Ravioli may seem like one of the scarier and more difficult pastas to get the hang of making at home, but never fear! It is actually much simpler than you think. Basically, you just mix your ingredients together and wrap it up! When you have the right tools and suit it to your own tastes, ravioli can be as simple as 1,2, eat — or at least, it will be with time and a little practice.
Perhaps you are an experimental pasta lover, a lover of walnuts or basil cream, or maybe you are a more traditional meat-and-tomato foodie. Whatever your type, these easy tips and recipes will have you on your way to making delicious ravioli for you and your friends.
1. Have all your tools ready
Be prepared and have everything you need ready before you start. Have your ingredients, your pasta cutter, utensils, and bowls out.
Hint: have a plastic bag ready for your dough. When you are rolling it out, you will only use a bit at a time, so keep the rest wrapped up and moist.
2. Use quality dough
It is important that you use good dough. All you really need is eggs, flour, and salt. You can buy the dough readymade from the store (we recommend fresh homemade dough — it wins by a mile!) but if you want to try making it yourself, we recommend this incredible easy pasta recipe.
3. The filling is just as important
Don’t make your filling too runny and make sure it’s something you would eat on its own. The beauty is that you can choose whatever you like!
4. Invest in a ravioli cutter or press
It will save you time and energy. The process will be much easier and the outcome will be worth it.
5. Use lots of filling
Make the ravioli firm and full and try not to let any air in — but don’t worry too much about getting a little trapped air inside, you will get better with time and practice.
6. Be creative!
Pick whatever filling you like. You can start small and easy, but try new things — crush nuts, blended vegetables, or slow-cook meat! You may not always love the outcome, but you’ll never know until you try.
Combine all ingredients and mix together thoroughly.
Mushroom and Spinach:
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/3 cup parmesan
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup cooked spinach
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth, then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste!
2 cups ground beef
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
a pinch of dried rosemary
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup mozzarella
1/3 cup ricotta
salt and pepper to taste
Scramble meat over medium heat until it is cooked through. Heat the dry herb ingredients until aromatic, remove from heat and add all of the cheese ingredients. Serve with a tomato sauce of your choice.
Chicken in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce:
250g cooked chicken mince
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 sliced green onions
1/2 cup cooking cream
1 teaspoon chopped chives
Heat the chopped mushrooms, garlic, and sliced green onions in olive oil. When the onions soften, add your cooking cream and chopped chives. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
Shape and cut the ravioli. Add your chicken filling. Heat a large saucepan of water and add a small amount of salt. Drop the ravioli in and cook until it’s tender (approximately 3-5 minutes). When your pasta is cooked, add your cream sauce. Serve sprinkled with chives. Bon appetit!
Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.
Why is it important to train up our core strength?
There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.
This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.
Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.
In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.
One Exercise, multiple benefits
There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.
By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.
When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.
Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.
In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.
What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.
What will happen when you start doing planks every day
1. You’ll improve core definition and performance:
Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:
Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.
2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column
Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.
Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.
3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism
Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).
4. You’ll significantly improve your posture
Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .
A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.
A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.
On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.
5. You’ll improve overall balance
Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!- but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.
6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before
Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.
7. You’ll witness mental benefits
Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.
How to hold a plank position
Get into pushup position on the floor.
Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
Hold the position for as long as you can.
Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.
Watch the video if you have any doubt!
Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:
How to improve your plank time gradually
Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.
Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.
Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?
You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:
After prolapse surgery
Pelvic pain conditions
Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.