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: 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: Warm Vegan Potato Salad with Griddled Asparagus and Grapefruit Dressing

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Recipe: Warm Vegan Potato Salad with Griddled Asparagus and Grapefruit Dressing

Recipe: Warm Vegan Potato Salad with Griddled Asparagus and Grapefruit Dressing

Ingredients

  • Baby Charlotte potatoes, scrubbed and cut into halves or quarters if large
  • 50g whole hazelnuts
  • 50g baby broad beans (frozen)
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • 2 courgettes, topped, tailed and cut into ribbons with a potato peeler
  • 1 bunch of asparagus spears, trimmed
  • For the Dressing:
  • Juice of a pink (ruby) grapefruit
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • Seasoning to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200oC/180oC fan/Gas 4
  2. Place the broad beans in a small pan with boiling water and simmer for a few minutes, rinse in cold water and set aside to cool
  3. Put the potatoes in a pan with cold, lightly salted water, bring to the boil and cook for 12-15 minutes or until tender
  4. Place hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes until browning and skins (if they have any) are splitting
  5. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients together well and checking for seasoning
  6. Shuck the broad beans out of their skins once cooled and place in a large serving bowl
  7. Rub the cooked hazelnuts in a clean tea towel to remove any skins, add to the serving bowl
  8. Heat a large frying pan or griddle pan until fairly hot
  9. Add 1 Tbsp of oil and fry the courgette ribbons in batches until browning, add browned courgettes to the serving bowl
  10. Once potatoes are tender, drain and add to the serving bowl, pour over the dressing to allow it to soak into the potatoes
  11. Griddle or fry the asparagus in the large frying pan (doesn't require any additional oil)
  12. Toss the salad well in the serving bowl
  13. Assemble the salad on the plate and top with the whole asparagus spears
  14. Drizzle over any remaining dressing in the salad bowl
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2018/04/30/recipe-warm-vegan-potato-salad-with-griddled-asparagus-and-grapefruit-dressing/
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Recipe: Vegan Lentil Moussaka

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Recipe: Vegan Lentil Moussaka

Yield: 6-8

Recipe: Vegan Lentil Moussaka

I didn't use a cinnamon stick as I have a spice mix I pre-make and grind with orange peel, cloves, star anise and a cinnamon stick. The cinnamon stick should give a similar subtle aroma and flavour 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 Aubergine, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 yellow peppers, deseeded and sliced
  • 4 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 800g Potatoes, Maris Piper or similar (peeled weight), peeled and finely sliced with a mandolin or food processor
  • 500g Passata
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick, bruised
  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 Tbsp. mixed herbs
  • 2 400g tins of green lentils, drained and rinsed
  • Brown breadcrumbs (I used 2 pumpkin seeded sourdough crusts)
  • Seasoning to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the grill and place the aubergine slices onto foil on the grill pan. Brush lightly with 1 Tbsp. of the oil.
  2. Grill until lightly browned on both sides, set to the side
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onions and peppers until starting to lightly caramelise
  4. Add the garlic to the pan and fry for a few more minutes before removing pan from the heat
  5. Place the sliced potatoes in a large pan and pour over boiling water to cover, salt lightly
  6. Allow the potatoes to boil for 5 minutes or until softened but cooked through
  7. Preheat the oven to 200oC/180oC fan/Gas 5
  8. Pour the passata into a jug, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and herbs, stir well, add the cinnamon stick (you will need to be careful when serving to remove), add seasoning to taste
  9. Place half of the lentils in the base of a large baking dish, top with half of the onion and pepper mixture and top with a layer of aubergine.
  10. Repeat the layers
  11. Pour the passata mix over the vegetables
  12. Top with sliced potatoes then sprinkle over the breadcrumbs
  13. Bake for 45 minutes until cooked through, golden on top and bubbling
  14. Easy to make ahead and reheat when needed.
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2018/03/07/recipe-vegan-lentil-moussaka/
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Recipe: Vegan Split Pea and Red Lentil Soup

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Recipe: Vegan Split Pea and Red Lentil Soup

Yield: 4

Recipe: Vegan Split Pea and Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. Cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 2 Large onions, peeled and chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 180g Split peas (green or yellow)
  • 20g Red lentils
  • 600ml vegan bouillon or 1 Kallo French Onion stock cube
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Smoked paprika and black pepper to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat
  2. Stir in onions and salt and sauté for 5-8 minutes until softened
  3. Add the rinsed split peas and lentils and stock
  4. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes until the peas and lentils are cooked but retaining a little shape and bite
  5. Spoon 3 ladlesful of the soup into a bowl and puree the rest with a hand blender
  6. Return the chunky soup to the pan and add the lemon juice, heat through
  7. Check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with the paprika and pepper
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2018/03/02/recipe-vegan-split-pea-and-red-lentil-soup/
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