Thursday, May 9, 2013

30-Day Yoga Challenge: Lessons Learned

I just got through Day 27 of my 30 Day Yoga Challenge. Today was the first day that I started to get grumpy about the limitations on my diet. I'm still following it, still practicing yoga, but I'm also starting to think seriously about what I'm going to cook when I'm done this thing. Moussaka, for example, has been on my mind.

It's funny the things that have tempted me the most. I tend to want to be where coffee is being made and served, if only to smell it. I just love the taste and smell so much. Surprisingly, I miss coffee more than wine. One of my weakest moments was earlier in the week when I was drinking only smoothies for three days, and someone had left half a piece of multi-grain bread, spread thickly with peanut butter, on the counter. It looked SO GOOD.

Confession time: over the last two days, after finishing three days of liquids only, I've felt compelled to taste a small sample of the food I've prepared for my family. If I lived alone, the diet portion (and heck, finding time for the yoga portion) would be a piece of cake (pardon the pun). I can't feed my growing children veggies and quinoa every day. I have a theory about kids and their nutritional needs, and as far as I can tell, there is nothing low-carb about a toddler's optimal diet. This is one of the things that has kept me from eating optimally (for me); because it matters more to me to eat together as a family, and for my kids to see me eating the same things I'm serving them (the message is, there's no difference between grown-up food and kids' food. We all eat the same, healthy stuff). So I've sampled a piece of the elk New York steak (just a bite) and also tasted the beautiful pasta with radish leaf pesto that I served for dinner tonight, as I was eating acorn squash, stuffed with quinoa and almonds. Also tasty, but dammit, I'm ready to have a bowl of pasta if I feel like it.

I don't think I'll be going straight back to my earlier status quo, however. I love how I feel, both from the yoga and the food. I have tons of energy, I'm never uncomfortably full, and I'm never terribly hungry. I have become very aware of how good it feels to eat a lot of vegetables. And I mean a lot of vegetables—nutrient-dense ones, like dark leafy greens and squash. After drinking these primarily vegetable and protein smoothies, I don't think I'll be able to take Booster Juice seriously, either. Check out Dashama, the amazing yogini, and one of her smoothie recipes here.

In my search for interesting and tasty foods to eat on this diet, I have also uncovered a few gems, which I would like to share.

Goddess dressing (delicious, tahini-based salad dressing recipe that keeps in the fridge, and is deliciously savoury and creamy)

Quinoa Sushi

This was a bit of a surprise; it was so delicious that my husband announced that he never needs rice sushi again.

It was a bit of an experiment, but it worked really well. I cooked the quinoa according to Mark Bittman's directions for brown sushi rice, which goes something like this:

1 c. rinsed quinoa
3 T. rice vinegar
1 T. agave syrup
1 t. Himalayan sea salt
1 t. fresh ginger, finely chopped

Add quinoa to a pot and add water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, and cook until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. In a separate small bowl, bring remaining ingredients to a boil to dissolve salt and steep the ginger. Strain, if you prefer to avoid the chunks of ginger. Add vinegar mixture to the hot quinoa, and mix vigorously with a flat wooden spoon, to break up the grains a bit and make it more sticky.

Finely slice or julienne any sushi fillings you like (I used roasted asparagus, avocado, red pepper, green onion, cucumber, carrot, kohlrabi and umeboshi plum, as well as crab-flavoured pollock for the rest of my family) and roll using nori sheets and a sushi mat. I know the instructions are sketchy here, so go here, if you need a tutorial.

And it was so pretty, I even took a picture! Unlike me, I know. Instagram may just make a photographer of me.

Now that I'm closer to the end, I can see myself continuing with the smoothies, maybe for weekday breakfasts, and then having real breakfast on weekends. Or, if I've overdone it somehow, I can throw in a smoothie to replace a meal. I will also aim to make our salads full of sprouts, kale, avocado, and all of the really healthy, nourishing salad ingredients. Not iceberg, thank you. I will keep making water kefir, which the whole family loves. I have paid it forward to my parents and my inlaws, and was just singing its praises to my neighbours tonight, so they will soon be requesting a starter kit from me, and I'll be happy to share.

My last day of the cleanse is Mother's Day. I'm still not sure I'll be able to get through it without brunch, but I've already scheduled a gentle entry back into the unlimited world of food: a movie date with my girlfriend to see A Place at the Table, and a bag of popcorn (another one of the things I've missed most), so I have something to look forward to. The day after, I have a full day workshop, followed by a bus trip back to Regina for two days of working on a contract there. How will I ease into regular eating while forced to eat at restaurants? Still not sure...I'll keep you posted.

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