January is a time of new beginnings and even recalibration – taking stock of the aspects of our lives where we go awry and find ourselves going round and round in circles.
So much of where we can get stuck is based on old survival strategies learnt in early childhood and listening to these inner voices of what we need to feel safe and secure is a key part of moving through life in a stress-free way.
The more we can let ourselves of the hook of expectation and recognise our true needs, the less self-judgment we need to throw up and the kinder we can be to ourselves.
This is the stuff that can help us be free our reactions and behaviours that we might be fed up with with; turning to sugar or alcohol when we’re stressed, arguing with our partner or feeling a mental and physical exhaustion that stops us from exercising in the way we’d like.
For instance, my ‘resolutions’ last year were:
1. Notice when I’m close to or have become overwhelmed and respond…
2. Work less and only do what I enjoy
3. Get out into nature more
4. Have more fun and take more holidays
You can see a theme of treating myself more kindly and expecting less, but this isn’t a list of ticking box and judging whether I’ve done something or not.
It’s not ‘exercise more’, but it does help me find the energy to go for that walk and to see that getting out into the country to do that isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity for my sanity!
That list is similar to the year before and I can’t see any need to change it this year – it’s all a work in progress and about changing my own attitude to how I live and what I prioritise for quality of life. It gets to the heart of how I become stressed and why I teach and write about this subject so much!
So rather than doing something in a set regime for this time, I prefer to contemplate, notice and look for other possibilities in how I move through life.
Examining our core values and practicing living truthfully to those can greatly reduce stress levels and prevent us making those decisions that just don’t feel right and we have to unravel after!
Here are also two recipes to help you move away from the Christmas fare and break free of any unwanted habits. Helping rebalance blood sugar and support your liver, digestion and immunity can help you have the impetus to exercise, make food choices that make you happy and treat yourself kindly.
Salmon Cakes (This is one of my featured recipes in Calm Club, enjoy!)
For those of you who eat fish, these salmon cakes are another freezer classic that provide dense protein and omega 3 oils from the salmon and a starchy alternative to grains in the form of sweet potatoes; making them an extremely satisfying basis for a meal.
Sweet potatoes release less sugar than their normal white counterpart and so raise the hormone insulin less; helpful for appetite regulation.
The flavours of lemon and capers create that interesting taste palette that brings us the joy of eating – key to release of ‘happy’ chemicals like beta-endorphins that add to the complete satisfaction of a meal.
PREP TIME 15 minutes
COOK TIME 1 ½ hrs
500g sweet potatoes (about 3 potatoes)
250g salmon fillets (about 2 standard sized fillets)
50g/small bunch spring onions
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of ½ lemon
1 tbsp capers
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1. Pre heat oven to 200°c/390°F/GM6.
2. Cut incisions in the top and bottom of each sweet potato, place in a baking tray, lightly coat with oil and season with a little salt. Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the flesh is soft.
3. Whilst the sweet potato is cooking, prepare and cook the salmon. Wrap the salmon in a foil or greaseproof paper parcel, adding the juice of half a lemon, 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt before sealing the parcel. Cook with the sweet potato for the last 20 minutes of its cooking time.
4. Whilst the salmon is cooking, slice spring onion, chop parsley and capers and place in a bowl with the juice and zest of ½ a lemon, 1 beaten egg, ½ tsp of pepper and ½ tsp of salt.
5. Allow the salmon and sweet potato to cool for 10 minutes or so then peel the skin off both of them and discard. Mash the potato in the bowl with all the other ingredients and then flake in the salmon and gently stir the salmon through the mix.
6. Shape the mixture into patties with your hands and place on a greased baking tray. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the edges are golden brown. If you want quicker results you can fry the salmon cakes in a little oil in a frying pan for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown, being careful when flipping to avoid the cakes falling apart (if they do, just gently push them back together).
Serve with garlic mayo or soured cream and a peppery watercress and chicory salad with a wedge of lemon.
These salmon cakes are best served fresh but can be frozen once shaped into the cakes and then cooked from frozen for 50-60 minutes as needed. This recipe can be doubled easily and then frozen for easy meals on other days. Can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days or frozen for 1-2 months.