Thursday, November 5, 2009

top 5 reasons yoga is great for hypoglycemics

I'm back! It has been a long time since my last post, but I have a good excuse. I have been taking an intensive yoga teacher training course, getting a 200-hour certification in Hatha/Kundalini yoga at Karuna Yoga, which is a wonderful studio if you are in the LA area. Between all the lectures and yoga classes and homework (!), (oh, and my regular day job), I haven't had time for much blogging, cooking, or even going to the farmer's market. But, I have lots of new ideas for posts.

I will get cooking again soon and post some new fall recipes, but I thought it would be appropriate if my first post back was about hypoglycemia and yoga. I believe that anyone and everyone can benefit from yoga - not just the fit and flexible. Practicing yoga can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Sequences and practices can always be modified, and should always be done with an awareness of what you need right now. In my personal experience, yoga has really helped me to manage my blood sugar better, and to feel healthier overall.

So, here are my Top 5 Reasons Yoga is Great for Hypoglycemics:

1. Yoga helps improve your energy while other forms of exercise may exhaust you. This is not to say that running, cycling, etc. are bad - in fact, they are great, but sometimes they are not what you need if you are having blood sugar problems.

2. Yoga enhances the functioning of the glandular and nervous systems, especially by decreasing stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline) and increasing relaxation hormones. Being in the "fight or flight" mode triggered by an excess of stress hormones will interfere with the body's ability to use blood sugar efficiently. Here's a short article about yoga and diabetes that touches on this.

3. Yoga fosters greater body-mind awareness. If we can tune into our bodies, we are better able to sense when symptoms of low blood sugar are appearing so that we can do something about it. This awareness also helps us to realize which foods are making us feel good and which foods are making things worse.

4. Yoga postures help increase the circulation of blood, oxygen, fluids, and nutrients to organs throughout the body. When all of our systems are working well, the blood sugar stays balanced.

5. Yoga develops the focus and clear thinking that we need in order to stick to a sugar-free, white bread, white rice, white flour - free diet. It's hard! Some self control and mental discernment helps.

I'm sure I could come up with more to add to this list, but I don't want to be pedantic about it. Yoga is great - enough said! I am working on a practice sequence tailored to the goal of keeping blood sugar stable, and I will post that in the near future. Namaste ;)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

kitchen curator: Mark Bittman's 101 salad ideas

I'm starting a new label, "kitchen curator," in which I'll link to other people's good ideas. I mostly blog about my own invented recipes or modifications of someone else's recipes, but sometimes I run across food inspiration too good not to share.

Mark Bittman, food columnist for the New York Times, and author of a giant cookbook called How to Cook Everything, has a lot of interesting ideas. Recently, he turned in this gem for the NYT - "101 Simple Salads for the Season."

I'm quite intrigued by #2 and #4 and #8, and I even made the preserved lemons for #48 the other night, but have yet to assemble the rest of the salad. Maybe this weekend...

I love the "crouton" idea in #44, where he makes a grilled cheese sandwich and chops it into bite-size salad garnishes. I would use whole-wheat bread, of course. ;)

I would love it if he came up with 101 soup ideas this fall! Wonder if he takes requests...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

can you tell what I'm making?

At about 3:20, I cut some eggplants into small cubes, tossed them in olive oil and some sea salt, and placed them on a baking sheet.

I also wrapped up an ear of corn in aluminum.

It's 3:35 now, and both are going in the oven.

UPDATE 1: (3:50) Now that the eggplants and corn are cooking, I wanted to add that I'm using 3 different kinds of eggplants. I can't resist all those cool and weird-looking varieties at the Farmers Market! This dish will have American eggplant (the familiar purplish-black, "globe" eggplants), a Filipino eggplant (like the one in my hand here), and a Rosa Bianca eggplant.

UPDATE 2: (3:57) I just put a pot of water on the stove, to bring to a boil, and now my oven timer is beeping, so I'd better go check the eggplant and corn.

UPDATE 3: (4:02) The eggplant tastes great! Time to start working with some of the other ingredients: onions, a jar of roasted red peppers, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and capers. I left the corn in the oven, but turned the heat off. I'm also starting to wonder why I thought it would be such a great idea to cook today, when it is super, super hot outside.
UPDATE 4: (4:17) I keep nibbling on the eggplant chunks, and I'm still waiting for the water to boil! I did slice my cherry tomatoes into halves, though. It was about 40 cherry tomatoes - I counted them, just for you. :)

Speaking of nibbling, when we got home from the Farmers Market today, we took a bunch of the black seedless grapes we'd bought, put them in a freezer bag, and stuck them in the freezer. Mike and I just tasted the frozen grapes, and they were so sweet and refreshing. Highly recommended!

UPDATE 5: (4:30) Finally! The water is boiling, so I put in the whole wheat penne pasta. In the meantime, I also sliced up 3/4 of a yellow onion into half rings, and I'm working on caramelizing it (on medium-high heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil) now.

UPDATE 6: (4:40) OK, the pasta is done, and it's sitting in the colander in the sink. While it was cooking, I remembered the corn (by some miracle), got it out of the oven, and sliced the kernels off into a bowl. I hold the tip of the stalk with my left hand (using an oven mitt), resting the other end of the cob in the bowl. Then I simply cut the corn off with a knife. I'm going to cut a few canned fire-roasted red peppers into strips next.

UPDATE 7: (4:44) Still caramelizing, so there's time for this comment/hint. This dish traditionally has a kind of sweet-sour flavor, which most recipes achieve by adding sugar. I'm not going to do that, of course. I'm hoping to get there through the sweetness of caramelized onions, corn, and yellow (along with some red) cherry tomatoes.

UPDATE 8: (4:50) That's enough caramelizing! I just turned down the heat and added the tomatoes and roasted red peppers to the onion pan, along with a clove of minced garlic, a teaspoon of salt, and 3 twists of the pepper grinder.

UPDATE 9: (4:58) I have added the eggplant cubes to the pan now, along with about 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. The tomatoes are cooking down nicely. And I had a know what else is kind of sweet? Tarragon! I don't have any fresh, so I threw in a teaspoon of dried tarragon. And a dash of red chili flakes, because I'm going to use fresh mint leaves later, so this dish will play around with hot-cool and sweet-sour.

UPDATE 10: (5:05) Final additions to the sauce: the corn, 4 teaspoons of capers, and 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts. Funnily enough, it's hard to tell the pine nuts from the corn kernels once they're all mixed in!

UPDATE 11: (5:14) The answer - I'm making eggplant caponata. Sort of! It's going to be a cold pasta salad instead of a spread. The idea occurred to me because A.) it's really hot outside, and B.) eggplant caponata is often served at room temperature or chilled. Now that the caponata sauce is done, I have combined it with the penne noodles in a container, and it's all in the fridge chilling. I'll let you know how it is in a couple of hours!

UPDATE 12: (8:00ish) It was good! The picture below shows the finished dish, garnished with shaved Parmesan and some mint sprigs. It really did have the sweet factor - so much so, that next time, I might skip the tarragon and use some more savory herbs. Still, we liked it because it was so refreshing and summery.

Mucho thanks to Mike for all the pictures he took and uploaded!