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!
Originally known as the ‘caramel slice’, complete with condensed milk, sugar and butter, the ‘millionaire shortbread’ is one of those sweet treats that is definitely a favourite in our house, although ours has some very different ingredients. You can find a few healthier millionaire shortbread items in the supermarket in the ‘free from’ section, but if you’re currently in Covid-19 lockdown like us, it may be easier to whip up your own.
Feel free to play around with some of the ingredients – you can use a mixture of oats or flour, or even chopped nuts for the base if you have them handy, and if you don’t have raw cocoa butter in the cupboard, coconut oil works just as well.
(makes a 15cm x 15cm container’s worth )
For the base:
½ cup dates cup dates (stones removed)
½ cup oats
½ cup ground almonds
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup ground flax
(if you don’t have almonds or flax, you can sub statute them for oats)
For the ‘caramel’ filling:
1 and ½ cups dates (stones removed)
1 tbsp stevia (or honey / another sweetener)
2 tsp miso paste (optional – if you don’t have this, use ¼ tsp salt. The miso adds a ‘salted caramel’ flavour)
To make the base, soak the dates in warm water for 10 minutes
Keep the water, but add the dates to a food processor, along with the other ingredients
Blend until the ingredients form a dough-like texture, the sort of texture you might use to make energy balls with – if you need to, pause to scoop the mixture off the sides of the food processor every so often, and add a little of the water the dates were soaking in if needed
Press the mixture firmly into a tin and pop in the freezer for 15 minutes
Meanwhile, make your caramel filling by soaking the rest of the dates in warm water for 10 minutes again, then place the dates and all other filling ingredients into a blender and whizz until you create a thick caramel-like texture. If you need to, add a tiny bit of water to help it mix.
Spread the caramel filling over the top of the base and place back in the freezer, this time for about an hour to allow everything to really firm up.
After an hour or so, make the chocolate topping by melting the cacao butter and coconut oil (or just coconut oil) and mixing in the cocoa powder and stevia
Allow the mixture to cool for a couple of minutes so it becomes thicker, then pour over the caramel layer of the shortbread
Place back in the freezer and leave again for at least an hour – after an hour or so, the shortbread can be moved to the fridge until you’re ready to slice and serve it!
When it comes to using ‘natural’ deodorants without aluminium or hormone-disrupting chemicals, the fact is that a lot of them just don’t really work…. The good news however, is that there’s an incredibly easy, cheap and good-for-your-body way to make deodorant at home. This recipe genuinely works wonders, and is so easy to make, you’ll never need to buy chemical-laden deodorant again! Plus, remember that what goes on our skin, goes directly in our bodies, so it really matters what products we use. Whip up this recipe using a mini jam or honey jar, and you’ll be able to bring it with you to the gym, yoga classes, and on holiday too.
(makes 1 mini jar full)
2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
8 drops good quality essential oil (oils with antibacterial properties will help with the deodorising element, such as clove, cinnamon or rosemary, and oils like lavender or rose will give a lovely scent!)
Add all ingredients to your jar and mix well
Place somewhere cool and dry and allow the mixture to set for about an hour
Whilst we’re in the midst of COVID-19, it’s pretty difficult to know what we’ll end up with after a brief trip to the supermarket. Luckily however, we now find ourselves at the beginning of Spring, which means there are lots of herbs, leafy greens and edible flowers available in the natural world around us. Whilst it’s really important to know what is safe and what is definitely not safe to eat, if you’re sure of what you’re picking, this is a great time to forage for free, fresh foods.
Wild garlic is abundant near hedgerows and under shaded areas right now, and is a delicious, healthy and versatile ingredient that can make a big difference to dishes. You can of course also use this pesto to spread over toast or home made pizza. Wild garlic is generally young at the moment, and this is a good time to pick it. In a month or so, the leaves will be accompanied by white flowers which make the plant more visible, but signal the garlic is past its best. Have a look at the picture below to see what wild garlic looks like at the moment, and be sure to smell it to make doubly sure it’s garlic. It’ll smell like…. yep, garlic.
This recipe is made even more delicious by adding preserved lemons, which are also very easy to make. Simply sterilise a jar, slice a few lemons into quarters and pack them tightly into the jar. Using coarse salt, pack the salt around the lemons and add some optional herbs and spices like bay leaf, chilli flakes and black peppercorns. Place the jar in a cupboard for 3 months and turn it over each day. Liquid will start to fill the jar as the days go by, so if it looks as though the salt is depleted, add a little more. To make your pesto ASAP however, emit the preserved lemons and just use the juice of 1/2 a lemon plus 2 tsp zest.
2-3 large handfuls fresh wild garlic
1 handful cashews
2 big gulgs of olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 a preserved lemon, or the juice of 1 whole lemon + 1 tsp of lemon zest
A little water, if needed
Add all ingredients to a blender and whizz, adding a little water if needed.
Store in the fridge and consume within a couple of weeks. Stir into soup or chilli, mix with pasta, spread over toast, and enjoy!