This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Warrior 3 can be a difficult pose. In this peak pose practice we use props to make it accessible to all before trying the final pose with variations.

It's that time of year again when colds and flu viruses will start to creep up on us so we need to be ready. As well as your asana practice, pranayama (breathing techniques) can do much to stop these invaders causing havoc in your body.

Why do yoga teachers say 'You are your best teacher'?

Cumin - the common cold zapping spice

It's that time of year again when we may succumb to cold and flu viruses.  There are many theories as to why this is.  It could be that we are staying in more with the heating on or it could be that the shorter days have less sunlight to destroy the viruses.  

Cumin helps fight the viruses that cause the common cold.  It is really helpful if your cold is accompanied by a cough as it dries up mucus.  In addition, it is a source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is required in larger quantities by your immune system when fighting an infection, so it is important to keep levels optimum in your body.  It is also a source of vitamin A which helps keep your mucus membranes in tip top condition.

There are many recipes on this blog that use cumin.  Why not try my 'Sweet potato and dhal bake'- You can also make a cumin tea by stirring a teaspoon of powdered cumin in boiling water.  Allow to cool a little before drinking.  Do not drink more than once a day and avoid the cumin tea altogether if  you are pregnant.  

Stay well this autumn.

Home HIIT- Modified for the Over 40s

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

What is HIIT? 

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. The idea is that you do short bursts of intense exercise, followed by rest periods.  For under 40s, this means 3 minutes of intense exercise, followed by a rest.  This is repeated 5 times, totaling 15 minutes, and is practiced once a week.  HIIT has a great many benefits. These include: improved fitness; toning; slowing down the aging process; and improved vascular function. It also helps with weight control by increasing metabolism.  

However, HIIT is not usually recommended for the over 40s, especially where you have any medical condition or are not used to exercising.

The exercises below are my take on a HIIT session. However, it is vital that you talk to a qualified medical practitioner before starting this, or any other, exercise programme.

This session includes shorter bursts of exercise than in conventional HIIT- 30 seconds to 1 minute of Mountain Climbers is quite enough for me, thank you very much! The session is designed so that you can gradually build up intensity as you become fitter. Go at your own pace and listen to your body - remember, you know your body best.

Each of the exercises in this routine are performed for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Half Jacks 

Begin in a standing position. Briskly tap your right foot out to the side as you take your right arm over to the left, and then quickly come back to centre.  Repeat with the left arm and left leg, and then continue again on the right side.  
Rest until your breathing and heart rate have returned to normal.

Mountain Climbers

Begin on all fours, hands under your shoulders, knees under your hips. Move into a Plank position (see picture). Rapidly draw your right knee to your chest, and then return to Plank. Repeat on the other side. Continue to quickly alternate right and left legs. 
If you are unable to hold your body in a Plank position, stay on all fours and draw your knees into your chest as described above. 
Rest until your breathing and heart rate have returned to normal.

Skier One

Stand with your feet apart, arms straight.  Take your right foot back and towards the left, as you bend your left knee a little.  At the same time, reach down towards the floor on your right with your left hand.  Return to start position, switch sides and continue.  As you get fitter, you will be able to reach nearer the ground.  
Rest until your breathing and heart rate have returned to normal.

Skier Two

 Stand with your hands in fists, elbows bent, right arm and right leg behind, left arm and left leg in front. The front knee is bent (see picture). Rapidly switch sides with a jumping motion, bringing your left arm and left leg behind, and right leg and right arm in front. Continue switching sides. Speed up or slow down according to your level of fitness. 
Rest until your breathing and heart rate have returned to normal.

Scissor Twist 

Stand with your feet together, elbows bent outwards and lifted to chest height, middle fingers touching. Jump your feet to the right as you twist your arms to the left and continue. Speed up or slow down as necessary. If you are unable to jump the feet, keep your feet still and twist the torso left and right.

Rest until your breathing and heart rate have returned to normal.

Happy HIIT! 

Meatless Monday : Spicy vegetable and bean stew

Monday, 19 September 2016

Last week we talked about harvesting the dwarf french beans and tomatoes. Please see 'Organic fruit and veg garden update'- 

In this week's Meatless Monday we are using them to make a spicy vegetable and bean stew, perfect now the nights are drawing in and autumn is almost on us. If you do not have dwarf french beans, you could use runner beans. Enjoy with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Spicy vegetable and bean stew

Serves 2
You will need

1 tbsp organic olive oil 
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2-1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp coriander leaf
2 medium carrots
4 inch piece from neck end of squash, peeled and diced
handful dwarf frech beans or runner beans
1 medium courgette
6 cherry tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato puree
pinch stevia
1 tsp salt in 500ml hot water
1 can borlotti beans
coconut cream to top (optional)
fresh coriander to garnish (optional)

Heat the oil and cook the onion for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic, chilli, smoked paprika and coriander and cook a further minute.  Add the pink salt in water, carrots, squash and tomato puree with a pinch of stevia and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15minutes.  Add the dwarf french beans, courgettes and tomatoes and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes until the dwarf french beans are tender but still have a little crispness. Stir in the borlotti beans and heat through. Top with coconut cream if using and fresh coriander leaves.

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 18 September 2016

To prepare for bed a yoga practice needs to remove any tension from your body and calm your mind. In the last of our 'Yoga for real life series' we practice bedtime asanas, a breathing technique for bedtime and meditation. 
Blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog-

To accompany this week's yoga video on my 'sister' blog, 'Yoga for real life-bedtime yoga'- in this blog post we look at an Ayurveda evening routine-

''Why do yoga teachers say 'Don't forget to breathe'?'' Read more on my 'sister' blog-

Fennel seeds - the stomach soother spice

We have already talked about ginger and how it helps with nausea, gastric irritation and flatulence. Please see, 'Superfood-ginger'-

Fennel seeds too are great for the stomach.  Remember the gripe water your mother gave you as a baby or you gave your own children for colic? That was made from fennel.  In adults fennel seeds can help relieve heartburn and indigestion.  They help digestion, they are carminative and so relieve flatulence.  They are also a good source of fibre which helps relieve constipation and by doing so helps relieve bloating.  

Fennel is often used in curries for its aromatic qualities.  Please see my 'Chickpea, squash and coconut curry' .  Fennel seeds can also be used to make a tea or chew a few seeds before meals.

Fennel is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women or women with hormone sensitive conditions.

Organic Fruit and Veg Garden Update

Thursday, 15 September 2016

dwarf french beans

In the 40plusandalliswell organic garden we are harvesting the tomatoes and dwarf french beans at the moment. We also grew tomatoes last year - please see 'Organic Garden Update - Harvesting the tomatoes' which has a recipe for homemade tomato relish for you to enjoy.  

Growing dwarf french beans has been a convoluted process.  We first tried planting them on the allotment, but these failed to germinate.  Undeterred, we started again in June, initially planting them in pots in the greenhouse. When these were 6-8 inch tall, we moved them into the raised bed where they seemed much 'happier'. Harvest when they are 10cm (4 inch) dwarf french beans are great if you do not like 'stringy' bits, and I intend to use them in a bean and vegetable stew (coming soon to my regular Meatless Monday slot!).

Already we are looking forward to next year's harvests. Early autumn is the time to plant your Japanese onion sets, which are sometimes referred to as autumn planting onions.  These can be planted from now until November for harvesting from May to July. We are planting a hundred onion sets, so we shouldn't be short of an onion or two come late spring! Plant them pointed side up 10cm apart and leave 30cm between rows.

planting onion sets

Over the last couple of weeks also we have been nourishing the allotment with well-rotted manure to replace all the nutrients that our crops have taken from the soil so that the plants we grow next year will have all the nutrients they need- it's a bit of a stinky job, but somebody's got to do it! 

Happy planting!

Meatless Monday: Chickpea, and lentil dhal

Monday, 12 September 2016

This tasty dish is packed with vegetable protein from the lentils and chickpeas.  It can also  be varied in many ways.  We like to add cauliflower florets which become flavoured with the spices or you could use diced potatoes or sweet potatoes. 

Chickpea, and lentil dhal
Serves 2-3

You will need

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
75g brown lentils
75g dried chickpeas, cover in water and soak for a few hours or use a 400g can chickpeas
1 tsp turmeric 
1/2 - 1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp pink salt in 500ml water
handful spinach plus extra to serve
1/2 can coconut milk

Heat the oil and cook the onion for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the chickpeas and lentils, pink salt in water, spices and tomato puree and cook on a medium heat for 30-35 minutes until the chickpeas and lentils are tender and the liquid reduced (add extra water if you need to to prevent catching).  Stir in the spinach and cook for a further minute or two to wilt. Stir in the coconut milk and heat through.  Garnish with spinach leaves.

Serving suggestion- Serve with brown rice.

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Our yoga video this week is an after-work wind down to enable you to leave physical and mental tension behind and energize for the evening ahead. 

Ayurveda evening meal tips. Please see my 'sister' blog -

Why do yogis say, 'You are as young as your spine is flexible'? Find out on my 'sister' blog-

Cinnamon - the blood sugar balancer

Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of the cinnamomum tree - it is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory but it is especially beneficial for balancing blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels 'spike' above and dip below normal you will feel effects such as fatigue and irritability.

Normally glucose, the end product of digestion enters the blood, the pancreas releases insulin which takes the glucose to the cells of the body to be used for their metabolism or to the liver to be stored as glycogen and this restores blood sugar levels to a set level.  Sometimes however, especially as we get older, we can become insulin resistant meaning that insulin no longer works in the way it should and the result may be Type 2 diabetes.  Cinnamon can improve sensitivity to insulin which is why there has been interest in the spice to help with Type 2 diabetes.  Do not do this however with talking to your medical practitioner.

Also cinnamon lowers blood sugar by slowing down the breakdown of carbs so that glucose enters the blood stream at a steady rate which your body can deal with.  

One to four grams of cinnamon is enough - too much can have serious side effects.  It should only be taken for up to 6 weeks and not if you are on blood thinners or have a heart condition. Ceylon cinnamon is best or use very small amounts.  Use in porridge, rice puddings, custards and milky drinks made with alternative milks such as soya, almond, oat etc or use in curries and soups.

Is it possible to avoid statins with diet?

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Please note- Always discuss your cholesterol lowering options with your medical practitioner. 

When I was studying for my degree in the 90s, I spent a day at a local hospital along with my fellow students, helping a researcher who was trying to establish whether or not there was a genetic link to high cholesterol levels. These days it is well known that there can be a genetic link which is known as familial hypercholestremia. Ironically the following month my husband had a heart attack at age only 39 - his cholesterol was really high and he believed this was an inherited condition. This was the first of three heart attacks and he died at age only 46 in spite of being on statins.  We were not as clued up on nutrition in those days- I have since studied nutrition and nutritional therapy and I know now that it is not just a matter of cutting out saturated fat from the diet.  

There has been a great deal of press in recent years about putting even healthy people on statins.  This is a result of NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) in 2014 recommending that people who have a 10% risk of heart disease over the following 10 years should be put on statins whereas previously the recommendation was for people with a 20% risk.  

So what is cholesterol and how does it lead to cardiovascular disease?  Cholesterol is made mainly in the liver. Cholesterol does have an important role in the body - it is used to produce bile and steroid hormones such as progesterone in women and testosterone in men.  It is only when cholesterol levels get high in the blood that the problems start. There are two types HDL (Healthy cholesterol which has a protective effect carrying cholesterol away from arteries to the liver) and LDL (Lethal cholesterol which is the more dangerous form of cholesterol which can form plaques which may block the arteries which supply the heart. This is what leads to a heart attack).   

I know you are probably fed up of me saying this but it is really important to avoid inflammation in your body. Please see 'How can vegans eat to beat inflammation?'-  Refined carbs are digested quickly loading the body with simple sugars.  If they are not used immediately for energy they are converted to pro-inflammatory saturated fat - this is why you should have slow release carbs in your diet - wholemeal pasta, wholemeal bread, brown rice, etc . which release slowly and are more likely therefore to be used for energy.  If the linings of arteries become inflamed plaques stick to the inflammation like a 'sticking plaster', eventually blocking the artery. 

Soluble fibre is key to healthy. Soluble fibre found in oats which forms a gel like substance, beta-glucans in the gut which binds to cholesterol and bile in the gut - the liver then produces more bile using up cholesterol.  Other sources of soluble fibre include peas, beans, lentils.

All fibre is important however because it slows down the release of simple sugars into the blood regulating blood sugar as discussed above.  Include plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds in your cholesterol lowering diet. Soy products can lower LDL cholesterol.

Avoid saturated fats and transfats which raise LDL cholesterol levels but include heart healthy fats such as omega3s.  Please see 'Where do vegans get their omega 3s from?'-

Also avoid alcohol and smoking - alcohol can increase triglyceride levels in the blood and smoking can lower the protective HDL.

Meatless Monday: Tofu nugget tortillas

Monday, 5 September 2016

This is an ideal recipe to serve to a crowd - just scale up the quantities. Your guests will enjoy assembling their own - provide a variety of salad veg to go with them.  They also make a great alternative to chicken nuggets for vegans.  

Tofu nugget tortillas
Serves 3-4
You will need

400g pack tofu, cut into small cubes
3 tbsp tamari
1/2 tsp stevia

75g polenta
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
Olive oil spray 

To serve 
3-4 tortillas
lime wedges
Also choose from the following 
Shredded lettuce
Tomato slices 
Corn kernels
Top with 
Coconut cream and fresh coriander (optional)

Remove the tofu from the packaging and place the tofu on kitchen paper to absorb any liquid so that the marinate will be taken up by the tofu.  Place the tamari and stevia in a bowl and add the tofu cubes.  Place in the fridge and marinate the tofu for around an hour until the tamari is absorbed.  

On a large plate mix the polenta, garlic powder and chilli.  Add the mariated tofu and toss to completely coat the tofu.  Spray a baking tray with olive oil spray and spread the coated tofu over the tray.  Spray the tofu with the spray and place in an oven at 200 degrees for around 2o minutes, stirring the tofu once, until the tofu are crispy. For the last 10 minutes place the tortillas wrapped in foil on a low shelf in the oven.

To serve separate the tortillas, place them on plates and add your salad of choice.  Top with tofu nuggets and coriander and coconut cream if using. Serve with lime wedges.

Recipe © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 4 September 2016

If you sit for long periods at a desk, you need to be taking regular stretch breaks. In this week's YOGA VIDEO I have included yoga poses that would be suitable for a stretch break or a slightly longer lunch break yoga sequence. Also a meditation to do at your desk.
Please see my 'sister' blog-

Over the summer I have been having fun making these five yoga practices for children. Join me on my yoga adventures!!!
Link to my 'sister' blog- 

Ayurveda tips for a happy, healthy lunch break.
Please see my 'sister' blog-

It's back to school week. If your child is feeling anxious about returning to school or starting a new school you might want to try this yoga sequence and meditation on my 'sister' blog to help calm their anxiety-

Turmeric - the brain protector spice

If you are a regular visitor to 40plusandalliswell you will know that I often use turmeric in my recipes.  Turmeric provides colour (care - it can stain clothes) and gives an earthy, aromatic flavour to dishes but it also has many health benefits including a protective effect on the brain.  

Dementia has now overtaken cancer as our most feared disease and one of the constituents of turmeric, curcumin can help protect your brain in several ways. 

Firstly curcumin is anti-inflammatory.  This is beneficial because inflammation in the brain can lead to brain cell degeneration and impairment of brain function.  Please see also 'How can vegans eat to beat inflammation'-

Curcumin is also antioxidant.  This means that it can neutralise free radicals that get into your body through pollution and are even formed as a result of your metabolism.  If left unchecked these free radicals can damage brain cells leading to loss of cognitive function. 

Several studies have also shown that curcumin also can help regulate cholesterol in the blood. This helps prevent the arteries that supply the brain developing plaques which would impair blood supply to the brain.  Your brain is a big user of oxygen relative to its size - it uses three times as much as your muscles and this oxygen is carried to it in the blood.  If your brain cells are oxygen deprived they will be damaged and again this will impair brain function.  

Excitingly, especially for vegans, curcumin can stimulate the enzymes that convert ALA (alpha linolenic acid) to DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is essential for normal brain function. 

The main sources of DHA in the diet is oily fish, which of course is not available to vegans but ALA can be sourced from such foods as soy, flaxseeds and walnuts which are available to vegans.

If this is not enough to convince you curcumin also stimulates neurogenesis (growth of new brain tissue) and neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to form new neural pathways).

How much turmeric do you need to take take daily to get the health benefits?  About half a teaspoon a day of powdered turmeric should be fine.  Use in soups, curries, smoothies or tossed into roasted veg or stirred through rice.  Alternatively you could just take it as a tea.

Summer ices 3 - banoffee 'nice' cream sundaes

Thursday, 1 September 2016

You really will not believe that such a yummy 'sticky toffee' sauce can be made without dairy or sugar but give it a try and be amazed!  Banana and toffee flavours combine so well and sure you will want to come back to this one for a sweet treat. I am using lucuma powder which is made from a fruit which comes from Peru.  It has a sweet, caramelly flavour that is perfect for the 'sticky toffee' sauce.  It is also a source of fibre, iron, carotene and B3.

Banoffee 'nice' cream sundaes
Serves 2 generously
You will need

2 large ripe bananas, peeled, chopped and frozen
For the 'sticky toffee' sauce
100g Medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp lucuma
2 tbsp coconut milk (use the rest in a curry or a smoothie)

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 milk and voila you have your 'sticky toffee' sauce. Transfer to a bowl.  

Place half the frozen banana in the blender and whiz until smooth.  Stir in half the 'sticky toffee' sauce and divide between sundae dishes.  Quickly whiz up the remaining frozen banana and top up the sundae dishes.  Drizzle the remaining 'sticky toffee' sauce over and serve immediately.

Recipe © 2016 40plusandalliswell

You may also like my recipes for :-

'Summer 'nice' cream lollies'-

'Summer ices 2 - Apple crumble nice cream - Dairy free and no added sugar'-