As the days are counting down towards the end of my degree (34 days to go!), it’s beginning to sink in that for the first time in four and a half years, I won’t be juggling the insane stress of work with study. Needless to say, that’s a really exciting thought.
For a moment back there, a miniscule nanosecond of a moment, I thought “Whatever will I do with my free time?”. Then I forehead slapped myself. Oh, silliness is me, what a foolish thought. The more appropriate question is “However will I fit in all of the things I have been holding back from experiencing, learning or doing due to the time, stress and financial constraints that uni has entailed?” You see, I have a bit of a list of things that I’m trying to find time to do at the moment that keep getting put on the back-burner due to my demanding study schedule. But on top of this, I feel that in order to get the most out of every minute of every day, I need to be feeling my best.
So there is no space for being wrecked or hungover. So on the morning of 1 October, two weeks ago exactly, I decided to do Ocsober. As this was an on-the-spot decision just for me, I didn’t go through signing up and raising money, although that is worthwhile too. As I reach the end of my second entirely sober week, I’m loving it so much that I am beginning to question whether I’ll want to drink again at all. Perhaps it’ll be one of those very rare occurrences rather than a regular event.
You might be thinking that I’m a total party-pooper and that I should loosen up and learn to have fun. What has surprised me is that my enjoyment of these last two weeks has gone beyond the mere satisfaction of self-discipline, I’ve really had fun, despite being the only non-drinker in some circumstances. I went to a birthday party last Saturday night, talked, danced and had a great night. What made it even better was that I woke up feeling fresh the next day, and didn’t, for one second, have even the slightest regret, be it money overspent, regrettable things said or embarrassing behaviour. I bounced out of bed and did a workout followed by a productive day. And on Monday, when we’d turned our clocks forward for daylight savings, losing an hour of sleep, I still could wake up in time to squeeze in some exercise! Again last night – a birthday party, which I left after 4 hours of great catch-up conversations, to enjoy a delicious Indian dinner and then a movie. This morning, same thing. Leapt out of bed, did a ZWOD workout (check that shit out, free on Youtube, it’s crazy good), and got stuck into a productive day.
See a pattern?
Now I’m not saying that no one should ever drink alcohol. Certainly it’s fun and an enjoyable way to relax. And when I finally get to Italy, I’m going to be enjoying wine with my pasta. But I would suggest that if you’re finding, like I was, that it is getting in the way of your ability to get the things done that you would have liked to do, or if you’re struggling to lose those last few kilos, that you take a good look at it and reassess whether it’s hindering you. Perhaps just try taking a weekend or two off. Or even commit to a month. See just how much more you can get out of your weekend and how much easier it is to get up in the morning. Isn’t that exciting?
Now while you’re busy bouncing out of bed, exercising and being energetic, you’re going to need some good food. I suggest you start your morning with a green smoothie. I also suggest that for lunch, you whip up the rice-paper rolls below, using some of those beautiful sweet mangos that are just coming into season. Then, as you naturally will need some sort of delicious treat to accompany your afternoon cup of tea, put your food processor to work and with almost no effort you can be nibbling on a piece of hedgehog slice. These are just my suggestions, but I suggest that you follow them. Without being too suggestive, you might also want to offer the hedgehog slice to a person that you find attractive, and they will be impressed (otherwise you’ll eat it all, this way they will eat as much as you did so any weight gain will be proportional and therefore pass unnoticed). Again, just a suggestion.
Avocado Rice-paper Rolls with Mango Sesame Sauce (serves 4)
When it comes to making the rolls themselves, check out this post for technical tips. It’s easy to do, but there are a few little pieces of advice and know-how that you might find handy. Or you might just be a whiz at them, in which case feel free to tell me to stick it, and just make the rolls your way.
I think that you could turn this into great a summery salad by omitting the ricepaper and just tossing the ingredients together with the sauce. Mango just screams summer in a way that few other flavours can.
- 1 large avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced thinly
- 1/4 chinese cabbage (wombok), shredded thinly
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
- A handful of mint leaves
- 10 sheets of rice-paper
- 1 ripe mango
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Salt and lime juice to taste
- Make rice-paper rolls following this method, layering ingredients starting with a couple of mint leaves, a slice or two of avocado, carrot, cucumber and cabbage.
- Blend or process dressing until smooth and creamy.
- Serve, for lunch, or as part of dinner on a girl’s DIY night in with mocktails and Chery’s delicious satay rice balls.
Hedgehog Slice (makes 25 pieces)
My mum used to make this for us, and all my life this is what I thought ‘hedgehog slice’ was. Picture my surprise when I ordered a piece of hedgehog slice off a cafe menu for the first time and ended up with a chocolate-y biscuit-ey thing. I prefer this version anyway.
The best part is the recipe’s simplicity. 5 (or 6) ingredients, and it’s made in less than 5 minutes. A little while in the fridge and you’re ready to go.
- 2 cups oats (or 1 cup each of oats and desiccated coconut)
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 cup sultanas
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- Process all ingredients until just combined and if you pinch some it holds together. Pop that bit in your mouth just to check that it’s safe for consumption.
- Press into a 23cm square tin (I use a tumbler and roll it flat until it’s very compressed).
- Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Cut and eat.