Monthly Archives: July 2012

I will be hunting for good food

“WASHINGTON — Scorching heat and the worst drought in nearly a half-century are threatening to send food prices up, spooking consumers and leading to worries about global food costs.

On Wednesday, the government said it expected the record-breaking weather to drive up the price for groceries next year, including milk, beef, chicken and pork. The drought is now affecting 88 percent of the corn crop, a staple of processed foods and animal feed as well as the nation’s leading farm export.

The government’s forecast, based on a consumer price index for food, estimated that prices would rise 4 to 5 percent for beef next year with slightly lower increases for pork, eggs and dairy products.

The drought comes along with heat. So far, 2012 is the hottest year ever recorded in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose records date to 1895. That has sapped the production of corn, soybeans and other crops, afflicting poultry and livestock in turn.”

Read full article here from NYtimes

Another reason to eat mainly vegetarian, perhaps?

I thought this comment by someone was pretty funny:

“All of you think that availability of food and fuel are not national security issues? China thinks so.”

Kelly’s interning saga at Clover continues…

Last week was my first time really getting down and dirty with the food trucks. Ayr had me wash + degrease the entire side of the truck so they could reinstall a new counter. Besides learning a few construction tidbits, I also learned that paint thinner makes me feel sick and that sandpapering without a sandpapering device is one of the best arm workouts in the world (wearing my bright orange sunglasses was very, very necessary). I left pretty promptly at 3 pm when I realized I couldn’t lift my right arm to feel the surface that I just sandpapered…at least the side of the truck is clean now?

I don’t take self-photos normally…but hi paint dust!

In order to prepare for a presentation (and educate myself on the food world), Ayr has me on a sort of photo treasure hunt. A couple days ago I stopped by Boloco and Dunkin Donuts for the first round of photos.

I ordered a tiny breakfast sandwich from Dunkin that cost me over four bucks. And Clover’s, with a fresh, soft-boiled egg, great cheese, freshly cut tomatoes, and a delicious pita bread, and only costs an even three!!!! 

This actually blew my mind. And look at how disgusting the preparation is. Some weird egg patty (made from God knows what, it’s the thing my thumb is holding – that’s not cheese), ham, and cheese combination was already sliced up, and then just placed on a paper plate and microwaved. They toasted the English muffin and then threw those items on there. I was mainly really grossed out by the egg.

Kelly’s researcher goes missing on Thursday (actually, she had an eye appointment and her eyes were dilated so she couldn’t see…) and instead does research on Chin/Gyan Mudra. Here and here are a couple of good websites that give introductions to what mudras (hand positions) are in yoga. I will write up my own summary in the future. But for now…

Daily Nutritional Facts

So ancestors of hummus and guacamole sort of had a little affair and made a baby…

Pretty funky looking, huh?

So the recipe is pretty straightforward – “The Very Lean, Green, Mean Machine”, inspired by Tasting Table, and my environmentally-friendly musical I was in as a 2nd grader (it was the title of a rap).

I took about 1 cup of watercress (wilted/steamed for four minutes), 1 medium avocado, 1 small-medium lemon (juice squeeze only), a dash of water, salt/pepper to taste, a couple tablespoons of tahini paste, about 7-8 stems of parsley, half a teaspoon of cumin, and blended very, very happily.

The result:

ALSO got to finally try the popover sandwich from Clovera deliciously inventive combination utilizing the famous southern popover muffin that only consists of flour, milk, eggs, and salt. The outside part of the muffin is merely a slightly salty, crunchy bread crust, but the inside is an *almost suspended* gooey, bread dough that tastes like egg. It’s a weird thought, but surprisingly delicious. In the sandwich, they one-up themselves and include freshly cut tomato, cheddar cheese, smokey tempeh, and fried leeks (the key ingredient!!). A savory rave at 8 am in the morning (after my body wouldn’t let me sleep in). I would probably hit up one of these only once every couple of weeks. But still, so, so, so delicious (I would be not-vegan just for this).

uh, bye.

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Filed under adventures, food, mudra, recipes, yoga

Your Word is Your Wand

…and other teaching notes I’m deciding to jot down.

Oh, and I forgot, some Harry Potter moves.

SIDENOTE: Fascinating discoveries of putting “Harry Potter yoga” into google. Thought I’d share:

Harry Potter and the Chakras” – not accurate, but hilarious that someone tried to analyze anyways.

Harry Potter and Yoga are evil – says Catholic Church exorcist” – I would never predict those two words would be together in a news headline, never mind words from a Catholic Church exorcist…

Yoga Pants: Harry Potter Fanfiction” – A scene of romantic love between Ron and Hermione…and Hermione’s yoga pants.

So back to Your Word is Your Wand… 

It’s always important to notice the subtitles of language when teaching a yoga class. This is one thing I’ve always found so fascinating about the difference between teaching yoga and a sport – you’re also cultivating a certain mind resonance and thought processes in your students. Rather than hurtful, forceful terms, which would propagate negative language and self-views in the student’s minds, I would encourage students to be compassionate with themselves instead. Here are some examples:

pull: draw, bring, extend, lengthen

grab: take, clasp, interlace, hold, support

butt: (this may not be a bad thing, it can be kind of cute) glute, tail, seat, sitting bones, move the fleshy part of outer thigh

push, put, get, gripping, squeeze: draw in, place, retrieves, engage, contract, hug, hold, float, plant, root, press & draw

hopefully…: now we are in place, if…then…

delicious, explore, find the subtleties, gravity is supporting you, new fields to play, playtime!, it’s just yoga, dude. Spaces in between spaces. Shifting perspective. You may move into any variations you are working with. You are welcome to stay in this place if you feel comfortable. Options. Potentials. Possibilites.

Cue things closer to the center body (ARMS not hands up to the sky, raise the thigh bone)

More random teaching notes: 

BEGINNING OF CLASS: Always check for injuries and issues, connection to breathing, introduction to theme (if applicable), rolling – don’t roll over knee joint or on the lower back (if you roll on the lower back, crunch the abdominals)

– demonstrate pranayama (breathing), explain chants (what it means, spell it out)

– BREATHING CUES (on your next inhale/exhale)

Sequence Ideas

– Warrior I –> Warrior II –> Humble warrior

– Rock back and forth on heels and toes in Uttanasana

– Sun salutations without down dog

– Body scan

– Lie on stomach, let legs go left to right, then in circles, rotte ankles, feel grounded and gravity is always there for you

– Start with hands at armpits and draw fingers across chest, finish and heart and meditate

– Warrior I, straighten front leg (inhale), Warrior II, Rotate leg in, Prasarita Padottanasana, Come up with prayer hands, Warrior II, Warrior I

– Cross legged sitting – 1. cat, cow 2. side bends 3. twists (can hook arm around the side)

– Dancer, eagle, half moon, virabhadrasana

– Create a conversation with people

– Taking props/blocks with you

– Work on alignment from the ground up

– Cue the supporting leg

– Hamstring injuries can make balances difficult

– Neck injuries, be careful in bridge

– Lower back injuries should avoid apanasana *knee to chest pose

Also currently updating muladhara/root chakra exercises, check it out on the yoga page.

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Filed under Chakra, postures, yoga

Jaw Lov[ag]es Hips

Oooof, bad title. It’s early. I also woke up at 4:30 AM dramatically smacking my face with my arms because I had just been dreaming about a massive scorpion-wasp flying right for my face.

Not a big bug fan, if you can tell.

Karma Longtin led a fantastic class at Karma Yoga Studio on Sunday, emphasizing the subtle connection between the jaw muscle (the masseter, more precisely) and the hip flexors. The masseter symphasizes with the hip flexors, as both areas carry massive amounts of emotional tension. In addition, the masseter is one of the strongest muscles in our body (in terms of scale-to-size), prodcuing 117-265 lbs of force (vs. 974.99 – an Eskimo descendent!!), while the hip flexor is the “seat of the soul”, being the muscle in charge of our walking and the first to react when we’re about to fall.

You can do jaw muscle exercises (which I’ll update on the yoga/physio page) and also manually massage out your own jaw. Here is a small doodle I did for great core activation exercises:

Meanwhile at Clover…

Going through blog posts (1870 of them!), which actually has been one of the most invaluable learning tools so far, as Ayr has been extremely transparent with the building of the company. The only thing made largely confidential are things relating to investors and workers.

Coming up with a logo: focus on the sound, color, texture, type, environmental influences it creates.

Another thing I love is their food development meetings. We got to taste test a lot of up and coming menu items, as well as analyze how the day’s Chickpea plate was (Pickled veggies + salad + chickpeas + hummus).

One thing I loved that we tried was the lovage soda. It tasted almost like celery juice, with a little more intensity. It sounds strange, but it was actually very refreshing.

My taste drawing:

Lovage: has a slight taste of anise and also reminiscent of caraway (thus pairs well with things from Sauvigon Blanc, fennel, mint, basil, tarragon, etc.) It is rich is thymol and carvacrol, an essential oil of thyme, ajowan, sage, basil, rosemary, and mint.

Here are some excerpts from an awesome book called Jekka’s Herbs Cookbook:

Daily Nutritional Facts

Tried Peace O’ Pie, the local vegan pizza company, for the first time with my partner in crime Kara! We ordered the The Fresh: pesto (but it came with tomato sauce instead. Dissapointment 😦 ), broccoli, onion, and roasted garlic; as well as The Buffalo Chicken: tongue zapping buffalo sauce (as they claim – didn’t really taste it much), onions, and spicy soy strips. Conclusion? Decently good. The vegan part wasn’t so much the issue, but the pizza dough was pretty dissappointing (I’m also a fan of crispy flatbread, so a little biased. But it was very bland) and the flavors were underwhelming, although the spicy soy strips were delicious!

Last night made Rosemary Shortbread Cookies with my friend Alice, as we were inspired to do so my Harvard graduate Joanne Chang’s book, Flour. Definitely not gluten or vegan friendly, but was such an interesting concept (and I’ve never made shortbread either!) that I was dying to try. I loved the savory kick to it and am planning to try it again…vegan?! Does shortbread even work vegan? To be continued… I also threw on some cinnamon for a few bites and found the rosemary + cinnamon surprisingly pleasant.

Also, spot the unicorn in the photo. Winner may get the unicorn I adopted (named Blue) on my night out.

Recipe coming soon.

Also last shout out to: Nutmeg & eggs. I’ve done paprika before, but nutmeg? Who knew a pinch would be such an interesting twist. Becomes more like dessert than savory breakfast!

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Filed under adventures, anatomy, food, health, ingredients, postures, recipes, yoga

Video Games + Creativity?

Came across an interesting article where scientists sought out relationships between creativity and a variety of info technologies: computers, the Internet, videogames, and cell phones.

So they took 491 children with an average age of 12 years old who were recruited from 20 middle schools. The experimenters used a TTCT figural question and a TTCT verbal question. I’ve used the figural one in my own experiment, but not the verbal one (see end of this post for questions).

Jumping to the conclusion…the results actually indicated a relationship between videogame playing (regardless of type of videogame) and creativity. No other type of information technology showed any relationships. And these are high correlations –> video games = .50, .35, .41, .39 whereas the others are only .02, .01, -.05, etc. There were no gender or race differences either. Maybe in the future video games can be directed more towards creativity? Also, more studies need to be carried out to validate this claim and also check out if computational thinking is related to video game playing too.

Guilty confession: I grew up very immersed in playing Pokemon, Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, Warcraft, The SIMS…alas, it has revealed itself.

sciencedaily.com

The first stimulus took the form of an “egg” presented alone on a blank sheet of paper. Instructions were as follows:
On the following page is a curved shape. Think of a picture or object that you can draw with this shape as a part of it. Try to think of a picture that no one else will think of. Keep adding new ideas to your first idea to make it tell as interesting and exciting a story as you can. When you have completed your picture make up a name or title for it and write this in the space provided under your picture. After you have drawn your picture and given it a title, come back to this page and write a story about your picture in the space below.
The second stimulus was a picture of an elf-like figure lying in front of a small pool of water, staring at its reflection in the water. Instructions were as follows:
Look at the picture. Think about what is happening. What can you tell is happening for sure? What do you need to know to understand what is happening, what caused it to happen, and what will happen next, as a result? After you have looked at the picture and thought about these questions then go to the next page, after the picture.
The next three pages contained the following instructions:
Write out all of the QUESTIONS you can think of about the picture. Ask all the questions you need to ask to know for sure what is happening. Do not ask questions that can be answered just by looking at the picture. You can look back at the picture as much as you want to.
List as many possible CAUSES as you can think of for the activity (what is happening) in the picture. You may use things that might have happened just before the things that are happening in the picture, or you can use things that happened a long time ago that made the things in the picture happen. Make as many guesses as you like. Don’t be afraid to guess. You can look back at the picture as much as you want to.
List as many POSSIBILITIES as you can think of for what might happen next as a result of what is happening in the picture. You may use things that might happen right afterward, or you can use things that might happen long afterward, in the future. Make as many guesses as you can. Don’t be afraid to guess. You can look back at the picture as much as you want to.

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Filed under creativity, science

Sand Sculpture Competition

Revere Beach, July 14th.

Insanity. (the good kind)

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An Ode to Arm Muscle Contractions

So a girl asked for an intensive arms/core workout, and I thought building up to a forearm stand was a perfect sequence. Check this article out for more advice on building up to a forearm stand.

On a separate note, I made an effort to really understand the different kinds of contractions, and what yoga poses/physio moves were great for building arm strength in particular. Check it:

For more explanations for the types of arm stretches (ekabuhjaswastiakasjdflkwhuuuuuut?), check the article page as well.

I attended the Clover All-Team Member meeting this past Sunday at the HUB. I thought it was such an awesome concept, as all employees got free beer (Allgash White, to be precise), samples of the new 3pm special – blueberries and whipped cream, and a delicious chocolate cupcake. Again, somehow the chefs nail it with the mild sweetness but fresh taste of the cupcakes, with a light frosting that wasn’t overpowering, meeting its match with freshly picked peppermint leaves. Something about fresh mint in anything kills me.

Ayr gave a brief download on the environmental impact and growth Clover was having. My favorite part was the “tasting” game (where 12 unknown ingredients were provided and we had to guess what they were) and a food education presentation given by Chef Rolando. Both were powerful and so interesting (for me, oh the food obsessed). Interesting things:

1) Their parsnip sandwich, a combination of parsnip, cheddar, spinach (in the earlier versions), and caramelized spring onions that were caramelized with cider vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, mustard seeds, and fresh horseradish. The idea of cooking things that weren’t sweet with cinnamon intrigued me and I did a brief search and came up with these ideas:

  • cauliflower
  • parsnips
  • garlic cloves
  • sweet potatoes
  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • BBQ Brisket
  • Squash
  • Pizza
  • Orzo salad
  • Curried red lentil soup
  • Grapefruit

2) Wheat gluten (things to make your tempeh with) looks and smells like flour (even whole wheat), but once you taste it your saliva gets everything super gooey.

3) Determining the difference between cilantro and parsley for me is….difficult. I went to the Harvard Community Garden yesterday and tried both. The cilantro tasted more ocean-y to me, while the Italian parsley taste more clovery, sprouty, and sunny to me. Let’s see if I can remember that at all…

4) Belgian Wheat Beer can be flavored with coriander, who knew?

RESEARCH MOVES FORWARD, ALBEIT SLOWLY!

Finally, finally, finally the brain data was successfully converted into a format we could use and I could start doing the reconstructing and skull stripping. Alas, I was letting the program run over night and it only got through…3/15 sessions. Derp. Oh well still letting it run.

Meanwhile, I take over the world. Or in other words, find myself amused/fascinated by some of the figural responses on the TTCT as I grade them.

 

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Daily Nutrition Facts

Made myself a salad with red cabbage, kale, cucumbers, smokey tofu, and a mix of vegannaise and BBQ spice.

Also tried green gooseberries for the first time! They are possibly one of the most interesting fruits I’ve had. Fuzzy on the outside, filled with a grape texture inside, but also with seeds that are not unlike chia seeds. Kind of an adventure in the mouth. Tart and sweet like a green grape, but with slightly more complexity and hollowness to the palette. Apparently a recipe suggestion: “Stew gooseberries with coconut milk, Indian spices and vegetables, then serve as a curry over rice.” Omnomnom. I had the pleasure of trying red currents for the first time as well. I don’t have the patience right now to try a pie, but they were deliciously fresh and tart.

I got to adopt a Patty Pan Squash and harvest rainbow chard + kale in return for teaching yoga at the Harvard Community Garden (every Tuesday from 6 – 7 pm). So. Much. Love.

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Filed under adventures, anatomy, Clover, creativity, creativity research, food, neuronerd adventuretime, science, yoga

seasonal discourse

Interning at Clover:

Almost a “Devil’s Wears Prada” experience, but with a little less red lipstick and sass. Actually, it wasn’t bad at all. I got to start the day off by taking a yoga class with Ayr and An Li, and learned a few new things:

1. If your palms are hurting in yoga, press into the outer edges of the fingers and try to transfer your weight more to your feet by elevating hips more into the air (though tight hamstrings may be the culprit for the excessive weight as it would bring you from downdog to plank, so do hamstring stretches to help).

2. In baddha konasana (bound angle/butterfly stretch), imagine bringing sitsbones together.

3. In janu sirsasana (single leg seated stretch on floor), tuck extended leg’s hip back thus plugging the femur bone into the hip socket.

4. Walk your hands out in a diagonal during uttanasana (forward fold) for some gentle side stretching.

Then I got to run around to different food trucks to hand over items for job training (images that show how to make sandwiches) and delivered ipods for repair. So nothing too exciting (though I did get to see Boston…) It allowed me to read Edible Boston cover-to-cover, which I can’t complain about. Most interesting article I read was that the up and coming chic food-related job is not the foodies or the chefs but actually “ag-entrepreneurs”, who “understand the production side of the business but also know the distribution side and can aggregate product from a variety farms for a central delivery”. The writer, John Lee, says that CSAs and farmer markets aren’t passe, but won’t be the best opportunities to make money and have a serious impact on the quality of life for citizens. He also thinks that there will be a big shift from foodie obsession with upper market mechanisms and transition to a broader view of “do better by doing good”.

So. Many. Ipods.

Eat Like a Yogi, Summer Cooking Class: Later that day, Kara and I (my partner in crime for all things yoga/food/health related, who I am starting  a kids yoga series with – see above) made dinner at Siri Bani Kaur’s house (owner of Kundalini Boston) . For those who don’t remember, I tried Kundalini yoga once and had a very trippy, slightly disturbing experience. Kundalini yoga focuses a lot more on the esoteric, chakra regions, and is really fun but definitely not what many people would ascribe to as typical yoga. However, it is one of the oldest forms of Raj yoga.

The class was based on Summer foods (guess why), and she emphasized that a yogi diet is not a strict diet at all. In fact, it’s simply eating according to your own body’s needs and also with the seasons. It takes a lot of listening and patience to cultivate an idea of how your body operates, but it’s worth it in the end. I loved the emphasis on eating with the seasons, as that’s one essence of Clover I’ve come to appreciate and love. They don’t advertise this philosophy but the idea of eating with the seasons is integrated into its structure.

Ayr gave me this example. During a real estate meeting we ate at a bakery that served a plethora of dishes and beverages, including blueberry cake and pear juice. Ayr told me the business structure that the bakery had (sugar + butter) was foolproof. Everyone loves both. The only issues that come with it is that a lot of the stuff is out of season (blueberries and pear) and in order to cover up the lack of flavor, more sugar needs to be added. In contrast, Clover picks fruit that is in season (i.e. strawberries) and in their drinks such as agua fresca (soda water + dash of lemon juice + strained strawberry puree + sugar), about 1/6 of the sugar is used, since the strawberries are naturally ripe and sweet.

This principal of eating with the seasons is seen throughout many traditions, from Far Eastern traditional herbal medicine to Ayurvedic medicine. I won’t go into the details as it’s pretty logical (eat more raw foods and fruits during the summer that are cooling, avoid heating foods such as vinegar, tomatoes, alcohol, cooked foods).

In addition, eating locally and seasonally not only helps you avoid the nasty amounts of sugar/chemical preservatives/weird genetic modifications used with plants (and can disrupt your body balance), but also helps the food retain their nutrients. The marketing director of Harvest Coop did her masters thesis on the loss of vitamin C from shipping. For many produce, there was a 2 ½ weeks gap between picking and purchase. Kale showed a 65% loss in its dense nutrients although it appeared fresh.

Check out this website for great info on local, seasonal foods. For places near MA in early July:

BeetsBlueberriesCabbageCarrotsCauliflowerCucumbersKaleLettuceOnionsOysters, EasternPeasPotatoes,RadishesSnap PeasSpinachSquashStrawberries

So, back to the dinner. I wanted to share a one of my favorite things from the night…

Raw Cacao Cashew Berry Pie

Ingredients: 

Crust = 1 cup raw almonds (no shells), 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs, dash salt, 1/3 cup raw coconut shreds, 1/4 cup soaked cashews, 2 tbsp raw agave syrup

Filling = 2 cups soaked cashews, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup raw agave syrup, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil (mleted), 1/2 cup raw cacao powder, dash cinnamon (throw in more or experiment with nutmeg, Mexican chili, lavender, etc. as well)

1. Pulse all crust ingredients together in a high speed blender (dry first then add the soaked cashews and agave)

2. Spoon the mixture into a pie dish and spread evenly, but don’t worry it about it being perfect! It can be a bit wonky to look artisanal (oh my goodness, I said the A-word). Place into a fridge.

3. Blend the pie filling mixture and then pour on top of the crust and smooth out.

4. Slice up your berries and decorate the top! (feel free to use any other seasonal fruit) Drizzle with any spices or a bit of agave syrup.

5. Place in fridge for 2 hours, or you can quickly freeze by placing in freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Brilliance. Berry brilliant (oh ho ho ho)

Daily Nutrition Facts

Had Clover’s delicious, delicate whoopie pie which was made with fresh strawberries. I’m not a big fan of whoopie pies (only served on Friday), but this one was so fluffy and so light. I hate super-sugary things but the quality of the chocolate and strawberries and cream served their purposes well.

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