Autumn Weekend Blueberry Pancakes

Don’t you just love this time of year, where ‘cozy time’ is weekly household occurrence?  Sheffield sure has its kicks for getting out on the weekend, whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, but no matter what your plans are for spending quality time with friends and family, there is always time for pancakes!

While I was not dismayed to learn that English pancakes are in fact, just crepes – often made savory, or sweetened with granules of sugar and lemon; surely delicious in their own way – there is something sensational about home cooked sweet breakfasts like American pancakes.  One of my all time favorites (see what I did there? In keeping with the US theme) will always be the cherished Blueberry Pancake.

Now, I’m not even sure I should bestow this recipe to you, as there have been versions that come and go, and I really think this one’s a keeper.  But first, let me regale you with my fondness for the blueberry pancake.

Back in the day on Long Island, when I was growing up, the weekends were all about going to the Diner.  After church, families would pack it in for brunch, and as teenagers, my friends and I would wake up late and make our way to some of the best: Triple Crown Diner on Jamaica Ave., the New Hyde Park Diner on Hillside, sometimes I’d be out with my dad getting ready for a day of odd jobs, so we’d stop into the Mineola Diner which epitomizes the imagery of classic old fashioned diner - with fixed train wheels and all.

Despite the selection, I have always had only a handful of favorites that I would test out at these digs to make sure they knew what they were doing.  Besides years of grilled cheese sandwiches with a pickle and coleslaw, milkshakes with cheese fries, I absolutely adored breakfasts like Challah Bread French Toast dusted with icing sugar, and my dear Blueberry Pancakes with an orange juice to start and coffee on the side. 

Now, the main thing was: even then, if I were to get blueberries in my ‘cakes, they’d better be REAL!  It ain’t about that blueberry sauce or flavored syrup you get at IHOP, we’re talking about proper food here.  Anyway, when these bad girls came out, they were stacked about three high, as wide as the plate, served with a scoop of butter and sugar syrup.  I’d put some butter in between each of them to let it melt away and slather loads of syrup all over before digging in.  Each fork cut burst those beauteous blueberries so that dark purple juice went into the mixture of sugary bliss.

Well, here we are now.  I’m a bit older, somewhat wiser, and surely more in tune with my body, my relation to other sentient beings and the environment.  So, even though I won’t actually eat anything in a diner anymore – not risking the fries or hash browns either, although those are literally the only vegan item in diners to this day.  I have always had time in my own world to whip up the occasional, but often strong, cravings from the past. 

Without further adieu, here is my recipe for Vegan/Gluten Free Blueberry Pancakes.   I have added polenta/cornmeal here to really give the home cooked ‘mouthfeel’ of a crispy edge, and homeliness can hardly be achieved without cinnamon.  These will satisfy the craving for cozy and even help you justify the complimentary (decaf) coffee on the side.   Be sure to head out for a walk in the Peaks after these, or get settled for a film.

Autumn Weekend Blueberry Pancakes
(American Style)

Vegan & Gluten Free

½ cup oats (gluten free)
½ cup polenta (fine)
1 cup any non-dairy milk
1 apple (blended)
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
1 cup blueberries

Coconut oil
Maple syrup


1. First, make oat flour from the oats – putting them in a dry blender or processor.  You can use oat flour if you have already. 

2. Combine the oat flour and rest of the dry ingredients (polenta, cinnamon, baking powder) together in a mixing bowl.

3. Next, take the apple (cored), chia seeds, and the milk alternative, and blend those together. 

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix them to create a batter.  If you need more liquid, you can add more milk or a dash of water to keep it runny yet thick.  When these are combined fully, fold in the blueberries.

5. Heat up the ‘griddle’ and use the coconut oil for cooking. 

6. A thin layer per batch will be sufficient.  Pour about 3 pancakes into the pan and let them cook until the edges become slightly crispy, check beneath to see if they are golden brown.  When they are, flip them over. 

7. Repeat this until you’ve made all of the batter into pancakes.  You can keep them warm in the oven while you cook so you can present them all at once. 

This recipe makes approximately 7 pancakes.

To serve, add three pancakes per plate, drizzle with maple syrup and garnish with cut apple slices and more blueberries on top. 



Be sad, forget, forgive and restore

A story by Marie

My yoga journey started I think back in 2009.  Yoga was something I had always wondered about throughout my younger days, but nobody where I was brought up did yoga, you only ever saw it on the telly. Like most I suppose, in my teens and early twenties I had gone through the keep fit fads of the time… aerobics, step classes, running, water aerobics, numerous celebrity videos, power walking, zumba, circuit training, indoor and outdoor. The list goes on….

I was never a team sport kind of person unlike my brothers who were champions in our house, picking up trophies and medals galore.  I was never a “sport billy “ unlike my brothers.  I wasn’t competitive, preferring quietly to do my own thing.

In my head I was a frustrated ballerina. I was always amazed at their physical strength and beautiful physique but their poise, balance, elegance and ability to hold themselves in these amazing positions for a period of time always amazed me.  It was a gorgeous pipe dream but being the completely wrong shape I knew this was something I was NEVER going to be able to do, there was no real commitment or longevity to all the above exercise regimes. …But I knew I was supple, could stretch, and had good strong legs like my wee granny.

I was always health conscious probably due to my nursing background and believe I had a responsibility to care for my own health physical and emotional and my spiritual wellbeing.   Don’t get me wrong; I have my moments of over indulgence and being bad, I have a busy family and social life. However there must be something else out there that suits this body thinks me…..

Yoga became part of my life in 2008 when I started going to a local class firstly to satisfy my curiosity.

I am getting older, less inclined to go to full on mental gym classes and competing with the lithe younger members of my local gym just did not appeal. “ Okay, what next, am I trying this yoga or what?”  So I did and loved it.

For the next 4 years I never looked back.

Going to yoga twice a week became a ritual, it gave me solace and time to be me and reorganize my busy head space and thank goodness it did.  I was about to endure what was about to become the most emotionally traumatic time of my life.

A period of overwhelming sadness and loss … terminal illness then bereavement of my dear sister in law,  physical and emotional exhaustion with travelling and caring,  guilt at not being there to help with family needs, loss of my job,  divorce, and a devastating betrayal and loss of trust involving a person I love and people who I thought were friends.

My anxiety levels were reaching fever pitch and I was struggling to find a way to manage and cope with the desperation and black fury that was swallowing up my life.  Yoga guided me, allowed me to dig deep and ground me, acknowledge how sad and raw I felt as a person, allowed me to cry like a baby when I left the class.  Afterwards I did feel uplifted and able to face the day.

Then the classes stopped… leaving me lost and broken.

Until I think it was one August day in 2014 I was out and picked up the Sheffield Star, opened it and there was an advertisement for a new Hot Yoga class opening in Sheffield. I am unsure exactly what the ad said but I will always remember seeing the photo of Anne Marie and Koreen in a pose outside the studio and thinking how cool they looked.  And I am thinking I bet they really KNOW how to do proper yoga. Am I doing this? Am I going to bite the bullet and go to one of these classes?

So I did…. After getting parked somewhere on one of the side streets, as I had no idea where I was, I walked into the class.

That first visit was the beginning of the road to recovery for me.

The immediate thing I remember was the heat, god it was hot in there, the steam running down the windows, the aromatic smell… and Anne Marie welcoming me and being so kind and making general conversation with 2 or 3 people that were waiting around, getting themselves organized.  I felt quietly excited about doing my first class, it never even crossed my mind that I might struggle, not keep up, or just not be able to cope with what lay ahead in the studio.  She was so reassuring and positive. In that moment I knew I was coming back. And this was before I had even planted myself on my mat! After that first slow sun salutation, I was hooked.

Hot Yoga Sheffield provided me with a safe place to come and go and be sad, forget, forgive, believe, re-establish my self belief, restore my sense of self and yet continually challenge myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. It has made me realize my own strength of character. Help me find purpose, calmness of mind and heart and tolerance. But more importantly for me, help to let go of the negative and destructive emotions that were going to destroy me. I think the best way for me to honestly describe it is that I felt like a wounded child the day I walked in and Hot Yoga were the outstretched warm, welcoming arms that wrapped around me and held on tight helping me heal.

I keep coming back for all the above reasons. I love the diversity of the yogis, everyone matters, the lack of competitiveness except with yourself. I now feel the dark desperation is subsiding and being replaced with positivity and feeling uplifted.  

Those arms are slowly letting me go and I am now saying bring it on,

I’m ready, I’m getting better in mind and body.

I listen intently to each teacher’s yoga message but again one class recently that I attended one message has now become a particular mantra for me:

“Yoga is about cultivating detachment….” I am embracing the changes, letting go of the past and living each day in the present. And am thankful for the beautiful people and things I have in my life.

I love the after class chatting, trying the juices, watching people come and go, reading the literature that is lying about the desk, looking at the products for sale.  It’s a good place to just be and thank you for helping me rebuild my firm foundations, relationships with others but more importantly with myself.

Lots of people ask me “so what is hot yoga” ?

My answer “go and try and see and experience … it will  challenge you, it’s hard but it will fine tune every aspect of your life as it has mine.”

Yogi love to all xxx


Hot Yoga ruins ice cream

Ice cream was my one and only vice until hot yoga ruined it.

Growing up, I was a geek. On Friday nights, I went to the library with my best friend. When I was 16 I was disciplined for lack of communication that’s my parentspeak for ‘grounded’ because I came home late. It was about 9 pm on a Sunday night because I had gone to an evening service at my friend’s church.

I’ve never done drugs. I’ve smoked a cigarette once, under the willow tree by our creek with my friend and I thought it was disgusting and never did it again. I’ve never been drunk. When I was a teenager I’d occasionally have a sip or small glass of homemade wine and eggnog at holiday meals because it was grown up and my siblings couldn’t.

My first real drink was suggested by my good friend and made by my father-in-law when I was 22, a Brown Cow - Kahlua and milk, or the closest thing to chocolate milk that she could come up with. And I think the last drink I had was at my divorce party over 6 years ago.

But ice cream. Mmmm, now that’s something to crave.

Hard ice cream over soft. In a bowl, not a cone. Always chocolate, never vanilla. I mean, if you’re desperate and chocolate is not available, then vanilla with chocolate ripple or chocolate chips could be had grudgingly.

When I was about seven, my Aunt, who’s 13 years older than me worked at a Best’s, an ice cream store in Grand Bend, a tourist beach town, during the summer. I’m not sure why she didn’t have a car or why her boyfriend didn’t pick her up, but one night my Oma took me to pick her up.

I got a mountain of their homemade triple chocolate (chocolate icecream, chocolate ripple and chocolate chips) in a bowl and sat out on the picnic table in the warm summer’s night waiting for her to finish whilst listening to the buzz - a mix of excited teenagers paired with cranky toddlers and tired parents. It was quite possibly the best ice cream on the planet and I scraped the bowl clean.

Growing up as the oldest of five, I’d get to babysit my siblings and after they were in bed, then I’d practice my super sneaky spy moves for a good cause - ice cream of course.

First, I’d take a spoon from the drawer and slowly open up the deep freezer. This required great stealth because if I opened it quickly it would squeak and they’d know what I was doing and want some. Next I’d prop the lid on my shoulder, whilst I reached down to find the ice cream. Then I’d carefully slide the box out and slowly lower the lid back down. Phew, phase 1 complete.

Next whilst balancing on the shoes that were always left in front of the freezer I’d shave off two millimetres across the top of the whole box so that no one would notice. Then I’d have another layer if I still had time - no kids coming downstairs or the sound of my parent’s cars. The muffler seemed to be perpetually broken, which was embarrassing to be dropped off at school in, but super useful to know when to stop eating ice cream.

Finally, I’d have to put the box back in exactly where it was, slowly lower the lid, wash the spoon, put it back in the drawer. Turn off the light, sprint upstairs and dive under the covers. Leaving enough time for my breathing and heart rate to slow down before they would check in on me.

When I lived in New Zealand, ice cream was also a focal point for my work colleagues and I. We’d walk the 10 minutes down George St to the local mall and by mall I really mean a small gathering of shops in three consecutive buildings. Fargate would have more shops. And in the mall was an ice cream store. We’d go there if an experiment didn’t go right. Or after a rough meeting with our supervisor. Or simply for a break mid week. And I’d get the white chocolate raspberry ripple when I was feeling fancy. Or chocolate when I wasn’t.

Until I started hot yoga. Because I was doing Bikram yoga, the sequence of poses, the heat, even the words the instructors say was the same every single time it really highlighted how I wasn’t the same each time I came into the room. I started to notice that sometimes I’d have this horrible awful yucky mucousy feeling at the back of my throat in class. Occasionally it even felt like I was going to gag from it. Finally I clued in. Every time I had ice cream that day or the day before I did a class, that feeling was there. No ice cream. No awful feeling.

And eventually I decided that it just wasn’t worth it. Although I surprised my co-workers when I didn’t order ice cream and got a juice smoothie instead, they really thought I was crazy when I said that I can’t have ice cream because I was going to yoga that night and it ruins my class.

And even though I missed it, it just wasn’t worth it. Being able to breath and focus in yoga was much more important to me, than a bowl of ice cream. And it was at that point that I knew I had changed. Who I was before starting hot yoga would never understand, but for me now, it was a no-brainer.  

How about you? Have you noticed anything similar? Something that you used to love, but now it ruins something else you love even more, so it has to go? Let us know over on our Facebook page.

By the way, there are loads more dairy-free options now and my current favourites are Mint Chocolate Chip and Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter and Cookies, which is not available in the UK right now. And probably a good thing :)

Veganism and Nutrition: Q&A

What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet is simply eating no animal products. No meat. No dairy. No eggs. And some people also include honey.

Is a vegan diet healthy?
It depends. If you only eat potato chips, white bread and fizzy drinks. Then no, it’s not. But if you eat a variety of fruits, veggies and grains, then yes it is. A whole-food plant-based diet has been shown for over a hundred years and in thousands of studies that it is the best way to avoid heart disease, lung disease, brain disease, liver disease, kidney disease, cancers, infections, diabetes, depression, obesity, high blood pressure. Not only will a plant based diet help prevent these diseases, but in many cases it can reverse damage that has already been done because your body is fantastic at repairing itself. So you can change your diet today and lower your risk of dying from these diseases. Furthermore, recent research has actually shown a plant based diet can reverse cell aging by increasing telomerase activity, so food can be your fountain of youth.

Where do you get your protein?
Somehow we as a society have been deceived. We’ve been conned into believing that in order to get protein we need to eat meat, or at the very least, animal products such as dairy and eggs, when the truth is that all plants have an abundance of protein (spinach gets about 49% of its calories from protein, broccoli 45%). Furthermore, we’re under the false impression that more protein is better than less, when the truth is that most people eat more than double the amount of protein required for optimal health and in order to become protein deficient you’d have to also be calorie deficient, meaning that you’d have to starve yourself.

Why are plants good for us and is eating animal protein really that bad for us?
Fruits and veggies have fibre (meat has none), antioxidants, phytochemicals, and they buffer acid and reduce inflammation. They also have a lot more bulk and therefore you can eat a greater volume, which activates stretch receptors in the stomach that say you are full. Animal products require a lot of acid to digest, which can leach minerals out of our bones. Casein, the main protein in milk, induces tumour growth and is a carcinogen when 20% of your diet comes from it. Chemicals in cheese called casomorphins mimic the effect of real morphine in our brains and bodies and keep you addicted to eating it. Animal products are also high in cholesterol and often salt, which increase blood pressure leading to heart disease. High levels of animal proteins interfere with a growth signalling pathway that keeps disease states (cancer, heart disease and diabetes) at bay.

Why do we not know this?
The USDA has two mandates, to promote 1) US agriculture and 2) the health of US citizens. When it was created in 1862, undernourishment was a issue and the idea that these two goals would be in conflict with each other wasn’t considered because overconsumption was only a problem of the wealthy. However, as people had more access to animal products there were more reports of diet being related to disease and the McGovern committee was formed in the US to help Americans avoid heart disease. In 1977, it issued a report of straightforward dietary guidelines that suggested eating more fruits and vegetables and less red meat and dairy products. However, many people on the committee had ties to the meat and dairy industries, who bullied them into changing their recommendations to ‘choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated fat intake’. McGovern lost his senate seat, nutritionism was born and we now reduce whole foods to their constituent parts: carbohydrates, fibre, polyunsaturated fats, trans fats, antioxidants, cholesterol; resulting in mass confusion about what is healthy and what is not. Furthermore, although we expect doctors to know what’s best, only 25% of medical schools in the US include a single course on nutrition and even then it consists of less than 1% of the total of hours of training. 6 out of 7 graduating doctors felt that physicians were inadequately trained to advise patients on their diets.

Do you need to take supplements?
Possibly Vitamin D and B12. We can make Vitamin D by exposing our skin to the sun. However, if you spend a lot of time inside, or cover up when you in the sun, then you may not make enough. Also, the angle of the sun during winter months in England is usually insufficient, so unless you travel a lot, then supplementation of 2000 IU once a day is recommended. Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria in the soil, but unless we grow our own veggies and only lightly rinse them, then it’s unlikely that you’ll get enough. 100 mcg daily is more than sufficient. Aside from those two vitamins, people who eat a plant based diet get higher fibre, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, C, E, thiamine, riboflavin and folate, all whilst consuming fewer calories and less cholesterol.

How to start
  • Pick one meal a day and make it plant-based. Skip the bacon and opt for oatmeal.
  • Stock up on whole food snacks, such as apples, oranges, carrots, or nuts.
  • Add in Dr Gerber’s daily dozen to your diet. You can download the free app.
  • Do a 30 day trial, where you are vegan for 30 days and see how you feel.
  • Watch Forks Over Knives or read one of the following books.

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M Campbell II, MD

Whole by T. Colin Campbell, PhD

How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD

Proteinaholic by Garth Davis, MD

The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner

The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book by Reed Mangels, Phd

Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina

Forks Over Knives

Food Choices


Charity Yoga Classes at Hot Yoga Sheffield

I have a question for you. Is there a cause that's really important to you? Something that's really close to your heart? Maybe something that has affected you or a friend? Or something that tugs at your heart strings every time it pops up on Facebook? 

For me, it's mental health. My pursuit of a happy mind is what brought me to my yoga mat in the first place. When I started practising yoga, my life was characterised by constant ruminating, perpetual fear and as a consequence, feeling like I didn't know who I was anymore. Bit by bit, class by class, pose by pose, yoga enabled me to piece things back together. 

But I was very lucky. I had the money to pay for the classes, the time to read and learn and the support of family and friends to help me find my happiest self again. For some people, that is not the reality. For those individuals, the work of charities like Mind and Sane, are their only hope of support and recovery. 

So for you, maybe it's Youth Homelessness? Or the elderly? Or animal welfare? Whatever the cause, we want to help you raise money, raise awareness and make a difference. And we can do this by working with you to organise a charity hot yoga class. 

So how does this work? It's simple. You pick the charity and sell the tickets - we provide the yoga, the heat and the support you need to make your event a success. 

Want to know more? Email and let's start planning your event.

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

These brownies are gluten free and vegan. The base is a gooey, fudgy brownie and the topping a smooth chocolate ganache. For true chocolate lovers, these are rich and moreish.

For this recipe, you will need a baking tin - I used a 20cm by 20cm tin and a food processor.


The brownies:-

125g of 70% Dark Chocolate

120ml of Maple Syrup

2 Ripe Avocados

30g of Flaxseed (to make a flax egg - see below)

60ml of water

75g Cocoa Powder

75g Ground Almonds

Teaspoon of salt

The topping:-

80ml of Maple Syrup

60ml of Coconut Oil

75g of 70% Dark Chocolate

50g Cocoa Powder


The brownies:-
  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
  2. Line your baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  3. Add the flaxseed and 60ml of water to a bowl. Mix it up and leave it to rest for 5 minutes. It will become sticky and act like an egg in the recipie.
  4. Melt the 125g of chocolate on the hob, above some water in a heatproof bowl.
  5. Meanwhile, add the avocados and maple syrup to the food processor and whizz them up until completely smooth.
  6. Then, add the melted chocolate and blend again until full combined.
  7. Next, add the flaxseed mixture and blend.
  8. Finally add the cocoa powder, ground almonds and salt. Blend until totally smooth.
  9. Add to your baking tin, spread evening and bake for around 30 minutes.
  10. To know they are done, you want to make sure that they are set but the mixture will still be very gooey. Remember the time spent in the fridge will help them to firm up some more.
  11. Allow the brownies to cool to room temperature before adding the topping.

The topping:-
  1. Add the coconut oil, chocolate and maple syrup to a saucepan and melt together.
  2. Once melted, add the cocoa powder and whisk until no lumps remain.
  3. Pour over the brownies, spreading evenly.
  4. Place in the fridge and allow to set. This should take 1-2 hours.
  5. Eat :)