Need a silly easy recipe for refined sugar free chutney? Look no further…

refined sugar free chutney
When I returned from a year of living in Cambodia in 2006, it was with a very heavy heart. I was down and out and ridiculously vulnerable. I worked briefly for my friend’s (now ex) husband which did not end well. Then I worked for a year for a man who was essentially the male version of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada.

Yes. He was that bad!

He’d come into the office the morning after watching The Apprentice thinking he was Lord Al. Firing people left, right and centre over the silliest things. I was one of his right hand wo/men, and stood on the correct side of him. Until I dared to disagree with him that is, then he turned on me quicker than milk left in the blazing sun. We were on a jolly up in a foreign country. It was the catalyst for my second mental breakdown, hitting rock bottom and turning my life around. I guess in a way I have a lot to thank him for.

refined sugar free chutneyYou might be wondering what all this has to do with refined sugar free chutney?

After I was eventually freed from that particular toxic environment I couldn’t face getting another job. So I set up my own business making dips and chutneys from my little kitchen in Streatham. Having recently gone refined sugar free (this was 2007) I wanted to create food that would appeal to people eating like I was. Alas, it was way ahead of it’s time, and ended up bankrupting me. You live and you learn though, and I genuinely would not change a thing.

Life lessons like that sometimes take, well, a lifetime to gather. In the year that followed they were plentiful and shaped the way I now think. Especially when it comes to money. This might sound silly to some, but if you aren’t taught financial well being at a young age it can have devastating consequences. More on that topic another time.

Just like all my other recipes, this is also low in natural sugar. Regular readers will know by now that nothing winds me up more than someone calling a recipe sugar free only for it to be loaded to the hilt with sugars and sweeteners. Most food in it’s natural state (fruit, veg, grains, nuts…) contains some form of sugar. If you aren’t adding any to your recipe you wouldn’t call it sugar free you would say no added sugar.

I’m sharing a small batch recipe here, but it lends itself marvellously to being made in a bigger batch. I once turned 200kg of onions into 500 jars for a trade show. My friend said the house smelled like pickled onion monster munch and refused to sleep on our couch in case the scent never came out of his clothes. Oh how different things are now, eleven years later with three children to keep me busy.

refined sugar free chutney

What you’ll need to make a small jar of my refined sugar free chutney

A clean 350g jar, you can sterilise it if you wish
Small lidded saucepan
Spatula
Sharp knife
Chopping board

refined sugar free chutney500g onions
1/2cup or 120ml vinegar
(I’ve used raw organic cider vinegar here but balsamic also works wonderfully)
1/4cup or 35g sugar
(I’ve used organic coconut blossom, but muscovado works great too. You could use honey, but I feel that cooking honey for this long would be a waste of all the gorgeous nutrients. You could also use maple syrup or coconut nectar)

Method

– chop your onions any way you wish and place them in your saucepan

– sprinkle over the sugar

– pour over the vinegar

– place on the highest heat for about 30 seconds, then turn down low and put the lid on your saucepan

– simmer for one hour, checking in every 10 minutes or so and stirring to ensure it’s not getting burnt

– add a small drop of water to loosen the chutney if it does start getting a little bit stuck to the pan

– allow to cool and decant into your glass jar, keep in the fridge

– wow all your friends at barbecues with your home made condiments

– this is a perfect accompaniment for burgers. Check out my trio of easy home made burgers

 

 

I’m not the biggest jewellery fan, but I’ve always been a sucker for well thought out personalised pieces. If you are anything like me, you’ll absolutely adore the selection at Centime Gift.

Centime GiftTop quality sterling silver and gold plated personalised jewellery 

I couldn’t resist the stunning tree of life necklace pictured here on the left. I had it engraved with the five names of my family and it’s a real head turner. I get complimented on it every time I wear it.

The pendant is very weighty and well made, and it comes with a lovely thin chain. I opted for sterling silver, but you can also go for yellow gold plated or rose gold plated. It’s worth mentioning that the silver is not marked 925, but it is guaranteed. You get six options for chain length – 14″ to 24″ – I went for the 18″ chain which sits perfectly on my chest.

The ordering process could not be simpler, and there are size guides on the website to ensure you order correctly. All items come gift boxed with a cleaning cloth.

Free worldwide postage

Don’t you just hate it when you get as far as the checkout only to discover the website’s postage fees are extortionate? Well you don’t have any of that nonsense to worry about with Centime Gift. Although they are based in the States, they offer free worldwide delivery, as well as an expedited option if you need your order super fast. My items arrived an impressive eleven days after placing the order, through the regular postal service. Quite impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree.

A few ideas from Centime Gift

Mother and child necklaces to suit all styles. These beautiful necklaces are designed to let mums’ pride shine. Everything from the classic two pieces of the same heart, to more intricate designs such as baby’s footprints, intertwined rings and bar shaped tags. All engraved with the names of loved ones, there is something that will appeal to every mum.

centime giftThese gorgeous bracelets are engraved with handwriting, and can contain a message of up to twenty words long. You simply upload a file of the writing you want to use. It can be your own, a loved one or you could even take a photo of an old card or letter.

For the Granny’s in your life, Centime Gift have a fab range of necklaces to keep all the names of the Grandchildren close. My favourite is this one, made up of five intertwined rings which is able to hold up to twenty names.

Good core values

I loved reading about the founder of Centime Gift’s story. Ginny and her team are completely committed to producing unique, quality pieces. It’s evident they love what they do, and it shines through in the designs.

“Hi, I’m Ginny. I started Centime because I was sick of generic, branded gifts with no soul. As I have always loved to make my own jewelry and gifts, I dreamed of creating handmade gifts with a timeless appeal and personal touch.

Centime was born out of that dream, and I am grateful to be living my dream everyday. All the posts in this blog were written by me, using years of experience as a jeweler so that you can pick out the perfect gifts that are not just gifts but symbols of everlasting love. Love for keeps, we call them.”

Follow Centime Gift on social media  

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**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post. For my full discloser policy, click here.**

There is much talk about omega-3 fatty acids, but what is all the fuss really about?

Along with omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are vital for humans to function healthfully. They are known as essential fatty acids, and they contribute largely towards maintaining the structure and function of our bodies cells. They help us absorb vitamins and minerals, promote nerve function, aid in the production of hormones and not only prevent, but treat disease.

omega-3 fatty acidsOur bodies can not naturally produce these essential fatty acids, and unfortunately mainstream Western thinking largely deems all fat to be bad for our health (even though it’s now been proven that there are good fats we need).

If you are among the many who are not consuming enough omega-3s through diet alone, you might want to consider taking a good quality supplement such as OmegaBrite. After an independent study conducted at Ohio State University, OmegaBrite became the first omega-3 clinically shown to reduce stress in a normal population.

Not all omegas are created equal

Omega-6s are found plentifully in grain based oils and lots of enriched processed foods. While we need both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, most westerners consume far too much omega-6 and not nearly enough omega-3.

Our diet has massively evolved over the last few centuries, and it’s knocked our nutrient sources and ratios out of whack. Back in ancient times, it was thought that they would consume a 1:1 diet of omega-3s to omega-6s. Nowadays the average person consumes a diet consisting of twenty to thirty times more omega-6 than they do omega-3.

This adaptation has occurred too fast for our bodies to adjust, and is believed to be a huge factor in causing many ailments including inflammation, arthritis, skin disorders and depression. As with all vitamins and minerals, the best way to give ourselves a boost is to eat more foods containing them.

omega-3 fatty acidsFive foods that will naturally boost your omega-3 fatty acids

Mackerel: not only is this oily fish a great source of Omega-3, it’s also rich in vitamin D, protein and selenium. It’s said to help our chances against cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, as well as age-related vision loss and dementia.

Walnuts: these crinkly nuts have always been seen as brain foods, which makes sense, given how much they look alike. As well as their omega-3 benefits, walnuts contain vitamins C and B6 as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate. They also contain minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.

Chia seeds: these tiny black seeds come from the Salvia Hispanica plant, a relation to mint, which grows natively in South America. Chia seeds were a staple for the Aztecs and Mayans, and have shot to fame in recent years for their ability to provide sustainable energy. They’re small but mighty, and in addition to omega-3 they contain calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and vitamins B1, B2 and B3.

Flaxseed: is high in dietary fibre, but low in carbs and high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. Flaxseed helps to make our skin and hair healthy, and can lower cholesterol. Flaxseed are naturally gluten free and rich in antioxidants. They support digestive health, and could assist us with preventing certain types of cancer.

Egg yolks: I could personally talk about the multiple benefits of eating eggs all day long. As long as they come from a quality source, eggs are an incredibly versatile wonder food. Egg yolks are easy to digest and contain vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, along with omega-3.

This fantastically detailed article by functional health guru Dr. Josh Axe details the top 15 foods we should be eating to boost our omega-3 intake.

omega-3 fatty acidsAbout OmegaBrite 

OmegaBrite is an extremely pure 90% Omega-3 Supplement, physician formulated by a Harvard trained psychiatrist to promote cardiac and joint health and an overall positive mood. OmegaBrite’s unique EPA:DHA ratio 7:1 is available in an easy to swallow 500mg gelcap that delivers powerful anti-inflammatory effects and promotes overall better health, as well as improving cognitive clarity.

Produced using Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP), each batch of OmegaBrite is third party tested before, during and after production to guarantee quality and purity. Each gelcap is manufactured using nitrogen blanketing to prevent oxidation, resulting in an odour free, no aftertaste capsule.

For more information on pharmaceutical grade omega-3 supplementation, and comprehensive research sources, head over to OmegaBrite.com.

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**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative piece, click here for my full disclosure policy.**

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 ❤️