CRYSTALCHALICE's Recent Blog Entries

My Smiley Cells

Monday, June 27, 2011

Many people, after their recovery from illness, start to reassess and re- evaluate what is important in their lives, whilst at the same time committing to a much healthier way of life in terms of diet, nutrition and fitness. I’m no different in this respect and it seems almost like a matter of duty that I give myself every opportunity to improve since being given this second chance.

I’ve done this in various ways, both internally and externally, cleansing my mind, body and spirit from the inside outwards and clearing my environment and relationships with others in a similar way. The tools I used for these are available to everyone to help get back on track in important areas of your life:


· Meditation – for achieving calmness and inner peace
· Massage – for relaxation and ease of pain
· Reiki – for spiritual awareness and mindfulness
· Diet – for inner health and vitality.
· Prayer – for support, guidance and all of the above.


· Feng Shui – for decluttering your environment, clearing space and ridding yourself of toxic ‘friends’.
· Exercise – for health and fitness and for feeling good
· Hobbies – for distraction and enjoyment
· Making new friends – for laughter, fun and sharing.

Nowadays, I think of my own cells as little bouncy smileys. When regarded like this, it’s quite easy to be kind and helpful to them, and to want to protect and nurture them. When I eat good, nutritious food I imagine the little smileys jumping up and down for joy shouting yippee.

Our cells are a living community and are the building blocks of our life. When we have healthy cells that are given nutritional foods and drinks, they thrive, are happy and full of energy, which is then reflected in our outer health and wellbeing. Every single part of our body is made of trillions of individual living cells, so we should try to look after them and treasure what they do for us. Our body is a temple that houses not only the soul, but countless living organisms that form and make what and who we are.

When we constantly supply these living cells with junk foods, sweet, fizzy drinks and unhealthy life-style choices, they very quickly starve through lack of nutrients. They become sick, unhappy, stressed and begin to die without doing the job of protecting us. Our immune system then weakens and we ourselves are more prone to illness and disease until we eventually become sick. It’s cruel to deny these living organisms the chance of decent nutrition, killing them with our unhealthy choices. All they ever want to do is to repair us and heal us, so we should try to be more mindful and loving to these cells.

It is very true that we are what we eat and if our cells are thriving and happy, then we are too.

Hoping your day is as happy and healthy as it can be.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PMCFARM 6/27/2011 10:43PM


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FERRETLOVER1 6/27/2011 7:34AM

    You go!!!

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Chickpea Challenged?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans). Many people tend to pick these up off the shelf, look at them in slight puzzlement and then put them back. The trouble is, they look so Beige and beige is bland, beige is boring, beige is….blinking heck, this tastes good! Greek Hummus made from beige chickpeas.


2 medium aubergines
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons Tahini paste (sesame paste)
6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 to 6 tablespoon water, add gradually
2 lemons, juiced
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of ground Cumin
Pinch salt

Prick the aubergines, place on baking tray and cook in a very hot oven (Gas 6) for approx 30 to 45 mins until feel soft. Leave to cool then peel off the skins.

Put the aubergines, together with all the ingredients, plus 4 tablespoons water, into a food processor (or blender) and whiz until smooth, adding extra water if necessary.
Sprinkle with Paprika and chill.

Here’s one I made earlier.

Description of this dish– a creamy, slightly grainy texture. Has a lovely, warm nutty flavour with a very slightly bitter aftertaste. Can stir in chopped sweet roast peppers just before chilling for more texture and sweetness. Excellent party dip served with crudités, great with olives, pita bread or whole grain toast. We had it for our lunches with wholegrain Ryvita and black olives and as it's so filling, a little goes a long way. The quantities could be halved, as this made quite a large bowl.

Chickpeas are pulses packed with dietary fibre, high in minerals and antioxidants and can be purchased either dried or tinned. In fact, it’s considered to be the only food item that maintains its complete nutritional integrity when tinned, which is good to know, because it saves time on having to soak the dried variety.

You might like to check this curry out as well:
Chickpea Curry


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AKELAZ 6/23/2011 4:40AM

    Great recipe, Crystal. I love hummus and the aubergine is a great touch - being another of my favourite vegetables. I recently was given some bought hummus with added broad beans and mint which I have started making at home now because it was so good and I prefer to make food of any sort from fresh.

Somehow you have also reminded me of the Spanish dish of Chickpeas and Spinach - I make it quite often as follows:
Soak ½ pound dried chickpeas overnight and cook in the usual way until soft (or use two cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed). Wilt some fresh spinach in hot olive oil and garlic – remove as soon as the spinach leaves soften and set aside. In the same garlic flavoured oil (you may need to add more oil – and garlic if you love it as much as I do!) Fry two cubed thick slices of good white bread until golden. Blend or mash the bread to a paste with a little red wine or balsamic vinegar and return to the pan with the chickpeas and possibly some tomato puree if you like tomato flavour. Stir over a very low heat until the flavours are all absorbed. Add about a teaspoon of smoked paprika and season to taste. Then add the spinach and cook it gently into the mix. If you like the smoked paprika flavor you may like to add a bit more here. Leave to cool – overnight is best of course because the flavours meld together deliciously.
Thanks for posting, Crystal. I'm busy getting ready for a trip to Turkey - a little work and two wedding ceremonies - which is taking a lot of preparation one way or another so won't be around for a while but I hope to return with some interesting ideas for Turkish food.
'See' you afterwards. emoticon emoticon

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HEATHERDIAN 6/23/2011 3:06AM

    I love canned garbanzo beans. Just toss them into a salad.

Thanks for sharing the recipe. I am going to have to try it.

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Summer Solstice & Summer Pudding

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere today is the Summer Solstice, giving us the longest daylight hours and the shortest night-time hours.

Many cultures around the world celebrate the solstices as well as Mid Summer’s Day, also known in the UK as St John’s Day, which falls three days later on 24 June. In the UK the Summer Solstice is traditionally celebrated by both Christians and pagans, but perhaps is more often identified with the Druids who celebrate “the wedding of heaven and earth” at Stonehenge. Thousand of people in the UK, both pagans and non-pagans will gather at ancient religious monuments and standing stones around the countryside to watch the sun rising on the first morning of summer.

At the very moment when the solstice occurs and we have the longest day, conversely, it is also the time when the sun will begin to decline towards winter and the days become shorter. In this way we can observe the shifting of the seasons and realise the great influence the sun has on earth, with its warmth and light nurturing us and providing us with all our needs.

The Grove
by Woodland - Emilio Miller-Lopez

The groves still green and growing,
The Juniper and Oak,
The Willow and the Rowan,
Still wear their leafy cloaks,
The Holly and the Hawthorn,
All wrapped in a wreath,
Where the old bark is peeling,
There is new wood beneath,
The Spindle and Vine,
The branches all entwined,
In the old sacred grove,
We gather tonight,
For it was written in the stars,
And bowed upon the breeze,
A tale braided in the branches,
And the colour of the leaves,
From a fallen Rosewood bow,
A harp sings a fable,
From the wood of a Willow,
A rocker for a cradle,
Oh the arms of the Ash,
The winged fruit,
Where the old tree has fallen,
New life takes root,
The Elder and the Pine,
The branches all entwined,
In the old sacred grove,
We gather tonight,
In honour of the queen of leaves,
And her green man in the trees,
A tale braided in the branches,
And the colour of the leaves

Recipe Summer Pudding
From BBC Good Food

1.15kg British summer fruits eg: 350g/12oz raspberries, 350g/12oz small strawberries, 300g/10oz blackcurrants, 175g/6oz redcurrants
175g golden caster sugar
5 tbsp Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)
2-3 day-old small unsliced farmhouse white loaf of bread (you will need about 5 slices)
cream , to serve

Prepare fruit. Cut strawberries in halves or quarters. Strip the blackcurrants and redcurrants from their stalks in one fell swoop by running a fork down the length of each stem - keep both the currants separate from the other fruits.

Tip the sugar into a wide, not too deep, saucepan. Measure in 3 tbsp water and the cassis. Put the pan on a low heat and cook, stirring often, until you can no longer hear the crunch of sugar grains on the bottom of the pan. When the sugar is dissolved, turn up the heat to medium-high and let the mixture bubble away for about 8 minutes. It will go quite syrupy and you want to catch it just before it starts to change colour or caramelise.

Now tip the blackcurrants and redcurrants into the hot syrup, it will feel quite sticky at first, then bring everything back up to a lively simmer and let it bubble again for no more than a minute, just to lightly burst and soften the currants without losing their shape. Take the pan off the heat and leave until it is barely warm.

Gently stir in the strawberries and raspberries - a large metal spoon is best so they don't break up - and let the fruity mixture sit for about half an hour so the juices all mix in.

Cut 4-5 slices from the loaf, about 5mm thick, and trim off the crusts. Cut a little square (about 4cm) from one slice and put it in the bottom of a 1.2 litre pudding basin. Using a big slotted spoon, put a layer of fruit (about 3 spoonfuls) over the bread. Next lay a slice of bread in the centre over the fruit trimming to fit and fill any gaps with trimmings of bread so the fruit is covered. Continue layering with more fruit, more bread, then a final layer of fruit so it comes to within a hair's breadth of the top of the basin. Spoon over a few spoonfuls of juice - not too much or it will ooze out when weighted down. (You should have about 4 spoonfuls of fruit and juice left for making a sauce.) Cover the fruit with a final layer of bread, press down to compact everything, then cover with cling film. Lay a saucer on top and weight down with heavy cans or weights. Stand the basin on a plate in case any juices spill out, then leave in the fridge overnight, or for a minimum of five hours. Press the leftover fruits and juice through a metal sieve to make a sauce, keep chilled. (You can freeze the pudding and the sauce at this stage for up to a month.)

To turn out, go round the edge of the pudding with a round-bladed knife to release it, then invert it on to a plate. Cut into slices with a serrated knife and serve with a drizzle of the fruit sauce and cream.

Morning Sonnet

Come, Valiant Sun, at the height of your strength,
and witness the death of the king of oaks.
Your summer days have reached their greatest length,
but now the wren-king the robin-lord breaks,
and here begins the failing of the Light.
The Goddess weeps to see her consort fall,
but takes her new love by his ancient right
even as she lays out the old king’s pall.
Nothing is static and everything flows,
and though the mother is fecund and green
the power of the Dark from this moment grows,
though it is the Light whose strength is now seen.
The turning of the circle of the years
brings triumph to us here, but later, tears.
Attributed to Andrew B Watts

And sunrise in our house? Well, I was up. It went like this:

2am – cat’s persistent meowing outside to be let in. Go downstairs, let cat in, make a cup of tea.

3.00am – DH snoring so loud that dog starts to growl – Snnnznzzz, grrrrrrrr, Snnnznzzz, grrrrrrrr. Meow, meow, meow.

3.40am – Meow, meow, cat crying to go out. Let cat out. Birds start dawn chorus, cheep, chirp, chirp, Snnnznzzz, grrrrrrrr, Snnnznzzz, grrrrrrrrr.

4am – Get up make a cup of tea. Let dog out. Yip, yip, yip, dog sees neighbour’s cat.

6am – time to get up now to make DH breakfast and pack up his lunch. Yawn!

Every day, I am Blessed emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AKELAZ 6/21/2011 8:34AM

    Wow! Wonderful blog - and yummy recipe! Great photo too -guess that's your very own pudding?
Absolutely love the Lopez poem and the Woodland music - just the sort of thing I like to listen to. I don't know them but will definitely be getting a CD or two. Great intro - thank you.
Sounds like a pretty eventful Solstice night in your home - as you say, you are much blessed emoticon-
Shame the weather was so poor for the gatherers at Stonehenge - tho I guess they're made of sterner stuff!
Horribly busy at the moment but will get back to you soon.

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DONNAGOWAN 6/21/2011 2:48AM


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Bella Italia! And the Food!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The things I could write about Italy! In May 2008 my DH and I were standing in St Peter’s Square outside the Basilica in the Vatican when I suddenly realised that on this very date the previous year, I was undergoing eight-hour major surgery to try to save my life from cancer. It was a very sobering and spiritual experience to be standing there on what is, to many Christians, the seat of their faith. Anyway, that’s how our trip began and this blog is about Fun and Food, which is where I’m at right now.

We were touring Italy and heading south for beautiful Sorrento, taking in Pompeii, Vesuvius, Capri and the Amalfi Drive. Along the way we discovered and sampled many fabulous Italian dishes, one of which was Sea Bass in White Wine and Lime served with Mediterranean Roast Vegetables, presented to us in a family-run Trattoria in Sorrento, tucked away down a little side street off the main piazza. We had just spent over an hour in a Gelato shop sampling the delights therein. If you are an aficionado of ice cream, Italian gelato is considered by many to be the best ice cream in the world and not to be missed on any account. Inside this shop there was an absolute gourmet feast of frozen ices of every description. There were over fifty flavours from which to choose, some vegetable-based with the likes of avocado, cucumber or artichoke, but most were amazing concoctions of fruit, nuts, coconut and infusions of Italian liqueurs such as Amaretto, Maraschino or the locally produced Limoncello. DH and I ordered three large bowls each of three different flavours in each bowl, thus giving us eighteen flavours between us. At the end of this slight indulgence, our eyes as glazed as the ices, we agreed that this must be the best place in all of Sorrento and promised ourselves to return again for another session before departing Italy, which is what we did.

Anyway, back the Mediterranean vegetables. Outside the Gelato shop our senses were assaulted anew with the wonderful aroma of Focaccia, Ciabatta and Panettone wafting from the bakery across the narrow street and next door was such a quaint little Trattoria, with the quintessential gingham and lace tablecloths, raffia covered chianti bottles and masses of red geraniums growing in a scarlet frenzy from window boxes, buckets and hanging baskets. You’d be right in thinking that with all that gelato, lunch would be tricky, if not a little greedy, so we returned to the Trattoria later that evening

We ordered the Sea Bass in white wine and lime with Mediterranean vegetables and goats cheese, which was absolutely delicious together. What particularly struck me with the vegetables was the array of colour and the fact that this dish was highly nutritious yet not unduly fattening. The Senora was only too happy to tell me how to make this dish, which is very easy, and there are plenty of versions on the internet. The recipe can vary slightly at the end, either with using goats cheese and/or balsamic vinegar, or omitting those few ingredients altogether. So, here is the simple, but very flavoursome Mediterranean Vegetables (and apologies to whoever might be reading, that I get totally carried away by Italy). I shall probably post again giving the Sea Bass recipe, as I’ve found one online that closely resembles the flavours that I recall.

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables

- Wash and dry all vegetables as we are not going to peel them.
-I only ever use Olive Oil both for cooking and for salad dressings, as it’s the most healthy oil, full of antioxidants and rich in omega 3, (and I still manage to lose weight).

Preheat oven Gas 6 or 220C or 425F

2 large aubergines
2 large courgettes
4 peppers – red, green, orange, yellow
8 red onions cut into wedges
2 punnets cherry tomatoes
400g mushrooms, halved if large
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Clove crushed garlic
Fresh chopped Oregano or Basil, or sprinkle dried Italian herbs
Sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Optional – 1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar and feta cheese, cut small or crumbled

Cut the unpeeled aubergines, courgettes and peppers in to 1” cubes.
Cut red onions into 1” wedges
Cut mushrooms in half
Leave cherry tomatoes whole.

Place all veg into two roasting pans.
Mix the olive oil with the garlic and divide between the two pans, gently tossing the vegetables around by hand. (It doesn’t look as though there is enough oil, but it’s plenty).
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and herbs.

Cook for approx 30 to 45 mins until tender, turning over half way through.

Add Balsamic vinegar and cheese if desired.

Serve with baked or steamed fish, grilled chicken fillet, pork or turkey.
Buon appetito!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CMFARRELL36 6/18/2011 6:02PM

    That Veg Medley sounds really good - but I think I'd have to make sure all the aubergine was in the one baking tray. DH can have that one, though I will take a taste, when I get around to making it. Then I'll let you know how I get on.

Thanks for sharing.

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AKELAZ 6/18/2011 7:30AM

    WOW!! What a beautiful blog - really took me to Rome! Sounds like a great trip - I need to know Italy better. (Also sounds like you had a bad time with your Cancer - which I'm sorry to hear. 8 hour op - good heavens!) Been there but nothing as serious as that.

I adore Sea Bass - there is a spot just along the shore from where I live where you can catch them - well - not me, I don't have that patience - but friends catch them and pass them on sometimes - or indeed serve them at meals they invite me to. Have also had them barbecued on the beach straight from the sea. emoticon

I love Med.Veggies - your recipe is great - I certainly add cheese sometimes but generally then eat them as a dish in their own right. Also love them on skewers on the bbq. Then I tend to add good Greek yoghourt on the side.

Thanks so much for this blog - hope it will inspire me to blog which I haven't done for ages. Have a good weekend, Crystal - emoticon

PS finally got round to the Spinach and Eggs this a..m. REALLY good - thanks for that too :-)

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Va Va Voom the Veg

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The good old common and garden herb is Cool again. I always knew this because my grandma told me that to cook properly and to be healthy, good witches use herbs. (We weren’t witches, no, really!), but I was into fairy stories at the time, (still am in truth).

Herbs are brilliant. Hooray for Herbs!! Not only do they add flavour to everything, from sauces, to stews and casseroles, salads and vegetables, meat and fish, but they are Nutritious and Healthy. In fact, recent studies have found that their nutritional values are much greater than previously thought and their benefits to our health are enormous.

Wherever possible, I use fresh herbs as these are the most nutritious and have a much cleaner flavour than the dried variety. However, even the dried ones can perk up a meal and both fresh and dried can be used as seasoning mixed with lemon juice instead of using salt, or as a garnish to aid digestion and help boost the immune system.

My top seven fresh herbs are Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Oregano and Coriander. These herbs can cover all dishes, so are versatile as well as tasty. From those seven I probably use Parsley, Basil and Coriander the most because these are extremely versatile and taste good raw, chopped and sprinkled on food.

The thing to do with herbs is experiment, but if in doubt this link is a good starting place:
The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Delaware

A quick look at some of the benefits of why herbs are so good for us:

- High in antioxidants
- High in essential vitamins and minerals
- Contain essential oils
- Help reduce blood sugar levels – excellent for diabetics
- Help reduce cholesterol
- Contain anti-inflammatory properties
- Help prevent artery disease

If, like me, you find yourself using herbs more and more, and find that supermarket prices are a little high, well you will also find that they are very easy to cultivate in pots on window ledges or in containers on your patio.

So, get out your chopping board and fandango with the fish, shimmy with the salad and va va voom the veg.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AKELAZ 6/16/2011 3:16AM

    Have yet to find a herb that I don't like - would be hard to name a favourite. I know they're incredibly beneficial but am grateful for the specifics - and for the link. Have to say I put fresh herbs with pretty well everything but - again - the specifics are good to know.

Great blog, Crystal - also your photos are beautiful and really effective - very tempting I have to say!

emoticon - Sonia

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CMFARRELL36 6/15/2011 6:20PM

    Thanks for all that info about herbs.

My younger son uses them in his cooking far more than I do in mine.
But then - he's cooking for himself, where I'm re-learning the cooking for 2.
I do use a lot of parsley - dried cos that's the easiest for me.

But you are so right - herbs add a huge amount of flavour and of goodness to whatever you're cooking.

@ I.M.Magic - I use my kitchen window sill for herbs, as and when I grow my own. It is north facing, so has very little "good" light, although it obviously has daylight all day.
Your patio may be in the shade all day - but outdoors, shade areas have reflectors. Have you tried, eg a pot of parsley and a pot of mint - just to see how they do? They may not grow quite so strongly, but they'll also probably need less watering!

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I.M.MAGIC 6/15/2011 1:42PM

    I too love fresh herbs... and though I DO have a patio, it's in shade all day so it's basically useless for herbs, which usually require at least 6 hrs of sun. In fact, the grass back there barely grows! LOL

I do have to purchase mine at the store or local marketplace. The hardest thing about that isn't the price, it's keeping the stuff fresh! LOL So I end up using about a third of what I buy fresh, and drying the rest in my oven to store in little jars or ziplocks until I need them. They go quite a ways like that...

I have coriander and cilantro (different parts of the same plant), basil, dill, rosemary (which I use mostly for cleaning! LOL), garlic, oregano, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg... can't remember the rest off the top of my head. My favorites are basil and garlic and dill...

And you are right about using lemon with them too! LOL

I'm on a low-sodium regimen, and lemon and apple cider vinegar have added a whole new dimension of flavor for me...

Thanks for the reminder--I need to check my pantry and restock! LOL

Kathy emoticon emoticon emoticon

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