Monday, 29 April 2019

Barcelona Yoga Teacher & Photographer Maria Mathison on Her Favourite Places

Maria Mathison, Barcelona based yoga teacher

I had the enormous good fortune to meet Maria when I travelled to Barcelona a few years ago. Above a children's shoe store not far from Las Ramblas, there's a yoga studio up a spiral staircase which is like a little spiritual haven far from the madness of the streets.

From the studio, you can see right across the city. It's divine.

I asked Maria for her recommendations on where to go and what to do in Barcelona for those who don't intend to purely shop and stare at the Sagrada.

Favourite places to eat: Cana de Azucar (Carrer de Muntaner 69); and Nolita (Carrer de Llull 230)
Nolita in Barcelona


Favourite ice creamery: ("I don't drink, just ice cream and tea!") Dela Crem (Carrer d'Enric Granados, 15)
Dela Crem in Barcelona

Favourite walk: Montjuic and Fundacion Miro

Favourite beach: Badalona

Maria teaches at Yoga Studio Barcelona. They're on Facebook, of course. Find them on the map here. Find the timetable here.

Maria is on Instagram at @onceuponanillusion

Friday, 26 April 2019

Quick Fix: Knee Injury

Wouldn't it be fun to come off a Vespa and have it land on my knee? Said Nobody, Ever.

Including me.

However, in the interests of not living a boring, unchallenging life, I headed off to learn how to ride a scooter. Seems, it had plans for me, which involved reminding me that a quick moving, heavy chunk of metal atop an engine can be extraordinarily heavy especially when it lands on your limbs.

The abridged version of the whole story is that I had a Vespa land on my knee and over the coming week, I continued to attempt to move on it and only made it more intensely sore and tender. Thankfully, I booked in with a physiotherapist near home and she went through a variety of tests to ensure nothing really dramatic had occurred. It was a lateral ligament stretched and my hyper-flexible right shoulder had sub-luxated. Apparently, due to a yoga injury over a decade ago, I regularly engage in sub-luxing my shoulder and my body awareness and ability to compensate ensures that it doesn't create impingement.

No wonder I go on and on about shoulder stability in classes.

Within two appointments, I've gone from walking and sitting in pain to being able to return to BodyPump (with plenty of modifications!), walking without issues and the bruising and swelling has gone down immensely. I am doing All The Things. In case you're wondering what All The Things are, here's my guide.

Fix My Injury STAT. I have no time or patience for this: the checklist.
Flexofytol


  • Book in with a physiotherapist. Make sure you feel confident with the person you're seeing though - if there's any doubts that they can help you, perhaps you'd be best to seek a referral to another practitioner either within the same practice or outside it. Don't be afraid to sever a relationship that doesn't feel right. I'm fortunate to have found a physiotherapist I really trust - knowing she has worked with elite athletes in the fields of football, gymnastics and dance really wins me over too. 
  • Do the at-home work. I know foam rolling and spiky ball and self-massage and the soda crystals and bandages are boring, but they're going to fix you. So just do it.
  • Use an all natural muscle rub. Sure, you could use highly medicated, expensive stuff like Voltaren and Nurofen gel but I assure you, I have had much better results with an all-natural, plant-based product my physiotherapist recommended and used in treatment. It's called Relievamed and it's made in Australia. It smells like eucalyptus and ginger. Totally calming.
  • Take curcumin supplements to prevent and treat inflammation. There's clinical evidence that supports the regular intake of curcumin supplements, especially in the treatment of arthritic pain. Any injury that results in muscle and joint swelling and pain, or even digestive bloating and discomfort, can be alleviated and prevented with good quality supplements. I take Flexofytol, which is high strength, fast absorbing and Australian made. Totally clean and pure, and leaves zero after-taste. Two  a day is perfectly enough.
  • Find other ways to move and train that don't further inflame your injury. I love to move. It is my physical and my mental health therapy! While it isn't ideal to have an injury, of course, in fact it can push you to get creative and find other ways to train that don't involve your usual routine methods. This is good. Embrace it.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes from Bazaar by Sabrina Ghayour

Another instalment in my offering of delicious recipes to inspire you to enjoy preparing and making your own meals. What I love about recipes is that you can either follow them to the very nth degree or you can read them, consider, and add, subtract or manipulate the ingredients or the quantities to meet your own tastes.
Bazaar Recipes

These fabulous recipes from middle-eastern inspired new cookbook, Bazaar by Sabrina Ghayour, published by Hachette Australia, Hardback $39.99. Photography by Kris Kirkham.


CARROT, FENNEL SEED
& RED LENTIL SOUP
WITH LABNEH & SESAME OIL
Carrot Fennel Soup Recipe


2 teaspoons fennel seeds
vegetable oil or ghee
50g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely
chopped or grated
1 onion, diced
500g carrots, scrubbed and cut into
rough chunks
2 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 litres boiling water
juice of ó lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
150g uncooked red lentils
4 tablespoons labneh or thick
Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons sesame oil
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly
ground black pepper
couple of pinches of pul biber
chilli flakes, to garnish
SERVES 4

Toast the fennel seeds in a large, dry saucepan over a medium heat for
2 minutes, then drizzle in a little vegetable oil or ghee and add the ginger
and onion. Saut. until the onion begins to soften, without letting it brown.
Add the carrot to the pan and stir-fry until the edges begin to soften.
Now add the garlic, turmeric and a generous amount of salt and pepper
to the saucepan and mix well. Pour over the boiling water, adjust the
heat to bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer gently, without a lid,
for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blitz the mixture using a handheld
blender or transfer to a food processor or blender. Return the soup to
the pan if necessary, adjust the seasoning, then stir in the lemon juice.
Set the pan over a medium heat and stir in the red lentils. Simmer, stirring
occasionally, for 30–40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. If the soup
seems too thick, blitz half the mixture using the hand-held blender,
food processor or blender.
Divide the soup between 4 bowls. Dollop 1 tablespoon of labneh into
each bowl and drizzle 1 teaspoon of sesame oil over the top. Finish with
a sprinkling of pul piber and serve.

COURGETTE, PEA
& SPINACH SALAD
WITH PRESERVED LEMON DRESSING


150g fresh peas
50g pumpkin seeds
2 courgettes, coarsely grated
150g baby spinach leaves
For the dressing
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 preserved lemons
4 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
SERVES 4–6

 Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add the peas and blanch for
2 minutes. Drain the peas and rinse them in cold water, then drain well
and set aside.
Toast the coriander seeds for the dressing in a dry frying pan over a medium
heat for about 1 minute, until they release their aroma. Remove from the
heat, transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush them lightly, grinding just
enough to crack the seeds.
In the same frying pan, toast the pumpkin seeds for 3–4 minutes, or until
they are slightly charred around the edges and have some colour. Transfer to
a bowl and set aside to cool.
To make the dressing, you can either chop the preserved lemons very finely
and purée them by hand using a pestle and mortar, or blitz them in a mini
blender. Transfer them to a bowl, season with black pepper, stir in the olive
oil, then the crushed coriander seeds and mix well (you won’t need salt, as
the preserved lemons are already salty).
Put the grated courgette, spinach leaves and the peas into a large mixing
bowl, pour over the dressing and toss very lightly using your hands to coat
the leaves. Arrange the dressed leaves on a large platter and scatter with the
roasted pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.

 SWEET POTATO, COCONUT
& THYME BAKE



750g sweet potatoes, peeled
2 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4–5 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
and roughly chopped, reserving some
for garnish
400ml can full-fat coconut milk
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly
ground black pepper
SERVES 6–8


Preheat the oven to 220ºC (200ºC fan), Gas Mark 7. Select a large baking
tray or ovenproof dish about 26 x 20cm.
Using a mandoline slicer or a food processor slicing attachment set to
a medium thickness, thinly slice the sweet potatoes. Alternatively, thinly
slice by hand.
Use one-quarter of the sweet potatoes to create an overlapping layer in the
base of the baking tray or dish. Distribute one-third of the garlic and thyme
over the potato layer and season generously with salt and pepper. Repeat
this layering process, finishing with a layer of sweet potato slices. Pour
over the coconut milk, then gently press down on the contents of the dish
with a spatula to compress, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with
the reserved thyme.
Bake for 20 minutes, then press down on the potato slices with the spatula
to submerge them in the coconut milk. Return the dish to the oven and
bake for a further 20–25 minutes. Serve immediately.





Saturday, 30 March 2019

Fitness and Health Podcasts To Inspire and Inform


I have to admit, I used to be a massive advocate and consumer of fitness and health podcasts. I loved Jillian Michaels and Janice's witty, smartass banter that covered types of plant based milks, the reasons particular exercises and routines paid dividends and mindset adjustments. As the length of episodes increased and it became more about Jillian's parenting, it became an exhausting test of patience. So, I took a lengthy break but I'm back listening to pods for inspiration and here's my  pick of what you should get your earbuds wrapped around.

My own Core Integrity podcast, featuring interviews with gut, mind, body and spirit role models and practitioners.

Hurdle, in which Emily Abbate chats with wellness entrepreneurs and leaders like the co-founder of Headspace.

YogaPeeps is a lifelong love affair. Though it's no longer producing new episodes, every single episode is eminently listenable and full of yoga wisdom from teachers who live, breathe and love the practice. Lara Hedin is a wonderful host.

TEDTalks Health gets across astonishing facts and information in bite-sized podcast episodes. This will make for excellent conversation starters if nothing else.

Nutrition Matters takes a no-bull approach to food and the mental, physical and spiritual approach to a nutritious life. Paige Smathers is a registered dietitian and nutritionist who interviews experts.

The Nutrition Diva's Quick and Dirty Tips For Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous

Oh I love this one so much and it's so short and easy to listen to. It really is a quick dive into a topic, ingredient or trend. Monica Reinagel is a joy to tune in to for advice, intelligence and simple, memorable tips.


Monday, 21 January 2019

Quick and Simple Salads - Stick To Your Healthy Resolutions

Whether you are already a fruit, vegetable and earth-loving nutrition guru or you're working on improving the amount of fibre, vitamin and macronutrient rich foods in your daily meals, I've got you covered. The 5-Minute Salad Lunchbox has a whole bunch of kickass ideas around combinations of flavours and colours to make your lunch delicious, satiating and balanced. Far from bland or insubstantial, as sometimes salad can be, these recipes have a protein, fibre-rich vegetables or pulses, and flavour rich seasoning that will keep you satiated for hours. Eating healthily is not about compromising what you actually enjoy and want for something you feel you should have. This is about discovering meals and foods you DO enjoy and that you DO want, recognising that foods that are good for you are also freakin' delicious once you start experimenting and realising you can have so many things you hadn't factored into a healthy diet and really enjoy them. Sometimes, exchanging full fat butter for nut butters, or using roast vegetables and crunchy roasted chickpeas in place of chips and starchy, processed burger patties can be a revelation.

Without further ado, the recipes. What are you going to make this week? Let me know on Facebook.


LEFT-OVER ROAST VEGETABLE SALAD

Substitute toasted pine nuts or almonds if you don’t have cashew nuts.

200 g (7 oz) left-over roast vegetables, such as carrot, pumpkin (winter squash), parsnip, potato, sweet potato and beetroot (beets), sliced or cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large handfuls of baby English spinach leaves
small handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped
30 g (1 oz) cashew nuts, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
               
TAHINI DRESSING
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon water
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.       Toss the salad ingredients together, then tip into your lunchbox.

2.       Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar or container with a tight-fitting lid.

3.       Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.



LENTIL, HALOUMI & HERB SALAD

Cat's Note: as a vegan, I substitute vegan haloumi or chickpea tofu for the halouomi in this recipe. There's also nut-based vegan "cheese" or you could fry some tofu or add tempeh instead.
  
50 g (1¾ oz) slice of haloumi, fried in hot oil for 3 minutes, cubed * vegan halloumi recipe
150 g (5½ oz/⅔ cup) drained tinned brown lentils
1 tomato, diced
handful each of mint, parsley and coriander (cilantro), chopped

LEMON & CUMIN DRESSING
juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1.       Toss the salad ingredients together, then tip into your lunchbox.

2.       Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar or container with a tightfitting lid.

3.       Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.
RAW BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH PEAR, HAZELNUTS & PECORINO


The sweetness from the pear and cranberries (also known as craisins) are the perfect foil for the peppery bite of the raw brussels sprouts. Apple will work just as well as pear and, while the hazelnuts bring something really special to this salad, walnuts are great here, too.

Cat's Note: as a vegan, I don't add pecorino but if you want an alternative, there's a cashew based vegan cheese alternative below.

150 g (5½ oz) brussels sprouts, shredded
1 pear, thinly sliced
30 g (1 oz) roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
30 g (1 oz/⅓ cup) grated pecorino
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
small handful of parsley, roughly chopped

CIDER VINEGAR DRESSING
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.       Toss the salad ingredients together, then tip into your lunchbox.

2.       Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar or container with a tightfitting lid.

3.       Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.



Vegan parmesan cheese
ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted cashews (150 g)*
  • 4 tbsp brewer’s or nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

instructions

  1. Grind all the ingredients in a grinder or food processor until well mixed.
Extracted from THE 5-MINUTE SALAD LUNCHBOX by Alexander Hart, published by Smith Street Books, RRP AU$24.99 or NZ$28.99 Photography © Chris Middleton / Food styling © Deborah Kaloper. 

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Are Nutritional Supplements The Key To Beauty, Gut Health & Mood Maintenance?

vitamins hair skin health

I have long taken vitamins in whatever form they come – tablets, capsules, liquids, powders. If it’s touted to be good for me, there’s every chance I’ll swallow it. I have even been known to make a thick paste of turmeric and gulp it down, or spoonfuls of chilli powder, an entire ginger root chomped through and even garlic bulbs.
I’m sort of the Bear Grylls of nutrition.
When I was a teenager, I had really bad acne. There were days I wouldn’t go to school because my sister had stolen my makeup and I refused to go anywhere without covering up the spots as thoroughly as I could. To this day, I’m super fussy about my skin and if I even get the whisper of a spot, I change what I’m using immediately. At the moment, I’m using Formula 10.06, Medik8 Vitamin C serum, Gernetic and Kryolan makeup. All of these are doing wonders for my skin and none of them will break the bank. I’m also undergoing laser for pigmentation caused by sun damage (and I had a skin check last week to make sure none of my freckles warrants concern).
Back to nutrition though. There’s every reason to believe that clear, radiant skin begins with gut health. Mood and brain function are also related to the gut flora and so is your overall energy. What you eat affects it, but also HOW you eat and your overall lifestyle. Under pressure, I can eat too much and too quickly. This is bloating and makes me feel lethargic and crappy. No matter how many superfoods you eat or how perfectly you’ve calculated your macronutrient intake, if you feel guilty or afraid of food, you eat that guilt and shame and that affects your guts and your mood too.
vitamins hair skin health

So, this is a holistic approach that you must take if you want to feel good, look good, and know you’re functioning in a way that this short life is lived with full energy and joy.
Coming up in May 2019, Melbourne Museum has a show devoted to gut health: Your Mind, Your Microbes.
I’ve been taking supplements daily to improve my overall energy and especially since becoming vegan a year ago, I am mindful that my diet doesn’t always meet my protein requirements, or I overdo the vegetables and legumes and end up feeling bloated and blah. I’ve been taking a probiotic and also magnesium powder daily, as recommended by a naturopath at Natural Chemist. You can get a free health check and ask any questions via their online or phone chat with a naturopath.
I’m also taking Arbonne powder supplements – pomegranate flavoured energy satchets are brilliant for the full spectrum of B vitamins and the magnesium/fibre supplement is great for calm, post-workout muscle maintenance and also improving sleep quality.
Whether you need supplements or not is up to you. I’d rather take them and know I’m plugging any holes that my diet isn’t meeting but I have had a doctor tell me I’m essentially peeing out all my money. Each to their own. Keep in mind that there’s so much we don’t know about the brain, gut and the body as a whole though so only you can know if what you’re eating, drinking, swallowing and doing is making you feel fit, well and alive. If not, change. Send me an email or post on Twitter letting me know if you take supplements and what works for you.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Deliciously Ella Plant Based Recipes

I don't know about you, but I am a total sucker for cookbooks. Sure, blogs and websites and instagram are all awesome inspiration and I regularly end up recreating dishes or even just condiments and seasonings I've seen online, but nothing beats the loveliness of a solid, old-fashioned cookbook.
plant based ella cookbook

My new kitchen helper is Deliciously Ella The Plant-Based Cookbook by Ella Mills (Woodward), published by Hachette Australia (RRP $32.99). All photographs by Nassima Rothacker.

The following recipes are my favourites from the book. I'd love you to tag me if you make them and want to share a photo to instagram! I'm at @cat13gram.

Vegan Deliciously Ella Plantbased Recipe Lentil Balls

HERBED LENTIL BALLS
WITH TOMATO RELISH
AND GARLIC CREAM


I know these may sound a little strange, but they taste amazing – especially
sitting in a bed of tomato relish and dressed with garlic cream. They’re
full of flavour thanks to the thyme, rosemary, parsley, garlic and onion.
I love them served simply with some brown rice and salad.

MAKES 10

150g dried green lentils
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
handful of parsley, roughly
chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
salt and pepper
for the tomato relish
6 tablespoons tomato purée
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
100ml water
handful of parsley
pinch of ground cumin
pinch of chilli powder
pinch of smoked paprika
for the garlic cream
100g cashews, soaked for at least
3 hours then drained
10 tablespoons almond milk
3 garlic cloves, roasted (see
page 35)
splash of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 200.C (fan 180.C).

Start by placing the lentils in a pan of boiling water. Cook for
20–25 minutes until tender but still with a slight bite. Once cooked,
drain and leave to cool to room temperature.

While the lentils are cooking, place the onion and garlic in a pan
over a medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and cook
for 5–10 minutes, until soft. Then leave to cool to room temperature.

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until
it forms a thick paste. Scoop balls of the mixture out of the food
processor using an ice-cream scoop, smooth them a little by rolling
them in your hands if you like, then place them on a baking tray
and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes. Check the lentil balls are
cooked through by inserting a knife into the middle of one ball –
if it comes out clean they’re ready, if not bake for a little longer.

While the balls are in the oven, prepare the tomato relish and garlic
cream. Simply place all of the ingredients for the relish in a food
processor and some salt and pulse until smooth. Then do the same
for the garlic cream, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve the
lentil balls piled high with the relish and garlic cream.

TIP
These are delicious served warm straight out the oven – if you’re
doing that then gently warm the tomato relish too.

Vegan Deliciously Ella Plantbased Recipe

YELLOW THAI CURRY


Aubergines are one of my favourite ingredients to use in a curry as they
soak up all of the flavours like a sponge. I’ve lost count of how many
bowls of this curry I’ve eaten in the last few years; when I’m having a
busy week I pop into the deli and devour a bowl with brown rice – it’s
warming, hearty and always keeps me going for hours. This one also
happens to be one of Matt’s favourites too.

SERVES 4

for the curry paste
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger,
peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed and
roughly chopped
1 lime leaf
31/2 tablespoons coconut oil

for the curry
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut
into bite-sized chunks
1 large aubergine, cut into bitesize
pieces
100g button mushrooms
100g baby corn, cut in half
olive oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 x 400g tins of coconut milk
(see tip on page 174)
1 tablespoon tamari
handful of Thai basil,
roughly chopped
salt

Preheat the oven to 240.C (fan 220.C).

Place all of the paste ingredients in a food processor and blitz
until smooth.

Place the peppers, aubergine, mushrooms and baby corn in a baking
tray with a little olive oil and salt. Roast in the oven for 10–15 minutes,
so that they take on a bit of colour, then remove and leave to one side.

Next, place the coconut oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium
heat. Once hot, add the curry paste and cook for 5 minutes until
soft. Add the coconut milk and tamari and bring to the boil – then
lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and
blitz using a hand blender, then pass through a sieve to remove any
unwanted bits (if needed). Place back on to a medium heat and
add the roasted vegetables, then cook for a final 5 minutes. Try not
to overcook this curry – the sauce only needs this short cooking time
and there is a chance it could form a layer of oil on top if you cook
it for longer and reduce it too much.

Once everything is cooked through, sprinkle with a handful of chopped
Thai basil.

TIP
You could make a double batch of this curry and freeze half for
another day. It freezes so well and is really easy to cook straight
from the freezer – just place it into an oven set at 200C (fan 180C)
for 20–25 minutes until cooked through.


SPICY MISO AUBERGINE AND BROCCOLI SALAD


This salad was a real hit in the deli, and it’s one of my go-tos as well.
We used to serve it cool, but have recently discovered a new love of
serving it warm, straight out the oven and couldn’t recommend that
more. The dressing is partly what makes this so good and I use it a lot
in other dishes – the ginger, miso, sesame and lime mix is a real winner.

SERVES 2
AS A MAIN DISH,
4 AS A SIDE

2 medium aubergines, chopped
into bite-sized chunks
1 large head of broccoli, chopped
into florets
pinch of chilli flakes
handful of coriander, chopped
handful of sesame seeds
salt and pepper
for the miso dressing
4 tablespoons miso paste
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger,
peeled and grated

Preheat the oven to 240ºC (fan 220ºC).

For the dressing, blitz the miso, lime juice, vinegar, sesame oil,
ginger and some salt and pepper in a blender until smooth. If
you don’t have a blender, dissolve the miso paste in a tablespoon
of boiling water then stir through the other dressing ingredients.

In a large baking tray, mix the aubergine with the dressing and
roast for 30–35 minutes. At this point, remove the tray from the
oven and switch the oven over to the grill setting. Mix the broccoli
florets with the aubergine, then place the tray back in the oven for
another 10 minutes until the broccoli is lightly charred on top and
the aubergine is soft and golden.

Once cooked, remove from the oven, place in a serving bowl
and sprinkle with the chilli flakes, coriander and sesame seeds
before serving.





Barcelona Yoga Teacher & Photographer Maria Mathison on Her Favourite Places

Maria Mathison, Barcelona based yoga teacher I had the enormous good fortune to meet Maria when I travelled to Barcelona a few years a...