July 20, 2010 § 35 Comments
Yes, everyone can do yoga, even if you are the most inflexible person on the face of the planet. My favorite pose out of thousands of yoga poses is easily this:
Savasana is a pose of total relaxation, in which your body is in the most natural and neutral position. It is mostly used at the end of a yoga practice for the body to relax its muscles after usage and for the mind to savor the blissful moments of yoga. In our high-stress, fast-paced world today, everybody needs a little savasana now and then.
- Calms the mind and eases stress
- Relaxes the body
- Reduces headaches, fatigue, and insomnia
- Helps lower high blood pressure
Well, it definitely is not called “corpse pose” for no reason! In this position, you should be as limp as a dead person, your breath so still that you can barely hear it yourself, and your muscles so relaxed that you feel like your entire body is sinking to the floor beneath you.
- Lie down on a comfortable spot (duh). Make sure you got plenty of space around you so you don’t feel cramped.
- Check the alignment of your body. Make sure your legs are angled evenly in respect to the mid-line of your body, and let your feet fall naturally to either sides. Your pelvis should be resting lightly on the floor. With your hands, lift the the base of the skull away from your neck and and release the back of your neck towards your tailbone (you can use a folded towel to support your neck too).
- Let your shoulders, arms, and back relax. Imagine yourself sinking. If it helps, reach your arms toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the floor, to help broaden your back and shoulders. Then release back down. Rest the back of your hands gently on the floor and release any tension.
As simple as this pose may seem, it is harder than you thought. Sure, all you are doing really is lying on the floor in some sort of spread-eagle style, but willing your body for total relaxation is not such an easy task. After years and years of practice, I still struggle with Savasana. Sometimes my mind will be racing, thinking about what to wear for the day, what to eat for breakfast, and going through my mental to-do list. Sometimes my muscles are still contracting, subconsciously.
However, over the years I have developed a mental checklist before I delve into Savasana.
Step 1: After you’ve lied down on your back (as described above) and aligned yourself, take a few deep breaths. Inhale into your tummy, and exhale through your mouth. With each exhale imagine the tension and stress being released from your body.
Step 2: Starting from the top of your head, scan your body mentally to make sure every inch of you is relaxed.This is where it gets interesting, because what you think is a “relaxed” state isn’t really. Soften your forehead, your eyebrows, the root of your tongue, the wings of your nose, the channels of your inner ears, and the skin on your face. Let your eyeballs sink towards the back of your head, and give in entirely to gravity.
Step 3: Clear your mind as if you’re about to enter a deep slumber. But don’t fall asleep! It’s a tough trick to achieve the balance between falling asleep and maintaining an awaken mind. If thoughts arise in your head, don’t force it away. Instead, observe it as if you’re an outsider, and watch it subside. You’ll find that your thoughts are really like waves. They come and go, some large some small.
I like to do a little 5-min Savasana before I go to bed each night. Not only does it help me relax my entire body, it sort of “prepares” me for bed. Something like a “transition” from being awake to going to sleep. It tells my mind and body that it’s that time of the day to rest. I’m generally a very light sleeper, and I find that this little exercise before bed helps me fall into a deeper slumber 100% better! If I don’t do this pre-bed ritual, I’ll fall asleep but not be as rested.
+ Do you have a “pre-bed ritual” that you like to do?
After my Savasana of the morning, which follow my yoga practice, I needed some refueling to tackle the day. I’m glad to announce that Ms. Buddha Bowl is back! 😀
It’s a yogurt-cottage cheese banana soft-serve fruit bowl with french toast waffle sticks! Whew, long name. Okay, so from bottom to top:
- ~ 2 tbsp plain nonfat yogurt (all that I had left 😦
- 1/3 cup cottage cheese
- banana soft-serve using 3/4 of a medium banana
- sliced fresh strawberries and fresh blueberries
- French toast waffle sticks
For the french-toast waffle sticks I used Van’s Wheat free/Gluten free Blueberry Waffles. I cut them into strips and dunked them into an egg white mixture of about 1/4 cup egg whites, cinnamon, vanilla, and a splash of almond milk. I cooked them on a pan sprayed with butter spray till crispy and browned. Yumyumyum! 😀
The banana soft-serve + cottage cheese + yogurt combo made the perfect dipping sauce for the french toast waffle sticks!
I don’t usually take pictures of my lunch, since they’re usually leftovers from the night before. When I do have interesting lunches I always share! But for now…
Hi, my name is Elaine and I’m addicted to jam + cheese sandwiches.
I was totally going to make a kick-butt dinner tonight, but I got home late and my laziness settled in. I usually just want to whip up something quick ‘n’ easy when the clock is ticking close to 7 o’clock.
+ Do you have a time that is “too late” to make fancy dinner that requires alot of assembly, chopping, standing by the stove, etc?
Needless to say, roasted broccoli is the staple quickie dinner veggie (for me at least).
I also had some more leftover roasted butternut squash.
But what made the dinner interesting was this:
Some sort of eggplant roll-up? So I got the idea of rolling up eggplant from Jenny (who is a big MJ fan btw :-)). I wanted to roast some eggplant. But I also wanted to eat the tempeh I got last weekend. I also didn’t want cheese.
Please don’t judge me. I don’t know where I got the crazy lady idea of rolling the eggplant with tempeh.
I cut up some TJ’s 3 grain tempeh into bite-sized chunks and microwaved them till warm. I then put one little chunk in the middle of each slice of roasted eggplant, topped with TJ’s Garlic Marinara sauce, and rolled them up with more marinara sauce on top. Oh, and don’t forget that my dinner was doused in nutritional yeast.
Like I was saying, please don’t judge me. It was delish and satisfied my “tempeh-tooth.” I must admit that the first time I tried tempeh I was slightly taken aback by its pungent flavor. But I’ve come to love it! I love the grainy texture and the slightly nutty taste. It’s filling and high in protein too!
Before I go, I’ll leave you with this:
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with some crispy green seedless grapes.
July 18, 2010 § 18 Comments
It seems like everyone’s opting for Plan C with the bike riding. I like that idea too. However, we must take into account that Newport Beach is about 50 miles away from where I live. Dmitri have been doing alot of research all day today, looking up bike trails and roads to take. So I might be able to make it there on bike, but the question is, will I be able to make it back? It would totally be like a bike marathon or something like that.
So-Cal has officially entered summer. I cannot believe how hot it was today! I feel like I’ve been in some sort of semi-heat stroke the entire day–woozy, dizzy, heated, while downing H2O like nobody’s business.
The morning started out nice enough, about mid-80’s, when Dmitri and I headed out to TJ’s and Sprout’s for our weekly grocery run.
Guess what I found at Sprout’s?!?!?!??!
An 18-oz box of blueberries for $1.88!!! This was definitely a steal. I was screaming in excitement to Dmitri when I saw it: “Oh my gosh! A humongous box of blueberries for $1.88?!?! Do you know how rare this is? Look how plump they are!”
Dmitri didn’t answer, but only held out the basket. The end. I couldn’t resist. This week has been such a good week for me in terms of steals, from the $3 locally grown and organic plums to this Hugh Jass box of blueberries. Life is good.
We lounged by the pool for a little while after we got back. Well, it got too hot too soon. Not to mention it was almost noon with the blaring sun right above us. I refuse to get skin cancer!
Once back in our shadier and cooler sanctuary, we whipped up a pizzalicious lunch featuring TJ’s Garlic Herb Pizza Dough. Obviously, I failed at making my pizza “round,” but who said pizzas must be circular? Heck, I can make them heart-shaped for all I want. But again, that’d be too hard for me. 😛
I didn’t go the “traditional” pizza route, i.e., I didn’t do the whole cheese shebang. Instead, I used Mae’s humnut cheese. I’m not a big fan of the uber cheesy pizza, but I am a big fan of hummus! This was delicious!
I topped the pizza dough with TJ’s Pizza Sauce, the humnut cheese, some broc, eggplant, tomatoes and roasted red peppers.
Perhaps it was the heat, perhaps my breakfast was fillin’, but I only ate half of this long pizza. Oh well, leftovers are good 😀
The heat made both Dmitri and I very lazy and sluggish, and we ended up spending half of the afternoon just bumming around the house. Him watching Lost while I blogsurfed and watched one episode of Gossip Girl. We finally decided we couldn’t stay in the house forever, and braved ourselves to step out to the sweltering heat and into somewhere with AC.
Target. Barnes & Noble. Shoe Store (Dmitri needs ’em).
My family has a strange addiction to flavored-water drink powder. Okay, I confess I had one too! But I am trying to limit my intake as I know now that they’re nothing more than just chemicals, fake sugars, and artificial yucks. Nevertheless, while throwing in boxes after boxes of Crystal Light, Propel, and Target-brand drink powders into the basket, Dmitri and I couldn’t help but notice this enticing flavor.
Let’s just assume it somehow creeped into our basketful of Crystal Light too.
It certainly made me drink my water though! I am now well-hydrated 😀
Is this going to turn my tummy red?
It was a tad sweet, and tasted nothing like Strawberry Daiquiri. It’s still a nice way to slurp up ice cold water nonetheless.
We kept dinner simple, with the “main” course as this amaaaazzzinnnnnnggg salad.
I tossed together some sliced strawberries, spinach, arugula, toasted walnuts, toasted pine nuts, and feta cheese. In another bowl I mixed together about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, some salt & pepper, and an overflowing teaspoon of honey. I added the dressing to the salad and tossed tossed tossed.
Voila! Summery salad in minutes! I’m so glad that I made more than enough, because that means I’ll get to eat this again for lunch tomorrow! Yay for leftovers again!
Dmitri decided to go the pizza route again, but this time using toast as the “crust.” I stuck to roasted butternut squash, again leftovers from the other night.
I topped half with leftover arugula pesto and some parmesan cheese, and the other half with marinara and cottage cheese. Both halves were equally yummy!
So now, here we are again, another Sunday night. The dreaded night before the Monday. BUT! Last week of research for me!!! I’ll be at my Home Sweet Home in 1.5 weeks 🙂
+ What are your favorite pizza toppings? Do you like cheese on top of your pizza?
July 17, 2010 § 14 Comments
I know, I know. I’ve been gone for too long. Two days in the real world is equivalent to 2 weeks in the blogland. Hah, I feel like I’m referencing Inception. GREAT movie by the way. It really got my mind all out of whack when I left the theaters last night. I swear I was in some sort of daze for 20 min afterwards, just thinking about the complexity of the mind, the conscious, the subconscious, the super-subconscious, the super super-subconscious…
Personally, I think the mind has nth dimensions.
Well, I don’t want to give too much of a spoiler for those who haven’t seen it yet. It’s something that you must pay attention to for the entire length of the movie, or else you can get easily confused. I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated so hard on a movie before. Ever.
So two weeks two days away from the blogland naturally ended with me having way too many pictures to share, so I’ll just give ya’ll some highlight ;-).
Did you know that cottage cheese melts superbly when heated up?
Did you know that thawed frozen spinach is delicious with marinara and cottage cheese (melted)?
Did you know that you can make pesto out of arugula?
Roasted Squash with Arugula Pesto
(Recipe inspired from here; the arugula pesto from the back of the package of arugula)
First blanch about 2 cups of packed arugula in boiling water. Immediately plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and use your hands to squeeze dry the leaves.
Also roasted some butternut squash at 350 degrees for 45 min, sprinkled with cumin.
Tip: roasted butternut squash is also very good topped with butt loads of parmesan cheese!
Did you know that I got a tub of mini plums for $3 (~a dozen) at the Farmer’s Market at La Verne on Thursday evening?
Did you know that I am currently obsessed with anything cheese + fruit related?
Speaking of the Farmer’s Market, there was some sort of “petting” area filled with goats, pigs, chickens, and bunnies there?
What can I say? It was a sight to see. I felt horribly sorry for the animals, because there were literally a dozen or more 3-8 year old kids in this tiny pen, all chasing after some animal or the other. Of course, there were lots of shrieking involved as the children ran after the bunnies.
At least this little girl seemed gentle enough to the chickens.
Did you know that Chai Spice totally blew my mind away?
Obviously, I needed something to munch on while I read this boring exhilarating paper. Upon first bite I was taken back to when I first tried chai tea. This bar totally captured the essence and the spice of a warm or cold cup of chai tea!
Needless to say, my last Kardea bar was pretty darn amazing too–the Lemon Ginger. I am now a sad little girl because I have finished all my Kardea bars :-(.
I loved all of the flavors of these Kardea bars. They are true to their words in terms of flavors. Each bar was unique in its taste and with each bite you always get hit by its intense aroma of either chai, ginger, almond, or banana. I am a satisfied taste-tester! 😀
Did you know that last night, my boyfriend and I went to a Thai restaurant, where we were constantly attacked by flies, and the waitress was swatting them just a table next to ours? Um…yeah. Not a very enticing atmosphere. The food sort of made up for it though, but I don’t think I’d go back to get attacked by flies or the fly-swatting lady again.
Hah! Dmitri was trying to act “Asian.”
My turn. I always laugh at the instructions on the chipstick slips.
I don’t know why I had that surprised look on my face. LOL I looked like a dork.
Did you know that this wrap made the perfect post-run breakfast this morning?
That pretty much sums up the past couple of days when I was MIA. We’re off whale-watching off the coast of Newport Beach this afternoon! Since it’s blue whales season, I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get to see some blue whales! 😀
Have a great Saturday!
July 12, 2010 § 19 Comments
Today is one of those Mondays where I am absolutely upbeat, chirpy, and perky. While my research advisor and my lab mate were feelin’ the Monday blue’s, I was full of energy! Which is kind of weird since I only got 7 hours of sleep last night. Maybe it was the kite-flying on Saturday that lifted my spirits for the week, or the ample amount of rest I got on Sunday. No matter what it was, it was one of the best Mondays I’ve ever had! If that’s even possible..haha. 😀
Wait a minute, I think I know why. Nothing like a fantabulous breakfast to start a Monday!
A blueberry Alternative Bagel with rasperry jam, cottage cheese, and sliced strawberries.
Brekkie also included half a mango (unpictured).
Well, apparently my swellin’ mood didn’t stop after breakfast, because Christmas came early this year!!! I went to pick up my present at the campus mailbox during my lunch break.
A few weeks back, Nancy from Kardea Nutrition offered to send me some samples of their Kardea Nutrition Bars. Of course I said yes! I was particularly inspired by the history behind the origins of Kardea.
From the website:
Rob Leighton founded Kardea as part of a personal mission to lower his own cholesterol.
At 47, Rob found himself moving from “border line” high cholesterol to outright high cholesterol. Rob notes that “it was not simply a matter of what I ate. It was a matter of genetics. Without medication, my mom’s cholesterol had exceeded 400mg/dl, and she found herself in early clinical tests for one of today’s leading cholesterol lowering medication.”
“I was not ready to start down a pharmacological road.” Rob recalls. Bringing a love of culinary creations and a belief in the science of natural cholesterol management, Rob founded Kardea to create great tasting, natural foods that enable daily compliance to heart healthy therapeutic nutrition.
Kardea enables and empowers people to manage their cholesterol naturally and nutritiously.
We celebrate living life well and living life naturally. We create and market the delicious natural foods, quality supplements and educational materials that allow each of us to better manage our cholesterol levels and improve our overall cardiovascular health.
We’re committed to a deep and honest understanding of the evolving science supporting natural cholesterol management. To that end, we will actively partner with and support research that furthers the understanding of the power of nutrition to actively improve cardiovascular health.
There are four flavors, as picture above:
- Cranberry Almond — recalls the taste of an almond croissant
- Banana Nut — warmth of the home baked banana bread
- Chai Spice — as flavorful as the tea, suggestions of pumpkin pie
- Lemon ginger — with the zing of a lemon square
- 2.5 Weight Watcher Points
- 1 Diabetic Starch Exchange
- Low glycemic
So which one did I pick as my afternoon snack today?
“Warmth of the home-baked banana bread…”
They definitely got that right! It was very bananalicious and I love the nutty crunch and flavors from the walnuts in there. You can even see the walnut bits! The bar was also very dense, moist, and chewy–all things that I like! I think it might have even been more filling than a Luna bar :-D.
Down side? It kind of had a weird aftertaste though. But the pro’s definitely win the con’s! Over the next three days I will be sampling the other three bars as my afternoon snack, and I’ll be reporting back to ya!
So with a bomb breakfast, free Kardea bars, what else was in store for this already awesome Monday?
I first saw this sweet-potato and black bean ravioli on Jenny’s blog, which she got from Caitlin’s blog. Caitlin boiled hers like a ravioli while Jenny baked hers to crispy wonton-like raviolis. I opted for the second method ’cause I was in a crunchy
I used one large sweet potato and about 1.5 cup of black beans. After skinning and cutting the potato into bite sizes, I popped them into the microwave to cook. I was “too lazy” to mash the potatoes and beans by hand, so I whipped out my handy-dandy food processor to do the job.
Here was where I strayed from the recipe. I seasoned the mash with some salt & pepper, about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, and this spice that my mom got awhile ago. I don’t remember what exactly it was, because I threw its original container away, but it’s red, a little spicy, and so good with veggies and whatnots.
Stuffed about one tablespoon-ful of the filling into a wonton wrapper and sealed with a little water. I got Dmitri to help me with this 🙂
I baked ’em at 400 degrees for about 20 min till nice and brown.
Ta-daa! Topped with some fire-roasted tomato salsa and feta cheese.
This made alot! I think I ate about 7 of those and Dmitri about 12? We still had 7 left which I divided between the two of us to bring as lunch/snack for tomorrow. This recipe was no doubt worth the time.
Alright you lovely people, I’m off to devour some H2O melon! (yesyes, what a nerd I am)
+ Have you ever had a Monday that was just impossibly good?
+ Okay, this is important (to me)! I’m planning on getting a new phone sometime in the near future. I was considering getting the new iPhone 4, but have also heard great things about the HTC Aria and the Spring EVO 4G. Any suggestions/advices/comments? Any of you using one of those three phones or have friends who own them?
June 23, 2010 § 13 Comments
First of all, I’ve updated my Meet Me page. It’s newer, spankier, more thorough, more detailed, and you can learn more about me now! 😀
This week is one of those weeks when I just feel like I’m running out of steam. I felt like I was just dragging my body around the lab the whole day yesterday! Thankfully, tomorrow I decided to take a “reading day” off. Ever since I started this research thing back in May, I haven’t had the time to really sit down and read primary papers that might be of importance to my project. Tomorrow will be, simply put, “sit-on-my bum-all-day-and-read” day. I’m usually not one who likes to veg out all day, but I am actually looking forward to a day of resting my legs a bit.
What’s a foodie gotta do when he/she is running out of steam?
Cook and eat! (balanced out with exercise, of course)
Lately, I’ve been indulging in foods from all seasons.
From the summery raspberry concoctions…
To some fall flavors.
While the boyfriend opted for some wintery cuisine.
What about spring? Maybe some cool slaw?
Tossed in Waldens Farm’s Raspberry viniagrette, more white vinegar, honey, and pepper.
Ate the slaw with a quesadilla made with TJ’s spicy hummus and nutritional yeast, pressed in La Tortilla’s 100-calorie wrap.
I definitely like their soft wraps the best. So soft and chewy! But alas, they are the most expensive, and only comes in 6 tortillas per package :-(.
Okay, so now that you’ve all been pumped with some food pictures, don’t mind me while I go on and whine about my problems lately.
Lately, I’ve been feeling stressed in the kitchen, usually before dinnertime. Mornings are my calmest times, where I can let my creativity flow as I scavenge for my victims in the fridge and pantry to make a delicious breakfast. Come dinnertime, I am cranky, impatient, and lacking creativity (at least for this week). I guess it’s the combination of long work days, coming home to a house that is “messy” (in my definition), a boyfriend that is clearly hungry, and trying to get dinner on the table as soon as possible.
Call me superstitious, spiritual, whatever, but I am a firm believer that good food is prepared with calm minds, gentle hands, and most of all, with love. That is why home-cooked meals outrank any 5-star restaurants dishes, because they are prepared in a household filled with love and happiness.
In yoga and Buddhism, there is a belief that one can taste the mindset of whoever prepared his/her meal when he/she prepared it. If the cook’s mind is disturbed, angry, upset, or frustrated at the time he or she prepares the meal, that same energy is transferred into the food, and whoever ate it will obtain that negative energy. On the other hand, if the cook is calm, grounded, and undisturbed, the positive energy will flow from the cook to the food to the eater.
Now, nobody wants bad energy flowing around do they?
But that’s what I’ve been this past week: a grumpy, grumpy old cook.
Stress definitely is not a good thing to bring into the kitchen. Everything will go wrong if you bring that monster in. I slightly burned one of the omelet on Monday because my mind was distracted. Today, I initially wanted to make some sort of sweet potato hummus quesadilla, but the sweet potato got burnt in the microwave while cooking, which almost set of the fire alarm. Almost.
As for the slaw, I initially wanted to go the creamy route, where I’d mix in some yogurt, honey, mustard, etc. But my creativity was blocked while my stress took over.
Trust me, it’s no fun to cook when your mind is everywhere but in the present–right there, in the kitchen, meditating on preparing your food.
You heard me right, it’s cooking meditation, ladies and gents, boys and girls.
It makes perfect sense, because when you’re preparing your food (in a calm mindset, of course), your breathing is steady, your mind is focused on what is in front of you, whether it be on the stove, the cutting board, mixing bowl, etc. It’s just you, your food, and your kitchen gadgets.
In order to avoid taking my stress with me into the kitchen, starting tomorrow I will take a deep breath, exhale slowly for 10 seconds, shed all thoughts and distractions from the day, before I step into the kitchen.
Stress, be GONE!!!
Because the kitchen is a sacred place where energy is transferred. Cherish it.
+ Have you been on a raspberry obsession like I have? How are you eating them? I eat them alone, simmered with preserve, or topped on yogurts or ice cream! 😀
+ How do you feel when you are in the kitchen in the morning? Noon? Evening? I am usually the calmest in the morning, because my mind is still free of the distractions that will come throughout the day. I am also usually the only person up at that time, so the house is really quiet.