Roasted Balsamic Vegetable Pasta with mint and yoghurt

Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 pound bowtie or other pasta
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup mint, chopped
Roasted red pepper flakes to taste
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt, or more to taste

Preheat oven to 450° F. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper (you can also use foil, but be sure to spray foil with cooking spray before adding vegetables). Arrange cauliflower florets, eggplant cubes, onion slices, and tomato halves (cut side facing up) on baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, stir and shake up the vegetable pieces, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are browned and softened.

While vegetables are roasting, cook the pasta in salted water. Mix the balsamic, olive oil, mint, and red pepper flakes (if desired) with a fork until blended.

Combine roasted vegetables with pasta and toss with balsamic dressing. While hot, add yogurt and toss to coat evenly.

Notes:
• Make sure to leave enough space between the vegetables when roasting so they brown and caramelize rather than steaming
• Cut vegetables in slightly larger than bize-sized pieces — they will shrink when cooking. Keep the sizes fairly uniform to make sure everything cooks in the same amount of time.
• Depending on the size of your oven, you might need to roast the vegetables in batches.

from here

Granola

 
Maple Cinnamon Crunch Quinoa Granola
Makes approximately 4-5 cups

* 1 cup quinoa, uncooked (rinsed well and drained)
* 1 cup sliced almonds
* 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
* 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut chips
* 1/3 cup flax seeds
* 1 tablespoon chia seeds
* 3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
* 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
* 1/2 cup maple syrup
* 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
2. In a large bowl or directly in a roasting pan, combine all of the dry ingredients, including the spices. If solid, heat the coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl on high for 20-30 seconds until melted. Pour the coconut oil and maple syrup evenly over all of the granola. Toss it all very well to make sure the dry ingredients are all nicely coated.
3. Make sure the granola is evenly spread in a thin layer in your roasting pan (you can also use a parchment paper lined baking sheet as well). I like using a roasting pan, since it makes stirring easier, so you don’t lose any over the sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, and slightly crisp. Stirring a few times while it is baking.
4. Cool completely in the roasting pan or on the baking sheet. As it cools the granola will crisp up even more. Cool fully before adding placing in air tight container for storage.
5. Enjoy this granola as cereal in your favourite milk (dairy or non-dairy), sprinkled with fresh fruit over your favourite yogurt or ice cream, on top of a smoothie, etc.
http://tasty-yummies.com/2013/01/15/maple-cinnamon-crunch-quinoa-granola-gluten-free-vegan-refined-sugar-free/

Retiring at 36 … really?

I’ve been very fortunate that through a lot of hard work over the years, I’ve been able to have had many opportunities.

For my 13th Birthday (literally the day of my birthday) my older sister gave me her paper-round to start that day (the legal age I was able to start work).

Prior to that (before I even remember starting school), my ‘pocket money’ was only given to me when I’d properly tidied my bedroom, and cleaned a share of the bathroom.  So you could say that from an early age, I was given a strong work ethic.

At University I had a part time complimentary therapy clinic (and in addition to my full time Engineering degree, I was also a barman, student warden, and ran a few clubs and societies).

On leaving Uni I worked as a door-to-door salesman for a few months, had a challenging office job (in that it wasn’t challenging intellectually!) .. and then started setting up my first Limited Company in June 2000.

I’d already heard that in general, only one in five businesses succeed beyond the first few years, so I set up multiple variations of businesses, running them alongside each other, hoping that at least one would succeed longer term.

Then as some businesses didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, I’d phase them out and develop alternative ones.  And as new opportunities became available, I’d take them on too.

The longer term plan (from a comparatively early age), was to ‘retire’ at 35 years old (in 2012), with the equivalent of a million pound in the bank, so I wouldn’t have to ‘work’ again.  And then, I could move to NZ, and enjoy the incredible outdoor lifestyle whilst still young and fit enough to maximize my time there.

However, in December 2009, the opportunity became available to take on a luxury boutique hotel the following summer of 2010, on a minimum 3 year lease (taking me to the end of August 2013, so a year behind my planned schedule).  But it seemed too good an opportunity not to miss.

This hotel has been going pretty well (although not quite as well as I’d hoped, because of the naivety of many locals perpetuating historical myths about the hotel). And although I haven’t quite reached the million in the bank, through the acquisition of some property, share options, and savings, I’ll have enough to support myself for the coming years (i.e. enough to cover my living costs whilst living in my own property, with the option to ‘work’ if I want to buy something a little more expensive, as and when).

I can then focus on the dreams I want to, when I want to.

However, I’ve now had it confirmed that literally the day after my hotel lease expires (the final definitive date of my hotel lease), I begin the first actual race day of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race!

So how did I do it?

  • My typical working week is at least 100 hours plus (often more).
  • On average, I manage about a half day off every couple of weeks (and even then I’m still on call)
  • I don’t tend to sleep too much (i.e. 6.5 hours a night seem to work perfectly when I’m busy)
  • I work hard, I’m not afraid to turn my hands to doing whatever needs doing (whether that’s unblocking toilets, fixing websites, dealing with challenging customers, etc.)
  • I work ‘smart’ (although this has been a long and slow process, learning just what is smart working and what’s less effective).  – In the main part for me, it’s about employing the right staff / sub-contractors, to do whatever their job is well, so I can leave them to it without question or concern, with trust, (and provide them with all the training they might need to carry on learning as they go along).
  • I also try to rethink through virtually every process and system I’m involved with, to maximise its efficiency and performance.  Also helping ensure consistency for my businesses customers (whoever they are).
  • There are countless books on the subject, and too many apt quotes to describe what I do.  For each person though, you need to work out what works for you, and go with that.
  • As my sister once said “he had to work really hard to be consistently that lucky” ..  to me, that about sums it up.