What It's Like Floating In A Sensory Deprivation Tank

What It's Like Floating In A Sensory Deprivation Tank
"The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness." - Sakyong Mipham

Last Sunday I spent my morning with Beyond Rest. The concept of an 'isolation' of floatation tank for sensory deprivation was developed by neuropsychiatrist John C. Lilly in 1954 (!) but they have become increasingly popular in recent years as alternative medicine has grown, and the benefits of meditation have become more widely accepted.

Mexican Lentil Chili Bowls

Mexican Lentil Chili Bowls

This recipe is such a staple in my house - I make this about once a week (and leftovers last me a couple of meals after as well). When I make it fresh I love to have mexican chili bowls like the ones pictures, with loads of greens, coriander, avocado and brown rice. For leftovers and when I take this to work, it's awesome in a burrito.

Best Açaí Bowl Recipe Ever!

Best Açaí Bowl Recipe Ever!

This recipe has been a long time coming - I've been making açaí bowls for more than 4 years now but it has taken some time to perfect! I started getting interested in making my own bowls after continued frustration every time I went out to eat at a local cafe and finding that the açaí bowls tasted awful, or bitter, or bland; or had extra ingredients like apple juice to cut cost of adding extra fruit in.

Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Isn't mexican food just the BOMB?! Also, sweet potatoes are the best thing ever. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and B6. They are also high in potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, B1, B2 and phosphorus! I'm loving baked sweet potatoes now that the weather is cooling down; they are so versatile the options for toppings are literally endless!

Easy Peasy Mac & Cheese

Interestingly I don't think I ever really liked the traditional mac and cheese. I think I found it way too rich and I remember it leaving me feeling awful afterwards (which is no surprise given the ingredients) - so now I present to you: HEALTHY VEGAN MAC & CHEESE aw yeah. Continue reading to get this life-changing dish in your kitchen (and stomach).

By the way - this recipe makes lots of mac & cheesy goodness, so you could easily feed 4 people with this recipe (or have leftovers!)

Ingredients:

  • 1kg dry macaroni
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cubed
  • About 10 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • You will also need a blender or food processor for this recipe!

Method:

  1. Fill a small/medium saucepan with water (about 3 cups as a guideline) and put it on the stove on a high temperature until the water is boiling.
  2. Add the potatoes, boil for 2 minutes. Add the carrot, boil for another 12 minutes or until the veggies are soft (as they need to be blended!)
  3. In a separate saucepan, boil water for the macaroni - when it is cooked, drain and set aside.
  4. In your blender, place the nutritional yeast, cashews, garlic & onion powders and a little salt, and then place the boiled veggies into the blender - but save the water! Pour about 1 and a half to 2 and a half cups of the water into the blender (I always use less to start with and then gradually add more to get the desired consistency).
  5. Blend until smooth! Taste the mixture and if it needs more salt or any pepper, add it now.
  6. In a non-stick frypan, saute the garlic and mushrooms in a splash of water until browned.
  7. Serve up the macaroni in a bowl, pour the cheesy sauce over and mix through, and garnish with the paprika and mushrooms. YUMMM!

Asian Soba Noodle Salad + Citrus Soy Dressing

I used to be obsessed with soba noodles, but then one day I just went off them. I think it was about the time I went vegan (so over a year ago!) Anyway, I was cleaning out and reorganising my pantry last weekend - a job that I have been doing gradually over the space of about three weeks (don't judge me!) and I found two unopened packets of soba noodles and thought it was about time to experiment with a new dish.

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 170g soba noodles
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup edamame beans, shelled and cooked
  • 1 cup thinly sliced capsicum
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
  • ½-1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Freshly cracked pepper, as needed

If you don't have all these ingredients, don't worry - switch up for any veggies of your liking.

Soy & Citrus Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 1 ½ to 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1. In a large pot, fill with enough water to cover the pasta once added and bring to a boil. Cook the soba noodles according to the packet instructions, about 4 minutes. Drain and transfer noodles immediately into cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain the cooled noodles and lightly dry on a paper towel.
  2. In a large bowl, combine soba noodles and all of the cut vegetables and set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all of the soy dressing ingredients except for the oils. Gradually add the sesame oil and whisk until combined. Then slowly add the olive oil and whisk until combined into an emulsified dressing. Pour dressing over the soba salad, and add sesame seeds and toss to combine.

Recipe adapted from one over on Jessica Gavin's blog - see the original here.

How to: Veggie Sushi

Vegan sushi is honestly one of the staples in my diet because it is so easy to make, so good for you AND can be made the night before so it's the perfect lunch to take to work. Oh, and taking your own sushi means avoiding paying $8 per roll if you buy it!

I've seen a few complicated recipes to make sushi but all you really need is:

  1. Nori (seaweed) rolls
  2. Rice: either sushi rice or arborio works best (I usually cook 1 cup dry rice and this yields about 3 sushi rolls)
  3. Veggies either chopped finely or grated (I usually use carrot, cucumber, avocado and capsicum or a mixture of those, but you could also use purple cabbage, mushroom, asparagus, lettuce - there are so many options!)
  4. Tamari sauce - to serve

In order to get the rice to really stick together well, it's best to cook the rice and make the sushi straight after while the rice is still warm. I use a sushezi sushi roller to help roll mine up nice and tight (you can buy them on the sushezi website) but even if you just have a bamboo mat, you can pretty easily make beautiful looking sushi (that stays together!) Practice makes perfect - so if you don't get them looking great the first few times, keep going.

To slice the sushi, make sure your knife is clean (and clean off the rice as you go, if needed) as this well help you get perfectly-shaped pieces of sushi as well. I usually make mine the night before if I'm taking it to work the next day and refrigerate it overnight.

Another easy option is to make a sushi bowl: I generally make these when I'm going to eat straight away because they are just a bit quicker and easier than rolling sushi. I usually put some spinach at the bottom of the bowl, then layer the rice and veggies and mix through some tamari, and decorate with a few bits of nori.

Mental Health.

I wasn’t planning to hit such a heavy topic so early on in these blog posts, but after some recent events came to light I felt like I had to sit down and write about this. I was deeply saddened and shocked recently when I found out that a popular health food instagrammer, whom I’d had several interactions with over the last couple of years, had passed away after a struggle with depression. Looking through her posts, you would never have guessed what she was really thinking and feeling behind closed doors.

Social media is a great invention and tool, but it is a false representation of a person’s real life. Mental illness is hard to see and I guess this is the reason there is still such a stigma around discussing it and treating it.

It appears to me that mental illness is becoming more and more prevalent, especially amongst the 18-30 age bracket. And it’s easy to see why: for many it’s a time of change and incredible stress. I remember reading a report when I was in law school stating that after a survey they conducted, they found that 40% of students reported feeling depressed or anxious for extended periods of time. Everyone I know either knows someone close to them, or has themselves experienced mental illness. So why are we still so ashamed to talk about this?

I’ll be the first one to put my hand up and say I have struggled with mental illness since I was 18. I’ve had bouts of what I deem to be circumstantial depression: once at a time I was in an abusive relationship and working a job I didn’t like, another time when I was stressed about my future and wasn’t sure if my life was going in the direction I wanted it to. The most recent time I suffered from depression, I tried to ignore the symptoms for as long as I could, and told no-one (except my boyfriend at the time). Imagine I had cancer: what would happen if I ignored the symptoms and didn’t let anyone close to me know what was really going on? Ignoring it over several months, my health got worse and worse until it was at a point where I realised unless something changed, I was going to die. I sought treatment from my doctor, talked to people, focused on mindfulness and started practicing yoga – some of you who have been following me on Instagram for awhile may remember when I went to my first ever yoga class – this was when I made the decision to start getting better. And my goodness! How my health changed.

I’m writing this now from a place of very good mental health: in fact, probably the best it has ever been. Because I know I am prone to getting ill when certain things happen in my life, I am now pro-active in making sure my health is at the best it can be – as you would if you knew you were prone to heart disease or high cholesterol.

Mental health should not be stigmatised. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not as real as any other type of illness out there, and as humans we are just as prone to getting mentally sick as any other type of sickness. Not many people know about my situation (until now), but I thought if I can reach just one person through writing this, then it will have been worth it. Look after your mental health, it’s just as important in keeping you alive as your physical health.

If you or someone close to you is suffering, Lifeline offers a 24-hour free, confidential support service. 

www.lifeline.org.au

National (Australia): 13 11 14

BANANAS

Welcome to my first post! Where better to kick off this blog than with a post about my beloved 'nanas and their many uses.

Bananas are high in carbohydrates and very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium - when eaten ripe, they taste sweeter and aid digestion.

So when is a banana ripe? My mum refers to my bananas as 'over-ripe,' but the truth is a yellow banana is NOT ripe and will NOT taste good in banana icecream (nicecream) - which is what I'm going to teach you how to make below.

Your bananas should be spotty - very spotty - before you eat them, pop them in smoothies or freeze them for banana icecream.

How-to: Nicecream

What you need: a high-powered, strong blender/food processor/thermomix, and some frozen bananas (peeled then frozen in an airtight container overnight).

Flavour variations: the options are almost endless! My favourite flavours are vanilla (add in a dash of pure vanilla extract), chocolate (cacao powder and coconut sugar), blueberry/raspberry (half bananas, half frozen berries) and matcha (matcha green tea powder, vanilla and spirulina for colour).

How to make it: I usually use 1/2-1 fresh banana and 4-6 frozen bananas - chop them into bite-size pieces and place in the blender. Blend on a medium-speed and use the blender stick to consistently push the frozen pieces down until they start blending smoothly. Adjust the speed between low, medium and high until the texture is perfect and creamy, like soft-serve icecream. Viola!