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Yoga is a spiritual, mental, and physical practice that’s been around for centuries. While different yoga types feel different, yogis and scientists alike will tell you they are all extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health.

The great thing about yoga is there are very few limitations to start. While colourful yoga pants, support blocks, and fancy mats are nice, you don’t necessarily need any of that stuff to get started. Instead, simply pick a basic yoga routine that has beginner poses and follow along. You’ll notice your body and mood change in no time.

Yoga will definitely improve your health in the following ways:
Better Flexibility:An experienced yogi can twist herself into pretzel-like poses, which would be a marvel to watch. Seriously, who knew the human body could even bend like that?! Achieving this requires you to keep your body conditioned for such movements, which over time your muscles will atrophy and your joints will settle into a limited range of motion.

Maybe in your first yoga class, you might not be able to touch your feet or even tuck your feet behind your head, just give it time and practice, and you will notice your body begin to loosen up.

Better Posture:Has anyone ever told you to stop slouching or to sit up straight? Having a bad posture does not just only look bad, it also has some negative effects on your body.

With bad posture, you are prone to a wide number of body pains like; backaches, joint problems, muscle fatigue and neck pain.

Lucky for you, yoga is a good way to remedy this. Yoga does this by getting your body back into the proper alignment with forcing you into unnatural positions.

Better Balance:From easy beginner movements to more advanced stretches, you will need to concentrate and focus in order to hold yoga poses. Over time, though, you will notice that you don’t have to concentrate quite as hard. That’s because your balance has naturally improved. Every yoga pose helps improve your balance, even the ones that do not appear to require any balance. When you are sitting or leaning you are still required to centre your body.

More Strength:Other types of workouts might require you to pump iron or pull on resistance bands, yoga only requires your own bodyweight as resistance.

Since yoga requires you to enter into and hold various positions, you will naturally strengthen your muscles.

Don’t worry about your muscles getting bored with the same old poses. As soon as one pose becomes easy for you there is always another harder pose for you to begin working on.

While just about every yoga pose helps your body to build strong muscles, some of the best include planks, bakasana, and various headstands.

Tones the Body:Every woman wants a nicely toned body and yoga can help with that as it tones your body without using weights or exercise equipment.

One worry a lot of women have when they hear the terms “resistance training” or “strength training” is: “Will it make me bulky?” Take a sigh of relief ladies because yoga won’t make you bulk up. Rather, it will give you a nice, lean figure

The poses that work best are the ones that pit your body weight against you, so go for any pose that has you lifting any body part in the air and holding it there. You will definitely feel the burn.

Better Sleep:While sleep experts recommend getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, many people are suffering from sleep problems.

Yoga helps to relax the nervous system, which is the part of your body responsible for a restful sleep. Additionally, yoga’s meditative aspect comes into play to quiet the mind. So if a racing mind is what keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep then performing yoga at any point during the day may offer you some relief.

There are specific poses you can do that are known to help people sleep more soundly. Try uttanasana, halasana, or savasana before tucking yourself under the covers. These should put your body into a relaxed state, making it easier for you to drift off to dreamland.

Yoga has many benefits when it comes to keeping your body healthy and fit. A yoga class will definitely work wonders for you and give that body you have always wanted and kept you relaxed.

Source: Bembu

Dealing with the affairs of the house and keeping a full time job may at some point, take a toll on your body; it is therefore, always important to have a way to relieve yourself of the stress, and ways to let loose and shake down unnecessary thoughts.
A good way to de-stress yourself is to engage in activities that make you happy, increases your casual interactions with people and ultimately engage in activities that relax your body such as:

  1. Massage: Schedule a massage or give yourself a good long soak in a bubble bath while your favourite song plays. Doing something that relaxes all the tensed up nerves is definitely a good way to relax. A personal day from work to do something that you really love is also very relaxing; it could be taking a plate of pie to your next door neighbour, helping out at the community centre, or even going on a little bit of shopping for yourself.
  2. Now, depending on what you are keen on, reading a book or two is an experiential way to relax. Pick up a good book that interests you to read; it could be non-fiction to inspire you, fiction to ignite your imagination or even romance novels to getting your emotions flowing.
  3. Giving yourself a treat is also a way you can help yourself relax; change up your hairstyle or haircut, get a manicure with a colour that pops up beautifully or buy that shoe you’ve always wanted but couldn’t buy.
  4. Time alone with yourself or person(s) you really care about can be a very relaxing experience for you. Do fun things. See new places and be happy. These fun moments can wipe away any trace of stress.
  5. A little bit of exercise never hurts anyone; you could visit the gym and pull a few weights, get yourself into yoga, pick up a new hobby or even take a walk around your neighbourhood or a local park near you. Just keep your body active and your blood flowing.
  6. Asides the stress that comes with dealing with everyday life, people can be another factor that can cause you stress. So it is important that you let go of negative and toxic people and learn to say NO when it doesn’t serve you.
  7. When you are overloaded, overwhelmed, or overworked; ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness, it shows that you know your limits and are willing to get help to achieve the best working result.
  8. In your schedule, always make sure there is enough time for you to rest. Getting the right amount of rest can definitely put you in the right frame to get through any day. And if you feeling a bit down during the day; take a power nap, it helps.
  9. Never forget to always pray and be thankful for all the things going right in your life. Taking time to really look at the good things in your life can give you the right perspective and a relaxed mind.

By Anerobi, Chimezie Lotachi

Everyone deserves that opportunity to kick back and relax; do you think it’s that time? Here’s a great location to visit. Chiang Mai is situated at the foothill of Northern Thailand.

Located 700 km (435 miles) north of Bangkok in a verdant valley on the banks of the Ping River, Chiang Mai (which means New City) was founded in 1296 as the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. Today it is a place where past and the present seamlessly merge with modern buildings standing side by side with venerable temples

Surrounded by a lush countryside and mountains, Chiang Mai greener and safer than its capital – Bangkok and is also one of the topmost picturesque places to visit. Although it has a significant expatriate population as well as cosmopolitan residents, the location can also boast of over 300 Buddhist temples and an array of vegetarian dishes and yoga styles.

Chiang Mai is a land covered in misty mountains and colourful hill tribes with lots of places to explore a treat and have an authentic Thai massage or cooking course. For the collectors, its wide array of handicrafts and antiques provide great additions to your collection

First Time?
There is so much to see and do around Chiang Mai, that it may seem a little overwhelming to first-time visitors. It is also a historically and culturally interesting city which has given it the fitting nickname as the “Rose of the North”.

Where to stay?
Chiang Mai is quite a large place, with a lot of options when it comes to hotels. Narrowing a choice of hundreds of properties down to just the one that’s perfect for you can be a challenge, but knowing your budget, location preference and style can help you decide the best fit for you as you prepare to embark on your adventure through the “Rose of the North”

Where to Eat?
Chiang Mai’s dining scene is outstanding with a wide array of excellent choices that range from first-class fine-dining restaurants with international menus to little local joints specializing in the area’s unique and tasty cuisine. Chiang Mai food is especially remarkable, with an emphasis on small shared dishes. Don’t forget to try to delightful khaosoi while you visit!

Where to go?
The historical city of Chiang Mai is quite a diverse place, with different neighbourhoods each having very distinct personalities. At its heart is the beautiful Old City. Outside its almost perfectly square moat and ancient city walls is the bustling Night Bazaar, the peaceful Riverside, and the modern Nimman Road. All these places prepare your mind for a wonderful experience in Chiang Mai.

Where to shop?
Bargain hunters rejoice! Chiang Mai has among the best selection of street markets from anywhere in Thailand. It’s also home to many unique handicrafts and designers, offering goods very different from those available elsewhere in the country. While perhaps a little lacking in malls, the city has a real artisanal vibe and a greater variety of boutique stores.

By Anerobi, Chimezie Lotachi

From my work in the culinary industry across Africa, I noticed that we have very few women in the top kitchen jobs, and very few female professional chefs step forward to take part in our Mastercook Chef’s competition, so I decided to go out and look for female Executive Chefs and ask why so many women seem to take a back seat in the professional kitchen.

 

In our search for female chefs, we met Eugene Karena Middleton who is Executive Chef at Protea Towers Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia. The 27 year old featured on the judging panel of the Mastercook Zambia season two show. 

Eugene has had a love for food since she was a child. Raised by her grandmother who loved to cook, Eugene was always in the kitchen learning different dishes, so it was a natural choice for her to attend the Prestigious International Hotel School in South Africa and train to be a chef.

In our part of the world, Culinary studies have long been thought of as a course taken by people who didn’t do well in school, but it’s a very tough and demanding career, which can also be quite lucrative. To say that a culinary course is tough is an understatement when Eugene joined the course they were 20 students in the class and only 3 students actually graduated! Fees for a 3 year diploma are about the same as the cost of a general business degree. 

 

With the growing popularity of TV cooking shows, traveling chefs, Celebrity Chefs and the demand for new tasty and healthy gourmet foods, it is no wonder that many men, and now women are choosing to take up careers in culinary.

 

Eugene got her first big break in her career at 22 years old. Moving to a foreign country and setting up a brand new commercial kitchen at one of Lusaka’s busiest hotels.

 

Her job includes preparing and planning the menu, managing staff, and conflicts in the kitchen, financial planning, and budgeting, managing suppliers, mentoring and coaching junior chefs. Her job description also calls for her to get in the kitchen to cook food herself if needs be.  It may sound like a woman’s job, after all, it involves food and cooking, but it’s surprising how many women shy away from the Top jobs in the commercial kitchen. 

 

Being an executive chef is demanding and stressful, tempers can be high in the hot and mostly small spaces. It takes dedication and drive to work long, awkward hours and there is need to be creative and passionate about the food you cook. As in all demanding careers, a woman needs to put in 150% to be recognised in the culinary field.

At just 27 years old, Eugene has built up the Protea Towers restaurant to award winning status. The fine dining menu she designed has received rave reviews from foodies from across the world. Eugene is proof that women can in fact ‘ lean in’ even in the culinary world.

 

Thinking of a career in the food industry? Don’t be intimidated by the men with big egos who seem to be running the industry. If Eugene could break through the glass ceiling, so can you.

 

Be brave, be passionate, be determined and don’t let anyone tell you that being a chef is not a challenging and fulfilling career. In the professional kitchen, only you determine your worth and how far you will take your career!

 

 *Have some new food ideas/recipes or new restaurants/events you would like to share? Let’s interact, email me on Abigail.Mbuzi@gmail.com and let’s talk all things food.

 

About the author: Abigail Mbuzi is a foodie. Founder and Motivator. She runs African Sunsets Events, marketing, and promotions and is Creator and Executive Producer of the Mastercook Tv shows, Editor in Chief of the Mastercook recipe magazine and teaches cooking classes for kids and adults at the Mastercook academy in Lusaka, Zambia.

Just like the popular fortune cookies,  the Chinese Steamed Rice Flour Cake popularly known as Haut Keuh, is a quick meal you should never miss while on a visit to China and its environs. Huat’ literally means ‘rise’ or ‘bloom’ in Chinese. Usually, this is in reference to prosperity, luck, and fortune. Therefore it is often referred to as ‘prosperity cake’ which is often made for special occasions such as Chinese New Year or as offering for prayers. As huat kueh signifies good luck and fortune, it is important to achieve the split top which resembles abundance. In the olden days, there were a lot of taboos associated with the preparation of this cake which includes no quarrelling in the kitchen, no unlucky words mentioned, no peeping into the steamers and so on. Here is how Haut Keuh is prepared:

INGREDIENTS

200g rice flour
100g icing sugar
160ml water
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
food colouring (optional, pink is most commonly used)

Tools

Steamer
6 cupcake-sized bowls (as steaming moulds)
Cling wrap or waterproof baking paper (for steaming)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare a steamer by bringing water to boil on high heat.
  2. Line each bowl with cling wrap or a piece of baking paper. Make sure the lining is as close to the sides as possible.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift rice flour, baking powder, and icing sugar. Add water and food colouring, and mix well.
  4. Just before filling the moulds with the batter add baking soda and mix well.
  5. Fill each mould with ¾ full and steam on high heat for 15-20 mins. Insert a skewer into the middle of the cake. If the skewer comes out clean, the huat kueh is ready.
  6. Remove from steamer then take the huat kueh out from the moulds to cool.
  7. Serve plain or with any breakfast spread. When it becomes dry and hard the next day, steam the cakes again before eating.

 

Source: asiansinspiration.com

When speaking about Sri Lanka’s popular dishes one cannot escape mentioning the tasty Kiribath, a native food of the Sri Lanka people made with rice and coconut milk.

The food got its name from the main ingredients used in preparing it. Kiribath is a compound word for rice and milk in the country’s local dialect.

It is often believed that no Sri Lankan misses taking this popular dish as breakfast for at least once every week. And also Kiribati is the first meal every Srilanka born infant taste when transitioning from breast milk to solid food at six months.

Although the origin of Kiribath is not very known to researchers, the food remains the most common household dish in all homes of the Sri Lankans. It is also served at every occasion ranging from birthdays to wedding parties, anniversary or any known Sri Lanka occasions.

To the Sri Lankans, the Kiribathsymbolizes their cultural values, blessings, prosperity and good luck and it is served at all new beginning celebration (especially the New Year festive periods) or success termed celebrations. The Kiribath meal reminds the Sri Lankans in the diaspora of their festive periods back at home.

Mode of preparation

 

Kiribath is prepared with two major ingredients and some other minor supplement; the major ingredients are rice and coconut milk. The commonly used rice is the white rice but Sri Lanka in the south of the Island used the red rice.

First of all, the rice is parboiled in water for about fifteen minutes and then poured and cooked in the coconut milk with a pinch of salt until the liquid is absorbed. Many people will prefer to have this way with just the salt but some others will love to add other ingredients such as sesame seeds or cashew, but it still does not change the milky taste of the rice and coconut milk.

The second process involves pouring the rice into a shallow plate to dry then it is been cut into pieces of diamond shapes and served with Lunumiris, a mixture of red onions, red chillies, salt, and lime.It is also consumed with jaggery and bananas and sweets like ‘Kevum’, ‘Kokis’ and ‘Athirasa’.

By: Staff Writer

Food forms part of Africa’s cultural heritage. With a deep sense of hospitality, one never want to miss the royal treatment given to a visitor in an African country. Amongst the choice and richly nutritious dishes scattered around the continent, staple dishes form a large percentage of the list. In this article, we shall be sharing some of the unique staple dishes- something I like to call “pounded and mounded” dishes.

 

Plantain flour (Amala ogede) and Ewedu soup- Nigeria

 

Plantain flour also known as elubo ogede and Ewedu soup is made from unripe plantain and matched ewedu leaf. This dish is synonymous with the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria.  The plantain is peeled, dried and grinded then poured into boiling water to become amala ogede, light brown in colour when cooked.It is eaten with the Ewedu soup; a green and sticky soup made from whipped jute leaves. The leaves may also be called ayoyo or saluyot leaves (corchorus olitorius )in other parts of the world.  Ewedu isn’t served alone. It’s often served with stew or gbegiri. The low carbohydrate level in plantain flour makes it a good food for diabetic patients and others who need a low-carbohydrate food.

Bazin and sauce- Libya

 

Bazin also referred to as bazeen is an unleavened bread in the cuisine of Libya prepared with barley, water, and salt. Bazin is prepared by boiling barley flour in water and then beating it to create a dough using a magraf, which is a unique stick designed for this purpose.The dough may then be placed in a pan and allowed time to harden, after which it is baked or steamed. The salt contributes to the hardness of the bazin. Bazin may have a paste-like and hardened texture.

 

Bazeen is typically served with a tomato sauce, eggs, potatoes, and mutton. This preparation method involves shaping the dough into the shape of a pyramid or dome, after which it may be served with a tomato-based soup or meat and potato stew poured atop and/or around it and garnished with hard-boiled eggs. When consumed, bazin may be “crumpled and eaten with the fingers.” It is typically eaten using the right hand and may be consumed communally. Bazin has been described as a traditional dish and as a national dish of Libya.

 

Sadza – Zimbabwe

 

Sadza is a cooked cornmeal which serves as one of the major staple foods in Zimbabwe and other parts of Southern Africa.

Sadza is made with finely ground dry maize/corn maize (Mealie-Meal). This maize meal is referred to as hupfu in Shona or impuphu in Ndebele. Despite the fact that maize is actually an imported food crop to Zimbabwe, it has become the chief source of carbohydrate and the most popular meal for indigenous people. Locals either purchase the mealie meal in retail outlets or produce it in a grinding mill from their own maize.

Sadza is typically served on individual plates but traditionally sadza was eaten from a communal bowl, a tradition that is still maintained by some families mainly in the rural areas. It is generally eaten with the right hand without the aid of cutlery; often rolled into a ball before being dipped into a variety of condiments such as sauce/gravy, sour milk, or stewed vegetables.

Banku and Tilapia- Ghana

When you see fish being grilled on the streets of Accra it is most likely to be tilapia, a delicacy among Ghanaians, who spice then grill the succulent freshwater fish. It complements banku, a Southern mix of fermented corn and cassava dough, and very hot pepper, diced tomatoes and onions. Banku is one of the main dishes of the people who live by the Ghanaian coast.