Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Carrot, Ginger and Orange Soup.


Honestly, this should be a soup blog. It seems to be all I make at the moment. There's something about this soup that is SO perfect for Fall. The color obviously, but it just tastes so nourishing. I used to always use chicken/beef or vegetable stock for my soups thinking it added bulk, nutrients and taste but with this I added filtered water and it tastes - cleaner, slightly more alive somehow. It's amazing to me how much flavor you can get with very few ingredients. A little grated ginger gives it just enough warmth and half a teaspoon of cinnamon reminds you that it's now Fall:) I hope you enjoy this lovely soup as much I as did.


Carrot, Ginger and Orange Soup.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons coconut oil
6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 sticks celery, washed and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
1/2 tablespoon grated ginger
2 1/2 - 3 cups filtered water
Juice of half an orange

Method:

1. Place the coconut oil, carrots, celery, onion, garlic and salt in a medium saucepan and cook on a low flame for about 10 minutes. Make sure the veggies don't burn!

2. Add the pepper, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and ginger, stir very well and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the water, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer until the veggies are just cooked through.

3. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for a minute or two then either blend with an immersion blender or remove to an upright blender. Add the orange juice to taste. Add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve.



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Love over Fear.


Today I was given the opportunity to teach my first ever yoga class. I am truly thankful for this moment and for moving through the fear!

All the new and wonderful moments in life, the ones that make us grow, open our hearts and help us find who we really are, will all be covered with a thin veil of icy fear. The fear that grips at your heart, blocks your way and tells you you're not good enough. Living your life with LOVE instead of fear is terrifying at times and takes bravery, but when those fears are conquered you find peace and liberation.

I found that peace and liberation today. With great gratitude to my teachers and all at my class today.

Namaste.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Squash Soup from the Garden.



Our late summer zucchini squash have grown to monster proportions it's almost like they're on steroids. I spent yesterday afternoon peeling and chopping and making soup. This is thick, warming and flavorful, just what you need when suddenly there's a chill in the air. It's full of goodness, a vegan delight, thickened with lentils and laced with pungent rosemary. As with most soups don't have to feel limited to the list of ingredients in the recipe. Use what you love and what you have on hand, a leek instead of the a fennel, or a parsnip instead of a carrot is a delicious substitution.


Squash Soup from the Garden.

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium fennel, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
A generous pinch or sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin (go a little lighter if you like, I just adore cumin)
1 1/2 cups red lentils (rinsed)
1-2 monster squash (any squash will work here - about 4 cups cut into chunks)
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1 large fresh sprig of rosemary
Pumpkin seeds and chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


Method:

1. Place the cut up onion, celery, carrots, garlic, fennel, black pepper and sea salt in a large pan, Add 2-3 tablespoons water and cook on a medium heat, covered for approximately 5-7 minutes. Make sure the pan doesn't boil dry - add a little extra water if needed.

2. Add the cumin and lentils and stir very well to combine. Add the squash, stir well, pour in the water or stock. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and partially cover the pot.

3. After the soup has simmered for about 15 minutes, add the sprig of rosemary and cook for approximately another 10-15 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Add a little more stock if the soup looks too thick.

4. When the vegetables and lentils are cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10  minutes. Remove the rosemary sprig. Puree the soup either with an immersion blender or an upright blender. Check to see if it needs more salt and pepper and serve with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and some chopped fresh parsley if desired.






Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Beauty and Benefits of Yoga.



The Beauty and Benefits of Yoga.

If you can breathe you can do yoga. That’s the beauty of this ancient form of physical, mental and spiritual practice. From infants to the elderly yoga has calmed the mind, honed the spirit and toned the body for over 5000 years.

Over the last decade yoga has become hugely popular blossoming into a multi-billion dollar industry. According to The Yoga Journal an estimated 20 million Americans practice yoga, 82 percent of them women. So what does yoga offer us in the modern age that has made it so sought after? Patanjali, the ancient Indian sage who wrote The Yoga Sutras about 2000 years ago, counseled his readers to “still the fluctuations of the mind.” Perhaps that’s an insight into why we are flocking to yoga studios in the 21st century. In this new age of technology we’re constantly bombarded with information, our phones seem to have become an extension of our bodies, our over stimulated  and multitasking minds are in desperate need of being stilled. A thoughtful yoga class will not only calm the mind but relax the body and lift the spirits. It’s almost as if Patanjali were speaking directly to us today.

Never before have there been so many styles, forms and intensities of yoga available. Almost all are offered here on my doorstep in the Hudson Valley. Nyack, New York, the town where I live, has an important history in the yoga world, being the home to America’s first Yogi, the flamboyant entrepreneur, Pierre Barnard, nicknamed the “Omnipotent Oom” who established his ashram in Nyack in 1920 staying until he passed away in the 1950s. Since then yoga has flourished and studios have sprung up in the area with many offerings. Just how physically demanding you wish to get is up to you, whether you’re looking for an arm balance workshop, hot yoga, pre or post natal, gentle, mediation, vinyasa, kids, chair, restorative or even aerial yoga, there is truly something for everyone.

Yoga literally means “to yoke” the mind, body and spirit, meaning it’s a fabulous work-out for the body but also a pretty intense “work-in” for the spirit. The pillars of the yogic lifestyle are built around the 8 Limbs of Yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas. They’re a sort of code of ethics for yogis, a standard to hold oneself too. They’re tricky to live by every day but to hold them in one’s mind and attempt to incorporate them into daily life can only make the world a better place. Here’s a few to think about; non-harming (remember yourself as well as everyone else), truthfulness, non-stealing, cleanliness, contentment, self-study, mediation, enlightenment. You see what I mean, there’s more to a Downward Facing Dog that meets the eye.

Many people get into yoga to acquire the envied “yoga body” or to deal with an injury, others to manage anxiety and depression or simply to find some calm and balance in life. The side effects continue to be researched and published. According to the Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical School, yoga “lowered excessive blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes and reduced their need for medications. Yoga is now being included in many cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits.” The Mayo Clinic claimed “yoga can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve heart function.”

Whatever your reasons for participating in this ancient practice the results will not only be a toned flexible body, a calmer mind and a peaceful spirit but a self acceptance and polishing of your true self that you can allow to shine.

Namaste.







Friday, May 29, 2015

Yoga.


Throughout the last year and a half the beauty of yoga has slowly become apparent in my life. I suspect the more I learn and practice the more beautiful it will become. To begin with it was just the physical aspect that attracted me but the more classes I took the more my attitude changed in other areas of my life. I became calmer, happier, less rushed. Slowly I started learning how to “breathe” and therefore how to “accept”. 

Life can be hard and I’m human so sometimes I turn my back in anger and ignore the beauty, but when I stop for a minute, breathe and close my eyes the beauty comes back. It’s part of me now and I don’t want to live without it. That is why I’m on this path, to live it, breathe it and sleep it. I'm training to become a yoga teacher, to pass this beauty on to others, to encourage them as I have been encouraged, not to be consumed with the worries of the world but instead to spread the beauty. 

Namaste

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ratatouille


To be honest I really didn't like eggplants until fairly recently but now I find I can't stop cooking them. Generally ratatouille a lovely late summer treat so I'm slightly ahead of the game (this rarely happens) but I found the most gorgeous looking baby zucchinis the other day and couldn't resist. Try this heavenly stew heaped on thick slices of toast with slabs of salty feta cheese over the top or on a bed of quinoa topped with thickly sliced avocado and a drizzle of olive oil, it's a delight I promise. Oh and don't forget to have a lovely glass (or two or three) of hearty red wine on the side (don't judge, just remember I have four teenage daughters).


If you can find them, the addition of fresh herbs makes all the difference. Our basil in the garden is just getting going and finding it hard to keep up with the demand. You can never have enough basil in your garden. In an ideal world I'd really like a couple of lemon trees too but we tried that and they didn't like the New York climate :(


Ratatouille.

This recipe makes a lot of ratatouille which is great if you're feeding a crowd., if not halve the recipe. It does keep for a good 2-3 days in the fridge and the flavors just keep getting better.

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large eggplant, cut into chunks - skin left on
4 small zucchini's, cut into chunks
2 red peppers, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
A healthy handful of fresh oregano, basil and parsley (plus more for garnish)
2, 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

Method:

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven heat the olive oil on a low heat and saute the onions for at least 10-12 minutes until caramelized. Sprinkle over some sea salt as they're cooking as it will help prevent them from burning.  

2. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the lemon juice and zest. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and allow to simmer away for about an hour. Stir from time to time to make sure nothing is sticking or burning or boiling too rapidly, you want a nice gentle simmer and eventually the vegetables all meld into each other.

3. When the vegetables are cooked add the lemon zest and juice. Top with more fresh herbs to serve.