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Spring clean your mind, body and soul

The flowers are in bloom, the weather is warming up, and many are shedding their winter skin to embrace the freshness of the new season. Ah, it’s almost Spring! Winter, with its comfort foods and short, dark days has likely left you with a lot less energy than during warmer months when sun and fresh produce are plentiful. Now that we are moving into a new season of life, it is essential to clean out the body and mind of whatever might have stockpiled over these past few cold months.

We usually think of spring cleaning as housework, but the new season is also the perfect time to refresh your mind and body as well. Yuvati Shah, owner or Spa Royal at Royal Palm Hotel Umhlanga, shares 5 tips on how to spring clean your mind, body and soul.

  • Get a massage: Massage treatments such as the deep tissue massage, aromatherapy or detoxifying massage is a great way to free yourself of tension and relax. A growing body of research supports the health benefits of massage therapy for conditions such as stress, fibromyalgia, low-back pain and more.
  • Meditate: There are thousands of studies that have shown mindfulness meditation can positively impact mental and physical health. Whether it’s by reducing stress, improving sleep, increasing focus, or improving relationships, research shows mindfulness works.
  • Drink Green Tea: According to Medical News Today, recent studies have shown green tea can potentially have positive effects on everything from weight loss to liver disorders, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Eat mood-boosting foods: You’ve probably heard the saying ‘You are what you eat’ but most people don’t take it literally. What you eat actually plays a vital role in how you feel. Many of us crave indulgent carbohydrates like cookies, candy, ice cream, pretzels, and other sweet and starchy foods when we’re stressed, anxious, or tense. While these foods might lift your mood, chances are it will only be temporary. Try snacking on bananas, salmon, chicken, turkey, almond nuts, lentils, avocado, bell peppers or sun flower seeds instead. These foods can have a soothing effect in some women, and it may have something to do those women who experience low serotonin (a brain chemical responsible for feelings of calmness and relaxation) levels during these mood states. It is thought that consuming these foods helps boost serotonin levels, which results in feelings of contentedness and happiness.
  • Exercise Daily: The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Everyone benefits from exercise, regardless of age, sex or physical ability. Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. It produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression.

If you are needing a little pick me up to get rid of the winter slump before Spring gets into full swing, book a treatment at the Spa Royale at Royal Palm Hotel, Umhlanga on 031 566 1286 or email info@sparoyale.co.za.

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Heritage with a twist!

Heritage Day, Shaka Day, Braai Day or whatever you chose to commemorate 24 September, South Africans comes alive during Heritage Month. In a country with 11 different official languages, the great diversity of cultures, beliefs, and traditions, Food plays a huge part in bringing our nation together.

If you’re looking for something traditional with a twist, Executive Chef of the Royal Palm Hotel, Qhawe Tshabalala, gives us his go-to recipe and dessert for heritage day.

For those meat loving South Africans, the Zulu traditional Dombolo (dumplings) and Oxtail stew will definitely tickle your taste buds.

iDombolo and Oxtail Stew

Ingredients for iDombolo:

  • 270 g flour
  • 50 g bran
  • 3 ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 T butter
  • ¾ cup milk

Ingredients for Oxtail stew:

  • 5kg oxtail cut into pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 T garlic-and-herb seasoning
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 2 t chermoula spice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 125 g bacon, cut into pieces
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or crushed
  • 1 green pepper, cored and diced
  • 4 leeks, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 6 T tomato paste
  • 4 cups beef stock (or enough to cover)

Method:

  1. Mix flour with the garlic-and-herb seasoning, thyme, chermoula and seasoning.
  2. Toss the oxtail in the seasoned flour until it is well coated.
  3. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and seal the oxtail until slightly golden.
  4. Add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes over a high heat to render some of its fat, stirring continually.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and leeks and cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables are slightly soft.
  6. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Cover the beef stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 1 ½ hours, or until soft. The gravy should also have thickened.

For iDombolo:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together, then rub into the butter.
  2. Add the milk and knead to form a dough.
  3. Divide into 8-10 portions and shape into balls.
  4. Drop the dumplings into the oxtail, cover and cook at a low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with your choice of vegetables.

Traditional Koeksisters

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Cake Flour
  • 4 t Baking Powder
  • ½ t Salt
  • 5 t Butter
  • ½ cup Sour Milk OR Buttermilk OR Water and Lemon Juice
  • Oil, for frying

Ingredients for the Syrup:

  • 1 kg White Sugar
  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 pieces of Ginger, bruised
  • 2 ml Cream of Tartar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Grated rind and juice of ½ a Lemon

Method:

  1. Sift together the dry ingredients and rub in the butter using your fingertips, or cut it in with a pastry blender.
  2. Mix with the liquid to a soft dough, which can easily be kneaded. Use more liquid if necessary.
  3. Knead thoroughly until small bubbles form under the surface of the dough, cover with a damp cloth and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
  4. Roll to a thickness of 5 mm and cut into 5 mm strips 7 cm long. Place the ends of three strips on top of the other, press together and plait. When plaited, press the ends together again.
  5. Fry in hot, deep fat (170°C) until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper for a moment and then immerse in ice cold syrup.
  6. Remove, allow excess syrup to drip off, and leave to dry on a wire rack.

Method for the Syrup:

  1. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Heat, while stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Cover and boil for one minute.
  2. Remove the lid and boil for a further 5 minutes. Do not stir.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool thoroughly in a refrigerator if possible.

However, you choose to celebrate, we wish you a happy Heritage Day!