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Grounding Root Veg with Mint, Orange and Za’atar

If you haven’t heard of za’atar before, fear not – it is not an exclusive fruit, vegetable, grain or seed that is super expensive and hard to find. It’s a spice blend, which you can make yourself very easily! It has a nutty texture and a sweet yet sour lemony taste.

This is actually one of the simplest recipes I have posted on this blog, and the prep is simply some peeling, chopping and sprinkling and then bam – the oven does the rest of the work. It’s the type of meal you can make lots of and keep for a few days and doesn’t require much brain nor body, yet it’s incredibly healing.

I’ve made this dinner to be a grounding, nurturing, comforting yang meal, with uplifting herbs and spices to bring balance. As potatoes are a complex carbohydrate, they are incredibly calming – they bring that full, warm, comforted feeling. Beetroot is full of iron, which will help prevent that exhausted, achy, weak fatigue. Carrots are full of anti-oxidant vitamin A which will keep you on your feet.

Not only is this a wonderfully calming, balancing and nurturing meal to make for yourself, it’s blinkin tasty.

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Firstly, the potatoes are roasted in garlic, pepper, apple cider vinegar and lots of mint. The root vegetables and courgettes are covered in za’atar, ginger and a squeeze of orange juice and roasted. The end result is a tangy, minty, uplifting, zingy mixture of textures. I then add a tahini & turmeric sauce on top to make it look more like I’m EATING RAINBOWS. Hell yaya. Also, if you’re new to the turmeric party, I suggest you have a look around my blog – I met with my friend Rosie for brunch today who told me that this blog has inspired a new found love for turmeric, and rightly so – turmeric is fast becoming recognized for it’s uses in treating depressive disorders. The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has a huge range of medicinal benefits including being an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-oxidant. As well as this, curcumin is being looked into for alleviating the symptoms of mood disorders. Scientists say that curcumin may provide benefits for mental health disorders by regulating dopamine and serotonin production in the brain (for those of you who don’t know, those are your natural happy makers). Awesome.

I really feel like I’m doing myself a favor the more colorful the foods I am eating are. It’s amazing how simple it can be to do yourself some good. Even if this is the only time you’ve had to yourself today, take a moment to appreciate how these vegetables have made it onto your plate, the effort you took to create this dinner and the positive force in you that is taking the time to look after yourself. These little moments of appreciation of yourself, what nature provides for us and your actions can really help to bring you back into full bloom (for more thoughts on this, read my post about saying thank you). On top of this, you’ve just filled yourself with a beautifully grounding and nourishing meal.


Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • 4 small-medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 large beetroot, chopped into sticks
  • 1 large carrot, chopped into small sticks
  • 1 courgette, chopped into sticks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 knob of ginger, diced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or you could use lemon)
  • the juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 tsp dried mint leaves (or 4-5 fresh leaves)
  • 1 heaping tsp za’atar (recipe below)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Tahini-Turmeric sauce

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 7.
  2. Wash the vegetables and peel the carrot and beetroot.
  3. Chop up the potatoes and garlic and add to a tray with 1 tbsp olive oil, the apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper and mint. Set aside.
  4. Chop the vegetables and ginger and add to a separate tray with the orange juice, za’atar, salt and pepper.
  5. Put both of the trays in the oven for 30-45 minutes, turning when needed. They should generally be ready at the same time, depending on how crispy you like your roast potatoes.
  6. Whilst the veg are cooking, make the tahini turmeric sauce.
  7. Put your feet up for 30 minutes!
  8. When the veg are ready, transfer to a bowl and cover in the tahini turmeric sauce.
  9. Serve with a fresh mint leaf.

How to make za’atar

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp sumac
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a glass jar and shake!
  2. Store in a cool dark place.

Enjoy,

Anna xxx

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Homemade Inner Sunshine Herbal Tea

When everything is looking bleak, reach for the inner sunshine tea.

Last Christmas I made a huge batch of a lavender version of this homemade tea and handed out little 50g packets of it as gifts.  It’s lovely to give the gift of sunshine. This tea really does give you that content, nurtured, warm feeling in your heart.

As I mentioned above this tea was originally made with Damiana, Lemon Balm and Lavender. Since then I’ve decided to swap lavender for chamomile as not only do I believe they harmonise much better together, I sometimes find lavender extremely heady and when life is a struggle, you need to move the energy from the head into the heart. I feel that the mixture of lemon balm, chamomile, damiana, cardomom and goji berry does just that.


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You may know chamomile as the before bed tea – this is because of it’s amazing powers of relaxation. For me, it’s not so much of a sleep inducing herb, but more of an overall tension reducer. Chamomile is also effective for soothing a sore tummy, or symptoms of IBS which can arise with anxiety.

If you’ve been following my blog, you will have noticed I’ve mentioned Lemon Balm a few times and have even made a Lemon Balm Porridge recipe! I’ve got to say – Lemon balm is my ultimate favorite, my all-round do-gooder. In traditional herbalism, you’ll read that it is used to ‘induce a merry heart’. Ah. AH!!! So lovely. And it really, really does. It melts away your stress, irritation, calms those frazzled nerves and takes the edge off of your anxiety completely. Additionally, like chamomile it’s an anti-inflammatory; it will provide relief from digestive issues and period pains.

And Damiana, the ancient aphrodisiac – hehe! I promise I’m not giving you a recipe for inappropriate herbal tea (my lord, inappropriate tea- has my life really come to this?). Yes, it can increase a level of sexual arousal in men and women, but the reason I favor it so much is it’s way of inducing that giggly, snuggly love feeling which is so refreshing when you’re feeling so numb. This is a powerful herb and it really does wonders for that disassociative state; it brings you back into your own.

I’ve added 50g of goji berries to the herbal tea for the vitamin C/antioxidant benefits, so that if you’re feeling under the weather from an illness, you can reap the benefits of these little berries. Plus, they add a sweetness to the tang of the herbal tea that’s simply wonderful.

Finally, cardamom not only adds a lovely sweet flavor to the tea, it’s an anti-inflammatory and will do wonders for your digestion and any urinary tract issues.

When I go to make this tea I head to Neals Yard Remedies and buy the herbs individually there. It normally comes to about £4-6 depending on how much I’m making.


Ingredients

Makes enough to fill a 500g jar

  • 45g chamomile flowers
  • 40g lemon balm
  • 30g damiana
  • 50g goji berries
  • 10 crushed cardamom pods

Method

  1. Crush the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and add to the 500g jar.
  2. Measure out the herbs and add them into the jar, one after the other.
  3. Add the goji berries.
  4. Shake the jar!

To make a herbal tea, strain 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of the inner sunshine tea with 200ml hot water and take when needed. I like to make a flask of it and carry it around with me when I’ve got to go into large crowds, before an interview or meeting, or when I’m struggling.

Enjoy,

Anna xxx

P.S here’s a picture of me post Inner Sunshine tea. I was also listening to Beyonce and feeling pretty damn good!


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Mushroom, Clove and Black Bean Healing Chili

I made this for my lovely partner Matt when he was suffering from a bout of what he was calling “pathetic – itus”. You know  after you exert yourself in ALL OF THE WAYS, and then suddenly have time to relax, and in that time you fall ill?

I think he was fully deserving of the time and space to go through the inevitable bout of pathetic-itus, as he had just finished a Masters degree WHILST being my rock in a long-distance relationship whilst I am grieving (if that isn’t one-in-a-million, I’m not sure what is).

I put in here what I know to be extremely healing for your body when you’re not quite at your peak: anti-fungal garlic, anti-oxidant rich mushrooms, stimulating cayenne, anti-microbial cloves and anti-bacterial red onion. ALL of the anti’s, in one hearty, delicious dish, with black beans and rice. Mmmm.

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Garlic really is incredible. It’s a ‘diaphoretic’, which means it increases perspiration. When infections like colds and flu (or pathetic-itus) rise in the body, diaphoretics are invaluable as they promote the eliminations of the toxins through your sweat glands. I am forever blown away by what foods and herbs can do for us! Cayenne pepper also has this effect, which is why I added it to the chili. I just wanna make you sweat! ( Okay, that sounds so much more creepy than when the lyrics were flying around my head. I’m really sorry).

You may have used clove oil before to treat tooth ache. This is because cloves are full of eugenol which is  anti-septic and anti-inflammatory – it relieves pain and treats infections. You may also see clove oil as an ingredient in mouthwashes e.t.c because of this fact. Used in food, cloves have a similar effect. Cloves relieve upper respiratory infections (Hoffman, 1983), improve your digestion and as they are an anti-inflammatory, eaten regularly (along with other anti-inflammatory foods), they may keep you in good health in general.

The word “superfood” is being flung around an awful lot these days, and it seems that most fruits and vegetables are now being labelled as ‘superfoods’, the prices are being hacked up and we’re all buying into it. In my opinion, if you already eat a plant based, wholesome, balanced diet, you needn’t worry about making up for anything with said ‘superfoods’. Just eat lots of greens and vegetables and you’re laughing. Mushrooms are now labelled as a superfood, with things like chaga and shiitake mushrooms being sold for around £6/100g. It is really tempting to buy into these things with all of the promised optimal health benefits, but be rest assured that simple old chestnut mushrooms are just as good for you, full of anti-oxidants and easier on the wallet.
The anti-oxidant that brown mushrooms are high in is called ‘ L-Ergothioneine’ (Hargreaves, 2008), which fights cell damaging free radicals and boosts your immune system. Perfect.

All in all, this is a meal that is not only hearty, warming, delicious and meaty (yay for us veggies and vegans!), it has numerous benefits for your health and will give that pathetic-itus a good kick up the bum.


Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ghee (you could also use butter or olive oil to make it vegan)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 1 tin black beans
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • brown/red/wild rice (I used red camargue and wild rice)
  • 200ml hot water
  • 3 cloves, mashed into a fine powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne
  • 2 leaves of fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/3 vegetable stock cube
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • To garnish: 1 green onion, chopped

Directions

  1. Dice the onions, press the garlic and set aside.
  2. In a pestle and mortar, crush the cloves. Add into a small pan with a knob of ghee/butter/oil along with the pressed garlic and set aside.
  3. Heat the ghee in a large saucepan and then add the onions. Saute until the onions begin to sweat.
  4. At the same time, put the small saucepan with the cloves, ghee and garlic on a low heat and saute until the garlic turns golden.
  5. Whilst everything is saute-ing, finely chop the mushrooms. Add to the onion and cook until they begin to release their juices.
  6. Add the tinned tomatoes, salt, pepper, spices and sauteed cloves and garlic. Reduce to a low heat and cook slowly until boiling.
  7. The moment you finish adding the spices, begin cooking the rice. Add the rice to a saucepan and cover + 1cm with hot water and cook on a medium heat.
  8. Add the black beans and cook on a low heat for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Serve on top of a bed of rice and chopped green onions.

Enjoy,

Anna xxx

References

Hargreaves, G. (2008). Phenomenal Fungi. Available: http://www.50connect.co.uk/articles/phenomenal-fungi. Last accessed 12 Sep 2015.

Hoffmann, D (1983). The Holistic Herbal. Dorset: Element Books Ltd. 38.

Lemon Balm & Blueberry Porridge for a Merry Heart

So I have been experimenting with using my anti-anxiety holy trinity (passionflower, lemon balm, wood betony) outside of my regular tincture and herbal tea. This harmonising porridge bowl is one of the results of this ongoing experiment – and what a wonderful way to start the day it is.

In traditional herbalism, lemon balm is used to induce a ‘merry heart’. How lovely is that? It has been used for centuries for it’s medicinal properties. It melts away your stress, irritation, calms those frazzled nerves and takes the edge off of your anxiety completely.

Additionally, it’s an anti-inflammatory; it will provide relief from digestive issues and period pains.

What better way than to have it in the morning with your breakfast, and set yourself up for a good day?
You can grow your own lemon balm, or purchase the dried leaves. I buy my dried leaves from Indigo Herbs or Neals Yard Remedies. Once you have purchased the dried herbs you can use them to make tea or sprinkle in your soups, stews, salads, smoothies… go wild! (And then calm down, because it is incredibly soothing).

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Lemon balm is from the same family as mint, and it has a citrusy, earthy taste. It works extremely well with sweet blueberry, cinnamon, enlivening nutmeg and a small teaspoon of peanut butter for sustained energy throughout the morning.

This is a fantastic breakfast bowl for those of you suffering with anxiety, as the mix of complex carbohydrates, soothing lemon balm, and anti-oxidant rich blueberries all work in harmony to relieve nervousness and tension.
Complex carbohydrates shouldn’t be avoided as they provide a slow energy release, not only helping you avoid sugar highs and lows, but they’re a warming, yang food, providing that comforting, sunny, inner hug feeling. Oats are also high in vitamins and  minerals that are fantastic for your mental and emotional wellbeing, such as magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamin b6. Magnesium is wonderful – it relaxes the nervous system and reduces feelings of hopelessness, nervousness and tension.

This breakfast bowl is one of the most nurturing things you can do for yourself, and it’s not even midday yet! Go figure!


Ingredients

  • 70g/1 cup of organic jumbo oats
  • 1 cup/200 ml milk of your choice
  • 1/3 tsp dried lemon balm leaves
  • 1 handful of blueberries
  • 1 tsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Small pinch of salt
  • 1 squeeze of lime
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence

Directions

  1. Grate the nutmeg and set aside.
  2. Add the oats and milk to a small pan and warm over a low heat.
  3. Add the lemon balm, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla essence, peanut butter, salt and lime and stir until cooked (about 10 minutes).
  4. Fold the blueberries into the pan when the porridge is cooked.
  5. Transfer the porridge with the blueberries into a bowl and top with toppings of your choice – I like to go for bananas for extra tryptophan, blueberries and chia seeds for sustained energy.

Enjoy,

Anna xxx

Eat Rainbows – Cooling Yin Bounty Bowl

After I eat one of these bowls I feel high! The mixture of the stone fruit in with the spicy red onion, creamy avocado, cooling cucumber and spicy dukkah mixed carrot.. good lord. This isn’t your average salad bowl. The mix of the spices, tastes and textures are heavenly. Nope, no soggy tomato or lettuce here. This is a taste sensation.

Also, you’ll be tucking into a bowl that has all of the colours of the rainbow. It’s one thing knowing that the food you have just prepared is going to do you some good – the other is feeling good as you eat it. I feel that this is exclusive to wholefoods as I never to experience it with fast food. I think you know that too!

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This is a cooling bowl, made in appreciation of yin energy. I am entirely new to even taking a step to understand the wisdom of yin and yang, but as I grasp it, yin and yang are relative terms and not absolutes. Interpreted, yin means ‘shady’ and yang means ‘sunny’. Yin corresponds with cool energy, the earth, the female, darkness, the moon, the cold. Yang corresponds with heat, the sun, the male, fire, the sky. In philosophy, yin and yang describe how either forces are interconnected and complementary. This can be applied to literally anything, and in macrobiotics, various foods and cooking are used to create meals that help balance our yin and yang energy. What food would you correspond with yin and yang?
Generally, lightly cooked, raw, watery fruit and vegetables (think cucumber, watermelon e.t.c) help you to feel more yin, and hearty, heavier dishes such as thick soups, chillis, stews, casseroles will help you to feel more yang. 

Symptoms of feeling too yang include feeling stressed, angry, irritable, trivial and hot.
Symptoms of feeling too yin would include feeling cold and shivery, lethargic, depressive and with a ‘poor me’ mentality.

As with everything in life, it is important to create a good balance. I have been identifying with yang lately – having moved cities I feel so up-in-the-air, oversensitive and overreactive, angry and overstimulated. There is so much going on around me and I am not creating the space for myself to relax – therefore I am looking after myself and creating balance with my favourite cooling Bounty Bowl in appreciation of yin energy. I hope you can benefit from it too.


Ingredients

Bounty Bowl

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 carrot, ribboned
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Nectarine salsa (see below)
  • pinch of salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp dukkah (see below for instructions)

Nectarine salsa

  • 1 nectarine, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 heirloom tomato, diced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 squeeze of lime

Directions

  1. Create the carrot ribbons: using a peeler, peel the skin from the carrots and discard, Continue peeling the carrot to create ribbons. Massage the dukkah into the carrot ribbons.
  2. Place the carrot ribbons into your bowl and sprinkle with more dukkah.
  3. Chop up the cucumber and place in the bowl next to the carrot ribbons.
  4. Make the nectarine salsa: dice and chop the ingredients in a separate bowl. Squeeze in the lime juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then add to the bowl next to the cucumber.
  5. Chop up the avocado and place in between the salsa and carrot ribbons.
  6. Sprinkle with nuts and/or seeds of your choice, tahini and some more lime.

Enjoy, Anna

xx


How to make Dukkah

  • 150g hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. In a small pan, toast the cumin, coriander and mint until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle with the peppercorns and grind and pulverize until they are a fine-ish powder.
  2. In a small pan, toast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Put on a teatowl to cool.
  3. Fold the teatowel over the hazelnuts and rub until most of the skins have dropped off.
  4. Whizz the hazelnuts in a food processor until slightly chunky (you don’t want to whizz them for too long, as they’ll start to release their oils and we don’t want that!)
  5. Transfer the hazelnuts and spices into a small jar and add the salt, to taste. You can keep this up to 2 months or longer in the fridge. Enjoy!

Possible other ingredients to add:

  • red pepper flakes
  • dried herbs (e.g basil, thyme, fennel, oregano)
  • lemon/orange zest
  • cinnamon
  • turmeric
  • cloves
  • caraway seeds

Holistic Hot Chocolate

This is my go-to. I have made this hundreds of times, especially during my grief journey. It is calming, composing, warming and like a kiss on the forehead after a hard day. It’s truely lovely. Chocolatey, rich, slightly spicy, stimulating and nurturing, you won’t reach for a different hot chocolate ever again.

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This contains cacao, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon, a small kiss of cardamom, black pepper, warming fresh ginger, a teeny bit of salt and a pinch of nutmeg.  It will really reduce that tension headache, lift you out of your numbness and give you an inner hug.

Let me tell you about how this is fantastic for you –

The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has a huge range of medicinal benefits including being an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-oxidant. As well as this, curcumin is being looked into for alleviating the symptoms of mood disorders. Scientists say that curcumin may provide benefits for mental health disorders by regulating dopamine and serotonin production in the brain (for those of you who don’t know, those are your natural happy makers). Awesome. Black pepper enhances the absorption of curcumin.

Cacao has an incredibly high natural dosage of magnesium. Symptoms of a deficiency in magnesium could mean a higher sensitivity to noise, insomnia, high levels of stress, irritable bowel syndrome, tension headaches, depression, anxiety, restlessness and muscle soreness. It relaxes the nervous system and calms your entire being, hence why I add 1 1/2 tsp cacao to this hot chocolate.

Ginger and cinnamon are  incredibly warming and increase circulation. In aromatherapy, cinnamon is used to reduce the feeling of numbness in grief, loss and hopelessness.

Cayenne is a natural decongestant, relieving you of a snuffly nose. It’s enlivening and warming. You only feel a hint of this in the hot chocolate, but it’s just enough to notice.

Finally, nutmeg is a natural stimulant to pick you back up off of your feet.

I like to make batches of this mixture up and keep it in a jar – if you plan to do this too, use ginger powder instead of fresh grated ginger.


Ingredients

  • 200ml milk of your choice
  • 1 1/2 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • A pinch of black pepper

Directions

  1. Using a knife, bruise the 2 cardamom pods and add to a small pan with the milk.
  2. Place the pan on the stove to a low heat.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the milk and stir in until fully mixed.
  4. Slowly warm the hot chocolate for 10-15 minutes (this is key – don’t be impatient, it tastes wonderful when it’s been heated slowly).
  5. Once ready, remove the cardamom pods and transfer to a mug. Add sweetener if you wish. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Enjoy,

Anna xxx

Take a Cold Shower

Okay, I know – you probably think I have lost it. You possibly associate cold showers as the sort of thing that happens when your bloody housemate decides to flush the toilet when you’re enjoying a luxurious hot shower. In fact,  having a hangover-curing hot shower and having someone repeatedly turn on a tap somewhere else in the house is enough to reduce Dwayne Johnson to tears. The first time I willingly gave cold showers a go I went about it the wrong way and it was complete overkill. I turned the water to freezing before I got in, got in the shower, danced around, screaming and hyperventilating from the cold. I got such a rush of endorphins and mixed with hyperventilation I pretty much nearly passed out. I quickly turned it off, clutched the side of the bath and then stood looking out the window with the towel around me, shivering and feeling absolutely euphoric.

And that, folks, is how NOT to take a cold shower.

Here is my tried and tested how to:

  1. Turn on the shower to a warm setting (body temperature). Get into the shower once it has reached body temperature.
  2. Turn the temperature down a small notch and get used to the temperature each time.
  3. Take long, slow, deep breaths as you get used to the cool temperature.
  4. Once you have reached the point of cold water, you won’t notice that you’re having a cold shower.
Image from http://lifehackhealth.tumblr.com (thank you)

Image from http://lifehackhealth.tumblr.com (thank you)

There are hundreds of reasons to take a cold shower-

  1. They balance the feel good hormone in our body, serotonin
  2. They reduce the levels of stress hormone, cortisol, in our body
  3. They calm the fight or flight response – it is hugely beneficial to take a cold shower after a stressful situation
  4. They boost your metabolism
  5. They make your hair incredibly shiny
  6. They’re incredibly invigorating and could replace a coffee any day
  7. They provide the brain with a kick of endorphins
  8. They don’t dry out your skin as hot showers do
  9. Whilst taking a cold shower, you literally cannot think of anything else – can be used as a mindfulness technique
  10. They strengthen your immune system response to infections

Have I changed your mind yet?

I set out to take 1-2 cold showers a week but I am now addicted and have taken one every morning for the past month. I have noticed that I am able to deal with stress so much better. Cold showers are my daily discipline. I find that if I am able to willingly  take a cold shower, I certainly feel mentally strong enough to face everything else life has to throw at me during the day. I am able to take this strength and apply it to every facet of my day.

Take a cold shower – it might just be a game changer for you.

Anna

Dukkah Massaged Raw Mango Salsa Wraps

You may not have heard of Dukkah before, and the word may scare you into thinking ‘oh my lord this recipe looks lovely but it’s impossible because what on earth is dukkah aaah’. That was my thought process when I first saw a recipe for potato chips with dukkah. I could do potato chips, but WHAT ON EARTH IS DUKKAH.? Fear not, avid readers, soon you will be so clued up on the tasty world of dukkah you won’t remember your life without it.

Dukkah is an Egyptian condiment which is generally a mix of toasted nuts, spices and herbs. It tastes incredible; an earthy, toasty, warm, spicy, aromatic mixture. I like to dip pitta bread in hummus then dukkah. You can add it to your sauces, salads, have it on toast or with your baked potatoes. As it’s made with nuts it’s full of essential minerals and omega 3. I love to use toasted hazelnuts as I love the hearty and slightly-reminiscent-of-chocolate taste. I make my own dukkah, and I will provide the recipe for you in this post. (Hint: it’s really, really simple, and will last you for ages).

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The salsa is an incredible mixture of raw fruits and vegetables, lime and green chilli. It’s a radiant rainbow of colors. It’s energising and happy – inducing; how can you have this rainbow bowl in front of you and not feel pleased about yourself?

This takes zero effort – it’s simply some chopping and chucking and sprinkling and away we go.

Ok, so why raw food?

I am not sure how scientifically proven eating raw fruit and vegetables for depression and anxiety is, but let me tell you what happened to me when I began incorporating more raw meals into my diet.

I was 19, in the middle of my teaching degree and on school placement. I was drowning under paperwork and stress. I was living in a shared household, which was incredibly taxing. I had so much to do, I was under so much stress and I had no respite when I got back.
I used tumblr at the time and somehow I stumbled across lucyeatsraw.tumblr.com. She was also undertaking studies yet eating a primarily raw diet. I remember thinking, huh? Why would you want to do that?! I liked fruit, but nothing beats warm toast or a hearty mug of soup. I dived into my research, as I do, and found a lot of people recommending eating raw for energy, health and happiness. So I decided to eat more fruit in general and aim for 1 fully raw meal a day to see what happened.

Let me tell you this: during teaching placement, I was a zombie. I would wake up at 6, get to school, teach, come back at 6 and then do paperwork until 1am and repeat for 7 weeks. It was hell. I was so wobbly, close to tears and had tension headaches all of the time. I had no energy. It was horrible.
I changed my packed lunch from sandwiches to huge salads full of spinach, green onions, avocado e.t.c and snacked on bananas and apples so that whilst I was at school I was only eating raw food. The change was AMAZING- when I woke up, I felt awake instantly. My energy sustained throughout the whole day and I felt less groggy. I felt clearer – when I got back from school I could do my work without feeling completely brain dead. The biggest change was when I realised I hadn’t been on the verge of tears for over a week! All of this gave me such a boost in confidence and achievement – and therefore my happiness. It was truly amazing. I really, really recommend eating more raw meals. I try to when I can, as it can be expensive – but even if it’s something like swapping your snack foods for fruit, you’ll be really doing yourself a favor.

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This is something I have been making for a while. With raw food I find that rigidly following recipes can sometimes result in disappointment; this is normally down to the food that is seasonal and available where you live. So follow the recipe with what works for you and what is available to you. But don’t leave out the dukkah!


How to make dukkah

  • 150g hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. In a small pan, toast the cumin, coriander and mint until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle with the peppercorns and grind and pulverize until they are a fine-ish powder.
  2. In a small pan, toast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Put on a teatowl to cool.
  3. Fold the teatowel over the hazelnuts and rub until most of the skins have dropped off.
  4. Whizz the hazelnuts in a food processor until slightly chunky (you don’t want to whizz them for too long, as they’ll start to release their oils and we don’t want that!)
  5. Transfer the hazelnuts and spices into a small jar and add the salt, to taste. You can keep this up to 2 months or longer in the fridge. Enjoy!

Mango Salsa

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 mango, diced (if you don’t have a mango, any stone fruit will do)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 a cucumber, diced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • 1 tsp dukkah
  1. Dice and chop all of the ingredients and transfer to a bowl. Stir.
  2. Squeeze in the lime juice and teaspoon of dukkah. Stir.
  3. Garnish with another sprinkling of dukkah and parsley.
  4. Serve with lettuce or tortilla wraps with further vegetables, beans or hummus!

Enjoy,

Anna x x x

‘All-Out’ Pink Power Pancakes

Yep, I am not kidding.

PINK PANCAKES!

This is a gorgeously tasting mixture of  beetroot, creamy banana, nutty buckwheat with a kick of ginger and nutmeg.

Did I mention this recipe comes with a sugar-free chocolate sauce, too?

Oh, stop it.

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How do you feel after eating beetroot? If you haven’t yet asked yourself that question, I would suggest you do. Eating an abundance of beetroot, whether it’s in a soup, in my pancakes (!), or in a salad gives me increased energy, clarity and a clearer head. This is probably due to the fact that beetroots are a great source of vitamin C, widely known as a combatant against the common British snuffly nose. Vitamin C is uplifting and energizing. It’s a powerful antioxidant and it is also involved in the production of collagen – maintaining healthy cell reproduction. This is why you see so many anti-aging creams with vitamin C in it! You’ll notice that the healthier you eat, the more your skin will behave itself.

Rich in iron, beetroots will be beneficial for those of you with anaemia, or low iron levels in the blood. Common symptoms of low iron levels are feeling dizzy, faint, constant fatigue, tingly hands and feet, and feeling weak all of the time. It makes any mental health problem feel 10 times worse, which is why a lot of the recipes I post on here are beneficial for low iron levels.

When I was researching anti-depressants that don’t come in the form of prescribed pills from the doctor, I came across Betaine. Betaine enhances the natural ability of our brain to maintain a good level of happy hormones to keep us balanced. Beetroots are a very good source of betaine, and therefore I have used a great heffalumping beetroot in this recipe and I recommend that you eat them regularly, along with a good balance of root and flowering vegetables and leafy greens for a healthy body and mind.

The sauce is straightforward and includes peanut butter, maca, almond milk (or whatever milk is handy for you), cacao and ginger. Kind of reminiscent to South Devon Farm’s chilli chocolate (OH MY LORD BEST CHOCOLATE EVER). The maca and cacao are both natural stimulants, which both relax and energise you at the same time. Did you know that maca is an adaptogen? In herbalism, this means that if you are feeling completely ungrounded, you will be brought back down to balance, and if you’re feeling low, it’ll pick you up to a balanced level, too.

This is why they’re called power pancakes!


Ingredients

Pancake mixture

  • 1 large beetroot, peeled and cooked
  • 1 medium banana
  • 60g buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup (or to desired consistency) water
  • 1  flax egg- mix together 2 tbsp ground flax with 4 tbsp water. Non vegans can use an egg
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/5 tsp ginger
  • 1 squeeze of lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional sweetener: 1 tsp maple syrup

Ginger – Chocolate Sauce

  • 1 tsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp maca powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground ginger
  • 1 drop vanilla essence
  • 1 small squeeze of lime
  • 1-2 tbsp milk of your choice (or to desired consistency)
  • Optional sweetener: 1/4 tsp maple syrup

Directions

  1. Make the flax egg – mix 4 tbsp water with 2 tbsp ground flax seeds. Set aside.
  2. In a jug, mix together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  3. In a blender, blend together the banana, beetroot, water and flax egg.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix together until combined. Add more or less milk depending on preference of consistency (I like my mixture to be fairly thick).
  5. Head a large pan over a medium heat with a dash of oil for 5 minutes or until it is smoking slightly.
  6. Whilst you are waiting for the pan to heat up, make the  ginger – chocolate peanut butter sauce. Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and stir until the sauce has thickened and bound together.
  7. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the pancake mixture into the pan to create circular shapes and cook for 2 minutes or so. When little bubbles form around the outside, that’s when they are ready to flip. Cook for a few minutes further or until nicely browned.
  8. Keep making pancakes until you have finished with your mixture. Stack on a plate.
  9. Serve with as many or as little toppings as you wish, and of course, absolutely smother the pancakes in the delicious ginger – chocolate peanut butter sauce.

Enjoy,

Anna x x x