6 Super Probiotic Foods

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In my City Solicitor interview I talk about the importance of clean eating. You can’t have a clear, calm, strong body and mind if they are undernourished, or full of unnecessary junk. This is one of the reasons that healthful veggie food is a cornerstone of Yoga Holiday With Paul — it is essential to put good things in your body to get a good result.

Probiotic foods are rich in bacteria that is thought to benefit our gut and overall well-being. Here are six super probotic foods to add to your meals.

  1. Yogurt:
    Eating natural yogurt is a great way to get a big dose of gut-friendly bacteria. It is one of the most popular probiotics because it is also rich in protein and calcium, making it an all-around good addition to your diet. If you don’t eat dairy but still want the benefits of yogurt look for soya yogurt with live cultures.
  2. Sauerkraut:
    Sauerkraut is a great addition as a side-dish, or a snack, and is full of the same Lactobacillus bacteria that is found in yogurt. You can make your own, if you’re patient, or look for unpasturised sauerkraut at the health food store. The pasturised stuff has been heat treated to kill bacteria, so it won’t provide the same benefits.probiotic
  3. Kimchi:
    If you are a fan of Korean food you’ve probably already tried kimchi. It is a fermented veggie dish made from cabbage, radishes, and scallions, blended in a paste of red pepper, salted shrimp, or kelp powder. It contains loads of live cultures, as long as it isn’t pasturised.
  4. Olives:
    Did you know olives are a naturally fermented food? Salt-water brined carry live cultures, just like sauerkraut and kimchi. For maximum gut benefits you’re probably best off buying bulk olives from the market or deli. They are less likely to have been heat-treated and sanitised like the tinned or jarred varieties.
  5. Miso:
    Whether enjoyed on its own as a soup, or used as a base for brother, or another dish, miso is a great way to get more probiotics. Miso is made of fermented soybeans so it not only benefits your gut, it is also a complete protein.
  6. Tempeh: 
    This Indonesian staple is a great, gut-boosting alternative to tofu in sandwiches, salads or stir-fries. Made from fermented soy (and sometimes other grains) it has a lovely dense texture and nutty flavour. Like tofu, it soaks up marinade and seasoning, making it a great ingredient for all kinds of dishes.

What’s your favourite probiotic food or dish? Share in the comments!
photo credit: CulturedGuru Ma Pao Tofu via photopin (license)

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Yoga Sutras of Patanjali audio

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a book of spiritual wisdom that has guided me for many years. Ever since I discovered it as a yoga student, it has been a source of insight and perspective. In searching for a new way to appreciate the Sutras I found a beautiful audio book reading on YouTube.

It is the full text of a translation by Charles Johnston, and includes a description and discussion of the sutras themeselves.

Whether you’ve read it a dozen times, or never, enjoying this melodic reading is a great way to absorb Patanjali’s precious words.

I look forward to your comments!

 

 

Hack your Soup

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Want healthy, tasty food with no stress, no fuss and no recipes? It’s time to Hack your Soup. These four steps create delicious soups that are inherently seasonal — you just use the veg you have on hand.

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Soup basics

Keep soup basics in your cupboard at all times. Obviously there are endless spice and herb options, not to mention different oils and stocks. This is just a suggestion list — amend it to your taste.

  • Garlic

  • Onions

  • Vegetable stock (cubes or liquid)

  • Miso paste

  • Coconut milk
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Coconut oil

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Chilies

  • Bayleaf

  • Rosemary

  • Thyme

  • Oregano

  • Sweet and hot paprikia

  • Cumin

  • Curry powder
  • Turmeric

  • Nutmeg

  • Black or mixed peppercorns

  • Coarse sea salt

With these basic ingredients you can start any soup from Thai vegetable to Japanese ramen to lentil stew. The secret is, you assemble soup like you would a balanced meal — starch, vegetable and protein. The combination is up to you!

Pick a protein

Beans are a fantastic protein source. Try chickpeas, white, black, navy, broad, kidney or pinto beans. Buy dried beans and soak them overnight before cooking for a cheap, nutritious addition to your meal. You can also add proteins like nut butters (peanut great in sweet potato soup with a coconut milk base), firm tofu, veggie sausage or mince, and seitan. Of course, if you are pescatarian or omnivorous you can choose from a vast range of meat, fish and seafood.

Step 3: Choose a starch:

Noodles add an extra dimension to soup. You can use farfalle, macaroni, fusilli and penne are great in soups based on Mediterranean flavours. For Asian-style soups try thick udon noodles, nutty soba, rice stick or vermicelli.

One trick for adding body to creamy soups is to puree a peeled baked potato into the stock to add extra starch and texture.

Step 4: Eat your vegetables

Go to town with seasonal veg! Anything you find in your fridge, cupboard or garden can go in soup. Root vegetables like beetroot, carrot, parsnip, Swede or celeriac add earthy notes and lots of nutrients. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and their relatives are hearty and delicious. All types of squash are great in soups, as are mushrooms.

Soup hacking is simple: start with the basics, add ingredients 1-2-3 and enjoy!

Share your favourite soup flavour or cooking tip in the comments!

photo credit: marcoverch Rindergulasch mit Semmel via photopin (license)

London Volunteer Opportunities

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Putting positive energy into a good cause is a way to connect with people, cultivate compassion and empathy, practice mindfulness, and open up to new experiences. In other words, volunteering is a lot like yoga! Which is probably why many of my friends and students volunteer.

I’m sure even more would if they had time — or the time to find opportunities. I did a bit of Googling and found some great umbrella organisations that can help you get started in volunteer work. Here goes!

Hands On London

“We started in 2010, working as an intermediary between not-for-profits, chariti

hands on london

es, community groups and volunteers like you. We also offer opportunities for corporate volunteering. We have a growing network of charity partners which allows us to bring diverse and flexible opportunities into one place so it’s easy to choose what you do.”

Team London

“Volunteering is a great way to build stronger links between communities as it brings people of different ages and backgrounds together. It can also help increase social mobility and ensures that London’s opportunities are open to all.

“Since Team London launched in 2012, over 150,000 adults and 100,000 young Londoners have joined the programme. Together, they’re helping to make our city even better.

“Londoners lead busy lives, so Team London gives people the chance to volunteer in a way that suits them. There are thousands of opportunities to volunteer in London – from one-off events to longer-term commitments. From joining in a local clean-up to helping kids learn to read, there really is something for everyone.”

Do-It.org

“The UK’s national volunteering database, Do-it.org makes it easy for anyone to volunteer in their community.

“Do-it.org lists over 1m volunteering opportunities that are posted by volunteer centres, national/local charities and voluntary groups. Enabling 200,000 people every month to donate their time and build their skills, Do-it ensures that almost 50,000 organisations find the help they need to provide vital services to the community.”

Suggestions? Tips? Share your favourite cause in the comments. 

 

 

5 Hip Opening Benefits

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Hips are a major joint in the body, and a place where we store emotional as well as physical tension. We use yoga to create flexibility in our body and mind. Often it’s easy to focus on the body, because that is the most tangible. We see results in the mirror and feel the difference in our muscles.

If we are mindful, we can also observe the improvements in our mental and emotional lives. When we create physical flexibility in our hips, it creates a ripple effect of changes. Here are five ways a hip-opening yoga practice can change your life.

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Open those hips!

Open you to relationships

Your hips are where you store a lot of energy related to relationships. When they are open and flexible you have a more giving, relaxed attitude towards other people — whether family, romantic partners, or colleagues.

Open you to opportunities

Being tight in the hips can manifest in being closed to changes or new possibilities. Opening our hips can prevent us from fixating on things being a certain way so we can see and grasp opportunities to enrich our lives.

Open you to fun

It’s hard to feel playful when your taking stiff little steps. Opening your hips lets you stride, bound, frolic, dance. You literally loosen up and start having fun.

Open you to healing

You can store pain and trauma in your hips. For example, women who have given birth often struggle with hip pain because the body contracts and tries to protect the area. Gently working your hips helps you overcome pain and promotes natural healing.

Open you to the future

When we stand our hips face forward. If they are tight and closed, we are literally blocking forward movement. Releasing the tension in our hips gives us a much calmer, more open way to approach the future.

Reading to open up? Read 3 Hip Opening Yoga Poses and get practicing!

Questions about hip openers? Ask in the comments!

 

#YWP September Newsletter

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It’s newsletter time! Here’s your round-up from September.

Yoga With Paul newsletter SEPT 2017

 

Childpose

Relaxing in child’s pose

Aubergine & Coconut Milk Curry

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It is definitely getting to be comfort food time of year and food doesn’t get much more comforting than this aubergine curry with a coconut milk base. It is it mellow and delicious, packed with good-for-you-ingredients like fresh ginger and tomatoes, and the perfect way to enjoy seasonal aubergine at its best.

aubergine 1

This recipe is from Delicious Magazine, it has whole aubergine section for inspiration!

If you want to make this vegan, just substitute firm tofu or tempeh for the paneer cheese.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 226g pack of paneer (see Know-how)
  • 1 large aubergine
  • 4 baby aubergines (see tips)
  • 170g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes or baby plum tomatoes
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 180ml half-fat coconut milk
  • Good pinch garam masala
  • Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • Basmati rice to serve

Preparation

  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a wok until shimmering hot. Cut the paneer into cubes, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add to the pan. Fry for 5 minutes, turning, or until golden. Put on kitchen paper to drain off the excess oil.
  2. Dice the large aubergine and halve the baby aubergines lengthways, then fry in the residual oil in the pan, turning now and then, until golden. Halve the cherry or baby plum tomatoes, squeeze out and discard the seeds, then add the tomato halves to the pan. Peel and grate the fresh ginger and add to the pan with the curry powder, half-fat coconut milk and a splash of water.
  3. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, then add the cubed paneer and garam masala. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice.

Share your favourite aubergine recipe in the comments!

photo credit: wuestenigel Fresh healthy eggplants via photopin (license)

7 Steps to Better Sleep

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Last week I blogged about signs it’s time to slow down. If you’re like me, though, it’s hard to slow down when you need to the most. The buzz of being busy can be addictive!

Sleep-is-the-best-meditation.-Dalai-Lama

So, for those of us who struggle to slow down… here is some expert advice on seven steps to better sleep…

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
  3. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
  4. Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
  5. Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – around 15-18C. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
  6. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up
  7. Practice yoga nidraThis type of guided meditation that takes you into deep into the mind. You do the practice in savasana, so it is a great way to transition from quiet meditation to deep, restful sleep.

What’s your best tip for getting a good night’s sleep? Share in the comments!

How to Not Worry

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To not worry, try living in the past. This might sound strange, but Oliver Burkeman, in a fascinating article on how to cope with anxiety, writes:

We tend to live, it has often been observed, in a constant state of anxious anticipation of the next potentially stressful event. But the usual Buddhism-tinged solution – to be “present in the moment” instead – is notoriously hard to put into practice. It’s easier to look back at previous forthcoming events, and ask if your anxiety proved justified. You could try the exercise I recently undertook, following Cain’s line of thinking, which I trust the Stoics would have endorsed: every morning, make a brief note of what feels like your biggest problem. As the list accumulates, you can start looking back at earlier entries. Guess how many months it took for my former worries to seem laughably overblown? Five days: that’s how many months. Most of what troubles us turns out to be tolerable, or even wonderful, or just never happens at all.

worry 1

 

Worrying is easy. We worry about work, money, health, family, what’s going on in the world…. One of the main reasons a lot of people do yoga is to get away from the daily grind of fretting about this and that.

Yoga trains us to tackle worry, to be with our bodies, to stay in the moment. The problem is, we step out of the studio and it all comes rushing back. So much to do, so much to, well, worry about. Instead of getting overwhelmed, why not give Burkeman’s advice a spin and think about all the bad things that didn’t happen in the past. I’m willing to bet it will help put things in perspective and ease the stress!

As he writes:

Next time you worry that something’s going to ruin your life, it’s worth remembering that if you’d ever been right about that before, even once, your life would presently be ruined.

Can looking back can keep you in the present? Share your views in the comments!

photo credit: LauraGilchrist4 Worry is a misuse of the imagination via photopin (license)

Acosta Danza at Sadler’s Wells

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The magnificent Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta is debuting his dance company, Acosta Danza, in London! The company performs at Sadler’s Wells from 27-30 September.acosta danza

The repertoire mixes ballet, modern and traditional dance styles in a fabulous multi-colour, multi-ethnic, multi-talented extravaganza of movement. “It’s a symbol of diversity, of unity,” he says. “Acosta Danza embraces everything.”

This will be spectacular.
Tickets via Sadler’s Wells.

Here’s the official blurb:

Based in Havana, the company is made up of the best dancers Cuba has to offer who have trained in both ballet and contemporary dance styles. They will perform new and existing pieces by Cuban choreographers who have rarely been seen outside the country, and commission new pieces from international choreographers who will take inspiration from their iconic nation.

For their first UK tour, in which Acosta himself makes a guest appearance, they will perform works by Cuban choreographer Marianela Boán, Spanish dance-makers Jorge Crecis and Goyo Montero, New York City Ballet resident choreographer Justin Peck and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Have a tip for a great London event? Share in the comments!