Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:
600g roasting potatoes
600g sweet potatoes
40g dairy free margarine
1 onion
2 carrots
3 cloves of garlic
2 sticks of celery
1 tbsp coriander seeds
olive oil
½ bunch of thyme
350g chestnut mushrooms
12 sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
red wine
100ml vegetable stock
400g tin of lentils
400g tin of chickpeas
5 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 lemon
30g breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 200 ° C
Peel and chop all the potatoes into 2cm chunks. Place the white potatoes into a pot of boiling water and boil for 10-15 mins or until tender. Add the sweet potatoes after 5 mins.
Drain and leave to steam dry, then return to the pot with the margarine and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mash until smooth.
Peel and slice the onion, carrots, 2 cloves of garlic and trim and slice the celery.
Bash the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar until fine, then add it all to a medium pan over medium heat with some olive oil. Add the thyme leaves and cook for around 10 mins.
Roughly chop the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes then add to the pan with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of teh sun-dried tomato oil.
Cook for another 10 mins then add a splash of wine. Turn up the heat and let it boil away. Stir in the stock, lentil and chickpeas (juice and all) then leave it to cook for 5-10 mins or until thickened and reduced.
Pick and chop the parsley leaves and add to the pan. Season to taste then transfer to a roasting pan (25cm x 30cm).
Spread the mash on top, scuffing it up a bit on top with a spoon.
Finely slice the remaining garlic clove then place in a bowl with the rosemary leaves, lemon zest, breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix well, sprinkle over the mash, then place in the hot oven for around 10 minutes.
Place under the grill for a further 2-3 minutes or until golden.
Serve with a green salad.

Falafels

Ingredients:
1 cup of tinned chickpeas, drained
½ large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp salt
½ -1 tsp dried hot red pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking powder
4-6 tbsp flour
vegetable oil for frying

Place the drained chickpeas and onion in a bowl of a food processor.
Add the parsley, coriander, salt, hot pepper, garlic & cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.

Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tbsp of flour and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts.

Heat some oil in a deep pot and fry one ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour to the mixture. Fry a few minutes on each side, until golden brown and then drain on paper towel.

Low Carb Pasta Alfredo

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked ham
1 cup of chopped mushrooms
150ml double cream
150ml single cream
1 egg
60g parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
nutmeg
fresh parsley
quinoa/vegetable pasta

Boil the pasta in a large pan of salted water until cooked.
Cut the ham into little squares and gently fry in a little olive oil. Add the mushrooms and fry until lightly browned.
Gently heat the cream on low heat, then separate the egg and whisk the yolk into the pan.
Grate the parmesan and whisk into the pan, season with salt and pepper.
Add the pasta into the sauce and toss together.
Sprinkle over some ground nutmeg, parmesan and chopped parsley.
Enjoy!
*For a vegetarian option, leave out the ham.

How to make working out a habit?

So often I hear people struggling to get into an exercise routine. I have and have had clients that start with the greatest intentions and are all in and then after a week or two they miss a day, then miss two and then feel like they have failed and need to give up.


Like everything it takes time and your best chance of success is to create a habit of it, like with everything else. I am going to share some of my tactics to help you create a habit of it too.

1. Do not skip a workout

The right behaviours are developed through consistency, not frequency. Instead of going all or nothing like most of us tend to do, start small by saying you will go to gym once that week. Setup your schedule and make sure you never skip that one day. After a few weeks add another day, then after a month add another. The point here is to ensure you are getting into a habit and not allowing yourself to fail even if it is only once a week.

When setting up your exercise habit, ensure that no matter what you will achieve it. It does not matter if it is 1 day per week or 7 days per week. The important thing is that you will never skip it. You cannot set up a habit if you are not consistent.

2. Exercise in the morning

Yes I know that everyone is not a morning person especially when it comes to exercise but there are a few reasons I say you need to do this to create that habit.

LIFE HAPPENS AT NIGHT, NOT IN THE MORNING!
From after work drinks to children’s soccer games or having to work late. These commitments can be tough to get out of. A lot less happens in the mornings and instead of having to resist temptations all you have to do is get out of bed and go to gym.

YOU CAN CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
By the end of the day you may be tired or stressed or just not in the mood to go to gym. However in the morning you can create the right environment that will help you get there.

You may know you will be sleepy and lack the necessary motivation so have your gym bag packed, make your favourite breakfast, have your running shoes or put your coffee on a timer ready for you. These cues will automatically trigger your body to begin your morning routine of going to gym and help create that habit.

YOUR WILLPOWER IS STRONGEST IN THE MORNING
Be it from a stressful workday, or just having had a hard day. We all have those days where we just don’t have the energy to workout. If we have to use our willpower to just get through difficult tasks all days we will have no energy left to make it to the gym.

3. What is your ‘why’?

By having a genuine reason why you want to exercise will make it easier creating that habit. Thinking about your purpose causes the area of your brain that is responsible for your long term goals to activate. This gives you a rush of willpower as you begin to picture yourself achieving what you’re setting out to do.

It helps motivate you and makes that workout a lot more enjoyable as you see yourself getting closer to that goal.

4. Track your progress

We all have a natural desire for self-improvement. By writing down how many kilometres you ran this week will make you naturally want to run more next week. Write down the weight you lift so that next time you will be able to better yourself and lift heavier.

The most important post pregnancy rehab exercises

Pregnancy and childbirth affect your body in so many ways but the part of your body that takes the biggest knock is your core. Your abs get stretched and abused beyond recognition.

Most people think of their core as their abs where in fact it is actually all the muscles in your midsection including your back and hips. Pregnancy stretches and weakens your ab muscles, shortens and overworks the back muscles and widens the hips causing instability.

Can you see why it is so important that you start your rehab work on strengthening that core? Before attempting any physical exercise it is important to get the all clear from your doctor. You can also ask your doctor to check if you have diastasis recti. This is when the connecting tissue between your abs thins and causes your muscles to separate. This is a normal condition during pregnancy but may remain present afterwards in some women in which case you will need some special rehabilitation.

These are my recommended exercises and you can start them as soon as you get that all clear from the doc and all stitches/incisions have been removed and healed (c-section mamas you may have to wait a bit longer than those that had a natural birth).

1. Belly Breathing
Lie on your back with your knees up and feet resting on the floor. Take in a deep breath and then breathe out tightening your tummy muscles and pulling your belly button towards your spine. Hold the contraction for 5 seconds and try to work up to 10 seconds.

2. Single Leg Toe Taps
Lie on your back with your knees bent in a 90 degree angle (feet in the air). Hold your abs tight by doing your belly breathing and then lower one leg down to the floor and then back up. Do not let your lower back or spine move during the exercise. Complete 10 on each side.

3. Pelvic Tilts
Lie on your back with your feet elevated on either a ball or chair (maintaining a 90 degree angle with your knees). Tilt your pelvis back by pressing your lower back into the floor, hold for 5 seconds then repeat.

4. Hollow Holds
Lieo n your back contracting your abs and pulling your belly towards the floor. Keep your legs straight and arms extended overhead in line with your ears. Inhale to slowly lift your shoulders, arms, and legs off the floor. Keep your hands and heels as low to the ground as possible, while still pressing your lower back into the floor. Maintain tight abs and glutes. It’s OK to bend your knees if straight legs are too challenging. Hold for anything from 5-30 seconds.

5. Single-leg Deadlifts
Stand with feet under your hips. Shift your weight to stand on one leg which should remain straight with a soft bend in the knee. Keep your other leg straight and extend it behind you while bending forward until your body is almost parallel with the floor, then come back up. Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg. TIP: this will also challenge your balance so pick a spot with your eye and try to focus on it to help you from falling over.


6. Elbow Planks
Place your elbows on the ground or alternatively on the top of a stability ball and extended your legs out behind. Brace your abdomen and hips, straighten your back and hold the position for at least thirty seconds. Try to work up to a minute.  Be sure to keep a nice straight line with your body (don’t let your bum stick up or drop to the ground).

7 . Side Planks
Lie on your side with your elbow under your shoulder. Stack your hips and feet, stabilize your core, and lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line. Hold here for at least thirty seconds. Repeat on the other side.

* I will be doing an Instagram post where I will demonstrate each of these exercises so be sure to check it out