Lavender & Lemon Tahini cookies (gluten free)

7 Sep

I am not going to pretend that these cookies are healthy, but they are a lovely treat, and also gluten free. They are a bit on the delicate side, but the melt in the mouth texture and lavender lemon flavours are just delectable.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Organic demerera sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lavender flowers
  • 1 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Organic)
  • 1 Tablespoon Tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond flour (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I didn’t have any, so I used tinfoil which I smeared with olive oil).

Cream the butter, olive oil and sugar together until smooth. Add the lemon zest and lavender and then blend in the flour, tahini, almond flour (optional; it add a bit of texture) and sea salt.

The mixture will be a bit sticky, so use two spoons to spoon 12 blobs evenly around the baking tray. Use a layer of clingfilm lightly over the top to smooth down the tops of the mixture. Gently peel the clingfilm back, at this point you can also use your fingers to lightly smooth out the edges of the mixture blobs.  Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 12 – 15 minutes.  This si the hardest bit, wait until completely cool before removing from the baking sheet… the cookies will be quite delicate and crumbly, but once colder are a little bit sturdier.

Enjoy!

Hanri x

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How to make really good salads…

9 May

Growing up in South Africa as the youngest in a household of four children, one of my chores from a young age was to make the salad. Making salad can potentially be dreadfully boring, and I rarely order salads in restaurants unless I know they do ‘proper’ salads because I there is nothing worse than a pile of cold salad leaves with four chunks of tomatoes, sliced onions and if you’re lucky a sprinkle of feta cheese or olives. And that’s why people don’t think salads are a meal, because without salads appealing to all our tastes and without more substance than leaves and tomatoes, they simply won’t keep you satisfied or full.

I guess you could say I’m a salad snob. But I feel grateful that my mom taught me that salads can be the best part of a meal, especially if you balance the greenery with a variety of colour and tastes to appeal to the senses. Both my sister and I, with thanks to our mum, have learnt to add fruit, flowers, meats, seeds and nuts to salads and we’ve since realised that not only does it make for a decent meal in itself, but our salads are so much more nutritional as a result.

Here’s what we have learnt about making salads both interesting and nourishing…

  • Mix the leaves. Iceberg lettuce is not as bad as some may make out, but the reason why people look down on it is because ‘typical’ salads are often JUST iceberg lettuce. Mix up different textured leaves, add cress, add baby spinach and so on. Here’s a great visual guide to salad greens.
  • Add fruit for sweetness. Dried cranderries are great if you haven’t got fresh fruit, but I simply adore blackberries or strawberries in a salad.
  • Add nuts or seeds for texture and extra nutrition. And if you’re salad is quite simple in flavours try roasting the nuts.
  • Combine different flavours. Dried meats with sour berries, or goats cheese with strawberries are all fab combinations.
  • Add some veggies too.  Carrots and apples go well together, or roasted have brocolli and sundried tomatoes together. I also love the Ottolenghi bean salad with orange zest and roasted hazelnuts… yum!
  • Add flowers for colours. See here for which ones to use.
  • For those of you non-veggie folk, add meat to your salads. A few years ago I went through a stage of being obsessed with BBQ steak salad (served with orange slices).
  • Don’t forget the oil! Adding a ‘good’ oil to your salads are actually better for digestion.

Here’s a salad my mum and I made on a recent visit to her house in Johannesburg. See, NO BORING SALADS HERE!

 

This salad consists of fresh spring salad greens, figs, mulberries, avocado, ricotta cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Amazing!

Thanks Ma Laura for teaching us to make super good salads that also keep us healthy but full.

Enjoy yogis!
xxx
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Kettlebell Excercises for Yoga

25 Mar

Most people tend to think yoga teachers only do yoga to keep strong and fit. Now, although that is true in some cases, I also know many yoga teachers who run, do strength training, cycle and dance to keep healthy and strong on top of doing their yoga practice. Yoga offers great benefits to most of these other practices, but we can also use alternate excercises to strengthen and improve our yoga practice. I have found kettlebells enormously helpful in my yoga practice as I am naturally quite flexible but I struggle more when it comes to strength in poses.

So in honour of my helpful kettlebells I would like to share a couple of moves that really help strengthen two common yoga standing poses.

The Warm-Up

I like to start with a set of 5 sun salutations before I pick up my kettlebell. The sun salutations help to warm up my spine and legs and focus on my breathing. Once done I pick up my kettlebell from a slight squat position, holding on with both hands. Keeping my back straight I then push forwards with my hips and allow straight my arms to swing the kettle up to shoulder height (not above!). I bend my knees as the kettlebell comes down and allow the kettlebell to swing between my legs whilst keeping my mula bandha (pelvic floor muscles and lower abdominals) active .


Strong Trikonasana

  • For this modified Triangle pose, I start in the regular squat position to safely pick the kettlebell up with both hands.
  • I then step my feet further apart and turn my left foot and right foot out.
  • Holding the kettlebell close to my chest with my left hand only, I gently bend my knees and push the kettlebell straight up above my shoulder as I straighten my knees.
  • Looking at the kettlebell to make sure it stays above my shoulder I then stretch to the right as I normally would in Triangle pose.
  • Holding for a couple of breaths, I inhale to come back up pushing the kettlebell straight above my shoulder before I gently bring it back down towards my chest. Repeat on the other side. Once both sides are done, try holding for 5 breaths on each side.

Heavy Warrior (Virabhadrasana)

To strengthen the shoulders as well as toning legs and hip flexors, try this kettlebell move.

  • I always start in my regular high squat to pick up the kettlebell with both hands.
  • I then step my feet further apart into a Warrior stance. and turn my toes towards the right hand side of my mat. Holding the kettlebell close to my chest and gripping the sides of the handle I then come onto the ball of the left foot and bend the front knee.
  • I make sure to keep the back leg straight and my lower abdominals and Mula Bandha drawn in strongly to avoid over arching the lower back. Once the pose is set up stronge through the legs and core, I slowly extend my arms directly forwards of the shoulders.
  • Holding for two breaths, I draw the kettlebell close to my chest before straightening the right knee and reapeating on the other side.
  • Once both sides are done,  I try and hold the pose a bit longer (but I must admit this one is tough for me, which is why I need to do it more regularly).
I used an 8kg kettlebell available  here at Argos. Start with a low weight, or hand weights and work your way up.
My fabulous fold over leggings and top are from the ethical and organic cotton brand Gossypium.
Always consult your doctor before starting new excercise routines, and take care to listen to your body.
Enjoy yogis!
Hanri x

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My new town, Lewes – part 1

3 Mar

As of February of this year I have made another big change, I moved to a new town in East Sussex – the quirky town of Lewes.

I’m also back to teaching yoga, which feels so unbelievably good. I really miss sharing yoga when I don’t teach. So if you’re around the Sussex coast on a Saturday join me for my Saturday slow flow class at the Equilibrium Studio, see here for more details.

Now that I’m starting to settle into my new town , I would like to regularly share my favourite things about Lewes here on the blog, so first up is my very favourite shop called Wickle - a mini department store on the hilly High Street of Lewes.

The first time I visited Lewes I stepped into Wickle, and it just seemed to perfectly capture the creative spirit and quirkiness of Lewes. Since moving here, Wickle has become my go-to shop for gifts. Not to mention the gluten-free award winning Battenberg cake (you must simply not go to Wickle and not try the Battenberg, even when you’re trying to be healthy, it’s a great gluten-free treat!). But there is not just cake on offer, they also do beautiful salads freshly made in the mornings.

But rather than trying to explain the variety of amazing, beautiful things to be found in Wickle, here’s a visual tour for you…

 

As you can see, there’s so much to tempt at Wickle! I love those stuffed animals on the walls, they look like something from a story book. Check back soon for more great things to see and do in Lewes, but also coming up are some posts about kettlebell exercises for yogis to help improve your poses, and a fantastic new Iyengar yoga book.

Visit the Wickle shop website at

http://www.wickle.co.uk/

Enjoy!

Hanri

 

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In Memory of the magnificent YogaHound Banjo

14 Jan

It has taken me a while to write this post… some things need time before we can face them, and this one of them. Even now I am finding this difficult, but it needs to be shared before I can continue my blog in 2014.

Sadly, Banjo my greyhound, and yes the original Yogahound who inspired me to start this blog, passed away on the 24th of November 2013. He had been ill for a while with digestive problems that gradually worsened. The exact details of what happened remain unclear, what is clear however is that as horrible as it was to face the loss of him, having the privilege of sharing one’s life with a rescue Greyhound such as Banjo is 100% worth it.

 

2013 was a difficult year for me, made more difficult by the fact that after facing a divorce I had to come to terms that I could no longer share my day-today existence with my favourite non-human friend. Banjo was to stay with his “dad” – a heart-breaking decision but one that I do not regret. Although I was Banjo’s “mum” – I did not have the heart to take him away from his “dad” and from his home comforts. Instead I moved into a house share with two lovely ladies and visited Banjo weekdays on my lunch breaks from work, and on two occasions he stayed with me for a visit. It was hard.

What was harder yet was not being able to be there the day he fell so ill that it was time for him to leave his body. The only comfort to me is knowing he was with someone he loved and was gently released from this life.

I miss him. I miss his wiry tail with it’s black tip, the softest fur behind his ears, the way he looked up and blinked when food was near, his authoratative bark at ‘strange’ dogs on his territory, the way he nestled the top of his head into my lap when I was lucky enough to relax with him on the sofa or rug, I miss him doing his ‘statue’ pose when I tried to walk in a direction he didn’t want to walk in, the way he sometimes tripped me up with his lead because he found a smell that was off-course to where we were heading and the way he’d run up to me in the garden when he knew it was time for a treat.

What I have learnt from Banjo is this…

  • A bit of attention is what we all we all crave and want. Pay attention to those around you, and when you do, don’t multitask (he use to whine if I tried to read or do anything else whilst fussing him) just pay attention to what is in front of you.
  • Don’t judge from appearances – when I saw Banjo the very first time I thought “I did not sign up for such a big dog” – he was a pretty big 40kg male Greyhound and I had no idea they were that big, I was actually a bit scared of him to start with. Yet he turned out to be the most gentle dog who took up less room than most smaller dogs (unless he fell asleep on the bed, in which case he’d spread himself out).
  • Don’t force things in life to happen, allow time for progress. I tried on numerous occassions to teach Banjo to climb stairs without much luck. Then one day after giving up on him coming upstairs he decided he was ready – the sounds of footsteps accompanied by the appearance of a long neck and nose beyond the upstairs banister… the hound decided to climb up by himself. Going back down took a bit longer but by the end he was a stair pro – anyone with a Greyhound will know how awkward stairs are for their long limbs. Give things time, if it’s right it will happen.

But here’s a message I cannot emphasise enough, if you think you have space in your life for a retired Greyhound in need of a home (they take up less room than you think), you will not regret sharing your life with one of these beauties . There are so many retired racers that urgently need homes. My yogahound boy brought so many happy times – and everyone who met him loved him so. For more information about adopting a Greyhound please read my Greyhounds page. For me it was a life changing decision, and a bit of my heart will always belong to the original Yogahound.

Hanri x

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Everyone’s talking about gelatin…

20 Nov

 

Truth is, recently I have hardly had the chance to cook properly and eat as healthily as I’d like to. Over the past year I have made some pretty big, sometimes traumatic, other times exciting changes. My health has definitely suffered for the lack of routine and time. So when I read about a health food or supplement that is quick, easy and versatile to add to my diet I get very excited.   

 I was aware that bone broth is excellent for health, thanks to the Mark’s Daily Apple website, but I simply don’t have the time currently to make bone broth. What I did not realise however is that you get tremendous health benefits by simply taking in gelatin. It seems people are adding gelatin to their breakfast yogurts, smoothies and even coffee. Below I have answered some questions about gelatin, and why it’s a great addition to a diet – even if you don’t have time to make your own bone broth.

 What are the benefits of gelatin?

 Gelatin can help soothe the digestive tract, it acts as an anti-inflammatory, stimulates the immune system, regulates hormones and improves nail, hair and joint conditions. Also the glycine in gelatin apparently has a calming effect on the body, making it ideal to take before bed time for those with sleep disorders.

 Why is gelatin good for health?

Gelatin is basically the collagen found in animal hair, skin, bone and hoofs. Collagen is often sold as an anti-ageing product and that is because taking in collagen actually stimulates the body to produce more of its own collagen. Collagen is essential to protein synthesis in the body which helps to rejuvenate new cells.

Gelatin contains Argenine and Glycine. In a nutshell –  argenine helps regulate metabolism and glycine converts glucose to energy instead of fat and has a calming effect on the body.*

Is all gelatin equal?

 Nope, as always with animal products it’s best to go for products derived from grass-fed animals. Failing that organic is better than non-organic. Also note that most supermarket gelatin is derived from the pork industry which does not always have the best welfare standards. It’s better to go for beef gelatin where possible, and at best go for grass-fed non-hydrolyzed if you can find it. I have found beef gelatin on Amazon here.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beef-Gelatin-Unflavoured-Powder-454/dp/B000MGR302/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384962192&sr=8-1&keywords=beef+gelatin

 But if you can afford it, this brand is supposedly the best and can be found from a variety of online sites…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Lakes-Gelatin-Regular-Unflavoured/dp/B001LV6I8K/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1384962192&sr=8-3&keywords=beef+gelatin

 How can you add gelatin to your diet?

 You can easily simply add granules to yogurt, smoothies, hot drinks, vegetable soups etc. If you’d like the traditional gelatin route then why not try Sophistimom’s recipe for fruit studded gelatin or make some paleo marshmallows … oooh!

Lastly, for my veggie friends out there – the Zen to fitness blog suggests Seaweed derived gelatin – not quite the same benefits, but worth a look into.

Well, I’m off to try adding gelatin to my diet and will let you know how I get on.

 Do you use gelatin as part of your diet? Let me know if you have seen the benefits? Let me know please.

Hanri x

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Spiralo Giveaway!

23 Aug

I’m so happy be to be able to offer one of my European readers (sorry rest of the World!) the chance to win my favourite kitchen gadget… the Lurch Spiralo. This giveaway is thanks to the healthy lifestyle product company (and my fave kitchen gadget website) UK Juicers. Basically, I contacted UK Juicers telling them how much I love my Spiralo, and how often I use it on my blog and that I’d love to be able to offer one to one of my blog readers… and they agreed!

So what is the Lurch Spiralo?

It’s a kitchen gadget that allows you turn vegetables into spaghetti/pasta spirals. This is an amazing thing to do for people who avoid grains or eat gluten-free, raw, paleo or low-carb… especially if you miss eating pasta. My favourite use for it by far is using the fine spaghetti blade with courgettes which I then fry, and add pesto to. Simple and quick!

If you haven’t seen me post about it before, here are some of my favourite recipes:

Sardine Puttanesca

Apple Pie Breakfast

In the photos below you can see i have use the ribbon blade for the warm courgette salad, and the thin spaghetti blade for sweet potatoes, which I then fried in some coconut oil with sea salt and a sprinkle of tapioca flour for a filling side dish. I have also made a cucumber salad with the madium spaghetti blade, to which I added peppers, tomatoes, baby spinach leaves and dressed it with olive oil, lime and poppy seeds. Amazing!

Other healthy ideas to use the Spiralo for:

  • Using it on veg to turn into fritters/add to frittata
  • Make curly fries with sweet potatoes
  • Use the ribbon blade on carrots for stir-fries
  • Parboil spaghettied root veg and add a homemade pasta sauce
  • Use for layering veg for a vegetable bake
  • Fancy up a salad with curley veg/fruit
  • Slice apples & pears for breakfast or dessert

 

All you have to do to stand a chance to get your own Spiralo, is visit the UK Juicers website and then comment on my blog to let me know which of their other products you’d use the most if you had the chance. For example “I’d use one of the Walder Biotech Grain mill if I had one because I’d love to make my own almond flour”.

And for those of you on Facebook, you get an extra entry for ‘liking’ this post on Facebook.

The winner will be selected at random, and your Spiralo will be posted anywhere within europe by UK Juicers. Entries close Friday the 30th of August at 12:00 (GMT + 1), so get your entries in!

Good luck.

Hanri x

Update: The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Penny D! Penny was selected randomly by the Giveaway plugin. Comments for this post is now closed. Thanks for entering everyone!

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The much requested Blueberry Amaretti biscuits

8 Aug

This post is especially for my students who came to my mini yoga-event at the Woodstock community Centre last week. I haven’t had a chance to photograph these, so all I have for you is a camera phone snap. But, I didn’t dare wait any longer to post the recipe because I keep getting requests for it.

This recipe is from the book Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, a firm favourite of mine that I just can’t stop using. Yatam Ottolenghi is not a health food specialist cook per-se, but his recipes have so much colour to them tha they are just packed full of goodness. This recipe is probably not one of the healthiest (it has quite a bit of icing sugar), but it is gluten-free an dmade from ground almonds full of good fats. The original recipe calls for sour cherries, but I used dried blueberries and loved the result!

The youngest of all the students last Wednesday was a lovely girl called Anna. Anna helped me hand around the biscuits, and she had lots of good things to say about these little crunchy yet soft creations. Compliments from children from children are sincere and high praise indeed, so this recipe was created by Yatam Ottolengi and approved by Anna – a winner of a recipe. Here it is:

Blueberry Amaretti Biscuits

  • 60g dried blueberries (or cranberries)
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 180g ground almonds
  • 1/2tsp almond essence
  • zest one lemon
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 egg whites
  • icing sugar, for serious dusting

Heat oven to 170degrees. Mix together the almonds, sugar, lemon zest, almond essence and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and honey into soft peaks. Fold the egg white mixture along with the blueberries gently into the other ingredients to form a soft paste. Scattering icing sugar on a plate scoop  walnut size balls of the mixture onto the plate and roll roughly into balls making 20 biscuits.  Place on a greaseproof-covered baking tray. Bake for 12 mins, until slightly coloured but still soft inside. Leave to cool and enjoy!

 

This weekend I’m off to the Wilderness festival for some music and yoga (I of course had to choose a festival with lots of yoga on offer). so watch this space for some photos and a write-up of the festival.

Have a great weekend yogis.

Hanri x

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