Friday, March 30, 2012

frolicking friday inspiration: reflection


“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see them, you will see yourself. As you treat them, you will treat yourself. As you think of them, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in them you will find yourself or lose yourself. No one is sent by accident to anyone” 

- A Course in Miracles.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

guest post: yoga and the athlete by sasha britton

Happy Tuesday everyone; I am pleased to bring you the first guest post featured on Barefoot and Frolicking. This article comes from fellow frolicker Sasha Britton and discusses the health benefits of yoga for athletes. Enjoy!

Yoga and the Athlete
By Sasha Britton

While the stereotypical jock will look at yoga with a sneer, the practice of yoga can be utilized by athletes for a wide range of benefits.  Yoga helps athletes enhance their breathing, flexibility, strength and stamina, whether you are a ‘gym rat’ and run on the treadmill everyday or you simply take some kickboxing classes a few times a week. Pilates and yoga both function as an exercise regime that tones the body and enhances its physical abilities.


Yoga is excellent for developing breathing techniques.  The deep, relaxing breathing that Yoga teaches helps to calm the mind and eliminate performance anxiety.  It also improves concentration. Proper breath control relates directly to endurance in physical activities as well.

Anyone who has actually attempted yoga knows that many of the traditional poses require a lot more than mere flexibility.  Many of them involve both strength and endurance in addition to a wide range of motion.  The slow movements of transitioning from one pose to another stretches muscles and builds core strength.  

The flexibility and range of motion that yoga involves is another benefit for athletes. Not only does it increase physical performance, but enhanced flexibility also helps limit injuries caused by contact sports.  Yoga also helps relieve muscle tension during and after a game, and stretched muscles don't cramp up as easily.

Another benefit of yoga is that it improves balance.  While many athletes tend to overlook balance exercises as something they don't really need, they can actually go a long way towards correcting various body mechanic problems.  Yoga can help balance out the muscle groups that tend to be neglected by traditional exercise plans.


Yoga is also a very dynamic and fluid form of exercise.  There's a selection of poses for anyone at any skill level.  There are dozens of different forms of yoga, for all ranges of intensity, for any athlete's needs.  This way yoga can be used as a routine to increase flexibility one day, and can be used for strength training on another day.  It's not necessarily all slow stretches either.  Some of the faster and more dynamic yoga routines form a very good cardio workout as well.  

Of course, yoga and Pilates are not without risks.  Like any form of exercise, caution needs to be taken that you don't do too much too fast, perform a routine in a dangerous manner, or risk some form of damage while taking poses.  While the best safety method is to work only with a qualified instructor, there are other precautions that can be taken.  Especially when working with so-called "hot" yoga, care must be taken not to overextend yourself.  Trying to do too much too quickly can tear muscles instead of stretch them, and set an athlete back weeks of training.  
With a little caution and a qualified instructor, yoga becomes an excellent means for athletes to train.  The benefits to breathing, concentration, flexibility and stamina are not to be ignored.  It's certainly an option that shouldn't be scoffed at simply because it seems too new age.  The savvy athlete can utilize yoga to great benefit in fitness and physical performance.  

Sasha Britton is a health and fitness buff with a love for beauty from the inside out and yoga and vegan living. Check out her personal blog [http://fitandfiercesasha.blogspot.com/] and on Twitter @sashabfit.

   (images courtesy of MindBodyGreencom).

Do you have a blog and are you passionate about health, holistic plant-based cuisine, and well-being? Become a fellow frolicker and contribute a guest post to Barefoot and Frolicking! Topics for posts should be related to health, wellness, food (raw, living foods, vegan), yoga, or your personal health journey and story.

Selected posts will be featured here and will include your brief bio and links to your related social media. Email me with inquiries and a short proposal to barefoot_and_frolicking@hotmail.com.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

recipe in review: malai kofta from healthful pursuit

More often than not, you will  find me seeking inspiration and meal ideas from food blogs on a daily basis. Creating original recipes is a passion of mine, but I also get a certain thrill and sense of accomplishment from replicating recipes and preparing the ingredients and presentation just like the original.


I'd like you to meet Leanne Vogel, the sassy spirit behind Healthful Pursuit, a health and wellness blog dedicated to balanced living, health, and wellness. Leanne is a Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for creating healthy, allergen-free recipes (and strikingly beautiful food photography, I might add).

Recently, she embarked on a fulfilling personal and spiritual journey to India where she had the opportunity to experience the many shades of their flavourful, traditional cuisine. I came across her latest post for a vegan version of Malai Kofta and wondered if I was up to the challenge of recreating this detailed, yet delicious looking dish? Suffice to say, I quickly set out on a mission (with recipe in hand) and turned my kitchen into a veritable spice rack within minutes.  



A traditional Indian dish, Malai Kofta is usually reserved for special occasions. The malai is a rich creamy sauce, and kofta means meatball. The majority of Malai Kofta served in India is vegetarian and is usually served with naan or rice.

This recipe may seem involved, but apart from chopping some of the vegetables, most of my energy was spent measuring the different spices. My changes to the original recipe were minimal: I used a food processor instead of potato masher for the vegetables, I reduced the overall amount of grapeseed oil, used coconut oil instead of ghee, and did not use the chaat masala in either the kofta or the malai (instead, I increased the garam masala to 1 1/2 tbsp for the kofta). Also, I incorporated the cashews into the blended part of the malai, as I couldn't locate the directions for them in the original recipe.


Malai Kofta 
Yields 6 servings

Kofta

2 cups diced organic potatoes (do not peel), boiled for 10-12 minutes
1 cup cooked green peas
1 cup diced cauliflower, boiled for 5 minutes
1 cup diced carrots, boiled for 5 minutes
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp fresh garlic, diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, diced
1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp Himalayan rock salt
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tsp grapeseed oil + 1 tbsp for rolling
1 tbsp chickpea flour

Malai

1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 cup diced red onion
1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp turmeric
1/2 cup diced fresh Roma tomato
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
4 tsp cumin seeds
4 tsp fresh ginger, diced
4 tsp fresh garlic, diced
4 tsp ground coriander
4 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp garam masala
1.5 to 2 cup water
4 tbsp cashews
4 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped roughly

To make the kofta:

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Place 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil on a small plate and set aside.

Add all ingredients to a food processor, and mix until ingredients are well-combined. There can be large pieces of vegetables left intact, just make sure the mixture squeezes together nicely.

Work dough into golf ball-size balls, rolling each in the plate with oil, just until coated (I reduced the oil, and didn't really coat the mixture all too much). This will help the balls stay moist on the inside and crisp on the outside without having to deep fry them. Place each ball on the prepared baking sheet.

Cook for 30 minutes or until golden.


To make the malai:

In a preheated frying pan, add 1 tbsp oil, onion, salt, fennel seeds and turmeric. Sauté for 2 minutes on medium-high, stirring constantly. Add to a blender with tomatoes, cashews, and water and process until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the same frying pan on medium-high. Add coconut oil, cumin seeds, ginger, and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, masala, water, paste, cilantro, reserved sauce and kofta. The longer you allow this to cook, the spicier it will become; cook until the balls are heated.


Without a doubt, this is one of the most impressive and delicious recipes I have ever made; the spice levels add the perfect amount of flavours and subtle notes to the dish, and the kofta's made potatoes much more palatable for me. I usually stray away from traditional Indian curry recipes that are too rich from lots of oil or the use of dairy ingredients, but this was de - 'light' - ful (emphasis on the light, rather than heavy feeling).

The components of this version can be used in other recipes; try the kofta's on their own, in a raw collard wrap, or as a side to salads. The malai is a decadent sauce that would also work well with kelp or zucchini noodles (and can also be regarded as a semi-raw sauce before reheating).

Many thank you's to Leanne for veganizing this traditional dish into an easy to replicate and delicious taste experience. Impress the guests at your next dinner party with a new found prowess of Indian cuisine. This is a dish to remember.

For more inspiring recipes, check out Leanne's blog, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

glowing green juice

The record-breaking warm weather that we have been having of late has found me sipping on smoothies and lots of fresh green juice. In fact, it has been so warm here the past few days (today it is supposed to reach close to 26 degrees), that people are even sunbathing and wearing summer clothes like shorts, sandals, and t-shirts - in March!

One way to embrace the warmth is with some glowing green juice goodness. I much prefer green juice over sweet fruit juices - I find the latter tends to set me up for a sugar crash. Green juice blends have numerous benefits; they are incredibly alkalizing and detoxifying for the body, pack in some serious energizing nutrients, and help to hydrate our cells.


Using high water vegetables and greens like romaine lettuce, cucumber, or broccoli stalks will provide you with a great green juice base. The secret to making a balanced green juice blend is to incorporate some sort of fruit - be it a pear, apple, or lemon juice - to make the greens more palatable. Once you get used to the subtler taste of green juice, you can reduce the amount of fruits you incorporate into the blend.

This recipe combines some of my favourite green juice ingredients - cucumber, celery, broccoli stalks (sans florets - they usually make their way into my daily green salad), and parsley with a little touch of sweetness from some Granny Smith apples and lemon. Judging by the photos, this blend just radiates vibrant energy, don't you think?


Glowing Green Juice
Serves 1

1 large cucumber, peeled
3 stalks celery
2 broccoli stalks
2 organic Granny Smith apples
1 inch knob ginger
1/2 bunch parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Wash and prepare produce. Juice ingredients. Best if served immediately while basking in the warm March sunshine.

How is the weather where you are? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

moroccan tagine with quinoa and mint



I have always been a fan of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup (1966). The film documents the escapades of photographer Thomas in London during the Swinging Sixties era. One of my favourite scenes from the film takes place in a curious little antique shop, where Thomas attempts to purchase an old propeller from a young store owner who is fed up with her shop and feeling 'stuck' in London.

This young, wild-eyed girl dreams of  traveling far away from her current reality: "I'd like to try something different, get off somewhere...perhaps I'd better try Morocco." I'm not sure if Antonioni was predicting a trend here, but Morocco became quite the faraway destination for youth in the 1960s, influencing many different aspects of fashion, music, and cuisine in Britain and America.

To me, this girl's comment epitomizes much of the youth dissatisfaction in the sixties, but it is also a perfect sentiment for me at this very moment in my life. Thoughts of traveling have been circling in my mind for some time now, and I think I am getting closer towards planning a new adventure!


In the meantime, the vibrant sights, sounds, and flavours of Moroccan cuisine inspired this recipe for a Moroccan Tagine with Quinoa and Mint. A tagine is traditional dish from Berber in North Africa and is cooked inside a tagine, or tajine, earthenware pot. There are many beautiful variations on tagine recipes as well as cookery out there, but most follow similar guidelines. 

This recipe uses elements found in most tagines: a spice blend of cumin, paprika, cinnamon, coriander, and dried fruit. Although it might look like an involved recipe, most of the effort takes place in the preparation of the chopped vegetables. Combined with an array of freshly chopped vegetables and served over a bed of steamed quinoa and mint, this tagine is satisfying down to the last bite. I'm certain you will find yourself with a lack of leftovers.


Moroccan Tagine with Quinoa and Mint
cooked + vegan
Serves 4

For the base:

5 cups fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 large onions, chopped
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger root
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp cumin
3 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder (can increase to 1/2 tsp)
salt and pepper, to taste

For the tagine:

2 stalks celery, chopped
1 eggplant, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
16 dates, chopped
1 can chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
handful of chopped cilantro or parsley leaves (I used the latter)
2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves only, chopped

Using a large stock pot, melt coconut oil. Heat the onions and garlic until lightly brown. Add in the ginger and spices, stirring to incorporate the ingredients. Combine with chopped tomatoes, dates, and chopped tagine vegetables. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat.

After 15 minutes, add in the lemon zest and juice. After 25 minutes, add in the chickpeas and cilantro/parsley. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until vegetables are softened to desired consistency. Reduce to simmer for the last 5 minutes. Cooking times may vary depending on produce - I found the overall cooking time took about 45 minutes.

Remove from heat. Sprinkle with mint. Serve over a bed of steamed/cooked quinoa (follow package directions, I prepared 1 cup) and sprinkle with fresh, chopped mint.


Why not have a Moroccan-theme dinner party while you are it - with dripping candles, laden fabrics on the table, and of course, good company, all the while listening to "Marrakesh Express" by Crosby, Stills, and Nash (1969). This acoustic version beautifully captures the dreamy vision of Marrakesh, a destination for many a hippie youth. Take it away Graham and David:

 

"Looking at the world through the sunset in your eyes, traveling the train through clear Moroccan skies..."

Friday, March 16, 2012

frolicking friday inspiration: a place for spirit



"Determine what connects you to your deepest sense of self and enhances your feelings of belonging to a greater whole. Find a way to do things that connect you with the sacred design of your life by following the deepest avenues of your heart. Realize your life purpose and encourage time and space for the 
sacred moments in your life" 

- Gabriel Cousens.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

red lentil and rutabaga soup

This past winter, I took part in a CSA (community supported agriculture) program. For the last twelve weeks, we received a bounty of in-season produce from a local organic farm every Thursday, when I took my trusty basket and filled up on homegrown goodness that included mixed salad greens, mustard greens, dried herbs, different varieties of squash, kale (obsessed with their local, organic kale by the way), garlic, leeks, and rutabagas.

Before this program, I had never tried rutabagas before. One of the benefits of signing up for a CSA is having the opportunity to try interesting varieties of produce that you might not try or find at your local grocer (although, sometimes you might wind up with a plethora of too many of the same produce - hello to the multitudes of spaghetti squash sitting on my window sill).

This recent vegan soup recipe of mine can help you to warm up during these last weeks of winter (although, around here, we are having one of the mildest winters on record!) The soup uses organic leeks, garlic, and rutabagas; the latter gives the soup a nice, creamy consistency when pureed with the rest of the ingredients.If you don't have rutabagas on hand, you could try substituting with another root vegetable (turnip or sweet potato might work well).


Red Lentil and Rutabaga Soup
Yields 4-6 servings

1 1/3 cup organic red lentils
2 cups pureed frozen tomatoes
1 cup organic rutabaga, chopped
4 cloves organic garlic, chopped
4 leeks, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
6 cups veggie stock
handful of parsley, chopped + some for decoration

Melt the coconut oil in a large stock pot. Add in the chopped garlic and leeks and simmer until brown for a few minutes. 

Add in the vegetable stock, red lentils, tomatoes, and rutabaga. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20-25 minutes. At about 15 minutes in, stir in the chopped parsley.

Either eat the soup as prepared, or puree the entire batch using a hand blender. Garnish with parsley and enjoy as a starter or main meal.


Do you CSA?

Friday, March 9, 2012

frolicking friday inspiration: gratitude


"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow" 
 - Melody Beattie. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

paper tiger almond vanilla cookies

Barefoot and Frolicking is back, my friends! After a hiatus of sorts, my intention is to get back into the blogosphere in style with the help of my new friend, the Canon Rebel T3. I've been having so much fun playing with my new camera and can't wait to share some new higher quality photographs in upcoming blog posts with you all. 


Recently, I stumbled upon Gena's gorgeous recipe for Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies, and knew that I just had to make a variation of these for a recent raw food potluck. 

Using some almond pulp I had leftover from making almond mylk, I whipped up a variation of these cookies that I named after the Beck song, "Paper Tiger." Why you ask? Surprisingly, the song, which I hadn't listened to in years, popped into my head while I was making these creations and influenced the cacao tiger stripes I used to decorate them. 

If that isn't enough, these cookies are a ferocious (another tiger reference), yet subdued raw dessert experience. The vanilla bean powder takes the intensity of the vanilla up a notch, but feel free to substitute as necessary.


Paper Tiger Almond Vanilla Cookies
yields approx. 20 flattened tbsp-size cookies

Cookie Base
2 1/2 cups almond pulp, packed
16 dates, soaked
2-3 tsp vanilla bean powder (can substitute with the seeds of one vanilla bean or 1-2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp ground coconut flour

To make the cookie base, defrost almond pulp (if leftover and stored in the freezer). Combine almond pulp with the soaked dates, vanilla bean powder, and ground coconut flour. Process in a food processor until well combined and the mixture sticks together.

Press shapes into small cookie formations using a tablespoon. Dehydrate at at 115 degrees for approximately 8 hours, either flipping halfway through or leaving on one side (I did the latter, and the cookies were softly moist in the middle after eight hours). 

Cacao Tiger Stripes
1/3 cup melted cacao butter
1/2 cup cacao powder, sifted
20 drops vanilla or regular stevia

To make the Cacao Tiger Stripes, shave and melt cacao butter in a small bowl that sits above some lightly steaming warm water. Wait until the cacao butter is fully melted and combine with the sifted cacao butter and stevia. Whisk until ingredients are well-combined, and transfer to a squeeze bottle (this will make a large batch of raw cacao chocolate, so be prepared to sample the leftovers).

To decorate the cookies, place cookies on a sheet of parchment paper. Drizzle the chocolate over each cookie and let cool. Eat cookies "just like a paper tiger, torn apart by idle hands" (lyrics from the song) with a glass of almond mylk, or on their own for a softly sweet raw dessert treat.


My photoshoot for the cookies started to take on a life of it's own, reflecting the 70s vibe embedded in the song (hint: Beck's song takes a sample from the Serge Gainsbourg classic "Cargo Culte" from the album Histoire de Melody Nelson, 1971). Give it a listen - you won't be disappointed.


Check out that white shag blanket above. Tiger stripes. Shag blankets. 70s lounge music. Oh my.

Friday, March 2, 2012

frolicking friday inspiration: you are life


"You are life passing through your body, passing through your mind, passing through your soul. You are the force that makes the flowers open and close, that makes the hummingbird fly from flower to flower. You are that force that moves the wind and breathes through your body. The whole universe is a living being that is moved by that force, and that is what you are. You are life.

- from Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love.