Movies, heartache & a strawberry smoothie

On a bad day, there is nothing better than cooking something beautiful to be shared with loved ones, dancing at the barre or smothering a mask on your face and drifting off with epsom salts. It’s all so healing. All of us are on a universal search for fulfillment in one way or another. In my heart of hearts I feel living a healthy life brings you a little closer to that phenomenon.

I used to believe in making movies, to me, that was the greatest thing in the world, pouring my heart and soul into films was how I made sense of the universe we live in, a way to discover it. I never thought that my one true love, film, would break my heart, but it did and I’m not sure how I would have dealt with that if my body felt weak and ill from unhealthy lifestyle choices. I don’t know if I will pour my heart and soul into another film, but how would I ever muster the strength for that again if I didn’t want to get out of bed? (Because on somedays, who wants to?) So what does get me out of bed? To explain that I take a green leaf from my friend and nutritionist, Alina Islam.

Strawberry Smoothie

Read the full post and get this delicious strawberry smoothie recipe over on The Quirky Princess.

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Reimagining toast (& my new site!)

I’m sharing my confessions over at The Quirky Princess now. I don’t want you to miss out on what has been happening so will send you a reminder every now and again. All my recipes are now categorised in The Quirky Kitchen. Which means you can find recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and treats much easier. Click here to see what I mean!

In the past I’ve worked as crew, and in production for film, television and news channels, peanut butter and jam on whole wheat toast used to get me through gruelling days. Understanding what I do now about alkaline bodies, looking back, it probably wasn’t the best breakfast, but I did have the right idea. Switching up your grains, butters and jam for fruit could actually turn this into a superfood breakfast that is refined sugar free.

Blueberries & Chia Seeds on Toast

Cashew Butter, Blueberry & Chia Seed

(Serves 1)

Two slices of bread, toasted (kamut, spelt, rye, etc. etc.)
1tbsp cashew butter (or almond)
A handful or two of blueberries
2tsp chia seeds

Spread your toast with the cashew butter.

Arrange the blueberries on top of the toast, you can smash one or two into the butter as well.

Sprinkle each toast with a teaspoon of chia seeds.

For the rest of the post, head over to The Quirky Princess.

Fish À La Lily Aldridge

I loved the Vogue Diary with Lily Aldridge. It really inspired me to be more committed to my own work-out routine, doing all the things I love like ballet, Pilates and dancing, but it also made me want to eat the fish she makes in the video.

http://video.vogue.com/watch/lily-aldridge-train-victorias-secret-fashion-show-how-to-workout-supermodel

Something that really has helped me to stick to my workout goals these last couple of weeks is heeding the advice of my friend and holistic nutritionist Alina Islam, who wrote a hilarious rant on New Year’s resolutions. She suggested writing down our goals and it has really helped me to keep at it. I love to eat, so it goes a little something like this:

Monday: Floor Barre Class followed by a Ballet Class at Ballet Espressivo
Tuesday: Tracy Anderson Cardio and Toning
Wednesdays: Pilates class followed by a yin class at The Yoga Sanctuary
Thursday: Tracy Anderson Cardio and Toning followed by a Modern Dance Class at Ballet Espressivo
Friday: Pilates class at The Yoga Sanctuary followed by Tracy Anderson Cardio

Find the stuff you love doing, that way you’ll want to do it more and write it down.

Anyway here is my rendition of the beautiful meal Lily Aldridge cooks for herself.

Lily Aldridge inspired fish

(Serves 2)

Whole organic rainbow trout, cleaned and with a slit in it
Some orange slices
A few cloves of garlic
Some fresh green herbs
Some orange slices
A little olive oil and Himalayan Pink Salt
Some organic carrots

Turn your oven on and pre-heat to 350F.

Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and place the fish on it. Stuff the middle of the fish with garlic, green herbs and orange slices.

Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some pink salt and lay the lemon slices on top of it.

Arrange the carrots next to the fish and bake for about 25-30 minutes.

Lily Aldridge inspired fish

Quinoa Salad with Asian Dressing

Queen Street Warehouse does an apple, avocado and quinoa bowl, which is really delicious. It has lovely Asian flavours – the dressing is made with soy sauce, honey and lime.

Much to the hubby’s horror, I’m the girl who takes tamari with me to sushi restaurants and we hardly ever have soy sauce now but some days I like to get away with wheaty murder. What can I say? Soy sauce brings out my wicked side.

The kind of food I enjoy cooking and eating most is vegan or vegetarian and gluten free. My soft spot for pizza at the weekend and chocolate cake at celebrations (the joys of multinational family and friends are all the various national holidays and birthdays) is no secret. Until I master the art of clean baking, moist and squishy cake will be my vice.

I feel happiest when sharing recipes that can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their food preferences are. So it only felt natural to whip up my own vegan and gluten free rendition of an Asian quinoa bowl to be enjoyed on more than the odd occasion. I like to eat it with baby greens and some slices of avocado.

This recipe calls for a mixture of regular and black quinoa. I used Alter Eco’s Royal Black Quinoa, as I had some in my pantry, if you can get hold of their goods please do. I really love their stuff (especially their chocolate) and all of it is sustainable. I’m not perfect, but every little helps.

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(Serves 4)

For the salad:

1/2 cup each of regular and black quinoa
4 spring onions, sliced
2tbsp almonds, slivered

For the dressing:

Juice of one lime
2tbsp tamari
1tbsp sesame oil
1” piece of ginger
1tbsp coconut sugar

Cook quinoa according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, in a small chopper, blitz all the ingredients for the dressing together.

Once the quinoa is cooked, toss it together with the spring onions and dressing. Sprinkle the almonds on top before serving.

Blue[berry] Monday

Ignorance is bliss. I didn’t even realise today was the most depressing day of the year but while reading about it online I found an article promoting a good use for the 26th of January 2015. Let’s use today to create awareness about all mental health illnesses.

I energy exchange at my local yoga studio and this week we are running two classes in support of Bell Let’s Talk, a campaign geared to ending the stigma associated with mental health illnesses. I did a certificate in counselling and psychotherapy, so talking about mental wellbeing isn’t something I shy away from but not everyone feels comfortable talking about it. This makes it really hard for people who have mental health illnesses, because what they need more than anything is support and empathy.

So how can you get involved? See if there are any events happening locally and take part in them, so you too can be part of the conversation. Educate yourself, ask questions and listen.

There are times where we feel down, this is beautifully human. Sometimes I need to feel sad, instead of fighting it I embrace it and work through those emotions and emerge feeling much better. If you ever feel like your down days are not just a passing phase, don’t stop yourself from reaching out. It is so important to talk to someone who will be able to give you the support and advice you need.

I’ve found that when I don’t eat well or workout I start to feel terrible, tired and quite out of sorts. While there are many mental illnesses that need more attention than better food choices and exercise, for most of us, leading a healthy lifestyle can do wonders for our mental wellbeing.

I kicked off my day with an uplifting smoothie. This one has all the right things to turn that frown upside down. Blueberries have a purple pigment called anthocyanin, so as well as being a heart-healthy antioxidant, they are wonderful mood enhancers. For good measure, I added flax (as low levels of Omega-3 can throw you off), and magnesium-rich cashew butter and chia seeds, both are also great mood enhancers.

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(Serves 1)

A big handful of blueberries
1tbsp ground flax
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup of nut milk
1tbsp cashew butter
1tsp chia seeds

Blitz the blueberries and flax with the water and pour into your glass.

Clean out the blender, and then blend your milk with the cashew butter and chia seeds.

Create a layer effect by taking a teaspoon and place it on the rim of the glass. Pour the milk slowly into the glass over the teaspoon. See this image.

(Or you can just blend the whole lot together, layering is optional.)

Vegan Aubergine Aioli

One of my fondest memories of aioli is from years ago, with my best friend Rach. I had already moved to Karachi by this point and was working there as an associate producer but always stopped off in London before heading back home to the Isle of Man.

We were in a restaurant and decided to order aioli with veggies to start and Rach, couldn’t get enough of the stuff and started dipping the left over baby greens into it, even though she couldn’t care for them. As she described it back then, “aioli, the dog’s (ahem), the bees knees. Garlic mayo, at it’s finest.”

When making my aubergine (eggplant) pesto, I noticed it had a creamy texture and flavour and wondered what would become of it without the basil, the nuts and so on. Though not a vegan myself, I still love eating vegan and vegetarian cuisine and that is what we mostly cook at home. So this aubergine aioli is my love letter to vegans and anyone else who falls in love with it.

So quick and easy, it’s delicious, we ate it with roasted roots, but it also would work well with sweet potato fries, sandwiches, you could use it as a dip or for whatever else you fancy.

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(Makes one batch)

1 aubergine/eggplant, cut into small chunks
1/2 a red onion, cut into small chunks
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Himalayan pink salt, to season
1/2 teaspoon of mustard (I used dijon)
1/4 cup extra Virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Arrange the aubergine, onion and garlic in a baking tray. Toss with sunflower oil and season with salt. Roast for about 30 minutes.

Once the vegetables are tender, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool.

Once cool, throw them into the blender with the mustard, olive oil and vinegar. Blend until really smooth.

It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for about a week.

Gesundheit

I haven’t been as active on the blog this week, because I am not feeling so great. My throat feels like carpet and I have a head that feels like there are woodpeckers hammering against my third-eye.

When I used to get sick back in the day, I used to eat instant noodles, Farley’s rusks, drink Ribena and take over-the-counter drugs. I’d lose weight, but feel weak and terrible and with my autoimmunity it would take me the longest time to recover.

Since then I’ve learnt other alternatives to nourish myself whilst sneezing away, at some point I will create my own version of Ribena (it can’t be hard, I’m thinking beetroot juice and berries). Given that it is “cold season” I wanted to write a quick note to you sharing some of my fixes, which help me to feel a lot better without reaching for the pills. You can try these out even if you don’t have cold and flu symptoms to boost your immunity and keep sniffles at bay throughout winter.

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Ways I Try To Banish Cold & Flu

  • I start by adding ginger and star anise to my morning cup of hot water and lemon.
  • Shots! I love shots of wheatgrass, with filtered water and a few drops of chlorophyll (1tbsp wheatgrass powder, with a shot glass of filtered water and a tincture of chlorophyll as well as ginger shots. Just blend a a chunk of ginger with the fruit and juice of a lemon, add some cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric and raw honey (or maple syrup) to it!
  • Green juices and green smoothies.
  • I eat poached or boiled eggs, or my avocados on toast and have grapefruit and my other favourite cold busting foods are are Khow Suey, the mushroom soup I posted last week and dhal/dal/daal.
  • I drink lots of herbal teas, especially green tea.
  • Exercise such as gentle Pilates and restorative yoga.
  • Taking hot baths with Epsom salts and soothing bath oils.

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