Butternut Squash & Yellow Mung Dal (+Spelt Flour Chapatis)

Dal is a wonderfully wholesome, balancing dish full of plant-based protein and minerals like magnesium and zinc and lots of fibre. As we transition from Winter to Spring, this is a great time to start bringing in more naturally detoxifying, alkalinising plant-based meals to help you feel lighter and brighter as the days get lighter and brighter too.

Serves 4 with leftovers 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup slit yellow mung beans
  • 1 butternut squash 
  • 1 leek
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
  • ½ tsp each: fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, nigella seeds
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Optional: 4 strips wakame seaweed for added iodine for thyroid health and metabolism

Method

  • Soak the mung beans overnight 
  • When you’re ready to cook, heat the coconut oil or ghee in a large, heavy-bottomed pan
  • Chop the leek and garlic, then sauté for a couple of minutes
  • Add the spices and stir well for another couple of minutes
  • Chop the butternut squash into cubes, then add to the pot, stir and cook for 5 minutes
  • Rinse the split yellow mung beans, then add to the pot with the 6 cups of water
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer, and add the seaweed
  • Simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the mung beans and squash have softened (you may need to add more water, so check regularly)
  • Just before serving, make the spelt chapatis (instructions below)
  • Serve with chapatis and salad, any leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days

Spelt Flour Chapatis

Spelt is an ‘ancient grain’ and is more easily digestible than many other grains and flours, as well as being high in fiber and protein, and contains magnesium, iron and zinc. These chapatis work well with lots of different meals and are so quick and easy to make. They’re also a perfect alternative to shop-bought, naan or wraps. 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp flour per person + a little more for rolling
  • Pinch of good quality salt
  • 1 tbsp water 
  • (+ any other herbs you’d like to add to the dough)

Method

  • Mix the ingredients to create a dough
  • Knead about 20 times
  • Place a frying pan over medium heat – do not add any oil
  • Take a piece of dough just bigger than a golf ball, and roll out on a lightly floured surface until paper-thin
  • Dry-fry in the pan for a minute or so each side until slightly brown
  • Take the pan off the heat, and put the chapati directly on to the flame for about 5-10 second each side to puff up
  • Transfer to a plate and repeat until you run out of dough
  • For extra deliciousness, brush a little butter onto each chapati whilst still warm

Squash & Kale Stew + Halloumi ‘Croutons’


Whilst we’re still embracing Winter comfort foods, THIS is a warming, nourishing dish to help bring you right back to your centre & give you a dose of seasonal goodness. Full of vitamins A, B6, C, anti inflammatory and blood sugar balancing goodness – vegetables (actually, squash is technically a fruit…) that grow close to the ground are also ‘grounding’ for us too, so try the recipe if this sounds like something you need!

INGREDIENTS 
– 1 small squash
– 4 large handfuls kale
– 1/2 can coconut milk (I like Suma’s organic coconut milk)
– 2 cups stock
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 leek or onion 
– 1 tsp ghee or coconut oil 
– 1/2 tsp garam masala
– 1/4 tsp paprika

For the halloumi croutons 
– 1 small pack halloumi
– Seeds from the squash 
– Dried herbs like oregano or zataar 

METHOD
– Heat the ghee / oil in a large pan
– Chop the garlic and onion / leek, then sauté for a few minutes 
– Chop the squash into small chunks (save the seeds!), then add to the pan and stir well
– Add the spices & cook for 5-10 mins, stirring often
– Add the stock, bring to a simmer, then add the coconut milk & kale and leave on a low simmer for about 20 mins or until the squash has softened 
– MEANWHILE – heat the oven to 200C, slice the halloumi into cubes, scatter over the seeds, herbs and a tiny bit of oil
– Cook for about 15 mins (whilst the squash is cooking) 
– Once everything is ready, serve the stew topped with the halloumi and a buttery slice of sourdough on the side if you like 
Enjoy!

Recipe: Blood Orange, Sesame & Almond Loaf Cake


It’s blood orange season, and whilst they’re not totally native to the UK, oranges have been imported to Britain since the 15th century, so I’ll take that…

As we’re in the second half of winter, vitamin C is still really important, and there aren’t many natural sources of it around right now. Vitamin C is vital for the immune system, for helping form collagen & healing the body’s tissues. The almonds in this recipe are full of vitamin E, which is a key nutrient for regulating the menstrual cycle, supporting fertility, reducing inflammation & skin irritation too. Sesame seeds are very high in calcium, and are great for building ‘ojas’ or ‘vital essence’ & inner strength. 

Above all – this is an upside down cake with whole, real, healthy (and naturally gluten free) ingredients to bring you a bit of sunshine in Winter. Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS 
– 2 blood oranges 
– 5 heaped tbsp ground almonds
– 2 tbsp buckwheat flour (or sub for more almonds)
– 2 eggs
– 5 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
– 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
– 1 tsp vanilla extract 
– 2 tbsp sesame seeds 
– 2 tbsp milk of choice 
– Sweetener: choose from 3 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp stevia or 5 soaked and blended dates.

METHOD
– Add the oranges whole to a pan, cover with water and simmer for 45 mins 
– Grease a baking tin with butter, then add all ingredients other than the oranges and milk to a large bowl & mix
– After 45 mins, remove the oranges carefully and leave to cool a little.
– Preheat the oven to 140C
– Cut 3 thin slices and add to the bottom of the baking tin (they’ll be the ‘decoration’ on top at the end)
– Add the rest of the orange to a blender with the milk, whizz, then add to the bowl of other ingredients 
– Mix, then pour into the baking tin and bake for roughly 45 mins, or until you can stick a toothpick or knife through and it comes out clean
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool
– Flip the cake out and present upside down so you can see the orange slices.
– I love popping a slice in the toaster and spreading a little butter on top

Are you using blood oranges this season? What are you making with them?

Using The Principles Of ‘Hygge’ To Help Us Slow Down In January

The first week back to work, school and ‘normal’ life after Christmas can be a bit of a shock to the system. Especially if the festive period was busy for you, it’s common to feel stressed and tired in January, which is why this isn’t the best month for making New Years resolutions! As we enter the second week back, how are you feeling?

If we look at the laws of nature instead of the calendar on the wall, we notice that ‘new year’ doesn’t happen on January 1st, it happens at the beginning of Spring, when the plants and animals start to emerge and ‘spring’ back into life again. In the middle of Winter in January, this is still the time to slow down, turn inward and look after yourself – it’s not the time to dive head-first into a harsh diet or ‘cleanse’…

The principles of ‘Hygge’ (referring to a sense of cosiness and contentment) can teach us how to navigate the last half of Winter with more wellbeing, so if you want to live in alignment with what your body really wants instead of what media advertisements are telling us we want right now, read my latest blog for Yoogamatters.com on how to live with more Hygge this January!

Simple Strategies For More Motivated Mornings

If you want to adopt positive, healthy new year habits this January, the challenge often lies not in the action itself, but in the motivation to do it. Whether you want to start running, practicing yoga more often, eating healthily or engaging in creative activities each day, the mindset we approach these habits with determines whether they become a habit or not. You may have heard ‘it takes 21 days to form a habit’, however this isn’t necessarily true… We’re all very different, and studies show that to form the exact same habit, it can take different people anywhere between 18 and 254 days to successfully crate it (so if you’re having trouble sticking to your new routine after a week of trying, keep it up!). 

To help create healthy habits, there are endless tips and tricks to try, but one of the most important things is creating a motivated mindset that actually makes us want to carry out the habit in the first place, and to maintain it over a sustained period of time. Increasing your levels of motivation has a lot to do with one specific neurotransmitter; dopamine. In this short blog, you’ll learn several ways to increase your dopamine levels to help you feel more motivated to stick to your new healthy habits. Read on to find out more!

What is dopamine?

Our mood levels are mostly determined by four primary neurotransmitters; dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline and serotonin. An imbalance in these neurotransmitters can lead to lethargy, anxiety or depression, which is why it’s so important to understand how we can influence these chemicals naturally, so you can be empowered to care for your own wellbeing without the side effects of mood-altering medications. 

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of alertness, drive creativity, curiosity and motivation. Most people think of dopamine as the chemical released when we want ‘more’ of something such as chocolate or sugar, but there’s much more to it than that. Dopamine helps us feel expansive and extroverted enough to explore the world around us, to move our bodies and learn new things. It gives us the motivation to take on challenges and helps us feel driven to carry out those healthy new year habits. Low levels of dopamine are linked to depression, addiction, and even Parkinson’s disease. In general, a lack of dopamine can make you feel low, apathetic, and unable to concentrate. All of those states make it very difficult to adopt healthy habits and stick to them – especially in mid-January, in Winter when it’s cold and dark…

How To Increase Your Dopamine Levels

The first thing to note is that increasing dopamine should happen in the morning, or from 0 – 8 hours after waking up. In this period of time, dopamine is naturally increased, as are healthy levels of cortisol (often thought of as the ‘stress hormone’ but which is very important in order for helping us get up and out of bed in the morning ). In order to support and increase these levels of dopamine for more motivation, creativity, focus and alertness, we need to do one, two or all of the following:

  • View morning sunlight outside for a minimum of 10 minutes: This could look like stepping out into your garden or balcony, going for a morning walk or opening the windows. This is also a vital step for balancing our circadian rhythms and will thus help you get to sleep a lot easier at night.
  • Exercise: a jog, brisk walk, energising yoga practice, dancing, rebounding or a gym session can all help increase your dopamine levels.
  • Cold exposure: A cold shower or wild swim releases adrenaline and dopamine, and is becoming an incredibly popular way to improve many people’s mental health. Even better if you can do this in a group.
  • Coffee: Wait around 90 minutes after waking to drink your coffee, in order not to disrupt cortisol levels, and when you drink your coffee, add a healthy fat such as organic cream or coconut oil, in order to protect the stomach lining, give your brain a big boost of energy, and balance hormones. A tsp of lion’s mane is also an incredible way to enhance your morning brain power. (Use the code ENY10 for 10% off yours at Enrichd Superfoods. )
  • Intermittent fasting: This has been shown to increase levels of dopamine, so if your body is happy to skip breakfast, you might want to practice intermittent fasting as a health protocol. A word of warning to women, though: we should really only fast for a maximum of 12 hours, and skipping breakfast can quickly lead to disrupted hormones, so perhaps choose the option below..
  • Tyrosine-Rich Foods: Tyrosine is an amino acids that acts as a precursor for dopamine (meaning it helps create and trigger this neurotransmitter). Foods rich in tyrosine include Beef, fish, chicken, dairy, bananas, pumpkin seeds, wild rice, tuna, salmon, and eggs have a good amount too, so try adding a few of these ingredients to your breakfast. Amino acid supplements can also provide you with some of this nutrient, especially if your diet is plant-based and you’re not able to naturally eat many tyrosine-rich foods. (use the code EMMA10 for 10% off your amino acids supplements HERE).

So if your mornings could use a little more motivation, try adopting one, two or all of these dopamine-boosting tips! Research also shows that when we interact with someone we love, we also release dopamine, so try going for your morning jog with a loved one, or sharing breakfast together.

A final tip to help set you up for healthy new year habits is to visualise what you want to do. The night before, visualise yourself doing your healthy morning routine and your new habits, and you’ll be wiring your brain in a way that makes it much more likely and much easier for you to carry out those positive actions. 

Good luck!

To kick your new year off in a positive way, book a health and wellbeing consultation, where you’ll receive unique and personalised lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, self-care and mindset guidance, and much more! Receive 10% off when booking a one-off session or 6 weeks coaching in January 2022. Click here for more information.

Hormonal Support Hot Chocolate

Humans are essentially a big bag of hormones. Most of our emotions, actions, likes and dislikes are triggered by changing hormone levels in our bodies. Most women know this all too well…. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways we can influence and support our hormones, and one of them is this delicious spiced hot chocolate. You can drink this most evenings, but to use it primarily as a way to support yourself hormonally, drink it the few days before and during your cycle as a way to soothe PMS  symptoms, support your hormone levels, and give your body a dose of much-needed mineral-rich and comforting goodness. 

The ingredients are all power-houses within themselves; cocoa is high in magnesium, essential for muscle health, relaxation and sleep. Maca is an adaptogen, helping us deal better with stress and stimulates the endocrine system to maintain hormone balance. Saffron is an incredible mood-booster, and studies show that even just smelling it can reduce PMS symptoms like anxiety, irritability, headaches, pain and cravings. Fennel aids in balancing the reproductive system and reducing bloating, whilst cinnamon balances blood sugar and ginger improves digestion. Coconut oil is a super healthy fat that women desperately need for brain and hormone health, and collagen enhances healthy skin and joints.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ tsp ground maca
  • 3 – 4 strands of saffron
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp ground fennel 
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao or cocoa
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 scoop collagen (use code EMMA10 for 10% off yours HERE)
  • 1 cup milk of choice (if you buy non-dairy milk, try to look for brands that don’t add any inflammatory oils like sunflower or rapeseed. The long-life organic Oatly milk is the only one we’ve found so far without harmful additives or sugar).

METHOD 

  • Add all ingredients to a pan and heat gently, using a whisk to stir well
  • Stir in maple syrup or natural stevia to sweeten
  • Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy!

5 Ways To Support Your Immune System This Winter

Our bodies have a powerful in-built mechanism to help us maintain health and wellbeing. The problem is that many of the things we do in everyday life (experiencing stress, eating sugar, consuming processed foods and inflammatory cooking oils, drinking excess alcohol, breathing in pollution or getting poor sleep) all have a big impact on our body’s ability to be as well as it could be. Thankfully, there are a few simple and very effective ways we can make small changes to help support the body’s natural ability to be healthy and well, especially when it comes to healing from illness. So, whether you want to prevent illness, stop the onset of a cold in its tracks, or recover quicker and stronger from illness, put these tips to work to help your immune system function better this season. 

Disclaimer – the following is not medical advice. I am not a doctor, and this information has been gathered from my own health coaching education, working 1-2-1 with clients, and extensive research. If you are experiencing symptoms you are worried about, talk to your healthcare provider.  

  1. Don’t over-do the Paracetamol

The uncomfortably high temperature you feel when ill is the body’s way of actually trying to make you better quicker. (note – this advice is not intended to use when suffering side-effects of vaccinations) A fever is the immune system’s way of killing off a virus, since viruses don’t tend to survive at high temperatures, which is partly why saunas have been shown to be effective for combatting illness (as well as infrared saunas’ ability to trigger cell renewal and repair). When you take medication like paracetamol to lower your temperature, all you’re doing is making your body a more favourable place for a virus to live, and slowing down the body’s healing process. Taking medication to lower a fever can also increase the likelihood of ending up with long-term issues, a suppressed immune system and chronic illness. Of course, it’s very important to make sure your temperature doesn’t get too high; anything over 38C can be damaging according to the NHS, and it’s vital to ensure children’s temperatures are not raised too high, but if you just have a normal fever and find yourself reaching for the paracetamol out of habit, perhaps try the ‘old fashioned’ but more effective method of resting and letting your body sweat it out of you instead. Other ways to support a fever include drinking teas like peppermint, yarrow, elderflower, chamomile and ginger and having a hot bath, which all promote sweating. Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated too.

2. Put Your Feet Up

Yes, literally! Resting or napping with the feet elevated has been shown to increase activity of the glymphatic system (to learn more about this part of the immune system, read THIS). The glymphatic system is not just a misspelling of ‘lymphatic system’, but a whole system that has only relatively recently been discovered. This system is involved in sweeping away waste products and metabolic products, essentially clearing away any old, ill, damaged or ill cells and bacteria from the body. This system is only active when we’re deeply resting or asleep, so it’s important to get extra rest too. 

To help activate the glymphatic system, rest or nap with your feet elevated on a pile of cushions or blankets, or practice the relaxing restorative yoga posture Viparita KaraniYou can also listen to Theta brainwave binaural beats tracks for deeper relaxation. 

3. Supplement with Elderberry and boost your vitamins

There’s currently research being carried out in Kent as to the effectiveness of elderberry extract to help remedy viruses (specifically the virus that has been very prominent over the last couple of years….) [as of December 2021]. This is big news, because elderberry has been a natural remedy for hundreds of years – often thought of as no more than folk medicine or pseudo medicine – but thankfully now there are many more studies to prove how effective it is. Elderberry extract is a powerful way to prevent illness, but it can also reduce the number of days you’re ill for. Make your own with THIS recipe, or buy brands that have a low sugar content. Vitamin C and zinc are also vital for immune health. Increase vitamin C with citrus fruits, peppers, berries, broccoli and kale, and zinc with pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, chicken, spinach, cashews and yoghurt. 

4. Improve Gut Health

Countless studies show that sugar feeds bad gut bacteria, and even feeds cancerous cells too. In order to prevent illness and help ourselves get better if we do become ill, the gut is a vital part of the body to focus on. Roughly 70% of our immune cells live in the gut, and poor gut health also has direct links to poor mental health too. You can prevent illness and help yourself get better faster with prebiotic foods (that ‘feed’ good gut bacteria) like almonds, Jerusalem artichoke, onion, raw garlic, asparagus and dandelion greens, and probiotic foods (that supply the body with good gut bacteria) like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, THIS low sugar kombucha, kvass (seemingly everything that starts with K!?) as well as live cultured yoghurt.

5. Have Hope

Again, quite literally! A sense of hope is linked with increased levels of dopamine – a neurotransmitter linked to motivation, desire and a sense of seeking things outside of ourselves or things in the future. Research shows that a sense of hope and positive mindset increases dopamine levels and actually has the ability to shrink tumours. You can increase hope by making plans for something you enjoy in the near future, visualising yourself feeling well and vibrant, and engaging with a sense of purpose (populations in the East are even thought to live longer due to their sense of Ikigai, meaning ‘that which gives life meaning or purpose’).

How are you supporting your immune system this Winter?

Stuffed Squash & Chestnuts

This is a warming, comforting and grounding meal perfect for cold, dark evenings. Squash is high in vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin B6 – all nutrients we require in order for the nervous system to feel calm and relaxed, as well as contributing to immune health. Whilst it’s in season, make the most of varieties that span beyond butternut squash, such as the green Crown Prince, Acorn Squash, Kabocha Squash or Spaghetti Squash. Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D – something most of us lack especially throughout the Winter months – and quinoa is a great option for those who follow a plant-based diet, because it is a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids. This stuffed squash recipe is easy to make but looks great on the table. Serve alongside purple cauliflower mash for an eye catching meal, as a main of its own, or with seasonal Brussels sprouts.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small squash 
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 6 good sized chestnut mushrooms
  • ½ cup red wine (or stock)
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 red onion 
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful chestnuts, crushed in to small pieces to top

METHOD 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C
  • Cut the squash in half, then scoop out the flesh and seeds (save the seeds to roast, or dry them, then store in a dark jar or envelope so you can plant them next year to grow your own)
  • Rub a little ghee or coconut oil onto the inside edges of the squash, then place with the open sides up in the oven to bake for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until tender
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp ghee in a heavy bottomed pan 
  • Chop the onion and garlic, then add to the pan with the paprika and cumin for a couple of minutes
  • Roughly chop the mushrooms, then add to the pan and cook for roughly 10 minutes, stirring well
  • Add the red wine or stock, bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat and leave to cook slowly.
  • 5 minutes before the squash is ready, add the cooked quinoa, salt and pepper to the pot and stir
  • When the squash is cooked, remove from the oven, then scoop out a serving into each squash half
  • Top with crushed chestnuts (either pre-roasted or the cheat’s Merchant Chestnuts instead)
  • Serve with a handful of fresh herbs, as a main meal or alongside cauliflower mash or seasonal brussels sprouts. 

Enjoy!

Winter Wellness Workshop This Weekend!

Book your place and prepare to receive an abundance of practical, inspirational info on living seasonally to support your physical, mental and emotional health this winter. Details below.

Winter Wellness Workshop | Saturday 27th November | 11am-1pm | The Movement, Haywards Heath

Join Emma for this special seasonal workshop, and understand how to support your health and wellbeing to feel your best this winter!  

You’ll learn how humans have evolved to live differently according to the seasons, and how to make simple lifestyle changes to live more seasonally in the modern world. You’ll discover the seasonal and local foods to eat for better health in winter, and how to apply ancient wisdom from Ayurveda to find balance in mind and body.  

We finish the session with a deeply rejuvenating gentle flow and restorative yoga session, focusing on the meridian lines and organs to care for in winter according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

Included:

  • Free Urban Veda skincare goodie bag & winter spice blend to support digestion
  • Handout with key lifestyle and nutritional practices for winter

Price: £25 (£20 for members)

Book Here

*New* Winter Wellness Workshop

Winter Wellness Workshop

Saturday 27th November 11am-1pm

The Movement Yoga Studio, Haywards Heath

Join me for this special seasonal workshop, and understand how to support your health and wellbeing to feel your best this Winter! 

You’ll learn how humans have evolved to live differently according to the seasons, and how to make simple lifestyle changes to live more seasonally in the modern world too. You’ll discover the seasonal and local foods to eat for better health in Winter, and how to apply ancient wisdom from Ayurveda to find balance in mind and body. 

We finish the session with a deeply rejuvenating gentle flow and restorative yoga session, focusing on the meridian lines and organs to care for in Winter according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.  

Included: 

  • Free Urban Veda skincare goodie bag & Winter spice blend to support digestion. 
  • Handout with key lifestyle and nutritional practices for Winter

£25 (£20 for members/class pass holders)

Suitable for all levels. Book via www.themovement.yoga