Relax and Recharge Without Spending a Penny

There are few, if any, people who exist in the modern day world who are able to totally avoid stress. With busy work schedules, chaotic family lives and personal relationships to maintain, finding time for yourself can seem near impossible. The increasing average use of technology is another factor that adds to the invasion and interruption of our private time. As our lives get crazier so too grows the need to break away from the chaos and find ways to relax and recharge. Spending a small fortune on a beach getaway, or flying to a remote retreat in the middle of nowhere, are both great options but potentially not financially viable for the majority of people to do on a regular basis.

So for those of us that want to bring the harmony back into our lives without breaking the bank, here are some simple but effective ideas!

Turn it off!

Checking your phone every 20 minutes or so has become a regular action for so many people. Add to that, that large numbers of people have to be hooked to their computer for several hours during the working day and that adds up to a lot of screen time. Technology is continuously making it easier for us to be distracted by the endless amusement and communication that is possible on the internet. However, this constant stream of information and interactions is undoubtedly quite addictive and also massively time consuming. Make sure you have a break from all technology during the day. Your lunch break at work is a great time to do so. Switch your phone off, step away from the computer and go for a walk.

Breathe!

Taking time to focus on your breathing is a great way to mentally detox. During your day try to find a quiet space and take ten deep breaths in and out. Keep your mind clear or repeat a motivational mantra to yourself. You can then return to your tasks armed with a fresh sense of calm.

Mediate!

Meditation, similar to breathing exercises, allows you to understand yourself in the present moment and remove external stresses from your mind. Even just ten minutes of meditation a day can help you to relax and recharge.

Get going!

Exercising is one of the best ways to clear your mind and also to boost happiness and motivation. There are endless forms of exercise that you can do for free, either in the home or outside. It’s best to choose an exercise that you’re comfortable with in order to prevent additional stress. Pushing your body too hard won’t be of any use to your mental state. Going for a walk, doing yoga or cycling are light exercises that are also highly enjoyable.

Incorporating all of the above into your daily routine will help to keep stress levels low whilst also keeping you full of motivation. Of course the occasional break from your routine will also be great for recharging your batteries but there’s no reason why you can’t stay on top of your stress without spending a penny!

Discover These Superfoods in 2015!

The list of superfoods continues to grow as we discover new and interesting foods that are amazingly good for our health! With so many to choose from, it is easy to include at least one in our daily diets and the range of food types and flavours means there is something for every taste and recipe. Here are some of my favorite superfoods that you might not have tried before! If not, then your body will definitely thank you for giving them a go this year!

Dandelion Greens

DandelionDandelion greens are a rich source of calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, copper, manganese and also contain an abundance of antioxidants. It is also evident that these amazing greens contain more protein per serving than spinach. You can eat them raw but if you prefer not to then they are also fantastic for adding into smoothies! Dandelion greens are extremely low in calories and are also believed to aid the liver in the detox process. Research has shown that dandelion greens have the potential to help in reducing the risk of certain cancers and certain age-related diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Their use in protecting against strokes is also being explored. You can buy organic dandelion greens at health food stores but it is also possible to go and forage for them yourself! If you do so then be sure you are picking greens that haven’t been treated with pesticides or any other contaminants.

Kelp

kelpKelp comes from the ocean and is such an amazing source of so many nutrients! There is at least 70 minerals contained within, not to mention various enzymes and other health boosting components! The high number of minerals in kelp is thanks (in part) to the sea water and sea soil in which it grows. Eating the same regular vegetables everyday can become tedious and kelp is a great way to introduce some originality to meal times! It can be added to salads, blended into soups or eaten alongside any main meal. With just over 40 calories in a 100g serving, this superfood is low fat and high in protein. It is thought to be of particular use to those suffering with high blood pressure or poor cardiovascular health.

Black Rice

CaptureRiceBlack rice isn’t seen very commonly in the supermarket but it is actually one of the healthiest foods available and well worth seeking out! The antioxidant count of black rice is incredibly high and this is actually where the colour of this rice comes from. These antioxidants are of the same group as those found in blueberries! This superfood contains impressive amounts of anthocyanin. This is a compound which is known to lower the risk of heart attacks occurring as well as helping to control bad cholesterol levels. Black rice is lower in calories when compared to brown and white rice and is also lower in carbohydrates whilst being high in protein

Add them to your shopping list and find out for yourself just how great they are!

Sweet Potato and Pear Donuts

One of the most common questions people with children ask me is, “How can I make healthy sweet snacks for my kids”?  This recipe is just the thing if you want to appeal to your child’s sweet tooth but also fill them with a snack that’s going to nourish them! All four of my children absolutely love these donuts and when there’s a plate of them in the kitchen I’m much happier for them to be snacking between meals! Traditional donuts are completely nutritionally pointless and full of all the bad stuff we want our children to avoid SO getting them hooked on these instead is a great move!

I use a lot of coconut based products in this recipe which is where a lot of the goodness comes from. Coconut in most forms is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. It also has a high lauric acid count which encourages HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the body. Studies have suggested that consuming coconut regularly will have anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic and anti-thrombotic (blood clot reducing) effects.

To make 12 of these mini donuts you#ll need the following ingredients:

1 sweet potato, grated
1 pear, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp. chia seed soaked in 3 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
90g coconut flour
90g buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp. flaxseeds, ground
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the glaze:

1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut butter, melted
1/2 tsp. honey

AND for a chocolate glaze:
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut butter, melted
1/2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. of cacao

sweet_potato_pear_donuts_the_flexi_foodie2So, to get started, pack 1 cup of your shredded sweet potato and place it in your food processor along with your shredded pear, soaked chia seeds and coconut sugar. Once it’s well combined, add the remaining ingredients and mix into a soft but wet batter.

Next, preheat your oven to 180C/350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using your hands roll the batter into large golf ball shapes and then slightly flatten it out on the baking sheet. I used the back of a pastry tip (about 1 inch diameter) to create the donut holes. You can keep all of the donut hole batter to create another donut at the end.

Bake the donuts for 15-20 minutes or until slightly golden and a toothpick comes out dry. Allow the donuts to cool before you ice. In separate bowls, combine the ingredients for the icings and spoon over the donuts and spread. Top with coconut flakes, goji berries or cacao nibs! Yum!

For more recipes like this one connect with me on Facebook or purchase a copy of my cookbook for yourself!

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How Self-Love Will Change Your Life

Following my recent post on Taking the Time to Learn to Love Yourself, I thought it’d be an encouraging next step to have a look at how the people who have achieved this live differently to the rest! In the last post I discussed how an open mind and the desire to learn more about yourself and the world around you can change your life and your outlook. But how does that influence other areas of our existence? When you shift from negativity to self-love, what are the real changes that you can expect to start seeing?

Well, first of all, as you start to really listen to your emotions you’ll find that you’re much better equipped to deal with them. Instead of holding them in until you explode, you’ll let them out as and when they occur – resulting in a much calmer attitude and greater peace of mind. This means that when something negative does happen you’ll be able to accept responsibility and resolve the situation, or you’ll be much more capable of not blaming the source of this negativity, working instead to find a solution.

People who have love for themselves are much more at ease spending time alone than others. This fear of being alone can stem from many places and unpleasant experiences. It is essential to overcome these fears and understand that in your own company is a great place to be. Making time to be alone is just as important as spending time with those who encourage and support us. Use this time to partake in an activity or some relaxing meditation instead of wasting it in front of the television or anything equally mind numbing. The point is to be aware of yourself and the time you’re spending with yourself. It’s a great step on a bigger journey of self-discovery. When you do spend time with other people, you’ll notice that you’re less tolerant of toxic relationships and more inclined to form new bonds with other people who know how to love themselves.

When you have truly learnt to love yourself you’ll notice that your need to enjoy your creative pursuits and hobbies will be much greater. You’ll find time to do the things that you enjoy and this in turn will continue to add to your sense of self love. Absolutely everyone is passionate about something and discovering what it is that makes you happy, and then feeding that passion, will enable your happiness to grow and grow.

Mastering the art of self-love could easily cause your life to move in an entirely new direction as you seek the career you always wanted or embark upon the relationship you’ve always deserved. It’s a journey that might seem difficult to grasp at first but inevitably always one worth making!

Spiced Coconut Kale with Avocado

The key to making a proper kale salad taste good is to not cook the kale!  You just need to give it some love and soften it with an acidic ingredient or dressing. In my view this side is perfect for any main dish! Eating this dish regularly alongside your main meals also brings a nutrition boost to any meal. Kale is one of the healthiest leaves on the planet and can really help to reduce your LDL cholesterol levels. It has also been explored extensively for its potential cancer preventing abilities. It is believed to reduce the risk of developing at least five different cancers (bladder, colon, breast, ovary and prostate). With over 45 different flavonoids contained within, with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, kale is an absolute winner for your the health of your body.

The addition of avocado and almonds to this recipe also ensures you are getting a good dose of good fat that is essential for many functions in the body. Getting an adequate amount of good fat through your foods can also help towards your weight loss goals. Both of these ingredients will also help to keep your cholesterol levels at an optimum level, and will also help to protect against heart disease!

 

kale avocado saladTo make a big bowl to divide between everyone at the dinner table, find the following ingredients:

For the salad:

 

A bunch of kale, torn into pieces and chunky stems removed

40g of coconut flakes
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
A large handful of almonds, toasted
 

For the dressing:

 

1 shallot, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. of dried chilli flakes
1 tsp. of maple syrup
 

This is a really quick and easy one to make! First you have to do whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Once it is combined, put the kale in a large serving bowl and pour half the dressing over the top.  You can then use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale for a few minutes in order to soften it.  Next, add the coconut flakes, avocado and toasted almonds and mix together well. Finally, pour in the rest of the dressing and serve.  YUM!

 

For more recipes like this, head over to Amazon to buy my cookbook now!
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Tahini Buckwheat Risotto with Chestnuts, Sweet Potatoes and Figs

This is a dish that I love to throw together when I have guests over. It looks so colorful and delicious and, as buckwheat is becoming more popular as a main meal, it’s a great conversation starter! Buckwheat is a high quality protein source that is also low in carbs and low in fat. It is the favoured choice of those who seek organic, chemical free foods as it grows relatively quickly – therefore requiring less pesticides to be used. Regular consumption of buckwheat will strengthen the intestines, improve digestion and lower blood pressure.

The figs in this recipe are of much more use than just making the dish look more interesting. They are such a rich source of many vitamins and minerals! Also, the dried variety are available all year round so we can benefit from them anytime! The high fibre content of figs makes them a good choice for cleansing the intestines. Figs are also fantastically high in potassium which is essential for combating the ill effects of a diet that is high in sodium. Therefore, if you struggle with high blood pressure because you normally eat too many salty foods, then figs can help you to get back on track!

To make this meal for four people, acquire the following ingredients:

1 Tbsp. of coconut oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock
1 large sweet potatoes, chunked
200g of whole chestnuts, cooked and peeled
300g of buckwheat
1 stalk of celery, diced
5 figs, quartered
3 Tbsp. of tahini
Chopped parsley
Sea salt and pepper to taste

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To get started, melt the coconut oil in a large skillet or pan and then add the onion. Fry the onion for 5-7 minutes or until they begin to turn translucent. Next, add the buckwheat, veggie stock and chunked sweet potato. You can then bring the pan to the boil and then let it simmer for 45 minutes. After this time, give it a good stir and over the following 45 minutes continue to give it the occasional stir as well. Once the veggie stock has been absorbed into the buckwheat, and the sweet potato is soft, add in the tahini and stir well. Season with sea salt and pepper before you divide into four bowls and top with figs and parsley.

Take the Time to Learn to Love Yourself

Learning to live in harmony with other people can sometimes be a challenging concept. The ability to compromise and be patient will get you far when it comes to this, but what is required of us when we consider how to be in harmony with ourselves? Learning to love and accept the person you are, flaws and all, will enable you to be at peace with yourself. This will quickly lead to good things in other areas of your life as you’ll radiate confidence and better understand the things you want.

The concept of learning to love yourself is often referred to as bonding with yourself and it is an incredibly powerful tool for self-healing. Before the process of learning to love yourself can begin it is important that you are willing to take responsibility for all of your actions and feelings. If you don’t know why you are doing something, or why you are feeling something, then how can you possibly aim to understand it? When you have an emotion, this is your inner-self making you aware of your genuine response to a situation. It is important to pay attention to these emotions and not to let other people make you feel they are less valid.

The next stage of this process is to approach each day with the willingness to learn new things about yourself and the world around you. Knowledge is infinite and being open to developing your beliefs and opinions is essential to self-progression. Allow and encourage others to challenge you and in turn you will inspire them to do the same for themselves. It’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean you have to be wrong or right about everything – it’s about being open to new possibilities.

You’ll find that once you’ve opened yourself up in the ways previously mentioned, that you’ll feel better equipped to accept the things that you previously thought of as flaws. If there are things that you want to change about yourself, or your life, then it is fully within your power to do so. So often we allow ourselves to become unhappy in circumstances that we have created ourselves. The key is to find practical and fulfilling solutions to these problems instead of internalising them as unhappy emotions. Take positive actions instead of allowing these problems to persist. With these positive actions will come self-affirmation and a stronger belief in your own capabilities.

The final stage of learning to love yourself is simply to always take the time to evaluate why you have done something and how you feel about it. If you find that you don’t feel good about something, or you don’t think it was a positive action, then find ways to remedy it!

Fennel and Pear Salad with Chilli Cashews and Avocado

Okay, so this is one literally one of those recipes where I looked in the fridge and was like….Oh my, we don’t have any food in the house except for fennel!  And so….. this recipe was created out of love for the fennel that was staring me back in the face, saying ‘Eat Me, I’m good for you!’  And yes, fennels are very very good for you as they help with indigestion, anaemia, constipation, heart disease, cancer, blood pressure and even brain function and bad breath!  However, I’ve learned that fennel is something you either love or hate.  It’s a super strong aniseed flavour, so quite bold in taste!  However, I’ve found that by mixing fennel with something sweet, like pear and then a bit spicy like the chilli flakes makes this salad not only deliciously nutritious but worth eating!

Serves 4 as a side and 2 for a main dish
1 Fennel
1 avocado
1 pear
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. chili flakes
large handful of cashews
1 lime, juiced
handful of fresh mint
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.  Once heated, coat the cashews in some coconut oil, sprinkle with chilli flakes and place in a baking tray and toast for 10 minutes until lightly browned.  Using a mandoline slicer, slice the fennel into thin slices.   De-seed the avocado and cut the avocado into thick chunks.   Place the fennel and avocado in a medium bowl or large plate.  Peel the pear and grate the pear over the fennel and avocado.  Add the lime juice over the salad to keep the pear from browning.  In the meantime, in a pan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil.  Once melted, toast the fennel and cumin seeds for about 3-5 minutes.  Toss the toasted seeds, cashews and fresh mint over the salad and enjoy!
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Would love to hear your comments below so please post away!  And remember to head to www.juliemontagu.com for more healthy eating tips, inspiration, online nutrition courses and of course, my new cookbook SUPERFOODS!