Shoulder Stands & Pesto Pasta

Normally when I teach, there is an emphasis on hip and heart opening (how surprising!) but this week it’s been core core core. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1. Physical: always the late developer, dentally speaking, at the tender age of 27 my bottom wisdom teeth are coming in, and the right in particular is causing me an extraordinary amount of pain! Hopefully I don’t need it removed or anything, but for the time being I’m oil pulling, gargling salt water and sucking on cloves. Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m in constant pain I can’t do much about, I like a challenging pose that takes my mind off of it, something that has limitless scope for improvement, and all the modifications, so you can make it super accessible, or super challenging.

Also, in a bit of play fighting, I twisted my ankle, not badly, but enough that most of my yoga has been supine, arm balanced and inverted.

2. Emotional: Ah, emotional pain… harder to resolve. My significant other has decided he no longer wants to pursue a relationship with me, and so my tender heart is aching. It may be therapeutic to throw yourself into hip openers, and maybe opening my heart is exactly what I need, but my students do not need a blubbing teacher anymore than I wish to cry at work – although let’s face it, it’s the only workplace I haven’t cried at.

So it was decided; core work – and shoulder stand was what I chose. And here’s the breakdown for you… you’ll want a wall and a block this week.

  • Take your mat to the wall, and sit facing the wall.
  • Lie back and scooch in until your bum is against the wall with your legs lying against it.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat against the wall. Arms should lie flat by your sides, palms face down.
  • Press into your feet and hands and press your hips back until they are stacked above your shoulders. Use your core for stability.
  • Try lifting right leg up towards the ceiling, pressing through the heel as though you were pushing the ceiling  away. Try with the left.
  • If you’re feeling it, bring your hands to your lower back, thumb against your fingers – none of this L shaped business.
  • Raise both legs up towards the ceiling. Keep engaging your core muscles, and remember to breath.
  • Feeling good? Try squeezing your legs together and dropping the toes down to touch the floor behind your head for Plough Pose.
  • Like that? Bend the knees and bring them down to the floor by your ears. Breeeeath!
  • Wherever you are, bring the feet back to the wall. Pop a block by the wall and lower your bum down to sit on it. Hang out in Legs Up The Wall Pose as long as you like. You earned it.

Now we’ve worked up an appetite! I know we did pesto pasta not long ago, but I’ve had so much basil lately, and this is soooo good! It’s worth noting here that I always have my students check in with themselves how they’re feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. And whilst I might not be so hot physically and emotionally, I am totally sound mentally, and have lots of nice recipe ideas I’ll be cooking up this week for you, plus I’m looking to options for new classes, and I’m taking on some sessional work with the charity I volunteer with doing gardening inspired workshops with commuters and other train users.

Anyway, pesto. This recipe calls for a classic basil/pinenut pesto, but if you felt like switching things up you could make a rocket/pinenut pesto and stir through basil (but half as much as the rocket). I’ve also included lots of nice optional extras, and as usual I recommend you use what you have, what’s in season, what’s local, what’s in your garden, what’s available, and of course, what options are organic.

Pesto Pasta (Serves 2)

Ingredients

2 tbsp pesto (shop bought is fine, Sacla do a dairy free one, no judgement)
1 handful fresh peas
3 handfuls GF pasta (any old kind you like, or even courgetti spaghetti!)
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried mint (you can defo sub fresh, just add with the rocket instead)
2 handfuls rocket
2 tsp nooch
1 small handful pine nuts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

optional

1 small courgette, thinly sliced (I use a veg peeler)
a dozen cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, or half a white onion, thinly sliced
half a red onion for that matter

Method

  • Put on a large pot of water to boil.
  • Make the pesto if you’re making it.
  • Throw in your pasta and plenty of salt.
  • Heat a little olive oil in a deep frying pan. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, mint and garlic and saute for a minute. Add in onion here if you’re using and saute until soft.
  • Add peas, and courgette if you’re using. Add a splash of the pasta water and allow to cook until peas are soft.
  • Stir in pesto and nooch, and a splash more pasta water. Add tomatoes if you’re using.
  • Drain pasta and stir in into sauce. Transfer to serving dish. Scatter over rocket and pinenuts. Enjoy!🙂

I’m not joking when I say serves 2, it could serve 3 probably except it’s so delicious, you’ll be hungry for half. Or, if you’re very greedy (like me) you’ll eat the whole pan yourself.

Stretch, eat and be happy. And fire up your core if you’re not!

Namaste😉 x

Open Hips & Open Heart

So as some of you may have noticed, I’m currently in the process of renovating and updating the website, but it’s taking an age and is a work in progress. It is taking a very long time as I’ve barely got time to blog, nevermind overhaul, hence no blog last week. I will try to get back into a normal swing of things as soon as possible.

‘Open Hips & Open Heart’ is the new tagline, because ‘Yoga. Nutrition . Balance’ didn’t really explain what I did, and I wanted something that quite specifically said yoga and vegan. I often say to my students that we’re working towards open hips and an open heart during class – supta baddha konasana, anyone? – and all of a sudden it hit me that it was the perfect way to describe what I was putting out into the world. So there we have it.

In other news, no photos for a while! My phone got stolen at the weekend, and that is my camera, so I’m afraid we will be pictureless for the foreseeable future. I mean, am I partially responsible for the theft? Yes, I am notoriously careless with my valuables and expect every other person in the world to be honest and not steal. However, my casual attitude has finally caught up with me it seems. Now, am I sad my phone for stolen? No. I’m annoyed because it’s obviously a very handy thing to own, and I use it for music and camera as well as keeping in touch with friends and family. But it’s actually really lovely having no phone just now. I’m not saying I won’t get another, but I’m in no rush. Plus I’m secretly hoping someone will yet hand it in.

So sorry for the lack of recipes, yoga and routine, but all will be back to normal again soon. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you think of the changes I’m making! So please do get in touch and let me know.

Namaste🙂 x

Pea & Potato Pesto Pasta

So many people I know are all about low carb diets in an effort to lose weight, or lose body fat quickly. These diets were made for very obese people to lose weight quickly, but on a person of a relatively healthy weight it won’t be as effective and is often a very unhealthy diet. Neither a diet of meat, cheese and non-root veg, nor a diet of only fruit and salads is a good diet to follow, and is unsustainable in the long run. Your body needs complex carbs, they are good for you, and if you need to lose weight you should look at eating less processed, fatty and sugary foods and more fruit, veg and pulses.

And to celebrate complex carbohydrates in all their glory, I made the very tasty, filling and nutritious Pea & Potato Pesto Pasta.🙂

Ingredients

(serves 2)IMAG0903

150-200g pasta, depending how hungry you are
(I used Co-op Free From)
1 onion (I used red onion, but white would be
good or a leek would be very tasty)
10 small new potatoes
2 handfuls of fresh peas (frozen would work fine)
1 clove of garlic
175ml Soya cream
3 tsp pesto
a little extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Method

– Put a big pot of water on to boil for your pasta, and put the tatties on to boil in lightly salted water.
– Shell the peas, slice the onion and crush the garlic.
– Heavily salt the pasta water and put pasta in to cook.
– In a frying pan heat a little oil, add salt and plenty of pepper.
– Saute garlic for a minute. Add onion and saute until onion is soft. Add in peas until they’re coated with oil.
– Add pesto and cream to pan and stir to combine. Add in a ladleful of pasta water and stir again. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Leave to come to a simmer.
– Drain the tatties and slice or half, depending on size. Add tatties to cream sauce and stir.
– Drain the pasta, reserving a little more water if your sauce looks too thick. Add pasta, and water if needed, to the sauce and stir everything together.
– Serve with rocket and/or nooch, as preferred.  Enjoy🙂

This pasta is super tasty, very good for you, and you’ll be full for ages! So eat well and be healthy… and try saying Pea & Potato Pesto Pasta 10 times fast.

Namaste🙂 x

Roast Aubergine & Chaturanga Dandasana

I’ve had a glut of new potatoes this week! I got tons in the veg bag, and we harvested the tatties in both community gardens I work in. And with all the sun and rain we’ve had here in sunny Glasgow everything’s been growing really well… which of course means the mint is out of control! The tattie side in this recipe is probably my favourite way to eat them at the moment and really showcases fresh produce in it’s glory. This week’s recipe I actually made twice, two ways, and only photographed one, but I’ll give you all the options and you can decide how you want to make it.

Roast Aubergine with Minty New Potatoes

Ingredients

Handful of new tatties
1 aubergine
small handful of fresh mint
knob of butter
drizzle of EVOO
salt & pepper
tbsp tahini
juice of half a lemon
1 large clove garlic
2 handfuls leafy greens (I used turnip tops,
but spinach or kale or anything you want will
work here)
small handful pinenuts

IMAG0881

Option 1

aaaaaand……

option 1

8 cherry tomatoes on the vine

oooorr….

option 2
4 tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
75g quinoa

Method
– 
Preheat oven to 225°C.
– Prick aubergine with a fork, put in a roasting tin and salt. Put in oven for 30 mins.
– OPTION 2 – Also put tomatoes and garlic in oven. Put quinoa on to cook. (1:2 quinoa to water, simmer with a lid on until all the water is absorbed.)
– Put tatties on to boil in lightly salted water.
– Crush garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add in greens and wilt.
– In a wee bowl whisk together tahini, EVOO, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
– OPTION 1 – after 20 mins of aubergine being in oven, pop the cherry tomatoes in for the last 10.
– OPTION 2 – After 20 mins remove tomatoes and garlic from oven and push through a sieve with a wooden spoon. Pop the liquid on a high heat to reduce until it is a thick sauce.
– Drain tatties and toss them in a little dairy-free butter (Flora freedom is nice) or EVOO. Finely chop mint and toss that through too.
– Assemble! Option 1 peeps – take top of aubergine, cut in half and put on a plate. Put greens on top, and cherry toms on top of that. Drizzle with tahini dressing and scatter over pinenuts. Serve with tatties.
– Option 2 peeps – arrange greens on a plate. Take top off aubergine, slice in half and put on top. Top aubergine with quinoa, pour over tomato sauce and drizzle with tahini. Scatter over pinenuts and serve with tatties.
IMAG0894Unfortunately, I had to buy garlic from the shop because this week is the first for garlic in the veg bag. But when you buy it in the shop it comes in a wee net bag, and it seems very wasteful – especially when there’s just one bulb – so in my efforts to re-use I made a cute wee bird feeder. So far no birds have been eating from it… or squirrels for that matter… but I’m sure that’s more to do with the year rather than the quality of the feeder. And it’s super easy. You sew up the side you ripped open (I’m assuming here) except for the last inch. Fill with bird seed. Sew up the last wee bit, and make a few big loops at the top, et voila! One DIY bird feeder. One less thing for the bin (immediately, anyway).
I chose Chaturanga Dandasana as my pose this week because, and I know it’s not a popular opinion, but I looooove it. Always have, always will, I think it’s super important to learn and learn right, and it helps with core and upper body strength. Plus it just looks so neat and tidy when done properly.

  1. Come into a high plank. Let’s assume it’s spot on alignment-wise.
  2. Relax the shoulders away from the ears and press back through your heels.
  3. Shift your weight forward, pressing the floor away with your toes.
  4. Lower down until your face is a few inches from the ground and your elbows are at a right angle.
  5. Hold for 1 breath to start, but work up to 8.
  6. Congratulate yourself with an wee child’s pose. Or just lying face down on the mat. Whatever seems like a better option right now.

    Once you’ve got it down you’ll sail smoothly through your vinyasas and be the envy of everyone with your effortless ability to hold yourself parallel to the floor as you hover above it. Well done you.

    Namaste🙂 x

Easy Peanut Butter Cups & Uttanasana

Okay, so this is not my recipe… my lovely sister – aka the least bridey bride ever – came over for dinner and a catch up and brought with her there peanut butter cups and they’re SO GOOD. And crazy quick and easy, so I thought they were definitely worth sharing.

As a bridesmaid I’ve been fully prepared to do whatever madness she can think of, but so far we chose our own dresses, we’re organising a fun & tasteful hen do and there have been no demands whatsoever. It’s all starting to come together, which as just as well because it’s very soon. Well, “very soon” in wedding terms. 3 months. But it’s very exciting. So when she wanted a catch up I thought that there might be some ulterior motive… but it turns out she just wanted to give me a t-shirt she bought for me for no reason, and make yummy chocolate treats. So here’s this week’s guest recipe:

Peanut Butter Cups (makes 8)

Ingredients
1 large chocolate bar
16 Nakd caramel nibbles
8 tsp peanut butter

Method
– Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
– Melt chocolate in a bain marie.
– Pour an inch (ish) into the bottom of each cupcake case.
– Smoosh (technical term) 16 nibbles and drop 2 into the chocolate in each case.
– Drop in a teaspoon of peanut butter on top of the nibbles.
– Cover with more melted chocolate.
– Pop in the fridge and allow to set.
– Keep in the cupboard and enjoy them whenever you need a chocolate fix!

My pose this week is Uttanasana, or a Standing Forward Fold. My friend who lives very far away is starting to try yoga because he’s been having back pain. When he messaged me and said he couldn’t understand how his face was supposed to touch his knees with a straight back, keeping everything parallel. Of course, as a complete beginner, you can’t! So here’s a breakdown of the pose, and how to do it safely. Don’t push yourself too far, and don’t lose the length through your spine for the sake of getting your head lower. You’ll get there.

  • Stand with your feet hip distance apart, outside edges parallel with the edges of your mat.
  • Lengthen up through the crown of the head, relax the shoulder, and ground down through your feet.
  • Place your hands on your hips and on an inhale get very tall.
  • On an exhale, hinge forward from your hips until you can’t go any lower without rounding the back.

And that’s it. Practise every day and one day your face will touch your knees, but don’t expect to fold in half the first time you do it. It can help with back pain, posture, learning alignment and stretching the hammies. Keep it up!

Namaste🙂 x

Quinoa, broad beans & crispy courgettes

I’m so excited to be covering Sam’s classes in South Ayrshire this week. I get to see a lot of familiar faces, get out to the countryside (with Eiko loves too!) and spend a little quality time with my Ma. I have 2 new classes starting at the end of this month which I’ve been getting organised – 1 at Toryglen Community Hall, Mondays 5:30pm, 1 at Couper Institute in Cathcart, Sundays 7:45pm. See the Yoga Classes page for more info! So it’s been all go here, and I’m making a conscious effort not to get lazy and just eat shite all the time, but we all know that struggle. There’s been great stuff in the veg box the past couple weeks and so I’m trying to make the most of it and not just bung it all in soup (happens), so this week’s recipe really showcases some of the season’s produce.


Courgette Fritters with Quinoa Salad

Ingredients
1/2 mug quinoa
12 pods of broad beans
1 small courgette
handful walnuts
1 small clove garlic
juice 1/2 lemon
twice as much EVOO, plus more for frying
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
approx 1 tbsp plain gluten free flour
small handful celery leaves

Method
– Put in pan with twice as much water (measure it). Pop the lid on, bring to the boil, then turn down to simmer for around 15 mins or until all the water has been absorbed.
– Meanwhile, pod the broad beans. Blanche in boiling water for 2 – 3 mins them quickly immerse in cold water. Pinch to remove white casing.
– Slice courgette at an angle, about 2mm thick. Mix flour with a pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper, and spread out on a plate. Dip each courgette slice into flour mixture on both sides, and shake off excess. Fry for a few minutes either side, or until golden brown.
– In pestle & mortar, bash up garlic with a little salt. Add lemon juice and twice as much EVOO.
– Roughly chop walnuts. Finely slice celery leaves.
– Mix quinoa, broad beans and walnuts in a bowl, and dress with the lemon dressing.
– Arrange courgette slices over a plate. Add quinoa salad on top and garnish with the celery leaves. Enjoy!


What with all this excitement, I feel my mind running away from me, so I’m trying to keep calm, keep composed, keep on top of everything! My favourite meditation technique is also one of the first that ever really made sense to me… although it wasn’t taught to me as a technique, more a metaphor. However, it works for me, and I think it might for you… especially if you’ve raised a puppy! So this week’s ‘pose’ is Puppy Meditation.

Sit or lie in a comfortable position you can maintain

2013-08-07 14.53.06

This little munchkin wants to help.

for at least 10 minutes.
Close your eyes and bring your focus to your breath.
Imagine in your minds’ eye the most adorable little puppy you’ve ever seen!
Try to get him to sit still.
Puppies are very excitable, so don’t be surprised if he runs off. Don’t get angry at him, just gently coax him back to his original spot and get him to sit.
As you continue to do this notice if your mind wanders, with your puppy, then gently and kindly bring it back to stillness.
Continue with this technique until 10 minutes is up, or you and your puppy are in complete stillness for as long as you desire.

 

 

Take this calmness with you into the rest of your day, or your dreams, and remember to treat yourself and others with the kindness with which you treat your adorable little puppy.

Namaste🙂 x

The Best Mushroom Gravy

Although it’s cheating, I must admit I love Dee’s sausages. They’re so tasty, and a great quick supper grilled with some tatties or in a sandwich. The other night I was craving comfort food. I had been out in the rain with the dog for 2 hours, after what felt like a very long day at work, and I had a dose of the blues. Stodgey, easy and delicious was all I wanted, and everything my humble dinner turned out to be.

I picked up some sausages on the way home, knowing I had tons of tatties that needed using up, and an open bottle of red wine in the kitchen. The whole thing took about 20 minutes and it was so good I would’ve eaten the whole thing twice. The dish is helped by those tasty sausages, and I bought the new Flora dairy free just to see what it was like, which really gave a boost to the tatties, but the star of the show was the sweet, sticky, earthy, rich gravy… so please make the effort to make it, I promise you won’t regret it.

Sausage & Mash

Ingredients             

3 Dee’s traditional sausages
1 small onion
3 mini Portobello mushrooms (or a couple of big ones)
2 medium tatties
handful of green beans
1 small garlic clove
a big spoonful of dairy free butter
splash of plant milk of your choosing
100ml red wine
2 tsp maple syrup
1 veggie stock cube, or 2 tsp bouillon powder
1 glug of extra virgin olive oil
a couple pinches of sea salt and a freshly ground black pepper

Method
– Preheat the grill to hot.
– Wash, peel and dice tatties. Bring to the boil in a pan of water with a pinch of sea salt.
– Put the sausages under the grill. Keep an eye on them, and you’ll have to turn them halfway (about 5 mins in).
– Top and tail the green beans and pop in a steamer on top of your tatties.
– Finely chop or mince the garlic. Slice the onion and mushrooms. Heat the EVOO in a deep frying pan. Add a pinch of sea salt and the garlic and sauté for about a minute. Then add mushrooms and onion, and sauté until soft. Pour in the wine and cook off the alcohol – takes a few minutes, give it a careful sniff when you think it’s done and if it’s not you’ll know about it. Add in the stock cube or powder, maple syrup and a few twists of black pepper and reduce until it’s thick, runny, almost gravy like consistency.
– Drain the tatties and mash them up with the “butter” and “milk” until very smooth.
– Serve a pile of mash, with green beans on top, sausages on top of that and the gravy generously poured over the whole lot. Enjoy!

So if you feel in need of something that will proverbially stick to your ribs – this is the one for you. *Dieters need not apply.

I’ll be back next Monday with news of my new yoga classes starting in the next few weeks, and another tasty recipe for you.

Got requests? Questions? Complaints? Let me know in the comments below, facebook or twitter.

Namaste🙂 x