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Hiiiii! It’s been ages since I’ve posted here. More and more, I’ve been feeling moved to express myself through writing and also through cooking the foods I love. Today’s post might feel relevant to you no matter your political beliefs, because, let’s face it, we all experience times in life where things do not go as we’d wished.

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Do we see these times as obstacles to overcome? Or as opportunities for growth? These are things I ponder a lot as a woman who teaches yoga. And as an American citizen in 2016.

And now…

“This is the yoga,” one of my teacher friends, Kiley, said in class on Wednesday…that gray post-election morning.  

For real, sister.

This IS the yoga.

When things don’t go our way? How we show up and how we choose to perceive things is SO the yoga. Acknowledging the truth of how we feel. Yoga. Owning the ickiness and the feeling of being in the muck. How we choose to move forward. That’s the yoga.

Do we choose to turn bitter? Or better?

Do we get mired down in the swamp? Or, like the lotus flower, do we use the swampy muck as fuel to help us grow and blossom and liberate into our potential?

In other words, when life hands us shit, do we complain and give up? Or maybe we do complain, but eventually we use that shit to feed and grow a beautiful garden?

Will we harden and turn cold and bitter inside? Or will we let our pain and heartbreak warm us, soften us, and strengthen us simultaneously? Will we let our hurt break us open, or shut us down?

Are we choosing to see ourselves as victims? Or for who we really are…powerful creators?

This is what I call the Yoga of Real Life, ya’ll.

It’s a choice. It really is.

I’m not saying I always choose perfectly, guys. Far from it. Yet together, we can support one another in making better choices.

We must feel in order to heal, my loves.

Let’s choose love over fear. Conscious, aware, loving activism.

Going forward, our yoga practices will help us re-center, cleanse, and clarify.

For me, the yoga has also involved doing a few extra random acts of kindness as I make my way around NYC this week. I invite you all to do the same. It feels good. No matter where we stand on the political spectrum, we all could use a little extra dose of kindness. Write to me, if you wish, and let me know how it goes for you.  

Sending massive love and light to all.

 

 

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Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies are fudgey, brownie and cookie-like all at once. You'd never believe they're free of many common allergens, including gluten, dairy, and can easily be made minus eggs and tree nuts.

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies are fudgey, brownie and cookie-like all at once. You’d never believe they’re free of many common allergens, including gluten, dairy, and can easily be made free of eggs and tree nuts. Cookie photos by Kristen Joerger of tiny-gourmet.com  .

This Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe post has literally been years in the making.  A couple of years ago, I ran across a cookie recipe I really liked, and tinkered with it.  Soon, I was baking these babies up, and taking them to house parties, to weekends away, on hikes, and on road trips. People LOVE these cookies. I’ve heard people go so far as to call them “The best cookies I’ve ever had in my life.”

cookiesI’d bet money they’ve gotten me invited back a few places 😉

They were a huge hit at my most recent yoga retreat.

People always request this recipe, yet I always got sidetracked.

You’d never guess these cookies are free of many common allergens. My goal was to make them taste chocolately and decadent, not diet. These cookies have no:

  • gluten
  • dairy
  • egg (if you choose to veganize them, that is)
  • or tree nuts (if you choose the tree nut free option, that is)

Here are some of us at my most recent yoga retreat in upstate New York:

fall retreat group shot 2013 upstate

This magic batter traveled with me to my most recent yoga retreat, and the cookies were a huge hit when we packed them into the bagged picnic lunches we took with us to the apple orchard.

These cookies are packed with flavor and a beautiful texture.

Bria’s Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies.

  • 1 cup peanut butter (or almond butter, or, to go tree nut free, use sunflower seed butter.)
  • 1 cup UNSweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (I prefer dark brown)
  • 1 egg (replace egg by combining 1 tbsp ground flax seeds + 3 tbsp warm water in a small bowl and stirring.  Allow a “jelly” to form after a few minutes and use this as your “egg”)
  • pinch teaspoon salt (leave out if your peanut butter is salted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, chunks, or half a cup of each (I used Trader Joe’s brand, as they are free of dairy)

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a nice, roomy mixing bowl, cream together peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.

3. Begin adding in cocoa powder, 1/4 cup at a time, and mix until well incorporated and moist. If the batter gets too dry, add in bit of water, leftover coffee, or milk of choice to loosen it. Then remix. If batter becomes too loose, add in more cocoa powder to tighten it up.

4. Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate chips and/or chunks. Save the rest for garnish.

5. OPTIONAL/not always necessary: Stash mix in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you prepare  your cookies sheets. I either line mine with parchment paper, or spray them with cooking spray. One of these days I WILL get a Silpat.

6. Use a cookie scoop or a spoon to make uniform sized dough balls. (I do this by hand and spoon, and each cookie is a generous tablespoon of dough). Do NOT smash cookies down.

7. Place 3-5 chocolate chips and/or chunks on the top of the cookies. You can flip the cookie dough ball upside down and get the chips to adhere that way.

8. Bake cookies for 9-14 minutes, until ever so faint cracks appear on the surface. I know 9-12 minutes is quite a range, but I find that variations in altitude and ovens really do make a difference in bake times. In my NYC toaster oven, these cookies are perfect at 8-10 minutes of baking. In Colorado, I had to go closer to 12 minutes, sometimes beyond, in the “big” oven, to get the right texture.

9. Let cool slightly (or a lot, your choice, but I can never wait too long to try these). Enjoy!

So there you have it. An easy, creative,  recipe that is so delicious, you’d never know it’s friendly to many “restricted” diets and actually kinda healthy.

Question Time:

What’s your go-to dessert?

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Moist, cakey…like a cross between a cookie, a cake, and a muffin. Cream cheese icing optional. I found these cookies delicious without it.

Carrot cake is awesome, isn’t it? In cookie form, it’s pretty amazing, too. Especially when the cookie is moist and cakey at the same time, much like actual carrot cake. Bonus: cookies are soooo much more portable than cakes, or even cupcakes. Throw these in a picnic basket or lunch box, and you’re good to go.

At my last Yoga retreat.

I rigged up this recipe when looking to create a cookie  for my upcoming Yoga retreat. I wanted something with fall flavors and a comfort food vibe. I looked around online and found a handful carrot cake cookie recipes. With a few modifications, the cookies easily become healthier, with zero loss of flavor or texture.

My carrot cake cookies don’t taste “free” of anything, but they are indeed free of many common allergens, including dairy, gluten, and, if you prefer, tree nuts. Of course there’s sugar, but a moderate amount.  There is egg in them, but you could likely leave it out and just do a flax or chia “egg.” (Leave me a comment if you try it to let us know how it goes). These cookies are packed with flavor and a beautiful texture.

Carrot Cake Cookies

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies.

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) oat flour (simply grind 1 cup whole oats into a flour-like texture in your food processor or blender. If gluten free is a concern, get certified GF oats)
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (Yes, it’s a lot. Trust me on this).
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, at room temperature (I use Trader joe’s brand; Sunbutter brand is good, too)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light both work)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (note: these ARE a tree nut; leave out if needed. I personally prefer my cookies minus nuts, and leave them out.)

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a nice, roomy mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients: oat flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and powder, salt.

3. In a second roomy mixing bowl, cream sunflower seed butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Once smooth, add egg and mix until smooth again.

4. Make a well in the wet ingredients. Gently incorporate dry ingredients, 1/3 of the mixture at a time. Fold in raisins, grated carrots, oats, and walnuts (if using).

5. Stash mix in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you prepare  your cookies sheets. I either line mine with parchment paper, or spray them with cooking spray. One of these days I WILL get a Silpat.

6. Use a cookie scoop or a spoon to make uniform sized dough balls. (I do this by hand and spoon, and each cookie is a generous tablespoon of dough).

7. Bake cookies for 9-14 minutes, until ever so faint cracks appear on the surface. I know 9-14 minutes is quite a range, but I find that variations in altitude and ovens really do make a difference in bake times. In my NYC toaster oven, these cookies are perfect at 9-10 minutes of baking. In Colorado, I had to go closer to 14 minutes, sometimes beyond, in the “big” oven, to get the right texture.

8. Let cool slightly (or a lot, your choice, but I can never wait to try these). Enjoy!

So there you have it. An easy, creative, fall-friendly, carrot cake cookie recipe that is so delicious, you’d never know it’s friendly to many “restricted” diets and actually kinda healthy.

Question Time:

What’s your favorite fall dessert recipe?

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Self portrait of me in between takes of a Yoga photo shoot last fall. Note the peaceful look. I credit the Yoga 😉

Hey Gang!

If you need some Yoga to help sweat out those Valentine’s Day sweets, and you live in the New York City area, today might just be your lucky day, a true Wellness Wednesday:

A month of UNlimited Yoga at ISHTA Yoga in Manhattan is on offer via Groupon. For $30. Yeah, you read right: 30 bucks!

I’ve yet to try out ISHTA, but it’s been on my list of “must-try” studios for awhile. Now I’m IN to check it out.

I dug around on their website and elsewhere online, and I like the following:

  • They have lots of class options throughout every day. Even random times, like mid-afternoons.
  • The Union Square location is convenient.
  • The reviews I’ve read are quite good.
  • Several teachers I’ve been meaning to try out teach there.
  • One class at a typical Yoga studio can cost $15 to $20. Dunno about you, but this can put a serious dent in my budget. The opportunity to take unlimited classes for the cost of two classes is awesome. And to do this for a MONTH? Wow!
  • Not ready to do this? It’s okay, you have until July 17, 2011, to activate the coupon.

This is about as much vetting as I can do short of checking the place out myself. Sooo. . . .

Click this link if you’re interested:

ISHTA Yoga Deal

Another food post soon, my dears. Have a lovely Wednesday. Be well!

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What once seemed impossible eventually can become merely challenging. This Forearm Stand, Scorpio variation took a good while to get. Optimism certainly helped; simply believing it was possible, then doing the work went a long way towards making this pose a reality for me. Photo by Marisa Train.

Today I’m sharing some motivating words I found posted on Karen Rauch Carter’s wonderful website. Do check it out. She’s a feng shui expert and so much more. Her book, “Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life” is one of my favorites!

A vendor at the farmer’s market shared this poem with Karen. She posted it on her website, and I just had to share it:

The Optimist Creed

Promise yourself:

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk help, happiness and prosperity to everyone you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and to happy to permit the presence of trouble.

– Optimist International

Yep, all of the above is a tall order, but if we move towards optimism, that’s an accomplishment. Just like in the Yoga pose pictured. . .I had to take many baby steps to move towards it. Each step, even the mistakes–especially the mistakes–were steps in the right direction.

Have a great day, everyone. I’ll be back soon with some food posts, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

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Shiva Nataraj, a "dancer's pose" variation. Photo by Marisa Train.

Happy Friday, everyone. I’m so excited for the weekend. And not just because I just got paid. Ha ha ha!

Even though I work weekends, they have a mellow feel, yanno?  I have a hot and fresh new Yoga sequence I’m teaching in my classes, and have a couple of classes I get to take that I’m excited about.

One is a bootcamp taught by one of my mentors, Terri Walsh at her exclusive A.R.T. studio here in Manhattan.  She’s amazing. Imagine having as a mentor someone whose workouts and books you owned in college. Then getting to meet this person in person AND work with them. It’s pretty cool and slightly surreal, in that very NYC type of way.

What are you guys excited about this weekend? Taking any cool trips, classes, or anything else fun going on?

Onward to the promised tippage:

So I’m going to leave you with a motivating quote and a tip on a beautiful new cookbook a fellow blogger just published, plus a little tune-age to welcome the weekend.

1. Yoga and Fitness Tip:

“Reaffirm your strength. Your body can do amazing things, no matter what shape you’re in. Throughout your practice, treat it with care and, rather than fixate on its limitations, pause to thank your body for functioning so well.” –Yoga Journal


Pretty motivating, right? I often find that we’re so much stronger than we realize. If we work intelligently and with strong, focused intention, we can achieve so much. And do so safely, which is vitally important. As I often tell my students, we are so incredibly blessed to be healthy enough to even have a Yoga or fitness practice. And it IS a practice, not a performance or competition.

Increased awareness of how we align our bodies and move our breath will lead to an increased awareness of where we place, align, and move our energies in our lives.

2. Food Tip: Cookbook Giveaway via Ivy’s blog:


Enter to win this awesome cookbook at http://kopiaste.org/

If you haven’t checked out Ivy’s blog and cookbook yet, you really should. I’ll admit than I’m new to her blog myself, but am so excited to have discovered it. She just published a cookbook, something I plan to do someday myself. So she’s already a hero in my book. Her book looks beautiful! She’s running a giveaway of it, so do click on over and enter.

Ok, final tip:

3. Music Tip:

A couple of tunes I’m soooo into.

One is by a cat named Gordon Voidwell. I ran across his music a while back and have become a regular at his shows. In fact, he played one last night at Lincoln Center that I got to attend. Fun!

To me, his tunes sound like a cross between old school funk like Parliament, catchy, intelligent Blondie-esque pop, and a dash of Prince and Outkasst thrown in. Even that description doesn’t begin to describe it adequately, so have a listen to his single, “Ivy League Circus” and see what you think:

Warning, it’s peppy and bouncy, and you might just be motivated to dance your way into the weekend:

If that’s not peppy enough for you, I’m very into this track “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People. It’s kinda kitschy, but hey, I’m cool with kitsch. Kinda live for it, actually 😉

Don’t think they have an original video for it yet, but put this on in the background and enjoy. Have a fabulous weekend!

 

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Come join me at Lululemon near Lincoln Square, New York City, this Sunday, November 21. I'll be teaching a FREE class there at 8PM.

It seems like just yesterday that I was a newbie Yoga instructor, longing to be one of those instructors invited to teach an in-store class at Lululemon Athletica. (Maker and seller of the fabulous, durable, and bootylicious Yoga pants, among other athletic apparel items I lust after). Around the same time as my longings, a friend and fellow instructor applied to work there. She didn’t get the gig, but a couple of years later, she was invited to teach at Lulu. Talk about things coming a full circle, right? It just shows that we are often exactly where we need to be. Now it’s my turn to give a class at Lulu, and I’m so very thrilled that NYSC and Lululemon have offered me this opportunity!

I’ll be at the Lululemon near Lincoln Square THIS Sunday, November 21, at 8 p.m., teaching a one hour open level Vinyasa Yoga class. The class is all levels, so no, you do not have to be able to, or even aspire to do the pigeon pose variation I’m doing in the pic. 😉

Lululemon Lincoln Square

1928 Broadway near West 64th Street

Class time from 8-9 p.m. on Sunday, November 21.

So my New Yorker readers who are curious about my class and style, or my students and other peeps who just wanna come out and represent, please do come on by. Yoga mats are provided, so lack of mattage can’t deter you 😉 . And if you stop by, come say hello after the sesh. It’s always fab to meet people in person and their feedback on Yoga.

More event  details here.

Everyone have a fabulous weekend!

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