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3 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Gluten Free Holiday

The holiday season can be a challenging time of year for someone with a gluten allergy.  Here are three simple tips to create joyful and easy gluten free Christmas.

I am known as the office Elf and the family Christmas cookie queen because I am passionate about sharing the spirit of the holiday season, which is love in its essence.  It is my Christmas wish that these tools help you maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit well into the new year. This Christmas,  the gift of wellness is the best gift you can give yourself and those around you.

I created this gluten free gift bsket with homemade GF cookies, a mini pie with mini spoons, and champagne.  A great gift for anyone, GF or not!
I created this gluten free gift basket with homemade GF cookies, a mini pie with mini spoons, and champagne. A great gift for anyone, GF or not!

Navigating Christmas parties, abstaining from traditional holiday food favorites, on top of dealing with the stress of shopping and family gatherings can take the fun out of this festive season.  I have been gluten free for over six years, and the tips I am about to share with you are things I have learned that are essential for a happy and healthy gluten free holiday season.

Take time to celebrate you everyday.

Om Christmas tree, om Christmas tree
Om Christmas tree, om Christmas tree

It is easy to get caught up in the season of giving and forget to give to yourself.  After all, you cannot give from an empty cup, so fill your cup with holiday cheer by committing 5 minutes to these self-care techniques daily:

    • Energy enhancing breathing techniques.  One of my favorites is the 4-7-8 breath by Dr. Andrew Weil.  This breathing practice is easy to learn and can be done anywhere, at anytime.  Try it the next time you are stuck in holiday traffic, or the visions of sugar plums are keeping you up at night.  I recommend practicing this breathing system at least once a day for holiday Zen. How to:  Exhale completely,  inhale through the nose for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of seven, exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.  Repeat this cycle 2-8 times.  The count can be as fast or slow as you like, as long as the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation.   This is a relaxing breathing technique that becomes more potent the more regularly you practice. Click here for a video demo with Dr. Andrew Weil.
    • Relax with some restorative yoga.  Legs up the Wall pose is a great one to do to help you wind down in the evening.  This is a very therapeutic pose, if you can only make time for one pose a day during this busy holiday season, this is the one that will give you the most bang for your buck.  It is the Cyber Monday of yoga poses!  This pose eases anxiety, digestive issues, migraines, high and low blood pressure, varicose veins, the list goes on.

legs up the wall

      • How to:  Begin the pose by sitting with your left side against the wall. Gently turn your body to the left and bring your legs up onto the wall. Use your hands for balance as you shift your weight, and lower your back gently to the floor and lie down. Rest your shoulders and head on the floor.  Shift your weight from side-to-side and scoot your buttocks close to the wall. Let your arms rest open at your sides, palms facing up. Clos your eyes and breath deeply through your nose.  Option to use an eye pillow.  Rest here for 2-10 minute

Handle Holiday Feasts with Grace and Ease

grinch christmas feast

Holiday dinners and parties are meant to bring loved ones together, if you have a food allergy you can feel isolated if you aren’t able to partake in the feast.  Take responsibility for your health and happiness by planning ahead.  Eat a bit before you go so you won’t be looking longingly at the dinner rolls.  If you are not in control of the menu or ingredients, always bring a dish to the party that you know you can eat.  Let the host or hostess know ahead of time that you would like to contribute a gluten free dish to share.  My gluten free pumpkin pie is my family’s favorite.

It can be tricky going to grandma’s house for the holiday meal.  If you worry she may be offended if you refuse her famous stuffing, there are a few etiquette tips I have learned over the years that will help ease the tension at the table.  First, let her know about your gluten sensitivity and that you don’t feel well when you eat food with flour in it.  Explaining what gluten is can be tricky when dealing with someone from older generations, so don’t go into too much detail.  Tell her you have a new recipe you found on www.glutenfreeyogachick.com you would like to create and share.  She will be honored that her passion for cooking has been passed on to you.  You may even want to offer to help her in the kitchen.  This is  great way to bond with the cook and also see what ingredients are going into the food.

The most important thing to remember is that the meal is not all about you.  Don’t keep reminding everyone of what you cannot eat, just silently and gracefully pass the bread basket.  If the guests ask you about it, just smile and tell them you are happy to skip the gluten because you feel so much better without it.  Never pout or say something like, “ I wish I could have some pumpkin pie, too”.  If you really want some pie then bring your own gluten free option.  Bring your awareness to the gift of family and friends gathering together to celebrate and be grateful.

Have faith that people will support your gluten free diet.  If they don’t support you that is their issue, and making someone else feel comfortable is not worth compromising your health.

Find Gluten Free Versions of your Holiday Favorites

go ahead its gluten free

Feel at ease when buying groceries for your holiday party and eating out by using the “Is that Gluten Free” Apps available for both iPhone and iPad.  There are two versions, one for grocery shopping and one for eating out.  Feel safe knowing that these apps have done the legwork on researching gluten content on thousands of brands and products so your sensitive tummy can have a silent night.  There are many gluten free options for your favorite holiday treats, if you cannot find them in your local grocery store then look online.  I have many holiday recipes to choose from.  Check out my previous posts for stuffed pumpkin and pumpkin pie, and be on the look out for my all-in-one Christmas cookie recipe coming next week.

Most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously.  This holiday is about sharing love with your family and friends and celebrating the joy of giving.  Hold that intention in you heart with everything you do, and rest assured you will have the best gluten free Christmas ever.  Practice these tried and true tools throughout the holiday season and beyond to carry the spirit of the holiday throughout the year.

What are some of your favorite gluten free holiday tips?  Share your holiday triumphs and frustrations in the comments section below.

The Very Best Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

Eat pumpkin pie and be grateful!

Look into my pies!
Look into my pies!

 

My secret to this pumpkin pie is the crust, which is made from a variation of a shortbread cookie recipe.  Of course you can always use a shortbread cookie mix and make it easy on yourself. Always choose the most nourishing choice for yourself, sometimes that means taking a well-deserved culinary shortcut so you can spend more time with your family during the holidays.  I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Shortbread Cookie mix.  This recipe was adapted from my mom’s recipe, which was not gluten free.  Using her recipes gives me that connection and feeling of love from her even now that she has past away.  It keeps her alive in my heart when I smell the sweet mix of cinnamon and sugar.  It is my intention to continue that circulation of love by sharing this very special recipe with you.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Mind-Body-Spirit Connection:

If you want to get healthier, give thanks. Thanksgiving is all about celebrating what you are grateful for, and nothing says Thanksgiving more than pumpkin pie.  In the yoga tradition, Sun Salutations are a practice of expressing gratitude to the sun. I teach Sun Salutations in nearly all of my yoga classes to connect with that ancient tradition of giving thanks.  Each movement is connected with a sanskrit mantra that expresses gratitude for the sun’s warmth, light and ability to transform.  These ancient yogis were on to something, as modern day science has proven that an attitude of gratitude can give you an immunity boost, decrease stress in the body, and make you more likely to have better health habits such as eating right and exercising. Read more about the physiological benefits of gratitude here.

mini pie variation makes a great gluten free gift.  I used tart sized tins for these.
mini pie variation makes a great gluten free gift. I used tart sized tins for these.

Ingredients:

Pie Filling:

1 can (15 ounces) organic pumpkin puree

1 can (14 ounces) organic Sweetened condensed milk

2 large free range eggs

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice* (or use 1 part  ground clove, 2 parts ground ginger, and 4 parts ground cinnamon)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

Pie Crust:

2 sticks (½ pound) organic unsalted butter or Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks

¾ cups organic granulated sugar*

1 large free range egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ⅔ cups white rice flour

¾ cup cornstarch

⅔ cup potato starch (not potato flour)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon xanthan gum

Method:

ALLOW all ingredients to come to room temperature.

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.

Crust:

Cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Add egg and mix for 1 minute.  Add vanilla, scrape the sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, potato starch and xanthan gum.  Slowly add ½ of the flour mix to the butter mixture and mix for 1 minute.  Add the remaining flour to the mixture and mix until all of the ingredients are combined.

Grease or butter a 9” pie dish, taking care to thoroughly grease the sides to prevent sticking.  Press the crust mixture into the dish working from the inside out, creating an even ¼ inch thick crust.  You will have leftover crust to use to decorate the top of your pie.  Use the leftover crust like cookie dough and cut out festive leave shapes and bake separately on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.

IMG_0207

BAKE the empty pie crust for 8 minutes using a pie crust protector or foil to protect the edges from over baking.  If you use foil, create a ring around the top of the crust.  Meanwhile, begin making the filing for the pie.

Filling:

MIX cinnamon, salt and pumpkin pie spice in small bowl, set aside. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and spice mixture. Gradually stir in sweetened condensed milk.  Slowly pour the filling mix into the pie crust.  Reposition the pie crust protector and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Decorate with pie crust cutouts to create a standout pie.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

I made these gift baskets for all of my friends one year and they were a huge hit.  I still get requests to make these pies from both my GF and non-GF peeps!
I made these gift baskets for all of my friends one year and they were a huge hit. I still get requests to make these pies from both my GF and non-GF peeps!

3 easy recipes for pumpkin that will have you doing headstands!

Turkey Stuffed Pumpkin, Salt and Vinegar Pumpkin Seeds, and Pumpkin Smoothies, oh my!  These recipes are all easy to follow,  gluten free, casein free, and both AIP and Paleo friendly.

inside stuffed pumpkin

This fine orange squash has my creativity chakra spinning!  If you are in North America you are seeing everything pumpkin right now.  Trader Joe’s, one of my favorite grocery stores here in Southern California, is carrying everything from pumpkin butter and pumpkin cheese, to pumpkin coffee and even pumpkin ravioli!  Ok, so the ravioli isn’t gluten free, but it still has me inspired with the tastes of the season.  In my last post I talked about the amazing GI reparative cleanse I was on.  I created this stuffed pumpkin recipe so I could have something amazing to eat while on the cleanse.  I adapted the recipe from my favorite cookbook, The Joy of Cooking.

My muse
My muse!

 

My turkey stuffed pumpkin is AIP and Paleo friendly, casein free and just plain mouth watering. I gave a bite to my office mate, and she was so enchanted she wanted the recipe right away.

 

I am so excited about pumpkin, I have also created a healthy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie and Roasted Pumpkin Seed recipe to give you some additional ideas on how you can incorporate  pumpkin this fall.  By the way, I am pretty famous among my family and friends for my pumpkin pie.  I plan to post that recipe closer to Thanksgiving, so be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss it!

pumpkin patch 2

The Dharma of Pumpkin:

If you are a yogi or yogini you know that Dharma is a  sanskrit word meaning purpose in life.  In my yoga and meditation classes I ask students to contemplate their own dharma, by asking themselves, “How can I help, how can I serve using my own unique talents and gifts?”.  The gifts of pumpkin are too numerous to count. They can be served in both savory and sweet dishes with grace and ease.  One serving of pumpkin contains 7 grams of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, lower your risk of heart disease, and helps keep things moving through your digestive tract.  Pumpkin is also high in vitamin A to strengthen vision and immune system, beta carotene for an antioxidant boost, and iron for healthy blood.   Often folks who suffer from Celiac Disease can become iron deficient, so getting enough iron is crucial.  Even the seeds are helping you with a healthy dose of magnesium.  There is not much these orange beauties cannot do!

 

Turkey Stuffed Pumpkin

Ingredients:

1 sugar pumpkin (about 2 pounds)

1 cup fresh bulk turkey sausage*

1 large green apple, cored, and cut into ¼ in cubes

¼ cup fresh sage, chopped

coconut oil

⅛ teaspoon stevia (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

*Use lean ground turkey meat if you are on the GI reparative cleanse

 

Method:

Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.  Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to hold the pumpkin.

Cut the top off of the pumpkin and remove the seeds and strings.  Save the seeds for roasting!

Brush the pumpkin lightly with coconut oil.  This puts a pretty sheen on the finished product and aids in baking.  Place the pumpkin and pumpkin top on the baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake until almost tender, about 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the turkey in a skillet and cook over medium heat.  Without draining off the fat, add the cubed apple.  If you are using very lean turkey and don’t have any fat in the skillet, add some coconut oil here.  Add the sage,salt and pepper and cook, stirring for a few minutes, until the apple is crisp-tender.  Set aside.

stuffed pumpkin 1

When the pumpkin is cooked, let it cool a bit and scoop out most of the flesh.  Set the pumpkin top aside, you won’t need to bake it again.  Gently mix the pumpkin flesh with the turkey mixture.  Mix in 2 tablespoons coconut oil, and stevia (stevia is optional if you like a sweet touch).  Salt and pepper to taste.  Pile the stuffing into your beautiful pumpkin and lightly drizzle with a little more coconut oil.  Bake, uncovered, until piping hot, 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.  I like to put the pumpkin lid back on when serving for a little added drama!

 

*****BONUS RECIPES!*****

 

Salt and Vinegar Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

1-2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds (leftover from your stuffed pumpkin or jack-o-lantern carving project)

¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons salt

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Remove any pumpkin pulp from the seeds, rinse and pat dry.  In a bowl, drizzle the seeds with the vinegar until lightly coated.  Add salt to taste and toss.  Arrange the seeds on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet.  Place in the oven until they just start to turn golden brown, 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and store in an air-tight container.  I left my seeds in the oven too long and they burned, then I got burned pulling them out of the oven.  Casualties of a gluten free yoga chick!  Sorry, no pics for this recipe as I was too busy nursing my wound.

 It's just missing the whipped cream!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

Ingredients:

1 cup cooled herbal chai tea.  I like Trader Joe’s Rooibos Chai or Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice

½ cup canned pumpkin puree

1 frozen banana

teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 scoop of your favorite vanilla nutritional shake powder such as Vega One or Shakeology

Ice

1 tablespoon chopped walnut or granola(optional)

 Method:

In the order above, place all ingredients EXCEPT walnuts into your blender.  blend until smooth.  Enjoy with a sprinkle of walnut or granola on top for a delectable pumpkin pie “crust”.  I won’t tell if you add a dollop of whip cream, too!

 

 

What are your favorite foods and recipes of the season?  Tell me what you think, and be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a thing.  lv-GFYC

Paleo Friendly Cauliflower Rice Mediterranean Bowl

 

This Paleo friendly cauliflower rice dish is a delectable way to get more veggies into your diet!

Gluten Free Yoga Chick Cauliflower Rice

Recently I started reparative cleanse to heal my body after accidentally ingesting gluten, and to re-ignite my digestive fire to get it humming harmoniously again.   I believe we are all an advocate for our own health.  It is very frustrating to go to a restaurant and be very diligent about letting the server know you are allergic to a particular food or on a particular diet brave enough to ask about ingredients and menu options, and still come home with a terrible stomach ache, headache, or low energy  that lasts for days and sometimes weeks.   The result of insensitive or perhaps unknowledgeable restaurant staff can be devastating to someone with food allergies. For those with Celiac Disease, the damage done to the small intestine after ingesting gluten is permanent and debilitating. In my case, getting slipped the big G left me with all of the symptoms of the stomach flu, anemia, and skin issues and in need of major gut repair.

The cleanse I am on is great because you can eat as much of the approved foods as you want.  That means no need to be hungry, or drink strange juice concoctions.   What you eliminate is any inflammatory food or known allergen.  That means no grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol, nuts, etc.  The hardest part is eliminating my beloved coffee!  Along with this clean diet, I am taking some high-quality digestive enzymes and digestion supporting herbs prescribed by a health coach and fellow Gluten Free Goddess, Kelly Ann Greene.  Be on the look out for a guest blog with Kelly if you are interested in learning more about the cleanse!

Coffee-asana
Coffee-asana

Recipe for the Mind, Body and Spirit:

It is so important to love your food, even on a restrictive diet.  This Mediterranean bowl is cleanse friendly, filling, and a feast for the eyes.  The main attraction of this dish is the cauliflower rice.  Cooking the cauliflower quickly, as in this recipe, will eliminate the sulfur smell and taste.  Add your own herbs and spices to the rice recipe and it can be a great compliment to any main course.  You may not mistake this for real rice, but the texture, flavor, and color satisfies the mind, body and soul.  Cauliflower is high in potassium which regulates body functions, and one serving has almost as much vitamin C as a whole orange!

Ingredients: (Serves 4 people)

Cauliflower Rice:

1 head of cauliflower

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

salt to taste

Mediterranean Bowl:

2 cups Spinach

½ head of Romaine lettuce

½  cup pitted green olives

30-40 small or medium size pre-cooked shrimp

1 cucumber: peeled, deseeded, and chopped

1 cup purple cabbage, chopped

½  cup olive oil

½  cup apple cider vinegar

salt to taste

Method:  Cauliflower Rice

photo 1

Cut off any green leaves or brown spots from the head of cauliflower.  Chop the cauliflower head in half and remove the core, then cut the florets into uniform size florets.  In small batches, place the raw florets in a Vitamix on low speed, using the plunger to chop the cauliflower into rice-sized pieces. Be careful not to over chop. I use #3 on my Vitamix dial. If you are using a food processor, use the pulse feature to finely chop your cauliflower.

Gluten Free Yoga Chick Cauliflower rice Prep
Notice my settings on the Vitamix… have I told you how much I love this machine?

In a large skillet heat olive oil on medium heat and add garlic.  Lightly saute the garlic, being careful not to let it turn brown.  Add the rice to the skillet with the salt and saute until slightly toasted, adding the cilantro at the end to wilt into the rice.  Do not overcrowd the pan or you will end up with soggy rice!  Remove from heat and set aside.

photo 4

Method:  Mediterranean Bowl

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt to make the dressing.

Divide the lettuce and spinach in four separate serving bowls.  Layer the rice, cucumber, shrimp, olives and purple cabbage onto your beds of lettuce.  drizzle your oil and vinegar dressing over the top and enjoy!

This recipe serves 4, but it is easy to make more or less if needed.  If you don’t plan on eating all of the cauliflower rice, freeze the uncooked chopped cauliflower in serving size freezer bags.  It makes a great go-to side with any dish.

photo 5

I am on day 9 of this cleanse and with meals like this I feel like I could keep going!  I feel great and lost ½ inch off my belly already.  If you  have been feeling low energy, have had stomach issues, or just want to do a reasonable but effective fall cleanse, I recommend you try this one.  Please leave a message or a comment and let me know if you want to learn more about this cleanse, or have your own experience with a cleanse you would like to share.  Let’s help ourselves and each other love our food, love our bodies, and transform our lives!

20 minutes to Incredible Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies for Abundance

gluten free oatmeal cookies 2
Love. Bake. Share. Repeat.

This simply scrumptious oatmeal cookie recipe will win over even the most discerning crowd with effortless ease.  It is said that when you give your generosity will be returned to you.  In that case, these tasty treats will open up the floodgates of love and affection!

You only need 20 minutes for this no-fuss cookie recipe, including bake-time.  Whoever said gluten free baking was hard never tried this recipe.  Just be sure to bring your butter, eggs and peanut butter to room temperature before beginning.

Mind/Body/Spirit Connection:

The Law of Giving and Receiving from The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, by Deepak Chopra, states that the universe operates through dynamic exchange.   Share these cookies with your new neighbor, your book club, or even your next tailgate party.  Everyone will love them and you will be circulating love and appreciation that will undoubtedly come back to you tenfold.  Made with all natural peanut butter, real oats, no refined flours and less sugar than most cookie recipes, these treats provide healthy fats and fiber.  Omit the chocolate chips for a healthier version.

Ingredients:

liberated eggs!
liberated eggs!

1/2 cup butter (softened)

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup organic sugar

¾ cup organic brown sugar

3 cups gluten free quick oats

2 liberated eggs

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon vanilla

¾ cup cranberries or raisins (optional, based on the season)

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

1 cup all natural peanut butter

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream sugar, brown sugar and butter in a mixer on high speed.  Turning the mixer to medium speed, add eggs one at a time.  Slowly pour in vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda, then spoon in the peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined.  Stir in oats, chocolate chips and cranberries on low speed.

Spoon tablespoon sized dollups of cookie dough onto a cookie sheet, about an inch apart.

I used an ice cream scoop to measure these cookies and I think they were too big.  Use a tablespoon to measure and they will come out the right combination of crunchy and chewy.
I used an ice cream scoop to measure these cookies and I think they were too big. Use a tablespoon to measure and they will come out the right combination of crunchy and chewy.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly brown around the edges.  Allow to cool.

Share often and watch the principle of Giving and Receiving work in your life.  Let me know how abundance unfolds for you when you bake and give from your heart.

Digest Refresh Elixir

Cure your post holiday digestive woes with this refreshing, tummy healing smoothie!

digest refresh elixir

BBQ’s, beach bonfires and concerts, along with plenty of food and drink are all a part of the traditional Labor Day weekend, followed by the notorious day after energy slump. If you are gluten-free like me it can  also be tough to navigate all of the eating out without accidentally ingesting gluten and throwing your digestion out of whack for days. This recipe was created with that in mind, and will help heal your gluten-free mind, body and soul. It has all the ingredients you need to rehydrate, calm the tummy, and regain essential nutrition to bounce back after a weekend of excess, gluten-free or not.

Recipe for body, mind and spirit:

Melon is full of water and rich in potassium to help with replenishing your body’s vital water stores. Proper hydration is essential for brain function. Both melon and lime contain a good dose of vitamin C for a natural detoxifier. Mint and yogurt work together to help reduce bloat and all of the symptoms of a less than happy digestive track.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup cold purified water

1 cup honeydew or golden melon (you can also substitute peeled cucumber)

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves and stems (only use stems if your blender can puree them completely)

1/4 cup plain or honey sweetened yogurt

Juice of 1/2 lime plus one round slice of lime with peel on

Method:

Place water, melon, mint, yogurt, lime juice and slice of lime into your blender in that order. Start blender on low and slowly increase speed to high. Continue on high until all of the mint has been completely liquified. The smoothie will be thin in consistency, which is much more appealing when you are not feeling well. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint and a slice of lime. For added digestive support, feel free to nibble on the garnish!

You will feel and look revived and ready for that mid-week hot yoga class with this refreshing and nourishing elixir.

 

Have your own post holiday remedy or just a good story from your weekend?  I want to know!

The Best GF Lemon Bars

lemon bars
Best Recipe for Lemon Bars. Ever.

I promise you will love this recipe.  These lemon bars are really fresh tasting and have a delicate crust. They are so good no one will know they are gluten free.  In fact, I challenge you to take these bars to your next gathering, and wait until everyone tries one before you mention they are gluten free.  Let me know how your friends react when you tell them. I bet they will be surprised something that tastes so gourmet could also be gluten free!

 

Recipe for your body, mind and spirit :

Lemons are alkalizing for the body: Although lemons are acidic to begin with, they are alkaline-forming on body fluids helping to restore balance to the body’s pH. Lemons are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids that work against infections like the flu and colds.  Allowing yourself a little treat is also nourishing for the soul.

lemons

Ingredients:

The Crust:

1 Package Bob’s Red Mill Shortbread Cookie Mix*

3/4 Cup Organic unsalted butter

1 Egg Yolk

2 Tablespoons water

*Although I have my own shortbread cookie recipe, I cheated and used a cookie mix. This Bob’s Red Mill cookie mix is very high quality. Each product undergoes extensive quality control tests. During this testing phase, the gluten-free offerings are segregated from other products, and tested in special gluten-free-only ‘clean room facilities.’

I will be posting my very special Shortbread Cookie recipe in time for use during the holidays, so be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss it.  It is very easy and versatile, perfect for Christmas cookie swaps and holiday parties.

The Filling:

Liberated!
Liberated!

4 Large “liberated” eggs + 2 egg yolks

2 Cups Organic sugar

1/2 Cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

2 Cups fresh lemon juice (about 10 organic lemons)

Zest of one lemon

Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish with parchment paper, and grease the top of the parchment.

Prepare the cookie dough according to the package directions.  Press the dough into the baking dish evenly along the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the dish to form the crust.  Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, removing from the oven before it turns brown.  Turn the heat in the oven down to 300 degrees once the crust has been removed from the oven.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and yolks, sugar and flour in a mixing bowl until smooth.  Whisk in the lemon juice and zest.  Carefully pour the filling into the baked crust and return to the oven.

Bake until the filling is just set, approximately 30-35 minutes.  Let the bars cool on a rack, then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.  Once the lemon bars have chilled, carefully lift out of the pan using the parchment paper and place on a large cutting board and slice into 1 inch squares.  Dust with powdered sugar.

Let me know if you tried the recipe on your family and friends.  Did they love it?  Did they eat them all, not leaving a crumb?  Did they believe they were gluten free?  Tell me about it!

nom nom nom
nom nom nom

 

 

Peach Pico de Gallo

You will love this easy gourmet variation of Pico de Gallo; spicy, sweet and Rajasic.  It is a perfect compliment to my homemade margaritas and an adaptation of Mikey’s classic and well known Pico de Gallo. A must have recipe for the traditional black bean taco Sunday!   If you want the classic recipe, just use shredded purple cabbage for the peaches.

peach pico de gallo 2

Your yoga teacher may talk a lot about uniting mind body and spirit during class by using your breath.  This is also something I believe you can do with your food, after all, what we put in our mouths becomes our body.  It is so nourishing to the mind and spirit to go to the local farmer’s market and hook up with your edible posse and meet the people who have grown your food. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, just go with an open heart and a willingness to connect.  That’s good yoga and good food.

peach pico de gallo
Encinitas Farmer’s Market fête

Health Benefits:  Peaches contain a whopping 10 different vitamins plus health giving minerals.  The spicy habanero makes this a  Rajasic dish.  Rajasic foods energize almost all the systems, specially the nervous system. Thier effcts on the mind are to help you push yourself beyond your normal capacity and capability. Rajasic (originating from the word ‘Raja’, meaning king, means kingly or fit for a king) food is associated with quality and freshness.  These tomatoes were picked the same day, so fresh!

Ingredients:

2 medium heirloom tomatoes

1 medium peach

1/2 white onion

1/3 c freshly cilantro

1 habanero pepper

1/2 lime

salt to taste

 

Method:

Dice tomatoes, peach and onion.  Skinning the peach is optional, but I recommend leaving the skins for their added fiber content and beautiful color.  Finely chop the cilantro.  Carefully cut the habanero in half and remove the seeds (consciously keep the oil from the pepper away from your eyes and sensitive skin), then mince the pepper.  Gently mix the ingredients in a mixing bowl being careful not to bruise the delicate fruits.  Add the juice of the lime and salt to taste and stir to combine into mix.  Allow to chill for 1 hour to before serving so the flavors can combine.

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Serve on top of your favorite taco, burrito or tortilla chip. This would be excellent on fish tacos!

 

Homemade Margarita Mix

Every Sunday my guy and I make black bean tacos with homemade pico do gallo and margaritas.  It is a very sweet way for the two of us to connect each week.  Even though he is away in Puerto Rico we still carry on the tradition and make our favorite meal “together” .   We started the tradition using a mix you buy at the store to make margaritas, but the store-bought mixes were too sweet for my taste and hardly had any trace of real lime flavor in them.   I don’t drink often (it is very hard to do a downward dog after drinking a cocktail), so when I do imbibe I want it to make it count.  These margaritas are definitely spectacular, and only take about 20 minutes of prep time.  There is a friendly rivalry regarding who really came up with this recipe.  My significant other did try to make this first and used agave nectar. The agave nectar in the margarita mix was just not palatable, and the color of the drink was off.  I then created this one (with his help) and it really complements the tequila by using less sugar and fresh limes.

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om…om…om…margarita…ommmmmmm

This recipe has been a huge hit at parties and a lot of my friends request it.  It is very easy and doesn’t take much prep.  I gave the recipe to friends of ours and they drank it until their tequila bill was higher than their gas bill.  This is why we only make these on Sunday! You could also put the mix in a pretty container and give as a gift.  Once you try this you will never order a margarita from a bar again.

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Heath benefits:

Plenty of vitamin C, less sugar than a regular margarita, and of course lots of love when you share with others!

Margarita Mix Recipe

Ingredients:

5 lb bag of limes

2 cup sugar

2 cup water

 

Method:

To make the simple syrup:  pour water and sugar into a sauce pan, heat on low.  Stir occasionally until all of the sugar has dissolved and remove from heat.  Refrigerate the simple syrup mix.  In the meantime, squeeze all but two of the limes using a citrus juice press.  Once your lime juice is ready and your liquefied sugar has cooled you are ready to combine the two.  Mix 1 cup lime juice per 3/4 cup simple syrup.  Don’t worry if you have extra lime juice, you can refrigerate it and use it for next week.  Use the two extra limes are for use as your garnish on the glass.

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Must have guac and chips with your margaritas!

We use this standard recipe for margaritas.  Well, he uses this recipe.  I always add 2 oz of tequila per drink and no one seems to complain!

4 oz mix

.5 oz Grand Marnier

1.5 oz tequila

rock salt  and a slice of lime for rim

 

 

Chocolate Energy Bites

Chocolate Energy Bites

A friend and I went on a hike on the beach bluffs in So Cal and we needed a healthy treat to take along.  I threw together these delish energy bites and they were a big hit!  I even had leftovers  and took them to my team at work to give them a little fuel while facilitating the Chopra Center’s Perfect Health Teacher Training course.

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Health Benefits:

No added sugar!  Balanced mix of healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates plus the added benefits of Shakeology’s superfood blend to give you tons of sustained energy.

Ingredients:

1 ½ Cup raw almonds

1 ½ cup raisins, dates, or unsweetened dried cherries

1 scoop chocolate superfood nutrition or protein powder.  (I use Shakeology)

1 tablespoon 100% unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon coarse ground kosher salt

1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil

½ cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut (optional)

 

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Arrange them beautifully on a plate and serve as a treat. No need to tell anyone they are actually HEALTHY!

Method:

Add ingredients to your Vitamix in this order: almonds, dried fruit, Shakeology, cocoa powder, salt and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.  Use a food processor if you don’t have a Vitamix.Start the machine on low speed, don’t be shy about using the plunger tool to mash the mix into the blade (don’t worry, a Vitamix will turn off before it overheats).  If the mix is too dry, add the remaining coconut oil.  When the mix is ready the fruit and chocolate will be completely integrated and the almonds will be in ground into small, pebble size pieces.  Empty the container on a clean surface. Using your palms, roll spoonfuls of the mix into bite size balls and roll into the shredded coconut.  Serve in mini muffin papers to make them a little more special.  Presentation counts, we eat with our eyes, too!

If you substitute your own chocolate protein powder for Shakeology, just be sure that the scoop isn’t too big or the mix will be too dry.  If it does turn out dry, just add more coconut oil.