Monday, 30 September 2013

Carrot and coriander soup

Cauldron of carrot and coriander 

At the weekend I cooked a large batch of carrot and coriander soup which has become my favourite soup.  Here's my recipe, based on a recipe from the New Covent Garden Soup Company with some changes.  The added lentils make the soup thicker when it's blended up.

Makes 4 - 6 portions, 50p per portion approx.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
550g carrots, chopped
75g red lentils, well rinsed
750mls vegetable or chicken stock
A pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic over a low heat with the lid on until the onion is soft.  Add the lentils and mix in so they're covered in oil.  Add the carrots, stock and nutmeg and stir well.  Simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots are soft (they might need a little longer).  Add the coriander then puree the soup in a blender.

When I cook this I triple the quantities and freeze it in portions.  I get about eight portions out of the tripled recipe.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

September Sunshine

We visited Rodley Nature Reserve today and enjoyed the open space, sunshine, late flowers, and the trees covered in fruits and seeds.  This nature reserve is on ex-industrial land which is now a lush, varied habitat for a wildlife.  There's a small visitors centre run by volunteers selling hot drinks and cakes and it's a get away in the middle of houses and businesses, net to a canal and river.

Chances are that wherever you live you're not far from a nature reserve, you might just not know it as they're often hidden away, but there are 1500 nature reserves in the UK.  They're good spaces to get close to nature and are a free place for a stress-free day out, especially if you go armed with a picnic.  If you go to Natural England you can search by county to find your nearest one.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

SAD 2013: Be kind to yourself

(Disclaimer: I’m not in any way an expert in diet, exercise, mental health or health in general.  All my advice on SAD is based on my own experience of it and on information I’ve picked up on the way.  If you believe you’re suffering from SAD or any other health condition your first port of call should be with your doctor to rule out the possibility underlying illness.)

So far this week I've written posts on:

Beating SAD 2013
Seeing the light
A cunning plan
Food to lift your mood
Fit not fatigued

In this final post I'm including other ways to boost your well being through Winter that don't fit into the other categories.

  1. Gratitude:  Make a list of your favourite things.  Listing the good things in your life that you're grateful for shifts your focus from lack to abundance.  Every year around October time I sit down and make a list in my journal of things I enjoy about Winter and things I'm looking forward to, for example:
      • Playing in the snow
      • Crisp air
      • Having a hot drink under a blanket at the end of the day
      • Drinking coffee in bed at the weekend whilst rain hammers down
      • Making Christmas gifts
      • Visiting my friend at the other end of the country
      • Fairy lights in trees
      • Satsuma season!
  2. Meditation:  This is something I'm beginning to learn about so I can't vouch for it's effectiveness with SAD, but it's been shown in many studies and anecdotaly to reduce stress, help with depression and promote equilibrium, as well as being beneficial to overall physical and mental health.  I avoided meditation for years until recently because I believed I'd have to empty my mind of thoughts, but it's more a case of learning to control your breathing and gently observe but sit back from thoughts and feelings, letting them pass you by without actively engaging with them. is a clear, easy to understand and inspiring introduction to how to meditate in the modern world. Although I've only just begun I'd reccommend meditation to anyone trying to find some peace in their day to day life.
  3. Pressure: You have to take the pressure off yourself.  The second best thing I did to help myself last Winter, after regularly using a daylight lamp, was to take pressure off myself to carry on at my usual pace with no let up.  For me this meant cutting out anything uneccessary, such as extra housework, being careful of taking on extra jobs at work when I was exhausted and accepting that if I didn't fancy doing the things I usually enjoyed that was fine.  On those days when you feel you could have done better - and this applies to anything at all - don't tell yourself "I'd better do it properly tomorrow, I've let myself down".  Just think "Tomorrow I'll do better."  That way you've focused your intention on making a small change for the better rather than chancing everything at once.
  4. Be kind to yourself:  If a close friend said to you "I'm so tired and fed up, I feel tearful all the time and I need a rest but the house needs cleaning, dinner needs to be cooked, I've got to get to the supermarket and I need to decide whether to take on that new project at work. " What would you tell them?  Would you tell them to stop moaning and get to work? Probably not.  You'd offer a shoulder to cry on, tell them to sod the house work, have beans on toast for dinner, order their shopping online and turn down the project if it was going to wear them out.  Cut yourself the same slack as you would for anyone else you love.  Gentleness towards ourselves often takes second place to the needs of others, but all of us need to love and nurture ourselves.  You're a unique person, beautiful in ways you may be unable to grasp, and you deserve your own care and understanding.  If we were all more gentle with ourselves think of how that attitude would spread and make the world a better place to live in.
  5. Routine:  Establish an efficient morning and night routine before Winter kicks in.  Put aside half an hour at night to wind down before getting into bed.  TVs and computers keep your brain in waking mode long after you've turned them off.  Quiet time before bed gives you time to reflect on the day, write in a journal, read something uplifting, listen to relaxing music and take your time getting ready for bed.  In the morning I find it helps me to have a set routine for getting ready for work, including 5 minutes of sitting quietly after I've eaten breakfast.  Routines ease you in and out of the day and simplify things when you havn't much energy.  Forming habits now, in Autumn, will help see you through, whether it's getting into the habit of regular gentle exercise or trying out slower burning foods.
  6. Turn up the heat:  I'm much grumpier when I'm cold and I don't want to do anything but try to get warmer.  Try to stay comfortably warm in Winter or you'll feel even less like leaving the sofa.  Feeling cold and miserable about it just reinforces the feeling of grim Winter.
  7. Track it:  Keep a simple record of your energy, mood and health during Winter.  I forgot to do this regularly last year but I did end up with enough information to see how my energy levels and mood changed, when things started, peaked and eased off.  I also identified certain things that kicked in when I stopped sleeping properly, like severe daily headaches.  Thanks to last year's overview I can see that SAD kicked off after I had a virus and my energy level was already low, so I need to take extra care to boost my immunity this year, which brings me to...
  8. Colds and flu:  If you're sleeping badly and tired all the time you're more vulnerable to viruses like colds and flu.  Good food and gentle exercise help to keep you healthy, and you can boost your immune system by taking Echinacea every day.  I've got a cold at the moment as as soon as I felt it coming on I started taking maximum strength Echinacea.  My colds passing unusually quickly and has been mild, which isn't at all like the ones I usually get.  Ask your doctor about getting a flu jab as you may be eligible for a free one depending on you age and health conditions, or you can pay to have one for around £10.
  9. Stay in touch: It's all too easy to fall out of regular contact with friends and family when you're feeling unmotivated but it's important to put the effort in to maintain relationships.  Try to keep on going out and seeing people; a text message or an email is better than nothing and will stop you falling out of circulation. 
Finally, celebrate Spring!  Be ready to notice the signs of new life appearing and when Spring does come around welcome it with open arms.  If you make New Years resolutions you could make them as Spring dawns rather that on 1st January in the dead of Winter.  Get outside, breath deeply, soak up the light and feast your eyes on the green buds and early flowers.  Shake off hibernation and that Winter feeling.

If you've got any tips, information or resources that help you cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder I'd love to hear about them.  I hope these posts have given you a better understanding of how you can help yourself to have a happier Winter season.  

Friday, 27 September 2013

SAD 2013: Fit not fatigued

(Disclaimer: I’m not in any way an expert in diet, exercise, mental health or health in general.  All my advice on SAD is based on my own experience of it and on information I’ve picked up on the way.  If you believe you’re suffering from SAD or any other health condition your first port of call should be with your doctor to rule out the possibility underlying illness.)

When you're tired and fed up exercise is likely to be far from your mind.  In Winter the only exercise I tend to get is working too and from work, but lately I've been doing yoga at home several times a week and I'm planning on getting well and truely into the habit by the time Winter sets in as my mood soars after doing it.  It can be hard to stay fit in Winter for anyone but it's further complicated if you're experiencing the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Personally I don't think it's worthburning up my scarce Winter energy in a strenuous work out, but I find that doing some gentle exercise lifts my mood and keeps me fit.  Here are some ideas for gentle exercise that will help you keep well without leaving you drained:
  1. Walking:  A long walk out in nature gives you some head space, but even a walk in your local park or around your neighbourhood will stop you from becoming too stationary between now and Spring.  Turn it from a gentle stroll into a brisk walk and it will get your heart working a little harder.  The same goes for cycling and jogging if you feel up to it, just keep it light and comfortable.
  2. Home exercise:  It's easy to fit in bits and pieces like lifting hand weights at home if you decide you're going to do it.  How about sit ups, push ups and using an exercise ball?  No need to leave the house, pay gym fees or drag yourself out for a run in the cold and you can listen to music or watch TV at the same time.  If you're new to weights or havn't lifted any for a long time start off light and work your way up so that you're building muscles without straining them.
  3. Yoga and Pilates:  These are good for your body and mind, they're however challenging you want them to be and they build strength and flexibility.  I've got a fractured coccyx and doing yoga stretches regularly has gently stretched all the muscles that were putting pressure on the injury, which has reduced the pain almost completely, so it could benefit you in unexpected ways.  All you need is an exercise madtand loose, comfortable clothes.  I do yoga at home following DVDs from DDP Yoga (DDP is Diamond Dallas Paige, an wrestler who got into yoga when he suffered a severe injury.  He's put together a workout series called Yoga For Real Guys to get more men into the benefits of yoga).  The instructor's enthusiastic and jolly, the routines are varied and I enjoy being able to get out my mat and do it at home whenever it suits me.  You can buy or rent DVDs or search on YouTube for instructional videos.  Alternatively there are yoga and pilates classes available in most towns.  As Mr DDP says "Pain does not mean gain, pain means pain" so listen to your body and take things at it's own pace.
  4. Swimming:  I have to confess that I struggle with this at the best of times because of the faff of getting there, getting changed then coming home damp, but the actual swimming in the middle is good fun.  Swimming works out you whole body and the water supports you so it's gentler on your joints.  I enjoy paddling up and down the pool with my unique combination of breast stroke and doggy paddle.  Most pools run aquarobics classes and similar, even yoga in the pool.  If you can't swim or aren't confident at it there are adult only classes that can get you started.
  5. Dancing:  If you feel up for it put on some music and dance rediculously.  Wiggle, hop and prance like you've lost your grip to lift your spirits and get your heart pumping.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

SAD 2013: Food to lift your mood

(Disclaimer: I’m not in any way an expert in diet, exercise, mental health or health in general.  All my advice on SAD is based on my own experience of it and on information I’ve picked up on the way.  If you believe you’re suffering from SAD or any other health condition your first port of call should be with your doctor to rule out the possibility underlying illness.)

We know that what we eat affects our physical health but how often do we consider the impact on our mental health?  For SAD sufferers having a basic understanding of the link is vital.  This isn’t an in depth explanation of nutrition, I’m just going to stick to this basic fact: Some foods cause your blood sugar to climb quickly, giving you a brief spike in energy which is followed swiftly by a ‘crash’, when your body’s burned up the sugar and your energy level plummets.  If you experience any kind of mood disorder this is particularly troublesome as it just adds to energy/mood dips.

Food where the sugar’s accessed and used up quickly are classed as high GI (Glycemic Index) and foods where the sugar’s used up slowly are classed as low GI.  Examples of high GI foods are:

  • Refined sugars in sweets, chocolate, cakes and biscuits.
  • Processed carbohydrates in pasta (cooked until soft), bread, rice and breakfast cereals such as Cornflakes and Rice Crispies.

You don’t need to give up high GI foods but it helps to cut down on them and eat them along side lower GI foods such as:

  • Grains such as oats, quinoa, barley and millet.
  • Wild rice.
  • Pasta cooked so that it’s barely tender.
  • Beans and lentils.
  • Bread containing lots of grains and where the flour hasn't been greatly processed.
  • Most fruits and vegetables.

If you’d like to find out more there’s a list of low, medium and high GI food here.

Caffeine can also give you spikes and crashes.  Last year I cut right down on caffeine and switched to herbal tea and decaffeinated coffee and it played a big part in evening out my mood. The Yogi brand herbal teas are better than your average herbal tea and they have some intriguing, complex blends such as 'Woman's Energy', 'Cold Season' and 'Breath Deep'.  They're available in many health food shops and online.  If you don't want to give up caffeine pair it with a low GI snack like oatcakes or a piece of fruit.  The low GI snack will cause a slow peak in your blood sugar which should take some of the sting out of the caffeine spike/crash.

On the subject of drinks alcohol is also very sugary and is a stimulant, like caffeine, so avoid drinking excessively as it could make you a very grumpy drunk! 

This is a much repeated advice but I'm going to say it anyway; drink plenty of water every day.  Most of us spend most of our time dehydrated!  This makes it harder for your internal organs and all of your cells to shift out waste products, and being dehydrated can leave you sluggish and confused.  Your skin will glow after a couple of days of good hydration, which is a bonus.  If you don't like drinking water mix in a little high juice squash for flavour.

Examples of tasty, filling things to eat to keep you balanced during SAD:

Breakfast: Porridge with cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, fresh berries or frozen berries heated up and mixed in.  I use sweetened soy milk in my porridge as it's creamy and sweet.  I mix it together the night before, leave in covered in the fridge then microwave it for two minutes the next morning.  It's much better for you than quick oats, is more filling and much cheaper.  Granola with low fat plain or soy yogurt is very tasty and is more like eating dessert than breakfast although some granolas are heavy on the sugar.  Whole grain toast drizzled with olive oil (especially basil olive oil) and lightly spread with Marmite hits the spot if you have a savory tooth.

Lunch:  Tuna salad sandwich on wholegrain bread is easy to make if you're in a rush and it's satisfying at lunchtime, something to sink your teeth into.  Sardines on wholegrain toast are comfort food at it's best, as is a large bowl of thick, home made soup (make a big batch, freeze in portions and you'll save time, effort and money).

Dinner:  Replace white pasta with wholemeal pasta and/or cook it until it's still slightly firm.  Top it with lashings of bolognaise sauce loaded with vegetables and herbs and you've got a mighty filling meal.  Or keep things simple with jacket potato and beans (although I always end up sprinking cheese over it, it's just too happy-making to miss).  A piece of fish, sauce, new potatoes or mash made with the skins still on the potatoes and served with lightly cooked veg is easy and filling, and if you buy ready-to-steam vegetables and fish portions it will take very little time to prepare at the end of the day.

Snacks:  Oatcakes or rice crackers with a bit of peanut butter or hummus fill the hungry gap well, as do vegetables dipped in hummus and oat bars instead of biscuits.  Chopped up fruit and plain popcorn kernels air-popped in the microwave are good for nibbling on.  If you enjoy chocolate try dark chocolate containing cocoa solids of 70% and up; two or three pieces of dark chocolate a day is good for you as it contains antioxidants which help cells repair themselves.

Food should be a joy but it should also give you what you need to function at your best.  You deserve food that's good for you and that you enjoy; don't fob yourself off with rubbishy food, you're worth more than that.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

SAD 2013: A Cunning Plan

(Disclaimer: I’m not in any way an expert in diet, exercise, mental health or health in general.  All my advice on SAD is based on my own experience of it and on information I’ve picked up on the way.  If you believe you’re suffering from SAD or any other health condition your first port of call should be with your doctor to rule out the possibility underlying illness.)

Yesterday I talked about daylight lampsand the immense difference they can make.  Today I’m going to write about the usefulness of planning ahead to make your Winter easier all round.  At one time humans worked and rested with the seasons, working shorter days in Winter when it goes dark early.  Now our lives continue in the same routine all year round, and as many times as I wish to hibernate every Winter (and I must whine about it every other day – my husband has a lot to bear with) I’ve realised that until I’m a fabulous millionaire I’m just going to have to shun hibernation and find a way to make Winter less hard work instead.  So, what can you do to lighten the load for yourself during the shorter days?

1.    Plan for major events: If you have birthdays or anniversaries coming up, or if you celebrate a Winter festival it’s worth planning and buying gifts and non-perishable food now, writing cards and planning the occasion.  Having your gifts and cards ready to go and knowing that you’ve done everything possible in advance will take the pressure off later on and stop things from becoming a burden when you’re energy is at a low ebb.  If you’re working to a tight budget this will also help you keep costs low by preventing any last minute panic buying.

2.    Reflect: Are there times during Winter that you’re likely to be particularly down?  It could be anything from a visit from annoying in-laws to the anniversary of the death of a loved one; if you know it will be a hard time for you think about how you can be gentler with yourself at the time, such as taking a day off work or getting out in the open to get some space and time to yourself.

3.    Get your house in order: If you have bills that need paying, repairs that need doing or any other unfinished business that’s hanging over you get it done if you possibly can.  Now’s a good time to clear out any unwanted stuff from your home and give it a deep clean.  This will give you some head space (honestly, it really helps!) and make it easier to keep your home comfortable during Winter.  Check your budget or create one, and if there are any bills or payments coming up that you know you won’t be able to cover contact the company that it’s for now to inform them and find out if they can offer you any flexibility.  If supermarkets stress you out (like they do with me) consider setting up an online shopping account so you don’t have to waste time and energy going to the shops during the darker months.

4.    Stock up: Do a big shop and prepare batches of home made ready meals to freeze.  Bolognaise, chilli, curry, casserole, pies and soup all freeze well and keep their flavour so you can freeze portions now and defrost them when you need them, saving you the effort of cooking on cold, dark nights when all you want to do is eat NOW.

5.    Plan down time: If you have the funds to fly away to somewhere sunny for a three month stay in a stunning beach side villa do so now.  If not don’t fear, there are plenty of ways to fit in the rest and relaxation you’ll need in the coming months.  If you have enough annual leave days at work, or are fortunate enough to work on flexi time book the occasional day or part day off here and there to give yourself a shorter week to look forward to.  If you have an understanding boss and are comfortable doing so it could be worth telling them about how Winter affects you and asking if it will be possible to book days off at relatively short notice if it doesn’t affect cover.  If you look after your children full time, or work and care for children, find out if a friend or relative would be able to care for them for a day or half a day so you can take extra time to rest and look after yourself.  Can you mark out any weekend days in advance where you’d be able to take some down time to rest?

6.    Share:  Depression of any kind can be a self-disguising illness so consider telling your partner or a friend or family member about how hard Winter can be for you.  I spent almost the entire Winter of 2011 heading closer and closer to a total breakdown without a soul knowing about it until I confided in my husband just how bad I felt in late January.  Why?  Because when you’re experiencing mental health problems you can feel embarrassed or even ashamed about the difficulty you’re having coping with simple, everyday things, and the idea of anyone knowing how you really feel can be frightening.  Telling someone you trust can make a major difference though because you know that someone who understands and care will be there to support you.  My husband makes sure I keep on seeing friends and doing fun things and reminds me that Spring will inevitably come around.

7.    Treats:  Plan whatever treats your time and budget allow, preferably experiences you can look forward to like a trip to the cinema or a day by the sea.  Having plans in place for fun things breaks up the months and in my minds eye it causes me to see Winter as broken up into more manageable chunks.

I hope you’re beginning to see that you do have some control over how you experience SAD.  You can’t change the fact that you get it in the first place and it's never going to be a jolly holiday but you can soften the impact by making simple adjustments to your routine.  We don’t have to write off the darker days, we just have to work a little differently.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

SAD 2013: Seeing The Light
(Disclaimer: I’m not in any way an expert in diet, exercise, mental health or health in general.  All my advice on SAD is based on my own experience of it and on information I’ve picked up on the way.  If you believe you’re suffering from SAD or any other health condition your first port of call should be with your doctor to rule out the possibility underlying illness.)

During Winter in the Northern Hemisphere light levels drop drastically.  For a full explanation of why this causes Seasonal Affective Disorder in some people I recommend the MIND website, but put simply when you get enough natural sunlight your brain produces normal amounts of two important chemicals; melatonin which regulates sleep, and serotonin which regulates mood.  People with SAD produce too much melatonin in Winter and too little serotonin, so you end up feeling more tired and having a lower mood.  As you can imagine, these two effects do not help each other out!

Since lack of sunlight causes SAD, getting enough beneficial light is the first thing I want to discuss in these posts as I believe it’s the key to beating SAD.  Ordinary lighting at home and work isn’t anywhere near bright enough to make a difference so to get enough light you need to do two things on a daily basis:
  1. Go outside, especially in the early afternoon when the sun is at it’s brightest.  Not only will you get sunlight, going for a gentle stroll on your lunch break will give you more energy and a change of scene.
  2. Invest in a daylight lamp: Underlined and in bold because this is the single most important thing you can do to alleviate SAD.  Daylight lamps are designed to replicate the brightness of sunlight, so using one for around 2 – 3 hours a day (depending on how bright that particular lamp is) should help you feel much better very quickly, as long as you use it properly at the right time.  The really good ones get quite expensive, from £100 upwards, but I’ve got this one which cost me £50 and helped a lot last year, although I did have to sit very close to it to get the benefit.  I’m considering getting a larger one this year if I can find a good quality one in my price range; if I do I’ll write a review of it on this blog.  Some online shops rent out light boxes by the month so you could always rent one for a month and see if it helps before you commit to buying one.  This shop hires them although having never had any dealings with them I don’t know if they’re any good.

If you do buy or rent a lamp be sure to find out how bright it is and how close to it you’d need to sit to get the benefit.  Light is measured in lux; a good daylight lamp should give out 10,000 lux or higher.  www.sad have a useful buying guide and a list of recommended manufacturers that I’m using to find a new lamp so have a look at that before you buy one to make sure you're getting the most effective lamp you can.

A daylight lamp can also be used at times other than Winter if you find you experience SAD when the weather’s particularly dull.  SAD tends to be at it’s worse between December and February but can last from September to April; I tend to need my light box from late October to early March.  It feels odd at first to sit in the glow of a little box but after a couple of days it becomes habit and a normal part of my Winter routine, although sometimes my husband has to bully me into using it because I start the season in denial that it's Winter yet!

Tomorrow I'm going to write about formulating your cunning plan of attack on SAD this year and how you can plan ahead.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Beating SAD 2013

(Picture from
(Disclaimer: I’m not in any way an expert in diet, exercise, mental health or health in general.  All my advice on SAD is based on my own experience of it and on information I’ve picked up on the way.  If you believe you’re suffering from SAD or any other health condition your first port of call should be with your doctor to rule out the possibility underlying illness.)

If you’re part of the 27% of people in the UK who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) every year I want you to know that you don’t have to live in fear of Winter.  By making simple, easy changes to your lifestyle you can help yourself through the darker months.  Over the next week I’m going to write about ways I’ve found help me to combat SAD and which are also good for you all year round.

I don’t know exactly how long I’ve been experiencing SAD as it crept up on me slowly, one Winter at a time, but it was Winter 2011 that things got bad enough for me to realise I had a problem.  That Winter was a particularly bad one; I could hardly sleep, my energy level plummeted fast, I felt cold all the time and the only time I really left the house was to drag myself to work.  I ate badly, gained weight,  was tearful and introverted and life looked empty and hopeless.  After what seemed a decade Winter ended and I found I could sleep again, get things done as usual and I felt like ‘me’ again.  Looking back I could see how different my behavior had been since about October and I realised I couldn’t let that happen again if I could possibly help it.  I found out more about SAD and about how it could be eased by using a light box, eating with more care, planning ahead and making other small changes.  When Winter 2012 came around I still dreaded it and it was still hard, but nowhere near as bad; I was tired and my mood wasn't great but still able to function and get on with my everyday life.

Starting I’ll be covering:
  • Light boxes
  • Planning ahead
  • Food
  • Fitness
  • Caring for yourself

·         I’ll include things that have worked for me so far and, as time goes on, I’ll try to include new things as and when I try them out.

If you get that sinking feeling when you think of Winter remember you’re not alone, there’s lots of advice and support out there and you can help yourself to have a smoother ride in Winter 2013.

To repeat my disclaimer at the start of this post, I have no expertise in health, these are all just things that I’ve tried myself.  If you think you have SAD please go to your doctor to rule out any underlying illness so you know you're treating the right thing

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Gluten-free crumble

It's Autumn, it's damp, it's time for crumble.  Here's an easy recipe for a fruit crumble with a gluten-free topping.  The topping has a finer texture than that made with wheat flour but in a good way.

250g fruit stewed until soft with 1 tbsp sugar and 1tbsp water (I used half a pack of Aldi summer berries)
125g rice flour
25g oats (some coeliacs are sensitive to oats, some aren't; if you're not sure leave them out)
70g butter
70g caster sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 200 celcius.

Mix together the sugar and rice flour, add the butter and rub the mixture through your finger tips until it resembles crumbs.  Stir in the oats.

Put the stewed fruit in an oven proof dish and pour the topping over it.  Bake for between 20 and 30 minutes until golden on top, take out and tuck in.