You probably know that yoga is a great for relaxation, de-stressing, stretching and better balance. But did you know that it yoga can also reverse molecular reactions cause cancers, depression[i] and more?
It all begins with your reaction to stress. Stress (fear, irritation, annoyance) triggers your fight or flight response. Hormones are released which raise your heart rate and cause glucose to surge into your blood ready for you to fight or take flight. Another important action is the releases of chemical, which cause inflammation. Inflammation is important in the short-term because it enhances wound healing – very important in our hunter-gatherer days. And it is still important.
The trouble is that the hectic pace of 21st century living and the huge number of demands on us everyday means that we’re exposed to stress in the form of little niggles throughout the day. And little irritations add up to big daily doses of stress.
The continuous release of stress hormones leads to which is at the heart of chronic (degenerative) conditions such as heart disease and cancers as well as depression and accelerated ageing.
According to scientists from the University of Coventry in the UK, yoga and other mind-body interventions (MBI), such as meditation and Tai Chi, reduces inflammation at the moeclucalr or DNA level.
So as well as aerobic exercise which reduces stress hormones, think about practicing yoga (and/or meditation and Tai Chi). Take a look at this free yoga routine that you can try in the privacy of your home here.
They’re not just delicious, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch – just one medium sweet potato provides 400% of your daily needs for vitamin A! These special spuds are also rich in the antioxidant lycopene and fibre providing a whopping 6g per medium veggie. And, the potassium they contain can counteract sodium and may help to promote a healthy blood pressure. More and more research suggests that getting enough potassium from a diet rich in veggies and fruits could be just as important as reducing sodium intake as far as preventing high blood pressure is concerned. Yes, they contain more sugars but they actually have a low glycaemic index so they won’t spike your blood glucose levels. nutritionally speaking, sweet potatoes are a fab choice.
Try this tasty recipe for herby sweet potato wedges.
2 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
Cut the washed potatoes into wedges and place in a roasting tin.
Drizzle with oil and use your hands to ensure they’re coated well.
Sprinkle with herbs and season well with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden.
Veggie-based foods are good for the planet and better for animals. Yep, we all know that. But did you know it’s also better for the animals that live inside you?
We’re talking about the 100 trillion microbes that live on and in you – and particularly live in the intestines. And just like you need to eat, so do your gut bacteria.
A delicious way to boost your probiotic pals!
More and more research is proving what ancient cultures have known since history began. That feeding the right bacteria can have profound effects on your health – from your body weight to your mood , reducing the production of compounds that trigger with inflammation and a vital part of your immune system. Plus, certain foods, the ones that contain resistant starch, are favourite foods for your probiotic people. Resistant starch might even help the body absorb more minerals .
Fibre only comes from plant foods – it is a range of plant materials that your body can’t digest. So, they reach the large intestine virtually unchanged and here, they provide food for gut bacteria.
Here’s how you can boost the fibre and the nourishment for your little guys:
1. Eat fewer white flour foods (which have had the fibre and nutrients removed from the unprocessed, natural flour). These don’t feed your probiotic microbes. And without food, they won’t survive and this can have major effects on your health and mood.
2. Love your legumes. Pulses and lentils contain soluble fibre, which probiotics love to eat . Add lentils and beans to your salads, soups and more.
3. Treat your probiotics with special starch. Some foods are especially rich in resistant starch including artichokes, asparagus, leeks, chicory, onions, garlic, bananas, oats, wheat, lentils and pulses – chickpeas and beans.
4. Love chocolate Dark chocolate (fair trade and organic please) are rich a great snack – rich in antioxidant flavonoids for you, rich in resistant start for your probiotic pals.
Okra may have originated in Africa West Africa or Ethiopia) or south Asia and history tells us that the ancient Egyptians cultivated it in the 12th century BC. Known as ladies fingers (or gumbo in the Americas), okra is a member of the mallow family. You can find dishes that feature in the cuisines in many counties around the world.
400g fresh okra
6-8 tbsp light olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced lengthwise
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ teaspoon fennel seeds ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
Salt to taste
2 green chilies, sliced lengthwise
Wash the okra, drain and dry really well (otherwise the veggies can feel a little slimy – yuck!). Cut off the ends and slice into 2cm pieces.
1 tsp ground pomegranate powder or a splash of lime juice.
In a large pan, heat the oil and add the onion. Stir and cook until golden.
Add the spices to the pan (except the pomegranate powder or lime juice) and roast for a minute or so to allow the spices to become fragrant.
Add the okra, stir to coat and cook, uncovered on a medium heat for about 20 minutes (the veggies should simmer). Don’t add water but do stir occasionally so the mixture doesn’t stick. The dish is done when the veggies are tender.
Sprinkle with the pomegranate powder or lime juice and serve with naan, pitta or roti.
The only trouble with these is that you could be cooking them all day since the family keep eating them. Totally yummy and extremely addictive – i dont know anyone who doesnt love these. Honest.
Light olive oil for frying
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp chili powder
3 tsp salt
Large handful of coriander, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Three or more green chilies, sliced
I kg of waxy potatoes (baked in their skins in a tray with salt added to the tray to draw out the moisture), then peeled and mashed – this helps to ensure that the potatoes don’t get too wet).
1 cup gram (chickpea) flour
Fry the cumin seeds in hot oil until they crackle
Add the onions and fry unit golden brown.
Stir in the, garam masala, salt, chili.
Place the potato into a bowl and spoon the onion mixture onto it; stir to combine evenly.
Cover and allow the mixture to chill for half an hour or so to help firm up the mixture and make it easier to work with.
Add the lemon juice and coriander leaves (leaving these until just before cooking helps the leaves to stay fragrant).
To make the coating, pour the gram flour in a bowl and using a whisk, add enough water to form a thick, sticky, smooth batter.
Heat the oil in a large fry pan.
Take a palm size piece of potato and form into a patty.
Then dip into the batter so that the potato mixture is covered as well as possible. If the potato mixture starts to fall apart, place tikkies into the hot oil and pour two or so teaspoons of the batter on each tikki. Cook for around five minutes or until golden, turn and add more of the batter. Carefully tilt the pan from time to time as you cook to make sure that the sides of the tikki are cooked, too.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve with fresh lemon juice and chili sauce or mint or tamarind chutney.
Australian palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware, documented the five biggest regrets of dying people. The same themes came up again and again during the last three months of their life.
People talked candidly and with great clarity to at the end of their life. And, in reading some of their thoughts, feelings and regrets, you may be able to benefit from their words of experience and wisdom.
Here are peoples’ top five regrets and what you can do to avoid having them yourself … 1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life expected of me …
All of us leave our mortal life with some of our dreams unfulfilled. But according to Bronnie, many of the people she counselled hadn’t even achieved half of their dreams. This, she says, were down to their own life decisions.
Behaving in ways that aren’t a genuine reflection of the real you may mean that you end up not being happy with yourself and even angry with about missed opportunities. You may also end up confused because you won’t know whom to please, or how. Be truer to who you really are to help to build self-respect. What you can do
• Are your beliefs reasonable? If they are, stand up for them. Listen to the advice that people give you advice but try make up your own mind according to your experience, knowledge and values.
• Follow your common sense. It may sound as if this is common, but not everyone has it and not everyone follows the rules of common sense, either.
• Get to know, start to appreciate and grow your unique talents as you try to act in harmony with your true and positive nature.
• Know that being ‘different’ may not be a curse – it may be a gift for you and for others.
• Understand that when you are being yourself, you are enriching the people who love you.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard …
Every male patient Bonnie counselled said they regretted missing significant family’s life events. From when children were tiny and/or not being there for milestones to missing the ongoing companionship of their partner. This is a reflection of the age of the people being cared for and a reflection of the time when many men went out to work but the majority of women were the major family carers.
Today the social shift means that many more women go out to work. And, there is no doubt that most of us need to earn money to pay never-ending bills. But juggling your duties and your commitments in a small way can make a big difference to how connected you feel with your loved ones’ lives and vice versa.
What you can do
Again, a little can add up to a lot so do whatever you need to do to avoid regretting time not spent with loved ones later on
• Even if you can’t spend large blocks of time with the kids, if you’re driving them to school or to sports, have a conversation, play a silly game, tell a joke – make it a ritual to ban smartphones, iPads and more.
• Can’t be there in person? Use technology to read a book to the kids or tell your mum you love her by text or leave a note under your partner’s pillow.
• Prioritise what’s important to you. Go to work earlier or later one or more days to be there for dinner with the family. Take them out for a full day at the weekend bush walking, boating or cycling and picnicking. 3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings …
Saying what you really think can be scary and it definitely requires a bit of courage. But expressing your feelings in a safe way may help you feel more connected with loved ones. And, it’s vital if you want to sustain close relationships with mutual respect. Hiding and/or drastically modifying your feelings and avoiding what you’re really feeling is something all of us do this to some extent and for lots of reasons – such as trying to keep the peace. But do this a lot and the result can be that you look back with regret. The result can be bitterness, stress, resentment and even illness.
What you can do
Make a pact to start saying what you really feel. Start small with a loved one but do start.
• Don’t begin a sentence with ‘You make me feel …’ as this can sound like an accusation and also puts the responsibility for your feelings in the listener’s hands. Instead, try:‘ I feel …’ whether you’re feeling confused, saddened, tired …
• Dampen down the strength of the words you use. Instead of angry, try sad, instead of furious try upset. Angry words invited angry words in return. Try writing down your words and
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends …
Everyone is busy but making time for the people that matter matters. According to Bronnie, it wasn’t until the last weeks of a person’s life they realised how much they wanted to see dear friends and everyone misses their friends when they are dying. But by that time, of course, it may have been too late to track down long lost friends …
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier …
Staying within the same habits and patterns may feel like the easiest option. But along the line, you may regret it. Bronnie found that pretending to be happy and content for themselves, and for the sake of others, meant that people’s reality was unhappy towards the end. And, all the while, people longed for friends, fun, laughter and silliness again. And they knew it, too.
What you can do
• Be open to positive feelings. Depression and anxiety are real illnesses – just as real as diabetes or arthritis – and you owe it to yourself and to loved ones to get help. But, you can choose to look at things a certain way. So, at every opportunity, try to see the fun and positivity in everyday life.
• Do what makes your happy. Whether it’s a hobby or sport, volunteering at your local animal shelter or knitting, Lacrosse or sailing, see if you can fit in something you love for you.
• Surround yourself with positive people. Seek out the loved ones that make you happy and lift you. Always being around negativity can bring you down – and leave you there. Is there any dead wood you can cut? Are there any positive people you can make a point of seeing more?
• Just as negativity can bring you down, and acknowledging the good things in your life, the people and the things you love can lift you. Try it – every day, write down five things – people, pets, health, wealth, life and more that make you feel happy and grateful.
What’s your greatest regret so far?
What do want to achieve in your lifetime? What will you give yourself time to change?
The people looked after by Bronnie during their last few weeks on earth didn’t have the chance to beat their biggest regrets. But you do. And you can make a difference to your life and the life of others.
Think of spring cleaning when you think of spring? This time, why not go one better and spring clean your body, your mind and our precious planet?
Clean out your cupboards
Want to eat more healthily? Studies show that if they’re in your cupboards, you’re more likely to succumb to treats and less-than-healthy eats. So get cleaning. Clearing and reorganising will help put you in the mood for a more upbeat attitude and more positive routines.
Get processed picks such as chips chocolates and other junk out of your sight and your reach. And replace with healthier alternatives – unsalted nuts, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit such as plums and mango, dark fair trade chocolate, natural popcorn, wholegrains, extra virgin olive oil, tapenades.
As well as being better value, seasonal veggies and fruits haven’t been hanging around in dark places for months on end. S so they’re more likely to be higher in delicate vitamins such as C and folate (which are easily lost by exposure to air) – and that includes being stored for long periods. Buying local when you can is a great choice as it also means that your food has not had to travel as far as it might have to get to you with the potential large fuel miles and associated pollution.
Drink veggie juices
Not all juices are created equal. And juices tend to get a bad rap because they tend to be high in sugar and lack fibre. But juice made from cold vegetables and low sugar fruits are rich in protective antioxidants without a sugar hike. If your tastebuds are expecting sweetness, these kinds of juice may not appeal. Tomato juice will give you a healthy kick of lycopene and there’s plenty of beta carotene in carrots. Try adding kale, spinach, pear, lemon, lime, and ginger. Like a bit more sweetness? Add a little pomegranate, prune or your favourite fruit juice. If your drink is sweet or very acidic though, swish around your mouth with water after drinking to remove sugar/acids and help your saliva do its mouth-cleansing work. Don’t brush, though – if enamel has been softened by acids, you could literally brush it away.
Look at the label
Manufacturers can be sneaky – add all sorts of ingredients to your food. Even healthy options can include unwanted nasties. Take palm oil, for example. Around 80 per cent of this is harvested from Malaysia and Indonesia and the massive demand for it is causing deforestation on a massive scale. Beautiful animals such as the orangutan, Sumatran tiger and Asian rhinoceros are under threat of extinction because of it. Any label on a food – including vegetarian food – that contains saturated fat may contain either coconut oil or palm oil. Another name to watch out for is palmitic acid. If your food contains this, the safest option – for endangered animals – is to avoid it. Read more here.
Could you set aside half an hour on a Sunday morning to plan meals and make up a shopping list? Allowing another hour or two to prepare/cook foods ready for the working week ahead. Curries are a great option – Indian types get better after a day or two as it gives the spices a chance to suffuse. For a delish dish, find out more here. Or, make up a batch of curry paste for a quick dish. Or,
Enjoy fresh herbs
As far as quantities are concerned, you don’t tend to consume as much herbs as green veggies. But they do pack a powerful nutritional punch. For example, coriander has been shown to remove heavy metals from the body, parsley is rich in immune boosting vitamin C, rosemary contains Rosmarinic acid which has been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion (studies use extracts of Rosmarinic acid[i]). So add gorgeous fresh flavour with fresh herbs.
Search out seeds
Growing just a little of your own foods is easy – and can be surprisingly quick. You probably have seeds in your cupboard for cooking purposes – from coriander to fenugreek and mustard seeds, mung beans and chickpeas – all can be sprouted in a little damp soil on your windowsill. Sprouted seeds are very rich in vitamins such as vitamin C and protective plant pigments. Spring is a great time to start growing tomato seedlings. Either from seeds in the tomatoes you love or from the garden centre. Keeping them in the kitchen means they are always in your sight and can help you grow delicious, organic, healthy tomatoes in the comfort of your kitchen.
Vote for kindness
If you eat meat/eggs try to buy only humanely treated, pasture-raised meat and eggs. Try to eat more vegetarian/vegan meals – every choice you make can have a positive impact. Select only sustainable seafood. When selecting chocolate and coffee, look for the Fairtrade symbol. A kind word of compliment can make someone’s day. A kind deed can help them live a happier life. Or just live.
Enjoy as an accompaniment to Indian breads such as parathas or with rice. Or enjoy on its own or with a cold beer. For me, this spicy carrot pickle is just right when you fancy chips. I go carrot pickle instead!
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp black mustard seeds
Half a teaspoon nigella seeds
Quarter of a teaspoon of asafoetida
Quarter of a teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
Half a tsp salt
Three carrots, peeled and cut into batons
1 and a half tablespoons olive oil, heated
1 tbsp olive oil, heated
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Roughly grind the fenugreek, mustard and nigella seeds in a pestle and mortar then pour into a mixing bowl.
Ad the asafoetida, turmeric, chilli powder and salt.
Add the carrots.
Add the hot oil and stir to mix.
Add the vinegar and stir to combine.
Serve immediately or stop in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
This fresh pesto is easy and tastes wonderfully fresh. Enjoy with pasta or rice or add a little more oil and dip it! This recipe make lots of pesto so half it or store half in an airtight jar for up to two day.
4 garlic cloves
One bunch of basil leaves
One bunch of coriander leaves
1 x 400g frozen edamame (soya beans), thawed
Large handful of cashew nuts
Juice of one lemon lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Using a food processor, pulse the garlic, basil and coriander. Spoon into a large bowl.
Now crumb the cashew nuts in the food processor and add to the herb mix.
Stir in the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Add more olive oil if you like a little more moisture.
You already know that many food products contain palm oil. And the logging of the trees that produce this kind of oil is destroying the homes of great apes such as the orangutan, the magnificent Sumatran tiger, the majestic Asian rhinoceros and more. But did you know that vegetarian and vegan food products can contain palm oil, too? Scarily, even if you’re choosing more vegetarian/vegan foods, manufactured foods could be destroying your ethics because of the palm oil they contain – 80% of which is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Why manufacturers pick palm oil
From edibles to personal hygiene products, palm oil is used extensively by manufactures – it’s found in around half of all products in your local supermarket.
Manufacturers use palm oil for lots of reasons. Including that:
It helps products retain their just-produced properties even after heating and cooking
It’s stable for long periods
It helps to extend the shelf life of foods
It has a neutral taste and a creamy texture
It’s quite cheap so much sought-after by manufacturers wanting to maximise profit.
How you can spot palm oil
In Australia, manufacturers only have to label three vegetable oils on food labels – peanut, sesame oil and soy bean oil. This is because these are common allergens – consuming these can obviously be dangerous for people who are allergic to these foods. A manufactured food does not have to state that it contains palm oil. But you can find it if you can spot the signs.
Look for saturated fat in vegetable oil
Take vegetable oil, for example. Vegetable oils don’t contain saturated fat – except for two of them. So, if a label that says a food product contains vegetable oil and then lists the concentration of saturated fat in that oil, then the oil may be derived from either coconut oil or palm oil.
If palm oil is used in cosmetics, it does need to be stated per se. But look for the term Elaeis guineensis which is the name for palm oil as stated by the cosmetics governing body, the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients.
Palm oil and your health
As well as avoiding palm oil as much as you can for the sake of wildlife and habitat, there’s another reason to reduce your intake of palm oil – for the sake of your health. The World Health Organization says that the fatty acid palmitic acid in palm oil raises your risk of cardiovascular disease. WHO recommends that you avoid consuming palm and coconut oil (the only two vegetable oils that contain saturated fat).
Protecting against deforestation
Want to protect against deforestation, global warming and destruction of homes for the remaining wild animals? Here’s what you can do:
Avoid products that contain palm oil as much as you can. Download a palm oil free shopping guide here:
Go to Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia for more alternatives to palm oil here
Look for palm oil from Identity Preserved Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). CSPO is oil certified sustainable and fully traceable to a single source. Or choose segregated CSPO which is oil that’s 100% certified sustainable from mixed sources. Palm oil that comes from the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is vetted by an organisation that encourages members to buy palm oil from sustainable sources. The RSPO certifies a range of palm oil supply options which vary in their degree of sustainability and environmental impact.
Every choice you make makes a difference – not just to you but to the lives of others.