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Picture of square raw carrot cakes

No Bake Carrot Cake

Yoga Kitchen – Simple, healthy, and plant-based

Raw spicy carrot cake with nuts and coconut

Admittedly, this carrot cake does take some labour to pull off. However, the result more than pays off. This full raw and vegan carrot cake is full of healthy ingredients and tastes downright heavenly and very refined. With its warming spices and energy from the nuts, dates and root vegetables, this cake suits the autumn and winter season very well.

What ingredients do you need?

For the cake

  • 2 medium-sized carrots, approx 190 g in total, grated
  • 120 g almonds
  • 80 g oatmeal
  • 8 to 10 large medjoul or mazafati dates (about 130 g, pitted)
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder
  • 1 quarter teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 quarter teaspoon ginger powder
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 70 g grated coconut
  • a generous splash of plant milk (up to about 100 ml)
  • optional: a teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 2 to 3 medjoul or mazafati dates
  • 120 g cashew nuts
  • one tablespoon of sesame paste (tahini)
  • 80 to 120 ml of vegetable milk
  • 15 g walnuts or pecans
  • optional: a teaspoon of vanilla extract

This is how to make this delicious carrot cake

A few small preparations:

  • Soak the walnuts in cold water for a few hours or overnight
  • Drain them and rinse away the bitterness
  • Soak the cashews for 15 minutes or so in warm water, or an hour or two in cold water
  • Drain them and rinse briefly
  • Open the dates to pit them, then cut them into pieces and soak them in warm water for about 5-10 minutes
  • Drain the soaking water
  • Roast the almonds for about 15 minutes on a sheet of baking paper in a preheated oven at 160°C, stirring once halfway through
  • Grate the carrots finely
  • Prepare a sheet of baking paper at the bottom of a tray with raised edges of approx 20 cm x 20 cm

This is how to make the cake come true:

  • Place the carrots, almonds, spices and salt in a food processor fitted with an S-shaped blade and grind to a coarse mixture
  • Add the dates and grind further
  • Then add the grated coconut and continue to blend
  • Pause occasionally and scrape down what sticks to the sides of the food processor to get a homogeneous mixture
  • Add the vegan milk little by little to get a slightly moister and finer mixture
  • Pat the raw dough thus obtained onto the baking sheet in the tray, press it flat all around and smoothen
  • Then add the cashews, the three remaining dates, the sesame paste and the vegan milk into the cleaned bowl of the food processor and grind until you get a creamy consistency
  • Spoon the cream thus obtained onto the carrot cake in the tray and spread uniformly and smooth
  • Pulse the walnuts coarsely in the food processor and finally sprinkle them over the cream layer as a garnish

Your delicious carrot cake is ready. Put it away in the fridge for a few hours to become firmer.
Picture of a cutout from a carrot cake

Some tips and experiences

Grinding the carrot cake dough is the trickiest job. But once that job is done, your cake is also pretty much done.
Toasting the almonds is not really necessary, but it results in a boost in flavour.
When toasting the almonds, keep a close eye on your oven. The almonds may turn a little light brown, but be careful not to burn them. After all, every oven is unique.
By placing a sheet of baking paper in the tray, you can easily lift the cake out of the mould afterwards to cut it up. You might as well make the cake in a round tray.
Due to the high nut and date content, this cake is very high in energy. A small piece per person is enough to make you feel satiated quickly.
This cake will easily keep for up to 4-5 days in the fridge in a sealed container.
Enjoy to the fullest!

Did you like this cake topper? Here is another recipe using carrots in a sweet-tasting dessert, without nuts.

What is the importance of nuts for health?

A small portion of nuts daily supports your health. Nuts generally contain healthy oils and also some plant proteins. The oil they contain does make them very high in energy. So consume nuts regularly, preferably daily, but in moderation.
Eating a portion of nuts daily is one of the recommendations from the “Daily Dozen”. This is a set of twelve plant foods that have been objectively scientifically proven benefits to support a healthy and long life. The “Daily Dozen” were developed by US physician Dr Michael Greger. He has made spreading scientific information about healthy plant-based eating to his life’s goal. Read about it in detail on his website This website is full of scientifically substantiated tips and information on how to eat 100% plant-based food in a healthy way. I highly recommend!

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Raw cocoa bullets with dates and brazil nuts

Raw cocoa bullets with dates and Brazil nuts

Yoga Kitchen – Simple, healthy, and plant-based

Long live honest food

This country has a tradition of chocolate bonbons, or popularly known as the Belgian pralines. These things can be bought in all decent shopping streets, often in specialised shops. They come in endless colours and shapes. The duty-free zones in our airports are almost paved with them, as it were. These chocolates have a kind of luxury image. Many tourists take them as souvenirs. And even at parties, birthdays or other special occasions, they are among the standard gifts offered.
And what if they were a well-organised scam? Those things are full of added sugar, fats and dairy products. In any case, what you pay for with your good money does not benefit your health. In reality, it is pretty inferior food that is sometimes sold pretty expensive. At best, it is one stage on the highway to sugar addiction and diabetes.
So should you completely miss out on the typical taste of these chocolate treats?
Well no! On the contrary. Following my personal opinion on Belgian chocolates, here comes the good news:
With dairy-free, pure natural ingredients and no added sugars, you conjure up chocolate balls in a jiffy that are so delicious that pralines soon become a vague and uncomfortable memory.

What ingredients do you need?

  • 75 g brazil nuts
  • 140 g juicy medjoul or mazafati dates
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 15 g (about three tablespoons) ground coconut
  • 5 g (one and a half tablespoons) (raw) cocoa powder
  • about 20 g of cocoa nibs or raw cocoa beans

This is how to prepare them

  • Grind the raw cocoa beans or cocoa nibs finely enough in a food processor with S-shaped blade and keep them aside
  • Add all the other ingredients together in the food processor and grind into a coarse, cohesive dough
  • Roll 12 to 16 balls of the dough
  • Then roll the balls through the ground cocoa flakes until they are coated all around

There you are, all done!
If you roll more than 12 balls, you may need some extra ground cocoa bean, as the total surface area of the balls will be larger than for 12 pieces.
This recipe yields about 258 g.

The taste test

These cocoa balls taste downright heavenly and have a well-balanced, rich sweet flavour. The outer layer of cocoa flakes gives them a pleasant, gently bitter crunch. In my opinion, they stand head and shoulders above classic pralines or chocolate bonbons in terms of taste and sophistication.

The health verdict

Brazil nuts contain healthy fats, a good amount of protein (14 g per 100 g of nuts) and are unique in the nutritional world for their high content of the mineral selenium. We need selenium as an essential micronutrient. One brazil nut a day and you basically meet your selenium requirement. There is no added or refined sugar in these raw bullets, nor milk, butter or added oil. The dates provide the sweet taste and, on top of that, they add a nice content of fibre and a whole range of minerals like copper and potassium as an extra. This is healthy snacking as it really should be.

Cocoa bullets with brazil nuts and dates, per 100 g product

Energy Carboh. Sugars Fat Sat. Fat Protein Fibre Salt
437 kJ/849 kcal 51,6 g 38,0 g 27,4 g 10,0 g 7,83 g 6,0 g 0,2 g

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Picture of a wholegrain bread with soy

Wholemeal bread with soy

Yoga Kitchen – Simple, healthy, and plant-based

Bread with extra plant power

Bread. It’s so ingrained in the food cultures of Europe, Africa, the Near East and India. According to some currents in the food world, it’s not such a healthy food after all. You would be better off soaking and then cooking cereal grains rather than eating them in a rather dry, baked form like bread.
However, bread has unbeatable advantages in terms of taste and practical considerations.
There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread filling an entire room, is there! In our childhood, when we came home from the bakery, the irresistible outer slices would disappear into our mouths before the bread had even reached its final destination.
Besides, bread is easy and practical. Once the bread is baked, you always have something on hand that, with a few appropriate toppings, makes for a satisfying meal in no time.

Wrapless and circular

I’ve baked bread throughout my adult and independent life. Most often with yeast, more rarely with sourdough, and occasionally varieties without yeast or sourdough. There have been ups and downs. Depending on my determination to make healthy bread myself, for less money and with better ingredients.

In recent years, I’ve also started making my own soy milk, from soy beans. This initiative was partly motivated by my dissatisfaction with soy milk cartons. Because I wanted to drink soy milk without packaging. I got the hang of it, but I had to find uses for the large quantities of soy pulp resulting from the soy milk manufacturing process. I just couldn’t throw them away! This meant I had to set up a circular process: the waste or residue from one process becomes the raw material for another process.

One of the results is soy bread: an almost wholemeal bread that contains soy pulp as an additive. The bread recipe below, meanwhile, has been perfected and is worth sharing.
What’s more, I’ve learnt to appreciate the manual kneading of dough as a very soothing, almost meditative process, which has made me (re)discover the importance and pleasure of working with my hands. And all this in an increasingly digital world! I used to dread it and think it was a waste of time.
Finally, bringing extra protein to bread is a good thing if you’re making your way through life as a vegan.
Two hands holding a loaf of bread

What ingredients are needed for a loaf weighing around 680g?

  • up to 100 g soya pulp
  • 350 g organic 75% wheat flour (T80)
  • 50 g organic wholemeal rye flour
  • one teaspoon sea salt
  • one teaspoon whole cane sugar
  • and one tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 200 to 210 ml water
  • half a packet of fresh baker’s yeast (about 12g)

If you don’t have or don’t want to use rye flour, take a total of 400g of 75% wheat flour.
Instead of fresh baker’s yeast, you can also use dried baker’s yeast. In that case, take the quantity for 500g of flour.

Here’s how to make this delicious bread yourself

  • Mix the yeast in the (lukewarm) water and leave to stand for a while.
  • In a large mixing bowl, bring together all the dry ingredients and the soy pulp, and mix, with a fork or whisk.
  • Pour the water with the yeast into the dry mixture.
  • Mix the resulting dough with a fork and then knead by hand for about five minutes.
  • Roll the dough into a ball, place it at the bottom of the bowl and leave it to rest and rise for an hour to an hour and a half, covered with a kitchen towel.
  • Then remove the leavened ball of dough from the bowl, and now knead more intensely for about 10 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into the shape of your choice, or place it on the bottom of a baking tin lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Let rise again for an hour and a half to two hours, covered with a kitchen towel.
  • Preheat the oven to 210°C (200°C in a hot air oven).
  • Insert the bread into the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes.
  • After baking, remove the bread from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

This will give you a firm, semi-complete loaf that is both tasty on its own and delicious toasted.
Kneading techniques have been the subject of a wealth of literature. I’m not an expert on the subject. During the second kneading phase, I press the dough flat each time with forward arm movements. I then fold it into a square and press it flat again, for a total of about 10 minutes.
The dough should not stick to your fingers. If it does, it’s too wet and it’s better to add more flour. Sprinkle it over your kneading surface and the ball of dough.

Is bread good for your health?

Rather than rejecting bread by definition, it’s worth looking at the circumstances:

  • Who eats the bread?
  • What type of bread are we exactly talking about?

For physically active people or children and young people in an active growth phase, healthy bread can be consumed without reservation. Classic wholemeal or semi-whole wheat bread contains mainly carbohydrates. These provide fuel for our bodies. It also contains a good proportion of plant proteins, including gluten. It also contains a good deal of fibre and minerals.
Wholemeal (or semi-complete) bread is therefore suitable for people who consume a lot of energy. People who take little exercise, or those who are older and have a metabolism that consumes less energy, would do well to eat bread in moderation to avoid obesity in the long term.

Besides, bread and bread are two things. In principle, you only need four ingredients to make bread: wholemeal (or semi-wholemeal) flour from one or more cereals, water, a leavening agent such as yeast and a little good quality salt. That’s all there is to it. Most industrially-produced breads in supermarkets contain up to 20 different ingredients, including sugar. You can often see this on the labels. These ingredients don’t make the bread healthier, but they do make it sweeter and keep it longer on the shelves. What a classic fresh warm bakery uses in its bread is, frankly, often hard to guess. So buy your bread from a health food store or make it yourself, as in the recipe above. Use only good quality essential ingredients, preferably of organic origin.

Almost wholemeal soya bread, per 680g loaf

Energy Carboh. Sugars Fat Sat. Fat Protein Fibre Salt
1671 kJ/2191 kcal 314 g 1,3 g 22,5 g 3,1 g 74,3 g 51,80 g 5,00 g

Almost wholemeal soya bread, per 100g of product

Energy Carboh. Sugars Fat Sat. Fat Protein Fibre Salt
246 kJ/322 kcal 46 g 0,2 g 3,3 g 0,45 g 11,0 g 7,6 g 0,7 g

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Picture of a fvegan ruit crumble

Warm fruit crumble

Yoga Kitchen – Simple, healthy, and plant-based

Autumn sonata with seasonal fruit, oatmeal and walnuts

A very quick and easy dessert, ideal for autumn or winter.
This is when freshly harvested fruit and nuts are available in abundance.
Warmed fruit delivers a subtle palette of flavours and aromas. The spices not only add a touch of flavour but also aid digestion. The recipe is 100% plant-based with no added refined sugar.

What ingredients do you need?

For the fruit marinade:

  • 4 pieces of seasonal fruit
  • one tablespoon lemon juice
  • a teaspoon of cinnamon (or more, depending on taste)
  • another half tablespoon of maple syrup
  • Optional: half a teaspoon of ground cardamom

For the crumble pastry

  • 120 g walnuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts or a mixture
  • 100 g rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons heatable oil (for example sunflower oil or coconut oil (melted))
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Sea salt to taste

Here’s how you can do it:

In a nutshell, it’s very simple:

  • You mix the fruit with the marinade ingredients and spread it out on the bottom of a baking tray.
  • Then you mix the crumble ingredients and place this mixture as a second layer on top of the fuit layer.
  • Then bake in the oven.

Proceed step by step as follows:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (or 170°C with hot air circulation)
  • Cut the fruit into pieces
  • Mix the fruit with the marinade: lemon juice, cinnamon, maple syrup and optionally cardamom
  • Spread the fruit mixture in the bottom of a mould or on a baking tray and set aside
  • Coarsely chop the oats and walnuts in a food processor fitted with an S-shaped blade
  • Add the oil, maple syrup, cinnamon and sea salt and blend
  • Add the crumble batter in a second layer over the fruit in the baking tray
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes in the preheated oven

And there you have it! The crumble can be eaten chilled but is best warm. You can serve it with a generous spoonful of vegan cream if you like.

Is it better to eat fruit raw?

Raw or not raw: it’s one of those debates in the world of food that can often be the subject of a veritable religion :

  • For raw food fans, it’s good to eat lots of fruit and heating above 40°C is taboo.
  • For followers of Ayurveda and macrobiotics, steaming or cooking fruit is preferable. According to these prescriptions, you are better off eating fruit in moderation, and separately from other foods.

Well, the truth will lie, as it often does, somewhere in the middle.
My advice is to find out how you digest fruit best. In any case, heating fruit comes at the expense of some of its nutritional value. This has been scientifically measured. In fact, some vitamins (such as vitamin C, which is naturally abundant in fruit) are degraded when heated.
The shorter the food is heated and the gentler the cooking technique, the greater the remaining nutritional value. Mild cooking techniques are therefore better.

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Yoga class at the workplace

Mastering overstimulation thanks to yoga

Distraction versus relaxation

The yoga class at noon was exceptionally popular that day. All the yoga mats had been handed out, and even the welfare officer in charge who initiated the class had passed his mat on to another colleague.
And just then, another staff member appeared at the doorway, stepping into the class for the first time. When she gathered from the situation that the room was egg-full and no more mat available, she made preparations to turn right around and walk out.
This is sometimes how it goes when you take a step towards something new. As soon as something resembling an obstacle crosses your path, the creature of habit in us is quick to give up immediately.

A pathway to more serenity

The yoga teacher greeted her and the colleague confided to him: “I have been thinking of joining this class for some time, and today I felt like I really need it …”. The deal was quickly struck when the teacher also exceptionally made his yoga mat available.
About an hour later, after a yoga series of concentration, physical and breathing efforts, ending with a final relaxation in flat rest, the staff member in question spontaneously came back and shared her experience.
“We had exceptionally unexpected and demanding situations in our department this morning, and I really thought the building was going to come crashing down on me figuratively. I had to do something to regain my composure. However, I had my doubts because I had no idea exactly what kind of yoga this was going to be. And lo and behold: during that final relaxation, as I lay there on that mat on the floor, it was as if in the depths of me, in all serenity, an agenda was being drawn up automatically. And so I saw step by step how I could resolve this chaotic and unexpected situation. Everything fell into place. Thank you for this hour!”
Realxation after a yoga class

Putting overstimulation on hold

This personal testimony shows very clearly one of the facets of an afternoon yoga class at work. Much has to do with the impact of the nature of professional activities. Many employees find themselves in positions where outside requests and workloads are particularly erratic. This is accompanied by moments of acute overstimulation, which puts and keeps their mental levels in a state of fight, flight or freeze. Such a state is unsuitable for calm, strategic and creative planning or solution seeking.
So it comes down to getting into a different state mentally. And an hour of yoga is just perfect for that.

Returning to yourself

Living in this world inevitably presupposes interaction with the outside world. Energetically speaking, that interaction is healthy if it is balanced. That means you don’t give away more of your energy than you take back or receive. Let that be exactly one of the pitfalls in the modern office environment. Your energy goes where you focus your attention. And if you sit for eight hours permanently focused on permanently changing outside situations or screens with files that also exist outside yourself, then you are bleeding energy. One solution may be to take regular micro-breaks, aiming to bring your attention away from the outside back inside yourself. Take a slow and deep inhale, and then, exhale completely. Listen to how your body is feeling. Mindfully drink a glass of water or eat a healthy snack. Or you could do some mindful moving by stretching your limbs. And then your are ready to bring your attention and energy out again. In a never ending, swinging back-and-forth motion, like a pendulum. Those micro-breaks keeps your battery running smoother and longer, so to speak. Even in these situations, an hour of mindful yoga at noon has the function of a reset button.
Yoga at the workplace

Is distraction a solution for those seeking relaxation?

It is a common misconception that if you are in need of relaxation, you can just seek some distraction. The whole social media and smartphones with their endless supply of apps and games online are floating on that false assumption as well as addiction mechanisms. All you achieve with aimless scrolling on your phone is that you just now addict your mind to overstimulation even more. It may not seem like it, but in fact you are fleeing from a situation, instead of facing it and just resting for a while and then resolving it purposefully and creatively. Because – again – you are giving away your attention, and thus your energy, to the voracious little screen of your phone.
No wonder you feel your energy drain and are left feeling empty.

Me-time is essential

A good strategy to rebalance and unwind your mental level is by purposefully moving to the level of your physical body with your attention and senses. By doing something purely physical, moving, taking deeper breaths. Actively and consciously engaging with the unique physical body in which we spend our lives on earth. After all, as human beings we are genetically programmed to function in a physical body. Entrepreneur Chloe Macintosh, who herself made a career jump and started doing more body-oriented work, put it very wisely in the following way in a podcast:

We humans are born in a body and we are also completely set up to function in a physical body. So if you don’t spend at least two hours every day consciously engaging with your body, why on earth did you come to this planet?”

Yoga is ideally suited for that shift towards the body . Because it combines three ingredients, three efforts: mental focus, breathing and physical activity. It blends them together into a unique and powerful mix that guides you into a totally different mental state after the practice. More calm, balanced and gentle than ever before.

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Yoga at work

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Marinated edamame beans

Two hearty snacks with edamame

Yoga Kitchen – Simple, healthy, and plant-based

Nutritional value hinges on preparation

Edamame are green soybeans. Young green soybeans are also called mukimame.
Edamame beans are not readily available everywhere, but you can find them more and more. In organic shops and Oriental supermarkets most easily. Usually deep frozen, and stripped of their pods. And if you have a choice between with or without pods, do without. Because the fibrous, rough pods are not so tasty.
Edamame beans are not only very healthy, but also super tasty. Of all the beans, they are also the quickest to prepare.
Below are two ideas for an edamame bean-based snack. These immediately give food for thought. About how best to handle preparing legumes and food in general.

Recipe 1: Edamame with cheese and onion flavour

This 100% plant-based recipe uses no cheese at all, of course. However, by cleverly combining some purely plant-based ingredients, you do get something reminiscent of the taste of cheese and onions.

What ingredients do you need?

  • 250g frozen edamame beans, shelled
  • one tablespoon of nutritional yeast flakes
  • half a teaspoon of onion powder or onion grits
  • some black pepper
  • a quarter teaspoon of sea salt
  • half a teaspoon of (apple cider) vinegar
  • and finally half a teaspoon of olive oil

This is how to prepare them

  • Cook the edamame beans in lightly salted water for 5-6 minutes
  • Drain them and rinse briefly
  • Combine all the other ingredients for the marinade
  • Mix the beans into the marinade


Recipe 2: Grilled spicy Edamame beans

The big difference here is that the marinated beans are grilled in the oven or in an airfryer at 180 to 190 °C.

What ingredients do you need?

  • 250g frozen edamame beans, shelled
  • a teaspoon of red paprika
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • one teaspoon of onion powder or onion grits
  • another teaspoon of garlic powder
  • a tablespoon of melted coconut oil
  • and finally a teaspoon of sea salt

This is how to prepare these appetisers with edamame

  • Heat the oven to 190 °C
  • Mix the edamame beans and all the ingredients well
  • Spread them out on a baking tray lined with baking paper for the oven or on the grid of an airfryer
  • Bake for about 30 minutes until brown and crispy

The grilled beans are ready.
Grilled edamame beans

The taste test

I personally fall like a log for the edamame beans in the first recipe. A heavenly flavour with notes of salt, acid and umami with the creaminess of the olive oil. The beans have a firm bite and are juicy. They also look like fresh, firm beans.

Recipe number two sums up very well what flavour and bite is popular in our Western snacking and fast-food culture. It is the sought-after combination of salty, spicy, dry and crunchy. The beans crack just like classic brittle roasted peanuts. Many people will love this and won’t be able to stay away from it. Easily available fast-food peanut snacks are often fried in a crust of oil, salt, sugar and flour. In contrast, these roasted edamame snacks have the advantage of being exempt of sugar, flavour enhancers or food preservatives.
But they look nothing like the fresh, moist beans they were at the beginning of the run. They are now dried out and brown …

The health verdict

Put yourself in the place of your stomach and digestive system for a moment. Which is easiest to digest: the short-cooked beans that have retained their natural moisture content? Or the hard, dry and now browned beans? After all, for these latter, our intestines need extra moisture to digest them.
And which is healthiest: the unheated olive oil or the coconut oil heated to 190 °C?
Recipe number one wins with flying colours!

Eat your food as little processed as possible

Many cookbooks are full of recipes that seem to only give importance to taste, feel and appearance of our food. Rarely is there any mention of health, digestibility or the ease with which the dish can be absorbed by our metabolism.
The same goes for most products displayed in our food shops and supermarkets.
Not infrequently, good ingredients lose much, if not all, of their nutritional value and energetic potential just by the method of preparation chosen. Either by the way they are processed or altered.

What are the healthiest cooking techniques?

In the world of health philosophies, people pretty much agree on one thing. Namely that processed, especially extremely processed foods can be downright harmful in the long run.
Not all foods can be eaten raw. Legumes or certain starchy root vegetables, for example, have to be cooked. On the other hand, some foods are sometimes even nutritionally enhanced after heating. This is the case for steamed or boiled carrots compared to raw carrots, for instance. Fermentation techniques can also change the taste and nutritional value of vegetables for the better.
And in our own kitchen, too, we can very consciously choose those recipes that use short, gentle cooking techniques. Because these involve the fewest losses.
Below are some cooking techniques classified from softer to harder:

  • steaming (over boiling water)
  • blanching
  • boiling
  • steaming (in a small amount of water and fat)
  • baking
  • braising
  • broiling
  • stir frying (wok)
  • grilling
  • deep frying
  • popping
  • blackening

The shorter the food item is heated and the softer the cooking technique, the greater the remaining nutritional value.

Edamame beans, frozen, unprepared, per 100 g product

Energy Carboh. Sugars Fat Sat. Fat Protein Fibre Salt
507 kJ/121 kcal 8,9 g 2,2 g 5,2 g 0,6 g 11,9 g 5,2 g 0,03 g

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Yoga and Art of Drawing workshop

Every mistake is a gift

Failure does not exist

We were made to fear mistakes and imperfections in our childhood.
I still vividly remember how, at school in the first year of primary school, I suddenly saw a thick, dark blue ink stain fall from the old-fashioned hand pen onto the page … I let the thing dry, albeit too briefly, and then diligently started rubbing and sanding with the rough, blue side of an eraser, hoping the stain would go away. So that no one would see them, least of all the teacher. The result was even more blurry blue smudges AND a gaping hole in the sheet of paper. The teacher then used laundry pins to hang all the students’ calligraphy notebooks on a line for parent contact night. And mine hung open exactly on the page where the hole yawned …

Artists never fail

Artists know that mistakes don’t exist. That they are all necessary steps in the development of their work. Some artists work in the shadows for 20 years, searching and trying, while not being seen and not selling a single work. And then suddenly they change tack. New ideas and insights emerge and they sometimes radically change their style. And suddenly they are doing well artistically and commercially. So were all those earlier works and attempts failures? No, they were necessary to make the next step possible.

The potential of the stain

So in the sixth workshop “Yoga and the Art of Drawing”, we deliberately used the potential of the stain. Each participant was given a sheet of splattered paper, and asked to take the very spots on the blank paper as the starting point for their drawing, in complete freedom. Thus, the blemish on the paper became a component and even an inspiration for the creation. It once again gave rise to the most diverse drawings and collages.

The universe works in utmost perfection

Failures and mistakes are a life lesson. You can work around them or use them as strengths for the next phase. Perhaps I learned as a child in first grade, that the more you try to hide or erase something, the more visible it becomes. In our lives, there are also no mistakes, nor failures. Every event is perfection itself, at the right time and place. Provided you dare to look at them in a different way. Through your own eyes, and not through other people’s judgmental eyes. And then using them to your advantage, as a springboard to the next step.
In yoga philosophy, this corresponds to what is called yama and niyama in the eightfold path to enlightenment: the ability to free yourself from the yoke of:

  • The (judgmental) gaze of others on yourself
  • The (judgmental) view of yourself on yourself

Because only then do you create the conditions for true freedom to live your life according to your own unique plan.

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Yoga and Drawing Workshops

Yoga and Art of Drawing Workshop

Intention is more important than result

Discover the why behind your drawing activity

Intention and yoga

When we practice yoga, the concept of intention is fundamental to our practice. First of all, we need to ask ourselves why we want to practice regularly. Is it initially out of curiosity? Is it because it is trendy? Or is it because deep inside us there is an almost naive and little-recognised belief that yoga is a magic pill or a simple box of magical tools that will – we hope very soon – solve a whole range of discomforts related to our existence?
If we practice yoga regularly, it is true that we concentrate and set in motion a lot of energy. It is a creative act. This energy can be consciously directed towards a more or less precise goal. Here are some examples:

  • Maintaining, restoring or strengthening our physical body.
  • To learn to calm our excessive mental activity or soothe our nervous system.
  • In order to create an expansion of our consciousness.
  • To adopt a more compassionate and benevolent attitude towards our lives, the other beings with whom we share existence on this planet and the world around us.
  • Or to grow and develop and allow unsuspected aspects of our potential to blossom.
  • To support our own healing or someone else’s.
  • To live a life more grounded in our physical bodies.

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive.

Just like asking yourself this question at the level of a regular practice, it is a good idea to choose a conscious intention at the beginning of each individual yoga session. To really get a grip on the reason behind your choice to sit on your mat for an hour, or even longer, instead of spending your time on another activity.

Intention and drawing

If you want to start drawing more regularly and consistently, it is also a good idea to ask yourself what you really want to do with this activity. Why am I drawing or creating? And what is my purpose?<:strong>
Is it to fill a void or dispel recurring boredom? Or to find more peace and relaxation in this creative flow of full presence that makes us forget any sense of the passage of time? Do we want to create images to brighten other people’s daily lives. Or do we have an activist goal to awaken people’s minds in the face of injustice, for instance? Is it to create objects of rare beauty? Or to touch deep emotional strings in our fellow humans? To come to terms with our own deeper emotions and feelings? Or to rediscover the joy and innocence of our childhood?
Whatever your reason and motivation, it is your intention – which you should examine carefully and remind yourself of regularly – that will help you sustain your creative activity through drawing in the long run.

Red envelope

As American designer Cat Bennett suggests in her book “Making Art a Practice – 30 Ways to Paint a Pipe”, you can write your intention on a sheet of paper, put it in a red envelope and tuck it under your bed’s mattress. In this way, we symbolically reinforce this written-down intention by keeping it in our body’s energy field during the night.
And it is a good idea to re-evaluate this original intention from time to time, because there may well be an evolution taking place that requires you to rephrase or clarify it. Nothing in this world is permanent except change.

How can I participate in a workshop with yoga and drawing myself?

Do you feel interest in yoga and the art of drawing workshops?
Would you like to get started with it?
Via the button below, you can read more about the format of the workshops and book your sessions:

Yoga and Drawing Workshops

Yoga and Art of Drawing workshop

Awaken the observer in yourself

Neutral observation of reality

Both yoga and drawing push us towards better observation of reality. There are wonderful parallels between both these activities.

Yoga and objectivity

Yoga practice trains us to more easily assume the position of the observer in the world and in our daily lives.
And thus:

  • We are less easily misled by our own thoughts, emotions, beliefs and judgements about the things around us.
  • Moreover, we are able to perceive situations more neutrally. We recognise that different viewpoints and perspectives on the same phenomenon are possible.
  • We soon understand that ours are almost always coloured. As if we are looking through tinted or smudged glasses.

This is often a big challenge.

Objectivity in artistic creation

Very often a drawing course starts with observational drawing.
In observational drawing, we also look for the most neutral representation of the subject of our drawing. The aim is to learn to see and reproduce it in an accurate and objective way. And this has several fascinating implications:

  • it is amazing to see how different and distorted our representation of the model is compared to reality!
  • We learn to adjust our gaze and make it more objective.
  • We train the coordination of our vision and the motor skills of our hands.
  • Soon, we discover our desire, often impatient, to proceed directly to a personal interpretation of the subject. And that is very different from a simple objective reproduction.

In any case, the drawing phase of observation is a useful phase that serves us well. Because it can improve the quality, intensity, thoroughness and depth of our gaze and our vision of things.

Much more than the ability to produce truly flawless classical drawings, it is these discoveries, about the relativity of our vision, that constitute the true, rich harvest of this kind of drawing activity.

How can I participate in a workshop with yoga and drawing myself?

Do you feel interest in yoga and the art of drawing workshops?
Would you like to get started with it?
Via the button below, you can read more about the format of the workshops and book your sessions:

Yoga and Drawing Workshops

Picture of a vegan chocolate cake

Simple vegan chocolate cake

Yoga Kitchen – Simple, healthy, and plant-based

Undoubtedly the easiest vegan cake ever

To make the dark chocolate cake below, you use a dead simple recipe that you can literally get done in an hour. Truly a cake for beginners with no baking experience.
The result is a deeply dark, juicy cake with the bitter flavour of dark chocolate. However, we do not use chocolate for it, but rather raw cocoa.

What ingredients do you need?

It is unimaginably simple. Just 5 ingredients, at least, if you leave out the water.

  • 200 g sieved flour
  • 130 g (or ml) of neutral-tasting oil you can fry with (e.g.: sunflower oil)
  • 70 g sieved (raw) unsweetened cocoa
  • 100 to 180 g whole, unrefined sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 500 ml boiling water

About the sugar: The original recipe specified 180 g of whole cane sugar. I reduced that, as I often do, to almost half (100 g), and used coconut blossom sugar. So adjust that according to your preferences.
As for the flour: I used a mixture of semi-whole and white wheat flour. That way, you get still some extra minerals and fibre in the cake.

This is how to prepare it:

It couldn’t be simpler:

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (or 170°C for an oven with hot air circulation).
  • Grease a round baking tin of about 20 to 24 cm with some oil or line the bottom and edges with baking paper.
  • Mix the 4 dry ingredients flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar in a bowl.
  • Then pour in the oil, stirring a little.
  • Finally, pour in the hot water and mix to a homogeneous, fairly liquid batter.
  • Pour the batter into the lined tin.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes at the bottom of your oven.
  • Let cool and remove from the springform pan.
  • Garnish with a topping of your choice

An example for a vegan topping:

For a luscious vegan top layer with chocolate and coconut flavouring:

  • Mix about 100 ml of canned coconut milk (17-23% fat content) with two tablespoons of cocoa and two tablespoons of agave syrup or whole (cane or coconut) sugar.
  • Spread this chocolate coconut cream on top of the cake.
  • Garnish with fruit such as berries or banana slices if desired.
  • Finally, put the cake in the fridge for one and a half to two hours.
  • Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Simple as that. This vegan cake certainly rivals its traditional counterpart in flavour and is remarkably moist thanks to the water. The texture is somewhat reminiscent of a flan, another archaeological find from my Flemish childhood.
I found inspiration for this recipe at “The Happy Pear” from Ireland. Their website is full of delicious and healthy vegan recipes.

Do I need butter and eggs to bake cake?

The answer is no, of course.
Traditional cake such as the famous “quatre quarts” from French cuisine, always uses the following ingredients:

  • White flour
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Refined sugar

Okay, cake is not something you eat every day. It’s fun food. But the above list shows that the resulting classic cake is quite a chore for the body to digest as well as metabolise. The white flour, refined sugar and butter are high in calories but very, not to say totally “empty” of nutrients. The eggs provide a lot of cholesterol. We are so conditioned by the traditional pastries of our childhood. The above vegan recipe is very basic and consists of just 5 ingredients.
Opting for vegan pastries is good for your health, the environment and animals. It just takes the courage and initiative to step outside the known paths.

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