Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Grain-free Bread.

(*=see tips)
What you'll need:
2 medium bowls
Whisk*
Loaf tin (21 X 13cm)
Baking Paper

Ingredients:
6 large eggs
55g coconut oil
Half tsp cider vinegar
190g smooth almond butter*
2 tbsp raw honey*
28g hazelnut flour/meal*
30g coconut flour*
1tsp baking soda*
Three quarters tsp sea salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 180c (gas 4). Line the loaf tin with baking parchment so the paper extends 5cm above the sides. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, cider vinegar, almond butter and honey. 

In a separate medium bowl, combine the hazelnut flour, coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt. 

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until well combined, and transfer to the prepared loaf tin. 

Bake in the oven, on the middle shelf, for 45 minutes. 

Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool completely. To remove the bread from the tin, lift the edges of the baking parchment. 

Tips:

Sowans brand almond butter was what I used because it was the smoothest. It's an Irish brand so I don't know if it's available in other countries. Other almond butter brands were either crunchy, may have contained traces of gluten according to the label, one jar didn't have enough for a single loaf or all of these issues together. I used a hand whisk, forgetting that I had a whisk attachment for my stick blender. I recommend using an electric whisk if you have one, to save time. I don't know if it was raw but I used shop-bought organic honey. It didn't affect the consistency of the bread in a negative way. I used a pack of roasted and chopped hazelnuts. It didn't have a noticeable affect on the finished loaf (at least not negative anyway). The quantity of hazelnut flour per loaf is quite small so you could buy a packet of hazelnuts and use a good coffee grinder to grind some to a flour consistency for each loaf. The original recipe calls for home made coconut flour but cocowel do gluten free 100% coconut flour if (like me) sourcing a coconut and making your own is difficult/impractical. Other brands may contain additives and preservatives and have too much fibre. For the baking soda I used the gem brand bread soda because it was the only one that stated gluten free on the packet. 

Credits:

Dorling Kindersley Healthy Gut Cookbook (Gavin Pritchard, RDN, CSSD, CD-N, CDE. Maya Gangadharan, NTP) 

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Gluten

I had rice wine as part of a chicken stir fry recipe for dinners for a couple of days recently. It turns out that Chinese rice wine has gluten in it. Wheat is used in the ingredients but I bought it from an Asian shop and there were no ingredients written on the label and no allergen warnings.
I knew things were flowing a bit freely the next day but I put it down to the fact that I had alcohol in my system from the rice wine and of course I had been eating a gluten free chocolate bar with an artificial sweetener in it. I asked if rice wine was gluten free on the Facebook group Coeliac Experiences. It was when someone commented that not all rice wine was gluten free that I decided to look it up on Google. I may have researched rice wine before and completely forgotten about it. But anyway...
I can feel that damage has been done. I'm suffering with discomfort and ibs and can't function properly today. I went to the shop earlier but haven't been out today apart from that. Mentally I'm feeling low. I'm writing this partly to keep my mind occupied so as not to drift into mild depression and to push away thoughts of anxiety over what my immune system is doing to my intestine and worry about how much nutrition is being absorbed from food. I am trying to focus on the fact that I have been eating reasonably well lately so I shouldn't get to a stage where I am starving only an hour or two after a big meal (as has happened in the past).
I have felt nauseous before but I don't think it'll be like that this time. Could happen though. Don't ask me for an opinion or to make a decision on something because brain fog will happen to varying degrees. Today I had to make an effort to wash the ware and it took a bit of mental strength to maintain focus on the task. I successfully completed it. Whew! So I'm just lying here on my bed now doing this because it keeps me in a zone where I have some degree of comfort despite my gut teasing me that I might need the bathroom at any moment.
I'll still cook a dinner later and still eat as normal. It's tempting to avoid all food for the rest of the day but some of my digestive system is bound to take in nutrition, right? I think I'd make myself feel worse if I stopped eating because I'd be hungry on top of feeling unwell. It's bad enough that I won't get the full benefits from food already and then not eating at all on top of that.
If this seems a bit muddled or incomplete or something, well just try to understand that I'm suffering from gluten ingestion and it's consequences. So it's hard to think straight and make everything make sense. Not every coeliac is going to react or feel the way I do right now after being glutened. Each body will react differently and each individual reaction in the same body could feel different to the previous one. I'm just sharing how I feel now after my latest consumption of gluten. Partly as a kind of mental therapy for myself and partly to help people understand what living with this condition is like. If you didn't know me or about my condition you wouldn't think, just by looking at me, that there's anything wrong with me right now. But my immune system has just went to battle with my digestive system and done damage to the villi that absorb nutrients from food so I'm not functioning properly. But I'll remind myself one more time, as medical conditions go it's not the worst one to get. I don't have to take any medication to control it, it won't kill me quickly and I can live a normal healthy life when no gluten proteins get in my body.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Life Choices

Someone posted a question on a social medium lately and it got me thinking. Since I haven't written a blog in some time I decided to write my thoughts here so that I can share it in multiple apps.
Here is the question: If you could only choose one of these options which would it be: a) have a child or children, but never get married or b) have a good marriage but not have any children?
I hope no one reads too much into this or is offended by anything I have to say because I'm only speaking from my point of view and not saying either is right or wrong. It seems to me like single parents would almost always choose a) in hindsight. What about married parents? What would hindsight make them favour? Are we conditioned or even pressured to choose having children in hindsight? How would couples who aren't married and don't have children choose, I wonder?
As a single man with no children I'm more focused on the choice, looking towards the future, of those who have not had either. For me personally, I know that if I could choose I'd choose b). Why? Partly because someone once said "you never miss what you've never had". I have had a few relationships, not many, but enough to know what it's like to have a woman in my life and I would love to have the best of that experience long-term. I have never had children and I think I would be completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising a child to be honest, even with the help of the child's mother. But a woman who is my life companion and best friend as well as my wife and lover is something I know I would cherish as long as not having children isn't a problem. She isn't dependant on me, she's with me because she chooses to be. I know it wouldn't be perfect or a fairytale happy ending but it would be nice to have someone that we can strive to make our relationship work. I often think how one of my life goals is to have a good woman in my life. It's difficult for me to achieve it, considering how wary and guarded and defensive and introverted and sometimes nervous I become at the thought of interaction with strangers, but I do work on it in the background when the opportunity presents itself and sometimes my mindset is good for interacting with women. I know what it's like to be lonely and I know feeling lonely wouldn't be a regular occurrence if I was waking up beside a special lady every morning.
It is possible, of course, to have children and love & live with the mother of the children and not ever get married. That is a way to have the best of both worlds and still be sticking to the options as layed out in a) and b). I'd settle for that because I'm not religious and don't care about religious teaching in relation to children outside of wedlock. But I think I'd choose the marriage option anyway because of what I said earlier about the responsibility of raising a child. If I had to choose between a loving wife or having children right now the choice is easy.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Race Track Doodle 2

Unlike the previous blog post, there are no planned undulations in this circuit. I had a blank sheet of 5mm square paper in front of me. I closed my eyes and came up with the basis of the short circuit option seen here. I completed the circuit with a slight adjustment in places and drew the pits and pit lane in red. But it looked like it was a little bit too short for a grand Prix race track because, if it was to scale (which it isn't) it would take less than a minute to do a lap. So I closed my eyes again and had the basis of the whole circuit and drew that with slight modifications to blend in with the original short layout. The lap is driven in an anti-clockwise direction, as you can see from the direction of the little chequered flag and the position of the grid markings in relation to the pits. There are forty grid markings and so space for forty pit garages. This means that the grid is almost twice as long as would be needed for formula one. I estimate that if this was to scale the main straight would be approximately nine hundred meters long.
The section after turn one would be very fast until turn four. Maybe turn two would be taken a couple of gears back from top because you wouldn't be quite up to speed accelerating away from turn one. A formula one car should have the speed to generate plenty down force to take turn three in top gear. Then there's a chicane and a square right before the circuit splits between the long and short lap options. There's a tight left on to the back straight, a high speed chicane and then a long left that tightens into a short stretch to the esses before the long right parabolica on to the start/finish straight. I would estimate a qualifying lap in a formula one car would be somewhere in the region of ninety three to ninety five seconds. I estimate the long circuit to be about 5.5km, which is about 3.418 miles. 

Race Track Doodle 1

Bank holiday today so no college. In my spare time I did a couple of race track designs. The first three turns in this were influenced by Sochi formula one circuit in that there is a fast kink right and then a relatively tight right into a long sweeping left. The short circuit option sweeps right to a long straight part of the way round turn three. After the long sweeping left it's up the hill to a long right turn. There is a concave slope in the land from high to low, the start/finish straight being higher than the back straight/sweep. Turn four on to the straight on the left hand side of the circuit is the highest point with turn seven, eight and nine (hairpin, back straight/sweep) the joint lowest points. Before that you have to negotiate a tight right into a long left similar to the classic turn eight in Istanbul Park. Exiting turn nine at the bottom of the circuit (top right hand side of the picture) there are a series of turns that gradually get faster up the concave incline to the main straight. Turn fourteen is the fastest and the long sweeper (fifteen) on to the main straight is slightly slower. About halfway around the final turn is the pit lane entry. Actually, now that I think about it, the final turn reminds me a bit of the parabolica at Estoril where Villeneuve famously got by Schumacher around the outside in '96.
I have a name for one turn already. I reckon cars would try to get a slipstream and attempt to out-break into the hairpin at nine because they'll want to be ahead going into the next series of turns before the start/finish straight because it would be too difficult to overtake and being behind a car would mean a loss of aerodynamic grip due to lack of downforce from disturbed air. So I reckon spectators would see a lot of action approaching turn nine. That is why I named it "Action" corner (or "Action" hairpin if you like).
You can also make out grandstand areas in red and an earth bank for spectators next to the left and right sweepers before the straight. The squares in the paddock area behind the pits are meant to be buildings for the race teams and officials.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Losing Focus While Striving for Goals

I mentioned at the end of the previous entry about wanting to better myself. Going to college is a major attempt at that. But it hasn't been easy. I saw where the course could potentially lead me and what I could get out of it. If I had been able to naturally progress through the course and get into a routine, it still wouldn't have been easy, but it would have been easier than what it was. It's like you see a target, focus on it and go for it. On the way to the target external forces distract your focus so you drift off course and sometimes forces beyond your control push you so far off course you never get completely back on track and so, at best, you lose focus on the ultimate goal and, at worst, you give up completely. 
I was discussing my college experience with someone today and that is how I described it. I was told that it's like I see that I have to do one thing in order to get to where I need to be and then I worry that I need to do something else in order to get the first thing done and I keep building up in my head other things that I need to do until the amount of tasks become completely overwhelming. So I need to learn to focus on one thing at a time and have confidence in myself to get that one thing done and then focus on the next thing. I have to get out of the habit of worrying about the parts of the journey I haven't got to yet. Like the saying goes "cross that bridge when you come to it". Eventually I will make progress and I will get to my goal if I don't lose focus and concentrate on what I need to do now and not what I haven't got to yet. I also need to be a bit more assertive around people who think they know what's the best way of doing things if that way won't work for me but the way I have laid out will.
I was in a new workshop in the college Monday and we were supposed to be learning about an Instrumentation and Control rig but I was distracted by the 2 CNC machines in the workshop that I won't get to use. I would have loved to use them and hadn't much of a clue about the rig my lecturer was talking about. I finally admitted to others as well as myself that I definitely chose the wrong course. I have given up trying to get into third year and there are 2 subjects I won't complete. I will complete 2nd year and sit a number of exams to help me show a level of ability to potential other courses and employers. I will discuss my options with the careers office next week and come up with a better solution than I did the first time I went there. I have an idea of what I want to get from a college course now and I know the one I'm on at the moment can't give me that. I chose the wrong course and I'm not sure if the college can offer me a learning experience that suits my needs, even if they could offer a course that was aimed at my personal career goals.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Conor McGregor

Although this blog post is partly about him, I really put his name as the heading to draw attention to this. This applies to other sports stars as well who might not be mentioned here.
The real subject matter is sports stars who've lifted the spirit of the nation. After Conor's disappointing loss to Nate Diaz someone wisely posted on social media how he lifted the spirit of the nation and now was the time for his fans to remind him how we still feel and lift his spirits.
I was watching Ireland comprehensively beat Italy in the 6 Nations rugby today and when the result became a foregone conclusion my mind drifted while watching the match. Then I remembered how the rugby team won the grand slam at the trough of the recession. On the same day Bernard Dunne became world champion in boxing. Bernard is a fitness coach with Dublin football team and so, as All-Ireland champions, he is still at the pinnacle of sport. So the support is easier to find in that situation.
Our rugby team, and Joe Schmit need to be forgiven (for want of a better phrase) for not doing so well this year and indeed need our praise and support even more so this year considering the injuries, retirements and other setbacks they've experienced. Not that they lack the support. The fans still show up at the games and are brilliant like that. Anyway the victory today shows the level they're still at with a fully fit squad.
So we can't expect victory over every opponent and we should celebrate a sports team and individuals who punch above their weight given the relatively small talent pool we have to draw from compared to other 6 Nations rugby countries and individuals like Conor making it to the top when countries like America and Brazil should have the best of the best mma talent and coaching staff to draw from when you compare the size of our countries.
Olympic boxers have also raised the mood of the nation and Katie Taylor being the world champion that easily springs to mind. Thankfully she's still Olympic and world champion but let's keep showing her the love no matter what the outcome of her fights because she deserves it.
The dedication of these individuals and indeed in sports not mentioned in this blog post, is inspirational and makes us believe that things can be better when we are experiencing bad times if we work and strive to better ourselves. So they and their achievements deserve to be celebrated.
Sporting activities have lifted the spirit of the nation during a crisis of recession, austerity and the policies of divisive governments selling out to foreign and corporate overlords.
I have a bad habit of letting negative thoughts come to the forefront of my mind though, and life long habits are hard to break. I wish I could be more confident and strive for my own personal goals even a fraction as much as ireland's great sports stars. But they have inspired me to at least want to better myself and that's a start I suppose.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Lists on Twitter

For me, lists on Twitter are a handy way of sorting out specific profiles I follow. Take, for example, a specific person whose tweets I want to read without scrolling back through my timeline because I'd have to scroll through about 4-5 hours worth of tweets as they're in a different time zone. I just go to the specific list I know the profile is on and select that person's profile. Another example is bands of a specific music genre that I follow or sports stars is another. It's essentially a mini timeline of a specific group of profiles or specific subject matter.
Some people probably have other uses for lists but I don't get putting a random non-celebrity people you don't follow on a list. Especially if the person they put on the list happened to coincidentally tweet something they're interested in as a one-off tweet.
This has happened to me several times. Just before writing this it happened again and that's what prompted me to write it. Why add me to a list based on a subject that I may or may not tweet about again, and if I do tweet about it again it could be years if not days, weeks, months? Also, why do this if we don't follow each other? I don't get why people do that. It seems like a wasted addition to a twitter list to me and making a long list unnecessarily longer.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Irish Protests

I was watching the news last night and I saw a story about a far right anti-muslim group being launched in Ireland. To be honest, I never heard of pegida until now. It was wonderful how an anti-racism group of people got together to peacefully demonstrate against pegida. The group of demonstrators included Muslims offering free hugs. They preemted the launch by scheduling their demonstration just before it.
Then trouble started when a splinter group went after those pegida members. The splinter group started shouting abuse and throwing stuff at them and following them into a nearby shop. While they may feel they were right to do what they did, they were as much in the wrong, in my opinion, as those they were after because the message of the anti-racism demonstration was one of peace, love,  respect and happiness. But a splinter group tried to use the demo to muscle in with their own agenda.
That is the problem with protests and demonstrations in Ireland. Take, for example, the water charges protest. It is supposed to be a family friendly and non-party political demonstration. Yet there are flags of political parties and groups at every mass demonstration. It should only be Right2Water, Right2Change and anti-austerity banners and flags outside of the many acceptable apolitical home made signs, posters, banners etc. But we put up with the political party banners and flags because these groups generally keep the peace and share the same or similar goals.
What happened after the pegida launch wasn't helped by an under resourced police force that suffers from low morale in recent times due to cutbacks. When a situation looks like going out of control they get the batons out and scream and shout and lash out at the slightest step out of line. It suggests panic to me, not policing. They try to keep the peace by force (ironically) and innocent people get hurt. But they weren't the cause of the problem yesterday. The cause was what diminishes most attempts at peaceful protest in this country. A splinter group muscling in with their own agenda. If you are there to cause trouble you don't belong. Yes, most of us want to lash out angrily sometimes at what goes on in this country. But the groups we oppose love the opportunity to use it as a political weapon against us. So we keep the violence in our heads and channel our anger to a more democratic process. Let's keep it that way at the next big demo on February 20th. And we have an election less than a week later to have our say again.