Monthly Archives: January 2012

meatless monday: balsamic glazed carrots and edamame grilled cheese

cheese, carrots, edamame on bread. slightly food porny, no?

From the official MeatlessMonday (@MeatlessMonday) Twitter feed last week: Balsamic Glazed Carrots and Edamame Grilled Cheese. Because #yummmmm #delish and #heywhynot.

Balsamic Glazed Carrots and Edamame Grilled Cheese
via MeatlessMonday via Christian Science Monitor

1/4 c. edamame, shelled
1/4 c. carrots. sliced into thin strips
Balsamic vinegar to taste
2 slices good quality, whole-grain, hearty bread
2 kinds of cheese, generously sliced: aged cheddar and Alpine laced swiss work
A little butter
Salt & pepper to taste.

Sauté edamame and carrots in a pan with a few splashes of balsamic vinegar for 5 min,, stirring to make sure veggies are coated with vinegar. (How much is used depends on your personal taste).  Set aside to cool.

In the same pan, melt a pat of butter to lightly grease. Also butter both sides of bread slices. Arrange cheese slices, carrots and edamame, and salt and pepper to taste. Grill both sides of bread until golden and crispy, and cheese is melted, about 5 min. each side. Makes 1 amazing sandwich.


wednesday wisdom: instructions

stars, via pinterest.

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Mary Oliver

winter woes be gone: how to heal thyself with essential oils

When I’m teaching yoga, I’ll often use essential oils at the end of class. A gentle shoulder and neck rub with a little drop of lavender, vetiver or grapefruit seed oil can greatly enhance a student’s state of relaxation, and help her drop deeper into Savasana. It’s a lovely thing.

Essential oils are far, far more than just aromatic accessories to a yoga class. They have specific healing and medicinal purposes beyond smelling nice. They’ve been used for thousands of years the world over and are potent, effective and natural remedies to many ailments. Not just for physical healing, essential oils also have profound effects on emotional and mental healing, too.

Last fall I bought a basic handbook and started making my own blends. I’ve amassed many bottles of different oils (most oils you can find at Whole Foods, or at nicer pharmacies) and have used them for everything: from spritzing valerian on my pillow when I’ve got insomnia, to dabbing tea tree oil on the dog when she’s got an itchy bite. Here I’m sharing a few treatments to help relieve some common winter problems.

Essential oils are potent and specific, and should be treated like medicine. A few basic things to keep in mind when using them:

– We absorb essential oils into our bodies through the skin and breathed from the air, so don’t swallow them. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can damage the lining of the throat and stomach.

– If you have skin sensitivity, do a patch test on the inside of your wrist before slathering yourself head to toe. Common sense!

– If you have a nut allergy, avoid nut oils (kukui, sweet almond, macadamia).

Be aware of contraindications: in the blends below, I list contraindications, if any (pregnancy, epilepsy, sensitive skin, etc.), for certain oils. Do take care when experimenting with your own blends.

Know your nose. Essential oil use is scientific, but we can also count on our olfactory nerve to guide us in the right direction. It’s primal and it’s intuitive: if something smells foul to you, it probably is. This is your body’s way of protecting you: it’s no good to inhale or massage into your skin a blend that’s gross. At the very least, these blends below should smell really nice!

4 tsp. of a carrier oil (a carrier oil acts as a base and diffuses the concentration of the other essential oils. I use Apricot Kernel as my carrier; it’s calming and mild. Other carrier oils include Sunflower, Grapeseed, Sweet Almond, Jojoba, and Avocado. Any will do!)
5 drops of German Chamomile
5 drops of Myrrh
Rub into hands every night until fully absorbed.

german chamomile: a soothing anti-inflammatory.

4 tsp. of carrier oil
2 drops of May Chang (avoid if you have very sensitive skin)
4 drops of Neroli
4 drops of Orange Leaf
Gently massage into upper body, concentrating on shoulders, neck and chest.

neroli: comforting, supports emotional healing.

4 drops of Eucalyptus
2 drops of Myrrh
4 drops of Himalayan Cedarwood
Add these to a warm bath and soak. You can also add the above oils to 4 tsp. of a carrier oil and rub into your chest to unblock respiratory passages.

eucalyptus: clean, powerful, expansive, the go-to for colds and coughs.

4 tsp. of carrier oil
2 drops of Cinnamon Leaf (avoid if you have very sensitive skin)
4 drops of Ginger (avoid if you have very sensitive skin)
4 drops of Lavandin (avoid if you suffer from epilepsy)
Rub this blend into your limbs twice a day. A little Ayurvedic massage tip: massage up and down the muscles of your arms and legs, and side-to-side around the wrists, ankle and elbow joints.

cinnamon leaf: fiery, warm spiciness supports immunity and digestion.

There are many plant-based oils out there, all with varying benefits to your vitality and well-being. Survive the winter, and use these blends in good health!

* Blends have been adapted from The Essential Oils Handbook by Jennie Harding, Watkins Publishing, 2008.

meatless monday: warm breakfast quinoa with fruit and nuts

fruit & quinoa: best winter breakfast (via pinterest)

It’s cold out there, people, and that sad, soggy bowl of cornflakes just isn’t cutting it. Yoga and Ayurveda enthusiast Nadya Andreeva, the lovely gal behind Spinach & Yoga and contributor to Modern Hippie Mag, shares with us this perfect winter breakfast: warm quinoa with fruit and nuts. Soak the quinoa, almonds and dried fruit overnight for a quickie morning breakfast (and easier digestibility) and you won’t miss a beat.

Nadya’s Warm Quinoa with Fruit and Nuts
3/4 – 1 c. quinoa (soaked overnight)
3 sulfur-free Turkish apricots (soaked and cut up in small pieces)
A handful of goji berries, raisins, or dried blueberries (soaked overnight)
10 almonds (soaked over night)
1 tbsp. ground flax seeds
1 tsp. coconut oil or ghee
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
A drop of organic vanilla

Put everything in a container and pour boiling water over the mixture. Simmer for 10-15 min. or until quinoa is soft. Serve with a splash of almond milk.

NADYA’S NOTES: The benefit of soaking dried berries and almonds overnight is increased digestability. Dried fruits and nuts can be pretty heavy and difficult to break down first thing in the morning. Soaking and cooking them makes them moist, plump, and nourishing for all body tissues according to Ayurveda. All the spices help kindle digestive fire and wake up the digestive system after a night of sleep. Ghee makes all the nutrients easier to absorb and adds richness to the dish. I love ghee and you will too once you try it!

blog for choice 2012: trust women

Today is the 39th anniversary of
Roe v. Wade, and I’m joining millions of pro-choice bloggers to show my support of NARAL’s Blog For Choice Day 2012, and to answer the question What will you do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012? Read more about today’s purpose here.

Do you know the problem with us yogis? We’re so… impartial. We have a broad, unbiased perspective, and can argue any side to any issue. This is because we work hard to be detached, because we’re learning to realize that thoughts and feelings are often fleeting; like ships on the horizon, our vritti (mindstuff) glides into our panorama, and then vanishes just as quickly. It’s fantastic to be so middle-of-the-road, since we never have to actually take a side. We get to wade in  ethical ambiguity, forever.

However. This is where I take a stand. The issue of reproductive rights  is anything BUT ethically ambiguous to me.

It’s not very yogic, is it?

Some of this earnestness I have for protecting these rights stems from personal history. I grew up with a fervently pro-choice mother, in a household where issues of Ms. Magazine were strewn about, sharing coffee tables with Cooking Light and Rolling Stone. This is the mother who played cassettes of feminist folk bands, like Motherlode, as she drove me to school and ballet and art class. The mother who talked about Gloria Steinem so often and with such reverence that I was certain she was some aunt who lived in North Dakota with my other relatives. I’m not alone in saying that my mom’s zeal made her kind of a scary lady, with her SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL buttons and her TRUST WOMEN bumper stickers. She is vocal and dead-serious about being pro-choice. It’s kind of awesome.

Reproductive rights in this country are perpetually under attack, and Roe v. Wade is constantly on the verge of being overturned. To strip away the rights of women, especially women who are the poorest, most voiceless, most marginalized and underrepresented citizens in this country, would be devastating. These are women who most need access to organizations like Planned Parenthood. One of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, (who also happens to be a progressive Christian), says this in her sharp, powerful essay, called “The Born:”

[Abortion] was the most intimate decision a woman could make, and she made it alone, in her deepest heart, though sometimes with the man by whom she was pregnant, with her dearest friends, or with her doctor–but without the personal opinion of, say, Tom DeLay or Karl Rove.

Like Ms. Lamott, I too am shocked “that men committed to equality and civil rights [are] still challenging the basic rights of women.”

If you think protecting reproductive rights is of minimal importance right now, take a look at headlines. There’s some good and progressive news, and then there’s bad and scary news. A few things to note: a certain GOP frontrunner (a “moderate” one at that) will surely appoint Supreme Court Justices committed to overturning Roe v. Wade if elected. And, ALL of the Republican candidates are united in ending government support of Planned Parenthood, which provides healthcare to millions of low-income women.

In positive news: this past Friday, the Obama Administration approved new rules that would guarantee almost-universal coverage of contraceptives, even from religiously affiliated employers.

Some say that there are far too many abortions being performed for a compassionate and nurturing society. I say compassionate and nurturing societies put trust and power in the hands of its citizens, including those living on the peripheral. We have to realize that compassion and nurture must be extended toward women; live, already-born women in this country. Women must be given liberty and the trust of our society. Women must be allowed sovereignty over their own precious bodies, and not assaulted with the beliefs of the wealthy, white, married men in Washington.

If you’re “pro-life,” consider directing some of your enthusiasm toward many other issues of life and death: Afghanistan, for example, and capital punishment, poverty, healthcare, education.

But trust women. Namaste.

wednesday wisdom: flying

Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
– Douglas Adams, English writer

football, friends, blogs, bloomers. tuesday musings.

I used to “like” football (“like” is used loosely here) because it meant getting together with people and eating things that I’d deny myself on a weekday. Then I started hanging out with this guy who knew a lot (a lot) about football and cared passionately and my appreciation for the game grew, just by proximity. Suddenly I understood what a “down” meant (I only pretended in high school). Years later, I LIKE football, without the “”. It’s athletic. It’s strategic. It’s kind of weird. And it’s emotional. It’s sort of the perfect ritual for dark, wintry Sundays. It keeps you lively in January.

This is all to say that this past weekend was full of football playoff game-watching, which culminated in Sunday afternoon’s headliner, NY Giants v. Green Bay Packers. The game itself was a heartbreaker for me, an Aaron Rodgers fangirl (I love a Berkeley man), but the day wasn’t a total bust. I was pleased to whip up a batch of my friend Meghan’s notoriously decadent Seven-Layer Cupcakes, which she invented and then presented to us while we spent the holidays in Bellingham, Washington. Meghan writes about her adventures, ranging from competing in marathons to IronMans to baking cupcakes to traveling the globe, at her blog Meghan’s Wanderings. Today I’m linking up with her, because you should read what she does (she’s rad), and because I want to share her cupcake recipe (it’s rad).

Ms. Meghan created these cupcakes, inspired by her mom’s seven-layer bars, as part of her 30 While 30 challenge (I’ll be undertaking a similar challenge inspired by Meg during my 30th year; more on that later). This took the better part of an afternoon to make, because a. I’m a painfully slow and deliberate baker, b. I don’t have an electric mixer, so I do everything by hand, and c. there are seven layers here, people! In the end, it’s all worth it.

Meghan’s Decadent Seven-Layer Cupcakes
*SL NOTE: italics are my own.

First I mixed crushed graham crackers with about a tablespoon of butter (I was only making 4 of this flavor for this test run so it was about 1/4 cup crushed graham cracker and a tablespoon of butter although I think I could have used a bit more melted butter).  I also added a splash of sugar.  (SL: I was making one dozen cupcakes, so I ended up using about 1 c. of crushed graham crackers, and 1/4 c. melted butter and coconut oil mixed together).  Then I covered the bottom of the cupcake liners and patted it down – I used a narrow bottle from the refrigerator to pack it in.  Baked those for about 5 minutes at 350.

I sprinkled butterscotch morsels on top of the graham cracker layer.

layers 1 + 2: crushed grahams, butterscotch morsels.

Vanilla cupcake batter (SL: Meghan uses this recipe, I halved it) – bake for about 25 minutes at 350.

I made a quickie ganache – melting chocolate chips with warmed milk and then dipped the tops of the slightly cooled cupcakes. (SL: for ganache, I used a whole Mast Brother’s Conacado 73% cacao bar melted into a splash of milk. Fancy!)

layers 3 + 4: vanilla cupcake, fancy ganache.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Buttercream Frosting adapted from this recipe (I didn’t follow the measurements really and just winged it). (SL: divided frosting in half and mixed in food coloring for festive team colors.)

Crushed walnuts to sprinkle on top of frosting. (SL: used crushed salted cashews. A worthy alternative.)

Coconut flakes to sprinkle on top of frosting.

layers 5 + 6 + 7: icing, salted cashews, coconut flakes. In Giants colors! (and one for the lone Packers fan).

Meghan, they turned out great, although a bit messier than I remember. I think it was my lack of whipping the icing to a nice fluffiness (I was tired and we had to get to Brooklyn). Thanks for the sweet recipe, hope I made you proud, mama! xx

In other news:  today I did a bit of “modeling” (“modeling” is used loosely here) for Refinery29 at my new fave Nolita boutique, Condor. Good times sporting a bikini top in the January rain on Elizabeth Street. Resort wear! Photos will be up on R29’s site on Thursday, I’m told.

in Vivienne Westwood!

golden pampers: wore these on Houston St. no big deal.