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It's been a long ol' while since a proper recipe post hasn't it?! I'm sorry I haven't been the most regular of bloggers recently, it's been a crazy few months! I've had university exams, assignments, a fieldtrip to Switzerland,  moved house, and have a busy job, so this little space on the internet has taken a bit of a backseat. I do have a few posts planned, so fingers crossed they'll get around to being posted hehe! 

Today, I've got a super healthy (but yummy) burger recipe for you all. They're suitable for vegetarians and vegans, so are also dairy free, and can easily be adapted to be gluten free too! These are packed fully of vitamins and fibre, so anyone that says burgers are unhealthy haven't tried these! You can also adapt to whatever you have in the cupboard- chickpeas, carrots and parsnips would also go great in these- basically throw in all your favourite veggies to see what works for you. Leave a message in the comments with your fave combos! If you have a favourite recipe too, drop those in the comments as I love trying out new veggie burger recipes too <3

Let's get started then...

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup brown rice
Half a red onion, chopped
Half a red pepper, chopped
Tin of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
4/5 leaves wild garlic, or a crushed clove of garlic
1 teaspoon vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons flour
Cracked black pepper to season


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200 Celcius, grease a baking tray with oil or butter then sprinkle on some flour to prevent the burgers sticking.
2. Put the rice in a pan of  water, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes, before adding the sweet potato. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
3. Add the onion to the pan and cook for a further few minutes to soften.
4. Drain the pan, then add all of the other ingredients, stir well
5. Use a hand held blender to lightly pulse the mixture, so that it is smooth enough to form burger shapes but still has some texture.
6. Flour your hands then shape the mixture into balls then flatten onto the baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes.



 So... if you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed the odd mental health awareness post, however they have become increasingly longer- so I thought I'd write some proper blog posts.
Today I'll be discussing the topic of antidepressants, specifically Sertraline (Zoloft) as that is what I am on. It's going to be a long post so pour yourself a cuppa, get comfy and let's go!


Note: I'm not going to be promoting or discouraging the use of any medications- this is hopefully going to be a balanced opinion of what I have found being on them. 
I am NOT a doctor, nurse, or anything of the kind! This will purely be my experience and opinions, please see a professional if you need to or experience any issues. Also, it goes without saying, do not take anyone else's medication, even if symptoms are similar to your own. However, I am happy for any questions relating to how I cope with depression and anxiety personally, drop me a message in the comments, or email if you'd prefer to message me privately :)

Right... let's get started!

For as long as I remember, I have been very different in summer and winter. It's like I'm solar powered- summer means I have loads of energy, confidence, I'm always busy and happy. Cyprus last summer was up to 12 hour work shifts daily and yet I was incredibly happy and full of energy.
 As soon as I got back and it was Autumn however, my mood suddenly changed. From October to March I always get very low, lethargic, either don't eat much or eat lots, and basically don't really function as a human very well.

 I know a lot of other people feel a little low during winter, so hang in there peeps, Spring is just about here! 
Mine disrupts me quite a lot as I'll avoid seeing friends, skip lectures, need the whole day in bed and still feel tired etc, so I went to a new doctor in October. 
He asked if I'd tried everything the previous doctor had recommended. I had tried self help- meditation, yoga, apps, websites, journals, eating healthy etc, which help to some extent. I didn't try a SAD lamp because they're rather expensive and they aren't yet scientifically proven, however I would be interested to try one in the future. I didn't try counselling because I actually got so anxious about going that I had to cancel (oh, the irony!). 

So... I filled in a questionnaire the doctor gave me and he diagnosed me and, seeing as nothing else worked well enough, recommended that I try a dose of meds. 
Now, I'd heard so many scary things about antidepressants that I was very nervous before taking them- but I was a little desperate at this point. I started on a 25mg dose which increases to 50mg after a week and Sertraline is one of the meds with fewest side effects (although the list is still mighty long, let me assure you).


First month

The first couple of weeks were very weird, I have to say. I basically felt like a zombie and that I was doing everything in slow motion! If someone spoke to me, there would be a few seconds pause then a slow reply. A few people noted that I sounded baked as a cake. 
Whilst a little odd, that was the only real side effect in the first few weeks, although I think I remember feeling a little nauseous too.
I avoided alcohol for the first few weeks to get settled, as I heard they made side effects worse. Plus because I felt rather rough I felt like hibernating rather than partying anyway!

Following 5 months

Once settled on Sertraline, which took 3-4 weeks, I was able to have a little alcohol here and there with friends. It went straight to my head, and even now I get drunk very quickly.
Either very drunk or very sleepy, and it's a potluck as to which one ;)
Both of these are side effects of the medication therefore bearing in mind, so that you can let friends know to make sure you get home safe. I found it manageable and never felt so tired or drunk that I couldn't get home. But then again, I am a lightweight and can drink a maximum of 3 ciders anyway ;)  Please drink responsibly etc, especially if you are on any medications!

After the first month I'd say I felt fairly normal on them really! There have been two side effects I experienced throughout the past 6 months, one being fidgety and the other being very vivid dreams. Not the worse side effects ever, and I've just got used to them now, although they were a little irritating at the start!

So the point of me taking the meds was not so that I was happy all the time, it was to prevent me dipping too low mood-wise over winter like I normally do. They worked well for this, I was able to get out of bed and do regular stuff, go out, work etc. Obviously there were still rough patches- you have to remember it's a medicine and not magic! I still did all my regular things like meditation and yoga as these help me personally :)

Overall, I'd say the benefits of me being able to actually function over winter outweighs the fidgety feet and vivid dreams. I found that as long as I gave my body time to adjust then everything was okay. Yes it was weird when I first started them, but there's always going to be negatives and there's always going to be positives. The main thing to remember is that medications are just another tool to help you on your way to be better- not a complete fix! I was very open with my friends and family so that if I had a rough day or a side effect, they were able to help. I think this is THE one most important thing when struggling- please please don't bottle it up!

Now

I am currently coming off Sertraline at the moment. I was told to come off them gradually, so one tablet every two days, then gradually wean down slowly, letting my body adjust. Despite writing what days I needed to take them, I just forgot- so one time I went three days not taking my meds. Needless to say, my body was not happy about it! I felt like I was going to faint and was very dizzy until I remembered to take them again. So I now take half a tablet (25mg) a day as it helps me remember.
I had a bumpy week about a fortnight ago where I just felt really down for no reason, didn't feel like socialising and got rather grumpy too. I considered going back up to a full tablet, but I want to be able to rely on myself rather than my meds and it's probably just my body adjusting. I'm going to stick with half, then in a few more weeks take a quarter then come off them completely for summer. If people are interested in another update when this happens I am more than happy to write my experience :)

Right, so I think that covers the ins and outs of it all! I hope that this post was informative and helpful, drop me a message/comment/email if you would like to know anything else!

*Please remember to seek medical help before starting any new medication, have a chat with a doctor or counsellor if you feel you need to! Everyone has different experiences so bear this in mind- people will likely have different side effects, some have none. You know your body best so if you don't feel right on some, go back to your doctor and change.*


Emma xo


Hello everyone! Apologies for dropping off the edge of the planet with this blog, it's been a while hasn't it? Second year of uni got on top of me a bit so I haven't had much time to come up with new recipes and posts. Hopefully now that all my lectures are done for the year I'll start posting a bit more regularly again over the summer, so keep an eye out! 

Today I'd like to introduce you to foraging and eating in season locally, because it can be great fun and free! If you're a newbie to foraging nature's harvest, wild garlic is one of the easiest places to start as it is really versatile and simple to identify. I've been trying to reduce the air miles of my food and packaging recently, so what could be better than picking your own food at your doorstep? 

Wild garlic is found in many British woodlands in spring so this post will help you out with some cooking ideas and how to identify the yummy plant...


Finding & Identifying

Wild garlic is abundant on the woodland floor during the spring and can be identified by clusters of the smooth, glossy leaves and white flower clusters that are on stems. The leaves look similar to Lily of the Valley which is poisonous, however Lily of the Valley has bell shaped flowers, and wild garlic has star shaped flowers. To make sure the plant you've found is wild garlic, pick a leaf and slightly crush it- it should have a mellow garlic smell (if the woodland doesn't smell like it already, that is!). If in doubt please don't pick and consult an expert.

I'd recommend picking the younger leaves (often before the flowers bloom) as they have a more mellow taste for salads, but larger leaves are still fine to cook with! The flowers are also edible and look beautiful in spring salads.
I wash the leaves and keep them in the fridge in an airtight container, or with the stems in a glass of water, for a day or two if necessary.
You can also wash then freeze wild garlic to cook with it out of season.

Please remember only to pick the amount you need! 


  • Find areas where there is plenty of wild garlic growing and only take small amounts for personal use, making sure to leave plenty for other foragers and for the ecosystem and wildlife as a food source.
  • Some areas you may need permission to pick from so make sure to ask before you pick! 
  • Make sure you stay in public areas and don't trespass, as well as keeping to footpaths to avoid trampling plants.
  • Most importantly, be mindful of the woodland and be careful not to cause damage to the habitat and wildlife that live in it! If in doubt, don't pick <3


Let's Cook!


Now you've got a bunch of wild garlic, what do you do with it?
Wild garlic can be eaten raw or cooked and all parts of the plant are edible.

Salads: The leaves and flowers bring a beautiful aroma to salads, so throw in a generous handful!
Pesto: Blend up the leaves with pine nuts/walnuts, olive oil and some parmesan to make fresh pesto.
Soup: Fry off a sliced onion in butter until soft, add a chopped potato, herbs of your choice, and 500ml vegetable stock and cook until the potato is soft (10 minutes). Throw in a big handful of wild garlic for a minute or two, remove from the heat then blend. Serve with homemade bread!
Breakfast: I love adding a couple of chopped leaves into scrambled egg or an omelette for an extra bit of flavour and colour!
Everything else: Anything else you'd like a bit more flavour to, or would normally add regular garlic, try adding some wild garlic! Keep the cooking time as short as possible to retain flavour. Why not add some chopped leaves into pastas, scatter on top of locally caught fish, or even just making your cheese on toast a bit more fancy? The list goes on!
See what you come up with :)

I'd love to know if you've tried wild garlic before and what you like to use it for! Drop me a message in the comments :)

Have a beautiful day,

Emma xo



A couple of weeks ago I attended my first ceramics workshop which was organised for Penryn Arts Festival by Cat and Rosie at Field Notes. I thought I'd share some photos from the lovely evening, where we all learnt how to make plates and bowls by hand-building.

Whilst the basic technique was the same, it was amazing to see how unique everyone's creations turned out to be! All of us made two plates, one that we get to keep ourselves and one that we donate to the Arts Festival to be used in future workshops for communal meals.

We had a break halfway through the workshop to share a meal, which featured an array of delicious food- butternut squash curry, lentil dahl, rice, salads and chutneys. It was really nice to meet and talk to different people outside of university too.
After our meal, we returned to our creations to add colour using slips to paint our own designs on. There was a huge range of styles from abstract to minimalist, with faces, animals and plants all making appearances. 
Above left is a plate made by Sam next to me, I loved the patterns she used! Mine is the one on the right, which should be a dark blue-green once fired (we'll wait and see!)
So many fun designs! 
Have a look at the Penryn Arts Festival for more workshops! 

Have you tried any arts workshop recently? What would you like to try out?

Emma xo
Get yourself comfy, pop the kettle on and find your favourite mug, because today we're talking about the world's coffee obsession. After all, it's justified- dashing into your favourite coffee shop to pick up your drink of choice, smelling the roasting beans, watching the swirl of frothy milk get poured, the list goes on! However,  I'm not here to tell you all about coffee, caffeine or where to buy your coffee. I'm going to be talking about the humble cup.

They're small, simple thing that may not have crossed your mind, however coffee cups have been given a fair bit of media limelight recently. Having just got back from volunteering in Cyprus, the extent of waste on our beautiful planet really has hit home to me, so I'll be sharing tips on how to live more sustainably- one step at a time! Think you won't be making a difference? This article reminds us that the average American generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day, enough to cover the space of you and 5 friends on the beach!
So, where to begin?
Takeaway cups are a good place to start, because coffee is a staple keeping students like me awake!

Estimates suggest that over 3 million coffee cups are handed out in the UK alone, and fewer than 1 in 400 are recycled. This leads to over 1 billion single use cups on landfill per year. By laminating the paper to make it watertight, it can be quite difficult to recycle, and most end up being disposed of in general waste bins anyway. 
By purchasing one takeaway drink per year, you will generate 23 lbs of waste a year. But it’s not just what’s left after the drink, making the cups is also costly. According to a study conducted by Starbucks and the Alliance for the Environmental Innovation (April 2000), each paper cup manufactured is responsible for 0.24 lbs of CO2 emissions.

Since I found out these facts last year, I’ve been making effort to bring my reusable EcoffeeCup with me when I head to lectures or on a day out. It’s made from naturally organic bamboo, so that once you’ve finished using it you can crush it, soak in boiling water then bury it and it will biodegrade! The silicone lid and sleeve can also be recycled. However, I’ve been using mine for well over a year (maybe two) now and it’s been great! 

Our university campus offers 10% discount when you bring your own cup, and many other coffee chains offer additional perks- in case you needed more convincing! I think that Pret a Manger, Costa and Starbucks offer 25p discount for bringing your own reusable cup and Caffe Nero give you two stamps instead of one.


I’d love to hear in the comments section if you have a reusuable coffee cup, or if you’re interested to get one! Let me know your favourite brands and coffee places :)

Emma xo




Statistics from:
The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/15/coffee-cup-britons-3-billion-so-few-recylced)
The Sun (https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/3300210/the-coffee-chains-that-give-you-a-discount-for-bringing-your-own-reusable-cup/)
Carry Your Cup (http://www.carryyourcup.org/get-the-facts)
Ecoffee cup (https://www.ecoffeecup.co.za/)

*This post is not sponsored. I got given this cup by a friend a few years ago and have enjoyed using it :)

Today I've got the perfect recipe for getting cosy now that the days are getting shorter- and it's packed full of seasonal produce and goodness! Buying seasonal is great because you'll have fresher food, it will have used less energy to grow and transport, and you're also supporting local businesses. For this curry I used kale, onion, tomatoes and courgette, then added red lentils for extra tastiness, vitamins and protein. It's a great one-pot meal where everything just goes in together to simmer. 
Plus, if you're a student, it uses really simple and cheap ingredients and I've written the recipe as I made it so that you don't need scales either. Pretty much any veggies will work in this... boiled sweet potato, roasted butternut squash, broccoli, carrots, peas or fried aubergine would all be great to use too. Yay!

Ingredients

  • Half an onion, chopped
  • 1 medium courgette, cut into 1cm size pieces
  • 1 generous handful of kale
  • Half a tin of chopped tomatoes, or three chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Half a mug of dried red lentils
  • Vegetable stock
  • 1 generous dessert spoon tomato paste
  • A generous pinch of each- garlic powder, cumin, turmeric, paprika and curry powder

Method

Heat a little oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Fry for a few minutes to soften.
Stir in the garlic powder (or a clove fresh garlic) and fry for another minute
Add the courgette, lentils, vegetable stock, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and spices, as well as a mug of water. 
Bring to the boil for 5 minutes.
Reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils and courgette pieces are almost soft. 
Add the kale and cook for a further 5 minutes, until everything is cooked.

Serve with naan bread or rice. I love to add a spoonful of Alpro's coconut yogurt onto the side too! Enjoy :)


Have a great day!
Just enough time to squeeze one more travel post in before I head off to Cyprus for a couple of months! In the middle of June, seven of us set off to Normandy for week- and despite our fair share of bad luck we had a great time and came back with plenty of funny stories to tell...

Let me explain. It all started on a regular Friday morning. Five of us drove from Gloucestershire to Portsmouth, with the aim to meet Alex and Bec at the ferry port. We got held up in traffic, whilst Bec and Alex waited ages for a bus (it did not turn up, so they had to get a taxi). Even though we got to the port on time, we still managed to miss the ferry.
How? The car keys accidentally got locked in the boot of Adam's car, which then decided to lock itself! After much debating, we decided against smashing one of the windows, and instead waited an hour for the RAC man (hooray!). After 7 more hours of board games, giggles, booze, naps and disturbing locals in the pub, we made it onto the ferry to Caen still smiling.

Saturday was for settling in and catching up on sleep, as well as stocking up on all the essentials- mainly pizza, croissants and beer. In the evening we had a feast of salads and pizzas on the decking, washed down with a game of Piccolo. Various combinations of beer, prosecco and cocktails were drunk. Unfortunately I fell asleep after about an hour (I promise I was just catching up on sleep!) but it was all good fun.
On Sunday, the heatwave arrived and we thought our luck had changed around after a wobbly start. Maybe we set our hopes a bit high, or maybe we just had bad luck, but the bad luck did in fact come back! This time, Sam's car decided it was time to play up. I wound the window down, only to find it would not wind back up. This wasn't too much of a problem in 30 degree heat, however when we arrived back on grey English motorways it was slightly less enjoyable! Oh, and we also looked super edgy by covering the broken window with a blanket. We are Falmouth students after all.
Nevertheless, we had a great day at the beach in Carolles swimming in the sea, playing football and having a look in the rock pools after the tide went out. On the way back home, we stopped off at Bec d'Andaine to have a look over towards Mont St Michel and admire the views. As the sun began to set into a golden pink horizon, we popped on the party playlist and had a good old dance in the car heading back to the house. We played our own drinking game called Game Master, which turned out to be more evil than we had intended, but it was great fun all the same!

Which leads us to Monday and Tuesday.  I think these two days were for nursing hangovers (I won't name any names) and just generally being a bit lazy because it was so hot! We can't complain too much though, because reading and writing under a horse chestnut tree and playing basketball are pretty good ways to spend the day. There also turned out to be a blow up pool in the garage, which took the afternoon to fill up but was very worth the wait. We also had a feast cooked on the breeze block BBQ that the guys made. Oh, and of course a bit more beer for the less fragile souls among us.


Thursday was dedicated to packing and tidying whilst dancing to Michael Jackson, leaving us Wednesday to enjoy fully. We spent the day adventuring around to local water park before heading to a beautiful cafe in the evening. Aside from being told to get off a few rides because we were too big, the day was filled with plenty of giggles with a good dash of competition. Any onlookers would have thought that we were treating mini golf like the Olympics!

L'Autre Cafe was a set next to a stunning lake, and was a combination of a cafe, vintage shop and art gallery. We spent our time browsing quirky items and relaxing in the hammocks until it got dark. After finishing our delicious meals, 7 brave souls started partying into the night. Once again, I have been told it was really good fun, however after one game of beer pong I fell asleep. So I'm afraid you'll have to ask them yourselves how fun it was (and if any of you party animals are reading this, leave a comment below on what I missed!).


You'll be pleased to know that we had a bit better luck heading home to England. Taking care to never let go of car keys, we made it on the correct ferry! After a pretty intense game of Dominion, we all fell asleep on various chairs and sofas as lack of sleep caught up with us. We all arrived back home smiling, full of good memories, and luckily not too hungover. 

I also made a short film on our week in France, so I hope you enjoy it!



Thank you to Bec, Tobie, Joe, Sam, Adam and Alex for the best week- can't wait to see you all again in September! 

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