Pomegranate and cucumber salad

This recipe is yummy I got it from vegetarian living magazine. I tried it, husband loves it and my 9 year old too. I’ve made some alteration as I found the onion taste too strong. It’s a 6 serving recipe, it only contains 75 cals per serving and it is rich in anti-oxidants. Prep time: 15 min.
Bon appetit!
2 pomegrenates
1 small cucumber, peeled and dices
1/2 a small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp of chopped mint
1 orange
pinch of sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil
1) Score the pomegranates’ skin and peel back to reveal the seeds. Pull apart and put the seed in a bowl, avoiding any of the pithy membrane. Mix in the cucumber, onion and mint.
2) Peel the orange skin with a knife up to the pulp. slice the pulp out and cut each pulp pieces in 3. Add to salad with the dripped juice. Season with sugar, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a traditional french provencal stewed vegetable dish. It was made famous in the Pixar movie with the same name as the dish. ‘Touille’ in french essentially means tossed food.
I stumbled upon my version of ‘Ratatouille’ when I first prepared my baby daughter’s food. It was at a time when I was pondering on how I can eat more healthily with minimum fuss. While raw vegetables may sound ideal, it is definitely not something that I can stomach day in day out.
My daughter’s daily meal consists of – tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, etc. An assortment of vegetables steamed, tossed up and then mixed with her brown rice porridge. No flavoring (i.e. sugar, salt, soy sauce, etc).
It never occur to me to sample it (at the back of my head I know it is bland!) until I have to finish some as I have cooked too much for her. I must say that I am taken to its ‘original’ sweetness (tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin), textured (broccoli and corn) and the refreshing (whatever leafy vegetables I have used) taste.
I have used an combination of ingredients and have found the following, for 3 days worth of lunch, that appeal to me most:

  • 2 x large tomatoes, 3 x sweet potatoes, 200g spinach, 200g eggplant (can be any vegetables that you like), 300g pumpkin, 100g corns (all quantity is dependent on the size of your stomach, or should I say your appetite)

Directions:

  1. Remove the skins of the pumpkin & sweet potatoes
  2. Steam the pumpkin & sweet potatoes for 25-min, the rest of the vegetables for 15-min
  3. Tossed all into a bowl, and mashed it up
  4. Put it in a freezer with a cling wrap to keep it’s freshness (never keep more than 3 days. Where possible, we should always prepare it fresh everyday, as nutrients are loss over days when we did not consume it)
  5. Warm up the amount that you want to eat either by mirco-wave or oven toasting it
  6. Tossed it with extra virgin olive oil, flax seeds (for the Omega 3 Fatty acids) and nuts before you chomp them down
  7. OK. For starter, you may flavor it with some salt/soy sauce and sesame oil

Have fun creating your own version of ‘Ratatouille’, and attempt to mixed and match until you find a combo that suits your taste buds without any flavoring. Whatever combo you come up with, you will get your carbohydrates (potatoes), vitamins & minerals (vegetables), proteins (nuts), fatty acids (flax seeds), monounsaturated fats (olive oil).
That’s what we call simply natural – easy to prepare, injest and digest.
Just like Yoga.
Namaste.

Eating for Flexibility

Although it is difficult to find a significant amount of scientific data supporting the idea that food choices affect flexibility, personal experiences seem to indicate that what we eat can effect the physical deepening of our asana practice.
Food can affect our bodies in so many different ways:  weight changes, skin condition, disease.  It can also affect our mind:  sleepy/energized, depressed/stimulated.  It seems reasonable to conclude that food could have an impact on flexibility.  What we put in to our body becomes who we are.
As with most dietary advice coming from our field, it appears that the first step is to eliminate meat from our diets.  Animal protein creates acidity in the body which appears to negatively impact flexibility.
However, a typical ovo-lacto vegetarian diet may not be enough to optimally prepare the body to become flexible.  Other factors include dairy products, which contain casein protein.  This protein is widely used by bodybuilders, powerlifters, and other athletes to increase muscle size and strength, but it is likely having a number of negative effects on the individual, one of which is decreasing flexibility.
Increasing the amount of alkaline forming foods has been shown to increase flexibility.  This can easily be accomplished by simply including more green food items in your daily diet.  Spinach, spirulina, seaweed, broccoli, etc. should all help you maintain a healthy pH balance in your blood.  It is also important to make sure you are getting your recommended amount of vitamins and minerals.
Adding a small amount of flax oil to your diet can also act as an anti-inflammatory and can lubricate your joints and counteract the toxic effects of cooked oil stored in our body.
While maintaining an almost completely vegan diet would likely be well-suited for flexibility, this may not be realistic or desirable in all situations.  Personal experimentation and gradually determining what works well for the individual is probably a good course of action.  But if you are having issues with your flexibility, why not experiment with some of the above suggestions and see if they work for you?

Brahmacharya

The 4th Yama (restraint) in the Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga is Brahmacharya.
Brahmacharya means “to respect the creative power of sex and not abuse it by manipulating others sexually”.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 11.38 “Brahmacharya-pratishthayam virya-labbah” translates to “When one does not misuse sexual energy, one obtains enduring vitality resulting in good health”.
I came across a book that actually defines “Brahmacharya” as “Good Sex”. But in the book, it describes explicitly everything and anything but good sex.
Sex is the power that creates life. When sexual energy is used for exploitation or manipulation, it propels us into deeper separation and ignorance.
While we do hear of human sexual abuse on a regular basis in the newspaper, most of us are ignorant of the extensive sexual abuse of animals inflicted by humans. This has been  deeply ingrained in our culture, and takes the form of “animal husbandry” where breeding, genetic manipulation, castration, artificial insemination, forced pregnancy, routine rape and child abuse took place on a massive scale”.
“Animals on factory farms are not allowed to develop normal sexual relationships with others of their own species. All of the animals born in factory farms have come from mothers who are repeatedly raped by human farmhands and forced to become pregnant over and over again until their fertility wanes, at which point they are slaughtered and eaten”.
As described in the book on what happens to an average dairy cow on today’s farm: “She lives in a tiny stall with a concrete floor in an indoor ‘milk facility’. Not even a year old, she has just given birth to her first calf a few hours ago while being chained down. The chain makes it difficult for her to get close to her baby whom she is nursing – but not for long. Within hours, men come to take her baby, shouting abuses at her. She tries to turn her head to see what is happening, but the chain prevents her from moving. She cries out to her baby, who cries back. In a few minutes, she no longer hear and see her baby – for it is driven to a ‘veal facility’. She is left in her place, her milk dripping from her breasts. The milking machine moves in to clamps onto her nipples, sucking her and emptying her of the vital life force, for weeks to come, until she is ready to go through another cycle of being raped (artificially inseminated), give birth, separation, lactation and depression. She has to be pregnant or lactating to be able to produce milk. She is viewed as a milk machine, one of billions of cows confined in factory-farm concentration camps”.
I was filled with grief when I first read this article – the image of mother separating from the child within a few hours after such a special occasion. While the mother continues to suffer on the same floor, chain to the same chain and sexually manipulated by the same man, the babies head to the slaughter house. Grief turns to anger when it dawned upon me that this has been accepted as part of the culture (of ignorance, where we simply do not want to know). And finally, overwhelmed by guilt for being part of the contributing factor.
There are many untold sufferings that we have inflicted on others, none more so than to animals. The abuse of animals were described quite vividly in many videos and books that talks about humanity. Documentary-Movie such as “Earthlings” and book such as “Yoga & Vegetarianism by Sharon Gannon” (from which most of the accounts were shared here) should be watch by everyone to learn the truth.
Someone actually describes our treatment to animals as the holocausts of the biggest unimaginable proportions, that happens on a daily basis. It is even more frightening to know that most of us are comfortable with the actions even after knowing the truth.
So, before you make that order for coffee , with or without milk –  stop and think!
The harmless act of drinking milk may not just be a breached of the yama “Brahmacharya”, but more importantly an opportunity for us to practice compassion and conditional love. Yoga is more than the practice of asanas and prayanama, but the practice of being humane.
Our choice may be that just one moment of decision-making, but it can make a hell out of difference in making this a better world for all!
Namaste!
 
 

general — seaweed , fun ways to add to our meals

According to Master Trainer Wei Ling seaweed may assist us with our flexibility. I have had a fun time mixing this healthy food with almost all of my meals.
Here are some suggestions
1. Peanut butter sandwich with slabs of seaweed which is a light snack for after asana practises
2. Cheese with seaweed sandwich which is both savoury and energy giving.
3. It can also cut up into thin strips and tossed into our salads for that extra crunchy bite.
4. The taste of any soupy food like fish ball noodle soup or fish soup can be further enhanced with a handful of it as well.
5. Tofu seaweed wrap
6. Seaweed as a garnish over Oatmeal for breakfast
7. Snack on seaweed instead of peanuts thus saving us the ‘extra rolls’ around our bellies
Have a good time enjoying this healthy food.

Delicious vegetable muffins

Starting on a vegetarian diet can be a daunting task for some of us. For me, I decided I could revamp my diet by starting vegetarian on my favourite—desserts! I am a great fan of desserts (maybe all ladies will make the same confession) and I love muffins! Soft, crumply, yummy. Mmmmm…
And having worked as an au-pair, I know how difficult it is to get children started on vegetables. So, below are two recipes with vegetables incorporated for the beginning vegetarian and the little ones.
1. Broccoli Muffins

Ingredients  (makes 10 muffins):
375 g broccoli
1 egg
250 ml milk
250 g self raising flour
1/2 tsp mixed spice
125 g mature cheddar cheese, grated

Method :
1.      Break the broccoli into small florets and wash thoroughly.
2.      Whisk the egg and milk together in a mixing bowl, then sift in the flour and mixed spice.
3.      Stir until the mixture is just combined.
4.      Finally, fold in the broccoli and grated cheese.
5.      Spoon the mixture into lightly greased muffin tins.
6.      Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven 190C/375F for 30 minutes.
 
2. Carrot Muffins
Ingredients (makes 20-24 muffins):
250 g butter
220 g caster sugar
4 eggs
750 g self raising flour
375 ml soured cream
500 ml cooked carrot puree
60 g chopped nuts (optional)
Method :
1.      Cream the butter, sugar, orange rind and vanilla until light and fluffy.
2.      Beat in the eggs, then add the flour, soured cream and carrot puree.
3.      Continue beating until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
4.      Spoon the mixture into greased muffin tins (deep round tins available from kitchenware shops).
5.      Sprinkle with nuts, if desired and bake at 180C/350F for 25 – 30 minutes or until the muffins turn a golden color.

Vegetarianism Journey

My journey towards vegetarianism started some 10 years ago shortly after I moved to Indonesia for a year or so. I think in Singapore we’re used to things being rather sanitised. If we go to the supermarket we often find chickens duly cleaned out, deboned, fillet and packed in neat packages and the same goes for other types of meats like beef, lamb and pork. Growing up in Singapore I never had the opportunity to experience the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the meat industry. In Indonesia, things are different. My neighbour across the street at that time happened to be a chicken farmer. It was a family business and he grew up rearing chickens and sold them to the local market. I striked up a conversation with him once and remembered him telling me that they would inject the chickens with ‘something’ (and by something I assume it’s growth hormones) and in 2 or 3 days the chickens would grow and almost double in size. “It’s like a miracle!’ as he puts it, his eyes glistening with excitement while I shuddered in fear. I’ve read about stuff like this in newspaper articles but to have it happen so close to home really takes it to another level.

On another occasion, I was invited to the local mosque to witness the process of the kurban where goats and cows would be slaughtered and skinned as a religious sacrifice. I closed my eyes most of the time but could hear most of what was going on and could also smell the blood in the air. Later I was invited to a feast where the meat was boiled simply and served with chilli sauce. I still distinctly remember what the meat looked like…grey and lifeless. At that point onwards, I decided I could no longer eat any more meat.

I started eating only green vegetables and the occasional tempeh and tofu. It was difficult to prepare my own vegetarian meals as I was staying with a local family and there weren’t alot of meat substitutes available. I didn’t feel healthy and was lethargic most of the time and was certainly not a sterling inspiration for vegetarianism to my friends! So a few years after coming back to Singapore, I fell off the bandwagon somewhat and started eating some fish and chicken again. Afterall, in Singapore it is easy to forget where the meat comes from isnt’ it? I started going 100% vegetarian again in the past year or so and this time I’m mindful about making sure that all my nutritional needs are adequately met and thus far I think I’m enjoying the process more (recipes to come!).

I titled this post a a vegetarianism journey because I truly believe that it’s a personal process. Ahimsa as one of the yamas in the 8 limbs of yoga is roughly translated as ‘non violence’  and this includes non violence to animals and also to our own bodies. As I think about my own experience in Indonesia, never is this more true for me. 🙂

Vegan Burger anyone?

Most of the vegetarian restaurants in Singapore are either Chinese or Indian. Less options for Western food. I meant a full vegetarian restaurant, not one whereby they serve meat but have veg options.
I recently went to a vegetarian restaurant in the Eastern part of Singapore, near Eunos area, and so coincidently, bumped into a Yoga student. Small world. I got to know of this place through another student who passed me a brochure.
It is called Vegan Burger, details at www.veganburg.com
The setting of this place is a fast food restaurant, very Western feel. The food selection is typically fast food, with burgers, fries and drinks. The way they serve the burger is very interesting as well…
I would recommend this place for these few reasons:
Free parking
Not crowded
Nice environment, spacious
burger is quite delicious
Fries, even though it is not healthy, is quite nice, once in a while it’s alright
If they can improve on these things, I would go there more often:
Juices are not real juice, it is too diluted and artificial, taste like syrup drink
soup is too watery
they can have more options of sides, instead of fries. E.g, salads.
More variety of burgers, or can include wraps
Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean one does not eat out or have very limited options. I am still quite a foodie and likes to seek out new places for vegetarian food. So, if you know of any good vegetarian restaurants, please let me know!

Some Recommendations for a Sattvic Yoga Diet


1. Try to each fresh, leafy greens in great quantity. These should be included in every meal, and are best eaten at the end of the meal. These vegetables contain many essential mineral for metabolism such as iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and chromium.  A yoga diets high in these foods forms a foundation for combating disease.
2. Vegetables that grow beneath the ground should be used sparingly, with the exception of carrots.
3. All fruits and vegetables should be taken fresh whenever possible. They are packed with nutrients, providing vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin and other vitamins, iron, calcium and fibre. Use tomatoes and over-ripe bananas sparingly.
4. Avoid canned or preserved foods.
5. The yoga diet includes a regular variety of nuts. These, however, should be boiled or steamed, and not fried or roasted.
6. Legumes, which is another name for beans, peas and lentils, are all good sources of fibre, protein, iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins.
7. Soymilk and soya products are an excellent source of B vitamins and calcium and should be included in the daily yoga diet.
8. Make plentiful use of pumpkins, cucumbers, gourds, squash and other vine-grown foods.
9. Avoid fried foods!
10. Whole grains are rich in fibre and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B vitamins and zinc.
11. Drink a lot of (pure) water daily. Water (not cold!) may be taken with meals, but in small quantities and should not be used to “wash down” the food.

All you need to know about DETOX

So what exactly is detox? Does it actually benefit my body? How often should i practice it? What are the advantages to doing it? How do i go about getting started? More often than not, these are just one of the tons of questions that pops up in one’s mind when the word ‘DETOX’ is told. And in these days, people are using this word so frequently that got me wondering if they really knew the meaning to it. A common issue would be the various beautified terms around, ‘Detox Diet’, ‘Detox Programme’, ‘Detox Workout’ etc. And this DETOX would eventually equates to DIETING, for many.
However, if not practised correctly, this may actually lead to harmful effects to the body. Why so?
In fact, when one embarks on this diet, there will be a drastic lowering of calorie intake which usually only consists of non solid food, i.e. liquid diet. But whatever that is available in the commercial market, promotes more of its own branding than the healthy benefits for one, and as stated in womens health magazine, these diets usually have, “very low-calorie or contain diuretics that flush your body of potassium and other crucial nutrients.” And the assumingly weight lost from the 3 days detox diet, is actually just water weight, or worse still, muscles that you have lost and nothing of the fats that everyone claimed!  And since muscles are responsible for the extra amount of calorie we burn throughout the day, the metabolism actually slows way down to preserve the muscles and our bodily funtion. and the bad news is once you return back to the normal diet, you’ll eventually gain weight faster with FEWER calories!
Nevertheless, all is not lost. DETOX is actually a medium that aids the body in cleansing when done properly. With this said, as quoted from the womenshealthmag, one, “can feel like an intervention, a fresh beginning” after the period of detoxification. During this period, it also gives the digestive system a short break from the excess food taken daily.
Thus, a good plan would be one that provides minimum calorie but without a deficit for one’s body, which includes sufficient fibre and protein to sustain one through the day without feeling lethargic or any less energetic.
A Suggested Plan
Breakfast:

  • a glass of  warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Scrambled egg whites and 1 slice whole-wheat toast, dry
    or 1 cup cooked oats or cooked oatmeal topped with ½ cup berries or 2 Tbsp nutsSnack:
    • 1 medium sized apple 
    or 1/3 cup natural trail mix
    Lunch
    • 1 cup fresh spinach or lightly sautéed spinach or kale, squeezed with fresh lemon or orange juice
    or 1 cup asparagus with 1 tsp olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice
    • 4 oz grilled, baked, or broiled salmon, chicken, or pork tenderloin, seasoned with spices such as lemon pepper
    • 1/2 cup edamame beans, steamed
    • 8 pecan halves
    Snack:
    • 1/2 sweet potato or one citrus fruit (orange or grapefruit)
    • 4 oz low-fat yogurt
    Dinner
    • Large spinach or romaine salad with vegetables. Dress with 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil mixed with lemon juice or vinegar (any variety)
    • ½ cup to 1 cup asparagus or artichoke hearts, steamed
    • 4 oz lean chicken with spices, baked or grilled
    • ½ cup brown rice, barley, bulgur, or quinoa
    • 8 oz water or decaffeinated green or herbal tea
    Snack:
    • ¾ cup to 1 cup blueberries
    or ½ cup pomegranate seeds
    or low-fat organic yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese

credits womenshealthmag.
So bottomline is, lose weight the right way and do not rely on substitute foods for energry. Choose natural (sattvic food) which increases life, purity, strength, health and more, over processed food for convenience. In addition, it is also important to have a well-balanced diet with adequate amount of water which gives the body sufficent nutrients to function to the day to day chores. Water, a great cleansing  tool, helps dissolves and distributes food while removing impurities in the body. What’s more, its calorie free! Have a sip, before any cravings comes haunting, you may not be genuinely hungry there!