Thursday, 29 January 2015

Raw Almost-Vegan Double Chocolate Cheesecake

This afternoon, when my kids came home from school, Angus, 4, asked if we could bake. We made a cake recently, so I decided to go for something a little different and as I already had the ingredients, thought this cheesecake would be a good alternative to a cake.

I'm not vegan or vegetarian, but I try to eat mindfully and that is especially true of the sweet treats that we have at home. I now make most of my cakes etc gluten/dairy/sugar free and then there's no reaching for more, bloating, feel a bit nasally afterwards.

So, with this cheesecake, I wanted to continue that even if it's got a bit of honey and chocolate in it, it's still pretty "guilt free" and we all love it here!

It's really easy to make and there's no baking involved, just a little time in the fridge to allow it to set.

Ingredients for the base

15 Vegan digestives (Tesco's and Co-Op do good ones)
Runny honey
Cocount oil
Cocoa powder

Ingredients for the Topping

300g Fresh tofu
225g Vegan cream cheese (Tofutti is good)
150g Dark chocolate (as high a % as possible)
Cocoa powder
Runny honey

Making the base

1) Put the digestives in a tea-towel and smash them up with a rolling pin and put the crumbs into a large mixing bowl
2) Add in the melted coconut oil and a couple of dessert spoons of honey
3) Mix it all together until nice and sticky and kind of gluing together
4) Put it into a medium-sized flan tin with a removable bottom and flatten it down until it's a nice even base. Put into the fridge until the topping is ready.

Making the topping

1) Put the tofu and cream cheese into a large mixing bowl and mix it until it's a lovely creamy mixture
2) Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bain marie (glass bowl over a pan of hot water) until smooth, creamy mixture.
3) Add two dessert spoons of cocoa powder to about 50ml warm water and make into a smooth paste.
4) Add the melted chocolate and cocoa paste to the tofu and cream cheese mixture and mix until smooth and creamy with as few lumps as possible.
5) Taste and add honey if needed to sweeten.
6) Spoon the mixture onto the biscuit base and smooth down until even.
7) Put into the fridge to cool and set.

That's it! Give it a few hours and it's ready to eat. We added rice cream on top (as per the picture) but it's good without too.


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Be Happy To Be Yourself

Comparing oneself to others is something that very often crops up during my working week where I teach all sorts of shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. People come to me at the end of their session and ask why can't they be as good as their neighbour?

It's so common and yet, no matter how many times I try to teach that it's all about acceptance, people still struggle to realise that no one else but themselves is important, and I try to help them understand the following...

Know that you are special. Stop comparison shopping and start living by your own lights. Control your natural desire to compare yourself with others; the important thing to remember is that you are good enough, just the way you are. There is no need to try to become someone else; you are unique and special, just believe this to be true.

Repeat the following mantra: I am happy to be me. Say it, sing it, shout it, write it, as many times a day as you can. Your sense of inner strength and self belief will increase and you will begin to let go of the need to compete.

Allow yourself to be yourself. Don't waste your life trying to be Superwoman or some other mythical creature who is more talented/more beautiful/more deserving than you! Drop those defences and accept the real you: she is fabulous, talented and truly amazing!

Enjoy yourself. All this competition entering has made us very worried chicas (with such important concerns as: Does my bum look big in this? Am I too fat to wear a swimming costume? Is this piece of work really good enough or do I need to go over it just in case..? Does he think I'm boring and uninteresting? Can I ever look as beautiful as Angelina Jolie?). Imagine giving advice to a grown-up daughter or really good friend, now give that advice to yourself.

Learn to be yourself.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Getting Over A Break-Up

Having recently gone through my own very painful break-up I'm still sometimes winded so deeply within my solar plexus that I have to stop, breathe and remind myself life goes on. What I've realised over these past few months, is that it's never easy when a significant relationship ends. Whatever the reason for the split, it can turn your whole world upside down and trigger painful and unsettling feelings. Are there things that can be done to get through this difficult time and grow into a stronger, wiser person? I think so...

Why do breakups hurt so much, even when the relationship is no longer good? A split is painful because it represents the loss, not just of the relationship, but also of shared dreams and commitments. Romantic relationships begin on a high note of excitement and hope for the future. When these relationships fail, we experience profound disappointment, stress, and grief.

A split launches us into uncharted territory. Everything is disrupted: routine and responsibilities, home, relationships with extended family and friends, and even your identity. A breakup brings uncertainty about the future. What will life be like without your partner? Will you find someone else? Will you end up alone? These unknowns often seem worse than an unhappy relationship. Recovering from a breakup is difficult. However, it’s important to know (and to keep reminding yourself) that you can and will move on. But healing takes time, so be patient with yourself.

Coping With A Break-Up
  • Recognise that it's OK to have different feelings. It's normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated and confused - and these feelings can be intense. Accept that feelings of anxiety about the future and venturing into the unknown are frightening  but are normal and will lessen over time.  
  • Give yourself a break. Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for a period of time. You may not be able to be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way you're accustomed to for a little while. It's important to give yourself time to heal, regroup and re-energise.
  • Don't go through it alone. Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this period. I believe the more you cry now, the less you will cry later. Let it all out, you'll feel better for it.

Give Yourself Time to Grieve 

Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and the breakup of a love relationship involves multiple losses:
  • Loss of companionship and shared experiences (which may or may not have been consistently pleasurable).
  • Loss of support, be it financial, intellectual, social or emotional.
  • Loss of hopes, plans and dreams (can be even more painful than practical losses).
Allowing yourself to feel the pain of these losses may be scary. You may fear that your emotions will be too intense to bear, or that you’ll be stuck in a dark place forever. Just remember that grieving is essential to the healing process. The pain of grief is precisely what helps you let go of the old relationship and move on. And no matter how strong your grief, it won’t last forever. To coin a phrase "feel the fear and do it anyway". You will be amazed at just how strong you will feel when you look the fear, grief and pain right in the eyes and wake up to a new day.
Tips For Grieving After A Break-Up:
  • Don’t fight your feelings – It’s normal to have lots of ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. It’s important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the grieving process.

  • Talk about how you’re feeling – Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and will help you heal. Writing can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings.

  • Remember that moving on is the end goal – Expressing your feelings will liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to over-analyse the situation. Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger, and resentment will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from healing and moving forward.

  • Remind yourself that you still have a future – When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. It’s hard to let these dreams go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.

  • Know the difference between a normal reaction to a breakup and depression - Grief can be paralysing after a breakup, but after a while, the sadness begins to lift. Day by day, and little by little, you start moving on. However, if you don’t feel any forward momentum, you may be suffering from depression.
Reach out to others for support through the grieving process: Support from others is critical to healing after a breakup or divorce. You might feel like being alone, but isolating yourself will only make this time more difficult. Don’t try to get through this on your own.
Reach out to trusted friends and family members. People who have been through painful breakups or divorces can be especially helpful. They know what it is like and they can assure you that there is hope for healing and new relationships.
  • Spend time with people who support, value, and energise you. As you consider who to reach out to, choose wisely. Surround yourself with people who are positive and who truly listen to you. It’s important that you feel free to be honest about what you’re going through, without worrying about being judged, criticised or told what to do.
  • Get outside help if you need it. Recognise that it's OK to seek professional help if you feel that talking to friends and family is not working for you. A counsellor or therapist will always be a someone who will allow you express how you feel without any judgement and may be able to help you find some answers.
  • Cultivate new friendships. If you feel like you have lost your social network along with the breakup, make an effort to meet new people. Join a networking group or special interest club (Yoga is ALWAYS a winner in these circumstances!), take a class, get involved in community activities, or volunteer at a school, place of worship, or other community organisation.  
Taking care of yourself after a divorce or relationship breakup: A break-up is a highly stressful, life-changing event. When you’re going through the emotional wringer and dealing with major life changes, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The strain and upset of a major break-up can leave you psychologically and physically vulnerable. Treat yourself like you’re getting over the flu. Get plenty of rest, minimise other sources of stress in your life, and reduce your workload if possible. Learning to take care of yourself can be one of the most valuable lessons you learn following a break-up. As you feel the emotions of your loss and begin learning from your experience, you can resolve to take better care of yourself and make positive choices going forward.

Self Care Tips:
  • Make time each day to nurture yourself. Help yourself heal by scheduling daily time for activities you find calming and soothing. Go for a walk in nature, listen to music, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage, read a favorite book, take a Yoga class, or savour a warm cup of tea.
  • Pay attention to what you need in any given moment and speak up to express your needs. Honour what you believe to be right and best for you even though it may be different from what your ex or others want. Say "no" without guilt or angst as a way of honoring what is right for you.
  • Stick to a routine. A break-up can disrupt almost every area of your life, amplifying feelings of stress, uncertainty, and chaos. Getting back to a regular routine can provide a comforting sense of structure and normalcy.
  • Take a time out. Try not to make any major decisions in the first few months after a separation or divorce, like starting a new job or moving to a new city. If you can, wait until you’re feeling less emotional so that you can make better decisions.
  • Avoid using "props" (alcohol, drugs, or food) to cope,as much as possible. When you’re in the middle of a break-up, you may be tempted to do anything to relieve your feelings of pain and loneliness. But using "props" as an escape is unhealthy and destructive in the long run. It’s essential to find healthier ways of coping with painful feelings.
  • Explore new interests. A break-up is a beginning as well as an end. Take the opportunity to explore new interests and activities. Pursuing fun, new activities gives you a chance to enjoy life in the present and an opportunity to look forward, rather than dwelling on the past.
Making Healthy Choices: Eat Well, Sleep Well and Exercise: When you're going through the stress of a break-up, healthy habits easily fall by the wayside. You might find yourself not eating at all or overeating your favourite junk foods. Exercise might be harder to fit in because of the added pressures at home and sleep might be elusive. But all of the work you are doing to move forward in a positive way will be pointless if you don't make long-term healthy lifestyle choices. 

Learning Important Lessons From A Break-Up 

In times of emotional crisis, there is an opportunity to grow and learn. Just because you are feeling emptiness in your life right now, doesn’t mean that nothing is happening or that things will never change. Consider this period a time-out, a time for sowing the seeds for new growth. You can emerge from this experience knowing yourself better and feeling stronger.
In order to fully accept a breakup and move on, you need to understand what happened and acknowledging the part you played. It’s important to understand how the choices you made affected the relationship. Learning from your mistakes is the key to not repeating them.

Some Questions To Ask:
  • Step back and look at the big picture. How did you contribute to the problems of the relationship?
  • Do you tend to repeat the same mistakes or choose the wrong person in relationship after relationship?
  • Think about how you react stress and deal with conflict and insecurities. Could you act in a more constructive way
  • Consider whether or not you accept other people the way they are, not the way they could or should be.
  • Examine your negative feelings as a starting point for change. Are you in control of your feelings, or are they in control of you?
It's important to be honest with yourself during this part of the healing process, no matter how painful or difficult. Try not to dwell on who is to blame or beat yourself up over your mistakes. As you look back on the relationship, you have an opportunity to learn more about yourself, how you relate to others, and the problems you need to work on. If you are able to objectively examine your own choices and behavior, including the reasons why you chose your former partner, you’ll be able to see where you went wrong and make better choices next time.

There was a time, only a few months ago, when I felt truly wretched and could not imagine how or when I was going to find my way out. But then, slowly, day by day, things started to get better. Of course, there is still those feelings of sadness and anger that come and go, but the intensity has dissipated and I'm left feeling positive and happier than I have for some time...

Friday, 13 April 2012

Go With The Flow

When we are going with the flow we feel inspired and carry an extra sense of purpose and clarity; there is a feeling of being in the right place at the right time, doing what we are supposed to do.

Getting in the Flow - Exercise

Think of a time when you felt like this. Perhaps you were it was the day everything felt perfect; you had a great day at work; or you rocked out in your yoga practice.

Describe the situation. Remember your feelings of excitement and enthusiasm; a wonderful energetic "can do" feeling motivated you, didn't it?

Now close your eyes and "see" yourself in this positive mode. Notice how you looked, your body language, your smile!

Get right into the part again and recreate your go-getting mode. Make your visions as bright as you can, the bigger and more vivid your visualisation the more powerful its effect.

Now remember how you felt, get right into the skin of those upbeat and inspiring emotions. See and feel yourself reaching for and achieving your best.

Repeat this exercise whenever you need reminding of how good it can be for you. The more you can imagine yourself being in the flow, the easier it becomes to draw this reality into your life. Your energy attracts your circumstances, so get into the positive and inspirational flow of your own energy and the rest will just fall into place.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Here's to a Grateful and Joyful Life...

Everyone wants to live a joyful life. But how can we achieve it? How can we live a joyful life despite the not-so-good things that occasionally happen in our lives?
An important key, I believe, is being a grateful person. If you are grateful, you will see the world differently. You will see that there are always good things behind everything that happen. You will realise that your life is wonderful, and you will be joyful.
To help you be a grateful person, here are some simple tips you can do:
  1. Realise what a healthy and prosperous life you have. Life expectancy in most of the human history is only 20-35 years. And most of those years were spent in diseases, poverty, and misery. Only in the last century had human life expectancy increased significantly to the current average of 67 years. 

  2. Realise what a blessing it is to live in peace. No matter how healthy you are, life will be full of fear and misery in the time of war. Can you imagine being in the midst of a city bombarded with bombs? Can you imagine being in the Rwandan holocaust? A nightmare we can only contemplate. Living in peace is a great blessing which by itself deserves your sincerest gratitude.

  3. Open your eyes to see the good things in your life. We tend to see the bad things that happen in our life but overlook the good things. What a pity. Open your eyes and be observant of those good things. Even small things matter. If someone calls you a friend, that’s something you should be grateful for. If a child smiles to you, that should remind you that hope is always here in this world.

  4. Maintain a “good things” journal. Take one step further and write the good things that happen in your life in a journal, especially those which impress you. When life looks dark and it’s difficult for you to be grateful, open and read your journal. You will soon realise the wonderful life you have and you will get new strength to overcome your problems.

  5. Understand that there are positive things behind all the bad things that happen. This might be difficult for some people, but I firmly believe it. At the very least, bad things give you valuable lessons you should be grateful for. When you have this mindset, it’s not difficult to see the good things you could get out of something bad. This way you will always have reasons to be grateful.

  6. Have a special session of gratitude. Understanding that you should be grateful won’t help much if you don’t put it into practice. Allocate special time for your “session of gratitude” even if it’s only 5-10 minutes a day. Think about the good things that happen in your days and express your gratitude (I use yoga to channel mine).

  7. Meet positive people. You will be like the people you gather with. It’s hard for you to be grateful if the people you meet all the days are negative people. Surround yourself with positive people who themselves are grateful people, and it will be much easier and natural for you to be a grateful person.

  8. Focus on giving. You will be grateful if your mind focuses on what you have rather than what you don’t have. By giving, your mind will focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have (you can’t give something you don’t have, can you?). Most people focus on receiving which makes their mind focus on what they don’t have. No wonder it’s difficult for them to be grateful.

  9. Decide to be a grateful person. The above tips can help you become a grateful person, but eventually it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to be one. If you decide to be a grateful person, then be it. The same thing happens otherwise. No matter what happens to you, it is still you who decide how you will respond. So make the decision to be a grateful person.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Make A Positive Impression

Cast your mind back to the last time you were faced with a group of strangers, perhaps at a party, a work-training event or a job interview.

Faced with the unknown our adrenaline starts rushing and our behaviour can become erratic. The person who can survive the pressure is the one who has high self-esteem and feels free to be themselves.

The truth is that everyone feels intimidated sometimes in their lives but the person who survives such feelings is the one who has an open mind and can see the lighter side of life: the pessimist will look for problems and find them and the optimist will act spontaneously and creatively. We all know which of these two types we would want on our team. Look at the following checklist. What are your own positive and negative traits?

1) Fear of rejection (negative)
2) Good sense of humour; can laugh at self (positive)
3) Worried about not being liked (negative)
4) Genuinely likes people and shows interest in them (positive)
5) Has to have the last word, must be right (negative)
6) Can say sorry when necessary (positive)
7) Self-centred (negative)
8) Good listener (positive)
9) Low self-esteem (negative)
10) Doesn't take things personally (positive)

To eliminate the negative just accentuate the positive and you will make a fabulous impression!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Attract A Positive Love Relationship

You will only have great relationships when you are ready to take responsibility for yourself. Once you accept that the qualities of your thoughts and beliefs help to create the quality of your life then you are well on your way to going for and achieving whatever it is you want.

A positive approach keeps you motivated and enthusiastic and this energy always attracts fresh possibilities and new relationships; yes there really are many fish in the sea, you just have to get out there with your rod!

The negative view will create self-doubt and insecurity and an inability to take assertive action, so if a likely love interest does swim by it might be just too scary to bait your line and reel them in.

Whether your thoughts and beliefs are positive or negative will obviously have a great impact on the type of people you attract and the sort of relationship choices you make. An optimistic outlook always brings a feeling of hopefulness and confidence to any situation and this automatically open the door to new prospects in life (and love). It's so simple: negativity attracts negativity and positivity attracts positivity. So radiate whatever it is you want to attract. When you demonstrate enthusiasm and motivation you uplift the energy of those around you and draw similarly positive people into your orbit.

The type of relationships you attract depends entirely upon the type of energy you project.