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At The Happy Starfish we are dedicated to providing a wealth of information, products, workshops and articles all aimed at celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living. We believe that life should be an awesome adventure filled with love; love life and life will love you back. Are you willing to surrender what you think you are for what you could become? Are you ready?

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Are you living your best life?


“Listen--are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?  Mary Oliver

Today I feel humbled, full of blessings and more than slightly in awe of the incredible lady I met today. She is in her 60's, terminally ill, housebound and one of the most positive people I have ever met. She contacted me through the awesome charity Stages to ask if I would go to her home to teach her mindfulness. She had been reading a lot about it and was curious. I had heard her backstory before I went and aside from her ill health this lady has been through a LOT.

I feel grateful to have had the privilege to meet this lady. Although I am teaching her mindfulness over the next few weeks I have a feeling she will be teaching me far more about living. To retain dignity, hope and a sense of curiosity in such difficult circumstances was really inspirational to me.  Having a disability I do try to always focus on the things I can do, rather than the things I can't and this morning was a great reminder that you are never too old, sick or immobile to seek out a new experience and find some joy in life. Are you making the best of yours?

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Super Sprouting

"If you don't look after your body; where are you going to live"?

I often talk to people who really want to improve their diet and overall health but genuinely can’t afford to spend more than they already are on their weekly grocery bill, which sometimes in this economic climate, is next to nothing.

Sprouting is something I often recommend. A sprout is the transitional stage between seed and plant. For very little expenditure and effort sprouted pluses, nuts and grains are nutritious, fresh, tasty and, I believe, one of the most underestimated foods available to us today.

With virtually zero effort, no preparation or cooking they are the ideal food for a busy lifestyle. Grown in your own home they are a clean safe food eaten raw, ensuring nothing is destroyed or altered in the cooking process.

Grains are the staple diet of much of the world’s population, generally ground, baked or boiled making it difficult to extract the nutrients as these processes damage the food.

Our digestive systems are not equipped to digest raw grains and pulses, of which many contain enzyme inhibitors that interfere with our digestion. Enzyme inhibitors are there to prevent seeds sprouting prematurely and can cause us headaches, stomach pains and gas, but are destroyed during the cooking process.

To sprout a seed and then consume it is a totally natural form of eating, great for your overall health. Try it and watch your energy levels shoot up and your hair, skin and nails improve.

What to sprout – There are so many to choose from! My personal favourites are; Alfalfa (contains alkaline protein, vitamins B & E, unsaturated fatty acids and calcium). Mung (amino acids, iron, potassium and vitamin C). Aduki (Vitamin C, iron and amino acids). Sunflower (vitamin B, E, amino acids, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and potassium). Have a look around your local health food store – there are plenty on offer.

Equipment - You can buy sprouting jars, alternatively any large glass jars with a neck large enough to fit your hand inside is sufficient if you cover the top with muslin or nylon mesh and secure with a rubber band or string. Sprouting jars will come with a stand which allows them to drain at 45O, if you using a regular jar be sure to have some place to prop them against.

Method – Place the required amount of seed in the jar and half fill with water. Cover the jar with cloth or screw on lid if using a sprouting jar. Leave to soak for the required length of time (each seed is different and instructions should be on bag). Drain the water off and wash thoroughly. Drain at 45o for 2 minutes.

Place the somewhere not too warm or bright (they will dry out too much) to grow. Sprouts do well in the temperature and humidity which suits us best.

Rinse and drain sprouts once a day for the next two to five days until they are sprouting and ready to eat.

How to eat – Can be added to salads, as a garnish, sandwiches, finger snacks, soups, casseroles, on crackers, stir fry, juices.

Experiment and have some fun with it. Happy sprouting.

Oh Spirulina, you taste so bad (and smell even worse)

Spirulina, a highly nutritious micro salt plant, is ridiculously good for you. A complete protein containing all the essential amino acids, it also containing a range of vitamins and minerals. This super food has many potential health benefits including boosting the immune system and energy levels, improving digestion, controlling appetite, it supports the vital organs and, due to the chlorophyll, it is a great all round detoxer. 
To aid my health condition I have taken spirulina supplements regularly due to the high levels of the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which is proven to reduce inflammation and the iron and B vitamins help combat my fatigue.
Last time I decided to have a change from capsules and bought some powder to add to my raw juice each day. I was chatting to my son as I opened the packet and he visibly recoiled as the smell came wafting out. "Mum, you've taken health too far" he said as he slowly backed away. Sniffing the contents I had to agree he had a point.
The first time I added it to my juice didn't go well. It wasn't entirely the taste (although that was bad enough) but the stench turned my stomach every time I took a sip.
Now braver people than I may be able to add this to water and knock it back but not me so I set off on a quest to make it more palatable.
There are a myriad of recipes online all claiming to make spirulina more palatable and I have tried many. I couldn't find one which masked the smell and I found them hard to tolerate. When it came to juices the only way I found to tone down the taste was to add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. 
Next I decided to add to food. I tried David Wolfe's spirulina and chocolate ball recipe. 
¼ cup hempseed
½ cup raw cacao powder
1-2 tbsp spirulina
3 tbsp virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp raw honey
1 pinch sea salt
You mix all ingredients together, roll into balls and freeze for 15 minutes. You can eat straight from the freezer.
My husband liked these but I could still taste the spirulina, although I couldn't smell it anymore. (it is worth noting that different brands have slightly different taste and smells so it is worth shopping around to find a brand that suits you).
As a last ditch attempt before I added the powered to empty vegetarian capsules I thought I would try a smoothie. I blended almond milk with a handful of frozen berries, 2 tsp spirulina, 2 tsp cacao powder, 2 tsp flax seeds and 1 tsp agave nectar. Success - it tastes (and smells) fantastic.
I would love to know of your spirulina experiences. 

Make your own Almond Milk

It is super easy to make your own almond milk with a little forward planning.  Loaded with minerals, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium - this dairy free milk also tastes delicious.
To make you will need 1.5 cups of raw almonds and a straining bag. (Most people used blanched almonds but I don't worry as you strain it all at the end anyway).
Soak the almonds in water to soften - overnight is best but at least 4 hours.
Strain the water from the almonds and place in blender with 1 cup of water. 


Blend until they become a smooth paste (this doesn't take long at all). Don't worry too much about the appearance at this stage. This is particularly unattractive as the almonds weren't blanched.
Add another 3 cups of water and blend again until smooth and frothy.

Now you can, if you wish, add something to sweeten the milk and give another blitz (i.e a couple of dates, cinnamon, honey, syrup or vanilla). I personally sweeten mine when I wish to drink but leave unsweetened in the fridge so I can cook savoury sauces with it. 
Strain (I use a jam straining bag).  You can (just) see the skins are retained in the bag.

Bottle and enjoy. IMG_3239

Store the milk in the fridge until you want to use. I freeze some too (remember not to overfill containers as will explained a little when frozen).

5 mindful ways to start your day


“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn
What do you do when you wake up? Do you instantly lurch headlong into a world full of status updates and tweets, or ease yourself mindfully into the day ahead? The way we choose to spend those first precious moments after waking can set the tone for the hours that follow. 
It is all too easy to reach for the smartphone to turn off the alarm and automatically start checking emails, social networking sites and the news. Our minds go into overdrive. Our thought train has gone from resting to racing, absorbing depressing news stories, frantically compiling a list of things we absolutely mustn't forget to do. Beginning the day in such a busy way can cause underlying anxiety and agitation affecting the way we react to inevitable forthcoming challenges.
Integrate these five steps into your morning routine and notice how centred you feel as you go about the rest of your day.
1) When you wake carry out a mindful check in. Start by becoming aware of your breathing. Feel the weight of your body on the bed. Notice your temperature, any physical sensations that are present. Spend a few moments noticing any thoughts and emotions that are present. What is your underlying mood today?
2) When getting out of bed, fully feel your feet on the floor. Ease into some mindful movement. Bringing awareness to your movement trains your focus, a tool you can use in everyday life.
3) Bring presence to your routine. When showering become aware of the sensations of the water on your body. Hear the sound of the cascading water. Notice the scent of the products you use. Fully feel your fingertips massaging your scalp as you wash your hair. How does it feel to fully experience the present moment?
4) Eat your breakfast mindfully. Fully connect with the pleasures of eating, without feeling the need to be multi tasking. Notice the texture, the smell and the flavours of your food.
 5) Before leaving for work meditate for 5 minutes. Sit and notice the breath where it makes itself most predominantly known to you, be it the abdomen, nostrils or chest. If it helps you concentrate count each breath, the in breath as 1, the out breath as 2 etc. until you get to ten and then begin again. 
Prioritising your internal world and leaving the external world where it is for a few moments longer eases you gently into the day with calmness and purpose enabling you to react to any challenges with clarity.