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.

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.)

Shine for you

The third installment of glowing recipes. In the winter, I often try to get immunity boosts from soups and hydrate myself with all things coconut. I need warm and hearty food to make me feel better because it is cold outside!

Day Three: Mindful eating is easier than dieting or counting calories. Sure, it means avoiding processed food and not overloading yourself with sugar, alcohol and salt but imagine the food you eat giving you vitality. You don’t need to miss out on pizza or brownies, you just need to make a few changes to the ingredients and instead of empty calories it becomes nourishing.

Processed with Rookie

Breakfast – Chia Seed Pudding

When it is cold outside, try heating chia pudding up a little before topping it with berries and nuts. If you are familiar with my blog, you will have seen this recipe recently, but I wanted to show you different ways to kick-start your day with chia seeds, nuts and berries.

(Serves 2)

1 cup of dairy free milk of your choice
3tbsp chia seeds
2tsp coconut palm sugar
1 cup of raspberries
1/4 cup of raw almonds

Mix the chia seeds with half of the milk, 1tsp of sugar and set aside.

Mash the raspberries with a 1tsp of sugar.

Roughly chop up the almonds by hand.

The chia seeds will have absorbed some of the liquid and started to swell, mix well and add the rest of the milk and leave in the fridge to set for about thirty to forty minutes.

Once the chia seeds have set in the milk you can assemble your pudding. Spoon some raspberries into your jar or bowl and then top with some nuts and then the chia seeds. Repeat layers in this manner until you have two even portions.

Mid-Morning: Green Hydrating Smoothie

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Green, milky and super refreshing, this is one to beat those winter blues.

(Serves 2)

300g watermelon chunks, without seeds
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 handfuls spinach
A squeeze of lemon

Blitz all the ingredients in the blender until really smooth.

Lunch: Immunity Boosting Thai Mushroom Soup

Fragrant flavours always make soup a bit more exciting. More importantly the star anise, ginger and mushrooms are delicious but they also have incredible properties that have a number of benefits on the body’s immune system and have been used for centuries in medicine. I would encourage the use of organic mushrooms.

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(Serves 4)

2 cups organic mushroom broth (or vegetable)
1 star anise pod
1 piece cinnamon bark
A few black peppercorns
1tbsp coconut oil
5 green onions, finely sliced (reserved green part)
1tsp grated ginger
1tsp curry powder
1tsp Thai green curry paste
220g of mixed mushrooms
1 can coconut milk
2tbsp coconut sugar
1tbsp tamari
1 lime

Set the broth to heat up on a medium heat covered in small saucepan with star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns.

Meanwhile, in another pan, sauté the spring onions in coconut oil on a medium heat until sizzling. Add the ginger, curry powder, curry paste and mushrooms and fry for a few minutes. Once the mushrooms soften, stir in the coconut milk.

Discard the whole spices from the broth and add to the mushrooms. Add sugar, tamari and squeeze in the lime. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for ten minutes.

Take two cups of the soup, whizz in the blender and pour back into the pan. Stir in the chopped green part of the spring onions and serve.

Snack – Raw Cacao Protein Balls

A warm squishy sweet treat for the afternoon, this is another one of my favourite recipes from the past.

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Makes six

6 Medjool dates, pits removed
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 scoop Vega chocolate protein
1/2 tbsp raw cacao (plus a little more for dusting)

Pulse the ingredients together in your blender.

Tip into a mixing bowl and form together into a dough.

Roll out into bite-sized balls and dust with some raw cacao.

Dinner – Quinoa and Kale Salad

I shared this in December, but it hasn’t lost it’s charm for me post-festive season! I am still enjoying it at least once a week. I have also been using Alter Eco Royal Black Quinoa, although this is an older picture, I love using their product to make this salad.

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(Serves one)

Couple of generous handfuls of kale
1tsp olive oil
Quarter lemon
Quarter avocado, sliced into pieces
10 grape tomatoes, cut in halves
1/2 cup cooked black quinoa
3 spring onions, chopped
1tbsp pumpkin seeds

Your favourite dressing to drizzle, or you can try my favourite one.

Arrange your kale in a salad bowl, spoon the olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice on it and massage into the kale for a few minutes.

Arrange the tomatoes and avocado amongst the kale. Next arrange the black quinoa and top with the spring onions and pumpkin seeds.

Add your dressing, toss through and serve.

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Glow Again

Here is the second day of recipes! A lentil soup for you to try as well as my favourite on-the-go snack mix! If you are still cynical, just try a couple of them, they are yummy enough to be enjoyed just for the heck of it too!

Day Two: Eating in a way that enriches the body, will enrich your mind and soul too. Today, you’ll find more beautifying foods that I love to indulge in like pomegranate and pumpkin seeds, detoxifying foods like pear and broccoli and healing food such as buckwheat and spices.

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Breakfast – Pomegranate Overnight Oats

Another simple, delicious and nutritious recipe that can be put together the night before and heated up in the morning for a lovely breakfast. Pomegranate is the most incredible fruit, I ate so much of this during my wedding. I throw it into salads, on top of hummus or pop handfuls of it whenever in my reach.

(Serves 2)

1 cup gluten free oats
2tsp chia seeds
2 cups of nut milk (I used cashew)
A splash of vanilla essence
A pinch or two of cinnamon
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2tsp coconut sugar (optional)
Some shredded coconut (optional)
Some flaked almonds (optional)

Mix oats, chia seeds, nut milk, vanilla essence, cinnamon and divide equally in two bowls, cover and put in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, warm the oats gently in a sauce pan for a few minutes and top with pomegranate. Transfer to a serving dish, if using also top with the coconut sugar, shredded coconut, almonds and serve.

Midmorning – Pick-Me Up Smoothie

This was one of the first recipes I created for We Heart Living. It’s still one of my favourite smoothies. Nutrient dense, it fills you up and gives you a really healthy kick for the day. Avocados (the beauty fruit) are high in protein and packed with vitamins, pears have pectin in them, which help to remove toxins from the body, spinach helps to boost immunity and coconut water adds incredible hydration to this smoothie. Try to have wheatgrass everyday, the numerous potent benefits of wheatgrass are incredible so it is well worth making it part of your daily diet. Adding orange juice delivers a hit of vitamin C but also cuts through the richness of this green juice with some citric deliciousness.

(Serves 2)

2 big handfuls of baby spinach
500ml coconut water (chilled)
1 small ripe avocado, chopped
1 small ripe pear, chopped
3 heaped tsp Naturya wheatgrass powder
120ml smooth not from concentrate orange juice (optional)

Blend the spinach with coconut water first on high. Add the avocado and pear, pulse to blend. Add the wheatgrass, pulse to blend again. If using, add the orange juice and give it one final blend.

Lunch – Green Lentil Soup

This too was one of my earlier recipes for We Heart Living, but I love going back to it for a chilled out lunch during the week or at the weekend. Here, I have modified it a little from the original recipe.

(Serves 4)

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper & turmeric
1½ cups green lentils washed, soaked and rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 tin of coconut milk

To serve: a squeeze of lemon and freshly ground black pepper

Gently heat the coconut oil in a large pan on a medium to low heat, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of stock and then add garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add another tablespoon of stock and then add all the healing spices and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the lentils and cover in spices. Pour in the remaining stock and add the bay leaf, bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add coconut milk and bring to the boil once again, then cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and use a blender or a hand-held blender to blend mixture, leaving it a little chunky. Serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon and black pepper.

Snack – Super Pick’n’Mix

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I love a snack, especially after ballet or working out, or while watching Masterchef and The Voice. I really enjoy brown rice cakes topped with avocado or hummus, date balls and Nakd Bars but there is nothing quite like a pick’n’mix! You can even try making your own using the ratio below.

(Serves 1)

2tbsp pecans
1tbsp pumpkin seeds
1tbsp cacao nibs
1tbsp goji berries
1tbsp toasted coconut

Toss the lot together and munch away!

Dinner: Buckwheat Noodles with Tamari, Green Chillies & Ginger

I’ve shared this recipe on the blog before, but it’s such a wonderful gluten free vegan option, it would be remiss not to include it on this eating plan. I’ve noticed my lazy Sunday recipes are fabulous during the week because they come together so easily and quickly!

(Serves 2-3)

King Soba Buckwheat Noodles
1tbsp Coconut oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1tbsp grated ginger
2 small green chillies (we love spice so kept the seeds, but you don’t have to)
3 spring onions sliced (including the green part)
2 cups steamed broccoli florets
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1tbsp tamari (you can add a little more if you like)
1/4tsp smoked paprika
1/4tsp cayenne

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions.

Melt the oil in a wok on a medium heat and sauté ginger, garlic and chillies until they start to sizzle. Then add the spring onions, mushrooms and broccoli. Stir-fry while the noodles cook.

Once the noodles are done, drain and rinse in cold water and then throw them into the wok. Add the tamari, paprika and cayenne. Mix everything well and stir-fry for a few more minutes. Serve immediately.

Festive Glow

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For when you should be having a green juice, but would rather have something like this. This yummy spicy gingerbread smoothie, without any added sugar means you can indulge in a decadent treat that keeps giving to your wellbeing and health. So fresh and creamy, it’s one of my favourite nourishing ways to start a December day (after some hot water and lemon) and also to refuel after a ballet class or Pilates. Because it is packed with so many replenishing and healing nutrients, from key ingredients like bananas, dates and ground ginger, this Christmassy smoothie will leave you with a festive glow.

Serves One

1 frozen banana (I slice mine up and throw it into my blending cup and leave in the freezer whilst working out)
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used a mixture of almond and coconut)
1/2 cup chilled water
1 Medjool date, pit removed
1/2tbsp of hazelnut butter
1/4tsp vanilla essence
1/4tsp ground ginger
1/8tsp cinnamon
1/8tsp nutmeg
A pinch of ground clove

Blend everything together until it’s all smooth. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of cinnamon.