Tag Archives: food

Post-yoga energy balls

apricot and maca seed protein balls

Apricot and maca powder protein balls

Meet my new go-to post-Bikram energy booster: little balls of power that are quick and easy to make, taste great and are easy to digest after a 90-minute session in the studio.

Think lots of nuts for muscle-mending protein, maca powder for replenishing sapped energy reserves and dried apricots for a blood pressure-friendly potassium boost. Delicious, healthy and portable: pop a few in a pot and share them with your yoga buddies after your next Bikram practice.

To make a dozen or so small protein balls, blitz the following ingredients in a food processor then use your hands to squish the results into balls, roll in desiccated coconut (optional) and allow to harden a little in the fridge. The whole process should take about 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

Mixed handful of dried apricots and goji berries
1/4 cup of cashew nuts
1/4 cup of almonds
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of chia seeds
1.5 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon of maca powder
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
a big pinch of ground salt flakes (after Bikram yoga you need to replenish the salt you have sweated out)
A couple of tablespoons of desiccated coconut

 

Enjoy!

What is mindful eating?

Goji and blueberries

How many berries are too many?

Mindfulness is massive at the moment, but can you harness it to solve the specific problems of your relationship with food?

That’s what I wanted to discover during an Introduction to Mindful Eating seminar run by the London-based Mindfulness Project. So how does it work?

Think about the last time you scoffed a whole packet of doughnuts, or an entire baguette, or a family-sized bag of sweets. How did you feel afterwards: guilty? A bit sick? Disappointed in yourself? Maybe even worse than that.

The point about Mindful Eating is that it encourages you to be compassionate about your behaviour around food rather than beating yourself up over what you might think of as  your ‘naughty’ eating habits.

In Mindful Eating, there are no bad or good foods, no calorie counting or portion control. It focuses instead on teaching you to be aware of what you are eating, helping you learn to make choices, and embrace your food issues rather than turn away from them.

So you ate more biscuits than you feel you should have done? Explore how you felt while you were eating them, how you felt after eating them, and how you are going to approach a packet of biscuits next time you feel the urge.

In this way, you will begin to create your own unique relationship with food – and learn that you can be in control of what, when and how much you eat. Applying the principles of mindfulness to your eating habits is all about recognising and thus harnessing what course leader Dr Cinzia Pazzolesi calls ‘the automaticity of eating’.

‘The mind is like a puppy,’ she explains. ‘It is easily distracted.’ So the key to Mindful Eating is to train your mind to focus ‘above the chatter’ so you can jumpstart yourself out of automatic pilot mode whereby you hoover up every crisp in the packet, then wonder where they all went.

During the free one-hour seminar, we tried simple meditation techniques designed to help put us back in touch with the reasons why we eat, and learned how to become more aware of the smell, feel and taste of the food we choose to consume.

Recognising the mechanisms of your eating is a way to help you decide whether to have one cookie/piece of chocolate/strawberry or go for a second or third. And that is why Mindful Eating is an ongoing choice rather than a diet or eating plan that lasts for a finite period of time after which you need to re-train your normal eating habits. Mindful Eating itself can become your norm.

The Mindfulness Project runs four-week Mindful Eating Courses, teaching techniques to help end mindless/stress-related/emotional/binge eating as well as help you free yourself from being painfully judgmental about your attitude to food, eating and your weight.

Find out more about Mindful Eating and other Mindfulness courses at www.londonmindful.com 

Bravo! ‘mangerbouger’ France

While I was skiing in the French Alps last week, it caught my eye that ads for Coca Cola and Powerade carried a healthy living message – like we see on ads for alcohol in the UK to encourage drinking in moderation.

French Powerade ad

Power up with Powerade France

Intrigued, I did some research, and yep, forget France’s reputation for heart attack cuisine, it turns out the government is pushing nutrition and exercise as a means to improve the nation’s health. And rather than paying for all advertising themselves, they’re are making food and drinks manufacturers push the wellness message on their behalf.

Brilliant huh? As a result, all processed food and drinks products with added sugar, sweeteners or salt, have to display the prominent message ‘Pour votre santé, évitez de manger trop gras, trop sucré, trop salé.’  ‘For your health, avoid eating too many fats, sugar and salt.’ Plus a link to the website www.mangerbouger.fr

The programme for national health and nutrition (PNNS), which is behind the ongoing  campaign, has been in place since 2001 with the goal of improving health among the French population. And it’s scored some fine successes: a reduction in the number of overweight/obese children; a drop in the consumption of salt and sugar; and an increase in the amount of fruit eaten by adults.

But as its name suggests, the mangerbouger campaign doesn’t simply focus on nutrition. Physical activity is the second crucial message it promotes, recommending the equivalent of half an hour’s brisk walking daily for adults (an hour for children and teenagers).

French Coca Cola ad

Buvez, skiez! : Drink, ski!

So rather than attempting to ban or tax ‘unhealthy’ foodstuffs, the French Government is both spreading the message of mindful eating – be aware that this product may be higher in fat, salt or sugar than is necessarily good for you – and that combining exercise with consumption is the best way of improving your health. Plus they’ve roped in the multi-nationals to help pay for it.

Now that’s what I call a bonne idée.

A taste of heaven in Tooting

Cycling through Tooting yesterday, how could I not stop and load my backpack with a box of perfectly ripe Alphonso mangoes? Nestling in tissue paper, lightly scented and with not a bruise or blemish on them, the little beauties taunted me with their sweet scent all the way home. It was all I could do to stop myself ripping into them en route, allowing their rich orange nectar to dribble down my chin.

Alphonso mangoes

Tooting fruity

So if you’re anywhere near southwest London one day soon, head for Tooting Broadway’s street-side stalls, piled high with boxes of the heavenly Alphonso, and get your fill of this feelgood fruit while it’s in season – from now until the end of June/early July. A snip at £5 for a box of six. Heavenly.

Rovin’ in Fitzrovia

Reynolds cafe, Charlotte Street

Reynolds: small portions but perfectly formed

Food find of the day? Cute cafe Reynolds on Charlotte Street. An independent cafe that sells delicious homemade food in non-overwhelming portions.

It was the blackboard out front that lured me in, with its promise of fresh soup, quiches and salads. Throw in a cheerful birdies logo, and I was straight through that door.

And what a revelation! Wraps and mini quiches in just the right size NOT to over-fill. As Reynolds explains, ‘We don’t believe in three square meals a day. We like to eat little and often. That’s why you’ll find our foody items come in smaller portions.

What a refreshing attitude. And what more-ish food. Today’s soup option was tomato and basil (lip-smacking) while mozzarella and prosciutto focaccia slipped down a treat. A neighbourhood gem.

Fabulous fernandez

Fernandez &Wells, Beak Street

Fernandez&Wells, Beak Street

Lunch – we love lunch! And lucky for us, being in central Soho gives myriad grazing options. So many, in fact, we sometimes wonder which delicious cafe to visit next.

Fernandez and Wells in Beak Street (just one of several branches) is a favourite. Friendly staff, drop-dead-gorgeous sandwiches, soups and pannini plus knock-your-socks-off coffee and homemade cakes that rival the ones your mum makes. Today’s fave bake: plum Victoria sponge that looked like it had come straight from Mary Berry’s kitchen. Yes, cake is good for you if it’s homemade, everyone knows that, right?

Definitely feelgood and highly recommended.