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Mary Callan: Food Yoga and Life has MOVED!!  Please do stay in touch – to visit click The Well Fed Yogi

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Spatchcocked Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme.

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Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Meaning it’s hard to beat a marinade of garlic, lemons, olive oil and fresh herbs. You can always amp it up a little by adding a few flakes of red chili peppers but frankly some freshly ground black pepper and Maldon Sea Salt is really all you need. This never fails to please and is super duper easy to whip up. If you can manage to marinate it overnight so much the better but if you’re as disorganized as I am, a quick hour in the fridge will work wonders. Any fresh herbs work, rosemary is always a winner but if you can’t find anything better just settle for parsley.

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Ingredients:

1, 4lb organic chicken, backbone removed

2 heaping teaspoons of fresh thyme

Salt and pepper for sprinkling

4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled, smashed and roughly chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

Dash of balsamic vinegar

Method:

  1. Cut the back bone out of the chicken. If you don’t know how to do this have your butcher do it for you or watch this youtube video – it’s really very easy. Place the chicken into a large zip lock bag.
  2. In a bowl combine the zest and juice of the lemons, thyme, salt and pepper, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar whisk together until emulsified.
  3. Pour the marinade into the zip lock bag with the chicken. I like to throw in the lemon skins that I’ve used for the zest and juice. Squish it around making sure the marinade gets into all the nooks and crannies of the chicken. Place in the fridge for as long as you’ve got.
  4. When ready to roast, heat the oven to 425F. Place the chicken all stretched out in a pan with the marinade and put in the oven. After 15 minutes turn down the temperature to 375F and cook for a further 50 minutes to 1 hour until the chicken is golden.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to rest, covered with aluminuim foil for 10  minutes before carving.
  6. Best served with a salad, roast potatoes or a top notch French Baguette.

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The Joy of Cooking – my way.

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I feel I’ve wasted some valuable “cooking” years of my life by losing focus and getting too hung up on “healthy” foods or even trying hard to avoid the subject of food all together. This has been a ridiculous state of affairs and I’m putting a stop to it. Nourishing yourself is the most basic of instincts and thankfully some of us adore the process of bringing that nourishment to the table. There is a time to revel in sugar, fat and carbs and a time to appreciate more streamlined foods, and of course it’s always time to indulge in eating any vegetable that takes your fancy and yes I do mean potatoes – especially with the skin on.

steak-2I’m inwardly seething that I have allowed myself to be marched off by the food police down the bland and highly unsatisfying highway of tofu, rice and beans. Not that there’s anything wrong with tofu, rice or beans in themselves. It’s when you’ve allowed yourself to be hoodwinked into believing they’re the recipe for longevity and a slender glowing body, only to find yourself exhausted, pale and 20 pounds heavier that you wake up and start smelling the bacon. Whatever happened to my copy of Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” It’s time I retrieved it, dusted it off and brought a pound of butter from the market. It’s time for flavor. How about that steak?

Out comes the braiser, the roasting pan and the magimix, out come the favorite cookbooks and old recipes. My kitchen is going to be a “no rules” kitchen and simply a place for creativity, nourishment and delight – just as it was meant to be – before I got sidetracked.

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Photo credit: cookbooks Pinterest

Photo credit: chicken Pinterest


Say Good Bye to Body Clutter

Have you noticed how decluttering is all the rage? I’ve embraced it whole heartedly and said “sayonara” to a good chunk of my belongings. It feels great. It looks great. It’s less expensive, it’s easier to find things, it’s easier to clean up. Most of all I love that I love everything I own (almost). Pretty much everything you read on the joys and benefits of decluttering are – well – true. Yes, less is more.

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This got me thinking. What about all the other clutter? The digital clutter, the mental clutter (don’t get me started) and most of all what about the body clutter? Decluttering the house resulted in feeling wonderful about my house. If I decluttered my body I’m sure I’d feel wonderful about that too. I feel like I’ve got quite a bit of body clutter hanging around. I definitely don’t need all of me. I think I could let go of about 10 – 15 % of myself. You know, the double chin, the muffin top, the giggly thighs – that sort of 10-15%.

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Does this sound deceptively like a diet? It’s not. It’s a map to follow t0 help you let go of what you don’t need. It doesn’t need to be weight related in the slightest. I realized lately that my prized Ray Ban sunglasses are pretty much glued to my face even when it’s grey and rainy. Are my sunglasses body clutter? If so – why? When I decluttered my house I took it slowly and specifically, one room at a time, sometimes one drawer at a time. I tried hard not to be judgmental and to be “kind” to myself.  I suspect the same principles apply to body clutter.

First, understand realistically what you need to let go of. Is it your sunglasses? do you just need a haircut to get rid of those split ends? or perhaps you should be using half the amount of makeup you’re currently using. Figure out specifically what you want to be rid of most and start with that. Be really specific – for instance, if you feel life would be  better with a slimmer waist:

  1. grab a tape measure and measure (non judgmentally) your waist measurement, then decide (realistically) exactly how many centimeters or inches you need to say goodbye to and how long you expect this to take.
  2. Research ab exercises and the best belly slimming foods. Block out 10 minutes a day in your schedule to do the ab exercises and make a shopping list for the groceries.
  3. Stock the fridge with the groceries, add a snack bag to your purse and car so you’re ready when hunger strikes.
  4. Declutter the kitchen cabinets of all temptations and steer away from bakeries for a good month.
  5. If you slip up and eat a chocolate croissant – enjoy it!! then have a Green Juice or a bowl of soup for your next meal.
  6. Keep decluttering your kitchen and your closet – things work in tandem.

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Have you thought of piercings as another type of body clutter? If you have multiple piercings how do you feel about relieving your body of a few?

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A friend of mine used to wear about 10 bangles on both wrists, it became a bit of a security blanket for her but also began to weigh her down. Slowly, she removed one bangle a day until they were down to a manageable amount. She felt free of her shackles.

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How about you – what body clutter are you contending with? What will you let go of? What do you want to hold on to and why? I’d love to hear……


Chocolate Mousse

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I make no apologies for this. Except to say that when you’re in need of a decedent, luscious, deeply chocolatey chocolate mousse – this is your answer. Whatever is going on in your life, whether you’re in need of a celebration, or things are tricky and you’re craving some sort of chocolate therapy this is going to work. It’s divine. Really. This is old fashioned glamour – meaning it’s fully loaded with butter, eggs, cream and dark chocolate – not one of those new fangled mousses with avocado and bananas – not that I’m knocking those, they’re great when you’re feeling all gung ho and health conscious, but sometimes, just sometimes you need the real thing – no excuses, no apologies.

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Chocolate Mousse:

Ingredients:

8 oz of good quality fair trade dark chocolate

⅓ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cocoa powder (Hershey’s is great)

3 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup heavy cream

Method:

1. Place the chocolate, cream, vanilla and cocoa powder into a pan on very low temperature and heat until the chocolate melts and the ingredients combine. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 5 mins.

2. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl and using an electric beater beat until light and fluffy. Then beat in the melted chocolate mixture.

3. In a clean dry bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the whites through the chocolate mixture.

4. Whip the cream in a separate bowl until peaks form and then fold this mixture through the chocolate mixture – reserving a little for decoration.

5. Spoon into serving bowls, place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until ready to serve.

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Essential Oil Guide: The Basics

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Have you tried essential oils as part of your wellness arsenal?? If not do try – they’re divine. The important thing is the quality of the oil. You want to go with Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oils, my favorite companies are doTERRA and Young Living. You can wear these oils, ingest some of the them, cook with them and diffuse them. I always have a bottle of lavender oil my handbag – it’s amazing how handy it comes in – either for me or someone I’m with:) Oils are like the ultimate security blanket.

If you’re new to oils here’s a list of my top picks and how I use them:

  1. Lavender

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If you’re going to just try one oil – try this. Use it in the bath, sprinkle it on your pillow before you go to sleep, rub a few drops on your temples when you have a headache or just when you want to feel a little less stressed. It’s like been enveloped in a scent of pure loveliness.

2. Lemon

 

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This oil is so full of vitality and happiness. My favorite way to use it is adding a drop or two into a chilled glass of sparking water with a sprig of fresh mint. SO refreshing. I’ve actually swapped out my evening glass of wine for this – and believe me I wouldn’t do that unless it was really good. It’s wonderfully uplifting using it in a diffuser while cleaning. I use it every time I need a lift to my day.

3. Peppermint

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This oil cures a multitude of ills including an upset stomach, respiratory issues (especially sinus in my experience), headache and nausea. It’s also wonderful for cleaning and diffusing when you want an uplifting vibe. Also  –  ants HATE peppermint oil – so if you have an ant problem, sprinkle a few drops on some paper towel and leave it out for your ants to find – they won’t come back!

4. Frankincense

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As strange as it may sound Frankincense has become a staple oil in my house. It’s wonderful for calming anxiety, reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. Try it on the soles of your feet before bed for a restful nights sleep. It’s an ancient oil with tremendous benefits.

Many oils are safe to ingest and most are very safe to use on the skin but always read the directions on the bottle. It’s best to test a patch of skin to make sure all is well before going too crazy. If there is any sensitivity you can combine them with a carrier oil, such as coconut. This also enables a little oil to go a long way:)

I use oils all the time as a holistic helping hand for a healthy home and family. I hope you come to love them as much as I do.

 

 


Vegan, Paleo, Plantbased or your Grandparents diet??

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Labels can be restrictive don’t you think?  For years I was a vegan – not a perfect one I might add – but I wore the label and loved the ideals. As a yogi veganism seemed a perfect fit. One of the most fundamental beliefs of a Yogi is not to harm anyone or thing – so it just made sense not to eat animals.  Or so I thought. It turned out over time that the one person I was harming was myself. After putting on 22 pounds, feeling exhausted most of the time with horrid headaches and achy joints (not to mention a very unhappy digestive system) I dragged myself off to see a Holistic Doctor. I proudly told her about my diet, then the sorrowful story of my health. Then she suggested I start eating meat. What! All the alarm bells went off, what about all those books I’d read, the documentaries I’d watched – meat and animal products are evil – to the planet, to our bodies and most of all to the animals!!

My doctor was very patient and understanding of my ethical dilemmas. She gently explained that my body wasn’t happy being fed a diet so high in carbohydrates – even “good” ones such as whole grains, that I wasn’t able to thrive and therefore not able to give the best of myself to others as I was exhausted and sick. She suggested adding a little organic animal protein back into my diet and take out the whole grains. She encouraged me to seek out the most humane and ethical companies who produced these products (farmers markets seem a good place to me). She also suggested that I give thanks to the animal for it’s sacrifice and for providing me with nourishment.

The strange thing was that I knew in my bones she was right. I knew I wasn’t thriving, I knew I felt better with animal protein and plenty of veggies but I wanted the vegan label. I didn’t want anything to do with the misery that some animals are put through before they end up on our plate. But as I am finding, it is possible to find ethical sources for meat, fish and dairy (a post on this coming).

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Slowly I started eating animal protein, slowly my body came back into balance. And of course it’s balance we’re all so badly in need of. Not 4lbs of bacon for breakfast or living on nothing but green juices for 2 weeks but a “sensible” diet like the one my grandparents thrived on. Modest portions, plenty of vegetables – preferably homegrown, small amounts of fresh, wild meat and fish, eggs from the chickens in the garden, whole milk dairy products in moderation and the occasional sweet treat which was always homemade. The desserts very often involved some type of fruit that had been picked from the fruit trees in the garden or foraged on a walk with the dogs such as blackberries for blackberry and apple crisp. There would always be dark chocolate in the house and a little square was enjoyed every day after lunch. There was no diabetes, heart disease,  weight issues or cancer in their lives, they were both extremely healthy and active until very shortly before their deaths in their late 80s. No they didn’t live to be 100 but their lives were full and happy and their energy was extraordinary.

In the end it turns out eating is not complicated. Instead of picking up a label and deciding that’s who you are, listen closely to what your body is telling you. Are you thriving on the diet of your choice? Your body is meant to thrive – it wants to thrive – so if you’re not – listen – trust it’s guidance and give it the nourishment it needs.

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Parsnip Soup

Vegan Photo Credit: Pinterest

Steak Photo Credit: Pinterest


Pumpkin Cupcakes

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My husband said these were the best cupcakes he’s ever eaten – and between you and me – he can be a little picky – so you can only imagine how delicious these are.  The sponge is super duper light and airy and the frosting is luscious. If you want to limit your sugar intake you could absolutely gobble these down without the frosting and they’d still be delicious.

It’s just become real Fall weather here in New York, the temperatures finally dipping and the leaves are beginning to turn. Pumpkins adorn every door step and at the farmer’s market they come in all shapes and sizes – LOVE this time of year!

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting.

Ingredients:    Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour OR 1 cup regular all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature!)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 oz cream cheese

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper liners.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut sugar, vanilla extract and canola oil until emulsified.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon, gently mix until combined. Don’t over mix.
  5. Spoon the batter into the paper lined muffin tray, fill each liner to about 2/3 full.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the cupcakes have risen and spring back when gently pressed on the top.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tray, then remove the cupcakes and allow them to cool completely on a bakers rack before frosting.
  8. To make the frosting, place all the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth.
  9. Frost the cupcakes, decorate with rose petals (please be sure the flowers have not been treated with any chemicals!)
  10. Enjoy.

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Pumpkin Photo Credit: Pinterest


Vegan Cookie Dough Balls

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You may think I’ve adopted a raw food diet – but no – it’s just that this AMAZING treat happens to be raw like the brownies in the previous post. They really hit the spot if you’re looking for something sweet without all the refined sugar, fat and flour – ugh! Plus there’s no need to turn the oven on – a huge bonus in 90 degree heat. There’s plenty of protein in these lovey little bites so you get full quickly – unlike the store bought cookie dough which I manage to plow through and then feel like death. They keep quite happily in the fridge for a few days:) Try them – you’ll be amazed – I was:)

Vegan Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup gluten free oats

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

3 – 4 tablespoons maple syrup

1 cup chocolate chips (vegan, dairy and soy free are available in the supermarket)

1 tablespoon almond milk

Method:

1. Place all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor and blitz until the mixture comes together.

2. If the mixture is too thin add a little more coconut flour and oats, if it’s too thick add another splash of almond milk.

3. Add the chocolate chips and blitz.

4. Scoop out approximately 1 tablespoon of dough at a time and roll into a ball. Eat immediately or store in the fridge until needed.

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Space Clearing

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Have you tried space clearing? or feng shui? I live in an old Victorian house with four daughters, a dog and a husband who works from home – believe me, our house needs some space clearing. I’m just getting started with the whole feng shui, space clearing endeavor and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Because I really don’t know what I’m talking about here I’ll give you a quick overview as I see and understand it. Please feel free to chime in in the comments below and put me straight.

Good old fashioned elbow grease and cleaning takes care of the physical dirt and grime. Space clearing takes care of the energetic dirt and grime. I know it sounds a little strange but stay with me – think about when you’ve walked into a home and you’ve picked up a vibe, perhaps something felt a little strained, all of a sudden you felt you were walking on eggshells, or perhaps you just felt weighed down and stagnant in another house, or maybe you felt light and happy – that’s the energy you’re picking up in each environment. We’re always effected by our environment whether it’s our house or someone else’s. Space clearing removes the negative energy – or bad vibes in a house.

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Photo credit Pinterest

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Clean the area really well – dust, vacuum and mop until it shines.
  2. You can use a smudge stick (available at most health food stores) or essential oils. If you’re using a smudge stick, light the tip of the stick with a candle or match, then wave it in the air until it starts to smoulder – it’s not actually on fire! Say a prayer or set an intention then walk around the area you wish to clear, gently waving the stick and focusing on your prayer or intention. It’s important to get into the dark forgotten corners. You can hold the stick over a fireproof container for extra protection if you like.
  3. If you’re using essential oils instead, lavender or some citrus oils are lovely, just sprinkle a few drops around the edges of the room, again focusing on your prayer or intention.
  4. When you’re finished, light a candle to continue to purify the environment.
  5. Opening a window to let some fresh air in is always a good idea and finish everything off with a lovely bunch of fresh flowers.
  6. As an extra step you can also sprinkle some sea salt along the entrance to the room, leave it for an hour or two or even overnight, then sweep it up and take it outside into the garden to dispose of.

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Photo credit: Pinterest

What I can tell you, after this ritual not only are things beautifully clean, but everything feels lighter, calmer and honestly, there seems to be more space to breathe!

Have you space cleared? I’d love to hear your experiences. If you’re interested in learning more, here are two wonderful websites that I love to visit Simple Shui and The Tao of Dana.