Three years ago I created my paleo flatbread recipe, and I’d say it’s been made at least a hundred times since. My little crew love to use it as the base for pizza, which is always a fun meal as it involves the whole family. Mumsnet came to our house to film us making our perfect paleo pizza, and we had a blast!

The base is ridiculously easy to make, and is super tasty. The two main ingredients are arrowroot and coconut flour. Arrowroot is a non-grain resistant starch said to help lower blood sugar levels, which is always a win in my book. It also costs a fraction of the price of nuts, which are my other go-to flour substitution. Coconut flour has many health benefits and compliments the arrowroot perfectly. Check out this article for more info.

Perfect paleo pizza – full recipe 

Ingredients for the base (super yummy on its own as a flatbread):
1 cup ground arrowroot
1/3c coconut flour
1/3c fat of choice
1/3c water
1 egg
1 clove garlic, chopped finely or crushed
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp mixed herbs
1/2 tsp sea salt

Other ingredients:
Tomato puree or pesto
Favourite cheese
Favourite toppings

perfect paleo pizza

Method:
– preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper

– in a small saucepan put the fat (I like using leftover dripping from roast lamb), vinegar, garlic and water. Heat gently until it’s all liquefied

– while that is heating, put the arrowroot, salt and herbs into a large bowl and stir

– make a well in the centre and crack the egg in it, then pour in the warm fat mixture and give everything a good stir to form a sticky dough

– add the coconut flour and mix well to form a ball

– then start putting it onto the baking tray, either as one large bread or several small ones if you have little helpers like I do

– remove from the oven and spread over your tomato puree or pesto

– add your toppings and cheese

– cook for another 5 mins and serve immediately

Hey Sad Mama,

I see you. I hear you. You are not alone, truly you aren’t.

They say it’s good to talk, that a problem shared is a problem halved. They say we need to get out of our heads and put our mental health problems out there for all to see. They say we should tell anybody who cares about our feelings. That we should put them on the table and be explicit.

Trouble is, the advice is getting a bit confusing. Unless we have people we can wholeheartedly rely on to help pull us out of our deep dark holes, we can shout and scream all we want. When our cries fall on deaf ears, it doesn’t really make a difference, does it?

sad mamaWhich is why I’m writing you this, Sad Mama

In the midst of the darkness it’s so very hard, to think positively and try and focus on all the little good bits throughout the day. To simply drown out the noise and ignore the chaos erupting around us. Multiple times daily, often hourly. To look past the negatives and see the tiny little glimmers of hope. To concentrate on that elusive pot of gold (which might or might not be) waiting at the end of the rainbow.

When before our eyes there is destruction. When all our best efforts go to waste and might as well have been chucked down the toilet. When we see the sadness from our hearts reflected in our children’s eyes.

‘Tough times’ doesn’t even come close to describing our daily existence, does it?

Then there is the fight. The constant fight for access to services and education and hell, a diagnosis in the first bloody place. The fight for others, our so-called friends and so-called family to believe our children are more than spoilt little brats.

The fight is endless. The fight is real.

So hear me now, Sad Mama

Get off your phone and out of your head. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to. Put some music on, dance like no-one is watching and sing at the top of your voice. It’ll lift your spirits so high, you’ll feel like you’re about to start flying.

Then go and look in the mirror and repeat after me:

“I love my kids. I am doing my best. I am trying at all costs to give them a childhood they don’t spend a lifetime having to recover from.”

Life is a perpetual roller coaster, but even in the midst of desperation there are smiles to be found. Even when sleep is non existent and hope feels pointless.

Yes indeed, I’m writing this note just as much for myself as I have done for you. For I know, better than most that hard times pass. We will manage to summon the strength to carry on from somewhere. We always do.

Big love,

Reneé ❤️

kids love pesto

What a treat: Head Chef and owner of Cafe Murano Angela Hartnett and fellow celebrity chef Rachel Allen

It’s not every day I get invited to eat in the private dining room of a gorgeous restaurant. Or have my food cooked by a celebrity chef, while another celebrity chef tells me all about her latest partnership. Last Tuesday I found myself at the stunning Cafe Murano, and the memories from the meal will last a very long time.

They did themselves proud with our delicious feast to celebrate the launch of the new Sacla’ cookbook La Famiglia. Drawing on the family owned business’s Italian origins, Sacla’ have joined forces with Rachel Allen to bring you quick and easy recipes the whole family will enjoy.

Do your kids love pesto?

Sacla’ have been selling pesto in the UK since 1990, back when there was no pasta sauce isle in the supermarket. Nowadays they have a gorgeous range catering for everyone on the foodie spectrum. It’s not just the classic green stuff either. Sacla’ have over a dozen pesto’s to chose from and their current mission is to get more families enjoying it.

If you asked me to describe a jar of Sacla’ pesto in three words I would choose wholesome, versatile and convenient. I’m not usually a fan of jarred food, but there are no nasties to be found here. Being paleo, we don’t eat a huge amount of pasta in my house, but my kids love pesto as a dipping sauce. I certainly prefer them to smother their food in pesto rather than ketchup, as it’s so much more nutritious.

My lovely friend Rebecca who blogs at Glutarama is running a Sacla’ giveaway, so head over to her blog to win lots of goodies.

La Famiglia: The Family Book of Pesto

I’m sure most parents will agree, there is little more disheartening than slaving away over a meal only for the children to turn their noses up at it! With a few jars of Sacla’ stashed in your cupboard, great tasting food is never far away. Who can argue with clean plates and happy kids?

kids love pesto

My new favourite snack: sundried tomato pesto on the end of raw veggies

La Famiglia is practical, compact and has been written in conjunction with celebrity chef, Rachel Allen. It’s packed full of quick, healthy and (most importantly!) super tasty dishes for all the family. Rachel’s baked tomato and basil omelette is my personal favourite. Closely followed by pesto fish fingers, and sweet potato burgers.

A few paleo ideas if your kids love pesto  

I’ve become rather partial to pesto on the end of raw veggies, eaten as you’d eat houmous. I can’t get enough of British asparagus at the moment. Hubby likes it with raw mushrooms, and the kids love it as a dip for their chips and roasted veggies.

Add a jar of pesto to a big pot of chopped veggies and meat. Pour over some fresh stock and cook on a low heat for five hours. This makes a ridiculously easy and delicious one pot casserole (also works in a slow cooker). I’ve experimented with lamb shanks, chicken thighs and pork belly so far. They were all absolutely scrumptious.

Courgetti and classic basil pesto is always a winner. I tried to remember the first time I ate courgette ribbons, and am pretty sure it was around 1997, a long time ago. Nowadays of course it’s been given a much trendier name and is a firm fave with low-carbers because it’s so damn tasty. I’ve got three strong courgette plants growing in my garden as we speak, so am hoping for them to provide many meals over the late summer and autumn.

Pesto makes a wonderful marinade for any piece of fish, and most meat. Then serve on a bed of buttery greens and mash.

It’s just fabulous instead of tomato puree for home made pizza. I use my arrowroot and coconut flour flat bread instead of wheat based dough.

kids love pesto

The gorgeous new Sacla’ cookbook La Famiglia, written in partnership with Rachel Allen

To keep up to date on pesto related news, check out the Sacla’ website and their social channels by clicking on the links below

Website
Facebook
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Twitter
Pinterest
YouTube

**This is a collaborative piece, click here for my full disclosure policy.**

The title of this blog started out “Why The Greatest Showman Turned Me into an Emotional Wreck!” Whilst I could wax lyrical about the beautiful portrayal of diversity and overcoming adversity, I feel that’s been done to death on the interwebs. Not that it isn’t those things, it very much is, but I blubbed my way through the two hours at the cinema for a multitude of reasons. The film resonated with me on so many more levels than I was expecting. Ultimately, it’s left me asking myself: will I ever be enough?

I was late to the party for The Greatest Showman, and only saw it this weekend. It’s not an exaggeration to say I cried my way through the entire thing. Last time a film got to me like this was twenty years ago, when I watched Sleepers. I was hungover which is always a recipe for trouble when it comes to setting off unexpected emotions. Those were the days before therapy. Before facing up to my demons and addressing the elephant who’d been sitting in the corner far too long.

The Greatest ShowmanFor those of you who are new around here, I’m the survivor of a dysfunctional childhood

I moved house a lot as a kid, and was always the new girl – aka an easy target for bullies. I was sexually abused from the ages of eight to ten, and emotionally abused too many times to recall. I left home after a punch in the face when I was fifteen years old. I made my way into adulthood with fifty pounds in my pocket and zero education. I slept on people’s floors for the first few months, until I met my first boyfriend. His parents kindly took me in, and I lived with them until things went pear shaped a few months later.

Jobs and homes came and went in those first two years. It’s a blur if I’m honest, I’m sure I’ve blocked most of it out. I worked for some very grubby men. People who only employed under aged girls to work in their shops. Mostly so they could get us drunk and take advantage. I consider escaping their advances one of my biggest achievements from those days.

A stroke of luck came when I moved into a lovely house share at seventeen. I had a job in a department store, and new friends who were not complete losers. Far from it actually, and two of them are still a huge part of my life to this day. When I was almost nineteen I managed to blag a temp job at a big financial house in the City. The two weeks turned into a month, then three, then a permanent job, then better jobs. Those were the days when nobody bothered checking your credentials. Now I’d have to have a degree just to walk through the door.

Can you see where I’m going here?

There were many lines from The Greatest Showman that set off the lump in my throat. This is the one that’s been playing in my head like a broken record:

“My father was treated like dirt. I was treated like dirt. My children will not be treated like dirt.”

People sometimes question my motives for doing everything I do for my kids. I’ve been accused of trying to give them a perfect childhood. Oh how wrong you are! I’ve never aimed for perfection. All I want is for my kids to never EVER be treated the way I’ve been treated.

I want them to instinctively respect themselves enough to never be taken advantage of. To formulate their own ideas about the world and not be too easily influenced. To have enough confidence to tell people to keep their small minded opinions to themselves. I never want them to be so desperate for work they have to compromise their safety. I never want them to be so close to homelessness they have to sleep on someone’s floor.

The Greatest Showman Unless you have been in that position yourself you will never understand what it’s like. I might live a life of privilege now, in comparison to too many, but I have been a piece of meat. A piece of dirt. I have had people look at me like I am completely worthless. Those scars run so deep, I wonder whether they will ever truly fade.

Which leads me once again to ask the question, will I ever be enough?

I’ve come a long way from where I began. I started facing my demons after my first mental breakdown at the ripe age of 22, thanks to an absolutely incredible counsellor. I embarked on this long old road I’m still on – the path to authenticity. Cutting out the BS – the fake friends and toxic family. I have great friends, an amazing husband, and have been (hashtag!) blessed with three little humans. Yet some days I am so incredibly lonely it feels like I might drown under the overwhelmingly enormous weight of it all.

When the hurt pulses through your core, just keeping your head above water can be a monumental achievement. I used to think I had it all sussed out. It was so simple. Work hard, reap the rewards. Then along came three children. Severe sleep deprivation. Autism. Home education forced upon us. And now? Well, now I wonder how the hell I could possibly be enough.

I’ve taken some serious knocks this year. People I thought would be around forever have disappeared. Seems everyone loves your honesty and no nonsense approach to life, until you point something out to them. Oh the irony.

Each time I have to pick myself up and dust myself off it gets harder 

I concluded recently that my mental health goes through cycles. Even when the rollercoaster is on a down, some days I still manage to ace life. On others, even when there are plenty of ups to be had, it’s as if a happiness gremlin has snatched away all my smiles. How can I expect my littlees to laugh if I’m not able to?

Self-esteem has been too low of late, so I’ve invested a lot of energy in getting my novel up to submission standard. It’s given me a focus outside of the grind. Something to feel proud of. I’ve needed it, desperately. My daily yoga and weekly four hour slots of respite just haven’t been cutting the mustard.

There’s so much to say, but ultimately we will always be judged on our actions rather than our words. So, I’m taking a big deep breath and putting on my positive pants. First round of would-be agent emails have just been sent. Wish me luck!

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me”

Mental health is a precarious thing isn’t it? I’ve dragged myself out of many quagmires over the years, and will no doubt need to pull myself out of many more in the future. Why? Because I’m a human, and us humans are imperfect and flawed. I know I’ll f**k up at some point, and that’s ok. 95% of the time I make good decisions and am entirely dedicated to my family and friends. I think I’ve finally (at the ripe old age of 38 and three quarters) made peace with the odd 5% here and there. ♥️ If there’s one change I’ve been successfully working towards over the last few years, it’s not beating myself up over that 5%. Self-flagellation gets us nowhere, but can have the ability to grind us into the ground, rendering us useless. ♥️ This life can be such a stressful one, but the smallest things can have the biggest impact day to day. Taking a few extra minutes in the shower to breathe deeply or sitting with the kids and doing a jigsaw puzzle or some colouring makes all the difference to my mood when it’s all got a bit too much. Not to mention my beloved yoga snacks (see the video from Monday two posts down on the grid) and diffusing essential oils. Hubby said the other day “it smells like a pilates studio in here!” ♥️ Amid taking care of everyone else, it’s vital to look after ourselves, but I know so many people who don’t. As hard as it is to process at the time, when things come on top it happens for a reason. It’s nature’s way of telling us that we need to stand back and reevaluate what’s important. And believe me when I tell you, that nothing, absolutely NOTHING is more important than our mental health. So embrace that hard time and those pesky emotions, because the other side of this is going to feel so damn good. . . . . . #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthmonth #mentalhealthwarriors #thereforher #wednesdayvibes #yogasnacks #essentialoilswork #takecareofyou #mummytries #freefromgang #fearlesslyauthenticblogger

A post shared by Reneé Davis (@mummytries) on

I’ve had a fair few conversations recently which have ended with me saying “…but we’re sleepwalking into oblivion, and no-one even cares!” Needless to say it makes me pretty unpopular at parties. I have only a teeny tiny amount of people in my life who are willing to openly discuss this topic. Which feels largely like preaching to the choir. So I’m being bold and sharing this piece. I’d love to hear your own thoughts on it all. 

I feel the main problem with our society is that “we” largely place too much value on the wrong things. The way we look, how popular we are and how much money we have are drummed into to us as important – from the youngest of ages – and go to the top of our priority list. The world that our kids are growing up in can feel like a harsh one, and with the added filter of social media distorting reality, is it any wonder? It’s not just the kids who are suffering either. Almost everyone I know is consumed with the pressures of life.  

sleepwalking into oblivionBut is this added layer of pressure all down to the consequences of our own choices?

There seems to be such a lot of pressure these days to do and be so much more. Coupled with the notion that women can (apparently) have it all. Motherhood is deemed by many to be a tiresome and unattractive chore. It blows my mind away how such an un-newsworthy debate as breast vs bottle it still dividing the sides.

From where I’m standing, the sisterhood only seems to exist when we’re nodding along in complete agreement to what is being said. The minute we challenge someone’s stance on a controversial topic, well we’re deemed as being unsupportive. We’ll get blocked from their social media and bitched about in closed Facebook groups. It makes me sad beyond belief. 

Trouble is, in the process of trying to be and do so much, we are selling ourselves short. Are today’s actions going to cause long term damage? Not that raising a generation of mentally healthy children who grow up to be mentally healthy adults appears to be on the government’s agenda. Judging by their year on year shocking cuts that fund children’s services across the board, they appear out of touch and unsympathetic to how so many are forced to live. 

I didn’t have it easy, but I turned out okay

I’ve heard this tired mantra all my life – “I didn’t have this or that when I was growing up… I had it harder in my day than the kids have it today… blah blah blah.”

For those unfamiliar with my story, I had a severely dysfunctional upbringing, and left home at 15. I then drank and partied my troubles away for a whole decade. Along my treacherous journey I suffered countless bouts of depression and anxiety, had two full mental breakdowns, declared bankruptcy and cut ties with my entire family. These are not experiences I would wish upon anyone else.

Through therapy and a whole load of self-reflection, I came to realise that everything I went through as a young adult was directly linked to the way I raised. Fortunately for me, I met my amazing husband and some rock solid friends who became my family. Without their unfaltering support I dare say I wouldn’t even be here writing this article.

sleepwalking into oblivionIf society is sleepwalking into oblivion, how can we chose not to? 

In the school of life for the Davis kids this week (or home education as most would call it) we’ve been talking a lot about cause and effect. How every single decision that we make effects everything else that happens next. This is a bit of a mind blowing concept for my almost nine year old autistic daughter, but she’s getting there. We all need to fully understand this, because it’s one of the most valuable things we will ever learn.  

In all areas of our lives, if we are to have a decent shot at long term happiness, we have to be making decisions that we are truly comfortable with. We can’t be afraid of putting our hands up when we’re wrong, changing tact and finding another way of doing the things that aren’t working out. We can’t allow the fear of doing or saying something that might offend someone else stop us from making good choices. We mustn’t let our wants blind us to our needs. Check out my autobiographical self-help book Become the Best You if you’d like to go one step further than a blog post. It’s a short book, and quite a few people have told me that it’s changed their lives.  

If we are making well thought out good decisions, then we won’t have to live with negative consequences for years afterwards. It’s a simple equation, but it’s not sexy or interesting. It doesn’t sell stuff, and how boring would it be to have a happy society? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know this. Until we start putting down our devices, taking a step back and properly thinking about the effect our decisions are going to have on our future selves, then I truly fear that society will end up sleepwalking into oblivion.

Do you need a plan of action? Here’s a simple one to get started

Get happy: This might sound like the most basic thing in the entire world, but if you aren’t happy you will find it exceptionally difficult to make good decisions. By doing everything you can to smile more than you frown, you are instantly inviting positive opportunities to present themselves. Check out this little video clip I made for tips.

Switch off: Tune out from mass media by only consuming information that will enhance your life. Ditch the tabloids, the whingey websites, the trashy magazines and reality TV. While you’re at it, have a social media detox. How much time do you waste on Facebook even though it bores and depresses the hell out of you? I had got myself into a great place with Instagram, but this past week or so I’ve been spending way too much time on there so shall be taking another break over the weekend. Switching my phone off for hours at a time is like medicine for me. Why not give it a go?

Don’t live in an echo chamber: there has been much said over the last couple of years about the pitfalls of living in echo chambers. Whilst I wholeheartedly advocate surrounding ourselves with positive and inspirational people, we do also need to ensure that we have good enough friends in our lives to challenge us when we’re factually wrong or being an idiot. 

Don’t compare: Stop comparing yourself to others because it’s a pointless exercise. Instead feel safe in the knowledge that no-one has the ‘perfect life’, we are all flawed in some way or another and everybody has problems. While you are lusting after another person’s life, there will more than likely be someone out there lusting after yours.

One shot: We get one shot at this life people, lets make it count! If my own experiences have taught me anything, it’s that a good life doesn’t just happen. We need to make it happen and constantly strive for it. Often against the odds, and in the face of extreme adversity.

I certainly won’t be sleepwalking into oblivion, how about you?

**many thanks to Unsplash for the gorgeous photos used in this piece. Credit to Though Catalog and Clem Onojeghuo**