Sunday, December 27, 2009
Santa was very good to me this year. I got a food dehydrator!! I've been wanting one for nearly a year now, and was so excited to finally get one. Honestly, I only wanted a dehydrator to make these really rockin' raw corn chips that I have a recipe for. Of course, I'll make some fruit roll ups that I can actually let me kids eat, and dried apples are a must. But, I need help, I don't really know what else to do with this machine.
I know there are all kinds of things I can make in here, breads, crackers, etc. So, I'm asking a favor. Send me your favorite dehydrator recipes please. Comment with your favorite recipes or links to your favorites. Help me get some use out of my new toy.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Do the practice. Words that are familiar to many yogi's. Sutra 12 of Book One tells us that through practice and non-attachment the fluctuations of the mind are brought to rest. It's the mantra of yoga teachers everywhere. Do the practice, do the practice, do the practice. Even that late, great Sri K. Pattabhi Jois says "Practice and all is coming".
But what does this mean? Do the practice on the mat, or keep up the practice off of the mat? Unfortunately no great guru has ever given us the answer to this question. And maybe that's precisely the point. One of the great things about yoga is that it's for each individual to figure out for herself.
For me "do the practice" is a call to live in a yogic manner, and for me that means to do the physical practice. The physical practice of asana is where we come to train ourselves, like warriors preparing for battle. We train to battle the citta vritti, the fluctuations of the mind-stuff. The asana practice is where we come to recharge and refocus, to regroup and reorganize when necessary. From the physical practice we bloom.
So, does this mean to do the physical practice every day? In an ideal world, yes. In a world without the demands of human life, yes. As a daughter, a mother, a wife and a teacher, well yes. As much as I'd love to give myself a break for falling into all three of these categories my honest thought is that there are no excuses. Do I do the physical practice everyday? No. I try, but I don't. What I tell myself is that life gets in the way, that I'm busy or that I'm tired. What I know is that these are all just stories that my mind is telling me. When I start to come up with these stories I know that it's time. It's time to get on the mat, to regroup, reorganize and change my priorities.
How is it possible to keep up the physical practice when the demands of life seem to get in the way? How, especially during this busy Holiday season, can you make time for your physical practice each day? I don't know all of the answers, but I do have some tips that help keep me on track and make my practice a priority.
1. First and foremost, let go of any ideas you may have about how long you have to practice. A yoga practice doesn't have to be 75 minutes. If all you can carve out of your day is 10 minutes, use it. It's amazing what only a few minutes on your mat will do for you. Need some energy? Run through a few sun salutations followed by your favorite standing poses, throw in an inversion and a backbend and you're done; Need some grounding? Try a seated practice of forward bending, savasana and finish with some seated meditation. The point is, the practice doesn't have to be long it just has to be done.
2. Try to attend class at a studio at least once a week. Knowing that you will have the opportunity to practice with a group energy will often be enough to keep you motivated in your home practice through the week. While a home practice is often a beautiful experience of compassion and intuition it can be very powerful to experience the energy of a group. Make the most of your group practice, tune into the energy of the room, recognize the feeling that group practice gives you and recall that feeling as you practice at home.
3. Choose a time each day in which to do your practice. Get up before the rest of your house and practice in the silence of early morning. Send the kids off to school and relish the silent emptiness of your house. Wind your day down with a meditative yin practice or a relaxing restorative practice. Find what works for you and stick to it. If you intended to get up and practice in the morning but didn't? Map out your day and work it in at a later time.
4. Remember that it's called practice for a reason. We aren't perfect at it. We accept the parts that we aren't good at and keep working to make them better. In other words, don't let a day of missed practice be a set back. We make mistakes at it. Accept it and try again tomorrow. It's just practice.
5. Develop self awareness. Notice how the physical practice changes your attitudes. Notice how the physical practice can set the tone of your day. When you begin to develop awareness for what the physical practice does for you, beyond the physical, you will be encouraged to practice.
These are just a few of the ways I keep my self on the path and keep up my physical practice. What does "do the practice" mean to you? How do you make your practice a priority?
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
In addition to testing out all of Lindsay's recipes I spent 10 days in Hawaii over the Thanksgiving holiday celebrating my 10th anniversary. In addition to soaking up plenty of sun, I ate my weight in fruit and avocado. Plus, we found 3 all vegetarian grocery stores, and plenty of fruit stands to keep us sustained. Our Thanksgiving dinner was a pineapple tofu red thai curry. Beats a Tofurkey any day!!
Now on to the focus of this post. The care package. A while back I participated in a vegan care package swap hosted by Lindsay from the Cooking for a Vegan Lover blog. I was fortunate enough to get paired with Amy from the Tahinitoo blog. Fortunate because Amy happens to reside in Portland, otherwise known as a vegan's paradise. I returned home from Hawaii to this incredible box of goodies.......................
.....................a perfect treat to return home to!!
Amy took special care to include peanut free goodies so that Teeny could sample. We received a huge bag of kale chips made in Portland, some Mac & Cheese (which happens to be a favorite of my kidlets), some really incredible Indian dal snacks, soy jerky, fruit bars, chocolate agave, a quinoa bar, Funky Monkey banana snacks, some homemade apple butter, a locally made Thai Massaman curry paste (which we've made a curry from already, and it is superb), and shamelessly, my favorite part of the entire package, a Go Max Go Twilight bar (the vegan version of a Milky Way). Amy also threw in some non food items including a reusable produce bag (which I love and can't wait to get more of.....those little plastic produce bags are so annoying), a bread bag clip, a package of homemade note cards, a Food Fight Grocery sticker, some adorable owl stickers and kitty buttons for the girls, and an amazing bar of locally made soap.
I think it's safe to say that I hit the vegan care package jack-pot!! I can't wait to participate again.
Thanks Amy...............you rock!!!!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
So, why the lack of food posting lately, you are no doubt asking yourself.......right? Well, as badly as you want to know where I've been, I've wanted to tell you even more!! Waiting to tell you has surely been slow and brutal torture.
Without further ado, the reason for my absence...................................The Happy Herbivore is developing a cookbook that will be published and available for your purchase in about a year!! OK, you're really confused now, right? All of this build up and excitement over someone else developing a cookbook, crazy, no? So what, right? Well, as a matter of fact, this cookbook truly is exciting for me. Exciting you see, because she's asked me to be a recipe tester for her. Yeah, that's right, me a recipe tester!!! Along with a few others I get a first glimpse and a first taste of the recipes that will be included.
I've been a fan of the Happy Herbivore blog for quite some time now and I finally "met" Lindsay (aka Happy Herbivore) on Twitter a few months ago. Not long after that we became cyber-friends, we learned that we had a lot in common when it comes to our ideas about food and veganism, and shortly after that she approached me to test recipes for a cookbook she was hoping to have published. And now it's official, she's made a deal and the cookbook will hit shelves in just about a year.
This cookbook is going to knock your socks off. Lindsay cooks real food for real people, using real ingredients that you can easily find at any well stocked market. Lindsay's recipes use whole foods, whole grains, and include little to no added fat. It's good food you can feel good about.
So, there you have it. I've been here, right here in my kitchen cooking up a storm. Now that it's official I can finally share with you!!! I'll leave you with just a few photos of what's been cooking in this test kitchen...................
(low fat, whole wheat, and all of the flavor of it's full fat cousin)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
For just $25 you too can Adopt a Turkey and help care for the rescued animals at Farm Sanctuary locations. You can even gift these turkeys. The recipient will receive an adoption certificate with their turkey's name, the sanctuary they reside at, and the personality of their turkey.
According to the USDA more than 45 million turkeys will be cooked and eaten in the United States during Thanksgiving. Help reduce that number, celebrate Thanksgiving the vegan way.
Turkey's that are raised for food are raised under horrible, unnatural conditions, crammed so tightly into their living space that they can hardly move. Because they can't move and are deprived of their natural behavior, the tend to peck one another, leading to a horrific practice of cutting off their beaks with a hot blade, known as debeaking, so they will not be able to peck at one another. These birds are also produced to grow so large that their legs can not carry the weight of their bodies. For more information on how turkeys raised for food are treated visit this link.
Keep your holiday table cruelty free this year. Let your meal celebrating thanks represent your values, create a plant based Thanksgiving, spare a turkey, and donate instead to the cause of offering life to those who have been rescued.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
With that out of the way, time for a confession. When I was an omnivore I loved Campbell's Bean and Bacon soup, LOVED it! This was my attempt at mimicking that. While this soup isn't exactly like Campbell's, it is really good. Because this recipe calls for such a large amount of beans I recommend using dried beans and cooking them in advance.
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and cubed
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp liquid smoke
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp celery seed
1 tsp tamari
4 cups good quality veg. stock (I use home made)
4 cups water
8 cups white beans, cooked (Great Norther, Cannellini, or Navy)
2 tsp salt
1 package Fakin' Bacon
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Each entry was assigned a number based on order of comment, and for those of you that blogged or tweeted this contest you were given a double entry.....leaving me a total of 22 entries. Using Random.org lucky number 18 was chosen.......
Sarah (aka @seesaraheat) - Congratulations!!!
How about a giveaway.......everyone likes a giveaway, right?!? I know I do.
I know it's Vegan MoFo, the vegan month of food, but let's face it, veganism is about more than just the food. Veganism is a lifestyle. Cruelty free extends beyond our diet into every aspect of our lives. Food aside, one of the most prevalent places for animal ingredients is in our skin care products.
Today I'm giving away a care package of Sacred Herb Creations vegan skin care products (1 tube of Lip Balm, a bottle of Hand and Body Lotion, and a bar of Handmade Soap). You can read all about Sacred Herb Creations, and their lovely creator Jen here. All you have to do to win a few of these incredible products is just leave a comment here and tell me your favorite vegan skin care products. For a second chance to win, tweet about this contest using @veganyogini so I know, or post about it on your blog and let me know (maximum number of entries 2 per person).
The contest will run from today until next Thursday, October 22. Winner will be announced on Friday October 23. With the weather turning cold the Lip Balm and Lotion will be quite handy, so get commenting and sharing, and win these awesome products today!!
This is just a variation of my Sweet and Savory lentils, using maple syrup instead of agave to sweeten. I also left the nutmeg out of this recipe, because my kidlets don't seem to like the flavor of nutmeg in dishes. I love this recipe, because it's warm and comforting, and because all of these ingredients are things I always have on hand, so I can throw it together whenever I am at a loss for what to cook. It also requires dirtying only 2 dishes, and is a meal that comes together largely unattended.
1 1/2 cups Puy lentils
3 c. water
1 bouillon cube
1 Bay leaf
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
Add lentils, water, bouillon cube, and bay leaf to cooking pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook until lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Remove lentils from heat, drain, remove bay leaf, and set aside. Combine veggies, lentils, syrup and salt and pepper to taste in a casserole dish. Stir to combine. Cover with foil and cook 30 minutes covered. Remove foil and continue to bake uncovered for 10 more minutes. Cool and serve.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I made the soup according to the recipe, only I left the red pepper flakes out of the cooking process to make this soup more kid friendly. Instead, I added them to the individual bowls for Rob and myself. This soup was definitely a hit, happily consumed by by both parents and kids! The soup was perfect served with some crusty homemade baguette. We had plenty left over for the next day, and I think I liked it even better the second day (as is the case with most soups). I highly recommend this soup, especially if you've got spaghetti lovers in your house.
An added bonus of this soup is that it's quick, easy and cheap to make. With the exception of the squash it was made with all things that I already had on hand.
Friday, October 9, 2009
It's been raining, and raining, and raining. All of the rain led to some flooding, and due to the flooding the kidlets had an unexpected day off of school. I promised the smallest kidlet earlier this week that I'd make some donuts for breakfast this weekend. Since we were rained in, today seemed like the perfect day to do that. I had some pumpkin puree lurking in my refrigerator that needed to get used up, so decided I'd throw it into the donuts and see what happened.
What happened was the best homemade donuts I've made. They were so good I was declared the "bestest mom in the World".
with Pumpkin Cinnamon Drizzle
2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2/3 cup raw sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 Tbs melted Earth Balance
3 generous Tbs pumpkin puree
1 c. soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbs powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil donut pan and set aside. In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients, including chocolate chips. Whisk to combine well. In a small bowl combine all wet ingredients, plus cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir to combine, then mix into dry ingredients. Spoon batter into donut molds about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes, until toothpick inserted in donuts comes out clean. Remove from pan to cooling rack and cool completely before adding drizzle.
Once donuts are completely cool, in a small bowl combine powdered sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin puree. Stir briskly with a fork until mixture thickens. Adding up to 1/4 tsp soy milk if necessary. Drizzle over cool donuts.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I am sure most of you have seen or heard of the gourmet sausages that they are selling at some of the stores these days. They've got everything from Thai Curry sausage to Mexican Chipotle and everything in between. Back in the day, sausage used to be one of my husbands favorite food, so upon going veg, sausage was one of the first things I learned to recreate. Keeping with my thing of "Go Veg, you won't miss a thing", today I present you with sausage (the original from Isa's blog and my gourmet apple-sage variation).
I've been making these Italian sausages from VeganDad (via Isa) for awhile now. They are always a big hit. I get 6 sausages from the recipe and it only costs me about $2.00 to make them. A good deal compared to the nearly $6.00 I'd pay for a package of 4 Field Roast Italian sausages. And to be completely honest, I think the homemade version beats the store bought version any day. Field Roast are good, and convenient for when you are short on time, but these sausages will have you quickly finding the time to steam some up. They take only minutes to throw together, then you just pop them in the steamer for about 45 minutes. Once they've steamed they can be eaten right away. They are good sliced into pasta sauces, lasagna, or on pizza. Our favorite way to eat them is thrown on a heated grill just long enough to impart some of that delicious smoky grill flavor.
The awesome thing about this recipe is you can take the basic idea and turn it into whatever gourmet variation you desire. With fall coming I decided to use the basic recipe for sausages and change the seasonings to make an apple-sage variation:
1/2 cup pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cold vegetable broth
1 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs pure maple syrup
1 small apple, diced very small
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
Before you get started, get your steaming apparatus ready, this recipe comes together quickly. Have 6 squares of aluminum foil ready as well.
In a large bowl mash the beans until no whole beans are left. Add all of the other ingredients, and mix well with a fork. I finish off by squishing it all around good with my hands. Then divide the dough into 6 equal parts. Place one part on each square of foil and mold into about a 5 inch log (don't worry about making it too perfect, they expand into perfect sausage shapes as they steam). Roll the log up in the foil, twisting the ends to seal (like a Tootsie Roll). Place in steamer and steam for about 45 minutes, until they feel firm to the touch. Remove from steamer, and unwrap to cool.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Congratulations ladies.............You are now the proud owners of a month's supply of Yogavive Apple Chips!! Just send your names and mailling addresses to veganyogini01 at gmail dot com, and the Apple Chips will be on their way!!
Thanks to everyone who entered. For everyone who didn't win, visit Everything Flows Onward for another chance to win!!!
Friday, October 2, 2009
1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Pacific Vanilla Oat Milk and Tempt Vanilla Hemp Milk
2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Plans?? I'm supposed to have plans?? I don't have a plan for lunch, let alone the whole month.
3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Popped on the stove in olive oil sprinkled with a little sugar and a little salt
4.Most disastrous recipe/meal failure
My first attempt at seitan can't even be described as a disaster. It was the.most.disgusting.thing.EVER!!
5. Favorite pickled item?
Cucumbers and peppers
6. How do you organize your recipes?
I throw them all in a drawer in my kitchen and dig through them when I need them
7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Traash and recylce, garbage disposal too!!
8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?
Larabars, avocados, dinosaur kale
9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Nothing really stands out, I guess eating cinnamon rolls on Thanksgiving morning, a tradition I carried on with my kids
10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
There are many, but I really love Chicago Soy Dairy's Temptation, chocolate. I love it because it's made in a dedicated nut free facility so my allergic daughter can eat it too.
11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
My juicer, hands down
12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Red pepper flakes
13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
The cookbook I've owned longest is Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. The vegan cookbook I've had longest is Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan
14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Oh, there are lots, it depends on the friend. Chili is pretty universal, thai curries always go over well,
16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
I don't have a favorite, I just like to cook........in the evening
18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Blender, platters and a gravy boat.
19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Fruit, vital wheat gluten, corn
20. What’s on your grocery list?
You don't want to know....tomorrow is shopping day, so the list is LONG
21. Favorite grocery store?
Whole Foods Market, and Rainbow Blossom
22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.
There's nothing really, like I said, not a lot of food memories (my mom didn't cook) and I've veganized my grandma's famous macaroni sala
23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
Happy Herbivore, Vegan Dad, The Urban Vegan
24.Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Not a huge candy fan, but I love any dark chocolate
25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
I don't usually purchase extravagant food items
26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
I'm scared of nothing.........especially if I have a good recipe
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Ok, so here's the deal, I'm one busy MoFo'er and I'm just now getting around to my first MoFo post. Almost 24 hours into day one, and I'm just now posting. And yes, for my first post, that is a pizza you are seeing. So, now you're thinking to yourself "damn, she's one lazy MoFo'er too" aren't ya? Call it what you will, lazy, ordinary, yada, yada, yada.....no matter what you say about it all I know is it was damn good!!
So, VeganMoFo, write about veganism every week day for one month. Quite a challenge. Made even more of a challenge by my fellow MoFo'ers who will go out of their way to create some of the most incredible food you've ever put in your mouth. Now not only do I have to remember to blog daily, but I have to get creative in the kitchen again too, sheesh.
I promise, I will create, I will post exotic, or at least not ordinary dishes, yes, I'll do all of that stuff.......but, I have a theme for MoFo this year and it's "Go Vegan: You won't miss a thing". Let's be honest, it's not hard to get a veggie lover to try out vegan, but what about those people that are just so attached to their meat and dairy. You know the one's......"I could never give up cheese", or "I could never stop eating hamburgers", or "but, I need my protein". Yes, we all know those people. So, this year for MoFo, I've set out to show them that they can eat EVERYTHING they used to eat, only minus the icky animal ingredients. Ok, so maybe not everything, steak lovers will have to say good-bye to that addiction. I mean, I can fake a lot of meals, but there's really no way to fake a still bloody piece of flesh on your plate, know what I mean?
I'm kicking MoFo off with pizza, because almost everyone loves pizza, and when you tell someone you are vegan they almost always ask, "but don't you miss eating pizza". Um, no I don't miss eating pizza, because, well, I still eat it. And I still eat it with "sausage" and "pepperoni" and "cheese".........and you know what else? It's good, it's very good, it's damn good.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Now you have a chance to try YogaVive Apple Chips for yourself. Just read my review of YogaVive Apple Chips at Examiner.com. Leave a comment on this blog post telling me 2 places where my family has enjoyed YogaVive Apple Chips and you will be entered to win. Two lucky winners will be chosen at random, by my two teeny vegan yogini's, and will be awarded with a free month's supply of YogaVive Apple Chips. Winners to be announced next Friday, October 2nd.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This idea comes from one of my favorite restaurants, The Grape Leaf. I love, love, love their avocado wrap. It's basically guacamole wrapped into a flour tortilla and grilled. I get it without the cheese and it's delicious. Today being National Guacamole Day I thought I'd do a version of the avocado wrap. Unfortunately all I had was small 10 inch tortillas, so I decided to take the idea and turn it into a guac-adilla.
Use this simple recipe for guacamole. Just spread it onto a whole wheat tortilla, top with another and either press in a panini press or toast in a dry skillet. I had mine served with a dollop of Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, and drizzled with some mild salsa. A delicious, filling lunch, or cut smaller as an appetizer for a Mexican fiesta.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
For most of the summer I've eaten a High Raw diet, meaning that I've included a high percentage of raw foods each day. Typically I've done raw until dinner. On the high raw diet I've never felt better. It really is incredible what eating whole, living foods can do for you.
Over the past week or so I've really gotten away from this style of eating and have been eating more cooked foods, more left overs, and a lot more carbs. I woke up this morning knowing that something needed to change. While I always include a variety of vegetables, and eat mostly healthy foods, nothing nourishes my body like raw foods do. So today I am back on the high raw diet, and in just this one day can already feel a difference in my energy levels, in my mental clarity, and in the waistline of my pants!!
This delicious raw soup is a fantastic way to savor the last of summer's tomatoes, yet hearty enough to enjoy on a cool day as well. An added bonus is that raw foods are often quick and easy to prepare and require very little clean up.
enough for 1 bowl
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and cored
6 or 7 basil leaves
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Raw Blue agave
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Put all ingredients in to a blender and puree until desired consistency. You can leave some of the tomatoes slightly chunky if you prefer.
You will be able to download the VeganXpress app using a coupon code that I will supply to you. E-mail me at veganyogini01 (at) gmail (dot) com with your e-mail address and I'll send you the coupon code!!
True Random Number Generator 5 Powered by RANDOM.ORG
Saturday, September 5, 2009
For this pizza you'll need one pizza shell. Store bought is fine, but I prefer to make my own, and make it whole wheat. I use my bread machine and it makes it very quick and easy. You'll also need one can or 2 cups of cooked black beans, seasoned with about 1/2 Tbs. ground cumin.
1 bunch organic cilantro, washed and well dried
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
In a food processor combine first 3 ingredients, pulsing to chop and combine well. Then, with machine running drizzle in olive oil until pesto is at your desired consistency. I probably use about 1/8 cup.
Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees. If using home made crust, roll or toss into a circle measuring about 12 inches. Poke with a fork, and place on heated pizza stone. Bake for about 3-4 minutes. Remove crust from oven (or if using store bought crust begin here). Spread pesto to within 1-2 inches of edge of crust. Spread beans on top of pest. Layer on chosen ingredients and sprinkle with FYH. Bake in preheated oven on pizza stone for 7-10 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden brown and FYH is beginning to melt.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Have you ever been invited to dinner with your friends and family, they've decided to go to Outback Steakhouse and you immediately think "Ack, what's a vegan going to eat at a Steakhouse?"? For me, part of my vegan advocacy is to always show people how easy it is to be a vegan, and turning down a dinner invitation sure doesn't send that message, does it. And who among us hasn't been on a roadtrip, it's dinner time, you're in the middle of nowhere, chain restaurants abound and you wonder where you are going to find anything vegan.
Wouldn't it be nice if restaurants were required to label which of their menu items are vegan? Unfortunately they don't, but now they don't need to!! With the VeganXpress app for your iPhone or iTouch you'll never wonder what you can eat at a chain restaurant again. This app has saved me from the tedious task of interrogating the server about ingredients, and has saved me from settling for just salad.
With a listing for over 100 popular chains, the vegan menu is right at your fingertips. VeganXpress also has a complete listing of junk foods that you never knew were vegan and a listing of vegan beer and wine to boot.
If you are an iPhone/iTouch user, or know one that would love this app leave a comment and tell me what your favorite vegan find at a chain restaurant is. Tweet this contest or post on facebook and receive an extra entry, just be sure to leave another comment that you tweeted or facebooked! Winner will be chosen at random and announced on Wednesday September 9.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
For the past few weeks she's either been eating toasted Sprouted Grain bagels or Whole-wheat Flax pancakes (which I make in big batches and freeze for use through the week). With a little time off from teaching yoga this week I decided to develop a muffin that was both good and mostly guilt free. These muffins are 100% whole wheat, contain very little sugar, and supply you with half of your daily requirement of Omega-3 fatty acid. In addition, unlike most whole wheat and healthy muffins, these are not dense. They are moist and cakey, just like a muffin should be.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
My question is this; should there be so many labels. Shouldn't the term vegetarian describe a person who only consumes plant based foods? Why does there seem to be such a need to identify as a vegetarian? Is it perhaps because people realize (either consciously or unconsciously) that consuming animal flesh and secretions is inherently wrong? Is it because people recognize that a plant based diet is better for their health? Is it because they realize that a plant based diet is more sustainable?
My personal opinion is that the myriad labels be dropped, that there be one term. I prefer that the word vegetarian describes a person who does not consume animal flesh, animal secretions, or the result of animal labor (honey), and animal slaughter (gelatin). I feel that the word vegetarian looses it's meaning when we begin to add those that eat fish, or those that sometimes consume meat (flexitarian). Vegetarianism should be a lifestyle of health, compassion and sustainability, period.
Share your thoughts.
In the yoga community there are mixed feelings regarding the practice of pranayama. Because pranayama is thought to be instrumental in raising Kundalini, the dormant energies in the body, some gurus and respected yogi's recommend practicing pranayama only under the strict and watchful guidance of a well trained teacher. Others believe that the careful practice of pranayama is appropriate and beneficial for all yogi's. My personal opinion is that pranayama is a beneficial practice, and that after learning proper technique from a trained teacher, pranayama should be added to your daily practice of yoga.
There are several different pranayama techniques designed to create a different effect on the body, mind, and spirit. I will list and discuss some of the most common techniques here.
Deerga Swasm is also known as the 3 part or diaphragmatic breath. It is a deep breathing technique that fills and empties the lungs completely. Deerga swasm utilizes and increases lung capacity. Deerga Swasm is a great pranayama technique to add to the beginning of any asana or meditation practice, as it is calming and centering.
Deerga Swasm is practiced by sitting comfortably with the spine erect. Begin by inhaling deeply drawing the breath low into the belly, feeling your abdomen expand in all directions. As the abdomen becomes full of air, the breath then moves into the rib cage. Focus on feeling the rib cage expand in all directions; front to back and side to side. Finally, the breath rises into the chest, slightly lifting the chest and clavicle. Once the entire torso is fully expanded by the breath, you slowly release the breath in reverse, from the chest to the belly, drawing the navel in toward the spine to release all stale air before beginning again.
Kapalabhati is known as the skull shining breath. This breath sends energy to Sahasrara, the crown chakra. Kapalabhati is a rapid breath, with the emphasis on the exhalation. This breath is very clarifying and energizing and is beneficial in releasing toxins from the body. Beginners should start this breath slowly and work toward a more rapid breath. One round of kapalabhati is around 25 breaths for a beginner, working up to as many as 300 breaths for a more advanced practitioner.
Kapalabhati is performed by beginning with a deep inhalation, expanding the abdomen. On the exhalation snap the abdomen in actively, then passively inhaling again. Remember the emphasis in kapalabhati is on the exhalation
Nadi Shodhana is also known as alternate nostril breathing. Nadi shodhana cleanses the nostrils and balances the energy channels of Ida and Pingala. Ida ends in the left nostril and represents the moon side of the body. The lunar side of the body possesses more cooling, yin, feminine energy. Pingala ends in the right nostril and represents the solar side of the body, possessing warming, yang, masculine energy. Nadi Shodhana calms the nervous system and begins to draw awareness inward.
There are several ways to practice nadi shodhana. The right thumb is used to close the right nostril, the right ring finger is used to close the left nostril. To begin, sit in a comfortable position, spine erect. Seal off the right nostril, inhale through the left. Seal the left nostril and exhale through the right. Inhale through the right nostril, seal off right, and exhale left. This makes up one round (each round is completed by exhaling through the left nostril). Another popular technique for practicing nadi shodhana is by sealing the right nostril, inhale and exhale through the left. Seal the left, inhale and exhale through the right. This would be one round for this technique.
Other popular forms of pranayama are the Ujjayi Pranayama, Bhastrika (Bellows Breath), Bhramari (Humming Bee Breath), and the Kundalini Yoga Breath of Fire.
The following example of a pranayama practice is designed to calm the mind and create energy in the body. Please consult a trained instructor before beginning a pranayama practice. It may be helpful to have a timer near so that you aren't distracted by how long you should practice. I suggest practicing each section of pranayama for at least 2 minutes, unless otherwise noted.
Begin by finding a comfortable seated position. Sitting on a bolster or blanket to lift the hips if this is comfortable for you. Be sure to relax through your hips, knees and ankles. Allow the spine to become erect, yet relaxed.
Start by closing your eyes, resting your hands on your knees or in your lap, and just breathe normally and naturally. Bringing your focus to the tip of your nose and noticing the breath that flows in and out of your nostrils. Notice the temperature of the air, the texture and speed of the breath. Don’t attempt to do anything at this point to manipulate your breathing, just notice what is natural for you. Take a few minutes of quite time here allowing for focus on breath.
Now begin to deepen the breath and draw the breath deeply into the belly. With each inhalation feel the lower abdomen expanding, then notice the breath rise into the lower lungs as the rib cage expands in all directions, finally you notice the breath rise into the upper lungs as the clavicles lift. Exhaling in reverse. First emptying the upper lungs, then the lower lungs, then finally the abdomen. Draw the navel in toward the spine to release all stale air, and then begin again. Focusing on inhaling in three parts and exhaling in three parts. Take a few minutes of quite Deerga Swasm here.
When the 2 minutes have passed, finish one more complete 3 part inhalation and 3 part exhalation, then inhale deeply through your nose, hold the breath for a moment and exhale through pierced lips. Now return to your normal breath for a few moments.
Moving to Nadi Shodhana, begin by using the thumb and ring finger of the right hand to close the nostrils. Begin with one deep inhalation and exhalation through the nostrils to cleanse. Following the exhalation, close the right nostril with the thumb, inhale through the left nostril. Close the left nostril after inhalation, open the right nostril and exhale. Inhale through the right nostril, close the right, open the left and exhale through the left. This completes one round. Again, inhale through the left, close, exhale through the right, inhale right, close and exhale left. Continue in this manner silently for a few moments. The breath should not be deep or forceful, just smooth consistent inhalations and exhalation. Imagine that there is a feather between your nostrils and try to keep that feather from moving as you breath. This will help develop a smooth, consistent breath. Take a few quiet minutes for Nadi Shodhana.
When the 2 minutes have passed, finish the round of Nadi Shodhana that you are on then complete one more full round. Finish with a cleansing breath in through the nose, out through the mouth then return to normal breathing.
End your pranayama practice with Kaphalabati. During this breath you will be emphasizing the exhalation by snapping the stomach and inhaling passively. This breath can be practiced as fast or as slow as feels comfortable to you. If you get tripped up on your breath just begin again. Do 3 rounds of 25 breaths each, followed by a cleansing breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Now, just return to your normal breath and notice how you are feeling.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I wanted to cook a real meal last night since I wasn't teaching, but the kidlets were pleading for spaghetti. Being the fantastic mommy that I am I again obliged. It was then I remembered this focaccia recipe that I'd torn out of a magazine waiting at a doctors office a while back. This seemed just the thing to cure that cooking bug, because boiling water for spaghetti certainly wasn't going to cut it. I had everything I needed on hand, so really it was a no-brainer.
My family are suckers for home-made bread of any kind. A bunch of carbaholic's they are!! I knew that this bread would be met with loving eyes and taste buds. What I didn't know was that this bread would change my opinion of focaccia forever. Don't get me wrong, I like focaccia and all, but I'll never like another focaccia as much as I liked this one.
The recipe comes from Saveur magazine, but I have no idea which issue. I'm reprinting it here so that you can try this divine delight for yourself. Enjoy!
Monday, August 24, 2009
As a yogini every aspect of my life is approached with a yogic attitude. Yoga is indeed a lifestyle for me that goes beyond asana, pranayama and meditation. Each moment of each day is a practice of my yoga. We are faced with a plethora of choices on a daily basis, some we act on, some we don't, but there is not one thing we choose more times in one day than the food we eat. It's something we all do, every single day, preferably 3 or more times a day. Food and diet gives us an opportunity each morning, afternoon, and evening to live our yoga. Yoga promotes a healthy body, mind and spirit and without proper nutrition our full potential will not be reached.
In yogic philosophy there are 3 gunas. The gunas are the earthly qualities that bind our spirit to our body. The gunas represent an attitude that can be applied to everything in our life. The three gunas are tamas (the quality of being sluggish or lethargic), rajas (the quality of being over stimulating or over active), and sattva (the quality of being pure, relaxed and clear). These 3 qualities can be evident in all of our choices, from the food we eat to the way we approach our jobs.
In Ayurvedic medicine foods are classified with regard to their guna. Sattvic foods are foods that are wholesome. They keep us centered, and peaceful. Sattvic foods keep us nourished and energized. Examples of sattvic foods would be organic fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and grasses. Rajasic foods are foods that are stimulating to the nervous system. They create an unbalanced effect on the body-mind-spirit connection. This category includes coffee, sugar, tea, tobacco, flesh foods and oily or fried foods. Also included in this category are onions and garlic. While these are both very healthful foods they produce a stimulating effect on the body. Tamasic foods are foods that detract from our health and pollute the body. These are stale, spoiled, decaying, highly processed, and chemically treated. Tamasic foods create an unbalanced energy state within our bodies.
Asana practice teaches us to cultivate mindfulness. We learn to still the mind and allow ourselves to become one with the moment. This is easy to do on the mat, as we twist, turn and contort our bodies it's hard for the mind to be anywhere else. The challenge comes when we move our practice off of our mat. Remaining open, aware, and mindful as we go about our daily lives isn't always easy. There's no better place to start than with the activity you do more often than any other, eating.
As you cultivate awareness around your meals you will begin to notice the subtle energy shifts that occur within you based on your food choices. You will notice that when you include more sattvic foods you feel energetic, full of life, and ready to take on your day. When you fill your body with tamasic foods you will feel sluggish, lethargic and inert. With this increased awareness of your subtle energies you will naturally begin to make smarter and healthier food choices. As the mind becomes centered, peaceful, and clear you will be able to continually evaluate the quality of your diet, and start to question and possibly abandon some of your food addictions that are detracting from your full potential.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Our hips tend to be one place that is universally tight in a yoga asana class. Mention hip openers and the room is immediately filled with grumbling and groaning. The muscles in and around the hip joint are habitually tight because of the massive load of stress we put on them. The hips are essentially the cross-roads between the upper half of our body and the lower half of our body. Therefore, virtually any gross movement of the body requires some work in the hips. It makes sense then that almost every yoga asana would involve some strengthening or stretching of the hips.
Being that the hips are comprised of thick solid muscles and a plethora of connective tissue, opening the hips is best suited to a yin practice, with poses held relaxed, gentle, and for a long period of time. However, regular hatha practice can be beneficial to the hips if focus on the area is consistent and gentle.
In yoga practice hips are known to hold a lot of unreleased emotions. So, in addition to being physically uncomfortable for most people, they can be emotionally uncomfortable as well. Hip openers are great poses for practicing presence, non-attachment, and non-judgement while on the mat.
The following sequence is designed as a gentle vinyasa flow to fit all levels of practice. As with any exercise routine, consult your doctor before engaging in physical activity.
Begin lying in Savasana and practice Deerga Swasm (3 part breath)
Supta Padangusthasana A-C
Ananda Balasana; rocking up to seated and coming to table-top
Cat/Cow Stretching and Hip Barrel Rolls
Adho Mukha Svanasana; coming to front of mat in Tadasana
Surya Namaskara A (x2)
Padangusthasana --> vinyasa to Adho Mukha Svanasana
Utthita Trikonasana (R) --> Utkata Konasana --> Utthita Trikonasana (L)
Prasarita Padottanasana series --> jump back to Tadasana
Garudasana (R&L) --> Uttanasana --> Uttkatasana--> Uttanasana
Vinyasa to Adho Mukha Svanasna then come forward to Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (or variations) (R)--> Vinyasa --> Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (L)--> Vinyasa
Ardha Badha Padmottanasana --> Vinyasa to seated
Ardha Salabasana --> Ardha Bhekasana (repeat 2nd side)
Marichyasana A and C
Ardha Matsyendrasana --> recline to back
Hopefully by now you've all heard about and are promoting Meatless Monday. A campaign aimed at reducing meat consumption in America by encouraging everyone to go meat-free for just one day. If everyone adopted a plant based diet just one day a week the environmental impact would be huge. Not to mention the impact for the animals. Some estimates say that nearly 28 million land animals are slaughtered DAILY in the United States for human consumption.
Meatless Monday has been being promoted on Twitter for awhile now, and eventually morphed into adding Tofu Tuesday to the mix. A few weeks ago Lindsay the Happy Herbivore thought it would be a fun idea to give each day a veg related theme, and promote it as Veggie Awareness Week. We've had a lot of fun with Veggie Week so far, and continuing with the theme, today is Raw Wednesday.
I eat raw nearly every day until dinner. Raw food is not only incredibly filling, it is also packed with nutrition. The vital nutrients in the food has not been cooked out, therefore providing an added punch of vitamins and minerals. Raw foods will provide you with energy rather than sapping your energy like cooked foods will. I love to start the day with a glass of fresh fruit juice and a raw smoothie. Fruit and raw food bars are also great choices when you are in a hurry or on the go.
My contribution to Raw Wednesday this week is this beautiful raw sunflower seed salad. I was given this recipe during my yoga teacher training and it's been a favorite ever since. I was handed the recipe on a sheet of paper, with no acknowledgement as to where the recipe comes from, so I guess it's safe to re-print it here. I have a made a few changes, so we should be good!!
Monday, August 17, 2009
We are in to our second week of the school year. Because there are no vegan options on our school lunch menu I pack lunch for M to take to school every day. Like last year I am always looking for ideas to keep M's lunch fresh, new and exciting for her. Just in time for the start of the school year, Lindsay the Happy Herbivore, posted her ideas for great packable vegan/vegetarian lunches. She's got many many great ideas for fantastic kid-friendly lunches. If your school, like many, also has less than vegan friendly lunch options please visit this site, and sign the petition to get healthy vegetarian school lunches available for our children.
In addition to packing lunch every day, I also have to pack a healthy snack for school. Because the snack must be packed in the backpack, and left hanging on a hook for most of the day it needs to be non-perishable and durable. It also needs to create little mess and be able to be eaten in a reasonable amount of time. Therefore, things like yogurts (soy of course) and fruits are not good options. Fruit, except for apples, typically gets smashed and bruised in the backpack. M has an aversion to bruised fruit, and right now she is missing more teeth than she has left, so whole apples aren't the easiest thing for her to eat. We've found that bars typically fit all of the requirements for afternoon snack. She loves Larabars, but they are expensive and not practical to take everyday (especially when mommy has a Larabar habit that she has to feed daily). Chocolate Chip Oat Bars are a good choice, and she took them quite often last year (she was always the envy of the class when she brought these....the teacher was even known to ask if she could break off a bite!!). But, as always, I'm trying to find or develop new snack options.
When thumbing through the latest issue of Yoga Journal magazine I ran across a recipe for chewy granola bars. To my delight these granola bars were totally nut free, meaning S could enjoy them as well. You could of course add nuts to these, and they would be great. I didn't follow the recipe exactly, it called for a lot of dried fruit and crystallized ginger, that I didn't think my kids would eat, and I think the trick to getting kids to eat healthy is to disguise it as a treat. Hence, my version, chewy chocolate granola bars. You can take this recipe, use the method, and develop a plethora of variations on this granola bar......enough snacks to last the entire school year. Once the were ready, I cut them into bars and wrapped them individually in wax paper, ready to go in the back pack all week.
**Remember, taking a few minutes before bed each evening to lovingly prepare a healthy lunch for your child means so much to them. It only takes a few minutes and ensures that your child will have a lunch well suited to a successful day at school.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
I do believe that this is my new favorite dessert. Well, at least for the summer that is. I'm not going to abandon my first dessert love, the cupcake, but I mean yummy dessert with no oven required, how can you beat that on a hot summer day??
Not to mention, as an added bonus you get ALL of the nutrients from the berries, nuts and seeds because they aren't cooked out. And I guarantee, this is one of the healthiest desserts you will ever eat.
Raw Berry Cobbler
2 cups Almonds Soaked & Drained
1/2 cup Sunflower seeds Soaked & Drained
2 Tbs Shredded Coconut
1/2 cup Pitted Dates
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
2 Tsp Vanilla extract
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup Mango, dried and re-hydrated
3 Tbs Agave Nectar
To make the crust: In a food processor, process the almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut, dates, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Press mixture into a pie plate.
To make the filling: In a food processor, process the berries, mango, and agave. Pour the fruit mixture over the pie crust and refrigerate for two hours or more, allowing the pie to solidify.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I'm pretty sure that the sandwich my step-dad had was actual guacamole dip on a sandwich, but I decided to save some work and make a deconstructed version of guac to go in my sandwich. Since I already have onions and tomatoes sliced in the fridge all I really had to do was slice open an avocado, and rip off some cilantro tops. I stacked it all up on some sprouted whole wheat bread, squeezed half a lime over the top, topped it with another slice of bread, and it was lunch.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I just made this soup last night, so I guess I'll start with this. It comes from a recipe my mother in law sent over from Ireland, but I did change it slightly, which I hope added to the yumminess. The original recipe did not call for roasting of the squash and potatoes, but I opted to take the extra time and roast them first to intensify their flavors. I just love the taste of roasted butternut squash.
This recipe makes a HUGE batch of soup, and is very filling, so there will be tons of left over soup to freeze. I froze several single serving containers for Rob to take to lunch, and a few double batches to have on hand for quick dinners. Unfortunately the girls weren't big fans and ended up eating Light Life Smart Deli "Ham" sandwiches.
1 Tbs spoon Olive Oil (plus more for drizzling squash before roasting)
1 butternut squash (weighing a little less than 1 pound)
2 large sweet potatoes (again, a little less than 1 lb)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs curry powder
4 cups quality vegetable stock
9 oz plain soy creamer
torn basil leaves for garnish
Preheat oven to 425. Peel and dice butternut squash, place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat and roast about 25 minutes, until tender. In the meantime, roast sweet potatoes in their skins on same baking sheet. Remove from oven and cool until you can handle the potatoes.
Heat remaining Tbs olive oil over medium heat, add onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add curry powder and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add sweet potatoes, squash and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Using a hand held blender or food processor, puree soup. Stir in soy cream and heat through. Ladle into serving bowls and top with basil leaves.
I served this soup with a big salad and some home made bread. I'm working on a good whole wheat sandwich bread, but I haven't quite perfected it yet. My girls eat a lot of bread and I hate to give them store bought bread. There are only a few brands that I can buy that haven't been processed on a line with peanuts, and some of those brands don't have the best ingredients in it. So, I've set out on a quest to make my own. I've gotten quite good at specialty breads (thanks to Vegan Dad), but my kids really like their sandwiches on that chewy, airy and not at all crumbly store bought stuff. As of now it's not completely whole wheat because I can't find any whole wheat bread flour. Right now we stand at about 2 parts whole wheat flour to one part unbleached bread flour, but as soon as I find some whole wheat bread flour I hope to have a recipe for 100% whole wheat sandwich bread.