June 27, 2017

Cacao Power Balls

Cacao Balls blogThis recipe is just in time for Summer hikes and nibble breaks as you pause to enjoy the iceberg views this year. Date balls are an easy-to-make, healthy, snack choice for a day on the trails. The sweetness of dates allows for the addition of many (even bitter) health boosting ingredients while still maintaining tastiness. You can play around with the recipe below and add whatever super foods you find in your cupboard. This is my 2017 fave. The cacao bits add a crunchy texture that I love!

Ingredients:
1 cup walnuts, almonds (or any other nut you love)
1 1/2 cup pitted dates (I only use medjool, but I hear you can soak/boil the others first)
4 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
1/2tsp salt (Himalayan rock salt or sea salt is my favourite)
2 tbs cacao nibs
2 tbs chia
1 tbs ground flax
1 tbs hemp hearts
Almond flour, shredded coconut or cocoa powder (to roll finished balls in)

Instructions:
Mix ingredients in a food processor or high quality blender. Shape mixture into small balls. Roll the shaped balls into almond flour, shredded coconut, or cocoa powder. This will make the balls less sticky and easy to handle.

Once coated, pop them in the freezer to pull out last minute before heading out, or eat them right away!

Cacao Balls blog3

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April 28, 2017

How to Make Ghee (Clarified Butter)

ghee newsletterI was first introduced to ghee on a backpacking trip with my mom in India. Mom had some scratches on her legs that were getting sorer and more worrisome by the week. We were in an Indian ashram and the morning prayers had just been done with the purifying fire ritual. When our teacher saw my mother’s legs he exclaimed, “That has to be treated now!” He promptly pulled some burnt, ghee-soaked, coals out of the ceremonial fire ashes, ground them between his fingers, and explained that the holy healing properties of ghee, further purified by fire and morning prayers, would be the most powerful remedy possible. We were doubtful, but had already tried all of our travel pharmaceuticals, and so she rubbed this black, greasy powder all over her angry wounds. As you are probably by now expecting, the cuts promptly healed and disappeared. It was only later that we learned, in addition to being an integral part of traditional Indian healing practices, ghee is also an Indian cooking staple.

Ghee is clarified butter. It is heated carefully until the milk solids separate and is then strained into a translucent yellow oil that has a yummy, buttery, slightly-nutty flavour. Ghee has a very high smoke point, making it an ideal cooking oil because you can cook it at a higher temperature than many other oils without losing its health benefits.  It is also rich in fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E.

Ghee can be bought in supermarkets but is very easy to make at home. I love the buttery smell it makes in my kitchen, as well as the satisfaction of pouring the glistening finished product into mason jars. While many are intimidated by the idea of making their own ghee it is actually a pretty simple process. Just follow the steps below to make this tasty health elixir and cooking oil.

You Will Need:20170314_081849

  • A medium size sauce pan (with a heavy bottom if possible)
  • A stirring spoon
  • A fine sieve
  • Enough cheesecloth to form several layers
  • A large measuring cup with a pouring spout (optional)
  • 454g (4 cups) of unsalted butter (organic if available)

Instructions:

  1. Cut the butter into cubes.
  2. Melt the butter on Medium heat in the sauce pan.
  3. When it begins to bubble excitedly
    turn heat to medium-low.
  4. The ghee will slowly bubble more
    quickly, the bubbles will get bigger and bigger, and eventually you will see the milk solids separating and floating to the top. Depending on the quality of your pot you may need to stir occasionally.
  5. Eventually the milk solids will sink to the bottom and a
    white layer will form on the top. When you separate this top white layer yo20170314_081831u will be able to see all the way to the bottom of the pot. The ghee will have become translucent.
  6. Continue to cook until a second energetic boiling begins. The bubbles will start again as clear small bubbles, as originally seen on the first boil. At this point the ghee is ready to be removed from heat.
  7. Arrange the cheese cloth in many layers in your sieve and place over a large measuring cup, or another pot.
  8. Pour the ghee through the cheese cloth to leave just the clear translucent ghee in the receiving pot.
  9. Pour into mason jars and leave only lightly covered at room temperature until it cools. It will take a day or so before the ghee solidifies.
  10. You can keep this is your cupboard for a few months or store in the refrigerator for longer.
April 27, 2017

Shakti Books: Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

 

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My well worn copy

Truly Profound Yogic Silliness

As I prepare to spend the Summer in the Himalayas where the seat of the Tibetan government is in exile I felt compelled to re-read Terry Pratchet’s comedic take on Buddhist traditions, Thief of Time. I know what you might be thinking, but in my defense I also watched Kundun (the life of the Dalai Lama) and read a lovely book by his holiness as well. These more sober activities were educational for sure, however Pratchet’s ridiculous and hilarious take on humanity, with a dab of Buddhist (kinda) philosophy, partially set in a monastery (sorta), was, hands down, the most fun part of setting the tone for my travels. As with most of Mr. Pratchett’s books it is as profound and truthful as it is ludicrous.

20170421_093502I have been in a love affair with Pratchett’s Discworld series for years but never thought to recommend one on my blog since the yoga focus seemed to make it a bit off topic. Yet, having pulled this book out in anticipation of being surrounded by Buddhist teachings this year I began to think back on all the other times I have also brought up these books in lighter Yoga Teacher Training discussions. I finally decided that to dismiss the yoga in these comedic works would do a disservice to the message of laughing Buddhas everywhere. Who said that joy could not be had in the yogic quest to find our own true nature?

When Terry Pratchett died in 2015, I was hit by the most intense celebrity-loss grief of my life. It was at first an immensely selfish grief, as I came to terms with the reality of never again starting a new Terry Pratchett book….ever. I have since however settled into a healthier place of gratitude for the many hours of pleasure that his books have brought, and continue to bring on every re-read (a bit of a lesson in aparigraha or non-grasping in here for sure).

death-crop.jpgFor those who have never read a Terry Pratchett book I will attempt to give you a bit of an idea of what to expect. The fact that you would find him in the Sci-fi/fantasy section of your local book store would be somewhat illuminating, however not the full story. His books are indeed littered with witches, dwarfs, vampires, and pretty much every other fantastical creature you have ever read about. There is also a whole cast of, let’s call them “interesting”, human beings. These characters are not the point however, Pratchett was obviously a student of eastern philosophy and human folly, his books are unerringly intelligent societal and philosophical commentary that somehow also never deviates from the main goal of being laugh out loud absurd.

With a house overflowing with yoga practice and philosophy books in a to-be-read cue, his books have been the only non-fiction I have allowed myself to read in years. They make me laugh out loud, they make me think, they make me not want to put them down even on the 3rd or 4th read. In fact, when I need a work break I often pull out a random Terry Pratchet Book and start reading wherever it falls open.

time-wheels.jpgIf you decide to read this book as a yogi, look forward to the most interesting (and non-traditional) take on Tibetan prayer wheels, and monastic lifestyle that you have ever read, as well as the funniest and most spot-on insight into what it might be like for non-corporeal energy to learn the ins and out of residing inside a physical body (think purusha to ahmkara for students of yoga philosophy). If this is your first Terry Pratchett book I cannot tell you how envious I am that you will be getting to read it for the first time.

And finally, best of all, the book even lends itself appropriate to be read with an open box of very high quality chocolate at your side. You won’t understand what I mean until you read, but it will not hurt to be prepared. If you are reading in St. John’s I recommend a dark box from NL Chocolate with lots of George Street and Longs Hills, or Purdy’s maple creams if you are out west, or Anne’s Dairy creams if you in P.E.I,

…or (while I wouldn’t do it this way) you could just read the book.

March 6, 2017

Yogic Sleep

 It’s the Yoga of Doing Less…a Lot Less.

blog-nidraHave you ever been in a yoga class and your teacher allowed time for a long relaxation at the end, but instead of leaving you in silence, continued to speak? Maybe you were told to relax your body, or were guided through affirmations or beautiful imagery? You may have been so relaxed that you thought you had fallen asleep, yet somehow you still followed the instructions as your teacher guided you to move from lying, back to sitting. The rest of your day may have seemed brighter, or you may have felt lighter and more energized. If this has ever happened to you then you have experienced a basic form of yoga nidra, a yogic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. While benefits are experienced in short 5-10 minute sessions, the most profound impact of yoga nidra is best experienced is sessions of 30 minutes or longer.

A yoga nidra practice can alleviate muscular, emotional and mental tensions. Many also experience great shifts in negative thought patterns and habits. It is a powerful practice that can bring about deep personal insight. It is also one of yoga’s most accessible practices. It’s benefits can be experienced by anyone, in any state of health, even if they are bedridden or have never done yoga before.

blog-nidra-1Yoga Nidra translates directly as Yogic sleep, however one of the goals of this practice is actually to avoid sleep. The physical, mental and emotional release of yoga nidra is due to activation of brainwaves that are associated with deep relaxation states. When we are wide awake we exhibit a pattern of brain activity called Beta waves. When the body and mind relax, the pattern of brainwaves gradually slows, passing through two more layers of activation before eventually reaching the delta wave pattern of deep sleep. Yoga Nidra is designed to keep participants in state of brainwave activation that hovers just above the delta level.  This reflects not only the level of relaxation that we experience, but also the level of consciousness that we have access to.

In this borderline between wakefulness and sleep we are open not just to the experience of deep relaxation, but also are able to access creative, visionary states and to release emotions that may be held in the subconscious. As such, a guided yoga nidra practice has the potential to resolve deeply rooted issues, fears and stressors and to decrease anxiety, depression and stress levels. It is an ancient practice that is currently finding relevance in modern approaches to healthcare. Many healthcare organizations have begun to use yoga nidra practices with people who have PTSD, depression, substance abuse, chronic pain and sleep problems.

You do not need to be struggling with the more serious issues listed above to achieve benefit from a yoga nidra practice. People who practice regular periods of yoga nidra also report a general lowering of stress levels, better sleep and a greater sense of physical and mental well-being. I use this practice quite extensively with prenatal women to prepare them for calm, comfortable and even enjoyable births. The impact can be profound.

You can purchase yoga nidra guides from a variety of sources or write your own relaxation script to record and listen to. Some teachers even offer hour long stand-alone yoga nidra classes. In my Shakti  yoga nidra trainings  I teach participants how to bring this beautiful z-lying-on-the-grasspractice into their yoga classes, and/or to develop a personal yoga nidra home practice.  Contact Bobby@ShaktiYoga.ca if you have questions.

For a taste of yoga nidra magic go to this link for a FREE sample mini yoga nidra that is designed to be used as a short energizer when you just have a couple of minutes to spare, need to calm quickly, or want to do it discretely at your desk, etc. It is short enough to be memorized and done silently anywhere you wish to practice, resetting your body and mind in just a few breaths.

Enjoy!

January 14, 2017

A New Year’s Chocolate Re(solution)

The Solution to Mastering your New Year’s Intention? Make it This Easy!

 

20170114_1337250This year I have decided to eat more chocolate. Well actually not more. Anyone who knows me, also knows that I have actually been pretty unrestricted in this area for some time now. What I have decided to do is upgrade my stash. You might assume that I am talking about eating dark chocolate, and that would be true, however my usual chocolate is already 70% cocoa solids, organic & free trade. In fact I am fond of telling anyone who questions the magnitude of my consumption that eating this chocolate is one of the ways that I serve humanity, because altruism is, you know, just my thing.

This year though, I am stepping it up and making my own chocolate using raw cacao (not cocoa). This is something that I had been thinking of doing for some time now, but 2017 was the year that the lovely and talented Alison Nixon gave a chocolate making workshop in my area and I realized how easy it was to do this!

Why cacao and not cocoa you may ask? Cacao has many times more antioxidants than regular cocoa. It is also super high in magnesium, fibre and zinc. In fact if you crave chocolate it may be because you are low in magnesium and cacao would be the ideal way to top you back up! This doesn’t mean that regular cocoa isn’t good for you, but it is different from cacao in that it is heated at high temperatures and as a result loses a lot of its original nutrition. Cacao is the “raw” form of the same bean, but is cold pressed instead of roasted, retaining its living enzymes and making it much more nutritious.

OK, so now you know that it is good for you, but the real reason to eat this chocolate is that it is so yummy, and so creamy! Plus you can make it as sweet or as bitter as you like. The recipe below is similar to the topping of Alison Nixon’s Raw Chocolate Love Bar recipe that was included in the What’s Left to Eat Cookbook that she co-authored. I changed it up a bit but used her portions. This recipe combines the two great loves of my life, chocolate and matcha.

20170114_100819

Raw Chocolate Matcha Medallions

  • 250g Cacao Butter
  • 1 ½ cup (140g) Cacao powder
  • ½ cup (50 grams) raw cane sugar (Grind it up super fine in your mixer first) Other sweetener options such as honey, brown rice syrup, etc work as well.
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (or whatever extract flavour you like)
  • A pinch of Himalayan salt (or sea salt)
  • Matcha and cane sugar mix. Use as much of either as you would like in your topping mixture. Other options are also tasty. Sea salt sprinked on top once they are half set is another favourite. Also popular in my home was raisins, nuts, pumpkin seeds, gogi berries, or anything else that makes you excited.

Instructions

  1. Chop the cacao butter into small pieces.
  2. Heat a few centimeters of water in a shallow saucepan on low heat. Place a small metal bowl in the water and melt the cacao butter inside the bowl. This ensures that the butter doesn’t get over heated. Make sure that no water (not even a drop!) gets into the bowl. Avoid boiling the water so steam, etc doesn’t make its way into your butter.
  3. Pour the melted cacao butter, cacao powder, sugar and salt into your blender for one minute.
  4. Pour the chocolate into non-stick mini muffin pans. Just a centimeter high. If you want to make bars, or bark, line a flat pan with parchment paper and pour a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. I used a flat bottomed bread pan to make large size bars. A larger pan is also fine if you are going to crack it up to make bark.
  5. Add your toppings
  6. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

*Cacao butter and powder and be bought at most health food stores. I used Organic Traditions bags and got two recipes worth of butter. The powder can be added to cereal, etc and the cacao nibs are a super bitter nibble that some like to snack on as well. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 5, 2016

Top 6 Yoga Reads for Summer!

IMG_1584Sunny Summer reading days have arrived!
Of course Newfoundlanders know that we could just as easily spend July and August basking in rain, wind or fog (possibly all in the same day), but that is just all the more reason to have a good book on hand.

Here are my top choices from the past year of book club picks. Maybe one of these is the book you are meant to be curled up with this Summer!

IMG_15871. A New Earth by Ekhart Tolle This book of great insight sat on my book shelf, unread, for a number of years before it was chosen last Fall as our book club pick. Wow, so much wasted time! I know now why it is internationally loved. A New Earth is a guide to a deeper understanding of our true selves. It is complete with clear and simple tips on how to move toward the attainment of our highest potential, while aiding the evolution of those around us. I felt an outpouring of compassion and tolerance for those I interacted with in my daily life as I was reading. While the lofty goal of awakening to your life’s purpose is a life-long process, I can’t think of a better book to help you begin this practice, or to clarify the path you are already on.  The tattered condition of the copies of some of my book club members is testament to the life-changing nature of this book. But really, I should have known better than to doubt Oprah in the first place!

IMG_15862. The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz Are you looking for a book with a powerful message that gets right to the point and does not digress at all? This is the pocket book for you. Memorize the four agreements, put them into action and watch your life change! These four simple but powerful concepts are an ancient Toltec gift to the world. Short, concise and life-changing. If you love it as much as I did, there is also a work book and a beautiful deck of cards that you can get to stretch out your immersion in these rules to live by.

IMG_15893. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer A pleasurable read that provides profound but simple insights into the true nature of our inner space. Simple techniques  are provided to help you change habitual thoughts, emotions and energy patterns. This book will have you taking a very deep look at your daily interactions. The result is a clearer understanding of your responses and how you can tailor them to improve every moment of your life. A beautiful book that will enhance your ability to live and love joyfully.

IMG_15954. A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield This is a dense book of wisdom. Jack Kornfield writes with the joy and insight of a long-time student of meditation. The book begins with his personal experience as a monk of many years returning home from exotic locales only to discover that the world of daily routine is a whole new kind of practice. This perspective makes the book particularly relevant to the Western reader. A comprehensive and practical book that is deeply rooted in Buddhist teachings while also succeeding in incorporating the viewpoints of many different traditions. It describes the nature of the spiritual journey, it’s ups and it’s downs, in a beautifully integrative way. This is a book for the real world spiritual seeker. I’d suggest reading it in bits to give you time to fully digest each message. It is punctuated with meditations and teaching stories that make it a joyful read interspersed with a wealth of practice information. You may want to read it again and again. It is that kind of a soul guide.

5. IMG_2848Buddha’s Brain This is a book of meditation for those who enjoy an understanding of the biological and neurological processes of mindfulness and meditation. The scientific explanations are clear, concise and very readable for those without a science background. The beauty of Buddha’s teachings are skillfully woven into descriptions of our physiological response to meditative thought. Understand how you can create health, wellness, and joyfulness by knowing how the brain responds to your thoughts (and vice versa). Guided meditations at the end of each chapter are designed to teach meditation techniques that take advantage of what you have learned about your brain in the preceding chapter. A must read for the science loving yogi.

IMG_15886. The Essential Rumi is a book of sufi poetry that has been inspiring mystics and yogis for over a thousand years. It is not a book of lyrical joyful prose but one of profound and often difficult insights. He writes of joyfulness, of grief, and every other state in between. It surprises some to find a racy story littered here and there amidst higher musings. Rumi does not shy away from any aspect of the divine experience of love. This is a book of longing as well as a giddy dance of joy that will sweep you off your feet. If you are a yogi, chances are your yoga teacher has thrown out a Rumi quote or two during your final savasana. Every time I pick this it up I find a new favourite or have a new experience with an old joy. It is a book for the seeker rather than a light poetry read. A little surrender may be required, after all “A thousand half loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home.”~Rumi

Happy Summer Reading Yogis!

Bobby

 

 

April 21, 2016

The Dirty Dozen

smallWhich Produce Should You Buy Organic?

The season of summer salads and cool fruity treats is just around the corner! We know that the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables are many, however ideally we would like to get these benefits while ingesting a minimum of the pesticides that they can expose us to.

A happy medium might be found in staying up to date with the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen”. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an organization that works to inform people of the chemical presence on common foods.

IMG_1610The EWG compiles a yearly list of recommendations that they base on data from thousands of tests for pesticide residues by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA). This list provides you with the information to make informed decisions when deciding whether or not to buy organic. The 2016 list is below. The lower the number the higher the level of pesticides.

The 2016 Dirty Dozen
1 Strawberries 2 Apples 3 Nectarines 4 Peaches 5 Celery 6 Grapes 7 Cherries
8 Spinach 9 Tomatoes 10 Bell Peppers 11 Cherry Tomatoes 12 Cucumber

The 2016  Clean Fifteen

1 Avacados 2 Corn 3 Pineapple 4 Cabbage 5 Sweet peas 6 Onions  7 Asparagus 8 Mangos
9 Papaya 10 Kiwi 11 Egg Plant 12 Honeydew 13 Grapefruit 14 Cantaloupe
15 Cauliflower

What I like about this list is that it allows you to choose which food items should be top priority if you feel that you are unable to afford to buy completely organic, or cannot find all the items on your shopping list in the organic aisle.

Happy shopping in the produce aisle to you, as we get back into the swing of crisp, cool, and healthy Summer eating!

April 21, 2016

Yoga in Uganda 2016

 

crop tree

Yep, those are rhinos grazing behind these beautiful trees!

Is this your year? As I prepare for what will be my 4th trip to Uganda there is snow all around. My thoughts keep floating ahead to the much warmer Ugandan climate that I have been blessed to be able to languish in for a few weeks  each year. Here is a taste of what to expect if  you decide to join me (and a number of other yogis, from Canada and beyond) this coming May to do yoga, and experience Uganda: The Pearl of Africa. .

We are usually awakened each day at 6am by an enthusiastic rooster or two. I move through my morning yoga practice surrounded by the ear splitting, early morning orchestra of bird and animal cries coming from the trees all around our guest house. At 7 we all do a morning yoga practice together before breakfast and then walk to the Shanti Uganda site.

zz Shanti

Boda ride to Shanti

On our first day however, we usually go by boda boda (motorcycles). If it is your first time in Uganda this is such a treat. We first pass the busy main street and then drive down the side roads lined with children playing, in varying states of dress. They have beaming smiles for us as we pass. Their parents are hard at work in the gardens near their homes, or setting up shops. There are no toys anywhere. These children are playing with sticks, or other items that may be lying around and their joy cannot be contained. The winding side road soon becomes a tree lined pathway that drivers fly along at breakneck speeds past women carrying loads of water or firewood on their heads and men on bicycles loaded up with bunches of bananas, the main ingredient for the local staple of matoke.

 

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Fresh-made local food for lunches

Each day we reach the Birth house and are greeted by the bright white smiles of the staff. There are just 3 humble structures, the reception hut, the gazebo, the birthing rooms and a small laboratory. There are plants and herbs growing in the gardens all around this lovely site and we are usually given a tour on our first day.

 

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Lecture & discussion on reed mats, in the shade by this time day!

The Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training portion of my trip to Shanti Uganda is a gift. Every year the balance of participants just feels absolutely perfect. We do lectures on reed mats under the trees and on our last day we practice teaching with the mommas who come for prenatal visits every Thursday. Our study time is broken up with cultural experiences such as rhino safari, village walks, and availing of the fresh, nutritious food made with love by the women of Shanti Uganda for our lunches. As we study, women may come and go for prenatal and birth support.

 

shanti uganda student malasanaOn some days the income generating program women will be on site, hard at work in their brightly coloured dresses. This is a program to provide employment for mothers and grandmothers struggling with HIV and AIDS, a huge problem in a country where millions of children have been orphaned by AIDS. They use the skills they learn at Shanti Uganda to help them provide food and shelter for the families they support. Many of these women are widows caring for large number of children and grandchildren. One day, as I passed out nail polish I had brought for them from Canada they stopped working to giggle as they did their nails, passing the bottles around until everyone had a finger of every colour. I am humbled and awed by this spontaneous display of joy. I think of the things that bother me at home. The things that stop me from feeling joy all day long and I am ashamed. I think of how very fortunate my life is and say one of many silent thank yous to Uganda for this reminder.

As the income generating women work diligently under their grass-roofed gazebo shelter, birthing moms may wander about Shanti, leaning on trees during a contraction or possibly taking in a yoga class. Shanti’s reverence for birth as a natural, normal event is so obvious. Each woman is given skilled, genuine and personal support. For this space to birth mindfully and all of the other loving supports provided by Shanti staff, these mothers pay a little over one dollar, a steal for a service that I consider to be priceless.

zk

Walking to the Shanti site on the village roads.

The days at Shanti often end with a home cooked meal at the guest house or at one of the program participant’s homes. We leave the birth house each evening to make our way along the winding road back to our guest house. The village activities vacillate between bustling activity and stillness, snapshots of babies being washed in tubs in front of houses, meals being cooked in lean-tos, children playing with scraps of tires, whole families driving by on the same motorcycle, goods of all types being carried on top of people’s heads and above all, smiles and laughter…..in essence life is being lived. And despite the grinding poverty and many social issues that continue to be a challenge in Uganda I cannot help but feel that it is being lived well. So well in fact that I know that each year I return home committed to bringing a little more of Uganda into my daily life back in Canada.

zx

Morning Yoga outside our bandha on the last day in the wildlife sanctuary

Last year I was fortunate to share this experience with my mom. This year I have booked a post-training safari, and for the first time ever, Gorilla Trekking! I cannot express how excited and grateful I am to be able to have these experiences. Get ready for some awesome photo posts!

Namaste, Bobby

December 21, 2015

Zucchini Spaghetti

IMG_0360As many Newfoundlanders with backyard gardens know, not everything loves our climate but zucchini seem to really get it. This year I figured out how to take advantage of our abundance in the form of zucchini spaghetti. It has become my new favourite veggie meal. Try it with, tomato, beet or squash sauce. It works with everything, even lightly sauted on it’s own with salt and pepper.

Zucchini are not only easy to grow but they are great for you. Zucchini peel is a good source of dietary fibre and they also contain folates, B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and C, and lots of potassium. I can’t imagine a lighter, healthier meal to balance out holiday indulgence.IMG_0354

To make this super simple meal you need a spiralizer. They can be cheap, simple hand-held versions like mine or fancier styles that chop lots of different shapes. If it isn’t too late to get a spirializer for the holidays I’d suggest you put this on your gift list. It is strangely addictive. If you are like me you will just keep trying to think of new vegetables that you can make spaghetti out of.

This is more of a how-to than a recipe. Clean and spiralize 1-2 zucchini per serving (depending on size of vegetable). Saute them in olive oil on medium heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until they are soft but still definitely spaghetti textured. The big thing to remember is to NOT cook for too long or they will become soft, transparent and lose their shape (still tasty but not spaghetti-like anymore).

On its own this is a fast and easy side dish. With a sauce it becomes a full meal. Homemade or bottled tomato sauce works, as does beet and squash sauces if you are feeling creative!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

December 21, 2015

Book Review

yoga and quest for true selfYoga and the Quest for the True Self 

is a most enjoyable overview of the practices of yoga. Stephen Cope writes of the disillusionment with his outwardly successful life that set him on a one year journey of self discovery that turned into a 10 year sojourn. As a newcomer to yoga his experience is an authentic, down-to-earth look at what yoga is, it’s traditions and how it continues to be relevant in the daily life of a modern day Westerner.

Yoga and the Quest for the True Self is structured around Stephen’s activities during a prolonged stay at the Kripalu ashram in Massachusetts. Being a psychotherapist his insights combine psychological perspectives with his knowledge and respect for yoga and its’ traditions. This, in addition to his use of student transformation case studies, serves to make the often confusing and contradictory writings on yoga traditions accessible to the western reader. For those who like intrigue this book even spans Kripalu’s great guru scandal that forever changed the landscape of this organization.

The combination of ancient teachings and modern musings makes this book suitable as an introduction for the new yogi, or a clarifying review for the more studied yogi. The end appendix also has a very short, extremely comprehensible overview of the various traditions of yoga. I have recommended this book to graduates of our yoga teacher training program for that little gem alone.

A definite stocking stuffer idea for the yogi on your list.

Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope, Barnes and Noble, 1999