Secret Ingredient

Does anyone know the secret ingredient that goes into making the perfect Smoothie? I can’t figure it out. My blender and I have been bonding lately as I try out different recipes. In addition to ice and some frozen strawberries and blueberries, I try:

Smoothies with frozen banana.

Smoothies with frozen banana and whey protein powder.

Smoothies without either.

Smoothies with honey. Smoothies with Stevia. Smoothies with an egg. Smoothies with soy milk.

No matter what I do, they simply don’t taste as good as the kind I buy. It’s not that they taste bad, but after a few sips I kinda forget about them. When I find the abandoned half-empty glass later on, I feel like I’ve wasted food. One does not forget about a really good Smoothie.

At first I thought maybe it was because when I buy Smoothies they’re probably full of sugar and ice cream or something. But no, I thoroughly enjoyed the Smoothies I drank every afternoon at a yoga retreat in Mexico last February – everything that kitchen prepared was of the healthy, no-sugar variety. I fondly recall sitting under a shade tree at the beach in the afternoons (after a morning of working out) and looking forward to seeing the resort’s chef saunter over with his latest concoction. Wait a sec…the secret ingredient I’m missing? I think it might be the beach. That is, after all, the only place I really ever drink Smoothies. There’s something about the white sand and the turquoise waters and reading a good book that makes a Smoothie taste so perfectly good.

I live far, far away from the beach.

Well, shoot.Š

Cannellini Spread with Arugula and Lemon on Wasa

Ingredients

1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can cannellini beans (1-1/2 cups) drained, do not rinse
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons chicken broth
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 whole lemon, freshly squeezed juice
1 cup arugula, chopped
1 piece red pepper strip (optional)
8 pieces WASA Multigrain Crispbread

Directions

Heat olive oil in a 10 inch skillet. Add rosemary sprig and garlic. Sauté until garlic is yellow.
Add rained beans and cook an additional minute or until beans are heated through. Discard rosemary sprig.
Place mixture in food processor with chicken broth. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread each crispbread with 1 tablespoon of bean mixture. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Top with 1 tablespoon of chopped arugula. Sprinkle with additional ¼ teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.

TIP: Great for entertaining. Leftover spread may be stored in refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Value Per Serving

Calories 410
Total Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 1.0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 399 mg
Total Carbohydrate 69 g
Dietary Fiber 16 g
Protein 19 g
Calcium 83 mg

Walking Barefoot

I’m at the BlogHer conference in downtown Chicago mingling with 800 other women (promise I’ll link to some great food and yoga blogs once I process all the info that’s pouring into my brain).

The first day, I decided to get some exercise by walking from the train station to the conference center. I was wearing sandals and carrying a heavy laptop bag. I got lost. One hour and five blisters later, I finally arrived. I was smart enough to take a cab back to the train station that night, but once I made it to the suburbs (where I’m staying with a friend) I had to walk another mile to their house. My friend’s husband, Brad, was with me, and he watched as I limped and cringed.

“Ow, ow, ow,” I said as my sandals rubbed against my blisters.

I slipped off my shoes.

“Ow, ow, ow,” I said again as the sharp little pebbles on the roads and sidewalks cut my feet.

“You’re a yoga blogger!” Brad said.

“What does that have to do with anything?” I asked.

“Some yogis walk over hot coals and stuff,” he pointed out.

Now that he mentioned it, I did recall reading a passage in a book about firewalking at a yoga retreat. Although none of the yoga classes I’ve attended have involved hot coals, we do practice in bare feet. Still, smooth wood floors and soft sticky mats may help strengthen my soul, but they don’t sturdy up the skin on my soles.

Walking home that night, I stepped off the sidewalk and onto the grass. It was long and cool and damp. It cushioned my bare feet and brushed in between my toes. I completely forgot about my blisters as I focused on how nice it felt to observe the world through from the bottom up. It had been a long time since I’ve walked barefoot in the grass.

To some, barefoot hiking is a hobby. Richard Frazine wrote a book about it called The Barefoot Hiker, and Common Ground, a sustainable living magazine, wrote an article about it here.

How often do we take time to feel the crunch of leaves or the slick slime of moss or the powder puffs of dirt through our feet and toes? Not to mention walking barefoot is gentle on the planet. I think I will start taking off my shoes more often, especially outside.

As quoted on this website, Sitting Bull said:  “Healthy feet can hear the very heart of Mother Earth.”

Chilling Out with Forward Bends

I glanced at a weather map of the United States today and it’s orange, darker orange, and red all over. In other words, it’s hot.

I tend to have a high tolerance for 90 degree weather, so I revel in it, but my yoga teacher says the heat makes a lot of people irritable.

She thought we should focus on cooling poses in class today.

We worked on variations of Downward Facing Dog – using a chair, then a wall, then the regular way – and then spent some time in Child’s Pose, Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), and Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend*).

“Forward bend poses are great for settling you down when you’re feeling agitated,” the teacher said. “You may sweat while you’re in the pose, but they’re calming on the nervous system.”

I must say, it is amazing how as the class continued I felt myself grow into silence as I streeeeeetched out, my heart resting peacefully inside.

So if you find yourself snapping at people (including yourself) or not tolerating the traffic or noticing that things that you usually don’t mind are bugging you, take heart. It might simply be the heat. Try breathing a few times . . . and don’t forget to bend.

*In Seated Forward Bend, I have to sit on two blankets and lasso a strap around the balls of my feet to hang onto and pull myself forward because I can’t reach my arms to my toes. The teacher looks just like the lady in this picture when she’s in the pose, but she mentioned that 18 years ago she had to use blankets and straps too. So. By my calculations I should be able to do Seated Forward Bend without props in 15 years. I wasn’t discouraged by this. I was excited. The human body is amazing. Anyway, I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to think about those things in yoga class, but sometimes I can’t help it!