Work-Life Balance & One-Pan Sausage Pasta Bake

It’s been a really busy few months, hence the lack of blogging, but I’m finally back with a post! Unfortunately when life gets a little chaotic the things you do just for enjoyment, like writing my blog, have to take back seat. With so many demands in life it’s important to try not to overload yourself and remove pressure where possible. It got me thinking about my job. Being in the latter months of my pregnancy I have had a lot of comments recently that I am working too hard, should be resting more, or that I’m taking on far too much. Owning your own business means you have to be reliable and I would never cancel work commitments or let people down, I am lucky that (so far) I have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and still I feel able to put in the long hours. I love my work and that definitely makes it a lot easier, however would I still feel so happy if I didn’t enjoy what I did?


Being self-employed, freelance or owning your own business can sometimes mean you’re working with extremes, often you’ll have periods where you’re really manic with jobs as well as ones when you’re not so busy. There’s always lots of paperwork and invoicing to get done in the quieter times but you’ll often get a few extra days off too, you have to grab those days when they come! However when things get really busy it can seem like you’re wading through treacle, social life can take a back seat and those household chores can start to mount up. You’ll have less (or no time) to relax!


Work and life balance can be a massive source of stress and anxiety. Funnily enough I actually wrote my university dissertation on work-life balance and here I am all these years later writing about it again, albeit in a different context! Achieving a healthy balance isn’t easy and it’s something many struggle with. It can be particularly challenging if you don’t actually enjoy your job. I am really lucky that on the whole I do a job that I love. While it’s not strictly luck, a lot of hard work went into getting into this industry I do really appreciate that I get to work with food, something I am passionate about, on a daily basis. I am well aware that many people don’t enjoy their jobs. But why are so many of us seeminglly stuck in industries we aren’t compatible with? I believe lot of it is down to when and how we make our career choices. It can be really confusing and difficult for teenagers to select a career path. Pressure from schools to go to university, lack of good careers advice, not having had work experience can make the decision even harder.


I do believe those challenging teenage years can trigger all sorts of mental health problems, as I have explored in previous posts. We want our children to choose a career that will bring them enjoyment but also be financially viable. We want to support and guide them without making them feel pressured to choose a certain path. I definitely think it’s an area that the government need to focus on, schools tend to push university rather than vocations to boost league tables but university isn’t the answer for everyone, especially with the mounting tuition fees.


Having a career you enjoy can be the difference between an enjoyable life or thoroughly miserable existence, therefore it’s really important to allocate the decision the time and research that it deserves. Many people will change and switch jobs until they find what makes them happy whereas for some the path is clear and easy. If you or someone close to you is struggling with mental health issues and you’re at the beginning of your journey to recovery I strongly advise taking a good look at your work life. Is it bringing you more stress than enjoyment? Are you being taken advantage of in the workplace? Do you have a good support network in place? Do you dread going into work each day?


Take the time and effort to make changes if necessary, it’s so important, without a happy work-life you will struggle to lead a happy life. While we need money to live, a drop in pay for a more enjoyable job could end up paying dividends, by bringing contentment!

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Try some of my recipes from my time at the BBC here.

Be aware that your job may not always fit your needs over time, I had a great job at the BBC, which I loved and was perfect for me for a long time, but I had to make changes when my mental health really started to suffer and I started to go through a very black period. Although it wasn’t the job that had caused it I no longer felt being in London and away from my support network was right for me. I attempted commuting but that was expensive and stressful so I had to make changes. Sadly I could no longer do the job, the situational circumstances meant it was at the expense of my own well being. So although I’ve had to adapt and tweak my path over the last 4 years I am still doing a job I love, if you stay flexible and remain open minded you can have a happy and fulfilling career that helps your mental health not hinders it.


Making changes is never easy and can appear daunting and scary but staying on a career path that makes you miserable will never bring you overall happiness. Not only this but you’re wasting your skills and passions, people work much harder when they do something they enjoy. So my message is this; with so many career options out there, and so many years to work find something you enjoy! Don’t feel pressured to go down someone else’s path just to please them. Take time to find out what you love, do work experience, try out different jobs and invest in yourself through courses and training. A job doesn’t have to be something to dread, you can cherish it and love what you do. You’re never too old to make changes or try a different career, allow yourself to find a job you love, it’s the ultimate form of self-care and will put you firmly on the path to happiness.


Todays recipe is something that can fit into anyone’s work schedule; it’s quick to prepare, not too many ingredients to buy and has very little washing up. It’s suits the style of cooking that I’m loving at the moment, quick dishes that are simple and satisfying, there’s actually no chopping at all in this, if you buy the ready prepped veg! Although it’s meant to be August the weather has felt more like autumn so it’s perfect for these grey August days. This dish also works really well with chunks of chicken breast and chorizo instead of the sausages, or try a tin of tuna or sardines. Make it veggie by using diced aubergine and courgettes and adding a handful of sun blush tomatoes, it’s really versatile and works with what you have in the cupboard or fridge! Happy cooking.

One-Pot Sausage Pasta Bake

Serves 2-4 (we have dinner for 2 and then 2 lunches out of one batch)

Ready in 45 minutes

 

Spray oil (I use rapeseed)

4 lean pork sausages, I used porky lights as they are really tasty but not too fatty

½ pack diced carrot, onion and celery (Sainsbury’s do these, or chop your own if you have them in the fridge already) You can freeze the other half of the pack for next time

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 cloves garlic, crushed (or 1 tsp garlic puree)

1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)

2 tsp oregano

1 heaped tbsp branston pickle (or other chutney) TRUST me on this

2 cans chopped tomatoes or 1 can chopped tomatoes and 1 can cherry tomatoes (TIP choose a good quality, Italian tomato, cheaper brands can be very acidic and affect the taste of this dish)

2 tsp vegetable bullion (or powdered veg stock)

175g pasta shapes (penne or fusilli work well, my pasta had 8 mins cooking time on the pack)

15g fresh basil, leaves torn

100g mozzarella, cubed

2 tbsp grated Paremsan

1 Turn oven to 220C/200C/gas 8. Heat an ovenproof large saucepan or deep frying pan with a lid (I use a le cruset) with a few sprays of oil and squeeze the meat from the sausage skins straight into the pan (throw away the skins). Add the veg, fennel, garlic, ¾’s of the oregano and chilli then fry, breaking up any clumps with a spoon, until golden. Add the pickle, tomatoes, bullion and some seasoning bring up to a simmer.

2 Add the pasta along with 500- 600ml (a can and a quarter or half depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta, I like it saucy so go for the latter) of boiling water from the kettle, then bring to the boil, cover with a lid and turn down to  a gentle bubble. Cook for 20 mins, taking off the lid and stirring every 5 mins, then remove the lid and cook for 5 mins more, or until the pasta is cooked to your liking. This was the perfect timings for my pasta shapes, which had 8 mins cooking time on the pack.

3 Stir through the basil, saving a few leaves for garnish, taste now and adjust the seasoning. Scatter on both the cheeses and the rest of the oregano and transfer the dish to the oven for 15 minutes, until the cheese is golden and the sauce bubbling at the edges. Serve with a side salad, if you like.

 

 

 

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