Why I Took a Break from Yoga

Why I Took A Break from Yoga | http://BananaBloom.com #yoga #exercise #fitness

I haven’t done yoga in weeks. Months actually. I suppose from an onlookers point of view, that must seem out of character for me. Here’s why I took a break from yoga.

Why I Took A Break from Yoga | http://BananaBloom.com #yoga #exercise #fitness

This summer has been difficult for me. As they say, life got in the way, and as a result of a conveyor belt of setbacks and disappointments, I stopped going to my regular yoga classes.

Truth be told, this hiatus was a long time coming. My frustration with yoga started building long before this summer. I wanted so badly for yoga to be that thing that solved all my problems and finally made me feel good in my mind and body. But as much as I fought and wanted to feel it, I just didn’t. My mind wasn’t quieter, I didn’t love my body more, I didn’t feel less stressed, or more happy. I grew frustrated with it and ended up feeling like a failure for not getting it right.

I know. Yoga isn’t about right or wrong or being the best, but my perfectionist personality turned yoga into yet another reason not to feel good enough. I was constantly struggling to fit yoga into my already too busy schedule, and battling the feelings of inadequacy over not practicing enough.

“I have to learn that it’s okay to not be the best at everything I set out to do. And in this particular case, it’s okay to not be a yoga girl.”

I’m an overachiever who’s persistently concerned with what other people expect of me. I do what I should rather than what I want. These soaring demands I put on myself are what makes yoga so difficult for me. The influx of yoga girls on social media definitely hasn’t made those demands and expectations any less pressing.

I have to learn that it’s okay to not be the best at everything I set out to do. And in this particular case, it’s okay to not be a yoga girl.

This doesn’t mean I’ll never do yoga again. In fact, I’m going to a yoga festival in two weeks (which was booked long before the summer, when I was still practicing regularly). I’m curious to find out if my hiatus has changed my view of yoga and I think the only way of finding out is to step back into class. I’m a mix of terrified and excited about the festival. As always when I’m about to dive back into something I haven’t done for a while, I’m nervous I’ve completely lost my ability to do it. But I won’t let my fears get the best of my curiosity!

What about you – have you felt frustrated in your yoga practice? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Iced Coffee and Summertime fun

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

It’s summertime which means ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and cool beverages. For coffee lovers, that obviously means iced coffee. It’s my go-to cup of joe when I’m out and about in the heat, which I’ve been a lot this summer. Here’s a little update on some of our summer activities, and a how-to for a quick and easy jug of iced coffee.

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

It was 32 degrees in Stockholm yesterday. Thirty-two! Living in a country like Sweden — where our summers are short and our winters are painfully long, cold, and dark — you come to appreciate weather like this. And if you’ve ever been to Sweden you’ll know Swedes know how to savour every last lick of summer.

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

We’ve been maxing our time outdoors going on excursions, biking around, going for walks and hopping on boats out to the Stockholm archipelago.

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

A favourite of mine is going out to the little island Fjäderholmarna. Taking the boat from Nybrokajen or Slussen it’s a short 30 minute trip across the water to an island small enough to loop right around in about 5 minutes flat.

Related: Banana Nice Cream – The Perfect Summer Snack

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

I’ve packed a picnic and boated out to Fjäderholmarna almost every single summer since I moved to Stockholm some 17 years ago (omg, how old am I?!) And this summer the awesome hammocks they have at the café and restaurant “Röda Villan” have lured us out to Fjäderholmarna twice already.

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

Those hammocks are popular real estate though, so you’re lucky if you manage to nab one (hold on to it for dear life if you do).

Related: Strawberry & Peach Midsummer Cake

Yesterday we took a long bike ride (yes, in the aforementioned 32 degree heat) followed by an evening barbecue and swim. It was my first swim of the summer and it was wildly refreshing.

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

Another thing I love in the summer is a cool jug of iced coffee. Getting a takeaway iced coffee is nice and convenient when on the go, but it’s also super easy to make yourself.

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

There’s a couple of different ways in which you can make your own iced coffee, one of which includes freezing coffee in an ice cube tray, but I’ve outlined an even quicker and simpler version below.

Iced Coffee

Yield: 1 jug

1 Cup cold almond or soy milk (not the unsweetened kind)
1 Cup fresh brewed coffee, slightly cooled
10 ice cubes
1-2 tsp sweetener, optional

Method
Add the milk, ice cubes and sweetener (if using) to a mug or jug, pour over the coffee and give it a stir. Add a straw, and enjoy!

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

What fun activities have you been up to this summer?

Chewy Caramel Cookies

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

I feel like chewy and caramel go hand in hand. Or at least they always should. Because the combination of the two is like meant to be. Add a little sprinkle of sea salt to the mix and your cookie game is strong babe. The recipe for the combo of the three is in these chewy caramel cookies.

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

We all have those sweets we remember from our childhood. My mom’s chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and peanut butter cookies will always send me straight down memory lane.

Related: Raw Chocolate Caramel Bites

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

Another one I remember from my childhood is “Sirapskakor” or “Sirapssnittar”. Now, “Sirapskakor”? You might ask. Yes, that’s me throwing in a bit of the Swedish again.

Related: Raw Caramel Strawberry Cupcakes with Cashew Cream Frosting

Sirapskakor are classic Swedish “småkakor” (small cookies) that are commonly served up with at least 3 or 4 other kinds of “småkakor” for afternoon coffee or tea.

Directly translated, Sirapskakor are “syrup cookies”. But to better describe what these taste like, I’ve decided to call them “Chewy caramel cookies”.

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

The fun thing about these is that caramel works well with a bunch of different flavours. In other words, these can be tweaked and varied in different ways. Heck, you could even make a plate of “småkakor” solely based around different flavours of the chewy caramel cookies.

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

I decided to make some regular, some salted, and some wth liquorice in them this time. But I totally see lemon zest, chocolate, and peanut variations. Let your imagination run wild!

Chewy Caramel Cookies

Yield: about 20-25 small cookies

100 grams (3.5 oz) butter, softened (use vegetable butter if vegan)
1 decilitre (1/3 Cup) sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or other light syrup)
2 1/4 decilitre (1 Cup) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla powder

Add ins / Variations
1 teaspoon liquorice powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
lemon zest
chocolate chips
chopped peanuts / walnuts / almonds

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 C / 345 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar and syrup. Beat with an electric beater until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda and vanilla powder.
  4. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix until no lumps remain.
  5. Add in any extras or flavourings you would like at this point. I divided the dough into three parts and flavoured them each separately.
  6. Roll into 2-3 “logs” and place on baking tray and carefully pat them down a little bit, you can also use a fork to gently flatten each “log” a bit. If using sea salt, sprinkle the top of the cookie log with sea salt before placing in the oven.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before carefully slicing each length diagonally into cookies. Allow to cool completely.

Store in airtight jars for up to a week or in the freezer for several months.

Enjoy!

What sweets (home made or store bought) do you remember from your childhood?

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

How to Use a Mala – What’s your Mantra?

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you might have noticed colourful beaded necklaces with tassels around many yogi’s necks. These mala necklaces have become a popular accessory among yogis and hippie spirits alike. But they serve more of a purpose than just a pretty accessory. Here’s how to use a mala.

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

How to use a Mala

A mala necklace is a string of 108 prayer beads, commonly used in meditation or prayer. The most basic way of using a mala is by reciting a mantra as you slide each bead of the mala through your fingers. You start at the guru bead, which is the larger bead near the tassel, and use your thumb and index fingers to work your way through the beads.

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditationTop by Electric & Rose

How to form your mantra

A mantra can be a single word, or a short sentence. As with anything, it’s highly individual and you can do your meditation or prayer in whichever way that suits you.

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

To find your own personal mantra for the day (or week, or month, or year!) start by considering if there is some kind of encouragement you need or something in particular you would like to focus on.

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

For instance, maybe you’re about to step into an important meeting and you’re feeling nervous about it. In a situation like that you’d perhaps like a mantra to strengthen your self-esteem. Try reciting “I am knowledgable and skilled” or “I am prepared” as you roll your fingers over your mala beads.

You can also use your mala and meditation to practice self love. A lot of us have issues with body image and self-worth. We’re quick to criticise and judge ourselves more than necessary. Form a mantra that is kind to yourself, that will strengthen you rather than push you down. Try one of these:

I am strong
I am beautiful
I am enough
I respect myself

Or, if you’re feeling particularly feisty:

I am a sexy beast

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

Of course, malas are not exclusively used in meditation or prayer. Since becoming more “mainstream”, malas are increasingly used simply as a pretty accessory. Some just carry it as a reminder to stay present in the moment. And there’s of course nothing wrong with that. Use it in whichever way that speaks to you and makes you feel good, whether that’s to add a little dazzle to an outfit, or be a friendly reminder of your positive mantra.

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

My mala is a gorgeous “Good Karma Mala” from Malatopia. It has Amazonite, Carnelian, and Rudraksha beads. Thank you to Rachel for hand crafting this gorgeous mala for me.

Use the code BananaBloom20 to get 20% off your order from Malatopia (valid until August 2016).

What’s your mantra?

Banana Nice Cream – The Perfect Summer Snack

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

Summer time brings on cravings for cool, refreshing, and tasty snacks. One of my absolute favourite summer snacks is a bowl of banana nice cream piled high with crunchy and yummy toppings. Here’s the quick and easy recipe for Banana Nice Cream.

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

I don’t think I’ve ever had anything that tastes so much like ice cream, without actually being ice cream. The base recipe for Banana Nice Cream is made up of a single ingredient – frozen bananas.

Related: Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream

If you’re a superbananafan like me you’re gonna love this. And if you’re a banana sceptic, you’re gonna love this. Honestly, don’t worry about the banana flavour if that’s not what tickles you. There’s something about freezing the bananas that kind of dampens the banana flavour while still tasting like sweet freaking awesomeness. So even if you think the taste of banana is a bit bleh, you’ll like Banana Nice Cream. Give it a try!

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

First things first – prep your bananans

To make your bowl of frozen yumminess, you’ll need to stock up on a couple of bunches of bananas. Make sure you let them ripen (you know they’re ripe when they have brown spots on them). Once they’re ripe, peel and chop them into pieces and place in an airtight container in the freezer for at least 6 hours.

I make sure to keep my freezer stocked full of ripe banana pieces, so I’ve always got them on hand for my banana nice cream bowls. Frozen bananas will probably last, like… forever in the freezer. Though I can’t say for sure since I’ve never stocked them longer than a couple of weeks at a time, I’m constantly using them up and stocking my freezer anew!

Related: Double Chocolate Chunk Nana Ice Cream

So, now that you’ve got your bananas prepped, time to make your nice cream!

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

Banana Nice Cream

Yield: 1 delicious bowl for one happy camper

For the nice cream
2-3 frozen bananas, chopped into pieces
1/2 cup frozen mango, optional

Topping suggestions
1 passionfruit
1/2 cup granola
handful of fresh raspberries and blueberries
peanut butter
chopped nuts
caramel sauce
chopped chocolate

Method
1. In a high speed blender, add the frozen bananas and mango. I usually let them defrost for 15-20 minutes depending on how frozen they are.
2. Pulse the frozen fruit, scraping down the sides with a spatula as you go. Have patience, it takes a couple of rounds of scraping down the sides and pulsing, but eventually you’ll get a smooth and thick ice cream-like batter.
3. Transfer the nice cream to a bowl and sprinkle with the toppings of your choice. See suggestions above.

Enjoy!

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

What’s your favourite banana nice cream toppings?