A Yin Yoga Sequence for Balancing Hormones

Many of us walk through life – whether knowingly or not – with some form of chronic stress. We have become masters at coping with it. We are overstimulated by coffee and sugar to stay awake, we feel restless late at night, we over-consume, over-analyse, over-commit and ultimately over-stress the fine hormonal balance of our endocrine system.

When our hormones are out of balance, we start to notice a wide variety of symptoms including headaches, skin problems, insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, sluggish metabolism, poor libido, night sweats, hot flashes and mood swings, just to name a few. By stimulating the kidneys, liver and heart meridian lines and the parasympathetic nervous system through yin yoga, we start to create an environment where balance can be restored throughout the body and mind.

This sequence was used over the weekend for a Hormone Balancing workshop at The Yoga Shed, Hitchin. Each pose was held between 3-5 minutes, starting with a 10 minute meditation and finishing with a deeply relaxing 10 minute savasana.

Enjoy!

A Yin Yoga Practice for Balancing Hormones

 

Potato, parsnip & pea curry with apple chutney

I went in search of a way to add a little taste sensation (read: variation) to my otherwise one-trick ‘roast ’em up boys‘ move with this season’s parsnips. This recipe from Waitrose (who knew?!) saved me from allowing perfectly good vegetables go to waste – or to the chippery! This curry makes clever use of store cupboard ingredients and those cooked vegetables that might otherwise get thrown away. And did I mention creamy, delicious veggie curry flavours to boot? I didn’t bother with the apple chutney this time around but I’ll definitely be making this one again, and with or without the chutney, my parsnips have just found a delicious new home.

potato, parsnip, pea curry
Potato, Parsnip & Pea Curry with Apple Chutney; Photo: Waitrose

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh root ginger
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 400g cold roast potatoes, cubed
  • 400g cold roast parsnips, cubed
  • 227g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 100g frozen peas
  • Juice ½ lemon

For the chutney

  • 1 Cox apple, cored and finely diced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook gently for 5 minutes until soft and golden. Add the cayenne, turmeric and garam masala, cook for a minute then add the potatoes and parsnips and toss to coat in the spices. Stir in the tomatoes and some seasoning and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  2. Stir in the coconut milk and peas then bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Add the lemon juice and check the seasoning.
  3. Make the chutney by mixing together the apple, onion and mint. Serve the curry with the chutney alongside, and naan bread or rice, if you wish.

Cooks tip

To use raw potatoes and parsnips,simply peel 500g of each and toss with spices then cook in the tomato sauce until just tender, adding water as required.

Prep: 15mins | Cooks: 1-2hours (if using raw vegetables) | Serves: 6

Veggie Chilli

 

veggie chilli
Veggie Chilli; Photo: Jamie Oliver

 

 

Jamie Oliver‘s hearty, delicious alternative to the traditional chilli con carne, comes highly recommended from a fellow yogi and yogi-Mum. Can’t wait to give this hot pick a try for a super simple mid-week meal full of fiery goodness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (500g)
  • 1 level teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • 2 x 400 g tinned beans, such as kidney, chickpea, pinto, cannellini
  • 2 x 400 g tins of quality plum tomatoes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F/gas 6.
  2. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into bite-sized chunks, then place onto a baking tray.
  3. Sprinkle with a pinch each of cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper, drizzle with oil then toss to coat. Roast for 40 minutes, or until golden and tender.
  4. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Halve, deseed and roughly chop the peppers, then peel and finely chop the garlic.
  5. Pick the coriander leaves, finely chopping the stalks. Deseed and finely chop the chillies.
  6. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat, add the onion, peppers and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the coriander stalks, chilli and spices, and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  8. Drain and add the beans. Tip in the tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon, then stir well.
  9. Bring to the boil, then reduce to medium-low and leave to tick away for 25 to 30 minutes, or until thickened and reduced – keep an eye on it, and add a splashes of water to loosen, if needed.
  10. Stir the roasted sweet potato through the chilli with most of the coriander leaves, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
  11. Scatter over the remaining coriander. Delicious served with soured cream, guacamole and rice or tortilla chips.

Prep: 45mins | Cooks: 45mins | Serves: 4

Baked Tofu

This baked tofu recipe came to me off the back of an organic ClearSpot Original Tofu package and ended up sprinkled all over the top of a cheesy vegetable bake ready for a post-yoga protein-fueled dinner delight.

baked_tofu_large
Baked Tofu; Photo by ClearSpot Organic Tofu

Ingredients

  • 140g ClearSpot Original Tofu
  • 2 cms root ginger cut finely
  • 1 clove garlic cut finely
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp finely chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp finely chopped spring onion
  • 1 tsp balsamic glaze to drizzle
  • Pepper to taste
  • Lime wedges

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Chop the Tofu into even pieces.
  3. Place the chopped tofu onto two sheets of parchment paper.
  4. Sprinkle the chopped ginger and garlic and drizzle the soy sauce.
  5. Fold the edges of one sheet of parchment to make a parcel.
  6. Place the open end face down onto the other sheet.
  7. Place in an oven-proof dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the chopped coriander, spring onion and balsamic glaze.
  9. Add a dash of pepper and lime juice and serve immediately.

Prep: 5-10mins | Cooks: 20mins | Serves: 2

Spring Clean: Liver Detox

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Liver is the organ responsible for the smooth flow of emotions as well as Qi and blood. Along with its partner, the Gallbladder, the liver is the organ that is most affected by excess stress or emotions. Most of us have some kind of liver qi stagnation – it feels natural to be planning ahead and knowing where we are going to next. However, finding ways to ensure there is a sense of ease and grace, dropping rigidity and determination about our plans and being able to enjoy the moment is really important at this time of year to keep our physical and emotional world in balance. There are many symptoms of an imbalance in the liver, including blurred vision, headaches, high blood pressure, period pain, muscle tension, cramps and tremors, constipation or diarrhoea, irritability, stress and outbursts of anger. Slowing down, finding an outlet for stress and decreasing stimulants (such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar) are just some of the ways you can rebalance disharmony in your liver and gallbladder. If you find you are craving sour foods, your liver may be in need of some extra love. Try including some of these foods in your diet, or drinking some green juices (dandelion and milk thistle are great here). Your liver will love you for it!

Liver Loving Foods

  • lemon, lime, apple and grapefruit
  • beets and carrots
  • green tea
  • leafy green vegetables such as bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory
  • avocado, walnuts
  • olive, hemp and flax seed oil
  • broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage
  • turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, fennel, mint, black pepper
  • grains, legumes, seeds

Liver Detox Foods

  • mung beans and their sprouts
  • lettuce
  • cucumber
  • watercress
  • seaweed
  • celery
  • millet
  • tofu
  • plum
  • dark green vegetables
  • mushrooms
  • rhubarb
  • bitter foods such as rye, asparagus, citrus peel, alfalfa, mustard greens, quinoa, radish

beet-juice

Sweet Beet Juice

  • 3 Carrots
  • 1 Beet
  • 2 Red Apples
  • 6 Kale Leaves
  • ½ inch of ginger root
  • ½ organic lemon, peeled

Liver Boosting Beet Juice

  • 1 beet
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 1 handful parsley

Deep Green Liver Detox

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1 lime, peeled
  • 1 cup swiss chard
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled

Liver Detox Green Smoothie

  • 2 oranges, peeled
  • 1/2 rib celery
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 1/2 cup dandelion greens (or other bitter green)
  • 1/2 cup parsley

No-bake vegan pesto tart

Áine Carlin’s The New Vegan aims to take the stress out of going vegan by offering tips on a range of topics – including dining out, dealing with cravings and even vegan-friendly fashion. According to PETA UK, her book is a host of tasty recipes, such as marinated cauliflower steaks and blueberry cream pie.

This recipe for a raw vegan tart is a delicious dish for new and long-time vegans alike.

no-bake-vegan-pesto-tart
No-bake Vegan Pesto Tart, Photo: Nassima Rothacker

I’m not going to lie. When I first came across ‘raw food’ it kinda freaked me out. Even though I’d happily chow down on crudités and loved eating fruit, the thought of an entirely raw meal really did not appeal. Little did I know the immense cuisine that embodies this often much-maligned movement is vast and delicious, and after trying out a few dishes in raw food restaurants, such as Saf, I was officially hooked. Almost six years down the line and I’m forever experimenting with raw food in my own kitchen. This carrot, cashew and pesto combo makes for a great dinner party starter dish or entrée for a fancy lunch. The layers of textures and flavours are sure to trick your guests into thinking that you’d spent the day cooking instead of assembling … never a bad thing in my book.

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 2 small carrots, finely grated
  • 70g walnuts
  • 1 tbsp mixed seeds
  • 1 heaped tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil

For the cashew cream:

  • 130g cashews, soaked for at least 6 hours, drained and rinsed
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil

For the pesto:

  • 30g fresh basil leaves
  • 30g spinach
  • 2 tbsp mixed nuts (walnuts and pecans work best)
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flaxseed oil

For the carrot serving sauce:

  • ½ Medjool date, pitted
  • 1 tbsp mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame and sunflower, to serve

Method

  1. Squeeze out any excess juice from the grated carrots into a bowl – reserve this for the sauce. Put all the crust ingredients in a food processor and blitz into a fine rubble. Season to taste.
  2. Line a 15cm tart tin or 225g loaf tin with baking parchment and press the crust evenly into the bottom. Freeze or refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.
  3. Blitz the cream ingredients in a food processor or blender with 50ml water until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go. This may take a while but persevere and it eventually becomes smooth. Check for seasoning, then pour the cream over the chilled carrot crust, reserving one heaped tablespoon for the sauce. Smooth out with a spatula and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  4. Blend the pesto ingredients in a food processor and blend until coarse but spreadable. Season to taste and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  5. Put the reserved carrot juice in a food processor, add the reserved cashew cream and the date and blitz until completely smooth.
  6. Carefully lift the chilled tart out of the tin and ease it onto a serving board. Spoon over the pesto and carefully spread out using a spatula. Drizzle over the carrot sauce and adorn with crushed seeds and nuts.

Serves: 4-6 | Prep: 30mins | Sets: 1hour

Caramelised Onion and Pumpkin Pastry

I ended up with one too many pumpkins in my cupboard this week and so went in search of a way to throw them into a weekend dinner for the Captain and I. Inspired by Treat Yourself Sweeter‘s recipe and this cashew ricotta cheese, I managed to create a vegan twist on some soft roasted pumpkin with sweet caramelised onions and flaky pastry. Delight!

caramelised-onion-and-pumpkin-pastry-2-wm-683x1024
Caramelised Onion and Pumpkin Pastry; Photo: Treat Yourself Sweeter

Ingredients

  • 3 cups pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
  • ½ cup cashew ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Pinch pepper
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk to brush on the pastry

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 F), gas mark 6
  2. Coat the pumpkin in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic salt. Place on a lined baking tray and cook until soft (approx. 20 minutes)
  3. Meanwhile, heat the onion in a pan with the remaining olive oil and cook over a low heat until they become translucent and soft (approximately 10 minutes) add the balsamic glaze, stir and cook for a further 2 minutes, then set aside.
  4. Once the onion and pumpkin are cooked, mix them together in a bowl with the pepper, parsley and cashew ricotta cheese.
  5. On a lined baking tray, place the sheet of puff pastry and cut in half. Share the mixture between the two halves of pastry and then fold in the corners into the middle to seal.
  6. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush with the milk. Turn the oven down to 180 C (370 F, gas mark 5) and place in the oven to cook for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and is golden.

Prep: 25mins | Cooks: 40mins | Serves: 2

Cashew Ricotta Cheese

As vegans and those eating a plant based diet, you will be glad to have this cashew ricotta cheese in your culinary library. This super simple recipe by The Simple Veganista not only tastes fantastic but offers lots of possibilities for any recipe that calls for ricotta. Add your own tastes to this basic cheese with a splash of herbs and spices, or try some sun-dried tomatoes for a sweet tomato cheese. Use this ricotta in lasagna, stuffed pasta shells, as a topper for crackers or as a spread for sandwiches. Taste and feel the difference compared to processed cheese products – you won’t be disappointed!

Cashew Ricotta Cheese
Cashew Ricotta Cheese; Photo: The Simple Veganista

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked
  • 1/2 cup water
  • juice of 1 large lemon or 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional
  • 1 garlic clove
  • dash of onion powder
  • himalayan sea salt & cracked pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Soak the cashews for at least 2 hours in a bowl of water, covering the cashews about 2 – 3 inches of water as they will swell up.
  2. Drain cashews and place all remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor, process until creamy stopping to scrape down the sides every few minutes. Taste for flavors adding any additional ingredients. Some like a salty ricotta so feel free to add as much salt as you want.
  3. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for an hour or two, this will stiffen the mixture a bit. You can also prepare your dish straight away without refrigeration if needed. Refrigeration will thicken the mixture a bit. If it becomes too thick, add a tad of water and mix well.
  4. Stores in refrigerator for up to a week.

Notes:

You could do just as well without the nutritional yeast if you don’t have it. If you do add it, it will add a bit more cheesy flavor and some good nutritional value.

Soaking your cashews for 2 – 3 hours will help soften the cashews by plumping them up with water. It’s also said to be beneficial for digestion and mineral & vitamin absorption. If you’re in a hurry, you can still make this cashew ricotta cheese successfully without soaking. You just may need to add a bit more water while blending.

Prep: 2-3 hours (if soaking cashews) | Makes: approx. 2 cups.

Vegan Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

This recipe is a favorite over at Love and Lemons, mostly because (in their opinion) it hardly tastes vegan. The “ricotta,” – made from cashew cream, crumbled tofu, herbs, and lemon zest – is rich and flavorful. If your loved ones are squeamish about tofu, just don’t tell them. They’ll never suspect it here. Stuff your shells (or red bell pepper, if you’re gluten-free) with roasted butternut squash, bake them, and top with dollops of the extra cashew cream.
butternut-squash-shells
Vegan Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells; Photo: Love and Lemons

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups cubed butternut squash
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 16 jumbo shells (or 4 red bell peppers, cut in half and seeds scooped out)
cashew cream
  • 1½ cups raw cashews*(see note)
  • 1 cup fresh water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
filling
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup crumbled firm tofu
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cashew cream (from the recipe above)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Make the cashew cream: Blend together the drained raw cashews, fresh water, garlic, lemon juice, and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  3. Make the filling: In a medium skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the spinach in increments, along with a pinch of salt, and sauté until all the spinach is incorporated and wilted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid and chop. In a medium bowl, combine the the spinach with the crumbled tofu, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup of cashew cream. Season generously with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain.
  5. Assemble the shells. Spread ¼ cup of the reserved cashew cream on the bottom of an 11×7-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with some of the filling and a few cubes of butternut squash, and place into the baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over the shells and bake, covered, for 15 minutes, or until heated through. Remove from the oven and serve with the remaining cashew cream.
 Notes
*Soak cashews in water 3 to 4 hours, preferably overnight, then drain and rinse.
Makes: 4 | Prep: 15-20 minutes | Cooks: 40 minutes

Swede, leek and apple bake

Swede, Leek and apple bake; Photo: Riverford Organic Farmers

This super-simple vegetarian bake from Riverford Organic Farmers makes an excellent midweek, cold weather dish. You could eat it as a main with cabbage or other greens on the side, or if you’re carnivorously inclined, it goes beautifully with all things porky – sausages, a roast, pork chops…My swede was a little on the small side so I also added some other thinly sliced root vegetables (parsnips and sweet potato) that I had sitting in the cupboard, waiting to be used. Worked a treat!

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 25g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 leeks, finely shredded
  • 4 large sage leaves
  • 75ml white wine or apple juice
  • 1 swede (800g-1kg unpeeled weight), peeled, cut in half lengthways, then very finely sliced
  • 2 apples, cored, halved & thinly sliced
  • 50g Cheddar, grated

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C/Gas 4.
  2. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the leeks on a very low heat for 12 minutes, stirring now and then.
  3. Add the sage and wine or juice.
  4. Cook for 2 minutes. Season.
  5. Layer the swede, apple and leeks in a baking dish, finishing with swede.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Prep: 10mins | Cooks: 75mins | Serves: 4