Chicken and Apple balls

One of our long time family recipes. Dating back to when my first born started eating finger food. I meanwhile add some more spices and play around with the flavour but it is still going strong.

Being back in a country where I can buy minced chicken makes it even easier and faster. And make sure to make a double batch – great cold school lunch the next day in a warp with veggies!

Image-1

Here you go;  Chicken and Apple balls by Annabel Karmel:

1 large dessert apple, peeled grated
2 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks
(or minced chicken if available- I use around 600gr)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or sage chopped or a pinch of dried herbs
1 chicken boullion cube crumbled (for babies 1+ years)
1 cup white bread crumbs
salt and pepper (for babies 1+ years)

all purpose flour for coating
vegetable oil for frying

Using your hands, squeeze out a little excess liquid from the grated apple. Mix the apple with the chicken onion, herbs, bouillon cube and bread crumbs. If you do not have minced chicken roughly chop it all in a food processor for  a few seconds; otherwise just mix it all together with your hands. Season with salt and pepper.

With your hands, form into about 20 little balls, roll in flour, and fry in shallow oil for about 5 minutes until lightly golden and cooked through.

Serve hot or cold. Serve with potatoes, salad, pasta, with wraps or pita bread! Endless possibilities!

Have fun cooking!

And please feel free to share or send me your favourite chicken recipe! Always on the lookout for something new to try!

Bye

AK

 

 

 

 

Enjoy your cuppa…

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”
~Mahatma Ghandi~

 

And yet we reached a time where most things seem to be about speed. Everything needs to go faster, quicker.

The joy of the journey is often left behind.

Even when it comes to a cup of coffee. Something a lot of us drink to relax and enjoy! One capsule, one button and all done. Where is the joy in that?*

Why not enjoy the process, the anticipation of the cup. Use the time to let the mind drift away, to be in the moment, smell the coffee, breathe and simply be ‘at ease’ this short time of the day.

FullSizeRender

Some things should not be rushed!
I truly enjoy my daily moment of coffee making, want to join me?

Enjoy your cuppa,

AK

*(plus all the extra garbage)

Lemon Cake

On my quest to find a lemon cake that can compete with a store-bought lemon cake mix that my son used to love it seems that I finally succeeded. This below cake is not only super easy, no it is as well light, fluffy and delicious. Just the right cake to eat on hot summer days! Mix it up with some fruits on the side (and some bubbles?!) – and your are ready to indulge!

Image-1

Mix, bake, make wholes, drizzle and ready to serve! 

Lemon Cake

Ingredients 

1⁄2 cup butter, melted (I used room temperature butter and a bit less)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten (room temperature)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used around 2.5, we love lemon flavour)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 cup milk

For the ‘drizzle’
1⁄3 cup lemon juice
1⁄4 cup sugar

And now the super easy directions:

Mix together 1 cup sugar and the butter.
Add eggs and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice; mix well.
Add salt, flour, and baking powder to mixture.
Add milk.
Bake at 160deg in a well greased loaf pan for 1 hour,or until golden brown.
Please note: I baked mine for only 40min, so keep an eye in the cake and check regularly.

Mix 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar.

Use a toothpick to make holes in top of cake and drizzle lemon juice and sugar mixture over the top of the cake when removed from the oven.

Serve warm or cool – we served it with fresh fruits; a great summer cake!

I am sure a lemon icing with lemon juice and powdered sugar goes well with it, too. But powdered sugar is hard to get where we live and I really liked the ‘drizzle’, it kept the cake light and not sticky.

If you have a great lemon cake recipe at hand, I am happy to hear from you, so please do share. I found this one under food.com.

Have a lovely day,

AK

 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

PMR Jacobsen

I wrote about relaxation techniques like Visualisation – Relaxation and IRT –
Instant Relaxation Technique. Two very different and powerful tools, and techniques I personally find less daunting and ‘scary’ than meditation.
Today, let`s have a look into the Progressive Muscle Relaxation by Edmund Jacobsen. He developed this technique back in the 1920. It is a technique that guides to control and monitor the muscular tension in the whole body through contracting and relaxing the muscles. It helps to relax, clear thoughts and release tension. The IRT goes into the same direction, but the PMR takes you even deeper.
Before you get started please be aware and just go with the relaxation, don’t pressure yourself. As with everything new it may take some time to get used to the steps and to feel and experience the sensation of tension release.

Ideally you schedule 15-20min to complete relaxation. If you are short on time please refer to the IRT.

For deeper relaxation set the ‘mood’, find a room without disturbances, put the light on low or light some candles, if you have you may as well put on some aromatherapy lamps, soft music in the background.
I prefer to experience this deep relaxation lying down, but sitting comfortably in a chair is ok, too.

Relax your body, deepen and relax your breathing.

It is important to not rush through this technique, take it slow and step by step. Take a short break before you go into the next contraction/relaxation zone. Allow yourself to feel the sensation in each area.
As mentioned, ideally this relaxation should take 15-20min.
By time you may notice where you feel more tension and you can focus on those areas and take an extra round with those muscles.

If you can, ask a friend or family member to read the the relaxation technique to you in a soft gentle tone.

+++

Gently breathe in – hold – and let go.

Now bring your awareness to your feet.

Gently pull your toes up towards your knees – hold briefly – and let go. Recognise the difference and let your breath flow evenly for a few seconds.

Press your heels into the floor – hold – and let go. Pause and breathe.

Now bring your awareness to your knees, pull your knees together – press them together – and now let them drift apart a little. Be aware of the new position, relax.

Squeeze your buttocks together, squeeze tight – hold – and let go.

Feel how your legs and buttocks are relaxed without any tension, kind of heavy. Give in to this sensation.

Now bring your attention to your belly. Gently pull the tummy muscles towards your spine – hold briefly – now let go with a deep breath. Feel the difference.

Go up to your shoulders, gently pull them up towards your ears, high enough to recognise the tension – hold briefly – and let go. Recognise the new position. Feel the sensation.

Press your elbows and upper arms firmly to the sides of your body – press firmly and hold for a moment – now let go. Breathe.

Now your hands – make a fist, clench it tight – hold – and let go, open the hands and spread the fingers. Place them gently on the floor or on your lap.

Take a pause and breathe. Feel the sensation in your body, how your legs, your spine, your upper body feels nice and relaxed.

Now we go up towards the head.

Push your head down gently, chin towards the chest feel slight tension in the back of your neck – hold briefly – now let your head go back to a balanced position. Let go and breathe.

Grit your teeth together – hold briefly – now let your jaw sag slightly. Feel the difference.

Lips – press together – now let go until hardly touching. Purse your lips – now let go and relax the mouth.

In a next step press your tongue briefly to the roof of your mouth – hold – and let it drop loosely. Feel the new position. If you want open your mouth slightly.

Eyes squeeze them tight– hold – and let go. Feel the relaxation around your eyes.

Lastly, pay attention to your forehead – frown and squeeze the forehead – hold and now let go. Feel the sensation on your forehead.

Now spend a few moments enjoying the feeling of release, releasing a little more with each relaxed exhalation. Feel the sensation of surrender.

When you are ready, slowly allow yourself to come back, become aware of your breathing, feel the sensation of your body lying on the floor or bed or sitting on a chair. Take a deep breath and slowly open your eyes. Stretch gently if you feel for it.

+++

If you find it uncomfortable to have somebody reading it to you you can as well check for some online sources to listen to. I personally do like the one I attach below. Please note that unlike above, this relaxation starts from the head towards the toes. But either way, with practise both ways should let you feel relaxed yet focused and strong and ‘at ease’.

Once you are comfortable, you can as well guide yourself through this relaxation, pay attention to each muscle group from toes to the forehead and give tension to each of them and release. You may find as well different scripts of Progressive Muscle Relaxation in the internet, some go deeper into the muscle groups, feel free to explore!

Have fun experiencing this state of deep relaxation!

Take care

AK

 

 

Happy life – the ultimate goal?

Is a happy life the ultimate goal?

FullSizeRender

Over the passed weeks I somehow got into several discussion around the theme of “happiness and chasing a happy life”. And to be honest I do struggle with the wordings and the constant usage of “happy and happiness” these days.

What does it mean and is that really the one thing we should aim for or does it set us up for failure and additional pressure?

How often do we hear or read about “choosing a happy life”. Hm, I dare to challenge that and dare to say that we may lie to ourselves if we talk like that and that we add pressure not only to us but as well on the people around us.

For one, life simply is not always happy, shit does happen. And it does in fact take more courage to admit to not be happy, to admit to struggle instead of putting up a smiling face day in day out and say “All is great. I am happy!”.

Second, what is the scale for happiness? Yes we are somehow all the same, yet we are all very different, too. What makes person A happy does not have to make person B happy. Who am I to tell somebody to be happy, or criticise for being unhappy? And yes, there are a few notorious people out there who really never want to see the positive and do not want to be happy, but those are not the majority.

Third, why should we put ourselves under more pressure of aiming for the constant happiness, it is ok to not always be happy.

Forth, if we say we want to be happy and chose to only see the happy things we may hurt and put off others who simply can’t do that for some reason. And are those people most often not the ones that would need our support in that moment? The person who struggles needs a listening ear more then ever. Should I ignore him/her because she does not fit into my happiness mode?

Fifth, it seems nowadays that we are ungrateful if we say we are not happy, as if there is no reason to complain. But come on, life is tough and hard and challenging at times, it isn’t always full of sunshine.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am far from saying we should all live unhappy lives but we should keep it real and be honest that being happy cannot be a constant. Take this pressure away from us.

Being happy is situational.

And that means the following for me:
If I manage to create and experience a lot of good, joyful, memorable, fulfilling, honest moments then I managed to create a lot of happiness. But in between these moments there will be cracks, downs, struggles, pain, fear, worries and it is ok and necessary to admit this. It will suck in between being happy. That is what life is all about, sometimes it tips more to the one and sometimes more to the other side and in between we balance it out.

We should aim for doing our best and stay strong especially when going through tough times but that means as well to admit when it it is rough; ask for help. Receiving help in tough situation can bring happiness to the person in need!
We should try to learn from tough moments and if possible try to turn them into something better and try to stay positive. But it is ok if we do not always succeed in it!

And when we are in a strong place we should reach out and support those who may struggle, be there and listen to them,not judging them!

Let’s take the pressure away of always having to be happy and to always have to chose happiness. Let’s keep it real and honest with its ups and downs!

If I can say at the end that I managed to balance my life and that I felt ‘at ease’ most of the times, my dearest and I stayed healthy and I have lot of happy memories to look back at then I had a happy life.

In this context, go out and make a happy memory today for yourself or reach out to somebody, however big or small it may be,

have a lovely day

AK

 

 

Learn from not being perfect

Today just a quick ‘Food for Thought’ that I read in a Yoga book, but transferrable to all aspects of life!

“Those of you who are really bad at Yoga, you’re in the right place. I hope everyone will allow themselves to be really crappy today, to walk away from being perfect. The real Yoga isn’t in the perfect pose; it’s in the crappy pose that you are really feeling. You want to feel  it from the inside out, rather than make it perfect from the outside in.”
(Poser – my life in twenty-three yoga poses – Claire Dederer)

It’s ok to not always be perfect. Crappiness gives us space to grow!

Byebye,

AK

FullSizeRender

 

 

Visualisation – Relaxation

FullSizeRender

Nowadays we often use the TV, computer or iPad to ‘relax’, but it is just a cover up, a ‘pretend-relaxation’. The mind is still on overdrive with all the images and information. To really relax the mind we need to engage it differently. Real relaxation is an process that leaves the body and mind relaxed, calm, yet focused.

We need to balance out today’s stress factors and find a way do de-stress. It is important to find time to recharge our mind, body and body functions. And relaxation can help

– to decrease the heart rate
– to slow down and deepen the breathing
– to relax the muscles
– to heal and calm body and mind
– to reduce blood pressure

Practised regularly relaxation may help to feel energised, become more motivated and productive, reduce aches and pains and it can even boost the immune system.

There are several techniques on how to relax. Deep breathing is one easy way to do to it, and if time is tight an Instant Relaxation is a quick way to pick you up and feel recharged.  I mentioned both already under my at ease blog. Meditation and Progressive Muscle Relaxation are some others and I will go into them another time. But for today I want to take a look into yet another way how to relax and recharge, one of my preferred methods. I want to raise interest to the Visualisation.

It is a technique with which you picture a calming, peaceful place, scene or situation. Your mind focuses on creating this vision, without any distraction and by this relaxes body and mind.

While you are on this visual journey and the more you practise, you may even want to try to add more senses, like sound, touch and smell to your visualisation; for example if your journey takes you to the ocean you may want to think about the sound of the waves, the smell of salt water, the feeling of warm sand between your toes. It is really a great way to relax, focus and recharge. Let your mind take you on a trip!

To get started you can either read a visualisation text and visualise a situation or you can listen to a visualisation. I personally prefer the later option, I find it more soothing. Either way below I attach some links for you to get started but there is a lot out there on the web, too!

I find visualisation as well a great way to get children started with relaxation methods. They are imaginative by nature and usual tend to enjoy this. Give it a try!

Let yourself be ‘at ease’ with these visualisations and since I am always on the look out for new stories, please feel free to share links, books, CD you may have on this topic!

Take care,

AK

Before you start:

Be in a comfortable position, make sure you will not be interrupted, put your telephone on silence. If you want use headphones to really be in the moment.

Try to be in a comfortable seated position, lying down may let you fall asleep (what is ok if you want to try this technique due to sleep problems).

Do not use any relaxation techniques while driving!

And now go and relax!

To listen:

Take yourself to the beach (from the IOWA State University)

Take yourself to the Ocean (from McKinley)

 

To read: Take yourself to the beach:

Visualisation script