Blueberry Grape Banana Smoothie

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Sweet blueberries and bananas combine with tart grapes in this Blueberry Grape Banana Smoothie without any added sugar. It is one of my favorite smoothie combinations.

My boys used to ask for this smoothie all the time when they were younger. Even now that they’re teenagers, it’s rare that I get to drink a whole smoothie by myself.

Blueberry Grape Banana Smoothie

Grape Smoothie

I have always loved eating grapes. There was something joyous as a child about tearing off a bunch of these round and juicy sweet berries that burst with flavor. 

Nature might package them into bite-size pieces already, but as an adult, I have a long-standing love affair with smoothies. So, it doesn’t take much for me to break out the blender. 

My local grocery stores have their best prices on grapes in late summer and early fall. That makes them great to pair with blueberries which are also ripening at that time, and bananas which are ripe year-round. 

So, I am happy to report that this trio – blueberries, grapes, and bananas – combined to make an amazingly good end-of-summer smoothie.

It’s pretty incredible how the grape flavor stands out in this smoothie. You will still pick up the flavors of the blueberries and the bananas, but this truly is a Grape Smoothie.

Blueberry Grape Smoothie

Smoothie Ingredients

  • Milk
  • Bananas
  • Red grapes
  • Black grapes (or whatever you have on hand)
  • Blueberries
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Learn how to embark on your healing journey and welcome the new you

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We all deserve to embark on those first steps towards healing, but what does that look like in reality, and how can we learn to enjoy the ride?

Learn how to embark on your healing journey and welcome the new you

Many of us are on a journey towards healing and self-transformation. It might be following trauma, periods of ill-health, the end of a relationship, abuse, burnout, bereavement – or, perhaps, simply because we want to be better versions of ourselves.

And change can happen. In fact, research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin explored how most of us would like to change ourselves in some way, and that people who were able to do so, in ways that aligned with their desires, tended to experience increases in wellbeing over time as a result.

Of course, though a hopeful reminder, those data-backed conclusions don’t completely capture the full picture of the healing journey – the good days and the bad days, the hurdles and uphill struggles – let alone the fact that healing is about so, so much more than just changing ‘something’ about yourself; it’s about tending to emotional wounds, unlearning unhelpful thought-patterns, grieving, forgiving, and learning. So, what can we do to make it a positive and successful experience?

Bon voyage

Say you’re at the start of your healing journey, what are some common misconceptions that can hold you back? We put this to Dr Liz Sparkes, a health psychologist and life coach, and she answers by looking inwards.

“I suppose the best way to address this is to reflect on my own misconceptions that I have become aware of,” she says. “It’s important to be gentle with yourself and there is no rush. Healing is most definitely not linear, and you haven’t failed if you find you are revisiting the same issues or feelings. As long as you have awareness and take steps forward each time, that’s progress.”

Treating yourself with kindness is more than just a pat on the back, it’s a whole shift in attitude, and it’s key to any journey with healing. But if ‘self-compassion’ feels out of reach for you sometimes, you can easily break it down into its practical elements. Self-compassion researcher Kristen Neff believes it has three main components:

1. Self-kindness, or having the ability to refrain from harsh criticism.
2. The ability to recognise your own humanity, or the fact that each of us is imperfect and each of us experiences pain.
3. The ability to maintain a sense of mindfulness or unbiased awareness of experiences, even if they are painful.

While you’re working on your healing, how does your attitude stack up against these principles? What do you do well, and what might you need to consider working on as you move forward?

Off-trail

“There is more than one route to the top of the mountain,” says Dr Sparkes. “It’s very empowering to realise that nobody else has the ultimate answers, they come from within.”

She goes on to highlight the ways that we can do everything ‘right’ – access the right support, the right guidance, the right environment for healing and development – but, ultimately, this journey is

What's the buzz: the benefits of bees on our wellbeing and self-esteem

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There’s more to beekeeping than just the yummy honey! Looking after the busy insects is good for the planet, can improve your mental wellbeing, and really boost your self-esteem. It’s time to uncover what all the buzz is about

What's the buzz: the benefits of bees on our wellbeing and self-esteem

My son announced recently, quite unexpectedly, that he wanted to buy some bees.

Now, while this might be considered strange bee-haviour, it is perfectly in-tune with his dream of living a happier, and altogether less stressful existence.

Plans to live in a van with his partner and two children have, for the time being anyway, come to naught, and so acquiring some bees is the latest stop on the road to a more sustainable, healthier, and better-balanced lifestyle.

At first, I must admit, I was a little sceptical, but with my interest piqued, I decided to delve a little deeper and it seems that working with bees, or apiculture to the initiated (the word is derived from the Latin apis meaning bee), really can improve your mental wellbeing and boost self-esteem.

Human interaction with wild bees can be traced back 10,000 years, while beekeeping began domestically in North Africa 9,000 years ago, with pottery vessels being used as crude hives.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, however, and bee numbers are declining rapidly. So much so that 20 May has been declared World Bee Day. Approved by the United Nations, the day offers an opportunity to raise awareness about the threats to bees caused by human activities.

You might have noticed that these last couple of years have been a bit difficult for us humans, too. In fact, 48% of UK adults say the pandemic has negatively affected their wellbeing. Getting outside, taking a moment, and really connecting with nature has become more important than ever.

Research into exactly how interacting with nature can positively affect our mental health is being conducted all the time, but repeated studies show that spending time in our natural surroundings can produce an inner peace and boost self-esteem, helping us to feel good about ourselves, and see things that may be troubling us in a different, more positive light. But what if you could do more than that? What if you could help nature while you were helping yourself, how good would that make you feel?

But why should I care about bees? I hear you ask. Well, according to Friends of the Earth, bees help produce around one-third of our food supply, provide us with half of the world’s fibres, oils, and other minerals, provide food for wildlife, aid us in developing medicines, and contribute to the prevention of soil erosion. Quite a list!

What's the buzz: the benefits of bees on our wellbeing and self-esteem

Catherine Howell is co-director of Barefoot Kitchen CIC (Community Interest Company), a social enterprise based in Middlesbrough, in North Yorkshire, that delivers “plot to plate projects for people, places and the planet”. She is passionate about creating beautiful spaces for others to enjoy, and is a keen advocate of community activism.

Catherine and her small team (who operate on a co-operative basis) deliver projects that link the outdoors with wellbeing, and were instrument

Monday morning affirmations to boost your week

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Mondays can be hard, so refocus your energy with these uplifting affirmations

Monday morning affirmations to boost your week

Mondays can be a drag. And when you’ve got an overwhelming, never-ending to-do list in front of you, the stresses of the week ahead are creeping up, and the thought of putting one foot in front of the other feels too much, it’s easy to be filled with Monday morning dread.

While we can’t actually take away the source of the dread – as much as we might want to – there are some tried and tested techniques for building up resilience, and affirmations top the list.

Affirmations are short, simple phrases that we can repeat to ourselves to ground us in the moment, and to remind ourselves of the strength we have inside. They can also prompt us to refocus our attention on the reality that we face, and are a helpful reminder of the ability that we each have to take some control back over our mindset.

These affirmations are designed to help build a sense of calm and reassurance, so that you can go on to face the day, and the week ahead, with confidence and resilience. Repeat them to yourself first thing in the morning, or whenever you need an extra boost. Each week brings new challenges our way, but by dedicating just a small amount of time to this simple practice, you could uncover the key to staying balanced.

  1. Today is a new day.

  2. I am committed to my personal growth.

  3. I am capable of tackling any obstacle.

  4. My thoughts do not control me, I control my thoughts.

  5. I am worthy of investing in myself.

  6. My feelings deserve to be recognised.

  7. I am the architect of my own life.

  8. I give myself permission to follow my dreams.

  9. I can deal with the hurdles that come my way.

  10. I am safe.

  11. I know what I am doing.

  12. I deserve respect.

  13. I recognise my achievements.

  14. My feelings are valid and I Iisten to them.

  15. I do not need to prove myself to anyone.

  16. I live in line with my values.

  17. I will take time to find joy in my day.

  18. I am calm.

  19. I will make time for myself when I need it.

  20. I will achieve my goals.


Need extra support? You might benefit from working with a life coach. Find out more, and connect with a professional using lifecoach-directory.org.uk

The BEST Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

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The Best Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches start with the best ever perfectly chewy cookies. Over the years, I’ve made ice cream sandwiches using many different cookies.

In the end, I simply love the way the flavor in these oatmeal peanut butter cookies adds to the overall awesomeness of this frozen treat.

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

I’m happy to tell you that I’ve found the cookie recipe that works perfectly every single time. This cookie recipe is adapted from my grandmother’s recipe for Monster Cookies and I suspect that it may have been YOUR grandmother’s recipe as well.

When I discovered that the Monster Cookie recipe in my best friend’s cookbook from her mom was almost the exact same recipe that my grandmother used, it became even more fun every time I made those cookies.

I love that we all have so much sentimental attachment to our family recipes.

In the past, I’ve made Monster Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches using the original recipe, but I found that with a few tweaks, it was even better.

By adapting that recipe to make it a little bit chewier and less crunchy, it freezes and softens beautifully when it is layered with ice cream.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice Cream Sandwiches

I love making ice cream sandwiches with homemade ice cream. This recipe for Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream is hands down the easiest and best one you’ll ever make.

For these sandwiches, I churned a batch of ice cream while I started making the cookies. Then I stashed the ice cream in the freezer while the cookies were baking and cooling. The ice cream was

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