Monday, November 30, 2009

What NOT to eat

I've talked a lot about some of the tasty recipes that satisfy my palette and my belly before and after hot yoga class, but not quite about what does NOT work for me.  As a novice hot yogi but experienced cook, these foods actually weren't "no brainers" for me to exclude from my diet.  I feel sorry for the person who actually had test out why we shouldn't eat 2-3 hours before class.  

This is what I've figured out so far.  I'm very sure there will be more to come along the way.  These may seem obvious, but they weren't to me at the time.

  1. No Dairy.  Dairy is okay in the morning for breakfast for me, but eating any cottage cheese, yogurt or string cheese in the afternoons for a snack or for part of my lunch just doesn't agree with me.  Let's just say you feel soured, curdled and strained during 6pm class and well after you get home.  I also had a glass of milk the other night during dinner.  Nope. Can't do that again.  Blech.  Stick to soy, grain or hemp milk if you have to have some form of dairy.  So far, I've found that a dollop of Greek yogurt on my foods is acceptable, but just a dollop, that is all.
  2. No Mexican food. Amazing revelation, I know.  The other day when Dave and I went to eat Mexican food for lunch, I ordered 2 fish tacos with a side of whole black beans.  We also ate chips and guacamole - eesh!  It was noon - 6 hours before class, come on!  I surely thought I was in the safe zone.  Not the case.  I ended up having the most nauseating class since my very first one about a year ago!  (Everyone is nauseous during their 1st class, right?!)  My body was very angry with me during class that day.  VERY. I felt like a creature from the La Brea Tar Pits.  I love me some Mexican food, but it'll have to wait for the weekends or my days off. 
  3. No Grease.  See # 3 above. Before or after class.  Don't do it.  Save it for a non-yoga day.  Trust me.
  4. No Carbs.  If you must put something on your stomach during the afternoon before yoga, try your best to fill it with somethings that digests easily and won't leave your stomach with a heavy feeling.  I love eating raw almonds, fruit or vegetable juice as afternoon snack options.  (a snack post is coming soon) After class, I've begun to use any carbohydrate as an accent to my meals rather than it being it being included in them.  That means no pastas, no pizza, nothing good, I know.  But, if I make a delicious soup, I allow myself to dip into it with a whole wheat flour tortilla from Trader Joe's or a few Kashi crackers

Roasted Vegetables

When I am sick of eating cold salads, but want to still eat my veggies, roasting them is the best alternative.  Both of my Chinese acupuncturists I've gone to have really pushed the issue of warmer foods being kinder to your stomach. I know that the raw food diet is very popular for yogis of all types because the vegetables maintain their nutrients, but I would go crazy eating rabbit food every day.  Though, I believe in moderation with raw and cooked foods, I definitely prefer warm to raw and cold.  Eating veggies is so much more fun when they are roasted and seasoned!  

This is a quick, easy recipe that you can make for lunches or dinner.  I like to make a batch of veggies the night before work.  Then add to brown rice or wheat tortillas for a warm, healthy and tasty lunch.

Any vegetable you want!  I prefer: Bell peppers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots.  

The Method: 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Slice vegetables and place on a greased cookie sheet or roasting pan.  Sprinkle/spray with cooking oil.  Season with your favorite spice.  I like Spike, cinnamon, curry powder and cayenne.  Roast for 20 minutes.  Flip veggies over, roast for another 10-15 minutes until browned or scorched.  I love seeing a little blackened edge for a smokey flavor.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Linguisa and Kale Soup with Potatoes and Chick Peas

Kale, Kale, Oh Blessed Kale

OMG OMG OMG!!!  I made this recipe out of my pure obsession with anything involving kale, and man oh man this is probably the best tasting soup I have EVER made.  Don't discredit the rest of my soups I've posted, pwetty pwease, but oh gosh, if you eat pork, this one is for you.

I made this soup in a Dutch Oven, but you can probably make this in a crock pot, too.  It's quick to make, but the key to the flavor is letting it heat on low for a few hours at least.  I made my batch right after lunch and let it heat all day until dinner around 6pm.  That way, the kale is soft and the meat has absorbed all the juices.  The flavor explosion in your mouth might drive you crazy.  

Like the others, this will keep all week to heat up for lunch or dinner.  This is one of those soups that really defines the feeling of wellness with each spoonful.  

All the credit for this DELICIOUS recipe goes to Black Iron Dude. For the recipe go here. 

Moussaka Soup

This isn't your ordinary vegetable soup, it's oh so much more!  Folks, I believe we do have a winner with this Hot Yoga Food creation.  This post had the fate of a "Dooser" tag when I managed to salvage this baby.  And, salvage I did.  

I set out to make a low-fat Moussaka (casserole), which is one of my favorite Greek recipes.  What makes it low-fat is that the lamb is substituted with lentils and the cream sauce is substituted with mashed potatoes.  The dish ended up tasting bland, and the eggplant was rubbery from the lack of sauce.  

Before I wasted a bad recipe, I gave my old standby rule a shot: When in doubt blend!  

I added more flavor to the casserole ingredients by throwing a few extra roasted bell peppers and one Serrano pepper in.  I also thinned it a bit with some extra chicken broth I had.  The result was a hearty, dense, rich and tangy soup that was kind to my belly after hot yoga on a cold winter night.  I felt great after eating this, especially since I was able to not waste any food.  I'm having leftovers tonight after yoga, and I just bet after letting the flavor set for a few days, this tasty concoction will be even better!

Moussaka Soup
5 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 cups water
2 t. salt 
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup plus 2 T. olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
3 T. dried oregano
2 15 oz. cans chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup dry lentils
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
3 tomatoes, sliced
2 eggplants, sliced
5 zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 red bell peppers, de-seeded/sliced
2 yellow bell peppers, de-seeded/sliced
1 Serrano pepper, sliced
1 1/2 cups chicken or veggie broth
2 T. Curry powder
Salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes to taste

Dollop of plain Greek yogurt
Extra red pepper flakes

1.) Boil potatoes and garlic in salt water for 10 minutes until soft.  Important note: don't throw the salt water away!  You'll need 2 bowls for this process.  Before you drain the potatoes, prepare one bowl to place all of the salt water you used to cook the potatoes in. After you drain the potatoes, set aside the potatoes in the other different bowl along with 2 cups of the salt water.
2.)  Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.  On a greased cookie sheet, add all bell pepper slices, eggplant slices and zucchini slices.  Spray or rub veggies in 1/2 cup cooking oil.  Sprinkle veggies with 2 T. curry powder.  Roast for 25-30 minutes until browning begins.  (flip over slices halfway through)
3.)  While the veggies are roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and oregano and saute for 5 minutes.  Then add add canned chopped tomatoes, sliced fresh tomatoes, dry lentils, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and the remainder of the salt water you set aside earlier.  Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 45 minutes until lentils are tender.  Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
4.) When the roasted veggies and cooked veggies are ready, throw them (juices and all) into your food processor together along with the loan Serrano pepper (these powerful peppers can hold their own) and the chicken broth.  Blend until smooth.  
5.)  Put blended soup back into a big pot and heat on low until warm.

Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a shake of red pepper flakes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sweet 'un' Spicy Southern Greens 'n' Beans

Growing up in Texas, my palette was groomed for spice then coated in sugar. Pepperbellies and Sweettooth Faeries run rampant along the Great Southern Plains.  You can trap them by leaving a plate of nachos or sopapillas out at night ;-)  

Class last night was hard since it's my time of the month. Laying on my belly on some of the floor positions can be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.  So, when I came home last night and asked Dave, "Where is the bacon?," he had a look of confusion on his face.  The look of confusion was actually him thinking of a way to keep me from freaking when he told me we didn't have any bacon.   WHA?  NO BACON???!!!! ARGGGGHHH!!!! I was hoping we had at least 1-2 strips for a big batch of my favorite comfort food during my periods: Sweet 'un' Spicy Southern Greens 'n' Beans!! 

Since we didn't have any bacon strips last night, luckily we had some delicious Finocchiona from Salumi I had picked up this week.  It was a nice substitute, but I prefer the crunch of the bacon.  

Finocchiona: flavored with cracked fennel, black pepper, and a touch of curry

See, the way I work it out, the greens provide some iron I am missing, the nuts have protein, the bacon provides a nice base flavor and oil for cooking and the maple syrup is the sweets!  This recipe isn't as heavy as it sounds, and it is a fast recipe that works for me after class. It's my special recipe that I love to make on cold, rainy nights.

This was recipe was heavily inspired by one of my favorite foodies: Kath.

2 strips of bacon (or Veggies can skip the meat)
1 bag of mixed Southern greens from Trader Joes  (or 1 big bundle of chopped chard, kale, or collards)
1 cup of chicken or veggie broth
1 can of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 T. maple syrup
1 handful of pecans
a few squirts Sriracha

The Method:
Cut the bacon into 1" pieces and fry in a deep pot until browned. Add the greens (you may have to add a little at a time as it cooks down) to the pot of bacon.  

Pour the cup of broth over the greens to help them cook down.  Stir.  

When the greens are cooked down, add the drained beans, maple syrup, Sriracha and pecans.  Stir.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve with a few more pecans on top.  This makes 4 servings so, you'll have enough for lunch or dinner tomorrow.  Enjoy!

Burmese Chicken Coconut Soup 

*A recipe that works!  

When Dave picked me up from yoga the other night, he smelled like curried coconut!  Maybe my smell buds are heightened after yoga, too.  Dave is officially the Monday night chef since he works from home that day.  I gave him this recipe to make, and it was divine and totally satisfied me!  

This soup was the perfect amount of spice-level and richness that fills me up, but isn't too heavy.  The coconut milk base is really what gives you a wonderful feeling of wellness.  Coconut water has been very popular in some hot yoga studios over the years, so why not have some more for dinner? Hope this recipe works as well with your tummies like it did mine!


Before we get started, my goals for this blog are for recipes that meet one or both of the following criteria:
  • works well with my body 
  • quick and easy
Mondays are cheater nights for me since I have someone at home to help with the cooking.  If you have someone at home who is willing to cook, please have them make this for you!  If you live alone, make this on the weekend for the following week's meal plan.  I've learned that maintaining good eating habits is all about planning.  I've started to prep 2-3 meals on Sundays before the week starts.  That way, I'll only have to cook once, maybe twice, during the week nights.

*Any time a recipe goes well with my system after yoga, it is officially getting the tag "recipes that work."  It's getting a big fat "dooser" if it doesn't work.  Hopefully, that won't happen very much. I'll also either tag them "takes time" or "quick."

Now, for some food!

Burmese Chicken-Coconut Soup

- makes 5 servings -

For the curry soup
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 medium onions, finely sliced in half-rings
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chickpea and/or fava flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup coconut milk

For the noodles
12 to 16 ounces lo-mein, rice, or pasta noodles (we used rice noodles)
For the garnishes
Lime or lemon wedges
4 scallions, cut into thin rounds
2 hard boiled eggs, cut crosswise into slices
roasted chili powder

1. Place the chopped onion, ginger, garlic, and 4 tablespoons of water into a blender. Puree until smooth.
2. Spread the cut-up chicken out on a plate. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and let sit.
3. Place the flour in a bowl. Slowly add 1 cup of the chicken broth to mix well.
4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, toss in the chicken and stir-fry until lightly browned. 
5. Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook slowly, allowing the onions to caramelize over the course of five to seven minutes. Towards the end of that time when the onions are beginning to brown, add the turmeric and paprika.
6. In a pot suited for soups, add the chicken along with the juices that will have settled, the sautéed onions, the onion and ginger puree, and the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth. Carefully add the chickpea flour and broth mixture, mixing quickly so that the flour won't clump.
7. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Season to taste with more salt, if needed.
8. Add the coconut milk. Stir to mix and return to a simmer. Serve with noodles and garnishes as desired.

Hello World!  I am starting this blog because of my problem: what to eat when I come home at 8pm from hot yoga.   It's a very specific problem, I understand.   Doesn't apply to everyone, I understand. But, it may just help a feed a few lost hot yoga souls along the way.

First, introductions in which I am frank, informative and filled with **hope** that I don't scare off too many of you along the way-

I hate diets. I don't think they work. I think listening to your body works, which is what hurdled me into this quest.   When I come home from yoga at 8pm, I am either famished and will eat anything in site (not good) or feel so nauseous that I won't eat anything at all (also not good). 

You may also ask - why not take yoga earlier in the day? I work 8am-5pm M-F. Yoga gear in tow, I ride the bus directly from work to 6pm yoga.   I'm the girl who accidentally hits your shoulder with her yoga mat sticking out of her small bag while walking down the bus aisle. Sorry!  Got any yoga bag recommendations, people?

2.) There is also
no scale in my house; I don't weigh myself - I base my weight on how I feel and my ability to pursue the things I want to pursue in life. In my "Diet Bible", it's a case-by-case basis on weight loss. Can't run to catch the bus? Then, maybe, yes, one would need to start leaving your couch more often.  Don't have enough endurance during sex, then yes, let's cut down on dem' fried taters. My mantra: I feel good, therefore, I look good. And, Dave (my bf), never complains.

3.) This may sound crazy - I don't sweat 1225 calories out of my body 3-4 times a week because I want to lose weight. I do it because
it feels good to sweat and my body feels sooo good after yoga.   I can rarely challenge myself in a regular aerobic exercise to break out in a sweat so well. I can't and don't run.  Running hurts so not in a good way.  It's hurts muh brainz.  When I'm bent over in Ardha Chandrasana (back bend compression of spine), it hurts in a good way like am I going to have a heart attack or an orgasm here, folks?

4.) I am in
love with rich, savory, whole foods that are good for your body and soul.  I am prone to comfort foods, and ok, I admit it: Hello, my name is Lisa and I'm addicted to carbohydrates.  Whew!  That felt good to get out there.  This carb habit, I've learned recently, makes me feel really bad after yoga.  Duh, eh?  Especially when I try to fall asleep an hour or 2 later.  Egats!  Even worse!  This, er, lil' problem I have is definitely going to be monitored and considered on this journey.

(Side note: But, going along with my "listening to my body" mantra, I goddamn will eat some chocolate and grease a few days out of every month if it saves a few lives around me!  I am a human being!  Don't worry- my cheesecake cookies will be excluded from this blog.)

So come with me on a journey to discover what will ultimately help you feel good before, during and after a day of Hot Yoga.