5 Easy Healthy Habits

ginger (1) During my year long journey of intention I explored breaking habits. Habits form about 95% of our behaviour which means a lot of what we do is done unconsciously, with out thought. Our health and well being is often left to chance unless we have consciously created healthy habits.

For example you eat you lunch and then start to wonder which chocolate bar to have today? Or upon arriving home from work you pour your usual glass of wine to relax you. Or you light up your 6th cigarette for the day with out thinking.

These are just habits. Things we do with out having to even think about it.

If you find a habit is not working for you any more the first step is to bring your awareness to it. Upon doing it ask yourself;

  • what you are getting from it? how is it serving you?
  • if you are committed to living a healthy life, then how is it holding you back from this?
  • and finally what could you replace it with?

It takes 21 days to build a new habit or neural pathway. So to begin with creating a new habit will require will power, creativity and determination but after 3 weeks it will be a lot easier. To take the pressure off yourself simply say "I'll just do this for 21 days" rather than forever.

Following are 5 easy healthy habits I have created that I find serve me well;

1) Upon waking I drink a mug of ginger tea. It's great for digestion, it's anti-inflammatory so good for the healing process, it gets rid of congestion, it's warming and it  improves the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body. Sometimes I also like warm lemon juice although I find it makes my teeth hurt, I think it's all the acid.

2) I meditate and practice yoga after my mug of ginger tea. Some days for 2 hours and some just for 20 minutes, all depending on how much time I have. Even just going into child's pose, doing a couple of sun salutations and then lying with my legs up the wall for 10 mins sets me up for the day ahead.

3) I use a lot of tumeric in my cooking, like ginger it's so good for you. It calms your digestion, is anti inflammatory, antioxidant, it protects the liver, reduces blood cholesterol levels, protects against Alzheimers disease, cancer and heart disease. I regularly make lentil and carrot soup with this in and lots of veggie curries.

4) Seeds. Seeds are great to snack on, put in soups, salads and on porridge. They are slow release energy so great for balancing blood sugar, are filled with healthy fat, are high energy, contain many minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus needed for bone development, immunity and energy production. A little trick I have for making them tasty for snacks is to sauté them in a little bit of soy sauce and chilli.

5) Oatcakes. Nairns make sweet and savoury oatcakes. The sweet biscuits come in different flavours like ginger, chocolate and mixed berry. They are so good if you like to have something sweet in the afternoon but are cutting down on chocolate.

So those are my easy habits. Two slightly harder ones that have served me well have been to cut down alcohol consumption and caffeine to a bare minimum. The benefits have been huge;  balancing my blood sugar, sleeping well, less headaches, my digestion system is good, my energy is maintained through out the day, I can think clearly and consciously. It also stops me from craving unhealthy foods.

It's the start of Spring, there is lots of fresh energy around right now bringing in new good things to us. So why not use this time to create a new healthy habit? Just for 21 days.....




Foods To Keep You Warm and Healthy

beachhut2Through my journey of becoming a yoga teacher and taking control of my health I have learnt a few additions to my cooking that have really made a difference. Now we are in the midst of Winter I'd like to take this opportunity to share what I have learnt to help keep you warm and healthy too. 1) Ginger. I am addicted to ginger at the moment, it's just so warming when it's snowy outside. Either fresh ginger in teas, curry's and soups or I have discovered Pukka Tea does the most delicious Three Ginger Tea. Really recommend it!

Ginger is great for inflammation and pain relief, I am sure it's been easing my shoulder injury and helping my breathing now I no longer take my asthma inhalers. It helps get rid of mucus and it's really good for your digestion.

2) Tumeric. Tumeric has so many healing properties, it's like a super food of spices. It calms your digestion, is anti inflammatory, antioxidant, it protects the liver, reduces blood cholesterol levels, protects against Alzheimers disease, cancer and heart disease. It's a staple for curries but also works well in soups and marinating.

3) If you have the beginnings of a cold try this drink through out the day:

Half juice lemon

Fresh ginger chopped up

a sprinkle of cayenne pepper (be careful of putting too much!)

Some honey to sweeten

It's delicious and will blast those germs out of your body.

3) Green Tea. If you are used to a caffeine hit in the morning and not ready to give it up just yet (since giving it up my mind is calmer, emotions are more balanced and I sleep better) try switching to green tea.  Even though it does still have some caffeine it has lots of antioxidant in it.

4) Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. We have all been told too much salt is bad for you but this type of salt contains 84 essential minerals, alkalises the PH of your cells, balances electrolytes and is anti ageing. As well as adding it to your food, taking a long bath in it will help sore muscles and will restore your natural energy. Plus you sleep really well after bathing in it. It's amazing! You can order it on Amazon or find in most health food shops.

5) Cinnamon is great for balancing your blood sugar and is also good for treating indigestion and colds. I am a big sucker for sweet things so stave off those cravings by adding cinnamon to porridges and having it in tea. Cinnamon and ginger in a cup of tea is lovely!

6) Sugar. Making an effort to reduce inflammation in the body(eg when you have colds/ asthma/allergies/muscular problems) is not good if you then eat a load of refined sugar! It creates inflammation and weakens your immune system.

7) Seeds. Seeds are a great source of magnesium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus needed for bone development, immunity and energy production. Magnesium is again great for reducing inflammation which is related to many diseases. They provide slow release energy so great if you need to have a snack, much better than something sugary which will give you a high and then a big low. I find sautéing seeds in soy sauce and some chilli makes them really tasty. I also add them to porridge and yoghurt which is an easy way to slip them into your diet with out even really noticing they are there.

So that's a little of what I have been learning over the past few years. I am not a nutritionist but I do like to take care of my body and health, it's all part of living a yogic lifestyle.

I also believe in the benefits of having a huge slice of home made cake every now and then,  that is simply good for you soul :-)

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Importance of Eating in Season

  Eating healthy can seem overwhelming. We are bombarded with all or nothing messages like “you must eat organic all the time” or “you must eat only foods in season.” While these are great goals, eating healthy doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. And while the importance of eating in season can’t be denied, it’s actually pretty easy to do.

In our world of global commerce, where we can get just about any food at any time of the year, why would we need to eat a certain food just because it’s in season? Isn’t everything in season at one time or another someplace? What is the importance of eating in season? Why does it matter?

Why seasonal eating is important

First of all there is the taste, when you eat foods that are in season they just taste better. Think about eating a tomato straight off the vine from the garden, or picking a ripe plum from the branches of a plum tree and eating it straight away. The flavors are so intense it’s almost decadent. It’s because you are eating these fruits when they are ripe and in season, when they are at their healthiest. And when fruits and vegetables are at their healthiest, they are also at their tastiest.

Next there is the nutrition, when you eat fruits and vegetables that are in season they provide more nutrients than at any other time. When produce is picked before it’s completely ripe because it has to travel to the store, it loses some of its nutritional value. Further, transporting produce sometimes requires irradiation (zapping the produce with a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preservatives (such as wax) to protect the produce, which is subsequently refrigerated during the trip. Neither of these procedures improves the fruit or vegetable’s nutritional value.

Finally there is the economics of eating in season. It’s cheaper. When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. It’s the basic law of supply and demand, and when crops are in season you’ll be rewarded financially by purchasing what’s growing now. And if it’s in season where you live, transporting the item to your store will be shorter, and less expensive. Ideally having your own personal vegetable garden and fruit orchard on your property would be the cheapest way to go but since that’s probably not feasible, a short trip to the store or farmer’s market for both you and the produce is not nearly as pricey as importing an item from across the world.

How to eat seasonally

Obviously in different parts of the world, different foods will be in season at different times. This holds true even within the UK: London has a different growing season than say Manchester. But there are some general guidelines you can follow to ensure optimal nutrition and taste in every season:

• In spring, focus on tender, leafy vegetables such as Swiss chard, spinach, Romaine lettuce, fresh parsley, and basil.

• In summer, stick with light, juicy foods including strawberries, apples, pears, and plums; vegetables like summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and corn; and spices and seasonings like peppermint and coriander are all great summer choices.

• In fall, the autumn harvest foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic are the best choices. The best spices and seasonings are things like ginger, peppercorns, and mustard seeds.

• In winter, root vegetables are the best choices including potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips and beets.

Sometimes eating healthy can be intimidating. You want to do the right thing, but when we are told to do so, you “must only eat foods that are in season”, well, that can be downright daunting. Fortunately healthy eating is not an all or nothing proposition; you aren’t going to compromise your health if you eat a tomato from Spain in January. So don’t stress about eating the occasional out of season fruit or vegetable (hey, you’re eating fruits and vegetables). But if you generally try to eat foods that are in season where you live, you will not only be rewarded with better nutrition but also taste and perhaps a little extra change in your wallet.

What to Eat Before and After Exercise

We all know that exercise is the key to good health. But did you know that what you eat before and after exercise has a major impact on how effective your exercise is? Ensuring you get proper nutrition pre and post workout can make all the difference. So, what should you eat before and exercise? It really depends on what kind of exerciser you are: it depends on whether you are a “first thing in the morning” kind of exerciser or “right before bed” or somewhere in between. However, it’s important to understand that there is no right or wrong time to exercise. It’s really what works best in your schedule, what is a routine you can stick with; that’s the best time to exercise for you. For Early Morning Exercisers:

If you’re the kind of person who likes to get up and get your workout in before the day gets in your way, then you may find it difficult to eat something so early. The good news is you don’t have to eat a lot to get a lot of benefit. You just need enough carbohydrates to give you the energy you need for a good workout. Think about it, your body hasn’t had any fuel for at least eight hours; it needs a little something to get it going or you may just end up back in bed. Some good options include:

• If you're exercising within an hour after you wake up, eat around 100-200 (carbohydrate-rich) calories. • Avoid too much fat or protein, since these take longer to digest and can make you feel sluggish during your workout. • Best bets: Whole grain bagel, handful of raisins, banana, fruit juice, toast, crackers, or drinkable yogurt.

For Lunchtime Exercisers:

Working out at lunchtime is a great “pick me up.” It refreshes your mind and body for the afternoon ahead. However, by lunchtime, breakfast is probably a faint memory. In order to avoid hunger pains and fatigue during your noon workout, keep in mind the following:

• One or two hours before your workout, eat a balanced meal that's around 300-400 calories. • Avoid high fat and/or high protein foods, and stick with something that has around 60% carbs, 20% protein and 20% fat. • Best bets: Yogurt, fruit (fresh or dried), or a small bowl of oatmeal, slice of wheat bread with peanut butter.

For After Work Exercisers:

Working out after work is one of the best ways to finish out your day and it definitely makes you less hungry for dinner. But remember, lunch was a long time ago and chances are your body needs some refueling. So before you grab a candy bar on the way out of the office, remember:

• 2-3 hours before you leave work, eat a small, balanced meal that's around 400-500 calories. • Best bets: cheese and crackers, cottage cheese and veggies, fruit with a whole grain muffin, peanut butter/jam sandwich on whole grain bread.

For After Dinner Exercisers:

Admittedly for many of us, squeezing in exercise at the end of the day is really the only time we can. But that’s ok, there’s something so relaxing about going for a run after dinner or a nice long bike ride or taking a yoga class. The concern here is that you’ll be too full to have a really good workout. You just have to plan ahead and remember:

• Wait at least 1 hour after dinner before you exercise (and at least 2 hours before bedtime or you won’t be able to sleep). • Split your dinner in half so you eat half before you exercise and the other half after. • Make dinner one of your smallest meals of the day (making lunch biggest) so you won’t have too much food on your stomach.

Post workout nutrition

So now that you’ve had a great workout, you’re done, right? No, you need to refuel your body. In order for your body to recover, build muscle and metabolise fat, you need to properly refuel your body after you exercise.

People mistakenly think that by not eating after they exercise their body will use stored fat for fuel. This isn’t true. While your body will dip into its glucose stores and perhaps use some stored fat as fuel, it isn’t efficient and as a result you won’t be burning as many calories as you could.

Muscle cells burn more calories at rest, just existing, than fat cells. So the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories your body burns just being. So if you don’t feed your muscles after a workout they won’t grow. So basically, by not refueling, you’ll be missing out. You’ll be leaving money on the table, or in this case, leaving calories unburned.

So, eat within one hour after your workout for best muscle recovery. Your post workout meal should include both protein and carbohydrate. The protein repairs muscle tissues that have been torn during the workout and carbohydrate refuels muscle glycogen that has been used for fuel during the workout. Good options include:

• Skimmed milk, yoghurt and fruit • Toasted muffin or whole grain bread with egg or peanut butter • ½ small pot of cottage cheese with fruit. • Cheese and crackers • Nuts and dried fruit • A “regular” meal with a protein, starch, and cooked vegetable or salad

You've made the effort to exercise on a regular basis. Don’t make those workouts be in vain: feed your body properly and you will see much better results. Remember to eat small, complex carbohydrate-rich foods at least 1-2 hrs before exercising, avoid eating too much protein or fat before you workout, eat protein and carbohydrates to refuel after you exercise and of course, always drink plenty of water so your body can properly digest those important nutrients.


Leafy Green Vegetables: Powerfully Healthy

Imagine a food so powerful that it can help you lose weight, reduce your risk of cancer, make you look younger, strengthen your bones and has been purported to even help you live longer? Imagine if this food tasted good, was readily available and relatively inexpensive. No need to imagine, it’s reality. I’m talking about leafy green vegetables. These powerfully healthy vegetables put the super in superfoods. These remarkable green veggies come across as quite unassuming but they are packed with healthy nutrients. In fact dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, the most concentrated source of nutrition of pretty much any food out there. Vitamins A, C, E and K are found in salad greens, kale and spinach. Broccoli, bok choy and mustard greens also have many of the B complex vitamins. They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and calcium.

Sure leafy green veggies are full of vitamins and fiber but what makes leafy green vegetables so powerfully healthy is their abundance of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemicals found in plants that help protect plants from disease, insects, injuries, etc.; they’re basically a plant’s immune system. And they work for our immune system too. Phytonutrients have been effective in treating cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. They also help prevent cell damage and can decrease cholesterol levels. Leafy green vegetables are chock full of these powerfully healthy phytonutrients.


While leafy green vegetables are nutritional powerhouses they do have one flaw: they tend to go bad quickly and lose their powerful punch in a hurry. So you need to eat them within a couple days of purchasing. People have been known to go to great lengths to preserve their greens but you don’t have to do too much to get a few extra days out of them:

• Wash your greens as soon as you get home from the store in cold water • Pat them dry • Leave them out to dry all the way • Once they are totally dry (water is the enemy here), bundle the greens loosely between two paper towels and store in a large plastic (sealable) bag.

Note: The paper towels are important because they help soak up any condensation that may arise while in the fridge.


Leafy greens are an easy addition to almost any meal. Like most vegetables, leafy green veggies can be cooked, steamed, stir-fried, sautéed and even eaten raw. To ensure your leafy greens are delicious every time remember to:

• Wash well to remove dirt. Don’t skimp on this step, it may take several rinsings to remove all the dirt.

• Keep in mind that some greens cook faster than others and all greens release a lot of water, so you may have to adjust your recipes accordingly.

• Do not overcook greens as overcooking can destroy many of the nutrients, plus it makes the greens taste all mushy and yucky.

Low calorie, high fiber, cancer fighting…these unassuming vegetables are so powerfully healthy but yet tend to fly under the radar. So, next time you’re in the supermarket, don’t just gloss over the greens on your way to the colorful peppers or carrots, pick up a sprig or two of some powerfully healthy leafy green vegetables.