Be stronger

You can count on me to completely lose my shit twice a year; once in September and once in January. I call it, taking a ride on the crazy train. I know I have arrived at Breakdown Station when every little thing starts to piss me off. When my perspective turns bitter because it seems there is always something more to do and it is all my responsibility. When my usually positive and sunny outlook goes dark.

I mention this now because it is nearly September and that means the Crazy Train is approaching the station.

The September freakout occurs when summer exhaustion meets a new school year and then combines with the fact that my company is about to enter the fourth quarter of our fiscal year and I’m not sure how I’ll accomplish all the goals I set for myself by 12/31/–. These three factors converge to create a complete derailment featuring anxiety induced frustration and rage.

The January derailment occurs when holiday exhaustion meets the second half of the school year and then combines with the fact that my company just entered the first quarter of our fiscal year and I only have 12 months to accomplish all the projects we scoped.

Looking at them now, September and January seem to be two very dangerous and obvious kinks in the the railroad track. However, for the first time since embarking on my career and becoming a parent, I see and understand this pattern. More and more, I see that keeping the trains running on time, for me, is about two things:

#1–Recognizing when I need to calm the fuck down

#2–Knowing what it takes to calm the fuck down

During practice this morning, my yoga teacher said

“Notice if every little thing is pissing you off; then get stronger.”–Anna McLawhorn, Three Dog Yoga

Granted, she said this within the context of Warrior 2 (Virabhadra) which we had been holding for what felt like 3 hours, and we were all a little pissed off. But I heard it within the context of my own life and my own mental state.

“Every little thing IS pissing me off and I DO need to get stronger.” I need to get my shit together and take back the things that make my life work, like yoga and writing and sleep. Those are always the first things to go when schedules fall apart and life gets hectic. I need to calm the fuck down. I need to get grounded. I need to stay on track.

 

 

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

 

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Cool Beans

Yesterday, we hit the Berkley Bowl, a famous independent grocery mecca in Berkley, CA. This grocery specializes in offering a huge variety of organic and natural products. The produce section alone is mind-blowing. But we spent our time in the bulk food bins on this trip.

These beautiful Orca (aka Calypso) Beans caught my attention; so we brought them home to see what we could do with them and how they would compare to our standard black beans.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

BLACK BEANS–1 Cup Cooked
Calories 227
Fat 1g
Carbohydrates 41g
Fiber 15
Protein 15

ORCA BEANS–1 Cup Cooked
Calories 240
Fat 1g
Carbohydrates 46g
Fiber 28g
Protein 24g

 

 

 

 

Clearly, the ORCA beans dominate when it comes to fiber and protein, but that’s not where it ends. These beautiful beans cook twice as fast as black beans and don’t require any overnight soaking. But how do they taste and how do we serve them?

Recipe: Simple Orca Bean Bowl 

Ingredients:
2 cups of dried orca (calypso) beans
5 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt
3 teaspoon olive oil
1 cube Knorr Vegetable Bullion
1 cup onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1–Rinse beans and remove any rocks or other strange items that may be lurking. Boil them with 4 cups of water for 1 hour with a teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.

2–While the beans boil and in a large pot, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, onion, garlic, basil, and parsley. Sauté that for 3 minutes or until the onions become translucent.

3–When the beans are finished boiling, rinse them and add them to your sauté pot with 1 cup of water (or more if you like your beans soupy) and the cube of vegetable bullion (hint: dice up the bullion cube before you toss it in so that it dissolves faster). Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so the beans don’t stick to the bottom of your pot.

Now, make your bowl:

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We live on bowls around here. Our standard is to layer greens, then mixed grains, then get crazy. In this case, we added carrots, celery, an heirloom tomato, tiny roasted potatoes, and of course, our beautiful new beans. Oh and we sprinkled all that with goat cheese, because it is goat cheese.
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What, 2 cups of dried beans makes a TON of cooked beans? Exactly, put the rest in 8 ounce containers and freeze them for next time.

This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Because the chicken sees.

Years ago, when I first started yoga, I noticed that most of the “serious yogis” I met had some fairly specific diets. They were vegan or vegetarian and anti-GMO and pro-biotic. They did detoxes and cleanses and only ate natural unrefined sugars. But why? Was it because they were health and fitness enthusiasts or was there something about yoga that was doing this to them?

I had to do a lot of reading and research to get to an answer that made sense to me because there are a lot of elements involved in answering the question, “what is the yoga diet and, OMG, why?

I came across this story Ram Dass tells while I was researching the yoga diet as prescribed by the old traditional yogis. They believed that a sparse diet consisting of fruits and a few nuts was required to achieve spiritual enlightenment (or hunger hallucinations which may have been mistaken for the astral plane).

The story goes something like this:

A holy man gave two men each a chicken and said, “Go kill them where no one can see.” One guy went behind the fence and killed the chicken. The other guy walked around for two days and came back with the chicken. The holy man said, “You didn’t kill the chicken?” and the guys said, “well, everywhere I go, the chicken sees.”

There seem to be 5 straight forward rules when it comes to eating like a yogi.
1–Don’t eat too much.
2–Eat light, healthy, unadulterated foods which are easily digestible.
3–Eliminate foods with strong flavors and smells and reduce consumption of stimulants like caffeine and booze (um, okay).
4–Be aware of where your food comes from and how it is prepared. Avoid foods that involve violence in the sourcing. Obviously, meat requires some killing but this also applies to harvesting fruit or vegetables from a plant before it has fallen to the ground of its own accord.
5–Consecrate the food before you eat it.

The first three rules seem like what the American Heart Association has been telling us for decades–eat healthy portions of a balanced diet and you will be all set. But in yoga, it is more than that.

Those first three rules are about maintaining the physical body so it is ready and able to complete the eight limbs or stages of yoga in the quest for enlightenment. Inherent in those rules are directions for abstinence, austerity, discipline, generosity, and a breaking of bad habits with the idea being that a self-controlled person can better attain spiritual freedom.

The last two rules about awareness and consecration are clearly spiritual in nature. Most of us are good with consecrating our food before we eat it; in Christianity, that is the equivalent of saying grace at the dinner table. Amen. Done. Let’s eat.

However, remember the dudes with the chickens? Well this is where the vegetarians and vegans get on board. Yoga says that GOD is everyone and everything. He is you and me and the apple tree in the front yard–and that chicken.

In yoga, a violent act is a violent act against GOD, and the chicken sees.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

 

 

Basic Maple Granola Recipe

We like to keep granola on hand, not because we eat it for breakfast, but because it is a great snack and a way to quiet down our sweet tooth without feeling guilty later. So when we came across this granola while cooking our way through the ThugKitchen Cookbook, obviously, we had to try it.

And because this is our little corner of the Internet, we are going to give you our opinion about it, which is that it is way too sweet. Everything else about the recipe is fantastic; but when we make it next time, we will reduce the maple syrup a bit, up the salt, or get crazy and do both.

Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds*
1/2 cup almonds*
1/4 uncooked millet**
1/2 cup maple syrup***
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)****

* Basically, 1 cup of whatever nuts you prefer.
**No millet? Fuck it, just add more oats.
***Legit syrup can get kinda fucking expensive. But so can granola. Save up for the good shit.
****Or use any dried fruit you like.

1  Heat your oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with some parchment paper.

2  Mix together the oats, seeds, nuts, and milled in a large bowl

3  In a medium glass bowl, stir together the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Pour this all over the oat mixture and stir that shit around until everything looks coated. Add the cinnamon and the salt and stir.

4  Pour all of this evenly over the baking sheet and stick it in the oven for 40 minutes. Stir it every 10 minutes so that it cooks evenly. You’ll know this shit is done when everything looks kinda toasted and the oaks feel crispy instead of damp. Stir in the dried fruit now if you’re using any. Let that all cool on the baking sheet and then store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

5   Want to mix it up? Try these nut and fruit combos; almonds and chopped, dried apricots or strawberries; walnuts and dried pears or figs; pecans and dried cherries; peanuts and dried apples or bananas. Just use whateverthefuck sounds good to you.

Thanks to ThugKitchen for the recipe. We didn’t technically ask them for permission to publish their recipe, but those assholes can just fucking get over it.

This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Yoga Towel Hack

Years ago, when I first started doing power yoga, I purchased a yoga mat towel, used it once and then never again.

Why, you ask? Because it required constant straightening and fussing throughout the practice. I don’t need to add annoyance to my life; I have more than enough.

Ideally, your yoga practice will have as few distractions as possible because you are doing mental as well as physical work. Yoga is for minimalists; technically, you don’t even need a yoga mat. Regardless of what the yoga industry wants your wallet to believe, yoga requires no gear.

Now, with that said, I will admit that 40 minutes into a power yoga practice, when your mat is good and sweaty, a mat towel seems like an excellent idea. Particularly when it is time to lay down for floor work.

So how could I have my yoga mat towel without the fussing and straightening? And then, years of pondering this question and my husband’s obsession with office supplies led me to a Savasana-induced epiphany.

Behold!!!

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These are 1 inch binder clips securing the yoga towel. I have one at the top, middle and bottom of the mat on each side; which may or may not be overkill depending upon how much of a foot-dragger you are. (Note: a yoga foot-dragger is not the same as the foot-dragger in the urban dictionary. So calm down)

 

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You may want to experiment with clip sizes; fortunately, we have all the sizes at our house for some inexplicable reason. If you need some, just drop us an email:-)

This article was originally published on grounding.com.

Veggie Burgers You Actually Want to Eat

Even before I became a vegetarian, hamburgers and cheese burgers were never about the meat for me. They were about the fixins and the buns. Loading a burger with mayo, ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese was the only reason I would consider eating one.

So when I went veggie, I took a brief tour through the pre-made veggie patty market and found a few that were okay but looked weird and had strange ingredients and consistencies. Not to mention the fact that they were the definition of processed and pre-packaged food.

I had heard that people were doing great things in the non-meat burger world with black beans so I did a search for some recipes and tried a few with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. Some tasted terrible and some didn’t have the right consistency to act like a burger patty.

That is why I am happy to offer you the following recipe. After several weeks of very scientific ingredient combinations and experiments in our test kitchen (okay, my kitchen), I finally came up with something that looks, holds together, and even tastes like a burger.

Ingredients:
Olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup barley
2 (15 oz) cans of low sodium black beans (drained)
1 egg
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 cups bread crumbs ( or more if needed)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Step #1: In 1 tablespoons of olive oil, saute 1/2 c of chopped onion, 3 cloves of garlic, and fresh herbs until soft and translucent; about 5 minutes on medium heat.IMG_1600

Step #2: Rinse and boil 1/2 cup of pearled barley until tender. Drain the barley well, and set aside.IMG_1603

Step #3: In a food processor, combine 1 can of the black beans (drained), the sauted onions, garlic, herbs, and the drained barley. Add the egg. Pulse the mixture, scraping down the sides as needed, until well combined but sill slightly chunky.IMG_1604

Step #4: Transfer the mixture in the food processor to a large mixing bowl. Add a second can of black beans (also drained), chia seeds, 1 cup of bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Stir by hand until well mixed and evenly combined.IMG_1607

Step #5: Let the burger mixture rest for 15 minutes to allow the bread crumbs and chia seeds to absorb excess moisture and bind the burger mixture together.

Step #6: Once your mixture has set, test its consistency. Form it into a ball or a test burger patty. Does it stay together without sticking to your hands? If so, you are doing great. If the mixture is gooey, sticks to your hands, and won’t form a patty, add breadcrumbs until you get the consistency you need. I make my patties from 1/2 cup of mixture each, which yields six to seven patties.IMG_1616.jpg

Step #7: Black bean burgers can be cooked in an oiled skillet (which is how I typically do it) or on a BBQ grill.

For the skillet cooking method: Preheat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Sear the burgers for 2-3 minutes on each side and then reduce the heat to medium low and cook until heated through, about 5-10 minutes more. If you are adding cheese, now is the time!

For the grill cooking method: Make sure your grill grates are very clean and well oiled with olive or another vegetable oil as your burgers will want to stick. Preheat your BBQ grill as you normally would. If you can determine the temperature of your grill, aim for a temperature in the 400-450 degree range. Oil the grill grates once more before placing your burgers on the grill. Cook for 3 minutes on each side and then gently move them to a part of the grill with no direct heat. If you are adding cheese, add it now and allow the cheese to melt and the burgers to heat through.

Once the black bean burgers are cooked, you can treat them just like any other burger. Dress them up with a bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.

The article was originally on www.groundingup.com.

Studio Review & A Crock-Pot

Every year for 45 years, members of my very large and geographically scattered extended family have convened at the family cabin on the shores of Lake Pokegama in the woods of Northern Minnesota. Last week, my little family of four joined the rest of “The Wulf Pack” at that cabin for our 2016 pack gathering.

Before we left, I did some digging to find all the yoga one can do that far North. I love visiting yoga studios and Lutheran churches when I travel. By the way, it is infinitely easier to write a yoga studio review than it is to write a review of a Lutheran Church. But I digress.

My search for Northern Minnesota yoga yielded exactly one studio, CENTER Mind Body Fitness in Grand Rapids, MN.

CENTER is not a yoga-only facility. It offers a range of yoga, pilates, TRX, and spin classes throughout the day. The entire Center facility is fantastic and features not only the studios for exercise programming, but also a spa, salon, and cafe.

I’m a purist, so I was in it for the yoga (and the spa treatment I got later). Unfortunately, there was only one yoga class that wasn’t going to interfere with the sleeping and boozing schedule I had lined up for my week.

So, Gentle Yoga with Jenna Hass on Monday and Friday morning it was. Initially, I felt a little guilty missing a week of power yoga classes and substituting something called “gentle yoga,” but I decided that some yoga was better than no yoga and I was on vacation so maybe I could take a vacation from yoga too.

The Practice and the Crock-pot

So I entered the stunning studio space and that is when I saw the crock-pot. Yep, an old school Rival crock-pot right up at the front of the class. Were crock-pots now a midwest yoga thing? We midwesterners love our crock-pots, but this might have been taking it too far.

The practice began without a mention of the crock-pot, so I had to actually make an effort to put that out of my mind until the universe would reveal to me the reason for its presence. Because that is yoga.

Aside from the arctic temperature in the room, the practice was excellent. The sequencing was creative and appropriate for all levels with clear instruction and good timing. It was very much a moving meditation on happiness, and in my case, the crock-pot.

 
I will not think about the crock-pot, I will not think about the crock-pot, I will not think about the crock-pot, I will not think about the crock-pot… 
And then, at the end of the practice, while we all lay in savasana, the crock-pot served up hot river rocks lightly coated in essential oils. Two warm rocks appeared on the upper corners of our mats and we were instructed to place them on chakras that may be in need of some healing.

My chakras were far beyond help, but just holding those warm rocks in that chilly room gave me a whole new perspective on savasana and I was finally able to let go of the crock-pot.

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This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show those padded bra cups who’s boss.

Currently, my two favorite yoga tops are the Lululemon Power Y Tank and the PrAna Quinn Top. However, they both have the same problem; they feature removable bra cup inserts that don’t stay in place.

So when faced with this situation, I have a few options:

  1. Wear that tank top once and then never again because I can’t deal with sorting out the bra inserts.
  2. Remove the bra inserts forever and think about how cute that tank top looked that one time I wore it with the inserts because I really did like that additional coverage and support.
  3. Spend 10 minutes sorting out the bra inserts each time I put the tank top on and swear off anything with a bra insert in the future.
  4. Sew those things in place and move on. This is a tank top we are talking about here and no one should spend this much time thinking about a tank top. And we certainly don’t need one more thing standing between us and yoga or whatever fitness-related thing it is that we are trying to do.
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This is my new Lululemon Power Y tank top fresh out of the washing machine. Notice the mangled bra inserts. Sigh.
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This is what that tank top looks like when I turn it inside out to address the mangled bra insert issue. Sh*t.
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This is me shoving two fingers through a 1 1/2 space as I try to sort out the inserts. I sure do love this tank top.
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So now that we are done fishing the inserts out. I position the inserts where I want them and pin them in place. Pin on the cotton side of the shelf bra rather than the mesh side. You will want to do your sewing with the cotton side facing up.
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This is the other side of the bra lining with the pins in place. All straightened out!
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Sew around the edge of each cup. I’m using white thread for the purposes of this demo because it shows up better, but use what you like. I also sew using a basting stitch (long stitch) and no back stitching in the event I ever want to take the bra inserts out.
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And there you go. Bra inserts secured and ready for action.Remember to take the pins out:-)

Hello Summer, Goodbye Beautiful Routine

It is summer, which means your kids are out of school, and for the next 2 months, your life will likely become a barely manageable hairball of summer camps, family vacations, sporting events, and mild-to-moderate childhood injuries.

And don’t think that because your kids are out of school your company or place of employment will likewise take the summer off and cease to do business. Nope, that train will keep on rolling and you have to be on it.

So no, you probably won’t be making it to your regularly scheduled yoga class or training run, or whatever fitness-related thing you do. Luckily, the internet has more than enough excellent and free fitness programming to keep us healthy until the blessed first day of school.

A personal favorite of mine is the Three Dog Yoga podcast series available on iTunes. There are 10 yoga classes you can download or stream for free. Each podcast ranges in duration from approximately 30 minutes, for a quick workout, to 90 minutes for a fuller practice.

The  audio classes are led by Anna McLawhorn, the studio owner and a registered yoga teacher with Baptist Power Yoga. She is also the director of the studio’s California Power Yoga Teacher Training Program.

Don’t worry that the practice is audio-only. Anna gives great verbal instruction on the podcasts so even someone new to yoga will understand what they should be doing.

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Fangirling at Baptiste Yoga San Francisco

I spent the last morning of my San Francisco business trip fangirling again at Baptiste Yoga San Francisco. This time I took the 9:30 Power 60 class taught by Hannah Jenkins.

I showed up on my mat feeling like hell; 3 solid days and nights of “executive retreating” had done their worst. I couldn’t tell if I was hung over or just really f’d up from too many days in a windowless conference room. But that is neither here nor there because I left Hannah’s practice feeling like myself again–NO–better than my regular self.

The Power 60 class is 60 minutes of Baptiste Power Yoga. She started the class right on time even though there were a couple of stragglers coming in a bit late. I really appreciate that. Hannah led a powerful well paced practice. She dedicate a good amount of time to supporting each student in the class and offered several great assists I hadn’t seen before.

Hanna is a 200-hour certified yoga teacher and has completed Levels 1 and 2 with Baptiste Institute.

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Hannah Jenkins Baptiste Yoga SF

And now, back to the office…