Posted in Food

Budget Peanut Butter and Jelly Chicken

Tasty food doesn’t need to cost the earth. Neither does it have to take hours to prepare. After a days work you want to be sat eating dinner, not slaving over a stove. Even better if your hard earned cash remains in your pocket. Why pay more when you can pay less?

The internet has made it simpler to search tasty recipes that do not break the bank, and then tweak and adjust them to your liking. This recipe I found on

A mix of east meets west. 5 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to marinade, and 45 minutes in the oven. Simple!

Continue reading “Budget Peanut Butter and Jelly Chicken”
Posted in Health & Wellbeing

Independent Lab Tests Reveal Positive Results of Holland & Barrett CBD Oil

Image by Julia Teichmann from Pixabay

Jacob Hooey CBD Oil manufactured in the Netherlands and sold by leading Health and wellness brand Holland & Barrett is considered a quality product, after CBD Shopy had three independent laboratories test the product.

Three independent tests revealed Jacob Hooey CBD Oil sold by Holland & Barrett contains the advertised 5% of CBD. And the THC content is below the legal limit. The second laboratory report confirmed no heavy metals were detected including: arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium. Each laboratory had slight variation in their results due to variation of testing methods and facilities, the slight difference falls within the accepted scientific range for accuracy.

As popularity of CBD oil products increase, so does the number of brands on the market. Cost varies immensely, and although reputable manufacturers will have independent product lab tests results readily available, UK regulations have not yet made it a legal requirement. Consumers could be at best paying for a placebo, and at worst, risk health and legal consequences.

In June 2019 the Centre for Medical Cannabis published a report on CBD in the United Kingdom. It revealed some startling results:

  • Only 38% of the products were within 10% of the advertised CBD content and 38% actually had less than 50% of the advertised CBD content. One product had 0% CBD.
  • 45% of the selected products had measurable levels of THC and are thus technically illegal in the UK.
  • One high street pharmacy product retailing at £90 for 30mls contained zero cannabinoid content.
  • One product qualifies as an alcoholic beverage containing 3.8% of ethanol
  • Seven products contained percentages of solvents and heavy metals above food limit safety levels.

CBD (cannabidiol) is naturally sourced from hemp paste, made from the leaves and flowers of hemp plants bred for nutritional purposes. A secondary source of CBD is hemp seeds. CBD oil is put under the tongue 2-3 times a day, and the stated maximum dosage should not be exceeded. CBD capsules should be taken as directed by package instructions. CBD oil has a distinctive taste. A drink should quickly disperse the taste, alternatively use CBD capsules.

So What is the Difference Between CBD and THC?

CBD and THC have identical chemical makeup: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. The difference between CBD and THC is the arrangement of a single atom, and how the molecular structures interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in abundance in the area of the brain responsible for mental and physiological processes. CB2 receptors are located in the immune and central nervous system. Both CBD and THC bind to CB2. But only THC is able to bind directly with CB1, which causes the psychoactive effects of getting high.

Research surrounding medical cannabis is limited, thus medical practitioners remain sceptical about the benefits and risks. Currently only patients with certain forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and undergoing chemotherapy will be considered for medical cannabis prescriptions.

Posted in Tips & Tricks

Sponge Cake Woes

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Candles blown out signifies another birthday over. And a traditional Victoria Sponge is a classic. Grease two 20cm round cake tins. Beat 200g/8oz sugar and butter until pale. Add a teaspoon of baking powder to 200g/8oz self-raising flour, gradually fold into the butter and sugar along with 4 eggs. If the mixture feels a bit stiff add 2tbsp milk to loosen batter. Split between the cake tins and bake at 190C/fan 170C/gas mark 5 for approximately 20 minutes, until golden brown and the cake springs back when touched. For the butter cream filling beat 100g/4oz room temperature butter, gradually add 150g/6oz of icing sugar and an optional drop of vanilla extract. Spread the butter cream onto one half of the cooled cakes and half a jar of strawberry jam onto the other, and sandwich together. Dust with icing sugar. Voila!

Baking sponge cakes is reletively simple, but there are a few mistakes that can steal perfection from the final product. Below are a few common sponge problems and the solution.

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Posted in Journal

Snoring: a Motive for Murder

Lack of sleep can do strange things to a person. Putting milk in the microwave, sticking dirty laundry in the dishwasher. Healthy structured meals replaced with a myriad of fatty junk food and sugar kicks. Caffeine consumption off the Richter scale. Chattering nonsense and snapping like an untrained dog. It is not a pretty sight.

The darkest hours of the night are a strange alien place, where time stretches like the Pan-America Highway. Then the person beside you begins again. Just like last night and the night before. Quiet at first, like a cat outstretched in front of the hearth. Gaining momentum like a freight train the sound quickly amplifies, tickling the nerves that are already teetering on the verge of suicide.

A gentle tap, then a nudge, a kick conjoined with “you are snoring again”. Grunting an acknowledgement they reposition themselves, with a snort and a snuffle the room goes silent. Thankyou! Thankyou! Spoke to soon. Winding up once more. Pinch their nose, force shut their mouth, shake them fiercely. Separate rooms or the single life: both attractive options.

Late night television it is then. A milky brew and a blanket. At that moment hating the one you love and share a bed with. Shaking back and forth with hands pressed tightly over ears its the only option. That or a pillow over their face. I am not a killer! I am not a killer!

Posted in News & Views

Suffering is Suffering: There is No Monopoly

Great Britain has been rocked by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announcing they will be stepping down as senior royals last week. The media has gone into a frenzy, with wild and frankly absurb suggestions the future of the British Monarch is under threat. Both pro and anti Sussex camps took to the stands. With discussion ranging from taxpayers money to sibling fallout, racism, sexism and celebrity status, media intrusion, carbon footprints, shabby treatment towards the Queen. Even the timing of the announcement, on the eve of the Duchess of Cambridge birthday was not left off the table.

Don’t worry readers, this post is not further opinion and scrutiny of the blame game surrounding the latest royal rift. Far from it. But pause for thought about the monopoly on suffering: something which nobody holds the key.

Piers Morgan known for his candid criticism of Meghan and the Sussexes, was one of the first off the mark with the mud slinging when the announcement broke on January 8. Even referring to them as “a pair of spoilt brats”.

What’s been ‘painful to watch’ has been their absurd woke hypocrisy & constant whining. All on our dime.

Piers Morgan

This stood out to me as unfair. Yes Prince Harry was born into royalty, prestige and privilege something he did not choose, and is inconsiquential if it does not make him happy. Like his mother he won the hearts of the public. From the chilling iconic image of a twelve year old head bowed, walking with his brother behind their mothers coffin. Through his captured rebellious actions as a young adult. And his determination to serve as an active soldier. Poignantly saying he felt a sense of normality in Afghanistan. Few could deny only feeling normal on the frontline of a warzone is shocking. He has talked openly about his mental health, and the fear he has of his wife being dragged to the same fate as his mother. That is real and has no relevance to privilege and fortune.

Then there is Meghan accused of social climbing and being an insatiable diva. Or maybe she just fell in love, left her career and country behind, married into a world none of us commoners can comprehend, and became a new mother. All under intense scrutiny, which perhaps she was unprepared for the impact it would have on her emotional wellbeing.

Does anybody have the monopoly on suffering?

The state of a person or thing that suffers.

The nature of distress and suffering is largely subjective. And how long is a piece of string regarding an individuals ability to cope with the difficulties life throws at us, wherever they came from. Looking out onto the rocky global road, most of us see somebody worse off than us. Does that make the suffering we are experiencing any less painful?

Posted in News & Views, Social Issues

Help the Homeless: Billy Chips

An estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the UK, according to the latest research by Shelter. This equates to one in every 201 Brits and was an increase of four per cent on the previous year’s number.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

As shops on the high street diminsh leaving nothing but boarded shop windows, the sad truth is all that thrives is rising numbers of homeless, sleeping rough in the empty doorways. Passerbys veering round avoiding eye contact. Of course, some of those simply don’t want to help “they are at fault to end up on the streets”. For many it is not cold heartedness that forces them to look away, but disquiet trepidation: cash donations will only fuel addictions of alcohol and drugs.

Homeless figures are likely to be an underestimate of the problem as they do not capture people who experience hidden homelessness, such as sofa surfers, and others living insecurely.

One young man Billy Abernethy-Hope a 20 year old ambulance driver from Bristol, had since childhood been troubled by the issue of homelessness, and the apprehension of the general public to help. He recognised the challenges, and forged a vision of a token that could be purchased by the public and passed on to the homeless in exchange for a hot drink or food. Sadly soon after his idea, in March 2018 while backpacking in Thailand, Billy was killed in a motorcycle accident.

This could have been the tragic end of the tale. But no! Billys family were determined to see his idea become reality. In his home city of Bristol, the public can now purchase Billy Chips for £2 from participating retailers. These can then be passed on to homeless individuals and redeemed for hot or cold drinks (some businesses offer more). The blue tokens resemble a poker chip, containing on one side an image of Billys smiling face and on the other the quote:

You’re fabulous, and don’t you ever forget it.

Billy Abernethy-Hope

These were the words Billy wote on a homemade mothers day card shortly before his death.

This young mans untimely tragic death has left a powerful legacy. Billy Chips have the potential to go nationwide and even international, offering an outlet for a random act of kindness providing hope to millions.

Find out more at

Posted in Health & Wellbeing

Baby Blues or More

Baby Blues

Seventy percent of new mothers experience baby blues, usually within the first week after birth. The cause is unclear, but physically it is likely linked to hormonal changes, and the come down from a surge of adrenaline during labour. Psychologically, giving birth is a massive emotional upheaval. As a new mother comes to terms with the massive change in responsibility, it can be an unnerving surprise not to feel as ecstatic as they perceived. Symptoms include: low mood, feeling emotional and tearful, insomnia, feeling anxious, restless and irritable.

The baby blues are not postnatal depression, and usually pass within a few days. However it is important to seek support from those around you. Friends and family should be sensitive and reassuring: offering help without taking over, encouraging rest, listening, and allowing the mother to cry.

Postnatal Depression

Postnatal depression can start at any time in the first year after giving birth. It can develop gradually or come on suddenly. It is important to seek medical advice, and talk with friends and family, if you start to exhibit signs of postnatal depression. Symptoms include: intense sadness, low mood, loss of interest in everything, lack of energy, feeling tired but unable to sleep, poor concentration and indecisiveness, loss of appetite or increased hunger, feeling apathetic, agitated or irritable, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Postnatal depression takes control of the way you connect and bond with your baby. You can feel a sense of indifference in their company, this will then lead to feelings of guilt and hopelessness, with a sense of belief you are unable to care for your baby.

It is essential you speak to your GP or health visitor as soon as possible. Like any form of depression it takes hold of every aspect of your life: relationships, activities, work and chores. It will not go away on its own. Health professionals will help you access support, expressing you are not alone despite feeling like you are.

Traditional treatments are a combination of self-help strategies, therapy, and medication. In extreme cases mothers will be referred to a mental health team and possibly admitted into hospital. Babies can either remain with fathers, designated family members, or stay with the mother in a mother and baby mental health unit.

Guided self-help strategies on average takes 9-12 weeks to complete. It is a book or online course which focusses on problematic issues, offering practical advice to tackle them. The course can be worked through alone, or with a therapist.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a proactive therapy that takes 3-4 months to complete. It concentrates on how thoughts, feelings, actions, and personal sensations are connected. It considers how unrealistic and unhelpful thinking leads to negative behaviour. Unlike many therapies CBT focusses on the present oppose to the past. It aims to break down negative cycles and find proactive ways of thinking, that help you behave in a positive way. It can be beneficial to mothers suffering with postnatal depression, by addressing unrealistic expectations of themselves and motherhood.

Interpersonal Therapy is essentially a time limited and structured talking psychotherapy. It concentrates on the patients various types of relationships and how they affect them, considering on the flip side, how depressive mood impinges on the quality of relationships. The therapist will initially learn about the patient concentrating on building trust, before discussing what the patient needs help with. Throughout the process the patient will complete questionnaires, which they will then discuss with their therapist. The purpose of this is to gage progress, and flag up any unresolved issues. Sessions are usually done on a weekly basis, lasting 3-4 months. Therapists may chase up how their patient is doing after a 6 month cooling off period.

Antidepressants may be offered on there own, or alongside therapy. They alter chemicals in the brain to stabilize mood. It is important they are taken consistently and given time to work. But they can ease symptoms, and allow a person to function better on a day-to-day basis. Like all medication there can be side effects: blurred vision and dizziness, feeling sick, constipation, dry mouth, feeling agitated or shaky. They will usually be prescribed for a minimum of 6 months. It is important to take the advice of a doctor before weening off antidepressants, to avoid a relapse into depression.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an invasive procedure that is used in severe cases of postnatal depression, usually only if all other treatments have failed. It involves sending an electric current through the brain to induce a seizure. Treatment is administered under a general anaesthetic and can relieve symptoms.

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum Psychosis occurs in 1-2 of every 1,000 deliveries. It is an extremely serious mental illness, occurring suddenly within 2-3 weeks after birth. Symptoms include: delusions, hallucinations, mania, feeling irritated, decreased need for sleep or insomnia, difficulty communicating, paranoia and low mood. It is important to seek emergency medical treatment, and will likely be sought by an eye witness, as the mother will not consider herself unwell. The risk of postpartum psychosis rises by 25-30% if there is a family history of mental illness, the mother has previously suffered bouts of psychosis, or has any kind of brain disease. First time mums are more likely to develop psychosis. And complications during labour and birth, including caesarean sections, can increase the risk. Immediate treatment is imperative, usually in hospital. A full evaluation will take place, with a physical examination and laboratory tests to rule out a biological cause for psychosis. A full medical history including family members will be taken, and a neurological assessment completed. Treatment will be a combination of antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers and therapy. Once the psychosis subsides patients usually suffer with depression, anxiety and low self esteem. At this stage GPs will usually make a referral for therapy. During recovery the support of family and friends is important, keeping the home quiet and calm. On average recovery time is anything between 6-12 months.

A List of Support and Advisory Lines

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

Association for Postnatal Illness (APNI)

Maternal Mental Health Alliance



Pre and Postnatal Advice and Support (PANDAS)

Royal College of Psychiatrists: Postpartum Psychosis

Posted in Health & Wellbeing, Journal

Willpower Recharged

Image by artistlike from Pixabay

I start the day with a low calorie breakfast. Lunch consists of soup, salad, sandwiches. By mid afternoon I stave off the munchies with an apple, even a banana if getting desperate. Willpower is chomping at the bit by evening meal, but I limit fat and carbs. An hour later it all goes wrong. Out come the biscuits, chocolate and crisps. Bread popping out of the toaster, scoffed dripping in butter. Cereal and yoghurts to offset the junk food, too late damage done.

This was my dietry habit and I was sneaky with it: I would lie to my fellow weight lossers. So the lbs stayed the same or steadily increased, leading me recently to salute the weight loss success stories. They deserve a shake of the hand a slap on the back, after all I can’t do it.

So 2019 bid farewell with a chinese takeaway and an explosion of colour. 2020 awoke to the air thick with sulphur, coal and potassium nitrate. I don’t make resolutions. Don’t want to clutter the crisp blank page of a new year, new diary. But I am returning to my diet I whisper. This time with a few changes: strict calorie counting, weighing ingredients and writing everything consumed down (nothing left off).

White female, almost 41, 5″2 and moderately active, weighing in at 14st 7lbs I am clinically obesse. My recommended daily calorie intake is 1,596 – 2,053 kcals, sticking to the lower end of the scale to lose 1-2lbs a week. Yes folks I have been doing it. Strict and honest I have been averaging 1,400kcals a day. Then yesterday something went wrong. I was going strong until evening dinner. Then a bag of munchies, giant hula hoops and two mint clubs were consumed before bed. Old habits resume. No wait! I lie in bed, my stomach bloated growling like an angry grizzly, my chest is on fire burping up acid. I feel sick.

How much weight I lose is almost irrelevant, until that evening I was already feeling healthier. For the first time I experienced the benefits, consequences of falling off the wagon. Last night I tossed and turned struggling to sleep, but with a smile on my face. This morning healthy eating resumes, with low fat natural yoghurt and fruit for breakfast.

So once more congratulations to the success stories. And to those like me, embarking on the journey “keep going. We can do it”.

Posted in Health & Wellbeing

Surprising Symptoms of Anxiety

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Last night was consumed with bad dreams and disturbed sleep. More than once I jumped up in bed because I saw an imaginary figure in the corner of the room. And my paranoia landed a few wild punches in my partners direction.

This morning in medical outpatients more than once I stood up to leave, seeking strength from the quiet of the toilet. I had an appointment with a neurologist, to discuss my dissociative episodes. These are not epileptic seizures caused by unusual electrical activity in the brain, but a response to thoughts and emotions, more often relating to past and present events.

Ultimately anxiety is complex, with some surprising symptoms. Below are a few possible signs of anxiety that you may never have considered.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

This is the medical term for somebody who suffers with recurrent burning in the mouth with no cause. The sensation can resemble scalding and affect all areas of your mouth and lips. Other symptoms include: stinging, tingling numbness, increased thirst, loss of taste, or a bitter metallic taste. Anxiety is just one of a number of causes for burning mouth syndrome, and it is important to seek medical advice from a dentist and doctor to determine possible causes and treatment.

Cold Hands and Feet

Anxiety can be the cause of cold hands and feet, leading to the phrase getting cold feet. The reason for this is the bodies physical response to impending danger.

  1. Small triangular shaped glands located on top of both kidneys secrete epinephrine (adrenaline). This dilates blood vessels to the heart, allowing it to pump more effectively. Getting a quicker supply of blood to the brain, organs and muscles prepares the body to fight or flee. However, as the heart pumps quicker, blood supply to the hands and feet is reduced causing them to feel cold.
  2. Sweating is how the body prevents itself from overheating. If stressed or anxious, sweating is increased in preparation to keep cool when running away or fighting.
  3. Anxiety increases focus on sensations within the body. For example aches, pains, cold hands and feet.


If experiencing anxiety, there are two possible reasons for excessive burping.

  1. An involuntary response to anxiety is to swallow larger amounts of air. The excess expels itself, up through the esophagus and out the mouth as a burp. Alternatively it will travel the entire digestive system, leaving the body at the other end.
  2. Acid reflux is caused by the lower esophageal sphincter allowing stomach acid to escape into the esophagus, this causes a burning sensation known as heartburn. The connection between anxiety and acid reflux is complex, they feed off each other, causing a snake eating its own tail scenario. When stressed or anxious the brain increases the response of pain receptors, combined with a lower production of prostaglandins which protect the stomach lining, acid reflux symptoms will become increased.


Hyperventilating is a common symptom of anxiety. Increased erratic breathing alters the way our body takes in oxygen, and the body feels like it cannot get enough air. Yawning expands the ribcage, convincing the body it did indeed get enough air. Essentially yawning is a tool, telling the body to calm down.

Globus Hystericus

Or simply a lump in your throat. It feels like something is stuck in your throat, restricting breathing and swallowing. This sensation is rarely due to a physical obstructive growth, but a psychological response to anxiety.

Symptoms of stress and anxiety are exhaustive which is why it is such a debilitating condition. Do not suffer alone. Whether experiencing a few or many symptoms of stress and anxiety, open up and talk about it, if necessary seek medical advice.

You are not alone.

It is possible to surf the wave of anxiety.