Vladislav Muslakov

We all know that absolutely everything is easier after a good night’s sleep! Sleep is fundamental to our wellbeing, but somehow we manage to take it for granted at the same time as berating our lack of it! Often mis-understood and wildly under-rated, it is a sad thing that so many people these days are surviving on much less sleep than they actually need.  Before we look at why that should be and what’s causing the epidemic of poor sleep these days, let’s take a quick look at what sleep is, and what it is actually does.

Although it seems we do nothing when we are asleep, our bodies are actually quite busy.  While we are sleeping , our bodies and brains are restocking our supply of hormones, processing significant toxins, repairing damaged tissue, generating vital white blood cells for immunity, eliminating the effects of stress, and (importantly) processing heavy emotions. Without sufficient time to do this important work (ie 8 hours for the average adult) our systems become increasingly de-natured – our hormones become imbalanced, our immunity is suppressed, our ability to manage stress is diminished, our natural appetite and hunger levels go awry and our emotional flexibility is compromised.

Sleep itself is one of the (many) gifts of our pineal gland – a tiny, pine-cone shaped lobe in the very centre of our brains – often referred to as the ‘third eye’.  When our circadian rhythms are in sync (the natural rhythms that control our daily, weekly and monthly cycles, like tides), the pineal gland releases the hormone and neuro-transmitter, melatonin, at bed-time. Melatonin works by suppressing the activity of other neurotransmitters and helps to calm us down (primarily by countering the stress hormone cortisol which is produced by our adrenals). As we become sleepier, the brain slowly begins to turn off our voluntary skeletal muscle functions, directing energy inwards, to the important work to be done while we sleep.

For ideal sleep, our melatonin levels should be steadily rising at bed-time and our cortisol levels should be rock-bottom. And this is a system that has been devised over centuries of fairly constant night-time behaviour. Not so very many decades ago our night-time routines were very different from today.  We would be aware of the sunset and benefit from the long-wave, red light from the sun at the end of the day, our evenings would be spent mostly in the dark with firelight or candle light (again, red-light) and our activities, for the most part, would be about ‘winding-down’ – reading a book, chatting before a fireside or taking a final breath of night-air before bed-time.  These days our evening activities are very different often involving mental or physical stimulants like computer games, social networking, business emails, alcohol or the latest knife-edge TV drama – sometimes all of them at once!

What happens in this scenario is that stress, and therefore cortisol, levels go UP just before bedtime and the blue-light from so many screens pushes melatonin levels DOWN – the very opposite of what we need for a good night’s sleep.

When my clients present with sleep problems, the very first thing I do is work with them on what I call ‘sleep hygiene’ – the simple process of getting into the good habits that restore the natural circadian rhythms and allow peaceful, restful sleep. For a few people, there are specific physical imbalances or mental stressors that impact on the quality of sleep (and these should be dealt with in the context of a supported, ongoing  and holistic approach to general wellbeing). For the most part however, just about everybody could benefit from improving their bed-time routine and making space for a little bit of self-care. So, to help you get started, here is my recipe for the perfect night’s sleep:

Ingredients

One long hot bath

Two large cups Epsom Salts

A few drops of essential oil (lavender, geranium, frankincense, mandarin or clove being my favourites)

A mug of herbal tea (eg lavender, valerian, chamomile or passionflower) or a delicious Turmeric Latte

A dry body-brush

A beautiful scented candle (made from soy wax if possible).

A natural body oil such as Argan Nut Oil

A good book

Someone to hug (optional!)

sleeping cat
Method
  • Start your preparations early in the afternoon and avoid all caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, colas) from 3pm onwards.
  • Eat your last meal 2 -3 hours before you go to bed and try and keep your evening meal light, just veggies and protein if possible, keeping your main meal for the middle of the day (you will be surprised how much a heavy meal, last thing at night, can negatively impact your sleep).
  • No email, TV, computer games, next-day-planning, or stressful conversations in the full hour prior to bed-time
  • Light the candle, run a deep, hot bath and mix in the Epsom Salts and essential oils (Epsom Salts work brilliantly to draw out toxins and the magnesium in them is a wonderful natural soother and muscle relaxant).
  • Give yourself a gentle massage with a dry brush using long, gentle strokes, starting with your feet and legs, then hands and arms, moving towards your heart and finishing with circular, clockwise strokes around your tummy. This process massively increases lymph flow and improves night-time de-toxification
  • Soak for as long as you can in the bath to get the full benefits of the Epsom salts and essential oils (at least 20 minutes but up to 40 minutes if possible).
  • Massage a few drops of oil into your still-damp skin
  • Avoid fluoride toothpastes – fluoride is known to calcify the pineal gland
  • Relax into bed with a good book or a good lover (or both!)

Get to the root cause of your poor sleep

and book a 20 minute discovery call with Fran

Good sleep is fundamental to our overall well being. If you are struggling with chronic fatigue or any of the symptoms of poor sleep, help is at hand!  Book a 20 minute Discovery Call with Fran to learn how to get to the ‘reason-why’ behind your fatigue and pick up some sensible strategies to help you get your mojo back.

If you are suffering from chronic fatigue, feeling tired and wired, struggling to fall asleep or waking regularly in the middle of the night, these are signs that your body wants something to change.  Let me help you de-code these messages so you can make the subtle shifts your body is needing and improve the health of every cell in your body.

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What could be better on an Autumn Day than this delicious dessert that brings together all that is best of your favourite puddings, with none of the drawbacks.  There are quite a lot of ingredients, but this is just so easy to make and the finished result so sublime, it is definitely worth taking a moment or two getting everything together.

Gluten and dairy-free, Apple Pie Baked Oats make the perfect dish for an easy and sumptious Sunday Brunch or to round off the perfect Sunday Lunch.  Heaven.

Ingredients

Serves 4

1 ¼ cup gluten-free oats

1/2 cup ground walnuts

2 tbsp ground almonds

2 tbsp flax

2 tbsp coconut sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

Pinch nutmeg

¼ tsp salt

1 1/3 cups milk of choice

5 tbsp unsweetened apple puree

1/3 cup organic nut butter

2 tbsp coconut sugar, palmyra sugar, coconut syrup or maple syrup

1.5 tsp vanilla paste

Two handfuls walnuts, roughly chopped

2 apples, cored and finely chopped

Apple Pie oats 3
Apple Pie oats 15
For the stewed apple topping

3 apples, cored and chopped

2 tbsps coconut sugar, palyra sugar, coconut syrup or maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp water

 

To serve: coconut yoghurt

Method

1)      Start by making your stewed apples. Place the apples into a pan with all ingredients, then stir to combine. Heat on a low to medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then stir gently and cook until softened, adding more water if needed. Remove from the hob and set aside.

2)      Preheat your oven to 180C and grease a baking dish.

3)      For the oats, stir together your dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Combine the two bowls, stirring well until mixed together, then fold in the walnuts and chopped apples.

4)      Place in the oven to bake for around 30 minutes, or until golden, then serve with a dollop of coconut yoghurt and the stewed apples.

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Good, healthy food is anything but boring. And this delicious Thai inspired dish absolutely proves the point.  Zinging with flavour and full of texture this is an inspired dish for entertaining, or just enjoying on your own!

Ingredients

Serves 2-4

1 tbsp nut oil (argan nut oil is best)

For the peanut sauce –

4 tbsp organic peanut butter

3 tbsp coconut milk

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp maple syrup

Juice ½ – one lime (to taste)

½ tsp each of chopped lemon grass, ginger and kaffir lime leaf

½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp minced ginger

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Two individual packets instant brown rice noodles

One courgette, spiralised

One carrot, spiralised

1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped

5 baby corn, roughly chopped

2 bok choy, chopped

Two handfuls edamame beans

Pad Thai 5
Pad Thai 2
Method

1)      Start by making your sauce by stirring together all ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust spice as desired. Set aside.

2)      Heat your argan oil in a pan, then add in the noodles and vegetables and lightly fry until just softened. Add in the peanut sauce and stir until well combined and heated through.

3)      Spoon into bowls and squeeze over fresh lime and top with peanuts, coriander and spring onions.

To serve

Fresh lime juice, chopped peanuts, chopped coriander, chopped spring onions

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One of the hardest things to give up is sugar and the most powerful and practical tip to helping you manage sugar cravings, is to always eat sweet things with protein and fat.  Step aside mass produced sweets and hello to this wonderful fudge!

The protein and fat in this wonderful recipe delay the release of the natural sugars into the blood stream, protecting you from insulin spikes.  And the sweetener used, coconut syrup, is lower in GI than white sugar and, combined with the natural sweetness of coconut, means you can use much less.

So when you sweet tooth becomes too much, here is an option that you can enjoy without the guilt!

Ingredients

Creates 20 small cubes

1 cup cacao butter buttons

2 tbsp coconut butter

2 tbsp coconut milk powder (optional, but adds creaminess)

3.5 tbsp organic cashew butter

3-4 tbsp maple syrup

1.5 tsp vanilla paste

1 tsp agar agar or powdered gelatin (optional, but helps to create a softer texture)

¾-1 tsp matcha green tea powder

Pinch salt

 

Freeze-dried raspberries and melted white chocolate to decorate (optional)

White Chocolate fudge 4
Method
  • In a bain marie, very gently melt together the cacao buttons with the coconut butter. Stir until smooth and melted, then remove from the heat.
  • Allow the mix to cool slightly, then place into a blender with the remaining ingredients and blitz smooth – don’t worry, the mixture will appear dark green, but it will lighten once it sets! Taste and adjust sweetness as desired.
  • Pour into a lined loaf tin, then place in the freezer to firm up. Cut into cubes, then store in the fridge and enjoy.
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OK, so I have changed the rules of the universe and created a pizza that is actually good for you! Using  gluten free chick-pea flour and a whole heap of good-for-you veggies, this is the sort of pizza you actually can eat every day.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

Creates 1 large pizza, or 2 smaller pizzas

For the base

1 cup chick pea flour

¼ cup oat flour

1 cup water

1 tbsp argan nut  oil (or olive oil)

1 tsp smoked paprika flakes

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

For the tomato marinara sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 red pepper

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp smoked paprika flakes

Squeeze lemon juice

Handful fresh basil leaves

Salt and pepper, to taste

Socca pizza 5
For the tandoori cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower, broken into small florets

1 cup coconut yoghurt

1 tsp chilli powder (increase amount if you prefer things spicier!)

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp Smoked cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

Juice one lemon

Large handful fresh coriander, leaves removed and stems finely chopped

2 tsp olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the mint yoghurt

1 cup coconut yoghurt

Large handful fresh coriander, finely chopped

Handful mint, finely chopped

1 tsp minced garlic

½ – 1 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp chilli powder or one fresh birds eye chilli finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the pizza toppings –

One red onion, finely sliced

10 cherry tomatoes, sliced

Feta cheese, cubed (optional)

Method

1)      Start making your tandoori mix the night before. Mix together all ingredients for the paste, adjusting according to your taste, then place the cauliflower into the mix and stir to combine. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

2)      At the same time, prepare your yoghurt by stirring together all ingredients. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

3)      Once ready to cook your cauliflower, preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray and place the cauliflower on top. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and slightly crisp, turning half-way through cooking.

4)      Make your tomato sauce by heating some argan oil in a pan. Add the garlic cloves and cook on a low to medium heat, stirring often, for a few minutes. Add the red pepper and the tomato puree and stir, cooking until the pepper has softened. Add the chopped tomatoes, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for around 15-20 minutes, stirring often until thickened. Add your flavourings – the spice, salt and pepper, coconut sugar, lemon and basil – then place in a blender and blitz smooth. Set aside.

5)      Now, make your base by blitzing all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl and allow to thicken for around 20-30 minutes. Heat a touch of oil in a pan, then pour the batter over. Heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the batter comes away from the pan easily, then flip and cook the other side until golden. Set aside. Alternatively, pour into a lightly-oiled, lined, deep baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven (220C) for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.

6)      Prepare your pizza by spreading the tomato marinara over your cooked base. Scatter over the cauliflower, along with your toppings. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or so, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese melted.

7)      Drizzle over your mint yoghurt, then cut into slices and enjoy!

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