Putting the Puzzle Together

I had an epiphany from yoga yesterday: I am thankful for having this body of mine as a vessel. But there is more.

Yoga is not about the body. Yoga practice is like putting together a puzzle. The breath is the clue. The puzzle is a glimpse of my whole being for the moment. Take asanas as the little pieces of the puzzle; they are just a tool, but keeping the intention on the wholeness of the picture. Sometimes as you put them together, they don’t fit, and have the courage to back off, assess, try again in an intelligent way. Pay attention to the clue… yes, the BREATH. Oh it’s so important!

What else do you need besides the breath? You will need patience (lots of it!) for trials and errors (it’s part of the journey); compassion for not taking it or yourself too seriously (and respecting your body as a vessel); focus on the pieces as well as the big picture (not to lose sight or get distracted), and passion to keep on (because you love yourself). But the breath…. oh the breath, it’s your biggest ally and supporter. When you feel lost or frustrated, dig deep with it. Listen to it. Notice that once you finish this puzzle (whenever or whatever that may be — the end picture is different for everyone), be humbled, be curious about the purpose of why you started this journey to begin with, be marveled by the limitless potential we each have in us. Then shake the puzzle pieces up and do it over again. Remember, the completed puzzle was just a glimpse of your intention visualized for the moment. And next time, the puzzle will be different.

That’s why yoga never gets dull or boring. There is always a new puzzle to work on.

Journey Inward

Journey Inward

{Recipe} Confetti Coleslaw

I took a Healthy Cooking class earlier this year as part of my Dietetics program, and this is one of my modified recipes from the class that I’ve been re-making at home. It’s easy to see why. As we eat with our senses, sight, smell, taste, audio… This confetti coleslaw covers them all.

Confetti Coleslaw

Visually, I love colors (and I happily use my favorite hashtag in my Instagram #eattherainbow for this). Because it’s so bright, colorful and just makes me happy looking at it! Then the smell of the crisp apple cider, celery seeds and dry mustard give me cues about how refreshing this is going to taste. OK – I’m ready to dive into this! The taste, yes, it’s light yet slightly sweet, tang and just a tad of spicy (I added some red pepper flakes at the end). Just as good as I imagined. Then my tastebuds are like “whoa… yeah let’s party!!” Then the crunchy cabbage just keeps on lending that flavor on and on…

We all probably have heard how eating vegetables are good for our health, but eating them is not just for nutrition (face) value. We should eat them what makes us filled with joy and love.

Because it is nourishment for our entire body and well-being. Going beyond making something we know mentally is good for us physically enable us to continue giving ourselves nourishment that pays forward. It’s something deeper that gives you true satisfaction that only you can re-create and repeat. It’s following your own blissful path to better health.

If you don’t like cabbage, mix with another crunchy vegetables that you like! The idea is to eat variety of colors from natural whole vegetables. Add fresh fruits slices if you’d like to make it a little sweeter. Apples would go wonderfully well with this.

Can you see why this is a confetti party? I totally think this deserves a #happydance while you’re eating it. Crunch crunch… party on! :)

{Recipe} Confetti Coleslaw
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
For the Coleslaw:
  • 5 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrot
  • ⅓ cup red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup green onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • a few springs of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
For the Cider Vinaigrette:
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (or any unflavored oil)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Put the shredded purple cabbage in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, stir all the ingredients of the vinaigrette together.
  3. Pour the vinaigrette over the cabbage and let stand 1 hour to flavor.
  4. Drain cabbage, then add carrot, red onion, green onion, bell pepper and parsley.
  5. Toss to mix. Enjoy!

 

{Recipe} Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (Paleo-Friendly)

It’s May already? Where has time gone?! I’m checking in with my blog *dusting it off* today to share a recipe. Before sharing the recipe, please allow me to divulge a bit about what’s happening behind the blog land here. As I’ve conferred several times in my last few blog posts, I’ve been away from my blog writing because I wanted to focus on living in the present moment, moving with the ebbs and flow in my-day-to-day life, meeting the challenges yet experiencing life as it comes. I dedicate my time to focus on healing myself from the core and improving my quality of life. I’ve been “disconnected” in some ways: mentally with showing my creativity and passions. Physically,  I also became aware that my subtle body being out alignment and exhausted. The great news is, I’m feeling a lot better, embracing my life and simply experiencing it so much more with joy and peace. As evidenced by my decision of going back to school to become a RDN last year, teaching and practicing yoga consistently, feeling healthier and sleeping better over the last several months, I am now able to identify with that sense of clarify, confidence, and care, the “Three-C’s” I referred to earlier this year. These three words are my mantra for this year. They are the words that I seek to resonate with my whole being as part of who I am. Now by just being able to say that I can understand those three words is so powerful.

Ok, here is the recipe ;)

I was so excited that I had been waiting to say these words since last summer. So lately when I found those two gems in my local grocery store, I said loudly (in my head), “I’M GOING TO MAKE STRAWBERRY RHUBARB CRISP! YAY!!!” Yes, it deserves all cap. That’s how excited I was.

StrawberryRhubarbCrisp2

As spring season is in full swing, many delicious fruits and vegetables are in full season. Now it’s the time to savor the fresh and ripened goodness of those nature’s gifts, like strawberry and rhubarb. They are best friends in this healthy yet down-home, sweet and tart, fruity dessert. Underneath the slightly gooey fruit filling, the best part is the crisp topping. It is not heavy at all as typical crisp topping which uses a lot of butter, flour or sugar. Keeping up with the natural, gluten-free, good-for-your-body and soul healthy dessert theme, this crisp is made with almond meal, honey roasted almond slices, coconut oil, maple syrup with coconut cane sugar as the crunchy factors.

I love the already mouth-puckering tang and fruity sweetness interplay between strawberry and rhubarb, but to make it even more pronounced, I’m generous with the addition of fresh lemon juice. I want the crunchy yet deeply nutty, caramel-y flavor of the warm crisp on top without the doughy, sugar-laden, greasy heaviness. I got the perfectly light yet satisfying paleo crispy topping. This recipe is paleo-friendly, gluten-free, and packed with wholesome flavor of strawberry and rhubarb. If you feel fancy, top the crisp topping (can’t get enough toppings!) with some whipped coconut-cream. Mmm… now that is a restaurant-order worthy dessert.

P.S.- I apologize for the quality of photo below because it doesn’t do its justice. The angle view from top-down doesn’t allow you to see the filling at the bottom of the dish, which is a thick layer of gooey fruity strawberry rhubarb goodness.

StrawberryRhubarbCrisp

 

{Recipe} Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (Paleo-Friendly)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 6
Ingredients
For the Filling:
  • 1½ cup fresh strawberries halved
  • 2 cup rhubarb, chopped in 1-inch chuncks
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or juice of 1 whole lemon)
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated lemon zest
  • 1-2 tbsp arrowroot powder, depending on how much lemon juice you use
  • pinch of salt
For the Crisp Topping:
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup honey roasted almond slices
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Layer the strawberries and rhubarb in a lightly oiled loaf baking dish
  3. Squeeze the lemon over the fruit mixture and add the grated lemon zest
  4. Add arrowroot powder, pinch of salt and mix well with a spoon
  5. In a medium bowl mix together the almond meal, almond slices, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir to combine making sure to break up any chunks
  6. Melt the coconut oil with the maple syrup and add to the dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly
  7. Crumble the topping evenly over the filling mixture
  8. Sprinkle the coconut sugar on top
  9. Bake for 40 minutes, let cool for at least 10 before serving
  10. Serve alone, or with ice cream!

{Recipe} Grain-Free Banana Protein Muffins —Two Ways

I created this recipe back in December last year, and have been making this at least twice a month since then. M’beau loves this as it satisfies his sweet muffin cravings, boosts nutrient contents with banana goodness, almond flour, coconut flour and protein powder, and it’s grain-free.

Also, I love banana. I always have at least a dozen of banana on my kitchen counter on stand-by. I eat them as is, but in part I ripe half of them for baked banana recipes or for freezing later to create sweet frozen treats (i.e., in my morning smoothie, frozen banana pop or vegan ice cream recipes). Banana is a wonder food. It’s great for replenishing potassium for this bikram yogi, part of my breakfast in smoothie or just slathered with almond butter as on-the-go snack. What’s better is when they are made into delicious banana muffins that are good for you and delicious as snack or breakfast on-the-go if I’m in a hurry to get out the door.

Bananas

I knew I wanted to make the muffin delicious, but wasn’t sure how to mix grain-free or gluten-free flour mixture together to create fluffy yet moist texture, the same way that gluten flour would make in typical bread and muffin recipes. After a few trials and errors, reading lots of different gluten-free bread/muffin recipes, I got this down. The secret is tapioca starch. It gives the airy-ness that counterbalance the heavy denseness of almond flour and coconut flour. As with any baking recipe, the ratio between wet and dry ingredients are important. I’m so happy that this turns out so well.

BananaProteinMuffins2Ways_jsh

Grain-Free Banana Protein Muffins — Two Ways

Email, text or print this recipe

(makes approx 11 muffins)

Ingredients 

For the Base Banana Protein Muffin

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 scoops (35 g each scoop) of vanilla protein powder of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup ripped banana, mashed (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk

Additional Ingredients for Banana Chocolate Muffin (for 6 muffins total)

  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Additional Ingredients for Banana Blueberry Muffin (for 5 muffins total)

  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup dried wild blueberries, separated

 

Instructions

For the Base Banana Muffin

  • Preheat the oven at 350 F degrees.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients (the first 7 on the list above) in a bowl.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk one egg. Then add all the rest of the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  • Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients in small batches. Combine the mixture well between batches.
  • Place muffin liners (paper or silicon) in the muffin tin. Ready to make two different muffins or choose one of your preference from below.

For the Banana Chocolate Muffin

  • Using a 1/4-cup measurement cup for each muffin, pour the batter into the lined muffin tin for a total of 6 muffins.
  • Top a few chocolate chips to each of the six muffins that you want to make for this recipe. Slightly press them down into the muffin mixture, so some of them are inside the batter rather than on top.
  • Save the rest of the batter for the Banana Blueberry Muffin recipe below.

For the Banana Blueberry Muffin

  • Put the fresh lemon zest, ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup of the dried blueberries into the rest of the batter mixture. Mix well.
  • Using a 1/4-cup measurement cup for each muffin, pour the batter into the lined muffin tin for a total of approximately 5 muffins.
  • Top the rest of the 1/4 cup dried blueberries on to each muffin.
  • Bake all the muffins in the oven at 350 F degrees for 25 minutes. The top of the muffins should be slightly brown and smell fantastic!

 

 

New Year, New Beginnings {one month later}!

Oyyy. Every time when I look at my blog dashboard on and off since the last few weeks, I thought to myself, “gotta ssssstart writing somewhere… but SO.MUCH.TO.SAY! Where do I start?!!” Then I got sidetracked or distracted by something. Ahh! But it’s better late than never, right? ;)

Since there are so much happenings around here, I’ll do a highlighted version post to round things up. Here we go. Since the beginning of 2014 started, I have:

1) Resumed back to school for Spring 2014 semester.

Truthfully, school is kicking my butt. This semester is heavy with science classes like chemistry and microbiology, plus lots of reading and exams. Not to say that this is a good excuse, but being so busy with school work is the primary reason why I haven’t been able to spend quality time blogging , writing in journals, engaging in social media, using my dSLR for better photography—basically doing all my favorite things related to blogging. Because school is clearly my top priority right now, I’m still adjusting and finding my rhythms in amongst various things, such as teaching and practicing yoga, staying somewhat organized at home, writing and reading, taking care of my loved ones and myself in cooking/meal prepping—which are all impactful to having a sense of good well-being and dear to my heart. However, I still have to gain some traction in finding clarity of how I want to put forth the best version of myself going forward beginning this year (and this is a separate topic, called my “three C’s” in 2014, with clarity being one of the C’s. I hope to write and share more about this later.)

Never ending studying

Never ending studying

2) Continued to teach and practice Bikram yoga at my lovely home studio here in Cincinnati.

Since I had taught a bit more during the holiday seasons, I felt like I’m truly getting know most students better, and I love that connection with students. From learning their names to knowing their bodies, from understanding what they’re working on to actually seeing what is happening for the students as they develop in their own practice, this is another layer of excitement, passion and growth to experience for me as a teacher. However, since January started I have to dial back both my practice and teaching because school takes so much more of my time now.  Well, it’s okay. At least I still get to do what I love to do! Yoga, nutrition, health, food… It’s all about constant balancing and adjusting to life, it’s all yoga baby, both on and off the mat. Oh, I also got to visit and teach at a brand new hot Bikram yoga studio nearby (about 2 hours away) in the neighboring state, The Hot Room Indianapolis! If you’re traveling through Indiana, make sure to stop by this beautiful hot studio. Not because it’s just beautiful from the exterior, but it’s filled with love and compassion for everyone who walks through the door.

Hottest place in town in Indianapolis

Hottest place in town in Indianapolis

 

3) Started a Whole30 program for the first time.

Yes, this might sound very much of a change in dietary lifestyle for someone like me, who had been flirting with vegetarianism and was never much of a heavy carnivore to begin with. I still believe in eating real and wholesome foods, vegetarian or not. But during several conversations with Chelsea (my dear friend and studio owner of Bikram Yoga Cincinnati) when we often talked about food, delicious recipes, and more specifically about what to eat for fuel and energy in yoga and in life, she told me about her Whole30 experience, the ideologies and reasons behind doing a Whole30 program. Since Chelsea and I share similar passions for eating good food, clean and well, I was so curious that I bought the book and read through the whole thing in two weeks. The book was a fascinating read. It opened my mind to explore more possible ways to improve my health and eating habits, which I must admit have been all over the place and not as consistently clean as I would like. So I decided to go for Whole30—in the spirit of self-exploration and for better health. It was a bit intimidating to start, but then I thought to myself, if eating whole real foods and resetting my body hormones back to normal should go hand-in-hand together, why not? I have really nothing to lose. So how was it? It was better than I expected. Way better. My energy level is constant and my sleeping has improved. I don’t feel lightheaded or moody as often. There are so much more benefits that I can write here. Here is a post about 30 reasons for doing Whole30, which I vouched to say all those reasons are true from my experience, and I didn’t stumble upon this until after I was through week 2 in my Whole30 program. As of writing today, I’m coming toward the last 3 days of my whole 30 days! And I think I’m going to keep this up after the 30 days. As you may see from my Instagram feeds, I’ve been cooking and trying a lot of different new recipes—all thanks to Whole30’s inspirations. I’m simply a happy girl with this way of eating!

Breakfast: Sweet Potatoes, Smoked Salmon, with my Bacon, Lemon and Greens Egg Muffins

Breakfast: Sweet Potatoes, Smoked Salmon, with my Bacon, Lemon and Greens Egg Muffins

Moroccan Spiced Meatballs with Ground Lamb and Beef

Moroccan Spiced Meatballs with Ground Lamb and Beef

 

4) Got engaged!

I’m still wrapping my head around this (and the ring around my finger). Although we have been together for a long time, and we both felt like we’re already “married” to each other by living together, I try my best to remind myself to never take this relationship for granted constantly. Even though sometimes I feel as though I still did take him for granted, because he has gone through so much with me in the last several years when I was going through difficult times. So this notion of being officially engaged still felt kind of surprising to me, in a very positive way. He did a very great job at timing and the planning part of proposal. With La Creuset, he knows the way to my heart. I’m lucky to have my best friend to also be my partner in life.

IMG_0143

 

That’s the short version of what’s happening here and should serve as a good warm-up for more what’s ahead… I hope your new year has started off great as well!