What makes you happy?

It’s a solid question for soppy days. (It’s also a lovely documentary.)

Here it goes, in no particular order: the smell of fresh basil (particularly if it comes from the new herb pot on your balcony).

The sound of rain on a roof when I’m not soaking wet.


The sight of a glass of wine that’s a hint more salmon than cerise.

Jumping into a bed made with clean sheets, straight after a shower.

The look you get from somebody at the gym when they twig every cheesey song on your workout playlist contains lyrics of some derivation of ‘you’re a fighter’ (no, I’m really not).

How soft the skin on the inside of a baby’s bicep is.

Crossing things off lists.

Long wine tainted lunches and films where there’s a misunderstanding half way through, but it all turns out ok in the end.

Diving under not-too-big waves and gripping at the sand with your fingertips.

New pens.

Knowing all the words to ‘Graceland‘.

Dancing at weddings.

Avocados that when cut reveal not a speck of brown.

Having things cued.

The ‘Happy’ documentary name checked this last factor. They referenced it as ‘flow’. Dancers and surfers and piano players chase after it; it’s the quiet satisfaction when one thing transitions easily into the next.

I’m a sucker for it. If it’s a ‘night in front of the tv’ sort of eve I get a silly amount of pleasure if what we’re watching is cued and ready to go at the same time that dinner is ready.

I like to make a cup of tea before I have a shower, so that way it’s the perfect temperature as soon as I get out.

And I like to have breakfast ready to go as soon as I step into the kitchen.

In the past flat, that was less possible. Living with a bar-fridge meant that there was room for necessities only; milk, yoghurt, salad leaves, basil gently bound in damp paper towel, salmon pink wine and Belgian beers.

Now, I’m swimming in space. And there’s room for tupperware in the fridge again.

Which is where this breakfast option comes in.

Nb, I say all of the above about happiness with the greatest caveat; it all comes after health. With out that, the rest is gumpf.  And for me at the moment, a low-carb diet is helping the days trot past a little smoother.

This is a ‘not-quite-a-bircher’, it operates on similar principles, but with some new friends at the fore.

The first is chia seeds. I’d ignored chia seeds for two years now. They were like Breaking Bad, ankle boots and a Kindle. I never thought I’d need or want them in my life; they seemed so slavishly ‘now’. That’s until I bought some at the behest of a woman with terrific taste. My past experience with chia was the base of something that grew to be an allergy safe pet that was shorn with child-safe scissors. These days they’re a new ‘wonderfood’. They’ve supposedly got more omega-3 than salmon and are packed full of protein.When dry they can get stuck in your molars in a way that you thought only a strawberry seed could.  But saturate them in a little liquid and they swell up, like cheerful orbs of dark tapioca.

The second item is ground linseed meal. The Hungry One bought some home from the markets two weeks ago (from www.flaxfarm.co.uk). It’s low GI, gluten free and all those other things that sound good on a box. It’s also packed full of fibre, nutty and doesn’t taste like woodshavings. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Until I started toying around with this.

Linseed meal, chia, yoghurt, milk and a few stray smooshed berries for a little fruitness and flavour. They all hang out together in a tupperware in the fridge before melding into a silky, bircher-esque mass.  It’s a low carb breakfast option that doesn’t involve lentils, bacon or eggs.

There it sits, ready cued. In the morning it sometimes get topped with a few extra toasted nuts or seeds. If I think I’m ok having a bit more fruit, then I’ll  slice some over the top, or throw over some extra berries.

But most often it’s just eaten swiftly out of a bowl, while I wait for the kettle to boil,  and a good day to roll.

It’s the right kind of flow. And at the moment, it’s making me very, very happy.

 Chia-Bircher Muesli

Makes 2-4 breakfast portions – depending on what you want to have it with, and how hungry you are first thing in the morning (Hungry One, I’m looking at you)


Large tupperware of at least 1 litre capacity.


1/2 cup of chia seeds (you should be able to find them at a health food store)
1/4 cup of ground linseed (though feel free to substitute with bran or oats if you want some more slow release carbs)
3/4 cup plain yoghurt (use sheep, goat, soy, whatever takes your fancy)
1 and 1/4 cups of milk (I use soy, because I like the nutty flavour at breakfast, but use whatever works for you)
1 handful of berries smushed with a fork (you can use frozen berries or fresh)

Optional extras:
Grated apple. Oats or bran or ground almonds (if you’re adding oats, bran, or ground almonds add the same quantity of yoghurt or milk, so it doesn’t all become too dry).

To serve
A little extra yoghurt. Additional berries. Nuts or seeds.

Here’s how we roll

1. Mix the chia seeds and the yoghurt together well to incorporate.

2. Add the linseed and milk. Stir very well to combine.

3. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to soak and incorporate. Stir well before serving.

4. Eat on its own, or with some additional fruit, yoghurt and seeds for extra flavour and crunch.