Yoga & Feasts was born out of a desire to combine our skills, Jen as a yoga teacher and me as a holistic chef, health coach and wholefoods lover, to teach others how to create a strong yoga practice and at the same time, teach them how to support that practice with the right diet. You would assume that the two go hand in hand but this is not always the case. Often on retreats, I have felt that the food is unbalanced and lets face it, there's nothing worse than feeling like you have a tonne of bricks in your belly as you try to touch your toes, or even worse feeling as though you need to pass some serious wind right in the middle of class! But even where the food does compliment the practice, mostly it's a mystery as to how that food is prepared and once the retreat is over and everyone is immersed back in their busy lives, they have no idea how to recreate the nourishing food that made them feel so good.
So, the idea behind Yoga & Feasts is that you learn what it means to be eating more of a natural, wholefoods diet and through cookery demonstrations and hands on classes, you learn how to prepare simple, delicious dishes, which are easy to replicate at home. Creating a meal with your own two hands, especially one that feels nourishing and complete is extremely empowering and probably one of the greatest gifts you could give yourself!
Just a couple of weeks ago, Jen and I brought Yoga & Feasts to London. This took the form of a one day autumn retreat at Globe house in Bermondsey, the most perfect yoga venue with its long wooden floors, high ceilings and beautiful old brick work. It feels as though you've been transported to an old New York warehouse - not that I really have much experience with warehouses in New York but this is exactly how I imagine them to be! With twenty two yogini's in tow, the day kicked off with Jen's dynamic yoga class to warm up the limbs and work up an appetite. This was followed by my specialty wholegrain porridge - a mix of pearl barley, oat flakes and chia seeds cooked with rice milk and topped with crushed toasted seeds and goji berries. Wholegrain porridge makes such a great start to the day as it's warming, easy to digest and wholegrains are packed full of B Vitamins and complex carbohydrate, which release energy slowly into the body.
¼ cup arame
1 bunch Kale
½ medium sized squash (butternut or onion squash) cubed into bite sized chunks
½ block of tempeh
½ cup quinoa
1 cup water
Handful parsley chopped
Toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
For the dressing:
1.5 tblsp olive oil
1tblsp white miso
½ tblsp fresh grated horseradish
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Dash of tamari or shoyu
Water as needed
Method: Preheat the oven to 200c. Place the arame in a bowl and cover with water. Peel and cube the squash, place on a baking tray with a sprinkle of olive oil and sea salt and roast for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa, cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes. In a separate saucepan, cover the tempeh with a little water and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the liquid but hold onto this liquid for soup. Cut the tempeh into small cubes and fry in sesame oil until brown and crispy. Toward the end of cooking, pour over a little tamari or shoyu. Remove from the pan and set aside. Remove stalks from the kale. Place the leaves in a saucepan with a little water and with the lid on, gently allow the leaves to wilt for a couple of minutes. Make the dressing by placing all the ingredients in a blender. You want the grated horseradish to blend, so that the dressing is nice and creamy. In a bowl mix together kale leaves, arame, roasted squash and quinoa. Mix through the dressing and finish with parsley, tempeh croutons and toasted sesame seeds.
By the time the food demo was complete, there were belly rumbles in the room but we still had one more yoga session with Jen before the real feasting could begin. Luckily, I came prepared with wholemeal apple and orange tea cake to stave off the hunger and carry us through to the end! And finally, as our beautiful day drew to a close, we all sat down for an autumn feast of lentil and spinach cottage pie, autumn salad, grated carrot and parsley salad and last but not least, the bit we've all been waiting for, the almighty, the incredible raw cocoa salted chocolate brownie!