Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Baked Sweet Potato Topped with Caramelised Apples and Honey

Picture it. It's Sunday evening. You've probably had a huge lunch, and you don't feel like eating something too big at the moment. If you had one, you'd just hack a slice off a big cake and settle down in front of the telly with that. But then cake isn't very healthy. 


This. THIS is healthy. 

Caramelised apple slices, warm cinnamon, honey and the soft, sweet flesh of the sweet potato all combine here to give you THE TASTE OF AUTUMN.  I love it. And although the sweet potato takes about 40 minutes to cook, you'll only actually be required for 5 minutes of it. Brilliant, yes? 

Baked Sweet Potato Topped with Caramelised Apples and Honey
Serves 1. 

1 small-medium sized sweet potato
1 tsp coconut oil
1 eating apple, sliced but not peeled
a pinch of cinnamon
2 tsp honey

Preheat your oven to gas mark 7/220ºC/425ºF and line a baking sheet with foil. 

Wash the sweet potato and pierce it all over with a sharp knife. 

Place on the tray and bake for 40 minutes. 

Check the sweet potato - it should be crisp-skinned but tender in the centre. Now, get on with the apple topping. Heat the coconut oil in a small frying pan and drop in the apple slices. Drizzle in 1 tsp of the honey and turn the heat up, stirring, so that the apple starts to turn golden. Add a dash of cinnamon as you go. Once the apple is soft and golden, remove from the heat. 

Cut the sweet potato and pile the apple slices up on top. Finish with a drizzle of honey if you like, and eat hot, preferably in a bowl, with a spoon. 

FODMAP note: I realise this recipe is a bit of a FODMAP nightmare, with almost all the ingredients potential triggers. However, you could use a small sweet potato and try it with pear slices instead and maple syrup, which all rate lower on the scale and are less likely to be triggers. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Why We Need Education About Psoriasis

So there I was, scrolling through Twitter, when I saw this:

Obviously, it generated quite a response, with people shaming the coffee shop he'd been in...

So let's look at this for a minute. 

First off, there's no video available of this event - the only evidence that this happened is from this tweet. I've done some digging around and the coffee shop in question haven't issued any comments about the incident (that I can find) and there's been no news coverage of it. But, for the sake of this post, we'll assume that it did happen. Because I generally find, that apart from those of us who suffer from it, not that many people seem to be very clued up about the disease anyway. 

Secondly, there's quite a bit of panic about Ebola at the moment. It's a scary illness, I get that. Psoriasis, on the other hand, is more annoying than it is scary. But then people don't know much about psoriasis, even though it already affects millions of people around the world. 

But I think it's not quite fair to launch attacks at multi-millionaire global organisations, or their employees. The real problem here is that a lot of people know NOTHING about what psoriasis is, or even what it looks like. 

We psoriasis sufferers probably haven't helped matters. We try and hide our red, scaly patches with clothes or makeup. If someone asks us what it is, we might shuffle and say 'Oh, it's just dandruff' because we don't want to get into a long conversation about autoimmune diseases. 

So here goes. 

Psoriasis is not catching. You can't get it from skin to skin contact with someone who has flaky psoriasis patches. And you don't get it ON PURPOSE. The patches of red, scaly skin are a symptom of something underlying - that's not really on the skin at all - but indicate some sort of problem with the immune system. They can be brought on by stress, illness or injury. There's evidence that it might even be passed on through our genes. Bottom line is - it's not your fault.

I've seen people politely but clearly back away from me, because I've had psoriasis. Children are more honest - they just ask you outright why you have sugar in your hair, usually on a crowded bus or train. Hairdressers would part my hair and make a face to themselves, or to colleagues, as they saw the inflamed and often bloody patches on my scalp. I can SEE you in the mirror, I wanted to say. But never did.

There are emotional problems, too. Psoriasis sufferers are thought to be more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety. The Psoriasis Association reported that 10% of sufferers had considered suicide and 1 in 5 of people with the disease feel "stigmatised" by their condition. This all isn't helped by behaviour that's described in the tweet above - being refused service, while people run away screaming. Yeah, that's going to do a lot for your self-confidence. 

So I made this little picture. Share it if you like. In a snapshot, it sums up some of the main points about psoriasis, and reminds us to be mindful if we come across others who have it. 

I'm sure the hairdressers I'd been to didn't really want to hurt my feelings - they probably just thought: "What the HECK is THAT in her hair??". And the people that are linked to this tweet - if they'd known it was psoriasis and not contagious - and certainly nothing to do with Ebola - I expect they wouldn't have behaved that way and just written "Shane" on a paper cup and served the next person in the queue, instead. 

Do you have any experience with psoriasis? What do you think could be done to raise awareness of psoriasis? 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Halloween Gooey Brain Cupcakes

Mwah ha ha ha haaaa.......

Yep, Halloween's on its way and look what I've got for you... 

Gooey Brain Cupcakes. 

Genius, right? 

It occurred to me one day that walnut halves look a lot like brains - and would look a lot more like them if they were covered in white chocolate. 

You just prepare your cupcakes and cut out a circle of ready-rolled fondant icing - you could use black if you wanted to - and put them to one side. Then, take 12 walnut halves, one for each cake, and dip them in melted white chocolate. Put them on a sheet of greaseproof paper to dry off and set. Meanwhile, top each circle of fondant onto your cooled cake, using a smear of jam if you like. Once the chocolate on the walnut halves is set, (about half an hour to an hour, depending on how hot or cold your room temperature is) you just blob a little raspberry or strawberry jam onto the fondant-topped cupcake and push a white chocolate-coated walnut half on top. 

Gooey brain cupcakes. 

What are you all cooking up for Halloween? 


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