Making the first move

This has been a week of firsts for me – I went to my first ever Zumba class and I made a raw Speculoos and Chocolate tart. Granted, these are not the most exciting situations and I’m sure the rest of the world has done both a million times already. And it’s not that I’m behind the times either, I’m perfectly aware of all the trends that pop up left, right and centre that we follow.

It’s just that exercise has never been a great interest of mine. I prefer to eat well and avoid bad foods, and even after having a gym membership PAID for me as a gift it still took a while for me to feel motivated to go. In the last month though it has really started to become something I’m excited to do and I want to make the effort to work out, rather than the dreaded feeling of forcing myself to go just to make use of my pass.

When I ran my first 10k last year in Paris, my sisters and friends back home were so impressed that I would go running of my own volition and actually completed such a task. I was really proud of myself too, it was honestly such an achievement that I ordinarily would never have thought of doing. The only reason I did it was because a few of my friends wanted us to share the experience together and I thought it was the perfect excuse to finally start doing some exercise. It was difficult and running is not all that interesting if I’m honest, and although I had every intention of keeping up with running after the 10k was over, I didn’t.

Then winter came round and it was certified – no more (outdoor) exercise until summer. It bummed me out a little, but not that much that I was going to run in the park when it’s 6 degrees Celsius outside. After receiving the gym membership gift, I had no more excuses. Just going once a week for an hour wasn’t really working for me though – knowing that my schedule had to fit around my boyfriend and his brother’s availability of when they would drive us really limited what I could do, for example if we left at 5pm I obviously couldn’t go to a yoga or stretching class at 3pm.

So this week I did something new – I went alone. The Boy still drove me there and picked me up (he insisted I swear!), but it was so good to have my own time and be there for me. Enter the Zumba class! Now this gym is pretty great, it’s fully equipped with machines, exercise rooms and a billion tennis courts, but the clientèle are of the much older variety. So much so that I feel so self-conscious being around all these elderly women! Plus they were all so well acquainted with the routine because they attend the class all the time, whereas I stood on many occasions with a ‘What the hell, I can’t see the teacher!’ expression on my face as I tried to copy the moves. Verdict? It was still fun, the music was great and it felt good to get my body moving. And, if I keep going, I’ll know all the routines off by heart like everyone else!

So, what’s my point? There’s no easy way to start something new, or to get back into an old routine. There are no magic words, no 12-step routines to get you into a 12-step routine. It’s very simple – you either get up and go, or you don’t. The first step to achieving what you want is THE hardest part – even just laying out your gym clothes the night before and putting them on first thing in the morning can boost your motivation 100%. I know because even for me it was a difficult stage despite its apparent simplicity. Also for a long time I’ve been wanting to get into yoga; I’ve tried it on a few occasions and I think it’s an extremely powerful tool for your body. Of course it hurts at the beginning and of course you’re not going to be a pro after one 60-minute session. But even just doing 15m every morning is going to change my mind and body so much if I just keep going with it.

Why are you going to complain about the abs you don’t have, or the Spanish language you can’t speak or the car you can’t drive if you’re not doing anything to achieve it? The only way forward is by getting on your feet and taking that first step. After a while, it feels less like hard work and more like a completely natural part of your lifestyle. It takes discipline and effort but there is no other more fulfilling way to reach your goals. What are some of the goals you guys are trying to achieve, and how is it working out? I would love to hear some stories of your personal growth!

Bisous! P.S. recipe for the raw Speculoos and Chocolate tart will be up this week!

Fiery Carrot and Ginger Dhal

Hi everyone!

Is it just me or does it feel like the winter snap is never going away? Despite the sun’s infrequent coucou every now and then, Paris is bitter cold and although it hasn’t snowed (yet!) it’s still really frosty outside. Saying that, there’s nothing like waking up early and going for a brisk morning walk in the crisp air. Today I was forced to because I had an appointment at 9.30am and once my eyes adjusted to the whipping wind, it was pretty glorious being alone on a simple, quiet road. When I came home I instantly made one of my special English Tea Shop teas (cranberry & vanilla – just the fragrance was divine!!!) and curled up with a few episodes of Parks and Rec.

Days like these also call for a serving of my Fiery Carrot and Ginger Dhal – just the colour will make you feel instantly warmed up! I hardly ever make Indian food which is silly because it’s super easy and I’ve spent 20 years watching and helping my Mom in the kitchen, so even without a strict recipe I still know what I’m doing. Even when I was in the middle of cooking this dish, I hadn’t realised what I was making until I sat down to eat and suddenly realised, ‘This tastes exactly how Mom makes it!!’ Which made me super happy because our Mom’s are always the best cooks.

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I store my paprika and tumeric in old jam jars which prevents spice-dust getting everywhere

Here’s how I did it – (note: if you prefer to whizz this in the blender, it won’t matter if you roughly chop the carrots, onion, garlic and ginger. However if you choose not to blend and eat as is, you might want to chop the ingredients more finely).


Prep time: 10m        Cooking time: 25m

Ingredients

1 cup of red lentils
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
Half an onion, chopped
Thumb-sized piece of ginger (or two depending on your taste), chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped (not pictured)
1 teaspoon of tumeric and paprika
Healthy dash of cumin, chilli powder and S&P

Method

  • Add the lentils to a saucepan along with 1.5 cups of cold water. Put on a medium heat and let the lentils gently simmer, stirring occasionally. After 15m, add the carrots.
  • In a separate and smaller saucepan, add oil and let it heat up before adding the onion. Let it fry for 2mins on a low-medium heat, then add the ginger and garlic. Turn the heat up to medium and continue to stir, not letting the ingredients stick to the pan. Add seasoning and spices.
  • Incorporate the onion mixture with the lentils, which at this point should have thickened up and the carrots soft enough to pierce. Mix well and either serve immediately or blitz in the blender to get a smoother consistency.

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Hope you try this out! Even biting into the smallest piece of ginger immediately raises my body temperature and feels so warming inside, and the dhal is so easy to eat you can easily have one bowl after the other. Try serving with a sprig of coriander, yoghurt and toasted chunks of bread on the side. Enjoy!

Bisous!

Tea? Lots of tea!

If anybody out there is super-duper cool enough to know that the title of this post comes from the film Drop Dead Fred, the mud-pie-cornflake-disease part, I salute you (a firm childhood favourite for everyone in my family!)

I am a bit late in posting my lovely Christmas present that I received from The Boy, but I’ve just been enjoying the holiday season so much! He bought me something I’d been wanting for a long time, une boîte de thé, which is basically a tea box! I’d never seen one of these in households before I came to France and as a tea-lover I just had to be part of the club. I was so so happy with my present!

Combining two of my greatest loves, books and tea, he managed to find a tea box in the shape of a book (this boy’s a genius I tell you). I adore the fabric exterior and how the the sides really imitate the look of a book. Along with it came a selection box of tisanes or infusion teas from English Tea Shop, a selection of black and green teas with a handy tea-ball from Dammann Frères AND another Dammann Frères variety box of Christmas teas from his mum! I’m in tea heaven.

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Above is the Christmas Tea selection where the combination of flavours and perfumes is limitless – pink peppercorns, orange peel, gingerbread, apple, almond, pineapple, cherry, vanilla… you get the idea!

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The prettiest colours in all the land! I honestly felt so sad throwing away the pack on the left because it’s already so neat and pretty! But I’m delighted all the sachets fit neatly into my lovely new box and the bright colours are still there. January never tasted so delicious.

Bisous!

Galette des Roi (ou Reine!) & Happy 2015!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope everyone had a fantastic start to 2015 and continue as we all mean to go on…or at least try to!

We saw the New Year in with a little house party chez nous and a small gathering of friends. The Boy had cocktails and a lovely buffet of finger-foods ready and waiting! The only thing I felt up for making from scratch was chocolate brownies at the last minute because as luck had it, I came down with gastro. Disgusting and painful doesn’t even begin to describe it, but I’ll leave it there for now. Thankfully I was over the worst of it come December 31st and I had such a great time celebrating the new year with my lovely and my friends. What did you all get up to over the holiday period?

Now that we’re in to the first week of January, the Christmas decorations and lights are coming down and life basically goes back to normal. It’s a mixture of sadness and relief. I absolutely love the festive spirit because it’s a feeling we all share but at the same time the holiday season can be very hectic and stressful, and I always appreciate getting back into a routine of work.

Something I wanted to share with all you lovely readers is an edible tradition celebrated in France and other European countries on the 6th January. This day marks the Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas when supposedly the Three Wise Kings, the magi, visited the baby Jesus following his birth with gifts in tow. In France, this day is celebrated with the eating of galette des roi, roughly meaning King’s cake though it’s more of a large pastry than cake in the traditional sense.

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Now it’s taken me a while to get through writing this post because I have been doing exactly that – eating a galette des roi. This crispy yet soft ‘cake’ is made from layers of filo pastry with a, tyically, frangipane filling of sweet, moist ground almonds. Divine. They are available in absolutely every supermarket or boulangerie and I think it’s a perfect excuse to get the family together again. Now if you want to follow tradition correctly, and I’m sure you all do, the way to celebrate is someone cuts the cake in slices whilst the youngest member of the family sits under the table. Once ready, everyone digs in until someone munches on the fève (the favour), which back in the day used to be a simple bean but now varies from miniature superheros (I got the Hulk once) to festive trinkets like the snowman I got tonight! The winner is declared King or Queen, gets to wear the little paper crown that comes with the galette and is crowned royalty until next year!