Sunday, July 26, 2009

Healthy Smoothie Recipe

Do you ever have one of those mornings when you're in such a gigantic rush that you can barely even THINK about throwing something together to eat? When you pat yourself on the back just for taking the time to make a quick coffee before you hit the ground running? I don't have to tell you that skipping breakfast is a very, very bad idea when it comes to health, to energy, and certainly when it comes to weight management.

And if you're planning a Bikram session later in the day then you're just setting yourself up for disaster - you know what a difference there can be in your practice when you're adequately energized!

When I'm really pushed for time a quick smoothie is one of my favorite pick-me-ups. And you know I'm not talking about just any old juice-bar smoothie (usually chock full of sugar in the form of excess fruit and add-ins). I'm talking about a real power smoothie - a complete meal with all the nutrition you need for a truly healthy start to the day. Not to mention an exceptionally yummy taste.

Here's my tried'n'tested recipe for a truly delicious and healthy breaky to go. The key to making it a super-quick option is to prepare the dry ingredients the night before and have the fridge/liquid ingredients ready to go first thing.

The Base

  • 100ml of raw, full-fat milk. If you can't access raw dairy (ask your local organic store - especially at the market), go for organic and preferably non-homogenized full-fat milk. Always buy dairy products as close to their natural state as possible.
  • 100 ml filtered water.
  • 1 scoop of quality organic whey protein powder. If you're lactose intolerant, have 2 scoops instead, and use water instead of milk for step one (this particular brand of protein powder contains only 0.6% lactose and is also soy and gluten free). If you choose not to use the protein powder, use 200ml of milk and no water for your base - but remember that protein is the key to a truly healthy meal and is particularly important first thing in the morning. Please don't add raw eggs as they can create food intolerance. Boil an egg the night before to have on the side if you like!
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (this will give you long-lasting energy and is a FANTASTIC metabolism kick-start)
  • 1 teaspoon Stevia (or more depending on your preference). Stevia is a naturally sweet herb up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, and with no adverse effects on your blood sugar levels. It truly is a guilt-free sweet treat! Find Stevia in your health food or organic store.
  • 2-3 tablespoons raw or organic full-fat plain yogurt
  • 4-6 ice cubes

Make it interesting

  • Being the choc-loving gal that I am, I love to add 1-2 flat tablespoons of raw or dark cacao powder. Good quality chocolate is a fantastic source of minerals and antioxidants, and has wonderful weight loss benefits.
  • EITHER: A handful of fresh seasonal berries - again, a wonderful source of antioxidants and pretty much the only truly healthy fruit option in my opinion. Frozen berries (preferably organic) are an okay back-up.
  • OR: 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter. A variety of tasty nut butters are available in most health food and organic stores.
  • 1-2 tablespoons organic flaxseeds (whole, preferably unhulled) for an Omega-3 and fiber boost.
  • A couple teaspoons organic ground coffee for an added pick-me-up and antioxidant boost (it's your call whether you'd combine this with a nut butter smoothie, or stick to a choc-coffee mix!)

Of course you're going to need to invest in a good blender - this baby won't come out too smooth if you try to put it together in a hand-held shaker! I make this shake once or twice a week when I really need to move fast. I wouldn't recommend a liquid breaky everyday as there is some evidence that this can elevate cortisol (stress hormone) levels over time. Keep in mind also that this recipe is more of a post-class than pre-class meal option if you're practising in the morning. For before class, just blend up half an Isagenix shake with water - this will keep you going without filling you up. But it's certainly a great back-up for a busy morning or post-workout meal, and is a far better option than that coffee and low-fat muffin!

Do you have any smoothie recipes of your own that you can share? Or any ideas for variations?

Food for Yoga. Food for Life.


This article has been reproduced from my blog

Do you have any natural food tips or questions you'd like answered? Please leave a comment, or send me an email ( If you're keen to learn more about getting the most out of your body then visit me on my regular blog, It's all about how to feel and look amazing both inside and out through correct nutrition and lifestyle.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Joint Pain: How To Fast-Track Your Healing

Back pain, neck pain, knee pain, ankle pain, sometimes it seems you're just one big ache from top to toe, doesn't it? And small wonder, when most of your day is spent seated. Probably, dare I say, not with optimal posture. When you keep your knees and elbows bent for most of the day the stiffen up in no time. When you sit with your legs crossed, your hips aren't going to thank you for it. And when you slouch over the computer or in front of the TV, you'll soon pay the price with a grumpy back and neck.

Fortunately Bikram Yoga goes a long way toward healing and soothing joint pain. Not only can regular Bikram fight off the day-to-day damage we inflict upon our poor bodies, it can actually start to break down old calcium deposits and heal long-term injuries. In fact, most people have noticed a loosening of their joints couple with some welcome pain relief after as little as two or three classes.

If joint pain is an issue for you then there are two very important things I'd encourage you to do on a weekly basis.

1. Continue to practice Bikram as often as possible in order to ensure the progressive loosening of your joints.

2. Give those creaky joints a helping hand with optimal joint nutrition.

So what sort of foods are good for your joints? The short answer is anything that's a whole, unprocessed food. But we can get a little more detailed than that. Firstly, it's crucial that you minimise sugar or sugar-enhanced foods in your diet. Your body has what we call a Totem Pole of priority when it comes to where to send good nutrition and how to deal with sugar and other toxins. Your joints aren't critical to your survival, so they're at the bottom of the pole. Not only does this mean that good nutrition heads there last (all the more reason to eat well at least 80% of the time), but it means that any sugar or junk you do eat is likely to hit your joints long before it gets anywhere near your vital organs. I've had clients who eat extremely well notice creakiness in their knees almost immediately after indulging in a piece of cake. Imagine the effects of daily sugar intake on your joints.

If cutting something out is the first step, then adding something in is definitely the second. Foods high in Omega-3 are not only crucial for a healthy metabolism and immune system, they actually reduce all inflammation in your body, and can therefore have an immediate and positive effect on reducing joint pain. Fish, of course, is well known for it's Omega-3 properties, but did you know that it's mainly the fattier, oilier fish which have this quality? Choose salmon, herring, sardines, mackeral, and any other fatty fish. Don't worry about your weight - this is the good fat, it helps you to burn stored body fat. There is a catch - most fish these days is quite toxic with mercury and is often genetically modified. For this reason I'd suggest a good supplement such as Melrose Omega-3 from fish oil (mercury free). Omega-3 is also found in flaxseeds and in walnuts, as well as in grass-fed organic beef (yes, it has to be grass-fed and organic for the good fats to be present).

If you're allergic to fish and you can't stand beef, then you still have a few options. All smart fats will assist toward joint repair and recovery, along with a plethora of other great health benefits. The smart fats (aside from Omega-3), are organic saturated fat from animals, eggs - especially the yolk, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil.

Back pain, neck pain, knee pain, ankle pain - you'll be amazed at just how quickly they fade when you're sweating it out regularly and fueling your body with the right foods. Of course supplements have their place, but you can sure have a massive impact with the medicine that Mother Nature provides you.

Food for Yoga. Food for Life.


Do you have any natural food tips for keeping your joint pain in check? Please leave a comment, or send me an email ( If you're keen to learn more about getting the most out of your body then visit me on my regular blog, It's all about how to feel and look amazing both inside and out through correct nutrition and lifestyle.