Happy, healthy 2017

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Every year we make resolutions that are intended to change us- 'I will lose weight', ' I will get fitter', etc.  More often than not our goals are unrealistic and up to 90% of resolutions fail before January is out.

This year might I suggest an alternative? Instead of punishing resolutions, why not 'resolve' to cultivate self-love? This is not selfish - without self-love you have no base to give out love to others.  When you love yourself, faults and all, you feel more connected to others and your interactions with them will be compassionate - so everyone benefits. Also when you cultivate self-love, you will find that you will want to eat better because you care enough about yourself to want to nourish your body well and you will find your natural healthy weight.  You will also want to move more to feel energized and take time just for you each day to relax. 

I hope you will stay with me for another year on our wellness journey together.  

Happy New Year!

Vegan Black Forest Trifle- No Added Sugar and Gluten Free

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

This deliciously indulgent dessert is perfect for a New Year's celebration. So rich and chocolatey- yet there is no added sugar or gluten! Go on, treat yourself 😃 The no added sugar chocolate cake in this recipe is my 'Chocolate Fruit and Nut Christmas Cake'  


Serves 6-8
You will need

'Chocolate Fruit and Nut Christmas Cake', divided into large chunks (I used about half of the cake).
250g frozen cherries, defrosted

For the cherry jelly
Vegetarian gelatine subtitute
400ml cherry juice
Stevia to taste (if required) 

For the chocolate 'custard'
2 heaped tbsp custard powder
1flat tbsp cacao
2 tbsp stevia or to taste
400ml soya milk

For the topping
Coconut cream from a can of coconut milk, whipped -  (optional)
6 squares vegan sugar-free chocolate, grated

Arrange the cake pieces at the bottom of a glass dish.  Arrange the cherries evenly on top.  
To make the cherry jelly, place the cherry juice in a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatine over. Mix well. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool enough to spoon over the cake and cherries and leave to set.

To make the chocolate 'custard', place the custard powdered cacao a in a saucepan and mix with the stevia.  Add the soya milk a little at a time mixing well so that no lumps form.  Heat until the 'custard' thickens.  Allow to cool,then spoon over the set jelly.  

Top with coconut cream (if using) and sprinkle the custard or coconut cream with grated chocolate. 


Meatless Monday : Persian inspired bejeweled nut loaf

Monday, 26 December 2016

Pomegranate seeds always remind me of little jewels - just the thing to add a little sparkle to a vegan New Year. This nut loaf also is spicy - great for spicing up the start of 2017!

Persian inspired bejeweled nut loaf

Serves 4-6

You will need 

1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8

450g squash, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, cut in two then sliced lengthways
Olive oil spray
150g chestnuts
150g brown lentils, rinsed
150g mixed nuts (such as brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts), chopped
150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp pink salt in 150ml hot water
Seeds from 1/2 large pomegranate
4 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Make slits in the chestnut shells. Place the onion, squash, carrots and chestnuts on a baking tray. Spray with olive oil spray then roast for 20 mins. When the chestnuts are cool enough to handle remove from their shells, dscard the shells and cut the chestnuts into four.

Meanwhile place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to the boil and reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes until the lentils are tender then drain.

Place the cooked lentils, roast vegetables, chestnuts, nuts, mushrooms,chilli,coriander,turmeric and pomegranate seeds in an ovenproof dish and mix thoroughly with the salted water.  Place in the oven at 200 degrees for 40-50 minutes.Turn out onto a serving plate.

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Yoga offers us several tools to deal with anxiety. In this week's video we focus on being in the present moment by focusing on sensation in asana practice. Please see my 'sister' blog-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/yoga-for-anxiety-present-moment-part-1.html

Bring back the magic of Christmas with this yoga sequence to quieten your mind so that you can open up to the magic of the Christmas season. Please see my 'sister' blog-http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/mindful-christmas-magical-christmas_21.html This blog post was included in the 'Yoga Vitality Magazine'-http://paper.li/Yoga_Vitality/1336524135?edition_id=74560e10-c7df-11e6-8c0f-0cc47a0d1605

Here are some ideas for your Christmas yoga practices. There's also a couple of children's yoga practices too!

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

Our memories of Christmas are created as much by smells as by sight and sound. Bringing the outdoors in with a real Christmas tree has been shown to be beneficial to wellbeing but even if you do not have a real tree this year you can still get some of the benefits using a few drops of pine essential oil in a diffuser.  

Pine essential oil does so much more than create a Chistmasy smell, it also can help protect your home from microbes, the bacteria etc that thrive when we are spending more time in centally heated homes.  Added to this pine essential oil is enegizing which may help prevent the Christmas Day slump if you have been up early with children or grandchildren.  It also lifts mood and reduces stress making family arguments less likely.

Other essential oils you might like to use over the Christmas period include frankinsense (stress relieving) and myrrh (antimicrobial) because of their religious associations, and tangerine, cinnamon and ginger because of their associations with Christmas.

Wishing you a very happy and healthy Christmas and New Year

Vegan chocolate yule stump cake

Friday, 23 December 2016

I haven't yet mastered making a yule log (but this doesn't mean I won't!) but this chocolate yule stump cake is a great alternative.  Baking cakes without sugar can cause the cake to be a little on the dry side so I have used dates both for sweetness and to add moisture. The cake is also gluten free.

Vegan chocolate yule stump cake

You will need

300g Medjool dates, pitted
250ml boiling water
 160g dairy free spread
20g stevia
300g rice flour
100g cacoa
2 tsp baking powder
Egg substitute equivalent to 4 eggs
200ml soya milk

For the frosting
Coconut cream from 2 cans coconut milk - tip place in the fridge to separate the cream out (use the rest in a smoothie)
4 tbsp stevia
2 tbsp cacao

Place the pitted dates in a bowl and cover with the boiling water.  Allow to cool then blend the dates with the water in which they were soaked. 

Cream the dairy free spread and stevia. Add the blended dates along with the remainder of the ingredients except the soya milk.  Mix well then add the soy milk a little at a time mixing to make a batter.  

Grease and flour two 8in shallow cake tins and divide the mixture evenly between the two. 

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 200 degrees.  Allow to cool.

Place the coconut cream in a bowl with the stevia and whip until light.  Use a third to cover one half of the cake then place the other half on top.  Add 2tbsp cacao to the remainder of the cream, mix thoroughly then use to cover top and sides of the cake. Use a fork to make 'bark' markings on the top and sides.  

Eat within two days, or open freeze it then cover with cling film.

Happy Christmas!

Nut roast stuffed Portobello mushrooms with cranberry glaze

Monday, 19 December 2016

Portobello mushrooms add a 'meatiness' to this year's nut roast recipe, and the cranberry glaze says 'Christmas'.  

Nut roast stuffed Portobello mushrooms with cranberry glaze
Serves 2-4

You will need

75g brown lentils
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 x 4inch piece squash from neck end, peeled, roasted and when cool diced
2 small parsnips, roasted and when cool diced
75g mixed nuts, chopped
1 tsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
75g breadcrumbs 
1 tsp pink salt in 100ml hot water approx
4 large Portobello mushrooms

For the Cranberry glaze 

You will need

75g cranberries
1 tsp stevia or according to taste
1 tbsp tamari

Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes. Drain well.  

Heat the oil and cook the onion for 3 minutes.  Add the crushed garlic and continue to cook for a further minute or so.  Remove from the heat.  Add the squash, parsnips, nuts, sage, rosemary, thyme, breadcrumbs, cooked lentils and nutritional yeast.  Add the salt in hot water to combine the ingredients. Place the mushrooms on a baking tray then use the mixture to stuff the Portobello mushrooms.

To make the cranberry glaze place the cranberries in a saucepan with the stevia, tamari and 4 tablespoons water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat until the mixture thickens.  Use to glaze the mushrooms. Cover loosely with kitchen foil and place in an oven at 200 degrees for 20-30 minutes. 

Serve with red cabbage (please see 'Eat a Rainbow-Red cabbage') and mashed carrot and swede if you wish.

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 18 December 2016

In this week's yoga video to help with anxiety, we are helping to prevent panic attacks.
Please see my 'sister' blog- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/yoga-for-anxiety-preventing-panic.html

Get your digestion in tip top condition ready to cope with the Christmas feasting with this yoga sequence. Yogis believe complete wellness stems from good digestion but the holidays can make our digestion sluggish resulting in indigestion, bloating and constipation.
Please see my 'sister' blog- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/yoga-for-digestion-part-2.html

It's Christmas Eve at Santa's workshop and all the elves are really busy putting the finishing touches to toys for all the girls' and boys' toys. In this fun yoga sequence on my 'sister' blog, children can help Santa get the toys ready-

Christmas Gingerbread Granola

There has been some complaining this year that the house 'does not smell of Christmas' yet. This is because usually I make Ginger Cookie Christmas Tree Decorations - vegan, sugar-free or similar. This year instead I am making a Christmas gingerbread granola.  This gingerbread granola has the 'toffeeness' and gingeriness of gingerbread.  It would make a delicious start to Christmas Day served with soy or coconut yogurt and berries.  It is also yummy served with 'nice cream' - simply whiz up two bananas that have been peeled, chopped and frozen with a little almond or soy milk.

Christmas Gingerbread Granola

You will need
150g mixed nuts, chopped
120g oats
10g stevia
2 tsp ginger
Olive oil spray

Toffee sauce
100g Medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp lacuma
2 tbsp coconut cream

First make the toffee sauce.  Place the Medjool dates in a bowl and add boiling water to just cover them.  Leave to cool then whiz up in a high speed blender with the lucuma and coconut cream. 

In a bowl mix the nuts oats, stevia and ginger.  Stir in the toffee sauce then transfer to a baking tray, spreading the mixture evenly.  Bake at 200 degrees for 25 minutes stirring once or twice.  Leave to cool.  

The granola should keep for several days in the fridge or you can freeze it.   

Home made natural facial peel for party ready skin

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Facial peels are also known as AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) peels.  Home made ones use naturally occurring acids to break down the bonds between dead skin cells so that they easily slough off leaving glowing, new skin below.  A peel can also increase the thickness of the deeper layers of skin, increasing firmness. They can  help remove facial age spots and fine lines.  These acids include citric acid (in citrus fruits such as lemon), glycolic acid (sugar), malic acid (apples), tartaric acid (grapes). You can get commercial ones but by making your own, you avoid any toxic additives.   

Be aware however that these peels can make your skin drier so moisturise well.  They can also make your skin more sun sensitive so use plenty of sun screen.  Discontinue use if your skin becomes at all irritated and take extra care if you have sensitive skin.  You might want to do a patch test first.

Try this malic acid peel
You will need

2 tbsp stewed apples - peel, core and dice a medium apple and place in a saucepan with a little water.  Cook over a low heat until the apples go to a liquid mush.

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Allow the apples to cool then mix with the apple cider vinegar.  Apply to your face with circular movements avoiding the eye area.  Leave for 10 minutes then rinse with warm water. 

Moisturise well.

Meatless Monday: Vegan cornbread mini pizzas

Monday, 12 December 2016

These mini pizzas are ideal for Christmas buffets or enjoy them as a quick lunch with a salad. Using cornbread as a base means that they are also gluten free. The bases can be made ahead if time is short.

Vegan cornbread mini pizzas
Makes 12

For the cornbread base

120g cornmeal 
50g rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp organic olive oil
1tbsp lemon juice
200ml almond milk or soya 

For the topping

1 avocado mashed
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
pinch salt
120g chestnut or button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red pepper, 
1 tbsp tamari

Prepare the cornbread bases by placing all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix the lemon juice with the milk (it will start to curdle) and add to the bowl with the olive oil.  Mix well to form a batter then fill a bun tin for 12 buns with the batter.  Place in an oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes until risen and set.  Turn out and place on a rack to cool.  

Meanwhile heat the oil and cook the onion with a pinch of salt (this helps the onion become translucent quicker). Add the mushrooms, peppers and tamari then continue to cook until the vegetables are tender.  

When the bases are cool, mix the nutritional yeast with the mashed avocado and spread over the bases.  Divide the onion, pepper and mushroom mixture between the bases.  Serve.  

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 11 December 2016

It feels like we have been on a journey together in this yoga series on anxiety- one which has come to the point now where we are ready to let go of the things in our lives that are no longer serving us. 
Blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/yoga-for-anxiety-letting-go.html

If you eat too much over Christmas (and who doesn't?) this pose may help.
Read more on my 'sister' blog- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/yoga-for-digestion-part-1.html

If there is one thing this world needs at the moment, it is joy. I have noticed that this year many people have put up their Christmas decs well before advent which I think is a sign that people are ready for something to brighten up their lives. 
The yoga practice on my 'sister' blog will also help you feel joy by opening your heart to love, compassion,and a sense of being one with all beings- http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/joy-to-world-intermediate-practice.html

Christmas Lace Owl

It seems like owls have been everywhere for the last year or so- appearing on everything from bags to teapots- so I thought I'd make one for the tree! This little fella is a breeze to make, and his lacy ruffles add an extra-special touch.

🎄 You will need: 🎄

Three sheets of felt in colours of your choice
Two pieces of lace in colours of your choice (it will vary how much you use according to how wide your lace is, but 1m of each should be plenty)
Small Craft Scissors
Needle and Pins
Sewing thread in colours complementing your felt
Small piece of ribbon for hanging loop
Craft scissors
Two small beads/buttons (optional)

❤ Let's go! ❤

Begin by printing out the template below.

Pin the pattern pieces to the felt and cut out.

Pin the head pattern piece to one of the body pieces, but don't sew it on just yet.

You make each lace ruffle by making small pleats in the lace (about 75mm wide) and sewing them in place (a simple running stitch will do the job nicely).

A helpful tip is to keep the ends of each ruffle neat by tucking the lace under itself at the start and finish of the row to hide any raw edges. Start the first ruffle near the base of your owl's body (see photo above). Then sew on a second row just above the first, overlapping slightly each time so you don't see the stitching that holds the lace in place.

Repeat until you have one lace row-width left between the lace you have stitched in place and your owl's head (see photo below).

For the final row, tuck the lace pleats under the edge of the felt piece that forms your owl's head (you might need to use pins to hold everything in place whilst you get the stitching done). A row of stitches on the lower edge of the owl's head holds the lace in place (see picture below).

Next sew on the head detail, but don't worry about sewing the top edge- you'll do this when you sew around the entirety of your owl's head and body.

Sew on the eyes and beak. If you like, you can sew on small beads or buttons to put a little bit of sparkle in your owl's eyes 😄

Pin together the back and front pieces of your owl, right sides out. Sandwich a small piece of ribbon between the back and front body pieces for a hanging loop. Sew round the entire outline of your owl's head and body- simply lift up the rows of lace so you can carry on sewing around the edge.

And that's it- you're done! A lovely owl to decorate your tree- owl's well that ends well 🐥

(If you enjoyed this craft, you might also like to check out the pom-pom snowman I made last week 😄)