10 Reasons Why to Love Yoga

I have been taking yoga classes for about 10 years, and I’m a fan. Bikram yoga is my yoga of choice. Bikram yoga was designed by Bikram Choudhury, who learned yoga at the age of 3, and after a crippling accident, he found that 26 certain postures restored his health. All 26 postures are done in the same exact order every class in a heated room up to 105 degrees, and they are said to work every part of the body. The heat improves and enhances flexibility, flushes the toxins from the body, improves your overall fitness and increases your immune system (not to mentions helps to reduce your weight). Many forms of yoga exist, and you have to find what is right for you. Whichever type you choose, here is why you should love yoga:


1. It gives you energy-Hatha yoga is one of the only types of exercise that actually increases your energy levels. It works the body from the inside out and strengthens the organs getting everything to function normally. One specific pose in Bikram yoga is said to be equivalent to 8 hours of sleep. I don’t know if I believe this, but I do know that I have more energy after a class. On the nights I do yoga, I have this incredible energy buzz, and I always wake up early feeling extra rested.

2. It takes your mind off everything. Yoga is meditative. It also enhances concentration and focus while teaching you how to stay in the present moment.

3. It puts me in a better mood. Yoga increases oxygen to the brain which makes you feel better and is said by medical experts to even help fight depression.

4. Yoga gives you strength. Yoga helps elongate muscles and creates great looking tone to the muscles in the body.

5. It relieves stress. It helps me be mindful of breathing so when I am in stressful situations, I can deal with them even better. It truly gives me peace.

6. Increases balance, clears the mind and the soul. Balance postures really help you strengthen your body such as standing on one leg.

7. Improves your posture.

8. Yoga reduces your risk of sports injury-Yoga is a great way to gain flexibility which helps reduce risks of injury from other sports.

9. Yoga strengthens your back. When I first started doing yoga, a few friends asked me what type of strength training I was doing for my back. Yoga is the answer.

10. It’s a a great workout. I love doing yoga because it’s a wonderful workout. I honestly feel like I have worked every bone and muscle in my body. I think it only enhances my other sport activities and also enhances my work, my relationships and mood.

Note: The yoga tank above is from 59 Splits.

 

National Pie Day: Chocolate Chess Pie

I’m celebrating National Pie Day with this fantastic Chocolate Chess Pie. If you haven’t heard, the 2011 hot food trend is pie, and pie is also the “new cupcake”. I tasted some great pies this weekend at Food Blog South’s first ever conference in Birmingham, Alabama. The pies were served during a conference break from the incredible Pie Lab located in Greensboro Alabama. This conference was beyond amazing. I am so honored to have been a Speaker (along with Virginia Willis) on the topic of Recipe Development. We had great feedback and a very large attendance in our session so thank you to everyone involved. The conference (which was sold out), was a huge success raising money for the Dessert Island Supply Company and another charity benefiting the gulf. It was one of the best blog conferences I have attended where I met some of the nicest, most sincere and talented writers, bloggers, photographers, stylists, marketing representatives and passionate people.

To celebrate the south, I am so proud to feature this southern pie recipe. I grew up eating chess pie, and many northern and western friends ask me, “What is chess pie?” According to James Beard’s American Cookery, chess pie was brought from England originally and was found in New England as well as Virginia. What sets chess pie apart from many other custard type pies is the addition of cornmeal. I love it flavored with chocolate for extra sweet touch. Enjoy with (or without) whipped cream or powdered sugar.

As Low-Fat as Possible: Chicken Enchildadas

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Recently, one of my subscribers, Beth, asked me for a weeknight Chicken Enchilada recipe that is not too fattening. I actually took one of her favorite recipes and lightened it for her. It’s really easy to prepare and is very filling. I used a rotisserie chicken to simplify things. Serve with a side salad or guacamole, and that’s all you will need.

Fajitas and Guacamole: Say No More

I thought I would start off the week with some options if you would like to cook easy Mexican dishes. Some of my friends eat Mexican every Sunday night, and I have others that have a standard Thursday which is “Mexican night” at their house. With all of the recipes I have to develop and test, I don’t really have the flexibility for a specific night of the week to be the same on a weekly basis. However, my kids love fajitas and guacamole, and they always look forward to “Mexican night” at our house. Feel free to substitute or add chicken, shrimp or more vegetables for the Fajitas below.

 

Grilled Steak Fajitas

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 pound Ribeye Steak (May substitute strip, sirloin or shell)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 medium-hot Poblano pepper (dark green and triangular)

1 medium yellow onion

8 fat-free flour tortillas

tomatoes, optional

Preparation

1. At least two hours before dinner, dust a 1-pound ribeye steak with freshly ground black pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Let sit in refrigerator so spice flavors can penetrate the meat.

2. Cut the peppers into large segments, discarding the ribs and seeds. Next, cut onion into thick slices, making sure not to pull onion rings apart.

3. Prepare grill and adjust heat accordingly.

4. Place peppers and onion slices on grill and cover. Roast peppers by turning frequently until they are covered with dark spots, but not burnt. Cook onion slices until brown, being sure not to char. 

5. Remove peppers and onion slices from grill. After allowing the peppers to cool 3-4 minutes, pull off the waxy-papery skins. Slice the peppers crosswise into strips. Next, take the onion slices and break into rings. Mix the peppers and onions in a serving bowl.

6. Place ribeye on grill, turning frequently. 

7. Warm eight fat-free tortillas on the edge of the grill, keeping them away from direct heat, so they warm and soften but don’t dry out or turn crisp.

8. After cooking, remove steak from grill and cut diagonally into thin slices. Roll several slices of steak and a share of the peppers and onions into tortillas and serve.

Cooking Tip: It is important to let the dry rub of spices penetrate the meat. It not only tenderizes the meat, but also adds extra flavor. For a short cut, peppers don’t have to be peeled.

Cooking Tip: To help keep the meat moist when grilling, use the cover on your grill during part or all of the cook time to help lock in flavorful juices. If your grill doesn’t have a cover, improvise by putting a large, disposable foil roasting pan over the food.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Laura’s Lean Beef http://laurasleanbeef.com

Best Guacamole Ever

This is one of my favorite guacamole recipes.

Prep: 15 minutes

Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients

4 ripe avocados

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion 

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced

Preparation

1. Cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl. (I use my hands.) Immediately add the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.

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Leigh and Me Cook

   Many of you who have read my blog today asked about what “Leigh and Me Cook” is…..

   Leigh is my 9 year-old daughter who I call little “Martha”. Leigh is ahead of her time and passing me by quickly. She makes her own smoothies everyday, homemade omelets cooked to order, cookies, cakes, cupcakes and wonderful chocolate-dipped strawberries. She can cut garlic and fresh herbs just as well as I.

   The recipes filed under this category will be recipes or products that Leigh loves and can make all by herself with minimal assistance. I thought those of you who have children might love some of these ideas to get your kids cooking and interested and knowledgeable about food.

   I have to be honest. Some days she “shows” me up in the kitchen which can by a little scary! She loves the pizza and crust in today’s earlier blog, and she recommends it highly! 

Look for her Simple Chocolate Cake coming soon! A good friend of mine (who has exceptional taste in food) calls it “AWESOME”!