New Years Resolutions – Yoga with Tara Stiles

I’m not usually one for setting New Year’s resolutions but 2015 is going to be different. This year I’m going to set resolutions, goals, monthly targets, in the hope that it will stop me procrastinating. I’m one of the world’s biggest procrastinators and I’m not proud of it. It’s time to change.

I still haven’t finished setting my resolutions. I haven’t even started planning out my goals and targets. And yes, I’m very aware that we’re almost at the end of January. But hey, I’m a procrastinator and old habits die hard.

I did set one resolution on 1st January though (and I’ve managed to keep it so far!) and that’s to do some regular yoga practice. For years, I’ve been one of those people that reads yoga magazines… but never actually does any yoga.

Make Your Own Rules Diet Tara Stiles

At Christmas, my friend Nicky gave me a copy of Tara Stiles ‘Make Your Own Rules Diet’. It’s an oddly titled book (especially as it’s not about dieting!) but that aside, I found it a thoroughly great read. The book covers three key elements that Tara believes are important for well being – yoga, meditation and food (all vegan recipes, yay!)

Make Your Own Rules Diet Tara Stiles

Of the three sections, my friend thought the yoga would be the least appealing to me but, surprisingly, it’s the one that’s left the biggest impression. I’ve been to a few yoga classes in the past but I’m so inflexible that I really struggled in them. However, Tara has such a gentle, encouraging approach that I wondered if it was time to give yoga another try. She says ‘If you can breathe, you can do yoga’. Really? Is that all you need to be able to do? Just breathe? Well, I thought, I can do that.

Make Your Own Rules Diet Tara Stiles

On Christmas morning, my hubbie and I decided to try one of Tara Stiles yoga sessions. We searched YouTube and spotted Flexibility and Range of Motion Beginner Yoga, which sounded perfect for us. In a flash, this stunning, strong, super bendy Tara appeared on our TV, flowing gracefully from one position to another… And then there was us two. I thought I was inflexible. M was miles worse. He could barely bend over. ‘How did this happen?’ he called out in horror.

I decided I must have super short arms… either that or Tara has abnormally long arms because how on earth does she reach her feet like that? Laying on the floor, she encourages us to lift one leg and hold onto whichever part of the leg feels comfortable. I can’t even get my legs perpendicular. I can barely grab onto my thigh let alone my foot. M can get his leg about 2 inches off the floor. We try desperately to reach for our legs. Any part will do. We catch sight of each other and we look so utterly ridiculous that we can’t help but burst out laughing.

Make Your Own Rules Diet Tara Stiles

Our first session is 9 minutes long but it goes by in a flash. We wave goodbye to Tara and evaluate what happened.

Well, we definitely need to start some daily stretching. I’m pretty sure most 80 years olds are more flexible than us.

We make the determination to do a couple of sessions a day with Tara over the course of the Christmas holidays – one in the morning and one in the evening – and see how we go. We both actually look forward to the sessions. Tara has got such a calm tone to her voice and she’s super encouraging. She keeps reminding us to stay within our limits. No strain. No pain. Now that’s my kind of yoga!

There are tons of Tara Styles sessions to choose from on YouTube but, for now, I’m sticking with a couple of the beginners sessions. I’ll move onto something more challenging when I feel ready. I especially love this one, filmed outside by a beautiful infinity pool. Just looking at that gorgeous sunshine, blue sky and water is really uplifting on a cold, dark January morning.

After just a week of doing Tara’s beginner sessions twice a day, I was already a touch more flexible and I definitely felt like I was walking taller. Imagine how tall I’ll be if I keep this up all year!

It’s now week 4 of January and I’m still enjoying these mini yoga sessions. I love the fact that I get to do them in the privacy of my own living room. It feels like I’m having personal 1-2-1 sessions with Tara. And it’s free too!

Considering where I’m starting, I’ve set three modest yoga goals for 2015…
(a) Touch my toes from standing (with legs straight)
(b) Touch my toes from sitting (with my legs straight out in front of me)
(c) Get my heels on the floor in Downward Dog

Here’s how far off I am at the moment…
(a) 7 cm
(b) 4 cm
(c) 5 cm

Once these are checked off, maybe I can up the stakes and aim for one of these handstands. How cool would that be?

Make Your Own Rules Diet Tara Stiles

Do you yoga? If so, I’d love to hear what kind of practice you do. Do you attend classes or practise at home?

Have you set any resolutions or goals for this year?

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Vegan Gingerbread Waffles – Suma Blogger’s Network

The waffle obsession continues! And for this month’s Suma Blogger’s Network entry, I thought I’d share another one of our favourite vegan waffle recipes. Filled with the warming spices of cinnamon, ginger and Blackstrap molasses, these waffles are perfect for this time of year  

Suma-Bloggers-Network-Logo 300

I wrote about the amazing nutritional profile of Blackstrap molasses in this Gingerbread Cookie post. With just one tablespoon containing 3.6 mg of iron (more iron than 1/2 cup of cooked lentils, beans or spinach), it’s easily one of my favourite ways to boost iron levels.

The recipe is largely an amalgamation of our favourite gingerbread and banana pancake recipes, with a slight reduction of the liquid to make a sturdier batter. Banana acts as a great binder for the waffles and adds a touch of extra sweetness.

Gingerbread Waffles

I’ve really enjoyed reading about your favourite waffle toppings under last week’s Easy Vegan Waffle Post. As I would have expected, maple syrup came out on top. Nuts, banana and chocolate were very popular too, and I’m totally with you on those. One of my favourite lazy Sunday breakfast/brunches is these Gingerbread waffles, served with banana slices, chopped walnuts and pecans, and a big drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Gingerbread Waffles with Chocolate Sauce

Sometimes I make the chocolate sauce myself, other times I simply grab a bottle of Sweet Freedom Choc Shot. Have you tried Choc Shot before? As well as tasting yummy, I love the fact that it contains all natural ingredients, is free from cane sugar and has a low glycaemic load (GL). Can you see how shiny it is too? It’s got the most awesome sheen!

And if I’m going all out, I’ll also top them with a sprinkling of desiccated coconut.

Pure. Waffle. Heaven

Gingerbread Waffles with Chocolate Sauce

Products used in this recipe from Suma Wholesalers
Doves Farms Gluten Free Brown Bread Flour  or Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain White Flour
Meridian Organic Blackstrap Molasses
Sweet Freedom Choc Shot

And now for my favourite part of the photo shoot. Tucking in time! :P

Gingerbread Waffles with Chocolate Sauce

 

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Filed under Breakfast & Elevenses, Healthy Snacking

Quinoa Super Salad with Ginger Lime and Sweet Chilli Dressing

When The Health Bay invited me to take part in a January healthy recipe challenge, I knew which recipe would be perfect for sharing this month. It’s one of my family’s all-time favourite salads, packed with vibrant colours, contrasting textures and dressed in the most delicious tangy vinaigrette. It also happens to be brimming with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, so it’s great for keeping our immune systems strong and warding off those nasty Winter bugs.

Quinoa Rainbow Salad

Forget chips and chocolate, this is the food I most often crave. Every time I eat it, I feel so energized. My body feels like it’s literally zinging from all that goodness. Lil’ L absolutely loves it too and it sure does brighten up his lunchbox!

The salad contains two complete sources of protein – quinoa and edamame beans – which, combined with the healthy fats in the dressing, help to keep you feeling full up for longer. You don’t normally think of salads as being filling, but this one definitely is!

Quinoa is widely available these days. You can even buy ready-cooked pouches, which could be a useful starting point if you’re a newbie to this super seed. Though more expensive and a little more difficult to find, I love the tri-colour quinoa. Not only is it pretty, but it also has a lovely, slightly crunchy texture.

Tri Colour Quinoa

To save time in the week, I often cook a double batch of quinoa, then we use one batch for salad and the other for a hot main meal. However, if you’re starting this salad from scratch, you can prepare the other ingredients and dressing while the quinoa is cooking.

Boil or steam a cup of edamame beans for 3 minutes.

Edamame Soya Beans

Deseed and finely chop a sweet romano or bell pepper.

Sweet Romano Pepper

Finely julienne a carrot.

Carrot Julienned

Roughly chop some fresh coriander leaves and spring onions.

Coriander Leaves

Whizz all the dressing ingredients together until smooth.

Ginger, Lime & Sweet Chilli Dressing

Once the quinoa is cooked, I like to stir through a couple of teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. I find this greatly enhances the texture and flavour of the quinoa.

Quinoa Cookied

You then simply need to combine all the salad ingredients and stir in the dressing until the quinoa is fully coated.

Time to tuck in!

Quinoa Rainbow Salad

The competition deadline is today (trust me to leave it to the very last moment!)

Good luck to everyone that’s taking part xx

 

 

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Filed under Lunches & Light Dinners, Super Salads

Easy Vegan Waffles & VonShef Waffle Maker UK Giveaway

I have always loved waffles. There’s something about those cute indented squares that makes them such a pleasure to eat. I especially love them this time of year, warm straight from the waffle maker or toaster. They make such a yummy breakfast or mid-afternoon snack.

Lil’ L shares my love of waffles and can easily get through a dozen a week. He says there are two Autumn/Winter foods that he’ll never get sick of and that’s apple crumble and waffles!

Easy Vegan Waffles (GF Option)

These vegan waffles are so easy to make! It’s simply a case of blending up the ingredients (I use my Froothie for this job), scooping the batter into the waffle maker and waiting 3-4 minutes. And then they’re ready to eat!

We use a slightly thicker version of our breakfast pancake batter for these waffles. To replace the egg, we use a banana or two small-medium organic apples. On balance, I prefer the texture of the waffles made with banana as it’s slightly firmer and more robust. The riper the banana, the stronger the flavour will be in the waffles. For the mildest flavour, use ripe yellow bananas rather than brown ones.

The batter also includes wholegrain flour and oats for protein and slow release energy. The waffles happen to be fat free and cane sugar free too. This means they’re scrumptious and healthy, so perfect for treating the kids (and yourself!) Lots of Lil’ L’s friends have tried these waffles and they’ve all given them a big thumbs up.

While his friends tend to prefer them with a simple drizzle of maple syrup, Lil’ L loves to fill his squares with little pieces of chopped walnuts or pecans, for some crunch…

Vegan Waffles with walnuts and maple syrup

… while I love to top mine with raspberries and chopped almonds

The waffles in the photo below were made using GF flour. I was so delighted to find that the recipe works gluten-free too as it means all our GF friends can tuck in too :D

Vegan Waffles with Raspberries & Almonds

We make the waffles small enough so that they’re easy to pick up, fit in the toaster, and so you can scoff two or three at a time (‘cause one waffle is never enough ;) ). We often make them as an afterschool snack, then leftovers get stored in the fridge for breakfast the next day. A quick warm through in the toaster and they’re ready to be served.

Here’s how we make our basic vegan waffle…

Forks are optional ;)

Vegan Waffles with walnuts and maple syrup

We purchased our waffle maker last October while it was on sale, and we’ve been really happy with it. It’s easy to use and, even with all our batter experimenting, we’ve yet to have a single waffle fail (which is pretty incredible!) The machine’s simple to clean too… while it’s still warm (but not scorching hot) I just wipe it over with a piece of kitchen towel.

While I’ve seen the waffle maker selling at a range of prices these past couple of months (the RRP is £64.99) you can get some amazing offers if you keep a watch out. It’s currently selling for £24.99 on Amazon and, at this price, you can’t really go wrong. We use ours 3-4 times a week and have made hundreds of waffles, so we’ve definitely had our money’s worth.

Vegan Waffles & VonShef Wafflemaker

Giveaway Time!

I’m not sure how many of my readers have waffle makers, and it seemed a bit unfair to share a waffle recipe without giving you the opportunity to make some yourself, so I contacted Designer Habitat and they have kindly offered to give away a VonShef Quad Waffle Maker to one of my lovely readers

To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave me a comment under this blog post answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter below. Do make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so. There are a number of additional ways you can enter in order to increase your chances of winning. You will find these listed in the Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified prior to the winner being selected.

This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 and over (sorry international readers)

The closing date is Friday 16th January 2014 at midnight GMT. The winner will be selected at random and notified by email. The winner will have 7 days to respond. If they fail to do so, another winner will be selected at random.

New to Rafflecopter? It’s pretty easy! Simply click on ‘Use Your Email’ and enter a name and your email address (rest assured it won’t be published anywhere). You can also log in using your Facebook account, if you wish. A quick demo of how to use Rafflecopter can be accessed here.

* If you experience any technical problems when trying to enter the Rafflecopter, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll submit your entry for you *

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everyone! xx

 

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Filed under Breakfast & Elevenses, Healthy Snacking

Soundtrack to 2014

Well I managed another year of blogging and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! And the most special part? Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the opportunities it’s given me to connect with you, my lovely readers Thank you SO much for all the support, kind words and encouragement you’ve given me here on the blog, my social media pages and via email. It means the world to me.

Since we’ve all been up to our eyes in food this past week, rather than a recipe for my final post of the year, I thought I’d share my soundtrack to 2014. If I need to energise, I just hit the play button for this soundtrack and within seconds I’m bouncing round the house. Most of the tracks remind me of the summer so they’re sure to warm me up, even on the frostiest of Winter days like today.

Ten Walls Walking with Elephants 1

[Ten Walls]

Each track has special memories for me and as soon as I hear them, I’ll be transported back to a specific moment of the year, whether that be a road trip, music festival or simply hearing Lil’ L singing along in his bedroom. The full playlist on YouTube can be found here.

Ed Sheeran – Don’t

Sigma ft Paloma Faith – Changing

Martin Garrix & Jay Hardway – Wizard

Duke Dumont ft Jax Jones – I Got U

Lilly Wood & The Prick – Prayer in C (Robin Schulz Remix)

Kiesza – Hideaway

Ten Walls – Walking with Elephants

Clean Bandit & Jess Glynne – Real Love

Calvin Harris ft. John Newman – Blame

 Is there a track that sums up your 2014? If so, please do share below. I’d love to check it out!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

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More soundtracks…

Soundtrack 2013

Soundtrack 2012

Soundtrack 2011

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Filed under Soundtracks