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New and Improved Gluten-free Vegan Banana Nut Bread

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This is a new take on my banana nut bread, it’s much simpler and a great hit with the whole family. I love using coconut palm sugar because it’s low glycemic and very yummy.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups of organic brown rice flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp Earth Balance Butter
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 “eggs” – if you’re a vegetarian use eggs, for vegan combine in a high speed blender 2 tbsp flax seeds with 6 tbs water, this is a great substitute for eggs 🙂
4 ripe bananas
1 cup of walnuts
*I try to use all organic ingredients and with this recipe they’re usually pretty easy to find.

Preheat oven to 350℉

In a mixing bowl combine: butter, sugar, eggs, and bananas. In a separate bowl combine: flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Combine the two mixtures together and when fully incorporated, add walnuts.

Pour the mixture into a bread pan and bake for about 50-60 min.

Enjoy!

Gluten-free Maple Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Cookies

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These cookies are a family favorite and are a great little treat for when you need it most 😉 They’re gluten-free and you have the option to make them vegan if you like. As always, I encourage you to play around with the recipe and make it your own, get the kids involved with the process and, more importantly … Have Fun!

Ingredients:

1 generous cup of brown rice flour

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/2 cup of Earth Balance baking butter, soft but not melted (I love EB because it’s vegan and great for baking, but feel free to use regular if you like)

1/2 cup of maple sugar

1 egg (for vegan use egg replacement, or combine 1 tbs of flax seeds with 3 tbs of water in a high speed blender)

1/4 tsp salt

1 vanilla bean

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup of gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill best, it’s organic and super yummy)

Pre-heat oven to 350℉

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and stir. Add butter, sugar, egg, and continue to stir until smooth. Cut the vanilla bean in half, scrape out the seeds, and add them to the mixture, continue to stir for about 1 min.

When your mixture is fully combined, add chocolate chips, and oatmeal. You can split the batch in half if you’d like to make half with just chocolate chips and the other half with chocolate chips and oatmeal. If you decide to split the mixture,  reduce oatmeal to 1/2 cup.

If you have a convection oven, cook for about 12 min. If using a regular oven cook for about 12-15min. You want to take the cookies out when light golden brown, so that they’ll be soft and chewy. Of course, if you like your cookies a little crispier, let them bake for a few extra minutes.

Feel free to add nuts, extra chocolate, or just oatmeal. Make it your own 😉

Let go of “body image” and start having fun!

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to take an aerial yoga class. After much deliberation on whether I should or shouldn’t take it, I eventually convinced myself that I was too heavy, felt embarrassed, and ultimately decided not to do it. Well, the opportunity came around again and I though what the hell, just sign up and have fun! I went, and no, I wasn’t too heavy, had the time of my life, and it was an overall amazing experience. This got me thinking …. What else have I been missing out on because of my warped body image issues?

I used to surf, a lot. I would drop my son off at school, surf all morning and then pick him up. For some reason or another the amount of time I spent out on the water became less, and less, and then it stopped completely. When I realized how much I missed it, I knew I had to get back out in the water, but by that time, I had gained a lot of weight.  I told myself that as soon as I’d lost weight, I’d start surfing again. I kept myself from enjoying something that I loved because I was too concerned about how I’d look out in the water. I used to joke and say that sharks would be super excited when they saw me, they’d say “OMG! we’ve hit the jackpot! look at that enormous seal!” It was sad.

It took me a long time to realize how damaging and ridiculous I was being, not to mention depriving myself of something that brought me so much joy. It all hit me one day as I was driving my son back from surf P.E (yes, it exists). At the time he was a sophomore, I was joking and told him that maybe next time I would go out with him. The reaction I got was completely unexpected. He turned, looked at me with a huge smile on his face, and said “mom! that would be awesome!”

Me: “are you kidding, me? Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to have your mom out surfing with you and all your friends?”

My son: “What are you talking about? I have the most badass mom, ever, and it would be so cool!”

After I told him to watch his language, we laughed and I said that we’d go out that weekend, which we did.

My son didn’t care how I looked, in fact, it wasn’t even something that had crossed his mind. The fact that I was going to be out in the water with him, surfing, was, in his view, the best thing ever! 😉

We can drive ourselves crazy thinking about how should or shouldn’t look like, but what we fail to realized is that this prevents us from fully enjoying our lives. Who cares what other people think, are you happy? Healthy? Loved? That should be the only thing that matters in life. Do the things you love to do, and don’t let something trivial set you back. We only have this life, and it goes by quickly, so enjoy it, love yourself, and HAVE FUN!

Here’s a pic of my aerial yoga class, and one with my son after our much needed surf session.

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Thank You Haute Yogi!

My previous experiences with Bikram yoga, many years ago, were not pleasant. I would always feel nauseous like I was going to pass out and die – I even had to excuse myself once so I could go and be sick in the bathroom. I gave it a few tries and then decided it just wasn’t my sort of thing, convincing myself that I’m a Vinyasa flow type of gal, nothing more to it. But a few months ago, there was a challenge at a local studio and I decided to give it a try. It’s been quite a ride and I’m now hooked, but not for the reasons you’d expect.

I’m very much in my head at all times and a strong, fast, flow allows me to forget all distractions – I’ve always considered it my moving meditation. However, in hot yoga, the poses are held longer, there’s the unnatural heat one must deal with, and no music … what’s going to motivate me?!

Towards the end of my first slow, methodical, focused, unbearably hot yoga class, I asked the teacher if she’d mind if I left. She was extremely sympathetic and understanding but suggested I lie down, maybe have some water, and if that didn’t work, step outside for a few minutes but she definitely wanted me to come back in to finish the class, which I did. The second class was a bit better, I stayed in the room the entire time, and only took a minimal break. By the third class, I felt I was the master of the universe as I completed every pose without a break … YEAH! I was on fire.

I’ve made hot yoga part of my routine and I’m slowly getting used to the heat, although a definite challenge at times, but what is still hard for me is the rhythm at which we move. In my head I keep thinking faster, faster, faster. What I’ve come to realize, is that for me, after I’ve dealt with the heat, I’m left with only my thoughts. Moving slowly through a specific set of poses and always knowing what’s coming next in the sequence, forces me to be mindful of my practice, and more importantly, hot yoga allowed me to have to deal with thoughts I had previously been able to avoid.

After almost 10 years of yoga, I’m learning how to just be in a pose, without the need to keep moving, and without the need to be constantly surprised by the next pose in the sequence. I’ve also noticed that it’s made my regular Vinyasa practice much stronger and I feel more connected to every movement.

Hot yoga isn’t for everybody, and I do realized there are a lot of styles out there that create the same desired effect for a lot of people, but for me, the community I’ve found, and what I get from every class was worth the initial discomfort. After all, this is just one humble yogi’s opinion 😉

I would like to say a very special “Thank You!” to Liz, and Tiffany from The Haute Yogi, you both have been incredibly supportive, and because of your amazing instruction, I was able to finally conquer my fear of hot yoga.

The When, Where, and Why of a Yoga Selfie

A few weeks ago I was at a reggae festival with my son. We were backstage, and I thought how cool it would be to do a headstand on the grass with the stage in the background: “What yogis do when backstage.”

I asked my son if he could take a picture of me, which he thought was pretty cool, and then I started looking around for the perfect place. All of a sudden, I was taking way too long to figure this out and I heard a “come on mom, this is perfect!” At that moment it hit me: why am I having a picture taken here? What’s the point? Is there any educational value in it? Any growth?

The answer was NO.

Yes, it would have been a cool picture to post on Instagram, and everyone who knows me, knows I place a very high priority on having fun, but this just wasn’t me, it’s not who I am. In the Bhagavad Gita, we are told to question the motivation behind actions. Are we doing something to solely benefit ourselves and gain adulation? If the answer is yes, then we’re not being true to ourselves and our purpose, and we’re not servicing our community in a meaningful way. The picture would have probably gotten a lot of likes, but at the end of the day, it holds no value. My practice is my sacred time, my movement, my connection with breath, and as a teacher, my goal is to help guide my students so that they may be able to find their own unique and beautiful relationship with their practice. It’s not about how fancy your poses are, or if you can twist yourself into a pretzel, its about how you treat others, and more importantly, how you treat yourself. Yoga is self love, it is a union between body, mind, soul, and the universe that surrounds you.

Yoga pictures, whether selfies or taken by someone else, should at least have a greater value and worth than self aggrandizement. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all yoga selfies or pictures are bad; in fact, most of the ones I see are quite beautiful and inspiring. The question I’m asking is for all of us to dig a little deeper and ask ourselves how this particular picture we’re about to post benefits our yoga community.

If the only reasons you can find are of a selfish nature, maybe consider the motivation behind the action.

Here’s a pick we ended up taking instead 😉 

 

Delicious Quinoa Pancakes: Gluten-free and Vegan ;)

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This a great take on traditional pancakes; they’re gluten-free, vegan, and super healthy. My daughter and husband like them with cacao nibs, my son likes them plain, and I add chia seeds, blueberries, and bananas to mine 😉 Have fun and make then your own!

In a large bowl combine:
1 1/2 cups of quinoa or brown rice flower
3 Tablespoons of coconut palm sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt

In a separate bowl combine:
1 1/2 cups of coconut milk (or almond)
3 tablespoons of Earth Balance butter
2 “eggs” (in a mini food processor blend 2 tablespoons of flaxseed with 6 tablespoons of water)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix/whisk wet ingredients into dry, and voila!

*I usually make one large batch and then take about a 1/2 cup of batter out, put it into a small bowl and mix it with individual ingredients. For my pancakes I usually add about a handful of blueberries, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, and 1/2 large banana – adding rolled oats is also super yummy!

Yummy Banana Bread that’s Gluten-Free AND Vegan!

I’ve been a vegetarian for some time, but I now find myself – for personal, and health reasons – moving towards a more plant based, gluten-free diet. I love to bake, so I’ve been modifying recipes that adhere to my new way of eating, but I also want my family to LOVE eating them. Today I made my traditional banana bread completely vegan and gluten-free … it was delicious! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have and remember, ingredients can always be modified 😉 Have fun!

Ingredients:

6-8 ripe bananas (mashed, and best if extra ripe)
6 tablespoons of coconut palm sugar
2 “eggs” – in a blender or food processor combine
2 tablespoons of flaxseeds with 6 tablespoons of water
1 cup of coconut milk or any nut milk
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 cups of quinoa flour
1 teaspoons of gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoons of gluten-free baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup of macadamia nuts * if you’d like to go a little crazy, add some dark chocolate chips or nibs to the mix … extra yummy factor 😉

Preheat oven to 350°F

In a large mixing bowl combine the bananas, coconut palm sugar, flaxseed mixture, coconut milk, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine the quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and macadamia nuts.
Mix ingredients together until fully incorporated. Lightly coat a bread pan with a little bit of coconut oil and place mixture inside. Bake for 45 min to 1 hour until the top springs back when pressed with your finger. Let your loaf cool on its side for a few minutes and then transfer onto a baking rack for further cooling. Eat, Repeat, and Enjoy! ❤️

Going with the flow

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Looking back at these pictures I was reminded that this trip almost failed from the beginning.

Last month I went on a yoga retreat with my mom to celebrate two very important milestones. It was in a beautiful location, with an amazing teacher, and the possibilities were endless; however, the trip didn’t start out so smoothly.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I like things a certain way (most of the time). I had planned out everything for this trip perfectly, but what I hadn’t accounted for was human error. In order for us to reach our final destination we had to take a little puddle jumper (twin engine) that flew from San José, Costa Rica to Puerto Jiménez on the Osa Peninsula. Well, I read the time wrong and we ended up missing the flight. Due to the size of the plane and the amount of travelers, the only flight we could get on was the following day at 5am. Everything is a bit matter-of-fact now, but when I was at the counter it was an entirely different story … the poor ticket agent! I was so upset that I started asking the (really nice) man behind the counter why was it that he couldn’t just hold the plane? I was pissed off at the airline, the airport, the people who couldn’t possibly detain a plane, and my mom for being so nice … but not once did I even stop to realize it was entirely my fault.
As I started to get more and more frustrated my mom took over and I stomped ofDSC_1715f to call my other half (Matt), my trip was officially ruined, or so I thought.
On the phone, Matt, very cleverly I might add, said that one of the reasons I was so upset was because I knew it was my fault that we missed the flight, and it was. I read the time wrong, my mom trusted me with the information and I royally screwed up.
My mom, being the wonderful person she is, said “let’s just make the most of it and have fun”, which echoed what my Matt had said just a few moments ago. True, but we were going to miss the first night of the retreat!!!!
Well, after I cDSC_1688almed down, I decided to follow her lead and we had the most amazing time exploring San José.

Things don’t always work out like you plan but sometimes that’s a good thing, and the memories we create from random adventures are SO worth it 🙂

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Lessons Learned …

As the L.A. Marathon approaches I was reflecting on my experience last year. I ran and finished the marathon at 190lbs (I have never shared this number before!)- the only other time I’d ever been close to this weight was when I was about to give birth to my daughter, and I quickly lost all my baby weight soon after. However, when my daughter was around 3, I started gaining weight: it was a combination of lifestyle changes, lack of exercise, and stress. Soon I was too embarrassed to go to my usual yoga class, too embarrassed to run, and so my exercising slowly came to a halt which, of course, led to more weight gain.

For so long I equated my physical appearance with self-esteem, how people liked me, how social I was, and when I no longer looked like my idea of my perfect self, I began to fall into a deep spiral of self hate. I would wake up in the morning and hate the person staring back at me, I felt ugly, unattractive, and worthless. I would profess self-love, and how amazing and unique we all are, but I felt like a total fraud. Why couldn’t I take my own advice? The person I was starting to turn into wasn’t me and I was utterly miserable.

This all changed during the marathon at mile 22. Suddenly, I was overcome with emotion as I realized that this BEAUTIFUL, STRONG body had taken me through 22 miles without injury, aches or pains, but with sheer determination. I thought back to how hard I’d been with myself over the past years, and how horrible I felt about my body, and yet, it still came through for me when I needed it the most. Overcome with gratitude and love, I began to cry. I made a promise, at that precise moment that I would love myself no matter what, and that I would always treat my body with the respect and care it deserved. Last November I ran the NYC Marathon and loved it. My time wasn’t that great but I was faster and stronger than before, I was also 20lbs lighter 😉

I refuse to let a silly number on a scale determine my self-worth. Whether I’m 160lbs or 120lbs, I’m still me, and I am healthier, happier, and more at peace with myself than I’ve ever been before.

Always remember that you are beautiful, unique, incredibly courageous, and deeply loved.

Here’s a pic from the 2014 marathon 😉

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