Consider the Source

In today’s “fake news” world, it’s even more important to consider the source of your health and wellness info.

Don’t take diet advice from someone who’s trying to sell you products. No single brand of protein and no specific powder is the secret to weight loss and healthy living. Those friends and online experts who want you to join their teams and buy their brands? They are not trained professionals. They’re entrepreneurs at best. They have some brand-specific training, but they are not health and fitness professionals.

Don’t hire a trainer/dietitian/coach who raises red flags or hasn’t dealt with their own issues. A lot of us in the field have a history of disordered behavior. Not all of us have dealt with it before deciding we were called to help others. Your health-care team should never make you feel bad about yourself. They shouldn’t ever employ shame, blame or guilt as tactics to change you.
Don’t trust someone who’s going outside their scope of practice. Your trainer can’t put you on a diet, and your dietitian can’t give you a workout plan. Your trainer can emphasize the importance of eating right, and your dietitian can do the same for exercise. As a health coach, I can’t diagnose your high blood pressure, but I can recommend you consult a physician before exercising.

December Yoga: Balancing Levity and Gravity

Last weekend I taught the yoga “buffet” class at the studio, which rotates among teachers each week. I led a fun and challenging vinyasa class that encouraged students to step outside of their comfort zones. With a flow inspired by one Peanut Butter Runner shared and some new-to-me dynamic warm-ups from Sage Rountree, the class was equal parts stretch and strength, with a hefty amount of balance. I spoke of equanimity — and of treating the good stuff and the bad stuff as just stuff.

Hug knees in

[Keep 1 knee in, send other leg up IN, lower EX

apanasana

hip circles

reclined tree

add side stretch

spinal twist w/ shoulder circles]

bridge flow: IN lift arms overhead, EX lower all

child’s

lateral child’s R/L

cat-cow, slow, then organic and watery

thread the needle on forearm R/L

table

[toe stretch

cat-cow w/ leg swing

leg “wag” side to side

donkey kick/external hip opener and strengthener

twisted toe stretch]

Sun salute A x 2, B x 1

[eagle

crescent lunge

peaceful warrior

revolved 1/2 moon

3-leg down dog

revolved side plank

3-leg down dog

standing splits

warrior 2

side angle

prasarita (w/ wide-leg hops/jumps)

side lunges

goddess squat (optional breath of fire)

kundalini twist

revolved dancer/standing quad stretch

~vinyasa]

[chair

1/2 chair

crow (on block or floor)

low squat

pasasana (on wedge) optional playtime with:

side crow (bent or straight legs)

koundinyasana

~ vinyasa]

[down dog

w/ abs (knee in, to opposite elbow, to same elbow; for more intensity, trace knee from elbow to wrist and back again)

lizard w/ optional koundinyasana]

~ vinyasa to belly down

sphinx

1/2 frog R/L

bow

child’s

~ vinyasa

[plank

side plank

figure 4 plank

side pigeon

straight-leg 1/2 lord of fishes

eagle crunches]

bridge

wheel

knees in or seated forward fold

shoulderstand

savasana

 

 

Giving Thanks

Today I’m sharing my Thanksgiving yoga practice with you. Here’s why: Thanksgiving doesn’t look the same as it once did for me. The year I became vegan I decided to reclaim the giving thanks aspect and leave behind the rest. In 2010, at age 29, I had just ended a long-term relationship, and, as a result, I was incredibly self-absorbed.

To put things back in perspective and leave my trivial issues behind, I volunteered at a community dinner on Thanksgiving. I came home to an empty house (I was still living with my ex, and he was with family) and ate a modest meal in silence. Instead of being sad, I offered gratitude for all I had, and I decided to do Thanksgiving my way. Since we don’t eat turkey (or most foods served at Thanksgiving) and can’t shake the negative historic context of the holiday, Sam and I have opted to spend the day outside, then enjoy a plant-based meal that may or may not feature traditional albeit vegan comfort foods.

This year I had the honor of teaching yoga on Thanksgiving morning, which I hope starts a new tradition. Today I’m sharing that practice with you.

Note: I use [] for flows that are repeated on right and left sides, and I use the ~ for vinyasas.

Thanksgiving Gratitude Practice

75-minute vinyasa class, all levels

Open-heart. Lie on a bolster (placed lengthwise on the mat, with a block under the head end). Let the arms open to the sides or place one hand on the heart and one on the belly. Rest for 5 minutes as you let the breath adjust and the world fall away.

Constructive rest (feet standing at the edges of the mat, knees resting together to passively release the psoas and low back)

Release: “wipers” side to side with the knees

Apanasana (knee to chest) to spinal twist (block under knee) R/L // In apanasana hover extended leg one inch off the mat, flexing the heel, then gently move the leg side to side a couple of inches, creating space in the hip socket and a light stretch in the front of the hip.

Supta baddha konasana, hands on heart and belly // optional flow, EX close 1/3 of the way, IN open, then EX 2/3, IN open; EX close fully, IN open fully.

Supta padanghustasana R/L

Hug knees, roll up

Child’s pose (w/ side stretches R/L)

Cat-cow flow, starting by segmenting the spine. Work shoulders/upper back, pelvic tilts, then full spine.

Fire hydrant

3-leg down dog

Sun salute A w/ lunges up and back

[Utkatasana

Parvritta utkatasana

Lift knee front & back

Bakasana]

~ vinyasa

[3-leg down dog

low lunge

1/2 splits (optional hanumanasana or koundinyasana)

lizard (optional koundinyasana)

quad stretch

3-leg down dog

pigeon

~ vinyasa]

standing forward fold with bind R/L

prasarita C

side lunges (skandasana)

goddess squat (optional bind)

~ vinyasa

[warrior 1

warrior 2

humble warrior

peaceful warrior

side angle (optional bind)

bird of paradise

standing splits

~ vinyasa]

paschimottanasana

[janu sirsasana A

marichyasana A

marichyasana C

ardha matseyendrasana

gomukhasana

swan]

~ vinyasa to seated

bridge

urdhva dhanurasana

legs up or shoulderstand

happy baby

loving kindness meditation

, ,

How to Make Homemade Natural Deodorant

These days my life looks pretty crunchy. I’m a vegan who lives outside Asheville, one of the biggest wellness meccas on the East Coast. I mostly use herbal supplements instead of mainstream medications. I don’t wear much makeup. I teach yoga. I compost. I stopped using paper towels. And I make my own natural deodorant.

What? Yes. I make my own natural deodorant. If you’ve met me in real life, you’ll know I don’t stink! My husband Sam also wears my homemade deodorant — and he works a corporate job and can’t go in smelling like a dirty hippie. (He’s already known for wearing crazy socks and having long hair!) In fact, while I also use two commercially made natural deodorants, he exclusively uses homemade — and he was the reason that I began to make it in the first place!

 

The Stinky Truth: Most Natural Deodorants Don’t Work

I spent more than five years searching for a potent natural deodorant. I am an anxious person, and that means I sweat a lot. I don’t necessarily stink, but I sweat. I need my deodorant to last all day, so I stuck with my conventional deodorant because most natural deodorants don’t work for me.

I didn’t want to give up on natural deodorant. After all, I had transitioned to sulfate-free shampoo, mineral-based makeup and five-free nail polish. I had a drawer full of half-used sticks of natural deodorant that let me down at the worst possible moments, like when I was teaching yoga or in a meeting at work. Tom’s deodorant was sticky and wore off within hours. J.A.S.O.N. tea tree oil deodorant was the best, with Earth Science tea tree and lavender deodorant coming in a close second. I tried the crystal kind, too, but it was not strong enough and too drying. Reluctantly, I kept going back to the drugstore brand.

Why We Make Our Own Natural Deodorant

Finally, as I greened my life one step at a time, that drugstore deodorant stick was the product that just didn’t belong with the others on my dresser. I stuck with J.A.S.O.N., as did Sam, until he started to have a reaction to tea tree oil. That’s why we make our own natural deodorant.

If Sam hadn’t started to have a reaction to the tea tree oil in his deodorant, we likely would have been content with the “good enough” stick we were using. But about three years ago, he started to have irritation in his armpits. It got so bad that he developed a dry, itchy, scaly rash, and he had to stop wearing deodorant temporarily. He dusted his armpits with baking soda and wiped them with a soapy washcloth whenever he could, but he was working in customer service at a teahouse and couldn’t risk being stinky since he was working for tips.

We had to find a solution.

He found a recipe for homemade deodorant online, and I made him a batch. As soon as his armpits healed, he started using it — and he loved it! He hasn’t used anything else since. I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit, making it in larger batches and playing with the ratio of ingredients. We go light on the essential oils to keep it from irritating the skin.  

 

Why Choose Natural Deodorant

If you don’t stink and have no issue with your conventional deodorant, you might wonder why you should consider switching. One word: aluminum. Notice how I didn’t use the word “antiperspirant” to describe the product I make or those I currently buy. That’s because they aren’t antiperspirants, which usually contain aluminum salts. They are only deodorants.

The aluminum compounds in antiperspirants block sweat ducts and help prevent odor by inhibiting bacteria that feed on your sweat. That’s why products that contain aluminum are called antiperspirants. Those that only absorb odor or neutralize it are called deodorants.

Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s and kidney disease, and though the link has been called weak, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take with my health. For the same reason, I no longer use aluminum foil (if it’s unavoidable, I use parchment between the food and the foil), aluminum pans or baking powder containing aluminum. (You can buy aluminum-free baking powder.)

There’s also a connection to breast cancer; some studies have said shown “a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast.” Think about how close the breasts are to the underarms, and when you shave, you open all those pores. We also spend much of the day with our arms down. Then we block a natural detoxification function of the body — sweating. Maybe I’m playing it too safe, or this is too “hippie,” but that’s fine by me.

In addition to aluminum, conventional antiperspirants contain endocrine disruptors like parabens, not to mention artificial fragrances and petroleum-based ingredients. No, thank you! That, my friends, is why I choose natural deodorant.

When I returned to 9-to-5 life in 2014, I picked up a “natural” antiperspirant from Tom’s of Maine. I wanted to have it on hand just in case I needed something stronger. Big mistake! I wore it once, and my armpits broke out. My pores couldn’t handle being clogged, and they swelled, along with my lymph nodes. I had to skip deodorant and bras for three days! (Thankfully, it was winter, so I could layer up.

OK, are you ready to make your own?

How to Make Homemade Natural Deodorant

Once you learn how to make homemade natural deodorant, you’ll see how affordable and easy it is. I bought shea butter over a year ago, and I still have plenty left. I like to switch up the essential oils based on the season or my mood. (Sam often prefers unscented, but I like lavender.)

I still need to experiment with putting this in a recycled deodorant stick. I am weird about getting my hands dirty (except for cooking!), so I don’t like having to put my fingers in the jar all the time. If you try it let me know. I think you may need a little less coconut oil for it to be thick enough for the stick.

As with the PPP stick (see below), this one will soften but not fully melt in summer. Just be sure to use a jar or container with a tight lid. We first used a one-cup Pyrex container, and it leaked a bit in Sam’s bag. We store ours in small canning jars.

Keep in mind that you’re using this on a very sensitive part of the body. You may not want to use very hot or cooling oils, like peppermint or eucalyptus. If you want more strength, add a drop or two of tea tree oil. Too much may irritate your armpits.

 

Yield: almost 2 cups

Time: 5 minutes of prep work, 1 hour to let cool

 

Ingredients

½ cup coconut oil

⅓ cup shea butter

½ cup baking soda

½ cup cornstarch

5-10 drops essential oil

 

Directions

  1. Melt the coconut oil and shea butter together in a small pan over low heat. Once the mixture is about ¾ melted, remove from heat. The residual heat from the pan will be sufficient to melt them the rest of the way.
  2. Carefully stir in the rest of the ingredients. I like to use a whisk and then a spatula.
  3. Divide between two jars with tight-fitting lids.
  4. Let cool on the counter for an hour, then stir to combine again. You can refrigerate it overnight if you want it to be very firm, or you can store it in the bathroom.

This amount will last us about six months.

 

My Favorite Natural Deodorants

I mentioned that I still use two commercially available natural deodorants in addition to the homemade one. (Not all at once — I’m not that stinky!) My favorite natural deodorants have ingredient lists similar to the one I make, and you may have most of the ingredients at home right now! I did, except for the shea butter.

 

Primal Pit Paste Royal & Rogue

$10.95

What they say:

Royal & Rogue Primal Pit Paste Deodorant Stick is a natural deodorant that actually works! Swipe away your stink with this convenient, easy-to-carry stick.

 

  • Neutralize body odor without aluminum
  • Get long lasting pit protection for the gym or workplace
  • Clean finish so your pits feel fresh and light
  • Handcrafted with real, natural, and organic ingredients
  • Jam-packed with natural goodness so you’ll be stink-free for all your adventures!

 

Royal & Rogue is warm and earthy with hints of Rosewood, Frankincense, Black Pepper, and Sandalwood. Great for men and women who like that “royal” feeling.

Deodorant should be simple — and good for you — with ingredients you can pronounce. That’s why our deodorants are natural with no harsh chemicals or aluminum… ever!

Royal & Rogue Primal Pit Paste Stick contains 8 ingredients.

What I say:

Full disclosure: This deodorant contains beeswax, so it’s not vegan. I didn’t realize that when I bought it (and I didn’t read the label — #veganfail!). I am using up my current stick. I like the smell of this deodorant, but it’s a little thick. If I had a stressful day in the office, it sometimes wore off around 4 p.m. It softens slightly in summer, but it won’t melt completely.

Schmidt’s Deodorant Charcoal + Magnesium

$12.38

What they say:

Schmidt’s Charcoal + Magnesium Deodorant is designed to help combat underarm odor. This deodorant features a blend of beneficial plant-based ingredients, including shea butter, jojoba oil and arrowroot powder.

What I say:

I wanted to roll my eyes at this deodorant when it showed up as a sponsored Instagram ad. I thought it would stain clothes or just be weird. Then I met the team at Expo West last year, and one of their employees gifted me a stick. I fell in love! It lasted alllll day at the trade show, and I didn’t have to do a pit test. I just bought another stick. I carry this one with me when I go to yoga or the gym. If you want to buy a natural deodorant instead of making one, choose this one. It looks and performs just like a conventional one.

 

And while I haven’t tried PiperWai yet, I want to based on the clever video featuring JP Sears:

 

How to Naturally Deodorize from the Inside Out

During my last yoga anatomy workshop, I realized how many muscles attach under the arm. Since then, I’ve had new respect for my underarms. They contain lymph nodes and are crucial to our natural detoxification systems. Here are some ways to keep your pits in peak shape and naturally deodorize from the inside out.

You are what you eat. A friend of mine once commented that she smelled better when she was vegetarian. I agree. Once I stopped eating meat, I smelled better. I wasn’t as sweaty. You may notice the same if you adopt a plant-based diet.

Keep the lymph moving. As I mentioned, your armpits are the attachment points for several important muscles: latissimus dorsi, subscapularis, pectoralis major, teres major and serratus anterior. They also contain lymph nodes, whose job it is to filter what the lymph transports throughout the body. (Lymph is fluid, and it helps transport nutrients and waste as part of the immune system.) Massaging the muscles and lymph nodes under your arms not only feels good, but it can stimulate lymphatic flow, which is a natural way your body detoxifies itself. After a shower, dig your thumbs into your pits and give yourself a good massage. You may find the chest muscles, your breasts, your ribs and even your shoulders start to loosen up afterward.

Moisturize your pits. Whether you use conventional or natural deodorant, they can be drying to the thin skin of your pits. At night, wash your underarms with warm water and gentle soap, then rub some organic coconut oil or cold-pressed (not toasted) sesame oil into your pits. I do this in winter to help prevent dry, itchy skin.

Detox your pits. If you feel really stinky, use a charcoal or clay mask on your clean pits once a week. This can help drawn out impurities just like it can on your face or elsewhere. If you have the time and privacy, why not do a head-to-toe bentonite clay mask?

Take a break when you can. When I’m working from home and know I don’t need to or anywhere, I sometimes skip the deodorant and let my pits breathe. It feels good, and it lets my pores breathe. You can also do this at night — and you should if you’re wearing conventional deodorant.  

Green your shaving cream. I used the satin, flowery-scented shaving cream in pink bottles all through high school and college. These days, I just use soap, and I have no issues with cutting myself or drying out my skin. If you need a shaving cream, choose a natural one or use coconut oil. (Or try this homemade shaving soap recipe.)

I hope this post has convinced you to rethink your deodorant — and give your pits the respect they deserve!

 

My 2 Favorite Matcha Lattes

I’m finally sharing my go-to matcha latte recipes! These recipes are an alternative to coffee if you’re not quite ready to quit caffeine. I find that matcha (green tea) has a different effect on me than coffee. Have you tried a matcha/green tea latte? (These are quite different than the ones at Starbucks.)

Here’s the back story: This summer was one of self-care. I’ve been working on some health issues behind the scenes, mostly anxiety and hormones. The two are definitely related, and I’ve discovered some nutrition and lifestyle triggers that I’ve slowly been removing and replacing. As you might have guessed from the title of this post, one of those triggers was caffeine.

Primarily coffee. I have always been sensitive to caffeine, but I thought that as long as I was drinking plenty of water, I could still have my beloved morning cup or two of coffee. Wrong!

I cut out coffee two months ago, replacing it with matcha, the caffeine in which has never bothered me. I haven’t looked back. I’ve enjoyed a couple of coffee drinks since then (a bit of coffee with some special herbs and spices I’ll share at some point, plus plenty of non-dairy milk), but I’ve been loyal to my matcha lattes. I started out simple, with just matcha, hot water and a bit of whatever milk we had on hand. Since I drink a matcha latte every morning, I’ve started integrating other ingredients, like maca.

Maca is an adaptogen, meaning it’s an herb that helps your body adapt to stress. It supports energy and stamina, and I use it to support healthy, balanced hormones, too. Maca is energizing in a nonstimulating way, so it won’t make you feel jittery like caffeine does. I can’t say enough good stuff about it! I find that the combination of matcha and maca gives me steady energy with no crash or anxiety (as coffee does). You can buy it in capsules or powder, and it’s the latter that you can use for cooking. Maca has a mild taste, slightly nutty and pleasant. Once it’s mixed into coffee or tea, I don’t notice its flavor.

What is Matcha?

If you’re not a tea drinker, you might not know much about matcha. Matcha is a special type of green tea that’s grown and then kept in the shade for a couple of weeks before harvest. The leaves are harvested, dried and ground into a fine powder. You consume the powder in your beverage rather than straining it out as you do with loose tea leaves or a tea bag.

Matcha has a vibrant, grassy, green taste that I love. It’s slightly bitter but complex, and it’s rich in chlorophyll (the pigment that gives matcha its bright color). Since you consume the whole leaf, matcha is higher in antioxidants, including EGCG, than regular green tea.

I’ve been drinking matcha since I lived in South Korea back in 2005, and it became a part of my regular routine when Sam started working for Dobra Tea shortly after we moved to the mountains. On cold winter mornings, I would drive down to the tea house when he was working, and he would make me a traditional matcha latte with a little bamboo scoop and whisk. (Sam’s quite the tea connoisseur after working at Dobra for three years.) I buy my organic matcha from Dobra, but you can find it at most supermarkets these days, and on Amazon.

How to Make a Matcha Latte

As I mentioned, I started with simple matcha lattes: matcha, hot (not boiling) water and milk. I make mine in my Vitamix because it’s easy, but you can also mix your hot water into your matcha using a small whisk. (Note that you want to mix the water into the matcha, a bit at a time, rather than the other way around. Matcha can clump if you don’t add the water slowly.)

And then I add some fun ingredients…

Dates: I now use one date to sweeten my drink instead of more processed forms of sugar. You can omit the date if you prefer, but I like the rich caramel flavor it adds. Dates are high in sugar, yes, but they also contain plenty of nutrients, including iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B6. I used to toss a pitted date in the blender, but it made a lot of noise and didn’t always blend smoothly. Now I fill a small jar with pitted dates, cover with water and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. The dates are soft enough to blend whenever I need one.

Hemp seeds: I use hemp seeds in my matcha for a boost of iron, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. (You can use any non-dairy milk, but this tastes better with a richer milk that contains some fat, like cashew or coconut.) As a plant-based eater, I need all the omega-3s I can get, so I consume at least one serving (3 tablespoons) of hemp seeds daily. Adding the healthy fats to my matcha latte gives it some heft, so it’s more satisfying and filling.

 

Ready for my two favorite recipes?

 

Lavender-Peppermint Matcha Latte

This is my favorite cool-weather recipe, and it’s inspired by a couple of beverages on the menu at Dobra. Peppermint is stimulating for the mind, and it’s traditionally used as an herb for memory. Lavender is calming and soothing, and I like the scent that it adds. Start with a small amount; adding too much lavender will make your latte taste like air freshener.

 

Ingredients

1 cup hot water

3 tablespoons hemp seeds (optional) or ¼ cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon matcha (OK, maybe 2 teaspoons when you’re really dragging…)

1 teaspoon maca powder (optional, but this is always in my matcha drinks)

1 date, pitted and soaked

½ teaspoon dried mint (or 1 dropperful peppermint tincture — not peppermint extract)

Pinch dried lavender

Pinch vanilla powder (optional; see tip)

 

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a blender. Put the lid on but remove the pour spout. Invert it and cover the opening so that steam can escape but your drink doesn’t spray all over your kitchen!
  • Blend until smooth.

Serves 1.

You can also make this as an iced latte. In that case, put the lid on the blender as normal.

If I want an extra boost of caffeine, I use an additional cup of jasmine green tea, and if I want to feel a bit calmer, I will use tulsi tea.

Tip: I like to use vanilla bean paste or powder rather than vanilla extract in dishes that won’t be cooked. Vanilla extract can have a harsh, alcoholic flavor in drinks. You can also split a vanilla bean and use the fresh paste — just a tiny bit will suffice!

Turmeric-Ginger Matcha Latte

This is my new favorite drink for fall — move over Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Seriously though, this even swayed Sam, who generally doesn’t like fussy tea drinks. (I also made him a coffee version.) It might look like a lot of ingredients, but it’s really not. See my tips below for prepping fresh ginger and turmeric.

I use both turmeric and ginger for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These plants are cousins, and they taste great together. Turmeric adds an earthiness to balance the other spices. Cinnamon helps balance blood sugar, so I sprinkle it on anything that contains sugar (natural or processed). Cardamom is so fragrant and delicious, and it’s good for the digestive system (it’s a carminative, meaning it helps dispel gas). All together with vanilla, these spices make a warming, comforting drink for cooler weather.

 

Ingredients

1 cup hot water

3 tablespoons hemp seeds (optional) or ¼ cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon matcha (OK, maybe 2 teaspoons when you’re really dragging…)

1 teaspoon maca powder (optional, but this is always in my matcha drinks)

1 date, pitted and soaked

½-inch piece fresh ginger

½-inch piece fresh turmeric, or ¼ teaspoon dried turmeric

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon cardamom

Pinch vanilla powder (optional; see tip above)

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a blender. Put the lid on but remove the pour spout. Invert it and cover the opening so that steam can escape but your drink doesn’t spray all over your kitchen!
  • Blend until smooth.

Serves 1.

You can also make this as an iced latte. In that case, put the lid on the blender as normal.

 

Tip: I have a tendency to let fresh ginger linger in the produce drawer, and I’ll find dried-up nubbins after bringing home a fresh knob. Oops. To prevent waste, I now slice fresh ginger and turmeric into ½-inch or so pieces, peel and all, then freeze. They’re ready whenever a recipe calls for fresh turmeric or ginger and can be easily blended, even with the peel.

Are you a matcha fan? How do you like to drink it? Any recipe requests or variations you’d like to see me make?

 

Book Launch Dinner Party at Plant

The day after we launched The No Meat Athlete Cookbookwe kept the celebration going with a dinner party at Plant to benefit the Literacy Council of Buncombe County. Heather Crosby, author of YumUniverse Plate to Pantrywas our co-host.

Jason Sellers is a culinary genius, and Plant is consistently voted one of the best vegan restaurants in the country, so to have him and his team interpret my recipes was a true honor. The food looked more beautiful than ever, and everything was fresh and delicious, of course. The entire night was gluten-free as well as vegan!

The chefs at Plant

Jason made our Switchel (aka The Original Sports Drink) into mocktails & cocktails. This is the mocktail version.

 

After starting with carrot-cauliflower tots from Heather’s book (gobbled too quickly for a photo!), it was salad time. This was my favorite course! Baby gem romaine & hidden treasure avocado salad. (The avo was stuffed — Jason, you know me well!) Plus pickled carrots, cucumber, lentils, smoked almond & olive mignonette, with chipotle ranch.

 

A ‘banzo bake, which is a chickpea flour quiche. This one has zucchini, asparagus, shallot & almond ricotta, plus mushrooms cooked with bitters, a baby Asian green salad and green on greens dressing (recipe in my book)!

 

Dessert! This was a mashup of my cheesecake and Heather’s, as well as Plant’s famous recipe. The crust was a sneaky mocha brownie, and the toppings were cacao candied peanuts, sharewell coffee, anise oil and a toasted sesame cookie. (Needless to say, such accoutrements are all Jason’s doing!)
It was perfect, but I was too full to manage more than a bite, so Sam ate it as a snack the next day. (And, confession: I’d rather have a glass of wine or an extra serving of salad than dessert

 

Me, Heather, Matt & Jason — such a fun night. My favorite local yoga teacher, Lewis, came, as well as my dear friends Rebecca, Jennifer and Christi!

 

“The No Meat Athlete Cookbook” Launch

After years of recipe development and writing and months of navigating the publishing process — which I can say does get easier the more you do it — our cookbook is finally out in the world! The No Meat Athlete Cookbook officially launched on May 16 (and promptly went out of stock due to unforeseen demand — yay and more on that another time).

May 16 happened to be the launch of another plant-based cookbook from the same publisher, YumUniverse Plate to Pantry. Matt and I teamed up with Heather Crosby, the author of that awesome book (which is also gluten-free and fabulous for those with allergies or food sensitivities), for a launch-day signing and panel discussion at Malaprops, Asheville’s best bookstore (it’s an indy that’s been around for 35 years!). Julie Wunder, of Running in a Skirt, was kind enough to be our moderator.  

My dear friend Sarah Whitmeyer, who also took our wedding photos, photographed the event for us.

Thanks to everyone who joined us and helped celebrate! I love chatting with readers about cooking. I look forward to more events like these!

 

,

Recipe: My Favorite Tofu Scramble

In honor of the launch of  The No Meat Athlete Cookbook, I thought I’d do something novel. I’m sharing a recipe for my best tofu scramble. I’ve been so busy working full time and prepping for the launch (and freelancing and training for a half last fall and teaching yoga again and… you know… life…) that I’ve only shared quick recipes on Instagram. I want to thank you for continuing to read — and for your support with the cookbook. (And, I’m freelancing full time these days, so expect more posts — and reach out if you’re interested in health coaching sessions!) With that, I’m sharing one of our family favorites. I hope you love it as much as Sam and I do!   

Tofu scramble is a vegan breakfast classic, so common you’ll sometimes find it on brunch menus at non-vegan restaurants. I love making it for non-vegan house guests. It’s savory and packed with protein, and it looks somewhat like eggs to those who aren’t familiar with it. It’s always a hit. That said, I have a few requirements for my tofu scramble:

  1. It must contain nutritional yeast, to give it a richer flavor.
  2. It needs to be heavily spiced — I don’t just want sautéed tofu.
  3. It can’t be too salty. Salt is the cheater’s way of adding flavor to any dish. (It also can’t be greasy. Oil is another cheat.)
  4. It needs to be packed with vegetables. I want to see a little of everything: greens, root veg and aromatics. If there are mushrooms, even better.
  5. It must be yellow — this is purely for aesthetics, but it also means you get a dose of the anti-inflammatory powerhouse turmeric, on its own or in curry powder (I use both).

My beloved Park + Vine (RIP) had a delightful tofu scramble that met all of those criteria, but few other places make tofu scram the way I like it, so I often find myself drowning it in hot sauce.

I used to consider tofu scramble to be a weekends-only dish, but then I started making it in larger batches and omitting the greens (see #4 — greens are a crucial part of the dish for me) so it lasted longer. Now, we eat this every other week or so, usually with avocado toast or stuffed into a whole-grain wrap and toasted. Less than an hour of work on the weekends means several weekday breakfasts are ready in minutes. Now that we get up at the crack of dawn (5ish), every minute counts!

My secret is to load up on the herbs and spices. Thyme (and I sometimes swap in rosemary or use both) lends a savory note, while curry adds depth and heat. Smoked paprika is rich in umami, and its smokiness, along with the cumin, taste somewhat bacon-y (while I was never a bacon fan, I do associate smoky flavors with savory breakfasts). Tamari (instead of salt) adds more umami, as does nutritional yeast. Yes, there are a lot of herbs and spices, but that’s what makes it so delicious!

My Go-To Tofu Scramble 

Serves 6-8

15 minutes to prep (or less, depending on how fast you chop vegetables)

30 minutes to cook

Ingredients 

1 tablespoon grapeseed or avocado oil (optional)

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper, any color, finely chopped

1 pint cremini or white button mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced

1 cup diced tomatoes or 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons yellow curry powder

3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 cup vegetable or mushroom broth, divided

1 large sweet potato, chopped

2 (1-pound) packages firm or extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled into bite-size pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

To serve:

Scallions or chives

Sauteed greens or fresh baby greens

Directions

  • Place a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, if using.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the onions and peppers. Cook for two minutes, stirring often, until they start to soften.
  • Stir in the mushrooms and tomatoes, and cook for five minutes, stirring often. Add the herbs and spices. Stir to combine, and cook for one minute, until fragrant.
  • Add half of the vegetable broth, and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add the sweet potato, tofu and garlic. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid. Some of the tofu and veggies should be brown and crispy, and some will be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add broth as needed to deglaze the pan again (this means “loosen the stuck-on bits” — this is another secret to getting more flavor from this dish with little to no added oil).
  • Add the tamari and nutritional yeast, and cook another 10 minutes, covered.
  • Remove from heat and serve, with greens and garnished with scallions or chives.
  • Or, if you’re batch cooking, allow to cool then pack into single-serve portions. Add the greens and scallions or chives before reheating.

Last Week’s Workouts: Power Outages and Schedule Changes

Last week didn’t go as planned, but I’m proud of myself for staying focused and not letting it get me down. It was one week, and in the long run, it doesn’t matter much. I spent Sunday morning in yoga teacher training, then ran errands and planned for the week ahead. I missed my window to run, then dealt with my old friend, insomnia on Sunday night. Monday it poured all day with strong winds (so strong it blew my front door open!), and we returned home to find our road closed to through traffic, a tree blocking the road just after our driveway and no power. We didn’t have power until Tuesday afternoon, so that thwarted our Monday night workout plans. It was still too wet and soggy to run or ride the dirt/gravel roads or the paths in the park, so we ran errands and went out for Korean instead.

Later in the week I got my groove back, then received some unexpected news on Thursday that spurred another weeknight out. I’ll share more about that soon, but I can say that I officially have no excuses for fitting in my workouts!

Here’s how the week looked:

Sunday: Yoga in the morning.

Monday: Rain and no power.

Tuesday: Morning yoga. Run 4. I ran the hills around my house while listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast, Big Magic. I find her, and especially this podcast, incredibly inspiring.

Wednesday: Morning yoga, brief, after another night with less-than-stellar sleep. (Not even valerian helped!)

Thursday: Morning yoga.

Friday: Run 3.5 — I let myself get too hungry, and I couldn’t go any further. Oops.

Saturday: Short hike with my mother-in-law.

Today: Sam and I drove to South Carolina to hike, only to find a line to park with an estimated 30-minute wait. Fail! So we came home, he hit the road and I did a bit of gardening. As soon as I publish this, I’ll head out for a run and do yoga after.

How was your week? 

I’m really excited for this week. I have some fun workouts planned, and it’s my first full week with my new schedule.

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I’m Back, with Last Week’s Workouts

After nearly three years of work, I’m thrilled to say that The No Meat Athlete Cookbook is here, almost. The book arrived at the warehouse last Monday, and my personal copies will arrive Tuesday. (Recipe testers, yours will be in the mail by next weekend!) The “official” launch is May 16, but copies could be showing up at your local bookstore this week!

Now that the hard work is over and a few more things in my life have settled down, I’m resuming writing here. I intend to use this space for my personal posts, recipes and my real-life eats and workouts.

That’s something else I have more time for these days: working out! I’ve started lifting at the Y with Sam a couple of times a week, and now that it stays lighter much later, I’m running more, too. With my psoas issues (mine cause low back pain for me, as they do for so many of us), my physical therapist has forbidden me from running on the treadmill. Darn — ha! That means that when it’s too cold, dark or rainy to run, I don’t. I do something else instead, usually the elliptical or stair stepper. Since that’s cross-training, it’s even more beneficial for me than the treadmill.

Part of my rehab for my back pain (and an elbow issue caused by an overzealous Ashtanga teacher I no longer practice with) is weight lifting. I struggle with hypermobility, so I need so strengthen and stabilize my joints to force my muscles to do the work, instead of dumping into the joints and letting my ligaments stretch out.

Lifting with Sam is a win-win: I feel more comfortable in the weight room when we’re together, and I get to spend time with him being active. Having him next to me puts me at ease, and he watches my form, which is, admittedly, not great. I am graceful on a yoga mat but am completely uncoordinated when lifting heavy objects. I have a tendency to let the ends of my kinetic chain (read: my long, not-very-strong limbs) do the work instead of the bigger muscle groups like my shoulders, back and glutes. My super bendy hamstrings mean that I have a bad habit of bending over instead of squatting, which I’m trying to break. Three months in, I look and feel leaner and stronger, and I feel comfortable enough to do some lifting workouts alone. (I still have mustered the courage to use the squat rack or load up the trap bar on my own.) I’m enjoying my weight sessions more than I did at the outset, and it’s a good reminder to always keep a beginner’s mind.

In past years, I’ve had a word that defined my year. 2014 was change. 2015 was abundance. 2016 was more of a theme: eye on the prize. 2017? The word is balance. I’m finding more time for stillness, rest and reflection. It feels good. Part of that balance is ensuring that I always make time for my workouts. Here’s what I made time for last week:

Sunday:

Lifting: upper body

Yoga: half primary

Monday:

45 minutes yoga

hips and core work

Tuesday:

Yoga: 2nd series to kapotasana (three times & I caught my toes once!)

Run: 4 miles of hills

Wednesday:

I normally do yoga in the morning, but I was fasting for a physical and felt pretty lousy. I was starving when I woke up so opted to sleep in.

Walk: 1 hour

Some restorative yoga at night

Thursday:

Yoga: 30 minutes, with pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) drills at the end. I nailed this pose six times, so I think it’s time to start pulling away from the wall.

Lifting: mostly lower body but some upper body and core. I have awful deadlift form, so Sam has me using the trap bar. It’s helping, and I feel myself getting stronger. My PT likes to say: Grow a booty, change you’re life. She’s right! Stronger glutes are helping me so much.

Friday:

Run 4.5 miles

PM: Yoga practice during teacher training module

Saturday:

Yoga practices (2) during teacher training module. I’m working on my 500-hour teacher training at Asheville Yoga Center. I started it a couple of years ago and recently decided to get serious about it. I will have al my modules finished by year’s end! This weekend I did a session on yoga and anatomy, with my PT, Libby.

This week, the weather looks beautiful for running. I am going to aim for three runs, two lifting sessions and five to six days of yoga, plus walks on rest days. How are you moving your body this week?