Red Soup

Red Soup

3 sweet medium sweet potatoes
4 carrots
1 cup of red lentils
2 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
1 can of tomatoes
Stock of your choice

Cook potatoes and carrots until soft.
Once soft add lentils and cook for another 20 minutes. Be wary of burning on the bottom.
Add tomatoes and curry paste.
Blitz until you are happy with the consistency!

Mindful Exercise

Mindful Exercise

As we discussed last week this buzzword mindfulness is very relevant (or should be more relevant) to just about every aspect of your life, from eating through to helping you keep your patience in traffic. This week we are going to be talking about mindful exercise.

Mindful exercise doesn’t just mean going to yoga, and meditating (although both of these things are great!). It is about considering that exercise and health are not linear, it isn’t always about setting goals and achieving them. It is also about simply exercising because that is what you are doing, it is about being in the moment and allowing the serotonin to kick in, and forming healthy habits and routine.

Many people look at exercise as a chore, they do it because the doctor, the health bloggers, or their friends say they should. We live in a society where many people hate exercising, and yet there is also a lot of pressure to be exercising regularly. Exercise can be fun and enjoyed by everyone! There are so many options out there now you can’t honestly say a blatant “I don’t enjoy exercise” simply because you don’t like running or team sport. Mindful exercise is about finding your niche and learning to love it.

Mindful exercise is also about not punishing yourself for taking a day off when your body is aching or you are tired. We need to learn to listen to our bodies and rest when it is needed and well deserved. Remember there are two types of pain in exercise, muscular pain caused by a damn good workout, and injury pain. It is about learning to tell the difference and pushing through one and learning to ask for help if you feel something is not right.

Remember exercise, like eating mindfully is about mind over matter, so remember these tips and get out there and start pushing yourself that little bit further!

If all of a sudden exhaustion is taking over while you are running, or your whole body is shaking as you do weights, this is the time to truly focus. Focus on your breathing thinking about long, slow inhales and exhales. This is also the time when you need to be concentrating on your form and technique the most as tiredness is when we become sloppy. The more time you spend thinking about your breath and considering your technique the less time you will be spending thinking about your body’s exhaustion!

Brown Rice and Green Bean Salad

Brown Rice and Green Bean Salad

4 cups of cooked brown rice
2 cups of green beans (lightly steamed)
1 red onion
Half a cup of feta
1 bag of rocket
half a cup of brown sugar
100g of butter
Half a cup of balsamic vinegar

Put onion, brown sugar, butter and balsamic vinegar in the fry pan and stir slowly until onion is soft.

Mix brown rice and green beans together with the brown rice and green beans together, along with the feta and rocket.

Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients.

Mindful Eating!

Mindful Eating!

Mindfulness has become a major buzz word in wellness circles in the last few years. Meditation and colouring in may not be your thing, but mindfulness certainly has its place in everyday aspects of your life that you may not have previously thought of.

Mindful eating is something we have spent a lot of time talking about, and it is something the first week of our Summer Wardrobe Challenge focused heavily on. It isn’t just about weight loss, it’s about a healthy body image and healthy consumption. There are elements of learning not to punish yourself for indulging in that occasional dessert, and elements of learning to appreciate your food as it nourishes your body, rather than gulping it down as yet another part of your life you are rushing through.

Some steps for mindful eating:

● Start by recognising whether you’re hungry before you begin eating. If you aren’t hungry, you won’t be as interested so it will be harder to stay focused. Besides, if a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it.

● Don’t wait until you’re famished. One of the keys to conscious eating is to keep your body adequately fed to avoid becoming overly hungry which increases the chance that you’ll overeat.

● Next, decide how full you want to be when you’re finished eating. When you eat with the intention of feeling better when you’re done eating, you’re less likely to keep eating until the food is gone.

● Choose food that will satisfy both your body and your mind. Our society is so obsessed with eating right that we sometimes eat things we don’t even like. However, satisfaction comes not just from fullness but from enjoying the taste of your food–without guilt. Feeling guilty about eating certain foods actually causes more overeating, not less.

● Eat without distractions. If you eat while you’re distracted by watching television, driving, or talking on the telephone, you won’t be giving your food or your body’s signals your full attention. As a result, you may feel full but not satisfied.

● Eat when you’re sitting down. Choose one or two particular areas at home and at work that are only used for eating and eat only there. For example, do not eat while standing over the sink, peering into the refrigerator or sitting in bed.

● Appreciate the occasion. Appreciate the atmosphere, the company, or simply the fact that you’re giving yourself the opportunity to sit down and enjoy your meal.

● Take a few breaths and centre yourself before you begin eating. This will help you slow down and give eating your full attention.

● Appreciate the aroma and the appearance of your food. Notice the colours, textures, and smells of the food and imagine what it will taste like.

● Savour the aromas and tastes of your food as you eat it. Put your fork down between bites and be conscious of all the different sensations you are experiencing.

● If you notice that you’re not enjoying what you choose, choose something else if possible. Eating food you don’t enjoy will leave you feeling dissatisfied.

● Pause in the middle of eating for at least two full minutes. Estimate how much more food it will take to fill you to comfortable satiety.

● Push your plate forward or get up from the table as soon as you feel satisfied. The desire to keep eating will pass quickly. Keep in mind that you’ll eat again when you’re hungry.

● Notice how you feel when you’re finished eating. If you overeat, don’t punish yourself. Instead, be aware of the physical and/or emotional discomfort that often accompanies being overly full and create a plan to decrease the likelihood that you’ll overeat next time.

The most important thing to remember is that eating should almost be a form of meditation. The relationship you have with food will channel back into the energy you have, and above all the time you give yourself to look after your body!

Sometimes with busy work and family schedules, these tips can be hard to remember. But it can be as simple as returning to the age-old meal time, where the family sits down together and makes it an important aspect of family life. Actually take your lunch break! Even if it is just half an hour, you can put all of the above tips into practice, while getting yourself some sunshine and fresh air.

However you choose to adapt these tips to your life start small, bite off a chunk you know you can chew, and then slowly change your habits. Don’t overwhelm yourself by changing your entire lifestyle and then fall off the wagon a week later, you will only punish yourself for it! Go easy, just by making these small changes you are already doing great things for yourself!

Hormones and Weight Training

Hormones and Weight Training


Hormones can often be only associated with teenagers going through puberty, or women and their menstrual cycle. They can impact on everything from your bone health, to sleep, moods, metabolism and more.

What most of us don’t realise is that we in fact have many different types of hormones, more or less controlling every single chemical function of the body. There are a few main ones most people are probably are aware of, but may not understand particularly well.

Growth Hormone – reasonablyself-explanatoryy this one helps with building muscles and burning fat. Its also very important to help repair and rebuild muscle, keeping the body strong and functioning as we age.

Testosterone – this one everyone should be quite familiar with. Like the growth hormone Testosterone can help to build and repair muscle in addition to fat burning. While commonly associated with men, women also have testosterone present in their bodies.

Estrogen – Again one most people should be very familiar with, estrogen is commonly known as a female hormone, however like Testosterone it is present in both males and females (at a much lower level). While commonly estrogen is associated with female reproductive organs, it can also act as a fat storer in both males and females. In women estrogen also helps to regulate various metabolic levels including bone growth and cholesterol.

Insulin – most commonly associated with diabetes, and secreted by the pancreas, insulin is hugely important in the regulation of blood sugar (glucose) into cells for energy. As much of this energy comes from carbohydrates insulin in excess within the body can also become a fat storer or builder.

Cortisol – this little hormone is the one behind the good old ‘fight or flight’ syndrome. Stress can trigger a release of cortisol into the body, which can increase your body’s metabolism of glucose. During a work out this is what will help keep you going, and control your bloody pressure. In times of high stress in life this can on the other hand have negative effects on your body. Given Cortisol can eat away at your muscles if you are highly stressed all the time and have no muscle mass the effects can obviously be disastrous!

So how can weight training directly help regulate your hormones?

Although the above is only a brief overview of a selection of major hormones, if you understand how they work in your body, the way the effect your overall health can become clearer and clearer. You should by now be aware that weight training is a vital part of your overall fitness regime. The basis for why it is invaluable for your hormone health can be quite simple:

Muscle mass controls testosterone which can balance out estreogen levels, in turn making you level headed. Something that is very important in a world where we rarely switch off.

Once your muscles are recovering from a weights session, cortisol can release serotonin into the body. We all know serotonin, it doesn’t need much of an introduction. It’s that feel good chemical that leaves you feeling on top of the world.

Insulin is responsible for muscle growth and storage of muscle glucose, which in turn regulates the overall blood sugar levels of the body. Without muscle mass we can burn through glucose too quickly. The body will start to use muscle tissue for energy if starved of glucose for too long.

The growth hormone is pretty self explanatory. Its sort of a use it or lose it type of theory, and as you get older we cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain a strong and healthy body!

Greek Pasta salad

Greek Pasta salad

2 cups spinach fettuccine
1tbs balsamic vinegar
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 fresh basil leaves1 or 1tbs dried basil
1 t dried oregano
50g feta cheese
1 cup spinach, washed, dried and chopped
1 cucumber chopped
1 cup freshly chopped tomatoes
1/2 small red onion, sliced into very thin rounds
Olives (optional)
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Cook the fettuccine according to package directions, until al dente.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the vinegar, garlic, basil, and oregano.
Drain the fettuccine, place it in a large bowl; add the vinegar mix, feta, spinach, cucumbers, and onions.
Toss well.
Season, to taste, with the salt and pepper.
Add the tomatoes and toss gently.
Chill until ready to serve (the flavors improve over time).
Serve at room temp, or slightly chilled.

Weight Training for Posture Improvement

Weight Training for Posture Improvement

In a world where most people spend hours on end staring at screens, our posture seems to be deteriorating very rapidly, leading to a variety of problems including back, neck and even knee pain and injuries. Few of us consider how we sit at our desks, the chairs we are sitting on, or the height of our screens. We also ignore how we sit on the couch, or even how we stand when in the kitchen cooking.

Unless you were sent off to Ballet class, or have traumatic memories of forced to walk around with books on your head in your younger years, chances are you haven’t spent much time focusing on your posture as you have entered adulthood, and yet one of the leading causes of back pain comes down to posture.

Often the way you sit or stand leads to compensating of other muscles. Think do you always put more pressure on one leg, rather than the other? That one leg is receiving extra strain, the muscles are over activating and the hip joint is receiving unnecessary strain, however until pointed out to you it is unlikely you think about this on a regular basis so the strain goes on day in and day out. The main muscles that you rely on for postural stability become weak and even lazy (learn more about stability muscles here).

So did you read the above and find yourself mentally ticking off the things you know you do wrong, and consequential aches and pains you get? If you did, then it is time to consider weight training as a solution for your postural problems! We don’t just mean pumping iron, but utilising your own bodyweight to train your muscles through something like Pilates, or Metabolic training

First of all, one crucial element to a world free of back pain is USE YOUR GLUTES! In any weight bearing exercise, you need to ensure you are activating your glutes and they are doing the work, not your lower back. The glutes are one of the largest muscles in the body, and notoriously the laziest. Your core is also vital, remember to activate it in order to protect your lower back as you do any weight based exercise.

Weight training will retrain your muscles to work in the right order and think for themselves. Metabolic training uses the whole body in a full compound exercise (an example a Squat Press utilises muscles from your toes, through to your arms, and you rely on your core to complete the exercises successfully, giving a full body work out with one exercise).

You also need to remember to stretch! Tight muscles can cause just as many postural problems as weakness of the muscles. So after any weight based workout stretch your muscles properly!

If you are interested in more information or would like to get your posture sorted check out the Take Shape Health and Fitness timetable and look for Metafit/HIIT classes or Core Strength classes to get your posture on track.

Healthy Orange and Poppyseed Cake (Yes, It Exists!)

Healthy Orange and Poppyseed Cake (Yes, It Exists!)

3 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or peanut oil)
3 eggs
3/4 cup reduced fat milk
2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (don’t discard the fibre)

Grease and lightly flour a fluted cake tin.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for about 60 seconds.
Pour batter into cake tin.
Bake in a 175 degree Celcius oven for 50-55 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted near center of the cake comes out clean
Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool

Alternatively, you can make individual cakes in a muffin tin, just remember to cook for less time and keep a close eye on them.

Ham burgers/Meatballs

Ham burgers/Meatballs

1 pound extra-lean ground beef (95% lean)
1/4 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp fresh chopped minced parsley
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 egg lightly mixed in a small bowl
1 cup whole meal breadcrumbs
I carrot grated
1 zucchini grated

Combine ingredients in a large bowl using your fingers, when all is combined divide into patties for hamburgers on into smaller round balls for meatballs.

Hamburgers – place on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper cook in the oven (95c) for 20 min turning over after 10 min.
Serve with salad and a small whole meal bun

Meatballs – place meatballs in a baking dish cover balls with a tomato based pasta sauce, you can add extra garlic red wine or vegetables to the sauce.
Put lid on top of dish or tin foil and place into oven (85f) for 40 min.
Serve with salad and pasta