A Note From Natalie
The health and wellness benefits of the outdoors, and what it means to rediscover patience, space and what the real world is actually about…
Outside is good for you. It’s good for your eyesight to experience long distances (a study by University of Waterloo, Canada, showed that for one additional hour of outdoor time per week, the risk a child will develop myopia (short-sightedness) drops by about 14 percent); it’s good for your immune system, it’s good for your bones, and it’s really good for your brain.
And for any parents out there, it is essential for the wellbeing and healthy development of your children.
So, what’s outside right now that you can’t get from your comfortable indoors world?
Breathing has a very calming effect on your nervous system, which influences your biochemistry. Breathing deeply and well is far easier when you’re out in open spaces.
Here in England this can be a bit of a contentious point, but the fact is, there’s a lot going on out there most days. The summer trend this month is likely to be bright starts, windy middles and a very wet afternoon – but when you think about it in terms of wellbeing, this isn’t terrible news. Variety is good. Sunlit mornings become very special. The soft kiss of cool rain on a blisteringly hot day is both soothing and sensual. And a blast of warm wind is a wakening sensation. More impressive yet – look at those clouds!
There’s no such thing as bad weather when you’re appreciating nature for what it’s giving you at any moment.
Flora & forna
Photograph by Trond Larsen
One of my favourite pursuits with children is introducing them to the world of the absolutely tiny. Because noticing the less obvious aspects of life is a sure-fire way to develop a deeper and more complex appreciation of the world around them, and of other people. It also encourages patience.
Their world is getting more and more instantaneous: the whole wide world at their fingertips. Instant gratification, every demand being met as standard service. But reality is not like that. Relationships are not like that. People are not really like that.
If you’ve ever seen a young child get quickly frustrated and unreasonably angry when they don’t get what they want immediately – ask yourself why this should be such a surprise, when that’s all they’ve come to expect.
Even as an adult you sometimes have to re-learn to be still and listen – to earn trust, to earn intimacy and knowledge. If you don’t teach children pretty early on that there is so much more to life than whatever appears the most obvious and the most readily available, it impacts massively on their ability later on to find steadiness, contentment and a basic appreciation for the way things really work in the world.
Everything has its time – in fact it’s better if you don’t get everything you want right now.
And actually, we’ve seen time after time, it can be very damaging to get what you want all the time. It makes it very difficult to develop as a person. It’s not easy to grow into maturity when you’re persistently comfortable, and even spoiled.
Gif by Akansha Gautam
Instilling a sense of adventure in children early on really does you a big favour in the long run. By activating imagination, you’re giving them the life skill of being able to entertain themselves. By showing them the possibility in everything, you remove the complaining factor. They’re much more likely to be able to entertain themselves, and much less likely to be telling you they’re bored every five minutes.
When children are allowed to think that everything is fun – that splashing in puddles is as great as running through sun-drenched fields – that getting mucky and messy is fine – that keeping neat, clean, wary is not really the most important goal of life – they grow up with confidence, in themselves, and in the world around them.
Fun is very important, and understanding that the world outside is as satisfying as the world on a computer screen will be giving them a better start in life.
The other great thing about the outside, is that it’s sensual. You can touch, hear, smell, see and taste everything at once. It can be a very powerful experience. It can provide you with whatever you need: excitement, peace and relaxation, fun, activities, quiet and solitude – from the black soil of Iceland to the abundant fern forests of New Zealand – if you step out your own back door today you can find a version of whatever it is you’re hankering after.
The outside is our home.
And what’s even better, each season brings you different and beautiful things to eat!
Right now we have tomatos, apples, courgettes, plums…. An endless tumble of colour and tastes and smells….
Go discover! Get well, get happy, get outside!
This week’s Recipes using seasonal ingredients that are at their best NOW!
We implore you to check out the lovely websites of the great food artists below. Remember, we’re just here to inspire, so if you have any nutritional queries, get in touch with Debbie for personalised advice.
Buttered Brie and Heirloom Tomato Toast with Honey, Thyme + Walnuts.
Do go and look at the stunning photography for this recipe!
- 4 slices whole grain sourdough breaduse gluten free if needed
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 8 ounces brie cut into 8-12 wedges
- 6 fresh sprigs thyme
- 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
- honey/honeycomb for drizzling
- 3-4 heirloom or regular tomatoes sliced
- olive oil for drizzling
- salt + pepperto taste
preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Place the bread on a baking sheet and rub each slice with a little butter (or you can use olive oil). Place in the oven and toast for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and evenly divide the brie among the toast. Add the thyme. Place back in the oven and cook another 5 minutes or until the brie is melted. During the last minute, turn the oven to broil and broil 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the oven.
Sprinkle the toast with walnuts and drizzle with honey and or spread with honeycomb. Add the sliced tomatoes and lightly (very lightly!) drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt + pepper. EAT!!
FLOUR-FREE CHOCOLATE & BEETROOT CAKE
“Before you jump to any conclusions, this cake is incredibly delicious and not at all beetrooty! Think of carrot cake: eating a slice of that doesn’t make you think of carrots; instead they add another layer to the texture and flavour, enhancing the cake, without overtly dominating it. Using beetroot in this recipe gives a certain depth and earthiness that would otherwise be lacking in a plain nut flour chocolate cake.”
- 300g cooked, unseasoned beetroot, peeled and puréed
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon raw cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder (if you want your cake to be gluten-free)
- Pinch of salt
- 125g ground almonds
- 125g dark chocolate (preferable Green & Black’s 70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
- 4 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the beetroot, eggs, honey, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt with an electric hand mixer. When these ingredients are thoroughly combined, fold in the ground almonds.
- Place a heatproof bowl on the top of a saucepan containing a little water. Make sure the bowl is big enough to cover the top of the pan but do not allow the bottom of the bowl to be in contact with the water. Put the chocolate pieces in the bowl and allow to melt over a low heat, then mix in the oil. Gently stir the chocolate and oil into the cake mixture until well combined.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave the cake to cool in teh tin before turning out onto a wire rack.
- Once the cake is completely cool, dust with cocoa powder. Serve on its own or with crème fraîche.
Extracted from Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose
ROASTED TOMATO SALSA
- 2 pounds roma tomatoes
- 1 small white or yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425˚. Halve the tomatoes, cut the onions and garlic into chunks and dice the jalapeño (removing seeds if desired). Toss everything with olive oil and spread into a single layer on a sheet tray covered with parchment paper. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, until tomatoes are browning. Let roast until desired doneness (a little extra char is nice).
- Let tomatoes cool slightly then transfer to a blender or food process. Add in cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Pulse until salsa is broken down. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.
by Erin Alderson