Five Points Yoga

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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Food to the people!

Heading out of town this weekend, and what’s my heaviest load?   A huge bag of fresh produce from our farm share!!  Looking forward to making corn, tomato salad, and yummy greens!   As I’m feeling so grateful for this bounty, it reminds me of two great pieces of news I’ve seen that spoke to me.

First, “produce by prescription” right here in Massachusetts!  Veggie vouchers are available for people (especially moms) to use at the farmer’s market!  Way to help everyone have access to healthy food and support local agriculture at the same time.

Second, as a yogini who works with pregnant moms and has been a doula, I am always encouraging moms to eat in labor if needed, even though there are antiquated rules in most hospitals that “forbid” any food but ice chips (which isn’t food!).   For years, moms have been sneaking snacks to fuel themselves through long labors, because who could imagine “running a marathon on only IV fluids” as one doula I know wrote on Facebook.  Glad to see the rules are being reviewed. Change is slow, but if we keep advocating for ourselves, we can make progress!!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” m.mead

Have a great weekend :)

Cauliflower and a Love of Diversity

Oh, I miss my farm!  It’s only been 2 months, and I am already in withdrawl from the lusciousness that is fresh vegetables.   Yes, I love this season for the citrus fruits and the winter squash, but I miss the weekly trips to the farm, and I even miss the wrestling with fridge space every week as Gadi and I try to finish the share. 

So, how could I pass up this amazing cauliflower that was at Whole Foods?   It wasn’t cheap, but I had never seen anything like it!   I googled it and found out it’s often called the Romanescu cauliflower (or broccoli – depends on what you think it tastes like more).  It took me awhile to find it, because it’s also colloquially called a Mandelbrot cauliflower, after the mathematical Mandelbrot set (see Gadi’s post). 


 Really Awesome Cauliflower

Along with the taste of fresh vegetables, the thing I love most about a local farm share is that we are actually promoting botanical diversity with these farms.   I’m going to get a little political now, but part of the agribusiness model depends on uniformity.   Big (monopolozing and dishonest) companies that supply the majority of our produce to supermarkets spend time studying which tomato they can get to grow the fastest, biggest and cheapest, and then how they can ensure that each tomato they grow will be a clone of that. 

The result?  We start to lose diversity, both in species of plants, and in their flavor and vitality.   In yoga, we have the idea of PRANA – life force, or vitality.   Practicing yoga helps take you from a state of less prana, less vitality, to more.   When I eat a sad supermarket tomato, I can’t help but think that there’s so little prana in that tomato.  Part of my yoga off the mat is eating foods full of prana.  

So I LOVE when I see a new food.   Or a new variety of food.   There’s not just one kind of cauliflower!   There’s not just orange carrots!   There are hundreds of kinds of tomatos out there!   Every time I realize this, it’s this enlightening moment, for my brain and for my tastebuds.  And I’m amazed that even here in New England, where we don’t have a year-round growing season, we can grow an astounding variety of foods!  

Gadi and I were both so taken with this food that we each wanted to write a blog post about it, for very different reasons!  I hope you enjoy.

My parting words: Eat yogic foods – foods high in prana, foods that make you appreciative, and food that nourishes you body and mind!

Love to you all,

Barrett

The Beauty of Chaos (by Gadi)


I studied chaos theory and fractals in my nonlinear dynamics classes studying Fluid Mechanics in grad school.  It turns out that a bunch of really cool and beautiful parts of our world behave almost randomly… but not quite: turbulence, weather, astronomy, biology, and many more.  In fact the chaotic nature of fluid visualization is one of the things that attracted me most to studying fluid mechanics.  I’m not the only one who appreciates it… the “Dancing Bag” scene from American Beauty is a great example.

So you can imagine how amazed and enthralled I was when Barrett brought this home!!!


Mandelbrot Cauliflower With Barrett

Romanesco Cauliflower With Barrett


This is a Romanesco Cauliflower.  Its pattern resembles a Mandelbrot set which is an equation that defined a group of fractals.

So, not only was I fascinated by this foods sheer visual beauty, I was also immensely curious about its origin and nature.  I immediately took about thirty pictures of it.  I’m including a couple here and hope that Barrett also posts some. (You can click on the pictures to see the full size images!)


Romanesco Cauliflower

Romanesco Cauliflower


The depth of the pattern is mesmerizing.  That is basically  what attracts us to images of fractals.  But when you see them occur in nature – well… that’s when it really blows your mind.  There is some design happening in nature which creates these patterns.  I for one believe it is simply the biochemical signals determined in DNA.   But don’t get me wrong, in my opinion that is no less amazing than some divine power.

The other side of this beauty is the technical…  turns out the mathematics of chaos isn’t really that complicated.  The fundamentals are basically just arithmetic.  While it might make me cross-eyed or give me math anxiety (seriously, I totally get it), I still find it amazing that such complex looking beauty can be very simple.

For example, the  Mandelbrot set (which the Romanesco Cauliflower resembles) is basically defined as:

zn+1 = zn2 + c

So, if C=1, and Z0=1, then the set is: 1, 2, 5, 26, ….  It turns out it’s a little more complicated than this, but not a ton more complicated – though the equations might make it seem that way.

I’ll leave you with one more image of this amazing food!

Oh… and it tasted exactly like a cauliflower.  No different at all.  Yummmmy!


Mandelbrot Cauliflower

Romanesco Cauliflower


Overheard in Yoga Class

 

Before class started yesterday, I heard this question posed:

 

“Which do you think has more nutritional value:  beer or ice cream?”  

 

An earnest debate ensued :)

 

 

Enjoy your practice (before you partake in either beer or ice cream),

 

Barrett

Farmers Markets Are Back!

 

I LOVE the farmer’s market!   Even though I’ve had a CSA share with Waltham Fields for 9 years(!!!), I still make my way to the farmer’s market regularly.    We have one every day of the week near Cambridge!

 

Check out http://www.massfarmersmarkets.org/  for lots of info about when and where.   Some markets I love:

 

Copley Square, Tuesday and Friday – my favorite one, because it’s big and has Siena Farms, which always has interesting produce.   Siena Farms is connected to Oleana, one of our best restaurants in Cambridge.  

 

Central Square, Monday – the easiest one for me to get to.   It’s really great.   One of my favorite strawberry growers is here.

 

Davis Square, Wednesday – my former closest farmer’s market.  It’s an awesome feel here. 

 

Union Square, Saturday – also a fun family feel.

 

There’s also Harvard Square on Sunday and Tuesday, Cambridgeport on Saturday, and Kendall Square on Thursday.

 

I hope to bump into some of you this summer!   Here’s to an awesome healthy summer everyone!

 

Namaste,

 

Barrett

In Praise of All Things Green

Yes, I’m talking about spring, but also about eating your greens!!  I love spinach, arugula, chard, kale, etc with a PASSION.   This time of year makes me so excited because soon we will be planting our urban garden out on the deck (this weekend, in fact – the temperature will be in the mid-70’s!!).   Also, the farmer’s markets will open in May, and my organic CSA farm will begin harvesting in June (it’s my 9th season getting veggies with them!).

Why are green vegetables so good?  If you eat a range of greens, you’ll get just about every vitamin and mineral, including: Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, Vitamin C, E, K, and folate; minerals like manganese, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, zinc, and riboflavin.

Also, greens contain a group of anticancer compounds known as glucosinolates. These compounds exert antioxidant activity, and are potent stimulators of natural detoxifying enzymes in the body.  

 

I try to eat greens every day, like my favorite Rainbow Swiss Chard, above.   They become addictive – I think I can *feel* their goodness :)   And they will give you a ton of energy in your next day’s yoga practice!

 

I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite recipes EVER.  It’s called Warm Salad, and it’s from the world famous Moosewood Cookbook. After travelling for a few days, I was craving this simple dish, which is a nutritional powerhouse.  The best thing about this recipe is that it’s *very* forgiving.   You can really use approximations, and it will still taste AMAZING!

 

WARM SALAD by Mollie Katzen

 

You can use any combination of greens that you’d like.  Use 2-3 greens from this list: escarole, chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, kale, collards, spinach, tat soi, napa cabbage.

 

3Tbs. olive oil

5 cups of mixed greens (I recently used one small head of Napa cabbage, one bunch of chard, and one bunch of spinach)

1-2tsp. salt

 

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

2 medium leeks

2c. red onion

10oz. sliced mushrooms

1 stalk celery

½ small head of cauliflower

3TBS balsamic or wine vinegar

6TBS parmesan

Fresh black pepper

 

1) Heat 1TBS oil in a deep skillet or wok.  Add the greens, one handful at a time, salting lightly after each addition, and adding more greens as soon as the ones in the pot cook down a bit.  Use a fairly intense level of heat under the pot and stir as you cook.  When all the greens are wilted and tender, stir in the garlic.  Cook and stir one minute more, then transfer to a platter.

 

2) Add the rest of the oil to the skillet and when it is hot, add leeks, onions, mushrooms, celery, and cauliflower.  Salt lightly, and stir-fry quickly over med-high heat until just tender (5-8 minutes).  Add to the platter, mix gently to incorporate the greens, and sprinkle with vinegar and parmesan while still hot.  Grind black pepper, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with thick slices of toasted bread to mop up the juices (I don’t usually do this). 

 

Enjoy!

 

Barrett

 

Somerville becomes a Fit City

Just ran across this article about how promoting walking and biking in Somerville has helped kids and adults alike get more fit in the last several years.   I was a proud Somervillain for almost 8 years, and still work there every week, so this makes me happy.  

The article also talks about fresh and local produce being more accessible to kids in school and to residents through farm shares. 

It reminds me of this article earlier in the week, about a doctor who eats only organical food for 3 years.  He’s coming out with a new book on “green” living during pregnancy.   Should be interesting!

Thanksgiving Feast

 

We had a feast of lots of food and family and love over the past several days.   It’s been wonderful, and now, on Sunday, I’m curled up on the couch relaxing.

 

For Thanksgiving, I have this recipe that I always brag about, and people ask me for it.   Now that I have a blog, I thought this would be the best place to put it up.   This recipe came about because in general, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was about 12.   So, I really wanted a wonderful main course meal on Thanksgiving after years of just eating the side dishes and not feeling very satisfied.   Hence, I present you with the:

 

HARVEST VEGETABLE TORTE

Based off of a Vegetarian Times 2001 recipe

 

Layers of mashed sweet potato, mushrooms and leeks, spinach and cheese all wrapped up in a scrumptious puff pastry.

 

2 large sweet potatoes (1 ½ pounds)

2 TBS butter

2 large eggs

2 TBS olive oil

¾ cup chopped leeks

12oz mushrooms

3 cloves garlic

2 TBS chopped fresh thyme, or ½ tsp. dried

15-oz container lowfat ricotta

2-4 oz feta cheese

2 10-oz. pkgs frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

¼ cup fresh dill

3 egg whites

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 package (17 ¼ oz.) frozen puff pastry, thawed

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tsp. water

Fresh herb sprigs for garnish (or extra puff pastry cut into shapes)

 

  1. Peel and chop sweet potatoes and boil until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain and then mash with butter, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Saute leeks until soft, and then add mushrooms and garlic.  Add thyme, salt and pepper at the end, and set aside.
  3. Mix ricotta cheese, feta cheese, spinach, dill, egg whites, red pepper flakes until well mixed. 
  4. Preheat oven to 375F.  Unfold one pastry sheet and place on lightly floured surface.   Roll out to a 14-inch square, then cut into a 14-inch circle.  Transfer to ungreased 81/2 or 9-inch springform pan and press gently to fit into bottom and side (there should be some overhang for folding over top of pie). 
  5. Spoon sweet potato mixture into pastry and pat into even layer.  Then top with mushroom and leeks, and then spinach mixture.   Fold pastry overhang on top.
  6. Roll out only slightly the second puff pastry sheet on lightly floured surface, then cut into a 9 inch circle.  Place over top and press edges together to seal.  Brush top with egg wash, and then make a few simple slash on top of pastry with sharp knife.
  7. I like to add cut out hearts on top with the leftover edges of the first puff pastry.  
  8. Bake 35-40 minutes.  When well browned, loosely cover top with foil.   Reduce heat to 350F. Carefully remove side of pan and brush sides with egg wash. (If you don’t think the sides feel done, keep baking until they do). Bake until sides are golden, about 35-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly before cutting into wedges. 

 

Per serving: 445 cal. 14g protein; 24g fat (6g. saturated); 46g carbs; 5g fiber

 

 Here we are about to dig into the torte:

 

 

And here’s what it looks on the yummy inside:

 

 

My boyfriend is already trying to convince me that we should make this more than once a year.  I am holding fast that this is my Thanksgiving recipe, for once each year.  But it really is good…  

 

As for what this has to do with yoga – all I can say is that we’ll be doing a lot of yoga and exercise to counteract the effects of the past few days :)

Composting in Cambridge

 

I was so happy to find out that Whole Foods on Prospect St. in Cambridge has a compost bin.  This year I didn’t compost much at my CSA farm, but I really think it’s an effective way to reduce waste and promote local farming. 

 

Read this article about Whole Foods’ composting in Cambridge. 

 

Anyway, I’ve been collecting my scraps for a few days, and excited to go over there soon and “contribute” to the pile. 

 

In general, I’m a huge fan of fresh, local food.  In my journey through the blogosphere recently, my friend (and yogini) Zeenat turned me on to this blog called bostonlocalvores.  Stay tuned for a blog post about evil MSG and all the things it is lurking in.

 

Namaste,

 

Barrett

 

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