Nutrition

Three Squash Soup

This soup celebrates three of my favourite squash varieties, but you can substitute others if these are not available. The contrast of sweet and nutty flavours is delicious, working well with the paprika to create a satisfying vitamin A packed soup to primarily support the sacral, solar plexus and throat chakras.

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Serves 4

1/2 crown prince squash

1/2 uchiki kuri (red onion squash)

1/4 Turk's turban squash 

(you need 1 3/4 lbs/800g squash flesh in total)

1 1/2 tbps olive oil

3 1/4 cups/750ml hot vegan stock (made from cubes of bouillon powder)

1 tsp paprika

freshly ground black pepper

pumpkin seeds to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200C/425F/gas mark 7

With some squash varieties you can eat the skin, so check before preparing. Cube the squash (peeling where necessary), and discard the inner seeds. Place in a large roasting pan and toss in the olive oil. Roast for 35 minutes, turning halfway through.

Once the squash is cooked, transfer to a large bowl. Add the stock and paprika and use a hand blender to combine until smooth, season and add more water to thin as required. Reheat if necessary, season with black pepper, and scatter with pumpkin seeds to serve. 

Recipe taken from the winter section of The Chakra Kitchen: Feed your Body to Nourish your Spirit.

The REAL New Year and How to Prepare

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It's that time of the year again when most of us are in a slight blur from overindulgence of food, family, people in general, shopping and tv. This natural rise in energy that peaks in the days running up to Christmas has been a long standing part of modern day life. It is really no wonder that as we hit January it often brings dissolution and lackluster feelings, especially once we get into weeks 2-3 after the initial excitement and good intentions wear thin.

I believe that if we tune into the natural cycles of the seasons then really the true "New Year" is is marked by the Spring Equinox (the time when the plane of the equator passes over the centre of the sun), landing on Tuesday 20 March in 2018 - just 81 days from now. Just because the Gregorian calendar marks 1st January as a starting point doesn't mean that it naturally is or always has been. The Spring Equinox date marks the start of the astrological calendar in the sign of Pisces (Sidereal Zodiac) and Aries (Tropical Zodiac). With this in mind, I would recommend giving yourself a break here with the hasty resolutions and instead first release the old and take your time throughout January, February and early March to let your dreams unfold and sew the seeds as they come. Here are some tips to get you prepared for the REAL New Year:

  • Use the remainder of this week to give thanks for all the experiences of 2017 post Spring Equinox, (which was also 20th March this year as it happens), be they perceivedly negative or positive to you - remember we and our personal journeys are part of a much bigger and incomprehensible picture. To take this a step further, list these experiences on paper and then on the night of 1st January (note the Full Moon energy will already be in effect as it reaches 100% at around 2:25am GMT on 2nd January) take a quiet moment, light some candles and release your list of memories from the year by burning them and giving prayers of thanks. You can in fact repeat this for the next 2 Full Moons that occur before the Spring Equinox (Wednesday 31st January and Friday 2nd March) and add anything else that occurs during those moon cycles that you wish to release. Remember 3 is the magic number! The full moon is all about culmination and release so this is an ideal time to let go whatever no longer serves you. It really is not the best time however to start anything new e.g. good old resolutions, unless you set intentions for it/them at the last Black and New Moon and have actually taken solid action as the moon has been waxing, a moment after the moon is 100% full you are working with waning energy so it won't support you so well in any new endeavours. The following step will guide you on working with the Black and New Moon for intention setting.
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  • January is an excellent time to start considering your wants and needs for the true year ahead so start planning your goals and dreams and make a list. When you hit the Black Moon on Wednesday 15th January set the intentions you have via ritual and prayer, no burning involved this time! Follow your instincts, but I would recommend leaving your list somewhere sacred to you or even start creating a vision board for the year with images to back up your ideas. This can be added to as you come up with new things throughout the first half of the year (I would suggest adding at the Black Moon each month for extra power). Once the moon becomes visible it is the New Moon (3 days after the invisibility of the Black Moon) e.g 18th January you can start to take baby steps of action towards your goals and intentions, but the real call to action for major steps forward and exposure would be on the Spring Equinox itself as the New Moon lands only a couple of days before on Sunday 18th March so will be visible at this time. You can of course keep sewing seeds of intention after this point whilst the ground is fertile so to speak, but as a cut-off time for 2018 additions I would use the longest day of the year - Summer Solstice on Thursday 21st June. This still allows time for seeds to germinate and create a rich harvest in the Autumn. Anything after this point may not come to fruition as quickly as you may like, BUT do go with your own instincts on this if you feel differently. 
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  • Remember to keep well nurtured and rested until the Spring Equinox, this is still hibernation time for recharging the batteries and really not ideal for excessively hitting the gym or doing anything of great physical exertion! You can't go far wrong expanding your mind by delving into good books and educational videos, alongside spiritual practice, nutritious foods, warm teas and the odd bit of period drama! Just remember to keep some gentle exercise in, walking out in nature, and/or a swim and then hit the sauna if you can (health permitting) to keep some dryer warmth in the body during this cold and damp time. This can be particularly good for those with poor circulation who get cold at the extremities, but do read the safety notices before entering a sauna, or check with a medic if you have a diagnosed condition and are unsure.
  • On the nutritional side I would really make an extra effort to eat the chakra rainbow! This will keep you sustained and immunity boosted to get you through the rest of the year. Some of my staple favourites to include are: jerusalem artichokes (full of prebiotic inulin that feeds probiotic organisms to help boost immunity and prevent "bad" bacteria from growing), beetroot, ginger (antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic), turmeric, steamed leafy greens, cinnamon, pears and elderberries (truly the best for Vitamin C and can be found in my winter warming Chaka Tea Flame). For more organic, plant-based recipe ideas for the winter months and nutritional information check out my cookbook The Chakra Kitchen.
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  • Invest in Eucalyptus essential oil to diffuse in the house, this will keep germs at bay and create a lovely fresh and energising atmosphere. Combine with Rosemary for clarity and a brain boosting combo to aid in stimulating new ideas for your vision board or try my new Creativity and Insight Chakra Aroma Rollers to help you on your way.

Whatever it brings, I wish you all a very Happy 2018 and hope that it is filled with lots of good health, adventure, courage and love and that you start to reap the benefits of working with the moon and the natural cycle of the seasons. 

Sarah x

Christmas Jam

Sweet comfort for all your chakras

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Ingredients

Makes 4 x 8oz/225g jars

4 mandarins

3 tablespoons agar agar flakes

6 pears

2 1/2 cups/250g cranberries

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

1 teaspoon ground star anise

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 cup/140g coconut palm sugar

½ teaspoon edible gold dust (optional)

In this recipe the fruits are barely cooked in order to preserve their nutrients. Low GI coconut palm sugar acts as the sweetener. The cranberries resonate with the root chakra, are full of phytonutrients and are renowned for their support of the urinary and digestive tracts. Pears resonate with the heart chakra and can support cardiovascular health. Sea plant agar is a source of calcium, iron and fibre, and helps to eliminate toxic waste from the body.

Method

First sterilize the jars by boiling the jars and their lids in a large pan of water for 10 minutes, then place in the oven on a low temperature to dry.

Juice the mandarins—you should end up with 1 cup/240 ml. Place the juice in a medium-sized pan with the agar and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Cover and bring the agar mixture to the boil momentarily, then simmer for 5 minutes.

Chop the pears and place in a food processor with the cranberries, ginger, lemon juice and zest, and the spices. Process until combined. Add to the agar mixture with the sugar, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Leave the jam to cool for 10 minutes, then stir through the edible gold dust, if using. Ladle into the jars, and seal the lids tightly. Label and give away as the perfect Christmas gift or serve with English muffins. Store for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

Spark your creativity and personal power with this great recipe from the Autumn section of my recipe book The Chakra Kitchen: Feed your Body to Nourish your Spirit. 

 Photography © Adrian Lawrence for CICO Books, 2015

Photography © Adrian Lawrence for CICO Books, 2015

Chakras: Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Brow, Crown 

I love spices for their fragrance and health benefits and this North African-influenced dish is a great way to introduce a sweetness which negates the craving for dessert. You can easily purchase ras el hanout spice blend or make your own as below. The sacral and solar plexus chakras are supported predominantly with balancing pumpkin and protein- and mineral-rich amaranth and chickpeas.

Serves 4

1 cup/200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water

2 tablespoons coconut or rapeseed oil

1 red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 teaspoons ras el hanout

1 cup/225g amaranth

1 large sweet potato, cubed

1 pumpkin—you will need 735g/2lb cubed flesh

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup/65g raisins

1 cup/90g toasted slivered/flaked almonds

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Gently heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and garlic with the spices and sweat over a low heat for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the amaranth into pan with 2 cups/500ml of water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and allow any remaining water to be absorbed (I like it a bit crunchy and couscous-like in texture, hence cooking for a shorter time than some may suggest).

Drain the chickpeas. Place the chickpeas, chopped sweet potato, and pumpkin in the pan containing the onions. Add 3 cups/750ml water, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir thoroughly, then add the salt and raisins and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Season the amaranth to taste and stir in three-quarters of the almonds. Serve with the pumpkin stew, garnished with the remaining almonds.

Tip

To make your own ras el hanout spice mixture, toast 3 tablespoons cumin seeds, 2½ tablespoons coriander seeds, 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2½ teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, 1½ teaspoons ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon cardamom seeds, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon cloves, and a pinch of saffron, then place in a grinder with a few dried rose petals. Store any leftover spice mixture in an airtight jar.

Baked Pears with Cinnamon and Blackberries

Time to share an autumnal recipe from my book The Chakra Kitchen ... perhaps the simplest and most economical one in there and very healthy and alkalising for the body. It contains delicious blood sugar balancing cinnamon and heart chakra supporting pears and brow chakra balancing blackberries to help get your heart and mind on the same page! Get out picking in the hedgerows while the sun is shining!

 Photography by Adrian Lawrence for CICO Books © 2015

Photography by Adrian Lawrence for CICO Books © 2015

Chakras: Root, Solar Plexus, Heart, Brow, Crown

Serves 2

2 ripe green pears

1 cup/150g blackberries

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon raw coconut nectar (granules)

Preheat the oven to 160ºC fan /180ºC/gas mark 4.

Slice each pear in half and scoop out the core with a spoon. Place the pears in a row on a foil-lined baking tray (cut a piece of foil large enough to form a parcel before baking).

Mix the cinnamon with the coconut nectar in a small bowl. Add a handful of the blackberries to the centre of each pear, followed by a good sprinkling of the cinnamon mixture. Fold up the sides of the foil to form a parcel, sealing at the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25–30 minutes.

Once the pears are soft to touch and the juices are flowing, remove from the oven and serve two halves per person in shallow bowls.