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Monthly Archives: June 2012
Traditional hummus is a great summertime party snack. But it’s been OVERPLAYED. There, I said it. What we need is a hummus makeover, to liven it up a bit, and add some interest to the chip n’ dip corner of the snack table. A few weeks ago friends Ian and Caroline (you may remember them from our Dirt Candy excursion of the winter) had us over for a lovely meal that included an appetizer of creamy, slightly-sweet peanut butter hummus, served with various crudités, pita chips, and pickled mango. Add to that a Campari Soda and sweeping vistas of the East River and not-far-off Brooklyn. Heaven.
Chef Caroline informs me that to make this, one need only to swap traditional tahini (sesame seed paste) of your favorite hummus recipe with ANY nut butter (cashew, anyone?). I don’t really have a favorite hummus recipe (I’ve tried some here), but Nigella Lawson does. Her recipe, adapted below. Happy snacking.
Enough to share with your 10 best friends, adapted from Nigella Lawson
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove, peeled
3–5 tbsp. olive oil
6 tbsp. favorite nut butter (SL NOTE: I prefer chunky, but go with smooth if that’s how you like your hummus)
3 tbsp. lemon juice, or more as needed
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
4–6 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. peanuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. smoked paprika
Raw sliced veggies (bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, endive), pita chips, sliced crisp tart apples, etc. to serve alongside
In a food processor, purée together garlic clove, chickpeas, 3 tbsp. oil, peanut butter, lemon juice, salt and cumin until combined and thick. Add 4 tbsp. of Greek yogurt and process again; if the hummus is still too thick, add another 1–2 tbsp. yogurt and the same of oil. Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice and salt if needed.
Transfer hummus to a pretty, festive bowl. On serving, mix chopped peanuts with smoked paprika and sprinkle on top. Serve alongside crudités and chips and dipping bits.
It’s been kinda cool this June in NYC, a cause for complaint for many sun-worshippers, but a breezy 60 degrees is perfect for morning runs in East River Park! Post-run, you’re just hot and sweaty enough to reward your running efforts with what I’m going to call Summer 2012’s Official Breakfast Popsicle: Greek yogurt, berries, a touch of agave. Listen, you don’t even need to have a fancy popsicle mold to make these: get yourself some plastic or paper cups, and when you pour in your popsicle flavors, use an old Chinese takeout chopstick instead of a real popsicle stick. What can I say, I’m avant-garde.
Prepare ahead of time (makes about 6 small pops):
1 c. Greek yogurt, any flavor
1 c. berries, your choice (mixed frozen berries is a good one)
1-2 tsp. raw honey or agave nectar, or a touch of raw sugar for sweetness
Mash your berries with a fork to a chunky consistency in a bowl; stir in honey/agave/sugar. In a popsicle mold (or, in my case, a plastic cup), spoon in a dollop of Greek yogurt, followed by a dollop of berry mixture; alternate until your mold is filled. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, stick in a wooden popsicle stick (or, in my case, half of a chopstick). Freeze for at least an hour, enjoy!
There was a lovely article published this week at MindBodyGreen, called “Finding Messages & Meaning in Chronic Pain.” As a professional yoga teacher, amateur anatomy junkie, and hobbyist athletic movement fiend, I’m constantly learning about the relationship between movement and pain. I grew up in an active environment and everyone I knew participated in rigorous sports. Mantras like “No pain, no gain” and “Pain is temporary, glory is forever” and “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” were pasted to the insides of our gym lockers and reminded us that we were going to experience pain (a personal fave: “If it hurts, change your mind.”). Some of it would be nearly unbearable, and some of it, sadly, would sideline us for a season or two.
At the tender age of fifteen and as a sensitive, creative, wildly imaginative girl, I had the capacity to feel things at a very deep level. I also had a frightening, self-destructive capacity to completely ignore these feelings at all costs for the good of the team. This second tendency overcame me in high school and led to a two-year struggle that started with foot over-pronation, resulted in painful shin splints, and ended in stress fractures that cut my cross-country and basketball seasons short. Custom-made orthotics, physical therapy, ultrasound and electrode therapy, and innumerable amounts of ibuprofen and icepacks. My deepest fear was that I’d be hurt forever, and I started to forget what it felt like to have legs that functioned without each step producing a shooting pain.
I wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand “good” pain versus “bad” pain (in other words, physical intensity versus physical destruction). Today all kinds of studies support the thesis that pain does not have to be a necessary evil of sport and exercise. In fact, there’s something to be said for avoiding pain (a fave mantra of yoga teachers: “If it hurts, don’t do it”).
To my total amazement, my shins healed, eventually, and today I rarely think about the pain I experienced. Those afflicted with chronic pain from arthritis, Fibromyalgia, MS and other degenerative diseases might not be so fortunate. And mantras like NO PAIN NO GAIN are not helpful in this case.
My point is this: know thyself. Some pain (like physical exertion and intensity) is okay. Most pain, though, is your body’s way of trying to tell you something important. Listen. Explore. Become your own expert and advocate. Learn from your experiences and adapt your practice. Ask a million questions. Also…get yourself a foam roller (more on this soon, I promise! I want to properly introduce you to my new best friend). And if pain management means seeking out doctors and medical treatment, especially in the case of disease, seek them out.
Keep practicing in good health, and in good spirits…xx
If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough.
– Mario Andretti, race car driver
You like those big, bright flavors of summer, right? Like fresh basil, sweetly acidic tomatoes kissed by the sun, rich but somehow light pesto…this dish, served warm or cold, will be your summertime staple. I love making pesto, and experimenting with the greens/garlic/nut combos. I say go to town on this recipe, and add a little freshly shredded parmesan if you want a cheese kick too. Thanks to foodie blog Oh She Glows for the inspiration!
Sundried Tomato Pasta with Pesto & Basil
adapted, barely, from Oh She Glows
For the pesto (makes about 3/4 c.):
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, generously packed
7-8 sundried tomatoes, olive-oil packed
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
6-8 tbsp. water
3-4 tbsp. walnuts (toasted, if preferred)
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
For the pasta:
Your choice of pasta, prepared according to package
Big fistfuls of walnuts, chopped and toasted
Sundried tomatoes, chopped
Fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
In food processor, with machine running, drop in garlic cloves to mince. Add basil and process until finely chopped. Add olive oil, tomatoes and water (add slowly as needed). Process until mostly smooth. Pulse in walnuts until chunky and season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.
In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, walnuts and pesto to your taste and preference. Mix until well combined, then plate pasta and garnish with sundried tomatoes and basil leaves. Serve with rustic, crusty bread and a simple salad, and a big, ice-cold glass of spiked lemonade.