Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Yoga of Food

Image © Monika Wisniewska -

Are you like me and love yoga but have never made it to any of the Yoga Journal Conferences? I've been wanted to go to one for years. Luckily for use they post several of the Audio Recordings online. And I thought many of  you might be interested in one I found on The Yoga of Food. It's really inspiring to eat well and interesting how they discuss practicing yoga and having a relationship with your food are both always evolving and changing.

Dayna Macy, author of Ravenous, moderates the panel discussion with Cyndi Lee who wrote Yoga Body, Buddha Mind, Steve Nakon, Seane Corn, and Aadil Paklhivala, author of Fire of Love.

The panel discussed various topics around how yoga effects our eating and healthy eating in general. One point made is that yoga helps us become more conscious of our bodies and get in touch with our breath. As this happens our tastes change. We become more aware of what we are eating and make better choices. And over time, just like our relationships change, our diet changes as well. A good diet is a practice just like all other practices, including diet.

It is proposed that when deciding what is the best way to eat, think "simple and elegant" and don't make things too complicated. Keep things in line with what feels good for you and don't make any judgments.

Advertising by the food companies aimed at both children and adults is also discussed. We often get seduced by marketing of agribusiness and start thinking certain things are healthy or unhealthy for us. But we are an over-weight nation full of sickness and fatigue.  Pay attention to the energy food gives you. When you eat something does it make you tired and lazy? Does it give you energy?

Four things to eliminate from our diet as quickly caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and refined sugar. Artificial chemicals must be avoided by everyone. There is nobody who can benefit by ingesting artificial chemicals and toxins into their body. So a good shift to work towards is to go organic. When you dine out, ask what is organic on the menu (even if you know there is nothing organic) because that helps breed awareness among the restaurants.

Pay attention when you are eating because many time we over eat simply because we are not paying attention. This is a culture that eats the most and is also the most under-nourished. Our stomachs are meant to be incredibly acidic for easy digestion but most people's stomach acid is way too low. Stress and chemicals both destroy your body's ability to produce acid. Eating as close to nature as possible is the best way to eat. And it is also important to "eat with happiness" because it's all about the joy of food.

One of the themes that comes up over and over is to not feel guilty or fearful when making your food choices. Try to be smart and stick with it.

Listen to the 2011 Yoga Journal Conference Midwest Panel Discussion: "The Yoga of Food" with Seane Corn, Cyndi Lee, Steve Nakon and Aadil Palkhivala. Moderated by Dayna Macy.

You can view all of the audio recordings here.

Love is all around you...

- Rachel

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Linguine with Frenched Green Beans and Parsley "Pesto"

I just had to make this dish. While flipping through my old copy of On Top of Spaghetti I was struck by the photo of this dish using green beans with the pasta. And it called for a green bean slicer which I had never heard of so of course I ordered up that neat little gadget just so I could play. The beans turned out sliced nicely but it was kind of a pain to push them through one by one.

Never a big pesto fan, I've been won over this past year. A few different things I have made call for making your own pesto and I really like it! It's so simple to just blend up a bunch of herbs and you get some really great flavors.

And this recipe has a bunch of neat tricks! It made me feel really Italian by putting the pesto in the bowl BEFORE the pasta and then tossing it with a cup of the reserved pasta water to complete the sauce right there in the bowl. I also liked the instruction to pour drain the pasta over the beans to re-warm them.

Linguine with Frenched Green Beans and Parsley "Pesto"
Serves 6 as a first course

8 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into thin slivers
2 cups gently packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
10 large fresh basil leaves
1 small garlic clove, trimmed and peeled
1/2 cup light-flavored extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch or more of cayenne
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus more to pass at the table
8 ounces dried linquine

Cook the green beans in boiling salted water until tender. They should yield easily under the pressure of your teeth. Drain in a colander and set aside next to the sink to await to pasta.

While the parsley, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, and cayenne in a blender until you have a chunky puree. Pour into a warmed, but not hot, serving bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano.

Generously salt the pasta water and drop in the linguine. Cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then pour the remaining water and pasta into the colander over the beans. This will warm the beans if they have cooled. Transfer the pasta and beans to the serving bowl and toss with the sauce and cheese. Add enough reserved cooking water, a tablespoon at a time, to loosen the pesto. There should be a small puddle of sauce on the bottom of the bowl. Serve right away with extra Pecorino Romano passed at the table.

P.S. Mer Soleil is a super yummy chardonnay that, in my opinion, always goes well with dinner preparations.

Presto Pasta Night #236 is being hosted by HoneyB of The Life & Loves of Grumpy's Honey Bunch. See the full recap of all entries here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mediterranean Barley

This super fast and healthy recipe for Mediterranean Barley is from the April, 2001 issue of Cooking Light magazine. It's been sitting in my pile of dishes I want to make for a while and when I saw a bunch of fresh arugula at the grocery store I grabbed it with this in mind.

I did make a few adjustments to the recipe. I cooked my barley in vegetable broth as it is my favorite way to prepare barley that I'm going to eat without a sauce. I also added half of an English cucumber that I had leftover from lunch and I cut back on the sundried tomatoes to only about 1 Tbsp. because I'm not a big fan. I didn't have any pistachios so I meant to substitute by sprinkling with pine nuts but I forgot. The extra crunch would have been nice so next time I'll definitely remember to add some nuts on top.

The ingredients may seem a bit boring, but I was pleased with how tasty this actually turned out. Goes to show how much flavor you can get from simple ingredients.

Mediterranean Barley with Chickpeas & Arugula
Serves 4

1 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 cup packed arugula leaves
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3 Tbsp. finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
1 (15½-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped pistachios

Cook barley according to package directions, omitting salt. Combine barley, arugula, bell pepper, tomatoes, and chickpeas in a large bowl.

Combine lemon juice, oil, salt, and crushed red pepper, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over barley mixture, and toss. Sprinkle with pistachios.

Serving size is 1¼ cups barley mixture and 1½ teaspoons pistachios.

Nutritional Information per serving as published in the magazine
Calories: 360; Fat: 10.1g (sat: 1.4g, mono: 6.1g, poly: 2g); Protein: 10.1g; Carb: 59.9g; Fiber 12.4g; Chol: 0mg; Iron: 2.9mg; Sodium: 682mg; Calc: 55mg.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ingredients: A Documentary Film

Ingredients is a documentary film about the local film movement. It's just over an hour long and is definitely worth watching. Starting with the recent history of farming, it highlights farmers all around the United States and identifies the changes in farming since the 1980s. Many farmers and chefs are involved with their local communities and there are some really great programs to offer education and awareness. One scene that really struck me was when some school children came to the farm and when asked what vegetables are one of them said they are what vegetarians eat! And then it was followed up with the point that if children are involved in the growing or harvesting of vegetables they are likely to eat them. This is a film that all parents, and any adult, should see. Maybe they won't learn anything new but there are many interesting points worth discussing.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quinoa Puttanesca

Okay, the picture might now do this dish justice. You wouldn't believe how many wonderful flavors this recips for Quinoa Puttanesca by the wonderful Isa Chandra Moskowitz has! I am a fan of traditional Pasta Puttanesca (a/k/a "pasta of the whore's" which cracks me up), but this is a vegan version made super healthy by serving over quinoa instead of traditional pasta.

It's quick and easy too. The only chopping is for some garlic and olives which doesn't take long at all. And while the recipe is made to serve four, they are really hearty servings. This is one of those dishes that is great to make on a weeknight and then take for leftovers a couple of days during the week. It lasts well for a few days and heats up great in the microwave.

Quinoa Puttanesca
Serves 4

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 tsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
A generous pinch of dried tarragon
A generous pinch of dried marjoram
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped roughly
1/2 cup capers
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat a saucepot over medium heat. Place the oil and garlic in the pot and stir for about a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the herbs, spices, and wine; cook for about a minute.

Add the olives, capers, and tomatoes. Cook for about 15 minutes. You can serve by scooping quinoa into individual bowls and pouring the sauce over it. Another way is to just mix everything into a bowl together.