Healthy Veggie Burgers.

Finding a healthy “veggie” burger is a lot harder than it sounds. Sure, you can find one on just about every menu. But when is a veggie burger not really a veggie burger? When the ingredients look something like this:

water, soy protein concentrate, wheat gluten, contains less than 2% of methylcellulose, salt, caramel color, dried onions, yeast extract, sesame oil, hydrolyzed wheat protein, natural and artificial flavor (non-meat), disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate

These are the ingredients in one of the better burgers out there. For most the list of ingredients gets longer and a lot harder to pronounce. When it comes to food I have to agree with Michael Pollan, if I can’t pronounce it, I certainly don’t want to eat it. For most of these burgers soy in some form is a key ingredient. Many non-organic soy products contain traces of the neurotoxin hexane. Soy processors use hexane to divide the beans into fat and protein. The beans are cracked, heated, and rolled into flakes, which are then soaked in a hexane bath to extract the oil. All of these products are made from gmo soy. Which raises an entirely new set of concerns. I looked at the countless options of “meat-free” products in the grocery store and couldn’t find one brand that was both organic and used non GMO soy. Ditto for the health food store.

So what is a girl to do when trying to find a worthy healthy companion for the carrot dog? You guessed it: make your own.

The following recipe is a slightly modified version of the slider burger recipe from Raw Soul. The great thing about this burger is that it can be eaten raw or cooked. Either way, absolutely delicious.

Burgers
3 cups soaked walnuts (soaked overnight)
½ cup sprouted green lentils
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (soaked 2 hours)
½ minced onion
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 large minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup flax meal
Water as needed

In food processor, pulse all ingredients, except parsley and flax meal until smooth, adding water if needed. Move to bowl. Add parsley and flax meal. Mix well and form into burgers.
Dehydrate for about 6 hours on a teflex sheet. Turn over and dehydrate for about 2 more hours. Don’t over dehydrate, they should still “give a little” and be moist on the inside.
If you want to cook these, the best way is to pan sear them on each side and then cook over medium low heat for about 5 minutes each side.
They keep in the fridge for about a week.

To Sprout Lentils:
Soak lentils in a bowl of water overnight, rinse
Drain into a colander with a fine mesh screen
Place Colander over a small bowl and cover with a dish towel. In a day or so they will have sprouted little tails like the photo above.

Carrot Dogs on the Grill

It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy……… It wouldn’t be summer without hot dogs and hamburgers right? No, not your traditional variety

something a littler fresher, a little healthier, and so much more delicious: Carrot Dogs. I must confess,these are not my invention. I tasted my first dog almost 5 years ago in the Brooklyn backyard of my dear friends Kristina and John. These were John’s specialty and I have to say they have haunted me ever since. So hot dog like (but in a good way) and so easy. John generously shared his recipe which I think originated at a place called Mr M’s pub in Omaha Nebraska. It isn’t a crunchy veggie place just a regular pub that happens to have carrot dogs on the menu.

Seeing these on a traditional menu is one of those things that makes my heart sing. I have tweaked the marinade a bit, so that it has just the right amount of salty and spicy. One of my favorite ways to have these is with homemade sauerkraut and mustard. Yum. They can be grilled or not it is up to you but it IS summer after all, so fire up the barbie while you can and enjoy this happier healthier dog.

Carrot Dogs
6 medium sized carrots, with the ends cut off
Marinade:
Whisk together
1 cup Nama Shoyu (available at most health food stores) you can sub low sodium soy sauce if Nama Shoyu is not available
1 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove of minced fresh garlic
Directions:
Steam the carrots until they are tender; you should be able to pierce them with a fork.
They should be cooked through but still be a little “al dente”
When tender, drain the carrots and place in an ice bath. Drain again.
Transfer the carrots to a glass storage container. Pour the marinade over the carrots and refrigerate. 4-6 hours or overnight is best.
Remove from marinade and serve, or place on grill for about one minute.

Welcome Summer. Happy 1st Anniversary to Ahum. Juicing Fruits and Sugar.


Happy Summer! July marks 2 important occasions: The official start of summer and the one year anniversary of AHUM.   After a brief hiatus, I am happy to to be sharing some thoughts on all things yoga.  If you are new to the blog, Welcome!   There is a great archive of past posting to read.   If you are a current  subscriber welcome back!   Here we will PRACTICE.  EAT. and  LIVE.

Thank you for joining me.

Namaste

(“The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra.  the gesture is an acknowledgement of the soul in one by the soul in another.  “Nama” means bow, “as” means I and  “te” means you.  Therefore, Namaste literally means “bow me you” or I bow to you.”  Aadil Palkhivala)

I am a HUGE fan of juicing.  Especially during these hot and humid days, it is a great way to hydrate the body.  I was recently asked about the sugar content in fruits and the effect that the sugar may have on the body.  Great Question.  ( although I do find it kind of funny that someone could eat a lunch of a coke, a burger and fries and no one would blink an eye, but have a fruit juice and something must be awry  🙂

First and foremost when it comes to juice and food it has always been my firm belief that you have to listen to your body.
Everyone’s body is different and it is important to ask yourself the question “How do I feel” after you eat or drink something.

Juicing is and always has been an excellent way to get a concentrated source of nutrients, both vitamins and minerals, into the body in an absorbable form.

Since your body absorbs and digests the nutrients faster, it has more down time for repair.  When your body is not busy digesting food it is on the lookout for ways to heal itself.
When you juice,  you are feeding your body and repairing it at the same time.  Fruit juices in particular are known as “cleansers”.

Yes, when we juice sweet fruits, we are eliminating the key component in slowing down the absorption of the simple sugar fructose. This key component is the pulp, Pulp is an insoluble fiber that slows down the absorption of fructose in the gut by the body.  The rule of thumb for what is an allowable amount of sugar to take in on a daily basis varies tremendously.  The best answer I believe is the following:

“In petitioning for labeling changes regarding sugar, CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), joined by dozens of leading health experts, also wants the FDA to set a maximum recommended daily intake (Daily Value) for added sugars of 10 teaspoons (40 grams) and require labels to disclose the percentage of the Daily Value a food provides.”There are many naturally occurring sugars such as sucrose which is a combination of glucose and fructose (or fruit sugar), lactose (from milk), maltose and galactose. You don’t want too many of the simple sugar glucose, but you can have a few more of the complex ones. If you digest too many simple sugars, your body gets swamped and the excess that is not used by your body gets stored as fat. Also useful to know is that sugars enters your cells using the same pathway as Vitamin C – so, too much sugar and your body does not absorb Vitamin C as well.  However, you can eat or drink natural sugars in moderation – say up to 100 grams a day (like orange juice which contains quite a lot of fructose). ”

As a frame of reference, on average,  a glass of fresh orange juice has about 30 grams of natural sugar, keeping you well below the amounts discussed above.

In a nutshell, processed sugar is to be avoided, natural sugar is fine in moderation.

In yoga, with food, and in our lives it is always about finding the balance.

Spring Planting

Spring has officially sprung. The bulbs are peaking up through the cold ground, buds are visible on the apple trees, and the birds have started chirping. From the moment we spring forward into daylight savings time, my mind turns to thoughts of planting our vegetable garden.  There is nothing quite like walking out into the garden and eating something freshly picked.  I could not LIVE without it. At this time of year cold hardy seeds can start to be planted. Cold hardy seeds would be any kind of pea or lettuce, leafy greens like kale or spinach.  It is a great way to get out of winter hibernation and start thinking warm weather.  Bartlett’s Farm has a wonderful selection of all kinds of organic seeds to choose from.  With the garden center now officially open, browsing though the seed packets and chatting with some of the super knowledgeable garden staff is sure to inspire.  If you haven’t done so already think about designating a small corner of your garden to edible plants.   It is easy to build a raised bed from scrap wood or a pre made kit, then start planting your favorites.   Maybe you don’t have room for a raised bed and can’t bear to give up your flower bed?   A dear friend of mine plants his flower garden by intermingling his favorite herbs and vegetables throughout the patch.  It is a truly beautiful and unique way to plant.  It is easy to be overwhelmed at first when thinking of planting a vegetable garden, start small and branch out from there.  If seeds aren’t your thing, think about edible landscaping.  Why not plant a fruit tree, or a blueberry bush?  The time and effort spent digging will be well worth it when you can pick a fresh apple and taste the difference.  I was asked once to name my favorite vegetable.  I started by saying asparagus.   Of course anyone who knows me knows that it is impossible for me to choose just one.  My favorite is ususally the one that I have just finished planting or eating.  I probably picked that initially because when I think of asparagus I remember digging the trenches with my husband ( it took hours), I remember being covered in mud (it was cold and wet),  I remember seeing the first stalk emerge in the spring and I remember waiting 3 years to eat any (I forgot about that part).  The first stalk I ate was the most delicious stalk of asparagus I had ever tasted.  We planted it together, we waited, we were patient.  There is a real joy in growing your own food.  Great stories emerge, laughter ensues, and a delicious meal is sure to be had by all.   Happy Spring. Happy planting! A great resource for pre-made raised beds: http://www.gardeners.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-Gardeners-Site/default/Link-Product?sku=34-381RS

The Importance of Enzymes

enzymesThe food we choose to EAT is one of the most important decisions that we can make when it comes to maintaining our health.  The more fresh fruits and vegetables that we can incorporate into our diet the healthier we will be.  In fruits and vegetables there is a life giving element that exists: enzymes.

There are 2 groups of enzymes: exogenous; those found in raw food and endogenous; those produced within our bodies.

Enzymes are one of the most essential elements in our body.   Life itself depends on them.  We need enzymes for every bodily function.  Every breath you take, every move you make, every thought you think and every action you take requires enzymes. Enzymes are an absolute necessity to life.  They are your body’s workers. They assist in keeping our body in top form by lowering cholesterol, cleaning the colon, breaking down fats, strengthening the immune system, detoxifying the body, cleaning our lungs, and building muscle.

When we feed our bodies with enzyme-deficient food, our body systems start to slow down and deteriorate.  Cooking food destroys 100 percent of the enzymes in that food. When you eat cooked or processed foods your body must produce ALL the enzymes required to digest that food.  When we are born we are given a limited amount of enzymes.  This is like an enzyme bank account.  If you don’t make regular deposits into your account by eating foods rich in natural enzymes, you start to deplete your account and use up your enzyme supply.

After a prolonged period of depleting the enzymes in our body it starts to work overtime to produce more enzymes, causing extra stress which affects our immune system. This lowers our ability to protect from and fight diseases. Our digestive system eventually slows down causing food to be undigested. This undigested food stays in our system creating a toxic environment that saps your energy, clouds your thinking and is a breeding ground for illness.

The good news is that with the simple addition of fresh fruits and vegetables to our diet we can prevent the depletion of these enzymes.  All fresh and raw foods have naturally-occurring enzymes. Start by adding a fresh fruit or vegetable juice into your daily routine.  Carry bananas, apples, or avocados with you for a snack.  Start dinner with a salad instead of bread.

Start slowly, changing old habits with new fruit and vegetable inspired choices, and welcome the feeling of newfound energy with the addition of these life giving enzymes.

Chia Seeds: An Ancient Super Food.

chiaChia seed is an ancient superfood.   It is a member of the mint family: Salvia Hispanica. The little seeds were once a staple of the Incan, Mayan and Aztec cultures, along with the Native Americans of the southwest.  Chia is actually the Mayan word for strength. The seeds were used by these ancient cultures as energy food, especially for their running messengers.  In the southwest United States chia seeds became known as “Indian running food.”

Chia seeds are an excellent source of dense nutrition with their healthy omega oils, easily digestible protein, and antioxidants. In fact, chia is so high in essential fatty acids that it contains eight times more omega-3s than salmon.  They are also full of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Research has linked this valuable food as being beneficial for many health issues, including diabetes, hypoglycemia, celiac disease, and lowering cholesterol.

  • Chia Seeds are a complete protein with all 9 amino-acids.
  • Chia is the richest non-marine whole food source of Omega-3 and dietary fiber currently known to man.
  • They have six times more calcium than milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that helps transfer calcium into your bones.
  • They contain greater amounts of high-quality protein than found in soy.
  • Chia seeds work like an incredible digestive broom, sweeping through your intestinal tract, helping to remove toxins and eliminating old accumulated waste in the intestines.
  • They have 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas
  • They have 3 times more antioxidant activity than blueberries.
  • They have 3 times more iron than spinach, which is needed to carry oxygen from the lungs into the muscles and organs
  • Chia´s high fiber content and its ability to reduce blood sugar levels after meals inhibits the appetite making it a perfect food for effective weight loss.
  • They improve endurance by keeping the body hydrated and the electrolytes balanced, making them a perfect food for athletes.

In fact, Chia seeds are a perfect food for everyone.  But how do you begin to incorporate these magical little seeds into our diet?  The easiest way would be to start sprinkling them on your next salad.  They have no flavor on their own and take on the flavor of whatever they are added to.  Another great way to enjoy chia seeds is in your next morning smoothie.  Get in the habit of having some prepared chia gel in the fridge.  Prepared chia gel lasts about 1 week in the fridge.  Add 2 or 3 tablespoons into the blender with your favorite recipe.

Get creative!  Think chia jams and jellies, chia pops and puddings.  And then get consistent. Get in the habit of incorporating this super food into your diet, and embrace the strength of the ancient seed.

Basic Chia Gel

2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 cup of water

Add water to chia seeds and mix well.  Let stand for 15 minutes then stir again,  then let stand for 15 minutes more.

That’s it.  You now have chia gel.  Enjoy!

A Holiday Gift Guide for the Yogi to Live By.

Part 3: Gifts to give for  Eating.

carols

Books:

rawfood
1.  Raw Food/Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow
by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis

sweetGratitude
2.  Sweet Gratitude: A New World of Raw Desserts
byMatthew Rogers and Tiziana Alipo Tamborra

cookEverything
3.  How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food
by Mark Bittman

Other Fun Gifts:

giftBasket
1.   Bring a basket of fresh vegetables and herbs to your next Christmas soiree.   Bartlett’s Farm has a wonderful selection of delicious organic greens and herbs.  Add in a few pomegranates and you have a living gift that any chef would love!

vitamix
2. This is the big splurge of all 3 lists, but it is an appliance that you will use everyday.  It is great for smoothies and soups, sauces and ice creams.   It guarantees that you will start eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and what could be a better gift than that?
Available at:  http://www.vitamix.com/index.asp or amazon.com

hamiltonBeach
3.  Hamilton Beach 67650 Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor. This is another appliance that I use everyday.  Starting the day with a fresh juice is a habit I strongly encourage.  This juicer is durable and afordable.
Available at: amazon.com

candlelitdinner
4.  The best gifts are those that are gifts of our time and attention.  Surprise the honey on your list with a romantic candlelight dinner  prepared by you.  Hire a babysitter and clear the calendar. Even if you are not a great cook, give it a whirl,  The love in the preparation will be readily apparent.

After all, that is what this Christmas celebration is all about, giving of ourselves and sharing our love.

Happy Thanksgiving! A Raw Pumpkin Pie Recipe.

pie1

Pumpkin Pie

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving, a holiday that revolves around EATing?  A day where we get to gather around the table and take a moment to reflect on all that there is to be thankful for.  There are no presents to buy, not much to do (except maybe watch a football game) so we really get the opportunity to enjoy each others company and just be.  My mother started a wonderful tradition many years ago.  Before we dig in to the feast, we go around the dinner table and talk about what we are thankful for.  When we first started doing this my sisters and I were much younger and we and would roll our eyes a little bit and play along to appease her.  Now it has become a most meaningful moment in the day.  It is so easy to focus on what is wrong in our lives or in the world.  By taking a moment to pause and share what there is to be grateful for, we embrace the true meaning of the holiday.

pie2

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pie and what better way to celebrate than with the quintessential Thanksgiving treat; pumpkin pie?  Try this raw version and you will be amazed at how delicious it is.

Pumpkin Pie

2 cups of soaked and dehydrated pecans
1 cup of pitted medjool dates
½ cup of raw coconut oil
½ teaspoon of cinnamon

Filling

2 cups of cashews soaked overnight
1 cup of sugar pumpkin juice
(To make the pumpkin juice: run ½ of a small seeded sugar pumpkin through a juicer)
½ cup raw agave syrup
½ cup melted raw coconut oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of cloves

Blend pecans in a food processor until ground into a fine flour like consistency. Add the dates and cinnamon and blend until it forms a sticky dough.  Press the dough into a 9 inch pie plate.  I like to flute the sides with a fork for a traditional old fashioned look. Place the crust in the freezer to set for about an hour.

pie3

Place all of the filling ingredients in a Vita Mix or other high speed blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into the crust and return to the freezer at least 2 hours or overnight.

Once the pie is set, you can store it in the fridge until dinner.

Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Developing a Consistent Yoga Practice.

consistent

prac·tice

(pr k t s).

1. To do or perform habitually or usually; make a habit of:.

2. To do or perform (something) repeatedly in order to acquire or polish a skill:

3. To give lessons or repeated instructions to; drill:

4. To work at, especially as a profession:.

5. To carry out in action; observe:

What is this thing that we call a Yoga PRACTICE?

The first sutra in the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali is ATHA YOGANUSASANAM which means now begins the instruction of Yoga.  This is where we all start.  The great thing about developing a practice, is that it doesn’t matter what you were doing before, there is always the opportunity to begin.  Yoga has that wonderful ability; it can meet us right where we are.  All we have to do is start the journey.  Once the decision has been made to begin, then we can develop our practice.  Like most things, it is not easy in the beginning.  Our bodies may seem tight and inflexible, it might seem challenging or uncomfortable.   We are carrying years of stress in these bodies of ours and it isn’t about to fall away easily.

Think about the moments in your life where you really didn’t want to do something because it seemed too overwhelming or because  it was challenging to just get started.  I remember looking out into the blank canvas of an unruly corner of our garden one day and dreaming of an asparagus patch.  The problem was that this little corner was riddled with poison ivy.  The other problem was in order to grow asparagus you have to dig deep 10 foot long trenches. Then you have to wait a few years before you can even eat one stalk.  Thinking about all the time and work involved quickly got me thinking that maybe an asparagus patch wasn’t such a great idea after all.

And then one day we just started digging.  It was hard work, just as I had anticipated, but soon after the first shovel hit the ground, I got lost in the task at hand.  I wasn’t worried about the poison ivy.  We were planting asparagus!  I was able to get lost in the joy of the moment. And so, every morning I would wake up and dig a little, rip out another root of that dreaded ivy.  Eventually all the hard work paid off.  Every spring is now filled with an abundant harvest.

Make a time commitment to your practice.  It might start out to be once a week, or twice a week, or every morning for 15 minutes.  Determine the time frame that will work for you and then, be consistent.  Being consistent in your practice is where real change can occur.

Once in class, we have to remind ourselves that we are not in a competition.  There is no race to be won here.  And if there were it would certainly be the tortoise winning it.  It is not about how fast we move or how fast we learn.  Let go of comparing yourself with other students.  You are exactly where you should be for you. As my husband would say: “Do your best and forget the rest.”  Find the joy in your own progress.  There will be days when you are sore and that is okay.  The best way to alleviate soreness is to keep practicing.  It is like waking up on a chilly morning and feeling a little creaky.  Once you start moving about, the creakiness dissipates.  It is important to keep moving.  However, soreness and pain are two very different things.  There should never be pain and you should never push through pain. That is where serious injury occurs.  By developing a practice you will develop a greater awareness of the body and be able to tell the difference.

Begin.  Make a commitment.  Be consistent. Find the joy in the moment.   This is your yoga practice.

Kriya or All About the Neti Pot.

NETI POT

It is that time of year again, cold and flu season.  Colds seem to come out of nowhere and then suddenly everyone is sniffling.  It makes sense that we are more susceptible to colds during a change of season, but what can we do to prevent them?  One way to LIVE more comfortably and healthily is to incorporate the use of a neti pot into your daily routine.  Jala Neti is an ancient yoga practice with many health benefits.  In addition to preventing colds, it is beneficial for those suffering from asthma, bronchitis, allergies, headaches, migraines and middle ear infections.

It is a simple process of flushing out the nasal passages with a solution of warm distilled water and non iodized salt. The salt water solution is poured into one nostril, so that it leaves through the other. The procedure is then repeated on the other side.  Neti removes all the dirt and bacteria filled mucus from within the nose and helps to drain the sinus cavities. It takes a little getting used to, but after the first try you will find it to be a really soothing experience. The good news is that the Neti Pot is now easily and inexpensively purchased at your local pharmacy.  They come with detailed instructions and are available with individually prepackaged saline packets to make the experience even more user friendly.  The entire process only requires a minute or two, so there is really no reason not to.

Even Oprah Winfrey and Dr Oz advocate using the Neti Pot.  Dr Oz states that using the Neti Pot is more effective than medication. “The (ear, nose and throat] doctors who are specialists in this area will often say this is a better treatment than a lot of the other drugs that we try to offer folks, because it mechanically cleans out the problem,” he says.

Don’t wait until you have a sniffle to start using the Neti Pot.  Remember that you are trying to prevent that cold from starting.  Think of it exactly as you would think about brushing your teeth.  Make it a part of your daily routine.  By incorporating this small daily change you will begin to feel better and stay healthier.