You may or may not have heard of teff flour or teff grain but it’s certainly not new. It’s an ancient grain native to Ethiopia and Eritrea and predominantly known as the ingredient for injera, the traditional pancake style of that region. But turns out teff is a lot more versatile than just a spongy roti for curry.Continue reading “Teff – Why It’s My New Favourite Ingredient”
I treat kohlrabi in a similar way to fennel: prepare it fresh and raw, mostly grated or sliced into salad, to enjoy its subtle sweetness and crunchy texture.
I love the taste of kohlrabi and find its imperfect, knobbly shape with slightly alien-like stems pretty cute. If you haven’t tasted one, it has the tang of a radish with the soft earthiness of turnip.Continue reading “Food Inspo: Homemade Vegan Slaw With Kohlrabi”
I was so excited to be interviewed my Metro recently for an article on the importance of weight training for women: Weight training should be an essential part of your workout routine.
Journalist Natalie Morris asked me to share my fitness journey, how I got into weightlifting, what I love about it, what it adds to my life and why more people, particularly women, should give it a try.
It’s a fantastic article – full of quotes from me! – and some expert tips from others. Hopefully it will inspire more people to pick up a barbell and feel the benefits for themselves.
If you’re still feeling hesitant, maybe intimidated or scared about weights, and unsure how to start improving your strength, then have a read and let me know what you think.
Here’s an extract – my top tips on why you should start weightlifting
There is no better feeling than doing something you previously couldn’t or imagined you could do. It will send your confidence soaring.
Coming from zero strength means I’m super proud of my body and my journey – it still amazes me today that I can do these things. I never forget where I started.
Progress sometimes feels slow and gradual but there are many small wins and milestones along the way.
A huge mental shift in how I view my body
When my fitness journey became about what my body can do, not what it looked like, it became more than just a workout. My mental attitude towards my body is so much healthier now.
The focus is no longer to stay slim and it’s not about achieving a certain aesthetic. My goals and objectives are all related to performance now.
I decided I had to lay stronger foundations for the future, especially with a family history of osteoporosis and knowing women’s muscle mass shrinks with age. I was determined to go into my 40s with a stronger physique.
The quest to build all-over body strength led me to CrossFit where I learnt how to move well with weight bearing and bodyweight exercises.
So while I work on my fitness goals, I’m also building a body for everyday life so I can lift, push and pull things without hurting myself, and building stronger bones for later years.
It’s a lot of fun!
Having a purpose is one of the best ways to enjoy exercise so it never feels like a chore. It’s never an effort getting up early or training after a hard day at work when you have goals in mind. And once you’ve finished a great barbell workout, the endorphins are through the roof.
I always have short term and long term goals – whether it’s hitting a certain weight on a lift or working towards a competition – and these keep me locked in and committed.
Being surrounded by people who are also working towards various fitness goals is hugely motivating and that kind of positive, determined, can-do attitude is contagious.
So the cliche of surrounding yourself with the right people is not just a saying, it’s very true.
You’ll break down barriers
I also want women to breakdown their own perceptions of what they think can do and achieve.
What is heavy or seems impossible one day, will be normal some day in the future if you keep at it so don’t get too frustrated with what you can’t do. Focus on learning how to improve it.
Follow more of my fitness and weightlifting journey at @yanarfitness
It’s that time of year again – marathon season – with biggies such as Paris, Brighton and London all within a few weeks of each other. I know marathons happen up and down the UK and worldwide all year round but April always feels more like marathon-month than others so now’s a great time to share this great video, The Why: Running 100 Miles.
I watched this last year when I was training for Snowdonia Trail Marathon and grappling with training that was mentally, emotionally and physically challenging. It was my sixth marathon but my first mountain event (where we would summit Snowdon at mile 23) and throughout the six month training block I was riddled with self-doubt, worry and lack of confidence.
Living in flatter-than-flat east London was not conducive to mountain training, and my inner critic was having a ball by putting me down through every training run and prep-race. I was losing motivation, finding all the training sessions so hard, not enjoying myself and couldn’t understand why.
Luckily, my running coach Luke Tyburski is a phenomenal ultra athlete who has done some crazy big events (such as Morocco to Monaco 12-day triathlon, an event he created himself) so he was great at helping me get to grips with the mental side of things.
I’d ran several marathons before so I was used to the long distance training but CrossFit had come into my life a few years earlier and this had definitely become flavour of the day. So I was fighting conflicting desires and needs and I had to reevaluate my relationship with running. That’s when I wrote Help, I’ve Fallen Out Of Love With Running post.
Like any relationship, dynamics change and evolve over time and that’s part of the joys. And there’s no better time to explore your relationship with a sport, activity or hobby then when you have to tick off big miles on a Sunday morning.
I also kept in mind one of my favourite quote from Luke: ‘It’s only at reaching your limits where you’ll catch a glimpse of your true potential’.
With long distance events such marathons, 50km, 100km and 100 milers becoming more popular, it makes sense to dig deep and find the sticky or meaningful reasons why we run.
I started reading more about mental side of athletes and sports performance – I had How Bad Do You Want It? on my bedside table – and stumbled on this mini docu film by Billy Yang on why ultra runners do ultramarathon events. Why do they put themselves through so much physically, mentally, emotionally? What’s the pull, the lure and enjoyment in something so seemingly gruelling?
Billy also goes beyond commonly cited reasons such as self-improvement and challenge to bigger questions about our need to seek out situations where we’re challenged to the point of extreme, in a way our modern day lives don’t require us to.
Not only is The Why beautiful and humbling to watch but it helped me see things in a new, fresh light. Suddenly I realised others also suffered in similar ways (with anxieties, self-doubt, fear) so it no longer felt like there was something wrong with me as a runner or that I was failing.
‘When reaching your limits, it’s only there you’ll catch a glimpse of your true potential’.
I realised the conversation of why is one all long distance runners, endurance athletes and probably all athletes have to answer, not just to others but really deep down to themselves. After all, it’s the why that feeds the endless drive and determination needed to smash through these incredible feats.
Watch the film
I watched it a few times before my race as it was so inspiring. I hope you enjoy it and get something out of it too, whether it’s your first marathon or you’re a regular on the ultra trails. It might fire up your own why to help you power through your next event or inspire you to book one. And if you’re running London next week, good luck and enjoy it!
Would love to hear what you think!
I love a good cookbook. I have over 35-40 of them – bought, inherited or gratefully received. A few have proven their worth and have become absolute favourites. They’re the ones I can always rely on to provide me a new or interesting way of cooking with an ingredient. Or offer an inspiring recipe I can pull together with minimum effort and with simple foods I usually already have.
Friends often ask if I can recommend a good book and there are a few I always call out, which I’ve listed here. Each one is best for a different reason, occasion or cooking style. So if you’re looking to renew your repertoire of recipes or need fresh inspiration for healthy, plant-based cooking (that’s still hearty and filling!) then this is the list for you. Feel free to pass it on.
1. World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible
By Chris and Carolyn caldicott
And it really is a bible. If you’re excited by the variety and flavours of world cuisine you will love this. Organised by region, the authors have cherrypicked recipes that show off the best from that area. I usually turn to this book when I’m looking for a curry, going straight to the index to see the options for my chosen veg (which is how I use most cookbooks) and then I can almost guarantee the dish I find in here wouldn’t be in any other cookbook.
Best for: interesting DISHES from FAR AND WIDE
2. The Happy Pear
by David and Stephen Flynn
This was a gift from a good friend and very quickly became a regular go-to. I’m quite averse to vegan food that’s light or superficial, inadvertently channeling the notion that vegans are not hearty eaters (which is far from the truth, in my case anyway!). The Flynn brothers have taken everyday, popular ingredients such as squash and lentils and not only given them fuss-free makeovers but the recipes are sure to fill you up too. There’s not a drop of pretentious cooking here, just down to earth, wholesome meals that are both inviting and easy to follow.
BEST FOR: keeping the family full and happy
3. Fresh India
by Meera Sodha
I received this as a birthday present from another good friend only a few months ago and it’s been the most exciting edition to my collection. I made three recipes within the first few days of receiving it and instantly bookmarked so many more to try. Possibly because I’m obsessed with vegetarian Indian cuisine – you’ll find me at one of London’s local pure vegetarian restaurants feasting on dosa, idly and vada at any possible opportunity – that I was smitten by this book but also because Meera Sodha makes everything so simple. For example, I’ve picked up lots of new (and uncomplicated) ways of cooking Indian-inspired sauces and I found it super easy to take ingredients from one recipe and combine with the method of another, depending on what I have in the kitchen.
Best for: being creative with Indian cooking with hardly any effort
4. The Nut Butter Cookbook by Pip & Nut
By Pippa Murray
This book isn’t vegetarian or vegan (in fact, apart from the nut butters there’s hardly any vegan recipes) but I have easily adapted ideas and replaced dairy ingredients with non-dairy alternatives. The highlight for me is the Peanut Sweet Potato Gratin – once I’d swapped the cream and milk for coconut milk, it was divine. I have also discovered super easy ways to turn nut butter into sauces, dips and dressings which has transformed my lunches and dinners. I now make peanut and sriracha sauce almost daily!
Best for: surprisingLy endless ways with nut butter
5. Silk Road Vegetarian
by Dahlia Abraham-Klein
This one was a bit of a wild card which I bought after a recommendation from my uncle, who also loves vegetarian cooking, and despite its slightly old fashioned imagery it’s definitely proven itself. Covering a region I’m naturally drawn thanks to my Iraqi heritage, I often reach for this when I want comfort food inspiration. It’s great for stews and rice dishes.
Best for: traditional cuisine that’s true to its origins
6. Cook, Share, Eat Vegan
by Aine Carlin
Who would have thought that one day there would be as many modern vegan cookbooks as there are out today. Bookshops and bookshelves are bursting with them all vying for our attention but it’s hard to see which ones are really worth having. Having eaten a vegan diet for over a decade now (way back when veganism was still very hippie) I feel like my plant-based cooking skills constantly needs challenging and refreshing which is why Aine Carlin’s collections appeal. If you’re looking for the next step up in plant-based cooking I’d definitely recommend this. The ideas go the extra mile to impress but still accessible and easy to make.
Best for: Impressing guests (but not leaving them hungry)
7. Riverford Companion: Autumn Winter and Spring Summer
I’m a regular customer of Riverford veg delivery boxes (I’ve tried other veg boxes over the years but always come back to Riverford for the variety and generous portion sizes) so it’s no surprise I also love their cookbooks, thoughtfully presented for seasonal cooking. Guy Watson and the Riverford team never fail to reveal a new or enlivening way to prep or cook a vegetable, banishing boredom and educating with their decades of expertise along the way.
Best for: never being stuck with what to do with a vegetable again
8. The Dal Cookbook
By Krishna Dutta
An oldie but a goodie. I have no idea how this one entered my life (another gift maybe?) but for lovers of dal (obviously) it’s a must-have. From simple to elaborate and all styles and flavours in between, this is a chance to experiment with over 50 ways to find your favourites. It’s also a bit of a reference book for all things lentil-based, another reason why it’s stood the test of time on my bookshelf.
Best for: Never cooking the same dal twice
Would love to hear what your go-to veggie/vegan cookbooks are! Thanks for reading :)
“Peace is the happy, natural state of man. It is his birthright.
Many are working today for the promotion of world peace without having peace in themselves. You can elevate others only if you have elevated yourself. This world can be saved only by those who have already saved themselves.
Remove the hatred, greed, delusion, selfishness and jealousy, deeply ingrained in human society and spread the message of inner peace.
Only inner peace can lead to world peace. That alone is true service to humanity.”
Shared from Tools for Inner Peace – yoga for refugees in UK and Lebanon.
7 quotes by Kofi Annan about gender equality and why empowerment of women matters
- Strengthen girls’ access to secondary, as well as primary education. Education holds the key to unlocking most of the obstacles facing girls and women — from being forced into early marriage, to vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
- Guarantee sexual and reproductive health and rights. How can we achieve real equality when half a million women die of pregnancy-related causes every year — causes that are entirely preventable?
- Invest in infrastructure to reduce women’s and girls’ time burdens. What are the prospects for girls and women who are forced to spend half of every day gathering water, fuel and other necessities for their families?
- Guarantee women’s and girls’ property and inheritance rights. How can women climb out of poverty without access to land and housing? And without that security, how can they protect themselves against the impact of HIV/AIDS?
- Eliminate gender inequality in employment. And a good job is also a woman’s best protection against falling prey to trafficking.
- Increase women’s share of seats in national parliaments and local government. Equality of opportunity in policy-making is not only a human right; it is a prerequisite for good governance.
- Redouble efforts to combat violence against girls and women. That means leadership in showing, by example, that when it comes to violence against women and girls, there are no grounds for tolerance and no tolerable excuses.
“Whatever the very real benefits of investing in women, the most important fact remains: women themselves have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and from fear.”
‘Above all, I would urge the entire international community to remember that promoting gender equality is not only women’s responsibility — it is the responsibility of all of us.
Sixty years have passed since the founders of the United Nations inscribed, on the first page of our Charter, the equal rights of men and women.
Since then, study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.
No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality.
No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health — including the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation.
And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.
But whatever the very real benefits of investing in women, the most important fact remains: women themselves have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and from fear.’
Taken from United Nations, Secretary General, Kofi Annan who ‘Calls on International Community to Promote Gender Equality and Invest in Women’ – February 2005
Lisa Bronner is the sister, wife and daughter to the Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps family and granddaughter to the founder Dr. Emanuel Bronner. I spoke to her on the phone to learn more about her passion for sustainable living, her interest in inspiring people on their journey for greener living (check out her blog Going Green with a Bronner Mom) and the best advice she’s ever received.
The best advice I’ve received
‘Live intentionally – if we are too aimless or thoughtless in our day to day decisions we go nowhere and accomplish nothing and let opportunities slide by. Realise the ability you have as an individual to influence people around you or start a movement. People don’t realise they have the power we do; if use it we’d can all get a lot done.’
Best advice for going green
‘Start simply with one product at a time; going out with too much gusto and clearing out everything will be too much of a headache. Newbies should start with one product, look at the ingredients you don’t understand and find an alternative you enjoy using. Then go onto the next. One step at a time.’
If you could be president for the day
‘Treat people with respect and courtesy. Listen to one another and do things to empower each individual to live to their full potential. Be proactive rather than reactive, strengthen people and educate them on wellness so health is stronger and inform the public to make better decisions. Give people the right tools to make the best choices for their lives.’
Check out more from Lisa… her tips and tricks for green living here.
Read more… When I met Mike Bronner of Dr Bronner skincare in London – and the six things I discovered about the brand.
‘The reports were appalling… The environmental issues surrounding the textiles and the pesticides poisoning, the deaths from industrial accidents and workers living in slave conditions… it had to change and it was hard. Even trying to get organic cotton was impossible, no one was doing it.
‘Today it’s totally different. We’ve got sustainable recycled polyester, and sustainable alpaca from Peru in natural colours. Swiss mills are making the most beautiful organic cotton. I don’t know why Burberry aren’t using it for all their clothes. They f**cking charge enough!’
– Fashion designer, Katherine Hamnett, 70, on closing her fashion empire in 1989, after she commissioned an impact study into her business and the environment.
The politically driven slogan t-shirt was her signature trademark – George Michael wore Choose Life and her picture wearing her anti-Pershing missile t-shirt meeting Margaret Thatcher is one of her most famous shots.
Katherine Hamnett is now making a comeback with ‘Cancel Brexit’ and ‘Choose Love’ t-shirts and a relaunch of some of her classic pieces (online at KatherineHamnett.com now and then Liberty and Matches).
I love her gutsiness to speak out on issues such as the environment, war or social injustice. She wasn’t happy with the status quo of the fashion industry so she shut down her business and found alternative ways of doing things. We can do the same too by trying to influence small, positive changes in the industries we work in and the attitudes of people we meet. If something isn’t right or should or could be done differently for a great good, why not say something and be bold like Katherine Hamnett.
Quote taken from interview with Mark C O’Flaherty in FT Weekend Life & Arts, 11/12 November 2017.
If you’re considering a meat and dairy-free, plant-based diet but don’t want to lose friends or your social life in the process then read on…
As someone who’s been vegan for over ten years and vegetarian nearly all of my life I thought I’d share my top five tips. After years of experience these are my go-to ways and shortcuts.
Maybe you’ve discovered your own – would love to hear them – and if you want more tips and tricks (I have so many) don’t forget you can leave a comment by hitting the plus sign below or tweet me @yanarbeauty.
1. Work out your motivation
Why are you doing it? What’s your motivation for taking on this way of eating. It’s also a way of life so the more you believe in what you’re doing the more likely you are to stick to it.
I wrote about my motivations and reasons for being vegan in a previous post here. It was a natural extension of being vegetarian from the age of nine – as my knowledge of the meat and dairy industry (and the impact it has on our health) grew so did my commitment. It’s taken years of education and awareness and I now passionately believe in it, it’s nothing like a fad.
2. Find your own boundaries
At the very beginning when I first toyed with the idea of going vegan I tried to be strict and failed miserably. A very miserable six month start ended up with a huge Christmas binge on cake and chocolate – lesson learnt – extreme and sudden deprivation can only lead to rebellion or failure!
There’s no need to lose your head over it so start gently, especially if you’re going from being a full meat eater. If someone offers you some cheese after dinner or chocolates in the office and you really can’t resist, it’s ok! Take it easy and be lenient and kind to yourself.
My boundaries are meat (obviously) and dairy as a whole ingredient, for example I would never have an egg sandwich but if someone has baked a cake for a birthday then I may have a bite or a slice out of courtesy (and sometimes I won’t – I’ll just judge the situation). I think it’s good to be balanced in mind and make small exceptions when needed and know you’re committed all other times.
3. Be flexible eating out
Eating out my seem like an impossible feat at first but it gets easier once you get the hang of it, I promise. The trick? Be flexible and open minded with the menu (mix and match ingredients and check out the sides menu for vegan-friendly options), be nice to waiters/waitresses, and don’t be anal. By that I mean, if something has a hint of butter in it maybe you can let it pass? For me, as long as butter, eggs or cheese are not the main ingredients I don’t get too caught up. For example, it’s ok if some ghee has been used in an Indian vegetarian meal (it’s likely to be minimal) but I won’t choose a paneer cheese dish. No one likes a food bore so it works for me to be flexible when social and then as true to veganism as I like when I’m at home. That way I get to keep my friends and social life too!
4. Eat more!
Cutting out three major food groups (meat, fish, dairy) means making up the calories, vitamins and nutrients somewhere else otherwise you might waste away or end up looking like a pale, unhealthy, anaemic vegan and that’s no fun. Stay strong and satiated with bigger portion sizes than you’re probably used to – the calorie content of vegetables and pulses is far lower than meat, fish and dairy so you have a lot of catching up to do at meal times.
Anyone who knows me well knows I eat family portion sized meals (and I’m still small) with a mega fast metabolism. In the past I’ve tried dipped into packet vegan / meat substitute foods (non-dairy cheese springs to mind) but found unprocessed wholefoods in their most natural state work best for me. This area is yours to experiment with.
5. Get friendly with fats
My secret to staying fuller for longer is to eat plenty of plant fats… I always have avocados, coconut oil, tahini paste, olive oil, argan oil and rapeseed oil in the cupboard and eat them with food on a daily basis. I use coconut oil instead of butter to spread onto toast (delicious on sourdough or rye bread) and drizzle olive or argan oil on food so it goes the extra mile. Otherwise I’d be starving again very soon! PLUS all of these plant fats are nourishing for skin and cells so it’s a win-win situation.
I do believe you need to be a bit of food lover to be vegan otherwise it’s difficult to make it work as it’s already a restricted diet. Enjoy yourself and be creative within the boundaries and experiment… Don’t be afraid to try something new and you’ll eventually arrive at foods and meals you love. Would love to hear any questions or tips you might have… Happy eating!
(Image credit: Gemma Correll – my favourite illustration, brilliantly depicted)
“We’ve become an increasingly harsh world, and when we become harsh with each other and forget our humanity then we end up in these standoff positions. We need to rediscover what it is to be human, and that every human being matters.” – Reverend Trevor Willmott
I’m not usually one for religion but these are wise words, from The Church of England, in response to David Cameron’s stand against migrants in Calais this weekend.
I keep wondering myself where people’s compassion and empathy have gone recently, so glad to hear someone speaking out about this.
A friend of mine wrote a wonderful piece in The Pool about her family’s escape from Vietnam in 1979 – she was lucky as several countries back then opened their borders in response to the crisis and her family eventually resettled in the UK, but others today, have not been so lucky as governments (and people), show less empathy and compassion.
I think whether people are fleeing war, violence, persecution or leaving a non-war torn country simply for better job or education opportunities, why shouldn’t everyone have the right to seek a better life? Not just the privileged. Nick Cohen sums it up in this piece, “If you hate the migrants in Calais, you hate yourself”:
“Human beings move. We are a restless species. If you have never moved to a new country to find work, your forebears certainly did. Go back far enough in your family, my family or any family on this planet and you will find that our common ancestors were migrants. In hating them, we hate ourselves.”
The point I’m trying to make is we don’t have to carry so much negativity in our eyes, minds and heart towards others. However different they are to use. However alien their life might seem. There are alternative ways of being.
We could be a little more understanding to each others’ struggles. Every single one of us is trying to get through life, survive and make it work. Others have a harder time than others, and some, of course cheat their way round, giving others a bad name. But in general I try to see the human story in each person, not the headline.
If you weren’t feeling the love this Valentine’s Day, don’t worry, I’m sure you weren’t alone. While our social feeds were blooming with gushing shows of affection, there were alternatives to be found. Check out the BeautyMART blog where editor Anna-Marie Solowij was feeling the pressure of Valentine’s Day, the sold out t-shirt that I wish I could get my hands on, Barbie and Ken keeping it real, and the Highgate pub serving garlic and bitters for all the Valentines-haters. See you there…
‘Wouldn’t we all do better not trying to understand, accepting the fact that no human being will ever understand another’
Read this great line today in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American (catching up on old classics) which sounded so apt in light of recent events in France and other terrors around the world. Can we ever really understand the mental mechanics of another person’s mind?
Happy new year! Wishing everyone a peaceful 2015 rich with love and laughs. My only resolution this year is to do more of the things I love and less of things I love less.
While we celebrate, it feels wrong not to spare a thought to people around the world who may not be seeing the new year in with much joy – families of the tragic Air Asia accident, people fighting and struggling in Syria, Iraq, Gaza and other countries, and anyone else surviving in the face of adversity. New Year wishes to everyone. x
‘Knowledge without action is useless’
This is one of my favourite lines, and a great line to live by, quoted by John Bird from Simon Reeves/BBC2, in Big Issue, November 2012. Bird’s message was ‘Be better informed, but be better informed in order to act.’ Writer Bin Adewunmi had a similarly inspiring message in The Guardian’s collection of new year resolutions.
‘Knowledge without action is useless’ was my resolve last year and will be the same again this year. As well as to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier! Happy 2014!
“Immobility is to the human body what rust is to the classic car. Stop moving long enough and your muscles will atrophy. Bones will weaken. Blood will clot. You will find it harder to concentrate and solve problems. Immobility is not merely a state closer to death: it hastens it.”