Image

It’s Sunday! Set Some Intention

I like new beginnings. I love how even in mid-life fall feels like new school supplies, planners and sharp pencils. So, it’s not surprising that I love Sunday.

Sunday isn’t the beginning of the week for me. Monday is. Sunday can be busy with work for me. In my twenties I waited tables on Sunday and had Monday and Tuesday off. In my thirties and forties I often cooked all-day on Sundays to prep for my restaurant, a catering gig or my private cooking clients. And I’ve almost always taught at least one yoga class on Sunday.

So, it’s a work day for me, but I still love how fresh and new it feels. More than feeling like a beginning, it feels like the day to plan for a new beginning. I’m a planner, so sometimes that’s way more gratifying than actually beginning fresh.

Every week at the end of my Sunday Slow Flow online class, I encourage my students to just be present with the mental snapshot of who they are mind/body/spirit in the moment and to think about the week ahead. Today, I encourage you to do the same.

Take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes, if that feels comfortable.m or at least soften your gaze and relax your eyes. Gentle move into the future for a few breaths. Think about how you want your week to feel. Don’t worry about the have-tos, shoulds or need-tos. Just think about what you want. How do you want to walk through the week? I like how Danielle LaPorte asks us to think about how we want to feel at the end of the week. There’s a lot of clarity in thinking about it that way.

For example, I have had a few down weeks, where I’ve taken it easy and rested. I’ve been quiet. This week was supposed to be my self-care week off, but I decided that I’d rather do another week of teaching DBT skills and yoga classes instead. I’m lucky that I can be flexible like that.

This week, I’d like to feel super productive and very active. When I think about my week, I envision lots of Pop-up classes, hitting the gym everyday, cooking for our community a few times and doing a bunch of writing for BreatheOnline, the online course coming up in January. When I get motivated, I get very ambitious. I’m also thinking about adding a grief workshop next month, so I’d work on that too. At the end of the week I want to feel alive. I want to feel tired in the best way, successful, accomplished and that I’ve been of service to our community.

How do you want to feel? There is no right or wrong answer. You can completely decide you want a quiet, lazy, restful week without guilt or judgment. It’s absolutely whatever resonates with you.

Next, I encourage you to think of your week and think about potholes. Where are the tough places in your week that might need a little extra care to navigate?

When I have a pothole, like maybe a difficult conversation I want to have with someone or a hard work thing to do, it helps if I make sure I’m well-rested, well-fed and feeling calm BEFORE i walk into the situation.. It may mean that I need to go to bed early, workout more, add an extra yoga session, talk to my therapist. It just depends on the activity that might be difficult and tat mental picture of who I am in the moment. This skill is callee Cope Ahead in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

So, with how you want to feel at the end of the week as a guide post, think about self-care this week, think about the skills you’ll need to utilize and perhaps even think of a word that you can use to remind yourself of your intention.

I find that the weeks that I’m more intentional I am more happy, more calm, more satisfied and am way less judgy with myself.

We’re working on DBT skills in our practice all week and then Asana and Pranayama for Your Brain in two week.s As always, feel free to text, comment or email me with questions, comments, support and community. And check out the website for contact info and schedule!

I hope you have a fantastic, intentional week!

Image

Super Quick Wellness Check-in

How are you doing? Really, I mean it. What is going on with you and how are you managing that?

If you’re new here, you may not know that you can comment below to connect, but the fastest way to connect with me is to text 785-760-5412 or email mel@ayogikitchen.com. I’m always around.

No, it’s not Wednesday, but wellness is not just a one-day-a-week focus. It’s everyday, all of the time, but sometimes you forget that, right? I know I do.

This image makes me happy. Wellness Wednesday became a thing at A Yogi Kitchen, partly because so many of us have complicated feelings and thoughts around wellness. So, I wanted to help you focus on it at least a bit every week. That word, specifically, means so many different things to those who choose to contemplates it.

I believe wellness and wellbeing are words that a lot of us don’t even wrap our heads around. People believe that if they’re not sick, they’re doing fine. Unfortunately, you can be sick without feeling it or knowing it.

What does wellness mean to you?

If you’re a yogi it could mean strengthening the connection between body/mind/spirit and ultimately a relationship with the Divine (whatever that means to you).

If you have a chronic disease, wellness might mean all of that, PLUS making sure you hit all of your doctor appointments and take your meds on time.

If you’re managing a mental health issue it could mean making sure you take your meds and connecting with your therapist in a helpful and significant way.

For many of us it’s a combination of all of those things combined with some lovely self-care and deep self-love.

What does wellness mean to you as an individual is a question that too many people don’t contemplate until they have to.

Join us for Pop-Up Yoga online Friday September 17th at 4p, CT on Zoom.

Find all the Zoom and description ifo at the website.

You get to enjoy an eclectic mix of Slow Flow and Restorative Yoga. You get to be in the comfort and safety of your own space. You get to meet me. AND you don’t even need any formal yoga props. Blankets and pillows are helpful. If you have a yoga bolster, yoga blocks and blankets, that’s awesome! However, regular blankets, some bed pillows and/or couch cushions, throw pillows and/or a rolled up mat are perfect. Join us! It’s the most wonderful way to end a long week and reset for the weekend.

Image

Are You Ready For DBT and Wise Mind?

This year is another weird year, right?. Again, what I think I know goes out the window as I adjust to the new phase of the pandemic. One of the gifts in an unpredictable time, for many entrepreneurs and small business owners, is that we’re being asked to throw out what we know and figure out the best way to things in an organic and highly individualized way. We’ve been given the opportunity to do it in a completely new way.

Cause the rules are gone. That is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s been a huge disservice from coaches and mentors teaching us that we have to do things in a certain way.

The gift of having the rules go out the window, is that we learned to get quiet and stop listening to all that screaming from the outside. We are learning to listen to and strengthen our voices.

In May, I decided that teaching BreatheOnline, my signature online course for mindfully managing your mental health, didn’t feel right. It felt like there was too much noise, too much of everything out there. Everyone was adjusting to a whole new world. I decided that instead, I should slow down and take time to breathe, to regroup and to give my students and clients space to do the same. Then I decided to break BreatheOnline down.

Each month for the rest of the year I’m teaching a different module from BreatheOnline. I teach it in my classes, I blog about it, I podcast about it, I coach it with private clients as a way to help you meet your wellness goals.

In January you can join me for the full 8 week course and deep-dive into managing your mental health so that you can create a life that resonates with you and helps you feel the way you want to feel.

Last month you focused on Self-Care and Self-Love. That included me doing some sacred love and care work also. So, I didn’t post much, because I was loving and caring for myself. Most of my teaching about Self-Love and Self-Care was in yoga class and private coaching sessions. This month is different as we focus on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills and concepts. I’ll be writing and talking a lot more.

Developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, DBT is a mental health practice grounded in mindfulness to shift negative thought patterns and self-destructive behaviors. I took DBT about 12 years ago, when my anxiety and PTSD were running my life. DBT changed me. It taught me things like how to stop a panic attack and how to be less reactionary when emotions are feeling high and big, basically it taught me how to manage my life, instead of my brain issues running things. It helped in a way that regular cognitive behavior therapy never did.. There is a CBT component to DBT that is invaluable. I’m not denigrating CBT. I just found CBT and DBT together so much more helpful than CBT alone.

The DBT module in BreatheOnline is experiential, asking you to increase your mindfulness practice for everyday mental management and also teaches concrete tools for whenever you’re in a stressful situation and feeling out of sorts. Ultimately, it help you find the middle ground in your thinking, beliefs and behavior. And this is why is it resonated with me so much. That’s my yogi language. Like yoga, it’s a practice. It asks you to take action to manage your mental health. If we could think our way out of depression or anxiety, PTSD or trauma responses, no one would have any mental health issues. It’s takes intentional action.

What we call the middle ground in yoga, Linehan calls Wise Mind. As the diagram above illustrates there are two sides of the brain. Some of us (me) tend to swing towards emotion mind and some of us tend to swing towards reasonable mind. We all have both sides consistently working together. Not everyone swings wide. Some of us tend to hover near or in the middle.

If you manage depression, anxiety, PTSD, trauma, a personality disorder or almost any other mental health issue, chances are you swing one way or the other more often than not. We tend to be a black-or-white-thinking group. Linehan suggests that when you only value the emotions of a situation or only the facts of a situation, you’re missing half of what’s true. Truth and reality lie in the middle where you look at both your emotions and the facts. From there she suggests that we can take right action and feel grounded, stable and steady. Listen to the podcast this week for more about Wise Mind. Liuke, subscribe and tell all your friends. It helps more people find my podcast.

This month, I’m inviting you to listen to both your heart and your brain. That may be uncomfortable. It might feel weird and awkward. You may not be able to hear both. You’ll get better at it this month and in January, you’ll get poses, journal prompts, worksheets to help who you are mentally and emotionally.

On the flip side it may feel. like freedom to you. Maybe you struggle with making decisions and figuring out whether your heart is right or whether your brain is right. Learning to listen to both might feel like running down a grassy hill. A little scary, but also exhilarating and fun and something you want to do over and over again.

For now, I invite you to notice which side you tend to swing towards, emotion mind or reasonable mind. The easiest place to assess this is when when things get stressful or something goes wrong. Do you get emotional and easily overwhelmed or do you get calm and super practical. Note: Getting calm is different than shutting down.

LI want to be clear. One isn’t better than the other. Our society often values one over the other, but emotion and reason are equally valuable. That may be hard for you to digest cause for some of us that cultural/societal judgment is so deeply ingrained.

I tend to swing more to emotion mind. I’ve been told I’m too big, too much, too sensitive, too, too, too… It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve learned to value how deeply I’m connected to my emotions. Being in my heart, loving and feeling deeply is my superpower. It makes me kind and compassionate, loving and empathetic. It makes me a terrific yoga therapist, a terrific coach and even a terrific chef. I see and feel the subtleties in life. I love big and I can get happy over a rich, black coffee and creme brulee makes me dance.

I spent a lot of my life thinking I was just wrong and that I didn’t fit. Much of that thought was about being emotion minded. I certainly need to look at the facts of a situation more often, and I’m pretty good at it these days., but it’s not where I naturally gravitate. I’m shifting to embrace being a highly sensitive person, emotion-minded, and to embrace who I was born to be.

Again, for right now, just notice which way you tend to swing and we’ll talk about ways to keep you consistently into the middle ground. Again, DBT is grounded in mindfulness, so also for right now do whatever you do to stay mindful; sitting meditation, yoga, mindful movement, journaling, walking meditation. Layer as many things as you can that helps your brain feel healthy.

Got question or want to more work right now to help you feel grounded and steady? Email me@ayogikitchen.com, text 785-760-5412 or ask your question in the comments.

It’s going to be a great month!

Image

Let’s Talk About Grief and Brain Health!

We’re all managing a lot of grief these days. We’re grieving the loss of loved ones, the loss of a way of life, possibly of your favorite places and routine. You might be grieving the end of a relationship, the end of workplace camaraderie, travel and so much more. Life has changed so much for so many of us and grieving is a normal and acceptable way to deal with all of this loss.

At A Yogi Kitchen we often spend at least one week a year focusing on managing an dhealing grief. Due to the pandemic grief is popping up more and more. We’re practicing more restorative to help us get present with our feelings of loss, abandonment, sadness, anger and acceptance.

I’m not planning these classes, but over and over students are asking for them. I LOVE when people request classes. I love knowing that I’m giving my students exactly what they want and need, rather than guessing. I also love knowing for sure who is coming to class, rather than just waiting for people to show up. Often, I think people feel shy about asking for what they need. They think they’re bothering me or inconveniencing me. They couldn’t be more wrong.

I happily keep my regular class schedule fairly light to allow space, time and energy for Pop-Up Yoga. I just don’t remember often enough to post here and invite the blog readers.

Tomorrow, Tuesday August 31st at 5p, central US time, we’re gathering on Zoom with our yoga mats for a Slow Flow practice that includes mindfulness to help us manage grief. The practice is all-levels and you won’t need any props, but you can use them, if you like them. .

This month at A Yogi Kitchen we’re talking about dialectical behavior therapy and finding the middle ground, or what DBT calls Wise Mind. All month long we’ll be practicing to help us connect with emotion mind and reasonable mind and finding that place where they each exist, in the middle. This is excellent ground work for healing grief.

All Zoom info is on the website. If you’d like to get text messages informing you of Pop-up Yoga and allowing you to request classes, just text 785-760-5412. You can also sign up for the newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything we’re working on.

Looking forward to practicing with you!

Image

Radical Love (self)

From July 13 to August 13 we’re practicing radical self-love and self-care. What does that even mean?

Everyday we are bombarded with messages that we’re not enough. We’re too fat, too thin, too brown, too gay, too sexy, too female, too intellectual, too nerdy, too flighty, too poor…The list goes on and on. For whomever you are there are messages that you’re doing it wrong.

For me, it’s always been too talkative and too loud. My act of radical self-love is saying yes, I AM really loud and talkative and I don’t need to change that. That makes me who I am and in a lot of cases it has served me well. I talk a lot when I teach yoga. There are people who don’t like that, and that’s okay. it just means I’m not their teacher. There are people that like the fact that I talk and even some people who need for yoga to not be so quiet and solemn. We laugh in my classes. Students feel comfortable sharing their experiences or asking questions during class. And that’s because I’m talkative. Being loud when you’re teaching to a large group or outdoors when it’s windy is a huge plus. Not only does being loud and talkative serve me well, it’s who I am and I’m beautiful just the way I am.

How often do you go through the day saying things to yourself like “that was really stupid, why would you do that?” Instead of “Oops, I made. a mistake, I’ll remember to do it differently next time.” How often do you call yourself lazy when perhaps you’re really struggling with your mental health? How often do you grimace when you catch sight of yourself walking past a plate glass window? Or avoid looking at all instead of saying I may not like my belly, but my hair looks fantastic today. I’m going to build on that.

In yoga the energy that swirls around the breastbone is grounded in lovingkindness and compassion. As any of my students will tell you that in my next breath I always say, first and foremost towards yourself. Finding balance in that shakra requires loving yourself and being kind and compassionate to yourself. When the energy is out of balance you can become jealous and resentful. How many times have you extended a hand for someone over and over again and get resentful that they don’t do the same for you? Or don’t seem to appreciate you enough? If you’re taking care of your own needs first, that doesn’t happen. You can freely gift your time and talent.II’m a big fan of life coach and best-selling author, Marie Forleo. I was listening to The Marie Forleo Podcast the other day and she said the above quote and it struck a chord. i quickly jotted it down and have been thinking about it over the last few days.

Encouraging clients to take care of themselves first and foremost is one of the toughest parts of wellness coaching. From taking time to sit down and eat a meal instead of eating on the run or skipping lunch all together to going to bed an hour early every night to make sure you’re well-rested, we all cut corners so we can fit in one more thing. I find that there are those of you stay up too late because you’re not prioritizing yourself during the day so you try to grab time for yourself at the end of the day when you’re exhausted. You’re giving all of your energy to your job, your partner, your kids.

Sound familiar?

One of the reasons that I think my clients and students have such a hard time with loving themselves first is that they think it’s an either or situation. Either you take care of your kids OR you take care of yourself. It’s likely you have said to yourself more than once that something has to give and you put yourself on the back burner.

I’d like to suggest to you that we don’t have to sacrifice ourselves for anyone. Furthermore, when we put ourselves first and are energy-rich, clear-headed and happy, we’re better at taking care of others. We can go the extra mile because we’re feeling great. People who are run-down don’t make great decisions, don’t always process information correctly and generally take longer to perform tasks. Getting that extra hour of sleep may save you three hours during your day.

So, i invite you to grab your journal and think about how you’ve been taking care of yourself or, even better, how you’ve been neglecting yourself. What are your strengths when it comes to self-care and where are your weaknesses? Let’s get comfortable about what’s true around your self-care and self-love practices. the first step is to get very clear. Enjoy the process!

If yoga is part of your self-care routine, join us this month as we work on heart-opening practices that help you connect with lovingkindness and compassion energy. If you’re in the KC/Lawrence area, you can join us twice a week in-person. However, wherever you are in the world, you can join us on Zoom from the comfort and safety of your own home. All times are central US times. Please feel free to request a class anytime you’d like one! read c lass descriptions on the website.

Image

Salmon Yogi Bowl

Nutrition Month is really making me think about how and what I really like to eat. That makes me think about a few things. It makes me think about the difference between what I like on my tongue and what I like to feel in my body and what myt brain responds to.

My tongue is very accomplished. She likes to eat pretty much everything. She’s not a fan of fast food or processed food. She gets very bored with food from chain restaurants.However take her to a local restaurant that makes everything in-house and she’s in heaven. She is as happy with fried chicken as she is with edamame. She loves pizza as often as she can get it, but she also loves wilted spinach in lemon and garlic.

So, obviously my tongue is fickle and can’t be trusted. My tongue will crave fried everything and some things that are too embarrassing to mention. My tongue will betray my body and brain at almost every opportunity.

My body, however is pretty straightforward about what she’d like me to eat daily. She likes to feel satisfied, not full. She likes feeling light and easy. she wants to be able to rela into downdog without groaning or feeling nauseated. She doesn’t want to feel uncomfortably full or stuffed. Once in a while she just accepts that my tongue is in charge, but mostly she rebels when things are too heavy, too rich and especially too sweet.

My brain is the most demanding of all. She’s not fickle at all. Give my brain too many carbs, too much sugar, too much fat and she is not happy. She doesn’t do well. She will stop. She will get tired and say, no more, i’ll check back later. She, too, likes fresh and light food that helps her perform well.

Do you know how you like to eat the most? Sometimes it’s hard to tell what you need and what you want. I know it can be big emotional work, but that’s what we’re digging into this month. You got this!

Close your eyes. Can you tell the difference between what your tongue, your body and your brain likes? Is what you like to eat more emotional than nutritional? This is a great time to grab your journal. Look back over what you might have written the last few weeks during nutrition month, or just write whatever new thoughts you may be having right now. Or do both.

This week I made a Salmon Yoga bowl. The thing I like best about making these bowls is that they often help me clean out the fridge. You can make these completely raw, cooked, a mixture of both. There’s so much room for expression and creativity. I had the following, so that’s what I used.

2 older eggplants

3 small heads of broccoli from a friend’s CSA

1 bag of napa cabbage from Sunrise Project’s food pantry refrigerator

1 bag of swiss chard and arugula mixture from a friend’s garden

garlic

lemon

tahini

1 large piece of pre-seasoned salmon from the local grocer

This is what I knew I was working with and there were some other things that probably needed to be used up. if I’d had more time I might have used some regular cabbage or some eggs or some green peppers, but these are the ingredients I chose to focus on.

First I started a pot of basmati rice. I’m not a whiz at rice and I hate gadgets so making rice is a little bit hit or miss for me. This batch turned out extremely well. I always start with oil in the bottom of the pot, toss the rice and coat with the oil and then add the water. Usually it turns out pretty yummy. Sometimes I might have to add a bit more water. Maybe my measuring is off.

Next I removed the skin of the eggplant, removed the bruised parts and chopped it into cubes. I like coconut oil a lot so i added coconut oil and olive oil to a baking dish, tossed the cubes and started the eggplant roasting with a bit of minced garlic and salt and pepper. I checked it and stirred it so that the garlic didn’t burn. At one point I added a little. more oil.

I let the eggplant roast on its own for a bit. Then I cut up the broccoli, put it in a baking dish with a little water. salt and pepper and started roasting.

Finally I cut up the greens and put them in a pot with the same oil mixture and covered the pot and let them cook down over medium low heat..

A drizzle of olive oil was all I needed for the salmon and it went into the overn.

Finally I tossed tahini, garlic, lemon juice and a bit of water into a tall container and blended with my immersion blender. If you’ve never had an immersion blender, i highly recommend one. My regular blender is in the pantry these days and I hardly ever touch my food processor anymore. it is great for soups, sauces and homemade dressings. Once you make your own dressing in 30 seconds, you’ll never go back to bottled. with how unhealthy those bottles are for you, an immersion blender is a worthy investment.

So that blended and I added a bit of salt and pepper.

When everything was cooked, the broccoli tender, the eggplant soft, the greens cooked down and the salmon flaky, i turned everything off and minced garlic, tossing it with the warm greens and squeezed lemon into the pot.

You can assemble this however you want. There are very few rules to a dish like this. We put the rice in the center of the bowl and then put each veggie in a circle around the rice, drizzled the lemon tahini sauce over it and added the filet of salmon on top.

There are so many ways we could have gone with this. I could have left the arugula raw and put a bed down under the salmon. I could have taken the time to walk out to the garden and pick some fresh herbs to float on top of the salmon. I could have added spice or a different sauce. You could have this exact same meal, but use different herbs and spices and make it very different. it was a busy day and I just wanted to make something fast and dirty.

tonight we’re going to have some of the rice and leftover veggies with some lentils and smoked tofu.

I encourage you to play with your food. Cook everything simply and add lots of flavor with herbs, garlic, onion, healthy staples like tahini (ground sesame seeds) and just play with it! I’m a huge fan of walking the aisles in the Indian market or the Middle Eastern market or the Asian market and grabbing things that look interesting. I take them home, taste them, sometimes look them up and just start imagining all the ways I could incorporate them into dishes iand meal.

a lot of us have been led to believe that nutritious meals are boring and only mcDonalds and Domiono’s are fun, but it’s not true. play with your food. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

It’s raining like crazy in Lawrence, Kansas so we’re taking Yoga in the Park online tomorrow. Join us wednesday June 20 at 6p, central time on oom. Invite below. We’re flowing and opening our hearts and hips, lengthening our hamstrings and wuadriceps to work on the splits. Not all of us are even close yet, but we work on it weekly. the prep is a lot of fun and is making us feel strong and bendy. Join us! Invite below.

Melissa Mitchell is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Melissa Mitchell’s Personal Meeting Room

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4940099537?pwd=VGFRWmFUZ2tuQ2NZMElUUlpxdlZnZz09

Meeting ID: 494 009 9537
Passcode: Peace
One tap mobile
+13462487799,,4940099537#,,,,526933# US (Houston) +16699009128,,4940099537#,,,,526933# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
Meeting ID: 494 009 9537
Passcode: 526933
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbQjVBimrV

Image

Easy, Simple, Fast Lentils

Lentils may be one of the the easiest, inexpensive foods that most of us are not eating enough. Lentils come in lots of different colors and flavors from different parts of the world. Originally from the Near East, they are a staple in the Middle East and Mediterranean. A legume, making them part of the pea family, most types have an earthy, slightly nutty flavor. They’re super versatile, packed full of protein and fiber and are an especially great addition to your diet if you’re trying to eat more plant-based meals.

Lentils got a bad rap in the 70s when hippies used to make things like lentil loaf. Don’t worry, there are so many better recipes out there these days.

One of the things we do at A Yogi Kitchen is cook for our community. There are a few of us yogi chefs who cook weekly and donate our meals to Sunrise Project an amazing organization in Lawrence, Ks creating community through food. They have a community garden, outdoor library, community meals, programs and a community pantry, which we contribute to by grabbing ingredients and cooking into healthy and nutritious meals. Recently Lawrence has received a huge donation of lentils. every food bank and community pantry in town has lots of lentils, so i thought it worth taking a moment to explain how to cook them and how to use them.

So, let’s just start with the basics. cooking lentils. super easy and fast. Just fill a large pot about halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add lentils. Simmer till tender. About 15-20 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you’re using. that’s it. itf there’s exxtra water, just drain. It’s that easy.

So, now you have this nutrient dense food and you can do anything to it. you could just season it with salt and pepper and add to a salad or a soup. i like to make things like soup and salad from lentils.

i am a very loose chef. i like to play with things and my dishes are never exactly the same thing twice. Here’s what I basically do, but you should play with it and see what tastes good to you.

Lentils and Rice OR Lentil Soup

2 cloves garlic smashed and minced

1 med onion med. dice

2 carrots diced

2 stalks celery diced

2 medium green peppers diced

Saute the garlic and onion in oil, slowly and gently. Add about half the lentils and whatever broth you like, chicken or veggie is good. Often i just add water. I let simmer and add cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. sometimes i addf a bit of curry powder. Let cook till herbs release a bit.

Then I puree. I have an immersion blender, which is the best kitchen tool for the money, so i puree right in the pot. You can use a blender or even a food processor. Then set aside.

in another pot (or you can transfer the unseasoned lentils to a bowl and use that first pot), i sautee the carrots for a few minutes til they start to soften, then the celery till it softens just a bit and finally the green peppers. I like my veggies with a bit of a bite, so i don’t let them get mushy. Add salt and pepper and i usually add a bit more of the other spices too.

marry the puree, the unseasoned, cooked lentils and the veggies together. If you leave it really brothy, it can be a soup, if you cook till the liquid reduces you could serve it on rice.

This is the base. From here you can go ANYWhERE. Add chili powder or red pepper flakes and make it spicy., add spinach or any other kind of greens. I’ve added both white and sweet potatoes in the past. When tomatoes and zucchini are taking over your garden this summer, you can add those.

The best thing about this dish is that I can clean out the veggie bin and make it whatever sounds good to me in the moment. What can you do with this super simple, easy legume?

We’ll keep focusing on nutrition till July 6th. If you’re just catching us, check out other blog posts and the podcast to do some work around nutrition and food. We’ll start Self-love and Self-care month on July 7.

Got questions or requests? Drop me an email, mel@ayogikitchen.com.

ˆ

Image

What the Heck Are Whole Foods?

It’s Nutrition Month at A Yogi Kitchen and we’re looking at all aspects of shifting our nutritional intake.

Whole foods. We see the words written often, but do you really know what a whole food is? And, I think more importantly. do you truly know what processed foods are?

Okay, I know you’re not an idiot. Much of this is pretty self-explanatory right? Let’s just make it super simple and state some really obvious things.

Grabbing an apple out of your fruit bowl is a whole food. Slicing that apple is still considered a whole food, because the nutritional value hasn’t changed at all, right?Technically a process hasn’t been introduced.

Even peeling that apple before you slice it is considered a whole food. A lot of the nutrients are in the skin, however. so you might think about that. Once you introduce a process to that food it changes. The nutritional value changes. that doesn’t always mean it’s not healthy.

For example, there is a huge difference between taking that apple to make an apple pie or even applesauce in your home versus buying apple pie or applesauce at your grocer.

When you cook that apple in your home, you may add some sugar, lemon, butter, sugar and cinnamon to it, but that’s probably it. You’ve probably not adding chemicals to make it look or feel a certain way. You’re not using additives to make it last longer. So, while it’s technically processed, it isn’t really what nutritionists are talking about when they say avoid processed food. It also still has a lot of nutritional value. How you balance that value out with the sugar and fat depends on the rest of your diet.

If the food you’re buying has simply been cooked, frozen, dried, pasteurized or canned, check the label for salt, sugar and fat. Technically, it’s a processed food, but it may not be unhealthy. Many frozen foods, for example, are actually as healthy or maybe even more than their fresh counterparts.

A great example is frozen veggies. When you get veggies in the store fresh, the flavor/sight/feel is often delicious. For some veggies nothing compares. There really is no comparison to a fresh tomato. You can absolutely not buy anything in a can or frozen that matches a fresh tomato. However, for something like corn or spinach I think the frozen isn’t a completely different product, like tomatoes. In addition, many growers harvest and flash freeze in the same day. That frozen corn may have been picked just hours before the flavor and nutrients were sealed in. The longer a food sits after being picked, the lower the nutritional. value. So frozen, depending on the time of year and where you live in the world might be a better choice.

Consider, especially where you live. Do you live in an area of the world that grows corn? If not, by the time it gets to your grocer fresh, it could be over a week old. Maybe two. For most of us who get our veggies from the grocer, frozen could be the freshest option. If you’re growing your own (best choice) or getting them at the Farmer’s Market your veggies are pretty damn fresh. Do your homework. Figure out what’s the best option for the part of the world you live in.

Unfortunately. lots of manufacturers don’t treat fruit as kindly. (Think about the fact that they’re called manufacturers!) Unless you’re buying the sometimes pricey fruit frozen for smoothies, it’s hard to find fruit without chemical processing. Fruit cups are full of sugar and salt, even items like yogurt that you may think is healthy, cause yogurt, are not as healthy as you think they are. Many yogurts sold in the US have more than your daily recommended amount of sugar. So READ YOUR LABELS.

Again, that whole apple is still your healthiest bet over any kind of processing, even in your own home. Better yet, chop that apple up and put it into some organic plain yogurt for a low sugar, low fat, low processed alternative to a yogurt cup. It’s full of fiber, low in sugar, high in calcium (great for insomnia) and Vitamin D (good for depression.

Eating food in its natural state, as close to harvest as possible, is the healthiest thing you can consume. There is some evidence that suggest lightly cooking some foods helps us absorb nutrients better. if you’re keeping your gut healthy with clean foods, you can’t go wrong with raw.

It’s worth taking time to think about what you’re consuming, what you’d like to be eating, what’s available in your part of the world and what’s grown in your part of the world to make a great plan about how to eat healthfully. I’m certainly not suggesting that you avoid mangoes if you live in New York, just recognize that adding some local foods to that mango might be a good nutritional choice.

Choice. Remember that there is no good or bad when it comes to food. It’s a matter of choices. Eating something high in sugar or fat or salt or even all three once in awhile is perfectly fine. make sure that you’re choosing to do that once in awhile and then adjust the rest of your meals around that. I know that I just feel better if I eat lighter and more raw food after a big soul food dinner, for example.

this is a great time to grab your journal and if you’ve been recording your thoughts and feeling around food or even what you’ve been eating, think about what your choices have been like over the last few weeks. Have lots of lovingkindness and compassion towards yourself cause nothing is wrong. Everything is good. Perhaps, ask yourself are there areas that you could have balanced out some meals better.

When we think about healthy eating, you don’t have to make every meal a balanced meal or even everyday a day of eating balanced and healthy. You’ll feel great if you do, but thinking about having a balanced week may help you make good choices without feeling that you’re depriving yourself or failing.

And just a quick note. You’re never failing. Even if the scale says something you wish it didn’t. Even if you’re feeling less than stellar. luckily for most of us, diet is very forgiving. There is always a chance to make a better choice and to come back to your center.

Breathe. It’s always okay.

We’re continuing with Nutrition Month into early July. If you’re just joining us, check out past posts and the podcast to catch up on our focus this month! We’ll continue this work next month with Self-Love and Self-Care

Image

Nourish Yourself Beyond Nutrition

Nourishing your body isn’t just about nutrients. It’s also about eating in a way that’s pleasing to the eyes, nose, taste buds and your sensibilities. Food, like yoga,is truly grounded in mind/body/spirit presence. We’re talking about nutrition this month, but it’s not only about making sure that we consume enough vitamins and minerals.

For this month I encourage you to look at increasing your health, mind/body/spirit, by focusing on how you eat, not just what you eat. There is some evidence that suggests taking time to be mindful while you’re eating, either as a mindfulness practice or as an opportunity to connect actually helps you absorb nutrients better.

You don’t have to cook to eat healthfully and mindfully. If you have any interest in learning to cook or learning new things, this month is the perfect time to focus on that. If, however, you’re not into cooking and have no desire to learn , that’s perfectly okay. There are so many wonderful restaurants now that really pride themselves on cooking fresh, healthy, nutritious foods.

The most important thing to focus on when you’re choosing to eat with intention, is to make sure that you’re eating meals that are mostly homemade, or made from scratch. That means that you eat foods that are made from foods most natural to their growing state, without being frozen or cooked more than a few hours before they arrive on you table. Recently, I met a man who believed that cooking from scratch included mixes like Bisquick or Kraft Mac and Cheese. It does not. Products like that are processed. Adding water or milk and butter to something does not make it home cooked, or from scratch.

So, think about it when you’re ordering food. If it likely came from a box, a freezer, or a huge vacuum-sealed bag before it got to your table, you should avoid it. If it’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup, any kind of Mac and Cheese Tomato Bisque, Chicken Noodle or Minestrone and you’re in a place that has more than 15 seats, you should stop, assess and most likely assume it came out of a factory.

An easy way to play it safe, is to avoid chain restaurants. Maybe they used to cook onsite, but they don’t anymore. Opt for small, locally owned restaurants. These are more likely to be places that pride themselves on their product, they are cooks and chefs who want to wow you, please you and maybe even keep you healthy.

So, back to how you eat. Take time this month to really relish your dining experiences. For just the rest of the month see if you can avoid grabbing food and eating on the run. Make an effort to walk away from you desk and sit outside for half an hour. Meet a friend for dinner instead of watching tv and eating on your couch. Take note this month of not just what you eat but how you eat.

For a short while after college I had a regular M-F , 9-5 job. i worked in a big office building in downtown Chicago. I was young and broke and at lunch, I would take my home-packed lunch to the elegant hotel down the street. I love hotels. They’re some of my favorite places anywhere. I’d sit in the lobby near a fountain and quietly eat my lunch and people watch or read. I did this a few times a week and it was a habit that I fell in love with. Today, it’s not uncommon for me to sit in a hotel lobby and work. Now that I’m not young and broke, i don’t bring my own food. but i could. it’s what i love about hotels.

I also adore eating near almost any body of water. Lunch sitting on the rocks along like Lake Michigan is heaven for me, or at Port of Salem when I lived North of Boston or on Roosevelt Island when I lived in New York. As you can tell, I really like being near water. It makes me feel grounded and energized, so it makes sense that when I want to focus on how I eat, I choose picnics, cafes and bistros near water.

If you’re really ready to nmi it up, perhaps consider something crazy. If you’re not used to utilizing your table, Try at least one meal this next week where you leave the tv off, leave all devices in another room and eat at your table. If you order food, put it on a plate and eat it with real utensils. If you live alone it’s a great opportunity to be present and mindful. notice what you smell, taste, see. be invested in your time nourishing yourself. If you’re part of a family, invite everyone to the table, without devices, and focus on connection and communication. Maybe even talk about the meal.

You certainly don’t need to make these choices every meal. See if you can be mindful and present with as many meals as you can, but everyone has to grab something to eat on the subway once in awhile. We all just can’t wait to crawl on the couch with something comforting and Netflix. For at least this month, try to do those things less often and really pay attention to y how you nourish yourself. candles and music are not overhoward.

Enjoy the process!

Image

Monday Intention

Monday Intention

It’s Monday! And it’s nutrition month!

One of my favorite classes of the week is Sunday mornings online. Not only do I teach Slow Flow, which really speaks to me and how I want to help my students, but some of my favorite students show up very consistently for that class. Also, I LOVE teaching on Sundays. I love starting the week with some mindful movement and connection.

How do you like to start the week? Does it carry into the rest of the week. I feel like slow Flow on Sunday mornings sets the tone for my whole week!

One of the things that I do on Sundays, especially, is to invite students to set intention for the week. Sunday is the perfect day for setting intention, but Monday isn’t too late. If you haven’t set intention yet, this is a perfect day to do it. it can be for the next seven days or it can just be for this work week or whatever works for you. The great thing about taking yoga off the mat and into your life is that there are very few rules. You get to do what works for you.

This month we’re focusing on nutrition and today I invite you to set intention around your nutritional needs this week. Do you need to eat more veggies? Hydrate more? Up your protein? Cut back on sugar? I’m going to write more about sugar in the next few days, but for now, just get quiet and listen to yourself mind/body/spirit.

Speaking of life off the mat, I recorded a check-in for you at the podcast a few days ago. Check-ins can help you get grounded and prioritize your needs. They help you really, deeply listen to who you are in the moment. You can use it to help you get centered before you work on setting intention. Share with your friends and family!

After you’ve listened and breathed and settled into your intention, grab your journal and write your intention and whatever else you need to stay focused this week. Maybe some inspiration? write down a few meals you’re looking forward to or your favorite super hydrating drink. Maybe this is the week you indulge yourself in some decadent way to help you stay present with your intention.

I hope you’re having an especially Mindful Monday!