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Recipes

Smoked Hake, Beans and Greens (Recipe)


Serves 2

Prep 15 mins. Cook 10 mins


Packing 3 of your 5-a-day and overloaded with enticing chorizo flavours, this is simply one of my favourite fish dishes to cook at home. It is easy to prep and cook, a great source of iron and the best way to get amazing flavour out of any white fish.



  • mild olive oil
  • ½ x 200g pack raw cooking chorizo
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 260g bag spinach
  • 2 x 140g skinless hake fillets
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and shredded
  • 400g can cannellini beans, drained
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

To serve

  • Quick garlic mayonnaise (Shave some garlic over your favourite mayo)

Method:

  1. Boil a full kettle of water and heat the grill to high. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large frying pan. Squeeze the meat from the chorizo directly into the pan. Add the onion and fry for 5 mins, crushing the meat with a spatula until broken up, golden and surrounded by its juices. The onion will also be soft and golden.
  2. Meanwhile, put the spinach in a colander, slowly pour over the boiled water to wilt it, then run under the cold tap. Squeeze out the excess water using your hands, then set aside. Line a baking tray with foil, rub with a little oil and place the fish on top. Season, sprinkle over the smoked paprika and drizzle with a little more oil.
  3. Tip the chilli into the pan with the sausages, fry for 1 min more, then add the beans, spinach, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Let it warm through gently, then season to taste.
  4. Grill the fish for 5 mins or until flaky but not dry – you won’t need to turn it. Spoon the bean mixture onto plates, then carefully top with the fish and any juices from the tray. Serve with a dollop of Quick garlic mayonnaise (see recipe, right), if you like.


et voilà…

Recipe from BBCGoodFood

Recipes

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Halloumi (Recipe)


Serves 3

Prep 15 mins. Cook 25 mins


Halloumi is a wonderful replacement for meat and, added with the zingy cous cous salad, is a surefire hit with the entire family.


Prep Time!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 large roasted pepper from a jar, thickly sliced, or a handful of ready-roasted sliced peppers
  • 200g quinoa
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • small bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • large pinch sugar
  • 250g pack halloumi cheese, cut into 6 sliced

 


Method:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a medium saucepan. Cook the onion and pepper for a few mins, then add the quinoa and cook for a further 3 mins. Add the stock, cover and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for 15 mins or until soft, then stir through half the parsley. Heat the grill.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the lemon zest and juice with the remaining parsley and oil, and a large pinch of sugar and salt. Grill the halloumi until both sides are golden and crisp. Serve the salad with the grilled halloumi and the dressing poured over everything.


et voilà…

Recipe from BBCGoodFood

Baby

10 Things Not to Say to A Pregnant Partner

Pregnancy hormones play a key part in the day-to-day well-being of a pregnant mother. No matter the trimester, irritation is heighted, as the growing burden of carrying a constant bag of weight builds by the day (or so I am told). I have tried to imagine it, and, as the man in the partnership (technically speaking), I simply can’t envision the constant physical and mental burden so many women have to experience during the long 9 months of pregnancy. So, this list is my effort to ensure that the next time your partner has an aching back, lack of breathe or blistering headache, they are being helped, rather than hindered.


  1. How are you feeling? – Dumb question, she is feeling crap. By the third trimester, she is carrying around quite a deal of extra weight, putting burden on the body. Obviously, the odd enquiry is very much appreciated, after all, it’s always good to show you care. But try not to make it an hourly habit, you might find a tongue lashing soon follows.
  2. Hey fatty! – Jokes about weight are a no go. Not even once! You may be a budding Chris Rock, but she is more likely to see Lenny Henry before her eyes (Sorry, Lenny!). This one is pretty simple, just keep schtum!
  3. Can you cook? I’m too tired – Wow! You didn’t really go there did you? You are tired? How do you think she feels. Trust me, when a pregnant lady says she is tired, she means that she is EXHAUSTED! Not only is it about time you learnt to at least turn on the oven, a beautiful bump will make getting to the stove that much harder for her. Without go-go-gadget arms, the stove can become a dangerous place for mum and her bump, so why not show her what man cuisine is all about.
  4. I have a back ache – I commonly suffer from back aches. In fact, they have hampered most of my adult life. But, trust me, just because your other half normally treats you with curative adoration, she isn’t going to care about this one. She gets a twinge with every single movement; your inability to perform back flips really is of no consequence.
  5. “My parents want to…” – Grandparents-to-be are bound to get more excited with each passing day of your pregnancy. They don’t mean to, but they can become overbearing and want to see you and bump at every given opportunity. Don’t allow pregnancy to gestate resentment on top of a little life. The wedge that can develop in this time is potentially huge if you place anyone’s needs and wants before your pregnant partner. Men, grow some balls, time to stand up to the ‘rents for once.
  6. You can’t – When it comes to her body and labour, yes she can! You of course have a say, but final decisions on mums body and labour are always left to mum. “You can’t…” adds doubt, fear and resentment. Not exactly good mindsets for the start of labour, when adrenaline needs to be kept to a minimum. So, be like Barack… “Yes We (she) Can!” (A nice reference back to a time when rationality ruled the free world.)
  7. Why are you being a bitch? – Again… Wow! This time, you went there? If you go 9 months without thinking the B word, then you are a better man than I. It’s bound to happen. She is tired, in a hormonal hurricane and has a belly that grows larger by the day. But you think it… YOU DONT SAY IT! Even if she does yell at YOU because the muddy-pawed cat jumped on her side of the bed and made a mess. Sorry about that… personal bone of contention!!!!
  8. I’ll do it tomorrow – If your pregnant partner asks you to do something, get it done and get it done now. Pregnancy is a time of great worry and stress. Mum wants to create a nest at home and, if you are needed for the odd piece of DIY to ensure she has one less worry, complete the task ASAP. Especially in the third trimester! After all, tomorrow may be a day too late!
  9. Are you stupid? – Believe it or not, the so-called ‘Baby Brain’ is a very real phenomenon. My pregnant partner isn’t about to join Mensa any time soon, but as pregnancy nears its end, she is constantly battling a brain that appears to have temporarily abandoned her. The last thing she needs in these moments is to have it pointed out that she is being an idiot. Chances are, she is aware of it to a frustrating degree. So, until you are challenging Albert Einstein in the intellectual department, its best to avoid throwing stones. You may find that when the pregnancy is done, she has you well and truly placed back into your glass house.
  10. Don’t make the same mistake twice – Not so much something you may say, as much as something you may do. Our nine points so far are clearly faux pas’ when it comes to dealing with a pregnant partner. But, forgiveness is divine and I am sure the odd erroneous comment will go unpunished (for the most part). But, good God, do not make the same mistake twice. This is the breaking point, the moment when you will learn the red fire of your pregnant goddess. She will make you regret. She will humble you. She will leave you in fear. And, rather annoyingly, she will be totally right. So, just don’t do it.

So, there you have it. Let me say that, whilst it would be terrific to be able to claim I had learnt the above lessons prior to pregnancy, I simply can’t. Sadly, most were discovered through my own naivety and I have had to learnt the hard (and scary) way. This brings me to one final point:

Sure, you could ignore all of the above statements; after all, ignorance is bliss. What isn’t bliss is the wrath of a pregnant woman,. Her wrath is justified, your stupid comments aren’t. So next time a funny joke or a lazy bone comes into play, give yourself a second to think twice, you will thank yourself and hopefully me, for it.


 

Baby

Nursery – DIY Dadding 101

Adding a baby to our herd and polishing a… yep.

When it comes to bringing a baby into the world and (presuming you don’t panic and scarper) back home from the hospital, we social anxiety sufferers have one thing going for us above all others: plenty of additional time spent in our homes. With that, comes an insidious responsibility to ensure that the devil cannot make work for idle hands, so DIY and interior design are a must. After all, we need something to keep ourselves sane whilst struggling to remember when it was that we last left the house. I have found that this usually allows for even the most creatively stunted (looking in the mirror) to shine with aesthetic wonder. So, when I discovered that we had a little man on the way, the first thing I did was set about transforming what had previously been a poor excuse for a rarely used spare bedroom, into a boy’s nursery I could be proud to show my friends, family and you, the good folks of the blogosphere (using that word was a first, so that’s something I’ve done today)…

Continue reading “Nursery – DIY Dadding 101”

Recipes

Bolognaise Ragu of the Gods (Recipe)


Serves 4

Prep 15 mins. Cook 10 mins


Cooked patiently, this ragu is simply divine. The milk gives the meat an incredible depth, whilst the longer it is cooked, the silkier the sauce will be. I can’t recommend this Sophie Grigson recipe enough


Ingredients:

  • 400g dried pasta (tagliatelle, spaghetti, etc…)
  • Freshly grated parmesan, to serve.

Ragu:

  • Prep Time!
    Prep Time!

    1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

  • 30g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 450g minced beef
  • salt and pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml milk

Method:

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a wide, heavy frying pan. Add the veg and stir. Reduce the heat and leave to fry gentle for at least 15 minutes until the veg is tender.
  2. Add the minced beef. Break it down and flatten out. Leave for a good 10 minutes on a higher heat to get well browned. Turn and do the same for another 5 minutes (more if required).
  3. Stir, season and add a good grating of nutmeg (I go nuts with it). Add the chopped tomatoes and half of the milk. simmer on a ,low heat until nearly all the liquid has evaporated. Now stir in the other half of the milk.
  4. Simmer on a low heat for AT LEAST 40 minutes. The longer, the better. Add more milk if required.
  5. Season to taste, allow to cool slightly and serve with your favourite pasta. It goes best with tagliatelle (as the name suggests). Enjoy! It’s delish!



et voilà…

Recipe from The First-Time Cook by Sophie Grigson

Parents Corner

Parents Corner: Guest Post #1 BipolarDad1978

So here’s my first ever blog post. So what’s to tell? Right now I’m a 38 year old single dad to 3 teenagers. 16 son and 15 & 13 daughters.

I’m very open about my mental health, having known I was different from around the age of 12. Not that I knew what it was back then.

So how does it work raising kids as a parent with a mental illness? Pretty much the same as a normal parent I suppose, but with the volume and brightness turned right up to 100%

I always knew what type of dad I wanted to be, just like my dad, a man I adore. I grew up with a dad who was always happy and jovial and my mum who suffered from manic depression (Bipolar before it was trendy). As a kid that didn’t bother me, you just learned to pick your moments with mum and if she was tired and agitated, you gave her space. Your mental landscape is built on your early experiences, so it’s only normal I picked up on certain aspects.

I became a dad myself @ 21 to a son, been with his mum since 16, in a very fractious relationship. Fights and breaking up time after time. (Later after diagnoses I would realise it was my pattern for every adult relationship) all down to my mental state.

Being a dad exacerbated my undiagnosed illness in to the stratosphere. I loved my wife but to extremes of manic couldn’t get enough, to lows of hating her from a distant mind. It was bad and, but for my son, I wouldn’t have stayed.

One year later my daughter was born. I was so happy, 2 perfect kids.

But parenting got harder, my wife took the brunt of my ever increasingly fragile mind, as I vented on her, so I didn’t have to upset the kids. A toxic mix of euphoria, resentment, hate and fear. I flirted with leaving at times or death as an option. The Suicidal thoughts that I’d had from the age of 12, were becoming more pronounced, as being a dad pushed me mentally to the limits.

Then my mood would change and everything was perfect again, and we enjoyed a stable time… maybe my only stable time as proper family. It didn’t last, the pressure and growing animosity between me and my wife took its toll on me and I was cycling in minutes. Family life was unbearable, the only blessing being the kids were too young to understand. As people we did not have a marriage anymore, we just existed for sake of the kids, now 3 & 2 years old.

So I reverted to type, I channelled my childhood memories, I became the parent I wanted to be. I was scared to do anything alone but the kids gave me a shield and a confidence to go out. When it was just me and the kids it was so different. I was just a dad (not a husband), just a dad, a happy crazy quirky dad. I think subconsciously I always wanted that and vilified my wife to push her away. But when it was just the kids, I masked the bad stuff and carried on regardless.

But when I got home the mask would slip; I resented my wife for just being there. Not contemplating that she had been busy all day cooking, cleaning sorting the bills, I just didn’t care. My mind and bipolar hates being told what to do, delusional thoughts and feelings couldn’t be contained and I pushed her away again and again. I was a great dad but a shitty husband.

Then in 2004 my youngest was born. I was of course really happy but I was also still 5 years from diagnoses and this pushed us further apart. Three kids, so close in age, and the sleepless nights were frying my brain completely.

The kids were still my main focus and it was great. They made me happy and I devoted all my time to them. Just being with them, without anyone telling me what to do, I could be free and let my mania run unchecked. Kids love unconditionally and all I wanted was to Pratt about and have fun.

2006 my son had a brain tumour out of the blue. It shook me and the wife and instincts kicked in and we both stepped up, to put on a unified front as parents.

My son pulled through, not cancerous and the tumour was removed totally. The relief was so strong, but it wouldn’t be enough to save the marriage; we split soon after.

I know now, my mental illness was a major factor in my failed marriage. Luckily the kids being so young, were able to just accept it and bounce back.

This is where I came alive as a dad, sharing custody meant the kids got the best of me, when I had them we just had fun; that’s what I always wanted to be a dad having fun. Playing video games till 3am, trips of 100 miles just to get seaside fish and chips. I was just like my dad, but amplified, running on mania to the point of exhaustion. So, when the kids were at mums, I recovered. It was the perfect arrangement.

I don’t think I will ever have a long lasting relationship  as I know now I self sabotage whenever I’m happy and people get too close.

In 2009, my Nan passed. I was really close to her and it sent me in to a spiral. This was when I was diagnosed.

I sometimes wonder if I had been diagnosed before, whether my marriage would have lasted, but I’m happy now, and content.

My kids have now lived with me full time for just over a year, now they are older and understand my bipolar disorder fully, we are all even closer. They join in the highs and give me space for the lows.

I suppose without my illness, life would have been more settled and “normal”, balanced and predictable. But that’s not me, I’m not my illness, but at the same time I wouldn’t be the dad I am today. I didn’t ask for my illness, but I couldn’t be without it, embrace it, monitor it, and use the highs for making unbelievable memories with the kids.

Am I the dad I thought I was going to be? Yes. Do I have a close bond with the kids? Yes. Do I have fun? Yes.

 

Do I have a mental illness? Yes. But so do so many other parents. There is no handbook or rules on how you do it. So do it how you feel is right. Don’t take notice of others. You are unique and your kids will love you all the more for it.

 

Thank you

@Bipolardad1978

 

Reviews

App Review: Stress Free

Stress Free App Review

Stress Free is a stress management application produced by Thrive. Available on Android and iOS devices, the system makes use of tried and tested techniques, which can be introduced to your daily activities in order to proactively fight the causes and symptoms of stress and anxiety. In utilising years of study and clinical research trials at the University of Roehampton, the Stress Free app is an in-the-pocket solution to guiding yourself towards improved mental health and a calmer outlook on life.

Continue reading “App Review: Stress Free”

Anxiety

The Little Things Matter: Mental Health… Showing you care

Despite the many years looking for someone to blame, I am so happy that I can now recognise that there have been many people who have reached out to help me, in their own unique way. My life has been enveloped in the trappings of an unruly anxious mind and, even in the face of my own ignorance to their kindness, people have always been willing to step forward and let me know that they care. So many, in fact, that languishing typed-out commendations upon a sole person leaves too many without the acknowledgement they deserve.

Of course, highlighting this person also suggests that my path to recovery can be narrowed down to a single monumental moment; the awe-inspiring words of an omnipotent problem-solver or the life-preserving clutch of an outreached hand, pulling me back from the edge.

As we all know, life isn’t like this. As a sufferer of anxiety, few of my life’s greatest memories could be painted in vivid colour, amongst a backdrop of eye-catching taglines. No, my life has been one of understatement. Equally, it was a moment of understated kindness, that I write of today.

The most surprising and emotionally curative of the backing I have received over the years, came from my mother-in-law. Of course, not a real mother in law, not in the legal sense. Crippling anxiety has ensured that, despite a baby on the way and an ever tightening engagement ring having been presented more than a decade ago, my forgiving fiancé and I still float on in the middle-ground of matrimonial limbo. something that would, without doubt, be a bone of contention were she not instantly forgiving of my many frailties.

But hey, this isn’t about her, this is about someone who has  far less of an obligation when it comes to being so understanding.

In fact, I had never expected any kind of  help from my FMIL (faux-mother-in-law). Please understand, this is anything but a judgement of her personality, she is a delight, caring person who clearly wants nothing but the best for those in her life. But, when it comes to dealing with those of us who have been stroked with the mad brush, I think we can all understand and expect that the ‘norms’ of this world may want to steer clear, in case any of said madness should rub off.

So, what exactly did FMIL do? Nothing more than proving this to be a fallacy. Another fictitious invention of my self-damning mind.

She didn’t need to she frog march me to a GP in search of professional help and a handful of quick-fix meds. She didn’t have to pull the proverbial blade from my hand as I wallowed in a pit of despair. Nothing so forthright was needed. No miracle cure. No words of magical healing wisdom. Instead, what my FMIL did for me was to simply present me with a printout and audio CD aimed at helping with social anxiety.

The audio course certainly helped. It provided some short term goals I could focus on in a time of great struggle. But, of course, it wasn’t the content of this gift that mattered, in was the intent. The intent that changed the way I looked at others in a big way. It was the sentiment and demonstration of care that meant so much more.

Saying we care is easy. If like me, you have anxiety problems, you no doubt find it hard to believe in the good of others. A misanthrope I am not. But I reserve the right to question anyone overtly eager to offer their own specific brand of “advice”. For me, the proof is in the pudding and my FMIL makes a fabulous dessert.

Anxiety isolates, it differentiates, it harbours guilt and it tells you that you are alone.  Sometimes, it is the little things that mean the most. That tell you that someone cares for you, even if they don’t understand your heartache.

I have a lot of thank you letters to pass on. This particular letter is for that small act of kindness that was no doubt carried out with the natural instinct of a good hearted FMIL. But, it meant so much. It meant I wasn’t simply a burden, an embarrassment, something to shy away from.

It meant that I had been given the opportunity to step onto the first rung of a ladder I continue to climb to this day.

Thanks, FMIL. I expect you had no idea…

 

This post was originally a guest post for the wonderful people at Rethink.Org

 

rethink_mental_illness_logo

Reviews

Brain Review: Social Anxiety Dad

Thanks to Mindfump for sharing my Brain Review

Mindfump!

Want to review your brain? click here.

Having failed to contact the seller, I am afraid that this review remains my final means of retort for what has proven to be a highly conflicting purchase. Despite Royal Mail keeping up their end of the bargain and delivering my new brain in speedy fashion, I opened my supposed cerebral upgrade, only to be immediately hit by the punishing humiliation of buyer’s remorse. 

What I was looking at, was the neurological equivalent of the time my previous brain decided I was in desperate need of a David Bowie Labyrinth statue.  It just never managed to match the excitement I had felt at the point of purchase. If Bowie was busy querying Life on Mars, I was busy hoping that there was simply life inside of this box.

My brand new brain was rattling freely inside of its packaging, ironically marked…

View original post 648 more words

Baby

Packing for Pregnancy, Loading for Labour

The Man’s Birthing Kit

When it comes to loading up our necessities for labour, many basic essentials should spring to mind;

Baby car seat? Check.

Baby clothes? Check.

Mum and her bags? One second, be right back. Check.

Great! But hold on just one minute. Is that really all you need? Shouldn’t there be one or two essentials that father-to-be ought bring as well. At first I thought not. I considered it fair to say that, as long as there is petrol in the car, you have already avoided any potential calamities.

It seems I was wrong.

Luckily, however, I still have time for some last minute reparations. Time to get out the man-bag and go to work. And, with that in mind, I present to you, my very own labour inventory?

20170218_152856.jpg
BabyMoov Bag

Continue reading “Packing for Pregnancy, Loading for Labour”