3 Ways to Find Love in Your Next Yoga Class

glutenfreeyogachick.com
glutenfreeyogachick.com

It’s Valentine’s season, and images of love are everywhere. Personally I love Valentine’s day and usually spend it making (and eating) gluten free chocolaty deliciousness.  Sometimes the media hype around the holiday is less than sweet, and can fuel unrealistic definitions of love.  Even the Super Bowl was sponsored by a diamond jewelry company urging viewers to buy a ring if you truly love her, or make those of us who don’t have a sparkly rock somehow less loved.

It is not true!

Yoga philosophy reminds us that love is infinite and all around us at any moment ready to be recognized, cultivated, and expanded. If you want to find true love, incorporate these three techniques at your next yoga class.  You will unlock your heart and open your awareness to love that is already right in front of you.

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Looking for Love?

Before Yoga Class – Set Your Awareness on Love

Before your next yoga class or meditation, take a few minutes to focus your awareness on your heart center, or anahata chakra. Close your eyes and begin by taking a few deep centering breaths. Imagine, think or feel a brilliant emerald green light emanating from the center of your chest. With each breath expand that green light throughout your body.  Silently repeat the primordial sound associated with the heart chakra, “YUM, YUM, YUM…”.

When you feel ready, open your eyes. Take a few moments to notice any shifts in your body, mind and spirit before moving on to the yoga asanas.

During class – Circulate Love With Every Breath

Yoga class should always focus primarily on the breath.  Have the intention of circulating love with every breath during your asana practice.  As you inhale, breath in love. As you exhale, give love back. Continue with the awareness of inhaling and exhaling love with every breath.  If your mind begins to drift, lovingly bring it back to the intention of circulating love.

After Class – Keep Your Focus on Love

You hear your yoga teacher say it all the time, “find your drishti”. Drishti is a Sanskrit word that means view or focal point. The ancient yogis discovered that where our gaze is directed our attention naturally follows, and that the quality of our gazing is directly reflected in the quality of our mental thoughts. You can use the drishti concept off the mat and into your everyday life.  After your yoga class make love your focal point.  Practice seeing it in all things; the wag of a dog’s tail, the sound of a soulful song, even graffiti can be love if you are willing to open your eyes to it.

Open your eyes to love – it is everywhere!

See Love Everywhere
See Love Everywhere

Remember that you are loved exactly as you are in this moment.  You don’t need to do anything to be loved, you just need to open your mind, body and spirit up to the love that is all around you.  Use these tools to remind you that your true Self is never without love.

~Namaste~

Turmeric Tonic

IMG_1379Lower inflammation with this infusion of Chai inspired spices and heavy use of fresh turmeric root.

I’ve been living in Puerto Rico for the last 5 weeks so I can take care of family that needed me.  While here I have taken the opportunity to learn about local Caribbean foods and farming.  I am always very passionate about using local and organic ingredients when I can.   The joy I find in connecting with the local farmers I buy my food from is just as much a part of the recipe as the ingredients themselves.

plaza mercado

Turmeric grows locally in Puerto Rico, along with a lot of other very nourishing root vegetables. It is very orange and fragrant when fresh and has long been know as a natural anti-inflammatory.  I purchased an entire pound of the beautiful, fragrant finger-like jewels from the Plaza Mercado (a local farmer’s market in San Juan).

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As a part of my gluten-free yoga chick adventures in Puerto Rico, I found an Ashtanga yoga studio within walking distance from where I am staying in San Juan.  It is a very rigorous practice of 73 positions that has been leaving me drenched in sweat and sore.  In addition to practicing Ashtanga, I am walking a mile each way to the studio and still keeping up with my regular running routine.  My hips hurt so good!  I created this very potent turmeric tonic to ease inflammation in my muscles and joints from all of this movement my body is adjusting to.

As an experiment, I prepared a batch of this super potent turmeric infusion each morning and drank it throughout the day while continuing with my yoga and running routine.  This turmeric tonic was super effective at relieving my aches and pains naturally.  This recipe uses three times more turmeric than you normally see in other turmeric tea recipes.  In my research I have not found any side effects to too much turmeric.  I have learned that pepper is key to unlocking the turmeric’s superfood power, and also adds a nice spicy flavor.

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For this recipe, try to find the freshest turmeric and ginger possible.  My suggestion would be to go to a farmer’s market or natural food store where you know they are replenishing the items often.  Look for plump roots with little or no wrinkling on the outer skin.

Ingredients:

3 inches fresh turmeric root – Sliced with skin on

1 inch fresh ginger – Sliced with skin on

1 tsp cracked black peppercorn

1 cinnamon stick

3 cups filtered water

Method:

Place all ingredients in a small pot over medium high heat on a stovetop.  Once it comes to a rolling boil, decrease the heat to low, bringing the liquid to a light simmer.  Cover with a lid and continue to simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into an insulated carafe or other container.

Enjoy this super potent, yet tasty tonic plain or with your favorite milk (I like it with unsweetened coconut milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top).  For the most medicinal benefits, sip the tea throughout the day.

I’m always interested in what you are doing.  How do you use turmeric?  What is your experience with Ashtanga yoga?  I love creating a community and would love to hear your about your adventures in wellness.  Please leave a comment or send me a message.

Have a beautiful day!

 

 

Baked Tostone Pizza Bites – Discover the Healing Benefits of Plantains

Looking for a healthy and satisfying game day appetizer?  These pizza bites made from plantains can’t lose, and the resistant starch, found in green plantains, will surely be the next new champion in Superfoods!

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Plantains are a starchy fruit found commonly in the Caribbean.  These cousins to the banana can be used in both savory or sweet dishes, depending on their ripeness.  Green plantains are not sweet and can be thought of more like a dense potato.  I was in Puerto Rico over the holiday and I tried all sorts of local plantain dishes. Most of the time you find them fried, or even twice fried!  So here I made a healthy version by baking the smashed plantain slices instead of frying.  The texture and taste of tostones remind me of a cracker or crusty flatbread when baked, making it the perfect gluten free alternative that is healthy, Paleo and clean diet friendly, and just plain delicious.

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Recipe for your Mind, Body and Spirit:

If you practice yoga consistently you begin to notice the subtle signals your body is sending you letting you know exactly what you need to thrive.  If your have any sort of food allergy these signals  may not be so subtle!  Plantains can help you heal from digestive issues and will also provide your body with essential vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Thank your body for sending your these signals, giving you the opportunity learn how to heal, how to flourish, and how to become aware and fully present in your body.  What we eat literally becomes who we are, and if we eat healthy and healing foods to nurture our bodies we become healthy, healed and nurtured.

Green plantains are chocked full of essential vitamins and minerals and are a resistant starch food, which is healing to your lower intestine.   Check out this clip from Dr. Oz to learn more about why you should incorporate resistant starch into your diet:

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/resistant-starch-flour

The main reason why resistant starch is so beneficial is that it feeds the friendly bacteria in your large intestine and colon, turns them into important short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate (known to help reduce inflammation) and is extremely helpful in cases of autoimmunity, IBS, colitis and allergies.

Ingredients for Pizza Bite Tostones (serves 4):

2 large green plantains

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 roma tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes or Italian seasoning

¼ cup shredded fresh mozzarella cheese

2 sprigs fresh Italian parsley (optional)

Method:

Cut the ends off the plantains.  Cut a slit through the peel lengthwise.

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Microwave the prepared whole plantain for 3-5 minutes.  The peel will turn black and will be easily removed.  Be careful when peeling the hot plantain!

While the plantain is still hot, slice into 3/4 rounds.

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Flatten the rounds in tostonera, or between two cutting boards.  You can buy an inexpensive tostonera here.

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Place smashed plantains on a greased cookie or baking sheet.

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Lightly brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and flip, season the other side with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 7-8 more minutes, the edges will become a beautiful golden brown.  Remove the tostones from the oven and add a slice of tomato, mozzarella cheese and red pepper flakes or Italian seasoning.  Return to the oven until cheese is completely melted, about 1-2 more minutes.

IMG_0058You can also omit the pizza toppings and use the baked tostones as a vehicle for your favorite dip.  Here I made a quick yoghurt lime dipping sauce out of yogurt, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro and garlic.

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I think these baked beauties would be perfect with a spinach or artichoke dip as well.  Want the recipe for my yogurt lime dipping sauce?  Was this recipe helpful, inspiring, difficult?  Let me know your comments below!