Give back this holiday season

Want to give back this Thanksgiving but not sure what to do or where to go?

Check out the following Bay Area Events!

CorePower Yoga in Berkeley will be hosting a 75 minute C3 donation based class — $10 is the suggested donation. This invigorating pre-turkey burn at 6:45 pm will be led in a round robin style by Carla, Lacy, and Natalie (check out Berkeley’s CPY website for instructor bios) with all proceeds benefiting the Homeless Action Center.

“HAC provides free public benefits advocacy to people who are homeless and mentally ill in Alameda County. In addition to helping clients obtain sustainable income and health insurance, HAC also works with community stakeholders to reduce the harms associated with a lack of housing and healthcare. Combining professionalism and compassion, HAC provides barrier-free legal assistance to the hardest to reach populations.”

Not only can you get a great workout in before the feast  begins, but, also give to a fantastic local community organization.

Yoga not your thing? That’s okay! Check out Glide in San Francisco for a few amazing opportunities to volunteer over the long holiday. Glide is one of the largest social service agencies in San Francisco and aims to provide nutritious meals to San Francisco’s underrepresented 364 days a year.

Interested in prep work? Glide could use your help then chopping, dicing, mixing and slicing as they prepare for their annual Thanksgiving feast. Wednesday 11/23 5pm-7pm.

How about serving meals? They could use your help there, too! On Thursday 11/24 Glide will serve almost 5,000 meals!

Here are the shifts available:

6am – 9am Breakfast
8:30am – 10am Dinner Service & Carving
9:30am – 11:30am Dinner Service & Carving
11am – 1pm Dinner Service & Carving
12:30pm – 3pm Dinner Service & Carving

Don’t forget about the day after the holiday — Glide is always in need of good volunteers! Breakfast resumes at 7am.

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.  ~Theodore Roosevelt

Have a safe & happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Healthy Holiday Tips!

I’ll admit it, I love all the rich dishes and cut out cookies the holidays bring. In fact, I love them so much that I have to remind myself not to sabotage all the hard work I do throughout the year. While the temptations might seem endless (I’m talking about you peppermint bark & pumpkin pie), I’m positive a balance can be struck. This year, I have a game plan in place so I can indulge without the added bulge!

Workout. I know, I know … However, I refuse to go to hell in a hand basket this year and spend my winter break fitting back into my skinnies. Yoga is my mainstay and I enjoy my weekly run club, but, it’s easy to “oversleep” on the holiday or punt due to day after coma. While I’m not advocating a massive workout session, use this opportunity to take a walk with a loved one and enjoy the fall foliage or join a local turkey trot like this one. Not only will you feel better for it, that pumpkin pie will taste all the more sweet!

Eat a healthy snack. I already know I am going to be tempted to pile on an extra spoonful of my mother-in-law Mia’s fantastic mashed potatoes that are reserved specifically for Thanksgiving. Chances are good I’ll make a few fruit kebabs like these (minus the mini brownie, though I LOVE that idea) to throw in the car for my husband and I to snack on before dinner. If you don’t want to snack before dinner, a few tall glasses of cool H2O should do the trick!

Bring a healthy dish. If you’re worried that Thanksgiving dinner may be a bit too rich for you with all that butter and cream, bring a healthy dish with a bit of decadence like this acorn squash. I like that the author includes a savory option as well as a sugar & spice version. Your host will appreciate the contribution to the dinner table and you can feel good knowing you contributed a healthy touch to the day.

Remember if you overindulge one or even two days, it’s okay. Don’t beat  yourself up and don’t use your overindulgence as an excuse to fall of the wagon for the rest of the holiday season. Just get back to your healthy eating habits the following day and move forward. Feel like you need a jump start? Try replacing one or two meals with a healthy green smoothie. They’re incredibly filling and super nutritious!

Let the festivities commence!

I love a good challenge!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Christmas on the horizon, and in between a family wedding, holiday parties, a birthday and finals, November and December are quickly filling up. Did I mention we’re getting a puppy?

I love this time of year for how wonderfully busy and exciting it can be. I get to reconnect with my family and friends, decorate the house and enjoy Christmas music that I wait all year patiently for and don’t officially bust out until after our family Thanksgiving meal is done.

What I failed to mention is fitting in my regularly scheduled workout. Fitness along with a healthful diet is often forgotten when we get busy with holiday preparations. Having a good fitness routine in place as we move into the holiday season is so vital not only for our mental well-being, but also for keeping our immune system strong during this time of year; as joyful as the holiday season ultimately is, sometimes stress can get the best of us.

That’s why I was so excited my yoga studio, CPY initiated a yoga challenge. Basically any yogi who averages 4 classes a week now through 12/14 will be entered into a raffle to win prizes. Who doesn’t love prizes?! Honestly, for me, it’s all about the neat sparkly star sticker I proudly get to add next to my name. Fun, right?! New folks get a free week of yoga, too. Check it out!

What are you doing to stay calm and healthy this holiday season?

The Importance of Breath

A yoga instructor once announced in class “Use your breath, it will tell you everything you need to know about what you need to know right now.” To this day, that inspiring instructor still remains one of my favorites for her light-hearted approach to yoga and meaningful sentiments she often brings to the mat.

Breath is vital. However, it’s so simple and clearly obvious that we often take our breath for granted. We can go for days without water and even weeks without food, but, without oxygen, we would cease to exist. Physiologically we breathe to supply the organs in our body the oxygen they need in order to function properly as well as a means to rid our bodies of wastes and toxins.

In yoga, ancient breathing techniques called Pranayama are used to maximize our universal life force. We use breath in yoga to cleanse our bodies of toxins as well as to clear and focus our minds, increasing awareness. When we use the breath to our advantage, a confused situation can often become quite clear.

I encourage you to use your breath; as whatever it is you’re searching for, will without a doubt, be right there waiting for you.

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Nutritional Yeast

Though I am pretty adventurous when it comes to food, it took a bit for me to hop on board with the sadly named nutritional yeast.

A favorite amongst the vegan crowd, nutritional yeast can be added from everything to veggie stir fry and mashed potatoes to popcorn. Nutritional yeast is slightly tangy and adds a nutty/cheesy flavor to cooked dishes. While the cheese flavor is an added bonus, nutritional yeast is also a reliable source of vitamin B12. I like to add a heaping tablespoon to my favorite veggie, kale, and mix in a small amount of steamed brown rice. This meal to me is my updated version of the comforting cheesy rice and broccoli dish my grandmother made growing up.

Vitamin B12 naturally occurs in animal and dairy products, so practicing vegans and many vegetarians must supplement this vitamin through other means such as nutritional yeast or fortified cereals. Nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk food bins of your grocer or in the supplement section and comes in either flakes or powder. I like Bob’s. Make sure to purchase nutritional yeast, not brewer’s yeast, which does not contain vitamin B12.

 

Delicata Squash

Wednesday is my favorite day of the week and that’s not just because the weekend is almost here. Each Wednesday when my husband comes home from work, he brings me a present … a big box of beautiful produce from Riverdog Farm. I never know what’s in store for me until the box arrives — it’s awesome!

This week we received a bounty of beautiful fall produce including one of my all-time favorite veggies, kale (excellent in green smoothies or have you tried kale chips — delicious!) as well as lots of yummy greens (spinach and arugula) and fingerling potatoes (toss with fresh garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper, and roast — yum!). I really could go on and on … how much produce gets packed into this weekly CSA box never fails to amaze me.

Which brings me to … squash!

Delicata squash.

While many of us out there (myself included) are quick to pick up a familiar squash like butternut, for its excellent ability to dual as both a delicious roasted vegetable side or pureed into a thick and creamy satisfying fall soup. It turns out by passing over these “decorations” I have really been missing out.

After a quick trip online to research recipes for this (new to me) winter squash, I decided to keep it easy, choosing to simply roast the squash. Once I got to work, the squash was super easy to manage due to its small size, making it a snap to clean, chop, and roast. The skin on the delicata squash is thin and edible, so I chose not to remove the skin, but instead to keep it on for its added nutritional benefit.

Nutritionally, delicata is about 30 calories per 3/4 cup serving and contributes almost 3/4 of the daily nutritional requirement for vitamin A, which is excellent for eyesight, especially nighttime vision as well as vitamin C, which aids in immune support and wound healing.

To prepare the squash, I chopped it in half lengthwise, removed the seeds and then sliced the squash into thick, beautiful half-moon slices. I then lightly tossed the slices of squash with some fresh rosemary and thyme I had on hand, salt and pepper, and olive oil. I also sprinkled in about a teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes for a little extra added spice! I laid the squash in a single layer on a sheet pan and roasted the squash for about 30 minutes (turning occasionally) in a 425 F oven. The finished product was perfection, a beautiful crisp golden exterior with a rich and creamy mouth-feel.

I always thought late spring through summer were my favorite for local Bay Area produce. This weekly box sure has me changing my tune fast!

What are some of your fall favorite veggies? How do you feel about the “decorations?”

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