Archive for the 'Seasonal Variations' Category

Day 36. Bikram Yoga Challenge

January 18th, 2011

snow yogi
This has been the story of my life these days…tromping through snow to get to yoga! We have had a ridiculous amount of snow this year. I’m scared to see what happens when it all finally melts.

I’ve been meeting some really cool people at the yoga studio. This is WILL. He’s hilarious! He’s also doing a yoga challenge. So, we are like comrades in arms. You should check out his blog.

This YOGA CHALLENGE has been intense!! But in a good way. I’ve been helping things along with my uber clean diet. This is a watercress/seaweed salad that I made yesterday. I got the recipe from SARMA’S book, and it is a winner! I have to tell you that raw food plus bikram yoga equals very powerful detox, to be sure. I’ve been going through a lot…from sore muscles to amazingly efficient elimination to feeling ill to feeling wonderful to unbelievable progress with my health issues. Admittedly, I’m holding up better than I thought I would. In some ways, I wish that progress was a little faster. But I know that my body is going at MY pace. If it went any faster, I think I would be overwhelmed.

halfmoonThis is the half moon pose, and it is my nemesis (for a lot of reasons). It’s the second pose in the series. It looks easy enough. But for me, it’s hard. First off, it’s early in the series. So, I’m still stiff. It’s very hard for me to lift my arms over my head like that the first time around (we do each posture twice). I have a lot of muscle pain from my ACCIDENT in my upper back and neck. It’s actually improved a lot since I started this challenge. In the beginning it was more widespread and diffuse. Now, it seems more focused. Like a lot of the milder tension has released a little. Now I’m left with the most stubborn spots. The other issue is that according to my teacher, Martha, there are many small muscles in the pelvis that stabilize you in this side stretch. Since I was on crutches/walker for some time, these muscles are really weak. This pose starts with a left and right side stretch and then progresses to a front and back stretch. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? You would think so. But OMG. It’s hard!! My lower back is kind of a wreck right now.

standing bowThis is the standing bow. I’ve actually been making good progress on this pose the last week or so. It really stretches out the shoulder surprisingly. So to me, it feels really good. The professional yogis do this pose and it looks like a sideways split. Right now, I can NOT fathom how they do that. But it’s amazingly inspirational. I have a ways to go before I get to that point. But I can see my foot coming up behind my head when I look in the mirror. So, I’ve reached the first goal. Yay!

I’ve been eating really well to support the challenge, and I have to say it doesn’t feel difficult at all to me. Now that I have the repertoire, I feel like I’m really hitting a stride with my food prep. Here are some chalupas I made the other day.

This is a raw pizza. I garnished it with marinated mushroom, COCONUT JERKY, and pineapple for a hawaiian feel (I’m in denial about the snow). Healthwise, I’ve been noticing lots of changes. My muscle tension is slowly dissipating. I hoped that I would have worked through most of it by now. But alas, it is a lot worse than you can tell when you’re all numb. But it is changing. So I’m determined to stick it out until I get ahead of it. My liver has been going through a lot. If you have liver issues like me, I should warn you that I definitely had to do a lot of work on my liver to work up to this. My yoga teacher even noticed. She said that it seemed like I had a lot of gunk to work through at first. I was really surprised that she would observe that. Really intuitive! The liver is definitely working things out. Like, I have this constant burp that comes and goes in class (a symptom that first appeared when I was in the HOSPITAL with my liver issues). I also have had some healing crises like an episode of the chills and a severe episode of heartburn that wasn’t food related (liver symptoms). But I went into see my doctor last week (to follow up on my TEST RESULTS – perhaps a topic which is worthy of it’s own post). She checked my liver numbers, and they were good. So despite the challenges, I seem to be staying on top of things. And my doctor encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing. So, I think I will. I’ll keep you posted…


New Year’s Rampage

January 4th, 2011

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by. At this time last year, I was just STARTING ADVANCED INSTRUCTION at 105 DEGREES. It’s so interesting to look back and reflect on YEARS PAST and see how PERCEPTIONS have changed and how things have unfolded. Well, last year I had a very reasonable goal which I’ve made significant progress on. This year, I’m on a rampage! It started a few weeks ago with a YOGA CHALLENGE. I gave myself a few weeks to acclimate to that before I really started focusing in on my diet.

This week is all about stockpiling goodies for my fridge and kitchen. Here you can see the pomegranate kombucha I made for my boyfriend (a hopeless addict who drinks at least two of these a day). I also made a big stash of SPROUTS. My diet is actually pretty good most of the time. Since I suffer from some DIGESTIVE ISSUES, I can’t really stray very far from a certain level of enlightenment, so to speak. But I do notice that I tend to stray towards going out to eat and getting comfortable with a little too much slop in the system. It’s amazing when you really clean things up. You realize what a difference it makes.

Here I am marinating a variation of the coconut bacon in ANI PHYO’S NEW BOOK. She uses this in tons of recipes. So it’s great to have around. Plus, I had a huge amount of coconut meat leftover from making a big batch of KEFIR.

My version is quite a bit spicier than hers. So I think of it more like a jerky.

I also made a big batch of kimchee (which I am only allowed to eat when my boyfriend is NOT home). This is what it looks like when it’s just made.

After it ferments, it turns pink. This year, I am much more savvy with the fermented foods which interestingly was the answer to my quest from LAST YEAR (to get my Candida under control).

Yesterday, I started pickling these peppers (another recipe from ANI PHYO’S book). She has a really nice section on kimchee in her book with authentic asian recipes. I like that!

onion bread
My boyfriend has been getting really involved too (which makes it so fun and creative). Yesterday, he made this AMAZING onion bread with pineapple pieces in it. He was inspired by VICKI (a fellow student at 105 Degrees). She made a recipe similar to this for her final project. It is SO DELICIOUS!! I was very impressed.

rampageIn other news, my YOGA CHALLENGE is going well so far. I’m just starting week four right now. It’s so interesting how things evolve from week to week. I’m still having a lot of pain and tension in my muscles but it has loosened up A LOT since I started. This week, I made the most progress on the standing bow pose. Actually, both of the bow poses are starting to open up for me. Right now, I’m having the most trouble with Standing Head to Knee pose (this will take a WHILE) and Half Moon Pose. I have a lot of issues with my lower back. I think there are a lot of muscles in that area that have gotten weak and out of whack. It really becomes obvious in these poses. My teacher, Martha, said that there are many small stabilizing muscles in the pelvis (which I BROKE) which will impact this pose as well. So I think I have my work cut out for me on that one. The other thing I’m noticing this week is massive detox. Yesterday was rather intense. But letting go of what’s not working for me is what this challenge is all about. So bring it on!


Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2010

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you are all having the most wonderful of holidays. I am in the middle of making some lovely holiday truffles for tomorrow. If you would like to know how, check out this lovely VIDEO that I made on Christmas Eve last year for PRL TV (which details the entire process)!

prl tv banner

On that note, I will leave you with a Christmas Carol. A perfect piece for Christmas Eve. My boyfriend recorded me playing it. I love how the door squeaks at the end. 🙂 Enjoy! And Happy Holidays…




December 14th, 2010

snow moi
Things have gotten nutty up here in the Great White North. They’ve dubbed it ‘Snowmageddon 2010’. The biggest snowstorm in Minnesota since Halloween 1991. I didn’t live here then, but people still talk about it. This time, it was SEVENTEEN INCHES in the Minneapolis area!

no roofThe snow was so heavy, it caused the roof of the METRODOME TO CAVE IN. A fitting end to BRETT FAVRE’S STREAK.

kitty window
This is officially the biggest snow storm I’ve ever been in.

parking meter
Check out this parking meter.

No more benches for waiting on the bus. Not that you’d want to. We also dipped below zero this week.

parking lot
This is the road that leads to the car…Looks like it’s time to catch up on some reading 🙂


Sad to Say Goodbye

November 12th, 2010

case kc
Well, it’s starting to get cold up in these parts. You know what that means? The days are numbered for kale chips. It’s so hard to say goodbye. I mean, I LOVE kale chips! But there are lot of exciting things on the horizon for the winter (STAY TUNED!).

going out with a band
We’re going out with a bang though! Look at these beautiful peppers I grew this season! They have to be the most perfect peppers I’ve seen, and they taste AMAZING!

chocolate habanero
These are chocolate habaneros. There are only a few left, but they are definitely worth the wait. (I have waited all season for these little babies to come due).

I have been so insanely busy since I posted my kale chips for sale. I was completely NOT EXPECTING such a huge response. And strangely, almost none of the orders were from raw foodists. Sadly, I am going to have to close up shop (for the kale chips anyway) in one week. Kale goes out of season up here, and we are going to honor the seasons here and support local farms. SO…here’s the scoop.



Indian Summer

October 13th, 2010

We have had some freakishly warm weather (for Minnesota) the last week or so and I am LOVING it. I missed a lot of summer this year (as I was RECOVERING my accident). So now is my chance to soak it all up. Consequently, my garden is a little wild this year (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

flower sign
One of my fellow gardeners grew a communal bed of flowers! How lovely is that? It sad to say goodbye to gardening season.

garden harvest
I have really gotten into juicing garden harvest. It’s so luxurious (esp. when you consider how much it would be to BUY all this).

My physical therapy right now involves BIKE RIDING. This is a scene from my bike ride to the garden. I have to cross the mighty Mississippi River to get there. (It seems like a trek, but before you get too impressed I should mention that it’s not actually that far. And I have to walk my bike part of the way. But I’m getting there).

green juice
Still, things are definitely looking up out here. I’m moving a little slow these days, but you know what they say about slow and steady…I’m just saying!


Garden Laboratory

May 9th, 2010

garden lab
Well, the weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating with our garden plans thus far. As a result, we have quite the burgeoning garden laboratory going now. We started a fairly extensive batch of SEEDLINGS a few weeks ago (though most of them are still pretty small and frail).

plant saleSo much like LAST YEAR, I went to the infamous FRIENDS SCHOOL PLANT SALE to pad our repertoire. The plant sale is AMAZING. They have everything you could possibly think of. I went with good intentions, but it’s difficult to draw parameters around the endless possibilities. Just think of all the food I could make!  I mean a girl could really go balls to the wall gourmet with so much to work with!

plant sale
Just to give you an idea of why my boyfriend was so annoyed with me, here is a list of all the plants I got:

Black Cumin
Culantro (not cilantro…I don’t know either)
Lavender, Fred Boutin
Thai Basil, Siam Queen
Sweet Basil
Milk Thistle
Mint, Spearmint
Mint, Chocolate Mint
Papalo (described as cilantro on steroids)
Parsley, Curly
Parsley, Italian
African Blue Basil
Boxcar Willie Tomato
Sweet Banana Pepper
Caspian Pink Tomato
Coyote Tomato
Habanero Pepper, Chocolate
Habanero Pepper, Orange
Heirloom Lettuce, Forellenschluss

seedlingsI should note that this was AFTER we had already purchased a wide variety of lettuces/greens (curly kale, dino kale, swiss chard, and a few butter lettuce varieties). Where I’m going to find room to plant all these is anybody’s guess. But every raw food catering business needs all this! Right?! We did inherit an extra bed this year at the COMMUNITY GARDEN that needs some TLC. Someone let it overgrow with weeds. So it kind of needs a nanny for a year. But I think I’m still going to need to get creative..

sq ft garden
Here’s a draft of our SQUARE FOOD GARDEN grid. The blank boxes represent the number of plants I was SUPPOSED to get at the plant sale. (He should have known he was sending me on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE). 🙂

goji bush
In other news, look how well my GOJI bush is doing! ANTHONY would be so proud…


Earth Day

April 25th, 2010

hub of heaven
In case you didn’t get the memo, today is EARTH DAY! We spent the day kicking off gardening season at our community garden. Last year, we planted our very FIRST GARDEN, and it went so WELL that we are on the steering committee this year.

Here is an insider’s look at the garden. There are about thirty raised beds.

digging weeds
My job was to orient everyone to the watering system and where everything is and collect the dinero. I also was digging up weeds on the fenceline. There were some pretty monster ones. It looks like an asteroid hit after I dug up some of them. Pretty massive.

team compost
Team compost did an AMAZING job of turning the compost and making the new dirt available to gardeners.

big garden
This is one of our garden beds…It’s the same one we had LAST YEAR.

We had a lot of trouble with the onions last year. They just did not want to come up. Funny thing is they’re the only thing coming up now.

lil garden
We inherited a second little bed halfway through the season that was abandoned. This one has strawberries coming up in it.

Look! They’re flowering already! This is going to be a good year. I can tell already. I’m ready to dive in. I can’t wait…


The Season for New Beginnings

April 15th, 2010

As luck would have it, I’m starting my new beginning right in sync with nature. Leave it to these guys to perk me up when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. We’ve started our seedlings for gardening season!

Last year, my goal with the GARDEN was just to have one. What came up vastly exceeded my wildest expectations. It was so good that we were invited to be on the steering committee at our COMMUNITY GARDEN. I’m now officially the web hag of our garden. There are still a few plots available if anyone is interested.

two trays
This year, I want to be more efficient with the food that comes up. Now that I have a better idea about timing etc. We have a few seedlings started up. Some are doing better than others.

grow lights
Right now we have them under a couple low tech grow lights we got from the hardware store. The whole contraption was about $20.

The peppers are loving life!

The basil is doing pretty good too. The lettuce…not so much.

I started some more goji (since that worked out so well LAST YEAR).

The sage overall didn’t fair so well, but I have this one determined little guy that might amount to something.

Radicchio will be nice in my salad mixes.

And of course, I have lots of grass!! (I’m almost done with the wheatgrass episode for PRL TV. It’s taking forever, but I think it’s going to be a good one. My BF thinks we’ll be done by Saturday).

baby grass
Some cute little baby grasses..

gilIn other news, my boyfriend got me in to see GIL SCOTT-HERON last night (of ‘the REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED‘ fame). It was excellent. He’s hilarious. Sharp guy.  Really unique.  Even the crowd was unique.  My boyfriend does sound there a lot.  And there was definitely a much more diverse crowd there than usual.  Leave it to Gil to challenge your perception of things and keep things in perspective.  Just what I need at the moment.

In other news, there is a walking path that goes from my new place to Whole Foods. How convenient is that? Things could definitely be worse. 🙂


Rawkstar Dinner featuring Matt Burch

January 16th, 2010

Things are starting to move pretty fast schoolwise. This week, the restaurant hosted a ‘Rawkstar Dinner’. This is a series of special dinners which feature someone in the local community.

matt burchThis dinner featured Matt Burch, owner of URBAN AGRARIAN. He’s a local food purveyor who specializes in local and organic ingredients. He provided several items that he wanted to feature on the evening’s menu, AND he actually got down and dirty with us in the kitchen too. I was pretty impressed with his knife skills.

I love this picture of the servers going over the menu with us. Don’t they look like Christmas carolers? I’m just waiting for them to break out in song.

This was the actual menu. It’s a little difficult to read though. So, let me break it down for you…

fennel tart
The first course was this beautiful fennel tart made by HELEN. It’s garnished with a blood orange reduction as well as the fennel frond, leaf, and pollen. The filling is a cashew based fennel cream, and the crust featured local Oklahoma pecans.

cheese plate
The next course was a beautiful cheese plate served with a crostini made from sprouted wheatberries, some local honey, and a tossed arugula salad.

This course was made by Anjela who is plating the dish with Ladan (our instructor).

The third course was a wild mushroom and kale ravioli served with a locally grown tomato fondue. Look at the beautiful patterns in the ravioli!

sonya and kellyThe raviolis were made by the lovely SONJA shown here with our charming pastry chef, Kelly. As you might have guessed, she has a background in graphic design. She even went to art school with one of my ex-boyfriends. Cosmic! We have a lot of strange things in common (always a good sign!).
I was working in the pastry department with Kelly. We served two courses. The first course was a kumquat cheesecake. Matt Burch has a weak spot for kumquats and so do I. I LOVE kumquats. I’m not sure what it is about them. But these were REALLY GOOD kumquats. The cheesecake was garnished with candied pistachio pieces, a kumquat syrup, and a blood orange syrup. I love how they mingled on the plate and looked like a flame.

Finally, we finished with a syrah infused chocolate truffle. YUM! The dinner was a smashing success! HOORAY!