Self Love

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Self Love

Read part one: PHYSICAL SELF LOVE

Part two:

SELF LOVE

In our last blog, we discussed physical self love which includes eating whole foods, getting enough rest and relaxation, self care, taking care of our finances and creating a peaceful home in which to inhabit and give oneself space to breathe. In part two we are taking a look at mental, emotional and spiritual Self Love.

Emotional, mental and spiritual self love

MENTAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL SELF LOVE

It is way more difficult to quantify what spiritual self love is because we cannot see, hear, taste, smell or touch it. We can only experience it and it is through our healthy mental and emotional states that we can access our spiritual awareness and experience this spiritual love. Our innate being already loves itself but so often in our fast paced lives where we have little time to self reflect, we have lost touch with our own inner being.

Our mind and emotions are deeply connected to one another. So, just how do we love ourselves at the emotional and mental levels?

Meditation

Meditation is not only about sitting still and doing nothing while we quiet the mind. That is just one type of meditation and is a wonderful and useful practise. Sitting meditation can certainly bring us into a greater awareness of our deeper selves. It can help us to become calm and peaceful so that we react less and are able to move into the world from a more thoughtful space. Meditation is about awareness. But what are we becoming aware of? We are becoming aware of our own consciousness and connecting our consciousness to the universal stream of consciousness. We become connected to ourselves emotionally and mentally. Not only are we able to gauge where we are at emotionally but we are actually able to direct our feelings and emotions. Successfully loving ourselves comes down to total awareness of our thoughts and feelings. When we become aware of our thoughts and feelings, we are able to direct them into the direction that brings us most inner peace.

Inner peace is when we are living our lives deliberately. Living deliberately takes alignment with our inner being. Our inner being always holds our highest potential and brings with it inspiration to act in a self loving way. If we are at the mercy of our negative emotions, we are still creating our reality, but we are doing it unconsciously and our outer reality, our physical manifestations mirror our negative emotions.

Meditation

Mental awareness

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves as human beings is to become aware of our thoughts. As soon as awareness arises in us, we begin to make the connection between our thoughts and our emotions. Our thoughts literally tell us what we are feeling and it is through our thoughts that we can change what we are feeling.

As human beings, we have already had the full spectrum of feelings. We know sadness, happiness, love, jealousy, loneliness, depression, fear, anger, shame, distrust and joy. And we know the subtle feelings in-between that we cannot name and and do not understand intellectually. We know when we are feeling something that we do not want to feel and because we know the full spectrum of feelings, we can call into feeling, any emotion that we want to feel. If we are depressed, then perhaps joy is not the first emotion we can call, perhaps a more appropriate feeling than depressed might be anger. Anger may bring relief as we realise that anger has a place in our emotional life. Anger draws boundaries when we feel abused, unloved or uncared for and even when we are lacking self love. We may blame others, but really we can no longer blame others for our own feelings. Once we have these boundaries in place we can begin simple self loving practices until we settle into a more peaceful place. We can practice physical self love. Then perhaps we can reach for a more positive feeling, one of trust where we not only begin to trust others again, but we begin truly trusting ourselves. We say no to emotions, activities and thoughts that do not serve us and we begin to love ourselves by choosing thoughts and feelings that we really want in our lives.

Manifestation

By the time manifestations appear in our lives, we have already been practicing the feelings and emotions that correspond to the reality that we have been experiencing for some time. We have developed beliefs around our habitual thoughts and feelings. We are likely unconscious that what we believe is how the world appears to us. We might have an unconscious or even conscious belief for example that “nobody loves me”, and then time and time again we prove to ourselves through our manifestations that we are unloveable. We may have a belief that making money is easy and the proof will be that we will always make money easily.

mindfulness

Radical Self Love

Radical self love means to pay attention to our thoughts, feelings and our natural ability to align with our inner being. It means that we are able to direct our lives into the lives of our dreams. Human beings are amazing, we can be, do and have anything we want. When we realise that the only thing that is stopping us from being and doing and having anything we want is our own beliefs, then we can begin to unravel our beliefs. Beliefs hold us back. They keep us stuck in a paradigm that does not necessarily work for us and as human beings we are able to to continuously introspect and question our beliefs. Truly loving ourselves brings us into alignment with our deepest truths and when we are aligned, we can experience true spiritual self love.

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Self Love

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Self Love

Part one:

What is Self Love?

More and more people are waking up to this idea of self love. Since we are not one dimensional beings, we can look at the concept of self love on every level of our being. There are four obvious aspects that we can learn to love ourselves on. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Of course if we focus on one aspect, the other aspects have a greater chance of being called into balance. As the human race, we are awakening to our deeper selves and we are no longer having to give one aspect attention while we ignore other aspects. But what is self love?

Self Love

Physical self love

Physical self love has to do with our physical body. Our health, our home and our finances. It’s about Self. It’s not just about taking ourselves off for a spa day although that is a really fun way in which we can practice loving ourselves, it’s about truly caring for our own wellbeing. When our bodies are healthy and whole, we are capable of enjoying and living our lives to the fullest. First and foremost physical self love is caring for our health. Without good health it is very difficult to care for anyone else.

Eat whole foods

Many people have asked on my retreats; What should I eat? This is the million dollar question but really it’s not about prescribing a one-size-fits-all diet for everyone because each of us are unique. Not just in our personality but literally in our physical make up. In Ayurveda the body is literally made up of the same stuff as the cosmos. Air, water, fire, earth and ether or space. The universe is made up of an interplay between these elements and each of us has a slightly different interplay between these elements. This is how an Ayurvedic doctor can diagnose your dosha or body type. For an idea of what your body type is take a look at Life Spa’s dosha test.

The answer to the great question is very simple. Eat a simple diet of fresh whole foods. Food that grows. A variety of fruits and vegetables. Of course if you have an imbalance in your body that is causing you to feel unwell, then the best approach is to first rebalance your body by, taking yourself off on a retreat like our Deep Cleansing Juice Detox Retreat and possibly seeking health advice from a naturopath like Hester Ladewig from Embrace Life or a doctor of integrative medicine. The important part of looking after your health is to eat healthy foods. This seems so obvious, yet we are in a world where it is very easy to satisfy cravings for processed foods. A diet of mainly processed foods is the natural enemy of our body as we literally starve it of nutrients. I have an 80/20 rule. That means that 80% of the time, I eat food that comes out of my own kitchen and 20% of the time I allow myself to enjoy social eating. In Cape Town we are lucky because there are several good eateries where I can get wholesome nutrient dense foods.

Wholesome food

Get enough rest and relaxation

This seems like such an obvious way of loving oneself but so many people just don’t allow themselves to take the rest that they need. Work stress, family and social demands cause us to forget to stop and rest. Without proper rest, it doesn’t really matter if we get proper food into our bodies or not as we are unable to integrate the nutrient intake into our bodies as well as not being able to integrate life. We find that we are running from one place to another place just to get stuff done but really this has to change.

It’s ok to take time for yourself to sleep or daydream. I spend a lot of time on my sofa with my two cats just doing nothing. I realised a while back that trying to meet imagined demands of society was destroying me and giving myself time to stop and do nothing has served me well in the long run. It has allowed me time to rejuvenate after running each retreat, to introspect, contemplate and integrate life’s lessons. I don’t even do it with intentions these days, I just do it because it brings me back into alignment with myself. Everything comes out that space. Every project, every dream.

Self care

Besides the obvious manicures, pedicure and visits to the hairdresser there are a lot of ways that we can physically care for ourselves. Our bodies hold a lot of stress as they carry us around all day and keep us going. Physical health is fantastic but an incredible support to our physical wellbeing is body work such as massage or Body Stress Release. We often put our stress into our bodies and oftentimes need a release. We also store up emotional traumas in our body which do cause chronic diseases if ignored and body work can assist with clearing and releasing these traumas. This is why we offer body work on our retreats.

body work

Exercise

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise we can get. We are designed to walk and walking on undulating surfaces like hiking on a mountain, gives us a lot in terms of movement of our bodies. It helps our digestive system to work optimally, bringing fresh oxygen to all our cells and giving us a deep sense of wellbeing. If walking is not possible, there are so many other forms of exercise as per our choice, but the main thing is that the body is designed to move. Movement stretches our muscles, gives space in the body where it is needed and helps us to release emotions and remove blockages be they physical or energetic. One cannot completely love oneself without doing some form of movement. See what the Mayo Clinic’s 7 benefits of exercise are.

Man hiking for self care

Take care of your finances

We need money and financial abundance is now possible for more and more of us as we have long moved into the digital age. The fact that we need money can be a great stress in our lives. How much and what we do with it is as individual as our body types, but it is extremely important to care for our finances like we would care for our own body. It can be as simple as putting a budget in place in order to make sure that we have enough to eat well, sleep in a peaceful environment, exercise, rest and relax. Holidays or a wellness retreat all take money and the sooner we look after our money, the sooner we are able to truly look after ourselves. We can no longer separate our financial abundance from our physical wellbeing and all these self care practices can assist us to creating and/or maintaining our financial abundance. Perhaps this is a blog post for another day….

Peaceful home

For me having a peaceful home is probably the fundamentally most important aspect of Self Love. The moment I walk in through the front door, I am greeted with a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Each piece of furniture has been carefully selected by my partner and I to serve our home life, the colours and plants and fresh flowers bring us great joy. It is our sanctuary from the world, our own personal retreat.

Animals are a great way to bring extra love into the home. I’m besotted with my two (cats) of course and they love me deeply I’m certain. They give me a sense of being loved and cared for.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog in the coming weeks as we take a look at mental, emotional and spiritual Self Love.











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What is Transformation?

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What is Transformation?

Busy person

There is so much going on in our individual and collective worlds today that it is often difficult to separate out what is real and what is unreal.  It is not to say that this computer is not here or that table is not there.  It is not to say that our relationships, our work, our lives are not real, but rather that it is not always easy to know what is real from our own innate perspective. We all have the part of ourselves that exists within us that is whole, intuitive, clear and insightful but our lives, the deadlines, the pressures, expectations and patterned behaviour can keep us from experiencing what lies within.  If we can allow all the dust to settle down, a sea of possibilities can emerge that perhaps we never knew existed.  When we begin to live these possibilities, we transform into a new person, into a new self. We transform into the person we want to be and perhaps more importantly, to the person we truly are.  

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Often a retreat from the world into a new environment that is largely unfamiliar can open up unexpected doors.  A retreat can take you on a journey of another kind, an adventure into oneself. 

What does Transformation actually mean?

Transformation is a fundamental change in a person's sacred or spiritual life. In psychology, spiritual transformation is understood within the context of an individual's meaning system, especially in relation to concepts of the sacred or ultimate concern.

When life comes at us at a thousand miles an hour, our deepest calling and truest self often gets knocked unconscious by storms of distraction, anxiety, and heaviness. It can feel as if somewhere along the way, we lost connection to ourselves, our direction and our ability to see things clearly.  The truth is; we never really ‘lose connection’. The clarity we seek simply gets muffled under layers of toxic inner dialog, self-limiting stories and conditioned mind sets.

Our retreats are the perfect way to slash through the inner and outer clutter weighing us down in a fun, grounded, uplifting and safe environment. The experience of being in nature while connecting with others who also care about becoming their best selves is a deeply fulfilling experience. Transformational retreats help to strengthen the connection to your own internal guidance system, while discovering life-enhancing tools to help move you towards the vibrant, abundant and purposeful life that feels most aligned with your soul.

Retreat group

Get rid of the mental clutter by exploring different modalities such as meditation, nature walks, meaningful dialogue, yoga, insightful discussions, self-inquiry and presence and creating your very own ‘toolbox’ that will help you navigate life with lightness of heart, mind, body and soul.

There are many ways to affect transformation and it is a life-long process, a journey from head to heart to being; from physical body to emotional body to spiritual well-being. 

Transformation work will reveal the art of letting go, releasing feelings, taking off the mask and getting rid of the tensions that we have accumulated in various roles we have been playing in life. Because connecting with our emotions is really at the core of well-being.   

Process of transformation

An extremely important aspect of transformation work is detoxification. Every now and then, usually once or twice a year, we need to cleanse in order to protect our health, promote vitality and prolong our lives. Fasting is an extremely useful tool for this end. In our daily lives that are fraught with everything that is happening, no matter how ‘healthy’ we think we are, we must take time to cleanse and rest our bodies. Fasting, yoga, yogic cleansing practices, breathing, bodywork, healing modalities and exercises all assist the deep tissue detoxification. When we remove toxins then we can benefit more effectively from the foods that we eat.

Healing

Often transformation requires help from a healer. On our retreats we receive help from different healers in order to heal ourselves. There really isn’t anyone else that can heal us, but when we work with someone who can support us, then our own healing can happen. It is much easier to access our emotional, mental and physical patterns when we work with a clean and clear body. Our bodies become a channel for the spirit. After all, our bodies house our spirit. It is this process that brings alignment which is Transformation.

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Peasant Pizza

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Peasant Pizza

I played Queen’s Greatest Hits album while I was cooking which is why the above video is set to Queen’s under pressure. I’m a big fan of playing music while I’m cooking. It’s very relaxing. Even if it is loud dance around in the kitchen while nobody is watching music.

This is simply one of the easiest dishes in the world to make. It is super quick to make and while the base is baking in the oven you can prepare the toppings. Once the base comes out of the oven you can add the toppings of your choice. If you’re avoiding wheat or gluten then this is a must try but remember to get gluten free oats. I got the recipe for the pizza base from Green Kitchen Stories which is truly one of my favourite places for vegetarian food inspiration. The tomato pizza sauce is my own and the combination of toppings is also my own. I don’t like too much cheese on any pizza, even when I’m enjoying a regular one from my local Italian restaurant in Cape Town, The Woodlands Eatery. They get it just right of course. I don’t like to use mozzarella so instead I go for emmental because it is savoury but yet mild in taste. I also don’t like to cook cheese, I only add it right at the end once the toppings are cooked and then only to melt it.

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Peasant Pizza Recipe


Pizza Base Ingredients

1 x head of broccoli

1 x cup of oats (ground in a food processor to make flour)

3 x medium eggs

salt to taste


Toppings

1 x punnet cherry tomatoes

handful of fresh basil

pinch of Malden salt

olive oil

coconut oil

1/2 yellow pepper sliced into strips

1/2 aubergine - sliced and fried in coconut oil

1/2 block of Emmental cheese

1 x avocado

handful of rocket and spinach

pecorino cheese grated and sprinkled on top

fresh chopped chilli (optional)

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C. While your oven is heating, you can place the cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, salt and olive oil in the oven to roast. Grind the oats in a food processor until you get a flour and then add your head of broccoli one floret at a time. You will begin to smell the beautiful raw oat broccoli mix. Remove the mix from the food processor and add the eggs and salt. Knead into a dough and then place on a baking sheet on a backing tray and press into your pizza base. I made an oval base because my oven trays are narrow and long. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. While your base is baking, prepare your toppings. Slice your aubergines and fry them in a pan in coconut oil. Thinly slice the yellow pepper and avocado. Set aside. Grate the Emmental cheese and set aside.

Once your pizza base is ready, remove it from the oven along with the tomatoes. Mash the tomatoes and spread onto your pizza base. Add the aubergines and yellow pepper and bake in the over for another 13 minutes. Now add your cheese and leave in the over for a further 2 minutes. Remove your pizza from the oven and throw the rocket and baby spinach. Drizzle olive oil and finely grated pecorino cheese. I can’t eat pizza without fresh chilli but you can decide for yourself if you would like it or not!

That’s it. The kids will love it!.

Wheat free, gluten free oat and broccoli pizza
Slice of vegetarian pizza

It’s great for a quick Friday evening meal after a busy week or even quite nice as a starter at a dinner party and then perhaps you could serve my Ricotta Aubergine Cannelloni for as a main dish.

Bon Apetit!







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Why it's important to cleanse your body

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Why it's important to cleanse your body

Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2016 for his research on fasting for health and longevity, on how cells recycle and renew their content, a process called autophagy. Autophagy is a process where cells break down proteins and other cell components and use them for energy. Cells destroy viruses and bacteria and get rid of damaged structures. A critical process for cell health, renewal and survival. Fasting activates autophagy, which helps slow down the aging process and has a positive impact on cell renewal.

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Butternut and chickpea curry

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Butternut and chickpea curry

As winter approaches we start getting excited about one pot dishes. Well I’m always excited about one pot dishes. Because they are warm and nutritious and oh so good for the digestion. The spices in curries are transformed into superfoods as they react with the oils and vegetables bringing many health benefits. I like to cook my chickpeas from scratch because I don’t enjoy canned anything but if you like to save time you can use organic canned chickpeas.

Butternut and chickpea curry recipe

2 x small cloves garlic chopped

thumb of ginger chopped

medium chilli (red or green) chopped

10 x curry leaves

1/2 onion

4 x small tomatoes

1/2 large butternut

2 cups cooked chickpeas

1 tbs coconut oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

a little water

Method

Soak the chickpeas over night, rinse and cook in the pressure cooker for 15 - 20 minutes. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, use canned or use a hot bag. Set aside.

In a pan, heat the coconut oil. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds. Allow them to sizzle for a few seconds then add the mustard seeds and let them get nice and hot. Add the curry leaves and mix ingredients together. Add your ginger, garlic and chilli and fry just until the fresh ginger smell goes. It will be about 30 seconds. Now add the onions and allow them to get soft. I find red onions don’t get as soft as white onions but you will know when they are cooked. Refer to the video above. Once the onions are soft add the chopped tomatoes. Now you want them to be very cooked and sticky. The oils will start releasing and the tomatoes will clump together. The time it will take will differ depending on your stove (gas or electricity or where you live). Once the tomatoes are cooked, you can add the spices, salt and lemon. I don’t like to use a lot of salt because one can always add salt as a seasoning when serving. You want just enough salt to bring out the taste of your food. Maybe half a teaspoon. Mix well and allow a couple of minutes for those spices to meld into the food. Now add your butternut. Fry for a few minutes adding a little water as needed. Make sure that the butternut is properly cooked - around 20 minutes - before adding the chickpeas. You want to just heat the chickpeas through. I made red rice with this dish, a simple Indian salad of carrot, cucumber, tomatoes and pickled onion that my boyfriend made a few days ago. I also made a coconut coriander chutney a couple of days ago and wanted to finish it.

Butternut and chickpea curry

Last but not least, in keeping with the Ayurvedic thought where the six tastes of sour, sweet, salty, astringent, bitter and pungent are important, I gobbled up a couple of squares of my Sugar Free Raw Chocolate for the bitter taste which quite honestly should be a staple in any house.

raw chocolate with nuts and dates

Bon Apetit!

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Yoga as a Tool to develop Consciousness Awareness

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Yoga as a Tool to develop Consciousness Awareness

mindfulness

More and more people are now practicing yoga than ever before and this has to do with the fact that yoga deals with the evolution and development of the human personality. The very word ‘yoga’ in Sanskrit means to join together but what are we joining together? Different parts of our self and different parts of our personality. Many yogic texts define yoga as the union of the individual self with the higher self and it is this idea that is extremely important.

What of ‘Consciousness’? Consciousness can see everything but is unable to do anything without the help of energy. Consciousness is static but its frequency is very pure. In order to experience this consciousness or to become conscious, we have to adjust our energy frequency to tune into our consciousness and then we enter a state of greater awareness of Cosmic Consciousness.

Group of women practicing yoga

Yoga is one of the tools that we can use to adjust our energy frequency. According to Patanjali, the yogic sage who wrote the Yoga Sutras (yoga texts), there are eight limbs which form part of the whole system of yoga. These eight limbs are called ‘Ashtanga Yoga’. Ashta means eight and anga means limb. These eight limbs are:

Yamas - Self Discipline

Niyamas - Social Discipline

Asanas - Physical Postures

Pranayama - Breath Control

Pratyahara - Sense Withdrawal

Dharana - Concentration

Dhyana - Meditation

Samadhi - Ecstacy

In general and for purposes of this article, we are concerned with the third limb. Asana

Asana is defined in the Yoga Sutras as physical postures which are comfortable and still. Our physical stillness and comfort reflect our state of mind in relation to our body. For example, if the body is agitated, the source of that agitation is in the mind. If the body is quiet then the source of that quiet is in the mind. Even though we move our bodies in various ways during asana practice, the aim of our practice is to come to stillness where the movement is irrelevant. Thus we are learning to control the mind or to bring it into alignment with the frequency of consciousness.

We start with the body because we are able to control our body to a certain extent. The yogis (those who devote their lives to the pursuit of spiritual development through the discipline of ashtanga yoga practice) are able to control even the more subtle functions of their body. Even if we are not practicing in a cave in the Himalayas or in an ashram in India, we can start at any point. After a few classes of asana practice or physical posture practice, we begin to feel subtle changes in our body and we become engrossed in the experience of practicing yoga. We can leave it there as a tool to de-stress and calm the mind or we can continue to develop our ability to control our mind for our entire lives and thus tune into the Cosmic Consciousness. The great thing is that nobody is checking in to see how we are doing. Yoga is experiential and we are only able to experience the effects with patient practice.

Pranayama

Read more about Patanjali, the father of modern yoga

Listen to the Invocation to Patanjali on youtube

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Retreat is the New Black

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Retreat is the New Black

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Why is the retreat trend just so hot right now? All of us know someone who is attending a retreat, hosting a retreat or working on a retreat and there is good reason. Retreats offer an opportunity to push the pause button on our lives, to remove negative practices, to detoxify, exercise or do yoga, relax, educate ourselves, love and care for ourselves and to develop a relationship with our inner being. Some of us are looking for a way to reset our bodies, to improve our health, others are looking for mental clarity and a moment to remove ourselves from the crazy lives we live and rejuvenate , and still others are looking for deeper personal growth.

The trend towards activities that foster consciousness and connection is born out of a paradigm shift in our day to day reality. We are no longer interested in being slaves to society as we are all awakening and dreaming of a fulfilling and fun life. Waking up to the idea that “I am the master of my own reality” and can be do and have anything I want. Conventional holidays may still hold sway but wellness holidays actually give us a whole lot more than simply relaxing.

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  1. Retreating removes us from our day to day lives

    Life can be stressful. There is so much to do in our daily lives and this fact often makes it impossible to fulfil our goals or even to know what it is that we want out of life. We are often just on a treadmill. Sometimes we just need to stop what we are doing, go away on our own and take time for ourselves alone.

  2. Healthy food and detoxing

    There is no better teacher to teach us how to look after our health better than experience. Even if we live fairly healthy lives, all of us need a little help bringing balance back into our lives. In this fast paced life that we live, we often don’t know where to start and instead of remaining stuck in bad food choices, we can do something about it by removing old habitual foods and replacing them with whole organic and plant based foods.

  3. Practice yoga and exercise

    Many of us want to start up or return to our yoga practice or find the energy to begin exercising again. Even if we are regular yoga practitioners or fitness enthusiasts. A retreat offers us the greatest opportunity to take time away from the world and just look after ourselves. After a retreat, we not only feel rested, reset but we feel fit and strong and have the strength to continue on our path to maintaining our wellness and fitness goals.

  4. Gain mental clarity

    This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of retreating. We’re just tired of living in a brain fog all the time. Our responsibilities to the world, poor diets and not enough exercise can contribute to not only feeling physically exhausted but mentally exhausted also. A retreat allows us to stop the noise, meditate and once again think clearly.

  5. Self Love

    Self love does seem to be a buzz word and there is good reason for this. More and more of us are realising that we cannot function in this world unless we take care of ourselves first. Taking care of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual lives allows us the freedom to not only live the lives that we want but also to help nurture others. Self love has far reaching effects as it impacts every choice we make from who to date, what work to do, how to live and caring for our families. Self love has an effect on every single area of our lives, making this a way more positive world than it has been so far.

  6. Learn the knowledge of the sages

    Going on a retreat allows us access to ancient wisdom and knowledge. Retreat hosts have taken the time to study practices that have almost been lost but are now being rediscovered bringing the wisdom through the ages back into our reality. They have taken the time to develop and are now coming into their own as teachers and leaders of our society. Not because they have gained through business but because of the dedication to develop themselves. Find out about our women’s retreats in India and Norway.

  7. Lasting Effects

    One of the most lasting effects that we experience after completing a retreat is gratitude. Gratitude is a virtue that we develop through connecting to our own inner being and allowing us to connect with all that we are grateful for in our personal world. It is gratitude itself that leads to greater awareness and creativity. This will stay with us long after the physical effects of wellbeing have diminished. It’s time to go on a retreat.

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Palak Paneer

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Palak Paneer

One of my favourite dishes from India is palak paneer.  Palak means spinach and paneer is essentially a kind of cottage cheese.  It's easy to find paneer in supermarkets these days as Indian food and indeed Ayurvedic food is becoming more and more popular.  Especially in the climate of vegetarianism.  This recipe is my take on it, it is wonderfully fragrant during cooking causing one's mouth to water for it.  Curries are one of the most fun ways of getting a lot of nutrients in one dish and they don't need to be hot - rather the spices give flavour.  I used ghee in this recipe but you could also use coconut oil.  Both these oils are super in heating as they don't de-nature and you can get the most out of them.  Ghee is one of the most wonderful oils for carrying the nutrients from the food to the cells and helping to remove waste products from the cells.  

Ingredients

1 cup of paneer 

200grams of spinach (I used baby leaf spinach but any spinach will work)

2 green chillies chopped (you can deseed them)

1 thumb of ginger finely chopped

1 clove of garlic finely chopped

1 finely chopped red onion

1 medium size tomato

1/2 tsp fenugreek leaves

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp garam masala powder

2cm piece of cinnamon stick

3 green cardamom pods

2 cloves

1/4 tsp mango powder or 2 tsp lemon juice

salt to taste

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbs ghee or coconut oil

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Fry the paneer

in a little ghee until golden brown and set aside.....

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Fry

spinach and chillies in the same pan for about 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted...

It is important that you don't overcook the spinach as there is more cooking later.  Remove the spinach and chillies from the heat and leave to cool while you continue with frying the panner.  

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Heat ghee or oil

Fry cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and cloves to release the scent...

Now add the cumin seeds until they begin to splutter.  Then add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until you no longer smell the fresh ginger smell.  Now add the onions and cook until the onions are slightly browned.  

At this point, I remove the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods so that the masala (spice mix) no longer has bits in it.  

Add the tomatoes and allow to cook until they are soft.  Then add cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala, salt and cook into a lovely masala paste.  You will know when it is ready because the tomatoes will release from the sides of the pan.  You can add a little water now and allow the paste to thicken.  About 1/2 a up maybe less depending on how thick you want the curry to be.  Add the mango powder or lemon juice. I actually used both in this recipe.  Lemons are amazing when cooking tomatoes, they keep the flavour but somehow remove the sourness.  

Blend your spinach and chillies in a food processor and add the spinach to the masala.  Turn on a low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  

Now add the paneer that you have set aside.  Allow to simmer for a minute or two and serve with coconut flour roties and chopped avo and tomatoes to make this a carb free meal.  

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Sugar Free Raw Chocolate

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Sugar Free Raw Chocolate

This is truly a sugar free dark chocolate recipe.  There is absolutely no refined sugar, not even honey.  Of course there is sugar in dried fruits but this is natural sugar.  Now we all know that sugar is the enemy and is the cause of many health problems so I've devised this dark chocolate recipe which is really raw and in fact super healthy.  

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Ingredients

1 cup of cacao paste

1 cup of cacao butter

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

1/2 cup of chopped almonds

1/3 cup of chopped cranberries

1/3 cup of chopped dates

1/2 tsp of vanilla powder

1/2 tsp of salt (himalayan or malden)

A little coconut oil for greesing the tray

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Use Raw Nuts

I've used walnuts and almonds but you can use any that take your fancy

Melt the cacao paste and the cacao butter in a double boiler.  If you don't have a double boiler then use a heat proof bowl and place it in a pot with boiling water.  Use a medium size pot with a small ceramic bowl like a breakfast bowl.  Allow the cacao butter and the cacao paste to melt completely into a liquid.  

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Roughly chop your fruit and nuts and mix them evenly in a bowl

Try not to eat this yummy deliciousness yet...

Pour the melted cacao into the nuts, add your vanilla powder and the salt and turn all the ingredients until it is as evenly mixed as possible.

Now grease a small tray with your coconut oil (20cm x 30 cm or there abouts) and pour your chocolate mixture into the tray.  Refrigerate for about an hour.  

1 hour in the fridge.

1 hour in the fridge.

After an hour, take the chocolate out of the fridge and cut into squares.  Put back into the fridge to set for another 2 to 3 hours.  You can then store the chocolate in your fridge in a container and serve to your friends and family as long as you haven't eaten it all by then.  

Super healthy and nutritious raw dark chocolate.

Super healthy and nutritious raw dark chocolate.

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Roast red pepper and sun dried tomato soup

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Roast red pepper and sun dried tomato soup

Last weekend (the boyfriend and I) took ourselves off to an idylic beach for a weekend to rest and a have a mini reset of our own.  We decided to do a little maintenance detox but really weren't in the mood to only drink juice.  It was cold, it was windy and we wanted nourishment, and nurturing so we got into 'souping'.  Maybe 'souping' can become a new trend and it certainly should be because it is a great way to cleanse without out putting too much strain on your system.  Firstly the food is cooked making it easy to digest and secondly it is super delicious and nutritious.  Keep the soups clean and homemade because you really don't know what little ingredient is added here and there in a restaurant or supermarket.  I had these beautiful ripe red tomatoes that were demanding my attention and wanted to make a soup from them but had never made a tomato soup before. I did however know the taste I was looking for and I think it turned out very well exceeding my expectations.  

Ingredients

1 kg ripe red tomatoes chopped

3 x large red peppers with seeds removed

10 x large sun dried tomatoes chopped

handful of fresh basil

3 sprigs of fresh oregano (you can use dried if you don't have fresh)

1/2 red onion

2 x sticks of celery

1 x clove of garlic

1 x thumb of ginger

ghee or coconut oil

olive oil

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

Salt to taste

Black pepper

1 x tsp tahini

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Drizzle your peppers with oil on wax paper

Roast at 180 for 30 minutes

While the peppers are roasting at 180 degrees in the oven for roughly 20 - 30 minutes, depending on the size of your peppers and on your oven chop all your veggies into small pieces.  Keep an eye on the peppers, you don't want them to burn but a little black is fine.  Usually I know they are almost ready as soon as I can smell them.  I very rarely stick to times and recipes, I usually use instinct, my sense of smell and taste and a sense of proportion.  

In a pan, heat the ghee or coconut oil if you're vegan and add your ginger garlic that you've finely chopped or grated or you can even stomp them in a pestle and mortar.  

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Once you smell the ginger garlic cooking add your onions and celery and cook until they become soft, then add your tomatoes, both the raw and sun dried.  Now add your cumin and coriander powders.  By now your peppers should be about ready.  Remove them from the oven, allow to cool for a little so that you can handle them and cut into pieces to add to your soup.   Add a little about half the water checking to see how watery you want your soup.  You can aways add more if too little.  

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You can simmer until you notice that all the ingredients are soft and blended together.  Turn off the heat and leave to stand for about 10 minutes.  Then blend using a handheld blender.  Serve with a little parsley, a flourish of olive oil and a swirl of tahini.  Here I had some Good Life seed crackers but you might like to try this recipe of almond pulp crackers that I make when I've made fresh almond milk.  

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Ricotta Aubergine Cannelloni

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Ricotta Aubergine Cannelloni

For a while now, ever since visiting Italy, I've been wanting to make a dish that was rich and full of Italian flavour but without the refined carbohydrates.   I invited a few friends over and they confirmed that this dish was a great success. Weeks later we all went for a walk and they were still going on about the food.  I promise you, this is a goodie and it's super nutritious, delicious and both vegetarian and banting friendly.   

Instead of using cannelloni pasta, I used the aubergines to roll the ricotta into.  It does take some preparation time, especially if you have 8 dinner guests but it is really worth it.  In fact, I recommend, you make a lot and freeze it to serve every few days.  It was even better a few days later as the flavours had a chance to meld and form.  

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Ricotta Aubergine Cannelloni

4 medium to large aubergines

1 tub of ricotta cheese (almond pulp for a vegan and high protein option)

1 medium egg

2 tbs pesto (you can make this yourself)

2kg ripe red tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic

1 red onion

Handful of fresh thyme

Handful of fresh origanum

Punnet of fresh basil (you can never have enough basil)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Nutritional yeast

 

Slice the aubergines length wise about half a centimetre thick.  The aubergine needs to be thick so that it doesn't over shrink or break up in the pan.  Fry them in olive oil until they are cooked and set aside.  

Finely chop the garlic and onions and fry in olive oil on a medium heat until cooked.  You don't want to burn your onions, you want them to be see-through.  Next add the chopped tomatoes and take time to cook them properly.  Adding your fresh herbs, thyme, origanum and basil.  It should take about 15 to 20 minutes for your tomatoes to be properly cooked.  The herbs must have softened and broken up.  

Add about a third of the tomato sauce to your pan so that you have a pool of the tomato at the bottom of the pan and set aside.  

In a separate bowl mix the ricotta (or almond pulp) with the pesto and the egg with salt and pepper.  Spoon the ricotta mixture onto the cooked aubergines and roll.  Place the aubergine roll in the pool of tomato sauce stacking them tightly next to each other.  

Rolled pesto ricotta in aubergines.....

Rolled pesto ricotta in aubergines.....

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Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the cannellonis

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Bake in oven at 180 for 40 minutes

Sprinkle nutritional yeast

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Serve with a simple green salad with olive oil and lemon juice dressing....

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