Let’s talk about food

Salad, superfood, healthy, plant based, vegan, vegetarian, yoga, health

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 ūüôā

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….

Up in the Mountains – Akasha Wellness Retreat

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

So I’m here in the mountains and living and working at the ¬†wonderful Akasha Wellness Retreat, in the heart of Transylvania, deep in the Carpathian Mountains, Romania. It is a stunning venue for a ‘first of it’s kind’ yoga and mediation retreat in Romania.

I’m into my third retreat, this week a ‘Sacred Feminine Yoga Retreat’ which started yesterday on International Womens Day, which is also Mother’s Day in Romania. Each retreat takes on a different theme, but they all include twice a day yoga, meditation and wonderful vegan food.

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

 

The kind of yoga we are teaching is an Ashtanga Fundamentals, a modified Primary Series in the mornings and the evening classes are Restorative and Yin Styles. Supporting this are meditation sessions at the end of class and dedicated meditation workshops to explain in more detail some of the techniques we use to help people start or improve a mediation practice.

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains
Mixed in with that are workshops & activities that are tailored to that week’s theme, for example we’ve had Gong Sound Baths, Tibetan Flag making, Chakra Balancing and Buddhist Meditation workshops and activities like 108 gratitude mandalas or guided walks through the beautiful village and hills that surround us 360 degrees.

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

 

The food is carefully curated to give you all the nutrients you need and for some, open their eyes (and mouths!) to a plant-based diet. It is delicious and healthy and will leave you feeling nourished and full. There are lots of organic teas to try plus plenty of lemon, ginger and apple cider to help aid digestion or simply to relax with a good book in the lounge or sit out on the balcony admiring the views.
You can also feel pampered and relaxed with the spa treatments, ranging from an outdoor hot tub and sauna with breathtaking views or choose from Swedish, Shaistu or Cranio Sacral therapy for your massages, or simply have a relaxing bath ritual with your own choice of salts and essential oils.

I can’t believe how lucky I am to have found this place and feel honoured to be teaching here and be part of the Akasha family, which includes the dogs, Tony, Bursuc, Luna and the little puppies we rescued, Phoenix, Shiva and Joy…and not forgetting crazy Beasley the dogcat!

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

For more information on our upcoming retreats check out the website, with flights from London starting as cheap as £20 РWHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? See you soon!

https://www.akasharetreat.com/

 

 

Where to eat in Canggu – my top choices to eat in Canggu

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:

Peleton

Entrance to Peleton Cafe 'Supershop' Canggu, Bali

 

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.

Fuel Good salad, Peleton Cafe, Canggu, Bali

close up of Fuel Good Salad, Peleton cafe, Canggu Bali

 

I also got food  envy of the table next to me who were eating the Burn Out Burger Рit 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.

inside Peleton cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

wall monuted single gear 'fixies' at peleton cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Crate Cafe

Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

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.

flat white - yeah life is crate at Crate Cafe, Bali

 

breakfast bowl, lifescrate, Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Peas Please, brunch style at Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

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.

wall menu at Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Betelnut Cafe

Betelnut Cafe at Sunset, Canggu

 

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.

Turmeric Lemonade at Betelnut Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Falefel Wrap, Betelnut Cafe, Canggu

 

The upstairs view was pretty awesome

The Sunset View at Betelnut Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

The Shady Shack

The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

wave after wave

 

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.

signature dish at Shady Shak, Canggu, Bali

 

Onsen Eggs - poached to perfection, The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

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!

 

interior, The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

bathroom blues, The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

Little Flinders

Little Flinders, Canggu Bali

 

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!

 

veggie burger and mash, Little Flinders, Bali

 

ginger tea

 

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

beautiful floor tiles, Little Flinders, Canggu, Bali

 

soft seating interiors at Little Flinders, Canggu, Bali

 

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??

Superfoods – what’s so great about them?

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.

Cacao

cacao spoon from google images

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!

Spirulina

spirulina powder images from well being secrets.com

 

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!

Goji Berries

goji-berries photo from bestherbalhealth.com

 

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 Рand the rest of the band  РBroccoli, Sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower.

image of cruicerfous veg from pblifestyles.com.au

 

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

benefits-of-eating-chia-seeds photo from authority nutrition

 

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.

You deserve it.

 

Plant Based? Raw? Detox? Juicing?

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.

 

Beet Treat, Raw Juice
Beetroot and Ginger Juice

 

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.

 

Beetroot and Quinoa Burger
Beetroot and Quinoa Burger, Orange and Carrot Salad

 

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.

 

floras and smoothie
Green Juice and Fruit Salad

 

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.

 

veg wrap
Raw Vegetable Wraps

 

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.

 

noodle soup, thailand, south east asia
vegetable noodle soup with tofu (South East Asia)

 

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’ !

 

The Yoga Retreat – Koh Phangan

‘Because I knew you
I have been changed for good’

(lyrics from For Good, Wicked the Musical, Stephen Schwartz)

So after my short holiday in Goa I hopped over to the Thai island of Koh Phangan where my good friends, Teresa and Kes Kennard, have a yoga retreat. They had offered me the chance to work on the retreat as a teacher and I had offered to help them with their online presence and social media.

The Yoga Retreat is a very special place nestled in the jungle in the North West of the island, but only a short distance from the beautiful bay of Haad Salad. When I say it’s a very special place I really, really mean this, not just because I work there or my friends own it, but because it has a wonderful energy and since arriving here in April I have seen it make such a positive impact on so many people’s lives that I feel it really deserves that accolade.

Focusing on Ashtanga Yoga the retreat offers daily Mysore style classes and beginner’s courses with KPJAYI Authorised teachers, so you can see why I took up the offer to work here with them, to continue to practice 6 days a week on the beautiful jungle shala with experienced, authorised teachers.

 

set up for yin practice

 

They also offer daily Hatha Flow classes (of which I teach on Friday’s) and Saturday’s and Sunday’s I teach a restorative Yin Class to work the connective tissue and fascia so to support people in their Ashtanga practice (let’s get those hip and hamstrings open!)

At the risk of sounding like I’m writing a review, the food on the retreat is some of the best food I’ve eaten. EVER. Deserving a post of its own, and definitely stealing some recipes for my health and nutrition posts, they offer vegan, vegetarian and raw options for the health conscious yogi…..cacao bowl breakfast, hummus salads, vegetable wraps, cacao and avocado mousse, raw pad thai, I mean seriously good stuff…mmmm I’m getting hungry and I only just had my cacao bowl!! (Have I overused the work cacao here?!)

 

veg wrap

 

So, yes the yoga is phenomenal, the food outstanding, but the real thing I love about working here? The people I have met. This is the joy of not only yoga, but travel, like-minded people from all over the world coming together and firm new friendships being made.

I have connected with people here who I hope to be friends and stay in touch with forever. A yoga retreat is a very transient business, which can be hard as you are always saying goodbye to somebody. You have to rejoice in the fact that you met in the first place, and that somehow you have made a positive impression on each others lives. And of course, now we have social media we can keep in touch with each other all over the world daily so in fact they only ever leave you in a physical presence.

 

run and jump bottle beach

 

the gang at sunset july 31 2016
*photo credit Fee Saxby

 

looking out at sunset happy beach

 

If I have tempted you with my story, then you can find out more about the packages on offer¬†‘change your life yoga’ here

 

Travelling Yogi

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!