VIDEO: THIS IS WATER

Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.” –  Jon Kabat-Zinn

This commencement speech from author David Foster-Wallace is a wonderful reminder to stop, breathe and get perspective. It is so important to practice stepping outside of your own stories, your own self-centred world and to be aware of the bigger picture – to notice the people around you, to act with compassion and without judgement and to realise we are all in this together.

I had a personal reminder of this recently when I was out at a show. I had been looking forward to it for weeks, but I became particularly annoyed when a woman sitting in front of me kept wriggling around in her seat all throughout the first half. Thankfully, through my work with a variety of clients and from my mindfulness practise I was able to watch myself getting irritated and reframe my thoughts and experience.

As difficult as it was I chose not to get wrapped up in my own petty and selfish thoughts, I instead focused on how grateful I was to be there, and how nice it was to be around so many people having a good time. Perhaps, I thought, this woman is moving around for a good reason. As it turned out, when the lights came up for the intermission the woman turned around and said “I really hope I’m not annoying you, I have a muscular disease where I can’t sit still and have to constantly move. I can swap places with my friend if it’s upsetting you, I’m so, so sorry”. In that moment I thanked my practise, and did my best to help reassure the woman that everything was fine and I hoped she continued to enjoy the show.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl

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BONE BROTH: A REMINDER TO CONSUME!

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I wrote about the benefits of consuming bone broth here two years ago now. Fortunately since that post, bone broth has received much warranted attention through recipes and information shared by the likes of the Hemsley + Hemsley sisters and nutritional therapist Ameila Freer.

Bone broth continues to be my number one go-to immune booster and healing potion. I recommend all adults and children comfortable with eating animal products get sipping!

Why?

Because bone broth is one of the most nutrient dense soups available on the planet. Made from boiling animal bones, broth is supremely rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, sodium and potassium, proteinaceous gelatine, cartilage, collagen, hyaluronic acid and chondrition sulphate.

By drinking bone broth you are helping to heal and seal your gut – your gut being the place where you house the majority of your immune system. With a strong immune system we are less likely to get ill, have allergic reactions, digestive complains, joint pain, muscle fatigue, learning difficulties, anxiety, depression and other mental health-related issues.

How do you make it?

I have written recipes here or you can watch the wonderful Amelia Freer making chicken broth here

Can you buy it?

  • My number one go-to if I don’t have any fresh stock brewed is Great Lakes grass-fed beef gelatine powder – it is tasteless so if you want you can just add it to water and glug it down, or else it is a useful thickener in soups and smoothies. You can even make healthy marshmallows with it!
  • Some good quality restaurants, organic butcheries and health stores sell bone broth. Just be sure to check their ingredients are free from gluten, added preservatives and sugars.
  • Here in London Laverstock Farm lamb stock from Ocado is great
  • New Yorkers can buy a cup of hot broth to takeaway from Brodo in the East Village

Want to learn more?

Check out Sally Fallon Morell’s latest book: Nourishing Broth: An Old Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World.

COURGETTE & ROSEMARY LOAF (grain & gluten free, paleo)

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It has been almost five years since I’ve had a delicious piece of toast! It’s not easy to come across a good loaf of grain-free bread, but when toasted, this one is the best I’ve tasted so far.

Packed full of healthy fats, digestible fibre and plenty of protein this loaf is best enjoyed sliced, toasted under the grill, and slathered with butter, coconut oil or cheese. Total comfort food!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups grated courgette
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds OR 4 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBSP dried rosemary
  • pinch of salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 180 C

Line a loaf tin (roughly 20cm long) with non-toxic baking paper

Directions

Blend/whisk all wet ingredients together

In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients then add the grated courgette

Fold the wet mix into the dry mix and combine everything until it’s like a wet gooey dough

Spoon into the baking tin

Bake for around 45-55 minutes

Wait for the loaf to cool before taking out of the tin, then allow to cool completely before cutting a slice (if you can wait!)

 

THE GYROTONIC METHOD

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This is a piece I wrote for Nourished Journal Edition 2 December 2014 (Made Publishers)

What is the Gyrotonic expansion system?

The Gyrotonic expansion system is an exercise system whose movement principles are similar to yoga, dance, swimming and t’ai chi, but whose main inspiration comes from nature and living things. As such, the repertoire includes every range of movement you can imagine. Your body curves, arches, twists, spirals, undulates, circles, stretches, contracts, relaxes and is fluidly and rhythmically guided by the ever present breath. It feels incredible.

The Gyrotonic expansion system is made up of the Gyrokinesis method, where exercises are performed on a mat and chair only, and the Gyrotonic method where the exercises are performed on custom designed Gyrotonic equipment. Both methods were developed by Juliu Horvath, an ethnic Hungarian whose professional dance career left him with a series of debilitating injuries that he later healed through his movement practise. Thankfully he has gifted his knowledge with the world, helping people of all ages and abilities to fulfill their potential through using their bodies as nature intended.

The philosophy

For Juliu, life is movement – the more movement the more life is expressed, this belief is something I fiercely support. No matter what your situation you want to always breathe life into every cell of your body by tapping into whatever natural movement patterns you can express. Never push through pain or blocks but instead find space and move gently through. Having its roots steeped in nature means the Gyrotonic expansion system can easily access life-giving and healing movement potential. Exercises, for example, mimic how cats’ spines move as they stretch, how tigers run, how seaweed sways, how snakes ripple across the ground, and so on. Gyrotonic takes us away from controlled linear exercise modalities, that are often motivated by fear and control, and into a more holistic space whereby the body, mind and spirit are all aligned and given respect and nourishment.

My experience

As someone who does various forms of movement practice, I can highly recommend gyrotonic and gyrokinesis classes. The repertoire appeals to all manner of intrinsic and forgotten movement patterns, and the smooth gliding machines help facilitate this even more so. I leave a class feeling emotionally, mentally and physically cleansed and strengthened. A body that performs the Gyrotonic expansion system regularly is strong, flexible, agile, aware, able to react with speed and able to deeply relax.

What to expect from a Gyrotonic or Gyrokinesis class

Expect to move with fluidity, with focus on your breath whilst sitting / standing / lying on your front, back and side. You will explore how the spine moves by being guided to arch and curl, or ripple with a wave-like motion. You will feel how the arms and legs connect into this rhythm and how to move and coordinate your body as a whole.

The Gyrotonic expansion system is a complete system of exercising: it builds stamina, flexibility, strength, articulates all joints, gets your heart rate up and improves energy and fluid flow through the body. I promise you will love it.

MINDFUL EATING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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Not only are the holidays a lovely time to celebrate and have a change of scenery, they also provide the opportunity to have a shift in gear. As I outlined in my previous post, this is a time of year when emotions run high, so it really is worth taking a moment to decide how you’d like things to unfold. Make sure you look after and nourish your body, as well as your mind along the way.

Looking after yourself does not mean you have to behave like a saint – what it means is avoiding any opportunities to beat yourself up, to feel guilty, anxious, unwell or regretful. Because so many people punish themselves by either over-indulging, or over-restricting during this period, I’ve dedicated this post to helping choose the best way to eat and drink for you.

SIX TIPS

1. Get clear about how and what you want to eat and drink, and if you want to consume alcohol or not. If you adhere to a specific diet for health reasons decide if you want to stick to it, or if you’re happy to deviate. Be honest and make these decisions from a place of love and compassion, rather than fear and control.

2. Commit to your intentions. Once you’re clear about what you want to consume, then commit to that decision. Associate good feelings with your decision and remind yourself of these regularly. If you decide to stick to your dietary needs then the next two points are key:

3. Research and take time to find out what’s on the menu, be it at someone’s house or at a restaurant.

4. Communicate your dietary requirements before the event – I spent years needlessly suffering for fear of upsetting people and being polite. If people make you feel uncomfortable about your needs that is definitely their problem. Do not make your decisions based on what will make other people happy, this will never turn out well – lies, pain, resentment and irritability will likely ensue. You owe it to yourself and to your host to communicate clearly what exactly it is you need so as to not upset any plans on the day.

My food choice suggestions:

  • Fill up on the vegetables and proteins. If you’re a meat eater choose meat close to the bone. Skip the gravy unless it’s gluten-free. If you’re wanting a sweet treat for dessert then choose fresh fruit, dark chocolate or cheese. If you opt to skip dessert then you can go straight to the coffee or green tea to help aid digestion and curb the sugar cravings
  • My beverage suggestions: drink a decent amount of still water with a squeeze of lemon before and after your meal. If you’re not drinking alcohol then honour your decision and stick to it! (any peer pressure to drink comes from insecurity and selfishness). Sparkling water, green tea or freshly brewed black coffee can be good options for a booze free buzz.

5. Avoid the post-booze blues by following my tips on this blog. The main points:

  • Never drink to forget, to hurt, to manipulate, to cope. It’s a better idea to take a sip after you’ve tuned in and found something to smile about and celebrate
  • Choose gluten and sugar-free drink options
  • Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink
  • Eat nutrient dense food before and after

6. Supplement to support your digestive, immune and detoxification systems. Here are my recommendations

Bonus tip: MOVE!

One of the best things we can do for our bodies is to MOVE. When we move we stimulate and pump the fluids around our body that manage, feed and clean our organs, muscles, skin, nerves, hormones and bones. However you are feeling, go for a walk, do a few stretches, put on your favourite music and dance! Choose whatever you most enjoy – sometimes that’s all you need to do to perk up.

To help you along your way here are 5 exercises to help beat the bloat!

And for a daily and weekly movement guide read more here.

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I hope these tips hold you in good stead over the holiday period. Please take note and put your needs first! Happy holidays! 🙂

 

Photo credit Matthew Valdr

DE-STRESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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A year or two ago I came across the quote “STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY”, and it has been my ego deflating go-to mantra ever since. The ego, or the controlling part of us, loves the drama of being busy. Even though it feels stressful and upsetting, being busy makes us feel like we have a purpose, but more to the point, it blocks us from having to address the deeper stuff we don’t want to see, or aren’t ready to deal with.

The holidays are the perfect time to welcome busy-ness as it can be such an emotionally charged time of year. Not only is it a time that you often meet up with people you wouldn’t normally choose to see, but it is a time that also offers a lot of reflection: Who is no longer with us? How will the changes of the past year play out? How does this year compare to last? Am I happy with where I am? Do I need to change? How will cope with seeing that person? How will I cope with my family difficulties? What can I say to make them feel better?

Amongst this constant brain chatter, the busy social calendars and the all too enticing opportunities to numb (drinking, meals out, loud conversations, manic shopping, constant company) you must give yourself some mental, emotional and physical SPACE.

One minute is all you need.

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DEDICATE ONE MINUTE TO CALM, RELAX AND RESET 

1. Find a quiet, calm space where you won’t be interrupted

2. Lie, sit or stand still

3. Breathe in and out through your nose, and scan from head to toe telling each part of your body to relax and let go.

Relax your forehead. Soften your eyes. Release your jaw. Relax your throat.  Let go of your shoulders. Let your ribs melt. Calm your spine. Let your belly soften. Relax your butt. Release your hips. Empty your legs. Feel the weight of your feet. 

4. Now take a deep breath in and imagine filling every part of you as if you were blowing up a balloon version of yourself – your breath fills your head, neck, front ribs, back ribs, arms, fingers, lower back, belly, hips, legs, feet and toes.

5. On your exhale let your breath out like a big sigh. Feel the weight of your bones, the relief in your tissues. Feel calmness wash over you.

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I hope this one minute body scan supported by your breath helps you realise that it’s not necessary to hold it all together by gripping and tensing your body. Quite the opposite is true – when you give yourself space everything becomes easier.

It also becomes easier to accept that everything is as it should be. The bigger picture is far greater than we can ever imagine.

“Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein

SWEET POTATO & COCONUT PORRIDGE (gluten, grain, sugar & dairy free, paleo, vegan)

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For those of you struggling for breakfast (or pudding!) ideas due to a restricted diet, or for those of you wanting to get some nourishing anti-inflammatory meals into you or your children’s diet, give this a try. With a  healthy mix of naturally occurring fats, sugars, carbs and protein, this meal is satiating, energy-boosting, comforting and incredibly tasty!

Ingredients

  • 1 pre-baked and peeled sweet potato (bake at 180 for 40 mins keeping the skin on)
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk OR rice milk
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbsp almond butter OR coconut cream OR butter
  • pinch of salt

Directions

Place all the ingredients into a pot and mix together well (if you prefer a creamy texture then use an electric blender before transferring the mixture into the pot for heating)

Cook over a low heat until thick and bubbly (add more milk if you prefer it a bit thinner).

Serve, pour a little extra milk over the top and enjoy 🙂

Variations

Top with a sprinkling of cinnamon / nutmeg / ginger / mixed spice

ORIGINS: OUR ROOTS, OUR PLANET, OUR FUTURE

“Four years, 19 countries, and 24 experts in anthropology, medicine, ecology, and health have exposed the roots of our DNA and how to prevent the modern world from making you sick.” – well.org

This film is informative, thought provoking and well-substantiated. It addresses many of the issues I have written on and am passionate about. I highly recommend you view it while it’s still free to watch.

‘Origins’ addresses the importance of getting back to nature with how we eat, move and exist. It looks into how many unneccessary modern illnesses suffered by humans of all ages are triggered and the multiple different ways they are made worse. These include over-prescribed medical drugs, our disconnect and disrespect of nature, over-sanitised modern living, the glorification of “busy”, and our inability to slow down and tune in to ourselves.

Enjoy “rare access to 38 of the world’s most respected authorities – from Harvard-Trained physicians to natural beauty experts to heads of sustainability councils to board-certified nutritionists and others.” – Origins Deep Dive

 

 

APPLE & GINGER MUFFINS (paleo, gluten, grain & sugar free)

IMG_9793This recipe might be a little tart for those of you with a sweet tooth, but please give it a try. I think the sweetness from the apples is more than enough, and if you work on cutting down your sugar intake, I promise you will too with time!

I understand sugar addiction intimately after eating copious amounts of it throughout my life. In recent years I have learnt how to reduce it, and now don’t miss it at all, especially given the number of delicious and healthy recipes out there. I also feel much better mentally, physically and emotionally without it.

I believe everyone should be very careful when it comes to sugar consumption. Parents are in a powerful position to help break the “sugar = treat” cycle. Children are a blank canvas, they don’t associate sugar with happiness like us, unless we train them to. To understand more on sugar, take a read at my previous blog on it here.

My favourite way to serve these muffins is straight out of the oven, cut in half with a good dollop of butter.

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Ingredients (makes around 8 small muffins)

  • 2 organic/spray-free apples grated
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 4 TBSP coconut oil OR butter OR ghee
  • 2 TBSP almond butter (or just add more coconut oil)
  • 2 TBSP of fresh grated ginger OR 1 TBSP ground ginger
  • 4 TBSP cup of desiccated coconut
  • 4 TBSP of coconut flour OR double the amount of almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of apple cider vinegar (optional, just helps the texture)

 

Directions

Set the oven to 160 deg C

Whisk the wet ingredients together

Fold in the dry ingredientsm being careful not to over-mix

Spoon the mixture into muffin cups

Bake for 15-20 minutes (until they spring back on touch)

Enjoy!