Well a Sunday in Australia feels very different to a Sunday in the UK, but I figured it wouldn’t do any harm to write up a few Sunday thoughts, as half the week was spent in the UK doing my usual thing and deserves to be acknowledged – especially as they were a good few days.
New things I have learnt this week
- I’ve learnt a little about angina as someone on our aeroplane complained of “angina-like pains”, and I realised that although I vaguely knew it was a heart condition, I didn’t know much more. Turns out, “angina” is the name for the symptomatic chest pain, rather than a disease in itself, although it is quite strongly linked to heart disease. When symptoms persist and can’t be treated with glyceryl trinitrate, it could mean a heart attack. (The person on the flight was fine in the end)
- As I feel instantly and noticeably happier in the sun, I started to wonder if perhaps there might be a significant effect on hormonal and neurotransmitter levels. The peace and happiness I feel when I am in direct sunlight goes beyond the average “things look happier in the sunshine” feeling that I often hear people express. As I suspect that my vitamin D levels are low, I thought maybe some mood-enhancing chemicals in the body may be linked to vitamin D levels, which would explain the overwhelming difference in my mood and outlook on life when I feel sunshine on my skin. Although vitamin D affects parathyroid hormone levels (which helps regulate calcium levels, hence why vitamin D is said to help with calcium absorption) and pituitary cell growth, I couldn’t find anything that directly links vitamin D to mood. Exposure to sunlight has been found to boost serotonin levels, but this hasn’t been explicitly linked to the vitamin D levels from what I can see. One article does refer to the increased production of vitamin D being at the root of sunlight’s healing effects on a number of conditions, but doesn’t specifically explain how this would relate to serotonin production and mood. However, it did note that sun exposure was prescribed as a cure by Hippocrates as early as 400BC, and that Florence Nightingale requested more natural light to be allowed into hospital wards. I didn’t learn what I wanted to learn, but I still learnt some interesting facts – and ones that I am more likely to remember!
New things I have eaten this week
As per my last post, I had plenty of “different” dishes on the aeroplane over to Australia, and since I have been here I have been having different brands of soy milk, soy yoghurt, margarine, and home-cooked meals, but I won’t be listing those over the next couple of weeks as the intention here is to highlight new additions to my diet.
- I’ve been trying to spread out my March Vegan Food Swap treats because if I’d had my way they all would have been gone in a week, so I finally had my marjoram TopasTofu paté. It was really good, such a great consistency to spread on bread, but I did prefer the paprika version for packing a bit more of a flavourful punch. Such great and easy lunch options though, I think I will look into buying more of these.
- I also finally opened the packet of black salt that Ben bought me ages ago. I’ve seen it so much in scrambled tofu and other “eggy” recipes, due to its slightly sulfurous taste, but never had a chance to use it. I added a little, and couldn’t taste any difference, so I added a heap more and then my scrambled tofu was way too salty. The second time around though, I added just enough to salt it as normal, a tiny pinch of turmeric for a light yellow colour, crumbled my tofu a little bigger, and had it on rye bread for lunch at work, and it was so much more convincing than I would have thought!
- I tried some fruit crisps – apple crisps and pear crisps from Perry Court Farm. They were an interesting texture, definitely crispy but quite chewy, not brittle like the apple crisps I’ve had in Luxembourg. I preferred the pear crisps to the apple crisps, as the tanginess of a green apple didn’t quite work in a chip for me, I thought the sweetness of pear was much better suited to it. Each bag is only about 70kcal too, so it’s a really good TV snack option!
- Mum brought me a huge block of Whittaker’s Ghana Peppermint 72% Dark Chocolate from New Zealand. First thing was I fell in love with the packaging, and also the visual appeal of a huge 250g block of chocolate, it felt like something out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory! Luckily it’s also tasty, the chocolate is nice and thick, not brittle like some peppermint cream chocolates which leave you with sticky sugary fingers, and the filling isn’t too sweet.
Other highlights this week
- Rearranging my bedroom so that it was a bit more user-friendly, putting up some colourful fabric on the wall and taking one of the (way too) many mirrors down, vacuuming, basically just making it much more of a liveable space.
- Making the best scrambled tofu I think I have ever made – everything just came together perfectly!
- Stringing together three really strong training sessions, and being complimented on my figure, which appears to have gotten a little more muscular and athletic. I know it’s vain but it does make me happy.
- Coming back to Australia for the first time in 5 years, seeing my grandmother for the first time in a couple of years, my aunt and cousin for the first time since my last visit 5 years ago… It had been way too long.
- Having breakfast this morning out on the veranda listening to the kookaburras, playing with my aunt’s dog and not thinking about turning on the computer or my phone.
That’s it for today – I have family to hang out with, a peaceful and starry night to stare out into, and a dog to play with!
I hope you have all had pleasant weeks (despite the snow if you are in London), and if anyone has any vegan food and treat recommendations for Australia please do let me know!