Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The best thing I've ever done for my health

I know you think it's the yogasana practice, and yes, that's a close second.  But nutrition is paramount when it comes to health.  Signing up for a CSA year-round is the VERY BEST THING I have ever done for my health.  Eating locally is a hobby and a chore without a regular delivery of fresh produce to either your door or your neighborhood.  There is no local exclusive grocery store that I have found, including New Seasons.  They will all taunt you with veggies and fruit that are 'in season' like strawberries in April...from California.  There are busy times in my life that the farmers' market schedule doesn't jive with my own and what would I eat that week then? 
There is a not-so-subtle nudge to eat fresh fruits and veggies when you have a regularly scheduled influx.  Last night I was on my way home thinking, 'maybe I'll just stop for a pizza'; that idea was instantly shot down by the fact that I have greens in the fridge and I need to eat them by Thursday when the next delivery comes.  So instead I sauteed a huge amount of collards and kale and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
What's for lunch today...and most days this spring a take your own salad of lettuce, pea shoots, spinach, mustard greens, arugula, perhaps some fresh chives, radishes, home pickled beets, homemade dill pickles, and either cheese, egg or beans.  Because if I have a PB&J or go out...the food in the fridge will either go bad or I will not have room for the next shipment.
Yes, forced produce consumption has sustained me in the hardest of times.  I wouldn't do it ALL THE TIME if it weren't for the CSA.  So thank you Philly Winter Harvest for supporting me in Philadelphia, and thank you Hood River Organics for getting me through chiropractic school and my first year of doctoring.
Do something that you'll never regret and join a CSA, I promise your body will thank you and you won't miss the pizza.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The 'perfect yogini' trap

I have a confession to make, lately I have found my self in the 'perfect yogini' trap.  I think this problem stems from too much exposure to yoga 'rules'.  There are a lot of rules out there about when is appropriate to practice, and I with my slightly strange 2nd shift-ish work schedule, have been trying to adhere to:
  • Practice in the morning is best, evening second best but not starting practice past 6:30 pm.
  • Practice on an empty stomach.
  • Don't practice during your period.
  • Don't practice on moon days.
  • Don't practice on Saturdays.
  • Skip supper, go to bed early, to rise early and practice.
I have followed all of those 'don't practice' rules and always plan to practice at the appropriate times, but it just ends up being a rushed surya A and short savasana.  It seems that I have forgotten the number one rule:
and the number 2 rule:
I have grown so attached to 'the rules' that I was half-assing my actual practice!  

Inspirations led me to this understanding:
  • Halley- a friend of mine who has committed to exercising daily, even if that means heading to the gym at 11 pm on a full stomach.
  • Christina from prescribing yoga- she rolls out her mat in the on-call room at midnight.
  • TM, my patient- a beginner yogi in her 50s, she goes to yoga class 2-5x/wk every week since the week before Thanksgiving 2012, it is making EVERYTHING so much better.

After hearing from them, I resolved to ignore the rules, starting TODAY!  I remember back in graduate school I practiced 5-6 days a week at all hours of the day, period or not, and I didn't even know what a moon day was.  I had been known to occasionally roll out my yoga mat in our office a little after lunch.  That was a stressful time of my life and I got through it healthy and happy.  Now that my practice is weak I am weaker and less happy.

Today, I slept through my early alarm yet again and didn't have time to practice, again.  But today, instead of a hasty sun salutation in my pjs, I opted to skip out on morning practice.  I left work early(!), only to get stuck in rush hour that I forgot existed and got home way past 6:30pm.  What did I do?  Changed into a yoga outfit and rolled out the mat.  And do you know what, I felt better about myself and the whole world around me.  I am going back to the days before I even knew about the 'rules' and just knew that practice makes everything in life better, so make it a priority to practice more!

I am sure that these rules work well for many people, they just don't work for me right now.  Sure, I'll likely skip inverting during my period, wait a little before practicing after a big meal, and perhaps even rest on moon days...but the cardinal rule of yoga is to PRACTICE and that is the only rule that I need to adhere to.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The fruits of spring

There is nothing sweeter or more looked forward to than the first strawberry of the season.  I tasted my first while walking my dog earlier this week around the neighborhood.  One neighbor grows strawberries all through her front yard...which I could not resist when I noticed they were red and ripe!

This weekend I headed straight to Sauvie Island Farms and picked up a flat of strawberries and to Kruger's for some rhubarb.

Every year I break out the canner I fall in love with it.  I think that I have missed canning...but come tomato season I get very bitter about it, the only thing that makes me do it is that home canned tomatoes are completely unmatched by their commercial counterparts and you NEED canned tomatoes to survive winter!

So, while I'm still in love with canning, I made a small batch of rhubarb-strawberry jam.  I can never predict how much my recipe will produce, it is anywhere from 4-8 jars depending on the year.  This year the rhubarb-strawberry jam will be extra precious; I only produced 6 half-pints.

In addition I sweet-talked Dan into freezing a gallon of berries, so I am prepped for smoothies!

2013 Preservation Tally:
6 half-pints rhubarb strawberry jam
1 gallon frozen strawberries

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lonely Squash, Part 2

The squash still looms over me from the top of the fridge today.  What to do with it?  The truth is I am not going to eat it, especially when I am typically having spinach salads with radishes and chives.

The food dehydrator is a great tool.  I will puree this squash, spread it out on a plastic sheet and dehydrate it.  Dehydrated squash is a great addition to soups and stews...and it doesn't go bad.

My CSA farm is running low on supplies of stocked up fruits and veggies, as evidenced by the latest box.  I received lots of grain products:  2 loaves of bread, 2 bags of oats.  Greens and grains primarily is the theme.
This works.  A great lunch at this time of year is a sandwich containing hummus and leftover greens from dinner the night before.  Add a home-pickled beet from last fall and you have something truly special.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The lonely squash

When you have been eating primarily local foods for awhile, your meals start to look very seasonal.  Right now I am eating a lot of greens.  Salads any chance I get.  I crave them at this time of year. 
 There is some amount of storage with local eating.  Especially with the winter months.  Squash is a crop that stores well in a closet or on top of your fridge for a long time.  Thankfully, for those of us craving a fresh vegetable in January.
So now I find myself here in late April...the definition of springtime with flowers blooming everywhere and warm weather being fickle...with one lonely acorn squash on the top of my fridge.  I don't crave it, I don't want to waste it.  A nice, organic, perfectly good, squash.
I will eat it today I tell myself, because today is rainy and I want something warm and hearty.  But I've said that many times this past month and a half.
Do you have any leftover winter crops hanging around your house?  Do you have any spring recipes for acorn squash?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The yoga scene fluff

Most of my practice is at home.  I started a home practice out of necessity due to my all consuming schedule as a chiropractic student.  Now that I have time to visit studios...I still stick to keeping to my mat at home.

These days, my yoga practice is about digging deep and facing reality.  It isn't easy.  It isn't pretty.  It isn't hearts, flowers, and butterflies.  I have dabbled in meditation...which is also none of those things.  Meditation is where I face my dark side.  I need to recognize the negative and patience-less part of who I am.  This has been creeping into my yoga practice too. 

Recently, I decided to visit a yoga class in my neighborhood.  It was all peace, love, and happiness.  There was pre-practice chat about how 'lovely and wonderful' meditation is.  Which I kind of thought was complete crap.  Meditation is hard and no one 'loves' it.  There was all sorts of cozy happy talk, which just annoyed that dark side of myself that I've been facing in my practice. 

Perhaps the only place I should be practicing among others is the Mysore studio.  Even if people there are thinking hearts, butterflies, and flowers--they are keeping it to themselves. 

Have you ever been annoyed with the fluffy side of the yoga scene, or faced your darker self in your practice?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Early spring salads

I love a good salad!  Early spring salads are appearing on plates in my house these days.  One of my favorite greens is in season here in Oregon...PEA SHOOTS!  I love pea shoots so much.  They have a nutty, pea-like flavor in the background of pure green goodness.  I have been eating them mixed with microgreens and adding chopped carrots.  Since Easter has just passed, I have been adding some pickled beets & eggs to round out the salad and make it an entire meal.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter breakfast: Carrot Cake Pancakes

If you are looking for a slightly healthier option to eating chocolate on Easter morning, might I suggest Carrot Cake Pancakes.  At this time of year, greens are starting to come in, but not much else veggie wise.  So use up those root veggies.

Carrot Cake Pancakes
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. buttermilk
6 Tbs. butter, melted
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Separate the eggs.  Mix the buttermilk with the yolks and add to the dry ingredients.  Stir until just mixed.  Add the melted butter to the batter, stir well.  Add the vanilla and cinnamon.  Beat the whites until they form soft peaks, fold into batter.  Fold in the carrots and walnuts.  Cook in an ungreased skillet.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Yoga: AM or PM?

I was for a long time an after work yogini, with the occasional weekend morning practice.  During chiropractic school however, I didn't get home until way too late for practice so I experimented with a morning practice.  It was the only way, even though it required 4:30 wake-ups often leading to needing too much coffee and only yielding partial practices.  Now that I have graduated, and have more control over my schedule I am trying to figure out what works best for me, morning or late afternoon yoga.

AM practice:
  • It is done, you can't get too busy later on and not get to your practice.
  • It sets the tone for the day.  I feel more relaxed. 
  • I have accomplished a major goal for the day before I even get to breakfast.
  • I am hungry.
  • I feel rushed, I worry about being late. 
  • For some reason, I am more full of phlegm in the morning.  Many breaks must be taken to spit or blow my nose.
  • I miss the morning dog walk.
  • I think breakfast is better in pajamas.
PM practice:
  • I never feel rushed, timers are not necessary.
  • My mind is more at ease.
  • I am not hungry or thirsty.
  • I am more focused on practice.
  • Practice will not make me late for anything, supper can wait.
  • If I oversleep, it doesn't shorten my practice.
  • Perfect way to end a day, much preferable to drinks or television.
Currently I am trying a PM practice on, but reserve the right to switch.  I like the way I can focus with an early evening practice and spend time afterward reflecting on practice and reading a sutra.  I don't hear my boyfriend getting ready and actually starting his day with a dog walk, while I'm hanging out on a mat.  My body and mind seem more primed for PM practice.  I will try to stick with this time frame for now.  I have the good fortune of starting work late or ending early to fit in a practice where it is most appropriate for me, but I do need to show up for the times that I tell patients that I will be there for them.  No running late or skipping out early 'just today'. 

What practice time have you adopted, and why?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


This past weekend I participated in the National Day of Unplugging.  The National Day of Unplugging involves not using anything tech from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.  No cell phone, no texting, no e-mail, no internet, no computer.  Think of yourself back in the 80s.  I consider myself someone who has boundaries around technology, and this seemed like a good idea but didn't think it would be so hard!
I did allow myself to use my cell phone, but only in any way I would have used a landline if I had one.  That means no phone calls outside my house.  No checking my text messages, or texting anyone else.  No checking e-mails.  No checking facebook.  None of it.
I found this harder than anticipated.  When the phone put out a text tone, I was programed to go pick it up.  I didn't check it though, until after sunset that day.  I was forced to find joy in the more simple things.  Reading books, long walks with the dog.  Those 24 hours seemed to last longer. 
The National Day of Unplugging was a wake-up call to just how plugged in I actually am.  From here forward I think I'll not check my phone so often for e-mail updates, etc.  They are usually junk e-mails anyway, especially on the weekend.  Spending more quality time with my books and my dog is completely worth it. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Be 10% better

I read a shocking fact this week. '10% of the American diet is fast food.'

Ten percent of what we are eating is burgers, fries, pizza, hoagies, deep-fried whatever, etc. Even locavores are not immune to this in the Pacific Northwest with Burgerville and other local shops willing to ease our consciousness, if not our saturated fat intake.

Here are some tips to avoid the pitfall after a long day:
  • Make a little extra of your favorites and freeze it.  Heating is faster than pizza delivery.
  • Can goodies such as pasta sauce and freeze jars of pesto.  Boiling pasta takes next to no effort.
  • Have healthy snacks with you such as Larabars, nuts, fruits, carrots, dried fruit, even some cheese cubes or bits of dark chocolate.
  • Have fruit out in your kitchen so that you reach for that instead of the take-out menu.
  • Give yourself a cash allowance once a month that you can use to eat out.  Make it a limited amount.  You might find that you'd rather spend your allowance at a nicer, healthier restaurant one or two times a month than once or twice a week eating at Burgerville or Papa Murphy's.  Plus, you'll be surprised at the money you might save when the fast-food leak is sealed shut.
  • Sign up for a local CSA.  The abundance of produce in your fridge may pressure you to cook instead of letting that good local produce go to waste while you eat less delicious, less nutritious french fries.
What strategies do you utilize to avoid the fast food trap? 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Is Yoga Enough?

So many of us yogis believe that yoga is all the exercise we need. Is it true? Yes and no. First of all, it depends on the style of yoga you're practicing. If you are exclusive to yin yoga for example, you will need to certainly add some cardio, balance, and strength training of some sort to your schedule. But since yin yoga is only one kind of yoga, and a bit on the extreme end of the relaxing and stretching part of the spectrum of yoga styles, it's not the best example. Most styles of yoga that have you at some point in your practice standing on one foot, doing standing asanas, and also some asanas that you are bearing weight on your arms (e.g. chattaranga, downward facing dog) are excellent for strength training and balance. Styles that have sun saluations or even 'vinyasas' are good for your cardiovascular health too.

That said, unless you are going to do multiple consecutive surya namaskara vigorously for 30 minutes 5x/week, you are not getting enough aerobic exercise. So no, for your body at least, yoga is NOT enough. The good news is that yoga is amazing for you in so many other ways--please, in my professional opinion DO NOT DROP YOUR PRACTICE!

You might consider adding another activity to your regular routine. It doesn't matter what it is, it can be free or join a class. Walk, hike, run, bike, swim, run up and down the stairs, play an aerobic Wii game, Zumba, whatever just get your heart rate up. My personal favorite? Turning on the music and dancing around my house like a lunatic. Whatever your thing is, make sure your intensity is appropriate. You can figure it out by self monitoring and checking in periodically.

The recommendation is to get your heart rate up within the target range for 30 minutes 5x/week. It involves taking your pulse and knowing where your target heart rate is. You can learn about your target heart rate and how to measure it from the American Heart Association.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baking Season

Winter is defined by spending time indoors and keeping warm. I can't think of a better way to spend these months than baking. I don't bake much year-round. But cold weather has me craving a proper dessert. December is all about baking and sharing your favorite Christmas cookies...but this month I'm baking other treats.
For New Year's dinner I baked a delicious blueberry pie from the frozen blueberries in the freezer. It's easy to bake with frozen berries. The trick is to NOT thaw them. Just 'pretend' that they're fresh and expect that the baking time is going to be significant longer...which you won't mind because the oven will keep you toasty.
Today I found myself with some extra free time after being sent home from work. I decided to make a dessert for dinner--apple crisp!
I wanted to do something special with the Mountain Rose apples from the CSA. This variety is pink on the inside and they say that the color holds with cooking.
I made the crisp in a clear dish so you could see the pink. I didn't have quite enough apples, so I added some other white-fleshed varieties, but primarily it was the Mountain Roses. I don't peel my apples. They are organic and the peels will add a little extra fiber to make the dessert "healthier".
I add a splash of apple brandy, a little sugar, and some cinnamon to the apples.
A good tip is whenever you make a crisp topping, make a double batch. Freeze half of it in a quart size ziploc. I was lucky this time and had a bag in the freezer, which I could just throw on top.
Dessert will be served after a lovely dinner of beet salad, sauteed greens and butternut squash soup tonight.
Crisp topping recipe:

1 2/3 cup oats
1/4 cup flour
6 T brown sugar
1 1/2 T white sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pieces

Mix the dry ingredients well. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until mixture comes together and is crumbly. Frozen will last ~2 months.
This recipe will work with any fruit. Add a little sugar to all and about a tablespoon of flour to juicy fruits before topping. Bake at 375 until golden brown and bubbling ~50 minutes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Coming soon...2013

I am going to be much better about blogging now that school is finished. I also got a new phone with a decent camera, so hoping to post some pictures on here. My old phone went kaput years ago, so not many images made it to the blog for the past few years. Expect some yummy local food goodies to come. Starting here this year.