We had stunning mountain views, almost wild horses, mischievous donkeys, an abundant allotment and fruit trees, chilled out and happy dogs, invigorating waterfalls and frozen watermelons.
We had amazing food and cookery workshops, nutrition workshops, early morning chi kung, late afternoon yoga, gently intensive one-to-ones and more sunshine and heat than England gets in a year. We learnt how to deeply relax and nourish ourselves.
We formed a group of amazing individuals who naturally interweaved their uniqueness into a harmonious whole. The sense of unity and collective wisdom by the end of the week was heart-touching.
Our next retreats will be in 2016 – watch this space for news. In the meantime, below is a taster of some of what we learnt and some of what we cooked and enjoyed on the Bloom Nutrition & Cookery Course, Italy 2015, with Hayley North & Kirsten Chick.
A key theme in all of our retreats, workshops and ramblings is the importance of mindfulness. There is now so much research into thebenefits of any practise which helps us to be fully present in our bodies in this moment. Buddha’s Brain is a great read for those interested in the neuroscience of mindfulness, the countless benficial effects it has on our brain activity and general nervous system.
Part of our nervous system is in our gut, and in fact there are more mood and behaviour-related neurotransmitters – such as dopamine and seratonin – outside our brains than in them. In our gut they are produced by our bacteria, so a healthy balance is crucial.
This is affected by both what we eat and how we eat. If we eat in a hurry/ at the computer/ in a bad mood or state of excitement, or if we overeat, undereat or eat foods that aren’t really appropriate at that time, our digestive processes don’t get fully triggered and that can create a great deal of stress and inflammation in our gut. This will then affect your balance of bacteria/neurotransmitters and the type of signals the many nerve endings in our digestive tract will be sending out.
How and what we eat, and the health of our gut, directly affects our mental and emotional health as much as our physical health. Equally, our mental and emotional health directly affects the conditions in our digestive system, and consequently our whole body health.
So we focussed a great deal of our attention on:
- cooking and eating mindfully
- how to soothe inflammation – learning how and why inflammation occurs, the importance of adrenal support, which foods are more likely to be pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory; making bone broth, linseed tea, “hug in a mug” (nut/coconut milk with anti-inflammatory spices)
- how to support gut bacteria balance – learning about balancing pH; how to make fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and nut cheese
This amount makes plenty of burgers so you can freeze some. Go on roughly the following amounts:
500g millet soaked overnight and cooked as per instructions on the packet
1 large cauliflower and 2 large sweet potatoes (*optional but tasty!) cauliflower broken
into florets, stalks chopped and roasted in oven until soft and slightly browned. Drizzle
with olive oil once they come out of the oven. Sweet potato cut into chunks and roasted
until soft with the cauliflower.
Leeks or onion finely diced and sautéed until soft in water or coconut oil
4 grated carrots and courgettes added to the leeks and sauteed together for 35 mins
5 cloves garlic added to the leeks and veg
Handful of dry toasted tamari seeds
2 large tablespoons tahini
Large hand of parsley chopped
Salt and dry red chilli flakes to taste.
Prepare all the elements as above.
Mix all together in a bowl to combine and then pulse in a food processor or with a
handheld stick blender to bring the mix together. Taste and season.
Squidge together with your hands and test to see if it binds together enough. Add olive
oil if too dry. Taste and adjust seasoning as you like if necessary.
Form your patties the size you want. Leave to firm in the fridge for at least an hour or
Bake in a hot oven at 180 degrees for approx 2025 minutes or until they are warmed
through and start to brown.