raw food

Pick Your Own Tomatoes at Bartlett’s Farm with Raw Bloody Mary and Sun-dried Tomato Recipes.

tomatoes1

On Saturday, Bartlett’s Farm held pick your own tomatoes day. It was a little slice of heaven walking through the fields, canvas bags in tow, and filling them to the brim with all the delicious varieties.   At only one dollar per pound, it was the deal of the season.  Walking up and down the rows, I was mesmerized by the colors, the ripeness, the abundance.  Our fellow pickers were smiling and happy, sharing ideas and recipes.  It was a true example of the joy that can be found in the simple moments of the everyday.

Now what to do with 17 pounds of tomatoes?  First, share a few with friends, then get to work preserving the last taste of summer.

Tomatoes are full of wonderful vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, K, niacin, and folate.  Potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, and chromium. Various studies have shown that the lycopene in tomatoes can help reduce chances of prostate cancer, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer. Lycopene is considered a “miracle” anti-oxidant that may help to stop the growth of cancer cells.

tomatoes2

Dehydrating tomatoes is a great way to preserve them without a lot of messy work. Once they are dried, you can reconstitute them by soaking them in some hot water.  The flavor is rich and concentrated as a tomato paste would be. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can dry them in the oven at the lowest setting.

Dehydrated Tomatoes

  • Slice tomatoes about ¼ of an inch thick
  • Lightly sprinkle with sea salt
  • Place on dehydrator trays so that they do not touch.
  • Set dehydrator to 135 – 140 degrees (the temperature of the tomatoes will remain below 118 degrees)
  • Dehydrate for approximately 12 hours.
  • You can store them in a cool dark place in an air tight container for 6-9 months, or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one year.
    • 2 large tomatoes
    • ½ cucumber
    • 1 celery stalk
    • 1/3 bunch of parsley
    • ½ lemon peeled
    • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated horseradish
    • Pinch of sea salt
    • Water as needed
  • Oven option:

    Place tomato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Set oven to 200 degrees, Allow the tomatoes to dry in the oven about 8 hours or until they become shriveled, checking frequently during the last couple of hours to ensure that they don’t scorch.  Cracking the oven door open can help prevent the heat from getting to high.

    The easiest fresh tomato juice can be made in a Vita Mix or other high speed blender.  No scoring, no peeling, no boiling, no waste just fresh delicious juice!

    Joann’s Veggie Mary

    (You can substitute ½ of a fresh jalapeño or a pinch of cayenne powder for heat)
    Puree all ingredients in blender.  Serve with cucumber stalk.

    

Pranayama and Diaphramatic Breathing.

clouds

The Sanskrit word for yogic breathing is Pranayama.  Prana is the life force that keeps us alive.  Yama refers to expansion and extension, the ability to expand the breath and increase energy in the body.

Breath is the most important tool in yoga.  By connecting with the breath we find a feeling of lightness and clarity; create an instant support system for the postures.  When we are feeling challenged in a pose our natural instinct is to want to hold our breath, to grit our teeth and push through it. Holding the breath can create tension, dull our awareness and often cause us to feel light headed or woozy.

Diaphragmatic breathing (the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm) is the cure for reducing tension in the body and quieting the mind.  In a normal healthy breath, the abdomen puffs out as you inhale and relaxes in as you exhale.  One type of inefficient breathing is “reverse” breathing.  In reverse breathing you are working against yourself and using the diaphragm in a completely inefficient manner.  Reverse breathers pull the abdomen in as they inhale and push it out as they exhale.  Breathing this way can be very taxing on the nervous system.  Take a moment to check in with the breath to determine if you are a reverse breather.  Finding this out can change your life immeasurably and is very easy to correct.

“Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress related disorders, improving autonomic functions, relieving symptoms of asthma, and reducing signs of oxidative stress. Practitioners report that the practice of pranayama develops a steady mind, strong will-power, and sound judgment, and also claim that sustained pranayama practice extends life and enhances perception.”

It can also be a most important tool in our daily lives.  We have all heard the phrase “take a deep breath” when confronted with a stressful or upsetting moment.  By taking a slow deep breath through the nose we can relax the nervous system and calm the mind.   We may not have time for a full asana practice, but we certainly have 2 minutes during the course of a day to close our eyes and bring our awareness to the breath.   Inhale expand the belly, exhale deflate the belly.  Just.  Breathe.

The 4 Immeasurables: Maitri, Karuna, Mudita, and Upeksha.

shoes

Today is my wedding anniversary.  I am filled with love and joy and gratitude.  And so, today this post is dedicated to love.  You can’t really LIVE without it.  Many of the principles that yoga teaches are easily applied to a loving relationship.  The word yoga itself means “to come together”; “to unite”; “to attain what was previously unattainable”.

By embracing the 4 Immeasureables as discussed in Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras, we have a wonderful support system that encourages positive attitudes and behaviors to create a fufilling relationship.

These 4 sublime attitudes are: Maitri (Lovingkindness)  It is a gentle, loyal acceptance with a deep sense of appreciation and regard. Karuna (Compassion) “ It is the intention and capacity to relieve and transform suffering, to lighten sorrow.” The Buddha described karuna as the “quivering of the heart” we experience when we are open and able to truly see suffering and are moved to do something about it”.  Mudita (Joy)  “True love brings joy, and mudita is the joy we take in the simple pleasures. When we love, joy seems to surround and pervade us”.   Upeksha (Equanimity)  “ It is the ability to feel  a connection fully, without clinging or possessiveness.”

Through these immeasurables we can talk honestly and openly without harm,  we can cultivate a greater awareness of our partner’s needs and put those needs before our own, revel in the simple joys of the everyday, feel a greater connection that allows us to trust that we are always with each other and that this love is constant.  A knowing that this love is greater than ourselves and that all beings are tranquil, happy, and aware of their gifts and accomplishments.  We in turn then feel interconnected to everyone and everything.

As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said:  “Love is the supreme blessing of life; love as love is universal.  Personal love is concentrated universal love.  Ah my heart flows when I say: Personal love is concentrated universal love.  The ocean of universal love flows in the streams of individual love.  What a blessing in life.”

Indeed.

Juicing for Your Health.

Beet_juice-01

In this case it is actually, DRINK.  Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are one of the best things that you can put into your body.  Fresh juices are a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, live enzymes and phytochemicals.  By juicing rather than eating you are giving your body all the life giving benefits of the plant without having to work so hard at digesting.  Therefore, the results of juicing are felt almost immediately.   It’s a great way to get an early morning burst of energy and a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.  You might not be able to eat 6 carrots, an apple, a beet and some ginger for breakfast, but you can easily juice them.  Already, you have knocked off the equivalent of 4 servings of fruits and vegetables in one easy to drink delicious glass.  So why not just grab one of those new “all natural” juices in the easy travel plastic containers off the shelf?  The major reason is that these juices are all pasteurized.  While pasteurization may kill unwanted potential bacteria, it also kills everything else along with it.  You are left with none of the vitamins minerals and enzymes that naturally occur in fruits and vegetables; you are left with sugar water.  Do yourself and your body a favor invest in a juicer.  Start incorporating just one juice a day.  You will look better, feel better, and have more energy almost immediately.  Happy juicing!

Red Sky at Night

  • 6 carrots
  • 1 apple
  • ½ beet
  • 1 inch knob of ginger

Juice together and drink immediately.  If ginger is not your thing you can omit it.  Yum!

Ted’s Green Juice

  • 3 large leaves of Swiss chard or Spinach or Kale
  • 1 cucumber
  • ¼ lemon
  • A handful of parsley
  • 1 apple (quartered, seeds removed)

Juice together, and then drink immediately.

Check out:

Amazon.com for a great selection of juicers at prices for every budget.

Dharma Mittra: Maha Sadhana. The Great Practice On DVD.

Maha sadhana 1

Maha sadhana 2

When you can’t get to the guru, the guru has to come to you.  We are fortunate that we  can practice at home with Dharma Mittra with Maha Sadhana  (The Great Practice) levels 1 and 2.  These DVD’s are comprehensive. They include many options for Asana practice in both length and difficulty.  There are wonderful lectures by Dharma, guided pranayama and meditation and a special asana workshop.  There is no one quite like Dharma, his humility and deep love for the practice of yoga shine through the screen.  I am not usually a fan of practicing yoga with a DVD but in this case, it is almost essential.   It is as good as it gets without being in his presence.

To preview or purchase the dvd go to:

Pranamaya

http://www.pranamaya.com/products/dvds/mittra-ms1.html

Or purchase from:

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Dharma-Mittra-Maha-Sadhana-Level/dp/B001GXMU7Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1283702927&sr=1-1

Delicious Young Thai Coconuts.

coconut

The young thai coconut is one of my favorite things to eat.   In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as kalpa vriksha, meaning “tree which gives all that is necessary for living”   Both the liquid and the meat inside are very different from a traditional brown skinned mature coconut.  The liquid is almost clear with a faint scent of almonds and the meat can vary from thin and soft  to a thicker meatier texture. Coconut meat is an excellent source of medium chain fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Fresh coconut water contains lauric acid, b vitamins, potassium, and electrolytes. Eating a coconut can prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol.  It can instantly rejuvenate you when you are feeling dehydrated.

Where to find them?  That can be the tricky part.  If you live in a city you are in luck as they are readily available in any Asian market. Whole Foods and Fresh Direct are now carrying Young Thai Coconuts every day in the produce section.  Most major grocery stores can order them for you if you ask.  You can also order on line, but the shipping cost due to the weight of the coconuts makes ordering this way extremely expensive.

Do something wonderful for your health, drink fresh, delicious coconut water.  Use the meat in smoothies instead of dairy or soy for a rich creamy consistency.  Seek them out, it is worth the effort.  Happy coconut hunting!

Jai Uttal and Masood Ali Khan. Great Music for Yoga Practice.

Sometimes practicing in silence is just perfect. Sometimes you want a little music. A little inspiration. A little elevation. It is difficult to pick a favorite, so I won’t. I will just say that the following CD’s are favorites of this moment, in heavy rotation in and out of the studio. Music has the ability to transform and inform. The vibration of these songs, these chants, these musicians is pure and powerful.

Masood Ali Khan The Yoga Sessions

yogasessions

“With his heart in a pure place of Bhakti, Masood composes and performs his music with the greater intention of helping humanity. He creates storytelling compositions with captivating melodies to inspire the spiritual being within the human. This record features Masood’s mastery of the enchanting new percussive instrument, the Hang (pronounced “Hung”). The Hang looks like a flying saucer, and indeed sounds like it is from another solar system. With its ethereal resonating overtones and a harmonic minor scale it is an instrument of relaxation, joy and hope.

Combining the power of the heart and mind’s healing potential for humanity, Masood’s Hang becomes a medium, transferring positive intentions within the sound vibrations of the recordings. The listener senses this and feelings of love, creativity, passion and compassion come alive within them.”

For a listen go to: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bhakti-gita/id322480810?i=322481019&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach Music for Yoga and Other Joys

jaiuttal

“Jai Uttal, a veteran of world fusion going back 15 years and a devotee of kirtan singing teaming up with multi-instrumentalist Ben Leinbach for a series of extended improvisations. Leinbach creates a shifting back drop of chilled, Indian-derived grooves and textures like liquid mercury dipped in a fractal swirl. It’s a perfect modal backdrop for Uttal, who improvises freely on an Indian stringed instrument called the dotar, electric guitar, and even banjo. Pieces like the 26-minute “Govinda” extend in a free fall until a rhythm loop drops in. Uttal swaps to a fuzzed out electric guitar solo that eventually merges into an improvised kirtan, his voice coiling in note-bending spirals like soul singing from the east. This may be music for yoga, but it’s the other joys that will keep you coming back.”

For a listen go to: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/surya/id41446322?i=41446320&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

The Best Raw Brownies Ever.

Do you have a craving for something chocolatey, gooey and delicious?  These raw brownies are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. They are in a word, Yum.  Use this recipe as a starting point.  Add in flavors that make you happy like shredded coconut or dried cherries.  Be creative and make this one your own.  Happy unbaking.

brownies

The Best Brownies Ever

  • 12 oz walnuts (preferably soaked and dehydrated)
  • 12 organic medjool dates (pitted)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Yacon powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Lucuma powder
  • 2 vanilla beans ( or 2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract)
  • 5 heaping tablespoons of Raw Cacao powder

Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely groundAdd dates and process until well combined
Add remaining ingredients and process until well combined
*the mixture should be tacky and have a dough like consistenc
Press the mixture into a 9 x 9 glass pan
Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight
Remove from the refrigerator and cut into individual brownies

A note about soaking and dehydrating:

Nuts that have not been soaked contain enzyme inhibitors that can cause uncomfortable digestion. Once they are soaked  they are much easier to digest and their nutrients are easier to assimilate.  This is the optimal way to eat nuts, however if you are pressed for time or don’t have a dehydrator, it is perfectly okay to use unsoaked walnuts in this recipe! 

Soaking and Dehydrating Nuts:

  • Place Nuts in a large bowl and cover with water
  • Let soak overnight.  Rinse well.
  • Drain and dehydrate at a temperature no higher than 130 degrees until completely dry (about 12 hours depending on the nut)

For more info on Yacon and Lucuma go to:
http://www.navitasnaturals.com/

Dharma Mittra and the Dharma Yoga Center.

headstand

There really aren’t words sufficient to describe Dharma Mittra.  He is more than a teacher, he is an example.  He is the real deal.  He is “yoga”.  In an era where yoga has become a business, Dharma quietly teaches and practices with the humility of the new kid on the block.  The only difference is that he has been teaching in New York since 1967.  One of the first classical yoga teachers in New York City, Dharma has been inspiring students for more than 40 years.  He can still be found Monday through Thursday at noon teaching his Master Class. There is nothing quite like being in the presence of Dharma, with the look of an eye or the touch of a finger he has the ability to bring you into a pose you never thought possible.  His kindness and love for all beings is what yoga is all about.   Expand your practice.  Expand your heart.  Expand your consciousness.  “Be receptive.”

To learn more about Dharma Mittra and The Dharma Yoga Center go to:  http://www.dharmayogacenter.com/welcome.php

Practice. Eat. Live. All Things Yoga.

Welcome.

Welcome to Ahum.

A weekly blog where we will discuss all things yoga.  On the mat and off the mat.  Here you will meet great teachers or discover a new pose.  Find recipes for yummy nourishing food.  Discover the perfect pair of yoga pants or an excellent new book.

Thank you for joining me.  I look forward to our travels along the path and welcome your feedback.

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 acknowledgment 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

PRACTICE

“Practice and all is coming.” —Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

EAT.

“Relate to your food so that you can relate to each other.”—Eddie Robinson

LIVE.

“Dance as though no one is watching you, love as though you have never been hurt before, sing as though no one can hear you, live as though heaven is on earth.” —Souza