Tag Archives: the chocolate apprentice

Prithri Mudra

This week I’ve felt a little hectic what with interviews, deadlines, etc. Not that it’s new. Strangely enough, I’ve also found my hand making this mudra without any reason behind it, other than the fact I found it somewhat focusing and soothing for my stressed/irritated energy (more and more I also find that I have such a pitta makeup sometimes). It didn’t relax me in the way that a spa day would. 

So I checked out what mudra I was making and did a little doodle on it. Posting it before I dive into my essay on mobius strips and the Dao De Jing (ah, procrastination):

Image

 

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October 18, 2012 · 11:17 pm

Finish Lines, Flying Sheep, Frantic Knives

There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down,
the other is pulling up.
— Booker T. Washington

The Finishing Line of Summer Research

This past week was my last of research and finally got to play with the brain-analysis program. Dream come true? What was very cool was that even though I had the smallest sample size ever ( N = 9), the figural creativity scores correlated with increased thickness in the brain regions that I wanted, particularly the TPJ! The TPJ is known as the temporal parietal junction, and that’s where the temporal and parietal lobes intersect. This area is a hotbed for connection, and is also implicated in Theory of Mind (understanding the concept of a mind, that other people have minds – people with autism have deficits).

The brain doesn’t quite look like a brain in the initial analysis because it’s inflated so you can see between the gyri. But down below is what the brain actually looks like (See how hard it is to figure it out):

Final memorable moments:

1) Hilarious phone calls to Dr. Lazar – someone apparently called and said they had a spontaneous awakening and wanted their brain scanned. They also claimed to be an advanced meditator because their “nose itched”. My nose itches right now too, does that mean I’m enlightened?

2) The Biggest Loser – STRESS EDITION – Dr. Britta Holzel, Sara’s fellow researcher who ahs also worked on many papers with her, was asked by a German production company from her native homeland to star in The Biggest Loser. The twist is that rather than losing weight, it’s the contestant who loses the most stress. So Britta’s role is to be the “meditator guru”, while other people will go through things like exercise, martial arts, counting sheep… to be honest I really have no idea where this idea is going. Again, evidence we’re a little too hyped up about “wellness” sometimes. I guess it’s better than more trashy episodes of the Kardashians (no hating) and shows an interest by the “public” in mental health.

Scents and Scentsability

So, hi, guess what? I’ve decided I want to do a [mini] documentary on the sense of smell and human conscience. How did my fascination begin?

Yoga-y: I’ve been told I have root chakra issues and root chakra (muladhara) is related to smell. Something about the psychology of groundedness and being in your body is related to this underappreciated sense.

Neurosciencey: Well, our other senses (and by that I mean the common five, not the extra ones) go through our sensory neurons, to the thalamus, then to its respective part in the cortex. BUT the olfactory system, considered to be part of our more primitive brain, engages in its own direct route. The neurons go straight to the olfactory bulb, which is seated next to the more primitive, emotional centers of our brain too, thus the deep connections of memory and emotions.

Food: Well it’s no secret I love food. But you seriously can’t taste without smell. I’ve started to do this new thing which all my friends make fun of me for – take a deep breath with your mouth, plug up your nose, and then eat something. The only things you can bring your attention to is the sensations created on your tongue and mouth…that’s real taste! It’s texture and sensations! You relearn what salty, umami, bitter, sweet, and sour really mean. You relearn how your mouth feels after certain food.

And then…keep playing and unplug your nose halfway through. WOOM you get a huge attack of flavor, and you can usually identify what you’re actually eating! Most fun with spices 🙂 Try cinnamon on your friends.

Currently reading “Season to Taste” by Molly Birnbaum, an incredible book with delightful descriptions of taste and smell, as well as a juicy handful of scientific knowledge (making the science nerd in me very, very happy). The book recounts her experiences as a chef who loses her sense of smell (anosmia) after getting in a car accident and damaging her brain. While deferring her space at a culinary institute, she falls into the world of journalism and slowly relearns to smell (first thing she detects is rosemary! Then chocolate woo). Can’t wait to meet and discuss with her next week at her book reading – going to ask her for tips on documentaries and also her thoughts on smell.

So basically –  philosophers loved to rave about vision, especially because it distinguishes humans, but why not study the sense that connects us more deeply to other more ancient creatures? I’m starting to read articles which I will update here, but to begin my exploration I watched a BBC documentary – things I learned:

  • many animals are super picky like the koala that will only eat 30 types of eucalyptus, sharks only eat fish (they tried giving them steak, chicken, lamb and swam off), carnivores on land hate sweet things, hummingbirds eat the equivalent of a human eating 1000 chocolate bars a day
  • humans, on the other hand, first like sweet and salty, then learn to develop a palate – “aquiring a taste” is so unique to humans, and may have been one of our many evolutionary advantages
  • I mean, take the crazy example of feeding stilton blue cheese (molded, fermented milk) to Asians, and feeding 100 year old eggs to Westerners. Each group finds it disgusting to eat the others’ delicacy
  • As humans, we’re much more sensitive to bad smells than good…rotting meat for example – sulphurs, small, fast moving molecules
  • Buteric Acid is the culprit for making cheese and vomit taste similar!
  • A lot of smells we’re averse to (excrements) are learned as we become older – initially as babies we don’t think they’re bad at all! (refer again to parmesan cheese and vomit similarities above)

CLOVER UPDATES

I got to attend knife skills 101 with Chef Rolando!! I’ll update under cooking some of the knife skills I learned (by creating my own videos). Unfortunately, I didn’t pass my first time (a minute too slow), but hopefully with some practice I’ll get better.

Ayr had me go on a run around to Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Starbucks, and Crema Cafe (a local Cambridge coffee shop) to check out their basic black coffees. Conversations that I will always remember forever and ever and ever (thanks Ayr!). No, not really.

DD:

Me: “Where is this coffee from?” Her: “I have noooooooo idea. Look online.”

McD: 

Me: “Where is this coffee from?” NiceIrishLad: “I have noooooooo idea. Oh wait. It says by Newman. Ummm Bolivia?”

Starbucks:

Me: “Where is this coffee from?” 2 people: “Uhhhhhhh NO idea.” 1 awesome person: “It’s from somewhere in South America. Specifically, I don’t know. But I do know it’s a combination of farmers we rotate through to manage a flavor profile. And I swear it’s according to a bunch of sustainable codes, you can check online.”

Crema:

Me: “Where is your coffee from?” Her: “Uhhhhhh you can ask George Howell, he makes our coffee. So go online.”

Conclusion after tasting? Somehow, Starbucks tastes way worse than McDonalds or Dunkin. Disturbing.

Also, I am so jealous of these kids who get fields trip to Clover!! I want one!

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Filed under adventures, Clover, creativity, food, meditation, science, smell

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

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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Filed under adventures, food, health, ingredients, recipes

Piriformis Playtime

Yesterday (Sunday) I taught a class by the river and was approached by one of my students about the piriformis muscle. I knew it was  either an internal or external hip rotator that would be effectively worked in some fashion during baddha konasana (bound angle pose), but I wasn’t entirely sure.

So I humbly did my research, and of course, doodle time came about (I apologize once again for my lack of anatomically flattering artwork):

Daily Nutritional Facts

Smokey “Chicken” Salad

Came across this in a French-style vegan cookbook, but changed up a bit of the ingredients and portion sizings. If you’re looking for that creamy, comforting goodness that makes you smile, it’s write here waiting. And it’s blissfully simple. Feel free to mix around the “meat substitute” by using mushrooms, seitan, tempeh, etc., type of nuts, fruit, and also play with spices too! Seriously, anything goes.

Ingredients: 

1/4 cup vegannaise (maybe even go a little less, I still found it fairly heavy)

1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 cup green grapes, sliced gorgeously

1/3 cup (ish?) walnut pieces

one celery stalk all diced up into 1/4 inch pieces

salt and pepper to taste, tease it up with some rosemary too if you like!

& whatever you want to serve it with/in (I chose red quinoa, but you can use a wrap or anything)

oh, oh and I totally forgot – smokey firm tofu!! I used half a packet chopped up.

STIR IT ALL TOGETHER, AND BOOM.

Also, get your bum over to Clover Restaurant or Clover Food Truck and indulge in their Basil Sandwich, with tangy pickled red onions, creamy basil pesto, juicy + refreshing cucumbers, and cheese. OMNOM perfect summer treat.

Happy Summer-ing everyone.

Tuesdays I am teaching in Harvard Community Garden from 6-7 PM. Join if you can!

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Filed under anatomy, food, ingredients, recipes, yoga

Pumped Up Utkatasana

A week ago my lovely roomy Reshma and I traveled far, far away (aka: took the T to the airport) to watch Foster the People perform.  Although I was upset I missed Kimbra’s set, the music was great and I was in chill mood, so I loved having my own assigned seat and space to dance like crazy in. The highlight of my night was definitely running into a storm trooper with dreadlocks.

The yoga-nerd in me sneakily stuck around during the concert, because I had a moment when I thought about how artists/bands arrange their sets similar to how a yoga teacher arranges sequences in a practice in order to create the optimal experience and leave the audience/students with a specific state of mind at the end.

FTP brought people from an excited (or, to be more nerdy, “rajastic state“) to sudden moments of stillness and calm with slow songs (“tamasic states“) and finally finished off on a positive, charged note with their most popular song, Pumped Up Kicks. And with all the ups and downs we experienced, I definitely left the stadium in an uplifted, content state (almost “sattvic” in its nature).

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Granted, I’m using the three gunas very loosely here for my own selfish purposes of making this blog a tad bit cohesive. The three gunas (click here for a brief download on the stuff) are three qualities that emerge from the very basic elements of nature – energy, matter, and consciousness. 

Coming from Harvard and also from Hong Kong, both of which are places people can work themselves to the extreme, living off of caffeine and all-nighters (throw in an occasional rage fest), I’ve noticed there is a trend for the modern day society to lean towards more rajastic tendencies. Again, this is just for those places.

In many yoga classes (especially the kick-your-assana ones), teachers like to build the rajastic qualities up by “warming up” students with intense sun salutations and standing poses. It’s important to build in the more calming poses towards the end of a practice in order to neutralize the students and bring them into a sattvic state.

A common misconception is that the yoga warm-up must be solely based on sun salutations. Actually, this is not necessarily true. There are 101.25 ways to warm up.  I’ve been led through classes that didn’t even touch a sun salutation, yet I was definitely sweating and felt my heart rate elevated after 10 minutes. One classic way to do this is to immediately jump into utkatasana, chair pose. Here’s my silly doodle for the week:

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Filed under postures, yoga

Herbing Out P3 & Loving Linux

 SHARK FINNING IS BANNED IN TAIWAN. Sweet yo. Check out more info on it at VegNews or whatever news thing your heart desires. Taiwan is the 4th largest shark-meat industry in the world after Spain (??!!! what do they eat it in? Update: okay I just checked it out, and a lot of sources are saying over 90% of Spaniards don’t realize traditional dishes have shark meet? That’s impossible. I’m not sure how much to believe but check it out here), India, and Indonesia.

Note that the fishing of sharks still happens, but the cutting of fins and throwing the bodies back into the ocean is banned. The key issue with Taiwan is whether or not bribes, weak government enforcement, or loopholes will still allow fishermen to make as much profit as possible. This is something that has always bothered me back at home (Hong Kong). Hopefully HK will learn to get rid of this stuff from Disneyland and other restaurants. I mean, chicken soup tastes the same.

Day One of Summer Lab: I love my PI (“Principal Investigator”) Sara Lazar. She made an analogy with brain scanning analysis and food today, so I automatically fell in love.

“Brains. Brains, brains, brains. Hmm where do I even begin? Gah. Well I love analogies. So yeah, brains are like cooking. We have to start with chopping the stuff up, then digest the recipe, then putting it together, then adjusting, then running it through heat, and then finally arrive with some final products.”

So that’s what I did today. I learned to pick ingredients. And by that I mean UNIX. Or even more specifically, LINUX.

This is something I never thought I would touch. Alas, the day found me.

All this computer jargon where “lp” apparently stands for print and “rm” is remove (okay, a tad more intuitive) and “mv” is replace (or delete if you’re not careful. Results in –> #)@(#$*#@)%&(#@*$ ). I sat stretching on PI’s office floor (classy lady, yes) while reading 125 pages of this book:

Afterwards, I stared stone-faced at a screen trying to figure out terminal code. I give myself a B- on how successful I was. For some reason I still couldn’t handle files when using the path name (i.e. home/kelly/creativity/research/omgaflyingalpacawantsalmondbutter)

THINGS YOU FIND @ HERBSTALK [PART THREE]

6. Ghee! Glee? Ghee!

Huh what? Murr? That’s Ghee, which is fortified butter and is infamous in the yoga world. I had always wanted to try it. The short ghee prep download is to melt the butter, get rid of the fats (the residue solids), and take what’s left behind (and run like the wind). When cooled, the filtered ghee becomes solid and fragrant. It can be used just like butter, but it’s seen as a purifying/clearifying agent and is used in detoxes. One version would be to have a week where before any food is consumed, a tablespoon of ghee is consumed and fully digested first (then increase by one spoon each day). I don’t think I’d do it anytime soon, but apparently ghee helps increase secretion of biliary lipids which reduces LDL cholesterol? Not sure how legit the studies are. 

7. Meet Awesome Superfood Chefs

Well harro. This is Frank. He owns Frank’s Finesta herb/spice company. That bowl you see a person reaching into is spirulina popcorn.

I love, love, loved talking to him and hearing about his experiences as a chef who turned into a vegan, super-food chef. He’s stopped working at restaurants and now does private cooking or focuses on promoting his spices while writing weekly recipes. Basically, his life is still consumed by food. I got to hear about how he went to Cambridge Culinary School for the basics, and then his experiences working in the kitchen. I asked him how long I should stage (work for free) in a specific kitchen (“3 months. Don’t give up too quickly.”) and also how to best make use of my time in there.

“Ask high mileage questions.” adored that response because it’s applicable to everything, really. It was what I learned in my yoga training to – to always questions your sources and ask “Why am I doing this? How does this serve my class? How was this study conducted?” In food and in the kitchen, he was referring to asking the chef: “Why are you putting the salt and pepper in first? How does dicing the onions this way make a difference? Why do you work with the dough this way?”

I bought the Spirulina Gomasio (Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, Incan Spirulina^, Himalayan Crystal Salt*, Onion Granules^), BBQ Spice Blend (Paprika^, Himalayan Crystal Salt*, Onion^, Garlic^, Thyme^, Long Pepper^, Sassafras^, Chipotle Powder^, Bay Leaf^), and Spicy Chocolate Mix (okay yes, I live up to being a chocolate addict. What’s new?)

My favorite part at the bottom: *Wildcrafted, ^Certified Organic.

Hah, yesss.

[[[still to be continued. Sorry folks]] 

DAILY NUTRITION FACTS

Made myself a beautiful Golden Beet Salad with Blackberry-Mint Dressing

CLICK HERE FOR NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION ON BEETS. OMNOMNOM

Ingredients: 4 medium sized golden beets, half a small box of blackberries, about 10-15 mint leaves, olive oil, basalmic vinegar

0) [Taken from How to Break an Egg. I am not this experienced. Bow down to me anyways?] Buy beets with smooth skins and tails that aren’t too shaggy. If they’re too light for their size, they probably weren’t stored properly. If they still have their greens, trim them off before storing and don’t was them, since moisture = 😦

1) I was personally worried that the beets would go bad (actually they last up to 12 days!), but apparently just cutting off the awkward sprouts solved the deal. So I threw these kids into a pot of boiling water and lowered the heat down to a simmer and waited about an hour and a half. The skins slipped off nice and sleak. It’s hard to overcook beets apparently.

2) Then you go chop-chop-chop. I made mine look like little sunrises. Sun salutations anyone?

3) Cut up the berries and tear up the mint. Place gracefully into a blender if possible. Then add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a few dashes of balsamic vinaigrette. Or you can change the ratio however you want. Blend it up.

4) Stir together, create weird mosaic designs, or just throw it into a bowl, and enjoy!

YOGA BY THE RIVER:

At 7:30 – 8:30 AM Thursday: moderate intensity Vinyasa flow

RESOURCE UPDATES:

Food – linked more recipes from my old blog

Yoga – added some acupressure and mudra resources, as well as resources for people who are prone to “shin splints” (HAH ME!)

Creativity – started linking blogposts on Shelley Carson’s 7 Neuromodes of Creativity, added a few AWESOME TedTalks, and added Roy Horan’s “Neuropsychological Connection Between Creativity and Meditation”

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Filed under adventures, blog, food, ingredients, neuronerd adventuretime, recipes, science, Uncategorized

Herbing Out P2 with a side of dragons

I had a sweet dose of home last Sunday thanks to the annual Boston Dragon Boat Festival (the oldest in the US! Alas, Boston has the oldest Chinatown. Who knew?) that was held by the Charles River. I got some sun, lion dancing, and front seats to watch attempts at dragon boat racing (“We’d kill ’em” to quote a crew athlete).

 

Dragon Boat @ Cambridge

Dragon Boat @ Home

 Bachelorette dragon boat IN Hong Kong (also the episode where she decides she doesn’t want any of the 8 guys because the guy she was supposed to marry from the previous season decided he wanted to get back with her)

So continuing on Herbstalk, other things that you get to see/do…

5. Herb Walk

This was awesome. I didn’t realize by simply walking around the parameter of a building, I could spot about 10 different plants that could help me out in life. Granted, fertilizer/pesticides/road ickyness in general may have gotten their say in how the plants are actually doing, but it’s still fascinating. Here are a few:

Chewing carrot seeds acts as a contraceptive by acting on the pituitary gland (hormone controlling part of brain).

Lily of the valley regulates blood pressure.

This is either goldenrod or primrose, and it’s great for cat allergies. This poor guy is usually mistaken to be the culprit for allergies, but it’s really ragweed, which is wind pollenated. Also awesome for SAD.

Violet leaves: bronchitis, cancer, sluggishness (tamasic nature), stimulates lymph system

Plantago major (above) and lanceolata (below). Also known as plantain (NOT like the banana kind). These guys grow anywhere people walk, giving it the charming name “white man’s footprint” (makes me wonder about the rest of us). If you rub it the oil soothes mosquito bites as it draws out poisons. Also helps dry sinuses, digestion, stomach ulcers, and can even be used to cool down injuries. I may have taken some and put it on my tweaked achilles.

Our favorite dandelion! You can use the whole plant. Roots – liver, also a diuretic. 

So I’m stopping there as the list goes on forever and it gets a bit aggressive all at once. But you can see how there are countless numbers of natural herbs and foods that can help fine tune the body and mind. My favorite part was in the end when she said we should only take 30% of the plant, allowing the rest to regrow. Try taking 30% of what you think you want at a buffet. For reals.

[[to be continued]]

Daily Nutrition Facts

I also got to taste some awesome Korean tofu 만두 (“mandoo” – Korean for dumpling). It had sweet potato noodles, carrots, chives, mushrooms, tofu, and a dash of ginger. Fabulous, vegan, and I’m hoping to replicate in my own time. (Summer Project 1: vegan Korean food! Did you hear that the owner of Kogi BBQ food truck – the LA Korean Mexican-Korean fusion food truck – is going vegetarian? Not sure if he’s just purely leaving the industry though or will attempt to change his truck. I really believe he can. Have faith in Seitan, please sir, please.)

Also adopted a Kombucha baby from my yoga friend Natalie! 

What is Kombucha? To quote Wikipedia, oh ye faithful source of englightenment:

“The kombucha culture is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, comprising Acetobacter (a genus of acetic acid bacteria) and one or more yeasts. These form a zoogleal mat. In Chinese, this microbial culture is called koubo (Chinese: 酵母; literally “yeast mother”).”

Health benefits: detoxification, cancer prevention (full of anti-oxidants), liver health promotion, treats arthritis (hyaluronic acid helps aid with preservation of cartilage), aids digestion, helps with depression,  etc. etc.

FUN FACT: Reagan drank Kombucha in 1987 when he had cancer because he heard of the health benefits. 

To make a “home”, you brew tea, stir in a cup of sugar, and cool it down to room temperature. Fill up a massive jar (1 gallon) with the mixture, water, and because I adopted my baby (a girl, I’ve decided), I get liquid from the previous home. Now the jar with my kombucha momma is chilling in my room. I’ll keep you guys updated on the progress.

And out.

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Herbing Out P1

So I’m in the middle of a sick yoga teacher training certification at Karma Yoga Studio and yesterday we covered superfoods and superherbs. Basically, the main idea is that these are foods high in prana/energy. Or in less esoteric terms, full of juicy nutrients, life, and are at the bottom of the food chain. It’s mother nature’s way of taking care of us.

These are things like fresh & raw veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, mushrooms…you get the idea. It’s simple. And so healthy. And it’s the optimal way of living as it helps establish you at a healthy weight, maintain a strong immune system, and live longer (if done in moderation a la The Middle Way).

Luckily for us, Boston was hosting its first ever Herbstalk . I was so bummed I didn’t get to stay for the whole thing since I had to head back to work at Sandrine’s (the French bistro I apprentice at. Or intern. Or whatever.) But I got a lot out of the whole thing and the atmosphere was so vibrant. It was so energizing to see how many people were actually there and eager to learn about what the world has to offer. And she’s got a ton.

So what do you get to do at a Herbalicious gathering? Well, here are some available options (to continue in later posts).

1. Drawing on the sidewalk. Being eight as wait for your savory BBQ Seitan sandwich from Clover Food Truck is always a great remedy for getting over a night out.

Amanda getting her fix of chalk art.

My eating wave.

2. See a yellow jeep (please refer to my bio to understand why this is important)

3. Be intrigued by the idea of Broga (I promise you I will attend a class and report back)

4. Discover that you can dye silk scarves with food. OMGTHEFOODIEINMEISGOINGCRAYCRAYRIGHTNOWANDCAN’THANDLEIT

That’s M. She’s from Alaska. And she dyes her silk scarves with everything from beets to cabbage to lemons to grapes to flowers. The $$ is donated to different bee cooperatives and local food sources. New hobby? Potentially. If you want to see how click here.


Welcoming a new member to my family – RED ONION

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Daily Nutrition Report

I got way too excited by cauliflower that looked like the brain cortex. Neuronerdiness to the rescue. (FYI, roasted cauliflower with only oil, salt & pepper sprinkled on it is phenomenal. Chef Carlos reckoned the scallops weren’t selling as well because they were only being offered with the cauliflower than with starch. Usually the dish comes with mashed potatoes.)

I also got to meet these awesome kids today. They’re called Fiddleheads. I thought originally that Enrique was saying fetal heads. I heard very, very wrong (though it works, right? Kinda?) When sauteed with onions and garlic, it tastes delicious, with half its texture like spinach, and the other like a green bean. Their light taste is a cross between okra and a green bean. Full of omega-3, omega-6, antioxidants, and potassium, these guys are only available to be harvested during the spring/early summer.

Deciding still whether or not to stay with them. Will elaborate in another post.

And boo, Celtics lost the final game. I know I’m incompetent when it comes to sports knowledge and my enthusiasm for watching sports is about the same level as my enthusiasm to run a marathon (random fact: every marathon run will do permanent damage to your heart), but I’m in Boston. And being foreign let’s me have no real affiliation.

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raw sugar raw thought

A random thought splurge on meditation & chocolate…

RECENT CHOCOLATES TO RAVE AND RATE:

Ah, yes. The chocolatier has returned. Don’t worry, I’ve been doing the dirty deed undercover at Harvard.

Harvard also hosted a mindfulness meditation program called “Wake Up” last weekend. Unfortunately, I was too tired to participate in the entire day’s activities (deep relaxation meditation = invitation to sleep), but I enjoyed hearing about the five pillars of meditation at their initial lecture.

What they’re about (taken from their website):

Wake Up – Young Buddhists and non-Buddhists for a Healthy and Compassionate Society, is a world-wide network of young people practising the living art of mindfulness. We share a determination to live in an awakened way, taking a 21st Century version of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings as our path and guiding light.
The Wake Up network has grown out of Plum Village meditation centrein SW France, under the guidance of Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Plum Village has been offering retreats to young people for over two decades, and the Wake Up movement was formally launched in Summer 2008.

第一:Confidence

We know that our minds race all the time, worrying or regretting about the past, predicting or practicing the future. It’s hard to have the confidence to let go of thinking and to be fully in the present moment. What a weird thought, right?

One monk said the simplest thing to do was to begin with three breaths that you paid full attention to. The moment your mind wanders off about something else, start again. It helps to breathe in and out on focus words if it helps. My personal favorite is breathe in on trust, and breathe out on doubt (as if I was breathing out any emotions of doubt). It helps a lot when I’m worrying about the outcome of something, and I just do that simple 3-breath trick to remind myself to trust that at that moment, the right words/actions will come along with emotional calmness.

Confidence is awesome for promoting a product as well. Take the founders of Komforte Chockolates, who acknowledge in their about section  that “they debated the intelligence of starting a new small business in the midst of the worst recession of our lifetimes. It didn’t occur to us that we had a huge learning curve ahead of us. We took to the kitchen and began often times frightening rounds of experimentation mixing our favorite snacks with premium chocolate until we hit upon something undeniably good.” 

But hey, look how they didn’t obsess ahead to the potential “huge learning curve” they were to face. They were instead trusting their passion and desire to mix their favorite tastes to guide them forward in the competitive world of chocolates.

I tried their Tortilla Lime & Salt Chocolate Bar – I have to say, one of the best bars I’ve had since I’ve been back at school. Although I am not a huge milk chocolate fan, I was pleasantly delighted by the spin of the lime and the crunch of tortilla. And obviously the salt was bomb with chocolate – can’t resist that sweet and salty combo. Whenever I handed out samples of Sriracha Chili chocolate for Socola Chocolatier, I always promoted it as “an adventure in your mouth”. Well, I’d probably describe this bar as “a trip in your mouth”, what with the zangy crispy lime waiting to burst in an explosion of lucid green on your palette, followed by a soothing, curved sensation of the milk chocolate (great quality too, fyi).

第二:Right Diligence

Okay so I’ll admit the first thing I thought of when I heard this one was Asian Tiger mom. Obviously that wasn’t quite what they were going for.

In fact, this type of diligence is the opposite. It’s tender and gentle. The example given was cultivating a garden and showing love to the good seeds as well as the bad seeds. For the good seeds, you show love by cultivating them and focusing on them. For the bad seeds, instead of hating on them and trying to either ignore or destroy, you simply invite them to gently go to sleep.

I hope by now you’ve figured out seeds are your thoughts (surprise). The very foundation of mindfulness meditation is to sit, focus on your breath, and notice what thoughts arise. Rather than push any of them away, simply observe and stay detached. Almost as if you’re watching a television screen, or clouds, or a river.

The diligence required isn’t hardcore meditating 10 hours a day. It is simply being mindful of the thoughts that arise in your mind throughout the day – when you brush your teeth, eat, take a walk…cultivate the good thoughts and gently watch the bad ones rise and fall (a la Craig David).

第三:Awareness

This plays into the previous pillar – being aware of what sort of thoughts arise. My mind-body therapist (more on that later) helped me with this by asking me to notice that the thoughts that arise in my head belong to a “part of me”, and are not “all of me” nor are they not part of me at all. We’ve already distinguished things like the judger, the baby Kelly, the worrier, the hoper, the protector, the achiever.

It helps to distinguish the voices and also to use my right brain to visualize where in my body or presence they are (i.e. I always feel like the judger is to my left side and slightly behind me, while baby Kelly is nestled in my lower right ribcage). It’s kind of cool, because now I can distinguish how I become engulfed by different emotions via my thoughts in situations. Kind of like watching a bunch of TV screens.

Anyways, like I said before about bad/good seeds – you gotta show some love to all your parts. There’s a reason that these “thought voices” are neurologically built into your body. In order to alter set patterns, you have to be your own mother/father and embrace the inner child or whatever is going on in there. Smile to it, nourish it with positive thinking, focus on it. Also notice the relationships of the constitutive parts (baby Kelly is terrified right now and the judger is berating her for being so weak).

On the topic of parts, I have to bring up Vosges Chocolate. Her diversity in bars is overwhelmingly awesome, and her strength is bringing in distinct parts together to create a wholesome experience. Some of my personal faves (with her descriptions because I love them):

Black Pearl Exotic Candy Bar: “Inhale warming ginger as menthol-nuanced wasabi cools. Sense the evolution of flavors in the mouth. Commence with ginger, followed by earthy cacao notes, mellow wasabi reminiscent of coriander, finishing with black sesame seeds, rich in nutty texture.” 


Gingerbread Toffee Bar: “The scent of classic gingerbread spices will have you dreaming of snow dusted pine trees in no time. We begin with the same melt-in-your-mouth, burnt sugar and butter toffee and add a touch of ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, Grenadian nutmeg and Jamaican allspice to put you in a holiday frame of mind. A generous coating of dark chocolate completes the affair on your palate. “

第四:Right Concentration

This one is simple. The right concentration brings you happiness and joy by being aware of the present moment, while false concentration is focusing hard as well, but brings you dissatisfaction and false perceptions (i.e. looking at a magazine filled with photoshopped models and drowning oneself in it).

What else has the right concentration? Chuao Chocolatier Earl Grey Milk Chocolate Bar. Granted, another milk chocolate friend (not as high quality as Komforte Chockolates). I would have preferred dark, but for what it was I approve. The concentration of Earl Grey was just right – not too overpowering and allowed room for imagination (yes I am staring directly into an Englishman’s eyes sipping some tea and chewing on crumpets), but had enough swirl to make a profound statement.

第五:Insight

This last one was both surprising and interesting to me, since creativity is part of my neuroscience research (the hypothesis that meditation lends the mind to a brainset that allows for easier connections be made –> insight!!).

The monk who opened up about his thoughts on insight reviewed the garden concept. He talked about how once someone cultivates a good garden, he or she develops a vital skillset that leads to insight. In understanding our condition and how to transforming suffering into peace, calm, and happiness, one can create a space for insight to come about. Well hello senior thesis.

I love that New Tree operates their mailing list on the basis that we want to hear more about their chocolate innovations. That’s just too cute. Oh, stop it.

Two flavors that I nearly died when I tried them were ginger (#intriguing) and thyme (#ohmygodwhatisthisbecausethisisbrilliant). I’ve always loved ginger in stuff, but the fact that they combined thyme, a little bit of flax seeds, and dark chocolate = WIN WIN WIN. What a lush creation that I couldn’t stop eating.

Ginger is sexy, apparently.

Okay the meditating chocolatier is out.

“Buddhism needs to be recognized as a source of wisdom, a long tradition of practice of understanding and love and not just of devotion. The spirit of Dharma is very close to the spirit of Science; both help us cultivate an open an non-discriminating mind. You can join the Wake up Movement as a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, an agonist or an atheist. The practice of maitri, of loving kindness, the practice of sisterhood and brotherhood, is at the foundation of the Dharma.”

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