Yoga pose of the week: tree pose

This week’s featured yoga pose is one of my all-time favorites – tree pose (vrksasana).

Me doing tree pose on Pilot Mountain, NC. Check out that view!

With tree pose, your goal is to become as rooted and sturdy as a tree so have that vision in your mind as you enter the pose.

What does it work?

Thighs & hips

Benefits:

– Improves posture & balance

– Develops concentration

– Reduces sciatica and flat feet

– Stretches ankles, groin, and hips

– Strengthens calves and thighs

Variations:

– You can hold your hands together at heart center or extend them over your head.

– To test your balance even more, try to do tree pose with your eyes closed.

– If you are an absolute beginner or just not good at balancing yet, feel free to hold onto a rail or chair until you can do the pose without assistance. You’ll get there : )

Source: Yoga Journal

Tropical spinach smoothie

“Green monster” smoothies made from spinach have become all the rage. I, myself, am a HUGE proponent of them. They’re delicious, satisfy my sweet tooth, and get me a few servings of leafy greens! The other day, I had some ripe bananas I wanted to use up and a bag of spinach in the fridge so I whipped up a green smoothie. I had some mandarin oranges, pineapple, and lime juice too so I threw those all in the blender to create what I’m calling the Tropical Spinach Smoothie. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 ripe banana, frozen

2-3 handfuls of baby spinach

8 oz water

1/2 cup mandarin oranges

1/2 cup pineapple

1 tablespoon lime juice

Throw everything into the blender and voila! Super easy : )

Sometimes I don’t freeze the banana which makes the result more just like a drink rather than an icy smoothie. Either way is quite tasty.

Image: Heavy on Health

Chocolate bars for vegans

I am addicted to chocolate. None of this “eat dessert once a week” nonsense. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t have some chocolate in the evening with a cup of hot tea. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures. And for me, the darker the better. Since I’ve recently become a vegan, it has been a challenge to find commercial chocolate bars that don’t use dairy products. Here is a round up of delicious chocolate that’s perfect for vegans and can be found at your local Whole Foods or Fresh Market:

Lindt 70%

Newman’s Own

Chocolove Dark Chocolate

NibMor

Endangered Species

Theo Dark Chocolate

Ritter Sport (50% or 70%)

Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups – like Reese’s but even better : )

Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate

*A tip about vegan chocolate: obviously, milk chocolate is a no-no. However, some dark chocolate still contains animal products. Make sure you read the ingredients and avoid bars with stuff like milk fat, whey, or butter.

What are your favorite chocolate bars??

Sources: VegNews

Image: Veggy Wood

Southwest Quinoa

This dish is delicious served warm or cold. The black beans and quinoa are both healthy (and tasty!) sources of protein and the cilantro adds a little extra zest. It is one of my family’s favorite one-pot meals!

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 teaspoon cumin

1 cup frozen (or fresh!) corn

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

salt & pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the garlic & onion and cook until lightly browned.

Add quinoa, broth and cumin. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Add corn and simmer another 5 minutes.

Mix in black beans and cilantro and enjoy!

Image: Avocado Pesto

Extra charges for soy milk another bad move by Starbucks

One of the perks of having a My Starbucks Reward card has always been the free soy milk substitute. As a vegan who used to be addicted to coffee, this was awesome. However, Starbucks has recently announced that this will no longer be the case. Starting October 16, every customer will now have to pay the 40 cent up-charge per serving of non-dairy milk.

Certainly, 40 cents is not going to break the bank. However, it is not the price that is the issue. It’s the concept behind the extra charge. Starbucks is, in a sense, “penalizing” people like vegans or lactose-intolerant customers. The cost of milk is included in the price you pay for a drink so why should soy milk be any different? It seems like a step in the wrong direction for Starbucks with their vegan clientele, particularly after the issue of the company using crushed bugs to color some of the beverages.

Sign the petition to keep soy milk free for rewards customers!

Image: Treehugger | Eater

Sources: Miami New Times

Cauliflower rice

The other day, cauliflower was on sale at the grocery store so I picked up a head. It’s one of my favorite veggies but a single college girl can only eat so much roasted cauliflower. I wanted to find a new way to make it… which led me to find a recipe for cauliflower rice. It still tastes like cauliflower but with the texture of rice. It’s super easy and delicious. Yum yum yum!

image: SCDE

Ingredients:

– One head of cauliflower

– Sea salt

– Black pepper

– Olive oil

Cut up the head of cauliflower and place in a microwaveable dish. Cover with plastic wrap (you don’t need to add water if it’s covered because it will steam itself!).

Microwave for 4-5 minutes or until cauliflower is soft, but not mushy.

Put cauliflower into a food processor and chop into tiny pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do it by hand but that’s pretty tedious!

Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil, and sea salt & pepper to taste. Cilantro and lime juice could be a yummy addition too.

Enjoy!

Omega 3 fatty acid benefits & sources

Omega 3 fatty acids are all the rage in the health world right now, causing people to flock to their local grocery stores and stock up on pounds of salmon. As a vegan, you may be feeling a little left out. Not to mention a bit concerned. With all the good stuff those Omega-3’s give us, how can vegans get their share? Luckily for us, there are a few “hidden” sources of Omega 3 fatty acids that fit perfectly in our lifestyle. First let’s check out why we need those fatty acids.

BENEFITS:

– Prevent heart disease and blood clotting

– Reduce inflammation in your body

– Stimulate production of leptin, a hormone that regulates your metabolism

– Boost your cardiovascular system

VEGAN SOURCES:

– Flax seeds

– Walnuts

– Chia seeds

– Soybeans

– Canola or olive oil

– Dark, leafy greens like kale or collards

So how much do you need to eat? Recent studies have recommended approximately 2 grams daily which equates to a tablespoon of flax seeds. What an easy way to get your omega-3’s and boost your overall health!

Sources: WH Foods | Vegan Health