Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Vegan, Gluten Free, Easy as Fuck Crackers

Yummy Seed Crisps

For the graduation ceremony of the 200 Hr. YTT that I was privileged to mentor this past winter I made some crackers that were a hit.  I promised the attendees that I would give them the recipe so here it is.

It is so simple and nutritious and happens to be gluten free if that’s your jam.  It’s not mine but, whatever.

Feel free to riff on this basic formula with different seasonings and seeds.  For instance I haven’t tried chia seeds but think they would be successful as a replacement or in concert with the flax meal.


1/2 cup flax meal
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
2 tbs. raw sunflower seeds (optional)
2 tbs. raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds, also optional)
1 cup water
2 tbs Bragg liquid aminos or tamari sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
Additional spices might include garam masala, berbere, cumin, cayenne. Feel free to experiment.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir.  Let it all sit in the bowl for at least 30 minutes.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Spoon the mix onto the parchment and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.  If you don’t have an offset spatula, a knife or regular spatula might due.

Use a pizza cutter or some other implement to score the batter in squares or whatever shape you like.  If you forget to score it, as I have on occasion, it’s no big deal. You can just break them up when they’re done.

Bake them for 45-60 minutes or until they seem sufficiently crispy.  They should be uniformly brown.  Underbaking them will render a kind of chewy texture that is not so appealing.  You can tap around them to see if there are any soft spots.  Basically, bake them till they're done.

When they’re done remove them from the oven and allow to cool before breaking and consuming.  While they cool they crackle like Rice Crispies.

Follow this link to the hummus recipe I served.  


I add 2 tsp. of ground cumin to the mix.  It is so good when served warm, sprinkled with smoked paprika and drizzled with olive oil.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

What a Bunch of Bunk

Portrait Daniel Genova  danielgenova.com
I have a memory of a conversation I had with one of my best high school friends and her father.  I believe it was about Deepak Chopra although it must have been very early in his career since the conversation could not have happened any later than 1986 or so and was probably even earlier in the 80s.  

The conversation was about the mind body connection and the heart as an emotional organ.  There was discussion about a doctor’s work (probably Chopra) researching the management of heart disease through meditation and bio-feedback.  I remember that my friend’s father dismissed it all as "a bunch of bunk", stating that the heart was a muscle and nothing more.  What’s more we were all in agreement.  All hail drugs and modern medicine!!

If I were to have that conversation today it would go very differently.  I can’t say that I believe 100% in Dr. Chopra’s work but absolutely believe that through meditation, awareness of the subtle body and body work we can consciously impact our inner landscape.  Does that mean we can cure ourselves of cancer?  I’m no expert there and have certainly seen enough cancer among my friends and family to say probably not although instances of radical remission have been documented.

What I do know is that having lost my father to a blood pressure and stress induced cerebral hemorrhage, I still wish we had not put off our planned meditation sessions.  I was pretty sure that the blood pressure meds he was on weren’t helping him and may have been hurting him.  I am convinced that what he needed was to relax and to tap into the healing nature of turning has awareness inside.  He was no stranger to eastern approaches to wellness having spent time in India in the 70's and was amenable my help here.  We never got the chance.

For myself, I know that my meditation practice has made me a more patient parent and partner and I have experienced some of what was discussed in my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training and in other mediation/pranayama sessions I've attended.  I now know that I can manipulate my lung function, consciously draw down on one lobe of my lungs at a time and feel the lift in my pelvic floor when I exhale.  That is just the tip of the iceberg and it is so cool.

Take the time to observe your inner landscape.  Learn about your body, how it works and the position of all the puzzle pieces.  You won’t be harming anything and you might even be helping yourself and others.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thanksgiving Celebration Roast

The Celebration Roast

There have been a lot of questions about the celebration roast I made for Thanksgiving.

Full disclosure, I got the recipe from another blog, Mouthwatering Vegan, and yes I made a few adjustments.

It is a three-step process that begins as a savory dough.  You’re making seitan.  The dough consists of vital wheat gluten flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill), beets, nutritional yeast, dried mint, onion powder, soy sauce, olive oil, tahini, miso.  

After mixing the dough you mold it into a shape.  Mine looked like a big brain.  I then simmered it for an hour in a broth of water, wine, soy sauce, rosemary, sage.  I wrapped it in cheese cloth to be sure it wouldn’t fall apart.  It’s pretty dense.  It probably wouldn’t have fallen apart but better safe.  Then I removed it from the broth and let it cool.  At this point it really looks and feels like some kind of sports ball.  You really want this to simmer NOT boil.

Next step.

Cut holes in the thing and stud it with garlic.  Put it in a Dutch oven and surround it with roasting vegetables of your choice.  I had onions, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, mushrooms, more garlic, lemon slices and some preserved lemon.  Shove in some rosemary sprigs and sage and some whole garlic bulbs cut in half.  Do I have to tell you to put some salt and pepper in there?  I think not.  Just do it.

Into the blender place a few pitted dates, fresh mint, lemon juice, more preserved lemon and its juice, pepper corms, olive oil, more soy sauce and garlic, miso and oregano.  Blend it up.  Pour some of this slurry over the “meat” and put it a preheated 350 degree oven.  

I started it covered then removed the cover after half an hour or so.  I probably roasted it for an hour and a half pouring more slurry over the roast every 20-25 minutes.  What was left of the slurry made a good gravy but there wasn’t much of it.

Speaking of gravy, I recommend a good mushroom one for the finished product.  I make a mushroom-miso-mustard one that rocks.
Regarding seitan, there are lots of recipes out there for different veggie “meat” dishes.  I will be experimenting with some sandwich slices too because the ones at the store are expensive and mostly processed unless you’re buying Field Roast, or Uptons.  More on that later.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Golden Milk Morning Concoction

In September I promised my yogis at Red Hook Pilates that I’d share with them the recipe for my morning concoction which consists of golden milk paste, maple syrup or honey, almond milk and tea or coffee.

It took a while, but I have finally documented the process for them and anyone else who would like to know.

My son thinks I should have prettied myself up a bit for this video but, hey, sometimes you just gotta keep it real.

Turmeric has been touted for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial properties.  It has also been credited for curing all kinds of afflictions from cancer to Alzheimer’s.  Some of these benefits I believe, others not so much, obviously.  Honestly, I don’t know if feel better or my health has improved as a result of my making turmeric beverages almost every morning for the better part of a year but I don’t care.  I think this stuff tastes great and if improved health is the result then so be it.

One more word to the wise, turmeric requires pepper to be effective so make sure that you include it.  Coconut or another oil will also be helpful for absorption as turmeric is fat soluble.  


Primula Cerebri

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Yesterday I did what my family has been asking me to do for some time.  I practiced yoga with my son.  Now 15, he ha been in physical, occupational and speech therapies since he was young.  Even though he only remains in speech therapy and does well in school there are physical challenges that remain.  

In middle school he ran track and cross country.  This helped a lot with the physical challenges.   His high school, as much as we like it, doesn't offer the same caliber of athletic training.

In going through a simple yoga sequence with him I learned a lot about his body.  Man, there are so many incongruities and nothing that some regular, simple practice can't address.  The kid is 15.  He's been in his body a much shorter time than I've been in mine.  It is now my job to make sure that this body serves him well.

Even simple things need practice sometimes; pedaling a bicycle, reaching for something on a high shelf.  Which muscle actions are useful and which I ones are unnecessary.  He needs to learn this.  It doesn't help that he's grown about 5” this year.  It's like he's always getting used to a new body.

I will continue to find the time to practice with him because it's important that he have the physical stamina, coordination and mental focus to face what lies ahead.  I may not be a physical therapist but I know I can help.

Gusty and Sister Princess now

Monday, August 7, 2017

Age Is Just a Number

Age Is Just a Number

My dwindling budget aside, I have really been enjoying the free yoga offered every Thursday in Prospect Park.  These classes are being offered all summer long and the last one is on August 31.  Take advantage if you can.

One of the things I like best is that every week the class is taught by a different instructor.  Having belonged to one yoga studio for the better part of two years I found a routine that worked for my schedule and went to the same classes with the same teachers weekly.  Sure, I loved these teachers and their approaches but also found joy when there was a sub.

While many, if they know a sub is scheduled decide instead not to practice, I always welcome the opportunity to experience a different approach.  I discovered several talented teachers this way as I have with #Prospectparkyoga2017.

Last week’s teacher was a boisterous, big, black woman with a studio in Crown Heights.  Her voice was her own as she took us through the sequence challenging our expectations, bodies and breath.  As the class progressed it became clear that this was going to be a challenging yet basic class well intended to motivate beginners and seasoned yogis alike.

As you might imagine, I was surrounded by yogis 20 or more years my junior.  It didn't take long for them to begin groaning as the sequence became harder and their breath became unsteady.  I was resolute, maintaining even inhalations and exhalations and finishing the class as I should, feeling strong, grounded and refreshed.

So, to all those 20 and 30 somethings practicing in the grass with me I say, keep it up and you too could be strong like this middle aged lady.

As the class came to a close it began to rain.  Savasana in the rain is an interesting experience, as this video will attest.

See you in the park next week.

Raindrops Keep Fallilng in my Eyes

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Musings on Ardha Chandrasana

Musings on Ardha Chandrasana

In considering the principals of alignment based yoga I am reminded of my recent experiences with Ardha Chandrasana,

Ardha Chandrasana is a posture I had been executing with relative success until 18 months ago.  During my 200 hour YTT I was asked to maintain the outward rotation of the standing leg, plug the femur bone in to the hip socket and maintain Trikonasana alignment in that leg.  18 months later and my foot and leg still want to turn inward.  18 months later and I am still more likely to fall rather than balance in the posture.  18 months later and I am finally able to extend my arm towards the sky for a few breaths (sometimes).

Externally rotating the femur bone and maintaining that alignment of the standing leg leg has completely changed this pose for me.  Sure, one way it has changed is that is much harder for me to maintain my balance.  But why?  The adjustment is seemingly minor.  It seems simple.  It isn't.  I've had to look at why my foot turns in and why the balance is so much easier when it does.  Is it just habit?  Is it easier to cling to my Samskara rather than evolve?  Does that inward turn make my base more stable?  I doubt it.

Those are the the challenges of the change.  What are the positives?

Other ways the asana has changed for me is that it is much stronger.  As my distribution of weight has changed so has the strength I can gather in my standing leg.  As my bones align the muscles are able to engage more fully.  That strength more readily transfers from the foot to the leg, into the hips and out to the extended leg and heel. I can feel this energy course up my spine, into my skull and into my outstretched arms and fingers.  Binding it all together is the breath.  As soon as that stops the whole thing falls apart.

For now I will continue to refine this and all the other asanas that are integrated into my practices.  I will bring my awareness to what works and where the stability is and break habits to find new insight.  I will use that insight to push past fear and learn new postures well in order to preserve my joints and those of my students. Taking the time to get it "right", while potentially difficult, will elevate my practice and the practices of those I teach.