Home Rituals – Maple Pecan Pie

I’ve had slow-cooked foods on the brain lately: French onion soup, barbecued ribs and pecan pie. Slow-cooked foods are ideal in the winter and when my body is craving certain foods, I listen.

I’ve wanted to make a pecan pie for ten years. My inspiration came from the Shoshoni Yoga cookbook, which I discovered after a day trip to the Rollinsville, Colorado center.

Even more outstanding than the high frequency of the beautiful mountain ashram or the gentle yoga class was the food…

The yoga class was held in the main hall next to the kitchen where I could hear the cooks chanting mantras (mantra: to protect).

The summer meal consisted of Mexican vegetable soup, salad with avocado dressing, and sopapillas with refried beans and cheese. I felt so nourished from eating these foods and left wanting to know more.

I studied every page of that cookbook. All great recipes (especially the desserts section) but the pecan pie was the most impressive. Why?

They use maple syrup instead of corn syrup.

I didn’t know you could substitute the two. Corn syrup is a standard ingredient in pecan pie. It’s also one of the sweeteners that I avoid.

Maple syrup is packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants. Combined with pecans’ massive health benefits this dessert is a phenomenal superfood.

“One saintly Ma from Bangalore tells us, “We need to eat a little sweet on occasion, so we stay sweet.” – Yoga Kitchen: Recipes from the Shoshoni Yoga Retreat

I’d been hesitant because I wasn’t sure how to do it. I didn’t want to mess up or waste good ingredients. But after a two week Personal Yoga retreat I felt more courageous and aware of my body’s messages.

It became clear that I needed more information. So I did some research which led me to this recipe. It’s similar to Shoshoni’s version and has more detailed instructions.

A Personal Spin

I used pre-shelled pecan pieces (slow food is great but ain’t nobody got time to shell 2 1/2 cups of pecans) and added a little nitrate-free bacon fat to the pie dough (bacon fat prevents the crust from burning). You could go straight butter – just keep an eye on the edges. [Is Lard Healthy?]

Maple Pecan Pie

Prep: 8 hours or overnight

Servings: 8

One 9″ Pie Crust

  • 3/4 cup white flour, chilled
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, chilled
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 5 Tbsp butter, chilled
  • 3 Tbsp bacon fat, chilled
  • 4-6 Tbsp ice water

Filling

  • 2 1/2 cups toasted pecan pieces
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp Bourbon (optional)

Prepare the Crust

  1. In a food processor pulse to combine the flours and salt. Add chilled butter and fat and process until the mixture has the consistency of cornmeal. Add 4 Tbsp ice water and pulse until the dough gathers into a ball. Add 1-2 additional Tbsp of water if needed.
  2. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper. Form dough into a round disk, handling as little as possible. Wrap dough in parchment paper and place in a sealed ziplock bag. Place in freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Unwrap dough and lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll dough into a 12″ circle. Transfer to a 9″ pie plate. Press rolled dough to fit pie plate. Shape edges into a fluted or decorative design of your choice.
  4. Chill crust for 30 minutes.
  5. Line pie crust with parchment paper and dry rice or pie weights. Bake crust at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove paper and weights.

Filling

  1. Prepare the filling while the pie crust is baking. In a medium saucepan melt the butter, brown sugar and salt. Remove from heat and add maple syrup, vanilla, and Bourbon.
  2. Stir in the toasted pecan pieces. Option: to infuse the pecans add them to the vanilla-syrup while they are still hot. Let cool completely.
  3. In a small bowl whisk the three eggs. Stir into pecan mixture in three additions.

Pour filling into hot, pre-baked pie crust. Reduce heat to 275 degrees. Bake pie for 20-40 minutes. I recommend reading the Bojon Gourmet’s article for how to determine when the pie is done.

Let the pie cool completely and refrigerate. One hour before serving cut into slices and bring to room temperature.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like:

Home Rituals: Berry Walnut Muffin Bread

Self Teacher Study: Mind Body Tune Up

Hot Logic Mini

hot-logic-mini-parkDisclaimer: I am not paid to endorse the Hot Logic Mini. I am simply sharing my appreciation for the intelligent design of this product with my readers.

So I’ve never blogged about a product before, but this is one of the best things that I’ve come across in a long time. And it ties into past discussions about alchemical cooking, health, the Slow Movement, etc.

The Hot Logic Mini is a personal portable oven that uses what the company describes as a “low-slow conductive heating system.” According to their website:

The Hot Logic Mini is ideal for those of us who don’t like microwaves… busy people who don’t have time to cook… truckers / delivery drivers / travelers who don’t have a lunch room… food preppers & fitness enthusiasts… folks with food allergies or special dietary concerns who want to carry a safe, healthy, hot meal with them anywhere they go.

I can’t stand microwaves. Just the thought of ruining a good meal by wicking away all of the nutrients makes me feel pretty sad. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t like to eat out very much. I prefer to cook my own meals because I know exactly what’s going in them and how they were prepared.

When I go out into the world for work or school, microwaves tend to be the only available option. I am a firm believer in the necessity of eating hot meals. Hot food is as essential for good health as hot beverages are – especially in the colder months.

I am the kind of person who carries a toaster oven around with me. [Taoist Travel Tip: they do come in handy on the road.] But toaster ovens are bulky and can take up space, and it’s not so easy to be discreet with them. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered my new favorite thing:

The Hot Logic Mini

I just spent a month playing with my new toy. I paid $40 for it on ebay and didn’t want to take the risk of having someone steal it. So I kept it my car and used a portable jump starter with a USB outlet and a 100 watt car inverter (the Mini uses 45 watts).

I use glass pyrex containers for food storage. Glass is preferable to plastic or aluminum foil, because glass keeps the food safe from harmful chemicals that leach into the food when it’s heated. Glass is also non-porous so it doesn’t absorb food or germs.

hot-logic-mini-quicheSo what did I make? I tried a bunch of different things. Indian food packets with rice are easy and delicious. Pasta dishes reheat super well. Any kind of stew (like chicken pot pie with a mashed potato crust) is ideal.

hot-logic-mini-chicken-pot-pieI don’t recommend soups with the pyrex containers because they’re not leakproof. And spills are kind of a pain in the butt. The inner seams of the bag are not so easy to clean. But that’s really my only criticism of the Mini’s design.

hot-logic-mini-pastaMy favorite discovery was the defrosted breakfast burrito. I did heat them in the paper wrapping but they reheat really, really well that way. I could probably unwrap the burrito and put it in a glass container. But convenience won me over on busy mornings.

hot-logic-mini-breakfast-burritoAs far as heating time goes, you’ll want to turn on the Mini 60-90 minutes in advance of when you’ll be eating. The burritos dry out a bit if they’re left in any longer than that. But any dish with moisture can sustain even longer heating times. It’s kind of like a crock pot in that way…

Which brings us back to the topic of slow food and yoga. Slow cooked foods are ideal for many reasons. The longer you slow cook certain foods (such as beans) the more chi or vital life force is infused into the food. It’s kind of like adding a bottle of fuel treatment to your gas tank. Slow cooking helps you increase the power, function and mileage of your body-vehicle.

If you’d like some recipe ideas you’re welcome to check out my Pinterest. If you enjoyed reading this article you might also like:

Yogis Can Eat Meat if They Want To

Home Rituals: Tortilla Soup

mind-body-mandala-mums

Personal Yoga Retreats

Personal Yoga RetreatsLast night I trained in a temple of clouds. The gentle currents of air mingled with the sounds of water. I watched two young mule deer peek their heads above the long grasses in the nearby field. In the distance a billowing cumulus tower ignited with flashes of lightning. The blazing sunset warmed my back as I moved and stretched my body.

Summer training season is here.

I love training outdoors. As much as I appreciate the privacy of an indoor space, as soon as the weather allows I like to go to the park, trail or playground whenever possible. In public spaces there’s usually an audience, but most people are nice. Like the elderly lady last night who said, “Thank you for the entertainment.”

Summer training season is a wonderful time for Personal Yoga retreats. These experiences replenish and refuel my whole being. It’s not just exercising – it’s the whole lifestyle. Eating alchemical food, feeling GREAT and laughing a lot.

Have I mentioned that I love my life?

Personal Yoga Retreat QuicheThis is not the kind of thing that you can teach in drop-in classes. It’s means taking a whole day to focus on eating, meditating and training. That’s my life – I create my own personal yoga retreats. I’ve been doing this for over five years now. I just enjoy feeling awesome and is this is how I do it.

It’s definitely possible to do this for yourself. You just have to carve out some space in your schedule and do some basic preparations, such as:

  • Clean the house
  • Clean and groom your body
  • Get your “to-do” list in order
  • Stock the fridge with delicious and healthy food

All of this will help to minimize distractions. Once you’ve cleared your slate start your Personal Yoga retreat nice and slow. Turn your phone off (or just don’t answer it). Cook with superfoods. Take some supplements. Drink lots of fluids. Move in ways that your body and mind enjoy. Rest when you’re tired.

If you’d like some help with designing your own Personal Yoga retreat I’d be happy to speak with you. I offer free no-obligation consultations in person, by phone, Skype or Facetime.

Red Rose Mandala

Get Your Evolution On

Sri Aurobindo Superman Evolution

With the recent release of the new action film Lucy it seems fitting to discuss the controversial topic of superhumans. As a small disclaimer, this subject requires the willingness to go beyond what some might consider to be a “rational” thought process. By all means, I encourage you to exercise your discernment muscles. But I will say that it helps to approach yoga philosophy with an open mind…

There are many different kinds of superhumans which can essentially be divided into two categories-natural and artificial. According to Wikipedia, “A super race is a future race of improved humans that is proposed to be created from present-day human beings by deploying various means such as eugenics, genetic-engineering, yoga, nanotechnology, and/or brain-computer interfacing to accelerate the process of human evolution.”

The branch of superhuman development that involves yogic technologies is part of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga:

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) developed a system of yoga called Integral yoga to transform selected humans into a new super race called the Supermen that would have a fully and permanently awakened kundalini and thus become siddhas with various siddhis (paranormal powers) such as the ability to observe chakras and auras with the third eye, to travel by astral travel at will, to be able to subsist adequately with full bodily functions on small amounts of vegetarian food, to go long periods without sleep, to communicate by telepathy and to levitate. The function of this new super race would not be to dominate others but to lead humanity toward world peace. – Wikipedia

Paranormal powers without the use of drugs, surgery or technology might sound more like fantasy than science fiction. Social conditioning based on the 300-year old system of Western science has made it difficult to comprehend such things. No matter what your belief system may be remember that there is no one-size-fits-all method to learning. I recommend that you use what works and leave the rest. Personally, I don’t believe that vegetarianism is the ultimate superhuman diet.

The science of yoga is designed to assist with paranormal evolution. The siddhis are part of the journey but they are not the end result. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work but ultimately the Slow Path is the best way. While the quick fix of hotwiring our brains and bodies into an artificial state of advanced evolution may seem tempting, it is unlikely that these future technologies will be available to anyone but the super-elite. And if by some slim chance they were available to the general public I wouldn’t trust them. The potentially damaging effects to the subtle body isn’t worth the risk.

What do you think about super-humanism? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

A Taste of Divinity – Raw Cacao

Practice Create Repeat

For just a moment ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the BEST that you’ve ever felt?
  • Where were you at the time?
  • How old were you?
  • What were you doing?
  • Were you alone or with someone?
  • Did this happen more than once?

Just sit with these questions for a minute and see what comes up. Now ask yourself:

  • Could you create this state again?
  • What would it take to replicate it?
  • What (if anything) is keeping you from feeling this way now?
  • How might you take this experience to the next level?

I’m asking these questions because they relate to my mission as a yoga teacher. For the past thirteen years I’ve been focusing on my personal evolution. My body is the healthiest it’s ever been. I’m committed to eating the most beautiful food, moving in ways that I enjoy and living a low-stress lifestyle. I am free from scoliosis-related back pain. My mind is calmer, clearer and more creative than ever before. I am learning so much and I am more in love every day.

My goal is to help people learn how to do this for themselves.

Life is not easy. We face countless challenges and seemingly endless distractions. Thankfully there are some simple ways to create heightened experiences on a regular basis. One way to do this is by cultivating a personal practice. In my humble opinion this is the BEST thing that we can do for ourselves. A personal practice is an amazing tool that helps us connect with our highest Selves – our creativity, divinity, sovereignty – call it what you will.

When you treat your body like the temple that it is you elevate your life.

If a daily yoga practice seems overwhelming to you, not to worry. There are plenty of ways to administer self-care. I suggest that you start small by picking ONE healthy habit that you can do on a daily basis, such as drinking lemon water or eating one superfood every day. A superfood is a food that is extraordinarily good for your health.

One of my favorite superfoods is raw cacao. The botanical name Theobroma cacao means “Food of the Gods.” Raw cacao is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet. It contains three natural mood enhancers which make you feel like you’re in love. The health benefits of raw cacao are far more powerful than conventional chocolate.

Raw Cacao:

  • Aids in weight loss
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Is high in antioxidants
  • Enhances mood
  • Contains essential minerals and vitamins
  • Improves brain function
  • Promotes heart health
  • Is an aphrodisiac

I have a little side project called Amaroons. I make handcrafted macaroons with raw cacao powder, coconut, almonds, maple syrup, vanilla and Himalayan sea salt.

Amaroons make a wonderful gift!

I’m happy to announce that my Etsy shop is open for the holidays.

Your purchase supports my independent small-business and will help to expand my operation. Thank you for your support.

Amaroons Raw Cacao Superfood Macaroons
Amaroons – Raw Chocolate Macaroons

Raw Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

I’ve had raw truffles on the brain lately so I figured that was my body’s way of telling me to make some.

You should ALWAYS make your own raw truffles. You don’t need a food processor or a high powered blender. Most health food stores carry the specialty ingredients (or you could order them online).

Store bought raw truffles are ridiculously expensive – I’ve seen them sold for as much as $8 for a four pack.

The best part about making your own raw truffles is that you can use any ingredients you want. For instance, most raw dessert recipes call for agave but I prefer maple syrup or honey.

Raw honey provides a great pre-workout energy boost. It’s a powerful antioxidant that promotes digestive health, strengthens the immune system, eliminates allergies, calms the nervous system and can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

If you’re going to eat dessert then make it count.

I use raw cacao in no-bake chocolate desserts because of the incredible nutrient content. Cacao is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet. It’s high in fiber, magnesium and iron. It contains the alkaloids theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamine – three natural mood enhancers which make you feel like you’re in love.

Like raw honey, raw cacao is considered to be the food of the gods.

I used peanut butter but you could use any nut butter – almond, hazelnut, or sunflower seed (if you’re allergic to nuts).

Virgin organic coconut oil is yet another amazing superfood. Coconut oil has been getting a lot of bad press lately, but I just ignore it (remember when butter was supposed to be bad for you?)

Tip: If you have a little extra coconut oil on your measuring spoon give your sun-kissed skin a treat while you’re making these.

Raw Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Makes 20

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp organic virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
  • Chopped toasted nuts for coating

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except for the chopped toasted nuts into a medium bowl. Blend with a wooden spoon until combined.
  2. Transfer to a glass tupperware container and chill for at least an hour.
  3. Place chopped nuts in a small bowl.
  4. Using your hands, roll truffle mixture into large marble-sized balls. Roll truffles in the chopped nuts, applying gentle pressure.
  5. Store unused truffles in the fridge.
  6. Bring truffles to room temperature before consuming. Savor, enjoy, and share the love…

If you enjoyed this article you might also like:

Superfood Peanut Zucchini Noodles

Home Rituals – Maple Pecan Pie

Yogis Can Eat Meat (if They Want to)

Yogis Can Eat Meat
I’m a flexitarian, which means that I eat small amounts of healthy meat. As a yoga teacher, people tend to assume that I’m a vegetarian. I enjoy vegetarian cuisine and have experimented with vegetarianism, but it isn’t in my best interest to eat that way.

I could replace meat with supplements or food combining options (such as rice and beans) and would do so if I had no other options. I just know that my energy level and health is enhanced from animal proteins. I understand that every person’s body is unique and their diet should reflect that. This is just what works for me.

I grew up in an American home. My family belonged to a co-op for a while and supported the Maine organic farmers association. I experimented with vegetarianism when I was in high school, but quite honestly I had no idea what I was doing.

When I went to college I didn’t like the cafeteria food, so I wound up eating a lot of cereal, bagels and salads. My boyfriend came to visit and saw how depleted I was, so we bought a hotplate and we made pasta and sausage in my dorm room. That first home-cooked meal was like finding water in the desert.

After a year at college I decided to take a leave of absence and began apprenticing with my dance teacher. Being on the road and eating out a lot while teaching five days a week took a major toll on my body. During spring break I experimented with the Blood Type Diet. After just a week of eating according to my Type O recommendations I felt healthier than I had in years. I was eating sprouted grain breads, vegetables, fruits and small portions of healthy meats and fish. The higher cost of eating this way kept me from continuing, so I fell back into my old patterns.

After my dance teacher passed I became friends with a group of people who had a cooking tradition. Each week a different person would cook a shared meal. I was very nervous about cooking for a large group, and my first attempt was a failure. One of the older women shared some of her cookbooks with me. One was specifically for “starving artists” like myself.

I started teaching myself how to cook.

I began to integrate these books with what I’d been learning about food energetics. Cooking became a meditation for me as I practiced listening to my intuition while preparing simple meals.

I moved to New York where I met a Chinese doctor and martial artist. He taught me about cooking alchemy from an Oriental medicine perspective. I started to view my food as medicine. For the first time in my adult life I started relaxing my belly while I ate. As a dancer I’d always held it in out of fear of eating too much. I was exercising a lot and learned that in order to train effectively I had to have enough of the right kinds of fuel in my body.

I went on to study yoga and Ayurveda, and continued learning about food as medicine. Like any other food, meat has medicinal benefits. My yoga teacher (who eats fish and eggs) taught me about the importance of gratitude and the power of prayer when eating.

There’s a common misperception in New Age circles that eating meat is somehow less “spiritual” than vegetarianism or veganism. There are many yoga teachers who eat meat and even the Buddha ate meat. Apparently eating meat was what killed him though – the story goes that he died from being served contaminated pork, which is a great argument against mishandling.

Every person has the right to eat however they want.

This is just my story about food and I’m interested to hear yours. Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.