Yoga on the roof of Coq d’Argent

Thursday mornings at 07:45 Jessica Skye of Fat Buddha Yoga teaches Rise’n’shine yoga on the roof terrace of Coq d’Argent, the french restaurant at 1 Poultry. If you think that sounds cool, it is.

The roof terrace isn’t very big, but it’s green, it’s a roof, you can see the sky for miles and it has a great view.

Coq d'Argent rooftop view

As for the yoga class, I really liked Jessica’s style. Her soothing voice with clear instructions, but not “preachy”, led us through a great sequence of poses. In the background she played the beats Fat Buddha Yoga is so well known for. (Find the playlists on Spotify.) At various point during the class I found myself looking at The Shard over my left shoulder and a few minutes later I was looking through my legs at the sunrise. Cool.

Towards the end of class when things were winding down, I was able to really appreciate the seagulls, sun on my face, the hum of the traffic below and even the odd aeroplane flying overhead. That’s probably the only time in my life when the drone of an aeroplane sounded soothing. I guess that’s the power of yoga.

Yoga coq d'argent roof

Jessica ended the class by going round to everyone and doing a quick face massage from jaw to hairline with Herbivore Orchid Face Oil. I was smelling jasmine for at least an hour after yoga class. Beautiful!

We were all so relaxed that no-one really wanted to leave. Everyone just hung out for a few minutes revelling in the cool vibes. The calm and centred feeling I had on the roof stayed with me even as I walked the 15 minutes to the office trying to dodge the stream of people. In fact I felt calm and centred all day Thursday. Rise And Shine indeed.

Jessica runs many pop up yoga classes. Some weekly, some once a month but all in interesting places around London. Have a look at the list here. I’m definitely going to attend more Fat Buddha Yoga classes.

Instructor: Jessica of Fat Buddha Yoga

Location: The rooftop terrace of Coq d’Argent, 1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ

Time: 07:45 to 08:30

Price: £12 or £40 for 4 classes

Date attended: 8 August 2019

Yoga mats provided: Yes

Good to know: The lift to Coq d’Argent only starts operating from 07:30. Before 07:30 it’s a service elevator only, so there is no point in arriving at 1 Poultry earlier than 07:30.

Something I learned: When your fingers are spread out on the mat for Vinyasa Flow, make sure your index fingers are at the 12 o’clock position.

If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.


Yoga and Pilates in funky places around London

I’m on a mission to attend yoga and pilates classes in unusual locations and the most iconic buildings in London. Rooftops, museums, top floors of London skyscrapers, stores, bars, clubs – you name it I want to plank there.

Yoga Pilates funky locations copy

London is filled with yoga teachers who host classes in these weird and wonderful locations. We have iconic modern buildings with names like The Gherkin, The Shard, The Walkie-Talkie building, The Cheesegrater and The Vase, as well as historic museums, bridges and public spaces.  London is just littered with amazing places and spaces to explore.

In this blog I will share with you my experience, and of course photos, of attending pop-up yoga and pilates classes in the most funky places around London.

Here is a list of unconventional places to do yoga or pilates, some (hopefully most) of which I will attend and then review:


  • Sophie Dear rooftop yoga in the Summer on Wednesday mornings at One New Change. I was there on 17 July 2019 – read about it here.
  • Rise’n’shine with Fat Buddha Yoga in the Summer on Thursday mornings on the roof of Coq d’Argent restaurant. I was there on 8 August 2019 – read about it here.
  • Free yoga classes at Sweaty Betty stores. I was there on 1 September 2019 – read about it here and 15 December 2019 – read about it here.
  • Sunrise Yoga at Sky Garden in 20 Fenchurch Street every day of the week except Mondays from April to October. I was there on 8 September 2019 – read about it here.
  • Pets Yoga (kittens, bunnies or puppies) at pop-up locations around London. I was there on 15 September – read about it here.
  • Design Museum X Equinox Yoga and private viewing of Beazley Designs of the Year at the Design Museum. I was there on 28 September 2019 – read about it here.
  • OM Yoga Show Alexandra Palace 18 – 20 October 2019. I was there on 20 October 2019 – read about it here.
  • Yoga under the blue whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum. One class per month in September 2019, November 2019, January 2020 and March 2020. I was there on 3 November 2019 – read about it here.
  • Fat Buddha Yoga on Sundays at The Hoxton Hotel.
  • Free yoga once a month at Nike Town Oxford street. I was there on 24 October 2019 – read about it here.
  • Free yoga at Adidas womens-only studio, 152 Brick Lane.
  • Yoga with Yogamuni at The Gherkin on Tuesdays at 08:00, Wednesdays at 12 Noon and Thursdays 18:00.
  • Sunrise yoga in the walkways of Tower Bridge every third Wednesday of the month. I was there on 20 November 2019 – read about it here.
  • Yoga at Savage Schloss, a rooftop alpine ski lodge in London. I was there on 20 December 2019 – read about it here.
  • Yoga at 12th Knot in Sea Containers House
  • Qigong at Triyoga. I was there on 12 January 2020 – read about it here.
  • Yoga at Dulwich Picture Gallery. I was there on 19 January 2020 – read about it here.


  • Power Pilates at The View from The Shard. I was there on 6 April 2019 – read about it here.
  • Free pilates classes at Sweaty Betty stores.




Yoga on the Madison roof terrace

Two days before my 42nd birthday I was out of the house at 05:35 to be on time for a 07:00 yoga class on the roof terrace of Madison, a restaurant at One New Change shopping centre near St. Pauls.  Yes it’s early, but man it was worth it!

Sophie of Sophie Dear Yoga hosts the rooftop classes every Wednesday morning from June to September. My class was mid-July and it was beautifully timed – the sky was bright blue with only a few clouds and a light breeze.

It was so perfect that I honestly got a bit teary for the first few minutes of the class.  I had a long spiritual journey to get to the point where I would willingly, nay eagerly, sign up for an exercise class at 7 am on a roof. Lying on that roof, looking up at the sky and feeling the breeze, I felt so proud of myself for getting this far and so very blessed to have St. Paul’s Cathedral looking out over (for?) me.

It felt as if the Universe was giving me a high five.


St. Paul’s Cathedral  was never out of sight and it seemed to glow in the sunlight. It overshadowed Sophie just a tad, but she managed to keep the attention on her as she guided us through a tough but manageable yoga class.

Sophie provided many modifications to accommodate all the different levels of yogis. I was in awe of some of the more advanced attendees. (It was the first time I saw someone do Crane / Crow). It had been almost a year since I had done yoga so I was totally okay with doing the easiest version of a pose. Yet I also felt inspired to try a more advanced modification when we did the pose a second time round. I think that’s a sign of a good yoga class.


We ended the class with 15 minutes of guided mediation with affirmations during which Sophie applied a small drop of oil on our foreheads. I don’t know for sure what it was, but I got whiffs of mint, jasmine, lavender and liquorice.  So lovely!

Sophie Dear rooftop yoga London

If Sophie does Rooftop Yoga again next year, I’ll definitely be there.

Instructor: Sophie of Sophie Dear Yoga

Location: The roof terrace of Madison, One New Change shopping centre, London, EC4M 9AF

Time: 07:00 to 08:00

Price: £16.50 or 10 classes for £150

Date attended: 17 July 2019

Yoga mats provided: No

Good to know:  Toilets are on the first floor of One New Change but not easy to find – it’s located between Nandos and Bread Street Kitchen restaurant. (I wasted precious “I need to find a good spot in the back row” time looking for the loos.)

Something I learned: When going from Plank into Chaturanga , rather go onto your knees than flop down if your upper body is not strong enough to bring you down slowly and with control. It’s better to modify the pose (by going onto your knees), than doing it incorrectly and not getting any benefit from the pose. You can go onto your knees until you have built up enough strength in your arms and shoulders.

If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.

Sophie Dear Yoga 17 July 2019 Rooftoppers


Pilates at The Shard

My first experience with pop-up pilates or yoga in an iconic London building, was Power Pilates At The View From The Shard hosted by Julie Sullivan.

I had only been doing pilates for 2 months when I signed up to do pilates 800ft above London. No-one can say I don’t aim high.


I took along my friend and Rapid Transformational Therapy therapist, Kim Wilson. Kim did a RTT session with me on 26 January 2019, and I haven’t been the same since. Taking along the hypnotherapist that got me over my total aversion to exercise, was only fitting. “See Kim, I really truly love exercise now. Thank you so much for helping me get over my issues!”. Kim is on the left, and I’m the one on the right wearing stripes.


Julie’s pilates class was good with a mix of challenging and easy moves, using a small pilates ball. It was great looking out of the huge windows and seeing London from above – it certainly helped to distract me from donkey kicks with a ball clenched in the crook of my knee!

The only down side for me was the close proximity to other attendees. The mats were laid out in two rows all facing the window. I was in the back row (I love being in the back) but the mat in front of me was placed in front of a pillar which pushed it out of line with all the other front row mats, and therefor much closer to me. I had a foot in my face for a big part of the class.


At the end of the class we were able to wander around the viewing platform without any other tourists to appreciate the view from the 69th floor. It wasn’t the clearest of mornings so my photos look a bit grey, but you get the idea. The Power Pilates ticket included entrance to the viewing platform, pilates class and we received a gift voucher from Sweaty Betty. Score!

Kim and I ended our morning with breakfast at Rabot 1745.

rabot 1745 chocolate muesli

Chocolate muesli and hot chocolate with my hypnotherapist friend was a great way to end the morning. Highly recommended.

Instructor: Julie Sullivan of HG1 pilates. Julie is also a Stretch Ambassador for Sweaty Betty Harrogate.

Location: Viewing platform of The Shard, Joiner Street, London, SE1 9QU

Time: 08:15 – 09:15

Date attended: Saturday 6 April 2019

Yoga mat provided: Yes

Good to know: If you are in the back row, stay clear of the mats in the front row laid out in front of a pillar.

If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.

Green and White Vegetable Risotto

Here is an easy risotto recipe with four green and white vegetables that you can chop (excuse the pun) and change to make six different vegetarian risotto versions.

The photos show my cauliflower + asparagus, and broccoli + pea risottos.

Think of the risotto as a base to which you add two vegetables and each time you make this risotto, it will look and taste totally different.  My four vegetables of choice are asparagus, petit pois peas, tenderstem broccolli and cauliflower. The variations you can create with these beautiful white and green vegetables are:

  • broccoli and peas (photographed)
  • broccoli and asparagus
  • broccoli and cauliflower
  • cauliflower and asparagus (photographed)
  • cauliflower and peas
  • asparagus and peas


When I make this green and white risotto, I roast all of the veggies except for the peas. The first time I tasted roasted tenderstem broccoli I was blown away. Roasting totally changes broccoli into a smokey, nutty veg and roasted cauliflower tasted sweeter. Definitely much more interesting than just boiling or steaming!


It’s super easy to roast these vegetables. I just throw it in a bowl, add a glug (technical term) of olive oil, fresh or dried herbs, salt and give it all a good mix. Then it goes onto a baking sheet lined with tinfoil (for easy cleaning) and into the oven for about 15 minutes. Sometimes I remember to turn over the vegetables half way through the 15 minutes, sometimes I don’t. Either way, the vegetables come out beautifully roasted and very tasty.

If you want more crunch and protein, you can toast flaked almonds to sprinkle over the risotto. (In our house we have to avoid nuts so I haven’t done this.)

Green and White Risotto mix and match recipe

Here is an easy risotto recipe using four green and white vegetables that you can chop and change to make six different vegetarian risotto versions.


  • 160g arborio rice
  • 220 g tenderstem broccoli and/or 1 whole cauliflower and/or handful frozen petit pois and/or 220 g fine asparagus spears
  • 2 tbsp dried mixed herbs
  • 40 g parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 200 C.
  2. If you are using asparagus, slice the the spears until you reach the tips. Leave the tips whole.
  3. Use a big bowl and coat the broccoli and/or cauliflower and/or asparagus tips with olive oil, dried or fresh herbs and salt.
  4. Put the coated vegetables in the oven for 15 minutes but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.  If roasting asparagus, add the tips to the baking tray half way through the roasting time (it needs a little less time to roast than broccoli and cauliflower does.)
  5. Boil a kettle and dissolve the vegetable stock cube in 200 ml of boiling water.
  6. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the red onion and fry in a large pot until softened.
  7. Once the onion has softened, add the rice and chopped garlic. Stir well and make sure each grain of rice is covered in oil.
  8. Add 1/3 of the vegetable stock and stir continuously until the water is absorbed. Continue to add the stock one ladle at a time, stirring almost continuously for roughly 20 minutes.  When there is one ladle of stock left to add, add the frozen peas and/or sliced asparagus and stir. Add the last ladle of stock and cook until all is absorbed and rice cooked.
  9. When the rice is cooked remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and juice of half a lemon.  Add a generous pinch of pepper.
  10. Serve the roasted vegetables on top of the risotto.
  11. Sprinkled with more grated parmesan cheese.
  12. Enjoy!

Natasja King – food for the body, food for the soul

Easy vegetarian pizza

Are you looking for a quick and easy home made pizza? Full of flavor but low on effort? You got it!


You won’t have to make pizza dough, nor do you use a store bought pizza base. No, you’ll use naan bread! Coriander and garlic naan bread is absolutely delicious as a pizza base. Regular pizza base can be bland, but with naan bread as the base, half of the flavor war is won before you even start.


The first layer of the pizza is a creamy mix of light cream cheese and yogurt with dried herbs and salt.  Spread it on nice and thick, all the way to the edges. For the vegetables I used red pepper and courgette, but you can use almost any type of vegetable as long as you cube the veggies the same (smallish) size so that it will cook evenly. Finally sprinkle over cheddar cheese.

Pop in the oven for about 15 minutes and that’s it. Super easy, super fast pizza using naan bread as the base.

Easy vegetarian pizza

Inspired by a Gousto recipe


  • 2 large naan breads
  • 1 courgette, chopped in cubes
  • 1 red pepper, chopped in cubs
  • 100 g greek yoghurt
  • 100 g cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 40 g grated cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat over to 200C / 180 C (fan).
  2. Mix the yoghurt and cream cheese in a bowl. Add salt and dried oregano.
  3. Spread the yoghurt and cream cheese mixture over the two naan breads
  4. Top with courgette, red pepper and cheese
  5. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  6. Enjoy!

Natasja King – food for the body, food for the soul

Brown rice and vegetables with blue cheese stuffed mushrooms

Mushrooms and cheese go together. Blue cheese and sage go together. Mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese and sage would therefor go together. And it does. Oh boy, it does!


The blue cheese stuffing is super easy to make. It’s just blue cheese, fresh sage, breadcrumbs and a bit of milk. Easy. Just one word of warning: sage is a strong herb that can easily over power the other ingredients. Saying that, blue cheese is definitely not the wall flower of cheeses and it can handle the sage much better than Edam for instance would, but you still don’t want to overdo the sage. I’d say 6 fresh sage leaves is enough to fill the four mushrooms.

For this recipe you serve the stuffed mushrooms with brown rice, leeks, carrot and yellow peppers. (There’s that love of yellow again!)

Brown rice vegetable blue cheese filled mushrooms.jpg

I don’t know about you, but I can easily have the mushrooms on their own, and I can have the rice on its own as well. It’s a real 2-for-1 vegetarian dish this one!

Brown rice and vegetables with blue cheese stuffed mushrooms

Inspired by Lynn Bedford Hall’s book “The Best of Vegetarian Cooking”.


  • 4 large breakfast mushrooms
  • 2 heaped tbsp bread crumbs
  • 5 – 6 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 50 g saint agur blue cheese
  • splash of milk
  • olive oil
  • 160 g uncooked brown rice
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce


  1. Preheat over to 200C / 180 C (fan).
  2. Cook the rice according to the package instructions.
  3. Prepare the mushrooms by removing the central stalk. Chop the stalk finely and mix with the breadcrumbs, sage leaves, blue cheese and salt. Add a splash of milk to bind it all together. Using a spoon, fill the mushrooms with this mix. Place the filled mushrooms on a lightly oiled baking tray and bake for around 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large, wide pan with a drizzle of olive oil and fry the onions and leeks until soft and caramelised.
  5. Add the yellow pepper and carrot and fry for a further 2 – 3 minutes.
  6. By this time the rice will be cooked. Add the rice and soya sauce to the vegetables and mix through.
  7. Divide the rice between two bowls and top each serving with two mushrooms.
  8. Enjoy!

Natasja King – food for the body, food for the soul

Fear is the Cheapest Room in the House

This morning on my way to work I was listening to the podcast of Oprah interviewing Jack Kornfield for SuperSoul Conversations. Every sentence of that interview is food for the soul (as are all Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations) but for some reason when Jack quoted the first verse of the poem “Fear is the Cheapest Room in the House” by Hafez’s (also spelled Hafiz) it really resonated with me.

Fear is the cheapest room in the house
I would like to see you living
In better conditions

These first three lines are so simply worded, but carry with them so much truth. Living in fear is no way to live. We are all absolutely perfectly made, spectacular Beings that deserve to live in the absolute best conditions – to have the best life possible.  But being afraid that you are not good enough, afraid that people won’t like you, afraid of doing something new, afraid of disappointing others, afraid of not measuring up to other’s expectations and many other thoughts of fear keep us from reaching our full potential and saying “I’m Awesome and I deserve only the best! I don’t want to be stuck in the dingy basement – I want the top floor master bedroom with en-suite and wrap around balcony!”

I got all of that from only the first stanza. The rest of the poem is just as meaningful.

Fear is the Cheapest Room in the House
By Hafez (q.s.)

Fear is the cheapest room in the house
I would like to see you living
In better conditions,

for your mother and my mother
Were friends.

I know the Innkeeper
In this part of the universe.
Get some rest tonight,
Come to my verse tomorrow.
We’ll go speak to the Friend together.

I should not make any promises right now,
But I know if you
Somewhere in this world-
Something good will happen.

God wants to see
More love and playfulness in your eyes
For that is your greatest witness to Him.

– Khwaja Hafez Shirazi (q.s.) (1326-1389 CE)

Did you also feel hopeful after having read the whole poem? I certainly did. I felt like Hafez was showing us the problem, giving us the solution and the reason why we should change.

So if living in fear is the problem, what is the solution?

The answer is to be the opposite of fear – to be love and make love-based decisions. I’ve learned that the best way to to make love-based decisions is to take a breath before speaking / writing / acting to evaluate whether what you are about to say / write / do is coming from a place of fear or from a place of love. In that breathing moment ask yourself why are you feeling the way you are (is it feeling based in fear, or based in love) and then choose to act differently if you have to.

Also remember that fear is not who you are, it’s what you are feeling. It’s separate to you and therefor it is possible to take a moment of quiet to look at the feeling from outside of yourself. Eckhart Tolle says “Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear are not “yours”, not personal. They are conditions of the human mind. They come and go. Nothing that comes and goes is you.”

Divan von Hafiz.jpg
Divan of Hafez, Persian miniature, 1585

To help us further, Hafez gives a suggestion for how to stop living in fear:  have conversations with his Friend (God) in the form of prayer and this will lead to “good things” happening. Notice that he is not saying good things will happen to you, but rather “somewhere in the world”. That’s a biggy. And it’s a very love-based way of thinking. Because we should not be praying or meditating only to benefit ourselves. We are part of this world and share it with many, many, others. What you wish for someone else, you wish also for yourself. So pray for yourself – of course – but share the love by praying for others too.

The last stanza is a message of hope and the reason why we should stop living in fear. When you realise that the “greatest witness” you can be of God is not to live in fear, but to live in such a way that you have “love and playfulness” in your eyes, you will be spreading love wherever you go and to whomever you meet! We should be happy that “good things” are happening all around us and celebrate them.  This then brings us on to gratitude which is a whole separate powerful topic!

One poem, so much truth.

I’d love to hear your comments on Hafez poetry, what you thought of this poem and the fear v. love way of living.

(Can I just say here that I’m no Persian poetry scholar so my interpretation of this poem (probably the first poem I’ve read since High School) is really just that – my interpretation. I may be totally off track or even missing out on some profound wisdom, but for me, for now, this is what I felt when I read Fear is the Cheapest Room in the House.)

Parmigiana with Ricotta and easy bruchetta

We’re going Italian with today’s vegetarian recipe. No pasta or meat in sight, but it definitely has an Italian feel to it. Especially if you say it like this: Par-mi-gi-aaaaana *fingertips of right hand bunched together while hand is waving up and down*


Right? It’s Italian!


My Parmigiana is made up of layers of sliced aubergine with a tomato, red pepper and courgette sauce, lots of basil, topped with Ricotta and parmesan cheese.  With it you’ll serve cheat’s bruchetta for crunch and for wiping up the tomato sauce. Ooh la la!

Oh wait. That’s French.


The bruschetta is super easy to make. It’s just sliced store-bought ciabatta buns (I’m not even going to pretend I bake my own ciabatta buns), topped with an easy herb, garlic and parmesan mix. The trick is to add course salt to the herbs, garlic and parmesan so that when you mash it all together, the salt with break up the finely chopped herbs even further.  It’s really so easy to do, but looks impressive and tastes awesome.


The recipe makes two generous portions, but you can easily stretch it to four portions if you add a salad.  Just don’t leave out the cheat’s bruchetta – those babies are gooood!

Parmigiana with ricotta and easy bruchetta

Inspired by a Gousto recipe.


  • 1 can of organic chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large courgette, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 aubergine, sliced lengthwise thinly
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 garlic gloves, finely chopped/grated
  • big handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 50ml of boiled water
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar or sugar
  • 250 g ricotta cheese
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 40g  parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 ciabatta rolls


  1. Preheat over to 200C / 180 C (fan).
  2. Heat a large, wide pan with a drizzle of olive oil and fry the aubergine slices 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Set the aubergine aside until you need it later.
  3. Drizzle olive oil in the pan again and fry the onions with a pinch of salt until softened. Add one of the chopped garlic cloves and cook for a further 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoe paste, dried oregano and 2 tbsp of agave nectar or sugar to taste and cook for half a minute.
  5. Add the tin of chopped tomato, vegetable stock and half of the basil. Cook until the sauce has thickened to a bolognaise consistency
  6. Layer the aubergine slices and tomato sauce into a oven proof dish. Let the sauce cool slightly.
  7. Whisk together chopped parsley and add ricotta
  8. When the sauce has cooled, top with the ricotta mix and sprinkle with half of the parmesan cheese.
  9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the cheese has browned
  10. While the parmigiana is baking, grind together the finely chopped remaining parsley, basil, one crushed garlic clove and remaining parmesan cheese with a pinch of coarse salt, until smooth. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of cold water and mix well. Spread this on the sliced ciabatta rolls and place onto a baking tray. Add the tray to the oven for the last 10 minutes of the lasagne baking time.
  11. Remove the parmigiana and ciabatta slices from the oven. Let the parmigiana cool before slicing.
  12. Enjoy!

Natasja King – food for the body, food for the soul

Big Crunchy Salad with honey lemon dressing

Purple, green, salty, sweet, tangy and very crunchy. That’s the Big Crunchy Salad! I almost don’t want to write out a recipe for it because it’s so easy to put together.

You’ll be mixing chickpeas, courgette, baby spinach, red cabbage and feta cheese with brown rice. In my case, I used a packet of Seeds Of Change Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice but you can cook your brown rice and/or quinoa from scratch.  (Like I said yesterday with the butternut in the microwave, I’m all for quick & easy food prep especially on a week day.)

The only measuring you’ll be doing is for the honey-lemon dressing, and even then you can adjust the lemon and honey to your liking.


I just have to warn you: when it comes to eating this bad boy, your jaw is going to get a workout and it’s a deceptively filling salad with a lot of protein and fibre.


Rice, chickpea, feta salad with honey lemon dressing


  • 1 tin cooked chickpeas
  • 3/4 of a pack of feta cheese
  • 2 handfulls baby spinach
  • 1 handful red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium courgette, grated
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 240g cooked rice and/or quinoa
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard


  1. Make the dressing: combine the lemon juice, olive oil, honey and mustard.
  2. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together the warm rice, vegetables, cheese and chickpeas. The heat from the rice should wilt the baby spinach slightly.
  4. Mix well and pour over the honey-lemon dressing.
  5. Enjoy!


Beautiful Yellow Butternut, Couscous and Veggies

Totally out of the blue, I’ve developed a love of yellow. The strange thing is, I never used to love yellow – in fact I actively avoided it, but now yellow is all I see! I recently bought mustard yellow shoes (it’s a amazing how much wear you can get out of a pair of yellow shoes in a wardrobe totally devoid of yellow) and I bought a beautiful yellow flowering pot plant for my desk at work.  I’m also considering yellow nail varnish.

According to this article about yellow in colour psychology, yellow is “the colour of the mind and the intellect”. Imagine that! But I have to say it kinda makes sense because I have been giving the big questions in life much more thought recently. I want to be, and know more about, spirituality, becoming more enlightened, acting more from love-based thoughts than fear-based thoughts, and of course get to the bottom of the biggest of all questions: Why Am I Here? (By the way, it’s these thoughts that also lead my husband and I to become vegetarian.)  At the moment I’m listening to Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays podcasts on Spotify and it’s amazing. I’m learning a huge amount and want to know even more, so if yellow really is the colour of the mind and the intellect, it totally makes sense that I’m attracted to it.

The yellow-loving is even appearing in the dishes I cook. Case and point this butternut, couscous and veggies with a hint of curry and cinnamon. I mean, I didn’t HAVE TO add curry powder to the courgette and cherry tomatoes – it was perfectly yummy as it was, but I just couldn’t resist adding the deep yellow curry powder. I also went All In with the butternut: dainty squares of butternut wouldn’t cut it (get it), no, I had to have a huge piece of dark yellow butternut on my plate!

Yellow. Love. It.


Butternut  squash is a great source of fibre, as well as vitamins including A, C, E and B vitamins and has more potassium per 100g than a banana. I adore it. (By the way, can anyone figure out why it’s called butternut because nothing about it says “butter” or “nut” to me….)

I chose to cook my butternut in the microwave. A lot of people will frown upon this, but when I get home in the evenings I don’t want to wait almost a hour for a large butternut to roast in the oven. It took only 20 minutes in the microwave! I don’t see anything wrong with microwaving butternut or other dense root vegetables like sweet potatoes if you are in a hurry.  Microwaving also saves a lot of electricity.

Due to the size of the butternut (thank you Tesco Online Shopper for picking the biggest butternut in the store),  I had to serve each person only a quarter. Of course this dish would look super cute and appetizing if you put the couscous and vegetables inside the hollowed out “tummy” of a butternut.

You can also add more curry powder to the cherry tomato and courgette mix, and if you want it very spicy, add chili. If you do, a side of natural yoghurt will work very well to contrast with the heat of the chili.  Speaking of the spices, do try to use the sweet and healthy Ceylon cinnamon that I told you about here.

Butternut, Couscous and Veggies with a hint of curry and cinnamon

You can add more curry powder to the cherry tomato and courgette mix, and if you want it very spicy, add chili. If you do, a side of natural yoghurt will work very well to contrast with the heat of the chili.


  • 100 g Ainsley Harriot Spice Sensation couscous made with 160 ml water, or any other couscous prepared according to instructions
  • medium to large butternut
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large courgette
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 heaped tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp of Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • olive oil for frying
  • fresh parsley


  1. Score the skin of the butternut with a sharp knife and half lengthwise. Place on a plate in the microwave for 10 –  20 minutes depending on the size of your butternut and cook until soft, bearing in mind that it will continue to cook even after microwaving.
  2. While the butternut is cooking, prepare the vegetables: slice red onion finely, quarter the cherry tomatoes and slice the courgettes into cubes. Chop the parsley.
  3. Boil a kettle and dissolve the vegetable stock cube in 200 ml of boiling water. Use the remaining water in the kettle to prepare the couscous according to the instructions on the packet.
  4. Fry the onions in a little oil. When soft, add the curry, Ceylon cinnamon and tomato paste and fry another minute until fragrant.
  5. Add the quartered cherry tomatoes and fry for 1 – 2 minutes.
  6. Add the courgettes and fry for another minute.
  7. Add the vegetable stock and cook uncovered until the sauce has thickened.
  8. By now the butternut should be cooled. Scoop out the pips. Quarter the butternut if required.
  9. Serve the vegetables on top of a bed of couscous, alongside the quartered butternut. If you halved the butternut, fill the butternut with the couscous and vegetables.
  10. Sprinkled with chopped parsley and a dusting of Ceylon cinnamon.
  11. Enjoy!

Natasja King – food for the body, food for the soul

Colourful Edamame Spaghetti Stir-fry with Tahini dressing

For me, bright colours equal happiness. Red + Yellow + Green = Smiling Natasja. Would it then come as a surprise that this bowl of mange tout, baby corn and red pepper on a bed of light green edamame spaghetti is my culinary happy place?

I mean look at it! It’s as if someone told me I can use my favourite Crayola crayons to colour in a picture of a bowl of stir-fry.

Even the spaghetti in this dish is green. Ever heard of edamame spaghetti? As in, spaghetti made from young, green soya beans? Don’t worry, it was new to me too.

20180804_1517307622490681768232337.jpgI came across a big box of Explore Cuisine Organic Gluten Free Edamame Spaghetti at Costco (where the greatest of things can be found) and just had to try it out.  It looks just like spaghetti, except for colour of course, and cooks in only 3 – 5 minutes. It’s sort of tasteless yet a bit nutty. As it’s only ingredient – edamame – really packs a protein punch: 42g of protein per 100g of spaghetti. It’s also high in fibre and gluten free.  If you don’t want to be the super duper big box from Costco, Tesco sells a 200g box for £3.

For my recipe you will stirfry mange tout, baby corn and red pepper in a wok, adding two whisked eggs at the end so that they become scrambled.  The vegetables are then added to the spaghetti and everything is topped with a yummy tahini dressing.

I made the mistake once of mixing the tahini dressing into the cooked spaghetti before adding the vegetables. Huge disaster. The spaghetti clumped together in a sticky ball which looked unappetising and tasted doughy.

It really is best to leave the sauce to the end, or better still give each diner a little bowl of the tahini dressing so that they can drizzle it over themselves.

20180803_184717291546586411214972.jpgThis is a great, quick, stir-fry with lots of crunch and colour from the vegetables, high protein content from the funky light green pasta and the tahini dressing takes it to the next level. Love!

Colourful Edamame Spaghetti Stir-fry With Tahini Dressing

A protein packed stir-fry with edamame spaghetti, egg and vibrant red, green and yellow vegetables.


  • 100g Explore Cuisine Organic Edamame Spaghetti
  • 175g pack of baby corn and mange tout
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 sachet of Yutaka miso soup paste
  • sesame oil
  • fresh parsley


  1. Slice the corn in half lengthways and chop the red pepper into chunks. Chop the parsley.
  2. Fill a pot with water and bring to the boil.
  3. While the water is boiling make the tahini dressing by combining tahini paste, agave nectar, juice of 1 lemon, soya sauce and sachet of miso soup paste. Add two table spoons of the boiling water and mix well.
  4. Whisk together two eggs.
  5. Heat a wok with a bit of sesame oil and stirfry the vegetables until cooked.
  6. Add the whisked eggs to the cooked vegetables mix until the eggs have scrambled.
  7. Add the edamame spaghetti to the pot of boiling water and cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Drain and divide the pasta between two plates.
  8. Top the spaghetti with the stirfried vegetables and eggs.
  9. Drizzle with the tahini dressing and chopped parsley.
  10. Enjoy!

Natasja King – food for the body, food for the soul

What do you mean there are different types of cinnamon?

Cinnamon is cinnamon. Right? Just like nutmeg is nutmeg and rosemary is rosemary. Nope, it’s not.

Cinnamon comes from the Cinnamomum Zeylanicum plant commonly referred to as “Ceylon cinnamon” or from the Cinnamomum Cassia / Cinnamomum Loureiroi / Cinnamomum Burmannii  plants commonly referred to as “Cassia cinnamon”. It’s grown in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) or China & Indonesia. It tastes sweet, or pungent & woody. It is fragile which makes it easy to ground into a very fine powder, or hard and tough which grounds into a coarse powder.

Both can help regulate blood sugar levels and are antioxidants, but one can also damage your liver if taken in high doses.

The problem is, unless you compare the two types you would never know that the cinnamon in your kitchen is not as finely ground as it should be, not as sweet as it could be and ultimately not as good for you as you thought i.e. you bought Cassia cinnamon in stead of true Ceylon cinnamon.

In a study of 91 cinnamon samples from various stores in Germany they found 63 times more coumarin in Cassia cinnamon powder than Ceylon cinnamon powder. High levels of coumarin can cause liver damage. Seeing as Cassia cinnamon is cheaper than Ceylon cinnamon, the cinnamon we get in supermarkets are from the cassia plant – the one with the high levels of coumarin. (If you want to know more about the difference between Cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon, this article has a handy comparison.)

Because of the damage that high dosages of coumarin can cause to your liver, the EU has laid down guidelines for the maximum content of coumarin in foodstuffs – 50mg per kg of dough in foods that are only consumed occasionally, and 15mg per kg of dough in everyday baked goods.  In our house, and I guess in most households, we probably won’t reach levels higher than this recommendation, but I would still never go back to “regular” cinnamon. It just doesn’t taste as nice as the true Ceylon cinnamon.

In fact, I would say a big difference between Cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon is that even if you use too much Ceylon cinnamon it won’t burn your tongue, but try eating a desert with a too thick sprinkling of regular cinnamon and your tongue will be on fire. That’s a sure way of knowing what type of cinnamon you are using.

I grew up with regular cinnamon and never ever thought there was a different type of cinnamon that could be so sweet and fine. We sprinkle Ceylon cinnamon on vanilla ice cream and plain cheesecake (OMG, so good!!!), we sprinkle it on Redbush tea and have it in overnight oats.  I also love adding Ceylon cinnamon to vegetarian dishes, like Quinoa with Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion Salad.

Photo by Vanesa Conunaese

I only recently discovered that cinnamon also has health benefits. To me it was just a fragrant spice to sprinkle on deserts. But when my husband struggled to regulate his blood sugar levels and had slightly high blood pressure we went looking for a natural cure and cinnamon came top of the list. (You can read one of the articles here.)  It worked for him and it’s still working.

So if the cinnamon we buy in supermarkets are the dodgy kind, where do you get the sweet, fine, true Ceylon cinnamon? I buy organic Ceylon cinnamon on Amazon from Buy Wholefoods Online. The 250g bag lasts us around 6 months. A quick online search will provide loads of other places you can buy true Ceylon cinnamon and I’m sure most health food stores will sell it as well.

If you are used to regular supermarket cinnamon, do yourself the favour and try Ceylon cinnamon. You’ll never want to go back to supermarket cinnamon.




Quinoa with Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion

Looking for a healthy balanced vegetarian dish that only uses three main ingredients, one of which is a Superfood? Well, here you go: quinoa, sweet potato and red onion salad.

The recipe is inspired by Deliciously Ella’s Quinoa, Raisin and Sweet Potato Salad. She uses fennel and as the title suggests, includes raisins. I didn’t feel confident enough to roast a whole fennel bulb, and thought the sweet potatoes are sweet enough without the need for raisins. (I’m sure fennel + raisin is a great combo though.) I also had to leave out the hazelnuts due to a nut allergy.

In stead of using plain quinoa, I chose to use Morrisons Wholefoods “Bulgar Wheat, Cracked Soya and Red Quinoa” mix.  Quinoa really is any vegetarian’s best friend. It’s a complete protein (which means it has all nine amino acids the human body needs) with double the amount of protein per serving than white rice. Bulgar wheat is high in fibre and, just like quinoa it’s a wholegrain.  The third part of the mix is another complete protein, soya.  This Wholefoods mix really is a great combination to add fibre and protein to a vegetarian meal and it only takes 10 minutes to cook.

Hmm… now that I think about it, you can substitute the quinoa in this recipe with any wholegrain. I think it would work especially well with brown rice, freekeh, buckwheat or wholewheat cous cous. (*Note To Self: make this salad with a different wholegrain next time.)


I included four medium size red onions in this salad. That sounds like a lot, but don’t worry – the salad doesn’t taste oniony. That’s because I roast the onions with their skins on so that they become very sweet and almost caramelized. It’s a trick I learned from Gousto recipes. Not only does roasting onions with their skins on taste great, it’s easy and quick. You just chop the onion in quarters lengthwise, drizzle with oil & salt and roast. No peeling necessary! Don’t leave out the salt though – that’s what draws out the moisture from the onion, causing it to go soft in stead of crunchy. When they come out of the oven, you just slice off the bottom of the onion (the part that keeps all the “petals” together), discard the skin, and toss the softened purple onion petals in the salad.

I also included roasted pumpkin seeds in my version. Please don’t leave them out. The salad needs the bit of crunch that those toasted pumpkin seeds provide. They taste totally different when toasted – moreish like peanuts but without the peanut allergy side effects.

For the final flourish sprinkle over a handful of chopped parsley and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

In colour theory, green, orange and purple are secondary colours so having all three of these in one dish is bound to create an appetizing, pleasing dish. Don’t you just love it when nature gives us food this beautiful?!

You can have this salad warm or cold, on its own as a light lunch, as a side dish, or add feta cheese to make it more filling. (*Oooh, another Note To Self: add feta cheese next time!) So many options!

Quinoa with Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion

Roasted sweet potato and red onions tossed in quinoa with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and pumpkin seeds. The hint of cinnamon adds a lovely deep warmth and brings out the sweetness of the sweet potato.

Inspired by: Deliciously Ella


  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 80g Bulgar Wheat, Cracked Soy & Red Quinoa mix, or plain quinoa
  • 4 medium size red onions
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • bunch of fresh parsley
  • olive oil
  • handful of pumpkin seeds
  • balsamic glaze to drizzle


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Prepare the vegetables: cut the sweet potato into bite size chunks (do not peel). Slice each red onion into quarters but leave the skin and ends on. Place these on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and salt, taking care to coat all the pieces.  Additionally, also sprinkle cinnamon over the sweet potato. Place the tray in the oven for at least 20 minutes or until everything is soft and golden.
  3. 5 Minutes before taking out the onions and sweet potato, add a handful of pumpkin seeds to the tray and return to the oven.
  4. While the onions and sweet potato are roasting, prepare the quinoa mix as instructed on the packet, but add a vegetable stock cube to the boiling water.
  5. Once the quinoa is cooked strain the excess water and place the quinoa in a bowl. Add half of the parsley and mix through.
  6. Remove the vegetables from the oven and let it cool slightly. Chop off the ends of the onion quarters and remove the outer layer of skin. This should leave you with soft and sweet “petals” of red onion.
  7. Add the roasted vegetables and pumpkin seeds to the quinoa and mix through.
  8. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and the rest of the chopped parsley.
  9. Enjoy!

Natasja King – food for the body, food for the soul