A Book Review (of sorts): The Choice by Edith Eger

A Book Review (of sorts): The Choice by Edith Eger

Hello everyone!

Seems like months since my last post doesn’t it? Well that’s because it is. Oops! I kept sitting on ideas or waiting for the perfect words or the perfect opportunity to write, and I realised there was probably never going to be one. I just have to do it.

In two days I started and finished ‘The Choice’ by Edith Eger. There have been a few books throughout my life that have affected my deeply and stuck with me, important in the formation of who I am today. And there have been few books that have affected and touched me as deeply as The Choice. It is a must read for everyone, whoever you may be.

The Choice is non-fiction, following the story of Edith – a Hungarian Jew – through her imprisonment in Auschwitz, her survival, and her healing. Edith went on to be a leading psychologist worldwide (there is nothing you can’t do) and the later chapters explore how she helped individuals struggling with a multitude of issues find healing themselves – and how they in turn taught her lessons in her own healing. The sentiment of learning from each other is one I consider to be of great importance; throughout the book she finds reasons to be positive and lessons to be learned, a skill I try to reflect in my own writing/ attitude.

At points The Choice was painful to read. I cried for the enormity of suffering within its pages. And yet I couldn’t put it down. The stories she told seemed impossible, unreal – surely this cruelty could not have been condoned by anyone? But it was. More than that, sometimes I feel we assume that the Holocaust could never be repeated. We assume that the hatred for the ‘other’ appeared overnight, but it didn’t. It took years. The point of my little tangent is to say that I look around and see this same hatred being fostered again and it scares me. Trump’s suggestions and policies for the treatment of immigrants have a striking resemblance to those early days of policies against the Jews, for example. We must not tolerate this.

Edith’s writing flows beautifully, a perfect balance of emotion and fact; encouraging the reader constantly to choose happiness in their own life.

Here are some of the lessons I learnt, and beliefs I already held that were reflected in the book:

– laughter is the best remedy. It is both possible and therapeutic to laugh through bad times. Edith recalls the ‘fashion shows’ the women would hold in the bunks to entertain themselves. Although worlds apart, it reminds me of laughter I have shared with my friends when laughter seemed the least important thing – in times of exam stress, while getting lost, while grieving. It turned out to be the most important thing.

– kindness is always present – even in the most unlikely of places.

– hope is a beautiful emotion, and even if it doesn’t come into fruition, more hope can be born from disappointment. There is not a limited supply. Like a Phoenix it is reborn from the ashes; it is necessary to our survival as humans.

– depression does not always strike someone during the darkest times in their life. In fact, often in creeps in during the happiest – when we least expect it. If you have issues you feel need dealing with, start the process. Bottling it up never lead to anything good.

– sometimes a loss is a gain: absence reveals beauty.

It is like our first day of Auschwitz, when the absence of her hair revealed to me with new clarity the beauty of her eyes’

Not only that, but sometimes other people are capable of seeing beauty where you see only ruins within yourself, and ultimately true happiness comes from when you are able to see the beauty in the wreckage with your own eyes.

Being written almost totally in the present tense makes The Choice feel more like a story, very cleverly making the wisdom within its pages easier to grasp.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It will stick with me for years. Speaking of which, upcoming post: The Most Important Books in my Life (so far)

Keep Smiling. X

The Greek gods as musical theatre quotes

The Greek gods as musical theatre quotes

Hello there!

I’m back, and I’m getting back on schedule! These last few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of revision, and it got me thinking (as it should); I decided to try exploring some more exciting ways I could relate what I was studying to the world around me. In September I began studying Classical Civilisation and, wow, is it interesting. I had never learnt about Greek and Roman myths, civilisation or culture, and I certainly hadn’t grasped the extent that they influenced our society. I particularly enjoy the myths, but I’ve had to put a lot of effort into learning the basics – who the gods were – so I can really enjoy discovering the folklore of Greece and Rome. To help me I went exploring online and I came across a few posts entitled something along the lines of ‘Greek Gods as things my friends have said’. My little creative brain was taken by this idea, and so I put my own twist on it, combining two of my loves – musical theatre and classics. And so I present to you ‘the Greek gods as lines from musicals’ (Dionysus would be proud):

Aphrodite – goddess of love and beauty: F*ck me gently with a chainsaw!

Apollo – god of music, the arts and education, prophecy and archery: I am a song of endless wonder that no one will claim.

Hermes – god of travel and trade; messenger of the gods: Always be aware of autocorrect.

Artemis – god of wildlife, childbirth and hunting: All the world is turning turtle. Day is night; dog is cat.

Ares – god of war: I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love!

Hades – god of the underworld: Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Zeus – king of the gods; god of the skies and heavens: Now I don’t mean to brag, once I was one of you, but now I am the flag that you pledge allegiance to.

Dionysus – god of wine, theatre and revelry: Raise a glass to freedom, something they can never take away.

Athena – goddess of war and wisdom: I’m not just a bit different from some of my friends. These answers that come into my mind unbidden, these stories delivered to me fully written.

Hestia – goddess of the home and the hearth: For the wretched of the earth, there is a flame that never dies: even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

Poseidon – god of the seas (there’s two quotes for this one to highlight his temperamental attitude): 1. I float in a boat on a raging black ocean, low in the water with nowhere to go, the tiniest lifeboat. 2. And it is quiet, and I am warm, like I’ve sailed into the eye of a storm.

Demeter – goddess of the grain and harvest: I’ve given you sunshine, I’ve given you dirt, you’ve given me nothing, but heartache and hurt!

Hephaestus – god of metalwork and craftsmen: There are giants in the sky! There are big tall terrible giants in the sky!

Hera – goddess of marriage, women, childbirth and family; wife of Zeus: Everything today is thoroughly modern, check your personality, everything today makes yesterday slow – better face reality!

That was a lot harder than I expected it to be, and although I’m sure I haven’t found the perfect quote for most of the gods, it has been interesting to look at them from another angle. If you have any questions, suggestions for quotes or post requests please do let me know in the comments below.

Keep Smiling! X

Musicals used: Heathers, Hamilton, Be More Chill, Matilda, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Little Shop of Horrors, Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, Into the Woods

My Roman Adventure

My Roman Adventure

Hello everyone! This week’s post is very late, almost two months! I decided to postpone a week’s upload in January so I could post a sort-of travel journal instead, but unfortunately I am very lazy and after falling out of the habit of blogging, I just couldn’t seem to get myself back into the swing again. Fast forward to today and I decided enough was enough, I am not prepared to let this slip – so here I am with an account of my weekend visit to Rome as part of my Classical Civilisation studies. I hope you enjoy, and I’ll be back soon with more content. 🙂

Day 1 – Friday 25th January:

Thankfully my very sensible classics teacher booked no early morning flights or activities that require ridiculous wake up times, so I arrived at our meeting point not exactly awake, but no less tired than any other usual school day. Our journey began with twenty minutes of walking up and down the hill as we tried to hail our coach which seemed always to be travelling in the opposite direction to us, unable to find a suitable place to stop. My pessimistic classmate decided that the trip was doomed from this point on and in order to prepare for inevitable failure changed his phone lock screen to a sheep proclaiming ‘you will fail’. Well we’ve made it to Rome, so we haven’t failed yet, although I shan’t speak too soon – there are still 3 days left. I love our quirks.

Security and the wait in the airport was reasonably uneventful despite my constant fear that something illegal will be found in my bag even though I packed it with nothing illegal. Logic. We played ‘who am I’ and card games for a few hours, before realising our gate was about to close because we’d completely lost any sense of time. We ran – a challenge for some – and made it.

Our coach to the hotel dropped us about a kilometre away which meant we had to walk through central Rome for a bit, which I didn’t mind because it allowed me go get used to the layout and suss the city out. We landed during a most stunning sunset, but by the time we left the airport it was already dark so I haven’t really been able to get a feel for the city yet. What I can say from walking the streets and side streets getting to the hotel and restaurant is that I love how the little shops are all set into the walls, like doorways to some other world slotted into the side of a building. They look so ordinary from the outside, but inside each has a unique character.

Several people have already approached us selling various items. At dinner a man burst into the restaurant playing the accordion. He was asked to leave of course. Nonetheless, we enjoyed his unexpected music for the short time it was there. The atmosphere here does not feel at all threatening or dangerous (unlike parts of London once the sun has set). I will not pretend I have an opinion on the city yet; I’m excited to explore tomorrow and experience Rome in all it’s glory. Not only that, but experience Rome with my friends: travelling has always been a marker in my life and friendships.

Day 2 – Saturday 26th January:

Without recounting each visit in its entirety, here’s a list of all the sites that I can recall we’ve seen today: the Mouth of Truth, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, the Roman Forum, the pantheon, the Piazza Navona, the Trevi fountain, the forum of Augustus, and the Circus Maximus. We really have seen a lot and yet I did not feel rushed at all; in fact we even had a few hours of free time and lazing around. I always find that when I’m abroad/ discovering a new place time doesn’t follow the same rules. All these sites are amazing, they really are. The Trevi fountain was the most busy – perhaps overwhelmingly so – yet I still enjoyed it. I’m in love with the fact that you can be walking along a street, a normal, functioning street, and then suddenly – BAM: Roman ruin! They fit perfectly into the city, but I almost feel like they shouldn’t. In my head they should be apart; kept separate. They’re not, of course, and it’s just amazing.

In other news I have discovered the joy of gelato and I don’t think my life will ever be the same. I’m seriously considering living entirely on gelato for the remainder of this trip and have made it my mission to try as many flavours as possible. Today I have tried strawberry, Nutella, hazelnut, banana, vanilla, mint choc chip, pistachio, caramel, and coconut. You may be thinking that that is quite a lot of gelato and you would be absolutely correct – I feel quite sick. It’s worth it though!

The trees in Rome have caught my attention. For one, there’s quite a lot of them, and not just in parks like in London. Beyond that they are incredibly tall and take captivating shapes with their leaves/ pines forming the perfect cone or sitting neatly in only the very top branches in the shape of an umbrella. I’m wondering if they are native to Rome – perhaps they were imported to allow you to see the impressive architecture unobstructed? I will have to look into it.

The Colosseum was my favourite building we saw today. Basic, I know. We had a really knowledgeable guide who gave us a great tour of all the sites. You can see real parallels between how and where Romans organised their entertainment and how we do nowadays. I also learnt that Mussolini had once planned to build a church inside the colloseum. I’m glad he didn’t. Within the arches of the colloseum you can see clearly the effects of pollution between the contrast in the areas of the arches that have been cleaned and those that have not, showing how a building can tell you unexpected things and knowledge can be found in unexpected places. The detail which has been upheld in this building makes me wonder if any of our modern buildings will hold up in years to come.

In the Piazza Navona we had the joy of experiencing a gorgeous sunset – a perfect end to our daytime. And now, to do in Rome as the Romans do, I am going to sleep because I’m pretty sure the Romans sleep.

Day 3 – Sunday 27th January:

Today, on our trip to Rome, we went to Spain. Well, the Spanish steps at least which were once used in order to enlist unwitting visitors into the Spanish army (a hilarious but ingenious trickery). In addition we explored the Ara Pacis and it’s history along with a few other sites we came across on our travels.

From the top of the Spanish steps it certainly struck me how much flatter Rome was than London, just as it was in Paris, but even more so here. It seems that in New York and London we decided that the sky was the only place left to build. As a lover of a good view I was very happy that I could still see into the distance from the height of the steps.

In further comparison to London, Rome feels much safer – particularly at night, as I mentioned earlier – and the metro here is a much more pleasant experience than the tube. I’m glad to have used the metro because I never feel like I’ve truly visited a city until I’ve utilised their public transport. What I’m not mad about is the huge presence of armed police, having never been a fan of guns; they are deeply unsettling, although I guess that’s the point. To look on the bright side, their funny tasselled hats add a touch of personality to their uniform.

From observing the ruins we have visited, I have come to appreciate better the patience and skill that archaeologists must posses in order to not only excavate, but also work out how to reconstruct and fill in the gaps of Roman architecture. This stands out particularly at the Ara Pacis, where much of the original altar is missing, but the original designs have been carefully replicated; they are exquisite! Speaking of the Ara Pacis, both it and the Colosseum were used (or almost used) as propaganda tools for Mussolini, which I didn’t know.

Later in the day, we decided to venture back to the Circus Maximus to relax and run around a bit. With the UN flag flying high overheard I could not help but smile and take a moment to consider how connected the world is, both globally and across centuries. Thousands of years ago citizens gathered in the very spot I was standing to watch chariot races – a marvel known to us only in cinema – and thousands of miles away is the UN headquarters (where I was just a few months ago). I’m not sure what that says exactly, but being in a foreign country always changes my mood and my thinking patterns, and I end up contemplating everything on a deeper level. To be honest I welcome the change.

Day 4 – Monday 28th January:

Today was our final day in Rome, and we spent most of it in the airport. The atmosphere among the group was melancholy – we had become much closer friends on this trip, being around each other all day and most of the night, and none of us particularly love the normal routine of school. Hopefully it won’t be too difficult to find our footing again once we return to our classes.

Since I am gluten intolerant, I had been avoiding gluten throughout the duration of the trip, but this morning, at the urging of my peers, I decided to deal with the consequences later – it’s a problem for future me – and eat some pastries. Wow. They are amazing. The croissants are way better than any I tasted in France. They’re covered in some sort of heavenly honey glaze and they are so soft and fluffy. Of course, my trip would not have been complete without trying just a few more flavours of gelato, and so it came to be that, at seven thirty on a Sunday morning, a group of six British students wandered around the base of the colosseum looking for an open gelato bar. We found one. I have now tried over twenty flavours including coffee and melon (this morning’s choice). I regret nothing.

After having been in Rome, I have finally been able to pick up the sounds of the Italian language which I have always had trouble with in the past, despite my mum’s flair for it. This has been a truly incredible sojourn, with some incredible people. I will never forget what I have seen and the memories I have made here. Hopefully I will be able to return one day and see even more! Disappointingly we didn’t get to visit the Vatican or many art centres, but I’m not complaining – it just gives me an excuse to come again. As my final comment, I just want to say that although this city is wonderful and has of course been instrumental in my enjoyment of this trip, what has been even more important is the company I have travelled with. Without my friends it just wouldn’t have been the same, so when travelling make sure you pick somewhere you want to go, but also make sure you choose the right company for you.

Thank you for reading and I hope this has inspired you to travel and learn! Comment below if you have any experiences from Rome, and where you would like to visit next.

Keep Smiling! X

Dolls Aren’t Just For Children

Dolls Aren’t Just For Children

On top of my dresser, in pride of place, is my dolls house. Painted onto the arch above the doorway is my family name, and purple flowers have been made to look like they are creeping up the side of the house. I was given this shruken-down world for Christmas 2014 to replace the beautiful but somewhat worse for wear house that my Nanny had passed down to me when I was about four. Over the years I had spent hours masterminding different scenarios for the family I’d created a home for; the same with my barbies – the box full of barbies and their clothes that we’d found in a charity store for only £2. Looking back, I realise how many of the situations I played out mirrored or exaggerated events and fears I was facing and discovering within my own life. Dolls were fundamental in how I learnt to process and understand the world; in a similar way, the stories I played out became the stories I wrote down which became my love of writing – essential to how I relate to, process and understand the world nowadays.

Currently I don’t play with my dolls house very often, but every now and then I’ll open up the doors and make sure everything is still nice and tidy. Sometimes I’ll pick up a figure and start to make it walk and talk. It’s never long, though, until I start to feel ridiculous, which in itself is ridiculous given that even if I was afraid of someone judging me for wanting to play with my dolls, it’s not like anyone is watching. The same nagging sense that I am being childish; that I’m too old for this; that I need to stop spending so much time inside my fantasy worlds comes sneaking up on me whenever I go up to the counter with my Star Wars action figures that I enjoy collecting. I enjoy collecting them because I like Star Wars, they are the perfect size to hold in your hand (there’s a really good documentary on Netflix about this called ‘The Toys That Made Us’), and they make fantastic geeky decorations for my bookshelf. Whenever that feeling comes knocking I can’t help but think when did I become too old for this? When did childishness and creativity become insults and why? Who decided that the best way to live was to be constantly immersed in reality and face all problems with logical, conscious thought? That’s not right.

Nevertheless, it’s one thing to decide something isn’t right and that you aren’t going to conform any more, but it’s quite another thing to actually follow that through. For me the solution came in the form of baby steps. Sometimes I believe it’s actually more beneficial to take giant leaps instead, but on this particular issue baby steps seemed the best option due mainly to the fact that – for me at least – this isn’t just about whether to indulge in my desire to collect action figures and maintain a dolls house, no, this is part of a wider issue of not caring what other people think and learning to be confident/comfortable with myself. So, baby step No.1: leave dolls house in full view when friends and family come to visit. This led to another unexpected step of holding conversations about said dolls house and my companions’ memories of their own experiences with dolls. On more than one occasion I have found that others are just like me, wanting to play with the house like they used to when they were younger. Sometimes this prompted us to opening the doors and having fun; there is no shame or embarrassment in this. Role-play can be beneficial to everyone plus it’s actually much more common that you’d think – take theatre for example. In an attempt to move away from role-play and other such childish indulgences, we continue to create the very same stories on a much larger for others to see live in a building for exactly that purpose. We all know how theatre can be cathartic, and I say so too is make believe.

Beyond my own experience as an imaginative child, dolls have played an important part in history over many centuries and in many different contexts. A doll buried in a child’s grave in the Itkol II burial ground in the Republic of Khakassia, in southern Siberia from 4,500 years ago may be one of the oldest dolls still surviving. It is made from Soapstone and suggests that the idea of a doll has been a part of many cultures, and that the comfort we get from such toys goes beyond the fact that we are taught to enjoy them as children. Puppets and dolls later became a central feature of the condemnation of ‘witches’, shown in Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ for example. One of the most interesting uses of a doll was in Mamie and Kenneth Clark’s experiment in the 1940s, the conclusion of which later went on to be instrumental in overturning the ‘seperate-but-equal’ laws of segregation in the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954. In the experiment African American children would be shown a white doll and a black doll (really a white doll painted brown since no appropriate dolls were manufactured at the time). The children were then asked questions such as which doll did they prefer, which one was good or bad, and which one looked like them. The overwhelming response was that the white doll was better, and upon being asked to identify which doll looked like them some children would start to cry. Through this experiment, Marie and Kenneth were able to reveal the devastating affects of segregation on an individual.

As you can see, dolls have played an important role in our history and I believe they can play an important role in our development. Never be ashamed of your interests, they are yours and they matter.

Keep Smiling. X

Board not Bored

Board not Bored

‘Board not Bored’ was the name of my primary school’s board game/ tabletop game club. Secretly I always wanted to join said club, but it was seen as seriously uncool; while I’m not one to shy away from what I enjoy just because of how it is received, I was already part of three other clubs in the ‘seriously uncool’ category so I decided it was best to avoid joining yet another. The bullies already had enough reasons to mount their attack against me, but that’s not the point. The point is that even though the children that attended the ‘Board not Bored’ club were excluded by the majority in my school, they seemed some of the happiest and friendliest towards and around each other. Something about the games they played connected them and allowed them to lose themselves for a while. That sounded very appealing to me.

Fast forward a few years to January 2018, and I came across my first ever board game cafe in Rochester, Kent called ‘Playopolis’. I fell in love. The idea is simple: you pay a small fee to sit in the cafe and any food/drinks is on top of that. In the back room are stacked hundred of games which you can choose from to play. It’s brilliant. The range of games that are out there is simply astonishing. There’s games with tactics, without tactics, word games, number games, team games, 10 minute games, 10 hour games – the list goes on and on. Whatever your interests there is a tabletop game to suit.

I’ve been trying to uncover more ways and strategies to help myself find calm and balance through things I love recently. Like many over the Christmas period, I played some more board games than I usually would (steering clear away from classic monopoly – we all know that never ends well). Along with my family I rediscovered how easily time can be passed and lost when you are enveloped in the logistics of war or battling it out for the highest score. I’ve missed that communal connection and involvement on such an intense level, so I have decided to reintroduce games back into my life as a regular occurrence. As long as things don’t get too competitive, it’s a great way to de-stress and reconnect with those around you. One of my strongest friendships has also been forged entirely over board games.

A common misconception is that tabletop games are only for children. This is simply not the case. There are so many games to cater for people of all ages and abilities. There are also games for different time investments and depending on the atmosphere you wish to create. For example, cards against humanity would be a great game for teenagers and adults alike looking for a social evening, but battleships – while enjoyable for everyone in my opinion – might be better suited for a quick yet serious 20 minute session with a younger person. My suggestion for anyone looking to rediscover the joy in board games would be to look and see if there’s a board game cafe in your area. They’re becoming more and more common, and they are a great way to get you up to speed with the wide variety of games available. If there isn’t a board game cafe near you, never fear – google to the rescue. I’d research some games relating to topics you might like, and then plan an evening of fun. Setting aside the time to gather with family or friends to play these games allows you to really get into the flow and maybe try out a few games at once to see which ones you like best for future reference.

Humans have been using games as a way to connect for thousands of years, so my love of board games is unsurprising. During a recent visit to a Roman museum we had the opportunity to have a go at a game that records suggest was played in early Roman Britain. It was called Latrunculi, and as far as I remember the rules are as follows:

A board would be made out of wood, marble, stone, or silver and be split into squares of 8×8. Much like a draughts setup, black and white pieces fill the first two rows at opposite ends of the board. Pieces move vertically or horizontally, not diagonally, moving as far as up the board as the player wishes before reaching another piece (you can’t jump over another piece or change direction midway). The aim is to sandwich another players piece between two of your own either horizontally or vertically. When only one piece of either colour remains the game is over and the player with the most pieces collected has won.

Although there are really too many to choose from, some of my suggestions for a gaming night are as follows:

– Timeline is an interesting, but not too long game that requires just enough brain power to get everyone in the mood and thinking

– Bananagrams is a quiet game with fierce concentration, suitable for ages 7 up. Perhaps this would be a good idea to calm everyone down again should things get a bit too loud and competitive at any point

– Card Against Humanity is hilarious; a perfect game while you’re eating. However, it’s definitely not suitable for younger children

– Monopoly Empire takes less time than normal monopoly and, in my experience, fills the monopoly shaped hole in your gaming life without the friendship-destroying arguments. The monopoly card game, likewise, is a good alternative

– Feeling ambitious? Why not try to orchestrate a DnD group and learn how to be dungeon master for your own campaign? It’s super creative, but do make sure to set aside enough time and get everyone’s characters sorted out before hand

– Chess, draughts, battleships and the other classics can be useful as most people already know the rules. Setting up a tournament is also a great idea, so long as you have willing participants

– Twister isn’t exactly a table top game (although there’s nothing to say you couldn’t make it so) but after hours of sitting down to play, a physical game can a relief and provide some hilarity to the situation

– Talisman is such a good game to play time and time again, and with so many extension packs available it never gets old. If it’s your first time playing, set aside enough time to familiarise yourself with the rules

– The Would I Lie to You board game is best for a social evening and always proves to be a laugh

– Looterz is my go to wind-down game. It’s classic dice rolling, card/coin collecting fun and is super simple once you get your head round the basics

The selection included above really are just a handful of my favourite games and a sprinkling of the vast variety out there. This post is a bit all over the place, but my basic point is this: connection is an essential part of human existence. Playing board games provide a way to relax, connect and challenge the mind all at once; it is healing to have a time consuming, face to face interaction with those you love every now and again. I encourage all my readers to sit down for a few hours with those they love and find a game you really relish. You could even create your own!

Sorry for the late and slight messy post – let me know your thoughts and favourite games down in the comments below.

Keep Smiling. X

Recipe: Gluten-free, Egg Free Avocado and Chai latte Cupcakes

Recipe: Gluten-free, Egg Free Avocado and Chai latte Cupcakes

It’s been a day full of studying in my house (save the pity, it’s only because I left all my school work to the last possible opportunity). In order to avoid going completely insane I’ve been punctuating work with things I enjoy, such as baking and writing a blog post about it! I tried to make these yesterday and while they were ok, I knew I could improve the recipe further. So with a different method and a bit less baking powder, here’s my recipe for the odd sounding but delicious tasting avocado and chai latte cupcakes:

Notes: These cupcakes can burn quite easily so make sure to keep an eye on them while cooking. Agave Nectar can be substituted for honey, and the semi-skimmed milk can be substituted for any fat content depending on desired outcome or almond milk for vegans. I used a store bought chai latte powder by Drink Me Chai, but if you’d like to make your own I recommend using this recipe.

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 small-medium avocado
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 120 grams plain gluten-free flour
  • (just under) 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 170ml milk (approx.)
  • 50 grams chai latte powder
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar

Method:

  1. Line a tray with cupcake cases and preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
  2. Peel avocado and mash in a bowl with a fork
  3. Sift sugar into bowl and cream together with whisk (I recommend using an electric whisk if possible)
  4. Add agave nectar and continue to whisk
  5. Sift flour, baking powder and xanthan gum into bowl and fold into mixture, slowly adding milk. The mixture will become quite runny, but don’t worry, as long as the milk is completely incorporated it will be ok
  6. Sift chai latte powder into bowl and fold in roughly before whisking mixture
  7. Separate into cupcake cases and bake for 25-30 minutes until you can stick a kebab stick into cake and it comes out clean. They will be very soft before cooling
  8. Serve with a cup of tea and enjoy!

I was very pleased to post my first ever recipe on Friday and it gave me some confidence to be a bit more experimental with my baking, which I would definitely recommend. I hope you give making these cupcakes a go and let me know in the comments what you thought/ any recipe requests or suggestions. I will be posting again on Friday as usual.

Keep Smiling. X


Recipe: Chocolate Brownies!

Recipe: Chocolate Brownies!

So for the first post of 2019 I have decided to write a new type of post: a recipe! Please note I am not a chef or an expert in cooking and/or baking, I just like messing around with the ingredients I find in my kitchen. Tonight I decided to try making brownies. I have only ever made brownies from a packet that requires you to add oil and put the mixture in the oven – it’s not particularly difficult (although that doesn’t stop me from messing it up, it’s a talent I have). This was different; I made the brownies from scratch without a recipe. While I am sure that I could perfect the recipe further, I am pleased to announce that the brownies are edible and – dare I say – quite tasty!

So here is the recipe for my awesome, gluten-free chocolate brownies:

Notes: All of my tablespoons were flat, not heaped. The coconut oil measurements are extremely vague, so I would say use no less than 3 tablespoons and no more than 5 1/2 tablespoons. The tray I used was quite shallow so if you would prefer bigger brownies then double the values below. 

Serves 4 – 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • approx. 4 tbsp coconut oil (solid)
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 10 tbsp sweetened hot chocolate mix (I used Twinings Swiss chocolate drink)
  • 50 grams dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp of chocolate peanut butter powder mixed with water. This could be substituted with approx. 2 1/2 tablespoons of Nutella or some crushed dates if you have a nut allergy.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. In a bowl whisk together egg yolks and chocolate peanut butter, gradually adding 5 tbsp sweetened chocolate mix
  1. Put coconut oil, golden syrup and sugar in a separate pan over moderate heat. When entirely melted, take off heat and pour into bowl with the other ingredients
  1. Melt dark chocolate over a pan of boiling water or using a microwave
  2. Add dark chocolate to other ingredients and whisk
  3. Slowly add the last 5 tbsp of sweetened chocolate mix and continue whisking until consistent texture throughout
  4. Line tray with baking paper and pour mixture into it, ensuring a smooth surface. I like using a circular dish so I can cut the brownies into triangles. Dust the surface with hot chocolate mix
  5. Bake for a 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven when you can stick knife into the mixture and it comes out clean

For a fancy dessert, top with vanilla ice cream and raspberries, or enjoy as a delicious snack. Although for many the New Year is synonymous with the start of a new diet, please remember that being ‘healthy’ does not mean denying yourself of all the treats you enjoy. That is actually unhealthy. It’s important to enjoy things in moderation and listen to your body’s needs, so if you want a brownie by all means treat yourself. (Also I could really do with some feedback on the recipe!).

I hope your New Year got off to a good start, and if not then maybe this recipe will help brighten up your day – I enjoy losing myself in some baking.

Keep Smiling. X