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Meatless Monday: Red Lentil, Yam and Ginger FALL SOUP

meatlessmondayyyEating seasonally is best for the body and the planet (and Lord knows, she needs some love right about now). Michael Pollen, longtime advocate for local, slow, seasonal food, is also a huge proponent of cooking at home primarily because we as consumers make better health choices by planning in advance and home-cooking is proven to be better for the environment.

That all being said, FALL IS MY FAVORITE FOOD SEASON. Most every season I participate in a yogi seasonal cleanse with one of my fabulous teachers. She is trained in Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, the Dharma Yoga diet and raw food cuisine – she has combined these principles to create a compassionate and updated diet that will bring radiant health to the body and mind. I have learned SO MUCH from these cleanses; it’s unreal. What we choose to eat is loaded – politically, emotionally, socially – so we all must do our best to make personal upgrades. Another message that has seeped into my heart-mind: we all deserve the best ingredients to support the best health possible. This notion is especially potent when coupled with mindful buying, paying attention to labels, fair trade products, etc. I think it’s also important to note (I can’t write this blog post with this left unsaid), you can eat well within your price range! Make a few updates at a time – for example, smoothies for breakfast – using fruits and vegetables, even if you can’t afford the organic variety (check out the dirty dozen list to help you decide what to buy conventional or organic).

Okay, so what’s on the menu for fall? During this windy, dry season, it’s good to bring balance and grounding with nourishing soups and stews, seasonal root vegetables and squashes, and as always, LOTS of greens. I want to share a recipe that was shared with me via the cleanse group. This soup is perfect in every way (especially with the fresh ginger and turmeric root) and sooooo easy/inexpensive.  Check it::

1 cup red lentils

5 small garnet yams, peeled and chopped

2 Tbsp fresh turmeric, grated or finely diced (if you don’t have fresh, 1-2 tsp powder will do it)

4 Tbsp ginger, grated or finely diced

1 Tbsp coconut oil

6 cups vegetable broth

¼ cup coconut milk

1 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

Garnish with A TON of chopped cilantro

Add coconut oil to soup pot at medium heat. Get the pan nice and hot, then add grated turmeric, ginger and lentils. Saute for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and then add yams. Toss until coated and slightly caramelized. Add stock and bring to gentle boil, then simmer until yams and lentils are soft. Turn off the heat and add coconut milk and cilantro. (When I made this soup, I also added chopped kale for extra greeeeens).

A tip from a friend: when you reheat this soup, add a ton more fresh cilantro!!!

Meatless Mondays: Hemp Seeds 5 Ways!

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Hemp seeds are a staple in my diet. Why, you ask? Because they are a delicious, nutrient-dense, affordable superfood packed with protein (which I need a good amount of as I am a breastfeeding vegan diva). They are nutty, earthy and magnesium-rich – which is important because, from what I’ve heard, most of us are magnesium deficient (magnesium is a mineral that is responsible for a ton of chemical reactions in the body, for relaxation, and for best of all, facilitating regular bowel movement). I’d like to present you with 5 ways to incorporate hemp seeds in your diet. Check it out –

  1. You’ve probably already guessed … SMOOTHIES! Here’s a few recipes I make regularly (I learned this one on a women’s retreat from some lovely ladies):
    orange juice
    1 banana
    1/4 avocado
    bunch of spinach
    hemp seeds (as much as you’d like – 3 TBSP is the serving size)
  2. Hemp seeds also pair well with cacao, which is also an amazing superfood that happens to be chocolate. Sweetened with banana and dates, this is a winner:almond milk
    1 banana (try freezing your bananas to make your smoothies taste like ice cream 😉
    1 TBSP cacao
    a few dates
    hemp seeds
    you can also add a dash of cinnamon and/or a splash of vanilla
  3. Energy bite balls:These actually taste like no bake cookies, so you can’t go wrong. Here’s the link from Further Food.
  4. One of my favorite easy lunch/dinner go-to’s is kale salad with hemp seeds:Thinly slice kale (think ribbons!), massage with dressing (see below), add hemp seeds, avocado, shredded carrots (obviously you can make this your own by mixing up the toppings. I like to add chickpeas or vegan fake chicken for a heartier meal).
    Easy Tahini Dressing
    1/3 cup tahini
    1/2-1 TBSP maple syrup
    pinch of salt
    warm water to thin
  5. Adding hemp seeds to your morning oatmeal (or your raw oats soaked overnight) is another easy favorite. Super charge your oatmeal with goji berries (soak for 10ish minutes in water or almond milk first), banana, coconut flakes and hemp seeds. Or go for more earthy tones with a nut butter, apples, hemp seeds and walnuts.

Meatless Mondays: Drink your greens and ALKALIZE

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Growing up, my mom had a book called “Alkalize or Die”. She would push cantaloupe and cucumbers on us, always making sure to let us know “it’s alkalizing!” It wasn’t until years later that I appreciated her efforts. Our bodies’ pH is an important indicator of health, and an acidic environment is a breeding ground for various diseases, including cancer. Most foods that comprise the “standard American diet” are acidic, e.g. meat and dairy products, sugar, breads, pasta, coffee, tea. Other the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables, almonds, and sea algae are some examples of alkaline foods. An alkaline diet ensures good health at the cellular level and energizes your system with nutrient dense, high fibrous, low sugar and magnesium rich foods. Check it out – the pH of the body is analogous to the pH of a pool – if too acidic, the water turns green from bacteria growth!

Alkalizing in the morning is a great way to reset and start the day. Drinking warm lemon water upon waking is suggested by the ancient food science of Ayurveda (you can add a touch of maple so the lemon doesn’t wear away the enamel of your teeth). Common sense would lead you to believe that lemon is acidic, but through the digestive process lemon becomes alkaline! Drinking greens in the morning is another fabulous way to energize and alkalize. If you don’t have a juicer, investing in a good green powder is a good way to take in nutrient dense greens rather than creating biological deficits through sugary drinks, coffee, and tea.

Play with these concepts, integrate, be easy on yourself and find your rhythm!

My teacher, Sri Dharma, recommends this green juice:

Half a bunch of celery
1 lemon
1 cucumber
1 green apple (optional for sweetness)
Make it your own, add parsley or other greens!

There are so many good green powders available on the market. I’ve been turned onto and highly recommend Vitamineral Green powder, a very potent blend that will knock your socks off.

Thoughts on Meatless Mondays And an introduction to our new blogger!

As you can see from our blog history, the latest Be Here Now blogger was a talented vegetarian chef offering custom recipes, practical food preparation and kitchen tips. Thanks to Greer for her fabulous Meatless Monday contributions.

Here’s a bit about my food journey and some thoughts on Meatless Monday! My experience of vegetarianism/veganism as well as my attempts to raise a well-fed and healthy family has been on a steep learning curve. The eating styles within my family vary – I am a fairly strict vegan, my husband eats meat and my son is somewhere in between (and the baby gets plant-based breast milk ☺ ). Labels aside, I think Meatless Monday is a smart and accessible way to learn about plant-based diets and how to integrate this style of eating in the kitchen – and I love how it’s become pedestrian language. I am not a militant vegan and my intention is not to place judgment on anyone for their eating choices, but I’d like to share some of the reasons why transitioning to eating less meat and dairy is great for the health of our bodies and the planet. My yoga teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra, is a huge advocate for veganism as a gateway to cultivating compassion in the heart. By refraining from eating our animal brothers and sisters, we begin to see their sentience and the interconnectedness of all beings. Again, this sensitivity to the dead flesh of animals is cultivated and some do not see the value in it simply because they love the taste of meat or because they are not ready to break a lifelong habit. This is where “Meatless Monday” comes in –eating no meat one or two days out of the week as a grounds for experimenting with vegetarian cooking. A more modern reason for consuming less is for economic and ecological/environmental reasons. Staggering statistics show how much water and land it requires to raise livestock, producing far less food than the same ratio of water/land to grow vegetables. Livestock, particularly cows, also pass gas of high levels of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide (although it’s lifespan in the atmosphere is much shorter than CO2)! There are plenty of resources available that inform our personal decisions, specifically about what we buy and put into our mouths, as it relates to the economy and environment – and as scientific findings and the conditions of this planet continually change, I believe we have a responsibility to adapt accordingly. AND eating less meat is good for the body! Eating less meat reverses heart disease and makes you feel lighter! Again, it’s all about INTEGRATION and that’s precisely why Meatless Mondays is genius.

SO. There is no shortage of delicious recipes out there. Grains, beans, legumes, healthy fats like avocado and coconut, fruit and TONS of vegetables, especially those dark leafy greens – this is the stuff that healthy recipes are made of. Some of my favorite food bloggers are Ohsheglows and MinimalistBaker. Check them out. My friend recently suggested this veggie burger recipe – so delicious and offers a savory denser meal to satisfy the meaty craving. I also have supported my diet with protein-laden superfoods like hemp seeds, goji berries, and the algaes like spirulina.

I’ll be blogging for BHNY and I hope to bring you recipes, musings, wisdom, and lightness (I’ll try not to be so serious ;). We will have plenty of guest writers to bring more voices to the conversations. xoxo


 

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Emma McGonigle is a seeker, mother and D.C. based Dharma Yoga teacher. She is a dedicated student of Sri Dharma Mittra, who serves as an endless source of inspiration through the teachings of Self-Knowledge and hatha-raja yoga. Spending her days (and nights) mothering 2 boys ages 4 years and 6 months, she also works as Marketing Manager for Be Here Now Yoga and hopes to update her teaching schedule soon!

Meatless Monday: Baked Fries

IMG_2371Potatoes are by far some of my most favorite foods in the world. They’re so versatile, nutritious and full of flavor. They also are very affordable which means they can be a great, healthy staple in your diet. Turning them into baked fries is my favorite way to prepare them, they’re so simple you almost doesn’t need a recipe, but every time I eat them I love them so much that I want to share the recipe. Roasting them slowly lets them get so perfectly crispy on the outside and turns the inside into the texture of mashed potatoes. Mmm… baked fries you have my heart.

Baked Fries Recipe:

Ingredients:

Potatoes – as many as you want, I usually roast at least 1 pound just so I have them on hand

Olive oil to coat

A mix of chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper (all optional)

How To:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Wash and dry the potatoes, cut them into wedges. Put the wedges in a bowl and top with olive oil and all the spices. Use enough that you coat the potatoes with the spices. Once coated place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they are fork tender and crispy on the outside.

Eat with any variety of sauces (sriracha, ketchup, peanut sauce, chimichurri), top your rice bowls with them or eat plain and hot right out of the oven. If eating them as leftovers just heat them up in the oven first.

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Greer Gilchrist is a D.C. based Yoga Teacher and Plant Based Chef. Find her at Be Here Now on Wednesdays 9:30-10:45am and 12:00-1:00pm, on Saturdays 3:30-4:45pm for Power Flow, 5:00-6:00pm All Levels and 6:05-6:45pm Yoga Nidra. Catch all of her yummy recipes, veggie adventures and practice yoga alongside her with 30 minutes videos at Sagecityyoga.com and on Instagram #sagecityyoga. Namaste well fed, nourished and happy!

Meatless Monday: Banana Bread + Almond Butter

banana breadYou know what makes it easy to wake up in the morning? Fresh coffee and banana bread! And then of course what makes it even easier is when you know you have homemade almond butter to smear all over that fresh banana bread. Making nut butters at home is super easy and really rewarding, I always feel better when I’ve made something from scratch and now just exactly what went into it. This banana bread is really easy too, you literally blend everything together and pour it into the baking dish. I found the recipe online at chocolatecoveredkatie.com, which has lots of fun recipes for indulging your sweet tooth on a regular basis. Here’s a quick nut butter recipe, as well as the changes I made to the banana bread recipe.

Almond Butter:

Ingredients: 

1 cup almonds (preferably soaked overnight or for at least 2 hours for easiest digestion)

pinch of salt

1-2 TB of grape seed oil (you can also use coconut oil, safflower oil or sunflower oil, I like grapeseed oil for it’s neutral qualities, plus I practically bathe in coconut oil so I try to switch it up sometimes)

How To:

Pour your 1 cup nut of choice into the blender/food processor. Blend until the nuts grind down to a flour like consistency. Add the salt and gradually stream in the oil while the blender/food processor is still running. You might have to pause the machine so stir the nuts around since it will be very thick. Continue blending/processing until a butter consistency forms. If you like your nut butter chunkier then stop when it looks mostly creamy with a chunkiness. If you like your nut butters smooth then keep blending/processing until it is as smooth as can be.
You can easily double this batch, although the more you make of it the better it is to make in a food processor than in a blender. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. I like to keep it on hand for eating with fruit, pb&j, and peanut sauces for rice/veggies.

Oat Flour Banana Bread:

Here is the link: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2015/09/28/flourless-banana-bread-recipe/

I found the recipe to be a bit dry so I added more banana. I also added a pinch of nutmeg, it adds to the warmth of the bread.

I hope these recipes help spring you out of bed before your alarm clock in the morning! What are some of your favorite breakfasts that wake you up in the morning?

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Greer Gilchrist is a D.C. based Yoga Teacher and Plant Based Chef. Find her at Be Here Now on Wednesdays 9:30-10:45am and 12:00-1:00pm, on Saturdays 3:30-4:45pm for Power Flow, 5:00-6:00pm All Levels and 6:05-6:45pm Yoga Nidra. Catch all of her yummy recipes, veggie adventures and practice yoga alongside her with 30 minutes videos at Sagecityyoga.com and on Instagram #sagecityyoga. Namaste well fed, nourished and happy!

 

 

Meatless Monday: Raspberry Dreamy Creamy Smoothie

raspberry skin smoothieThis glorious warm weather is starting to effect my time spent in the kitchen. During the winter I am happy to spend hours baking, roasting and slow cooking. In the spring and summer though, especially in D.C. where it gets hot fast!, it’s nice to step away from the ovens and stovetops and work with more raw and fresh materials. Enter in the smoothie! They’re cooling, filling, generally raw and you can stuff a lot of nutrition into them! Using frozen fruit and bulking them up with things like bananas keeps them them affordable.

There’s a lovely secret ingredient hidden in here that you wont taste but that you will love for it’s creaminess! This is a great recipe to start your day as it’s so gentle on the tummy and sets you up with healthy fruits, fats and protein right off the bat!

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen raspberries

1 TB almond butter

1 1/2 cups coconut water

1/2 cup filtered water

1/2 avocado (surprise!)

 

How To:

Place all of the ingredients in your blender. Blend everything together until smooth and enjoy! This is best enjoyed right away. Feel free to modify it with different frozen fruits. If you’re interested in adding more healthy fats then go ahead and add in 1 tsp of coconut oil, it’ll make it more creamy and dreamy! Mmm it is so yummy. Doesn’t it feel great to take care of your body?

What type of smoothies and foods do you like with this warmer weather?

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Greer Gilchrist is a D.C. based Yoga Teacher and Plant Based Chef. Find her at Be Here Now on Wednesdays 9:30-10:45am and 12:00-1:00pm, on Saturdays 3:30-4:45pm for Power Flow, 5:00-6:00pm All Levels and 6:05-6:45pm Yoga Nidra. Catch all of her yummy recipes, veggie adventures and practice yoga alongside her with 30 minutes videos at Sagecityyoga.com and on Instagram #sagecityyoga. Namaste well fed, nourished and happy!

Meatless Monday – Recovery Smoothie

IMG_2165Recovery Smoothie

Smoothies are pretty popular in the wellness community and there are so many different ways they can be enjoyed. They’re having such a moment right now because of all the goodness you can squeeze into them, from different veggies to healthy fats to plant based proteins, a lot can go into your blender.

As we practice yoga and build strength in our minds and bodies it’s important to also make sure we continue promoting that strength as we end class for the day, leave our mats behind us and venture into the real world. Just like we try to cultivate the calm and stillness we find in meditation and enjoy it throughout our day we want to feel the great effects of the physical yoga practice as well.

A recovery smoothie is a wonderful way to restore your body from the vigorous movements of your practice. This smoothie can help with inflammation, soreness and hunger. Smoothies are easy to digest which is great post workout. Trying to include a recovery smoothie into your day post practice is another way you can carry the joys of yoga beyond the mat. Think of your recovery smoothie as a way you are protecting and caring for yourself, practicing wellness and self-love off the mat.

This smoothie is delicious as much as it is good for you. I always choose to eat for the yum factor first and the nutrition factor second, luckily Mother Nature combined both with all of her earthly goodness so I never have to sacrifice one for the other!

Smoothie Recipe:

4 medjool dates (these add sweetness and carbohydrates)

1 tbs hemp seeds, flax seeds or chia seeds (these add healthy fats and protein)

1 cup kale (the alkaline in dark leafy greens helps balance the acidity built up from a workout)

1 cup spinach (same benefits as above, yay!)

juice of 1 lemon (same benefits as above and they help with electrolytes)

1 cup of your favorite fruit (this adds natural sweetness + hydration – a few favorites of mine are blueberries in the summer and cranberries in the fall/winter)

1 frozen banana (this adds great texture + it’s health benefits)

Swirl it all together in your blender and enjoy!

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Greer Gilchrist is a D.C. based Yoga Teacher and Plant Based Chef. Find her at Be Here Now on Wednesdays 9:30-10:45am and 12:00-1:00pm, on Saturdays 3:30-4:45pm for Power Flow, 5:00-6:00pm All Levels and 6:05-6:45pm Yoga Nidra. Catch all of her yummy recipes, veggie adventures and practice yoga alongside her with 30 minutes videos at Sagecityyoga.com and on Instagram #sagecityyoga. Namaste well fed, nourished and happy!

Meatless Monday – Acorn Squash with lentils, spinach and Sauce

IngredientsRed Lentil Stuffed Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash cut in 1/2

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Lentils

Spinach

Spaghetti Sauce

 

Directions

  1. Cut the acorn squash in 1/2 and place it on a pan that has been greased with Olive Oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Bake in oven until tender
  3. Meanwhile, cook lentils until soft. Add in tomato sauce and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted.
  4. When the squash is ready, spoon in the lentils and sauce and serve!

Meatless Monday – General Tso’s Tofu Stir Fry

I’m really excited to try this recipe from www.minimalistbaker.com

Prep timeAMAZING General Tso's Tofu in 30 minutes! Spicy, sweet, protein rich! #vegan #plantbased #recipe #glutenfree
Cook time
Total time
Extremely flavorful, General Tso’s Tofu Stir Fry in just 30 minutes! Spicy-sweet, protein-packed, and a healthier spin on takeout!
Author: Minimalist Baker
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free, Asian
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
FOR SERVING optional
  • 3-4 cups (474-632 g) cooked white or brown rice
  • Steamed broccoli
TOFU
  • 12 ounces (340 g) extra firm tofu
  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) tamari or soy sauce (tamari for gluten free eaters)
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup
  • 4-5 Tbsp (28-35 g) cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) neutral oil (such as grape seed or canola)
SAUCE
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced (~1 heaping Tbsp or 7 g)
  • 1 Tbsp (6 g) ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) rice vinegar (or sub white vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup (48 g) coconut sugar or maple syrup, plus more to taste (I used 2 Tbsp coconut sugar, 2 Tbsp maple syrup)
  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) tamari or soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) water
STIR FRY
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) sesame oil
  • 1 bundle green onions, bulbs removed, roughly chopped
  • 4-7 dried red chilies (optional for heat, or sub 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce | more or less to taste)
  • optional: Sesame seeds, for garnish
Instructions
  1. If serving with rice and broccoli, begin preparing at this time. Otherwise, move onto the next step.
  2. Wrap tofu in a clean, absorbent towel and set something heavy on top to wick away moisture, such as a cast iron skillet. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
  3. Prep/chop green onions, garlic, and ginger at this time. Set aside.
  4. While tofu is pressing, prepare sauce by combining sesame oil, cornstarch, minced garlic, minced ginger, rice vinegar, coconut sugar or maple syrup, tamari or soy sauce, and water in a small mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine. If using coconut sugar, make sure it’s dissolved before proceeding. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (I left mine as is).
  5. Heat a large metal or cast iron skillet (mine is 10”) over medium heat. In the meantime, unwrap tofu and cut into even pieces, about 3/4-inch cubes (see photo).
  6. Add tofu to a shallow mixing bowl (see photo) and top with tamari or soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup. Toss to combine. Let rest 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Use a slotted spoon or fork to transfer tofu to a quart-size or large freezer bag. Add cornstarch 1 Tbsp at a time and toss to coat. Continue adding more cornstarch and tossing until tofu is coated in a gummy, white layer – about 5 Tbsp.
  8. To the hot skillet, add 2 Tbsp grape seed oil and let warm for 30 seconds. Then use a slotted spoon or fork to add tofu to the pan (leaving any excess cornstarch behind).
  9. Cook on all sides for 1 minute, or until light golden brown. You don’t want it blackened or burned, as you’ll be cooking it again later with the sauce. Aim for a consistent golden brown crust (see photo). Remove tofu from pan as it’s finished browning. Set aside.
  10. Return skillet to burner and increase heat to medium-high. Add 1 Tbsp sesame oil, chopped green onions, and dried red chilies. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  11. Add the sauce and tofu. Cook, stirring frequently, to coat the tofu and vegetables for 1-2 minutes, or until warmed through and the sauce has slightly thickened (see photo).
  12. Remove pan from heat and add sesame seeds (optional). Toss to coat.
  13. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli (optional), or other desired sides. Best when fresh, though leftovers keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop or microwave.
Notes
* Recipe loosely adapted from Pure Wow and Food.com. Tofu method adapted from The Kitchn.
* Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 of 2 servings without additional sides, such as rice or broccoli.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/2 of recipe* Calories: 624 Fat: 35.3 g Saturated fat: 4.5 g Carbohydrates: 62.5 g Sugar: 36.6 g Sodium: 2774 mg Fiber: 4.5 g Protein: 20.4 g