How To Make Exercise Feel Easier

Hi everyone! Before I jump into this post I would like to issue an apology for my absence – these last weeks were full of studying and I literally had no time for anything else, but now that my workload has eased I will be back to posting on a regular basis. Thank you all for sticking around and I cannot wait to be involved in the blogging world once again, and I have managed to accumulate a nice list of ideas while I was away so be expecting a lot of content in the run up to Christmas!

Okay, now let’s leap into the main topic of this post: when you’re just starting out a new exercise programme, it can understandably feel like climbing Mount Everest, in particular if you’ve never been athletic before. To some people, sport can feel natural and easy, while to others it connotes hours of difficulty and pain, and this category of people may not understand how others workout for fun rather than just for the physical benefits. Whether you’ve started a fitness journey to build muscle, lose weight or prevent one of the diseases associated with living a sedentary lifestyle, those first few weeks of jumping between exercise machines may be anything other than enjoyable and as a consequence, many people quit because ‘they don’t like exercise’.

How to enjoy working out

Tips for healthy living

I have been going to the gym for around four years at this point, and prior to joining I have been sporty for my entire life. Despite the fact that at certain points my relationship with exercise has been less than optimal, as a whole I love movement. Going to the gym is one of my favourite parts of the day. However, even as a ‘seasoned’ gym goer, I experience dips in motivation. The time I dedicate to my workout goes by much slower than usual and every exercise just fundamentally feels harder and heavier. Sometimes, I do workouts I don’t wholeheartedly adore (e.g. spinning) because I know of the health benefits they deliver and that accomplishment I experience afterwards. In both cases, I have to implement a few tricks to make the workouts feel ‘easier’ without compromising the actual difficulty of the workout. Sounds contradictory, but hopefully you all know what I mean.

Continue reading “How To Make Exercise Feel Easier”

30 Hopefully Interesting Facts About Me

If you live in the south of England, you most likely are familiar with the little gem that is Brighton. I am very lucky to live within a ten minute train journey from an abundance of vegan cafes, a shopping centre and of course, the beach which remains beautiful even on gloomier days. I can’t say I was 100% content with standing bare-legged under the most unpleasant drizzle (I am the sort of person who holds back from wearing tights until it is far too cold to consider otherwise) but nothing brings peace to my heart as much as gazing at an expanse of water. And of course, blog photos are not going to take themselves!

Brighton Beach

The central purpose of this post, however, is not to dwell on the beauty of my local area. I always find it interesting to learn about the people behind my favourite blogs, and since I’ve been blogging consistently on here for slightly over a month, I believe the time has come to do your generic ’30, hopefully interesting, facts about me’. Since scheduling this I’ve been nominated for the Liebster award (thank you Joy!) which I will undertake in the upcoming weeks – so in short, buckle your seatbelts and uncover what lies beyond my ability to make pretty food in jars 😉.

Get to know me

Get to Know me 2

1. Let’s start with the basics: my name is Maria, I am 18 years old and as established above, I live near Brighton in the south of England.
2. I am almost 100% Russian with a bit of Ukrainian and Greek mixed in (hence I tan easier than most Russian people).
3. Next year, I will hopefully be starting a history degree but for now I am embracing the opportunity that has been given to me to take a gap year, gain work experience and travel like every basic teenage girl ever.
4. I am trying excessively hard not to start each fact with ‘I’ or ‘my’ but this is thirty facts about ME which perfectly justifies a bit of self indulgence!
5. I think chewing gum should be made illegal because the noise is simply. too. much.
6. Growing up, big chain restaurants virtually didn’t exist in Russia, and healthy eating has always been a big part of my life because a non-Westernised Russian diet contains many fruits, vegetables, legumes etc which is very reflective of how I eat now (with the exception of no animal products). Continue reading “30 Hopefully Interesting Facts About Me”

The One Trick That Actually Helps My Anxiety

Treating, or alleviating the symptoms of, mental illness is subjective. Articles on miracle cures, tips from fellow sufferers and Pinterest infographics fill the Internet and when researching self-help tips, at times I am more overwhelmed by the abundance of information than the oncoming panic attack.

Many people do not realise I suffer from anxiety, even though it has loomed over me throughout my life, whether as a side effect of another mental illness or in a generalised form. Perhaps this is an outcome of my body having developed a profound ability to mask any physical symptoms. I make that pre-rehearsed phone inquiry through my stomach doing literal summersaults. I cling onto my pen in exam halls and regurgitate two years’ worth of knowledge in forty minutes. Once, I delivered a presentation in front of a very substantial audience and came close to unconsciousness, yet when I mentioned this to my friends a few hours later, I received a few raised eyebrows in response.

‘We didn’t notice – at all,’ they said. ‘You’re a natural at public speaking.’

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The shirt I had to throw away due to excessive perspiration certainly didn’t think so. Continue reading “The One Trick That Actually Helps My Anxiety”

My Top Ten Vegan Pantry Essentials

Ever wondered what a vegan keeps in her pantry? Well, look no further than this – just joking, I’m not going down the route of cheesy blog post opening lines.

Anyway, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten ingredients you’ll always find in my cupboard. I eat a vegan diet composed mostly of wholefoods, but this is suitable for anyone who wishes to expose themselves to the joys of eating more plants and having plenty of healthy ingredients within reach.

These items are affordable and many can be cooked in bulk for the week ahead as a means of saving time, money and energy. Moreover, they act as a basis for the majority of vegan recipes out there. When it comes to cooking, I like to plan ahead and will buy ‘fancier’ extras whenever they are required (i.e., those magical superfood powders sourced from the soils of Narnia – I admit I can never hold myself back from diving head first into food trends) but always ensure my kitchen is well stocked with the basics because no one likes getting to their chickpea curry night and discovering they have no chickpeas.

Before I give myself the opportunity to ramble on for three thousand words, here are my pantry staples:

1. Legumes

Beans and pulses

You knew this one was coming. I am in love with my beans and pulses. These contain an abundance of micronutrients such as iron and potassium, and are often the main protein source in vegan diets. As someone who is trying to build muscle, the latter is enough to make me stock my cupboards with an excessive amount of black beans.

I keep both canned and dry in my kitchen. Canned is great for convenience, but I use dry whenever I have a bit of extra time, as they require soaking and cooking, and want a ‘fresher’ taste. My favourites include:

  • Black beans – these are a great option for buying fresh and soaking overnight
  • Chickpeas – roast them with some agave nectar and paprika and thank me later!
  • Cannellini beans 
  • Red kidney beans
  • Lentils: red, green and black
  • Dried soya mince – an incredible meat free alternative for spaghetti bolognese!
  • Peas
  • Giant lentils 

Continue reading “My Top Ten Vegan Pantry Essentials”

Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes with a Chocolate Cashew Sauce

In my opinion, nothing can beat a stack of pancakes on Sunday morning. Or on any day of the week, at any time (midnight snack anyone?). Vegan pancakes is the sort of meal I could eat for the rest of my life and not get bored because ‘YUM’ is the only word that can accurately summarise them.

How to make vegan pancakes

And I am not just being biased because I had to make these twice due to poor lighting earlier in the week: the struggles of trying to blog about food as it gets darker! My mum even said the unthinkable: ‘why don’t you just use artificial lighting?’ What a great idea: I love it when my food looks mustard-yellow rather than this lovely mixture of golden and blue and pink.

Healthy Vegan Pancakes

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I brought apple sauce from my local health food store the other day (and five other things, when I only walked in with the intention of stocking up on protein powder) and founds it works wonders in creating the fluffiest, Autumn-inspired pancakes – and from this day onwards, all of my food has to have a hint of Autumn as a way of making myself embrace this season. Otherwise the Summer nostalgia will never go away.

Fall inspired pancake recipe

These pancakes are super fluffy, vegan, low in fat (nothing wrong with fat at all, but I know some people prefer ‘lighter’ options) and that chocolate-cashew sauce should be on everyone’s bucket list. Not gonna lie, I ate most of it before the pancakes had finished cooking! Try it, and don’t forget to thank me later 😉

Fall inspired pancake

Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes with a Chocolate Cashew Sauce

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Fall-inspired apple and cinnamon pancakes with a delicious chocolate-cashew sauce. Healthy, vegan and super fluffy.

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Credit: allrecipes.com

Ingredients

    For the pancakes:

    – 3/4 cup oat flour (use gluten free if desired)

  • 1/4 cup soy yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup cashew milk
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp yeast or baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Fresh fruit to serve
  • For the sauce:

    – 1 tbsp cashew butter

  • 1 tbsp cashew milk
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp cacao powder

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the wet and dry pancake ingredients and set aside for around five minutes. Meanwhile, heat some cooking spray or coconut oil in a large frying pan – make sure it is nice and hot before you start making the pancakes.
  2. Spoon mixture into pancakes shapes: make sure they are not too thin. I find that slightly under 1/4 cup of the pancake mix per pancake works best. Carefully flip when bubbles start to form on the surface and the edges are looking crispy.
  3. To make the sauce, simply whisk together the cashew butter, cashew milk, agave nectar and cacao powder in a small bowl.
  4. Serve immediately with some fresh fruit and shredded coconut.

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A Note On Excessive Modesty and Fear of Ambition

I’m clever. There, I said it. Of course, I’m no rocket scientist or one of those miraculous teenage entrepreneurs with a billion dollar startup, but someone with my academic record deserves that qualifier. I, like many others, am cursed with over-the-top modesty. An urge to undermine one’s achievements, skills and ambitions at every opportunity, which can equate in annoyance to an inflated ego.

Cockiness is an undesirable quality for sure, and most of us withhold from befriending people who speak of nothing other than themselves and their greatness. And in fear of appearing cocky ourselves, we spiral into a trap of persistent self-deprecating humour and a reluctance to acknowledge the traits which distinguish us from the crowd. I did not see this as an issue – because labelling yourself ‘trash’ is the thing to do nowadays. Then one day, while speaking to a psychologist, I joked about my ‘stupidity’ and she told me to ‘stop right there’. She rightfully highlighted how an offhand self-deprecating statement, whether reflective of your true beliefs or not, can influence your actions and perception of yourself on a subconscious level. Most of the time, the idea of pretentiousness displeases me so much, I cannot compliment myself in my head, let alone out loud. Successful at a job interview? The other candidate must’ve not turned up. Great exam results? You were lucky. Skin looks great? It must be the lighting.

How to become more confident Continue reading “A Note On Excessive Modesty and Fear of Ambition”

Vegan Tacos Two Ways ft. Mango Sauce

Hello dears! I hope your week has been treating you well so far. Mine has been all over the place. For one, I had to start a new Instagram account (@earthofmariaa) because after experiencing a hack on my last one, nothing was working: my images were being deleted, I wasn’t able to like any photos, etc. After around ten days of trying to fix it, I decided to create a new account, which is upsetting because I worked so hard on my old one but sometimes a fresh start can be a good thing! Let’s hope Instagram won’t let me down this time.

Low fat

Anyway, I am back with a taco recipe, featuring two different fillings to satisfy every tastebud ever. First we have marinated tempeh, with a spinach bedding and jalapenos for some extra spice (jalapeno has to be one of my favourite words of all time). Next, we have a delicious chickpea and broccoli stir-fry that goes to show you can make tacos work with everything. Drizzle these over with a delicious mango sauce, and you have a Tupperware-friendly lunch or a satisfying family dinner.

Tempeh Recipe (high protein)

(Currently, I am trying to think of tacos to distract myself from thoughts of the humongous spider I found in my room this morning. Is anyone else experiencing a spider epidemic in the UK?! I think it’s time to move planets.)

When I was ill with my eating disorder, tacos were a big ‘fear food’ I had to overcome because the carby wraps scared me. Now I look back and shake my head because carbs are amazing. Especially in taco form. These, in a way, were a celebration of how far I’ve come in terms of not giving two hecks about carbs and calories anymore, simply eating what I want whenever I want to. Continue reading “Vegan Tacos Two Ways ft. Mango Sauce”