Monthly Archives: February 2013

* Bikram Yoga *

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Bikram Yoga Dunedin

I have a love/hate relationship with Bikram yoga. I love keeping up my practice, the peaceful sleeps and the alignment of body and mind. Then at times, especially during the really challenging postures which my body needs the most, I loathe being stuck in the stuffy, sweltering studio and wonder why I’m putting myself through this again. This abhorrence never lasts long, as the endorphins kick in and a feeling of immense, elated calm ensues – I’m won over again.

I’m very lucky that we have a seriously good studio here in Dunedin, New Zealand, which is welcoming, encouraging and unpretentious. I’ve practiced in a few other studios around New Zealand and Europe and I feel as though I’m more focused and poised here than anywhere else. The instructors at our studio are highly supportive and always willing to impart their knowledge about which postures benefit the various parts of the body and assist the students in fine tuning their practice. They also like to really challenge the students, much to our advantage – it’s the hottest, sweatiest studio I’ve ever been in and it puts us all in a determined, unified mindset, ready to stretch as far as we can and stay in the postures for the duration. This camaraderie is like nowhere else I’ve been. It’s little wonder we do so well in competitions, often taking out the top prizes in national competitions.

One thing that I’m attempting to overcome since I began practicing a few years ago (very sporadically, I must add) is feeling faint during the standing series. I have really low blood pressure and have often felt uncontrollably weak, where I begin seeing stars and am forced to sit down and avoid the next posture. It has long been a source of frustration but I’ve found a few ways to counteract this, which I’ll outline below.

Nutrition plays a huge part in practicing Bikram yoga and I’ve learnt that I need to be super energised to be on my game. Smaller meals throughout the day containing whole grains and protein, such as a chickpea and quinoa salad are key. I always have a high potassium snack a few hours before the class, which usually consists of a banana or a kefir bananarama shake. As I’m a hungry lass with a speedy metabolism, I often need to have another wee snack on my way out the door, which won’t interfere with my practice. A few dates dipped in a smidgen of peanut butter or tahini does the trick.

Hydration is also critical, as the 90 minute class is in tropical heat and sweating is the name of the game. A great deal of water needs to be consumed throughout the day and caffeinated drinks restricted in the afternoon. Coconut water is the bees knees for the Bikram yogi. It’s a natural isotonic drink which naturally replenishes the body with sodium, potassium and magnesium after excessive sweating. Himalayan rock salt also works wonders. In much the same way as coconut water, it restores the body with crucial electrolytes and is packed with over 80 minerals and trace elements including iodine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, silica and selenium. Sprinkle some over lunch or swallow a few crystals about an hour before class.

After the class, I’m often ravenous by the time I get home. My darling Beau usually has a hearty meal cooking on the stove, which I try my best not to wolf down. I head to bed, inspired, rejuvenated and enthused about the next day. Bikram yoga is highly enriching and I encourage you all to give it a whirl.

* This is the first post in the new lifestyle section of my blog. Stay tuned for more interesting topics and healthy tips for living life to the full.

* Rose and Basil Frozen Yoghurt *

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Rose and Basil Frozen YoghurtWhilst on holiday on the island of Korcula (kor-chew-la) in Croatia, we came across a beautifully rustic, family-run restaurant which served some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. On a sleepy afternoon, we went for a cross country burn on the scooter in search of a famously remote beach, which is renowned for being a heavenly paradise, free from all those irritating tourists. We stopped off in the sleepy little village called Papnat for a squizz at the local country folk (who must have been having a sensible siesta as they were not in sight) and found this gem called ‘Konobe Mate’.

Set in the front garden of the family home, grape vines and creepers adorned with bright flowers provided a whimsical setting and welcome respite from the sweltering heat. The endearingly genuine service typical of many in the hospitality trade extended here, as the waitress made polite, inquisitive conversation and praised our selection. On such an intensely scorching afternoon there was only one option – the rose and basil frozen yoghurt, washed down with an espresso and a shot of her finest homemade rakia (house distilled fermented fruit, reminiscent of rocket fuel concocted in days gone by).

We tucked into delectably icy pillows of this rose and basil frozen yoghurt, a combination that I’d never thought would go well together, but it just works. It’s so fragrant, with intense bursts of floral and herbaceous notes. Put simply, it’s like feasting on a summery garden, only creamy. We were so enchanted with this delightful restaurant, we made a booking for that evening and set off into the blazing sun towards the coast.

In order to make this frozen yoghurt you need an ice cream maker, which can easily be purchased at an appliance store or in good condition off Ebay or Trade Me. Ensure that the frozen yoghurt is the perfect consistency by checking it often. I’m usually so captivated by the creation of this frozen yoghurt, I can barely tear myself away from watching it. Am I alone here?

Rose and Basil Frozen Yoghurt

2 cups of plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt

3/4 of a cup of milk

1/2 a cup of good-quality raw honey, warmed

1 1/2 tablespoons of rose water

A teaspoon of vanilla paste or a vanilla bean, deseeded

2 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

A couple of handfuls of fresh, organically grown rose petals (optional)

Whisk together all of the ingredients for a couple of minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Transfer to the ice cream maker and follow the user instructions until the desired consistency is reached. In the ice cream maker I use, it took about 35 minutes until lusciously textured frozen yoghurt was created. Best eaten as soon as possible.

* Fig and Macadamia Roll *

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Fig and Macadamia Roll

Croatia. A dreamy, lush paradise basking in the warmth of the Adriatic. From a war torn country to a touristic pilgrimage, Croatia has emerged from the dark days to become a haven for foodies, the intrepid and those who simply want to laze on the beach drinking mojitos and wearing short shorts. This post marks the beginning of a series of recipes from a delightful holiday spent in Dalmatia a few months back.

As my Beau and I strolled through the narrow alleyways of the Old Town in Split, we were struck by the  intense heat of the Old Town, which entraps the hot air within its high brick walls. Sweat-drenched tourists battle on in a sedated state, longing for the next cool fix, like an icy-cold lemonade or a gelato. As is often the case in Croatia, the later in the day it is, the more critical it becomes to seek solace in air-conditioned shops and restaurants to cool off before heading to the next attraction. After watching the spectacle in the Old Town’s Square – a comical period drama of the Roman emperor Diocletian addressing the town folk outside his grand palace – we thankfully stumbled upon a tiny shop selling traditional Croatian gourmet products; sugar-coated almonds, honey lavender shortbread cookies and carob liqueur lined the shelves awaiting our Quality Control.

A generous pour of the customary carob liqueur by the hospitable host certainly did the trick and samples were devoured with great fervor. We had the pleasure of tasting a delectable little morsel of goodness, a fig and walnut roll, which many will attest has always been a heavenly combination. Made with young Dalmatian walnuts and orchard figs, dried in the Autumnal sun, this sweet treat graces many cheese boards in this neck of the woods and is typically matched with a fine local cheese, fresh from the Island of Pag or the farmer down the road.

To put an Antipodean twist on this classic, I created this figgy roll with macadamias and the result is is seriously good – intensely nectarous, wonderfully textured by the fig seeds and crunchy macadamias and lightly spiced by the cloves. The health benefits of figs are outlined in a previous post with a fresh fig recipe Goat Cheese, Figs and Walnuts with Drizzled Honey. The other super food star is the macadamia nut, which is native to Australia, New Caledonia and Indonesia, but is now grown in many warmer places, including our beloved New Zealand. Macadamias are a rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, like oleic and palmitoleic acids, which research suggests increases good (HDL) cholesterol and reduces bad (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood. They are also a good source of minerals including selenium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, calcium and iron. A true wundernut, indeed.

If the figs have been laying about at the back of the pantry for a while, it works wonders to soak them overnight in some orange or grapefruit juice to freshen them up, hence why it is optional. If they are brimming with freshness, leave this part out. If you are vegan, try this recipe with a vegan cheese or creamy nut paste. This is also delicious as a sweetie treatie with a cup of tea or coffee.

Fig and Macadamia Roll

2 cups of dried figs, chopped

3/4 of a cup of orange or grapefruit juice (optional)

1 cup of macadamias

A tablespoon of honey (optional)

1/4 of a teaspoon of ground cloves

Soak the chopped dried figs in orange juice overnight if required. Drain off excess juice and pulse in a food processor until a sticky paste is formed.

Add the macadamias, honey (if you please) and cloves and pulse lightly, ensuring that some of the macadamias are still in large pieces.

Form into a roll using your hands, wrap in baking paper or glad wrap and keep in the fridge and cut into slices as required.

Alternatively, if you prefer a drier roll, allow to rest uncovered in the fridge or pantry for a few days. I can never wait that long, so I immediately enjoy with a strong cheese or a creamy vegan nut paste.