White Asparagus Dip, Overrated Foods on the Blogosphere, and More Yoga Answers

Looks like hummus, but its a perfect blend of nuttyness and sweetness for spaghetti squash and tortilla "bowls"

Before I begin rambling about some sort on nonsense once again, I’d like to apologize for yesterday’s post about the compliment. I sincerely thank all of you who posted thoughtful and supportive comments about it. The thing is, I dont want to come off as someone who doesn’t appreciate compliments or “show off”-like. I honestly don’t take criticism very well either. Anyhow, I don’t like to apologize, but I feel compelled to. Sometimes, you read over old posts and you’re like “What was I thinking?”. Anyhow, onwards and upwards….

I decided to share with you my thought about some food trends that I think are overrated. Tomorrow, I’ll post about some foods that I think should get a little more credit so stay tuned for that.

Before I unveil my list, I feel a disclaimer or two is in order:

  1. I’m in favor of anything that helps people become healthy or fit. The word “overrated” needs to be taken into context and is certainly open to interpretation.
  2. Just because I deem something to be overrated does not mean I don’t think it has merit. I may feel something is “overrated” simply due to the amount of hype it gets or to the degree that its proponents revere it.

Ok so for the Overrated list:

acai berry: You may have had some salesperson tell you of the magical powers possessed by this exotic berry. When tested for polyphenol content, Acai rates below concord grapes, red wine and blueberries. Stick with a variety of fruits and veggies here and save your cash.

“Green Monsters” : I’ve said this before, I understand those who drink it for the nutrients, but prefer chewing my greens or “creaming” my spinach.

“Over-night Oats”: I will get a beating from the blogger gods for the. I know every blogger and their mother eats this daily, but I’m rather impatient about my dinner roasting for a few hours. Overnight seems like too much of a stretch. I’m also not big on oatmeal, and I don’t know I feel a bit weird that it’s not cooked, I’m scarred it will cook in my stomach and expand or something. It’s like that time I swallowed a popcorn kernel and I swear I heard it pop in my tummy.

Enhanced Waters: Supermarket shelves are filled with bottles of brightly colored waters that are spiked with vitamins, herbs, antioxidants and other ingredients with names like “defend,” “rescue” and “focus.” Some claim to stave off colds, boost alertness or relax you, while others attempt to lure you with promises of weight loss. Water should be simple, I dont need it to “focus” or “rescue” me. All I ask is for hydration.

Hemp Milk: Once again, I’m expecting lots of angry sneers at me for this, but I had a sip and was not a fan. Plus, its not cheap. And apparently, it doesnt even get you high, what a rip off I tell ya.

You know what I USED to think was overrated? Avocados and almond butter. But in reality, I think I was just scared of them. Nowadays, I tend to hoard those two items. The world will be a very sad place with those two….

Some more yoga questions to answer!

Tori asked:

“I’ve never been too into yoga. I think because I’ve always assumed you have to be SUPER flexible. Or atleast a little flexibe, which I’m soooo not! I can barely touch my toes!”

Well Tori, your probably more flexible than ME. I blame that decade of my life where I did some serious over-exercise and partly genetics for my complete lack of flexiblity. I’m such a walking contradiction. A chef with eating issues and very stiff Yoga instructor. How I get hired is beyond me. Anyhow, the good news is yoga is for EVERYONE! Actually, I think its way more beneficial if your not uber flexible and resemble gumby. Yoga will increase your flexility and every pose can be modified if you cant do it due to lack of flexibility. For example, if your arm does not reach your shin or the floor in Trikonasana (triangle pose), you can use a block beside you leg and rest your arm there. I cant even reach my toes. Granted, I’ve come a long way and I used to barely reach my knees, so I have improved. I really don’t think flexibility will hinder your yoga experience.

Jam wrote:

“Does yoga really help in recovery from ed?…it seems like lots of people use yoga to obtain recovery”

Here’s the thing, Yoga is one of the few things one can do in order to reconnect with their mind and their body. Eating disorders tend to disconnect you from both. Hence its a great tool to use for recovery. Plus, there is SO much to yoga besides just the poses that its really quiet mind blowing. Its strange, after I took my 200 hr teacher training, I thought to myself, “Wow! Now I know how much I don’t know about yoga!”. Yoga can give you something to put your energy towards instead of food or exercise (and mind you, yoga is so much more than exercise). Plus, yoga has great stress relieving and calming effects which are extremely useful in recovery or any period of hardship. In the inpatient treatment center I went to, Yoga was incorporated into our fitness program and we practiced twice a week. I think that’s where I really discovered my appreciation for yoga practice. Is it for everyone? No, and dont go to classes just cause its cool or you heard it does wonders for your body or whatever. Then you are simply wasting your time. Try a few different instructors and if you like it, great, and if not, no big deal. I’m not trying to get yogi converts, I think its pretty full as is.

Ashley S wrote:

“Is yoga good for building a little muscle? I strength train on and off all the time, but I just can’t really get into it. I don’t need to do much cardio, because I’m not trying to lose any weight.  Anyway, I don’t go to a gym anymore, so are there any dvd’s you can recommend if I wanted to try to get into yoga? What about the Jillian Michaels’s Yoga Meltdown?”

I’ll be frank, Jillian Michael’s scares me, and the last thing I want to be when I’m doing yoga is scarred and intimidated. Yoga is no bootcamp. It can be physically challenging, but there is not need for a drill sergeant with a vagina teaching it. Besides, if it’s called “Meltdown”, I’m pretty sure she’ll have you do some cardio and I know that’s not what you were going for. Any “vinyasa flow” or “power yoga” dvds will actually have a bit of cardio in it, so I guess stay away from those. I know Kristen McGee is a good instructor and I know she has a line of dvd’s out. Maybe netflix them? Plus, there are lots of FREE podcasts you can download on itunes. My favorite are the Yoga Poser series. I downloaded them when I went to Europe and Israel this past winter and they were awesome. Hope that helps!

So for today’s recipe, I’m featuring one of my favorite veggies: WHITE asparagus! Yes, its not easy to find and might be a bit more pricy, but I actually found a bundle on sale! So I decided to make a dressing/dip out of it! In the blender I blended:

chop them up a bit before blending, o my my thumbs are ugly!

-5 white asparagus stalks, steamed

-3 cauliflower florets, steamed

-1 tbs almond butter

-3 tbs of water (enough to thin it out to your liking)

-1 tbs sweetener of choice (like honey, agave, or stevia)

Blend and enjoy!

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A Borrowed Recipe, More Yoga Answers, and Bodily Pride

they were more "crepe" like cause I used less baking powder but I did that on purpose so I would have more surface area for the yogurt!

I was at the gym a few days ago, putting back free weights on the rack when an forty-something year old woman came up to me and said. “You look amazing,”

I was kind of a bitch, I responded, “Excuuuuuuuuse me?”

She answered back, “You’r body, its in good shape!”

I didn’t know how to take it. I replied, “thanks, and tried to let out a smile, but it was very forced. You know, like those smiles you give when a little kid asks you to taste their mud pie (thats actually made of mud) and you tell them its delicious in hopes of no crushing their feelings. Anyhow, I was debating whether or not to even mention it on the blog. The reason for my hesitancy is 1) I dont want to seem like I’m flaunting my body.  I’m neither proud or ashamed of my body. I used to be VERY ashamed. I used to be scared of wearing tank tops because I looked like “an African famine victim” (as my roommate described it). I was kicked out several gyms because of my body being so emaciated that they were worried I would be a liability. And this one time in college (when I was near my dangerously low weight) a woman came up to me and said my body looked “spectacular”! You would think that would have made me happy, but it saddened me. She didn’t know how many treadmill hours were clocked in for that body, how many nutrients were lacking, and how much self love was missing. And I can’t say I’m proud of it yet either because although I know I’m healthier, I still think I’m a work in progress. The truth is, even after all the yoga mind/body hoopla I’ve undergone, I still am rather indifferent to my body. I care about it, but I still feel a strong disconnect to the way it looks. For a long time, I’ve tried to avoid confrontation and judgment of it, be it good or bad. I didn’t examine it for too long in the mirror or “look down” in the shower. I just help my head up and kept eating for a while. I suppose these past few months, I’ve started weight lifting more and actually practicing yoga more (because as a teacher, I tend to skimp on my own practice from time to time). Its been a few days since I got the comment, and I examined my arms in the mirror and you know what, I can identify my triceps and my arms are actually having some sort of shape. Hmm…..could this woman actually be on to something? Maybe I should accept the complement, bite the bullet, look in the mirror, and share in her admiration. I would have been more pleased by complement about who I am as a person, as opposed to that exterior. But I must say, after some reflection, maybe I am a little proud. Maybe my pride is a muscle that I still need to work on.

As promised, I wanted to answer some of your questions from the giveaway:

Crystal wrote: “I have not been to a yoga class before and am planning on going soon. Do you have any suggestions for someone for their first yoga class? Any tips?” and Danielle wrote: “Is there a specific type of yoga that beginners should start with? I’m really interested in trying a class, but I’m a little nervous. What to wear, bring, etc.”

I’ll answer both at once:

Well, I’m glad your taking the plunge! Yoga can be intimidating, but any time you go to a class (be it fitness related or not) is a bit scary. I’ve been to spin classes before and it’s not like I don’t know how to ride a stationary bike, but they intimidate me and I haven’t been in one in years). Anyhow, the teacher will instruct how to do the poses, so dont fret if you dont know how to do a certain pose. Its not like they’ll start saying poses and expect you to do them (its a yoga class, not boot camp). Just dress comfortably (leggings or yoga pants, not sweats), bring a clean mat, and maybe introduce yourself to the teacher before hand. I always try to go around and see if I have any new students in my classes so I get to know them better. Most importantly, if you have any injuries, let the teacher know so they can modify poses for you. One last thing, choose the appropriate level class. If its your first time ever doing yoga, I would not recommend and Iyengar or high intensity vinyasa flow class. Best to see if its a beginners or level 1 class. Dont worry, you’ll still get a “workout” in those classes. I actually take level 1 classes more often than higher level ones. I just think they focus on alignment more and I can actually listen to my breath in those classes.

Amanda (from Seek, because there are few readers named “Amanda”) wrote:

“when you first started yoga, did you find it hard to slow your thoughts and really be able to focus and get in to your poses? Sometimes I find myself unable to get through more than 5 minutes without getting bored…”

hmm, well I didn’t feel bored but there have been times, even recently where my mind meanders and I’ve been “bored”. It really just boils down to the teacher. Thais why I mentioned a few posts ago that often the best classes are at actual yoga studios as opposed to gyms. The yoga studios usually have just yoga classes, so they are a lot pickier with the teachers. It’s actually very easy to get a 200 hr ryt training, and gyms that hired me didn’t even ask me to do demo a class! they just looked at my resume and figured I’d be good enough. The right teacher will help you go deeper in to the pose and explain what muscles you should be activating and what not. But believe me, sometimes I am SO not in the mood for yoga, and if I force myself to go to a class those times, I’m bored out of my mind. Don’t push your self though. Do yoga if you’d like to, it will always be there, but its ok to not be into it. But like with food, I’d say try it a few times with different teachers before you rule it out completely. I hated cottage cheese the first few times I had it, now it’s practically a staple in my diet.

I think one of the most gratifying things about having my blog is when I lurk some other blog and I see they have tried out one of my recipes! I just love seeing that! There have been a few bloggers that tried a few of my recipes or were inspired by them, so I though I might “borrow” from another blogger. Last night, I saw this post by Astrid and left a comment asking for the recipe. Sure enough, by morning, she responded with the recipe! So after my sunday morning yoga session, I refueled with her chocolate peanut butter pancakes! I made a few adjustment and although I didn’t mean to, I completely forgot to add cocoa powder into the mix! So I guess mine can’t be called chocolate peanut butter pancakes! Anyhow I had some tofu chocolate pudding on the side, so there’s my cocoa injection. For the pancakes…..

1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or any flour, I didnt have ww flour so I used corn flour)

1/4 cup almond milk (any milk)

pinch of baking powder

about 1 tbsp dark cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 tbs peanut butter (I used skippy, cant stand ones that aren’t “no stir” its like peanut soup!)

1 egg

Blend it all together and cook on a skillet. Astrid had them with a banana a greek yogurt. I have this weird aversion to bananas because someone gave them to me when I was really sick as a kid and now I just get nauseous when I eat one, so I had it with my “quick” strawberry jelly and vanilla yogurt.

Dont forget to submit some more yoga questions for the giveaway!

And one last thing…..I updated my site a little but so the recipe page is UP and ORGANIZED!

Fennel Meat Loaf “Muffins”, Ikea, and “Fascinations”

"meaty" muffins

My dad’s house (which I suppose is mine too, but I dont live there anymore) was just painted and all the furniture except those in the bedroom were taken out. Hence my dad currently has no internet, no kitchen, and basically nothing outside his bedroom and walk in closet. As you can imagine, this leaves him incredibly bored and sick of watching cnn. So I suppose this is why he was up for some “bonding” time with me this saturday. My dad and I are not really into sports or anything, so we “bond” by browsing furniture disneylands. For example, today we ventured……….

Is is strange I secretly want to live in an Ikea showroom?

Yep.

I think Ikea maybe overhyped and I do think some of their furniture is rather crappy, but I admit, I get giddy when I go there. I think I’m oddly fascinated by all things Swedish. I’ve asked my dad several times if we have any Swedish relatives, but alas, the farthest north as far as my family goes is the Netherlands. Anyhow, I didnt need anything, and I’m not a big buyer in general, but I did need a new pillow. So I test the merchandise:

Yes, people starred at the middle aged man taking a picture of a weird girl sleeping on the display

Hey, I had to take it on a test run! I dont know if you all do this too, but I will sometimes browse a store, ANY store, not just food or furniture related, and end up buying nothing, or something as simple as a pillow. The one exception to this is Top Shop in Oxford Circus in London. I know that Top Shop very well and they have an amazing vintage clothing section that I just cant leave buying only one thing from.

Anyhow……heres some Swedish food for you to drool over, although I dont promise its that “drool” worthy:

actually, this jam IS drool worthy!

This bread looked cool, like a Swedish version of lavash

I'm not a fan of muesli, but maybe since it IS Swedish....

ok, I love fish, but I think I'd pass on this....

Anyhow, speaking of “fascinations” I wanted to address one I have noticed swirling around the blogosphere (and actually, the Western world).

Eating Disorders

Now I’m not a psychologist, so I cannot diagnose anyone, but I’ve noticed a lot of people who dont have an eating disorder “lurking” and seemingly “fascinated” by all these “recovery blogs”. For the record, I do not wish to be classified as a “recovery blog”. Even though it is something I’m working on, I hope to fuse together my thoughts, cooking, yoga, humor, and sure, maybe some recovery insights. But its really amazing how seemingly normal (or at least, claim to be, eating wise) people lurk blogs about eating disorders. Personally, when I got out of treatment and started being open with people about my issues, I started to feel like a museum. At first, it was helpful to tell people what my treatment was like, how I got there, etc. But after a while, I was “fed up” (yep, pun intended!) and I just wanted to hand people a brochure so I could rest my mouth. My dad is guilty of these fascinations. When he took me on a pass while I was in treatment, I found a receipt in the backseat of his car with about seven eating disorder and recovery books. Granted, I know he is my father, and naturally, is curious about what his daughter is going through, but I find MANY people wanting to learn and examine these disorders more and more.

But you know what? I dont blame them.

It is rather fascinating that some people find it so hard to do the most basic thing for human survival. That some people can’t stop counting numbers, miles, calories, fat/protein/carb grams, pounds, etc. That some people make controlling their weight or their exercise a hobby. That some people are more scarred of eating a sandwich than being struck by lightning. It IS fascinating!

But I think my point is, is that there are more fascinating things out there. Yoga is a start (and I will be answering some more questions from the giveaway tomorrow). Nature, literature, travel, film, history, botany, etc…. I think its fine that people are curious about the disorder, but sometimes, I wonder if its because there’s a little “disordered” seed within them. Not pointing any fingers, just sayin. I appreciate people being open to listen to stories of recovery, perhaps it will squash some stereotypes about them. But I just hope other people won’t feel like “museums” as well. It’s a rather sad exhibit!

Like I’ve said, I’m very fascinated by Sweden. Do you have any weird or unusual fascinations?

On to some food, also a fascination…..

fennel grating action

The fennel turkey meatloaf muffins are super simple! If your vegetarian, you can substitute black or navy beans and 1/4cup flaxmeal as a binder. Otherwise blend

-1.25 pounds of ground turkey (no clue why everybody sells it at that same exact weight)

-1 large fennel, grated or finely chopped

-1 large zucchini. grated or finely chopped

-a few spoonfuls of salsa or tomato sauce

-hefty dashes of garlic and onion powder, salt, peper, cumin, and dried (or fresh rosemary)

Mix it up and bake at 400 for 30-40 min, it will take about 20 min if you do the vegetarian version!

Makes about six “muffins”

Artichoke dip/dressing and Eat, Pray, and I’m so over it!

Yesterday afternoon, my dad managed to convince me to go to a showing of “Eat, Pray, Love”. Why a middle aged man asked me to go see a certified chick flick? I have no clue. He usually never wants to see those types of movies.  I took him up on the offer since I usually end up watching some swedish new age film with him.

Before I give you my take on the movie, be warned, I will not be kind or gentle, I respect Julia Roberts, please dont leave nasty comments.

First, I’ll mention I have not read the book and I imagine its way better since hollywood has a track record of ruining all books with a few exceptions (like gone with the wind and To Kill a Mockingbird, for example). The movie is is about a woman with marital problems — we don’t ever really understand why — who decides to skip town for a year. She visits Italy, where she eats. She goes to India, where she meditates. And then she goes to Bali, where she finds a man. That’s it. Eat. Pray. Love. It’s right there in the title, so at least it’s not misleading. It’s a travelogue hosted by a white, privileged woman. It’s like being forced to look at someone else’s vacation photos for two-and-a-half insufferable hours while they narrate their empty little epiphanies. It bugs me that the metaphor they used for “letting go” is having an effin pizza! Its like they are feeding the whole theory that eating pizza is “too indulgent”. I’m more moved by the fortune in fortune cookies. I also think this woman needs to not abandon her life and confront it. I do respect Julia Roberts, but shed not some groundbreaking actress in this film, no one is. The only thing about the actors that I have to say is that James Franco needs to call me. I dont know that man, so I’m not sure we’d we should be in a relationship, but man, he’s pretty darn good lookin, so I’ll be fine just being his mistress or something. But thats besides the point. Anyhow, dont waste your time…… and speaking of time, man was it LONG! Almost three hours! I was so hungry after (I cant believe I used to go longer without eating for about half my life!). And lets not forget I had to go pee twice during the film thanks that teeny bladder of mine. I dont think I missed much. This may seem harsh, again dont kill me via computer screen, but it’s a 150-minute big screen bumper sticker, and it says, “Shit happens. Pay attention to meeeeee.”

Maybe I’m just way too cynical, but its not like I dont have a sore spot in my heart for pathetic chick flicks. I loved “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” and even Julia’s “Notting Hill” was semi-bearable, even charming perhaps. But “Eat, Pray, Love” felt more like “I need to EAT, PEE, and LEAVE the theater”. Alas, I never walk out on movies. I used to work as a PA on movie sets and I know a lot of hard work goes into films, so I at least staying to see the credits and give the crew some attention.

What also really bugs me is that everybody is SO facisnated that Julia kept going to interview after interview flaunting the fact that she ATE every single morsel and that she’s “ok” with the weight she gained. I don’t understand why this needs to even be discussed?! Is it me, or did she seem at a perfectly fine weight in the film? She’s thinner than most Americans even with “all that weight she gained”. Complain when you become clinically obese, not when you have to buy a size two instead of a zero.

Alright, there is you review. Once again, I know this movie has legions of vaginas, I mean fans, but I really think it was way overhyped.

Anyway heres a good recipe!

I bought some frozen artichoke hearts at Traders the other day and frozen veggies are the BEST for making mashes, dips, and sauces. So I defrosted about four hearts and blended them with:

-about 5 steamed cauliflower florets

-1 tbs almond butter

-2 tbs yellow (yep, the cheapo kind) mustard

-1 tbs of greek yogurt (didnt really measure but a dallop will do ya)

-garlic and onion powder

I had it on a salad as with as on a tortilla!

Spaghetti Squash Tacos and Answers to your Yoga Questions!

why is that the filling always tries to escape? you think its afraid of carbs?

Thanks so much for the questions! Honestly, thats why I like giveaways! Besides the fact that I can see those “silent” readers, I also get a chance to milk some info out of you….hee hee! I find most giveaways are some product pushing which is fine, I suppose, since no one is really buying anything. But I feel it’s very driven by that specific company, not the blogger. So I try to make it help the blog!

I love waking up in the morning, and seeing all your lovely comments! I can’t answer all the questions in one post, but I’ll do a few today and a few throughout the week. Sound good?

So lets answer some (note, some of you asked similar questions so dont be offended if I didnt answer it 🙂 )

Ali asked:

“My question about your yoga is what type are you training to teach? IN what ways do you think your yoga has healed you from compulsive body behaviors?”

I did the Yoga Works teacher training which cover most kinds including ashtanga, Iyengar, pre-natal, etc. I suppose the one thing we didnt cover is Bikram but thats because its not REALLY yoga. We dont just learn postures, we do a hell of a lot of yogic philosophies and subtle body topics (like about the chakras ). If your interested, I highly recommend reading the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali or the Bhagavad Gita. I dont “specialize” in any form, but I’m not ready to teach Iyengar or Ashtanga, those require a lot more experience in order to teach in my opinion. As far as the body image stuff, I don’t think its “healed me”, I dont consider myself fully healed and I question what it really is to be cured or healed from those types of issues. Anyhow, thats a whole other post, but I think it HAS helped in being aware of my body, aware that I need to breathe, aware that I need fuel, and aware that its OK to “take up space”. Yoga is all about honoring your body, its your vehicle, take good care of it.

Daniel asked: “How should a complete yoga-noob go about learning how to do it? I want to learn properly so I’m not doing yoga like the guy who goes to the gym and does lifts incorrectly, not only looking like a moron, but hurting himself in the long run.”

I think if your in a class, you chances of getting hurt are slim. If you do it alone at home like with a dvd, thats where it might be risky. But teachers are usually all about safety and yoga teachers especially since yoga is based on “Ahimsa” (do not harm in sanskrit, hence most hard core yoginis are vegans). You best bet if you can afford it is go to a yoga studio. Gyms are fine and all, but this is the analogy I like to give. Where do you think youd get a better bread, from the bakery or grocery store. Yoga is really all about the teacher. I HATE yoga when I have an awful person instructing it. Gyms cater to lots of forms of exercise so they arent too picky about hiring teachers. Also the people hiring might not be “yogis” and wont know the difference between a well instructed yoga class and a bad one. Sure, there’s bread at the market, but why not go where all they make is bread?! I bet they’s have a better loaf. Same goes for yoga.Yoga studios are a lot pickier when choosing a teachers. I’m not dissing 200hr trainings, but anybody who commits the time can get one. 300hrs is like the “graduate school” of yoga and most studios will prefer to hire someone with that much more experience. Note, the 300hr are additional to the 200, so really, I’ll be a 500hr certified instructor when I finish. Plus, yoga studios often have beginner classes which will make getting into yoga a easier. It wont be “easy” but they know your unfamiliar with the names and the poses so they’ll be patient and introduce it to you.

Abby (remember, our guest????) asked: “I know you’re a chef and teach yoga, but where do you do this at? A studio? Are you a private chef?”

I hated working at the back in the kitchen at restaurants! I would do catering and banquet gigs here and there, but those kinda didnt do it for me either. I actually took a long break from “chef” related work after treatment, but I decided to simply do things I like. So since then I was a private chef on and off (its very inconsistent) and now I’m a personal chef and personal yoga instructor for a woman not too far from my apartment. During the school year, I teach at a few schools cooking to kids. I teach kindergarten through fifth grade, and yes, its EXCELLENT birth control! The summer IS a bit slow workwise since the kiddies are on break. I teach at a Yoga classes at a Krav Maga/Crossfit studio and I assist a senior teacher at Yoga Works. Ideally, I would love to open my own yoga studio that’s donation based and maybe have a cafe attached, but I have no idea. I’m in my quarter life crisis right now so who knows what I’ll be up to next year, maybe I’ll take up exotic dancing if money is tight (kidding….kinda….;) )

For today’s recipe……..

I saw a while back on food network (I think?) that the cool new things kids are eating these days are spaghetti inside. Um….I dunno, I’m all about having carbs on carbs (like sweet potatoes on sandwiches!), but that one just seems a bit kooky. I dont think veggies inside a taco is that outrageous. So I thought I’d make my own spaghetti squash stuffing using…..

look what gorgeous squash shot I captured!

-about half a medium spaghetti squash (cooked in the microwave for three minuets, oven roasting is better, but I was impatient!)

-my “brocamole

-canned white meat chicken (if your vegetarian, beans of tofu would be delicious)

-cole slaw mix from a bag (how “chefy” of me)

mix and stuff. I used those small La Tortilla ones so I guess they were “soft tacos”. But I never understood the crunch ones, like it totally breaks in your hands! If its crunchy I’m after, I’ll just crumble some chips or use them as utensils.

Thanks so much guys for asking the questions from the giveaway! It ends a week from today and I’ll keep answering them in each post this week.

Eggplant Hoarding, Giveaway, and Bikram Woes

Ok, as most of you know, I’m doing a six month 300hr Yoga teacher training (adding to my basic 200hr I completed last year). When I meet new people and they get over the fact that I’m a chef (cause seriously, I say I went to culinary school and its like I’m a foodie magnet), I tell them I teach yoga and they say, “O I LOVE YOGA! I do Bikram, its fantastic!”.

If you do Bikram, I respect you, dont kill me, but be warned I will not be kind about this…

So I thought I’d lay it all out on the table. This is how I REALLY feel about Bikram:

Lets start with the myths!

“The hot room is good for my muscles”
Sure, having your muscles warm can make them more flexible, but you can get them warmed up with some Sun Salutations – that’s what Sun Salutations are for, no? There is no evidence that having the entire body get hot, from the outside in, is good for you. In fact just the opposite from what I understand. Countless bad things happen to your body and cells from heat stress. Could it maybe, just maybe, be the case that most sane people find hot stuffy rooms uncomfortable to be in, much less do vigorous exercise in, because your body is telling it’s not good for you?  Personally I think it plays into the American masochistic/Puritanical/efficiency streak. “Exercise can be uncomfortable, so the form of it with the most discomfort possible per hour must be the best for me!” Yick. For those who feel otherwise, who feel that the heat in Bikram makes them more flexible or gives them a better workout, I’d like to see any kind of empirical data for this.

“I’m sweating out the toxins/loosing more weight/burning more calories.”
Excuse me? Show me any studies that show that massive sweating makes you lose anything other than water, salt, and electrolytes. The most weight you’ll be loosing is water weight, and dehydration is definitely not good for you. And if anything you’re burning less calories since your body can’t work as hard under all that heat stress .Besides, calories equal heat, right???

“It’s an ancient and respected tradition so it must be good”.
Really? well so was crucifixions but you dont see people doing that these days! Ok this is easily the most offensive of them all. Bikram – the guy – created Bikram yoga in the late 20th century by taking a bunch of existing yoga positions and taking out a U.S. copyright on their order. He has issued many cease-and-desist letters and lawsuits against studios and instructors that do “Bikram” yoga without having paid to go through his paid-for “certification” program. Mr. Bikram is a businees man, who got rich praying on New Age naivete and being an intellectual property bully> I hear he literally has a “garage stuffed with gleaming Bentleys and Rolls-Royces”. Does that sound like the spirit of yoga to you?

Dont be offended if YOU do LIKE Bikram. To each his own, I just prefer taking a class that doesn’t exactly remind me of a Secret deodorant commercial.

And now onto some food leading towards the giveaway.

Eggplant was on “ridonculous” sale the other day:

I dont know if you can see, but they were 39 cents a pound!

So you know what that means…..I overloaded on eggplant. Overloading isn’t so bad, I just find new things to do with the ingredient. In this case, I thought I’d do a dessert or sweet spin on the eggplant. I saw a cool recipe for an italian eggplant cake called, “Melanzane al cioccolato”. Apparently, there are a lot of variations on it, some with riccotta and obviously, chocolate. But I decided to do this….

ingredients:

-1 peeled eggplant

-peanut flour for coating (or any flour, the original recipe called for AP flour)

-a few squirts of NuNaturals stevia (yes, if you win the giveaway, you’ll get some of it!), but you can use any sweetener of choice. I’m trying to quit splenda (I know, I am a horrible person for liking splenda) so this stevia came at a good time.

-some water (about 1/4 cup but just enough to dampen the eggplants a little bit, but DONT soak them!)

-1/2 tablespoon cinnamon and cocoa powder (I didnt measure, but you get the drift)

1.Peel and thinly slice the eggplants lengthwise, about ¼ inch thick. Heat enough skillet with some oil or spray.

2. Lightly coat the damp eggplant slices in flour/cinnamon/cocoa/stevia mixture and fry until golden on both sides. Remove and place on a platter lined with paper towels. Continue frying until all the eggplant slices have been cooked.

So you can totally smear some ricotta and nutella and go all italian. Me? I smeared it with peanut butter, how american right? And yes, I used Skippy, sorry Traders and Whole Foods, but when it comes to peanut butter, I stick to the no stir kind. I frankly dont care how unnatural it is. Hey, its not like it a chicken “nugget”.

I know, not the prettiest picture, but the yummiest food tend end being a little messy. I chose to roll it up to eat it with my hands, makes for clean up (no utensils0.

The photo at the top of the post is what it traditionally looks like, all layered up with chocolate sauce.

For the giveaway…….

FOUR winners wil get a box of 50 individual NuNaturals Stevia packets PLUS a bottle of liquid stevia. Believe me, I’m no product push and I despise the Trader Joes stevia. But this actually isn’t bitter (and I swore I thought it would be!). Great if your trying to kick the splenda like moi!

To enter:

leave a comment telling me what I should make with my own stevia I just got (and I’l post it on the blog of course to show you the results) OR you may ask me a question about yoga for a future post about FAQ’s (and your question will be addressed in the post!). This next week!

Fennel Chicken Salad, Finding the Funny, and Dad part 2

salads taste better when their container is edible

I was kinda surprised at the enthusiasm from my dad’s post from yesterday! Glad I got some positive feedback. Sometimes, I think its cool to hear from people WAY removed from our blogger/foodie world. For those that have their own blogs, I encourage you to interview your parents! They may be more awesome than you think! I would like to address some stuff about my dad.

First, I call him Aba because as some of you guessed, it does mean dad in hebrew. My mom was Israeli and my dad is Belgian and they never spoke English to me as a kid because they figured I’d learn it in school. Actually, when I was about four,  I heard my dad speak to the grocery store clerk and I yelled, “DAD!? I had no idea you spoke english!”. Sadly, my dad never spoke much of his native dutch to me, but a lot of my books were in French and my both my parents spoke Hebrew to me (I can actually spell and read in hebrew and french as well!). Also…my dad is wonderful about ED support and all, but I would like to clarify that he doesn’t always “get it”. He certainly hasn’t triggered my behavior, but he doesn’t understand the way my OCD tendencies are wired into my brain.  I dont expect him to understand and he’s such a “fix it” when its broken type of guy, and its taken my a while to convey to him that he doesn’t and that he can’t “fix it”. The only person that needs to “get it” is me. Cause I’m the only person that can continue the recovery, but the support does help a ton.

Anywho….I wanted today to be a bit lighter. I actually had such a clumsy day, a dropped my breakfast before I got to have a bite all over the newly vaccumed floor and my tuna salad I had for dinner last night fell off the table onto the carpet before I got to eat it too! Funny thing, my roommate laughed at me when it happened only when about five minutes later, her Amy’s lasagna fell off her lap!

Oy!

But what was good was that we laughed about it. Laughter can get you through a lot. It got me through treatment, I think it got me through my mother’s death, and I think its a healthier way to face negative circumstances. Note, I’m not using laughter to deny any negativity or mask it. It’s merely a tool. Jews used it a lot in the Holocaust, hence why I think the term “Jewish humor” is so popular.

Thats probably why I’d like to write a book about my eating disorder that is funny. Most are SO depressing, and no offense to those who have “recovery” blogs, but most are very sad. I just feel so sorry for them. I just want to make them laugh. I find the fact that some people are afraid of oreos or go up and down stairs just to keep moving kind of funny. Go ahead, yell at me for thinking its cruel to make fun, and hell I was scared of oreos once too (and I admit, I guess I still am), but at least I have a sense of humor about it! But a cool way to squash the fear (as I’ve mention many times) is to face it. Eat an effin oreo. Try to…..gasp…..take the elevator!

I’m curious if you have ever tried to use humor in your life in tough spot. Be it death of a loved one (or pet, I was nearly as sad when my childhood dog died!), depression, disorder, getting laid off (lord knows I SO dont handle that well), etc. How do you find your funny?

And now…..lets not forget some eats!

Fennel is such an awesome and versatile veggie! Probably one of my favorites! Well…its was on sale at the market so get ready for some fennel filled recipes this week (savory and sweet ones!).

For the fennel chicken salad (which can be made vegetarian) combine:

-1 can or poached chicken breast (yes, I used canned chicken, so sue me) OR if your vegetarian, plain baked tofu or garbanzo beans

-2 tbs greek yogurt

-half a small fennel bulb chopped finely

-2 finely chopped celery stalks

-some chopped fennel fronds

-i tbs almond butter (i used raw almond butter, its weird, but trust me! SO GOOD!)

-2 tbs mustard (any kind, I used the cheapo yellow one)

ugh, I have such ugly hands! I like my thighs more than my hands!

stir and very handy in my tortilla bowl!

Stay tuned for a new giveaway tomorrow (i know I promised today, but life got in the way, hmmm, did not mean for that to rhyme! )