Lots of events in the air, it must be spring. Here’s one from Pure:
Come expand your nutritional knowledge at Pure Yoga’s Upper East Side location on Tuesday, March 16th. In celebration of National Nutrition Month, Pure welcomes area experts on healthy eating, drinking and living – including a private chef, juicing demos with recipes and samples, organic chocolates, beauty supplements and more!
“Carob is a brown powder made from the pulverized fruit of a Mediterranean evergreen. Some consider carob an adequate substitute for chocolate because it has some similar nutrients (calcium, phosphorus), and because it can, when combined with vegetable fat and sugar, be made to approximate the color and consistency of … chocolate. Of course, the same arguments can as persuasively be made in favor of dirt.”
— S. Boynton via Vanessa Barg, of Gnosis Chocolate
(the best chocolate, hands down, I have ever had)
Summer’s plenty is finally here, and (if you can pry yourself off of the stone fruits) it’s a great time to pick up some new cooking skills.
Bitten. If you don’t know Mark Bittman, you can just go ahead and become his fan now. Author of the Times’ “Minimalist” food column, he’s become the traditional paper’s semi-vegan spokesperson. (He says he’s generally vegan til dinner, but since he’s a food critic his last meal is fair game). Yesterday’s column was 101 Simple Salads, and he has all sorts of guest contributors writing about their sustainable, fair-trade, free-range lives.
101 Cookbooks. Your new fall-back favorite. Authored by a food lover who realized “when you have 101 cookbooks, it’s time to stop buying cookbooks and start cooking,” it’s an infinite trove of creative, healthy recipes. Helpful wrap-up posts suggest the best dishes for barbecues, holidays, etc. Beautiful photos and easy navigation. The Black Bean Brownies are legendary.
Any other recipe blogs you love? Share ‘em if you got ‘em!
What could be better than mixing a spring Saturday, a yummy vinyasa flow yoga class with Kendra of Barefoot Tiger, and a scrumptious vegan brunch by the Discerning Brute himself, Joshua Katcher? You won’t want to miss this event! If it’s your first time trying vegan food, you’ll be blown away – you’ve never tasted vegan deliciousness like this before!
I am a big fan of the Yoga Brunch at Om Factory, maybe I need to pursue this hobby further. I’m not familiar with Kendra Coppey, but I do like the Discerning Brute blog (simple, creative veggie recipes and more). Plus, it’s right here in Williamsburg, so I could start my day without the MTA…
OK, random post because I am really excited about my breakfast. I have never been a smoothie person, I am not satisfied with breakfast until I get to chew something like Thai food or brussels sprouts, but this one is GREAT. It has about 25 grams of protein, which is right about a third of my attempted daily intake, and lasts me until lunch. I’ve had it every weekday for about three weeks, and my skin is rosy and taut like I’ve had a facial. This is double good, because the skin and the brain develop at roughly the same time, from the same type of cells, so if your skin is in good health you can trust that your brain is in good health. Dunno what the secret ingredient is, all of them are great. Here goes:
12 oz. soy milk (unsweetened) — this has about 10 grams protein
1 scoop protein powder (unsweetened) — another 15 grams protein
1 scoop açai powder — this is a berry from Brazil that’s energizing
1 large spoonful green powder — this has every vitamin and mineral you could possibly need
1 large spoonful flax seeds — these have essential fatty acids, which are good for your brain and make the smoothie thicker
1 large spoonful raw almond butter — also good for your brain, this makes it heartier so I’m not hungry again in an hour
1/2 cup frozen berries — these add flavor, thickness, and anti-oxidants
You have to blend it for a while so the flax seeds get destroyed. They will still be a little chewy, which I like. If you want it even chewier you can add a little raw oatmeal. I love hand blenders cause they’re much easier to clean. I got the flax seeds in bulk at a food co-op.
The brand of protein powder you get will also affect the consistency. I first got Aria, a “women’s blend”, then Spiru-tein Banana (unsweetened), which is thicker but a bit less sweet and slightly more chemical in taste. (Might be the banana flavoring versus the vanilla.) Now I’m using hemp protein powder — I started to have allergic reactions to the whey proteins.
Get the açai online if you can, it’s expensive in the stores. In fact this whole smoothie is much more affordable if you can stock up online, at Trader Joe’s, or at a local health food co-op. Price per smoothie will be about $2 instead of $5.
Greens+ is the best green powder, it has everything from spirulina (the most complex protein your body can digest) to bee pollen (another rich protein / energizer). Trader Joe’s also has a version. Both taste like lawn clippings, so you need the berries to mask the flavor. Orange juice is another great pairing, but it has too much sugar for me; I feel a sugar crash an hour later.
Most of this stuff is enriched with vitamins, so you’re covered if you forget your multi-vitamin.
Don’t worry about the fats, they’re good fats.
There is argument on whether soy is actually good for you — the cons saying it’s so genetically modified that your body doesn’t even recognize it as food, storing it as fat. See for yourself. I still prefer it over regular, raw, rice, or almond milk. I could still try hemp milk.
Your brain uses vitamins and minerals to think, and deal with stress, which is why you need a lot of fruits and vegetables every day. That fact finally got me to take a daily B-vitamin (occasionally), but even better is getting vitamins and breakfast at once. Vitamins from whole foods are supposedly absorbed better anyways.
I’ve felt more energetic and less stressed in the past few weeks, so I’m giving the smoothie some credit. But, it might be the Golden Nuggets…
POSTSCRIPT — I ran out of almond butter, so I’ve been adding a big spoonful of raw sunflower seeds instead. Haven’t noticed a difference. I’ve also switched to flax seed oil, but I kind of miss the chewy flax seeds.
I just came back from yoga brunch. Best. idea. ever. We had a fabulous class with Aarona Pichinson, then a delicious brunch afterwards. I looked up and it was 1:15 — I’d been there since 10am. Om Factory is such a cozy place I could stay there all day. (Full disclosure: I used to teach there and absolutely love the owner and staff.)
I’ve seen Aarona’s name around town forever; she used to teach at my old hangout Atmananda, and she runs a site called Yoga of Nourishment that I’ve seen featured in a lot of the holistic newsletters. But I’d never tried her class. Her bio listed Elena Brower, Schuyler Grant, and Ana Forrest as influences, so I got really excited to see what she’d teach. (Elena taught the wonderful class at MoMA this weekend, a slow Anusara exploration of the breath into the back ribs. Schuyler seems to teach all my current favorite teachers, she teaches Freestyle Vinyasa down at Kula Yoga. Ana teaches the eponymous Forrest yoga, an excruciatingly slow but transformative practice.)
The theme of the class was “Soften into Fire” and it was well executed. We started off soft, in a long supported Fish pose. Next, we lay face down on blankets rolled up into balls, pressing below the navel, then below the ribs. It was fairly intense; like a Shiatsu massage you had to relax into the discomfort. Then, we started the flow. Her pacing was more like an Anusara class: we held poses for 3 or 5, but sometimes 9 breaths — definitely enough time to really feel and explore each one. It also gave us time to practice softening and relaxing into our burning muscles. She reminded us not to be tense, but gave all sorts of interesting muscular actions like drawing the shoulder blades together while extending the forearms in Lunge with Cactus Arms, or pulling the knees towards each other to square and lift the hips in Pigeon. She also inserted uddhiyana bandha practice into creative places like Revolved Awkward Chair, or Forward Angle Pose. (Another Kula teacher, Ariel Karass, does this — maybe Schuyler teaches it? Or it’s in the water supply.) But we kept up a steady Vinyasa flow of movement, with nicely paced breathing instructions, so all the muscular energy did get stretched out well.
We ran out of time to do inversions (class had started a little late), but I had a blissful come-down as the class closed. She had this nice image of letting your outer body relax, and lifting your inner body, and in our last standing Mountain Pose I really felt it. All my insides felt connected, as if I were one gooey mess from my heels to my head, yet light. My outsides were just hanging on top like a coat. I walked out ready to leap tall buildings.
Instead, I went into Om Factory’s beautiful kitchen for brunch. It’s prepared each week by a chef from The Natural Gourmet Institute, and for only $10 they served zucchini quiche, roasted veggies, quinoa with sweet potatoes, fruit, cheese, coffee, tea, bread, jam, and hard-boiled eggs. I ran into a teacher I’d met at a Sivananda retreat, and talked shop with a bunch of random yoga students. Totally lovely and relaxed.
There’s a different guest teacher each week, so the Yoga Brunch is a great way to sample different yoga styles happening in New York right now (or to actually meet the people you sweat with each week). In the past they’ve had Isaac Pena, Paula Tursi, Sara Tomlinson, Holly Coles… I’m looking forward to the next one.
Have you ever wondered if your shampoo is poisoning your brain? Did you know Downy contains horse fat? Do you care if your soap was packaged in a sweat shop?
It’s overwhelming, trying to keep ingredients and brands sorted out. There was a great web page a while ago called “Everything Gives You Cancer,” but I can’t find it anymore. They had a wallet card that I always meant to print out, which showed the most common toxic ingredients to look out for. (Sodium lauryl sulfate is the only one I remember — it’s in most shampoos.) So then, I could justify twelve-dollar lavender-mint shampoo as saving me from brain surgery.
Happily, GoodGuide is here. ‘Cause we all want to be good. Or at least green. (Because, remember: “…evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.”) They assess “natural”, “green”, and “organic” products according to their health hazard, environmental impact, and social impact. It’s in beta, so the data is … meta? They are taking suggestions on how to improve their rankings. We’ll keep you posted on breaking shampoo news as it develops.
My friend and I were talking about nutrition this weekend, as I am wont to do, and the price of organic food came up. Here in New York, where a small box of shredded wheat is often $7, it’s hard to conceive of committing to an even more expensive lifestyle. (I’ve seen some marketing articles saying that moms are a big target for organic corporations, because they will buy only the best for their baby, even if they won’t for themselves.)
There’s rising awareness that all food is not created equal. Michael Palin, in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, reminded us that organic foods are more full of nutrients and less full of pesticides. For anyone on a budget, however, the prices are hard to resolve.
One thing that helped me was to hear that certain fruits and vegetables are not as important to buy organic. It’s not a black-and-white situation! Whew! (I’m queen of the gray area.) Fleshy fruits and vegetables absorb more pesticides, so you want to buy those organic. Hard-skinned ones, you can go for cheap.
I found a great wallet card from the Environmental Working Group, here’s their list:
DIRTY DOZEN: (buy these organic)
Sweet Bell Peppers
CLEANEST 12: (can buy conventional)
So I can skip the $4 organic broccoli at my local Key Foods.
You can download the wallet card, or get more information at www.foodnews.org. Here’s their explanation:
Why Should You Care About Pesticides?
There is growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.
What’s the Difference? An EWG simulation of thousands of consumers eating high and low pesticide diets shows that people can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead. Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about 14 pesticides per day, on average. Eating the 12 least contaminated will expose a person to less than 2 pesticides per day. Less dramatic comparisons will produce less dramatic reductions, but without doubt using the Guide provides people with a way to make choices that lower pesticide exposure in the diet.
Will Washing and Peeling Help?
Nearly all of the data used to create these lists already considers how people typically wash and prepare produce (for example, apples are washed before testing, bananas are peeled). While washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.