This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Green+Aquamarine: November 2015

Monday, 30 November 2015

Three Bean Chilli with Lime Cashew Cream

Let me talk to you about the heavenly, although sometimes fickle, delight that is cashew cream. Oh my. In essence, it is cashew butter with water and a few choice flavourings slowly added to loosen it into a thick, creamy sauce. I initially started making this as an alternative to cream to dollop on breakfasts and desserts by flavouring the cashew butter with vanilla. Then I discovered lime cashew cream. Ahhh.... This zesty sauce just brings savoury dishes to life, injecting sharp flavour into Mexican and South American-inspired dishes. Last week, I drizzled it over vegan enchiladas (recipe from The First Mess; I seriously recommend that you try it, and make the sauce from scratch. Heaven) and this week it has featured on my three bean chilli. As well as adding flavour, a teaspoon or two of cashew cream increases your protein intake (a quarter of a cup of cashews contains 5g protein) without being as high fat as some other nuts and seeds.

Three bean chilli with lime cashew cream. Vegan friendly, high protein and oh-so tasty. Via @eleanormayc

I was once told that it wasn't worth making a vegetarian or vegan chilli because the taste and texture would never be able to match up to that of good beef mince. And in general, I have held this to be true, with vegetable chills being rather watery, bland affairs despite all the love and attention put into them. I started playing around with textures, using lentils and grated vegetables to emulate the finely ground meat in traditional chilli con carnes. The lentils worked well, but made the dish a little legume heavy if I wanted beans as well. So, after a little tweaking, I came up with this three bean chilli. Without the cashew cream, this dish is seriously kind on your wallet, costing under £5 for a good 4-6 portions and a side. It is a real store cupboard meal too, so perfect for whipping up at the end of the week, or just before payday.

Apologies for the limited photographs here. The lighting has been seriously poor lately (hello tail end of two hurricanes), even when shooting over two lunchtimes. Boo!

Notes ~ If you prefer dried beans to tinned, 100g of dried beans tends to equate to a 400g tin of cooked beans. If you are scaling this recipe down to serve one or two, use a tin of pre-mixed beans. If you prefer, vegetables can be finely chopped using a food processor. Just don't over process! This gives a very smooth finish if you prefer your chilli to not be chunky.

Lime Cashew Cream

  • 250g cashews, unsalted
  • 1 lime
Soak the cashews in water, ideally filtered, for two hours. If you are really pressed for time, try at least half an hour of soaking. Drain the cashews, discarding the water, and blend in a food processor under high speed. It should take 5-10 minutes for the nut butter to form. If you are new to cashew butter, don't be alarmed that the butter is quite dry or "chunky" compared to almond or peanut butter. At a slower speed, begin to add (fresh!) water, until you have the consistency of thick double cream. Add the juice from the lime to taste -you shouldn't need the entire lime. As an option, you can also add the zest of the lime to the cream. You are looking for a completely smooth cream, but using a less powerful blender or adding the water too soon can yield a grainy texture. It won't be quite as amazing if this happens, but will still taste delicious. 

Three bean chilli with lime cashew cream. Vegan friendly, high protein and oh-so tasty. Via @eleanormayc

Three Bean Chilli Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Fresh chilli or chilli powder, to taste
  • 1 tsp paprika (smoked if possible)
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 red pepper/left over veg
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 tbsp pureed tomato concentrate, or 8ish sundried tomatoes, blended
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped
  • 3 x tins of beans. Suggestions: kidney beans, black beans, haricot beans, bortolli beans.
  • olive or coconut oil
Finely chop the onion, and add it to a pan with a tablespoon or so of olive or coconut oil. Pop the lid on to sauté for five minutes until translucent. Meanwhile, prepare the celery and pepper/vegetables by chopping them finely once again. Grate the carrots. 

When the onion is cooked, but not catching, add the onions and spices, turning the heat up slightly. Cook for a further minute or two before adding the celery and pepper. Allowing the vegetables to lightly cook in the oil rather than the chopped tomatoes or water really helps to capture the full flavour of the ingredients. After a further five minutes, add the tomato puree or sundried tomatoes, and then the carrots and chopped tomatoes. Allow to simmer with the lid off for 30-40 minutes, putting the lid back on if the liquid has reduced by more than a half. Rinse the beans out thoroughly and allow to drain. Once the sauce has cooked and reduced, add the beans and cook for a further ten minutes until everything is piping hot.

Serve with rice or wraps, with avocado and lime cashew cream on the side.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Om Yoga Magazine: How Yoga Ruined My Life

When I first read the title of this article, in a yoga magazine of all places, I have to say, I was worried. Fortunately, the piece was written by Liz Frances Hobbs, a comedian and yoga teacher, who clearly excels in sarcasm. Although, to be fair, the title is a fair warning. Liz explains how yoga slowly took over her life, both on and off the mat, although fortunately in a positive way! Many of us come into yoga purely for the physical reasons. A chance to gently improve one's fitness, flexibility or all-round health. Few of us enter into a practice thinking of the further reaches of yoga. However, as yoga has much further reaching implications, particularly with it's sister science Ayurveda, and with the principle of non-harming, ahimsa.

As Liz's yoga practice developed from the discovery of it whilst on holiday, she began to appreciate the wider influence of yoga. A girl from a family that hunted, Liz found herself becoming vegetarian, and swapping gossip magazines for being concerned about global warming and homelessness. In short, she became a more compassionate individual.

Juxtaposed against the witty article, Liz summarises yoga in a new, and yet totally appropriate way. Perhaps it is the natural tendency of those drawn to yoga, or the influence of the practice itself, but yoga and caring about people, animals, the environment seem to go hand in hand. A few issues ago, Om Yoga reported that yogi's were more likely to be members of the green party than other social groups. I myself consider working to conserve the oceans and thereby the planet from pollution, climate change and other anthropogenic ills the most important thing that I can do with my life. I have just been reading about the yoga teacher Adam Husler who left a potential career in law to work with under privileged young people.

So really, the question is, does yoga really ruins one's life? The burden of guilt and responsibility may be an unexpected one, but a feeling that I think benefits us more than we can imagine. Has yoga changed your wider perspective?

Disclaimer: I am an Affiliated Blogger with Om Yoga Magazine. Each issue I will write a post on an article from the magazine and share it with you. Have a look here to find about the other lovely affiliated bloggers. All photos in this post taken from the Om Yoga magazine. 

Labels: ,

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Inspiration: Besma of Curiously Conscious

It is always a pleasure to come across fellow bloggers with a keen sense of looking after the environment as well as themselves -taking a really holistic approach to wellbeing. One such blogger is Besma of Curiously Conscious. If you don't already follow Besma, you are in for a treat. She shares recipes and reviews of everything from whole food supplements to planet friendly skincare. Think of her as your one-stop guide for everything sustainable and beautiful. Besma kindly agreed to be interviewed as part of my Inspiration series. Read on to find out more:

Interview with Curiously Conscious, a health and sustainability blog via @eleanormayc

You mention on your blog that your interest in living sustainably and eating started when living Paris. In what other ways has the French culture influenced how you live and eat?

There are a number of key differences I picked up when living in Paris - the main contrast was realising that nobody ever snacks. You’ll also never see a French person on the metro eating a baguette or walking down the street chowing down on a crêpe either - mealtimes are almost sacred in that there is a core focus on food rather than food is an addition to a hectic lifestyle, as is the way in the UK. Mindful eating has come to reflect some of that - food is an enjoyable activity, both in preparation and consumption, and I definitely enjoy eating what I make to the full!

In what ways do you like to get active?

Yoga is my number one fitness activity - I’ve actually only ever practiced at home, starting with a DVD and moving on to YouTube channels. However, I’m also a keen runner, and right now I’m going to the gym to avoid the cold weather and also begin to use weights to tone up.

Have you come across a brand that has stood out to you above and beyond for it’s Earth-friendly approach?

There are so many great brands out there! I recently purchased a Sukin cleanser and was really happy to learn that the company is carbon neutral, as well as using only recycled materials for its packaging and cruelty-free natural ingredients in the cleanser itself. Brands that make so many positive choices like that will always be rated highly by me!

Do you have any tips for eating in season foods without getting bored come the winter and early spring?

Seasonal eating is always a fun way to mix up your meals - right now, gourds(squashes and pumpkins) make up a big part of my meals as they’re so ripe and delicious round this time of year. As we do make our way into winter, it’s actually appropriate that stodgier plant-based foods are abundant too, as that’s what our bodies are craving, but to mix things up I’d suggest stocking up on great herbs and spices. They always change things up!

What do you like most about living in London? Anything that you would change?

London is great in that there’s so much to do, especially in the way of healthy options - there are juice bars practically everywhere! As I live on the outskirts I luckily have a balance between countryside and urban building blocks, but I would like to see more of a relaxed side to London - I’ve found it’s not quite as becoming as Paris in that parks are not as frequent, or are even locked to the general public, you can’t sit by the waters edge and have a picnic, things like that. Perhaps I just need to explore a little more!

Have you always been interested in healthy living?

No, not at all - my first two years at university were spent eating a lot of pizza and ice cream! But I’m glad I’ve found a happy balance now, I don’t think I could have sustained that kind of diet and kept fit too.

Where is your must-see travel destination?

To narrow it down to one place is so painful! I really want to visit New Zealand someday, although I’d rather not take a plane anywhere anymore.

Who, or what, inspires you the most?

The online healthy living community, definitely. If I’m not in the mood to write, I’ll only have to read through a few of my favourite blogs to find something that makes me all a-buzz again!

Name a favourite healthy meal.

Right now it’s my pumpkin stew - one pumpkin can make around six portions for me, so I’ve pretty much always got a batch in my fridge.

Finally, what makes you happiest?

A shared connection with another person in regards to healthy living. Whether it’s a lovely blog comment, or a friend recommending a product, or my mum asking me how to cook quinoa - I love the feeling of spreading positivity!

Follow Besma and Curiously Conscious here:

Labels: , ,

Monday, 16 November 2015

Why I Refute Diet Labels

One thing that we, as people, love to do, is label things. It is human nature, and is our way of ordering the world around us into neat boxes and also a way of identifying ourselves. But when people don't fit into labels, that can be difficult. You can just imagine it can't you? Someone carefully explaining their unique personal choices and traits to have them summed up as "so you're ... then?" Usually, not quite.

Why I refute diet labels -vegan, vegetarian or omnivore.

In the health and fitness world, there often feels like there are two categories of women: those who lift, focus heavily on protein, and seem to live off whey and chicken. Then, there is the yogi, who is a committed vegan and turns enough fruit to feed a family of four into endless smoothie bowls. Of course, this is completely not true, and doesn't represent many of us out there. However, not fitting into one of these groups can be confusing. At one point, I genuinely considered whether I should become completely vegan just so that my blog and Instagram fit these parameters. But of course, that would have been ridiculous. It is hard enough trying to balance what I do at the gym with what I do on the mat when labelling states that they contradict, rather than compliment, one another. And because I can't do everything, and have to focus on yoga or the gym on any given day, I always feel guilty about the one that has had less effort put into it that day. I just have to remind myself that doing a bit of everything is probably the best way to promote my overall health and avoiding over stressing one area.

Why I refute diet labels -vegan, vegetarian or omnivore.

When it comes to food, the only thing I can describe myself other than "lover of food" is a whole foods eater. I strongly believe in making real, flavoursome food from minimally processed sources. Remember, all cooking and preparing counts as processing to one degree or another. I adore eating plant based foods as they have a low environmental and ethical impact, and nutritionally dense and encourage me to be creative with my cooking. However, when someone is cooking for me, I usually do not stipulate eating vegetarian or vegan and will enjoy any meat served to me as a treat. When staying with my parents, we seem to have an unspoken rule that as a household we will eat less meat (something that my dad is keen to take up anyway) if I do eat whatever happens to be on the menu that day. It's largely chicken anyway, which I believe has less environmental impact that eating dairy.

I won't really get into game, other than that I am happy to eat it, but often don't because I am away from home during most shooting seasons. I feel it to be environmentally, and often ethically, sound. Let me know if a conversation on game food is something that you would like to read on the blog in the future.

Why I refute diet labels -vegan, vegetarian or omnivore.

As for dairy, I try not to have too much, because of the industry around it and the impact of cattle (methane gas anyone?). However, many a dish is improved with a few shavings of cheese, and, when I have it, I swear butter is one of the greatest flavours on this earth. I don't have it at university because I don't use it much, so it is a real treat to me. Plus, sometimes, I can't afford the dairy alternatives, especially soy-free yoghurt. I also don't really have a problem with eating eggs as I only buy them from the local, organic produce section in my local health food shop, or from my own village back in Yorkshire where I can see the chickens outside in a huge field having a great quality of life. It is about transparency. I am also a supporter of consumption of honey as local sellers and responsible companies actually do far more good for protecting bee populations than the impact of taking a proportion of their honey away.

So there you have it, my label free approach to living and eating for me and the planet. Largely, but not exclusively plant based, but always responsible and sustainable, for my health, and the planet.

Labels: ,

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Healthy on a Budget: Leek, Potato and Courgette Soup

Forgive me for posting two soup recipes within such a short space of time, but with the glut of autumnal foods and cold weather, these heartening lunches and dinners have been calling to me. This twist on the traditional leek and potato soup is perfect for this time of the year; all three of the main ingredients came in my veg box last week. Being so seasonal, this dish is friendly on your purse and, if you shop the local market, can really help benefit your local economy, and the environment.

Healthy on a budget || Cauliflower leek and potato soup via @eleanormayc

The secret to a good soup is letting as many of the ingredients as possible cook in the flavoursome oil before adding stock. The heat of the oil and aromatic spices, if added, enrich the flavour of each ingredient in much the same way as roasting does. If you find yourself strapped for time or prefer to use a soup maker, sauté off some onions or celery and batch freeze them, so that you have little pockets of flavour to add to your cooking.

Ingredients -serves 4

  • 1 large leek
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium-large cauliflower
  • 3-4 medium sized potatoes
  • Vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: chilli powder or cayenne pepper
Healthy on a budget || Cauliflower leek and potato soup via @eleanormayc

Roughly chop the leek and cauliflower, and peeling and cubing the potatoes. In a large saucepan, heat a generous plug of olive oil over a medium heat, and then add the leek and garlic. Cover, and leave for up to five minutes, making sure that it doesn't catch. If using, add 1/2 tsp of chilli or cayenne before adding the cauliflower, and cooking for a further two minutes. Then add the potatoes and stock and cover for 20 minutes under a simmer. Remove from heat, and use a hand blender to puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Healthy on a budget || Cauliflower leek and potato soup via @eleanormayc

Serve with crusty, dark bread such a pumpernickel, and squeeze over a quarter of the lemon per portion. Nuts and seeds make a great protein-filled garnish to help keep you full. Toasted almond goes beautifully with cauliflower, but I like omega 3-rich pumpkin seeds for this autumnal dish.

Student or on a budget? Let me know what meals you'd like to see me rework!

Labels: , ,

Monday, 9 November 2015

Five Tips from the Food Photography Workshop

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the last Health Blogger's Community photography workshop of 2015. It was something that only came about the day before, so was the icing on the cake to a few days visiting Stuart down in Oxford. The event was run by Fab, taught by Anastasija of Grandmother's Figs, and the lovely ladies of Wellicious kindly hosted the event in their beautiful HQ, with an oh-so tempting offer of discounted products.

Five tips for food photography. How to use full manual mode on DSLRs, using lighting, composition and props to create beautiful blog and Instagram photos
Overnight oats and food styling by I Was Promised Donuts -check her out!
For bloggers, photography is one of the most important aspects of what we do, with images being vital in conveying a message to our readers. It is the first thing that readers are likely to notice, the key feature that hooks people in reading further. Beyond the blog, many of us rely on image sharing on social media to promote our ventures, and keep our friends, family and followers updated on our lives. Many people out there have made businesses from Instagram alone. Photography, is undeniably important to us in order to capture other's imaginations.

Still, really good photography is a tricky skill to master, and I think few people will ever really feel as though they have perfected their shots -it is a constant learning process. Practice is, of course, the best way to improve, but workshops are insanely useful. Anastasija was very knowledgeable and took the time to break down and emphasise the main lessons and tips to us. From learning how to work your settings, to braving the most awkward angle for the perfect shot, Anastasija explained it all. We all learnt a lot in the three hour workshop, so I have summarised some of the best tips here for you today:

Five tips for food photography. How to use full manual mode on DSLRs, using lighting, composition and props to create beautiful blog and Instagram photos

Natural lighting is key
With the nights drawing in and weather becoming overcast, good lighting is often harder to come by than not. When possible, Anastasija recommends aiming to shoot at either 10am or late afternoon, just a the lighting becomes soft without being too dark. Grabbing a reflector (any white object that reflects some light back, such as a whiteboard works great) will help to increase light and produce soft shadows. If you happen to be in a situation where the light outside is too bright, hang a thin curtain, piece of tissue paper or sheet over the window to reduce the harshness. Moreover, don't be afraid to work outside if your house is just too dark. The natural (or urban) environment creates beautiful, unusual backgrounds and shadows from trees can really work in your favour.

Incidentally, shadows are an important aspect linked to your lighting. Think about where you and your food are positioned with regards to your light source. Side light produces good clear shadows that highlight your photographs to a dramatic effect, whereas having the light behind you yields colourful, yet simple results. For a really bold look, shoot with the light behind the object. This is probably the hardest to get right, but can look fantastic.

Switching to manual
Manual mode opens up a whole new world of opportunity. If you are keen on photography, but don't have a DSLR, see if you can borrow one or consider investing. You can get second hand models for really good prices without compromising on quality. My camera body is getting on to ten years old, and it's only limitations compared to newer models are its weight and the fact that it can't film. The three main aspects to manual mode are aperture, ISO, and shutter speed (exposure).
Aperture is measured in F numbers, and a high aperture has a low number, which produces a blurred background. A low aperture that will have a high F value (up to 10 usually) will have all aspects of the photo in sharp focus.
ISO is the level of sensitivity that your camera has to light. In good, bright lighting, a low ISO of, say 100, will be needed. Using a lower ISO number is preferable, as higher ISO numbers yield grainier results. However, on darker days, switching to a higher ISO to avoid putting the harsh inside light on can be a great asset.
Finally, we have shutter speed. This is probably the easiest to understand and adjust, as on most cameras it is controlled by a wheel. Fast shutter speeds of a small fraction of a second reduce blurring, but let in less light. Slower shutter speeds are good for lower light conditions and ensuring that you capture all the detail of your photograph, but you will likely need a tripod or steady surface to reduce shaking.
Five tips for food photography. How to use full manual mode on DSLRs, using lighting, composition and props to create beautiful blog and Instagram photos

As a photographer, your biggest secret weapon is props. Having a arsenal of bits and pieces that you can use for styling your photographs is so useful. Think beyond the crockery -pick up cutlery, cloths, boards, utensils and things that can form your background. At home, I have a wooden board covered in a marble-effect adhesive and utilise kitchen towels. After the workshop, I headed across the street to Tiger, and exciting shop from Europe that sells lots of craft, kitchen and bedroom accessories for a really good price. If you happen to spot one, go in and be prepared to feel like a child in a sweet shop! Other good places to look are flea markets and charity shops, be be prepared to find inspiration in unexpected places. Having a suitable variety will give your photos enough variety to be useful, whilst still giving a consistent look.

Speaking of consistency, play around with your styling to develop your own signature look. Are all the objects in your photo symmetrically placed and evenly sized? Or have you played with placement and contrasted the elements captured? Don't be afraid to crop items half, or totally, out of the final image. Take advantage of the unique aesthetic appeal of the ingredients that make up your final dish. Not only can these be beautiful in their own right, but can make explaining your recipe much more straightforward and appealing. A particularly useful tip for one-pot meals, salads and less-exciting meals is to add finishing ingredients and garnishes on the top. This makes the dish really pop and look even more appetising. Another thing to think about is colour combining. In general, contrasting your meal to your crockery or background make the photograph seem to come alive and stand out. However, matching the background can also be really powerful. Think of glossy dark, red grapes against dusky slate.

Five tips for food photography. How to use full manual mode on DSLRs, using lighting, composition and props to create beautiful blog and Instagram photos
Food styling by Full of Beans
The final tip is composition. On Instagram and your camera, you may have noticed a 3x3 grid. A general rule is to have the subject of interest in your photograph along the lines just to the side of the centre. Play around with new positioning -ingredients scattered along a diagonal, food offset to one side or even partly out of the photo. Some photographers create busy photos that still somehow don't overwhelm the senses, but also try a more simple composition, with just three objects to play around with. Remember, that not everything needs to be in your plate or bowl -make the entire photo your canvas.

A massive thank you to everyone who made the day happen, to Om Bar chocolate, The Giving Tree, and Vita Coco for sponsoring the day, and to the photographer's whose set ups I photographed here.

Labels: ,

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Guest Post || Five Tips for Optimum Nutrition

Today I am bringing you a guest post from Amy Goldsmith, an Aussie with a passion for healthy living and natural beauty. She is sharing her own healthy nutrition guide to keep eating well simple, and you at your healthiest. Think nutrition is hard? Amy breaks it down into five key points to keep you on track:

All of my adult life I have been trying to follow the advice of many a nutrition expert on eating healthy and staying fit. Some were easy to follow, others were challenging, still others were unrealistic and even in conflict with each other. As a result, I would starve myself, and deprive myself of my mom’s delicious pies. I would stay home alone while my friends went out to our favourite restaurant. Most importantly, I was not satisfied. So I decided to follow my own instincts, and I am happy to say that it worked. In the end, the best diet is the one that makes you feel good, that improves your looks AND your mood.
It is pretty individual, but following these simple tips, you can create a tasty and varieddiet without having to torture yourself.

1. Eat plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables

Why do colours matter? Well, the colours in fruits and vegetables can tell you what kind of natural health-promoting phytochemicals a certain fruit or veggie provide. The orange in sweet potatoes, carrots, or winter squash, is the source of beta-carotene, which promotes vision and immune system.The blue family (think of blueberries,blackberries, cranberries,plums, and red onions), contains antioxidants called anthocyanidins. They have been proven to improve the health of blood vessels. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, and cabbage, are thought to have anti-cancer properties, as do red fruits and vegetables that contain lycopene. Lycopene reduces the risk of many cancers, in particular prostate cancer.

2. Add calcium for bone health

Calcium is important for ensuring proper cell functioning and for regulating heart rhythm. If your diet does not provide enough calcium, your body will have to replenish it from your bones, making them weaker, and even causing osteoporosis. Recommended daily intake for adults is 1000 mg of calcium, but if you are over 50, increase that to 1200 mg per day. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and beans are rich sources of calcium, so include these in your diet as much as possible. Use calcium supplements if you think that you are not getting enough calcium through your diet.

3. Eat more healthy carbs and whole grains

First of all, know the difference between healthy and unhealthy carbs. The healthy ones are those that deliver plenty of fibre, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, especially beans. The carbs that are bad for you are white flour, refined foods, and white rice. They increase blood sugar level, and they are good if you need an instant energy kick-start, but provide no healthy nutrients.

4. Reduce sugar

Sugar that is naturally found in food satisfies your body’s needs. There is no need to add any more sugar to your meals, as you will only be adding empty calories. Sugar leads to weight troubles, and to more serious health problems, such as diabetes. Replace sugary drinks with water, avoid processed foods, cut down on candy, and you will be fine.

5. Watch your salt intake

Adults need about half a teaspoon of salt a day. Anything more than that increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack,as well as kidney problems, and memory loss. If you really like spicy food, try replacing table salt with herbs and spices to improve the flavor. Add more garlic, curry powder, peppers, or cayenne. Reduce the amount of salt you consume little by little until your taste buds get used to almost-salt-free food.

See, it is not that hard to eat healthily! Try these tips and let me know if they worked for you too.

Amy Mia Goldsmith is an Australian literature and biology graduate with a passion for organic cosmetics and healthy lifestyle.
● Follow Amy on Twitter
● Follow Amy on Facebook

Monday, 2 November 2015

Start Now to Build Healthy Habits for 2016

Yep, I have titled a post referencing 2016. Am I mad? Possibly. But, despite the popularity of the "21 day to make a habit" style challenges, studies have shown that the actual average figure to change a habit is closer to two months -66 days in fact. This brings us just past New Years Day, which is a decidedly strange thought! So, if you are keen to avoid restarting all the same-old New Year's resolutions, now is the time to start changing what you do for the better. Be it a health goal or good practice that you want to get in to, use this 66 day window to see if you can make some changes. This time frame to develop a habit isn't a set rule of course -depending on both yourself, and what you are aiming to begin or change, the timeframe varies from three weeks to eight months. But for our 2016 target, here are some completely manageable goals to set for the next two months:

5 tips to build healthy habits for 2016 || New Year's Resolutions via @eleanormayc

"I will eat less meat"
Studies are showing more links between excessive animal product consumption and poor health. The biggest enemies seem to be processed meet, beef, and dairy. Whilst going completely vegetarian may be off your radar, being a little bit more conscious of your consumption will help you and the environment. Rather than take the full plunge, follow the #meatfreemonday trend, or even go veggie or vegan every other day of the week. When you do treat yourself to that grilled chicken or natural yoghurt, you will appreciate it all the more.

"I must drink more water!"
Still trying to hit your 2 litre per day target? Instead of counting out every glass that you drink, get into the habit of carrying a (metal or bpa-free!) water bottle around with you, and refilling it at least once. Having the water to hand means that it will always be there when you fancy a sip and your hydration levels will stay at an optimum.

"I need to gain/lose weight"
Saying that you need to gain and lose weight without specifying how much can be quite arbitrary. Setting yourself weekly goals, say 1-2 pounds (0.5-1kg) of weight change per week for 8 weeks is much more specific. Alongside this, set out some kind of exercise and diet plan. It doesn't need to be really strict, but planning how often you are going to go to the gym, and to do what; and aiming to eat a certain amount of vegetables each day will keep you on track, without feeling restricted. Make sure that your goals are healthy and realistic for you.

5 tips to build healthy habits for 2016 || New Year's Resolutions via @eleanormayc

"I will meditate... at some point"
Meditation is something we are often told to do, but few people take up the habit. Make sitting in quiet part of your nightly -or morning -routine. And don't feel like you have to do it a specific way either. Shavasana at the end of yoga, guided meditation, counting thanks, or simply sitting and being present are all forms of meditation. The important thing is to take a few minutes out to listen to your breath and be in the moment, with limited distractions.

"I want to run a marathon"
You want to set yourself up for a big, physical challenge. Awesome! But first, you need to build up to it and train. Whatever it is you are aiming for, commit to practicing and building up your stamina or distance several times a week. Get involved in smaller versions of what you are trying to do -say a 10k run, and then a half marathon, and then the full thing. This gets you used to "big day" feelings and of course, is excellent practice. The more you practice, the more you will enjoy your challenge, which is so important. Don't forget to cross train to avoid injury, and especially consider yoga as a key part of this. The stretching and work on all your small stabilising muscles is so good for keeping your body able to cope with big challenges. Aside from that, jump right on in and take on the challenge -you can do it!!

I challenge you to make yourself one habit or goal to focus on developing over the next two months and see where it take you. It really doesn't have to be big, just go for something manageable that will make you feel like you have accomplished something this autumn. Good luck!