Endurance Curry

February 28, 2011

chickpea spinach curry

Easy to make when you’d rather run than cook, and easy to make on a busy weeknight. This curry can made ahead of time and it’s even better the next day. It’s Power-Packed with fiber, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and anti-oxidants; and turmeric, garlic and ginger help fight inflammation and enhance heart health. Cook this up tonight!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut butter
  • 1 medium to large onion peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder or hot paprika or a shake of hot pepper sauce
  • 1 14-ounce can (small can) of tomatoes, or 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 19-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets or diced sweet potato
  • 2 handfuls of sliced fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ½ can to 1 can coconut milk (add to your desired taste)
  • 1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves (optional)
  • Whole Wheat pita bread to serve

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion for about 4-5 minutes until soft.
  2. Stir in the garlic, ginger and spices and sauté for a few seconds then tip in the tomatoes and break them up with a wooden spoon, spatula or fork.
  3. Bring to the boil, add the drained, rinsed chickpeas and broccoli or sweet potato, cover the pan and simmer for 7-8 minutes.
  4. Chuck in the spinach and coriander if using and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add salt to taste (you may need slightly more than usual). Add desired amount of coconut milk. Serve with whole wheat pita bread.

Check out these amazing nutritional benefits:

Turmeric

  • Purifies the blood, and also warms it and stimulates formation of new blood tissue
  • Is anti-arthritic and acts as a natural anti-bacterial
  • May be added to high-protein food to assist digestion and prevent the formation of gas
  • Is effectively used to maintain the flora of the large intestine

Ginger

  • Has anti-inflammatory properties that can lessen the pain of rheumatoid arthritis
  • It is well known for its warming action on the upper respiratory tract, so it has been used to treat colds and flu; it has been found to be effective in cramps caused by stomach gas and stimulates digestion
  • Has a wholesome effect on the circulatory system as it makes the platelets less sticky and is of great benefit in case of circulatory disorders

Garlic

  • Can be described as a food that may help prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke
  • Lessens the amount of free radicals present in the bloodstream
  • Is a very good source of vitamin C, the body’s primary antioxidant defender in all aqueous (water-soluble) areas, such as the bloodstream, where it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation
  • Contains anti-inflammatory compounds, along with the vitamin C in garlic, especially fresh garlic, may help reduce the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Lessons from My Dad

February 23, 2011

On Sunday February 20th, in his 83rd year, my Dad passed away. I was blessed to have a wonderful relationship with him, and to be with him just before he passed, to tell him how much I loved him, hold his hand and give him a final kiss goodbye.

I was certainly ‘daddy’s little girl’. He was always there for me no matter what. He was so proud of all my accomplishments, big and small, and always quick to encourage me when challenges arose.

He constantly encouraged me to do what I love and always said “Don’t worry, you’ll make it”, and every time he phoned me he asked “How is the most beautiful girl in Ottawa?”

He was easy-going, fun to be around, never raising his voice. At the same time, we knew we were in trouble when my mom would say “Wait until your father finds out.”

Here are but a few lessons I’ve learned from my Dad

1. Don’t be afraid to try.

He taught me how to drive, in fact right after I got my ‘365’ (never having driven before) we drove down Baseline Road, he parked at Vincent Massey Park and told me to go ahead and drive the remaining 2km home. He had way more confidence in me than I had in myself. I declined the to offer to drive home and with patience he took the time every day to give me driver’s lessons and I passed my test on the first try.

Result – I love being an entrepreneur, to try and try again, to look ahead every day with confidence as opposed to fear.

2. Get out and get active

He taught me how to ski, came to my many, many soccer games (at a time when it wasn’t the norm for all parents to show up), took me to the finish line of the first National Capital Marathon and told me I could run a marathon one day (now I’ve run 5), taught my brother and I how to water ski, and encouraged us in all our activities. When I graduated from high school, I was one of the top ten graduating athletes and went on to captain the first Women’s Varsity  Soccer team at Carleton University.

Result – My life happily centers around an active lifestyle and encouraging others to do the same.

3. Love your neighbour

In the weeks and months before my dad passed, he reminded me quite a few times that he wanted to be remembered as a good Christian.  I believe, to him, this meant lending a hand whenever he was asked to, being quick with a compliment, creating community with friends and loved ones, gathering for parties, dinners and simple conversation, and being of service through church and through Kiwanis.

Result – Our wonderful Elation Centre community teaches yoga, running and healthy eating. It is also more than that: it’s about community and service.

4. Believe in yourself

I’ll never forget when I was training for my first marathon and an injury kept me from competing in the race. A few people suggested that maybe it was just too much, a marathon was too far to run. Dad quickly piped up and said “Don’t worry, there will be another chance and you’ll do it!”

He was also so proud of my entrepreneurial drive and accomplishments and would brag to his friends, and really anyone who would listen, about what I was doing at the time (sometimes to my embarrassment). Now I see how important it is to have a cheerleader on your side.

Result – I realize that I am now a cheerleader. This is my passion and my dharma: to inspire and uplift with my entrepreneurial spirit,  with the passion for healthy, active living and with my commitment to community and service.

The best thing I can say to my Dad is “Thank you. You did a great job and because of your love and support I am doing great.’

I’ll miss him.

I am so touched by the outpouring of support and many people are asking about attending a visitation or the memorial, from the information in the Ottawa Citizen, here are the details

“Friends are invited to visit at the West Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 150 Woodroffe Avenue (at Richmond Road) on Wednesday from 2-4pm and 7-9pm. A Memorial Service will be held on Thursday at Trinity United Church, 1099 Maitland Avenue at 2pm. For those wishing, donations may be made to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute or the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.”

Just because it’s cold outside… you still need to be hydrated!

February 17, 2011

The number one rule that you will find on tips for staying hydrated?  Drink water even when you don’t feel thirsty – this is especially important when you are engaging in strenuous exercise.  A lot of us think that we are fine in the winter months, clocking our weekly runs, including our long slow distance, without too much concern for water intake.  This is mainly because we don’t feel over heated in sub-zero temperatures, and with all those high tech wicking fabrics …it feels like we are sweating less.  But guess what?  We need water just as much in the winter as we do in the summer.  Aside from a good training schedule, hydration is one of the most important considerations for enhancing your performance – winter, summer, spring, and fall.

What is the big deal about being hydrated?   Well, there is a strong scientific rationale:   When you are exercising you are losing fluids, in addition to the normal loss you encounter on a day to day basis.  You are not only losing fluids but you are also losing electrolytes.  Fluids and electrolytes are all necessary in maintaining good blood flow to muscles and in supplying them with sodium, potassium and carbohydrates.  As well, consistent hydration has a natural cooling effect which helps to maintain a normal body temperature.  Other benefits include, increased concentration, enhanced skin complexion and increased overall energy.

Here are some pretty basic tips for staying hydrated while in a running training program:

  • Oh?  What was #1 again?  Drink water even when you don’t feel thirsty!
  • For daily living:  we all need to consume half our body weight in fluid ounces; for a 125lb runner that’s about 8 cups of water per day, if you weigh more – drink more
  • Start drinking water as soon as you get up in the morning – get in the habit.  Try to have at least two – four cups of water before noon.  Yes, there is some debate about whether or not coffee and tea count … but do yourself a favour and have pure water (with a squeeze of lemon or lime – bonus!) on top of those caffeinated drinks.
  • You might want to stop drinking water about an hour before your actual running start time so you don’t feel the urge to go to the bathroom half way through.
  • Bring water or plan for water breaks during your running workouts.  If you are running more than an hour, you need to plan to hydrate at least every 15-20 minutes.
  • Invest in a good fitting water belt.  There are so many wonderful choices these days, including the multi-bottle fuel belt which can be used for both fuel (water + a gel), water and a sports drink containing electrolytes.
  • Rehydrate after your run.  It helps you recover more quickly – replacing those depleted potassium and sodium stores. For runs over 90 minutes rehydrate with Sports Drinks
  • Watch the weather forecast.  In the summer you have to be extremely diligent about hydration as lack of hydration could have very serious effects on your health.
  • The ultimate test?  Watch the colour of your urine.  Health supplements and some veggies can make your urine a bright or odd colour.  But despite this, a well hydrated individual will pee pretty clear!  Take a look – it is one of your best measures of whether or not your body is hydrated!

Blueberry Scones and a Cup of Tea

February 16, 2011

It’s mid-February and it’s a dreary and damp day, the perfect day for a cup of tea and a yummy blueberry scone.

So what’s a vegan to do when a ‘scone-craving’ hits? Solution #1, I was at Rainbow Foods and bought a a delicious Vegan Scone made by Auntie Loo’s Treats. This is a small vegan bakery in Ottawa and all the products are delicious. Solution #2, dig up my recipes and make some scones (because one scone is never enough).

The recipe below is from VegNew Magazine, and it is simple and always delivers! I use spelt flour which yields a nice light scone and I usually use fresh berries – if you do use frozen berries make sure to thaw completely and drain them, be careful when you mix the berries into the dough, if you mix too much the dough will discolour, it won’t affect the taste, just the look.

The tea I chose today is from Celebration Herbals and is a mixture of Turmeric (anit-oxidant and anti-inflammatory) with Ginger and Lemon – divine.       

Blueberry Scones 

Makes 10 scones, adapted from VegNews Magazine, Sept+Oct 2006

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup organic sunflower oil
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries, raspberries or you can use diced apple

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a thin layer of oil.
  2. Place flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix. Add oil, agave nectar, water and vanilla and mix for 30 seconds. Gently fold in blueberries.
  3. Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and brush each scone with a little agave nectar. Continue to bake for an additional 2-4 minutes or until lightly golden.
  4. Note: if you use frozen blueberries, make sure to thaw and drain them and be very careful when mixing them into the dough – they will turn the batter blue (grey actually) not attractive!  

Guest Post by Sherry Carson – Tempo Runs

February 12, 2011

Sherry Carson is Elation Centre’s Speed Running Coach. She wrote this post in response to questions raised in her class.

Some runners have been asking me how a long, slow distance run can translate into a faster race pace over the same distance. Quite simply, on it’s own, it can’t. Speed work is the catalyst that will allow you to pick up the pace on race day. The type of speed work we do on Tuesdays (intervals) is a very good start to seeing a differential but the other type, tempo runs, also play a large role in increasing your race pace. I have described tempo runs by answering the following questions:

  • Who? Anyone who is serious about improving race times.
  • Why? To improve speed, not just in racing but run speed in general.
  • What? Tempos are a run where you warm-up at your usual pace, pick up the pace in the middle of the run for a period of time, and then do a cool down run at the end.
  • When? Roughly once a week, approximately 3 out of every 4 weeks. I tend to do 3 weeks of tempo runs (once per week) and then take a week off.
  • Where? Anywhere you do your regular run. Try and avoid a route with lots of stop lights or a lot of hills so you can maintain a steady pace without a lot of breaks.
  • How? Warm up with a 2-3 km run at an easy pace, then pick up the pace to where you feel like you are working but not in distress. You should be in slight discomfort but able to hold the pace evenly for the duration. The distance should be approximately half the distance of the race you are training for.  (If you are training for a half-marathon, for example, you should increase your tempo distance until you get to 10-11km). Cool down with an easy jog for 2 km.

Note that you don’t need to make every tempo run 10-11km. For example in half-marathon training, my 4 weeks of tempo are as follows:

  • Week 1: 5-6 km
  • Week 2: 7-8 km
  • Week 3: 10-11 km
  • Week 4: Off

For a 10 km race, it would be as follows:

  • Week 1: 3-4 km
  • Week 2: 4-5 km
  • Week 3: 5-6 km
  • Week 4: Off

Tempos are tough mentally and physically but they will make you a better runner. Unfortunately, they almost always have to be done on your own as it is hard to find a run partner who is your pace as well being on your schedule. I am not too focused on actual pace when I do them but more on the effort I am putting in. I figure if I am running fairly hard, that’s what counts. Your goal is to maintain the same pace throughout. Once you get into the routine of them, they are not so bad. I liken it to taking medicine when you are sick. It is unpleasant momentarily but the outcome is why you do it.

Guest Post by Ruth Znotins – Community Support

February 8, 2011

Ruth Znotins is an Elation Centre Yoga Teacher Training Graduate that lives in the Westboro area.

I have a neighbour, here in Westboro, who is the mother of two daughters in their early twenties. Last winter, the youngest daughter (age 21) was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent surgery. The doctors were able to remove most, but not all, of the tumor. Consequently, this young woman underwent radiation and chemotherapy all last winter and spring. Little by little, over the course of last summer and fall she began to show increments of recovery. However, in December 2010, an MRI revealed that there is now not only one but two tumors. Moreover, the doctors are concerned that the cancer cells are spreading to the cerebral spinal fluid. A few weeks ago, she started another round of even more intensive radiation. It is anticipated that she will undergo additional surgery in the coming months.

Needless to say, this family is going through incredibly challenging times. I feel compelled to do something to support them.

Sylvie and Donna have graciously given me permission to use their studio to hold a yoga class as a fund-raising event. 100% of funds donated will be given directly to this family.

I am inviting you to participate in a 90 minute yoga class led by me…a recent grad of Elation Centre Yoga Teacher Training.

Theme: Balance
Style: Yin and Yang Yoga
with Meditation and Savasana
Level: Open
Date: Sunday March 6, 2011
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Location: Elation Centre
Tickets: $20

Sign up and pay at the studio (cash only please). If you are unable to participate in this event but would like to make a contribution, please email me!.

Yoga Teacher Training

February 4, 2011

Well we had another great weekend at Yoga Teacher Training. Our focus this session was seated postures and inversions. The opportunity to spend a weekend focused on Yoga is very inspirational. We had quite a few breakthroughs.

Sirasana (head stand) was a big one. As you know headstand is a brilliant Yoga posture, but it must be entered and practiced with brilliance in order to have a healthy, long lasting relationship with it. Kicking up will only create discomforts.

We had a few people who felt intimidated by the posture and experienced the first step of head stand for the first time. This step is such a valuable stepping stone. Holding this, exploring it, finding our alignment here, building strength and not rushing to get up, builds stamina and confidence. The strongest headstands I see are from people who took there time with this, practicing this first step only, sometimes for months ( not in a row:-)). Once one feels steady here it becomes possible to explore the second stage.
This stage is often the one that creates the most hesitance and fear of falling. But if one gets strong and steady in the first stage the exploration of the second stage is approach with the other F word – faith. Again nurturing patience and breathing here, finding one’s center, proves to be beneficial in the long run.
Then one is ready to move up to a full headstand with confidence and with the awareness and stamina to maintain it for a few comfortable minutes.
Another variation is the straight-leg approach. This requires a strong core and an understanding of what and where to engage. The people who were able to connect with this for the first time this weekend felt so good that the impulse to sing was natural……

Our next YTT weekend focuses on anatomy, getting to know our body from the inside out. What needs to be engaged? What needs to be relaxed? How does my body move? What are the basics of the nervous system? This workshop is appropriate for anyone who loves yoga, actually for anyone who has a body! If we must live in a body, we might as well get to know it.

Our training is accessible for the busy person or the urban yogi(ni). It’s filled with practical yogic philosophy for healthy happy living. It’s recognized by Yoga Alliance and by HRSDC (which mean we can provide you with a official receipt for tax purposes).

Chocolatey Protein Bars

February 1, 2011

D is for Dinner – or in this case – V is for Vegan Snacks. Stu Mills and I will be making these Yummy Protein Bars on CBC Radio 91.5 Wednesday February 2 @ 3:40PM. Be sure to tune in.

I originally found this recipe, years ago, in the Ottawa Citizen, I have adapted it a bit to make it Vegan. Makes about 20 medium sized bars. Perfect for after a hard workout or anytime you need a power-packed snack.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy protein powder**
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup Sucanant or packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (President’s Choice brand are vegan)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts and/or sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups plain or vanilla soy yogurt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil – preferably organic
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (don’t need if using vanilla yogurt)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 degrees if using a glass pan. Lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and a baking tray.
  2. Mix together the soy protein powder, flour, oats, oat bran, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Crumble in the brown sugar, making sure there are no lumps. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts/seeds.
  3. Measure the yogurt, oil and vanilla in a second bowl. Stirring until well combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix patiently until thoroughly blended.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, patting it evenly into place with your hands. Bake in the center of the oven 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and cut into 20 bars. Place bars on the prepared baking tray and bake another 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Remove bars from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
  5. Store in the freezer in a heavy plastic freezer bag. You can defrost in the microwave for 15 seconds or in a toaster oven.

Delicious!!

**soy protein powder is available at bulk or natural food stores. Make sure to get unflavoured, ask if it is suitable for cooking and baking.