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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 2 July, 2020
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Roz Purcell shares her routine, recipes and tips for staying positive during Covid-19 isolation

The cookery author says focusing on nutrition and wellbeing is helping her handle the changes.

Roz Purcell

FIRST OFF, LET me say, it has taken me a while to adjust to a new routine and find ways to stay positive. 

The first week or so of this Covid-19 isolation seemed heavy and difficult to handle. There was a sense that everything was up in the air, and out of control and I struggled to make sense of this new way of living with no idea of when it would go back to ‘normal’. 

I’m saying this for those reading who might think they’re not coping, not excelling during this time. We have never been in this position before, this is unmarked territory and everyone is finding their feet in different ways and at different stages.  

I will share a few things that have helped me find a routine to fill each day and keep my overthinking mind at bay. There are small things that I do daily that have kept me smiling, and in most cases remaining positive.

When it comes to a daily routine I feel grateful to have had the pillars in place anyway to bring structure to each day. For me, they are training (or some form of movement), meal times and walking the dog.

These might be small things that don’t seem to make a difference, but these daily rituals bring a rhythm to the day. I have used these to bring a framework into my home life. I start the day with training as I always have. Other jobs are then structured around mealtimes, keeping them as normal. I finish off the day as I always have, with a walk. This has kept a routine in a world that has been tossed up and shaken about. 

There’s no denying that everyone is in a different situation through all of this and those working on the frontline, or parents working at home with children, face monumental challenges. There is no perfection in this, everyone is in a different place and doing their best, so, find your own rituals and place them back into your day as best you can. To help with this, I found that writing down my daily timetable helps. It is not jam-packed or anything, I’m not planning to tire myself out but I write just enough to make sure everything keeps ticking over. As a person who likes to go to bed feeling I have done something with my day, having this system has helped enormously.

Mastering our inner thoughts through this is probably the greatest challenge. I am using distraction as a tool to protect my mind.  By that, I mean I am trying my best to be 100 % present in whatever is happening right now, aiming to be totally and utterly ‘forcibly’ present. It helps that so many of the daily tasks I’ve set help me be present like baking, cooking, and training. Maybe yours is meditating, playing music. Whatever it is, do it as much as you need to right now. 

Another trick I’ve developed is working with my hands and focusing on movements to really halt my overthinking. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where I will sit down for hours at a time and can lack the energy or motivation to do much. If that happens, try not to put yourself down. Take a breath, refocus and get back to whatever was part of your plan for that day. 

I was in New York when things started to get very serious in Europe with the coronavirus. When I got back I went into isolation (before the national isolation started). I have never experienced such physical symptoms of stress and panic. Many of you will be able to relate to the feeling of uncontrollable panic, the sleepless nights, and the addiction to news. I was totally overwhelmed.

That time was a valuable lesson and I now limit my news intake to specific times during the day, preferably before 6 pm and only from reliable sources. To make this happen I took control and Marie Kondo-ed my news feed, removing all but reliable news sources, as well as positive people and sites that offer daily uplifting reports to balance everything out. It has definitely helped the constant fear and panic sensations while allowing me to stay informed. 

The good news is that social media has morphed into this incredible place during Covid-19, the place it always should have been, a place where people are sharing real content, helpful information, and entertainment. This has helped me feel less isolated and part of something bigger.

This period of coronavirus isolation may go on for longer than we’d hoped, but building routine and practising self-care will be key for everyone in getting through this. Cooking and baking can really help with all of that. With that in mind, here’s a couple of recipes, hope you enjoy:

Roz’s recipes

Sweet potato pizza

This thin, crisp pizza base with a hint of sweetness goes great with any toppings. I love it with pesto, then loaded up with ricotta, red onion and crispy kale, but you can use whatever toppings you like or whatever you have in your kitchen. The base also freezes well, so I always make a few at a time for an even faster Friday night dinner.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease two pizza pans or large baking trays with a little oil. Steam the sweet potato on the hob or in the microwave until tender. Meanwhile, blitz the oats to flour consistency in your blender, then tip into a medium-sized bowl.

Put the steamed sweet potato in the blender along with the oregano and olive oil and blend until smooth. Pour into the bowl with the oat flour and use a spoon to combine
into a dough.

Split the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, tip the dough out onto a clean surface (you shouldn’t need any extra flour for dusting and rolling) and roll it out nice and thin into a 20cm circle.

Repeat with the other half.

Use a spatula to lift the dough onto the greased pizza pans or trays. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the base over, then add your toppings. Place the pizza back in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on your toppings.

Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 1 minute before cutting into slices.

A smaller sweet potato pizza Source: Joanne Murphy for No Fuss Vegan

Recipe for the base:

400g sweet potato, peeled and diced
200g oats (porridge, rolled or jumbo oats will all work)
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

Recipe for the toppings:

Vegan basil pesto (recipe in No Fuss Vegan)
Cashew cheese
Sweet red onion
Crispy kale
Pine nuts

**********

Soda bread

This good old soda bread is something I grew up making and it’s pure gold, you’ll love it.

What you’ll need for 1 loaf:

450g or 1 pound white flour
2 tsp bread soda
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

14oz /400ml buttermilk (or for the vegan version I used 300ml almond milk + 100ml apple cider vinegar) or just regular milk and vinegar to make your own buttermilk.

1V3A0454 Roz Purcell's soda bread. Source: Natural Born Feeder

Method

Preheat oven to 200 C

Add the flour, salt, soda and sugar into a bowl and combine. Make a well and pour in the “buttermilk” stir into a wet dough. Tipp the dough onto a floured clean surface.

Using your hands lightly roll into whatever shape you want (also yummy for scones!) Scatter some flour on a flat baking tray. Place on the bread. Make a slit down the middle using a knife.

Bake for 40 minutes until golden and hard to tap. Make sure your oven has been pre-heated properly.

Leave to cool for 10 min and enjoy!

Roz Purcell is a best selling cookery author, personal trainer and creator of The Hike Life community. Her latest book, No Fuss Vegan, is out now.

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Roz Purcell

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