It’s fair to say that lockdown has not only disrupted our work lives, but our diet as well. Grab your phone, order, wait, eat and repeat. Admittedly some of us are guilty of taking the easier route of ordering take out, however this has caused a huge effect on our very own mental health.
Continuing our series with Amanda Bunton, Ownder of Wild & Free Adventures, on how to create your very own ‘At Home Retreat’, today we’ll talking all things food & nutrition. As you’ll learn, it’s clearly all about balance and feeding your body with ‘positive foods’. This isn’t too say you need to say goodbye to some of our favourites, but rather taking the time to recharge your body with the nutrients in needs to properly function …
Have you been keeping on top of your nutrition during lockdown?
Yes, I have found that lockdown has been the ideal opportunity to find time to make meals from scratch. Initially it was hard to source a few ingredients but as time moved on the shops had more availability. My partner and I have enjoyed cooking and making dishes together. We have found that making meals is mindful in itself and it has been a great way to unwind. Food has been an important part of our daily routine, providing the nourishment and interaction that is required during this challenging time.
Tell us a little about your favourite ingredients to use which help to keep your body and mind balanced. What are their benefits?
I would say that the 3 favourite ingredients of mine at the moment are …
. Nuts – nuts are rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, which lower LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol. Plus, they are a good source of phytoslerols, compounds that help lower blood cholestorol. They are packed with fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. (If you are not a fan of nuts or to cater for nut allergies, you can ditch these altogether and pack your granola with lots of seeds instead, which we do sometimes on our retreats. Tastes just as yummy and there’s lots of health benefits from the seeds of your choice)
. Miso – miso is a protein rich paste made from fermented soy beans. Miso helps to stimulate digestion, providing the gut with millions of beneficial bacteria and is full of essential vitamins and minerals, keeping us energised, healthy and happy!
. Ginger – root ginger has many health benefits and its medicinal properties have been values throughout the ages. It can help with digestion, stomach problems, relieve pain and soothes sore throats and act as an anti-inflammatory. It is goodness in root that can be enjoyed in drinks and food alike!
Is nutrition just as important as practicing yoga and breathing?
Yes, absolutely! Food is the energy that your body requires to function properly. If you aren’t eating well then your body and mind won’t function at their peak. We realised on our retreats that food became the heart of what brings people together in so many ways and helps to ensure you get the most from your mindfulness activities and catch the ‘wave of the day’! You need the right energy and nutrients to achieve your goals.
Can you share with us some of your favourite recipes to try at home?
Bang Crunch Granola – one of the appeals of this recipe is that you don’t need to use measured quantities and it can be adjusted to individual taste. I like to have fun adjusting and changing them whenever I make a batch so its always different and always tasty
. Whole oats
. Nuts of your choice (I personally use whole almonds, pine nuts and pecan nuts. Coconut flakes are also lovely for a real coconut flavour)
. Seeds of your choice (I use pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sometimes sesame seeds, however you can use whatever you would like)
. Dried fruit (I use cranberries and sometimes raisins)
. 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
. 2-3 drops of vanilla essence
. Pinch of salt (you really only need a pinch!)
. Maple syrup (use as much as you like)
. Runny honey (a drizzle to add an extra crunch)
. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. This includes the whole oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit
. Now add the coconut oil, vanilla essence and pinch of salt. Break up the coconut oil with your fingers and message into the dry ingredients. Take your time and enjoy mixing these ingredients, making sure any large lumps of coconut oil have been broke up
. Once all of the ingredients have been mixed up, add the maple syrup. Again combine all the ingredients with your hands ensuring the maple syrup is mixed thoroughly. This what adds the moist texture
. Once all mixed together lay out onto a baking tray covered with some grease proof paper. Ensure you get a thin and even spread of the mixture for consistent baking
. Once on a baking tray, drizzle over the honey in criss cross lines in one direction and then the other. This is what will add the crispiness and ensure you get some nice clusters of granola
. Bake in the oven at 140 degrees to cook slowly. It can take between 15-25 minutes depending on your oven. Check at 5 minute intervals
. Once baked to your liking, remove from the oven and allow to cool. This is very important to ensure the granola has time to dry and crisp up
. Once the granola has cooled, break up into clusters in the baking tray and transfer to a sealed container for freshness
I always serve with natural yoghurt and some fresh fruit. My preferred option is blueberries. Enjoy!
Happy Jumping Energy Balls – this is a really easy snack to make and an even better one to enjoy! We often have these available on our retreats for our guests to replenish their energy after a surf
. 200g of whole almonds (I like to keep the skin on)
. 400g medjool dates
. 4 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
. 2.5 tablespoons of almond butter
. 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
. Desiccated coconut or sesame seeds
. Begin by placing the almonds in the food processor and pulsing until they are nicely crushed
. Add the medjool dates and coconut oil and pulse until it’s fully mixed
. Add the almond butter and cacao and then mix again in the food processor
. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until the mixture is finished
. Once all the mixture is rolled into balls, pour the desiccated onto a plate and roll each ball in it
. Place the rolled balls into the freezer for around 1 hour, then remove and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Definitely go and enjoy!
Moreish Miso Ramen
For the broth
. 1 tablespoon of white miso paste
. 1 tablespoon of brown miso paste (if you only want to buy one go for white)
. 1 tablespoon veggie stock powder or 1/2 stock cube
. 1 thumb of ginger peeled and sliced, plus a few extra slices cut into fine matchstick to serve (optional)
. 2 cloves garlic, peeled
. 100g (x2 nests) rice noodles
For the glazed tofu
. 200g firm tofu (preferably organic)
. 2 cloves garlic
. 2 teaspoons soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten free option)
. 2 teaspoons agave (or runny honey if not vegan)
. 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
For the veggies
. 1 handful of Shitake mushrooms, ripped up
. A small broccoli head, florets broken into small pieces
. 25g beansprouts – ready to cook
. 1 head Pak Choi finely shredded
. 2 spring onions, finely sliced, white and green parts kept separata
. Sesame oil
. A pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
. Soy sauce
. 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
. Half a thumb of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
. 1 red chilli, very finely sliced
. A small bunch coriander, leaves picked
. Some toasted sesame seeds
. Toasted crushed peanuts
. First marinade the tofu. Place the cloves of garlic in a pestle and mortar and pound to a rough paste. Mix the soy, agave and vinegar into the garlic and put to one side. Pat the tofu dry with some kitchen paper on a clean tea towel, cut into chunky cubes and toss in the marinade. Set aside.
. Now to the broth. Gently heat the miso in a large pan, add the stock powder along with 1 litre of boiling water. Throw in the sliced ginger and whole garlic cloves too. Stir well and bring to the boil. Once boiling allow to simmer on the lowest heat, keeping your eye on it whilst you get on with everything else.
. Then onto getting the veggies ready. Heat some sesame oil in the frying pan and once hot add the mushrooms with a splash of soy. Allow to fry away nicely for a few minutes until cooked through. Remove from the pan and then get the pan back on the heat with a splash more sesame oil. Add the broccoli florets with a splash of soy and a pinch of chilli flakes, if you like some spice. You want to take the rawness out of the broccoli, but it still needs to remain lovely and crunchy, this shouldn’t take too long, a couple of minutes max. Remove and set aside .
. Next, melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the pan and then add the tofu, along with all the lovely marinade. Fry until all over but not burnt.
. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, drain and then rinse under a cold tap to stop them sticking
. You’re now almost ready to serve! Sieve the broth to remove the garlic and ginger, then put it back on a high heat, add the pack choi and whites of the spring onions. Heat for a minute or so until the greens have just wilted.
. Divide the noodles into deep bowls. Add the beansprouts, mushrooms, broccoli and tofu and then ladle over the broth and greens. Top with the ginger and carrot matchsticks, the green parts of the spring onions, sliced red chilli, coriander leaves, peanuts, sesame seeds and a final drizzle of sesame oil. Enjoy!
And finally, how should your food and nutrition change when going into the new summer season?
We always try and eat seasonally. By using locally sourced and seasonal produce you are helping to maintain not only your body (which is seasonal itself), but also ensuring that what you eat is sustainable and economical. Coming into spring and summer the UK is abundant with fresh produce. One of my favourites is asparagus and we can forage for wild garlic to add to salads.
Stay tuned for Part 3 …