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Delicious Vegan Split Pea Soup Made in a Snap! Crockpot Friendly!

 Ingredients:

2 c        Dried Split Peas
½ c       Barley
3           Diced Carrots
3           Medium sized diced potatoes
½ c       Fresh chopped parsley
1           Medium sized red onion, diced
6           Cloves of garlic, minced
4           Bay leaves
2 tsp      Salt
1 tsp      Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp      Dried thyme
1 tsp      Dried basil
8 c        Water

Add all ingredients to crock pot and let cook on high for 3-4 hours until peas are soft.  Enjoy!

Do You Have Trouble Staying Motivated? Tips to Help You Stay on Track!

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing–that’s why we recommend it daily.” ~ Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker

As the new year quickly approaches, many people are frantically evaluating their lives and setting goals in hopes of starting off the new year “on the right foot.“  One of the most common resolutions is to lose weight, get fit, and be healthy.  We see it year after year, people signing up for gym memberships in droves with the absolute best intentions of revising their lifestyle, getting in shape and leading a healthier life.  Gyms are packed with well intentioned people.  As February approaches, the crowds begin to dwindle.  Why does this happen?  What causes people to lose interest when there initial intentions were so strong?  Well, here’s my take.  Humans are creatures of habit.  We prefer to stay in our “comfort zone” even when we know that it may not be the best place for us to be.  Our initial resolutions usually stem from some sort of inspiration that resonates deep within us.  So, we start off with a “bang” and all to quickly realize that “Hey!  This is different than what I am used to!”  We are no longer in our comfort zone!  Naturally, our mind attempts to coax us back to what we know.  As time passes, we become lackadaisical resorting  back to our old ways.  So, how can one stay strong while  maintaining their motivation and momentum?  Here are a few tips I have found to be helpful:

* Write your goals on a list and post it where you can read it often!  Write the reasons why this goal is important to you and how you will feel if you accomplish or stray from your goal.  A small poster board is a great way to list your goals along with inspiring pictures or quotes.

* Surround yourself with people who have already accomplished the same goals you are after.  A tremendous amount of insight can be gained from listening to the experiences and challenges of those who have already tread the same path.

* Keep the “fire” alive.  Read books or magazines related to your goals.  Participate in activities that include and/or are supportive of your goals.

* Live your life as though you have already accomplished your goal.  BE that person!  By separating yourself from who you hope to become, you are inviting your mind to give you reasons to doubt yourself.  If you already ARE that person, there is no room for doubt!  It’s completely normal to occasionally revert back to your old ways of thinking.  Live with awareness!  When you notice this happening, acknowledge it without judgment, and get right back on track!

So, what does all of this have to do with Yoga?  Everything!  Yoga teaches us to live with awareness, without judgment, and to be true to ourselves and others.  Asana practice teaches us to focus on our breath and to be present in the moment.  Meditation allows us the opportunity to observe our thoughts and feelings.  Awareness must be present before change can take place.  Live in the moment, be present and don’t be too hard on yourself!  Remember, success often begins with many failed attempts.  Rather than viewing failures/detours negatively, embrace each of them as a worthwhile learning experience!

“Knock your socks off” Chocolate Cinnamon Vegan Bread Pudding – Insanely Decadent!!!

Ingredients:

4TBSP Ener-G brand egg replacer (can be purchased at Whole Foods)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar (I use light)
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups soy, rice or almond milk (I use the vanilla flavored almond milk)
16 oz vegan sourdough bread, cut in 1/2″ squares (I use either the Whole foods brand or Cobblestone Mills brand).
1/2 c Earth Balance vegan butter, melted and cooled (15 min) (I use the sticks from Whole Foods)
2 tsp Cinnamon
12-16oz of vegan chocolate chips (sold at Whole Foods) (I use 16oz but if you want it less rich, use 12).
non-stick spray
Aluminum foil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix egg replacer, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.  Mix until there are no clumps.
Stir in milk and mix well.  Add bread.  Use hands to “squish” the mixture into bread.  Add cooled, melted butter, Cinnamon and chocolate chips.  Let mixture sit for 20 min. 

Spray a 9″x13″ baking pan with non-stick spray.  Pour in mixture and flatten into the pan with a spatula.  With non-stick spray, spray a piece of foil large enought to cover the pan and place it face down on the mixture.  Smooth the foil so that it’s touching the bread.  Cover the pan with another piece of foil.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Remove from oven, remove foil, and return to oven for an additional 20-25 minutes.  Remove, let cool and enjoy!

So Many Things to be Thankful for!!!

 “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

Today and everyday, I am thankful for my health, my friends and family (dogs included!), my freedom, and the vast opportunities available to me. I am thankful for my yoga practice and all of the beautiful people I’ve met and what I have learned from them. I give thanks for the challenges that I have faced; they have strengthened and educated me and reinforced the notion that even in the midst of darkness, there is good. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Namaste! ~JS

Vegan Friendly Pumpkin Bars…can also make in a loaf form for pumpkin bread. So Yummy!!

Makes 24 bars 
Prep: 40 min
Bake: 20 min-30 min

Ingredients
2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 and 2/3 cups sugar
1) 15-ounce can pumpkin
4 eggs (instead of eggs, I use 4 Tbsp chia seeds (ground or not) soaked in 12 Tbsp water until the mixture becomes gel-like, about 10-15 min)
1 c cooking oil
3/4 c toasted chopped pecans (optional)
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below)

Directions:
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar, pumpkin, eggs (or chia mixture), and oil with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in the flour mixture until well mixed. If desired, stir in pecans.

2.) Spread batter in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake for 20-30 min or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Prepare Cream Cheese Frosting; spread over top when cooled. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, combine two 3-ounce pkgs cream cheese (light is ok, just not fat free) (I use Tofutti “cream cheese”), softened; 1/2 cup butter (I use Earth Balance vegan), softened; and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add 4 cups sifted powdered sugar, beating until smooth  (I usually only use 2-3 cups of powdered sugar).

Enjoy!

What’s the Significance of the Number 108?

The following points explain just a handful of reasons for the number 108’s significance. 

 9 and 12 are believed to have spiritual significance in many philosophical and eastern traditions (9*12=108).

Many believe that 1 represents higher truth (God, Atman, etc), 0 represents emptiness (bliss), and 8 represents infinity.

Mathematically speaking, 108 is a semi perfect number. It is hyper factorial of three, which means it is divisible by three. 1 to the 1st power = 1; 2 to the 2nd power = 4; 3 to the 3rd power = 27; 1*4*27=108.

108 is a Harshad number, a mathematical term meaning that it is divisible by the sum of it’s digits (108/(1+0+8)=12). Harshad is a Sanskrit word meaning “great joy”. Vedic mathematicians regarded 108 as the entirety of existence.

There is also an interesting connection between 108, the Earth, Sun, and Moon. Distance from Earth to Moon = 108*diameter of Moon. Distance from Earth to Sun = 108* diameter of Sun.

In the study of astrology, silver, who’s atomic weight is 108, represents the moon. There are also 12 houses and 9 planets (12*9=108).

Yogic tradition states that there are 108 sacred sites (pithas), in India .

There are 108 Upanishads (scriptures of Hinduism). Many eastern belief systems hold that humans are capable of 108 earthly desires, 108 lies, and 108 forms of ignorance (Avidya). It is also believed that 108 feelings exist (36 of the past, 36 of the present, and 36 of the future).

The sacred River Ganga in India is mapped at 12 degrees longitude and 9 degrees latitude. 12*9 = 108.

The Sanskrit alphabet consists of 54 letters, each containing masculine and feminine forms (shiva and shakti). 54*2=108.

It is believed that Samadhi (enlightenment) will be attained by those who maintain a calm meditative state, breathing only 108 times per day.

The average number of breaths per day, according to Tantric estimates, is an average of 21,600 (10,800 are solar energy and 10,800 are lunar energy). 108*100 = 10,800. 2*10,800 = 21,600.

108 also holds great significance in the yoga chakra system. Chakras are intersecting points in the body where energy meets. 108 lines join to form the heart chakra, one of which (Sushumna) leads to the crown chakra. Sushumna is believed to be the path to enlightenment.

Malas, or prayer beads, are used to count mantra repetitions. “Mantra” translates to “mind tool”. Repeating a mantra helps keep the mind focused, leading to dharana (one-pointedness). Traditionally, malas are made of 108 beads strung around 1 meru (“guru bead”). A mala is considered complete with 100 repetitions. The extra 8 are thought to be used for correcting any errors or can be used as an offering to God and Guru.

Yoga malas are generally performed at the equinoxes. A yoga mala of 108 Sun Salutations welcomes new seasons and can favorably change the body’s energy.

What is Pranayama and why is it so important?

Pranayama is the Sanskrit word meaning “control (yama) of the life force (prana).”  Proper breathing is important not only for our body but our mind as well.  Typically, our breathing is shallow, preventing us from properly using our lungs to their full capacity which can have a very unfavorable impact on our health and well being.  Regular practice of pranayama teaches us to breath fully and properly. There are six types of pranayama, all of which increase oxygen intake to our body and it’s organs, reduce the risk of illness, strengthen our nervous system, improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, increase energy and relieve stress and anxiety.  The easiest type of pranayama that anyone can practice is known as Alternate Nostril (also referred to as Anuloma Viloma, Nadi Shuddhi, or Nadi Shodhona) Pranayama.

Start by sitting in Sukhasana (cross legged), Vajrasana (thunderbolt), or Padmasana (lotus).

Place the left palm facing down on your left knee.  Bring your left thumb and left index finger to touch in Jnana mudra.
Gently Close the eyes. Sit tall.  Inhale, lengthening the spine.  Exhale, lowering the shoulders away from the ears.
Fold the index and middle finger on the right hand to touch your palm.  The right thumb will be used to seal the right nostril and the right ring finger will be used to seal the left nostril.

To start, inhale, seal the right nostril with the thumb. Exhale through the left nostril, and inhale again through the left nostril.  Seal the left nostril, release the right nostril and exhale through the right.  Inhale through the right.  Repeat cycle at a normal breathing rate.  Start slowly (for 3 minutes or less) and over time, increase the anuloma pranayama cycle up to 20 minutes.

Since the left nostril represents the moon’s energy which has a cooling effect and symbolizes peace,  Anuloma Viloma should always begin by exhaling through the left nostril in order to purify the nadis (energy channels) of the body. 

Anuloma Viloma is beneficial in alleviating allergies, sinus problems, colds, mild fevers, eye and ear problmes, high blood pressure, snoring, depression, insomnia, migraine headaches, digestive disorders, improves blood circulation, and relieves stress and anxiety.  It also cooks and does dishes…just kidding…  😉

YUM! Veggie Chili!!

Veggie Chili

 Those who know me know that I do not like to cook…  Yes, this is my recipe, and yes, it’s actually really good!  Of course it’s super easy too and pretty quick to prepare.  The recipe yields a LOT of chili so cut it down if you don’t want to have leftovers or freeze it like I do.

 Ingredients

 *all cans are regular sized unless otherwise indicated

 2 cans diced tomatoes (Italian seasoned)

1 can tomato sauce

1 can Rotel

2 small cans tomato paste

1 large can of Red Kidney beans (drained and rinsed)

1 large can of Black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 large can of Pink beans or Great Northern beans (drained and rinsed)

2 cans corn (drained)

1 can sliced stewed tomatoes

1 head garlic (microwave for 1 min, peel and chop)

2 bags veggie “ground beef” crumbles.  I like the Morning Star Farms brand.

1 medium onion, diced

1 bag wheat elbow macaroni (optional)

Olive oil

Chili Powder

Cumin

Oregano

Sage

 Directions

In a very large pot, combine all canned items.  In a separate pan, sauté onions in olive oil.  When the onions are soft add the garlic for a minute or two.  Add to chili mixture.  Next, brown veggie crumbles in pan.  Then add to chili mixture.  Add  2-3 Tbsp chili powder, about 2 Tbsp of ground Cumin, 1 Tbsp Oregano, and ½ Tbsp sage.  Stir well over medium heat.  Cover and simmer when chili starts to boil.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.  Boil elbow macaroni and drain.  Serve Chili over elbow macaroni.

“Balance is beautiful.” ~Miyoko Ohno Take this short quiz to learn more about your dosha!!

Ayurveda, (meaning “the wisdom of life” in Sanskrit) is the science that joins the universal elements of earth, fire, air, water, and space, into single compositions known as Doshas.  The three determining essenses—vata, pitta, and kapha–guide the behavior of the mind and body.  At the time of our conception, our Dosha makeup (prakriti) is determined and should remain the same throughout our life.  While people generally have some degree of each Dosha, they tend to be predominant in one or two areas.  Pitta dosha is made up of fire and water.  Vata dosha is comprised of ether (space) and air.  Kapha dosha consists of earth and water.  Imbalance of the doshas, which can be caused by our eating habits, emotions, and environment, can cause sickness, disease, depression, and other adverse conditions.  By having an understanding of our prevalent dosha, we can tailor our lives to ensure we maintain balance.  Particular types of yoga, asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), and foods we eat can be used to restore and maintain balance of our dosha.  Ayurvedic practicioners can also help you to bring your doshas back to a balanced state by designing programs specific to you.  Take this short quiz to learn more about your dosha!  Stay tuned for future posts that will take a look at each particular dosha in depth! ~JS

 http://www.whatsyourdosha.com/quiz/

Celebrate Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. FREE!

Sculpt and decorate your own Diwali Lamp, Sand Rangoli, Story Telling, Yogiños: Yoga for Youth, and traditional Diwali dance performances!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

10AM – 2PM

FREE!!

http://www.crowcollection.org/event_view.aspx?eventID=4925