The Best Exercises for Happiness

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It’s the dreaded beach body season. The adverts abound with images of the body beautiful, all toned, all tanned, all lithe and long and frankly lacking the common touch. Very few of us look like models, even on our best days. I’ve noticed an increase in the quantity of diets on offer too on social media. Not to mention some ‘new’ diets: The Keto diet, the 16/18 diet and so on.

Diets don’t work. Bare fact is that dieting is at best only a temporary solution. The body of scientific evidence and research demonstrates that the average person on the average diet regains all their lost weight and often more. We need to stop thinking about weight loss as a goal and start shifting perspectives about how to maintain healthy weights and, importantly, encourage people to feel happier about themselves.

And this is where exercise is important. Any exercise. It doesn’t have to be glamorous, or in colour co-ordinated kit, in expensive kit or in an organised manner. It just has to get you moving and, ideally, having fun. Like pausing on a beach on wild Summers’ day, post kayaking, to frog balance, just for fun. Sure I don’t look fabulous but that’s entirely the point!

So here’s my guide to exercising for happiness:

  1. Exercise your ability to get outdoors
  2. Exercise your body in any way that suits your physiology, budget and time
  3. Exercise your right to occupy space, whatever your weight and body type
  4. Exercise your belief that you are enough as you are
  5. Exercise not comparing yourselves to others
  6. Exercise putting your phone away
  7. Exercise restraint with treats, one a day works well as a guide
  8. Exercise caution with alcohol, it’s a depressant and, if you’re struggling to stay positive, it’s unlikely to be helpful
  9. Exercise skepticism about quick fixes, diets and cleanses – they’re after your money not your wellbeing
  10. Exercise delight in everything your body can do, how it functions, how well it carries you through life not how it appears
  11. Exercise pride in a body that has nourished life, withstood disease or accident and bears the scars
  12. Exercise love for yourself not envy of others. They are probably on their own journey of acceptance
  13. Exercise working to long term goals
  14. Exercise the beauty of rewards for accomplishments, be proud of yourself
  15. Exercise happiness in the fact that change only comes to those who make changes, however small – they’re significant

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Aloo Gobi Bake

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Recipe: Aloo Gobi Bake

Recipe: Aloo Gobi Bake

My photo was absolutely awful so I’ve chosen a stock image for this recipe! 😀

Ingredients

  • 400g baby potatoes, scrubbed and halved if large
  • 1 head of broccoli, separated into florets
  • 1 head of cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 4 large tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
  • 400g tin of chickpeas
  • Half a jar of Madras curry sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
  • Half a pack of coriander, chopped
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC/180oC fan/Gas 6
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper
  3. Boil the potatoes for 6 minutes, drain and tip onto the baking sheet
  4. Add the vegetables and chickpeas
  5. Mix the curry paste with the oil, chilli and half the coriander
  6. Pour over the vegetables and potatoes and mix well with your hands to coat, season
  7. Bake for 30 minutes until browned and potatoes are cooked through
  8. Serve scattered with the remaining coriander. Squeeze over half the lime wedges and garnish with the remainder
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2019/02/08/aloo-gobi-bake/
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Recipe: Herby Spinach and Chilli Vegan Lasagne

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Recipe: Herby Spinach and Chilli Vegan Lasagne

Recipe: Herby Spinach and Chilli Vegan Lasagne

Ingredients

  • 450g fresh, unwashed spinach
  • 1/2 pack of Violife Creamy cheese (or similar vegan ricotta substitute)
  • Pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
  • Seasoning to taste (I used herbamare and freshly ground black pepper)
  • I Tbsp. dried mixed herbs
  • Pack of fresh basil, leaves picked and torn
  • 2 jars of premade tomato and chilli pasta sauce (I used Aldi’s Specially Selected)
  • 6-8 sheets of egg free lasagne (most dried lasagne sheets are sfv)
  • 1 block of Violife Block, grated
  • To serve: two carrots, peeled and one courgette sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler and lightly griddled in a tiny splash of extra virin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220oC/200oC fan/Gas 7
  2. Wash the spinach thoroughly and drain
  3. Wilt the spinach in a covered microwave bowl, in batches, with just the water clinging to the leaves, drain and chop roughly
  4. Add drained, chopped spinach to a bowl and stir in the violife creamy, half of the grated Violife Block, the mixed herbs, spices and the basil
  5. Season to taste,
  6. Spread a few spoonfuls of the pasta sauce in the base of a large lasagne dish
  7. Layer the lasagne sheets to cover the base of the dish
  8. Cover the pasta with half of the spinach and herb mix
  9. Top with the remainder of the pasta sauce jar
  10. Repeat, finishing with a top layer of pasta sauce
  11. Sprinkle over the remaining Violife Block and bake until golden brown and bubbling on top
  12. (approx. 30 minutes depending on the depth of the lasagne dish and how many layers etc)
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2019/01/31/recipe-herby-spinach-and-chilli-vegan-lasagne/
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Recipe: Smoky Vegan Paella

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Recipe: Smoky Vegan Paella

Recipe: Smoky Vegan Paella

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 red and 1 green pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 beef tomatoes, deseeded and flesh finely chopped
  • 1 litre of vegetable bouillon
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • 400g paella (or arborio) rice
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tsp. turmeric
  • 100g frozen petit pois
  • 200g tinned (or frozen) sweetcorn, drained
  • 100g mushrooms wiped and chopped
  • Seasoning to taste (I used herbamare salt and freshly ground black pepper)
  • To Garnish:
  • Freshly chopped parsley and lemon wedges

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok
  2. Add the onion, garlic, peppers and bay leaf, fry for 5 minutes
  3. Add the tomatoes and the rice, stir to coat in the oil
  4. In another pan heat the stock, add the wine and whisk in the spices and seasoning
  5. When the rice is opaque add the spiced liquid and stir
  6. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and cover
  7. Simmer for 20 minutes
  8. Add all remaining ingredients, cover and cook for a further 15 minutes
  9. Once cooked, remove from heat and rest for a few moments before serving scattered with chopped parsley and garnished with lemon wedges
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2019/01/31/recipe-smoky-vegan-paella/
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Recipe: Chilli and Fennel Vegan Sausage Casserole

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Chilli and Fennel Vegan Sausage Casserole

Chilli and Fennel Vegan Sausage Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Linda McCartney sausages
  • I Tbsp. cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed, sliced and fronds reserved
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 Tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 Tsp. chilli flakes
  • 400g tin of canned tomatoes
  • Hot water
  • To serve:
  • Tagliatelle or sautéed potatoes
  • Fresh basil and parsley leaves and the reserved fennel fronds

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan
  2. Add the sausages and brown for 8-10 minutes then remove and set aside
  3. Add the sliced fennel to the pan and sauté for 5-7 minutes (adding more oil if necessary)
  4. Add the crushed garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring well
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and refill the emptied can with the hot water, add to the pan
  6. Return the sausages to the pan
  7. Cook uncovered for a further 20 minutes before checking seasoning and serving over tagliatelle or with sautéed potatoes
  8. Dress with the reserved fronds and chopped fresh herbs
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2018/11/20/recipe-chilli-and-fennel-vegan-suasage-ragu/
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Recipe: Spicy Bean Sausage One-Pot

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Recipe: Spicy Bean Sausage One-pot!

Recipe: Spicy Bean Sausage One-pot!

Ingredients

  • I tbsp. cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 10 Linda McCartney sausages
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 green peppers, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. Chilli flakes
  • 400g can of tinned tomatoes
  • 100ml good red wine
  • 400g can of tinned red kidney beans
  • Bunch of fresh thyme

Instructions

  1. Fry the sausages in the oil for 5-10 minutes until browned
  2. Remove sausages and add onion and pepper to the pan adding a little more oil if required
  3. Cook for a further 5 minutes and return the sausages to the pan with the rest of the ingredients
  4. Stir well
  5. Bring to the boil
  6. Simmer over a low heat for a further 20 minutes

Notes

Serve with creamy mashed potato, boiled rice or good crusty bread and some freshly steamed kale or spring greens

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2018/11/18/recipe-spicy-bean-sausage-one-pot/
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Recipe: Healthy Date Balls

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Recipe: Healthy Date Balls

Yield: 24 balls approx

Recipe: Healthy Date Balls

Ingredients

  • 400g soft, pitted dates (I used medjool and pitted them myself)
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 30g raw cacao powder
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp. almond milk
  • A selection of seeds for rolling (I used chia, brown linseed, sesame and pumpkin)

Instructions

  1. Put the dates into a food processor and blend until they are sticky and form a soft ball
  2. Add the almonds, cacao powder, coconut and salt, process again
  3. You may have to stop to push the mixture down towards the blades if it is sticky. You can also add a little water or additional almond milk
  4. Add the liquid ingredients, blend again until a ball forms in the mixing bowl, add additional milk if required
  5. Use a tea spoon to measure out spoonfuls of mixture and use your hand to roll into balls
  6. Roll each ball in your seed mixture and keep in the fridge

Notes

Perfect for lunchboxes, breakfasts on the go or for flagging energy!

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2018/08/24/recipe-healthy-date-balls/
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Recipe: Lentil and Kale Curry with Coconut Raita

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Recipe: Lentil and Kale Curry with Coconut Raita

Recipe: Lentil and Kale Curry with Coconut Raita

Ingredients

  • Curry:
  • I Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6-8 small new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. dried chilli flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. medium curry powder
  • 1 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g tinned green lentils
  • 100ml vegetable bouillon
  • 1 Tsp. sugar
  • Approx 100g kale, tough stalks removed
  • Seasoning to taste
  • Raita:
  • Half a pot of coconut yoghurt (I used Koko)
  • Half a cucumber, finely diced
  • Pinch of garam masala
  • To serve:
  • Wholegrain basmati rice
  • Fresh coriander, leaves picked

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, potatoes and carrots
  2. Sauté gently until they start to soften
  3. Add the garlic, chillies and curry powder, cook for a further 5 minutes or until fragrant
  4. Pour in the tinned ingredients, lentil and bouillon with a pinch of sugar
  5. Bring to the boil then partially cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes or so
  6. About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the washed kale
  7. Once everything is tender and the kale wilted, the curry is ready to serve
  8. Keep hot while you mix the raita ingredients together, place in a bowl or serve on top of the finished dish
  9. Serve with the rice and topped with fresh coriander and raita unless serving separately
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2018/08/04/recipe-lentil-and-kale-curry-with-coconut-raita/
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Recipe: Spiced Roast Cauliflower with Creamy Kale and Lemon Pesto

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Spiced Roast Cauliflower with Creamy Kale and Lemon Pesto

Spiced Roast Cauliflower with Creamy Kale and Lemon Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 heads cauliflower (half a head per person), green leaves removed and halved
  • Pesto
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped, about a standard colander full (or half of a supermarket bag)
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ Tsp. salt
  • Up to 100ml Avocado or cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Make cauliflower: Heat oven to 200oC/180oC fan/Gas 5
  2. In small bowl, whisk oil, salt, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and lemon juice
  3. Add black pepper to taste.
  4. Place cauliflower on a baking parchment-lined baking sheet
  5. Brush marinade over cauliflower to cover (including underside)
  6. Pour any extra over the top
  7. Roast for around 45 minutes or until starting to brown on top
  8. Make pesto: wash the kale and place into a microwaveable bowl with a lid, steam for 2 minutes in just the water clinging to the leaves
  9. Carefully lift the kale out of any moisture in the bowl and place in the food processor
  10. Place all pesto ingredients except oil in food processor and pulse a few times until everything is chopped
  11. Add oil slowly until the pesto is fully combined, depending upon your processor you may need to add some spoonfuls of water to loosen the pesto mixture enough to blend
  12. Divide cauliflower amongst plates and top with about half of the pesto
  13. Serve with spiralised courgettes or baby new potatoes and serve any additional pesto on the side if required
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2018/07/29/recipe-spiced-roast-cauliflower-with-creamy-kale-and-lemon-pesto/
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Recipe: Summer Squash Soup

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Recipe: Summer Squash Soup

Recipe: Summer Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. Vegan Margarine (I used Pure)
  • 2 yellow Summer (medallion) squashes, thinly sliced (reserve a few slices)
  • 1 litre vegan bouillon
  • I large onion, roughly chopped
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 2 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast (nooch)
  • To Garnish:
  • Reserved squash slices
  • drizzle of avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley sprigs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oc/180oC/Gas 5
  2. Heat the vegan butter in a large saucepan
  3. Add the onion and sliced yellow squash
  4. Sauté until tender and golden
  5. Meanwhile lay the reserved slices on a baking paper lined baking tray
  6. Drizzle with the oil and roast until well browned
  7. Pour the stock, nooch and lemon juice over the vegetables in the pan and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes
  8. Blend until completely smooth
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  10. Garnish with the roasted squash slices and the parsley sprigs
  11. Serve warm with a garnish of fresh parsley.
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2018/07/18/recipe-summer-squash-soup/
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