Monthly Archives: May 2013

Pesto quinoa

If you are a fan of quinoa, you have to give my pesto quinoa a try!

I love this dish on its own or as the base for about anything that you would normally put over a flavored rice or potato.  I love my stuffed portobello mushrooms served over this super hearty and flavorful quinoa.

Adding some toasted pine nuts or cashews is a fantastic way to add some healthful monounsaturated fats and protein to make it even more of a meal!  I would love to hear what you do with my pesto quinoa and (I hope anyway) how much you love it!

To your belly, with love


Pesto quinoa

Servings 3-4 (depending upon what you do with it)

  • 1 1/2 c quinoa, lightly toasted (toasting is totally optional)
  • 2 1/2 c coconut milk, plain (use whatever non-dairy milk you like)
  • 1/4 c (or slightly more, to your taste) your favorite pesto (try my cheeseless or my cheesy Bestest Pesto recipes)
  • dash of freshly ground pepper
  • dash of chipotle pepper flakes or cayenne, optional

Put the quinoa in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high.  Add the coconut milk, black, and hot peppers (optional).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is al dente.  

Remove from the heat and serve while it is nice and hot!




Stuffed portobello mushrooms

Stuffed portobello mushrooms.

Stuffed portobello mushrooms.

This is such a beautiful recipe.  Perfect in almost every way!

These gluten-free, meatless, stuffed mushrooms are packed with delicious vegetables and loaded with flavor!  The almond flour and egg give the stuffing the stickiness that it needs to hold together the juicy tomatoes, artichokes and onions.  The earthy mushroom base helps balance the acidity from the tomatoes and sauteed spinach and makes the meatless dish very satisfying!

I serve the stuffed mushrooms over a bed of my pesto quinoa, but you can serve it over anything you want, or nothing at all!  Last night I enjoyed this dish with a spicy mustard green and arugula salad and a big glass of herbal tea!

Spicy mustard green and arugula salad from the garden!

Spicy mustard green and arugula salad from the garden!


Stuffed portobello mushrooms

3-4 large

  • 3 c spinach greens
  • 1 T + 1 t EVOO
  • dash of lemon juice
  • 6-7 cloves (3-4 T) garlic, crushed 
  • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c almond meal
  • 1/2 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 c grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 c artichokes, chopped (I use jarred, packed in water–not marinated)
  • 2 T sun dried tomatoes, chopped (I use the jarred, packed in EVOO)
  • 1/4 c red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c green onion, chopped
  • 3-4 large portobello mushrooms, washed
  • 1/4 c italian dressing or marinade of choice for the mushrooms (I used an italian basalmic)
  • chipotle pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste

In a large bag place the italian dressing or marinade, some hot pepper and the mushrooms.  Shake  gently to coat the mushrooms well.  Let the mushrooms marinade for 1-2 hours.

Saute the spinach in 1 t oil.  Just as soon as it starts to wilt, add 1-2 T crushed garlic, a pinch of hot pepper, and a dash of salt and pepper.  When the spinach is nicely wilted, stir in a dash of lemon juice, turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, beat the egg.   Add the chopped onion (red and green) and 2 T crushed garlic and stir well.

In a medium bowl, add the almond meal, nutritional yeast, onion powder, 1 t kosher salt, dash of black pepper, pinch of hot pepper and stir until well mixed.  Add the egg mix, sun dried tomatoes, sauteed spinach, artichokes, and chopped grape tomatoes to the dry mixture and stir until well mixed.

Place the mushrooms in a lipped pan for baking, button side down-stem side up.  Add the stuffing mixture evenly to the top of the mushrooms.  Drizzle with the italian marinade and bake for 45 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.  You may want to turn the heat up to broil for the last 2-3 minutes to really get the top nice and brown.

Delicious on their own or serve the mushrooms over a bed of my pesto quinoa!








Am I hot or not? Bikram or hatha, which one is right for you?

Let the battle begin!

Honestly, I don’t think there should be a battle on this topic.  The bottom line is there are health benefits with practicing both bikram and hatha yoga.  They are however, quite different and it is important to understand those differences before you decide to step on the mat for the first time or even if you have been doing hatha for some time and are wondering if you should branch out and try something new.

Get your sweat on!

Get your sweat on!

Bikram yoga (commonly known as ‘hot’ yoga’) was designed by Bikram Choudhury, fairly recently, I guess that is obvious since you need a very hot room to practice.  Yes, the room must be 105 degrees F and around 40% humidity for the true bikram experience.  The classes are very structured, using the same 26 pose sequencing over 90 minutes, for a very predictable, but easy to follow class.

The idea behind Bikram is the heat, delivered from the outside, will cause the muscles, ligaments, blood vessels and tendons to be more pliable – allowing for deeper stretching of the muscles and more movement through the joints.  Clearly, the 105 degree temperature is also designed to make you sweat.  Bikram enthusiasts believe that the heat will increase metabolism promoting quicker fat burn and weight loss.  The excessive sweating from yoga in a 105 degree room is thought to help the body release built up toxins.

Since the practice of Bikram is relatively new, there is little to no evidence that any of these biophysical claims are real.  In fact, many of them are scientifically unsound.  However, if you love a predictable yoga routine, the heat, and a good sweat, then Bikram may be just right for you.  Just remember to drink lots, and lots, and lots, of water to keep from drying up!

Here is why I choose to practice hatha over Bikram or any other form of yoga.DSCN2171

  1. It has been practiced for a VERY long time–dating back to the 15th century!
  2. All I need is my mat and I can practice ANYWHERE!  My mat goes with me everywhere I go!  On a beautiful spring morning you may see me practicing in the park; when I travel you may find me dropping into a warrior pose as I am waiting on a flight.  After all,  there is no better time to practice than the present.  Plus, hatha allows me to be creative and vary my practice, which helps avoid yoga burnout. Varying the practice also keeps my mind active and drawn to the present!  My mind can’t wander if I am in 1/2 moon and don’t know where the next asana is going to take me!
  3. I don’t tolerate the heat well, I prefer a warm room, but anything over 90 degrees and I am DONE!
  4. I do yoga to reduce stress.   Spending 90 minutes doing intense yoga in extreme heat DOES NOT promote stress reduction for my body and mind!  Combining breath with movement in a comfortable atmosphere does that beautifully.  After a hatha class, I leave the mat feeling at peace with myself which makes coping with outside stressors much easier.
  5. To keep my body lean and toned.  Hatha warms the body from the core and not from the outside.  The heat generated from the work that I am doing on the mat allows my muscles, ligaments and tendons to lengthen and stretch naturally and safely, creating beautiful long and lean muscle structure without overextending, resulting in injury.  Plus, external heat plays no significant role in my bodies metabolism.  The heat generated internally from working my body and controlling my breath is what will impact how much energy it uses or stores.
  6. To keep my internal organs healthy.   I twist my torso a lot (depending upon the class) in hatha.  This motion stimulates my internal organs, which may improve the health of the GI tract, liver, and kidneys and ultimately my bodies ability to eliminate toxins.  Body detoxification (whatever that really means) occurs through the liver and kidneys, not through the skin via the pores and sweat glands.  I do sweat A LOT in my hatha practice and that does feel good!  Some days it feels REALLY, REALLY good!  Why? I am clearing out my glands and pores and ridding my body of excess fluid – not because my body is losing toxins.
Hatha vs. Bikram Yoga

What stress?

In my opinion, practicing hatha (I practice hatha flow) on a consistent basis (5-6 days each week) has done way more for my body and mind than any other exercise program I have done, and trust me I have done them all!

It has been 6 years since I started practicing yoga regularly and every day I learn something new about my body – how it can move, what it likes and doesn’t, how strong the mind/body connection is, and much, much, more!  Would Bikram do the same for me?  No.  Would it for you?  Maybe.

If you like the heat, give Bikram a try!  If you love it, GREAT!  Drink lots of water, and keep it up!

If you don’t, or think you might not, then come and see me or take a hatha class at a local studio!  If you have done both and have an opinion on this topic, I would love to hear from you!


Spinach, artichoke, and olive gluten-free lasagna

Delicious spinach, artichoke, and olive gluten free lasagna

Delicious spinach, artichoke, and olive gluten free lasagna

This is lasagna taken to a whole new level.  If you are a fan of REALLY flavorful lasagna, you are going to dig this recipe!  I got the original recipe from my friend Erica–gave it my usual overhaul and wound up with this exceptionally tasty dish.  I love the briny bits and the surprising flavors that wake up the taste buds and truly make this lasagna unique.  I didn’t list amounts for the cheese on the ingredient list–go as light or as heavy as you like!

Side bar–I personally try to stay away from dairy, but I made an exception with this dish.  I did use a couple of strong cheeses so I wouldn’t have to load the dish down, and goat’s cheese to make the burden on my body a little (?) lighter.  Goat’s milk is tolerated much better than cow’s milk by the human body, so on the rare occasion when I eat cheese or yogurt, I try to stick with goats milk.  There is a whole lot of research and information out there on this topic, but if you want a quick and simple read, check out this article to learn more about why it is easier to digest and causes fewer allergic reactions.  I have a local source for the goat’s milk (grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free) and I even make my own cheese from time to time.  

Back to the lasagna…I don’t know if it is the combo of goat cheese and rosemary that make this dish work so well, but it is truly the best lasagna I have ever made!  Savory, rich, packed with flavor, and very filling!  AND wow about not having to pre-cook the noodles??  Cue the applause!  I know you are going to love it as much as I did, so give it a try!

Bon Appetit!

Spinach, artichoke and olive gluten-free lasagna

Serves ~8

  • 2 jars your favorite pasta sauce (I use Bertolli, Organic Tomato Basil)
  • 12-15 gluten free lasagna noodles (I use brown rice lasagna noodles), depending upon your pan size
  • 1 T avocado oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, crushed.  4 for sauce, 3 for the cream cheese mix, and 3 for the top.
  • 14 oz veggie broth
  • 2 c + fresh baby spinach
  • 1 can black olives, drained and olives sliced in half
  • 1 large can (33.5 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and sliced in half
  • 2 T chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 T dried basil
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 t chipotle pepper flakes
  • 1 c soft cream cheese (I use dairy free)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • splash of agave nectar (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • soft goat cheese
  • romano or aged parmasean, freshly grated
  • mozzarella, cut into small cubes or grated
  • fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (use convection if you have it).  Line the lasagna pan with a thin layer of the pasta sauce.

In a large saute pan, warm the EVOO and chipotle pepper flakes over low heat.  Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, 5-7 minutes.  Crush 4 cloves of garlic and add to the onions along with the 2 t dried basil, 2 t dried oregano and ground pepper.  Cook for 5-7 minutes.  Add the veggie broth and rosemary and turn up the heat to bring to a boil.  Gently stir in the olives, and artichokes.  Reduce the heat back to low and add the remainder of the pasta sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed.  Add the agave nectar if a little sweeter sauce tastes better to you.  This also helps balance the brine from the other ingredients — I usually add it.  

While the sauce is cooking, mix together the cream cheese filling by adding 2-3 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 t dried basil, 1 t dried oregano, salt, pepper, crumbled goat cheese, 1 t of lemon juice, and a pinch of chipotle pepper flakes.  Taste it and adjust seasoning as needed.  

Place 1/3 of the lasagna noodles in the pan.  Coat the lasagna noodles with 1/3 of the cream cheese mix, then 1/3 of the sauce and a sprinkle of cheese (your choice), a thin layer of spinach, and a small squeeze of lemon.   Repeat this process for layers 2 and 3 (if doing a 3rd layer).  Sprinkle some crumbled goat cheese,  grated romano/parm,  and freshly ground black pepper lightly on top.

Place aluminum foil over the top and seal up the pan well.  Spray the aluminum foil with some PAM (or the like) to keep it from sticking to the cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Remove the aluminum foil, crush the last 3 cloves of garlic over the top of the lasagna and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until the noodles are soft and the top is nice and brown.  

Allow the lasagna to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.  ENJOY!



Chia seed herbal tea

Look at those fat seeds?

Look at those fat seeds?

I make my own herbal tea from the mint leaves grown here at the house and licorice root that I buy in bulk from my local health food grocer.  I can’t believe how great it tastes–hot or cold!  Have you ever had Aveda’s herbal tea?  Well, my herbal tea tastes just like it, costs pennies a glass, and is kind of fun to play with!

Yesterday, I added chia seeds to my left over tea, stuck it in the fridge and enjoyed it as a snack later in the afternoon.  The licorice root added a cool, herbal sweetness and the chia seeds plumped up beautifully to make a cool looking and tasting treat!   I can tell you that this yoga belly was filled up and satisfied until dinner–all while adding only a few calories and a whole lot of good nutrition!  I guess I should name this drink ‘pure awesomeness in a glass’!  Give it a try and see what you think!

Chia seed herbal tea

Servings:  1-12 oz

  • 14 oz room temperature herbal tea (make mine or use your favorite!)
  •  2 T chia seeds (more or less to thicken to your desired consistency)
  • splash of natural sweetener, optional (according to your palate).  If your tea contains licorice root, like mine, you probably won’t need to sweeten it!
  • splash of non-dairy milk or cream, optional (to make it more like a thai or english tea)

Add the chia seeds to the tea, stir well and let sit for 1 hour at room temp.  Stir well and refrigerate if you like to drink cool tea.  Otherwise, just drink it once the seeds are fully plumped up–usually good in a couple of hours!  I love drinking it straight up, but you can add the non-dairy milk and/or natural sweetener to make things even more interesting.  CHEERS!

Chia seed herbal tea

Chia seed herbal tea



Quinoa two bean salad

Have you ever heard the saying that “Love isn’t easy. Especially the really good kind.”? Thank you Nicole Williams, but I respectfully disagree!

This quinoa salad is probably the most delicious and healthful salad that I have ever made. Let me tell you, that I fell for it–hard and fast! Even my hubby fell in love with this one, nearly licking every last grain of quinoa from his bowl!

Why is it so good, you ask? I guess it is the crazy good mix of ingredients with color, flavor, and interesting texture. Not sold yet?  Keep reading for more reasons to enjoy this big salad. This one dish can be the salad AND main course for your next meal–all in one (big) bowl, for easy kitchen prep and cleanup! The protein and fiber from the beans and quinoa are super filling, so you will leave the table completely satisfied! Plus, the ridiculous number of micronutrients it provides will help fuel your body to fight disease and clear out unwanted toxins! Again, all in one big, satisfying bowl!

Can you feel your heart soften? Not yet? Well then, I guess you will just have to make it yourself and see how easy it is to fall in love with this gorgeous grain salad.

Isn’t this salad gorgeous?


Quinoa bean salad

Servings: 2-4, depending if served as a main course or a side

  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 3/4 c water
  • generous dash of salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 t dried basil, or more to taste
  • chipotle pepper flakes
  • 1 T (or more) dehydrated onion
  • 1/2 c chopped black olives, chopped or sliced
  • 3 c grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 can drained and rinsed great northern white beans
  • 1 can drained and rinsed black beans
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2-3 T basalmic vinegar
  • 1 T olive oil (I used tuscan flavored oil)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1-2 t lemon zest
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  •  spinach
  •  arugula
  • freshly ground pepper

Bring the first 6 ingredients, plus 1/2 t lemon zest to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the quinoa is al dente. Remove from heat to cool to room temperature.  

In a big bowl, mix the tomatoes, black olives, red onion, beans, lemon zest, basalmic, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and hot pepper.  Be sure to taste the mix and adjust the seasoning as needed. When the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, add it to the veggie/bean mix.

Place a bed of arugula and spinach on your plate and top with a genergous portion of the quinoa/veggie mix.  Serve immediately or it may be refrigerated and served cold. No garnish is necessary, but a generous sprinkle of  lemon zest and/or freshly ground pepper is nice! Bon Appetit!