St. Valentine’s Day – Food Aphrodisiacs and a little romantic music to delight your love!


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It is a belief that is held across every race, culture and age group that certain foods enhance the feelings associated with love, which makes for interesting research into the subject.

Foods, herbs, spices and unfortunately certain animal parts have been considered to be stimulating over the ages but I am going to focus on food and herbs that are still readily available today in our supermarkets.

WHY APHRODISIACS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Aphrodisiacs were taken in the first instance to calm anxiety and therefore improve sexual performance.  Having children was considered a necessity from both a moral and a religious perspective and so being at peak fertility was considered essential for both men and women.

Aphrodisiacs are broken down into two distinct functions. Primarily they needed to be nutritional to improve fertility and performance and secondly stimulating to increase desire.  Being poorly nourished will affect semen, egg production and quality so it was considered important to eat nutritional packed foods such as seeds, roots and eggs, which were considered to contain sexual powers.

To stimulate desire it was thought that eating foods that resembled the sexual organs would produce the required result and of course there was always the hearsay element of mythology and fairy tales to establish credibility for one food or another.  Many of the foods considered by the ancient civilisations in Egypt, Greek and Roman to be aphrodisiacs are still available today, and we eat them on a regular basis.    This makes it a little difficult to determine if the rocket, pistachio nuts, carrots and basil that you eat as part of your normal diet are acting as stimulants or not.  At least most of us are no longer indulging in gladioli roots or skink lizard flesh although the French may well claim that their continued consumption of snails may have something to do with their reputation as the best lovers.

ARE THERE ANY FOODS THAT ARE CONSIDERED MORE OF A TURN OFF THAN TURN ON?

Allegedly there are a few foods that may not be helping you in the romance department but there is no definitive research on the subject.

Apparently eating too many lentils, lettuce, watercress, and water lilies might affect your performance although I suspect that there are more than a few rabbits that might disagree with that belief.

WHAT ARE CONSIDERED TO BE THE MOST EFFECTIVE FOOD APHRODISIACS?

Aniseed was believed by the Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans to have very special properties and they sucked the seeds to increase desire.  Aniseed was also favoured for its medicinal properties, which may explain its popularity as a sexual stimulant.  It was used to reduce flatulence (not a particularly attractive condition) remove catarrh, acts as a diuretic and as an aid to digestion combined with other herbs such as ginger and cumin.  One of its properties was to increase perspiration and one wonders if this additional heat was confused with an increase in desire.  However if you are planning a romantic interlude avoid drinking it in tea form as it was considered a very effective insomnia cure.

Asparagus was well regarded for its phallic shape and also for particular stimulating properties.  It was suggested that you fed it to your lover over a period of three days either steamed or boiled.  One explanation of its supposed success is that it acts as a liver and kidney cleanser and also a diuretic.  After three days it is likely that you might feel more energetic and also have lost a couple of pounds, guaranteed to give anyone a boost sexual or otherwise.

Almonds have long been considered the way to a girl’s heart in particular their aroma, which is supposed to induce passion in a female.  Almonds are incredibly nutritious, packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fat so there is no doubt that regular consumption of these and other nuts would be likely to improve overall general health and therefore fertility.  Almonds have been prepared in a number of ways over the ages but certainly the one that seems the most popular is marzipan, guaranteed to win over any sweet-toothed female, young or old.

Avocado was regarded as an aphrodisiac mainly due to its shape.  The Aztecs called the avocado tree “Ahuacuati” or testicle tree and when brought to Europe the Spanish called the fruit aquacate. Apart from the shape the fruit has a sensuous smooth texture and exotic flavour that stimulates all the senses. Again including avocados in your diet several times a week will contribute to your general health as well as possibly improving your love life.

The banana has been featured several times in my blogs on healthy and medicinal foods.  Obviously the shape played some part in its reputation as an aphrodisiac but it is very rich in potassium and B vitamins, which are both essential for healthy hormone production.  Eating one banana is unlikely to enhance sexual performance but including them on a regular basis will certainly have you firing on all cylinders.

Cloves amongst other herbs and spices contain eugenol, which is very fragrant and aromatic.  It has been used for centuries as a breath freshener, which may be hint to why in days before dental hygiene became so important eating it before a date was considered an aphrodisiac.

Chocolate like almonds has long been regarded as an enticement to females and contrary to popular belief; Cadburys were not the inventors of this delicious if very addictive treat.  The Aztecs called it the “nourishment of the Gods” probably because of the chemicals in chocolate that stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain that produce a feel good effect.  It also stimulates the production of theobromine, which is related to caffeine and would no doubt stimulate performance in other areas.

Honey has been used medicinally for thousands of years and was considered essential as a cure for sterility and impotence.  Even in medieval times less than scrupulous suitors would ply their dates with Mead, a fermented drink made from honey.  This was also drunk by newly-weds on their honeymoon probably acting to relax inhibitions and anxiety.  Honey is wonderfully nutritious and again including it regularly in your diet is likely to improve your general state of health, which would lead to improved sexual performance.

Mace and Nutmeg contain myristicin and some compounds related to mescaline.  Mescaline is found in Peyote cactus and has been used in South American and North American Indian cultures for over 2000 years as a hallucinogen.  This might explain why the use of mace and nutmeg in aphrodisiac potions may have produced mild euphoria and loss of inhibitions.  Hot milk and ground nutmeg has long been a night-time drink and now we know why.

Oysters were well known for their aphrodisiac qualities in Roman times and their reputation continues today.  There is some reference to their likeness to female sexual organs but the main thing going for oysters is their high content of Zinc.  This mineral is essential for male potency but if you do not have a balanced diet with other sources of zinc, eating a dozen oysters from time to time is unlikely to give you the desired results.

Saffron has been used since the times of the ancient Greeks where it was harvested from the wild yellow crocus, flowers.  Its use has since spread throughout the world and has been used for thousands of years as a medicine and as a perfume.  It is said to be an excellent aid to digestion, increases poor appetite and being antispasmodic will relieve stomach aches and tension.  More recently it has been used as a drug to treat flu-like infections, depression and as a sedative.  As far as being an aphrodisiac is concerned its most important property is likely to be its ability to regulate menstruation which would of course help lead to a better chance of conception.  It is generally a tonic and stimulant and being very versatile can be used in many dishes regularly in your diet.

I obviously could not miss out the carrot – not for the reason that some of the readers of my blog have imagined!  Carrots taken long term provide the body with a great source of vitamin A essential for our hormones and in men their sperm production.  Hence, the title of my health book.  Forget the Viagra……

There are many other foods, herbs and spices that have for one reason or another been associated with sexuality.  These include liquorice, mustard, pine nuts, pineapple, strawberries, truffles, basil, garlic, ginger and vanilla.  The one thing that is absolutely certain is that if you have an excellent balanced diet with plenty of variety you will be taking in all the above nutrients on a continuous basis and that will enable you to enjoy an active and full sex life.  Adding a few of the above ingredients will certainly do you no harm and who knows you may be able to prove if they really are all they are cracked up to be.

Answers on a postcard please……..

APHRODISIAC RECIPE

This was forwarded to me and I believe it is called Isabella’s aphrodisiac ice-cream.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup of sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 cup peeled and mashed rich ripe figs
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the almonds and sauté until just golden. Remove the almonds and dry on paper towel. Put aside for later.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a stainless steel bowl, or double boiler, whisk the yolks with the sugar and salt for 3 minutes, or until pale yellow. Add hot milk slowly while whisking. Place the stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmer water and cook whisking constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the custard from the water and stir in the chilled cream, mashed figs, vanilla, and almond extract.

Chill the mixture for 30 minutes, then pour into an ice cream maker or the freezer compartment of your fridge until set.

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And if all that has not got you in the mood for tomorrow… then I will have to let the King convince you.  Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day … wishing you lots of love to give and receive.  Sally

Smorgasbord Round up – Eagles, Irish Fairies, Opera and thrills and spills.


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Welcome to this week’s round-up of posts you might have missed. It has been a fairly busy week as I prepare for the new series of interviews beginning in March and I am thrilled with the response. Twenty five talented authors, poets, musicians and other creative people have come forward to take part in either Book Reading at the Bookstore or The Creative Artist Interview.

Whilst there are some set questions there are also three personalised questions that I am including in each interview so as you can imagine I am taking my time with that. I hope to have them all out by Monday… It looks like I may go to two posts a week to make sure that nobody is hanging around for weeks waiting for their interview to go live. That being the case if you have not already volunteered.. here is the link which includes the format for the interviews.

Here are all the new promotional opportunities, with something for everyone, all on one page.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-free-author-and-blogger-promotion-2017/

On the subject of promotions.

On the 21st I am off on a girls week with my two sisters to celebrate our three birthdays that are all in February. I will be taking a break from writing posts for the blog but the blog will be handed over to some fabulous and talented members of the blogging community who will be filling in for me in my absence.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/a-little-blog-sitting-requested-february-21st-28th-part-time-position/

I have no worries about leaving the blog for the week to fend for itself but I thought it was another promotional opportunity for you all. As well as the guest post.. I will make sure to top and tail with an intro, feature books, blog, art etc as well as links. Definitely good for the blog and perhaps a little boost for you. Especially as I will not be doing the usual book promotions that week.

If you would like to apply for the job of part-time blog sitter please come back to me by Thursday so that I can get it scheduled in time.

As always I am hugely grateful for your wonderful support, comments, shares and motivation. ♥♥

Enough of the mushy stuff.. and on with the posts from the week…..

Classical music with William Price King

William and his music

So pleased that so many of you are enjoying the last in the classical music series and the story of American soprano Leontyne Price. This week a look at her performances in the 1950s and the bigotry that she endured in her early career.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/classical-music-with-william-price-king-leontyne-price-part-two-star-on-the-rise-2/

Weekly Image and Haiku

I am so lucky to have some wonderful co-hosts on occasion for the blog and one post this week seemed to touch the hearts of many of you. Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photographs has been a blogging friend for the last three years and he sent me some recent photographs of the eagles Romeo and Juliette.. he very kindly agreed to let me use one of the images for this week’s Haiku.. You can see the full sized version in the post.

together-for-lifehttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/weekly-image-and-haiku-together-for-life/

Short Story – After the Festival 

Another collaboration with illustrator Donata Zawdska with After the Festival. I was very privileged to be able to use the artwork for my short story..a new one from my upcoming Tales from the Irish Garden later in the year.. I hope you enjoy.

after-the-festival-1https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/smorgasbord-short-story-tales-from-the-irish-garden-after-the-festival-illustrated-by-donata-zawadzka/

The new interview series if you missed them last week.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/new-series-sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-book-reading-and-interview/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/new-series-smorgasbord-creative-artist-interview-musicians-bloggers-artists-photographers/

Book Promotions

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-wind-follower-by-carole-mcdonnell/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-annwyns-secret-by-claudine-giovannoni/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-frank-immersed-a-frank-rozzani-detective-novel-frank-rozzani-detective-novels-book-5-by-don-massenzio/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-golden-age-of-charli-rsvp-by-jena-c-henry/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-sleeping-serpent-by-luna-saint-claire/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-teri-polen-colleen-chesebro-and-sally-cronin/

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-amy-m-reade-olga-nunez-miret-and-gigi-sedlemayer/

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Another 25 bloggers promoted this week.

If you would like to be included in the Blogger Daily then just leave a link to your most recent post in the comments section of the round up today..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-6th-february-2017-welsh-chapels-interviews-celebrating-books-and-angry-bird/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-7th-february-2017-share-buttons-reviews-crime-settings-poetry-and-octopus/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-8th-february-2017-dr-dolittle-the-turin-shroud-sexism-politics-and-emotional-beats/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-9th-february-2017-smoking-dickens-leftovers-water-shortages-and-childrens-illustrations/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-10th-february-2017-multi-culturism-drinking-war-correspondent-snow-cream-and-dog-rescue/

Smorgasbord Health – series Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

seasonal-affective-disorderhttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-annwyns-secret-by-claudine-giovannoni/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/smorgasbord-health-seasonal-affective-disorder-part-two-vitamin-d-the-sunshine-vitamin/

Smorgasbord health – A – Z of Common Conditions – Lung Cancer.

smorgasbord healthhttps://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/the-lungs-part-five-smoking-and-lungcancer/

Humour and Afternoon Video

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/time-for-some-laffs-and-some-cat-and-dog-views-on-life/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/time-for-some-laffs-from-around-the-usual-haunts/

That is it for another week on Smorgasbord.. Couldn’t do it without you.. Please remember that it saves me time if you volunteer your news about new book releases, fantastic reviews or share your blog post link.. Help me share your work.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health – A – Z of Common Conditions – Cancer – Lungs


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Some of you will have read the original of this post last year.. I have updated and hope that you will agree that it is an important message to get out.. Especially as there are still young people taking up smoking because it is cool!

The latest statistics indicate that there 1.1 billion smokers in the world with approximately 800,000 being men. There has been a decline in smoking in countries who have banned smoking in public places and made advertising and access to them more difficult. However, every time I go shopping in my local Tesco there are two or three people in the queue at customer services buying three or four packs of cigarettes that are dispensed from a hidden compartment. I am always staggered at the amount they are handing over which is currently 11 euro a packet.

As you will see I am an ex-smoker and I do understand the addiction to smoking.. I just know that the rewards of giving up are more than financial.  My addiction, like many of my age group began when we started passive smoking at a very early age.

Where my addiction began.

My father smoked from age 12 he told me. In his time in the Royal Navy he smoked unfiltered duty frees and he continued to smoke until his diagnosis with prostate cancer at 76 years old. He didn’t die of that but the radiation treatment he received caused a fatal blood disorder. It was over 21 years ago and treatment was a lot less refined back then.

I started smoking at 14. My father would smoke around 15 to 16 cigarettes a day and he would then throw the packet with the remaining cigarettes into the top drawer of his dresser and at the end of the week he would consolidate all the extra ones into a packet to start the week. I assumed that he lost count of how many were in the seven packets and working on that assumption; I liberated one cigarette a day for my own consumption. (I never got caught, and sometimes I wish I had been as it might have ended my addiction before it really started)

I finally gave up smoking at age 39 as I was heading for an operation of my own. I was smoking around 20 to 30 a day and apart from anything else at £1.50 a packet I could not really afford the habit. I know that at the current cost of nearly £8.50 per packet, £4,600 per year I certainly could not afford to smoke.  Of course of that £4,600 approximately £3,500 is going into governmental coffers!

Bearing in mind that it is estimated that 10 million adults smoke in the UK, and if everyone of them smoked a packet a day, the resulting money going straight into the Government pocket is around £3billion pounds a year.  Although they claim that this is to pay for health care of those that smoke I am cynical. Whilst the public message is give up smoking I wonder if they are really keen to lose those billions of revenue per year!

100,000 people die from smoking related disease each year.  That is too high a price to pay for a pleasure that simply goes up in smoke.

After 25 years I do not know if I have dodged the bullet but I do believe that I gave myself a fighting chance by giving up when I did. Addiction to anything is tough to beat. But there are plenty of options to help someone these days and they can be effective if you meet them halfway.

It is important to remember that it is not just the lungs that are at risk from smoking but all your major organs including the heart and brain. Yes, there are some lucky individuals who smoke until 100 and get away with it – but they are in the minority and usually have extraordinary immune systems that have kept them healthy.

Some of the people around them however, may not have been so lucky and here is a short but sobering extract from an article that should make any smoker think about the impact they are making on those they love and consider friends.

Breathing in other people’s smoke, also called second-hand smoke, can cause cancer. Passive smoking can increase a non-smoker’s risk of getting lung cancer by a quarter, and may also increase the risk of cancers of the larynx (voice box) and pharynx (upper throat).

Second-hand smoke can cause other health problems too. Every year, second-hand smoke kills thousands of people in the UK from lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and the lung disease Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/smoking-and-cancer/passive-smoking

LUNG CANCER.

Just the words lung cancer are enough to terrify most people but it still does not seem to deter a large number of smokers who continue to inhale carcinogenic fumes every time they light up.

Although there are work-related contaminants that can result in lung cancer such as asbestos and coal tar, they only represent around 15% of all cases of lung cancer. Smoking or inhaling second hand smoke causes the remaining 85%.

The best preventative is not to smoke at all but even giving up right now will reduce the risk from developing cancer in the future.

Cancer is a disease of abnormal cells. Normal cells reproduce through their lifetime in a controlled manner replacing old tissue and repairing damage. Abnormal cells are rogues that are out of control increasing rapidly either in a localised spot in the body (benign tumour) or by spreading throughout the body developing tumours as they go (malignant tumour). The blood and the lymphatic system provide the perfect transport for these rogue cells and when they form a new growth it is called a secondary tumour or metastasis.

There are a number of different types of cancer cell that can affect the lung but they are all opportunists and if the lung tissues are already damaged by smoking it will be vulnerable to them all.

Cilia in respiratory system

Smoke inhalation damages the normal cleansing process of the lungs so that debris and toxins can accumulate. Hair like cilia on the cells within the bronchial tubes usually beat rhythmically to move mucous continuously upward and out of the lungs but smoke that is inhaled cause these fine hairs to disappear and the lining of the bronchial tubes thickens and narrows in an effort to protect the tissues from further damage.

Perhaps seeing a pair of healthy lungs beside an image of a smokers lungs might convince you to give up smoking more than my words.  If you know people who smoke around you then you might like to share this with them.

Healthy lungssmokers-lungs

Sources

http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_93.pdf

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me either in the comments section or privately on sallygcronin@gmail.com.

I will be covering other lung related diseases later in the A – Z series.

 

New Series – Smorgasbord Creative Artist Interview – Musicians, Bloggers, Artists, Photographers


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Yesterday I posted the new interview series for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore beginning in March and I am delighted to say that I already have ten authors have signed up which is a great start.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/new-series-sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-book-reading-and-interview/

The theme is that the interviews are partly interactive with readers asking their questions in the comments section and the person being interviewed answering them there too.

I would like to welcome anyone who is a blogger, musician, artist, poet, photographer, illustrator, book reviewer, book designer or any other creative artist to feel that they are welcome here too.

It is very straightforward.

I just need you to send me your website or blog link by email to sallygcronin@gmail.com

  • I will check out your blog or website and come back to you with some set questions for you to choose from and three personalised questions.
  • You will return these with an example of your work – an extract from your most compelling blog post or short story, an example of your poetry, artwork, photography or a book review. With the reason why you have chosen this piece.
  • I will need your social media links.. in full please.. a bio and bio photograph (if you have one) if they are not on your site.

Once I have received your answers to my questions and the rest of the information I will schedule your post.

I only ask that on the day that it is scheduled that you are available to pop in over the day and the next to answer any questions in the comments.

My first guest in this series is William Price King as it is a while since I caught up with him in an interview and he has done some wonderful gigs and mentored some talented young singers in the last year.. You can find out more about him in his latest series on Classical singers..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Looking forward to adding you to the interview list.  Remember to email me on sallygcronin@gmail.com so that I can send you your five questions.

Time for some Laffs – Life span, Speeding and Highway to Hell.


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On the 1st Day…

On the first day God created the cow. God said, “You must go to the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer I will give you a life span of sixty years.”

The cow said, “That’s a kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. Let me have twenty years and I’ll give back the other forty.” And God agreed.

On the second day, God created the dog. God said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. I will give you a life span of twenty years.”

And the dog said, “That’s too long to be barking. Give me ten years and I’ll give back the other ten.” So God agreed.

On the third day God created the monkey. God said, “Entertain people, do monkey tricks, make them laugh. I’ll give you a twenty year life span.”

The Monkey said, “How boring, monkey tricks for twenty years? I don’t think so. Dog gave you back ten, so that’s what I’ll do too, okay?” And God agreed again.

On the fourth day God created man. God said, “Eat, sleep, play, have sex, enjoy. Do nothing, just enjoy. I’ll give you twenty years.”

Man said, “What? Only twenty years? No way man. Tell you what, I’ll take my twenty, and the forty the cow gave back, and the ten the dog gave back and the ten the monkey gave back. That makes eighty, okay?”

“Okay,” said God. “You’ve got a deal.”

So…. that is why for the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play, have sex, enjoy, and do nothing; for the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family; for the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain our grandchildren; and for the last ten years we sit in front of the house and bark at everybody.

toya-richardson

An elderly lady gets pulled over for speeding...

Is there a problem, Officer?

Officer : Ma’am, you were speeding.
Oh, I see.

Officer : Can I see your license please?
I’d give it to you but I don’t have one.

Officer : Don’t have one?
Lost it, 4 years ago for drunk driving.

Officer : I see…Can I see your vehicle registration papers please.
I can’t do that.

Officer : Why not?
 I stole this car.

Officer : Stole it?
Yes, and I killed and hacked up the owner.

Officer : You what?
His body parts are in plastic bags in the trunk if you want to see.

The Officer looks at the woman and slowly backs away to his car and calls for back up. Within minutes 5 police cars circle the car. A senior officer slowly approaches the car, clasping his half drawn gun.

Officer 2: Ma’am, could you step out of your vehicle please!   The woman steps out of her vehicle.
Is there a problem sir?

Officer2: One of my officers told me that you have stolen this car and murdered the owner.
Murdered the owner?

Officer2: Yes, could you please open the trunk of your car, please.The woman opens the trunk, revealing nothing but an empty trunk.

Officer 2: Is this your car, ma’am?
Yes, here are the registration papers. The officer is quite stunned.

Officer2: One of my officers claims that you do not have a driving license. The woman digs into her handbag and pulls out a clutch purse and hands it to the officer. The officer examines the license. He looks quite puzzled.

Officer2 : Thank you ma’am, one of my officers told me you didn’t have a license, that you stole this car, and that you murdered and hacked up the owner.

Bet the liar told you I was speeding, too.

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Travel in Transylvania

Two nuns, Sister Marilyn and Sister Helen, are travelling through Europe in their car. They get to Transylvania and are stopped at a traffic light. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a diminutive Dracula jumps onto the hood of the car and hisses through the windshield.

“Quick, quick!” shouts Sister Marilyn. “What shall we do?”

“Turn the windshield wipers on. That will get rid of the abomination,” says Sister Helen.

Sister Marilyn switches them on, knocking Dracula about, but he clings on and continues hissing at the nuns. “What shall I do now?” she
shouts.

“Switch on the windshield washer. I filled it up with Holy Water in the Vatican,” says Sister Helen.

Sister Marilyn turns on the windshield washer.

Dracula screams as the water burns his skin, but he clings on and continues hissing at the nuns.

“Now what?” shouts Sister Marilyn.

“Show him your cross,” says Sister Helen.

“Now you’re talking,” says Sister Marilyn as she opens the window and shouts, “Get the hell off our car!”

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Hope you have enjoyed a chuckle or two.. please feel free to pass on.. I cannot claim ownership just a temporary custodianship!  Thanks Sally

Why I am giving myself a Salary Increase! – And perhaps you should too!


I hope you will indulge this somewhat tongue in cheek look at the crazy world of writing… and have a little fun at the same time.

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How many of you feel that you are perhaps a little under paid as an author and a blogger? 

That does not mean that you are under valued, which is not the same thing. I think most of us who are writers love the fact that people buy our books, read and review them and say great things about our posts when they see them.

But when was the last time that you felt that you were getting paid even the minimum wage for the hours that you put into writing, publishing, marketing your books or preparing your blog posts?

Not many of you I would imagine.

I often say that I am doing something I love, that working several hours a day writing either my books or my blog is a privilege of being retired and having more time.

Living the dream which is how people who are still working for a living tell me!

How lucky you are to be able to indulge yourself in your hobby and to dabble as an author!

Recently I reviewed some of my statistics here on the blog and I was delighted by the response from those who read the post. Many were amazed to discover that their own posts were being read in over 100 countries… that people from around the world valued their work.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/what-use-are-your-analytics-for-your-blog-they-tell-an-interesting-story/

Of course some bloggers do get some income from their blogs but it is quite rare. For most of us it is the individual reader’s feedback and response which is our reward.

Now a look at the books we write.

My next collection of stories is about to be published in E-version.. With the new VAT on Ebooks in the UK, and of course sales tax in other countries, that has bumped up the prices of ebooks somewhat. But what we as authors receive for the hours we spent writing, editing, formatting and marketing is actually very little.

Am I complaining?   No I am not.

I am doing something I love, and whilst I would be thrilled to make enough real cash to buy more than a pair of socks for my husband at Christmas; I am always delighted that the books I have written have sold and are enjoyed.. There is no doubt that I will continue to write and market them and learn how to do that better for as long as I am physically able.

I also know that real money does not buy you happiness or a great many other things in life.

money-cannot-buyBut what I am going to do is put a different value on my work.

We live in a virtual world and therefore I am giving myself a virtual salary.

Currently I am writing my books and short stories, my own posts on my blog, author and blog promotion posts and spending time marketing on social media for a minimum of 8 hours a day.  I think that I am quite entitled to charge £25 ($32) per hour for my efforts (the average hourly rate for good freelance writing) which means that I am earning £200 ($256) per day.

I have recently cut back my time online at the weekends to two hours a day which is £100 for the two days. But I am using that time to complete a number of writing projects so I can add another £200 to that.

This gives me a weekly total of £1300 or £65,000 ($82,000) per year.

Now that feels better.

You might think that sounds crazy!

But we live in a virtual world so much of the time, is there anything wrong with earning a virtual salary?

I know I cannot spend it on real items, but if I add in the previous three years of blogging I have now got £250,000 in the virtual bank.

And whilst I wait for the real world to catch up with my virtual world… I like the feeling that my efforts towards that goal is being rewarded in a measurable way.

So why not try this yourself.. whilst you are working to sell more books and earn more money from your writing.. still give yourself a minimum of £25 ($32) an hour as an appreciation of all the hard work you are putting into your job.. as a writer.

I think that you will be surprised at how much work you are actually doing to create that virtual worth and hopefully in the future real hard cash.

That is why I am giving myself a pay rise this week.. I have not had one for over three years and I deserve it.. I am now going to be earning £30 per hour which will put £81,000 ($102,000) into the bank.

Am I worth more… of course.. we all are… However, although this is a virtual salary it is a dog eat dog world in freelance work and we must be realistic!!!!!

Not long until I am a millionaire.. just keep writing….and then you are all invited onto my virtual yacht…….

yachtWhilst it is good to know that I am getting paid what I am actually worth… the other good news is that the tax man is not going to get his hands on it!

With that in mind.. I should really get a plug in for my next release coming in February.

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Blogger Daily – 24th January 2017 – Pizza, Horror, Weather Bunnies, and Author Etiquette!


Smorgasbord Blogger DailyWelcome to Blogger Daily with a small selection of the posts I have read in the last day or so. Please leave a link to your latest post in the comments section if you would like it shared.

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To begin with today… a post from Linda Bethea who turns the humble pizza into a family saga… there is a conspiracy afoot….

‘I suspect there is a new pyramid scheme starting, a plot to fatten. It’s diabolical. A friend was given a box of seventy-five pizzas from one of those gigantic superstores. That is neither a typo nor exaggeration. She wagged it home, split it into three separate bundles and put them in the freezer. Her twenty-year-old son still lives at home. He was on that pizza like a dog on a bone, joyously heaping those basic pizzas with every added topping he could ferret out, extra cheese, mushroom, sausage, hotdogs, hamburger, and extra sauce.’

Read on about who else dived into the Pizza….https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/pizza-love/

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Time for a little horror courtesy of David Watson who is part of the team over at Horror Addicts blog.. Zombies, ghosts and anything that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end!!! This post is a review of Dead over Heels by Theresa Braun…

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‘Veronica is looking for true love, it hasn’t been easy and now she thinks using a little magic may help. It works in the form of Sebastian and they hit it off instantly. Their first date is in a haunted restaurant and as luck would have it their romantic dinner is the scene of a supernatural encounter. They notice a young couple dining, but no one else does, and Veronica along with an apprehensive Sebastian decides to investigate further. They discover that they have a connection to the couple in question and they may be the only ones who can set the ghosts free.’

Read David’s review: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/davids-haunted-library-dead-over-heels/

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We have learned over the years to take weather forecasters with a pinch of salt (or a bag full if they predict ice) but there have been some monumental fails… admittedly with all the satellites in space not too bad recently.. We had just arrived back from Texas and were back in London.. The BBC weather reported some wind but did not mention it would be a full scale hurricane.. I climbed over trees to reach my office as it was my first day in my new job… no-one else made it in that day and I ended up manning the phones and selling car advert.. on job training.. Anyway.. John Kraft has his own reservations about weather forecasting including that of their local weather bunny…

ICE? WHAT ICE? I DON’T SEE NO ICE.

‘I take that back – I see ice in my coffee, but there is no ice on the roads or on my windshield. I’m not complaining mind you. In fact, I am doing my Happy Dance – big time.

For the last week the Weather Bunny on Channel Two has been predicting that Terre Haute (That’s French for “What’s that floating in the Wabash?”) was going to be hit with several days worth of ice storms, Sleet, Freezing Rain and NCAA Athletes. I don’t mind the athletes, but the ice, sleet and freezing rain I can do without.’

Read the rest of this very entertaining post: https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/were-doomed-whats-for-lunch/

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Another review, this time by Teri Polen for The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn scheduled for release on February 7th… a dark and twisted horror mystery…

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‘Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.’

Read the rest of the blurb and the review: https://teripolen.com/2017/01/24/the-devil-crept-in-by-ania-ahlborn-bookreview-tuesdaybookblog/

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Finally today a post from publisher and author Susan Toy who has helped a huge number of  Indies be noticed on her Reading Recommendations (myself included).  Susan’s title today is Author’s Continuing to behave badly…You will also find two posts from 2014 relating to the same topic and they are worth reading too.. As someone who promotes authors and blogs I have found that the vast majority are great at participating, responding to comments made by people who have taken time to give their feedback and reciprocate in kind.

Each post that a blogger puts together for an author, especially if it is just from links takes anything from 30 minutes to an hour to gather images and text, format and post which is why there are submission guidelines. These should always be read and followed so that a promotion of a book gets the best possible showcase. Anyway here is an excerpt from Susan’s post and well worth a read before you approach anyone for a promotion…

It seems to be time – again! – to remind some “authors” out there how they should be conducting themselves in the world of promoting their books. Not everyone has bad manners, but there are enough who make it difficult for the rest of us who DO abide by those guidelines and rules and maintain decent behaviour.

This need to reiterate what I’ve railed on about before here came about after a reviewer posted this poem to her own blog – a poem that was actually a cry for help and an oblique explanation of how she’d been treated recently by indie authors she had set herself up to help promote. I reblogged her poem here then wrote to the reviewer directly to tell her I understood what she was going through.

Fortunately, this reviewer’s experience has had a happy (!) ending, or at least her problem has been resolved somewhat, to the point that she posted a follow-up poem this morning on her own blog.

I knew I’d addressed this subject of “Authors Behaving Badly” before, so I typed those words into my blog’s search thingie and found the following two posts written one after the other in Dec. 2014.

So here, for the benefit of Happymeerkatreviews and those authors who continue to behave badly when approaching reviewers and other promoters, are the two posts:

Connect to the two posts and read onhttps://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/authors-continuing-to-behave-badly/

I hope you will find these posts interesting and I know the bloggers would value your feedback. I would love to showcase your latest post so please put the link in the comments section.  thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Weight Reduction – The Plateau and Fluids


Smorgasbord Health 2017

Experienced dieters will dread that  plateau that everybody seems to hit five or six weeks into their weight reduction programme.

A pound of body fat is generally equated to 3,500 calories. However, you will not be losing just pure body fat in the first few months since 15% and 22% of the weight of a fat cell is excess water, and this must also be reduced. This water loss is one of the reasons why people tend to lose weight faster during the first few weeks.

Anyone who has dieted, or read about dieting, will know about the dreaded ‘plateau’. There are a couple of major reasons why this occurs.

The first relates to the ability of the fat cells to shrink in the 5th to the 8th week of a weight loss programme.  As fat leaves the cells to be used as a food source, the body has the task of shrinking the fat cell back to its normal size. In some cases this does not happen immediately, and the cell has an empty space, where the fat used to be. Since the body cannot have ‘empty spaces’, water and salt automatically flow into the fat cell to replace the fat. As the body catches up with the shrinkage of the cells this water will be expelled, but the plateau can last from 2 to 8 days. Since water weighs more than fat you may even see a slight weight gain during this period, but, you will still be losing fat if you continue with your diet.

If you ensure that you are drinking sufficient fluids that I outline in the next section, and have a regular exercise schedule, this will resolve itself naturally.  I do not recommend that you take diuretics to eliminate the excess fluid as these can do damage to your kidneys.  It will also artificially affect your fluid balance and once you stop taking them it can take a while to correct that.

The other reason you are likely to plateau is starting your eating programme with too few calories.  If you read the earlier post on how many calories you should be taking in… you will have identified your BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate, which for women is around the 1500 nutritional calories and for men 1800.

If you decide that you are going to starve your body into submission with 1000 calories a day and lots of exercise, your body will begin to move into Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome.  Your body has some survival traits that will kick in once it perceives that there is a famine or drought and one of those is to hang on to what is in its fuel cells – in other words the fat and water gets locked up.

Even on days when you think you are eating sensibly your body will decide to top up the fat cells.. and if you go on a holiday break or over Christmas your body will take full advantage.

If you want to reassure your body that there is not going to be another famine… stick to a your eating plan and do not drop below the recommended calories.

So if you start your programme at a minimum of 1500 nutritional to 1800 calories depending on your BMR – with normal activity and exercise you can create the 500/ 750 calories per day to achieve your 1lb. to 2lb weight loss per week.

Work through the natural plateau as your cells shrink and instead of reducing your nutritional calories (make sure that what calories you do consume are nutrient packed)increase your activity levels to maintain a steady weight loss.

Fluids to keep you healthy.

Fluids are important for the body.  We are 80% water and this is essential for life.  You can live without air for about 6 minutes, without food for about 6 weeks (not me certainly) but you only live for about 6 days with fluids.  Every organ in the body relies on a certain level of fluid to function and fluid washes over all the cells in our body keeping them healthy by removing toxins. When you are losing weight this is even more important because you will not be just losing fats from your cells – you will be losing stored toxins too.

You notice that I say fluids not water.  It used to be that it was recommended that you drank at least 2litres of pure water per day.  Well, we now know that certain water rich foods,your teas and coffees add to your fluid intake.  But, fizzy drinks, too many fruit juices and alcohol are not acceptable due to their high sugar content.  The odd glass of wine or fresh squeezed juice, or even B-vitamin rich Guinness a few times a week is good for you. But, at the end of the day you cannot beat good old fashioned tap water.

Those of us who are lucky to live in countries where it is safe to drink water straight from the tap should take full advantage of this very inexpensive alternative to bottled water. I enjoy a glass of sparkling water from time to time but you will get less sodium and depending on local conditions, plenty of minerals from your own tap.

It amuses me when people moan about the price of petrol and then go into a bar and pay £2 for a glass of ‘mineral’ water with a bit of ice and lemon.  That makes it around about £5 per litre or more.  Petrol sounds pretty cheap in comparison.

In recent months it has emerged that the cheaper mineral waters for sale in supermarkets for under 50p per bottle is actually just filtered tap water.  You can do that yourself if you wish either with a filter attached under your sink or by using one of the jug filters.

There is a knack to drinking your water so that it does not interfere with the digestive process.  If you drink a couple of pints of water with your meal you will dilute the gastric juices and the process then becomes less effective.

Try to drink a glass of water when you get up in the morning – a half hour before your main meals and about 90 minutes afterwards.  I will drink green or peppermint tea after a meal however; I find that particularly mint tea helps with digestion, which is why many cultures drink so much of it.

Another fluid that is good for your health, by giving you a boost of Vitamin C, kick starting your body after a night’s rest and is great for your skin, is hot water and a squeezed lemon before you have breakfast.  The other advantage to this particular drink is that if you are suffering withdrawal symptoms from giving up sugars in your diet, the lemon will retrain your palate quite quickly.

So with water first thing, hot water and lemon, a tea or coffee mid-morning, a glass of water 30 minutes before your lunchtime and evening meal and one 90 minutes afterwards, a cup of tea mid-afternoon and water rich salads, fruits and vegetables and you will have consumed at least 2 litres of fluid.

If you do 30 minutes of intensive exercise drink another glass of water before and afterwards. If you drink a couple of glasses of wine occasionally, have at least one glass of water afterwards.

If you drink a little more water you will not come to harm, but do not drink too much either as excess fluids can cause you to lose essential nutrients and make you feel very unwell.

Next time.. whilst I am not going to tell you what to eat for your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks… I know how easy it is to fall into a routine of only eating a few foods in case you put weight on.. In the next post… some suggestions for light meals and snacks.

You can find all the other posts in the series on Weight Reduction in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/weight-reduction-programme-2017/

©sallycronin 2016

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section and if you would like a private word then please email me sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

 

Medicine Woman’s Larder – Meleagris Gallopavo (you can eat if you can catch it) Turkey


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Many people associate turkey just with Christmas, or Thanksgiving in the USA or Canada, but in fact as far as a protein in meat form goes, turkey is actually packed full of nutrients and is an excellent all-round food.

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The wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo (something to do with difficulty in catching it I think) is native to North America. The bird was brought into Europe, in the early part of the 16th century, by the Spaniards. The English name “Turkey” arose because of a confusion with Guinea Fowl – which were imported through Turkey, from Africa. Both birds were originally known as “Turks”. Eventually, in the 18th century, it was given its Latin name but the original name stuck.

The Native American Indian used the turkey as a staple of their diet. They introduced it to starving pilgrims, along with their native plants and seeds including corn and squash. The pilgrims were so grateful they celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 where their American Indian friends were guests of honour.

Why is turkey so good for you?

Turkey is first and foremost a lean source of protein – 4 oz. gives you 65% of your daily protein requirement and has about half the amount of saturated fat that red meat does.

We are made of protein and we need it to repair ourselves – a bit like the bionic man – we take animal and vegetable protein, add some amino acids and rearrange the nitrogen from the mix to repair or make parts of our body. Don’t forget we are meat – and still a savoury delicacy in certain parts of the world.

Turkey is very high in methionine, which is an essential amino acid that ensures that any protein that we eat is completely used. This means that we get the maximum benefit from the turkey and is particularly important if we find it difficult to digest food as we get older.

Turkey is very high in the amino acid tryptophan, so it stimulates the B3 vitamin, Niacin, into producing serotonin the neurotransmitter. This has a calming effect, and helps depression (particularly useful after a family festive lunch!) And also helps us sleep well and feel good (afternoon siesta). Niacin is involved in cell health. DNA requires Niacin to be healthy and a deficiency of this B-vitamin – and the other B’s like 6 and 12 – has been linked to DNA damage that can lead to Cancer.

Turkey is very high in Selenium, which is a trace mineral and is fundamental to our general health. It is involved in thyroid hormone metabolism – antioxidant defence systems and our entire immune system health – many studies into this mineral are revealing its positive effect on cancers. As an antioxidant, it encourages DNA to repair cells and damaged cells to self-destruct.

Turkey is richer in calcium than any other meat and has over twice the calcium of chicken or beef. It also contains B6, which is extremely important for blood cell health.

It is also high in phosphorus, which is a fundamental need for bone and teeth formation and the production of red blood cells. Phosphorus is also part of the chemical energy store in each cell and in DNA – so is vital for cell health. One of the things to watch for with phosphorus, however, is that it you eat a great many processed foods you will find that they are far too high in the mineral and can cause an imbalance with other minerals.

So, Turkey is low fat – half the fat of chicken – low in cholesterol, sodium and calories. Finally it is also called a short fibre meat which means that it is very easily digestible for any age group.

How to select the best Turkey

I am a carnivore at heart (apologies vegetarians) and even though I do not eat a lot of red meat, I do eat fish and poultry. However, I was put off for a couple of years from eating Turkey at Christmas or any other time of year following the advert for cigars in 1989. For those who missed it – a flock of turkeys are surveying the darkening skies and flakes of snow begin to fall. They look at each other resignedly and head off into the turkey house where they light up a Hamlet Cigar. It was heart wrenching and I think it was salmon for lunch that year.  Just so that you can all feel the emotion here it is….sorry…..

There is usually some debate around the table on Christmas day as to who is getting the white meat and who the dark. Usually you end up with a bit of both but it is the white meat that is the most prized.

I am reliably informed that in the United States, turkeys are often bred by artificial insemination because they have now grown too large to get close enough to mate, which seems very sad considering they are also destined for the table. You would have thought they might have been granted a little fun along the way. A turkey can grow up to 70 lbs. but the average for a male (tom) is 20 lbs. and for a female (hen) around 12 lbs.

Buying your Turkey

Although I eat poultry I always buy from guaranteed organic and free range sources.  I am also keen that any food that we eat is farmed humanely as possible.  The fact is we as humans have been carnivores from the outset but there is still a long way to go in many parts of the world as to the level of respect we afford the animals we consume.

As the turkey has become more popular all year round, smaller breeds have been developed that weigh around 5 to 8 lbs. and fresh and frozen turkeys are now available at any time.

If the turkey is fresh the meat should be smooth, creamy and soft. If the turkey is whole make sure there are no bruises or cuts in the skin as this can lead to bacterial infection.

If the turkey is frozen it is more difficult to judge the condition of the bird but make sure that the wrapping is still intact.

We eat turkey all year round and here is a recipe for my turkey fajitas that we serve guests as well as indulging in regularly ourselves.

I had never eaten fajitas before I went to live in Texas nearly 30 years ago. We have loved them ever since and we often have maize tortillas with some baby leaves, avocado and lean protein for supper especially after a day of house renovation! It is a versatile dish and you can eat tortillas at breakfast with some scrambled egg – use as a wrap to take to work or out on picnics with some spicy chicken and salad and I am going to give you one of my regular recipes using turkey fillet – a great lean protein with plenty of nutritional value. It is relatively inexpensive and yet offers a healthy source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins.

I use turkey or salmon, another great protein ,regularly in the recipe and if you make your own guacamole and salsa with avocados, tomatoes and onions you will be providing you and your family a terrific nutritional bonus.

TURKEY FAJITAS for 6 people.

I usually allow three tortillas per person and I use the soft maize tortillas as I find them softer than the wheat. Also if anyone has an intolerance to wheat it can be a useful alternative.

There is nothing worse than a mean fajita. So I use plenty of lean turkey and onions and peppers.

SEASONING. I use this low salt recipe to sprinkle over the vegetables and meat during cooking.

Pimiento 5 teaspoons
Chili Powder 6 teaspoons
Garlic Powder 2 teaspoons
Ground Cumin 4 teaspoons
Salt ¼ teaspoon
Black pepper ¼ teaspoon.

INGREDIENTS

2 whole turkey breasts, sliced into long strips.
2 large Red Peppers sliced lengthways into strips
2 large Green or yellow peppers sliced lengthways into strips
4 large Onions sliced into thick rings
18 soft corn or wheat tortillas.
Olive Oil

In a large oven proof dish arrange all the vegetables in layers sprinkling a little of the seasoning onto each lager drizzle a little olive oil over the dish and put into a hot oven around 200 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and add the strips of turkey so that they do not overlap and put the remaining seasoning over the entire dish. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and put back in the oven until the turkey is cooked thoroughly which is about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve in the oven dish at the table.

Warm your tortillas and a tip here is to put 6 each in a foil packet and pop in the oven for the last 5 minutes cooking time. Turn the oven off and leave two of the packets in there until you need them. You can also buy microwave containers to heat them in but they can make them sweat – also you can only really heat four or five at a time and they go cold waiting for the others. I find the oven method in foil the best for large quantities.

On the table you will need dishes of guacamole, salsa and Fromage Blanc. By all means use sour cream or Crème Fraiche is you are not worried about the calories. You can also serve grated cheese with the other dressings. I have some recipes for both guacamole and salsa that are in the link below.

For anyone who has not eaten fajitas before, a teaspoon of each sauce is spread over a warm tortilla and then the peppers; onions and turkey mix is placed in the middle. The bottom end of the tortilla is folded towards the middle and the two sides are brought over to form a wrap. The whole thing is eaten with your hands.

I usually have a large bowl of the spinach salad on the table as well as it helps if the food is spicier for some people than normal.

You can substitute lean beef; chicken fresh peeled prawns in the recipe and adjust the cooking times slightly. If you are vegetarian then add your favourite vegetables and roasted these make a delicious alternative.
Hope you have found interesting and you feedback is always welcome .. thanks Sally