Start the day the right way – another healthy breakfast option

breakfast_bars_20_09760_16x9On ‘let’s talk!’ we have previously offered ideas for healthy meals and snacks.  Becky’s overnight oats went down really well, as did Jane’s Tabbouleh salad and when we shared a ‘healthy’ chocolate cake (well it is relatively healthy, as long as you don’t eat the lot in one go…..) we were greeted with disbelief. But we like to show you can eat delicious things, and still be certain you are packing your body full of good things that give you the energy to make the most of your day and can boost your mood.

We are pleased to see that more and more ‘celebrity’ or mainstream chefs and cooks are focusing on lighter options, and ingredients that just a few years ago would be only be available in a local wholefood shop – Goji berries and flaxseed, coconut oil and buckwheat for example – which are now readily available in supermarkets.

Today we wanted to share a recipe we love that was developed by TV cook Nigella Lawson, who, let’s be honest’ is best known for her voluptuous desserts and carbohydrate rich pasta dishes. Here she is offering an option for those of us who find it hard to take in a good breakfast as we rush around organising our mornings.For those of us concerned about our intake, the sugar in them comes only from the dates and the recipe makes enough to last the working week.

Nigella’s Breakfast Bars (version 2 – she has apparently made them even better than the original version)

Ingredients
250g/9oz medjool dates
2 tsp ground cinnamon
75g/2½oz goji berries
75g/2½oz pumpkin seeds
150g/5½oz brown flaxseeds
50g/1¾oz cocoa nibs
25g/1oz chia seeds
25g/1oz cornflakes (gluten-free if required)
100g/3½oz organic porridge oats (not instant)

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4, and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm/8in square tin with baking parchment.
Pit the dates and tear them with your fingers into a small saucepan, add the cinnamon, cover with 325ml/11fl oz cold water, bring to the boil and let bubble for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and beat with a fork until you have a rough purée.
Put all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl, add the date mixture and mix until everything is combined. I wear a pair of disposable vinyl gloves for this.
Squodge into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until firm and set, and golden on top and darker around the edges. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into pieces.

How brilliant is the word ‘squodge’?! just what one has to do to make sure the mixture filled every nook and cranny of the tin. Nigella makes suggestions for alternative ingredients if you find any hard to get hold of, or a bit too expensive – we have used ordinary dates and just simmered them for longer before mashing, and sunflower seeds instead of the flax. They came out really well, and are full of all those things that can give you a boost without causing your blood sugars to rocket.

You can watch Nigella make the bars in the video on the BBC Website.

So give them a try, and let us know what you think. or you could share your own favourite recipes with us. We would love to include more on this site.

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More poetry as therapy- Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

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Image: Joe Ism (see below)

In therapy, many counsellors work with clients who perhaps feel ‘stuck’ in a pattern of recurring behaviours that prevent them from fulfilling dreams, pursuing healthy relationships, or coping with challenges and developing resilience. Reading inspirational quotes on social media highlights how many famous sayings there are on the subject of living a mindful life, of noticing and recognising the world around you and working to free yourself from a past that can hold you back, or a future you are fearful of.

However, there is one poem that seems to sum up this process in a way that perhaps only poetry can, in its ability to distil feelings to the minimum number of words necessary to express them. We have written quite a few ‘poetry for mindfulness pieces on ‘let’s talk’ – do take a look as you may find another that suits your mindfulness practice perfectly – but this popular piece, by Portia Nelson is one that requires little explanation.

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Portia nelson

Nelson was a popular singer, songwriter, actress, and author; a cancer survivor who  wrote a very popular  book called There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery, which she later turned into a musical that played off Broadway. From it comes this poem, Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, which has been adopted by many as a as a self-help text. Its clear message is one of learning to take notice, recognise when you are repeating harmful behaviour and learn to move forward on to new paths of discovery…

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

We would love to know of any poetry that you find particularly inspirational, or especially helpful when you are practising mindfulness. Get in touch!

Image: Joe Ism on Flickr  Open Manhole Cover

‘let’s talk!’ about EMDR

1380742651emdr client_250by150A therapy we have recently been asked to feature on ‘let’s talk’ is known by the acronym EMDR. This stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing and it was developed as a psychological therapy by American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. Dr Shapiro also published the first research papers supporting the benefits of the therapy in the 1989.

EMDR is a technique that has been found to be helpful for those suffering from:

  • accident or injury
  • assault
  • depression
  • anxiety or panic
  • fears and phobias
  • childhood trauma and abuse
  • post traumatic stress
  • low self-esteem
  • illness

Negative experiences in life can lead to overwhelming feelings that the brain is unable to process  and make sense of, resulting in the memory being  frozen or ‘stuck’. The memories are stored  alongside associated thoughts, emotions and sensations, so when for some reason the memory is recalled the person experiences the full range of sensations associated with the original event – even to the smell, the taste and the feelings they had at the time. Often the event is repressed to avoid constantly experiencing the distress of recall.

The goal of EMDR is to facilitate the processing of disturbing and isolated memories. In the process these distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, thus becoming less distressing and more like ‘ordinary’ memories. This reduces the distress and offers insight into the experience and any  subsequent negative thoughts.

The way EMDR works in practice is by stimulation of the ‘frozen’ (or blocked) information processing system. This is achieved by activating both sides of the brain using eye movements or taps alternating across left-right sides of the body.

How the effect is produced is not certain, but it is believed to be similar to when your eyes rapidly move from side to side during natural REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) .

Research has shown benefits, particularly to those suffering from PTSD and is also recommended by The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

You can learn more about what to expect from the EMDR Association.

We have a skilled EMDR therapist working here at The Terrace. Registered clinical psychologist Karen Green has many years experience across a number of different psychological therapies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), family work, psychotherapy and EMDR, and can tailor an approach to suit the needs of each client. If you would like to know more, contact us today for a confidential discussion and to see how Karen might be able to help you . Email post@the-terrace.co.uk or telephone 01823 338968.