Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Stand Tall practice with me online

The most wonderful online yoga website has released my 40 minute class: Stand Tall

I am so excited I could just pee my pants! But I won't. Instead, I'll just smile ear to ear. Udaya is quite an amazing site. Every week they release 5 new classes and are constantly finding latest, greatest and classic teachers to share with you. It was a ridiculously fun honor to film with these guys in Europe.

Click here to practice with me and discover so many other awesome classes.

Here's a little mind candy: 
One of my favorite thought leaders, Jason Silva, on How Our Creations Change Us 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Applesauce Gets Sexy


left: Blueberry Ginger applesauce
right: Popeye's (spinach) Cherry Vanilla applesauce

Applesauce isn't the kind of thing that comes to mind when you think of wowing a breakfast guest or spending a sexy morning with that special someone. It's something you're bound to think of when shopping for grandma's stewed prunes or baby food.

But guess what? Applesauce can be sexy while also being crazy nutritious and filling, especially when you fortify it with amazing stuff like other fruits and "superfoods" like chia seeds.

(Apples are also a great partial substitute for butter/oil, but I'll save that for the next baked goodies recipe.)

What's that old saying? Oh yeah. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Besides the normal list of healthy stuff most fruits contain like antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, yada yada, apples specifically contain the antioxidant quercetin which is linked to oxygen uptake (hello, endurance athletes!) and the fiber pectin which is linked to boosting probiotics in the gut, i.e. turning weak immune cells into strong healing cells. (hello, sickies!)

Ayurvedic experts have long touted the digestive benefits of stewed apples with cloves first thing in the morning. (hello, poop!... um, ok, enough hellos.)

On to the recipes!

With my beau on an apple farm in Nebraska this past fall. I think I ate about 6 apples that day.

For all my smoothie/puree recipes, I use the Ninja bullet blender, otherwise things get chunky. But hey nothing wrong with a little chunky. A fancy schmancy Vitamix Blender will of course do the trick too.

Blueberry Ginger Applesauce
1 apple, chopped
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 - 1/2 inch fresh ginger
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp ground chia seeds (grind in coffee grinder)
*if you want it a little sweet, add a couple dates or a tablespoon of honey

Popeye's Cherry Vanilla Applesauce
1 apple, chopped

1 cup frozen cherries

1 cup fresh baby spinach

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp ground chia seeds (grind in coffee grinder)

Put it all together in the blender and watch it become sexy applesauce right before your very eyes. (You may have to shake it a couple times to get things moving. And all the cherries might not fit in the little bullet until you blend down the other ingredients a little first.)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Warrior 2: Unleash your groin

Warrior 2 is one of those yoga postures that is easy to take for granted and easy to cheat so you don't really get into the juicy lengthening of the inner thighs.

If you've never felt the groin stretch or the subtle torso twist in this posture then grab a chair and try out this video.

No matter how long you've been practicing, novice or old-school, there's something new to learn.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bracing or Embracing? 2 Qigong Moves to Destress

Are you bracing yourself against the elements? Or embracing them?
(Scroll down to skip to the video)

It was windy and freezing the other day and I found myself tightening against it, shoulders shrugged up, hands balled, eyes squinted, jaw set. Funny though, isn't it, because tightening up doesn't actually help anything. Like moving your head forward 2 inches as you drive or look at the computer screen, thinking you'll be able to see better when you're really just creating pinching in your neck which creates more stress on your eyesight. Or like pressing against the dashboard when you get in a car accident, which puts you in a far worse likelihood of injury than the drunk relaxed person who is able to rebound against the impact.

I'm not saying go out and get drunk! We can relax using the tools we were given at birth. Our breath and our mind. We can think of the harsh weather and the car accident like any stress in life. The weather and the interaction of cars aren't going to go away. They are part of life. Might as well relax into a situation since tensing up doesn't make it any better. Might as well embrace a hard moment to soften it, rather than meeting it with brute force, whether it be mental, emotional or physical. In fact, tensing up restricts blood flow and nerve response, cutting off our ability to make good decisions.

It's time to get our zen on and be like water so we can flow around obstacles and keep on going. It's not about removing stress until everything is la-de-da. It's about embracing life and relaxing into it, even when it's tough.

Here are 2 simple qigong (chi-kung) movements to shake loose the tension we're carrying and be like water.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Flowering Purple Winter Smoothie (aka Violet Crush)

In the last decade, kale has gone from being a nobody to a superstar to the everyday neighbor living out of the limelight. It makes guest appearances in nearly every type of consumable known to man. Beside the usuals, like kale salad and kale chips, you can find kale in ice cream, chocolate and even get drunk on it. Some brewers are adding it to their seasonal beers. Any day now McD's will offer kale on their burgers. (Hey, I wouldn't object. One small step for man, one giant leap...)

It's just to the point of ubiquity of being funny. One of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, says kale is indeed a superfood. And it's special power is tasting bad. Like a bitter spinach with hair. And bug spray. Watch his bit on Comedy Central.

"Not another kale smoothie recipe!" you say? Well, kale is a fantastic hearty winter cabbage that deserves the accolades it has received. Considering it's in season for us in the northern hemisphere, it's a good time to mention it. Kale goes with any smoothie recipe so it's not really the point of this post to give you another one. (Although I will! It's below.)

This kale is simply pretty. It's flowering kale. You might find it sitting quietly as a potted ornamental plant outside a grocery store or gas station. I'm always tempted to bite into it right then and there. Coming out of a bar the other evening, I did give in to my urge. (But spit it out because I suspect it was full of pesticides and street dust.) It comes in white-green and purple-green. I love being able to tear off it's tender leaves and eat the whole bite-sized leaf versus having to remove the spines of the bigger kales or buying a big plastic box of baby kale.

Scroll down for recipe.

Violet Crush Smoothie Recipe

7 ingredients to sustain you for hours with omega fatty acids, micronutrients and antioxidants.

6-8 flowering purple kale leaves
1 banana
1/2 cup blueberries (not a winter fruit I know, but that's what freezers are for)
1/2 apple
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/2 cup nut milk or water
4 ice cubes*

*I like to slice up my overripe bananas and freeze them to make the smoothie creamy and thick instead of using ice.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Garlic-Herb Mashed (Not Potato) Cauliflower

Everyone loves mashed potatoes. They're creamy, comforting and just basically delicious. But let's be honest, it's not the potato itself. I give the basic russet potato 20% credit for deliciousness. (Other potatoes like Yukon fingerlings are a different story.) The potato is a blank canvas, a vehicle for hiding the rich tastiness of salt, butter, cream, cheese and anything else white that you can't see when it blends in.

This is where cauliflower comes in. It blends as well as any potato I've ever met and is conveniently white and neutral flavored. Cauliflower wins hands down on the nutrition front. More nutrient dense and less calorically dense, this broccoli cousin contains long-winded compounds sulfurophane, glucorophanin and choline (a B vitamin). In simple English, they help to reduce inflammation, improve blood pressure and kidney function and boost brain health. 

There's an entire clove of garlic (roasted! yum!) in this 2-serving recipe so you're immune system will be running high gear. (I could easily eat both of the servings myself.)

2 servings
30 minutes (10 minute prep. 20 minutes cook time.)

1 head cauliflower
1 tbsp butter or coconut oil or safflower oil
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs (or fresh crushed rosemary, thyme and oregano)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 bulb garlic

Preheat the oven to Broil (500F). Chop the base off a whole bulb of garlic, wrap in tin foil and broil for 20 minutes.

While garlic is roasting, place the whole head of cauliflower, including the leafy greens at the base, in a large stock pot with 1 inch of water in the bottom. Cook on high with the lid on for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set lid askew to release steam.

To peel the garlic, squeeze the narrow tip of the garlic so the cloves squish out of their skins (kind of like the way you would squeeze a tube of toothpaste from the bottom).

Put all the ingredients (including the water from the pot) in a blender and blend until smooth and that's it! 

Core-azy Strong (Quality Slow Burn Power)

Quality, slow-burning movements to fire up the strength of your upper body. Emphasis on neck alignment and how the abs work to lift the legs helps get the most length and power out of each move.

Doing tons of crunches won't whittle down your waistline and make your abs show. That's what a clean diet will do. Lengthened core control can ease back pain and improve posture, which also aids the nervous system to have clear lines of communication in the spine (lights up your brain power!) and helps with digestion (get the most nutrients out of your food without bloating and reflux!) because you're not smashing your organs when you sit and stand tall.

1. Long cycling scissors
2. Side jack knives (or knee ins)
3. Plank high to low + knee ins
4. Tuck-extend crunch
5. Bridge knee-ins
6. Push ups wide and narrow
7. Mountain climbers