Thursday, February 28, 2013

Breakfast, I still love you!

Since starting an intensive yoga teacher training program, I've noticed lots of changes in my eating habits. Not only has my appetite changed considerably (either completely diminished or insatiable) but the size and timing of my meals are totally different than they were before the training, and continue to vary depending on the time of day that I practice. The biggest change for me is breakfast. In the past, my day did not begin until breakfast ended. Breakfast has been my signal for my body and brain to start working, my fuel to get going and the first thing I create. Since I started practicing yoga more intensely most mornings, I've had to forgo this ritualistic meal. Not only was there no time to prepare and consume food before leaving the house at 8 or 9 am (give me a break, I've only been out of college for six months!) but it is actually not a good idea to practice on a full stomach.

Why should you do yoga on an empty stomach? Just try to visualized food moving down the digestive track while attempting twists and inversions for a moment. Its like driving off the road and going backwards and in circles before proceeding to your destination. It takes a lot of energy to digest food-moving food through the system and assimilating nutrients. Moving through various poses and transitions take lots of energy too, and thusly compromises your body's capacity to absorb nutrients and depletes the amount of energy you have to expend on asanas. Kind of a loose-loose situation, if you ask me. Having an empty belly also allows for deeper breathing (literally more room for air) and a clearer mind. If you don't practice yoga in the morning, or MUST eat something when you wake up, make sure you allow one to two hours (depending on the speed of your metabolism) to digest before practicing. 

All that said, there have been few days where I opted to attend a class in the evening and started my day with a gentle self-practice and meditation, followed by a nourishing breakfast. Below are some culinary creations I have been enjoying lately: 

A sweet and grounding breakfast porridge comprised of:
1/2 cup brown rice
1 carrot, grated 
1/4 cup raisins
1 T sesame seeds
maple syrup (to taste) 

 A blueberry buckwheat pancake, based on this recipe 

A green smoothie with raw cacao and this life-changing G-F bread via My New Roots

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Yogi Lunch #2

Second week of training complete! Friday night we got a nice (and hilarious) overview of the history of yoga. Saturday and Sunday asana practice focused on standing poses with neutral pelvis followed but seminars on Ujaii breath & meditation and anatomy of foot to the pelvis, respectively. Here is what I ate:

Saturday: Steamed bok choi rubbed with an ume plum and a sweet potato roasted with black beans, a few squares of dark chocolate (not pictured)

Very balanced meal. I'm kinda on a sweet potato kick these days and the black beans mixed in create a nice carb/ protein combo. 

Sunday: Kitchari in a jar(y)! This version included: quinoa, mung beans, carrot, onion, celery, daikon and kale.

After talking tons about Ayurveda in training and the wonders of Kitchari, I thought this would be a great lunch, easily transported in a old honey jar. Because everything is cooked together, it makes for easy digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Win!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Series: Yogi Lunch #1

As I mentioned, I've started my yoga teacher training. Of course, one of the first questions that came to mind during our Friday night orientation is what am I going to eat for lunch during our 9 hour training days? As the intern, one of my duties is to arrive at 8:30 am (yikes!) to open the studio before everyone else arrive for the Saturday and Sunday intensive training days. We begin with 3 hours of asana (or physical) practice each day, then break for lunch and then have a couple of hours of seminar (this week we covered the lifestyle of a yogi with an introduction to Ayurveda and developing a home practice) and finally end with more asana practice. As much as  I love breakfast, I can't really stomach any food that close to waking and definitely prefer practicing yoga on an empty stomach. That means breakfast on training days will consist of warm water with lemon and perhaps a spoonful of bee pollen or a piece of fruit if I feel I need a little something. That means lunch needs to be my main fuel-up for the day. It is actually preferable to make lunch your biggest meal of the day, as that is when digestion is strongest. I began to brainstorm some credentials for my new mid-day meal:
-cooked, yet enjoyable at room-temperature
-healthy (duh)
-delicious (duh)
-filling enough to satisfy me until dinner at least 6 hours later, yet easily digested so I can comfortably do yoga a few hours after consumption
-uses seasonal ingredients 
-simple enough to prep the night before

Here is what lunch looked like my first weekend of training::

Saturday: 1/2 cup brown rice, home-make ruby sauerkraut and hijiki-brocoli stir fry with chickpeas and sesame seeds

This was a lot of food for me! I forgot how doing lots of yoga can make you loose your appetite initially. I managed to scarf most of it down though because I woke up at 7am, rode my bike to the studio and then did 3 hours of intense asana practice on an empty stomach and knew my body needed it. I was happy I had this to refuel with, but during our break between seminars I wish a had brought a little snack or something. I tried to buy and orange from this fruit store near by, but it looked kind of shady, so I passed and waited until dinner. 

Sunday: Steamed sweet potato with dulse seaweed and sesame seeds, lightly steamed kale and two apples and tea for snacks.

This lunch was perfectly simple, a good combo of carbs and protein with greens to rejuvenate. Tea bags are also key- we have a hot water dispenser at the studio so it was nice to have something warm to sip on when sitting still during the seminars. 

Stay tuned for more yogi lunches!

P.S. These are great lunches not only if you are rolling around on a mat for hours, but if you need something that fits in a bag to bring to class/ the office/ out on appointments with you. Hope they inspire some creative mid-day munching!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Love Day

Hope your day is full of lots of (self)lovin' and good food!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Winter Slaw with Creamy Tahini Dressing

This winter slaw recipe has been the perfect way to include some raw veggies amongst the many cooked versions I've been enjoying this winter. Its super quick to toss together, can be adapted to whatever vegetables are left over in your fridge and is refreshing yet hearty due to the creamy dressing. 

I love using a big box cheese grater to grate all the veggies- so quick and ensures everything is a consistent size. I grated up (counter clockwise)::
one large beet
one carrot
1/2 of a daikon radish
1/4 purple cabbage
chopped kale

The dressing consisted of::
2T tahini 
1t miso
1t mustard
4T balsamic vinegar
1/2t cumin
1t maple syrup (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt (to taste) 

Tossed everything together in a big salad bowl and let sit for about 20 minutes for the veggies to soften and flavors to meld together. This salad can be enjoyed immediately or refrigerated for 2 days.