Tag Archives: yoga

New Yoga Endeavors

I went to a 90-minute “Power Yoga Flow” session at a new yoga studio downtown this morning – PYP Studio in State College.

Afterwards, I rewarded myself with this.

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But more on that after my Yoga recap:

It was insanely hard – maybe harder than a running my half-marathon in April. I hadn’t been expecting such a high intensity class, so I found myself utterly unable to put my best effort into most poses. Such things, at least for me, require mental prep time.

For at least the first hour, all I could think was, “these people are insane,” and “I’m never coming back here again.”

I had never been to a yoga class set up like this one. It started out with everyone in child’s pose, and the instructor, a tiny British lady with a fierce voice, gave kind of an opening “sermon.” Or a dramatic monologue maybe? She spoke about how we constantly reach outside of ourselves, searching, wanting, trying for more, when all we need is right here in the present. She challenged us to stop seeking approval from other people and to appreciate the perfect, innocent human being buried inside of us amidst the daily craziness. Throughout the session’s resting poses, she always came back to this theme, reiterating her points, and dramatizing them in the context of our movements.

During savasana at the end, which I enjoyed so much in my complete exhaustion, she played “Let it Be” by the Beatles. Tacky, yes. But still somehow in line with everything else she was doing.

Dave, of course, said all of this sounded terrible when I told him about it at brunch. And yes, it was definitely different and intense. But during the last 30 minutes of the class, as the exhaustion had broken me down enough, I discovered new, refreshing thoughts within myself. One of them was that it makes complete sense to me that in a “church-like” format, in which we challenge the mind to center itself and connect with its core, we would challenge the body at the same time to go to its limits.

So then, after yoga, I picked up Dave and we went to Pine Grove Mills, which is about 5 minutes from our house, to try the new breakfast place that opened there on Monday, Naked Egg Cafe. A co-worked told me about it yesterday, and I was so excited when I looked at their menu and discovered they have salmon Eggs Benedict!

In light of my new plan to stop drinking coffee, I ordered a pot of Irish Breakfast tea. By the time our food arrived, I had finished the entire pot, about five cups or so, because we waited for about 45 minutes!!! Sure, they recently opened and the place was packed, but waiting that long for breakfast is not acceptable in my opinion. When we got the food, we couldn’t believe the small portions. I paid $12.99 for the salmon benedict and there wasn’t really as much smoked salmon under the egg as I would have expected. Plus, why wouldn’t they serve some sort of potatoes on the side? Pretty disappointing. It tasted good, but not great. On the plus side, the food is all local. That’s why I wanted to like the place so much.¬†We’re thinking we’ll give them one more chance and come earlier in the morning when it’s not as crowded and order something else. But it’s still a bummer because no other place in town that I know of makes salmon benedicts or even has a breakfast menu with smoked salmon on it.

Enough complaining. After brunch, we went to the Farmer’s Market to stock up on some organic produce. I bought eggplants, onions, tomatoes, and parsley. We also each bought a pastry from an Amish woman, plus I had a macaroon and Dave a gluten-free brownie. Splurge alert.

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Yoga in the Woolen Mill

We usually have Wednesday lunch break yoga at the Woolrich conference center, but they had a blood drive there today, so we moved it to the woolen mill, to the space where our blankets used to be made.

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Apparently, this was once a buzzing part of the mill, before most of our product manufacturing was moved overseas.

I wonder what the mill workers in the 19th century would have thought if they could have seen us in a glimpse of the future. Beside our teacher’s portable iPod player, there was nothing futuristic about the scene. Just a group of women stretching on their mats, practicing a century-old Buddhist ritual. But that’s exactly what they would have found very absurd, I assume.

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Treadmill Triumph + Vegan Orzo Pasta

So, apparently it’s January again here in Central PA. When we went to the UUs this morning, I realized quickly that after yesterday’s blizzard-like snowfall, all the sidewalks were covered in snow and the roads were icy. My 11 mile run that was on the calendar was in danger.

The thought of doing a run of that length on the treadmill seemed insane, especially since I haven’t been training on the treadmill at all. I texted my best friend, an avid runner and constant cheerleader for my fitness goals, to see what she thought.

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Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of encouragement like that. I decided to give the treadmill a shot.

But now that running outside was out, I figured I might as well procrastinate, make dinner, and get some chores done around the house.

I made orzo pasta with chickpeas, broccoli, and toasted pine nuts. Find the recipe here.

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Trying the “mis en place” approach.

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Orzo. Should have cooked it with olive oil. There is always next time.

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Chickpeas and broccoli coated in olive oil and seasoned with curry powder, pepper, and garlic salt. Ready for 30 minutes in the oven.

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Toasting pine nuts. These added an awesome flavor.

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Voila. Dinner tonight, lunch tomorrow. Really delicious.

On to the run. I helped myself mentally digest it by splitting it up. 6 miles, 3 miles, 2 miles. During the interruptions, I drank water and stretched a little bit.

The treadmill was actually not half bad. I think it was easier on my knees than the pavement. But don’t get me wrong, my legs still hurt like hell ūüôā

It was both motivating and agonizing to be able to watch the mileage climb. I would say miles 1-5 were pretty awesome. Mile 6 was hard because I had to go to the bathroom.

Miles 6-9 were okay, but my legs started locking up. I tried the trick of putting my sweatshirt over the mile counter, but that didn’t help at all. It just made me more antsy to know how far I was.

Mile 10 was okay. Mile 11 was awesome. At that point, I knew I was going to make it, which felt so good. I even bumped up my speed and finished in a sprint. When I was done, I screamed YES like an idiot at our apartment complex gym. Noone was there, but still.

Like my friend said, my playlist was what carried me through. I guess that’s the case with any run though.

I may have to wake up early tomorrow to do yoga. Icing and stretching tonight might not cut it. But I feel so accomplished, and happy to know the treadmill is an option for training runs.

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Easy Weeknight Pasta Dinner

When I plan meals for the week, I try to think about what’s easy, nutritious, and can be eaten for lunch the next day as well. I also try to consider innovation because repeating the same five meals over and over gets old. But on busy days, relying on what I know and can make quickly is definitely the best stress-reducer.

Tonight, I opted for an easy shrimp & pasta dish – a staple in our household and a good choice during the last few weeks of half-marathon training (exactly one month until race day!).

It took about 15 minutes to prepare.

First, I cooked some penne in olive oil and salt. I would have preferred to use whole grain penne, but white was what I had.

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Next, I sautéed shrimp in some olive oil and garlic.

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Then, I added chopped, filleted tomatoes.

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I had to switch the shrimp over to a new sauce pan because I charred the bottom of the first one. Oops. I get so distracted by my German soap while cooking.

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I also added a little bit of chopped red onion, and a handful of spinach and kale each. I seasoned it all with lemon juice, lemon pepper, and garlic salt.

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That’s it. I had a small portion because I didn’t want to overdo the carbs at night, but my leftovers will make a perfect lunch before my night-run tomorrow.

Speaking of running, I am icing my legs as we speak. Yoga at lunch today helped me recover too, but I want to avoid any preventable soreness.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying this chocolate almond milk for desert.

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My number one goal for tonight: a solid 8-hours of sleep. Why do we as a society prioritize everything else over sleep? It’s so incredibly good for us. I am trying to be more conscious of what little tasks I squeeze into my nights that keep me from getting to bed at a reasonable time. Sure, they all seem more exciting than hitting the hay, but then I pay with a lack of focus and energy the next day and often many days after that. A simple realization, but still so difficult to act on.

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Filed under dairy-free, leftovers, running, seafood, yoga

More Takeout

I had such a busy weekend to begin with, so the being robbed of one hour last night didn’t help. I felt like I was running against the clock the entire day.

This morning, we had the smoked salmon bagels and omelette combo again. Once we had fueled up on food and caffeine, we did some serious spring cleaning. I took apart the entire kitchen, deep cleaning the tops and insides of the stove top, the fridge, the counter tops, and the floor. Dave was busy with the bathrooms, dusting of all surfaces, and vacuuming. We also did multiple loads of laundry.

This helped me digest breakfast, so around 2 p.m., I was ready for my run. I decided to give myself a break from long-runs this week after doing 10 miles last weekend. Instead, I ran four miles at a faster pace. It was so nice but also unfamiliar to run in 60-degree spring weather. Definitely something my lungs will have to get used to. Overall, I’m not too satisfied with how the run went. I have to do a better job at hydrating the night before and my shins were really sore, so more stretching and icing is in order. My resolution now is to do yoga every morning before work this week and going for two runs this week after work. The time change will help with that because it’s going to be light out past 7 p.m. now.

Truthfully, I’m looking forward to the half marathon being over so I can focus on running shorter distances faster. I always hated running fast, but I think I’m getting to a point were I am up for the challenge.

After my run, we skyped with my high-school friend and her fiance in Germany and hit two grocery stores.

I picked up more takeout from the Wegman’s hot bar – this time completely vegan – yay for progress.

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Brussel sprouts, carrots, Chinese vegetables (Dave ended up eating them because they didn’t go well with the other flavors), roasted squash (so insanely good. It melted in my mouth like chocolate), Indian potato and cauliflower curry mix, and Thai vegetarian meatballs in red curry.

Then three of my friends came over to watch¬†Soul Kitchen, a German film by my favorite Turkish director Fatih Akin. We watched it with English subtitles on Netflix and I learned a new word: grub, as in “Pub & Grub.” I love when that happens.

We snacked on vegetable chips, peanut butter cups, and black berries. I also had two glasses of wine.

Now quickly to bed before the time change screws me for the entire work week.

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Smoked Salmon Bagels

Breakfast is and always has been my favorite meal of the day. Growing up, I always loved the elaborate spread my family put out on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

It’s hard (read: impossible) to produce a big feast on weekdays, but Dave and I definitely try to have something we really enjoy for breakfast on weekend days when we have the time.

My all-time favorite right now might be bagels with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on the side. We haven’t made this in a while, but I planned it in as an easy and delicious meal for today. I did my 15 minutes of yoga while Dave prepared everything. He was excited to have me try his new scrambled eggs creation.

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Don’t let the small serving of eggs fool you – I had seconds. He scrambled eggs, almond milk, green onions, goat cheese, and a few dashes of Trader Joe’s hot sauce. I was beyond impressed! He seriously could make this for some sort of gourmet breakfast place. I get hungry just remembering it right now.

The salmon was premium smoked salmon from¬†Scotland¬†and the bagels fresh from the Wegman’s bakery. So delicious.

Here is the thing though. I always used to have this creation with cream cheese. Since I’m trying to phase out dairy and avoid it whenever I can, I opted for Earth Balance this time.

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For those of you who don’t know, this is a vegan, soy-based buttery spread. This is the first jar I’ve ever bought of it and the first time I’ve knowingly tried it. For those of you who do know it, what are your thoughts and what do you mostly use it for? Is it a butter substitute than can be used across the board or just for very specific things?

I spread a pretty thin layer on my bagel before adding the smoked salmon.

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It definitely helped make it less dry, but was, of course, way less creamy than the cream cheese. I think I need to try it again with a thicker layer. Good thing tomorrow is another weekend day!

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Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Nuts

We got our taxes done today. By which I mean, Dave wrestled with our Turbo Tax software while I was on the other end of the couch practicing Turkish on Rosetta Stone, on the floor doing a yoga video, and in the office, ironing laundry and watching Netflix. Taxes stress me out and it’s probably best if I stay far, far away from the filing process.

When he was almost done, it was time for me to start dinner. I found the recipe for tonight’s butternut squash dish here and think this may have been the first of many times I’ll make this.

Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Nuts

Ingredients:

Roasted Squash:

  • 0.9 kg -1.13 kg (2-2.5 pound) butternut squash
  • 2 lg. cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1 cup de-stemmed and roughly chopped Lacinato kale

Almond and Pecan Topping:

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 tbsp¬†nutritional yeast
  • 1/8th tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Mix all the squash ingredients besides the kale in a casserole dish. Toss well in olive oil and cover in aluminum foil. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes. I used Trader Joe’s butternut squash that was already diced. If you know where to get squash and how to peel and cut it, more power to you.

Mix all the almond and pecan topping ingredients in a bowl after chopping the nuts. When the squash is done, mix in the kale and the nut mixture and bake for 7 minutes.

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The nut mixture tossed with nutritional yeast, salt, and olive oil.

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The squash roasting in the oven.

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Everything fresh out of the oven, all the ingredients mixed in.

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Dave picked up a “Three Philosophers” Belgian Quadruple Ale, which went perfectly with the whole creation. I followed that up with some dark chocolate peanut butter cups and dark chocolate covered ginger, and my meal was complete.

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