Recipes & Blog

ME and my journey to fitness

My journey into nutrition and yoga started following after I was diagnosed in 2006 with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I have worked hard to get myself into a good place where my health is stable, and my symptoms are at a very manageable level. You can read more on my journey into nutrition and yoga here.

However, there have been a couple of incidents recently that have really triggered me into feeling frustrated about my health condition. Generally, I manage it really well and have managed to turn my thoughts around so that I don’t get as frustrated with not being able to do things I used to. However, as a natural sporty person I still find it really hard that I can’t go out running, swimming, canoeing and doing other things that I love to do. I’ve seen a number of social media posts about people doing crazy exercise routines and/or weight loss journeys and for me it’s a real trigger that makes me feel that I’m not doing enough.

Over the summer I have been on a couple of family holidays during which I have been able to do things I haven’t been able to do for years. The highlight was going on a 4 hour sea kayaking trip in Scotland. I was so proud of myself for being able to do it and for how quickly I recovered afterwards especially as I have no choice but to keep going whilst running after a toddler!

Whilst these adventures were great it has left me feeling that I want to get fit again, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to tone up and lose a few pounds in the process but my overall aim is to increase my fitness so I can go on more adventures and so that I can join in when my little girl wants to do them. Whilst I teach yoga and do yoga most days to help keep me well, I feel like I’m not cardiovascular fit and it feels like I’m not practising what I preach about looking after my body!

I accept that I need to start small and work my way up to ensure that I don’t burn out, but this is blooming hard for someone who is naturally competitive. So, I started looking for YouTube videos that were 10 minutes long that I could do every other day. I have found it hard to find videos that fit my needs, everything I found was a 10 minute HIIT style class designed to get you burning calories and toning up fast but leaving me crumpled in a heap! When I searched for videos for people with health conditions even those were too hard for me.

For those of you that don’t know much about M.E./CFS it is basically constant extreme fatigue, the only thing I can liken it to is like having jet lag and flu at the same time!! I get 2 types of pain; muscle and bone pain, the muscle pain is like having really bad lactic acid after a gym session only not having done the exercise first.

So I decided to recruit some help, I approach Emma from Seal Fitness (http://www.seal-fitness.co.uk/) to see if she would be interested in helping me. Most PT clients need their trainer to push them to their limits whilst I need Emma to reign me in and hold me back. I needed someone who knew about injuries (I have a lot, from my former sporting days) and about pacing. Emma has lots of experience in both of these areas, her journey into becoming a personal trainer started when her husband broke and dislocated his neck (fortunately he made an amazing recovery). As a sports person, he was frustrated with the advice to rest and wait for a year so between them they gently strengthened his body again. Emma has also had her own journey through recovering from injuries, so she was the ideal choice for me.

I met up with Emma and we agreed a plan that we would start very slowly and do 10-15 minute sessions to help me build my strength and fitness up. I’ve decided to document this journey to help other people like me who are frustrated with not having access to videos and workouts that start right at the beginning of a fitness journey. I’m hoping the workouts will help people with health issues, postnatal and other issues to see that you don’t have to go all out to make a difference to your body. This isn’t going to be about the stats, how much I weigh or how many inches I’ve lost but a journey about getting my fitness back and the barriers along the way. Recently someone said something to me along the lines of “it’s ok for people like you, you look like a yoga teacher and it’s not hard for you to do yoga like it is for the rest of us”. My first instinct to this comment was to be really hurt, I felt like I was being unfairly judged that because I look healthy and well that I must be. My second was to feel incredibly proud of myself as I have got to a place where I look healthy and well and that my yoga looks good (as I am prone to being hard on myself my ego liked this). My third thought was that I want to show people how yoga can help by just doing a little bit at a time, that 15 minutes a day can make a massive difference and that I know what it’s like to live with a health condition and to have to manage it on a daily basis.  So I will also share some of my personal practice with you all to, to give you an idea of what you can do each day to improve your health and to show that the style of yoga I do is suitable for everyone.

Session 1 – Getting started with ME

I was super excited and nervous about my first session with Emma. I tend to overdo things and then pay the price later; I can generally do quite a lot and then the pain and fatigue kicks in a few hours later. I was nervous as having a toddler means I don’t have the luxury of taking a couple of days off to rest if I overdo it.

Emma was fantastic we talked through issues and plans and decided on a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session, each activity would last 20 seconds and there would be 3 activities in the circuit. I would then have a rest and repeat the circuit 2 more times. I did 2 different circuits altogether. There is a video of the first circuit I did, I was finding it really challenging to walk not run between each ball throw and please don’t judge me on my cheating shoulders on the ropes, I couldn’t get them to stay down at all!

In total I did 6 minutes of circuits plus warm up and cool down stretches on top. I had a mixture of emotions all the way through. I think if I called myself a wimp one more time Emma may have wacked me over the head with the punching pads!! On one side I loved it, being back doing exercise felt great, I was super proud of myself for doing it and for not going out all guns blazing. However, I also really struggled mentally with how little I could do and physically my legs were wobbly by the time I finished. Covering a friend’s yoga class that evening was possibly not my cleverest plan and so the following morning I could feel my legs had worked, for anyone that saw me walking up or downstairs or squatting during class that was the reason I was wincing.

Lessons learnt after my first session:

  1. The level of intensity was enough for me and I need to do it more often to gradually build up. So, Emma is creating a routine for me that I can do at home
  2. Mentally I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, however, I need to increase my meditation to help me be kind to myself
  3. In the next session I am only going to use positive language when I speak to myself

Delicious Dhal Recipe

Some days you can’t beat a delicious Dhal for lunch! I love Dhal as it is so easy to prepare and it’s a great Ayurveda recipe for reducing pitta, which is something I’m usually in need of. Pitta dosha is known as your inner fire, it controls your digestion, metabolism and energy production. Therefore, during the summer months pitta dosha can be high due to a number of things including the warmer weather.

So getting back to the dhal recipe I’m loving my new Instant Pot (for those of you’ve who have never heard of it, it’s a 7-in-1 cooking gadget that does slow cooking as well as pressure cooking, as well as lots of other things) and playing around with recipes. This Dhal took just 30 minutes to cook. This dhal recipe will work equally well in a normal pan or a slow cooker it will just take longer for the lentils to soften.

Not only is this Dhal vegan and gluten-free it is packed full of protein so will keep you full for hours.

Ingredients for the Dhal:

Serves 4

  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2tbsp coconut oil
  • 2tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 2tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground coriander 
  • 2tsp curry powder
  • 160g Moong Dhal
  • 700ml water
  • 2 large handfuls spinach
  • 1 small handful fresh coriander

Method:

  1. Chop the garlic and onions and grate the ginger
  2. If using an Instant Pot set it to the sauté function and add the coconut oil. If using a pan heat the coconut oil in the pan
  3. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and fry until softened
  4. Add the cumin seeds, ginger, cumin, coriander and curry powder and stir for a few minutes until the flavour of the spices is released
  5. Add the moong dhal and water, stir well. If using the Instant Pot set to manual pressure cooking for 10 minutes and left it to release for 10 minutes. If using a pan, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes (check with the cooking instructions on the Moong Dhal packet)
  6. Stir in the spinach, lemon and coriander and left it for a few minutes on keep warm setting (instant pot) or on a low heat (pan) to cook the spinach
  7. Serve with rice or chapati

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe why not check out my other lunch ideas and add a comment below.

Vegan Fruit Scones

These vegan fruit scones are super quick and easy to make. Until recently I’d never made scones, and then inspired by a holiday in Scotland I decided to make cheese scones for my toddler. When they came out of the oven they looked and smelled delicious, however, I was unable to eat them due to being lactose intolerant so I decided to play around and came up with these vegan fruit scones.

I tested them on my baby yoga class and at my mini retreat and they went down a treat! I served them with my heathy chia jam and some coconut cream. To make the coconut cream I simply got a can of coconut milk, placed it in the fridge for a couple of hours and then scooped the thick cream off the top of the milk.

These vegan fruit scones have no added sugar they are simply sweetened by the dried fruit and you can use whatever dried fruit you have, raisins, sultanas and apricots work well. This makes them a great snack for toddlers too.

Ingredients for Vegan Fruit Scones:

Makes 14 mini scones

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 40g melted coconut oil
  • 140ml almond milk
  • 50g dried fruit

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7
  2. Line 2 baking trays with grease proof paper
  3. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl
  4. Melt the coconut oil and add to the flour
  5. Use a spoon to mix the coconut oil into the flour until it has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs
  6. Add the dried fruit and stir well
  7. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in a little bit of the milk
  8. Using your hands fold in the milk, keep adding the milk and folding until you have a dough, the dough will be slightly wet
  9. Place the dough on a chopping board or clean surface that has been dusted with flour
  10. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes
  11. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about 2cm thick
  12. Using a biscuit cutter cut the dough into scones
  13. Place the cut dough onto the baking trays, leaving enough space between the scones for them to expand
  14. If you have any dough edges left you can knead them again, roll them out and cut more scones
  15. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes
  16. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe why not check out my other vegan recipes?

Cheese Scones

Until recently I’d never made cheese scones, or any scones for that matter. However, after a holiday in Scotland where cheese scones seemed to be sold in every café I thought I’d give them a go as they make a great snack for toddlers.

I was surprised by how easy they are to make and how little time they take to cook! I’m really looking forward to my daughter helping me make them when she is a tiny bit older.

I took the cheese scones to my baby yoga class and the mums and babies loved them! The texture is great for little ones to be able to hold without them breaking apart too much.

This recipe works best if you use butter at room temperature so that it is easier to mix into the flour

Ingredients for Cheese Scones:

Makes 14 mini scones

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 150ml milk
  • 75g grated cheese

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7
  2. Line 2 baking trays with grease proof paper
  3. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl
  4. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour
  5. Use your hands to rub the butter into the flour until it has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs
  6. Grate the cheese and add it to the flour and butter, stirring well
  7. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in a little bit of the milk
  8. Using your hands fold in the milk, keep adding the milk and folding until you have a dough
  9. Place the dough on a chopping board or clean surface that has been dusted with flour
  10. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes
  11. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about 2cm thick
  12. Using a biscuit cutter cut the dough into scones
  13. Place the cut dough onto the baking trays, leaving enough space between the scones for them to expand
  14. If you have any dough edges left you can knead them again, roll them out and cut more scones
  15. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes
  16. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy

The cheese scones looked so good that I couldn’t resit playing around with the recipe to come up with a sugar-free fruit scone that was also dairy-free so that I could eat them! You can find the recipe here

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad

I find it can be hard to think of things to have for lunch especially if like me you’re not a big fan of sandwiches. Many of my clients also struggle with what to eat at lunch time.

I’m a big fan of leftovers and often I advise people to make more of their evening meal and have it for lunch the next day. However this dish is good if you are working from home or maybe on a weekend when you have a little bit more time but don’t want to spend to long doing prep work.

For a long time I wasn’t a fan of roasted chickpeas, I just didn’t get it! However, I tried again recently and realised why everyone raves about them! I think the trick is to roast them on a high heat so that they go super crispy.

So why do chickpeas feature so heavily in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes?

Chickpeas are cheap, versatile and have many health benefits too. As well as being a good source of plant-based protein they are a great source of fibre which means they are great option for diabetics as they may help to improve blood sugar, insulin and lipid levels.

According to some research the high levels of fibre may also help to reduce cholesterol and are therefore a good option for people who are at risk of heart problems, however, they should be consumed in moderation by people taking beta-blockers.

Due to the high levels of protein chickpeas are great to add to vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 courgette
  • 150g button mushrooms
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 lime
  • chili oil or olive oil

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/ gas mark 6. Put the oil on to two oven trays and heat in the oven
  2. Cut the sweet potato, mushrooms and courgette into large chunks
  3. Rinse and drain the chickpeas
  4. On one tray place the sweet potatoes and chickpeas, on the other place the courgettes and mushrooms. Sprinkle both with chili flakes and seasoning and shake well. NB I found that putting them on separate trays helps the chickpeas to go crispy
  5. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the potatoes, courgette and mushrooms are soft and the chickpeas are crispy
  6. Cut the avocado into bite size pieces
  7. Place the spinach onto plates and then top with the remaining ingredients, drizzle with lime juice and chili oil, to taste

If you’d like more tailored information on how to fit healthy eating into your life then why not email me for a consultation?

Delicious Banana Bread

I love this delicious banana bread, it is great when I feel like I want a piece of cake but not a sugar high. It’s also great for toddlers too!

Due to my M.E. I’m very sensitive to sugar so when I eat something sugary I get a real high followed by a crash that makes me need to sleep.

This delicious banana bread is great as it is free for refined sugar, and the wholemeal flour provides slow release carbs alongside the walnuts which provide both protein and omega 3.

The original recipe came from The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Rapley and I amended it slightly to make it dairy-free.

I first started making this recipe as my little girl would eat any vegetable, fruit, carbohydrate and even lentils that you put in front of her but she wasn’t keen on protein other than yoghurt and cheese. This recipe was a great way for me to get her to eat some egg and walnuts.

Ingredients for the Banana Bread:

Makes 12 mini loaves or one big one

  • 100g whole meal self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • 40g melted coconut oil
  • 50g raisins
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 egg

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4
  2. Line a loaf tin or mini tins with grease proof paper. I like to use silicone mini loaf tins as they don’t need to be lined
  3. Sift the flour and spices into a bowl
  4. Melt the coconut oil in a pan and add it to the flour, stir well
  5. Stir in the raisins
  6. In a hand blender blitz up the walnuts until they look a bit like bread crumbs
  7. In a separate bowl mash the bananas, stir in the egg, until well combined and then add the walnuts
  8. Fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients
  9. Spoon into the tin/s and bake, big loaf for 45 mins, small loaves 20 mins or until a skewer comes out clean
  10. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy

Store in an airtight container or the banana bread can be frozen. If you are making a large loaf slice it before placing it into the freezer.

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe then why not check out more of my toddler friendly snacks I’d love to hear how you get on, so add a photo and comment below.

Classic Houmous Recipe

I love houmous, I think I could eat it until it came out of my ears! This houmous recipe is quick and easy to make and is super versatile. It can be made with different beans or you can add spices to change the flavour.

I have to confess I don’t tend to make houmous very often, I usually buy it, I’m not organised enough to remember to make it in advance! It is a great snack to have in the fridge for all the family. My little girl loves it so when I need a quick snack for her I grab it out of the fridge and give it to her with some breadsticks. I aim is to get more organised and make houmous more often as the shop bought brands are quite high in salt.

Variations

I’ve played around a lot with houmous recipes to try and get a consistency and taste that I like. I have found the best way to get a smooth consistency is to add a splash of water, especially as personally I prefer it not to be too oily. I’ve recently experimented with cooking the garlic first so that it isn’t as bitter as raw garlic and this works really well.

The garlic can be roasted in the oven but if the oven isn’t on then I find the easiest way to do it is in a pan. Leave the garlic cloves whole and crush them with the skin on. Place them in a frying pan with a splash of olive oil and toss them regularly until they are soft. Remove the skin and then add to the food processor.

Most of my clients don’t have tahini in their homes and if they do it often goes off before they have had a chance to use it. Therefore this version of houmous uses toasted sesame oil instead.

Houmous Ingredients:

  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil (or 1 tbsp of tahini)
  • 1 small handful of parsley
  • splash of water

Method:

  1. Roast the garlic in a little olive oil, either in the oven or in a pan (as above)
  2. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blitz until well combined
  3. Add more water if the consistency isn’t smooth enough for your liking

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe then why not check out more of my healthy snack ideas

Vegan Guacamole

This vegan guacamole recipe is super easy to make and tastes delicious. During our baby yoga sessions we talk about weaning and the importance of encouraging children to try lots of different flavours from a young age.

This guacamole is perfect as the avocado makes it nice and creamy whilst the basil and lime give it flavour. I love to add a couple of drops of tabasco sauce to mine which goes down a treat with my one year old!

However, when I made it for my baby yoga class to try I omitted the tabasco so as not too put any of the children off!

Avocados are fantastic for babies (over 6 months) and toddlers as they are very nutrient dense and have a high fat content which will help to fill them up. In addition the cream texture is usually a hit with most babies. I like my guacamole to be smooth but you can make it chunky which is a great way to encourage your baby to try new textures if you have started with purees.

You can buy guacamole from most supermarkets, however they often include preservatives and are filled out with other ingredients such as rice flour and salt. Personally I think it is so easy to make that I would never bother buying it, especially as most brands include milk based ingredients and vegan versions seem to be more expensive.

Guacamole isn’t just for babies either it works fantastically with my chicken fajitas recipe too.

Guacamole Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 lime (juice)
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • Small handful fresh basil
  • Few drops Tabasco sauce (optional)

Method:

  1. Remove the skin and pip of the avocado
  2. Place the avocado in a blender with the tomatoes,basil and lime juice
  3. Blend until combined

If you’ve enjoyed my guacamole recipe then why not check out more toddler friendly recipes or more of my vegan recipes.

Cold Busting Chinese Broth

I often hear people complaining at this time of year that they are feeling more run down and getting more colds and winter bugs. Because of this I recommend this cold busting broth to my clients as it’s a fantastic way to give your immune system a boost.

It is packed full of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, is quick and easy to make and tastes delicious! My friends often request that I make it when they come to visit.

It can be made with tofu for a vegan version or chicken, if you prefer. Alternatively, I like to make it with left over roast chicken.

The soya sauce can be replaced with tamari to make the dish gluten-free. I recently made this cold busting dish with a large pinch of grated fresh turmeric instead of powder, I love how versatile this dish is.

Cold Busting Broth Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 900ml of vegetable stock (I use reduced salt bouillon powder)
  • 220g of firm tofu, cubed or cooked chicken
  • 1cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 100g rice noodles
  • 1 large handful sweetcorn (frozen or canned)
  • 1 large handful frozen peas
  • 200g mix of shiitake and button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • Small handful of fresh mint or basil
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)

Method:

  1. Put the stock, ginger, garlic, half the chilli and tofu/chicken into a pan and simmer for 5 minutes
  2. Add the sweetcorn, peas, mushrooms, 2 spring onions, rice noodles and soya sauce. Simmer until the noodles are cooked
  3. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining chilli, spring onion and mint/basil and drizzle a tiny bit of sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds to finish
Cold busting broth made with chicken or tofu

If you’d like more tailored information on who to support your immune system during the winter months then why not email me for a consultation?

Chocolate Fudge Drops

I created this recipe for healthy chocolate fudge drops as I frequently get asked for ideas to help people with sugar cravings. More often than not sugar cravings in the evening are due to habits that we have formed. This can be due to a number of things from feeling like we deserve a treat after a stressful day to not eating enough and still being hungry.

As a result, these delicious chocolate fudge drops are packed full of protein and healthy fats to give you an energy boost and a sweet treat in one go.

I’m happy for my toddler to eat them too as they have no added sugar. They are quick and easy to make and don’t require any baking! Making them perfect to make whilst keeping an eye on my toddler!

Not only are they tasty they are fantastic if you are breastfeeding to keep your energy levels up or in the early days of long nights with your baby!

Ingredients for Chocolate Fudge Drops:

Makes 20 (depending on size)

  • 9 Medjool dates
  • 3 tbsp Coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • 2 tbsp cacao

Method:

  1. Put the dates into a small hand mixer and blend until they are finely chopped
  2. Melt the coconut oil, then leave to cool a little bit
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients to the blender and mix until combined
  4. Roll the mixture in to small balls and place on a lined baking tray
  5. Refrigerate for an hour to allow the balls to set

Variation:

I like to mix these up a bit and a great way to do this is to make with peanut butter instead. Simply add an extra tbsp of coconut milk and replace the cashew butter with peanut butter.

I’d love to hear how you get on with this recipe so leave a comment below. Alternatively click here for more of my healthy treats.

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Drops, packed full of protein with no added sugar