Don’t waste it: Healthy Halloween pumpkin soup!

images (8)We are coming up to Halloween (the 31st is on Saturday this year, so more parties and trick or treating than usual we think!) and love it or loathe it (and many do hate it, especially those living alone who dread the knock on the door…) the one thing that is certain is that there will be lots of gorgeous pumpkin flesh thrown on the compost. All those fabulous Jack O’Lanterns that sit on the window ledge for one night produce enough to feed us all till Guy Fawkes night five days later.

Many people think pumpkin is bland, and even unpleasant. In the US they have it sussed, using it in any number of sweet and savoury recipes, but we are slower to pick up on the opportunity to avoid wasting what we scoop out.

So here at The Terrace we thought we would offer one of our healthy recipes which finds a way to use the pumpkin and pack it full of flavour.

So you will need:

1½ kg pumpkin, scooped out and chopped roughly

An onion, chopped (or a couple of leeks works too)

Rapeseed oil

A 400ml can of light coconut milk

Thai red curry paste (about 3 tablespoons depending on how much of a kick you want!)

Salt and black pepper

A sprinkle of ground ginger

850ml of low salt vegetable (or chicken) stock)

First of all, roast the pumpkin  for 30 mins in a hottish oven  (200C or gas 6), tossing it in two tablespoons of the oil seasoned with the salt and pepper.
Whilst that is cooking, put another 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and ginger together over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and curry paste and then the coconut milk and the stock.

download (7)You only have to simmer this for a few minutes (check the pumpkin is tender) then leave to cool before whizzing it in a blender (not all at once!) until smooth. Then all you have to do is reheat as much as you need and taste to check whether it requires more seasoning. Serve with a swirl of the coconut milk and a chunk of crusty wholemeal bread. Delicious – and there will be enough left to freeze for later.

So as you prepare for Saturday night, why not get the cauldron out and stir up a real treat?!

Do you have any favourite pumpkin recipes? We would love to hear from you….

Competition time! Win a free massage with Sarah Sellick…

competitionOur very first proper competition at The Terrace!! We are genuinely giving away a fabulous one hour massage with our new therapist Sarah Sellick. Sarah offers relaxation and remedial/deep tissue massage  here in Taunton and there is really no catch.

Sarah has run a successful business offering both relaxing and sports massage and reflexology from her home in Milverton since 2010, having originally studied under a Balinese master. She returned to live in UK where she continued with her studies to achieve her ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Massage and also learned the art of Reflexology.

She is currently offering a half hour massage at the special introductory price of £20 until the 14th November 2015, but if you win this prize you will have the treat of a full hour worth £45!

We are experimenting with Rafflecopter as a way to ensure the competition is run fairly, so follow the link below to find out how you can enter safely and easily (WordPress blogs don’t let us post the widget thing, but the link is quite safe). It is possible to enter more than once so increase your chances by taking up all the options. We would be really grateful if you could like our Facebook page and follow us on twitter, but you won’t get stuck on some spammy mailing list or anything. The closing date is 12am on the 27th October 2015.

The Terrace Competition  – win a free massage

We would also love to know which therapies you would like us to write more about on this blog, so one of the options is to comment on this post with any ideas you have for blog posts. Our post on the Bowen technique is one of our most popular ever for example.

So – do give it a go. We always love to hear from our followers and are happy to answer any questions you  might have.

Find out more about Sarah on our website at The Terrace, Taunton

Overnight Oats – a healthy breakfast for porridge haters!

strawberry-almond-oatsWe have all heard about the benefits of porridge. The oats are high in fibre, which fills you up, and the complex carbohydrates they contain are digested slowly, releasing energy in a way that keeps your blood sugar levels steady (unlike the simple carbs in sugary cereals for example, which give you a quick energy boost that dissipates swiftly, making you more hungry). They can help you lose weight as part of a healthy diet and there is really nothing about them not to like. Or is there?

Porridge is, frankly, not to everyone’s taste. It doesn’t matter how good they are for us, or how it is served up – with honey, fresh fruit, water instead of hot milk for example – some of us will always find a bowl of porridge unpalatable first thing in the morning. Hot milk can remind us of childhood breakfasts that are supposed to send us off to school ‘glowing’, or milky puddings, and we certainly aren’t recommending the proprietary brands of oat breakfasts which are often packed with sugar.

Here at The Terrace our own lovely Becky has experimented with a new way to enjoy the benefits of a bowl of oats in the morning. Recipes for ‘Overnight Oats’ are now all over the internet, accompanied by fabulous pictures and serving suggestions. Presented in jam jars, surrounded by flowers and fruit, they are miles away from what some see as a stodgy breakfast. For example, the ‘Eat this!’ site offers 14 recipes, including chocolate peanut butter oats, carrot cake oats and strawberry chia, that look almost too good to dip a spoon into. All it takes is a few minutes the night before you want to eat them to mix together the oats, the toppings and the liquid you want to use and pop them in the fridge. You don’t even need to cook them the next morning as all the flavours have soaked into the oats, although you can add more liquid, or natural yoghurt for example.

oatsBecky has her own favourites. She suggests you soak porridge oats overnight in the fridge in something like milk, water, coconut milk or yoghurt.  In the morning she mixes in full fat Greek yoghurt (which she finds works better than low fat options), blueberries, raspberries and a linseed mix with chia seeds and goji berries. She has taken her own photos for us – not prettied up but looking delicious nonetheless!

So give them a try, especially if you are not a fan of porridge recipes, and if you have any ideas of your own you would like to share we would love to hear from you!

Action for Happiness – will it work? We have to try….

images (3)Two weeks ago we heard that the Dalai Lama has given his support to the Exploring What Matters course established by the Action for Happiness project, started in 2010  by Richard Layard, Geoff Mulgan and Anthony Seldon. He is  AfH’s official Patron, endorsing its key beliefs:

1. We can each affect our happiness and the happiness of those around us
2. We need to prioritise the things that cause happiness
3. Helping others is essential for a happier society

The project was proud to publicise a quote given by the Dalai Lama to the BBC:

‘I wholeheartedly support the Exploring What Matters course and hope that many thousands will benefit from it and take action to create a happier world’ ~ Dalai Lama

Now Action for Happiness wants to get the course into hundreds of communities and is running a crowdfunding campaign to back it up – it isn’t a profit making organisation so needs support (and volunteers) to get it off the ground.

It is easy to be cynical about something that seems to offer what appears to be a simple solution to the many problems in our society. Of course we affect the happiness of those around us, and it is never a bad thing to help others. But it is easy to forget those life enhancing things in a world that is so fast paced and driven towards commercial and personal success. We don’t always put the happiness of ourselves or others first.

Action for Happiness has what it calls a ‘Great Dream’ – offering 10 keys to happiness.

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No one can argue with any of those terms as a means of finding life easier to cope with and more meaningful. It is a ‘great dream’, but small steps can be taken every day to achieve greater happiness, and we have to at least applaud the attempt to get us all to take stock of what is important to us.

Amongst other things, Action for Happiness suggests we take more notice of the world around us, connect with people and keep learning new things. It supports a mindful approach to life and the course it wants to take out into the world asks big questions, such as  What really matters in life? What actually makes us happy? and How should we treat others?

We were relieved to see that the project doesn’t expect those experiencing difficult times, depression or anxiety, to ‘pick themselves up’ and move on by themselves. It acknowledges that we all need help at some time and we need to ask for it when we are ‘stuck’ and can’t find a way through. In fact, there is a whole page on their website devoted to countering arguments put forward by sceptics who feel the whole idea is too simplistic and subjective.

So do take a look at the Action for Happiness website and let us know what you think. Do you have any concerns? We would love to know what you think.

Our view is that surely we have to try? The world seems to be going to the proverbial hell in a handcart at the moment, with our global humanity being lost in political maneuvering and brutal conflict. We think we know how to be happy, but it can’t hurt to remind ourselves every so often, can it?