Zucchini Hummus

I recently went to a food potluck where we all shared our favorite healthy foods and recipes. I came home inspired to make raw food variations of traditional recipes. You will find this in my fridge regularly as most prepared hummus are made with canned chickpeas, which are stripped of vitamins and acidic in nature. Carrots can be substituted in lieu of zucchini for a slightly sweeter taste. I love to spread this on a romaine lettuce leaf topped with a slice of avocado and eat it like a roll-up, though you can get creative and add other veggies. Enjoy!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups zucchini, diced = about 3 zucchini
    • be sure to leave the skin on as it contains most of the nutrients!
  • 2/3 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder

PREPARATION

  1. In a food processor fitted with s-blade, process all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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Now.

I am continually amazed at this incredibly phenomenal experience called life. When completely engulfed in its presence I am filled with curiosity, happiness and love. When trying to control it I am filled with fear, judgement and frustration.

I have several Sanskrit words written on my yoga mat to continually refresh my brain matter during practice. One in particular that has been resonating is Yoga Sutra 1.1: Atha Yoganusasanum. This very first sutra explains that in this auspicious moment, right now, the distilled teachings of yoga are being revealed. Every time we step on our mat is like no other; it is a new beginning, blossoming to reveal its vital nectar through the practice of yoga. Inhale each breath, savor it, then exhale all thoughts into stillness. While in a pose, smell the texture of the air as you watch it enter the nostrils in nasagre drishti. Off the mat, make eye contact with others to fully absorb what they say.

When our minds are clear, we are less attached to an outcome which enables us to be present in the moment. We can relish an experience instead of documenting it. It is in these instances our minds are free to be who we truly are and synchronize with the universe. Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself. Choose to be content. Shine on yogis, Namaste.

Mantra.

Mantra means “instrument of thought” and is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word, or group of words in Sanskrit. At it’s simplest, the word Om serves as a mantra. The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic Sanskrit by Hindus in India, and are at least 3000 years old. Kirtan is a musical form of chanting mantras. It is non-denominational, based on ancient chants and has the ability to quiet the mind if listened to with intention. Because kirtan has roots in India, most of the songs are sung in Sanskrit so that you can be completely immersed in the sound, with no words to distract the mind. The magic of the chants can then carry you within. In this style of music, the harmonium, a type of reed organ that generates sound with foot- or hand-pumped bellows, is often played as the lead instrument as the leader sings the mantra and the audience sing it back. As you sing with each other you experience a deep connection with the musicians, the other audience members and yourself. And when the music stops, your mind is quiet.

I have a deep love of mantra music and am an ardent student of the Hindu texts. As a yoga teacher, I offer a class once a week called Soulful Sunday Flow which includes chanting. After attending a Kirtan workshop this past month I realized what a wonderful addition a harmonium would be to this class and how far reaching its medicine is. Since this is a practice steeped in devotion, I came up with the idea to make malas for individuals to fund the purchase of a harmonium. Malas are prayer beads used to count the number of times a mantra is recited. The prayer beads of a mala are gemstones that carry specific energetic healing properties held as sacred and used to strengthen particular energies inside the person wearing them. For more information check out Fund Me A Harmonium on Indiegogo. Chant on yogis, Namaste.

Pi day

I really enjoy baking, especially pie on Pi Day! And there’s nothing better than one made with a crust from scratch. It’s really not that difficult, just takes a little more time however it truly makes all the difference. I use half butter and half Crisco in my pie crust…I know it’s not my favorite ingredient but an all butter crust isn’t as flaky. One of my all time favorite pies is Grape Apple Pie because…well…it’s just genius…like Phish.

pi day

INGREDIENTS

Pie crust:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening (aka Crisco)
  • 5-6 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Filling:

  • 3 pounds of apples
  • 1 pound of grapes
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small bits
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

PREPARATION

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix together the flour and salt.
  3. Cut the cold butter pieces and vegetable shortening into the dry mixture using only your hands, slowly adding the water, a bit at a time, until the dough starts to come together.
  4. Divide the dough into half, rolling out each half into a flat circle about 1/4 inch thick.
  5. Place one rolled-out circle in the bottom of the pie dish.
  6. Peel and core the apples and slice them about 1/4 inch thick. Cut grapes in half.
  7. In a large bowl toss apples and grapes with sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and vanilla.
  8. Fill the pie with this mixture and dot with butter.
  9. Cover loosely with the top crust, crimping the edges. Use a fork or tip of a knife to make several vents in the top crust.
  10. Lightly brush the top crust with the beaten egg white.
  11. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Serve while still warm topped with vanilla ice cream. ENJOY!

We’moon.

Today is International Women’s Day which is a global day that commemorates the struggle for women’s rights and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The earliest observance was in 1909 but it was not adopted by the United Nations until 1977. In 2011 President Obama declared the month of March “Women’s History Month” to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of women in shaping the United States’ history. The 2017 campaign theme this year is #BeBoldForChange to help forge a better working world by taking groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women – a more gender-inclusive world. We can do this by challenging stereotypes, pointing out bias and highlighting alternatives. We can educate youth about positive relationships, recognize coercive control and redress it. We can decide to buy from companies that support women and support women inventors of new products and services. Most importantly we can celebrate women’s journeys and the barriers they overcome. Celebrating the achievements of women is the awareness that drives positive change for women.

Tonight there will be a synchronized meditation in local women’s circles worldwide at 7 pm. I will be teaching a yoga class tonight at Urban Sanctuary beginning at 5:30 pm that will center around heart opening postures. It will include a heart meditation exercise at the end of class to uplift and inspire compassionate action through this synchronized intention. I encourage all of you to take a brief pause in the participation of this incredible vibration whether in a circle or alone. It is through transforming ourselves that we transform the world. Shine brightly yogis, Namaste.

Grateful.

Music is everything. I couldn’t imagine my life without it. Recent studies have shown that music floods the brain with a chemical called dopamine, the chemical in the brain associated with pleasure, motivation and reward. However what is unique to music is that it is an abstract reward, as opposed to a tangible reward such as eating or sleeping, that causes the release of dopamine. We’ve traditionally considered abstract rewards to be processed on a more cognitive level, but this shows us that our ancient reward circuits can be involved. More fascinating is the latest research in the past year showing that even sad music can lift your mood, while other studies suggest music can boost happiness and reduce anxiety. Anther study found that people who listened to music before, during or after surgery experienced less pain and anxiety, compared to patients who did not listen to music. And the music listeners didn’t even need as much pain medication. So overall music is the best thing ever.

Which leads me to this crazy disorder I came across called amusia. Amusia is a musical disorder that is a defect in processing pitch so that music sounds annoying or unpleasurable. Some have coined this term tone deafness. What is even more bizarre about this condition is that individuals struggle with recognizing highly familiar melodies but have no difficulty in recognizing the voices of well-known speakers. While amusia is a pitch-processing deficit, it does not seem to include speech intonation because pitch variations in speech are very coarse compared with those used in music. Currently, no forms of treatment have proven effective in treating amusia. So unlike a person who is deaf and simply can not hear, these individuals do and find it intolerable. And all I can think is how completely grateful I am to have this sense.

Music changed my life. I started with the piano as a child eventually leading into several musical instruments over my lifetime. My appreciation for all types of music stems from my musical studies. Following the Grateful Dead around as a teenager shaped my young adult life immeasurably which leads me to consider who would I be if I had been born with this disorder….hmmmmmm perhaps I would have started the yoga sooner. Gratefully dedicated, Namaste.