An Alternative Sunday Dinner: Vietnamese Curry 

I originally sourced this recipe on Hello Fresh UK’s app. I absolutely adore Hello Fresh as a company – their ethos and social goals ( to make healthy, exciting, fresh food accessible and realistic for busy people) are a breath of fresh air to a health fanatic like me! 

   As well as studying to become a competent Yoga teacher, I am studying Anatomy & Physiology, with a desire to progress in to holistic nutrition. I am particularly focused on matters of inflammation within the body and how a tailored prescription of diet and (yoga) exercise can facilitate individuals in coping with inflammatory conditions. Thus, I am becoming rather adept, and naturally inclined to, altering found recipes to suit physiological needs on a day-to-day basis. 

    Our Anatomy is a magnificent, complex arrangement of purposeful components- we are unique on this Planet in our marvellous complexity. We are beautiful machines – but machines falter. With a complexity so thorough as our Anatomy, chances are we will experience faults, anomalies and imbalances, of some sort, on a daily basis. For example, I have recently been hapless in contracting a very nasty viral infection, which was doing the rounds in my workplace. Two weeks of unstable health, the virus finally peaked. I am now rapidly reaching rude health, once again, but the virus has resulted in a mild UTI  (Cystitis). Just as I thought it had gone…..bam! My poor kidneys feel like they are crying. Sobbing their little hearts out deep in my back. 

   However, touch wood, after 48 hours of Pukka “Cleanse” tea (nettle, fennel & peppermint for a “flushing” effect) bananas (for potassium), spinach (to replenish vital nutrients such as magnesium, iron, vitamins B6 & B12, as well as some vitamin c to fight the infection….I’m seemingly on the mend. Keith and Kevin are still blubbing a little, but they have settled somewhat!

   That said, this initial period of post-virus convalescence is the optimal time for recharging and replenishing my immune system; ensuring that my diet is rich in antimicrobial and antibacterial, anti inflammatory, infections fighting goodness! 

  Hence my adapted version of Hello Fresh’s “Vietnamese Curry”! The addition of broccoli, to the recipe, provides a host of added benefits in the way of antioxidants, vitamin C and magnesium; whilst exchanging standard field mushrooms for shitake will provide a dose of lentinan- an antibacterial compound. Mushrooms, in general, are a good food source of vitamin D, which is considered to have an important role in immunity. 

   These ingredients upgrades are fused with garlic, ginger and lemongrass, which have soothing, anti inflammatory and antibacterial properties – a recipe that will soothe the soul and aid in preventing a trip to the doctors office! 

Happy cooking 🌹🌺🌼🌻 Kate xx

INGREDIENTS: serves 2

2 large cloves garlic 

Bunch spring onions

1 thumb size piece of ginger (grated)

1 stalk lemongrass (cut in half widthways)

2 tbsp curry leaves 

1 tbsp coriander, chopped (fresh or dried) 

Juice of half lime

1 punnet (200g) shitake mushrooms

1 broccoli head, chopped

2 chicken breasts (buy the highest welfare that you can afford)

400g coconut milk 

1 chicken stock pot 

50ml water 

1.5 tsp mild curry powder 

150g wholegrain rice

METHOD: 

1. Prep the ingredients: slice the garlic, grate the ginger and slice the lemongrass width ways. Bash the lemongrass with a rolling pin to open it (so as the fragrance is released). Slice the mushrooms in 4 or 5 slices and chop the broccoli in to florets. Juice half a lime and chop the chicken in to 2 cm cubes.

2. Boil some water in a saucepan and add the rice, half the stock pot and half of the lemongrass. Cook for 30 minutes on the boil. Add more water if it evaporates before the rice is cooked. 

3. Whilst the rice cooks, heat a wok with 1tbsp olive oil. When the wok is hot, add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes (until brown). 

4. Add the mushrooms, broccoli and spring onions plus the curry powder. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Add the garlic, ginger and remaining lemongrass. Cook for 1 minute and then add the coconut milk. 

5. Reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add the remaining half of the stock pot and 50ml water. Stir thoroughly and cook for a few minutes more. 

6. Taste the curry and add some black pepper if desired. Squeeze in the juice of the lime and stir in the coriander. Leave for 1 minute and drain the rice. Remove the curry from the heat and serve in a bowl with the rice! 

Enjoy!

The Asana Clinic: Balasana 

Today I was coerced into contemplating my role as a “child” and the significance my role has as I matriculate. Often, as is the situation I  find myself in today, the parent and child roles are reversed and we find ourselves acting preternaturally; the young becomes the rational authority as the parent momentarily adopts irrational, emotionally distorted behaviour. 

   As children, in the chronological aspect, we are fairly “relaxed”. We can quickly distract ourselves from stress as the mind continuously evolves and is epicurious – thus, relatively easily distracted. Stresses can be relieved with a skipping rope or a colouring book. 

   Finding myself in this parent-child reversal has made me consider how I can collect myself and help my “child” status resurface. Assuming this “parent” role left me somewhat anxious and distressed – my mind an incoherent cacophony of distorted screams and thoughts that pushed the boundaries of “over-thinking”. I needed to feel infantile and to establish some forms of mental clarity; to be care free and so emotionally assured that I could discard my stress at the sight of a Cadburys Flake. 

   Balasana, “Childs Pose”, evokes that sense of isolation that we often need to decompress and calm down, when we are stressed. The fetal position evokes a sense of self preservation and regeneration as we ground and rebalance ourselves. When we fold our bodies, redirecting our eyes to look in on our selves, signals to the brain that we are safe and it is permissible to rest. Balasana is particularly beneficial if you have a racing mind and are prone to overthinking. 

   As well as mental benefits, Balasana is physically supportive:

  • Elongates the spine, relieving tension in the lower back.
  • Aids digestion and expels excess gas.
  • The hips are opened and relieved of tension. 

“Rest” asanas are often demoted and, when incorporated in practice, rushed through. Strenuous, more challenging and physically exerting postures are favoured. Resting postures have equal significance in promoting balance in your practice; leading to balance in everyday life. 

Child’s pose encourages us to rest and detach, take a step back and have a breather- just like when we were kids. 

Namaste friends 🌼🌻🌺🌹

A Balancing Butternut Squash Soup

A Balancing Butternut Squash Soup

As mother Nature blithely taunts us with preternatural indications of an early Spring, quickly shattered by plummeting evening temperatures and gale force winds, we wonder if it was al just a disillusioned fantasy dreamt up out of desperation to leave the Winter months behind; or perhaps it is a subsequence of a winter rife with coughs and sneezes and in our febrile states – we imagined the whole thing!

Fluctuating temperatures and erratic weather patterns wreak havoc on our immune systems – it seems like once you get rid of one cold another one is soon infesting. Our offices and homes become incubators for germs, which I am convinced may be confused, by the preternatural climates of late, themselves! Disturbances and imbalances; physically and mentally, can present and manifest in a multitude of ways. From affecting our moods, to making us lethargic and causing pain, uneven energy can be detrimental to our wellbeing and significantly impacts our health.

It is common knowledge that what you put in to your body, in terms of nutrition, affects every essence of your health and wellbeing – physically and mentally. We are equipped with multitudinous platforms of knowledge on this subject and can essentially become our own nutritionists. As I progress through my studies (to become a teacher of yoga and qualified physiological practitioner) my interest in the synergy between nutrition and our inner most wellbeing becomes increasingly profound – particularly how nutrition can be used to balance our ‘Chakras’ and the ancient system of Ayurveda. I am particularly curious of the utilisation of herbs and spices and their application in balancing the Chakras and the ‘Doshas’ ( I will discuss these more in a future post).

After experiencing a little systematic imbalance of late, myself – I sit, composing this post with a chronic sore throat and pulsating glands – I decided to batch cook some of my favourite, cleansing, nourishing soup: Balancing Butternut Squash Soup; and I would love to share the recipe with you.

This soup makes an ideal lunch – no matter what the weather is doing (!) – or detoxifying dinner; accompanied by a whole grain pita bread (or oatcakes, if you are gluten-free), maybe a little soft goats cheese too; you are sure to feel satisfied and sublimated. Containing a few key spices, the health benefits, of a bowl of this beautiful soup, abound. The split peas provide essential plant-based protein (of which is hugely beneficial when recuperating from an illness) as well as fibre and vitamins A, B, Magnesium and Potassium: this combination will pack a powerful punch in helping you to feel energised, breaking through any lethargy that you may experience on a rainy, windy day! Paired with some anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich turmeric, garlic and ginger; this recipe will leaveyou feeling nourished, uplifted and blissful. Enjoy! ❤

Kate xxxx

Typically makes 4-6 servings:

1 litre low sodium, organic vegetable stock

400g Coconut Milk (I tend to use Blue Dragon, i find this brand to be the best quality in the UK)

1 medium red onion

2-3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced (use 3 if you like a nice potent punch, like me!)

0.5 – 1 tbsp finely chopped red chilli (adjust according to the level of heat that you desire. I tend to use ‘Very Lazy’ ready chopped chillis – saves any spicy finger related incidents!)

1.5 tbsp organic honey

1 butternut squash, cubed

1 large sweet potato, cubed

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

1tbsp Curry powder (in the UK, i buy a good quality “medium” curry powder, which s easily found in any ethnic food section of all major supermarkets).

1 tbsp ground turmeric

a good few grinds of black pepper (the Piprine in black pepper activated the Curcurmin absorptio from the Turmeric. The curcurmin is the active compound in turmeric, which delivers all the health benefits).

1 small bunch fresh flat leaf parsely

1 small bunch fresh coriander ( freeze dried herbs are a good alternative if you have those to hand)

8 tbsp Yellow Split peas (+ adequate water to cook them in)

1tbsp Organic extra virgin olive oil (Coconut Oil will work equally as well).

Pinch of organic rock salt, finely ground.

Method:

  1. Cook the split peas in water – bring to the boil and then reduce the heat, allowing to simmer for approx. 25 minutes. Thr split peas should swell to half disc shapes and be soft with a slight firmness to them.
  2. Whilst the split peas are simmering, peel and cube the sweet potato and butternut squash.
  3. Finely chop the red onion, garlic cloves (these can be crushed if you do not want them siced) and grate the ginger. generally, a thumb sized piece of ginger will produce 1 tbsp grated.
  4. Measure out the spices that you will need and finely chop the fresh herbs.
  5. Heat the oil in the pan and reduce the heat, once hot. Add the onion, garlic and ginger – cook until the ingredients are soft but not brown (around 5 minutes).
  6. Add the curry powder, chilli and the turmeric, combining with the other ingredients for around 1 minute. Ensure that the onion mixture is wel coated in the spices.
  7. Pop in the butternut squash and sweet potato. Mix well, and continuously, for 1 minute. Add a little more oil if neccessary.
  8. Drizzle the honey over the contents of the pan and keep stirring for a couple of minutes. A caramelising effect should occur.
  9. At this point, add the vegetable stock, a few good grinds of black pepper and the salt. Pop the lid on the saucepan and leave to simmer for 35 minutes, or until the squash is tender.Around 2/3 of the way through cooking, add the split peas.
  10. Once the squash is tender, pour in the coconut milk and the herbs. Add more salt or pepper if needed. Give the soup a good stir and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from the heat and serve!
  12. If you like a smooth soup, blend the soup down with a hand blender. This works equally as well.

Nutritional Information: per serving, based on 5 servings

Calories: 341

Total Fat: 17.6g

  • Polyunsaturated: 0.5g
  • Saturated: 11.1g
  • Monounsaturated: 2.1g
  • Trans: 0g

Total Carbohydrate: 43.6g

  • Dietary fibre: 5.7g
  • Sugars: 12.5g

Protein: 5.3g

Cholesterol: 0.0mg

Sodium: 26.2mg

Potassium: 674.8mg

Vitamin A: 415.6%

Vitamin C: 59%

Calcium: 8.9%

Iron: 7.0%

 

 

 

 

“Experience is growth” – anon

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Precisely one year ago I concluded my post graduate education – 3 years of arduous, mentally taxing study and practical development was over and I was officially a Master of Applied Art.

After my final presentation (which concentrated on altered perceptions subsequent to psychological malady), I returned home; unloaded my belongings; sat down with a coffee and wept. I proceeded to weep at great length and at such an intensity that my thorax could have shattered in to a thousand little pieces. I should have been elated; I should have been in some sort of adrenaline induced hysteria and bursting with pride. I had overcome problems, of which were multitudinous, in my formative years – but my academic abilities had never been one of those many, many problems. So, what was with the melancholy?

Were they tears of relief? Perhaps.

Was it a cry of elation and pride that could not be contained? Absolutely not.

This was pure, unadulterated sorrow. This was fear. This was the same type of fear that I was presented to at 18 years old; when I had lost my Father to lung cancer and my Mother was 200 miles away. I was alone and I was terrified. I was now out of University, for good, and I was terrified. I had spent thousands of pounds on furthering my education, I had sacrificed a career in luxury jewellery, in order to further my education – neither of those even remotely factored in to the fear. The fear was that there was no going back. The tutors that adored me, popped me up on a pedestal and praised my every pencil mark were gone: I was churned back out in to society to be broken. I had been here before – after my undergraduate degree. Freelance art and design work was somewhat traumatic for me: 24 and being told you’re “not quite getting it” and constantly being rejected for a permanent job are distinctly damaging; my fragile ego simply couldn’t take it.

Exactly one year ago I vowed that I would never feel that fear ever again.

I vowed that I would shed my ego and change all the elements of my existence that were depleting me, oppressing me and keeping me from truly loving my real, genuine self. For I f we cannot embrace and love ourselves, can we ever truly love another? If we are not functioning at our optimum, how can we be present for other people?

I can take a hefty amount of guff from other people. I have a resilience to the depravity and negativity that life can inflict on us – people lash out in many ways and for many, often complex, reasons. I have done it, everybody has done it and will do it again. However, my art work was not up for said “guff”; or criticism. It’s not that I am egocentric; I know that I am gifted artistically and the work that I produce is conceptual and subjective, so people will naturally have opinions and comments. It is not that I am arrogant and cannot take these opinions and comments constructively; no, it is that my art practice comes from inner turmoil. From a dark place inside of me, that I try to keep buried and am rather surreptitious about. As balanced and rational as I am now, I have not always been this way. When something comes from within your soul, you can’t quite take criticism; no matter how “constructive” it is intended to be. After a little self-analysis, I surmised that I cannot take the criticism, in respect of my art work, unless I concur with what is being said – I figured that this was a type of self-preservation. If I concur with the criticism, I am opening up a dangerous can of worms concerning self-criticism: for I have been my own worst enemy.

Thus, I have spent the last year investing my energies in to finding my true calling. I haven’t forced the hand of fate – instead I have embraced a yoga practice that was somewhat neglected. Introducing meditation, asana and Ayurveda rituals back in to my everyday life. I was positive that my sublimated, open consciousness would lead me to my true destiny. I assumed this would be art orientated. However, I was posed with another problem.

I was happy.  

In the last 17 years I had not been happy – not in the true sense of the word. But, now I was, my work was suffering. I couldn’t do it – I had exorcised all of my inner demons and my turmoil was diminishing faster than I cared for. Happily married, financially ok-ish…..relatively happy at work; healthy – for the first time in my life it was all going…well, right. Dare I say it, I was settled, I was on track. For someone of my academia and my age, I wasn’t in the ideal job nor was I on an ideal salary – but these things held no significance anymore. They were trivial factors. Factors that no longer affected my happiness. I was grateful for them. I realized how fortunate I was to be in the position I was in; there are millions of people in this World that would swap lives with me. I was humbled, at peace and ready to help others achieve this same psyche. It was refreshing and, I have to say, a bloody big relief.

 I had spent 17 years miserable. Anorexic, deluded, grieving for my beloved Father and utterly miserable. At some point I must have realized – an epiphany if you will; I could either stay miserable or I could just jolly well let it go. Move on.

Guilt, grief, regret, anger and sorrow are all packed in to these big suitcases that sit in the corner of a room with us. Each morning, before we leave the house, we pick that suitcase up and carry it out of the door with us. Some days, the suitcase is a ton weight. Other days, you barely feel a thing. I wondered, what if I don’t have to carry that suitcase around with me anymore. What if I can unpack it, put everything away in the closet and discard that daily burden. Get myself out of the mental prison that I had locked myself in. All of the things packed away in the suitcase would never be gone, but, instead, I had a choice on how they affected me. I had a choice on how I would integrate them in to my life. We can never escape the things that we have done or the mistakes that we have made but we can use them to determine a better path for ourselves.

I have spent the majority of the last year immersing myself in philosophy – both ‘Classic’ Western Philosophy and yogic/eastern philosophy. I have practiced yoga asana daily and have arrived at a point where I am educated and of balanced, rational thinking – these are the things that conduced to my happiness. Seventeen years of yoga had caught up with me and had brought me to my final destination – to share this wonderful new existence. To share this health and vitality. To share this inner peace.

THEIA yoga is being developed as a system of yoga that will help other people whom have felt inner turmoil and fear like I did. Theia yoga will aim to help liberate others from what may be holding them down – to create health, peace and love. We have one body to live in and it is no good to us if we do not care for it. I spent years neglecting my physical self because of issues in my mental self. I cannot promise miracles or cures, but I can promise a positive, secure, peaceful experience; coupled with advice on health, nutrition and general well-being, that will enhance others existences. I don’t accept that anybody should feel negatively toward themselves. There is a purpose for each individual existence – whether it is obvious or not; whether it is relevant to this particular life, or the next one. Whatever the purpose, it should be accepted and embraced with integrity and love.

Based in Staffordshire, England, THEIA incorporates Hatha, Vinyasa and Kundalini yoga systems; with the integrity of bringing the mind, body and consciousness in to harmonic alignment through these asana practices, prana, meditation and education (philosophy). I aim to build a positive, serene, calm environment that reflects my lifestyle. I am always happy to hear from anyone whom is interested in the yogic lifestyle and philosophy. I cannot guarantee miracles or cures, but I can guarantee a shoulder to lean on in times of need.