Viewing entries tagged
health

Barcelona Urban Adventure

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Barcelona Urban Adventure

We are just back from the amazing Barcelona, a beautiful and such vibrant city. While we were there Barcelona had a few major events: the Carnival, the Santa Eulàlia Festival and the first snow in decades! Apart of the snow that caught us by surprise the festival and the carnival just added more colour to our trip.

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Santa Eulàlia is the patron saint of Barcelona City and lived here in the Roman period. At the beginning of the 4th century the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered the persecution of the Christians in his empire. This led to the 13 year old Eulàlia being arrested, tortured and finally crucified. This is the famous festival when the Castellers build human pillars.

Whereas the Carnival, is simply the time of joy, exuberance and joie de vivre, before Ash Wednesday when the 46-day Lent to Easter begins. We often didn't know what is celebrate at what time but certainly enjoyed the parades! 

When traveling to a city as exciting as Barcelona you must have a tour by a tour guide who can tell you stories no-one else knows. We were really lucky and got a very well incomes, funny and very entertaining guide who was able to talk not only about the history but also the past and current political situation in Catalonia.

The food of Spain is packed with flavour and character! I don't think I have ever eaten better guacamole.....

Finally, the views and the fun we had was never to be forgotten!

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Your yoga retreat experience - interview with Lisa

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Your yoga retreat experience - interview with Lisa

We are just back from the Barcelona retreat and can't wait to show you our pictures.  Lisa who attended the retreat is sharing today her experience ❤ 

What was your favourite thing about the retreat and why?

For me, it was the connections and friendships made with the other ladies on the retreat.  I loved that we had yoga in common among our very different lives.  We shared something about ourselves every evening over dinner as well as during our yoga practice.  There was a really sense of connection which grew over the days we spent together. 

How did you like the idea of active holiday - using yoga as a way to energise and prepare you for the day and restorative yoga to wind down and relax

The yoga teaching was excellent, very well prepared and thought out. The energising yoga in the morning woke us all up quickly and pleasantly, and I felt proud of myself for achieving challenging poses whilst the restorative yoga in the evening took away aches and pains from any walking and activities during the day.  The evening yoga also encouraged a lot of contemplation and rest, and therefore felt luxurious and special.  

What did you think about the city tour? Was it a good idea? Did you see & learned about the city more than if you did yourself? 

The city tour was interesting thanks to the expertise of the tour guide, who seemed to be passionate about history and about educating people.  It definitely helped me learn more about the city in a historical way, and added a new layer of interest.  I would not have had that perspective without the tour, and it's made me have a new appreciation for Barcelona and Spain as a whole.  

What did you think about Aire de Barcelona (Ancient Baths)

The Ancient Baths were incredible!  I would never dream of doing something like that normally. it was absolute indulgence. It felt like a different world and the experiences offered were great fun - the hot and cold baths and the freezing cold plunge pool to help enliven the body, then the rapid jacuzzi for sore muscles and the best of all - the sea salt pool to encourage floating and complete rest. It was Heaven. And I loved that the staff were so intuitive to our needs.  They provided everything, but their attention was unobtrusive.  

How did you feel about you finished your Aire de Barcelona experience

I thought that having it on the first day just a few hours after we arrived was the perfect way to set us up for the rest of the retreat. My energy levels switched immediately to calmness and I felt prepared.  It changed my mindset from frantic business into me-time.    

What did you think of the food? Did you inspire you to try new yummy recipes? 

The food definitely took me out of my comfort zone but in a fantastic way.  I have tried more different foods over the weekend than I have in years.  I normally hate cooking but it's inspired me to try many new things. My stomach feels better too and I've learnt more lots about my digestion and am now seeing food as medicine. I still can't believe we had vegan tacos made from banana skins! It was yummy. I now love coconut and soya milk, and have realised there are lots of veggie alternatives of foods I normally enjoy.  It was wonderful having the Las Ramblas market so close by too.  (Boqueria?) 

What did you learn? Was it an inspirational experience? 

The most important thing I learned is that the world will not end if I take time for myself.  I learned that art is very important to me, as I had time to visit the Picasso Museum and La  Sagrada Familia. Although I'm used to journalling and self-help, I felt very cared for and guided by Daria, who genuinely wants us to be the best we can be.  She is inspirational.  I drew strength from the belief she had in us.  It was a very nurturing weekend which pushed us to love ourselves more and try new things.  Thanks Daria ❤ 

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Best vegetarian and vegan bistros in Prague

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Best vegetarian and vegan bistros in Prague

Prague is a great place for yummy vegan restaurants ( which I didn’t know prior to going there). I had a wee list of all the places I wanted to visit but sadly managed only a handful (as there are so many!). Some places offer only vegan or vegetarian options but some aren't as strict and if you ask for meaty options they will accommodate your request. Here are some of my favourites that I personally tried and recommend. Let’s stat with my absolute favourite:

Bistro 8

Located in a new hipster neighbourhood next to a really cool park Letna. Our hotel was just around a corner so I went there a few times and loved the place, my 3 course lunch (light and delicious) and fruit ice tea (all home made and yummy). 

Homekitchen

They have 4 locations all over the city, some of them are bigger bistros and some are just cafes so make sure you double check before you go. It was one of my favourite places! They use great spacious design, good food and super friendly waiters. Definitely a must on your visit! It’s funny as they have a wee display of all the dishes available and the waiters just walk around (everything is very open and there is no actual ‘bar’ where you can order your food). The menu is small but its perfect as everything you need is there: good selection of fats, protein, long lasting carbs and a multitude of flavours. Definitely your taste buds will love it. 

Lehka Hlava 

Means: ‘Clear Head’. This place is located in old town area in a building that is over 500 years old. They serve great drinks, cakes and vegan dishes. The decor is really interesting and deftly not what I have expected. The remarkable interior design is the work of three friends and acclaimed artists: Žanda Gebauer made the tables with lights, the fireplace and the starry sky; Viktor Koreis designed the upholstered sofas, bar and the ceiling and grafics of the small salon; Ivan Vosecký designed the stencils that we used to decorate the walls throughout the restaurant. The magic mushroom lamps as well as the painting of the Aztec lizard is the work of Tomas Kuthan.

They say that Lehka Hlava is a place whose "genius loci" (spirit of the place) will clear your head, entice your appetite and delight your soul. All you need to do is: sit back, relax and allow your senses to be immersed in the delightful display of colours, tastes, smells and sounds. 

The sister restaurant Maitrea is located near the main square and also has wonderful dishes and more space.

Plevel at Krymska is lovely too as well as Radost FX by I.P. Pavlova.

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"Good" bacteria vs. "bad” bacteria - how antibiotics may not make you healthier

As a kid I was quite frail and prompt to being unwell. One cold followed another one, every allergy ended up with a cold and it all resulted in taking another antibiotic. Back in the 80s neither my mum nor even the doctors could see the connection between antibiotics and allergies or recurring colds. Even now my mum's first reaction to a sore throat is an antibiotic! I stopped it when I grew up old enough o say ’no' and now I am against even a simple painkiller but obviously the damage has already been done and now I pay for it with various allergies or infections.

Even now, when we are constantly being told to avoid taking unnecessary drugs and both immunologists and allergists have noted a dramatic increase in the prevalence of allergies linked to antibiotics, I still personally know a lot of people who religiously run to a GP for yet another perscription and wonder why they are constantly off sick.

Your immune system is the greatest defence against foreign invaders on the planet. It’s got its watch on 24/7 and it has the ability to remember harmful agents and how to destroy them. Much of the immune work is done in the intestinal tract. Antibiotics are designed to kill or halt the growth of bacteria. They don't target your white blood cells that we normally consider our immune system but the bacterial cells, which is a completely different thing. 

The difficulty is that antibiotics do not differentiate between "good" bacteria and "bad" bacteria, thus hey just kill all of them. The good bacteria living in your digestive tract helps to fight off bad bacteria, aids in digestion, nutrient absorption, and keeps yeast in its proper balance. The absence of "good" bacteria in your gut leaves you vulnerable to repopulation or mutation by "bad" bacteria, which can cause some serious problems and having the same allergy or cold coming back within a month. This is why you'll often be told to eat some yogurt when taking antibiotics, because it'll repopulate your gut with "good" bacteria.  

Since everything changes permanently after taking just one round of antibiotics, it takes years of targeted nutrition and probiotic therapies to recover a balance in the body (do you even consider this?).  

Next time, perhaps think twice before you get the prescription. See whether this is exactly what you need to become healthier?  

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A MAGICAL ELIXIR FOR CLEANSING

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A MAGICAL ELIXIR FOR CLEANSING

3 Easy Ways To Get Started

The greatest journeys start with a single step.  Here are 3 ways to start small and build it from there:

1) Put your phone on airplane mode an hour before going to bed

2) Turn your emails off around 8pm and don’t turn them on until you get to the work the next day

3) Spike up you digestion by drinking a beverage with lemon first thing in the morning, at least 30 min before breakfast. This will stimulate digestion and elimination. You can either drink a glass of warm water with ¼ to ½ of fresh lemon juice or prepare this:

Magical Elixir

Juice of ½ lemon or lime
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
Pinch cayenne
Small cup of warm water

Stir together, sip slowly then step out into the day!

Becoming more conscious of the habitual patterns that deplete your energy and build toxins in you body and mind will add new depth to the detoxification process and make it more successful.

Read more on MFML's website.

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Cabbage with sweet potato in coconut milk

Even I didn't know that this soup is going to be so yummy. If you don't like cabbage then don't add it but it does add a hell a lot of delicious texture!

Ingredients

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  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tin of tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 small cabbage, shredded
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 cup of peas

Directions

  • In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pepper flakes, onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, ground cumin, curry powder and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
  • Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  • Put potatoes, cabbage, peas and carrots into your slow cooker. Add the lime juice. Cover and cook over night on low heat. Serve warm on top of white rice.

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'I'm strong to the finich, cause I eats me spinach'

As all Popeye fans know, whenever the sailor needs some extra strength, he simply downs a tin of spinach and instantly grows bulging biceps. That cartoon made even me eat this greasy, slimy veg that my mum used to put on my plate! Interestingly, at the end of 19th century, a German chemist Erich von Wolf correctly ascertained the amount of iron in spinach, but then, the poor man accidentally misplaced a decimal point: instead of recording that spinach had 3.5 milligrams of iron per 100-gram serving, he wrote that it had 35 milligrams. An here we have a fantastic but misleading cartoon boosting spinach-growing industry.

Today, many people around the world are iron deficient. Funny enough, back in Palaeolithic time, iron deficiency was probably uncommon as people used to eat animal muscle tissue, plants and lots of vit C (alas you probably would have been eaten by some wild animal at the age of 30 anyway). Too little iron can impair body functions, but most physical signs and symptoms do not show up unless iron deficiency (anaemia) occurs. Iron deficiency will make you feeling tired and weak, your performance will decrease and you will feel absolutely knackered at the end of the day. Maintaining body temperature will be an issue and your immune system will slow down so you will be catching every possible infection. But you can improve your iron status by changing your diet. 

What you need to know about iron is that the foods with high iron content aren’t necessarily the best sources of iron. By weight, soybeans have roughly twice the iron as beef. But only about 7% of the iron in soybeans is absorbed. Spinach, as we already know, is also high in iron, but less than 2% of the iron in cooked spinach is absorbed.

We have got two types of iron:

  • Heme iron is the most absorbed form of iron, and it’s found in shellfish, red meat, poultry, and fish. This one is absorbed two to three times more efficiently than iron from plants. 
  • Nonheme iron is found in plant foods, as well as in eggs, milk, and some meat. This one can be literally carried through the digestive tract unabsorbed (I know it sounds ugly, but this is one of the reasons why mom elephant would stick poop into it’s son’s mouth…I still love elephants, I really do:)

You can enhance iron absorption by adding vitamin C when eaten at the same meal. 

If you are taking supplements or trying to increase your iron intake you should definitely avoid:

  • drinking tea, wine or fizzy drinks within 30 - 45min of taking iron supplements or eating your iron based foods. So no diet-coke ladies!
  • leave 30 - 45min between the consumption of iron and milk (e.g. in cereal) and other diary products. Phytates in cereal can also inhibit iron absorption. 

Those of you who are currently really struggling with iron or are pregnant I would encourage to make bone broth (use good quality meat and slow cooker, cook for at least 5h), alternatively if meat is not part of your diet, then smoothies are a great idea too: just mix spinach, nuts (esp. sesame, pumpkin, almonds), avocado, orange maybe strawberry and kiwi.  I also recommend using this superfood powder: Green Superfood All Natural Drink Powder. Just add a spoon of this powder to your smoothie and in a few weeks you will notice that your hair and nails look so much better. 

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Things you didn't know you can make yourself - Pesto

Pesto is one of my favourite, most aromatic, fresh and vibrant foods in the culinary world. In the internet you can find hundreds of great pesto recipes, that will taste a million times better than any of the stuff you can buy in the store. The most classic pesto is made with fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil. But to me pesto is all about you and what you want it to do with it. No ingredient is set in stone so you can just put it into a blender and mix it!

This recipe below was introduced to me by my sister, who got it from her Italian/Polish/Canadian stepfather who happens to not only be the most influential business coach I have ever met but also a fantastic cook! Now, lets put it online!

You need:

  • approx. 30g of blue cheese. The only trick is to find one suitable for vegetarians (means it does no contain animal rennet which basically is the stomach of an unweaned animal). 

  • I like to add another type of a fermented cheese, brie can be a good idea (10g will do)

  • 1 1/2 pack of basil (basically a big handful)

  • 1/2 pack of watercress. I also like to add some ricotta 

  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, roasted or fried

  • a few spoons of a good quality olive oil

What do to?

  • put some coconut oil on your pan and roast some sunflower seeds. Be careful - they can burn fast!

  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, greens, sunflower seeds, cheese, add some water. Begin blending.

  • while blending, add in the olive oil to reach the desired consistency. You can make your pesto as thick or thin as you like.

There are just as many ways to use pesto. Some of my favourites are:

  • quinoa, avocado, greens salad and just a wee bit of pesto

  • on my guilty pleasure day: as a sauce on pasta (thin the pesto slightly with a little bit of pasta water – this will also help the pesto cling to the noodles).

  • Spread on a slice of fresh, crusty bread. It doesn’t get much better than that, unless you want to go ahead and put some tomato and mozzarella on there too.

  • oh, almost forgot…put it on a grilled cheese…heaven!

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Quick and yummy

I continuously forget to even buy broccoli and then one day it somehow makes its way into my shopping basket! The cream of broccoli soup is probably THE QUICKEST soup you can make. It is also super yummy. Broccoli is one of the very low calorie vegetables, nevertheless, it is rich in dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. If you are running out of time this is a perfect solution for you. Eat it with a wrap or a nice salad and you have a full meal. 

broccoli

Ingredients: 

  • dash of coconut oil
  • ¼ onion
  • 1 or 1½ of broccoli, cut into florets
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 300ml of hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 50ml double cream, plus extra to serve ( or milk)
  • optional cheddar cheese

How to do it?

  • Heat a wee bit of coconut oil in a deep pan (or a wok), add the onion and fry gently until softened. Add the broccoli florets, salt and freshly ground black pepper and stock and simmer for five minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. Be careful with the salt, I always feel it's too much. 
  • Slowly add the cream (stirring) or a dash of milk. 
  • While you are waiting for the soup to cool down add some cheddar cheese and let it to melt. 
  • Blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and finish with a little bit of cream and maybe some cheese on top. 

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Pose of the week: neck release

In my yoga classes I always work with a specific intent. It can be entirely focused on a particular part of the human body that I am currently researching to understand it’s functions and dysfunctions. Or it can also be a mixture of an anatomical part and something I am learning about in my own life. I share those with my students but not everyone can make to my class so this is the reason why I’ve decided to start “pose of the week’ blog. 

In the past weeks I have been swamped with work and despite all the wisdom, yoga, meditation my neck and shoulders become the biggest victims. We all abuse our body in one way or another but those little guys always get beaten up the most. The neck gives us the ability to hold our head up high with confidence, but also to drop our it down and hide in the shadows. It keeps us always on guard, ready for the fight. Neck muscles may be small but they are mighty and often forgotten until they hurt. 

The neck is the support structure for the head and protects the spinal cord. The brain’s messages and major blood vessels travel through the neck to the body. This is why we often call the neck the 'gateway between the mind and the body'. Neck tension and pain can be produced by stress, computer work, sleeping positions or bad posture, among other things. When the neck is tense, the shoulders rise and the chin moves up and forward, causing further misalignment and pain. Neck tension can often lead to headaches, a problem affecting something like 75% of the general population. Chronic tension can settle into the neck, and literally strangle your aliveness.

Releasing those muscles will literally improve that circulation and your energy levels. It will clear up the gateway between your mind and the body and will give us greater ability to make wise decision. 

In Chinese medicine there is a group of ten points, which are called the ‘window of the sky’ or the ‘window of heaven'. I couldn’t find them in many of the more practical acupuncture books but they definitely have a lot of references even though they are not used commonly and are classified as more spiritual points. Interestingly they are being used within the Tom Tam Healing System for a range of conditions such as MS, Parkinson's, and brain tumours to facilitate the smooth flow of blood and Qi to and from the brain. Thai massage taught in northern Thailand is based on the same Tom Tam system to ensure maximum healing benefits to the body.

So perhaps just before you go to bed tonight you consider dedicating 5-10 minutes to care for your neck? 

neck release pose
  • find a confortable seated position, it can be on the bed, in your garden, even at your desk while you are at work. 
  • put left hand under the left sit bone, palm down, finger tips pointing towards your tailbone (it’s your own palm, don’t freak out;)
  • lean head to the right and take a breath. 
  • bring right arm over your head so finger tips are alongside your jaw line for extra weight, don’t push your head down! If your neck carries a lot of tension this may feel a bit uncomfortable so maybe don’t put the arm up just yet. give it a few breaths first
  • hunt for areas of tightens on the left side of the neck, breathe deeply and allow the head to be heavy
  • after a few minutes, release arm, roll chin to chest and breath to the back of the neck
  • release the hand you are sitting on, use it by placing it under your entire forehead, inhale and lift the head up
  • change sides

I love to follow this with legs up on the wall, especially after a very long day at work. Try it!

This is a great video by Kathryn Budig.

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Morning energiser

morning-energiser

You all know how much I love my green smoothies (not sure that Phil loves them as much as I do). It's so incredibly simple to have at least one smoothing a day and you don't go to Fuel or another ridiculously expenses place to get your icy, sugary smoothie that doesn't give you anything other than sugar based carbohydrates. Try this little guy. He's small but mighty and will make you feel amazing!  

  • 1 Handful of spinach
  • 1 Cup of almond milk
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter

Enjoy!

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Protein pancakes

There’s something comforting about pancakes. We love the taste, the making process and the smell they leave in the entire house. There is nothing better than lazy Sunday breakfast. Plus you don’t have to go to a fancy brunch or sacrifice your diet to make your fluffy dreams a reality.
What you need is:

  • 1 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1 cup of organic oats
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 rhubarb stick, apple, blueberries, strawberries, or any other fruit you love.

Directions:

  • Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth (including banana). You can add a spoon of organic coconut oil so you don’t need to use it later on
  • Chop the rhubarb and add it to the mixture (don't blend anymore)
  • Use coconut oil to grease your frying pan. Add the mixture. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown

EAT AND LOVE EVERY BITE!

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