Monthly Archives: January 2013

Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

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With the unofficial American holiday of the Superbowl fast approaching I wanted to share a vegan recipe that would satisfy the palates of meat eaters, non-meat eaters and all eaters in between. This hearty chili is not only easy to make but also packed with amazing health benefits, which can off-set a few extra indulgences Superbowl celebrations usually bring.

Sweet Potatoes are packed with fiber, vitamin C, E and beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant close to vitamin A. These powerhouse antioxidants prevent cancer cell growth and also helps protects your skin from sun damage. Also a good source of magnesium, which helps to stabilize metabolism function and supports healthy blood sugar levels in the body.

Black Beans get their dark color from anthocyanins, the same powerful flavonoids found in such nutritional superstars as red cabbage, blueberries, cranberries, and red beets, they also have the highest levels of antioxidants of all of the common beans. Also high in fiber and folate, or vitamin B6, particularly important for pregnant women. A deficiency in folate during pregnancy can lead to problems with fetus development in the brain and spinal cord.

Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

1 1/2 cup dried black beans
4 cups sweet potato, diced into 3/4 inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped white or yellow onion (about one medium to large onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper en adobo, chopped finely
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground chili powder
1 14 or 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth (and more as needed)
sea salt to taste
1/4 cup chives, snipped into small pieces
1 large Haas avocado

Soak the black beans in water for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. Drain the soak liquid. Submerge them in fresh water, with enough to cover them by a few inches. Bring beans to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook till beans are tender, approximately 45 minutes to one hour. Drain and set them aside.
Heat the tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven or a large pot. Saute the onion for a few minutes, then add the sweet potato and garlic. Keep sauteing until the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the chili en adobo, cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika, heat until the spices are very fragrant. Add the can of tomatoes and one can of vegetable broth.
When broth is bubbling, reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 30 or 35 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are totally tender. As the chili cooks, you can continue to add the remaining cup of vegetable broth as is needed and depending on the texture chili you like. Season to taste with salt.
When chili is finished, allow it to sit for a little while so that flavors can marinate. To serve, top a generous bowl with some fresh avocado slices and chives. Can also serve over a small helping of brown rice.

Today’s amazing recipe is from Food52, courtesy of Gena Hamshaw. Photo: James Ransom. 

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Feel and Be the flow both on and off the mat.

“If you want the rainbow, then you must have the rain.” ~Annette Hanshaw

As a vinyasa yoga instructor and practitioner I’ve been taught to dynamically flow connecting my breath with each subtle movement and transition from pose to pose. And yes, after many years this practice on my mat has become more synchronized, however, there are still those days when I arrive to class ready to practice when something just feels off. When this happens, I find myself so intently focusing on each inhale, exhale, posture adjustment and cue waiting for my dance like practice to come together in breath-synchronized perfection and sadly, I continue to miss a breath. What’s missing? My yoga.

Yoga is a state of being, a lifestyle, yes we can practice asana poses for exercise but true yoga is living in your state of being. That means accepting all your truths on and off the mat. That goes for off days, on days, good times and bad, blissed-out adventures and mundane lows. When we have moments of feeling off it’s our true Self trying to tell you something. It’s like your inner middle-child syndrome calling for attention. When this does occur, don’t take a step back from this miss-alignment, in fact get closer, and dive in. Here’s your chance to uncover unanswered questions, soul-searching blockages and inner truths, thus allowing you to get one step closer to your divine-rockstar-goddess-state-of-being! And who doesn’t want to be closer to that?

Friday Breathwork

When you’re in the midst of trying to finish your Friday deadlines before the week’s out and new projects are piling up around you, you may feel your anxiety starting to build. Yes this situation may be less than ideal but with a few minutes of breathwork you can easily take back control of your nerves and anxiety. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how well you preform after taking 3 minutes for your self to just breathe. So go ahead and take a comfortable seat.
Sit at the edge of your chair.
Try to straighten your spine.
Put one hand on your navel.
Put the other hand on your heart center. Inhale through your nose.
Exhale out your nose.
Notice the position of your tongue. Let it soften, loosely placed. Blubber your lips.
Roll your shoulders back.
Inhale in through the nose for 1-2-3.
Exhale out for 1-2-3.
As you inhale, feel the breath in your lower hand, then upper hand.
As you exhale, feel both hands sink back in.
Put your full attention on the breath.
Inhale to the lower hand 1-2- to the upper hand 3-4. Pause for 1.
Exhale out the nose 1-2-3-4.

Continue this pattern.

Inhale to the lower hand 1-2- to the upper hand 3-4-5.
Pause for 1.
Exhale out the nose 1-2-3-4-5. Pause for 1.
Move away from your computer when you finish reading this:
Turn away and close your eyes.
Let your eyes soften and relax in your head.
Do at least 10 rounds of this.
After this, let your hands go to your knees.
Do 3 rounds of this:
Inhale 1-2-3-4.
Exhale 1-2-3-4.
Stay aware of the breath.
Keep it as you go about your daily activities and work day.

Try this throughout the day and see if you can gradually and comfortably increase the number of rounds. Taking a few minutes a day for breathwork offers delicious health, emotional and physical benefits, such as strengthening and exercising your heart and lungs as well as aiding in stress reduction.

Super cold meets Superfood Hot Chocolate

hotchoco1Okay, winter has officially arrived and in full force. With the temperatures into the low 20’s moving around with our normal day-to-day routine can feel, well just wrong on these bitter cold days. The only thing that feels right is snuggling up with a good book, cozy blanket, and a warming cup of decadent hot chocolate. So if you’re throwing in the white towel today or hanging in this weekend – treat yourself to this delicious Superfood Hot Chocolate. The nutritious ingredients will help warm you from the inside out, as well as pleasantly aid in boosting your energy and mood levels, leaving you with a bit more pizazz in your step the next time you step outdoors.

Raw Cacao: one of the best sources of magnesium found in nature, in addition to containing high amounts calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulfur, and potassium. Cacao contains many chemicals that enhance physical and mental well-being, including alkaloids, proteins, magnesium, and beta-carotene.

Ginger: aids digestion; decreases arthritic swelling; destroys bacteria and viruses; lowers blood pressure; aids circulation.

Cinnamon: aids digestion, relieves nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; has antiseptic properties; beneficial for the heart, lungs, and kidneys; aids insulin’s ability to metabolize blood sugar.

Cayenne: reduces inflammation, relives pain, reduce blood cholesterol, clears congestion, boosts the immune system, prevents stomach ulcers, lowers risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Maca: is an “adaptogen” meaning it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s hormonal, nervous and cardiovascular systems. For this reason it is particularly effective for improving libido. Maca also has the ability to help us cope with stress, and stabilize our moods and energy.  Boasting 31 minerals and trace elements, maca is a nutritional powerhouse and a stress-relieving, healthy addition to many foods.


Superfood Hot Chocolate 

Serves 1
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
2 tsp. maca powder
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
pinch sea salt
pinch cinnamon powder
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch ginger powder
small piece vanilla bean, scraped (optional)
1 ½ cups milk of your choice or water

Directions:
1. Boil water or warm milk on the stove and let cool slightly. If using raw nut milk, do not heat above 118°F/42°C.
2. Whisk in dry ingredients. Serve immediately with a cinnamon stick, if desired.

If you do not like spiced hot chocolate, just use the first four listed ingredients, plus milk or water. If you do not have or cannot find coconut sugar, leave this ingredient out of the mix and sweeten the finished beverage with honey or maple syrup.

Recipe: Sarah Britton, My New Roots.

Quote

Give your love away. There’s so much power in it.

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.

Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it.

Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

5 healing foods to fight colds and flu this winter

With an intense flu season underway it’s super important to keep your immune system healthy and free of bacteria build-up. If at any point this winter season you begin to feel sniffles, sneezing, body aches, chills, and fever coming on  try taking in an extra helping of these delicious healing foods. Read on for a few food suggestions that will help keep your immune system happy and healthy this winter season.

Honey

Honey’s antimicrobial and antibacterial fighting agents will help kill off any unwanted bacteria build-up in your body. It also help to reduce a cough and soothes your through if you feel a slight cough or sore-throat coming on. Taking in a cup of hot water, lemon and a tablespoon of honey everyday is a perfect winter healing elixir.

Garlic

This fragrant bulb contains a flavoring agent called allicin which acts as a decongestant. Garlic is also believed to act as an antioxidant and destroy free-radicals, the active oxygen molecules that damage cells, so add garlic liberally to your favorite foods, raw or cooked.

Citrus and Vitamin C

Reach for citrus fruits to increase your vitamin C intake. vitamin C acts as a cell-protecting antioxidant and an immune booster, therefore taking in foods rich in vitamin C will help keep your immune system strong and will help reduce the duration of a cold or flu, if illness strikes. Snack on half a grapefruit, or add tangerine slices to a lunchtime salad. Other vitamin C rich foods options to take in are strawberries, sweet red peppers, and broccoli.

Hot and Spicy Foods

Treat yourself to Indian or Thai this evening, using plenty of garlic, horseradish, and chillies and/or spicy sauces  helps prevent congestion and drowsiness. Also Capsaicin, the natural compound found in hot peppers that provides the heat and spiciness of the food, can thin mucus, giving you a runny nose to help you breathe better and allow your nasal passages to get rid of germs.

Chicken Soup

If you start to feel congested pour yourself a warm bowl of chicken soup, which will help to thin mucus secretions. The broth and noodles provide carbohydrates for maintaining your energy levels, potentially helping you feel less lethargic. And be sure to through in a hefty serving of veggies like kale, onions, carrots, and leeks. The veggies are high in nutrients and antioxidants that aid in supporting immune function.

Ujjayi Pranayama

Also known as Ocean Breath and Victorious Breath.

This pranayama is most often used in association with the practice of yoga poses, especially in the vinyasa style. Vinyasa yoga is breath-synchronized movement, and the breath used is Ujjayi breath. When starting out, begin in a comfortable seated position, once familiar with your practice you may gradually introduce ujjayi into your yoga practice.

1. Inhale and exhale deeply through the mouth.

2. On the exhales, begin to tone the back of the throat, slightly constricting the passage of air. Imagine that you are fogging up a mirror.

3. Once you are comfortable with the exhale, begin to apply the same toning of the throat to the inhales. This is where the name of the breath comes from: it sounds like the ocean. (It also sounds like Darth Vadar.)

4. When you are able to control the throat on both the inhale and the exhale, close the mouth and begin breathing through the nose. Continue applying the same toning to the throat that you did when the mouth was open. The breath will still make a loud noise coming in and out of the nose. This is Ujjayi breath.

5. Now start to use this breath during your practice. If the teacher tells you to move on an inhale, make it an Ujjayi inhale. If you need a little something extra while holding a pose, remember this breath.

The overall benefits of using this breath are it’s detoxifying abilities. The throat and lungs are purified during practice of this pranayama, you may also notice a higher level of concentration and focus during your yoga practice when using ujjayi breath.

Directions by Ann Pizer, Yoga Guide.