Friday, 12 June 2015

Tropical tunes: Mango, banana and cacao smoothie


I was home twice in the last five days. It was a rough weekend and I couldn't bring myself to carry on with things in Dublin normally, knowing that I'd left behind two very exhausted parents, so I went back on Tuesday for almost two more days. Up until a few years ago, a rough weekend described perfectly a boozey weekend that culminated in an ill advised portion of garlic cheesy chips and a lamb shwarma kebab at 4am. Since illness came into our house, a rough weekend has meant that my beautiful mama has been sick, really sick and that we've all pulled together to try and alleviate the pain, pressure and difficulties she's experiencing. A rough weekend for her is a rough one for all of us because we want to spend our weekend caring for her and making it better. It was an odd sort of weekend in that the big sis was home for a few days from Spain. We pulled together as usual but somehow it just didn't cut it. The weekend flattened all of us and when I left on the 6.45 am commuter train to get back to Dublin, all I could think about was, "what a fuck up! This can't be it. This can't defeat us. She's only half way through". I looked at my Dad's exhausted, worried face and thought about my Mam in bed and I felt completely helpless. I didn't want to go back to my life in Dublin. I wanted to go back home and take all the pain away, preferably with some kind of magic wand.


This illness infects everything, not just the body it inflicts its pain on and so often, the helplessness can overcome and overpower everything and everyone. The last time she was sick, I froze and let the immensity of this black disease consume me. This time, I wanted things to be different and for little, practical things to matter. I wanted to believe that if we all helped each other out, we'd need to implement practical acts of kindness. Me and little sis came up with a game plan. I would come home for a few days mid week and I'd spend time with Mam, cook healthy dinners and give Dad a break as caregiver and Mam some quality time. Little sis would visit each evening to help. It wasn't easy. I doubted that anything I was doing was enough or effective in any way. For the two days, I was close to tears, especially at the idea of coming back to work, of reintegrating back into life with work and friends, having spent all my energy focussing on my Mama, her illness and my Dad.


A tropical song came into my head at the end of the two days, as I watched the morning sun stretch across the length of the railway tracks waiting for my train back to the Big Smoke. It calmed me down. It reminded me that even though it didn't seem like things were changing or getting better sometimes, they were. Birds were singing, building nests, having baths and digging for worms in the garden. Veggies and herbs were growing and thriving in the back garden at home and all of that could be seen from out of Mam's bedroom window. Everylittle thing was gonna be all right.

I've realised, a mix of things are going to get me through this.

Singing that song

Living in the summertime sun

Helping each other out

Embracing the sun

In light of this summertime worship and Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, I've made this tropical tunes smoothie. It's bright, tasty, cheerful and will hopefully transport my Mama to a beach side cafe anytime she drinks it. Enjoy!

Tropical Tunes Smoothie. Makes 4

Ingredients

1 large rip mango

1 large banana

3 cups real orange juice

2 tbsp cacao nibs (plus some more to sprinkle on top)

4 tbsp dessicated coconut

Method

Wash the mango. Slice in the middle and remove the stone then chop roughly into bite sized pieces. Add mango pieces, banana, oj, cacao nibs and coconut to a smoothie maker or use a hand held blender. Whizz up to a yummy smoothie. If you want it thinner, add a little cold water or ice. Serve in glasses with a sprinkle of cacao nibs.

* If you want to make this regularly but don't have much time and you have a hardy smoothie maker, chop up your fruit when you buy it and freeze them on a tray. Once frozen, bag them up. Then you just have to add the other ingredients to the frozen mango and banana in the morning, whizz up and you're all set!


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