FOOD // A Foodie Father's Day


Father's Day dinner - vegan vegetarian gluten-free

Falling in the middle of June - and in a week that actually had some sun! - I feel like Father's Day is typically a BBQ kind of day. But falling on a Sunday, I feel like it's also a day for a traditional roast. Conundrum! 

We had no real plans for Father's Day this year, intending to get together on Tuesday instead, but when I found myself wide awake and in need of distraction at 3:30am on Sunday, some food-filled scheming was soon had and a plan was quickly hatched! In spite of the fair-weathered temptation, I eventually opted for a roast-type meal, which was something of a relief when the heavens opened just as I reached mum and dad's house!

After a restless trip to Asda at 5:30am (side note: what a pleasant supermarket experience!), I spent the rest of the day cooking in short spells - both in the flat and at the parentals' - whipping up a vegetarian (mostly vegan), gluten-free frenzy from some entirely new-to-me recipes. 

Here's how it all progressed...

Blueberry garbanzo oat pancakes - father's day feast

Firstly, there were blueberry "pancakes" made from gram flour and rolled oats. Admittedly, these weren't for Father's Day; these were just for me! Let's call it fuel for a day in the kitchen, okay? 

Blueberry garbanzo-oat pancakes - vegan gluten-free

Soft, chewy, warm, gooey, these weren't traditionally-textured pancakes - more akin to the banana ones so popular with health-food fans - but they were tasty and went down a treat with some extra blueberries and agave syrup poured on top. I followed this recipe, but improvised with cornflour instead of cornmeal, and nutmeg instead of cinnamon, and threw some crushed blueberries into the batter mix. Perfect start to the day!

Minimalist Bakers one hour vegan pot pie
Minimalist Bakers one hour vegan pot pie - gluten free pastry

Suitably fuelled, next up I prep'd my one-pot vegan pie following a recipe by Dana at Minimalist Baker. A simple dish of onions, garlic and an assortment of veg in a sauce of almond milk, cornflour and vegetable stock, I opted to cook mine in one large casserole dish instead of individual pies, swapping out the "biscuits" for some ready-rolled gluten-free pastry rounds to top off this easy but effective main course.

Carrot and sweet potato cumin mash - vegan gluten-free

To accompany, I made some carrot and sweet potato cumin mash, loosely based on this (not-particularly-well-written) recipe (read the comments!) on the BBC's Good Food website. Christy wasn't a huge fan of the cumin, but I enjoyed the way it balanced out the sweetness of the potatoes and the warmth it brought to the dish.

(What I didn't enjoy was the moment in which I "cleverly" tried to melt down some vegan butter and saw it explode ALL over my microwave instead. Lesson learned!)

Red and brown onions for roasting - stuffed onions - vegetarian gluten-free
Stuffing mix - stuffed onions - vegetarian gluten-free
Stuffed onions - vegetarian gluten-free

Alongside this came some stuffed onions, roasted in the oven and overflowing with filling. Gouging out the inside of an onion was something of a new and interesting experience, but worth it in the end!

For the stuffing itself I used the leftover onion along with some celery, garlic, spinach, cashew nuts and cubes of gluten-free bread (which unfortunately made my version of this dish vegetarian rather than vegan), soaked in veggie stock, according to this Akis Petretzikis recipe. There was a LOT of stuffing so the rest was baked and served up as an extra side dish.

Fried greens - spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts - vegan gluten-free

Last but not least were some humble greens: spinach, asparagus and Brussels sprouts (thank you, 10p Asda bargain) fried off with lots of black pepper and a tiny bit of soy sauce. Yum! 

Vegetarian gluten-free vegan father's day dinner

Chocolate slider - condensed milk ice-cream

I must confess I didn't get as far as thinking about dessert, but dad himself saved Father's Day with some condensed milk ice-cream he'd whipped up a day or two previously (vaguely based on this recipe) because he is an ice-cream-making legend. Amazing!

All in all, a pretty darn good day for food, if you ask me! I hope it went some small way in saying 'Thank you!' to a dad for whom I am incredibly grateful and by whom I am incredibly blessed. ♥


MENTAL HEALTH // Stephanie's Story


Mental Health Stories - Personal Interviews (Coffee at Cognito Deli Aberdeen)

Hello, lovelies! It's time for another instalment in my series of mental health stories, from those brave enough to share some of their own struggles and experiences.

This time it's the turn of Stephanie* (not her real name), so grab yourself a cuppa, make yourself comfy and let's hear what this wonderful woman has to share...

←  ♥  →

To begin, my first question is simply this: Who are you? For anyone who doesn’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself..
I'm a 23 year old nurse in North East Scotland. I'm married and have my own house and a pet chihuahua. I adore my little family. 
Can you tell us a bit about your own experience of mental health/ill-health? 
I've been struggling with depression and self-harm since I was 13. I experienced a negative life event when I was 14 and developed anxiety at this time also. I received counselling for the first time when I was 18. When I first went to the GP about how I felt I was told about helpful websites, but was told to "come back if you don't kill yourself". I did go back when I was 19 and was referred to a psychiatrist in Aberdeen. Since then I have been diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). 
Where are you at on your journey today?  
Today I still struggle with low mood, binging, purging, restricting and self-harm as well as crippling anxiety at times. I'm not at my worst but I'm still not at my best. 
What things have aided you in your recovery and/or helped you to cope day-to-day? 
I've received Mentalization Based Therapy which has been very helpful. The thing I've found most helpful is inpatient admissions which have left me feeling hopeful and positive as the support and therapy I received in the unit was brilliant. 
What impact has mental ill-health had on your life as a whole? What has it cost you? 
Ultimately, my mental ill-health has nearly cost me my life quite a few times, I'm sorry to say. It has also nearly cost me my job and my relationship with my husband. I've lost many good friends to my disordered behaviour. 
Would you say you’ve gained anything positive from your experiences? 
The main thing that I have gained from my experience is a better patience with other people and better understanding. I'm a better friend, at times, because I can listen and make others feel like they aren't alone. I'm not so short-tempered with people who are struggling like I used to be. 
What are your hopes for the future – mental health and otherwise? 
I'm hoping for a full recovery in the near future, however I am aware it may take years for me to fully recover. I want to be the best wife and friend as well as the best nurse and want to excel in my career and one day be a nurse manager in my local hospital where I myself have received life saving treatment.

→  ♥  ← 

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Stephanie. I'm a little in awe of the fact you manage to hold down such a high pressure job in spite of all your difficulties and I wish you the best of success in both your career and your mental health journey going forwards!

If you too would like your story to be featured as part of this series, please drop me a message via the contact details on my 'About' page. I'd be delighted to have your help in normalising the conversation and tackling the stigma surrounding mental ill-health! ;)