Far better to make resolutions for Lent than New Years. January is a terrible time for self-improvement – it’s dark, cold and your cupboards are still full of the booze from Christmas. Spring, on the other hand, is by definition all about new beginnings. Take something on for the 40 days of Lent, and by Easter, it’ll be routine. Last year, I vowed to eat my 5-a-day for Lent, which I now do every day without thinking.
This year, we’re both planning to meditate every day for ten minutes, and try to bring a bit more mindfulness into our lives. I’ve been using the app Headspace, which has daily guided meditations. This is great for me, as when I try to meditate by myself I get frustrated with my wandering “monkey-mind“. Having something to focus on helps calm me and settle me in the moment, though I do need to stop doing it at bedtime as I’ve fallen asleep twice to it already. There’s calm and then there’s fast asleep…
As well as actually sitting meditating ten minutes every day, I’m trying to incorporate some meditative activities too. My running and swimming are wonderful for being in the moment, in your body (Read here for guest post on our blog about the health benefits of mindfulness), as is playing with my kittens, as they seem to have no concept anything other than ‘now’. I spent all day yesterday weeding my garden, which sounds terrible, but was wonderful and somehow life-affirming. The most zen I think I’ve felt all week though, was kneading the dough for these chia seed pittas. The smell of the yeast, the spring of the gluten under my hands. Highly recommended as a “moment of zen” in a busy week.
Do you meditate? What activities make you feel in the moment?
Makes 6 pittas
Recipe adapted from a white pitta recipe from Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’
250g wholemeal bread flour, plus extra for dusting
7g fast action dried yeast
20g chia seeds
160ml cool water
2 tsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling
1. Put the flour in a large bowl, and put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast in the other. In a little dish, mix the chia seeds and the olive oil, then add to the flour bowl. Mix all the ingredients together, “with the fingers of one hand” (That’s what Paul Hollywood says, and who am I to suggest that seems very prescriptive?). Add the remaining water bit-by-bit until you have a smooth dough, and all of the flour from the edge of the bowl has incorporated. You might not need all the water.
2. Pour some oil onto your work surface and put the ball of dough on it. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until you have a smooth dough that bounces back slightly when you lightly press a finger in it. This is your moment of zen, enjoy.
3. When it’s ready, shape into a bowl and put in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and leave for at least an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 220 degrees and put two baking sheets inside to heat up.
4. On a lightly floured surface, knock the dough back by folding it over on itself a few times. Split the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each into a little ball. Flatten each ball with your hand, then roll out into an oval, 5mm thick (The thinner the better). If you’re fancy, use a rolling pin. I used a wine bottle.
5. Take the hot trays from the oven, dust with flour and put the pittas on. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until they puff up and start to take a little colour. Magic.
6. Wrap in a clean teatowel to keep them soft. Either eat the same day, or put in the freezer as soon as they cool.