: Turn this dietary treat into family fun
Regular juices and smoothies are an amazing way to get huge amounts of fresh vegetables into you, plus most kids love peeling and chopping and feeding things through the juicer, or turning on a noisy blender. Freeze fruit in resealable bags for use in smoothies - this will give them an instant slushy or ice-cream texture (especially bananas). You can also freeze smoothies to defrost in a school lunchbox.
I used to put heaps of berries in my kids' smoothies to hide the greens and loads of honey or maple syrup for added appeal, but they love them as is now. They select their own (often very random!) ingredients, as well as growing and picking the greens themselves.
We've been testing recipes for Little Bird and there's a beetroot and berry juice that my kids go crazy for. I often walk into the kitchen to find them with stained red hands, wielding a scarily large knife! But I must admit I enjoy being waited on and delivered my own fresh juice.
Green smoothie recipe:
• 2 cups of kale, spinach or lettuce (or a mix)
• 1 frozen banana
• Splash of honey or a date
• Pinch of salt
• Dash of vanilla
• Sprinkle of cinnamon and cardamom
• 1 Tbsp of almond butter
• 1 cup of water, or freshly made almond milk
2. Meditate: Or, if that word scares you, just breathe
Many people freak out at the thought of meditating or setting aside the time to think about nothing. Me included! I meditated a lot when I was sick and it was so beneficial to my state of mind, but I really resisted it once I became "better" as I associated it with illness.
But when I get anxious or stressed, my breathing is the first thing to go and I get terrible tummy pains. Last year after my yoga teacher, a counsellor and a spiritual healer in Bali all told me I needed to focus on my breathing, I begrudgingly agreed to get back into it. Start with a manageable amount of time. Don't buy yourself an hour-long guided meditation and set yourself up for failure because you never have time to do it.
In my household, as soon as the kids are asleep my husband and I separate into different rooms and I set an alarm. We started at two minutes and worked our way up. You'll be amazed at how quickly the time passes and how calm and centred you feel afterwards.
3. Read: And try to make it a book, not a tablet
Reading should be a retreat from the technological age. After I had kids I spent a long time immersing myself in nothing heavier than Who magazine. I still can't handle long fiction - I fear The Luminaries will be by my bedside until the kids leave home - but it's a favourite indulgence to dip into things that better my existence, and I swear they do.
Favourites at the moment are Rushing Woman's Syndrome by Dr Libby, Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr (an American living with incurable cancer) and Cooked by Michael Pollan.
4. Move: Add a workout to your daily routine
My day is infinitely better if I get some kind of workout and I prefer to do it first thing before I wake up properly and realise what's going on - and also so I can enjoy the endorphins for the rest of the day. I am cognisant of the risk factors for breast cancer, one of which is being overweight, so moving regularly helps with this. I'm not fond of getting hot and sweaty. To me yoga is the perfect exercise - you focus on breathing, you stretch, you find balance, you gain strength and then you lie down for enforced meditation.
5. Turn off: Limit screen time and work availability
I have a love-hate with social media and technology. Actually I just love to hate it (that's not very Zen!). I don't like being addicted to anything, it's why I quit smoking many years ago and why I sporadically quit coffee. I'm currently trying to quit my phone, or at least limit my attachment to it.
I'm so glad Instagram and Facebook weren't around when I was sick. I fear "friends" see "liking" a post as the new picking up a phone and checking in. Where's the sense of community in that? I feel we're becoming more and more isolated and at the same time we're expected to be more and more available, with work able to email us 24/7 and people who become irritated if they don't receive a response straight away.
Set strict boundaries. Shut the phone in the glovebox of your car where you can't reach it, and try not to take it everywhere with you. Make a rule to not look at it after 6pm, just leave it in another room. Don't check emails after hours unless it's really, really urgent.