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I pretty much practice yoga every day. I have done so ever since I caught dysentery at a Hotel in Edinburgh. Yes, dysentery I thought it was a disease from the times of Charles Dickens but this was in 2003. Ashtanga yoga was my way to get my strength back, from that I grew the practice in breadth and depth to Bikram, Hatha, Kundalini and Vinyasa Flow and eventually teaching; which I love.
The health benefits have been enormous. The focus, self-awareness and energy I have everyday multiplies every area of my life.
I vary my practice dependent on the day and time as a busy working mother of 2. If I have only 8 minutes there are 4 exercises I do to oxygenate my body, wake up my bones and get the blood to my brain.
I always say Yoga get’s me at breathing. This controlled breathing exercise increases your lung capacity delivering oxygen to your organs, and hence revitalising your body in the morning. It’s also a good exercise before an important meeting or presentation.
Arda Chandrasana Padahastasana
This posture not only gives quick energy, but also when done right works your stomach, bum, hips, thighs and spine.
I include this posture because it balances out your hormones, which can impact your balance all day. I believe it is also why I fell pregnant so quickly!
The stretch in this posture is great for your neck; shoulders, lymph glands and blood flow to the brain.
In India yoga was not necessarily a series, but postures to address different conditions. A regular practice is of course the best scenario, once you know your practice, body and postures then you can break postures down into their benefits. This compartmentalisation allows you to do a few postures that give you just what you need when you need it, when you are short of time.
Of course consult your doctor with any new form of exercise.
The simple things in life keep me going.
Surrounding myself with people who build energy, getting up early for yoga that energises me all day, and feeding myself with energy boosting foods. The last recipe is my favourite and has both broccoli and chickpeas so gives a double boost.
1. Banana Smoothie
My smoothies are made up everyday. Just get creative or use what's there so you do not chuck out fruit. Banana, milk and honey. Try: dates, strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. Sometimes I add yoghurt or porridge oats.
2. Avocado Fries - Sunset Magazine
Canola oil for frying
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 1/4 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 firm-ripe medium avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-in. wedges
Grated parmesan for serving (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 200°. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 in. oil until it registers 375° on a deep-fry thermometer.
2. Meanwhile, mix flour with 1/2 tsp. salt in a shallow plate. Put eggs and panko in separate shallow plates.
3. Sprinkle the avocado slices with the remaining ½ tsp salt. Dip each slice in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, then panko to coat. Set on 2 plates in a single layer.
3. Fry a quarter of avocado slices at a time until deep golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer slices to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep warm in oven while cooking remaining avocados. Sprinkle with salt and a little grated parmesan.
3. Spinach Polenta Pizza - NY Times
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for pan
1/2 cup milk, preferably whole
1 cup coarse cornmeal
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) chopped pancetta
1 pound spinach, washed, trimmed and dried
1 to 1 1/2 cups Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled.
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees; brush a layer of olive oil on apizza pan or cookie sheet. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk with 2 1/2 cups water and a large pinch of salt. Bring just about to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and add cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking all the while to prevent lumps from forming. Turn heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 or 15 minutes. If mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water; you want a consistency approaching thick oatmeal.
2. Stir 1 tablespoon oil into cooked cornmeal (polenta). Spoon it onto prepared pan, working quickly so polenta does not stiffen; spread it evenly to a thickness of about 1/2 inch all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and put it in refrigerator until it is firm, an hour or more (you can refrigerate polenta overnight if you prefer).
3. Put polenta in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to brown and crisp on edges. Meanwhile, put two tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and pancetta is nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to take onion and pancetta out of pan; set aside. Add spinach to skillet and sauté until it releases its water and pan becomes dry; sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.
4. Take polenta out of oven, sprinkle with Gorgonzola, then spread onion-pancetta mixture and spinach evenly on top of cheese; drizzle with another tablespoon olive oil. Put pizza back in oven for two minutes, or until cheese begins to melt and pancetta and vegetables are warmed through. Cut into slices and serve hot or at room temperature.
4 and 5. Broccoli and Chickpea Fritters - Ottolenghi
These are all my favourite things in one recipe - Broccoli, Chickpeas and Pomegranate on the salad
1 small Romanesco Broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup of Chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked for 15 minutes
small handful of fresh Parsley, chopped
1 clove of Garlic, minced
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground Cumin
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Tumeric
Salt & Pepper
1 Pomegranate, seeds removed
1 heart of Radicchio, sliced
1 tbsp Honey
1/2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup of Greek Yogurt
1/2 Lime, zest and juice
Start by getting a small pan of water to boiling point. Add the broccoli florets to the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until very soft. When they're cooked add them to a blender to mash. You don't want to puree them so just buzz slowly leaving some small chunks. Add the mashed broccoli to a bowl, then buzz the chickpeas and add them to the bowl. Now add your onion, garlic, fresh parsley and the dried spices. Give it a little mix then crack the eggs in, season well and give it all a proper mix to ensure everything is coated.
Put the bowl to one side, and heat a frying pan with 1 cm of cooking oil. I used rapeseed because it has a high burning point and is cheap and in abundance in Britain, but you can use sunflower or vegetable oil too. Don't bother using olive oil at this point, it will give the fritters a nasty bitter taste. When the oil is hot, take a dessert spoon and spoon the mixture into the oil , if your frying pan is large enough you should be able to do about four at a time. Cook on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Then put them on kitchen towel to absorb the oil.
To make the dip, simple mix the yoghurt with about 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, then add the lime zest and juice and season with salt and pepper. Done!
For the salad, you want to put your pomegranate seeds in a bowl with it's juices, then add the honey, balsamic vinegar and about 1 tablespoon of good olive oil. Give it a quick whisk, then season with salt but skip the pepper. Add the Radicchio leaves and give the whole thing a good toss.
This tastes just amazing with the salad and parsley dip. Enjoy!
We were away for the last 4 days, and after: catching up with friends, clearing my house, a birthday bash, compact shopping trip and a wedding; today I am tired. My best friend messaged me this morning, after I had told her that my daughter managed to get herself onto the top table at the wedding where she enjoyed chocolate cake, and just wanted to stay up all night dancing.
My best friend replied “Have an afternoon nap she has so much energy as she is your child!! We were just saying yesterday don’t know how you have so much energy!!”
Well I have not had a nap as yet. I’m too busy, but I am reflecting on energy. While it may be she gets her energy gene from me there are also other elements.
- Go for what you want no fear. She went for what she wanted and succeeded with no fear. It was quite simple she saw people she liked on the top table, as well as a huge piece of chocolate cake. The actual input involved to get it was not over thought. She did not use up her energy over analysing a process; she just went for it. I see lots of people overthinking instead of going for it, which doubles the energy required. Granted some thought and information is needed on important decisions but often your gut is the ultimate decision maker.
- Do what you love. We all hear that so many times, but she was having so much fun dancing, it did not matter that it was 4 hours past her bedtime. I see lots of people unhappy in their work, it is important to find something that makes you smile. For some in the current recession it is not possible in their work life. However at least explore the possibility in your personal life.
- Play with your friends. She is full of beans today at nursery surrounded by people that she enjoys being with. The people that you work with can give you energy, a buzz and reason to go in every day. It is important to find a good cultural fit at work. This is true in your personal life too.