Online lockdown with Sampoorna Yoga

Dreams of travelling to Mother India have danced around my mind for a whole decade. Now with my wedding just around the corner, my daughter old enough to be away from me and the money I had worked so bloomin hard to save, my thirst was finally about to be quenched. I could almost taste the aromatic spices of India’s sweet teas. This was happening…

Or so I thought!!!

…3am sitting in my dark front room, after a late night bar shift I couldn’t control my tears. The TV illuminated with the news of Covid-19 and my chest felt full of sympathy for all those affected.  A couple of weeks later the phone calls and text massages went out to announce the cancellation of our wedding, our honeymoon, my trip to India and well, just about everything else. 

While mindlessly scrolling my way through Instagram one evening, I came across a post about online yoga teacher training from the very school I was planning to visit. This was poles-apart from what I wanted, yet a few days later I found myself thinking ‘the whole world has been turned upside down – just move with the flow of it’. Feeling privileged to even have the opportunity, I grabbed my laptop and signed up.

Never did I imagine yoga teacher training would consist of me wearing pyjamas in my front room, attempted headstands while walking the dog, zoom meetings on the sofa and my daughter’s iridescent pencil case. Yet there I was at the starting line of something I had no idea would change my perspective of this wonderful practice for good.  It’s difficult to put into words, without sounding trivial, how my time spent during this course has impacted upon me. But to sum it up as simply as possible, it was like a group of wise women taking me by the hand and saying, “this my dear is how to lay solid foundations.”

I don’t think it would be fair to compare the online training with the customary way in which things are usually done, but perhaps you have young children at home, perhaps you can’t afford to travel to India or maybe you’ve always wanted to train but can’t get the time off work? In these strange times of social distancing and uncertainty, there is a portal open for you to virtually peak into the home of Sampoorna Yoga, with all it’s wonderful teachers, an opportunity in which to learn and expand.

I do believe this is a fabulous way in which to start the beginning of your journey, because for me, in some weird twist of fate, rather than arriving home from a love affair trip away with yoga, I have somehow found growth among piles of washing, bills and housework.

My practice has forged herself onto the four walls of my council flat – a home birth, to my path of yoga, born right in the centre of my living room rug!

So there it is, I’m a YOGA TEACHER! I have so much more to learn, which excites me enormously. The beginning of a life long journey. Until I have the opportunity to arrive in person at this amazing school (which I am still undoubtedly planning to do!) I will continue onward on this path, taking it to all areas of my life, because it is more than just a title, it’s a way of living.

Thank you ALL Sampoorna Yoga. Until we meet again.

– Namaste –

sampoornayoga.com


Pink Peppercorn Brownies

I love how these attractive little pink peppercorns give the ‘brownie’ a mature interesting savoury element, that kinda sings laaaaaaa when united with the dark chocolate and hazelnuts.

If at all possible, please source your eggs from a small independent seller, who clearly cares and looks after their hens. 

Ingredients:

  • 170g Dark chocolate (I used Lindt 90%)
  • 120g Vegan Butter 
  • 3 Eggs (from happy chicks!)
  • 3 tsp of pink peppercorns crushed
  • 100g toasted hazelnuts, chopped (skins removed)
  • pinch of salt 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180c and line a baking tin (8×8 inch is what I used) with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler and stir until smooth and glossy 
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and salt (preferably with an electric whisk) until light, fluffy and doubled in volume.
  4. Carefully stir the chocolate mix into the eggs and once combined gently fold in the hazelnuts. Pour into the prepared tin and sprinkle with the pink peppercorns. 
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 mins. Leave to cool in the tin before serving.

 – Enjoy –


Ginger and Apricot Breakfast Bread

Quarantine Kitchen Series

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 I have been *more than usual* thinking about the types of food to feed my family. Although I have a small library of cookery books, it’s proving to be of little value since I can’t shop in the way I otherwise would.

So I’ve been putting my creative head on and coming up with recipes that still provide all the right vitamins and minerals, but can be created from the store cupboard and will keep.

I’ve been quite enjoying the challenge and my latest creation I’m pretty proud of. Hence me using this space to brag about it!!!

You can really taste the fiery ginger in this recipe, it’s perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the apricot, but if heat isn’t your thing half the amount of ginger and you should be fine.

I have chosen apricots as they are rich in vitamin A and added the ginger, primarily because my Nanny used to tell me it was super good for you, and she was right about most things!

However if you don’t want to take Nanny’s word for it, I have added a link below giving much more detail on the matter of wonderful ginger.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger#section7

Ingredients

  • 500 ml hot, strong black tea
  • 250g dried apricots chopped
  • 100g crystallised ginger chopped
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 200g self-raising flour (I used Doves wheat-free flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 Tbsp of sunflower oil
  • 1 flax egg (2 Tbsp ground flax, mixed with 5 Tbsp water, stand for 10 mins)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 170c/Gas Mark 3. Pour the tea into a bowl and add the apricots, ginger and porridge. Let sit until the ingredients soak up the tea.
  2. Line a 1kg loaf tin with baking parchment. In a separate bowl add the flour and baking powder.
  3. Once the tea mixture has cooled, add the oil, flax egg and mix.
  4. Add the tea mix to the dry flour mix and combine well. Then pour into the prepared tin.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, then cover the top with foil and bake for a further 10 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin. Cut into slices, add butter, jam or whatever you like. You can store this in the fridge to keep longer, or cut into slices and freeze.

Date and Prune Brownies

Chunky but light! I believe this recipe was originally taken from the Vegan Society which *like most recipes* I have added, subtracted and generally done my own thing until I feel it reflects me and my naughty little taste buds.

You can add a topping of your choice, almonds, a dusting of cocoa powder perhaps? I found an half eaten bit of white vegan chocolate in my cupboard, so I had to use it!

Ingredients

  • 8oz organic wheat-free plain flour
  • 250ml soya or nut milk of choice
  • 50ml sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 4oz prunes
  • 3oz dates
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp carob powder
  • 8oz coconut sugar or 6 Tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 180c and line a baking tin (8×8 inch is what I used) with parchment paper.
  2. Place the dates and prunes into a tea cup and add boiling water, just enough to cover the fruit. Leave to cool.
  3. Take a couple of tablespoons of the flour and put into a saucepan, over a medium heat, gradually add the soya milk and continue to stir until it thickens. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
  4. In a blender, add the oil, sugar, vanilla essence and add the cooled dates and prunes along with their water and blend.
  5. Add the flour, cocoa and carob powder to the blender and blitz until smooth.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 25-35 minutes, until firm and springy.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin and serve

 – ENJOY –


Pumpkin Spice Body Scrub

This is a super easy, super quick body scrub recipe, that is so simple you can make it while you have your bath running.

It smells absolutely AMAZING and is the prefect autumnal luxury, without costing the earth or being drenched in chemicals.

This recipe will make a 200g Jar so please double it, if you think you’ll need more or want to gift them as Christmas presents.

 

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Ingredients

  • 8 oz Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Pumpkin Spice Mix (See below)
  • 200 ml Grapeseed Oil

Spice Mix *This recipe is from livewellbakeoften.com*

  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

– Mix spices together and store in a clean jar.

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until combined. Then pour into a clean sterilized jar.

 

 – Enjoy –


Defensiveness kills connection

Shrinking myself as much as I could I squeezed my way down the aisle of a crowded train looking for my reserved seat.

I was tired, a little hungry and not really in the mood to talk. But it looked as though I would be sharing my seat with a middle-aged gentleman, wearing what looked like a very expensive suit. I was wearing my dirty dog walking boots, with messy hair & a scarf I bought at a charity shop for a pound.  Feeling slightly self-conscious I awkwardly sat down.

Soon a conversation started between the gentleman and myself and to no real surprise he told he was a lawyer from London. I was wary and reserved at first – admittedly this was due to the fact I had read too many books saying most lawyers are sociopath’s or narcissists – cue the paranoia!

In that 2 hour journey we exchanged so much about our lives, about love, divorce, bereavement, children, pets…. although we seemed like chalk and cheese, we in fact had a lot in common. We both laughed a lot and the chuckled conversations seemed to spread to the retired couple sitting in front of us. They then shared their stories of travels and how they had only been in Rome that very morning. The strong viking looking man, sitting to the side of us also joined in. Telling us how he had a busy week away from his family and was happy to be returning home. Then to my surprise another two women, a few seats down, giggling away and who kindly said I had an infectious laugh.

Before long a group of strangers were all in engaged in conversation. Something had shifted; we all seemed to have vibrated onto the same frequency of openness.  Which felt entirely right.

Saying my good byes, I stepped off the train and realised I haven’t eaten my sandwich. I was buzzing with so much warmth I forgot I was even hungry. Walking to my car while stuffing my very late (it was now dinner) lunch into my mouth a wave of something, exhilaration maybe, came over me.

 

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It was a bit like that feeling you get when you fall in love, like you’re transported to some other realm of consciousness. Your body feels light and every day spaces, like train stations on damp afternoons, take on some kind of enchantment. Everything feels magical, connected and blissful.

“Defensiveness kills connection. Curiosity deepens it”

How wonderful it feels when we decide to give to people, when we decide to open our heart and allow space for them to open theirs.

There was so much abundance radiating from that small carriage. What started out, for most of us I’m sure, as the usual sealed envelopes that we carry with us for protection, gradually became unstuck.

And that’s when the mundane become exotic.

~ Namaste ~

 

 

 


Baked Spiced Apples with Date Sauce

“Blankets of fog hug the frosty morning.  My hands are buried deep into my coat pockets and inhales of cold crisp air rejuvenate my lungs.

I observe beautiful Devon, as she turns into her magical fairy-tale land, full of wisdom. She whispers her secrets, to those who choose to listen.”

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After a busy summer, I’m back in my kitchen baking.  The house is filled with the smell of baked apples, spices and sweet things.  It’s been over a year since I posted a recipe and today I actually managed to take some photos and find the time to share it.

My antiquated iPhone and my photography education [lack of], have not done this beautiful pudding justice.  Do look past the dodgy photos and I promise you, there is a scrumptious dessert to be had.

 

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Ingredients 

  • 6 Apples
  • 4oz Dried Figs, chopped
  • 7oz Walnuts, chopped
  • Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3oz Vegan Butter (or for home-made, follow this link Vegan Butter in a hurry)
  • 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 4oz Dates (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C. Cut the tops off the apples (reserve if you wish) and scoop out the core, without cutting through to the bottom.
  2. In a bowl, mix the figs, walnuts and cinnamon with the butter. Then add the maple syrup. Stuff the mixture into the apples and put the reserved apple tops back on.
  3. Place the apples on a baking a tray and bake for 10-12 minutes, until they start to soften and the filling has melted.
  4. Meanwhile, place the soaked dates into a blender and blend until you get a sauce like consistency. Add a pinch of salt.
  5. Remove the apples from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes. When ready, serve with the date sauce.

– ENJOY –


Like a plant, growing takes time

Recently I attended a Yoga and Meditation Workshop, at the very welcoming Lotus Loft, situated in the heart of Exeter city centre.

Arriving just in time, I hastily opened the door and the first thing I noticed was the beautiful fragrance of incense.  An attractive lady greeted me, she had long golden hair with the tips dyed a deep red.  She would be my yoga instructor for the day.

Her calm and authentic nature made unfolding the stresses of life seem simple, and I was happy to be in this space of Self.   As the session came to a close, the teacher kindly handed out a plant to each student to take home.

Her teachings were simple and sweet: –

Neatly seated on folded knees, we were advised that, once we established a good Self Care routine, our cup becomes so full, it freely over spills and we can become the best version of ourselves.  *Too often, this Self Care is over looked*

Putting other people at the top of our priority list is something many of us do daily.  While letting our own needs fall to the bottom. We often commit to helping those around us, clearing up others mess, cooking the food and eating last.  Serving ourselves the same love and compassion tends to be much more of a struggle.

Looking down at the small succulent plant in my hand, we were gently reminded that, like a plant, self-care practice would take time to nurture and grow.   It means – taking little moments, where we can, to invest in ourselves whole heartily.

To always practice refilling our cup.

Like nature, not everything is perfect and life rarely goes as we plan.  No matter how much we nurture it, it may not turn out just as we hoped.   We have to be gentle with the unexpected events life throws at us and be prepared (cup full) to roll with the punches.   When things get though, do not give up on yourself.

Allow yourself the time to develop a strong self-care practice and be graceful enough to forgive yourself if it doesn’t look like what you hoped for.

Most importantly, SHOW UP for YOURSELF.

Just like you would do for your plant or a loved one – a little each day.

  ~ Namaste ~


Barcelona

I stepped inside its colossal belly with reverential care – my mouth fell with admiration. I was not the only person left speech-less, the group of tourists behind me, who previously were yabbering loudly to be heard over the pandemonium of the city, also subsumed.

I hugged my best friends arm and pulled him tightly against my clammy dress. I stood still, apart from my eyes darting to every corner, desperately trying to absorb all the intricate details that were laden upon every pillar, wall, floor and ceiling.

The sweltering sun penetrated through the towering stain glass windows, rippling its heat into the church. Rose gold, turquoise, jade and indigo flirted with the gigantic pillars that stood erected, like a labyrinth of pastel candy sticks dancing in the light.

I am not a religious person but I felt a flicker of something within me that day. Maybe it was the Christ on the Cross, suspended above our heads under a umbrella of heavy gold, that looked like a parachute descending from heaven.

Or maybe it was the depiction of Saints, that were mounted high up, almost on the heads of the pillars, that from the ground looked like bright hard boiled sweets, with black inscriptions scribbled over them.

Or maybe, it was the magnificent construction and genus of configuration that felt so ‘God like’, all assembled so extraordinary; that it left everyone of its visitors astonished that such splendour could be man-made.

Whatever it was, I felt it. Along with a tremendous amount of gratitude for my dear friend, who bought me all the way to Sagrada Família.

 

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*Footer photo by Claudio Testa*

 

 

 

 

 


Dandelion Vegan Honey

If you love your lawn chances are you hate dandelions… nevertheless I’m pretty sure this  Dandelion Vegan Honey recipe could perhaps convert you?!

This is a wonderful activity to do with children.  Give them a basket and ask them to fill it right to the top with dandelion heads.  I suggest picking from a field that is not likely to have been sprayed with pesticides or used by dog walkers.

I have seen other recipes for Dandelion Honey that say to pick out the dandelion petals and discard all the green parts otherwise it will leave a bitter taste, I however don’t do this and just pinch the stalk with my finger nails which takes out most of the stem. This is faster, works well and won’t leave it tasting bitter.

 

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Ingredients 

  • 150g Dandelion heads
  • Half an unwaxed organic lemon, cut into slices
  • One vanilla pod cut down the middle
  • 1 Litre of water
  • 250g Organic unrefined Sugar

Directions 

  1. Discard the stem and stalk of the flower (see above)
  2. Place the dandelion heads in a saucepan along with the water, lemon slices and vanilla pod.
  3. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid and let sit over night.
  4. Over a bowl or jug, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth and discard the dandelion heads.
  5. Place the liquid back into the saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil.
  6. Gradually add sugar, stirring until dissolved.
  7. Lower the heat and let it simmer uncovered until it reaches the desired syrupy thickness and drips slowly off a spoon. This will take approximately 2 hours.
  8. Pour into a warm sterilised jar and leave to cool.

 

– ENJOY –