It’s quite possibly my favourite subject after yoga!
I have always loved food, even in the days when I believed it to be the enemy (oh dance training how you scarred me!) but now more than ever I find I am super interested in what I use as fuel for my body, especially as I want this body to last a long time!
Maybe it comes with age, this desire to respect my body, or maybe it’s because I’m in the business of health and fitness? Whatever way you look at it, food is a necessity of life, and like in life itself we have choices….we can choose to celebrate life by giving our body the best nutrition we can, or we can abuse it by poisoning it with bad food choices.
I’d like to make a caveat here – I’m not trying to turn you all vegetarian, or make out like I don’t ever ‘poison’ my body, I’m just laying out what I find works for me to have a healthy body and leaves me feeling positive about my food choices. And if you’ve clicked to read this post I’m guessing that’s what you want too.
So – my top tips for staying healthy:
SUGAR IS THE DEVIL
No joke. That stuff literally breeds disease, it’s highly addictive and is responsible for most modern-day chronic illnesses. FACT.
Of course, sometimes it’s nice to have a dance with the devil, and I would do this with alcohol, it’s the only refined sugar I let into my body these days, unless someone has managed to talk me into a cruffin of course!
Don’t think of sugar as an ingredient that will make you ‘fat’ it’s way more serious than that…it can cause anxiety, depression, stress and of course can be linked with most chronic illnesses. Of course practice everything in moderation, it’s difficult to cut it out completely, but where possible stick to natural sources like fruit and the odd alcoholic beverage now and again!
CARBS ARE NOT THE DEVIL
And in fact we need them, especially if you are cutting out refined sugars, you will need to find an alternative carb (energy) source – from things like starchy and high fibre foods -whole grains, rice, potatoes, vegetables and pulses.
I was thinking about carbs the other day and how I have reintroduced pasta into my diet…and I’ve not suddenly bloated, or put on weight. When I was a student and I LIVED off tuna, tomato pasta and never a wheat or gluten bloat thought entered my head. So get back on the carb bus….it’s fine, you will be fine!
VEGETABLES ARE KING
Eat them in abundance – plant-based protein ROCKS. Colourful vegetable dishes look so.damn.pretty. (read instagrammable)
As previously stated, I’m not telling you to become veggie, but do EAT YOUR VEG, make it the star of your dish, get creative with how you eat them, blend, roast, griddle, saute them, there are countless ways, just EAT THEM!!!!
PREPARATION IS KEY
Organising a whole week of meals can be intimidating, and quite frankly, boring – who knows on a Monday what they want to eat on Friday? but bulk cooking is your friend…making larger quantities of meals and freezing or refrigerating will save you time and stop you falling into the takeaway rabbit hole…I’ve always got a couple of soups and curries/dhals in my freezer for those CBA moments. And humous. I seriously think my life could fall apart if i don’t have a tub of humous in the fridge – arguably the best healthy snack known to man!
Of course the main points to get across are to eat fresh, unprocessed food MOST of the time and don’t let food become an enemy, never label things ‘bad’ (except sugar, sugar is bad to the bone).
From time to time have a little of what you fancy – although be warned you might just start to ‘fancy’ kale!
To be happy and healthy, IT’s THAT SIMPLE 🙂
I’m no chef but I reckon I’m a decent home cook/veg manipulator so from time to time I’ll be adding some recipe ideas to the blog….
Ok, I’ll stop harping on about Canggu after this (did you book your flight yet?) but eating for me in Canggu was on a par with the surfing and yoga – in fact I could say it was the highlight to my stay!
As you may have realised I’m passionate about eating a healthy diet, and Canggu has plenty of inexpensive options of places to eat and nourish your body and mind. So here is a guide to my favourites:
I visited Peleton for my first lunch…and I thought wow! the rest of the places I’ve researched have a lot to live up to! I could have just eaten here for the whole week it was that good. They serve a mixture of healthy vegan food – breakfasts like the Biker Bowl, The Tandem Toast and Pedel Power Pancakes. They have a range of lighter dishes and amazing salads, hot drinks, juices and smoothies. A pretty impressive plethora of food and drink.
What I ate: The Fuel Good Salad, a mean mix of FUEL GOOD Kale, Spinach, Purple Cabbage, Capsicum, Broccoli, Mild Chillies, Carrot, Beetroot, Green Onion, Toasted Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds, Sesame, Smashed Pumpkin and Hummus. Quite possibly the best salad I have eaten. EVER.
I also got food envy of the table next to me who were eating the Burn Out Burger – it looked so damn good. The decor in the place is as you would expect bike orientated. The staff were so lovely and friendly and the place had a more chilled vibe and was quieter than the places along Batu Bolong as it is a little more out of the main drag on Pantai Berewa. If you go to Canggu or even staying in nearby Seminyak, you MUST try Peleton. It rocks.
Well, having to meet my expectations set at Peleton, Crate Cafe did not disappoint. Full to the brim with the post yoga and surf crowd I had to wait a while to get a table, but it was a great people watching place so a wait so I did not mind – This is the place where the cool kids like to hang out.
I had an ah-maze-ing flat white (again something I had been missing on Koh Phangan) and a breakfast bowl, a deliciously thick, creamy fruit smoothie with fruit, granola and coconut on top, (the name of which can’t remember) and then went back the next day to have the ‘Peas Please’ a huge chunk of sourdough bread with peas, spinach, feta, avocado and a perfectly poached egg balancing on top.
The decor is industrial graffiti and there is a real buzz in the place. The friendly attitudes of the staff here is wonderful, something that unfortunately I had been lacking in Thailand of late. Crate I salute you. Life certainly is ‘crate’ here.
Betelnut is probably the most ‘famous’ of the cafes in Canggu, and is in the ‘centre’ of Batu Bolong, opposite Deus Ex Machina so easy to find. Having a small air-conditioned downstairs section the main seating area is upstairs where you can see across the rice fields to sunset in the early evening, when I visited for an early dinner.
A good menu of comforting burger and wraps, salads and juices, the standard for all these places in Canggu. I had a divine Turmeric Lemonade and the Falafel Wrap with Fries.
The upstairs view was pretty awesome
The Shady Shack
I was recommended The Shady Shack by a Canggu local who came to eat at The Yoga Retreat in Koh Phangan, she told me it was her favourite place to eat, and I see why. A fabulous menu in a beautiful space. Again a vegan and vegetarian healthy choice paradise, Canggu you are really spoiling us with these places!
I ate the ‘Signature Shady’s’ from the All Day Breakfast menu – Onsen eggs with sprout, carrot, beetroot and fennel salad. The herby, lemony dressing was TO.DIE.FOR – the gluten-free bread and smashed new potatoes made it a meal I deserved after an Ashtanga Practice AND a surf.
The decor was so nice, and again, that Balinese welcome from friendly staff made you feel at home, and, I have to say, the best cafe toilets in Canggu! I love a good bathroom tile!
For my final choice I went to Little Flinders, a bit further south on Batu Bolong from Crate and Betelnut. It is more of a restaurant than the cafes, and also has meat and seafood on the menu.
I had a refreshing Ginger Ice Tea and the Rosti Burger (naughty but oh so nice) and as they didn’t have any wedges left I had mashed potato – delish!
It was beautifully decorated and I was lucky to hit it just before the evening rush and had the place almost to myself so I was able to take some nice interior shots
If this post hasn’t convinced you to go to Canggu then I don’t know what will. There were many other places to eat and of course drink, Old Mans, Deus, Avocado, Local Warungs, but these were my top choices, as I am always trying to look for the healthy options. Most of the dishes will set you back about 50/60k Indonesian Rupees, that’s about £4 – so it’s still cheap in the grand scheme of things.
Canggu – it was a brief love affair, maybe someday we can have a longer term relationship??
Whilst I am not fond of the word ‘Superfood’ itself, these foods are not going to don a cape and start saving the world, I do believe that they can play a major part in saving your health, and therefore probably do deserve a title as strong as this. They are super! and they are food! Ok, justification for the title over, let’s get on with the key foods.
Apart from being a fun work to say (and yes for some reason I always want to shout it like a bird call…) this yumptious bean from South America or Mexico is arguably the king of all the ‘super’ foods.
This is the highest anti oxidant food ON THE PLANET!!!! Antioxidants stabilize and ultimately destroy free radicals in your cells and tissues, meaning that they help fight diseases (mainly heart disease and cancer) and can help with longevity of life. Raw Cacao (nibs or powder) contain plenty of B vitamins, Magnesium, Iron and Chromium.
Adding it to your diet can improve your cardio health, bones, cell repair, decrease inflammation and increase your mood and energy levels.
Add powder to breakfast bowls, energy balls, make chocolate desserts, chia puddings, smoothies, chillies, chuck that stuff in everything!
I first came across this wonderful ‘weed’ in New Zealand, and I am amazed just how unused it still is in my home country. It’s a type of algae and it’s normal found in powder form. Grown in both fresh and salt water. A little goes a long way, and gram for gram it is the highest source of complete protein on the planet – and also contains B vitamins, copper, iron, omega 3’s and magnesium, potassium and manganese – wow!
Adding this bad boy to your diet can help with muscle repair and growth, again fight those pesky free radicals, reduce inflammations, help against heart disease and reduce cholesterol.
Easiest way to eat it if you don’t want to make ALL your food green is to add it to a smoothie or just blend it in with some coconut water and neck it back!
Used in Chinese medicine for over 6,000 years, these little shrivelled up red berries are from China and Tibet. They contain 18 amino acids and 21 minerals, Iron, Beta-Carotene and Vitamin C.
So, again these berries, like the humble blueberry (which by the way are a cheaper alternative), also come up high on the anti oxidant charts, with all the benefits formerly mentioned plus also help with healthy skin and building your immune system to help fight the common cold.
Kale, the lead singer of the Cruiciferous Vegetables Band – and the rest of the band – Broccoli, Sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower.
So, at last, a super hero food that we can all get at regular cost from our local supermarket or green grocer. Hurrah! Rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fibre source. Currently in research with National Cancer Institute these dark green vegetables should be included in everyone’s diet to help prevent cancer. They also contain the anti-oxidants so helping with chronic illnesses such as auto immune disease and Lupus. Not just that – they are yummy and cheap, and super easy to cook and add to all your meals. Stir fries, soups, curries, salads and so on.
Chia seeds are normally from South or Central America, and are related to the mint family! Who knew!
These mighty seeds contain protein, fibre, Magnesium, Manganese and Omega’s. They were used by the Aztec and Mayans (Chia means ‘energy’ in ancient Mayan) to build pyramids and really really large steps…
As well as this they provide all the anti oxidant benefits mentioned previously and help muscle repair. As they are high in protein and low in calories so they can help with weight loss. Because they are filling, and expand in liquid or if used whole expand when inside your stomach, making you feel fuller for longer.
My favourite is chia pudding made with coconut milk, but you can add them to pretty much anything and they work well in smoothies and breakfast bowls.
With all this information now in your brain, you can see why these foods have been given the accolade of ‘SUPER’ – and rightly so. Yes, apart from the green veg, they are a little pricey, but to help you justify the expense, what price do you put on your health and welfare? I wanted this blog to help people become the ‘best versions of themselves’ so surely the benefits out-weigh the costs? Also a little goes a long way.
Here are my Top Tips for Patnem, Palolem and Colomb Bay Area including the beaches and my favourite places to eat and drink. In all honesty the food here was not blow your socks off amazing so the guide is limited to reflect that.
Patnem (north end) was my favourite place to chill and spend the day on the beach. It’s very quite in April, however we did here many other British accents, I think this place is favoured by families with school age kids. And once you’re in Goa it is very cheap to eat and drink so this must be a draw when you have many mouths to feed! Even though there were families and children around it felt very chilled out, perfect for sun lounging and doing very little indeed.
Next door to Patnem is the more built up Palolem. I wasn’t a fan as there was way more hassle on the beach which interrupted my chill time, but it is a beautiful sweeping bay and has lots of options for all budgets to eat and drink (those on a budget should check out the main road away from the beach for local thali shops, a complete meal for 60p
Galibag Beach (Turtle Beach)
A real deserted spot (save for a few locals) and the most wonderful Oysters (90p – yes pence – for 7) and the freshest barbecued prawns from a little beach shack called Surya’s, who also provides hammocks for you to rest and have your food coma in.The beach is wild and waves quite big, and the Talpona River, a lush backwater river, backs it. If you do find yourself in South Goa, this beach is a must – take a Rickshaw there from Patnem, the drive is beautiful.
Eating and Drinking:
Columb Bay, for breakfast, and then again later for sunset cocktails (happy hour cocktails are just £1.50). Perfect positioning in Colomb Bay for this all day cafe with a laid back feel. Lots of locals and ex-pats, so it must be good!
Salida del Sol
Patnem Beach, North End. We ate here most days as the food was fab, but the service even better. There are sunbeds for guests, they do a mean lime and soda and scrummy salads.
Not much further south than Salida del Sol, the best breakfast we ate, although service is a bit slow, but then, when your busy doing nothing this really doesn’t matter eh? Oh, and forgot to take a photo of the food. (Back in the days before I took this blogging more seriously soz)
I’m adding this in as we walked past on the way home one night and promised to go back as the place looks buzzing with good atmosphere, and the Tripadvisor reviews are good…but be warned, April is the closing month in Goa and when we went back the next night the place had started being dismantled. (Most of the bungalows and restaurants get taken down and re-built each season) Anyway, I’ve added it to my guide as I think if you are going and it is built you should check it out.
Surya’s at Gallibag –
reviewed in this post – the BEST seafood, so so fresh and flavourful, and apparently Gordon Ramsey has eaten there!!!!
The health food business is booming, and with so many options what one is right for you? I have a small but growing obsession with watching food documentaries on YouTube, as interesting as they are some of them seem downright unattainable or non sustaining (yep I’m talking about you HCLF-ers)
So, what should you choose? I’m going to just put it out there and say, how about ALL of them? All of the options in the title, Plant Based, Raw, Detox, Juicing….they can all make up a balanced, healthy, diet – and remember whenever I use the word DIET in this blog it will be referring to the food you habitually eat, rather than the food you eat to lose weight. If however, you are over-weight or obese, then changing your current diet to an all natural, vegetarian and more plant-based diet is going to help you lose weight. But maintaining this FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE is what is going to keep you healthy, forever.
Now, I am certainly not demanding you all become vegetarians or vegans, but maybe think about the amount of meat you consume and where it comes from. For example, I would only now eat meat if I knew its provenance (most good supermarkets and butcher’s should be able to tell you where the meat has come from) and I will only eat seafood, especially shellfish if I can see the sea (ok, within reason, but you get my drift? I once got food poisoning from Ceviche in a five-star restaurant in Marrakech, go figure). So that aside, do eat meat if you desire just be mindful of what you eat.
Next, bring more fruit and vegetables onto your plate. No question, no explanation, just DO IT. It will change your skin, hair, energy levels, internal organs – really! Try to eat at least 8 portions of fruit and veg per day – and if you think that’s a lot, the simplest way to do this is in a juice or smoothie. You can even put all 8 in one glass. Done.
I get inspiration from all over the internet, pinterest, and the following blogs which make eating vegetables a work of art…..My New Roots is my favourite veggie inspiration site Another resource for plant-based and vegetarian recipes Oh She Glows
Also this documentary changed my (eating) life – Forks over Knives
Raw food is another easy addition. When I mentioned to an old colleague I was eating more raw food these days he thought I meant raw meats and sushi etc…..but this simply means food you do not heat. Salads, juices, smoothies, energy balls, the list goes on and on check out the wonderful Kriss Carr for some ideas, but I must stress here that my personal opinion is not to eat purely a raw food diet, just mix it up with the other things I am suggesting.
Detoxing – I’m not a massive fan of detoxing but I do see it’s worth and especially think it is a fabulous way of resetting your body if you have a ‘bad’ diet. Once you have done a detox you will be more mindful of what you pollute your body with (toxins) and it can help you kick-start your new healthy life.
I hope to bring many recipes to this blog in time and some guides to eating healthily whilst travelling.
My golden rules (I will keep coming back to these):
No processed foods – EVER
Natural sugars only
Eat seasonal, fresh produce where possible
Limit you alcohol (I’m still working on this!!)
Limit your caffeine (again, work in progress for me)
A LITTLE of everything in moderation, but try to be strict with this one, a piece of chocolate (milk) or cookie or a plate of fries once in a while, but not a whole day of ‘sod it all’ !
Flashback to the start of this yogi’s adventure, at the end of February this year I flew into Bangalore and began the adventure, a life changing trip to Mysore City. I have already briefly discussed Mysore in this post: Mysore, why I went there, to study Ashtanga Yoga at it’s source.
Well, let me start by saying that after a hiatus of 12 years my first impressions of India and Bangalore was wow! this place is so modern! We took a 4 hour taxi (2 of those hours stuck in Bangalore traffic) to Mysore and it started to feel more like the India I remembered (hot, dry, scorching sun, poverty and dirt) but when I arrived in Mysore what couldn’t I see? The rubbish! The roads are so clean here! (Mysore has been voted the cleanest city in India)
The suburb that most of the yogi’s stay is Gokulum, this is where the KPAJYI shala is and it is an affluent suburb. I honestly believe that even the ubiquitous cow pats get cleaned up in this suburb!
The cows are worthy of a quick mention here – most cows in India you see are just roaming around to their own volition, however the ones that roam in Gokulum have a smart system of getting fed. They simple have designated streets (who decided which cow goes where, and is there a territory battle if one cow decided to roam of plan?) they then ‘moo’ at each gate (yes this is an affluent area and most of the houses are gated) and wait for the ladies who work for that house to bring them the days scraps of vegetable skins or any other unwanted food stuff. The most fantastic recycling of food waste I have ever seen.
Woops, I have digressed from the main point of the post which is to provide you with a potted guide to the city, specifically aimed at the yogi. What to do when you are not sweating it out on the mat in the shala, chanting or attending lectures.
EAT: yep, as my number two activity in Mysore – eating! refuel, and rehydrate.
First stop, the coconut stand – ok so there are many coconuts stands in Gokulum and each shala has their own coconut wallah outside, but the main one which is used as a landmark in Gokulum is ‘THE’ Coconut Stand, on the corner of Contour Road and 9th Main. Coconuts are one of the worlds most nourishing foods and a post practice coconut is an absolute must. But ‘THE’ coconut stand does not just provide coconuts, you can also get a mean chai here for 10p and it’s an awesome place to hang out and people watch.
Eating, well there are many types of food on offer, from the traditional to the healthier ‘yoga’ inspired cafes. Full details can be found in my previous blog here. A few of my favourite places are:
Anokhi Garden (on Contour Road, 5 mins from the coconut stand) – beautiful front and back gardens and some indoor seating at this geared for the yogi cafe. Must try’s are the Flora Fruit Salad and Fancy Porridge, but I loved everything on the menu and never had a bad dish here. Plus the waiting staff are all Ashtangi’s and super friendly and the owner, Marie Lovato, is a wonderful woman.
Santosha (on 2nd Main, 5 mins walk from the main shala towards Lions School) – similar cafe geared towards the post practice crowd, good shakes and omelette here and again a nice garden to sit in and people watch!
Anu’s (on 2nd Main, 5 mins walk from the main shala towards the park) – on the roof of Anu and Ganesh’s house they serve up an incredible buffet style thali most days and are open at sunset for the coolest, thickest smoothie bowls. Seriously good food and fabulous hosts. Also, Ganesh is THE person to know in Gokulum for taxis or renting mopeds etc.
Depth and Green (on 9th Cross, walking away from the shala and coconut stand) – open all day they do a mean buddha plate and again good shakes and scrummy vegan chocolate cakes.
Chakra House (walking away from coconut stand and shala, turn left after the temple) – Manjula cooks the Thali here but they offer again yogi inspired menu. A really good place to chill out with fast wifi and Rajesh is a cool host. Open all day.
Sri Durga (on the road before Gokulum Main Road, turn left at the Honda garage) – BEST dosas in Gokulum! no other explanation needed. The best 25p you will ever spend on food! This place may look a bit intimidating for the solo female traveller but they do great chai and are really friendly.
Green Hotel (Hunsur Road, off Mangalore Highway, best get a rickshaw to this one if you haven’t got the nerves of steel for riding on the highway) – to be honest not the best food or service but a really beautiful little colonial hotel worth a visit. The dhal is pretty good and they have a bakery inside the hotel with nice bread and cakes.
Shree Guru Residency (behind the Regaalis Hotel/Pool) really good South and North Indian food, all vegetarian and so cheap! (Thalis start at 60p) don’t bother eating at the pool, the food is average and overpriced, just pop out the front, turn left and left again at the luggage shop and you will end up at this local’s favourite.
Home cooks – you will find out about the ladies Manjula, Sanjit and Shalia, and many others, who cook amazing thali style buffets that they host in their own homes. This is some of the best an authentic South Indian cooking you will eat. Again, just ask around as many people practicing at the shala who have been before will know when these are happening and how to get to them.
Malari Hotel Dosa (in the city) – people rave about this one but I found them a bit too dough like and more like an american pancake, but they are a firm favourite with the ashtangi old timers.
Secret Dosa! This is a tiny little hole in the wall dosa vendor hidden in the depths of Laksmipurum, if you find the rickshaw driver Raju he can take you there! I have no idea where it is but if you ask people I’m sure they all have their favourite dosa place!
Again, I would suggest you try many more places, and go into the city and try some local food. India has some of the best food in the world, and, predominantly healthy and vegetarian too – perfect for a practicing ashtangi/yogi.
WHEN YOU ARE NOT PRACTICING OR EATING:
There are many things to do in Mysore that don’t involve food or yoga! There are so many temples to visit I can’t list them all, just walk into one as you walk past it, they are all beautiful.
Mysore Palace – has to be at the top of the recommendations, it is a stunning piece of architecture and you can go inside but I recommend you arrive at sunset on a Sunday (before 7pm) and at watch as they turn on the 100,000 lights simultaneously.
Chamundi Hill – again another sunset or sunrise visit is the thing to do here. The temple at the top of the hill is full of monkeys and the views are breathtaking across the city. Your choice but the hike up the steps is rumoured to be fabulous, or you can take a rickshaw/drive to the top for the temple and views!
Devajara Market – I love a local market, this one is so colourful and natural, not like some developed for the tourist but a real, where people get their ‘stuff’ market. Do not buy oils or sandalwood here though, the quality is not great.
Regaalis Hotel – I could not not mention this hotel, another favourite with the yogi crowd, you can pay to spend the day lounging around and cooling off. In March it was essential to go there just to keep cool!
So, I have tried to keep the post practice part concise as really if you are in the city to practice at KPJAYI or any other shala you will need to try to chill in your time off. Read a book, meditate, watch some movies, write, cook or simply just be.
I had googled ‘what to do in Mysore’, or ‘Mysore guide’ before I left for the city and you can find some good guides on other Yoga blogs – I can point you to a few in particular that I found very informative:
My own detailed diary of one month in Mysore is here!
So the point of starting the blog was to be able to write about my time as a travelling yogi, meaning how I hope to be able to see the world via teaching and sharing my love of yoga. Firstly, let me point out that I am pretty well-travelled, I did my backpacker bit way back when from 2002-2004 (I know, I’m old right?) so I could write about my experiences from then, but as the world is changing at a ridiculous rate, what I tell you about the countries I have visited just won’t be relevant, or current, and you may end up going somewhere and it being nothing like I remember it! So I will really only speak of my travels this year, from February 2016 and keep adding to the blog as I move around, or indeed stay in one place (which I’m still classing as travel at this point as it’s not my home town – get it?)
I started the travelling yogi journey in Mysore, India and have made many blog posts about my time there back on my old blogger page: ye olde blogge I will do a whole post about this wonderful city and how it really took a piece of my heart and kept it there. I am hoping to return at some point towards the end of the year. I would say, although I heart Mysore, as a non yoga tourist you may only want to factor in a few days here. Really, it’s all about the yoga in Mysore for me.
Here’s some gratuitous pics from Mysore just to spice up this page/post
I am currently in Koh Phangan, teaching and working on a wonderful Yoga Retreat, of which I will also dedicate a whole post to…but for those of you when you hear Koh Phangan think ‘Full Moon Party’ with lots of young people drinking way too many bucket cocktails in neon vest tops, think again, the ‘other’ side of Koh Phangan is a deeply spiritual Yoga haven.
So, that’s basically a heads up before I start to do separate, more specific posts on the cities and islands I have been to this year. I don’t want to become a blog of ’10 bests’ I really want to try to write more holistically about the feel I get for a place, the Yoga in that place, and of course the food on offer in that place. If you like the sound of that, give me a follow – and thanks already for your support by just reading this post!