also mention how I’m feeling to give a little more context.

My coffee is normally bubbling away by now so, as soon as I’m finished, I step back into the kitchen. I pour the coffee over ice, add a splash of milk and move back to the sofa. Here I grab my phone and load up the Headspace app. I’ve taken to switching my phone to airplane mode at night so that I can control when I start to see notifications, so I’ll usually have a couple of Headspace packs downloaded to my phone. This means that it’s ready to go without me having to connect to the outside world.

A Twenty-Minute Morning Ritual
A Twenty-Minute Morning Ritual

At the moment I’m focusing on the Productivity pack, but if I feel a particular need for something different that day I might choose to do one of the single sessions, a mini or even an unguided meditation should I want some real quiet, reflective time. A great tool within Headspace is the ability to change how long you want each session to be. I I currently set my sessions to 10 minutes, so that I can squeeze them neatly into my morning. I find meditation to be the most vital part of my morning ritual, and this often takes priority if I don’t have time for the rest.

After my meditation is complete, I like to go back to my gratitude journal and jot down in the margin any thoughts that might have been sparked by my meditation session. These may be hints and tips discussed, or anything that particularly worked for me that day. Keeping this kind of meditation diary helps me to internalise what I’ve learnt and grow with each session. I also love how it’s all combined into one space with my gratitude journalling and emotion-tracker.

From this point on, I carry on with the rest of my morning – showering, dressing and readying to leave the house.

Since making this time for myself, just twenty minutes each morning to refocus, breathe and prepare my mind for the day ahead, I leave the house much calmer and put together than I’ve ever done before. I’m learning that focusing on self-care is of the upmost importance. Forming a routine around these simple rituals has made it so easy to prioritise my own mental health and happiness.

After that, the rest just falls into place.

A Love Letter to The Ocean

A Love Letter to The Ocean

Once upon a time you would have heard me confidently stating that city life was the life for me. The activity, the lights, the constant movement and opportunity. You might also have heard me announce my disdain for the seaside.

I can’t place my finger on the root of it now, but I just remember it putting me on edge. Perhaps it was a fear of the water, or dislike of beachy decor, I don’t know. But it got to the point where I’d even avoid books or films set by the sea, so as not to subject myself to the mention of it.

Fast forward to the present day, and my feelings about the seaside have changed. My love has flourished. This city boy, who once proclaimed that he’d never move from London, has fallen head over heels for the coastline. I’ve even started to find myself daydreaming about, someday, moving to be closer to it.

When I think about where I’m happiest, it’s by the ocean. Of course it will be mixed with the feelings of getting away, away from work and from responsibility. But I can confidently say that some of my most cherished moments happen to feature a sweeping expanse of salt water as their backdrop.

A Love Letter to The Ocean

A recent adventure to Brighton with my boyfriend, exploring and refreshing our batteries. Dreamy days and vibrant nights at the very tip of southern Spain with my best friends. And, way back, family weekends in Rye, Winchelsea and Hastings, sitting on the beach with my Grandma, sifting through the pebbles, rocks and stones, collecting our favourites.

These are my happy places, the memories that I hark back to when I’m anxious or stressed, when I need to be lifted and reminded of the good times.

That great expanse of ocean, stretching as far as the eye can see, kissing the sky at the horizon, is utterly grounding. It’s an endless pool, rolling on forever. It stretches on to new adventure and down into depths that are beyond the capacity of our imaginations. It soothes, refreshes and cleanses the soul. It has provided for us, in so many ways, for so many centuries.

A Love Letter to The Ocean

I guess this is kind of a love letter to the sea. And it’s far from complete. I imagine that my love will continue to grow as the years go on. Perhaps I’ll live beside it one day, greeting it each morning with a casual glance and a smile. Or perhaps my path will take me elsewhere, my meetings with it fewer and further between, each visit being a happy reunion with an old, deeply missed friend.

Whatever happens, I’m glad to know that it’ll always be there, constantly reaching out to shore, unceasingly running back to the horizon.

That, at least, is some comfort.