De-Stress, Don’t Distress!

Ok so Easter Term sucks!!! We spend hours, days, weeks trying frantically to learn every quote, case, mathematical equation and theory we have come across in the past year…only to forget most of it after the exams are over. Anxiety levels are high, sleep levels are low and our health and wellbeing…well that just gets swept aside in pursuance of that elusive ‘Cambridge degree’. Everyone who has experienced exam term before will know that we start the term with the intention of being productive yet efficient. We promise ourselves not to get stressed…’They’re just exams for god’s sake’ and yet before term has even officially begun, the libraries are crammed and the topic of conversation inevitably revolves around exam-timetables, revision technique and general stress-inducing moanage!!! This is inevitable…perhaps even valuable…but our health should not suffer the consequences. Here are just a couple of helpful hints and tips on maintaining a healthy life-style during these unique few weeks. Every week we’ll be posting some innovative techniques to get you through the upcoming term.

Recipes

Easy-peasy curry

Homemade vegetable soup

Italian mushroom sauce with pasta

Pasta with lentil and red pepper sauce

Savoury onion tart

Spring vegetable, honey, & tofu stir-fry

Vegetarian chilli

De-Stressing Tips

Take a nap!!!!

Just 30-40 minutes of downtime will recharge your batteries. Just dim the lights, lie down and zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Express yourself artistically

Divert some of your excess energy into something creative

Have a laugh

It’s really easy to forget how good it can feel to just laugh for a bit. Watch a movie, catch up with friends, tell some jokes…. Whatever you need to put a smile on your face

Be gentle to yourself

If you feel you haven’t been productive, don’t beat yourself up over it. In the words of scarlett o’hara ‘tomorrow is another day’

Go for a run

A great way to let of steam is to do some exercise be it running, walking, swimming or any other kind of activity.

Meditation

A great way to relieve anxiety and relax the mind

– assume a comfortable position lying on your back

– close your eyes it feels comfortable

– focus your attention on your belly feeling it rise or expand gently as you inhale and fall as you exhale

– concentrate on every single breath you take

– every time you notice that your mind has wandered of your breath, take note of what it was that took you away and gently bring your attention back to your belly and the feeling of breath coming in and out

– practice this exercise for 15 minutes at a convenient time every day

Recipes

Easy-peasy curry

My daughter likes to make this – she says it’s dead easy, and tastes nice ‘n’ spicy!

Ingredients

2 tbsp sunflower oil

2-4 tsp curry paste,

1 onion, peeled and chopped,

225g (2 cups) button mushrooms, halved,

175g (1 1/2 cups) frozen peas defrosted,

125g (1/3 cup) natural yogurt,

Small bunch fresh coriander, washed and chopped

Serves 4: heat the oil in a pan, and stir in the curry paste. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, then add the peas. Stir in the yogurt and simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked through. If too thick, add a little water. Stir through the chopped coriander. Serve with rice.

If you want a more substantial curry add some cooked chicken, meat, or prawns when you add the mushrooms.

Homemade vegetable soup recipe

Ingredients

2 medium potatoes, washed but unpeeled
2 onions, peeled
2 large carrots, scraped
1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
85g/3 oz/half cup red lentils
1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil (but see method)
2 pints (1 litre) water or stock (use a stock cube…it’s quicker!!)

serves 4

method

Roughly chop the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the vegetables, stir to coat and leave to sweat for 5-10 minutes over a low heat. You can add 1-2 crushed cloves of garlic at this stage if you wish. You can also omit this stage if you prefer a no-fat soup. The flavour may be a little less intense, but it’ll still be good. Add the lentils. If you do not have any lentils add extra potatoes & carrots
pour on the hot stock, stir well, bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. You can serve the soup at this stage or blend it if you prefer.

Italian mushroom sauce with pasta

Serves 4
time 30 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
225g (8 oz) button mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
400g (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
400g (14 oz) can tomato puree
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) chopped fresh basil
2 tsp dried oregano
350g (12 oz) dried pasta (penne, spirals, shells)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the canned tomatoes, tomato puree, 50ml (1/4 cup) water, oregano, pepper, and salt.

Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the fresh basil and remove from the heat.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted, slowly boiling water until al dente. Drain well and place in a warmed serving dish. Pour over the sauce.

Pasta with lentil and red pepper sauce

Ingredients

1 onion peeled and chopped
1 small red pepper deseeded and chopped
2tbs oil
1 clove garlic crushed
400g whole-wheat pasta
1tsp basil
250g can tomatoes
100g split red lentils
1tbs tomato puree
400ml salted water
15g butter
salt and pepper
1 pinch sugar

Grated cheese to serve

Method

1. Fry the onion and pepper in oil in a large saucepan for 10 mins then put in the garlic, basil, tomatoes, lentils, tomato puree and salted water.

Bring to the boil then turn down the heat to simmer gently uncovered for 15-20 mins until the lentils are cooked.

Season with salt and pepper and a dash of sugar.

2. About 15 mins before the sauce is ready half fill a large saucepan with lightly salted water and bring to the boil.

Add the pasta, easing the pasta down the water as the ends soften.

Boil rapidly uncovered for about 10 mins until a piece feels tender when you bite it.
Drain then return to the pan with the butter, salt and pepper.

3. Serve with the sauce and hand round grated cheese.

Savoury onion tart

Ingredients

Pre baked flan case (sainsbury stocks these!!)
30g/1oz/2tbsp margarine
¼kg/½lb/2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
¼kg/½lb/1 cup firm tofu
200ml/8fl oz/1 cup soya milk
salt and pepper to taste
½tsp freshly-grated nutmeg

Method

1. Put the margarine to melt in a frying pan over a low heat.

2. Meanwhile, skin and finely dice the onions, add to the pan and sauté for a few minutes.

3. Skin and crush the garlic and stir it in with the onions.

4. Continue cooking till the onions are just transparent but not yet beginning to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Coarsely dice the tofu and put it in a blender.

6. Add the cooked onions and garlic to the blender, together with the soya milk, salt and pepper to taste and blend to a smooth cream.

7. Pour the onion mixture into the flan shell, smooth the top, sprinkle with the ground nutmeg and bake in the middle of a moderate oven 177°c/350°f/gas mark 4 until the top begins to brown (about ½ hour).

This is equally good hot, straight from the oven, or chilled.

Spring vegetable, honey, & tofu stir-fry

Ingredients:

2 tsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp medium curry powder
100g fresh asparagus tips
150g courgettes, thinly sliced
150g carrots, cut into matchsticks
50g red onion, finely sliced
150g pack cauldron organic marinated tofu pieces
2 small lemons, juice only
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tbsp honey (or light muscovado sugar*)

To garnish (optional):

25g mange tout, finely sliced vertically

Method:

1. Heat oil in large pan, add garlic and curry powder. Toss in asparagus and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes before adding courgettes and carrots. Continue stir frying for 2 minutes before adding onion and tofu.

2. Mix together lemon juice, mint and honey together. Add to stir fry. Cook for a further 2 minutes.

3. Can be served hot or cold with noodles, rice or wilted pak choy leaves and optional mange tout garnish.

Vegetarian chilli

  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, mined
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup diced courgette
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 15 oz. Can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz. Can pinto or borlotti beans drained
  • 1 15 oz. Can white beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. Chilli powder

In a large pot saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add peppers and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes more.

Add remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat.

Simmer 20-30 minutes or until flavours combine and chilli is thick.

Serve with steamed rice or couscous.