What Should Yogis Eat?

When my aunt found out that I was practicing yoga, she asked me if I was a vegetarian. When I answered “No”, she was mortified – “How can you do yoga if you’re not a vegetarian?” I didn’t know how to answer that because I didn’t understand why this was a pre-requisite. My body can still do all the poses even though I ate meat, so what’s the big deal?

 

If you’ve been doing yoga for a while, you would have noticed that ‘diet’ becomes a big topic among yogis. This idea of an “ideal diet” for the “ideal yogi” often causes a divide in the yoga community – the vegetarians versus the non-vegetarians. Some yogis would pass judgment and discredit you as a yoga practitioner if you’re not vegetarian, and others take a rebellious stance on the other extreme, calling vegetarian yogis unrealistic and old-fashioned.

 

I didn’t have a strong opinion either way, so throughout my years practicing yoga, I’ve always stayed away from this topic and continued eating what I usually do. 

 

Although I’ve done pranayama prior to the YTTC, it wasn’t part of my daily ritual, unlike my asana practice. As part of the YTTC, I’ve decided to give the daily morning pranayama practice a go. After a few weeks, I’ve started noticing differences. Some were predictable – “prana” means energy, so rightfully so it gave me energy.  I used to NEED a cup of coffee in the morning to function. And now, I am no longer a slave to my morning coffee. At the end of my morning pranayama practice, I get a boost of natural energy from within, which tends to last the entire day.  And I soon realised I didn’t need an external stimulant to get me through the day. I still drink coffee because I do like the taste, but the point is that I didn’t NEED it as a source of energy.

 

Besides that, there was another significant shift that I did not expect. I started being more aware of what my body needed, and thus being more conscious of what I consumed. For example, I didn’t feel the need to eat big meals just because it was the time of the day – like lunchtime or dinnertime. I ate when I was hungry. And instead of eating based on cravings, I felt I was more in tune with what my body needed at that present time. When I was feeling a little dehydrated, I felt more drawn to water based fruits, even though my mind preferred chocolates. I was eating less based on cravings, and more based on what my body truly needed.

 

As the weeks passed by, my relationship with food changed. The shift wasn’t so much in what I “should” eat and what I “should not” eat. It was in the direction of that relationship. It was no longer outward to inward – i.e. external stimulus dictating what I felt I should eat. But instead it was inward to outward – a voice or feeling within me projected out what I needed.

 

Don’t get my wrong; I didn’t turn into a vegetarian overnight. But there were days when I didn’t feel the need to have meat. And on days that I did have meat, as much as I could, I consciously looked for meat that was ethically farmed.

 

We live in a society where a lot of our actions are based on rules – whether they are part of the written law in a country, or other soft rules dictated by the society or community that we live in. Obviously some of these rules help to keep society functioning without friction – like the law not to kill another human being. But with yoga, in my view, the point of the practice isn’t to live by rules. Yoga, through the practice of asana, pranayama and meditation, allows us to tune in and practice awareness from within. From this daily practice of cultivating awareness, our actions would gradually and naturally be guided by the awakening of our senses, mind and intelligence. So, no one can tell you, a yogi, what you should or should not eat. But be prepared to feel the change from within.

 

Sunitha Prasobhan (@miss_sunitha), 200hr Yoga TTC Sept 2017

 

Spinach Power Smoothie

Blog 1 (Spinach Power Smoothie)

I have always been a fan of activities that get me on the go – rollerblading, swimming, windsurfing and stand up paddling. Yet it was really only after I embarked on my yoga journey one year ago, that I started to pay good attention to the nutrition I was taking in pre and post workouts that demand a lot from my body.

 

Here’s a great pick-me-up that I would love to share that you can readily whip up, for a nourishing, refreshing and replenishing meal in a jar.

 

The Spinach Power Smoothie is so easy to make, so deliciously sweet and so hydrating – it’s not called a power smoothie for nothing! And because it’s liquid, your body absorbs all the nutrients quicker and better.

 

  1. Almond milk gives you vitamins and protein
  2. Flax seed and spinach are packed with vitamins, minerals and proteins
  3. Bananas are filled with potassium and fibre
  4. Avocado is a magic fruit with vitamins, minerals, proteins, good fats, dietary fibre
  5. Coconut water is a natural isotonic drink filled with electrolytes

 

Need I say more to get you started?

 

Ingredients you will need are :

  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
  • 2 firmly packed cups of spinach
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 fresh coconut (all water and coconut flesh scrapped from the husk)

 

Instructions :

Because I have slight OCD (yes, it’s true) and I like the smoothie to blend well, the above is literally the order in which I place the ingredients into the blender. I just find that it gets the ingredients mixed in the right way.

 

Otherwise, it’s still ok to just put everything into a blender, mix it all up, pour and slurp away!

 

For where I got the original recipe from, you can go to this link :

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/spinach-power-smoothie/ from food blogger Marin Mama Cooks. Her real name is Jackie Grandy and she also has a ton of other healthy, wholesome recipes you can check out. In her version, she doesn’t use the coconut water and flesh but I like to add that in to make the smoothie less thick. Also she uses nut butter which I sometimes use (my preferred is Maranatha’s Organic Almond Butter) in place of the avocado if I prefer more grit and less creaminess for my smoothie that day.

 

And yes, you will also see the picture of my smoothie in my jar right at the bottom of her recipe page!

 

So go ahead, power up your hardworking, yoga-toned body today!

 

Posted by :

Marian Ang

200HR TTC (Jan/Feb ’14)

Tom Yum Goong vegetarian recipe

I recently made a Vegetarian version of Tom Yum Goong, and it is very easy to make. Almost foolproof. Just go to Golden Mile Shopping Centre and you will find a large Thai supermarket on the second storey. They sell nicely packed fresh ingredients specially for Tom Yum Goong. Just buy a packet and some extra chillies and it will work.
The pack consists of these key ‘figures’ such as lemongrass, thai ginger, thai lime and thai lime leaf. What’s missing are the chillies which you have to buy separately.  Grab any vegetables and tofu that you like, and throw them into the soup!
Yummy!! If I can cook, so can you!
 
Anyway, here is a step by step recipe from About.com

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 cups good-tasting vegetable or faux chicken stock (makes 4 servings)
  • 1-2 stalks lemongrass , minced (see link below), OR 3-4 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (available at Asian stores)
  • 3 whole kaffir lime leaves (available fresh or frozen at Asian food stores)
  • 1-2 cups soft tofu, sliced into cubes
  • 1-2 red chilies, sliced, OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili, OR 1-2 tsp. chili sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, sliced into thin matchstick-like pieces
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake), sliced
  • 2 cups baby bok choy, leaves separated or chopped if large, OR substitute broccoli or bell pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 can good-quality coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce (use wheat-free for gluten-free diets)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil + 1/3 cup fresh coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped

Preparation:

  1. Pour stock into a soup pot. If making the stock from cubes or powder, but sure to make it strong (if it tastes good on its own, it will make for a better Tom yum soup!). Now add the prepared lemongrass, plus the lime leaves, chili, garlic, and galangal or ginger. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, or until broth is very fragrant.
  2. Add the mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft.
  3. Add the bok choy and cherry tomatoes. Gently simmer 1-2 more minutes (bok choy should remain on the crisp side).
  4. Reduce heat to low and add the coconut milk, sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. Finally, add the soft tofu and gently stir.
  5. Do a taste-test, adding more chili or chili sauce if not spicy enough. If not salty enough, add more soy sauce or a little more stock cube/powder or salt. Add 1 more tsp. sugar if too sour. If too salty or sweet, add another squeeze of lime juice.
  6. To serve, ladle soup into bowls with fresh basil and coriander sprinkled over. Enjoy!

 
N.B: I prefer clear Tom Yum Goong, so I didn’t add any milk.
 

Does glucosamine help in improving joint health?

I just bought a bottle of vegetarian glucosamine a few days ago as I heard my knee joints pop during fast knee extensions. I remembered I was prescribed glucosamine sulphate by a specialist in NUS when I had a mild knee joint injury about 10 years ago. The debate is does glucosamine really help in joint health? I wouldn’t trust any salesperson in the supplement store definitely, so no point asking them. But if a specialist prescribe glucosamine, while it is shown in so many internet sites included Wikipedia that there are still no conclusive studies (that’s why it is considered a supplement, rather than a medicine), does the specialist know anything at all?
The next question is: What is glucosamine and where does it come from naturally?

From Wikipedia, “Glucosamine (C6H13NO5) is an amino sugar and a prominent precursor in the biochemical synthesis of glycosylated proteins and lipids. Glucosamine is part of the structure of the polysaccharides chitosan and chitin, which compose the exoskeletons of crustaceans and other arthropods, cell walls in fungi and many higher organisms. Glucosamine is one of the most abundant monosaccharides.[1] It is produced commercially by the hydrolysis of crustacean exoskeletons or, less commonly by fermentation of a grain such as corn or wheat.[2]

Other definitions:

  • Glucosamine is a compound found naturally in the body, made from glucose and the amino acid glutamine. Glucosamine is needed to produce glycosaminoglycan, a molecule used in the formation and repair of cartilage and other body tissues.
  • Glucosamine sulfate is a normal component of glycoaminoglycans in the matrix of cartilage and in synovial fluid.
  • Glucosamine supplements are manufactured in a laboratory from chitin, a substance found in the shells of shrimp, crab, lobster, and other sea creatures.

So instead of taking supplements, why not just eat the shells? Too hard to bite? Anyway, we have HCl in our stomach.
Not for those who are allergic to shellfish and not for vegetarian though.
Then, what about the source of vegetarian glucosamine?
Eat the fungi? or can we manufacture glucosamine from corn? I dunno. Is this a scam by the large corn producing companies in US?
 
Well, one of the way to know is to try it. See if there is any improvement in the joint after 1 bottle.

How I became a vegetarian with Asanas, Ahimsa and Satya.

After a yoga class
At the beginning yoga and daily life were two separate things for me.
After practicing a yoga asanas class, I felt the need to eat a lot. My mind pattern was “you have worked out a lot, now you need to eat” (eg Aparigraha I guess).
Class after class, during asanas, I started to listen to my body more carefully. It was hurting here and there, it was tense in muscles that I did not even know before. Then I realised that my body did not actually need a lot of food and meat after an asana class. My mind was making that up, maybe out of fear. I still continued eating meat after class, but out of mere habit. I could see it but could not refrain from doing it straight away. My mind was craving for food. The craving was intense and well established in my behaviour. Slowly it calmed down … and came back. The principle of “reward after the physical effort” was still strong. Little by little, I realised that I just needed water, fruits and vegetables after a yoga class and not meat as I used to have. My mind got reassured little by little, it calmed down and accepted the fact that not eating meat after a yoga class was sustainable.
 
Before a yoga class
I also felt that eating meat before a yoga class (two hours before) made my practice a little bit more difficult. I felt like an idiot trying hard to expel the toxins out of my body, when I did not need to put them in my body in the first place. I finally gave up eating meat before a class.
Thus, I did not eat meat before or after a class. Since I had class everyday, this how I finally gave up eating meat.
 
Vegetarian, at last
But I was still eating fish or seafood. Then I thought that it was a bit hypocrite. After all, fish and clams etc, suffer the same way when we kill them for our lunch. The honesty, Satya, that  I was trying to practice on the mat by listening to my body in an honest and truthful way, I had to practice it in daily life: I could not ignore the suffering of these animals any more (Ahimsa). It is not because I could not hear their cries that they were not suffering. Yoga is truth. So I should not lie to myself and pretend that they don’t suffer when they get killed.
This is how I became a vegetarian.
Huy
 
 

2 vegetarian bread recipes.. in less than 25 minutes!

Vanessa’s Mediterranean Vegetables Bruschetta
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 small French baguette
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small eggplant (230g), sliced thinly
2 medium egg tomatoes (150g), sliced thinly
2 tablespoons fresh baby basil leaves
1 table spoon baby capers, rinsed, drained

  1. Preheat oven to hot (200-220 degrees Celsius).
  2. Cut bread, on an angle, into 8 slices; brush both sides with half the oil, place on oven tray. Toast uncovered, in hot oven for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook eggplant on heated grill plate/shallow fry until browned lightly.
  4. Divide eggplant, tomato, basil and capers evenly among bruschetta. Drizzle with remaining oil.

 
Vegetable Delight on Garlic Bread (www.allrecipes.com)
Ingredients: (serves 5)
1/8 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
1 medium tomato, peeled, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon minced oregano (optional)
1 French baguette
4 teaspoons garlic powder
6 teaspoons butter, softened

  1. Place olive oil and garlic in a large pan, stir frying occasionally over medium heat until the garlic is golden brown.
  2. Add eggplant and zucchini to the pan, fry until the eggplant is brown and tender; approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato chunks to the pan, stir the mixture until the tomato becomes a pulp. Mix in salt, oregano and basil. Stir the entire mixture over the heat for 2 minutes, then remove pan from heat and let mixture cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 165 degrees Celsius.
  5. Slice the bread into 12 slices. Distribute garlic powder and butter evenly over the top of each slice. Place the slices directly onto the over rack (bread will be crispier this way). Let bread heat for 3-5 minutes.
  6. Remove bread from the oven and arrange them on a serving platter. Spread the vegetable mixture over 12 bread slices, distribute the topping evenly as you can. Serve immediately.

Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup

This is nice and easy and delicious! I found this recipe from about.com and thought I should share it with you.
Tom Yum Thai Spicy Soup Recipe with a vegetarian twist. Tom Yum Soup is currently under study for its ability to boost the immune system and help fight off cold and flu viruses. This vegetarian version is easy to make, and just as healthy (if not more so!) than the original recipe. Make this easy soup today as an appetizer, for lunch, or as a nutritionally complete dinner. You’ll love how it warms you up from the inside!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 cups good-tasting vegetable or faux chicken stock (makes 4 servings)
  • 1-2 stalks lemongrass, minced (see link below), OR 3-4 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (available at Asian stores)
  • 3 whole kaffir lime leaves (available fresh or frozen at Asian food stores)
  • 1-2 cups soft tofu, sliced into cubes
  • 1-2 red chilies, sliced, OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili, OR 1-2 tsp. chili sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, sliced into thin matchstick-like pieces
  • 1 cup fresh mushroom (I used shiitake), sliced
  • 2 cups baby bok choy, leaves separated or chopped if large, OR substitute broccoli or bell pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 can good-quality coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce (use wheat-free for gluten-free diets)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil + 1/3 cup fresh coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped

Preparation:

  1. For complete instructions on how to buy and cook with lemongrass, see: All About Lemongrass: Your Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking with Lemongrass.
  2. Pour stock into a soup pot. If making the stock from cubes or powder, but sure to make it strong (if it tastes good on its own, it will make for a better Tom yum soup!). Now add the prepared lemongrass, plus the lime leaves, chili, garlic, and galangal or ginger. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, or until broth is very fragrant.
  3. Add the mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft.
  4. Add the bok choy and cherry tomatoes. Gently simmer 1-2 more minutes (bok choy should remain on the crisp side).
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the coconut milk, sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. Finally, add the soft tofu and gently stir.
  6. Do a taste-test, adding more chili or chili sauce if not spicy enough. If not salty enough, add more soy sauce or a little more stock cube/powder or salt. Add 1 more tsp. sugar if too sour. If too salty or sweet, add another squeeze of lime juice.
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls with fresh basil and coriander sprinkled over. Enjoy!