Category Archives: diet

Smackaroni and Cheese (recipe): Spaghetti Squash is not the flying spaghetti monster

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Dude. It’s squash. Eat it, don’t fear it.

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I love walking through the produce department of box grocers. There is a never ending line of people in sweatpants and socks with sandals grabbing random colored things and looking at them as though they are trying to decipher some ancient code. Okay, okay, okay, that was very snarky of me. It happens in other stores, too, and it happens with other people (remind me to tell you the story of trying to describe over the phone what garlic looks like to a family member.) Regardless, it’s entertaining. But really, who can blame anyone? Some things in the produce department are crazy strange and might border on false advertisement!

Enter: Spaghetti Squash.

WTF is spaghetti squash? It looks like a malformed anemic pumpkin. Nothing at all about it looks like pasta. You try to find a recipe for how to use one and they all seem very simple, so long as you have the abilities of a safe cracker to break into this vegetable that is so challenging it brings to mind images of Fort Knox. After about 20 minutes of hacking at it, 4 cuts that borderline need stitches, and enough sweat to rival a Bikram yoga class, you throw the damn thing in the compost pit and chalk it up to a $3 long term investment in dirt because, it seems, spaghetti squash is, indeed, the flying spaghetti monster and makes just as much sense, so why not? Maybe the folks in the Walmart parking lot with aluminum foil on their heads have the right idea….

I’m here to tell you that there is hope for the spaghetti squash. Not only is there hope, there is love. There is love and awesomeness and even, I dare say, a bit of an addiction to the squashmonster to be had. Yes, yes I’m saying it, when someone dares to tell you the secrets to the Squash Monster Society, it becomes like smack. Or, well, since I’ve never done smack, it becomes good enough to use my patented phrase “So good it makes you wanna jump up and smack your grandma!” Yep.

I have many recipes, but I think this one is sure to hook you. Remember, the first taste is free! (no, it’s not. go buy your own.)

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Also … I make this in two steps. I do the squash first and then do the other stuff later when I’m hungry.

RECIPE

1 spaghetti squash

2 Tbsp butter / olive oil / melted coconut oil (butter is best, really)

3/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum (or 2 tsp flour)

3/4 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

paprika, garlic, onion powder, cayenne, basil, WHATEVER YOU LIKE, and salt, and pepper to taste.

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Squash

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut squash in half. Now, this will seem like a nightmare, but there’s an easy way. Take a very sharp LARGE butcher knife (not a cleaver) and do the Norman Bates Psycho hack – point down – in the middle of one long side of the squash. Once the point is buried deep, start to pull the knife from perpendicular to horizontal, affectively cutting halfway through the squash. Turn it around and repeat on the other side until the squash opens in two. if this doesn’t work and doesn’t make sense, i’m sorry. find something on YouTube.

Once the squash is in 2 equal halves, use a spoon or fork to scrape out the seeds and the little bit of guts in the squash.

Place both halves cut side down in a glass baking dish. Use two if you have to (I do.) Fill dish 1/2 way with water.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, remove squash from pan, let cool.

Watch Pop-Up Video for 3o minutes or so until you can handle the squash.

With a fork, use the tines to start scraping the walls of the squash into a bowl. Be amazed at how it looks like spaghetti. Keep going until you’re down to the shell. Compost the shell. Do this for both sides.

Let it all cool while you congratulate yourself on mastering the squash.

Cover and refrigerate if you’re going to be using later.

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SMACK!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a casserole dish (9 x 13 or slightly smaller.)

In a medium saucepan, melt butter (oils.)

Add milk and simmer.

Dust top with Xanthan gum (or dust with flour.)

Wisk like your life depended on it.

When the milk / butter starts to slightly boil, blend in spices to your liking.

Add cheeses, one at a time, continually mixing so it doesn’t get gloppy.

Remove cheese sauce from heat and pour into squash.

Blend thoroughly. Season again with salt and pepper.

Pour into prepared dish

Top with nutritional yeast and additional cheese

Bake for 40 minutes.

Serve and eat until you pass out cold with the most powerful foodgasm you’ve ever had.

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It might or might not look like this:

random pic I found on Google. I didn’t even read it. True talk.

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Couldn’t show you a picture of mine unless you xray me, but it did look almost exactly like what you see over there.

So there you have it. Not scary. Not hard. Not grain. Pretty awesome, actually.

Eat well!!

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Oh Dear Maude, She Cooks!!!

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Alright, children, I know you’re shocked, but it’s true.  I cook.  Not only do I cook, I cook WELL.  Yep.  I know my way around a kitchen and occasionally miracles occur.  Hey, what can I say, even a blind dog can get a bone now and then.

I recently wrote about changing my diet drastically from an all pasta all the time diet to a completely grain free diet.  I have been adhering without fail to being grain free for 5 weeks now.  I feel great!  While I still occasionally have bouts of insomnia, and when they occur they are horrible, I am sleeping about 90% of the time.  That was my main reason for changing the way I eat – I wanted to sleep!  As the days passed, however, I started to notice that it wasn’t just my sleep that was fucked up.  Nope, I suddenly realized that my joints felt different.  I noticed that I could breathe easier.  My skin felt different.  Lots going on, Jack.

To that end, I have spent more time than I expected trying new recipes.  I found books, websites, blogs, talked to friends,  put on my mad scientist hat, and hit the kitchen.  Some things – most things – have been amazing.  Other things … not so much.   Regardless, it’s been fun and I am not hungry.  Win all around.

Due to request, I will be sharing some of the recipes I’m using here.  You will be able to find them under the “Diet” Category if you do a search.  There are a few things I need to say upfront right now:

  1. I am not a food writer.  To that end, I’m also not a food photographer.  You won’t find a bunch of awesome photos to go along with these recipes.  Usually I’m using my camera (iPhone) to blast inappropriate music from my Bose docking station while I cook, so there aren’t pictures.  Occasionally I might get a little snapshot taken before we eat it all up, but don’t count on it.  Consider it the yoga of cooking: it doesn’t matter what it looks like – the only thing that matters is how it feels.
  2. It’s not very often that I have recipes that are 100% my own.  That said, it’s even more rare that I use a recipe exactly as written without making my own modifications.  I take a little from column a, a little from column b, throw it all out in the mud for an Outsiders style rumble, and see what comes out.  Don’t throw me the side eye – I swear everyone on Food Network is exactly the same way.  Here’s my promise: when I can reference a source that has strongly influenced my recipe, I PROMISE I will give credit where credit is due and link to the original.  Elvis knows I have had more than my fair share of folks stealing my words and ideas.
  3. This shouldn’t surprise you, but, um, I’m not a stickler for rules.  Or measurements.  I’m very much an “eyeball it” kind of cook.  Of course, there are some recipes that require exacts, but others are totally a matter of taste.  If recipes require exacts, I’ll do my best to make that known.  They will mostly be baking recipes.  Be aware, however, that for most everything else, you’ll get “a little this, some of that, a handful or so of this, however much you have left in the jar of that.”  Look, I don’t have your taste buds.  I don’t know what you like!  Do what makes you happy, okay?
  4. I am NOT vegan or vegetarian.  I’m sure that there are ways to make all of these recipes vegetarian or vegan (if they aren’t already,) but I don’t know how to make the conversion with 100% success.

Soooo…. here we go!  Belly up, grab a fork, and dig in!

 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, chef, nor a dietician.  I don’t know if grain free is the right thing for you or not.  I also don’t claim to say what I cook is necessarily healthy – Mama does like her cheese.  Nothing I write about food nor recipes I post have any claim to any health benefits nor are endorsed by any specific diet.  It’s food, y’all.  Cook it, eat it, be happy. 

The Night the Rice Went Out in CoMO: How yoga taught me to wake up and get some freaking sleep.

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Okay, so I was going to embed a video of the song “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” but all that popped up at first was Reba McIntyre’s version with her lovely but weird jaw thing and then a bunch of losers saying it is a Tanya Tucker song and then way down at the bottom was Vicki Lawrence and I swear, if you don’t know it’s actually  Vicki Lawrence who did it originally and who deserves to be at the very top, well, I just don’t know what to think.  So, when in doubt, trust Julia Sugarbaker to bring it on home. 

Moving on…

Like most Americans, I had a love affair with sleep when I was younger.  I was in my early to mid teens when I finally dragged my sorry behind out of bed one day and declared that “Sleep is my friend and I like to visit it as often as I possibly can.” Little did I know that my visits would be fewer and further between until one day they would almost disappear all together.

A lot of things changed in my life as I aged and matured.  My hair and my waist grew thicker, my arms and my beliefs grew stronger, I became kinder and less rigid, and I stopped smoking, screaming, and I stopped sleeping.  Yep, I stopped sleeping.  What was once easy and assumed in my life became my biggest trauma – I developed a severe crippling case of insomnia in my mid-twenties. It started mildly enough: I’d fall asleep easily and wake a couple of times in the middle of the night for 15 or 20 minutes.  Then the spaces between waking up and going back to sleep got longer and longer.  There would be days when I would sleep fine and others where I wouldn’t sleep at all, but there was always an issue. For years and years.  I tried everything – yes, everything: no caffein, no sugar, walks, baths, melatonin, teas, yoga (!!!!!,) meditation, accupressure, Benadryl, NyQuil, sleep aids, Valium, Ambien, chanting, hynosis, massage, the works.  Things would work for a week or so, but even then they didn’t work completely.  It was awful.  Imagine it – we’re talking about 10 years of not having a good night’s sleep. Zombie bitch, that’s me!   For most of these years, there was something nagging at the back of mind telling me that there was a better way to fix this.  Something was telling me that if I made a change, everything else would change, too, but I ignored it.

Sometimes I can be really dense.

About a month ago things got to a point where I wasn’t functioning.  I was struggling to teach.  I was struggling to parent.  I was struggling to do anything.  I would be driving around and feel stoned out of my mind.  I’d end up in places I had no intention of driving.  Just … out of it.  I was a mess, but life goes on, you know?  I kept on keeping on and trusted that something would happen.  And then, one day, something really fucked up happened and it changed everything.

I was in Savasana after my home practice one day and I truly heard something say, “It’s not what you do, it’s what you eat.”  I’m telling you, sleep deprivation does some crazy shit to a person.  I dismissed it until a couple of days later when the exact same thing happened. “It’s not what you do, it’s what you eat.”  I desperately looked around for Shoeless Joe Jackson.

No baseball players arrived on my mat.  sigh.

It happened one more time and, as daft as I can be, even I don’t ignore the power of three.  I started paying attention.  On the nights I had the worst time sleeping, I could look back on the day prior and notice what I ate.  I’d like to say it was clear to me what the problem was, but I can’t.  The log wasn’t perfectly clear, but something kept telling me to cut the grains from my diet.  ALL grains, not just gluten. All of them – rice, oats, barley, wheat, EVERYTHING.  No pasta, no crackers, no chips, no rice, no breads, nothing.  I don’t know why this made sense to me, I don’t know why I was getting this message, I don’t know why it was so urgent and clear and insistent, but it was.  My yoga practice has taught me to listen to myself.  To trust myself.  That greater, higher things speak to me through myself, so I better listen up.  And I did. Finally.

Almost 2 weeks ago, I cut ALL grains from my diet.  Cold turkey.  Gone.  I have replaced rice and even pizza crusts with cauliflower (gross, right? I thought so, too, but you can do AMAZING things with cauli.) I do eat quinoa because it is a seed and I have even ground that to make “flour” for binding bean burgers, etc.  Eggplant and zucchini make incredible “pasta.” Lettuce or Kale leaves make the perfect “bread” for sandwiches.  Anything you’d put in a wrap can be put on a fork. It has been easy for me to do this, which makes me think it’s the right path.  What makes me KNOW it’s the right path for me is that I haven’t used a sleep aid in 2 weeks and I have been sleeping deeply, soundly, uninterruptedly, for at least 6 hours straight a night for the last 10 days.  6 hours might not seem like enough to you, but remember, I was going on 2!  Not only that, but I feel like I’m going to soon be able to sleep longer.  My dreams are vivid and reassuring, empowering, healing, entertaining. They are fun!

There has been another benefit from all of this.  If I can’t eat grains, I also can’t eat 99.9% of all convenience or fast foods.  I am eating almost exclusively whole foods made in my kitchen.  No cans or boxes.  It’s fresh.  It’s healthy.  It’s real and it shows.  My skin is clearer, my hair is even longer and thicker (sorry,) and the ridges are starting to leave my fingernails.  I didn’t realize this side effect until yesterday. My family went camping Tuesday night and I ate a bratwurst that we had grilled over the fire.  Tasted great, no problem.  Yesterday, however, I had the most blinding headache I’ve had in a long time – it was because of the processed bratwurst!  Eye opening, for sure.  When I put it all together, I laughed and laughed and laughed.  It’s hilarious to me that I was eating all that junk all those years and not only did they make me crazy, they made me sick and I didn’t even know it.

While yoga alone wasn’t enough to cure my insomnia, it was a key point in it.  Yoga brought me to the place where I could see the way out, just like it always does.  Yoga isn’t the light, y’all.  Yoga is the road that LEADS to the light.  Had it not been for my practice, I’d be sitting here drooling on myself in exhaustion.  Because of my practice, I am awake, alert, and aware.  Oh I am aware!  Yoga built it and awareness came and you can bet that tonight, when the lights go out, I’ll be just fine.

Namaste

IMPORTANT: This is just my experience.  I don’t know if you need to stop eating grains.  I don’t even know why it works for me!  Please please please don’t change anything you’re doing just because some wingnut (me) on a blog said that she stopped eating spaghetti and can now sleep.  And also insert all that other stuff that medical disclaimers state.

Tricky Bitch: How I Got My Family to Eat a Vegan Meal and LOVE IT!

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Let me start off by making a HUGE IMPORTANT STATEMENT:

I am not vegan.  I’m not even vegetarian!  I was a vegetarian for years, I was vegan for almost 2 weeks. I get how it works.  I enjoyed it, I understand it, I appreciate it.  I also appreciate a med-rare organic grass-fed filet mignon.  I don’t think I will ever again claim to be 100% ANYTHING, much less 100% anytarian. What I will declare is that I will be mindful about every forkful that enters my mouth.  I eat vegetarian about 70% of the time, vegan … um… vegan… yeah.  Not so much.

BUT WHY? Why not?  I loved my vegan fare at White Lotus.  WHY haven’t I brought occasional vegan meals into my home?  I’ll give you 3 reasons: Husband, Son 1, and Son 2.  Yep.  These Y-Chromes are NOT into the vegan movement and, honestly, I can’t blame them.  Prior to having had my AMAZING vegan experience in Santa Barbara, I would never have attempted it or thought about it.  I might occasionally get a vegan meal at my favorite restaurant, but it wouldn’t be intentionally vegan.  I’d have eaten it because it looked good and the vegan thing would have been the, ahem, gravy.  Still, there are days … there are days when I kind of go “off script.”

I got a wild hair up my ass last night.  I decided to try to make my most famous bean burgers not only vegan, but gluten free to boot!  What can I say, I’m unpredictable.  I usually make Linda McCartney’s white kidney bean (canellinni bean) burgers which include eggs and bread crumbs and cheese and almost NO vegetables.  Hmmm.  Over the years, I have tweaked her recipe a bit to include brown rice, portabella mushrooms, green chilis.  It’s a basic recipe that CRIES OUT for improvisation.  Feeling creative, this is what I did last night:

Olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 baby bellas (or 1 large portabella) mushroom, sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

2 stalks kale, washed, ribs removed, chopped

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained OR 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas

3/4 c cooked Forbidden Rice (optional — I recommend you use it, though, if you can find it.)

Cumin, chili powder, ground mustard,  salt & pepper to taste.

1 cup organic brown rice flour (I used my coffee grinder.  I ground a piece of bread first to soak up the coffee oils.  Then I ground a cup of organic uncooked brown rice to make the flour.)

Heat some olive oil in a pan and sautee all veggies, covered,  until soft over med heat for about 5-7 minutes.  Add cumin after about 3 minutes.

In a food processor, mix veg mixture and chickpeas until semi-smooth (this is a texture preference, so do what makes you happy.)

Transfer blended mixture to bowl, add forbidden rice, chili powder, salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you’d like and mix well.

Fold in rice flour.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

After chilled, form 4 equal patties out of mixture.  Fry in olive oil on Med-High heat until golden brown on both sides.

As it sits right now, it’s vegan and gluten free.  I added nothing but hot sauce over the top and was happy as a clam.  My Y-Chromes, however, chose to add cheese, ketchup, mustard, and serve on toasted buns.  Whatever.  Point being, THEY LOVED IT.  And, I feel it’s important to repeat, THIS INCLUDES KALE!!!

Have fun, eat well.

What’s green and black and white all over? #365yoga Day 10, baby!

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10 days in already, wow!  How are you feeling, Yogadorks?

I decided it is finally time for me to do a little extra something for my insides.  I eat fairly well, but know that I am not always getting the most vitamins as I could possibly be getting.  I prefer to get my vitamins and minerals from food rather than a pill, and sometimes that gets a little complicated.  So many yogis and yoginis I know are almost always talking about drinking green juice or green smoothies.  I like juice!  I like smoothies!  But, um….. do I like drinking my spinach?  I had no idea.

As I mentioned yesterday, I fought the insane pre-snowstorm grocery store and stocked my house.  I made sure to get a lot of organic green veggies and some fruits and vowed that this morning would be my green juice debut.  I got out my tired old blender, spoke sweet words of encouragement to her, and then packed her full of spinach, Granny Smith apples, a few blueberries, a strawberry or two, some ice, and a bit of water.  I took a breath and hit liquify.  I poured it into a glass and, admittedly, it didn’t exactly look like juice and it didn’t exactly look green, either.  I should have let it blend longer and used more apple and less blueberry, but regardless, it was a smoothie made mostly from spinach.  It was what it was …and what it was was DELICIOUS!  I drank it down and honestly wanted to make another immediately.  What can I say, moderation has never been my strong point.  I resisted, but let me tell you, I’m certainly looking forward to breakfast!

 

Not long after I finished my green drink, it started snowing.  It’s been snowing now for about 6 hours and isn’t due to stop until tomorrow some time.  We cancelled class at Yoga Sol, opting for safety and warmth and yoga at home.  Well, scratch the warmth for me, I guess, because I decided to practice SNOWGA!  Yes, yes, I did go out with my kids and my dog and did some yoga in a snowstorm.  I cannot help myself!  I also cannot help but bribe my kids to take pictures of me doing yoga in strange places (they got rewarded with massive mugs of hot chocolate) and I have found that nothing looks better than snow pictures in black and white.

Tomorrow will be more, I’m sure.  It’s fun, TRUST ME on this.  Since much of the US is getting hit with the white stuff, why don’t you go out there and find out for yourself?  Be a kid again! PLAY!  Go upside down!  Fall down! Roll around!  Practice in the snow – it’ll warm you from the heart out.  It doesn’t get much more yogic than that!

Namaste

Food for the Soul (White Lotus part 7)

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Special thanks to my brothers and sisters born on the mountain – I snagged some of your pics for this post.

Breakfast

Every time someone goes on vacation, they are asked a lot of questions upon their return.  Invariably, “How was the food?” is one of the questions most often asked.  Of course folks want to know about food – who doesn’t love food?  It’s part of our heritage, our experience, our connection to the universe… it’s amazing.  The food at White Lotus was incredible and worthy of it’s very own blog post.

I mentioned that I would be on a vegan diet for 16 days while at The Lotus, but as it turns out, it wasn’t all vegan.  Yes, there were entire vegan meals and always vegan options, but there were also days when some meals had a little cheese on them, milk was served with almost every breakfast (of course, so was rice, soy, and almond milk,) butter was there for bread, and there were times when hard boiled eggs were available for breakfast.  There was no meat, however, of any kind.  So, vegan no, vegetarian absolutely.

Beautiful Bountiful Beatrix

Beatrix Rohlsen made 3 incredible meals for us each and every day.  The food never ended.  There was a huge serving area and it was filled with beautiful platters containing gorgeous foods for us to eat in abundance at each meal.  We had fresh fruit, rice cakes, crackers, almond and peanut butters, and at least 4 different jams available for snacks through out the day.  In the afternoons, we’d see Beatrix walk in, often with Skye, Nina, or Cricket (her assistants,) with her arms laden with fresh greens, vegetables, fruits, breads, and unbelievable other yumminess.  Every meal became a mystery and we couldn’t wait to figure out what we would be eating next.  Beatrix runs a tight ship – there is a right way to do everything and any variation on that way is mindblowingly wrong – and the rewards of such discipline were reaped each time we grabbed our plate and bowl and stood in line for an amazing meal. We each had to do 2 shifts of Kitchen Karma: helping set out the meal and cleaning up after.  Each person washed his or her own dishes after each meal, drink, and snack.  It was a community, but Beatrix was in charge.

Lunch

 

As I have said before, the amazing staff at White Lotus knew exactly what we needed when we needed it.  One day, we all seemed to be brain-dead.  We had absorbed all we could absorb, given all we could give, and there just wasn’t much left.  On that day, right before our afternoon session, a vision of beauty and inspiration appeared right before our eyes: HOME MADE CHOCOLATES.  I would have taken a picture of them, but a) they didn’t stick around all that long, and b) I’m not sure the image could have been captured, kind of like the face of Jesus in a potato chip: you know it’s there, but you cannot really convince anyone else…

What I CAN show you is the tofu cheesecake.  Now, let me just say that I’ve not ever been a fan of tofu.  I have loved the tofu salad at Main Squeeze for as long as I could remember, but that’s about it.  16 days at White Lotus, however, changed my mind.  Beatrix did things with tofu that made me wonder if I had been slipped some sort of drug – it was everywhere and nowhere at the same time!  She used it in soups and entrees and desserts and most of the time you had no idea it was there.  Case in point, look at this:

And yes, I ate every last little morsel.  She made a berry and almond cream something or other with tofu that was like soup, but served off a plate and eaten with a spoon that made me weep with gratitude.  TOFU, I’m saying…. who knew?

There was Seitan, lentils, tofu, Quinoa, beans, rice, tempeh, polenta, granola, and oatmeal, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, grapefruits, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, and melons, salad and bread and muffins and soups soups soups and more soups.  There was more food than I have ever seen … and it allllll got eaten.  There was no waste – what didn’t get eaten the first time was repurposed and made into something else for another meal.  There’s a lesson in that….

What was even more incredible than how the food looked and tasted, however, was how it made me feel.  There was virtually no harm in any of that food.  It was real, fresh, healthy, and harmless.  I slept better, I had more energy, I felt happier, I felt whole.  Food was fuel, not sludge.  I felt balanced and pure and alive and awake and aware… and full.  Very very full – and not just in my belly, either.  My soul was full.  My heart was full.  My mind was full.  And it still is.

I have been home nearly a week and I still haven’t eaten meat.  I don’t know that I plan on it any time soon, although I’m not ruling it out.  I do know this – I don’t think I will ever eat without truly thinking of the consequences again.  We spent a good deal of time talking about the physical, social, socioeconomic, environmental, karmic, political, and economic impact of how we eat, and we watched a film or two about the impact.  There are some things you cannot unsee or unlearn.  There are choices to be made each and every time we feed ourselves.  I am here to tell you that it can be done without hurting anyone or anything.  If you choose to eat meat, you can make wise choices: eat organic, eat grass fed, eat lower on the food chain, eat sparingly, eat local, eat mindfully.  It’s possible -and it’s not all that difficult, either.

It is not my place to judge anyone – NO ONE has that right – but you can make a difference in your life and making a difference in your life makes a difference in the world.  We’re all on this planet together.  The Butterfly Effect is real. What we do has an impact on everyone and everything.  We matter.  It’s not a scary thing, it’s a glorious thing.  We are connected, for sure.

Beatrix has a cookbook out that contains many of her recipes.  Check out her website above to order.  ALSO, you can find many of her recipes on the White Lotus website.

So, pull up a cushion on the floor, cross your legs under the table, and join me for a meal.  I promise, you’ll leave with a happy belly and a happy soul.

Om shanti!

 

You are what you eat. Kinda. Sorta. Definitely. Or maybe not at all…

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DISCLAIMER:  I was asked to write about this topic.  I think it’s an excellent topic, so I’m doing it.  What I am NOT doing is trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking.  I respect everyone’s right to believe as they will and I request the same respect from my readers.  Feel free to disagree with me, but know that  any preachy or disrespectful comments will be deleted.  I grew up a preacher’s daughter and have had more than enough sermons for this and future lifetimes. ~SK

This past weekend was one of the best weekends of my life.  I belong to a by-invitation-only online mom’s group who have been together for 12 years.  It is small and intimate and we share EVERYTHING.  Once or twice a year, we try to get together in real life to have fun, catch up, and laugh until we pee.  I had the extreme pleasure of spending Friday night through Monday afternoon with 5 of these amazing women.  There was laughter and kisses and hugs and wine and margaritas and beer and hilarity and gravity defying feats involving a statue of a moose.  There was also greasy cheeseburgers, more wine, biscuits and gravy, more tequila, vegan and vegetarian meals, and a pizza with enough flesh on it to clog arteries 6 states away.  I indulged in it all.

My town isn’t tiny, but it’s certainly not a metropolis.  When I go out and about, I’m recognized quite often – not just as a yoga teacher, but I was also a doula for many years and see countless of my birth families out and about every day.  This sometimes puts pressure on me because people will look at me as though I have three heads for eating a cheeseburger or daring to drink more than one beer in public. Or at least it has seemed to me as though they were looking at me that way.  Kind of like the look I got that very clearly said, “A preacher’s kid isn’t supposed to say ‘FUCK!’ ” (See, I warned you in the ABOUT page that there will be profanity…)  People have some sort of misconception about what a yogi or yogini is supposed to eat or drink or do.

REALLY?  Aren’t we all human?  Aren’t we all doing the best we can?

Mark Twain said, “All things in moderation, including moderation!”

Word.

I lived my life as a vegetarian for many years.  I spent more than 10 years avoiding flesh and hearing, “Oh you can eat that pizza, just pick the sausage off,” or “That turkey gravy is vegetarian, it came from a packet!”  While fending off statements like that, I managed to avoid eating the flesh of animals for a full decade that ended when I was pregnant with my first child who clearly was screaming, “I WANT A CHEESEBURGER AND WILL NOT STOP KICKING YOU IN THE ESOPHAGUS UNTIL YOU PROVIDE ONE, SO CHOP CHOP MAMA!”  It was a very difficult decision, a painful one even, to give in.  But when I did give in, I felt like the heavens opened and I slept all night without vomiting for the first time in 7 months (I’m a lucky mama that way – my morning sickness never ended until the cord was cut.)

It has been said that bacon is a gateway meat and I second that motion.  God bless the pig.

The whole reason that yoga is associated with vegetarianism and / or veganism is that part of the First Limb of Yoga in Patanjali’s Sutras is Ahimsa: Non-Violence.  Also, yoga is often associated with Buddhism which is dedicated to the elimination of suffering.  Animals are killed, many (okay, maybe most) suffer in order for us to eat if we choose to eat flesh.  I get it.  I have seen all the documentaries , read the books, cried over the slaughter, got all up in arms over the politics, swore off evil chain foods, etc.  I wear a “Stop Factory Farms” tshirt often.  I donate money.  I vote with my dollars.  I GET IT.

And still, there are times when I feel off, when I feel weak, when I feel sick, when I have muscle cramps, when I have no energy, and I’ll be honest, there are times when I am just damn hungry.  In those moments, there is almost nothing like a bacon cheeseburger.

I pause here to let my dear vegan friends shake their heads and shame me.  I understand.  And I still love you.

So what is a hungry yogini to do?

How about being MINDFUL, yet another limb of yoga!!   What about choosing when and where to get the flesh we choose to eat, should we choose to eat it?  Free range, organic meats and vegetables and eggs and dairy sold by  LOCAL farmers who work hard day and night to bring you fresh healthy produce and food goods at your local farmer’s market!  Foods that are NOT processed, NOT full of chemicals and nitrates and political bribes.  How about going to a clear, clean, local stream and catching your own fish?  How about talking to your local dairy farmers who still milk their free range, grass fed cows by hand? I promise you, they are out there.

I haven’t eaten flesh in 3 days.  I am not missing it.  I have contemplated going back to a vegetarian diet and I do feel myself leaning in that direction, but NOT because I feel pressured or guilt or shame.  I am contemplating doing it because I do feel better, healthier, and more connected to the universal spirit.  That said, should I start to feel compromised, I’ll change it because only I can control myself, only I can do what I feel is right, and ultimately the only person I have to answer to is me (in this lifetime, at least.)  In October, I will be spending 3 weeks on a strictly vegan diet.  I don’t know how that will work for me.  It might change me so completely that I vow to never eat animal or animal products again. It might also find me eating a $27 steak in the airport on the way home.  I DON’T KNOW.  What I do know is that I am doing the best I can to be as mindful as I can and I know that every choice I make has consequences.  The trick is to act according to what consequences I am willing to accept.

Do I feel that I am a substandard yogi if I eat a filet?  No.  Do I feel that I am a substandard yogi if I eat a filet without knowing it’s origins?  Yes.

Moderation.  In ALL things.

And that’s a little nugget I can sink my teeth into.