About Me

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Springdale, Arkansas, United States
Yoga and reading are my passions - followed closely by jewelry-making and cooking plant-based meals. My husband is my guinea pig for my recipes and thankfully he's a willing subject! Be sure to visit my Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBookishYogini?ref=search_shop_redirect

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

YogaFit Training - YogaProps

On Friday, January 10, I attended another class on my journey to become a 200-hr RYT yoga instructor.  This particular class was about using props.  The use of props such as blocks, straps, mats, blankets, and even the wall can help students with balance, body alignment in poses, and adding a different dimension to poses.  Props can also help those of us with tight hamstrings who find it difficult to reach the floor or our toes without bending our legs, and to help in shoulder stretches.

Today in my yoga classes, we focused on using a yoga strap (or men's tie if you don't have a strap).  Judging by student comments afterwards, this focus really made an impact in their practice today.  Yippee!  

If you would like to learn more about using props in your own practice, here's an article in Yoga Journal:  Using Yoga Props.  Another article can be found here:  How to Use Yoga Straps.  An important thing to remember is ALWAYS listen to your body and avoid pushing your muscles and tendons to far, to fast.  Our goal in yoga is NO pain.  


Some examples of yoga props.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

21-Day Vegan Restart - Day 6

Today's lunch was our good-old standby, Southern Beans and Greens.  I usually make this once a week and since it makes 4 to 5 servings, we usually have leftovers one evening or have it for lunch.  

Dinner was a new recipe from PCRM's 21-Day Kickstart Program called Sweet Potato Lentil Chili.  It was very good, and reminded me of another recipe I've made that originally came from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking magazine.  Here is that recipe:  Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili.  

Back to tonight's recipe:  the main difference between these two recipes is the addition of red lentils which greatly increases the protein content from 10.9g in the non-lentil recipe to 18.5g of protein in the lentil version.  

Unfortunately, my photo is not as professional as the Taste of Home picture!!  Below is the recipe for the lentil version with my notes in bold.

Sweet Potato Lentil Chili - 21Day Vegan - Made 1/12/14
Serves 6
Red lentils work nicely to thicken this chili, while the sweet potato gives a mellow, smooth contrast to the spices.

splash of water (I also used 1 tsp olive oil)
1 3/4 cups onions, diced
1 cup celery, diced (I left out)
2 - 2 1/2 cups orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes (may want to cut smaller to help cook faster)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt (I used none, sprinkled a bit of Pink Himalayan salt at the table)
Ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 1/4 cups dry red lentils
2 1/2 cups water
1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used Sam’s Choice Organic Crushed Tomatoes with Basil because that’s what I had on hand)
1 - 14 oz can black or kidney beans, rinsed
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (used 1 T. RealLime)
Lime wedges (for serving) (didn’t use)

In large pot on medium heat, add water, onions, celery, sweet potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices, and stir through. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally; reduce heat if onions are sticking to bottom of pot. Rinse lentils. Add to pot with water, tomatoes, beans, and bay leaf, and stir to combine. Increase heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low (maybe med-low would be better), cover, and simmer for 25 minutes (I had to add about 20 more minutes to get the sweet potatoes tender) or until sweet potatoes are softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in lime juice and serve portions with lime wedges. (Fred likes to add ketchup to his bowl.)
Cooking Note:  If you only have whole or diced tomatoes, use a hand blender to 'crush' them:  first pour off some liquid from can into pot, then use a hand blender to puree tomatoes directly in the can.
Per serving (original PCRM recipe):
  • Calories: 306
  • Fat: 1.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.3 g
  • Calories from Fat: 3.9
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 18.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 58.6
  • Sugar: 9.7 g
  • Fiber: 15.1 g
  • Sodium: 451 mg
  • Calcium: 136 mg
  • Iron: 7.4 mg
  • Vitamin C: 31 mg
  • Beta Carotene: 5386 mcg
  • Vitamin E: 1.8 mg
Recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton of www.plantpoweredkitchen.com.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

21-Day Vegan Restart - Day 5

Hmmmm... It seems that my "Days" for this restart plan are not matching up to the calendar!  Oh well, life and stuff to do seems to get in the way of keeping strictly on the correct day.  So, I'll pretend that this is only Day 5.  

Tonight, actual January 8, I made a delicious addition to my tried and true recipe book.  That means, Fred approved!  

Enter, Penne al Forno!  I have no idea what this actually means in Italian, and really with my alterations to this dish it should be called Rotini al Forno.  My picture-taking skills being somewhat lacking, this picture really does not do justice to the color and beauty of this dish! 

Here is the original recipe from PCRM's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart with my changes noted in BOLD:

Penne al Forno (or rather Rotini al Forno in my world!)
Serves 4
While you don’t need to bake this dish, it finishes off nicely in the oven, helping everything set and giving the sauce a slightly caramelized taste.

8–10 fresh basil leaves (or 1 tsp dried basil)
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced (left out 'cause Fred hates celery)
2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
Water for boiling
16 ounces brown rice penne pasta (I used 3 cups of regular old rotini pasta, would use 2 cups next time)
2 roasted red peppers, chopped (I used canned)
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
6–8 green olives stuffed with garlic, sliced, or ¼ cup pitted whole kalamata olives (I found some HUGE olives stuffed with garlic & the bottle says 1 olive is a serving, so I used 4 olives)
2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce (see below) (I used 2 8-oz cans of Hunts Garlic Roasted Tomato Sauce.  I would definitely sub one can for a low or no sodium variety.)
Options: 2 cups rinsed cooked cannellini beans (I used one can of white cannellini beans rinsed and drained.)

Roll the basil leaves tightly and slice them into ribbons. Over medium heat, sauté the carrots, celery, zucchini, and onion for about 3 to 5 minutes (this will ensure they are soft enough by the time they are done baking and will help all the flavors meld). Bring the water to a boil. Add the brown rice pasta and stir. Cook the pasta until it is slightly underdone (it will finish cooking in the oven). Immediately mix all the ingredients together in deep baking dish. Cover the dish. (I forgot to cover.) Bake the pasta at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes. If you want to add the beans, stir them into the pasta just after it comes out of the oven.
Making It Simple: Slice all the veggies and forgo sautéing them. Just throw it all in a baking dish and bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Tip: Cook the pasta after you are done preparing the veggies so that it does not sit for a long time.

Based on my changes, per MyFitnessPal, calories were reduced to 323 calories per serving, 63 carbs instead of 119, but reduced protein to 13g from 22g.

Per serving:
  • Calories: 607
  • Fat: 4.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
  • Calories from Fat: 6.1
  • Cholesterol: 0
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Carbohydrates: 119 g
  • Sugar: 14.8 g
  • Fiber: 10.9 g
  • Sodium: 133 mg
  • Calcium: 88 mg
  • Iron: 5.8 mg
  • Vitamin C: 103.3 mg
  • Beta Carotene: 3853 mcg
  • Vitamin E: 3.7 mg
Source:21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Neal Barnard, M.D.; recipe by Jason Wyrick of the Vegan Culinary Experience.

Basic Tomato Sauce
Serves 3
Roma tomatoes are the tomatoes par excellence for sauces. They are inexpensive, and you’ll taste their depth of flavor and robustness in the finished dish.
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium tomatoes (preferably large Romas), chopped
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or oregano or 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Options: 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin; 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or cilantro
Over medium heat, sauté the onion until it turns a rich brown color. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and then the water and stir. Add the salt, pepper, and thyme/oregano/rosemary. Simmer the tomatoes until they turn into a sauce (only 3 or 4 minutes for a very fresh tomato sauce, and about 7 to 10 minutes for a smooth, heavily cooked sauce). Press on the tomatoes every 30 seconds or so as they cook to help them release their juices. Add extra water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
Options: If you use cumin, add it along with the salt and pepper. If you are using fresh basil, stir it into the sauce immediately after it comes off the heat. Only cook the sauce for 3 to 4 minutes and as soon as it comes off the heat, stir in the fresh cilantro.
Making It Simple: Instead of chopping and cooking down the tomatoes, stir in 12 ounces of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes and simmer the sauce until it’s warm.
Per serving:

  • Calories: 24
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Calories from Fat: 6.3
  • Cholesterol: 0
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 5.3 g
  • Sugar: 2.7 g
  • Fiber: 1.2 g
  • Sodium: 104 mg
  • Calcium: 17 mg
  • Iron: 0.4 mg
  • Vitamin C: 11.5 mg
  • Beta Carotene: 328 mcg
  • Vitamin E: 0.4 mg

Monday, January 6, 2014

21-Day Vegan Re-start Day 4

Breakfast:  Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes
Serves 2 to 4
Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes for World Alzheimer's DayThese whole-grain pancakes drizzled with pure maple syrup make for a delicious and hearty breakfast. Blueberries and aluminum-free baking powder add a delicious and healthful touch.
*Note: Aluminum’s role in the brain remains controversial. However, because aluminum has been found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, it pays to err on the side of caution. Avoid uncoated aluminum cookware and read labels when buying baking powder, antacids, and processed foods.
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder*
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup rice milk or other dairy-free milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1-2 teaspoons safflower oil, to brush the skillet
Warmed maple syrup, for drizzling
In a medium bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt. Whisk briefly to blend. Slowly stir in the rice milk and stir just until the lumps disappear. Gently fold in the blueberries.
Heat a cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium heat, then lightly brush with a little of the safflower oil. Add enough batter to form a 4-inch pancake and cook until the edges look dry and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gently flip the pancake and cook on the other side until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot, with warmed maple syrup.
Per pancake: 82 calories, 2 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g sugar, 1 g total fat, 13% calories from fat, 2 g fiber, 112 mg sodium
Recipe by natural foods chef Christine Waltermyer, C.H.H.C. via PCRM.org

Lunch:  Leftovers

Dinner:  Curried Tomato Lentil Soup.  I liked this, but Fred said it was not his favorite - but he did eat it all!  This would be tasty with Indian garlic naan bread.  

Curried Tomato Lentil Soup (Shorba Addis)
Serves 3
This recipe is based on an Ethiopian soup with a rich, deep curry flavor and complex textures.

Curried Tomato Lentil Soup (Shorba Addis)
Serves 3
This recipe is based on an Ethiopian soup with a rich, deep curry flavor and complex textures.

(I used 1 tsp organic canola oil for sauting the veggies)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder (berbere is preferable) (I think I accidentally used only 1 teaspoon!)
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup brown or green lentils
1 Yukon Gold potato, diced (I used a medium Russet potato)
1/4 cup whole wheat orzo pasta
(I added ⅜ tsp salt)
Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion until it is brown. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the carrot, ginger, garlic, curry powder, and fenugreek, sautéing them for about 1 minute. Add the veggie broth and tomato paste, stirring until the tomato paste is thoroughly combined with the broth. Bring the soup to a simmer. Add the lentils and stir. Once the soup comes back to a simmer, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook the soup for 20 minutes. (My lentils were not done after 20 min.) Add the potato and orzo; cook the soup, covered, for 5 more minutes. (I cooked them for 25 more minutes as the lentils and potatoes were not done.  Plus I added ½ cup more water.)  You will need to stir occasionally and watch the temperature to avoid the soup sticking to the bottom of the pan.

The Gourmet Touch: This is an Ethiopian soup, so its flavor is best created using berbere—an Ethiopian curry mix.
Core Concepts: The key to this soup is timing when you add the ingredients. Lentils require time to cook, while diced potatoes and orzo pasta need only a few minutes; these are best added to a soup during the last few minutes of cooking.
Per serving:
  • Calories: 202
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Calories from Fat: 4   
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 8.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 42.3 g
  • Sugar: 7.7 g
  • Fiber: 7.1 g
  • Sodium: 157 mg
  • Calcium: 62 mg
  • Iron: 4.4 mg
  • Vitamin C: 17.2 mg
  • Beta Carotene: 1799 mcg
  • Vitamin E: 1.7 mg
Source:21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Neal Barnard, M.D.; recipe by Jason Wyrick of the Vegan Culinary Experience.

Using http://www.myfitnesspal.com, as a recipe analyzer, the addition of oil and salt increased the sodium per serving to 280.6mg.  Fat increased to 2.1g per serving.

21Day Vegan Restart - Eating Out

Eating out can be a challenge for a vegan or vegetarian, unless you're in New York City!

Some of the vegan options in New York City
My husband and I have now had almost two years' experience (our veganversary is April 4!)  To help you out, the lists below come from a very helpful link at NutritionMD.org. to help you choose healthfully while dining out. 

Candle 79 in New York City, 2012
If you live in Bella Vista, we recommend El Pueblito, located on Forest Hills Boulevard.  Recently, we ate there and ordered their vegetarian fajitas - they were wonderful!  Full of ALL kinds of veggies and not as greasy as some restaurants make theirs. 

Here is another article about eating vegan in restaurants:
Eating Vegan at Chain Restaurants

Dining Out: Expand Your Horizons with World Cuisine
Ethnic restaurants often have healthy vegetarian dairy-free menu items. There may even be some in your neighborhood. Check out just a few of the healthy and interesting meals you'll find.
World CuisineStaplesSample Dishes
MexicanRice Beans (refried or black)
Fresh vegetablesTortillas
Soft or hard tacos
Vegetable fajitas
ChineseFresh vegetables
Mixed vegetables in garlic sauce over brown rice
Tofu and broccoli in black bean sauce
Sweet and sour soup with tofu
Vegetable fried rice (no egg)
ItalianPasta Vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
Pasta primavera
Grilled eggplant with marinara sauce
Minestrone (with white beans and pasta)
Middle EasternWhole grains
  • Couscous
  • Bulgur
  • Pita bread
  • Rice
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
Hummus with whole wheat pita bread
Filfil Rumi Mahshi (stuffed green peppers)
Mujadarra (lentils and rice)
Dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with bulgur wheat)
  • Cucumber
  • Scallion
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Sweet potato
Udon and soba noodles
Soybeans, tofu, and miso
Vegetable sushi, avocado, shitake mushroom and cucumber rolls
Miso soup
Cucumber salad
Seaweed salad
Edamame (whole soy beans)
Sesame soba noodles
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Tomatoes
Injera (flatbread)
Vegetarian platter
Yemiser W'et (spicy lentil stew)
Yatkilt Alitcha (cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and onions)
Timatim Fitfit (fresh salad of chopped tomatoes and onion)
Yeabesha Gommen (collard greens)
VietnameseFresh vegetables
Fresh herbs
Vegetable Pho (noodle soup topped with vegetables)
Nom (grated vegetable salads seasoned with vinegar and chilis)
Fresh spring rolls with noodles and cabbage
Vermicelli with grilled vegetables and seasonings

Dining Out: Chains and fast food options
The All-American Chain Restaurant
The tips above should help you order at any restaurant. However, here are a few special suggestions for some common restaurants:
  • Chili's: Ask them to make you fajitas with grilled vegetables and rice with a side of beans. Other options include a dinner salad and the Guiltless Tomato Basil Pasta.
  • Pizza Hut (or any pizza place): Veggie pizza (hold the cheese)
  • California Pizza Kitchen: Veggie calzone (hold the cheese)
  • Houston Steak House: Excellent veggie burger (hold the cheese)
  • Ruby Tuesday: Huge salad bar loaded with fruits and vegetables. They also have a veggie burger (hold the cheese).
  • Fuddruckers: Veggie burger (hold the cheese)
  • Johnny Rockets: Steamliner Veggie Burger (hold the cheese)
  • Don Pablo's: Portobella mushroom and vegetable fajitas
  • Baja Fresh: Vegetarian bare burrito or grilled veggie tacos (hold cheese on both); rice and beans platter
  • The Wrap: Teriyaki tofu wrap or bowl; beans and rice burrito (hold the cheese)
Fast Food
While fast food is often a less-than-healthful option, sometimes it can work out just fine. If you're stuck on a long road trip or caught with only five minutes to spare before your meeting, vegan options are available at many fast-food restaurants.
  • Chipotle: Beans and rice burrito (hold the guacamole, hold the cheese and sour cream)
  • Subway: Veggie Delite sub on whole wheat or Veggie Delite salad (hold the cheese, hold the mayo, light on the oil).
  • Blimpie: VegiMax, (hold the cheese and mayo, hold the oil)
They didn't mention Wendy's.  At Wendy's we order a baked potato and a side salad.  It would be great if they offered salsa to top the potato, but they don't, and trust me when I say that ketchup is not the same.  (Yuck!).