Sunday 17 August 2014

Soothing seas and Kale herb couscous

Everytime I go to the sea, I feel alive again. The salty air, the repetition of the waves, whether ripples or torrents of white wash bashing the shore, soothe me. Everything is ok again once I'm near the sea. For someone who grew up in the midlands, this has always seemed strange. I could never explain it. No one really understood. While the term sea-sick usually means getting ill, for me, it was similar to homesickness; if too long a time period had gone by without a visit to the sea, to breathe in the refreshing gusts of air or to immerse myself completely in its magical waters, I would become seasick.

The feeling has never left. When I took up surfing, it was the ultimate sea experience. Usually during summertime, going to the sea on holidays was liberating relaxation of momentous proportions. I would dive under, swim, stall, float on my back and drift around. Complete freedom. Bliss. Surfing brought a new element to my life, a new connection to the water. Surfing made me realize just how much my depressed mind needed to be calmed. When you dive headfirst with your board in tow, every worry, doubt, fear, anxiety and stress is instantly washed away. When I finish each surf, whether I caught any waves or not, I feel renewed and light.

In Dublin, there is no surf but there is the sea and it's close by. Sometimes, I forget that fact but in light of renewed focus on healthy habits and nourishment of the soul, I cycled out there today. I was instantly reminded of when I first moved to Dublin and became overwhelmed and a loving manfriend calmly brought me out there to remind me that the sea was in Dublin. He lovingly reminded me that all I needed to do was stick my feet in the sand and breath. It was a gusty, temperamental  sort of afternoon, whipping wind all around. As soon as I got there, though, I realized just how essential it is when you're feeling blue or low on energy to get outside, switch off the phones and interact with the real world around us.

Toes in the sand. People, bird, wave and dog watching, all in the shadow of the Ringsend chimneys and the busy city not so far away. Leaving, I felt hungry and calm, like my mind had been shook up and all the useless thoughts and worries were carried out to sea and dispersed in the salty wind.

When you feel yourself getting caught up in your head and there's a worry that the sinking thinking is about to start, detach from the mechanics of your busy life and head outside. Whether you've got a sea, a park, a garden or a stream, get out there and breathe.

Hungry and eager to make something quick and tasty, I came up with this delicious Kale couscous.
Using Dennis Healy's black kale from Wicklow, some couscous from the press and a few other easy ingredients, I cooked up this in a record 10 minutes. It's tasty, warming and bursting full of greens, the mood booster. Leafy greens contain folate, an essential nutrient which helps develop neurotransmitters that balance your mood. The queen of greens has a bad reputation as not being tasty. I'm hoping this recipe will change your mind.

Feeds 2 for dinner or if you are like Me, Myself and I, dinner and lunch for the following day.

One bunch of kale: approx. 10 leaves
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/4 can chickpeas
2 Tbs mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds
salt and pepper
1 handful of mixed fresh herbs (I used mint and parsley from the garden)

1/2 cup of couscous
1 cup of boiling water/boiling veggie stock

2 Tbs apple cider vinegard
2 Tbs soy sauce

Soaked sprouts (optional)

Measure your couscous into a bowl and pour boiling water/stock over. Cover bowl with lid/plate and let sit for 10 minutes to absorb.
In a frying pan, add thinly sliced garlic and fry until softened (2-3 mins). Cut off the stalk parts of each of the leaves and slice thinly. Fry with the garlic, seeds and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper and fry until chickpeas get toasty and seeds are browned. Slice the kale leaves into thick strips and quickly fry with the rest of the ingredients in the pan.

Chop herbs finely and stir through the couscous then stir the frying pan ingredients through. Dress with the vinegar and soy sauce and mix thoroughly. Serve with soaked sprouts if you like.

Happy Sunday X

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