This past weekend myself and my friend Jen Ardis from Blue Heron Mindfulness held our third Nutrition & Mindfulness 1 day retreat, locally here in Fermoy. The theme for this one, was Self care and Self compassion. Both pretty important topics if you ask me!
I hadn’t come across the word or the work of Self compassion as pioneered by researcher Kristin Neff, until a meditation teacher told me about her a few years ago. I immediately could see the value of incorporating it into our lives. The subtitle of her book is “the proven power of being kind to ourselves”. Such is the importance of this practice.
There is so much talk these days about both self esteem, as well as self love. However, neither of those virtues are easy to develop nor will they necessarily be there for us when we need to be there for ourselves.
The definition of self compassion is: ” To treat ourselves with kindness, like we would a dear friend”. So even if we are struggling with loving ourselves, we can always be kind to ourselves. Though this may sound counter intuitive, there are actually no research that being hard on ourselves works when we want to bring about change. So next time you catch yourself being overly critical, try to turn on the kindness tap instead. You may just be pleasantly surprised!
But it wasn’t the importance of self compassion that I wanted to write about for this blog post.
For each of these retreats we have also incorporated food, eating and recipes. This is the nutrition part(!) This time we wanted to go with something seasonal. The weather is still lending itself to soup and it so happened that Jen had some lovely wild garlic growing in her garden. And since I’d love to include a few more foraging type recipes here on the blog this year, we decided to go for a wild garlic soup this time. It seemed fittingly with the theme of the day as well as being seasonal, and a little bit different!
I didn’t want you to miss out on this delicious seasonal and cleansing soup, so here is the recipe!
Wild Garlic Soup
250g wild garlic – foraged & roughly chopped
300g potatoes (about 2 average size), peeled & cubed
1 yellow onion, peeled & finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1.5 liter of stock or water + 1 stock cube
Sea salt & Black Pepper, to season
Heat a large saucepan. Add a tbsp. of olive oil, then add onion and celery and sauté until the onion is soft and transparent. Add the cubed potatoes and then add the stock.
Bring to the boil and then reduce to a lively simmer. Cook for about 30 min, until the potatoes are soft. Add in the chopped wild garlic and let it wilt down. Blend the soup until it is smooth.
Re heat if necessary. Taste and season according to taste. Serve!
Wild garlic is also called Ramson or Ramps. They grow wild in large clusters in wet woodlands. To make sure that you have the right leaves, give them a gentle squeeze to make sure they smell of light garlic. They also have small white flowers that can smell quiet strongly. The flowers are also edible. It has some anti viral and cleansing properties so perfect to help us transition from winter to spring and hopefully to the warm days of summer soon.
I’m hoping to add some more of these types of recipes this year. Nettles next…?!
After what feels like almost two weeks at full speed, I decided, no actually my body told me loud and clear, that it is about time to take a day which include some selfcare. To me that includes, spending time outside, preferably some walking in the forest as well as filling my body up on some colourful foods.
And since we are enjoying some Spring-like weather for the past few days, with apparently more to come, smoothies are back on the menu again.
Other parts of my selfcare practice intention for this week includes getting serious about my sleep. To get to bed in plenty of time to ensure that I can get 8h and maybe, just maybe, I’ll try taking my mobile phone out of my bedroom too…
Do you prioritise your own sleep? And if so, what does your routine look like?
It took me some time to warm to the idea of adding raw beetroot to a smoothie, but once I had tried it with some berries, there was no way of going back!
Beetroot is such a powerful veg, with phytonutrients that support our liver and blood. As well as that, as a root veg it is also full of fiber to help keep the blood sugar stable, give the stomach a sense of fullness and the bowel moving.
In this recipe I use banana as a sweetener but to be honest, mostly for texture as without it I found that you end up with a more “gritty” texture, that is not to everyone’s palate. I also tend to use raw ones, but since the consistency tends to change when they are cooked, it would be interesting experiencing using a cooked one instead. If you do, let me know! And probably best to cook a few and then use a spare one for your morning smoothie, as they take an age to cook…!
The leaves I used here are a variety that I grew last year called “Bulls Eye”. They kind of look like beetroot tops. If you can’t get hold of some, use a few leaves of spinach, rainbow chard or if you can get organic beetroots that still have their leaves attached you can use a few of them.
The talk of home grown veg together with the current warmth from the sun makes me look forward to the weekend already when my plan is to clear my raised beds to get them prepared for planting in a few weeks time. Must order some seeds too!
Ruby Red Beetroot Smoothie
1 small beetroot, peeled & chopped
1 small banana
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 cup of raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup of strawberries, fresh or frozen
A handful of red or green leaves (if your leaves are green don’t over do it or you’ll end up with a brown smoothie)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp of hulled hemp seeds – optional
1 tbsp of pea protein
250ml of plant milk of choice – other nice options are cold hibiscus tea or cold raspberry leaf tea
Place all ingredients in your blender. Blend until smooth, Drink and enjoy!
I actually made a little video for this recipe too.
Expect to see some more of these types of videos happening this year, since I’ve just bought an extension arm for my tripod!
This hot drink is surprisingly easy to make, so don’t be put off just by looking at the (long) ingredients list! Admittedly that used to be one of the things that was a deciding factor for me in the past when trying out new recipes, but slowly but surely I’ve extended my both my skills and my spice selection, through evoking some curiosity and a desire to keep pushing outside my comfort zone.
Like all things worth pursuing, it’s often outside that (in)famous comfort zone where some of the magic happens.
As the seasons change, it thought it was time to have something warming and nourishing back on the menu and I feel myself back craving for more warm comforting meals and warming foods which means more spices.
This week, we are more than half ways through Whole Detox, and we’ve traveled through from rooty red to the gorgeous gracious greens of love. For the final week we are moving into TRUTH, INSIGHT and SPIRIT, which is usually great fun, albeit uncomfortable at times when it comes to unraveling and walking on our path of self-discovery.
The other thing apart, from all the delicious focus on eating lots of colourful foods, is the nourishing community. The support, care and camaraderie, found in a small space online is just great. I think we sometimes forget how important it is for our wellbeing to surround ourselves with likeminded people. And as well as that, when we are working though difficult things such as negative thought patterns and emotions, both sharing our stories with others in a safe space and to be witness to other people’s stories is so healing.
I feel like when we read and listen to others’ stories that we realise that we are in fact not alone in our human struggles. Somewhere out there is someone else who has been through something similar and we can take comfort in this, knowing that what we are feeling is normal.
For me hearing about other people journeys through difficult times have given me both hope and courage to carry on believing in possibilities of change, when I’ve been in a head space that’s made it difficult to imagine so for myself. And the resilience of the human spirit never seem to amaze me either.
But let’s return to the recipe! This one actually came about as an inspiration from one of the recipes in Whole Detox called “Spice Shake”. Then I spotted that one of the other participants had made a warm version, simply by heating up the ingredients! Which totally appeals to m at the moment, satisfying all my cravings for warm nourishing comfort foods.
I’ve seen some variations of this type of drink around the internet over the past year or so, and I actually tried one, I think it was last year, but I was so put off by the overpowering combination of coconut and turmeric (which felt to me like I was drinking a curry!) so I abandoned the idea of having a go at it again. Normally this is the warming turmeric drink that I go for.
But I think this one might be repeated! I have made a couple of tweaks to the original recipe that inspired me. One is to use cashew milk instead of almonds or other nuts. Cashew nuts are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. And they are really versatile as they are starchy but without insoluble fibre, which means they make the nicest and thickest nutmilk you can imagine and you don’t have to strain it either! However, you do need to plan ahead a little bit and get your nuts soaking the day before. Or at a push, for a few hours. It is worth it though and not actually much of an effort at all.
Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk
Serves 2 ( you will get more spice mix to use for future cups)
For the Cashew Milk
1/2 cup cashew nuts, raw
For the Spice Blend
2 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp mixed spice or pumpkin spice blend (usually a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger & allspice)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
For the final cup
1-2 star anise
1 tsp coconut oil, raw & organic – optional
1/2 – 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
To make the cashew nut milk;Soak the nuts in enough water to cover, overnight. In the morning rinse and then blend with fresh water. Store in a glass bottle or jar until ready to use.
To make the spice mix: Add all ingredient into a small glass jar. Mix until well combined.
To make the warm & spicy cashew milk drink;Add the cashew milk into a saucepan. I usually use the cup that I’m intending to serve out of as my measurement. Add 1/2 tablespoon of spice blend per person to the milk plus one – two star anise. Gently health the milk whilst stirring with a whisk. Once the milk is warmed through, add the coconut oil, if using as well as the honey or maple syrup. Give it all another whisk so that the oil and sweeteners are dispersed throughout.
You will love this recipe I promise! It has been years since I came across this recipe on the internet and though there are lots of different seed crackers recipes on the internet these days, this one is a guaranteed winner.
Every single talk / food tasting session / cooking demo that I have done, since finding this recipe all those years ago, I’ve brought these little crackers with me, and they are ALWAYS a winner. The best thing is that they are so easy to make and though you may think that some ingredients sound a little exotic, rest assured that any healthfood store will carry them.
After the latest talk I did locally, I said to the participants that I’d actually post a video on how to make them. So I did, and here it is. Not that it is complicated, but I really wanted to show you the technique to use when spreading the dough out on the baking tray. Because it is kind of a vital step, and if you try using a rolling pin directly on top of the dough, it is a surefire way to invite disaster…!
One thing to note with this recipe is that it is notgluten free,since it is using spelt flour. I have messed around with various trials of using other flours in its place and keeping the maize flour. Feel free to do the same if you want to try. I mostly liked using chickpeas (beasan) flour. Do note too that if you change out the spelt flour you will need to reduce the amount of olive oil and adjust the amount of hot water also. Too much and you’ll end up with a kind of porridge, and if not enough liquid you’ll have something that’s too dry and impossible to spread out. Though, my suggestion is that you start off on the drier side and then keep adding more liquid until you get the right consistency.
But there is really no need to change it up (if having spelt is fine by your body) they really are super yum! I have countless taste testers to attest to that.
Simple Seed Crackers
Makes enough for lots of snacking…
3/4 cup wholemeal spelt flour
3/4 cup milled corn flour
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cupl whole flaxseeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
A pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp peri peri spice mix – optional but delicicious ( or try a mix of thyme / rosemary / oregano)
Mix all dry ingredients in a big bowl. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add the boiling water to the mix and stir well so all ingredients are well mixed together and wet. Let the “dough” sit for a few minutes to allow it to cool down a little and to swell.
Line two baking trays with greasproof paper. The dough will give you enough for about one large tray and one small tray. Put about ½ – 2/3 of the mix on to the tray. Put another sheet of paper on top of dough. With your hands or with a rolling pin, flatten the mix out to a thin layer, evenly over the tray. If it floats out over the edges, cut away and use on your second tray. The layer should be even in thickness and fairly thin, for best result.
Remove top paper and sprinkle some sea salt over the top.
Bake in the oven at 150°C for one hour. Slightly less in a fan oven. The bread should be golden when done. Let it cool in the oven with the oven door slightly ajar.
Break into pieces and enjoy!
Oh and if you enjoy the video and find it useful, please let me know and there can me more of them coming your way!
Here is the recipe video for the Simple Seed Crackers!
Smoothies never gets old, do they? I know I’ve already shared a good few inventions here and here’s another one! Plus there’s more recipe ideas in the pipeline. I also recently bought Green Kitchen Stories’ latest recipe book, on yes you guessed it – Smoothies!
It is a beautiful book with lots of great tips and ideas for creating the tastiest and satisfying combinations you can imagine. I picked it up because it was on special offer and one can simply never have to many cookbooks for inspiration. Plus David Frenkiel’s food photography is just so stunning. I never tire of just looking at all the beautiful images on their blog or in their books. It was actually when I bought their app about four years ago that I got really inspired to take my then website and redesign it so that I could get more into food blogging. And here we are some 3 years later, having seen that idea into fruition.
I tend to eat with my eyes a lot of the time, hence why having plenty of colour on my plate is both aesthetically important as well as pleasing to me. But colourful plant foods are also full of important phyto-nutrients, (plant compounds) that are vital for our optimal health. Some of them we do know what they do and how they work in the body, yet others are there still to be discovered.
Sometimes the discussion of which “diet” is the best one gets tiring, though when it really comes down to it nobody can argue with the fact that eating a large quantity of fruit and vegetables daily is vital for our overall health and wellbeing.
It’s not only the physiological benefits, in this recent review study where they looked at sampled food diaries over three years, from over 12 000 Australians the researches concluded that;
“Increased fruit and vegetable consumption was predictive of increased happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being. Citizens could be shown evidence that “happiness” gains from healthy eating can occur quickly and many years before enhanced physical health.”
So regardless what “dietary style” camp or community one belongs to, it is pretty clear that vegetables and plants should form the baselineof ones diet, if health and even happiness is where you want to be!
Before we get to the recipe I would like to give you a couple of my smoothie making strategies that I’ve picked up over the years. At this point, I’ve made countless combinations and tried things that worked and things that didn’t so to short cut you on your own exploratory journey here’s some insights!
Try adding some kind of healthy fats + protein source to make sure that you have a smoothie that will keep you fueled for awhile. My personal favourites are avocado or full fat coconut milk + pea / rice / hemp protein
Don’t blend green and red fruit and vegetables together, unless you don’t mind eating brown looking sludge… of course. Keeping it within the same colour theme makes a much more appealing looking concoction. Though of course there’s nothing to say that your brown slurry mix will taste better than it looks, however if you plan on Instagramming it, I would certainly keep the colour on point!
Use a variety of liquids as blending options. Most “old” and traditional smoothie recipes are a blend of natural yoghurt and fruit, but for everybody who’s limiting dairy intake, or anyone else who wants to increase their variety in general, there’s actually a whole host of different liquids that you can use! My standard one is usually (shop bought) almond milk or diluted coconut milk. But I’ve also experimented with cold herbal teas (raspberry leaf and hibiscus in particular) or coconut water and they all make a really smoothie. Since finally investing in a nutmilk bag, I’ve been making a lots of different types of “milks”. From almond, to sesame to flax seed milk. It’s so easy! I tend to make two portions with my Nutribullet at the time.
So why calling this a Rainbow Smoothie then? Well because it has all the colours of the rainbow of course!
1/2 cantaloupe melon, cut into chunks
3 fresh mint leaves
1 small banana
1/2 small avocado
1/4 tsp spirulina powder – optional
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
a handful of fresh green leaves like kale or spinach, washed
1 tbsp plant protein of choice
200 ml coconut water
blueberries, raspberries & bee pollen for toppings
Place all the ingredients, except for the toppings in your blender and blend until smooth. Serve your smoothie in a glass or a bowl and add the blueberries, raspberries and bee pollen for sensual delights!
In keeping with the yellow theme from last month’s blog post on the FIRE Aspect, I give you another yellow combination. And yes, it’s still a liquid one(!) *Note to self, make the next recipe something that you’ll chew*
But as I’m getting myself geared up for Whole Detox™ in about 10 days I’m enjoying a few smoothies here and there. Though I’m not really one for cold food in cold weather, (and boy is the warm winter we had turning cold and struggling to move out of the way) it can be hard to look past the convenience of smoothies when it comes to simple ways to increase the amount of fresh produce you eat. Eating enough can be such a challenge at times, and who would have thought, since the message that’s mostly thrown around it the one “eat less, move more”.
I’ve even had people on some of my programmes freaking out because of the volume of food on their plate. The beauty is though that when we increase the amount of colourful plant based foods we eat, we get to eat MORE, not less.
I remember doing this simple math’s exercise with a group I had on a weightloss programme a few years ago. Though, as you know I’m not a huge fan of counting calories but for this simple visual experiment they do serve a purpose.
So visualise this; One 500 ml bottle of soft drink (minerals / soda / fizzy drink – pick your name) contains roughly 500 kcal. Without having a label in front of me it will give you a fair amount of sugar, probably 10-14 teaspoons (remember this is a completely man-made product so any carbohydrate content will be pure sugar and count as your “added sugar intake”). There will also be some colourings and additives, more or less depending on the type and brand you choose.
Now let’s take those same 500 kcal and see how that translate into vegetables. So (from memory) 500 kcal worth of vegetable is about two full shopping bags worth! Lots of vital nutrients, fibre and volume. I would honestly think you’d struggle to chomp it all down in the course of a day.
That’s why the very handy, yet simple strategy of filling half your plate with vegetables is such a powerful way to reduce the total amount of calories yet maximise the amount of quality nutrition you get. There’s a lot to be said for keeping it simple.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 7-10 servings of fruit and vegetable a day for any diet to be disease preventable. 5-a-day is actually a minimum. And I see people who are only getting 2-3 at times.
How many portions are you eating daily?
I even know for myself when we did food diaries as project back in college, that upping it to 7-10 actually takes a conscious effort. Perhaps that’s one reason I’m so drawn to smoothies?
Anyway, another thing that I realised the other day is this; What if we look at the food we eat in a symbolic way?The majority of us want to have more energy so we can do more (and even BE more) and if we have a constant feeling of lack luster and even low mood holds this may hold us back from doing all that we want. It’s seriously frustrating. I can still remember what it felt like some years ago when my energy levels where down on 3-4, out of 10. A lot of the time I just functioned and got through the day, doing what had to be done. I was constantly tired.
So what if we focus on eating more foods that are vibrant and alive? What about adding more colour to the plate? My whole food philosophy is about feasting your eyes as much as feeding your body. In case you hadn’t noticed…
So without a degree in nutrition and if you want to keep it simple, yet knowing that you are getting lots of essential nutrients to fuel your body and mind, think colour! Think rainbow and aim to eat a rainbow of colours every day.
So with colour in mind, here is a yellow zingy smoothie that is sure to put some zest and brightness into your day.
If you are feeling brave and have a strong blender, like a Nutribullet, then go ahead and blend the whole lemon! It sure makes for some serious digestive power! Otherwise just use the juice.
And since the sun is still shining with it’s absence I am trying to brighten my days in other ways. This is one such way. Enjoy 🙂
Zingy Smoothie for Grey Spring Days
1 cup fresh pineapple – peeled, cored and diced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
Juice of one whole lemon – or peel (if you have an organic one you can blend the whole one) and use the whole fruit!
1 small fresh root of turmeric or 1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tbsp of hulled hempseeds
1 tbsp of pea, rice or hemp protein (I like the Pulsin brand)
200-250ml plant milk of choice
Place all the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.
***Note, personally I don’t like really cold drinks (unless the weather is really hot) but if you want a colder drink feel free to add some ice too***
Here I share colourful nourishing recipes that are easy to make.
I also write about food, eating and body image from various angles as well as more broadly how we can live our lives more wholeheartedly!
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