When life gets in the way

Is it just me?  This year has been a toughie! My life has chugged on, mostly on target, for years. This year I suddenly lost my beloved Dad.  Yes, he was 90, but he deteriorated over about 3 weeks and was suddenly gone.

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Now, as I write this blog, there have been at least six people within my family, work and social circle, who have passed away this year. In addition, people I know have been diagnosed with ‘dread’ diseases. These unpleasant experiences have triggered an inward view of my own life. It’s vital that we live life to the fullest, making the best out of each and every moment.  I want to be in the best possible condition to be able to make the most of this precious life that I’ve been given.

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  Here are 6 of my top prerequisites for squeezing every drop out of every possible moment: 

1.    Mindfully sourcing, preparing and consuming natural whole and life-force producing foods as fuel for my body.

2.    Drinking the purest (possible) water.

3.    Exercising to keep my body in the best condition.  Remember if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

4.    Getting ample, good quality sleep each night. (for me that is seven to eight hours)

5.    Interacting with family and friends on a regular basis.

6.    Connecting with Nature; thereby calming my mind to best cope with all the stresses and strains that life throws at us.

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I’ve gone through a process of taking my foot off the pedal to mindfully manage this year’s curved balls. I now look forward to the season of love as we prepare for Christmas and the end of year holidays. Sometimes we need to go back to the basics.  Re-assess, Re-focus, Re-build to ultimately REVIVE BALANCE and SUSTAIN ourselves in peak condition! 

Taking children into Botswanan Game Reserves

Earlier this year, we went to the Okavango Delta, Savuti and the Chobe Reserve in Botswana. 


(read about this on our earlier blog – Botswana Safari).

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 Amongst our group was my son Chris, his wife Michelle and their son Liam who is 8 years old. The Okavango, Savuti, Chobe holiday offers a spread of forest, water and semi-arid conditions with rich bird and animal sightings. On discussing the holiday with Liam, Michelle reports that “Liam enjoyed seeing the leopard and the big five.  He learned about all kinds of birds, but it wasn’t his favourite thing to do.  He loved being the only child and spending time with the adults in the group.  One of his favourite experiences was when the elephant appeared during our dinnertime and sniffed around Andrew’s kitchen.  He found the driving very long, but it was ok”.

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A few weeks ago, we went with another group of 7 families to the Central Kalahari.  This time our daughter Liesel, her husband Ryan and their 5 year old daughter Hannah were part of the happy throng. The Central Kalahari is semi-arid and quite harsh.  Birds and animals aren’t as plentiful and I wondered how a young child would cope in this environment.  We have to be self- sufficient with water, food and fuel and all trash has to be taken with you when you leave the area.

Hannah reports: “My favourite part about visiting the Central Kalahari was looking at birds.  My favourite bird was the glossy starling because its bright blue and has lovely orange eyes.  I loved feeding the hornbills – their names are Billy and Milly.  I also loved giving the birds their water.  I love the bush and I am so excited to be going to the Chobe next year.”   Hannah has said that she would be delighted if the birthday fairy or Father Christmas would bring her a bird book that has “a magic wand” that you stroke across the pictures – so that you can identify the bird and its call.  Hannah announced whilst in the Kalahari that she didn’t want to go home.  When I suggested bush school, she was thrilled about the idea! 

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I had been confident about taking the eight year old, but was somewhat hesitant about the 5 year old camping in the harsh and wild Central Kalahari.  Firstly, it must be said that there is a huge responsibility in taking children into wild areas.  Children need to be obedient and constantly aware of their surroundings.  They must also remain close to and within eye shot of adults at all times! Both children benefited significantly from their experiences.  Connecting with Nature is priceless!  

The children are mentally engaged -  stimulating life-long learning. Here are 10 benefits which flow from being immersed in the wild: 

1.    It improves circadian rhythms (sleep / wake patterns)

2.    Breathing in fresh, unpolluted air; drinking water and eating simple freshly produced meals.

3.    Experiencing spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

4.    Learning to carry out basic chores with joy.

5.    Being totally removed from technology and ‘dirty electricity’ (wifi etc)

6.    Stimulates an interest in learning about flora and fauna in a fun way.

7.    Creates a deep appreciation and love for, and connection to, the natural kingdom.

8.    Kick-starts learning which spills over into an awareness of nature in their own urban neighbourhoods.

9.    Encourages verbal interaction with other people of all ages eg around the fire at night, sharing their experiences of the day.

10.    These holidays provide a wonderful ‘bush school syllabus’ that is fun and exciting –positively expanding young minds.

 

Southern Africa offers so many opportunities for wonderful, natural experiences for children and adults alike. 

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Managing Life’s Curveballs

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Life gets in the way of our plans and we have many curved balls thrown at us, turning our world upside down.

Horrendous storms, loss of family members and loved ones, chronic illness as well as trying to spread ourselves thinly – often sacrificing our own health and well-being in the process.  Its vitally important to re-boot ourselves: ideally with a break or at least a change of scenery.

Is your emotional tank running on empty?

Are you getting sufficient sleep?

Are you getting sufficient sunlight?

Are you getting sufficient exercise?

Are you deeply nourishing your body and brain?

If your answer is no to one or more of these questions, then you need to begin to make some fundamental changes.

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A car can’t run on empty and neither can our bodies.

Our bodies will ‘make a plan’ to keep our body running with whatever fuel you give it – no matter how poor this fuel may be. However, after some time, the body will cease to function! Come and seek life-changing assistance.  We will help you to revive yourself and work to create a healthy balance of body, mind and spirit. Then sustain your new-found quality of life to live and enjoy your family and friends to the fullest.

We’re off to the Central Kalahari for 10 days to revive our bodies and brains; rebalance ourselves by being immersed in nature which in turn will sustain us for the period when we return to our regular urban life.  So in November look out for our photos and feedback on our soul-nurturing experience.

 

Spring and Continuation of Studying

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There are signs of spring in the Harmonie garden.  You’ve got to love it:  seasonal change, spring in your step, new buds and growth, some recent spring rains.

Get out in the garden, start exercising and breathing in the spring air.

Are you still in study mode?  Here are some simple exercises to do while seated to relieve neck and shoulder strain from prolonged studying.

  1. Sit straight up.  Breathing in, allow your head to extend slowly backwards – stretching your throat area.  Exhale.  Now round your back and drop your chin towards your chest. Pause.

  2. Inhale with your chin to your chest. Breath normally. Feel the stretch in the back of your neck. Inhale, open your mouth and allow your head to move back. Do this slowly.

  3. Move your head slowly to the right. Pause. Then move the head slowly to the left. Pause.

  4. Shoulder shrugs rotating backwards three times and then forwards three times.

  5. Place your left hand around the back of your neck on the right side.  Slowly massage down  the neck, shoulder and arm to your hand.  Massage the thumb first and then each finger.  Allow your hands to relax on the thighs and feel the difference. Now repeat on the opposite side.

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Remember to get 20 to 30 minutes of sun exposure every day without lenses in front of the eyes.

Move your body to ensure good lymph drainage.  Walk, jog, stretch, yoga, sport – whatever rocks your boat.

Choose to mindfully, deeply nourish your brain to cope with prolonged studying.

Tips for exam preparation for students/scholars to develop confidence and a calm demeanour

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  • Create a study schedule with realistic study periods – working within your concentration ability.

  • Plan regular study breaks. It’s a good idea to go outside during breaks. Take your glasses off so that you can absorb light through your eyes. This feeds the pineal gland which regulates your circadian rhythms (your sleeping and waking patterns). Try to get 20-30 minutes of sunlight per day. You can also be on a veranda to achieve this.

  • Breaks also relieve eye strain and tension. See eye exercises and breathing exercises at the end of this blog.

  • During breaks walk barefoot on the grass and breathe deeply and calmly, or go for a walk or a short run. Do whatever form of exercise you are accustomed to – it is not advisable to start something new. Make sure that you exercise daily as this will assist with mental clarity and focus.

  • We suggest that you split your exercise into 2 short sessions. Do one work-out in the early morning using it as an incentive to get out of bed, and then starting your study session with a clear and alert mind. Do the second session late in the afternoon to help stretch the body after an intense day of studying. At Harmonie we love Rebounding as it is a super-efficient form of exercise – see our blog on 13 June 2017.

  • Don’t watch TV or look at a screen during your breaks. Allow your eyes to relax and recover.

  • Don’t skip meals. Nourish your body deeply with natural whole foods. Remember that veggies feed the body (they provide minerals) and fruits provide the supplements (vitamins).

  • Keep well hydrated with good quality, preferably filtered, water. This will keep your body well flushed and will keep headaches away. Your body will thank you if you drink warm water. Ice cold water shocks your system and boiling hot water can damage your mouth and throat.

Suggestion: make infused water with lemon/orange slices or naartjie segments, or with fresh mint leaves.

  • It is a good idea to supplement daily with vitamin C to boost your immunity.

  • Having a healthy snack on your desk may work for you. It will provide nutrition to keep you alert, focused and energised.

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Recipe Suggestions:

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Stuffed Dates

Fresh pitted soft medjool dates can be stuffed with a whole nut eg walnut, pecan or almond. Alternatively, stuff a date with organic peanut butter or almond nut butter – the Oh Mega brand is excellent as it is nutritionally sound with added ingredients like flax oil and honey which are both excellent for brain health.

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Simple Trail Mix

Mix together equal quantities of the following: Goji berries, cacao nibs, raisins, brazil nuts/walnuts/pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. Keep this mixture on your desk and have small nibbles during the day when your energy is flagging.

 


Deep Breathing Exercise:

Sitting or standing. Make sure your posture is good. Take a deep, slow inhalation through the nostrils to fill your lungs to their capacity. Hold the breath momentarily and then slowly exhale making sure to completely empty the lungs. Pause and then repeat as many times as is necessary. Try to work towards making the timing of the inhalation equal to the exhalation. This slow and deliberate breathing technique calms the mind and the central nervous system. It's useful to employ this technique when you are nervous. It can be especially helpful before an exam starts, or during an exam if you feel as if you are running out of time.

Eye Exercise:

Studying can create eye strain and eye tension. Employing this simple exercise relieves eye strain and can prevent a headache from developing. Try the 20 20 20 technique:  Approximately every 20 minutes look away from our book or screen, look 20 feet away (about 6 metres) for 20 seconds. Changing your focal point regularly relieves the strain on the optic nerve which connects directly to the brain.

Preparing well for exams creates peace of mind and ensures that you remain healthy and energised throughout the exam period. Achieving good results brings you closer to realising your dreams for the future.

Playing A Supporting Role For Someone Preparing For Exams

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The advent of Spring heralds not only weather changes and a reawakening of nature but also the call to put in place a good study regimen in order to be well prepared for year-end exams for both scholars and tertiary students.

Here are our tips to ensure that both the study phase and the exam writing yield optimum results.

  1. Gently encourage and be available to assist in as calm a manner as possible. Create a harmonious and peaceful environment for the student.

  2. Ensure that the student doesn’t go into panic mode especially when the exams are imminent.

  3. Ensure a good supply of quality water to hydrate the student and prevent headaches. Herbal teas or infusions are also good eg. Camomile tea is calming and helps to promote good sleep.

  4. Ensure that the student gets sufficient sleep to allow the body to rest and repair to be energised for the intensity of the study periods and exam writing.

  5. Provide nourishing whole natural foods at meal times with lots of natural fibre (mostly veggies) to ensure that the student’s bowel is functioning optimally, thus eliminating toxins and ensuring that food is properly absorbed by the gut.

  6. Smoothies are good as they have the fibre as well – it’s a good idea to have a smoothie for breakfast.

  7. Freshly extracted veggie juices feed the body deeply. Make sure that the juices have greens in them. This provides loads of chlorophyll thereby delivering much needed oxygen for all cellular processes to occur efficiently. Serving a juice with lunch works well. Alternatively, a veggie juice can be sipped during study periods. Suggestion: add lemon and or ginger to fresh veggie juices to cut through the “green” taste, and apple to add sweetness.

  8. Create rainbow salads containing a variety of greens and other veggies. Serve with fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut or kimchi) to boost the friendly gut bacteria. We like to use Kombucha vinegar as a dressing. It’s tangy and adds a touch of sweetness as well. Refer to our blog post on 31 March on Building the Perfect Salad.

  9. To keep the brain deeply nourished it’s imperative to have good fats like avocado (in salads) and coconut oil (in smoothies).

  10. Soups are wonderful as all the nutrients can be retained during the cooking process. Try to use a low temperature to retain the integrity of the ingredients.

  11. Avoid overfeeding. A good rule of thumb is that a meal should be approximately the size of three of the student’s handfuls.

  12. Encourage healthy study breaks - sitting on a veranda without lenses, or walking barefoot on lawn. Play calming music. During longer breaks encourage exercise like a walk or a run, or doing some yoga or stretching exercises. This oxygenates the lungs, and also relieves eye tension by changing the focal point.

  13. Try to provide an early dinner around 6pm if possible (or before dark). This gives the digestive system a chance to complete its process before the student goes to bed, thereby allowing the body to deeply rest and repair itself during the night. The student then  wakens the next morning feeling well-rested and energised to take on the next day.


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Recipe Suggestions:

Smoothie Bowl

Start with a fruit base: one quarter of a papaya (excellent for digestion - add a couple of the black seeds), ripe banana (nutrient rich), a quarter cup of dried goji berries (super-food). Add some nuts or seeds: preferably a few brazil nuts or almonds, and hemp seeds (1 tablespoon) are highly nutritious.

Add: 2 pitted dates or a spoon of raw honey for sweetness

1 teaspoon coconut oil

a dash of vanilla powder

1 teaspoon raw cacao powder

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

1 teaspoon moringa powder

Half a bottle of coconut water

Blend all the above ingredients.

Now make a herbal tea infusion with your choice of the following herbs: dandelion, nettle, horsetail, chaga, buchu. I like to add honey to my tea. Add the warm tea to the blended ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and leave the mixture to stand for 5 minutes so that the chia seeds can swell and thicken the smoothie.

Top your bowl with colourful berries especially blueberries.
 

Antonia’s Minestrone Soup

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery sticks, roughly chopped

½ onion, roughly chopped

1 medium potato, peeled and cubed

Black pepper to taste

Pan fry all the above ingredients in a pot until soft and lightly golden, then add:

3 tablespoons veggie stock powder

2 cups boiling water

1 cup chopped broccoli florets

2 diced tomatoes

1 cup diced baby marrows

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

Salt to taste

Slowly cook all the ingredients for an hour, adding water as necessary to achieve a soup like consistency.

Then add: ¾ cup red kidney beans (or any other beans)

                 ½ cup chopped baby spinach

Remove soup from the heat and add a teaspoon of basil pesto and 2 tablespoons of Napoli sauce. This soup freezes well.

Ingredients can be sourced from Thrive (Kloof, KZN), Dischem , and Manolis, or from online stockists such as: Fresh Organics, Souring Free Super Foods, Faithful to Nature

Stealing Summer from our South African mid-winter. A holiday in Italy.

My husband and I treated our entire family –  three children, their spouses and four grandchildren to a memorable fortnight in Italy. We started out with our younger son and his fiancée in Venice; staying in a penthouse apartment in Cannaregio overlooking the busy streets and canals.  We reveled in the food and culture - cramming loads of sightseeing into the long sunny summer days (getting ample walking exercise).

Tip: Don’t have a lot of luggage when holidaying in Venice! You have to drag your bags over cobbles, arched bridges, up and down narrow flights of stairs as well as in and out of water taxis!

We met up with the entire family at spectacular Lake Como, spending the week in two adjacent top floor apartments in picturesque Vareena, perched on the edge of the Lake and the busy road.  We even had our own little beach.

The second half of our vacation was on the magnificent sun-drenched island of Sardinia which is lapped by the azure Mediterranean Sea.  We rented a lovely home on the slopes of the outskirts of Cala Ganone. We all thoroughly enjoyed the long, hot mid-summer days.  Our grandchildren loved being able to swim in the sea by themselves without being knocked over by huge waves – which is what they’re used to when swimming in the Indian Ocean in South Africa. Our first full day was spent on a lovely boat which we hired for the day.  We were dropped off at a few of the beaches; and we also dived off the boat to swim in the turquoise, uber-clear, cool Mediterranean sea.  The cave-studded cliffs are spectacularly white. Most beaches are only accessible by boat or hiking across the mountains. The glare off the sea, the cliffs, the white beaches as well as the reflection off the white deck of the boat made for a day where we were exposed to incredible heat.

The sun is the Earth’s huge battery and nothing would exist on Earth without it.  Twenty to thirty minutes of daily exposure to sunlight is vital for our wellbeing and we can only tap into the value of what the sun delivers to us if it can actually reach our skin.  If the skin is covered up with sun creams and sun blocks then the natural process of vitamin D production in our bodies is prohibited. In addition, sunlight which is absorbed through the pupils of our eyes, ‘feeds’ the pineal gland – naturally regulating our sleep patterns (without lenses in front of our eyes). It’s vitally important to ‘tune in’ to the messages that your body is giving you.  When you feel really hot – get out of the sun!  We had a covered section at the stern of the boat to which we retreated in the heat of the day.  Wear a hat with an ample brim to shade your face, neck and shoulders.

I like to use coconut oil or a blend of coconut oil and cacao butter to protect my skin. Coconut oil has a natural sun protection factor in it.  It allows the beneficial rays of the sun through; its ‘breathable’ (you are still able to perspire naturally) and is super-nourishing for the skin.  I use the Superfoods Body Butter brand.  I reapplied the body butter after swimming.

Very importantly, you can also protect your skin from the inside out by choosing to eat orange-coloured, carotenoid-rich foods like oranges, carrots, mangos and apricots. 

Drinking good quality water is also vital for hydration on a hot day!

I stuck to my coconut oil regime as my skin protection for our whole holiday.  I developed a lovely tan and didn’t have any sunburn at all.

We all have wonderful memories of this amazing family holiday!

Ageless Beauty - from the inside out

My parents recently gifted our family with a magnificent trip to Italy. Traveling to Italy has been a long long dream of mine since I was a young and impressionable teen. Although I am no longer a teenager, being highly impressionable is a quality that has never left me - I adore being inspired by people around me. I have always been in awe of how beautifully glowing, stylish and slim European women generally look. Of all the European countries I have visited, my observations of the Italian women, has ignited an inquisitiveness to find out what their secret is to oozing such "salute e vitalita" (health and vitality)!

I am probably not the only young woman that is in awe of the flawless beauty, classical style and passion for leisure that's pervaded the Italian culture for centuries. The question that loomed in my mind was: How on earth do these chicks look so good, eating pizza, pasta and pasticcini (pastries)?!?

When I tried to eat these foods from local side walk cafes and restaurants, I immediately retained water. I swelled up in my fingers, wrists, around my knees, and in my face. The discomfort was incredible. I felt very sorry for myself! This further fueled my desire to find out what their glowing secret is.

These are a handful of my observations:

1. Build exercise into your everyday activities. Italian women walk rather than drive. I understand that this is not always an option in South Africa. What I take from this, is that vigorous exercise is not always the answer - walking, hiking, yoga and Pilates are a more sustainable way to increase fitness and energy gently, without completely exhausting you.

2. Daily use of cold pressed Olive Oil. This noble food is well known for its anti-aging properties and beauty benefits.

3. Eating all things fresh and seasonal. The highly over used statement "you are what you eat" is absolutely true! If you opt for beautifully fresh foods, filled with vitality and life force, these will in turn perfectly nourish and hydrate every single cell that makes up you! Sticking to seasonal fruit and veg will also assist your body in dealing with the current temperatures of the season.

4. Suppress the urge to over eat. I am sure many of you can relate. Not once have I ever felt fabulous after over indulging. Enjoy what you eat without having an over-piled plate. Your body will be ever grateful for it.

5. Make Leisure Time a Priority. Allowing some margin in your day lowers stress levels and helps you to zoom out and appreciate the bigger picture of your life.

I believe these timeless secrets, perfected through the centuries, by many Italian women are the answer to their glowing and youthful vitality and lust for life.

Smoothies With a Purpose

We’ve developed a great post workout smoothie which can be blitzed together in a jiffy. This smoothie is fresh and natural - exactly what your body needs after exercising. We’ve chosen nutrient dense ingredients which will boost your body to function optimally. Coconut water is excellent after a good workout because it boosts your electrolytes, increases your energy levels and balances your blood sugar levels. We’ve added in fresh strawberries as these are filled with powerful antioxidants that keep you youthful, help lower your blood pressure, balance your blood sugar levels and help maintain good cardiovascular health. These are all essential for your body to recover after a good workout.

Carrots, mangos and oranges – all contain beta-carotene, which helps to naturally protect you from the sun- from the inside out! They also contain fibre - essential for cleansing your colon and aiding in the efficient elimination of waste. If you have a clean colon, then your body is able to absorb nutrients effectively. All four of these ingredients contain vitamins- specifically vitamin C, thus boosting the immune system, which is especially good with the current colder winter weather.

Post Workout Smoothie :

1 cup Strawberries

1 cup Frozen Mango ( or fresh when it’s in season)

1 cup Chopped Carrots

1 Peeled Orange

250 ml Coconut Water

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Serve with a sprinkling of goji berry dust.

LUNCHBOX INSPIRATION

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After a lovely winter break our children are back at school and once again we are faced with the challenge of packing tempting and nourishing snacks for a busy day! I thought I would share some ideas that might help and inspire! Bearing in mind that playtime at school is limited and children want to spend this time playing with their friends, I pack small portions of a variety of snacks that are easy to “eat on the run”.

Remember that your child’s stomach is only as big as their fist and they therefore don’t need huge amounts of food. A rule of thumb is to only have a maximum of 3 fists worth of food per meal. I try to avoid things that will go soggy and also things that are messy and difficult to eat. Individually packed dry snacks are the answer!

 

I like to dehydrate my own fruit as this is the best way to get the full nutritional value. Although bought versions are available, they usually contain added chemicals. I have a wonderful recipe for dried apple chips, which my daughter adores. Sending apples to school is not always a good idea as they take too long to eat and often come home with a few bites out of them and have turned brown.

I hope these suggestions will help you with your lunchbox planning:

- Dried fruit pieces

- Dip ‘n Seed crackers and almond butter from Woollies

- Ancient Grain Original Crackers from Woollies

- Multigrain rice cakes with a little marmite

- Nakd Bars

- Organic Goji berries from Super Foods

- Kale chips (packed in an airtight container as they can go soggy)

- Raw tree nuts (FACT: peanuts are NOT nuts, they are legumes that grow on a

perennial plant along the ground)

- Organic raisins that do not have vegetable oil on them to make them shiny! Best,

nutritionally, would be raisins with seeds in them.

- Trail mix

- Fresh SEEDED grapes (don’t cut them up – you will lose nutritional value)

- Unpeeled bananas (make sure they have spots on them for better digestion and

nutrition)

- Dehydrated flax crackers

- Popcorn (use organic kernels and organic coconut oil)

We would love to hear from you if you have any questions or if you have some new ideas

for lunch box snacks that will keep our children nourished during their busy school days.

WINTER WARMER

There’s nothing quite as comforting or warming as a delicious bowl of soup! This Moroccan Butternut and Red Lentil Soup with its combination of warming spices and a hint of chili, will become a winter favourite. I found it in the “Brookdale’s Heavenly and Healthy Flavours” book and my whole family loved it!

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Ingredients:

1 red chili, deseeded and chopped (optional)

3 cups butternut, peeled and cubed

½ cup red split lentils, rinsed well

5 ripe tomatoes, skin removed and chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

5 cups vegetable stock

herb salt and ground black pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Onion, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp ginger, grated

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Heat a large saucepan with olive oil, sauté onion, garlic and ginger and then sprinkle in the spices. Sauté until the spices become fragrant. Add chilli, butternut, lentils, tomatoes, carrots and stock. Cook until vegetables are soft (about 40 minutes). Blend and season to taste. Serve hot, topped with chickpeas, crumbled feta and a drizzle of coriander pesto.

Serves 6

THE CHALLENGES OF OUR BOTSWANA SAFARI

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Everything in Nature is in balance – so too was our Botswanan adventure.  In the first blog I waxed lyrical about the joy, peacefulness and calmness we experienced.  This is the other side of the proverbial coin. 

Our initial challenge was water crossings, the first of which was on the road between Nata and Maun. A huge expanse of water (more than 2km long) faced us – we couldn’t see to the other side of it.  The road had washed away.  The water was half way up the car doors.  It was impossible to know what line to take and terrifying when, well into the crossing, we had huge trucks heading straight for us travelling in the opposite direction!  We all thankfully reached the other side with eyes as big as dinner plates.  It had been a water baptism with a difference for our German friends who were experiencing their first Botswana Safari.

Water crossings occurred frequently thereafter.  It’s usually good practise to first walk through the water to gauge depth and any potholes etc. and at the same time being aware of the presence of hippo and crocs.  This had not been possible with the first crossing.

On our first day out traversing in the park, we returned to total devastation of the interior of the two caravans – a baboon raid had occurred in our absence. Our friends’  hired caravan had had the grocery cupboard door ripped off, all the foodstuffs ripped open and puddles of baboon urine was everywhere!  In our caravan, they had ripped open the stitching around a canvas window.  The only food which was available to them was a container of home-baked high fibre rusks which they proceeded to consume; with the high fibre content having an immediate effect on their bowels!  The ensuing mess and smell was indescribable!  Fortunately, it was midday and the clean-up process began immediately with loads of hand washing of bed linen - thanks to sunny warm weather most of the washing was dry by the evening.  Thank goodness for a spare set of bed linen!   After this nasty encounter, we ensured that there were always a few camp guards (from our group) left to ward off any marauding baboons!

Our camp elephant was also a challenge.  He enjoyed the Marula fruit which fell from the trees in the campsite.  However, being in musth, he was unpredictable and we had several encounters with him, the last of which was pretty up-close.  One night he ventured through the middle of our camp in amongst all the guide ropes and investigated what everybody had in their kitchen.  We were gathered around the camp fire when we noticed this enormous head between two trailer-top tents.  He squeezed through this seemingly impossible narrow opening and kept coming towards us running his trunk along one kitchen surface and knocking a pot to the ground.  He then changed direction and decided to go back along the road and ‘melted’ into the shadows.

It was slow going on the ‘roller coaster’ road from Moremi to Savuti.  The usual route to North Gate wasn’t possible as it was flooded, so we had to back-track taking the cut-line.  This route also had a long deviation that took us through “scratchy” winding Mopane woodland vegetation as there was an enormous lake in the road with water lilies growing in it – an indication that the water was deep.  There is no signage, so it’s guess work to find the way through the maze of criss-crossing tracks!  Eventually though, we found our way back to the road just on the other side of the ‘lake’. It was dusk as we arrived at our camp and we still had to tackle setting up camp in the dark.  Grateful thanks, once again, for a delicious and nutritious ready-made Minestrone soup with quinoa and veg patties on the side.

The onward journey from Savuti to the Chobe Reserve was also a long, tough journey, but we emerged to a spectacular view of the enormous expanse of the Chobe River seemingly doubled in sight!  Being fully aware of the challenge of baboon raids, we generally left a few people in the camp whilst others went out on game-viewing drives.

In closing my account on this amazing adventure, I have an excerpt from my diary.

‘As I write this, I have a spectacular view from our little veranda across the lush green lawn through to the Chobe River with the sunlight sparkling on it. Tonight is our final dinner in Kasane where we’re all going to gather at the Old House Restaurant.  Tomorrow we leave at 7.30am to travel to the border at Martin’s Drift.  We’ll be staying at Kwanokeng Lodge – a journey of about 8 hours.  Then it’s an early start to be at the border at 6am (as it opens) to make a head start for the journey to Pretoria and then the next day a 5am start on the final leg back to Durban.’

Memories crowd my mind; some of which are documented by the photos  which will give you, the reader, a small window into our Botswana experience.

Botswana- Food for the soul

Being immersed in and surrounded by nature (God’s Garden) fed and deeply nourished my inner being.

Camping entails being outdoors more than indoors.  Daily chores keep the body moving, which is welcome after hours of travelling in the car.  Feeling the Botswanan sun on my skin in the knowledge that Vitamin D levels were being hugely boosted, was a joy.

My body benefitted enormously by practising yoga in the fresh air and the coolness of the large canopy trees like the Marula amongst many others.  Yoga stretches every part of the body and calms the mind.  This was vital for me after the loss of my beloved Dad,  in mid-February and the sudden loss of a very dear friend and close colleague of my husband just a fortnight before our departure.

I was thrilled to have a yoga ‘buddy’ from our group who joined me.  Barbie was enthusiastic and quick to learn, which pushed our yoga sessions to the next level!

Having gone the extra mile with my food preparation paid huge dividends.  I had a menu plan from which I could choose and, with minimal input, my meals were ready in a jiffy.  Travelling to Moremi involved four full days of driving.  I had pre-prepared smoothies for our breakfasts and green juices for our lunches in stainless steel flasks.  Each day the flasks were stored in the little fridge between the front seats for easy access.  Travel time was only punctuated by ‘pit stops’ for refuelling or ‘calls of nature’ (grateful thanks for the caravan loo!).

We had restaurant dinners on nights one and three and fully prepared meals on nights two and four.  Quick meal prep meant more emphasis on socialising with our group; as well as getting well-earned rest so as to be sufficiently energised to tackle the next full day of travel. On the final day, we had to set up our camp in Moremi.

Traversing in Moremi was limited due to the huge amount of water everywhere.  However, it’s always so special to encounter a variety of buck, buffalo, giraffe, elephants and lions.  We were equally enthralled with seeing the abundant variety of bird life.  In the camp, we could always hear the tapping of Woodpeckers and noisy calls of the arrow-marked Babblers.  At night the grunts of nearby hippo’s through the reeds and the call of the Scops Owl could be heard; as well as other night sounds like lions roaring in the wee hours.

Afternoon and evening boat rides on the Okavango River and later on the Chobe River were awesome.  Sunsets were exquisite, and observing the setting sun and subsequent silhouettes developing over the water was spectacular!

Offering super delicious after-dinner treats around the campfire was so satisfying for me.  My airtight container (which was stored in the caravan freezer) was passed around each evening and the group thoroughly savoured my chocolate fudge, rocky road fudge and chocolate truffles.

The Savuti plains and marsh served us abundant herds of animals – wildebeest, buffalo, impala, elephants; as well as  two prides of lions; and a magnificent sighting of an elusive leopard at dusk on its rocky outcrop.

Camping on the banks of the hugely expanded Chobe River was magnificent.  Our one campsite was largely flooded so we had to create a camping (in close quarters) condo with 12 people on one site!  In the Chobe Reserve, it felt like there was an animal / bird / reptile viewing reward around virtually every corner.  Lions, elephants, giraffe, buffalo, tortoises, water monitors, crocodiles, hippo’s, lechwe, puku and a whole host of water birds.

We packed away camp for the last time and used the journey with our five car and caravan/trailer cavalcade as our final game viewing experience.  The highlight of this journey was an enormous herd of elephants (with tiny babies) crossing the road.

On arrival at the Chobe Marina Lodge we were welcomed with delicious home-made lemon iced tea.  What a treat to be in a beautiful hotel on the banks of the Chobe River.  We were able to revel in wonderful warm baths and showers, sleep in crisp white linen and have meals served to us.  Early morning yoga on the reading deck was spectacular!  We all thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and evening boat rides on the Chobe River with the highlight being a pod of about 18 hippo’s at close quarters giving us wonderful yawning and water spraying displays.  We explored the curio shops for gifts and immersed ourselves in the friendly, relaxed atmosphere of Kasane before resurfacing for the final push – first to Martin’s Drift (our last night together as a group at Kwanokeng Lodge) then across the border into South Africa – blending back into our familiar urban environment.

 

 

Yoga for Kids: Turning on the light

Last week Cami Barausse, owner of Yogi Bears based in Kloof, KZN, explained how Yoga unites and disciplines the mind, body and breath. Today she is unpacking just some of the benefits of yoga for children:

Yoga and Body:

Constantly bombarded with societal pressures of inadequacy, yoga teaches kids to love themselves. Learning this from a young age equips children with the life skills and tools for the coming teenage years when self doubt may begin to creep in.

·      Develops core strength, flexibility and body awareness

·      Builds co-ordination and balance

·      Relieves stress which promotes better sleep

·      Tones internal organs

·      Enhances performance of other extra mural activities

Yoga and Mind:

Through the asana (postures) children learn more about their bodies and what they are capable of. They learn more about their minds and how they can affect and change not only their own attitude to life, but also the attitudes of the people around them. They learn that they are capable of this through their own thoughts and how they choose to react to any given situation.

·      Builds self esteem and confidence

·      Nurtures mental balance and awareness

·      Inspires imagination, creativity and empathy

·      Improves concentration and self discipline

Yoga and Breath:

Combining the body, mind and breath helps children develop into more wholesome, confident, kind and responsible adults. Yoga teaches children to be present, and to concentrate and focus on their breathing in an ever demanding world. They learn how simple breathing techniques can help them throughout the day, in any situation. Typically children deal with frustration by crying and throwing tantrums. When they learn proper, healthy breathing techniques and tools to focus and quieten the mind, they begin to apply these tools in their everyday lives and to react appropriately to any situation.

·      Improves lung capacity and detoxification through increased exchange of carbon dioxide and        oxygen

·      Reduces anxiety

·      Calms the mind, creating physical and mental balance

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Yoga and Emotional/Spiritual:

By connecting the Mind, Body and Breath children are able to discover themselves and love themselves, to see the good in themselves and n others. Through this journey of self discovery they learn to focus and calm their minds as well as become aware of their instinctive capabilities. Aiding children in this way allows them to develop skills to cope with the journey of life, making them stronger and more capable of dealing with the stresses of life. Children are often pushed and encouraged to be super productive, leaping from one activity to the next all day long until they crash at bedtime. Yoga teaches children that it does not always have to be this way. It teaches children how to relax and be still. This process of “stillness” will teach them to handle the demands of today’s world in a much more wholesome and proactive way, thus allowing them the downtime needed to understand what is going on inside them and around them.

·      Promotes compassion and self-awareness

·      Enhances the connection to oneself and nature

·      Teaches respect for ourselves, others and all living creatures

Thank you for reading our blogs, if you would like to learn more about this incredible life-skill and allow your little one the opportunity to become a Yogi Bear too, then email Cami on yogibearsza@gmail.com

With love

-Liesel

Building our little ones through Yoga

In this week’s blog we are delighted to showcase Cami Barausse, owner of Yogi Bears based in Kloof, KZN. Cami has so much to share with us about the amazing benefits of Yoga for children that we have decided to spread this blog over 2 weeks.

My five-year-old daughter Hannah has been a “Yogi Bear” for the past five months, and she is loving it! We are already feeling the benefits that Cami speaks about:

“It is vital that children are given the tools from a young age to strengthen their minds and bodies, helping them to build up their self esteem and self awareness. Especially in today’s world which is dominated by the competitive nature of the media and the constant advancements of technology, children get very little time to download and process themselves and the world. This makes it very hard to find balance in the home environment, school and other activities.

 

Children are given few life skill tools to deal with emotional, social and physical challenges or conflicts that occur throughout life, giving rise to emotional imbalances. Today’s world is very much oriented around being the best, the strongest, and achieving the most. Yoga, which means “to unite” connects the whole self; mind, body and breath. Yoga teaches children that everybody has a different body and that different bodies can do different things but all bodies are the same. There is not one body better or worse than the next in yoga, we are all just discovering our bodies and learning from them in our own way.

Yoga is truly for everybody. Yoga helps introduce children to themselves, through their body, building self awareness, self confidence all the while quietening their minds. The best characteristic of yoga is that it is portable, no mat, special clothing or room is necessary, only the willing body.

Namaste: the light in me sees the light in you. Yoga teaches acceptance and tolerance of others. In practicing yoga, children learn early in life that all living beings are to be cherished and respected as they are, thus helping to create harmonious communities and a more peaceful world. All children are natural born yogis.

The combination of an unpolluted mind, innate sense of trust in others as well as an absence of inhibition allows children to receive the teachings of yoga and grow from them in inspiring ways. Leading them to yoga is our responsibility as, while they are discovering themselves, they will be teaching us as adults.”

Look out for the second part of this blog next week when Cami unpacks all the amazing benefits of yoga for children.

With Love

Liesel

The 3rd ‘p’ is for packing……

We only covered food prepping in the previous blog.  However, there are a number of other aspects to consider especially if you are going to be travelling to another country, some of which are visas, passports, foreign currency and car documentation.

It’s a good idea to create a “to do” spreadsheet to ensure that nothing important is left behind.  Have three columns:  1.  The task.  2.  Name of who is dealing with the task.  3.  Check column. As things ‘pop ’into your thoughts, add them to the spreadsheet.

We also have a comprehensive camping list.  This is useful to run through to ensure that all the necessary items are packed.  Remember that you’re going to be far away from shops and garages (for extra fuel); and there will be no electricity!  

Make sure that your car has been serviced, that you have excellent tyres and spare tyres, as well as essential car spares. (I’m not an expert on car stuff, but have experienced having car problems and having to solve these issues in remote places).

Have a comprehensive medical bag with first aid kit. We keep all our meds permanently in a large Medical backpack.  We just need to check it before leaving, pick it up and stow it in the car where it can be easily accessed. I have six natural remedies that I take, as well as meds for cuts, burns, splints etc. We always take a Satellite telephone (which is pre-loaded with air time) so that we can get an emergency message out. Medical insurance is very important as well as having medical evacuation if it should be needed.

Finally the packing.

Put everything out and give some thought to what is used most often, so that you have easy access to these things.  Contingency items (like tinned food) can be stowed away. Number the boxes and do an inventory of what is in each box.  Print your inventory and put it in a file with all your border crossing, recipes and any other relevant documentation. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to pull everything out to find something!

Calmly and systematically start to pack.  We always view the packing process as an exciting part of the holiday.  If it looks like certain things aren’t going to fit in, then prioritize what is important and simply leave the ‘nice to haves’ behind. It’s not a problem if some of the frozen or dehydrated foods don’t fit in – you’ll have some yummy food to look forward to on your return from the holiday! Also view the journey to your destination(s) as part of the exciting vacation. Travel at a conservative speed and you’ll arrive safely. Respect the bush and wildlife – you’re a guest in their ‘hood’!

Remember when travelling to remote places that it’s a good idea to be with a group of people or at least 2 vehicles so that someone can go for help if a car gets stuck or has a mechanical problem.

BON VOYAGE!

The Prep process for our Safari is running ‘full steam ahead’

I’ve chosen four different breakfast options:

1. Smoothies for the long travelling days on our inward journey to our destination.  These are made on the night before departure and stored in stainless steel flasks in our car cooler in the console. They’re easy to access – no unnecessary stops as we’re super keen to reach our destination!

2. Home made buckwheat cereal  served with fresh fruit and coconut yoghurt. (I’m going to be making more coconut yoghurt whilst we’re in Moremi).

3. Oats two ways – soaked in apple juice with cinnamon or cooked with coconut milk and almond butter.

4. Cooked breakfast:  Garlicky tomatoes and caramelized bananas and sweetcorn.

 

Four different Lunch options:

1. Green juice made in advance in stainless steel flasks and stored in the same easily accessible way as per the smoothies. I’ll take some fresh greens to make one more quantity of green juice using my manual Farre Juicer. The greens must be used as soon as possible as they won’t last for more than about four days in the fridge.

2. Salads: leaves don’t last long but Pak Choy lasts best and can be used raw and cooked and has a much milder cabbage flavour.  Serve with homemade sauerkraut / kimchi / pesto / fermented mustard and home-made pickle and Kombucha vinegar. Add a few different rainbow coloured fresh veg too. As space is at a premium in the fridges only one or two bottles of pickles can be used at a time.

3. Wraps with a choice of three different scrumptious fillings with a base of greens and other ingredients to create taste sensation!

4. Salads with a lentil or brown rice base.  Make these salads when the fresh ingredients are finished.

 

Dinners:

I’ve made and frozen four soups, which I’ll store in the caravan freezer.

I’ve made and frozen four main meals.  On this trip I’ve chosen curries – Chinese, Indian, Thai and Moroccan. 

I’ve made and frozen three different marinades:  BBQ, Thai and Sweet & Sour.  In addition I have one bottle of Korma sauce which will be packed into my grocery drawer.

 

Mid morning snacks:

1. Dehydrated fruit:  I’ve dehydrated mango, pineapple, apple, plums, banana and figs.  These store well in airtight containers.  Remember with dried fruit a little goes a long way.

2. Homemade trail mix – a mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and superfoods.

3. Dehydrated choc cookies made with hazelnut pulp flour.

4. Homemade fruit, nut and seed rusks.

 

 

 

 

Sundowner snacks:

1.     Kale chips

2.     Flax crackers

3.     Dehydrated macadamia nut cheese drops 

4.     Spicy nuts and seeds clusters

 

After dinner treats to round off the evenings whilst sharing the day’s experiences around the camp fire:

1.     Rocky Road fudge 

2.     Chocolate truffles

3.     Choc / Mint fudge 

 

Drinks:

1. Filtered water.  I take a Brita jug which is not necessarily the best, but better than not filtering the water.

2. Herbal teas for me and plunger coffee (for my husband).

3. Water Kefir which I’ll be making in the campsite.  I’ll add fresh lemon juice and fresh ginger juice to it to make our delicious sundowner drinks. Takes two days to make.

4. Carob chai on cooler evenings with an optional shot of Kaluha to warm us from the inside out!

Portion sizes are all carefully planned so that everything can fit into the two fridges and the freezer. Fresh fruit won’t last long hence we are taking dried fruit. Equally, veggies need to be chosen carefully eg. sweet potatoes, gem squash, butternut squash – which last a long time out of the fridge. I store the fresh fruit and veg, which are transported in an open collapsible crate in the car, in string bags so that they have good air flow and therefore last longer. There are invariably left-overs, so I don’t have meals prepared for every single meal.

Storage is important as monkeys and baboons, even elephants, can raid your camp if food is left out. Successful safaris require good planning and prepping to ensure that you can enjoy your holiday to the max.

 

Planning for a camping Safari

Planning, Prepping and Packing for a CAMPING SAFARI EXTRORDINAIRE to the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Part 1 - Planning

We’re so excited to be taking our German friends (and old friends) on an epic Botswanan adventure – camping in the stunning beauty of the Okavango Swamps, Savuti and Chobe.

Over the years I’ve honed my skills of the 3 P’s – Planning Prepping and Packing for Safari experiences using ‘Qualitarian’ and ‘Nutritarian’ foods, ensuring that we continue to nourish ourselves with THE BEST FOODS EVER whilst enjoying THE BEST HOLIDAY EVER!  

When planning a trip like this, it is very important to keep two key things in mind, the available space in the caravan or trailer, and the fridge or freezer space. As they say, practice makes perfect -  this definitely gets easier the more often we do it.

On our trip, there are no shopping opportunities to replenish supplies for the first 2 weeks. Here are some of the things we do to make sure our planning goes smoothly:-  

·         Quantify the number of meals required for the period.

·         Distinguish the type of meals required, such as en route in the car, complete meals (for late    arrivals), breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, treats, and also hot and cold drinks.

·         Choose recipes to make for the freezer or to store in airtight containers.

·         Draw up shopping lists to purchase the relevant ingredients.

·         Plan to systematically make the meals over the two weeks leading up to departure - starting with the frozen meals.  This food must be frozen solid before packing into the camping freezer.

·         Plan the big pack ahead of time - preferably over the weekend prior to departure.

·         Non-perishable foods should be packed into “ammo” boxes.  Heavy duty plastic, stackable boxes with firm clips are a must as monkeys and baboons can’t open them!

·         Perishable goods must be purchased as close to departure date as possible to ensure freshness.

My thinking is to make sure that there is sufficient choice, and flexibility in the menu for the whole trip, which in this case is 3 weeks.

Maximum preparation beforehand ensures that I maximize my relaxation time when I’m away.  Most of the work is done and I can enjoy the holiday!

I have peace of mind that the food quality is excellent, that the foods that I’ve chosen will deeply nourish us, that it will offer us a wide spread of rainbow colours, and most of all that each meal will be delicious.

The secret is in the planning!

 

traveler vintage luggage, compass and fedora hat

Simply Delicious Summer Salad Building

‘Simply’ Delicious Summer Salad Building

We’re sweltering in South Africa at the moment with high temperatures and glorious sunny days! Ideal for serving salads. We’re all so time-strapped in our urban life styles, so let’s get back to basics by learning to build ‘simply’ delicious salads.

Our salad building tips:

1.     Keep to four, maximum six ingredients

2.     Make sure you have a good colour and texture spread

3.     Green is the most important colour. This should form the base of the salad

4.      Optional extra ingredients. For example: olives, homemade pickles,  homemade sprouts, or homemade sauerkraut/kimchi

5.     To dress your salad, try using some kombucha vinegar (by: Sprout It) and mix in some homemade pesto.

Voila! The perfect ‘simply’ delicious summer salad.

If you are interested to learn how to make your own pickles, sprouts, kimchi or sauerkraut, come and join one of our workshops or book a private consultation for us to come in and detox your pantry and put you on your course toward revived health and sustained living.

 

 

Coconut Yoghurt

Did you know that we’re nine tenths bacteria and only one tenth human? There are bacteria on us as well as in us! 

We refer to the bacteria in our digestive tract as our microbiome. In order to ensure that we have a microbiome which is well populated with immune boosting friendly bacteria, we need to consume foods which have a positive impact on our microbiome - ie foods teaming with gut-balancing good bacteria like yoghurt and it’s yummy too!

 Michigan Behn

Ingredients:

2 cans coconut milk

2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder

4 probiotic capsules

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

·       Make sure that the glass jars and lids are sterilised or have been through a dishwasher cycle before beginning.

·       Pour coconut milk into a medium sized pot and whisk until smooth.

·       Scoop out approximately 1/3 of a cup of the coconut milk and stir in the arrowroot powder, after which returning the mixture to the pot.

·       On a low heat, warm the coconut milk, stirring until it thickens.

·       Cool until just warm to the touch – about 50 degrees Centigrade

·       Add the probiotics by twisting open the capsules and pouring in the powder.  (Be sure to recycle the capsules’ casings).

·       Whisk in maple syrup.

·       Pour into sterilised jar(s) and screw on the lids.

·       Place in a warm place – either a dehydrator or oven at approximately 45 degrees Centigrade and leave for 12 to 24 hours without disturbing.

·       Chill the yoghurt in the fridge for at least 6 hours – it’ll thicken as it chills.  

·       The mixture may separate with a yellowish translucent layer at the bottom and a thicker white layer on top.  Stir to recombine or scoop off the top layer for thicker yoghurt.

·       Keep the yoghurt in the fridge and use within two weeks.

This coconut yoghurt pairs well with home-made buckwheat muesli and / or fresh fruit salad.

 Michigan Behn