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flower on stone“We have come into this exquisite world to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom and light!” — Hafiz

What a perfect quote to embody New Year. Persian New Year, that is, aka  Nowruz!

To me, it just feels right and natural to have a new year start with the promise, rebirth, and blossoming of spring.

Spring is a reminder of the inner light within each and every one of us. That’s worth celebrating!

Persian Card_New_YearsScroll down below for a roundup of highly celebratory (and symbolic) recipes from fellow Persian food bloggers. 

Thanks to the fabulous Sanam, of My Persian Kitchen, for putting this together!

Oh, technically the big day of the Persian New Year is always the spring equinox, which falls on Thursday, March 20, this year. Now’s as good a time as any to spread the happiness and to prepare for a fresh new season.

At the moment, I’m in a bit of Spring Cleaning Mode. (Oooof, those closets needed every ounce of attention I gave them last weekend. Ha!) I’m also prepping to host another yoga retreat, in upstate New York/in the Hudson Valley area.  March 14-16—perfect timing to get us ready for spring.

Looks like 2014 is a year of new beginnings for me in many ways. I’m headed to India at the end of the month. This trip has been a dream of mine for many years. At just the right time,  the stars aligned, the Universe and those I love are shining their support and approval on me, and I’m flying off on the night of the new moon. It’s happening!

As for Spring Cooking:

This is a classic clip for my (somewhat limited) TV archives. Here I am cooking kuku sabzi on live TV for Nowruz. This was on Good Day New York a.k.a Fox 5 a few years back:

More blogger Persian New Year goodness:

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Sorry I’ve been radio silent, guys. Life has been busy. I’ve been teaching classes, taking classes, planning my Yoga Retreat, doing TV work, and had a photo shoot to get some fresh new Yoga pics in the pipeline. Plus, I’ve been running all over town with my friends. Fall is a busy season, and I love the weather. It really gets me moving. I’ll admit I haven’t been cooking much. I’ve been living off of lentil soup, salads, avocados, green smoothies, and fruit. Is that bad? Well, I suppose it beats junk food.  Don’t worry, as the retreat nears, I’ll be giving a few recipes a test run and will share the keepers with you guys.

A random thought that has been running through my head:

 

This pic was originally in color. Sometimes I like taking new pictures and giving them a vintage look. That's what I did here.

 

“Sometimes we have to say no to someone else in order to say yes to ourselves.”

(This is something that dawned on me the other day. I know it’s not exactly earth-shattering, but it was eye-opening to me at that moment, so I figured why not pass it on.)

On a more down-to-earth note:

Of course, I jammed both my left wrist and my right shoulder last week, so the fact that I was even able to do the above-mentioned Yoga photo shoot was a blessing/minor miracle. There was one pose in particular that I just couldn’t safely get into for the shoot, so I let go of the “need” to be photographed in that pose.

 

My friend La Rosa pauses on the Williamsburg Bridge, which we walked across recently. It was a great way to enjoy that day's gorgeous weather and stunning New York City scenery.

 

Before I tell you more about the Yoga shoot, I had fun doing background work with the New York Jets cheerleadering squad. We were dancing on live TV (WPIX 11, NYC) as part of a promotion where the Jets are offering free classes via NYSC. If you live in the New York area, do check out the promo. You don’t have to be a NYSC member to take the classes.

The girls were the coolest. So sweet and fun. Not catty like we might sometimes think of cheerleaders. Ha! And they totally dug the leotard I changed into after the TV shoot for my photo shoot. Here’s a post-shoot/pre-leotard changeover pic:

 

Posing with members of the New York Jets cheerleading squad after a TV appearance.That's me, second from far left. My friend/fellow fitness instructor Meredith, is next to me. Why are she and, I two of the most petite in the bunch, squatting? I dunno. Ha!

 

Now, onto the Yoga shoot:

My friend Marisa shot the pictures. We got soooo lucky: the weather was beautiful and just warm enough. It was the warmest day of the week, according to the extended forecast. The morning light was divine. It was very important to me to get at least some of the shots outdoors, in nature. Well, really, it was a natural/urban setting. Pretty cool.  We were able to get, from what I can tell, usable shots in the following poses:

 

This is a quickie self-portrait of me all wrapped up to stay warm while Marisa adjusts her camera for our Yoga photo shoot. Yes, a tease!

 

  • Pigeon pose (Kapotasana)
  • The splits (Hanumanasana)
  • Full lotus plus some variations
  • Dancer’s pose (Natarajasana)
  • Forearm balance (Pincha mayurasana)
  • Side crow (Parvsa bakasana)
  • Eight limbs (Uh, sorry, don’t know/can’t find the Sanskrit for this one)
  • Grasshopper/chin balance (See above re: Sankskrit)
  • Bound extended side angle (Baddha utthita parsvakonasana)

Plus several others, which I can’t remember now. And of course, hours after the shoot, I remembered a couple of poses I wanted to be photographed in that I forgot to put on my shot list. For example, bound Ardha chandrasana (bound half moon) and another balance pose. Oh well, next time. But maybe indoors, because 73 degrees and sunny is nowhere to be found in the 10-day forecast. (Yes, I’m slightly weather-obsessed; I check it several times a day and coordinate my outfits accordingly).

Ok, ya’ll, I gotta roll, but I’ll be back soon with some actual recipes and maybe some more fun new adventures. Plus actual Yoga pics from the shoot! I still need to post about my D.C. trip, plus there’s this local band that I’ve totally fallen in love with and want to share with you guys. Ooooh, and maybe deets on my Halloween costume. AND some deep stuff my Ayurvedic doctor shared with me. Secrets of the universe for sure. Wow, that’s an ambitious list I just typed. Hopefully more on all of that soon. Have a fabulous day!

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A random recent snap to go along with a random post. Hee hee!

This is really random, but if any of you are in the NYC area, I’ll be demo-ing  a Belly Dance workout on TV on Monday morning, on WPIX, Channel 11, at around 8:30 A.M. I won’t be leading the workout–another instructor will be doing that. But I’ll be in the background gettin’ my shimmy on.  In my NYSC shirt, of course  ;-)

What qualifies me to do this, other than my general fitness background and, uh, being half-Persian? Well, I took belly dance for several years, and teach it from time to time as well. So while I have no aspirations of being a hookah bar dancing queen or Shakira or whatever, I do know my way around the moves.

It’s fun, and yes, Belly Dance is a great workout. It is very toning and quite good for posture, gait, and body awareness. In other words, with regular Belly Dance classes, you can get  toned, stand taller, and might even have a nice little (sexy?) spring to your step. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, right?

You can bet that after the shoot, I’ll be chugging my green smoothie and squeezing in some Yoga and/or another workout of my own, before heading off to tackle a long to-do list. I’ve grown to love early call-times. I’ve really starting turning into that early bird. Sure, it hurts to get up early some days, but on the days that I do (most days, since my schedule,  body, and mind have all adjusted in that direction), I’m very glad to have gotten up, and find that feeling of productivity and infinite possibilities quite life-affirming and motivating.

I hope everyone has a productive and happy week ahead. I’ll be back very soon with an amazingly easy and tasty one-pot lentil and chickpea stew. Wearing a hip scarf while prepping the stew? Completely optional, of course!

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Happy Nowruz, everybody! :-) Well, technically the big day of the Persian New Year is the spring equinox, which is tomorrow, but I figured now’s as good a time to spread the happiness. The weather here in New York is as fresh and spring-like as can be. Birds singing, tons of sun, and gorgeous blue skies. The flowers and trees haven’t quite caught up, but they soon will.

At the moment, I’m in a bit of Spring Cleaning Mode. As for Spring Cooking:

Here I am cooking kuku sabzi on live TV for Nowruz. This was on Good Day New York a.k.a Fox 5:

Hope you enjoyed the clip. Have a great weekend, everyone!

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A little shift of pace just for today, then back to the cooking stuff, I  promise. . .

That's me in a Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) variation. Photo by Conrad Turner.

I’m not a big calorie counter, truth be told. I like to be aware of calories, but not to obsess. Yoga has taught me a lot about the mind-body connection. The connection has deepened to the point that I can now almost instantly feel my body shift from “We’re hungry” to “We’re just eating for recreation at this point.” I do my best to listen. ;-)

Please understand that this connection did not happen overnight. Quite the opposite–it happened with time, with patience, and with dedicated practice. So if, perhaps, you’re hitting fatigue with your New Year’s resolutions (remember those?) take heart. Putting in the time and effort is key, and you’ll rarely regret doing so. What you will regret? Giving up or slacking off.

Staying active isn’t an all or nothing proposition, either. I still sometimes catch myself slipping into this mentality. I take a step back and remember: If you can’t do a full-on session, try at least a few minutes walking and/or stretching to refresh you and to keep the energy in your body and mind moving.

That all being said, it’s fun for me to keep active. I really do enjoy it. Love that endorphin boost! Sometimes I even get to be active on TV.

Recently, I showed up to a call time to shoot a TV fitness segment, and who did I spot but Kafi Drexel, who is the NY1 Health and Fitness reporter. We see each other around sometimes since we work (and run in) similar circles. But we also know each other from “back in the day.”  Yes, we attended Columbia University together, the Journalism School in particular.

Bosu Balls are great for training the body to balance in multiple ways.

The workout featured in that day’s segment involves lots of balance and lateral exercises designed to prep your body for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. It was no joke, folks. A serious calorie burner for sure! Everyone demonstrating the workout was sweating. Bet on that.

I’m just providing linkage for now. . .gonna figure out how to embed video before long! Click below to play. Try to find me–I’m the one doing my best to balance on the Bosu Ball. Kafi was kind enough not to put in footage of me wobbling ;-)

http://tinyurl.com/NY-1-slope-workout-segment

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Food Network fascinates me. Personally, I prefer the straight up cooking shows to the competitions, but every now and then I’ll find myself flipping channels and find a competition that pulls me in.

A few days ago, I happened upon a Thanksgiving Dinner competition that featured several families, each with its on unique approach to Thanksgiving Dinner. One family. the de Picciottos, was cooking a Middle Eastern style Thanksgiving feast. That totally caught my eye. Here’s a list of their recipes:

Deep fried turkey

A rice-based stuffing.

Braised lamb shanks with baby okra

Cranberry and pomegranate relish

Artichokes with a lemon and mint sauce

Potatoes sofrito

Tabouli salad

Dessert: Marbled mango mousse with phyllo fans.

As you might have guessed, I totally started rooting for them. I caught the show towards the end, and the deep fried turkey was quite ugly. It almost looked burned. But the judges loved the taste of the turkey and the other dishes and really seemed to appreciate the creativity of their menu. Hey, someone has to say it–sometimes ugly food tastes beautiful!

There were some tense moments. But they WON! They got to take home $10,000 (Insert booming Dr. Evil voice here.)

Congratulations!

More on the fam.

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