Summer picnics, BBQs, and long evenings are the perfect time to serve a spread of dips, salads & colourful snacks, and THIS delicious baba ghanoush is worth including. Usually served with crudités or flatbreads, the traditional Levantine appetiser is satisfyingly savoury, and easy to make with this recipe. Enjoy!
(served 2-4 as part of a mezze)
1 large aubergine or 2 medium
1 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1 lemon & zest of half
1 handful chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp cumin
½ tap smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Slice the aubergine into thin rounds, drizzle over a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 200C for roughly 30 minutes, or until the aubergine is browned and roasted
Once the aubergine is roasted, tip it into a blender or food processor, and add all other ingredients
Whizz briefly, keeping the texture thick
Transfer to a small bowl and garnish with fresh parsley and a dash of paprika
Chewing a mix of seeds and spices post-dinner is tradition in many cultures throughout the world – just as you might sip a mint tea, or enjoy a square of chocolate, there needs to be a natural human urge to consume something sweet, bitter or pungent to help with digestion. If you tend to suffer with indigestion, bloating, or occasional bouts of feeling ‘heavy’ after dinner, this digestif mix of seeds is an effective way to help the body digest meals, leaving you feeling lighter and more settled before bed.
The seeds used in this recipe are inspired by the many Ayurvedic remedies for digestion, and as with many natural ‘medicines’, it doesn’t necessarily taste like most of the foods we’re used to in the UK. These seeds have powerful benefits, which often comes with a powerful taste….
(makes a little less than 1 jam jar size amount)
1/4 cup fennel seeds
1/4 cup ajowan seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
Place a dry pan over a medium heat and wait until it becomes hot
Toast each type of seed separately – once they start to ‘pop’ and you can smell the scent, remove from the heat and transfer to a plate – leave to cool
Once all the seeds have cooled, add them to your jar.
Take 1 tsp after dinner – chew it for 10-15 minutes. You can either spit the mixture out or swallow it depending upon personal preference
Store in a cupboard – it’ll keep well for at least a month
Spring and Summer herbs and flowers provide an abundance of healing properties, and making tinctures from wild plants found in the area you live is a great way to reconnect with the natural world around you, receiving the benefits these plants have to offer. Nettles are easy to find along hedgerows and in forests, and whilst chamomile is a little more difficult to find, it’s likely you’ll see some springing up right now as the weather conditions and lockdown-induced lack of mowing means wildflowers have had a wonderful time this year so far.
This tincture is great for calming the nervous system, relieving sore muscles and aching joints, and can be taken on a regular basis to prevent inflammatory conditions and arthritis – of course, this is not medical advice and doesn’t take the place of anything you may have been prescribed, so check with your medical provider if needed, and enjoy experimenting with these natural, herbal tonics.
(makes 1 jam jar size amount)
1 handful stinging nettles (use gloves to pick them!)
1 handful fresh chamomile or dried chamomile flowers
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup brandy (you could also just use more vodka, but brandy is very high in antioxidants and vitamin C, giving the tincture an immune-boosting component too)
You’ll also need 2 jam jars
Fill one jar with nettles and 1 jar with chamomile flowers
Cover the nettles with vodka, and the chamomile flowers with brandy
Place the lids on the jars and store in a dark cupboard for 4 – 6 weeks, shaking the jars daily
Using a fine sieve or cheese cloth, strain the liquid into a bowl – you’ll want to squeeze the remaining liquid from the chamomile flowers especially, as they will have soaked up most of the liquid.
Sterilise a glass jar or bottle by washing it with hot, soapy water and placing it in the oven at 160C for 10 minutes
Use a funnel to transfer the liquid from the bowl to the jar / bottle
Use a dropper to take between 5 – 10 drops of the tincture once or twice a day. This remedy is best taken in the afternoon or at night, as it will probably make you feel pretty relaxed.
Seasonal and fresh, this recipe is a wonderful way to imbibe the benefits of elderflowers, which have been used in traditional medicine systems for thousands of years. Elderflower provides a great remedy for respiratory issues, sinus problems, and elderflower extract has actually proven successful in killing hospital-born pathogens like MRSA. For such a sweet-smelling, unassuming flower, it certainly has a lot to give, and is another great example of the powerful herbal plants we have around us in nature.
You can find elderflowers blooming around early June – pick them on a dry day when the flowers are open, and make sure you know for sure that they are in fact elderflowers! Other plants like cow parsley look similar, but they’re definitely not suitable for eating. Elderflowers are often described as smelling ‘summery’, and they really do smell delicious, and their leaves are jagged at the edges. You’ll likely spot a few of these in bloom whilst out walking as they’re a common UK plant, so pack an extra bag with you for foraging this month!
Enough elderflower heads to fill a large mixing bowl
Roughly 2.5 lites of water – add enough to cover the elderflowers
juice and zest of 1 lemon
juice and zest of 1 lime
1cm fresh ginger, grated
Roughly 100g honey
Pick over the elderflowers for any lingering insects or leaves, then add them to a large cooking pot. You can leave some of the stems on, but try to remove as many large stalks as you can.
Next, add the lemon juice and zest, lime juice and zest, ginger and honey
Pour over the water and mix to combine
Bring everything to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes
After you’ve simmered the mixture, turn off the heat and leave everything to infuse further for at least a couple of hours – this will lead to a stronger flavour and more benefits from all the ingredients. I left mine to infuse over night.
The next day, strain the mixture through a sieve and pour the liquid back into the pot
Bring the mixture to a simmer again, and this time leave for about 40 minutes for the liquid to boil down, slightly
After 40 minutes, remove from the heat and leave to cool
Pour into sterilised glass bottles and store in the fridge – best consumed within a couple of weeks.
This cordial recipe is low in sugar and isn’t as thick as other types of cordial, so the amount you use is totally up to how strong you want the taste to be. Mix with gin and tonic, or with still water for a Summery seasonal squash!
After lots of requests, I’m excited to share with you my first recipe e-book! Recipes For Living Well: Sweet Snacks & Healthy Desserts #1. Full of healthy ingredients, mostly plant based and completely delicious, the recipes in this book are a glimpse into years of cooking for yoga retreats, developing recipes and healthy swaps for clients, and treats for my students!
Including energy balls, raw chocolate, brownies, cakes and much more, enjoy creating these Sweet Snacks & Healthy Desserts recipes and sharing them with family and friends. The e-recipe book is usually £8, but as a special release offer, you can get the book completely FREE this month. Grab your copy now and look out for the upcoming ‘Lunch & Dinner’ and ‘Teas, Tonics & Wellbeing Recipes’ books coming soon. If you have questions or recipe requests, feel free to get in touch!
During Summer, the Ayurvedic Pitta dosha is at its strongest, meaning the element of fire within all of us is likely to be stronger right now. If you’re a predominantly pitta type person (which you can learn by taking an online dosha test here) then Summer is when symptoms of inflammation, headaches, heartburn and acidic indigestion, ulcers, stress, anger and frustration can be at their highest. According to Ayurveda, each season is governed by a different energy and element, and being the hottest, driest season, Summer is linked to all things fire. Accordingly, our diet and lifestyle ‘should’ reflect this change in environment, and if you take a look at Ayurvedic lifestyle books or any other holistic systems like Chinese Medicine, you’ll notice that everything from daily routines to herbs, foods and exercise needs to change a little in order to be optimally healthy during each season.
If we still lived more hunter-gatherer-style lives as our ancestors did, we’d naturally change our lifestyles from season to season, meaning we’d be consuming a great variety and quantity of foods, be getting natural forms and amounts of movement each day, and naturally alter our sleeping pattern to align with the rhythms of day and night. If you want to move towards a more natural, environmentally-aligned and intuitive lifestyle guided by the principles of Ayurveda, looking at the foods, herbs and spices you’re consuming is a great place to start. Many herbs and spices can remedy seasonal health issues, and help with daily occurrences of bloating, indigestion, fluctuating energy levels, sleep and much more. To balance the amount of heat and fire in the body and mind during Summer, let’s start with this cooling yet digestion-supporting tea blend.
Chamomile: A popular herbal flower for promoting relaxation, chamomile holds the tastes of bitterness and pungency, which both help reduce Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (earth and water) energies in the body and mind. Chamomile is great for indigestion, inflammation, headaches and menstrual issues (both dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea), and most Pitta-related issues, including irritability, anger and stress. It’s a sattvic herbal flower, helping balance the emotions, and if you tend to suffer with sore, inflamed eyes, 2 cotton pads soaked in cooled chamomile tea can be placed over the eyelids for 15 minutes to provide remedy and relief.
Cardamom: One of the most effective and safe digestive spices, cardamom is great for maintaining agni, the digestive fire, as well as removing heavy Kapha issues from the body, such as heaviness, mucus and phlegm in the stomach and lungs. Cardamom promotes a soothing flow of prana (energy)throughout the body’s systems, and when added to coffee, prevents the jittery effects. In the Middle East, spiced coffees with cardamom (and lots of sugar!) are traditional, and the spice has actually been used for thousands of years to help heavy or acidic foods easier to digest.
Calendula: Much like chamomile, calendula is cooling, calming, and has the taste qualities of bitter and pungent. Calendula is another great pitta-balancing herbal flower, and importantly, it can also be used as a gentle adaptogen, helping restore the body’s natural balance, promoting vitality and harmonious functioning of the systems.
To make your own:
(makes 1 large pot of tea)
Add 1 tbsp of dried chamomile flowers, 1 tbsp of dried calendula flowers, and 2 crushed cardamom pods to a large tea pot
Pour over hot water (not completely boiling)
Leave to steep for 5 minutes
To serve, add a squeeze of lime juice and honey – the lime juice adds a lifting, zesty kick whilst also cooling the Pitta dosha, and the honey helps stimulate digestion.
After reading Jacqueline’s 365 Days Of Happiness, it was clear that when it comes to living a life of joy and meaning, she’s truly dedicated. As a holistic practitioner, speaker and bestselling author, Jacqueline is well – versed in the world of mindfulness and self-care, which means even more when you read about the hardships and incredibly challenging experiences she’s lived through and learned from.
If you’re anything like me, you may be a little resistant to a book that’s supposed to tell you ‘how to be a woman’, but in all honesty – couldn’t we all use guidance sometimes? In a world where we tend to primarily see the skinny, shiny, perfect and pouting versions of women, it’s refreshing to read a book that focuses on what’s actually happening on the inside, in the mind, soul and spirit of women.
Jacqueline’s enthusiasm and excitement virtually jumps out of every page – so much so that I feel like I can actually hear her voice echoing; “We – women, men and everything in between – need to get out of our forgetful fog and into our remembering ways to recall who we really ARE and how everything really IS. We need to rewind back to the basics and the beginning where energy is all there is – equality is all there is!”Scientifically speaking, we humans literally are 99.9999% energy, and her book is full of ways to work with it in order to feel empowered, present and connected to who you truly are as a woman. If you’re not a woman, this is actually a really insightful book that shows just how much stress, pressure and trauma most women experience, and how they can emerge from difficult experiences even more powerful, honest and whole.
Especially right now, when the world is in limbo and the idea of what is ‘permanent’, what ‘matters’ and what the really important things in life are, this book is one to have, share with others, and take great inspiration from in living life as a woman authentically and without fear.
Are you feeling scattered, unfocussed and anxious? Have your body’s systems become a little irregular over the past couple of months? (i.e. digestive issues, constipation, irregular menstrual cycles, sleep issues or a changeable appetite?) If you’re experiencing anything like this, it’s likely you’re currently experiencing excessive Vata energy, the energy of air and wind, change and irregularity.
The Three Doshas
Within the world of Ayurveda, there are three primary doshas – and in this case, the word ‘dosha’ refers to your mind / body type. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These three energies exist in all of us to varying degrees; if you’re considered a Vata ‘type’, it means you possess more Vata qualities, such as a slim frame, bony joints, a tendency towards dry skin, and emotional qualities of creativity, fast thinking (and fast talking) and being prone towards anxiety. Your elemental qualities are air and ether. If your dosha is primarily Kapha, it’s likely your frame is a little bigger, your joints are strong and your figure is perhaps naturally curvier; your elements are earth and water, and you’re also likely to resemble qualities of kindness, loyalty and a love for routine – as well as habits like occasional comfort eating. Primarily Pittatypes are governed by fire and water; they’re classically ‘fiery’ and love intensity, whether it’s intense exercise, work or relationships. Pitta types are usually of a medium build, with strong digestion and an even stronger appetite, prone to inflammation, irritability and impatience when aggravated.
So, we’re all born with either one or two primary doshas, which stay with us forever and are essentially our psycho-physio blueprint. (remember that we have all three doshas in us, but one or two are primary). Whilst we maintain our baseline dosha forever, we experience fluctuations of energy all the time – for example; you could be a kapha-pitta type, but experience excessive Vata qualities due to your current circumstances. The changing energies we feel on a weekly or daily basis are known as our vikriti, and knowing this is really helpful if you’re working through a particular imbalance or illness.
Dosha = your fixed mind / body type. Determined at birth. It’s your psycho-physiological blueprint.
Vikriti = your current state. You may experience changes in how you feel physically and emotionally from season to season or on a weekly basis. Different imbalances are signs of different issues within the body and mind. E.g. during Autumn many people have dry skin and cracking joints, which is an example of accumulated Vata in the body.
If you want to find out your own personal dosha type, click HERE to take a quiz
Balancing Vata Energy
Our environment is a huge determining factor when it comes to our state of being. If we experience a stressful life change, an illness or injury, or if we eat a type of food that doesn’t agree with us, this can all cause one of the doshas to become aggravated and excessive. Depending upon which dosha is aggravated, there are different methods and tools to practice in order to rebalance and re-harmonise ourselves. Why is this important? Because right now, many of us are probably experiencing a Vata imbalance; ‘regular’ life has stopped, routine isn’t fixed, and the future is unpredictable, thus influencing the potential to feel anxious and unsettled. If this is you, try the following two practices and empower yourself with the knowledge of how to balance your body and harmonise your mind:
Routine, routine, routine
It may sound a little boring, but routine is really the cornerstone of helping Vata-related issues. Being air and ether governed, Vata is hard to pin down, but this is really important in order to prevent the whirlwind of unpredictability if you’re already feeling scattered. Nature has its own routine or rhythm; the rhythm of day and night; seasonal rhythms, and even the cells and organs in our bodies have a rhythm. Our minds feel more relaxed when we have a routine, which allows our digestive system to settle into a balanced rhythm too.
To get started, re-set your circadian rhythms (your sleep-wake cycle) by stepping outside as soon as you can after waking up, thus exposing your body to sunlight, which interacts with suprachiasmatic nucleus or ‘SCN’, telling your body to fire up and get ready for a new day. At night, switch off your screens so your eyes don’t absorb the blue light emitted from them, which has been shown to prevent the release of melatonin and therefore also prevent a good night’s sleep.
Next, simply write down what you’re going to do each day. I know it’s ridiculously simple, but your mind won’t be as scattered if you can literally look at your list and know what you’re going to do next. Your list could look something like this:
Reply to emails
Jobs around the house
If you really want to get focussed, you could even write down the time you’re going to do each activity. If you’re not currently working or have lost your routine altogether, use the Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine clocks to inspire you.
The way we breathe constantly sends signals to our brain and nervous system about how we should be feeling. Short, shallow breaths tell the body there’s something to worry about, initiating the stress response, releasing cortisol, raising blood-pressure and heartrate, and when chronic – damaging the immune and hormonal systems, causing brain fog and impaired digestion. A slow, calm breath of course tells the body the very opposite: to relax, to feel safe, balanced, and resilient, whilst helping maintain the health of the immune system, hormones, digestion, blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
Whoever you are and however much yoga you’ve practiced, it’s likely that you’re still not breathing optimally all the time (pretty much all of us will have a portion of the day where we’re unintentionally holding the breath of shallow breathing). The more we catch ourselves shallow breathing, the more opportunities we have to re-set the breath and rebalance the mind and body. Try putting your hands on your stomach and consciously relaxing the stomach completely – it might puff out or protrude, but it’s completely natural and is so much better for our health. Next, imagine starting your breath from your feet and slowly breathing up the length of your entire body, exhaling back down the length of your body to your feet again. This encourages a slower, longer breath. After a few rounds of this, try focussing your breath into the centre of your body – breathing into your stomach, your sides and your back. After a few rounds of this, combine both techniques by inhaling from your feet upwards, and expand your stomach, ribs and back when you reach the centre of your body. Make your exhale even longer to relax the nervous system further and bring your awareness back down to your feet. Practice for a few minutes each day, and whenever you notice you’re holding your breath or feeling anxious.
Throughout the lockdown, many of us have been for daily walks, bike-rides and runs, and even discovered completely new routes to venture along. If you’re lucky enough to live close to fields, hedgerows and the countryside, you’ll have probably seen lots of Spring plants emerging over the past month or so. Spring is a time of abundance, and the countryside is literally blooming with edible herbs and flowers right now. It’s always advised to be completely sure about what you’re picking, but when you start to get to know the land around you, you’ll notice just how much there is on offer to add to soups and salads, and to make natural medicines with.
Stinging nettles may not initially sound like the type of plant you’d want to eat, but they come with a host of powerful benefits, and the moment they’re cooked in hot water, they lose their sting completely. Nettles have been used for hundreds of years to treat joint and muscle pain, eczema and anaemia, as well as being anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, and high in nutrients that benefit bone health. Wild garlic is just about to go out of season, so pick it now while you can, as it’s also packed with antioxidants, is a natural antibiotic and antiviral, and is also high in vitamins A and C. The best thing about consuming local plants like these right now, is that they’re the exact foods our bodies are evolved to be eating at this very moment. If we were still living closer to the land and foraging our own food, we’d be eating nettles, wild garlic and even daisies in Springtime. This soup recipe is easy to make, delicious, and pretty much as fresh as you can get!
The spices used in this recipe help stimulate digestion and support Agni – the digestive fire. If you want a more mellow, cooling soup, perhaps use herbs like basil, parsley and coriander.
2 large handfuls nettles
1 handful wild garlic
1 shallot or ½ an onion
½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp coriander
1 tsp coconut oil, butter or olive oil
½ a stock cube
½ litre hot water
¼ litre milk of choice
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large pot, and add the shallots or onion, cooking until soft
Add the spices and stir well, cooking for a minute or so
Next, chop the courgette and add it to the pot, stirring to coat everything in the spices and oil
When the courgette is soft, add the stock cube to the hot water and then pour it into the pot
Cook on a low heat until it begins to simmer
When simmering, add the nettles to the liquid and bring to a gentle boil briefly
Once boiling, reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes
Add the wild garlic and milk, and continue simmering for a couple of minutes
Finally, add salt and pepper to taste, then use a hand blender to whizz up the soup
A healthy and protein packed recipe without the meat – these burgers are full of nutrients that help build muscle, repair cells and maintain healthy circulation. Easy to make and completely satisfying, they can also be made ahead and frozen for a few weeks for when you need a quick and healthy dinner option. Enjoy!
(makes 4 burgers)
1 can black beans
1 shallot or ½ an onion
1 clove garlic
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp mixed herbs
1 handful fresh parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp marmite (optional)
Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a pot on a medium heat
Chop the shallot / onion and garlic, then fry until soft
Add the herbs and spices and stir well until they’re fragrant
Drain the black beans and add to the pot, stirring well to coat the beans in the herbs spices
Turn the heat low and add the tomato puree, marmite and chickpea flour and egg, and stir well to combine
Continue to cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes. If the mixture seems a little dry, add a splash of water or your choice of milk
After roughly 15 minutes, pre-heat the oven to 280C
Turn the heat off from under the pan and use a fork to mash the mixture well, then scoop the mixture into a large mixing bowl
Wait a couple of minutes for the mixture to cool enough so it’s at a temperature you can handle easily
Use your hands to shape the mixture into burger-like shapes
Add the other tbsp of oil to a large frying pan and fry the burgers for a few minutes on each side, or until they’re browned
Place in the oven for 10 minutes
When you’re ready to eat, remove from the oven and serve. We enjoyed ours with salad and sweet potato fries!