Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review: Gaia Flow Yoga

Since I decided to cut back on running over the summer, I redeemed a Groupon I bought a while back for a month of classes at Gaia Flow Yoga. I had heard of Gaia because they were a featured studio at Lululemon's weekly free yoga and I really enjoyed the instructors that came to teach. I actually did not realize until I showed up at the studio that all of the classes are hot yoga classes. Gulp! I was skeered and very glad that I'd brought a towel.

The staff at Gaia is super friendly, all of the instructors I encountered took the time to learn my name. Every class starts out with core work to prepare for practice. I really am bad about not doing any core strengthening exercises on my own because I figure most of the yoga I do works my abs. At the end of the month, I feel like my abs are a lot stronger and since you use those core muscles so much to hold yourself in poses, it makes sense to spend extra time on them.

After abs, the instructor introduces themselves and often asks new people to introduce themselves. They also ask people to share any "good news" and then talk about the weekly sadhana, or theme. The theme is a yoga principle that you are to focus on for the week, such as purity or responsibility. The instructors tie that idea into your yoga practice and your daily life.

Then comes the flow part of class. I attended a few different types of classes, focusing mostly on beginner levels (Gentle Flow and Desert). Although I'm not a "beginner" yogi, I felt like I needed time to get used to the heat. The studio is usually somewhere between 92 and 96 degrees and you will sweat! I have never sweat so much doing any other workout. It is absolutely necessary to bring a towel and most people have a yoga towel that they put over their mat. I thought about getting one and ultimately decided not to spend the money, but it would be helpful to keep your hands from sliding. Gaia has towels available for rent, but I just brought my own.

I did take one more advanced level class called Mountain that focused on balance postures and the instructor put us all against the wall to do handstands and standing splits. It was definitely the most challenging yoga class I've ever taken! My muscles felt like Jell-O afterwards. In a good way. :)

Overall I had a great experience at Gaia and I wish that my budget would allow for me to be a regular member. I might do some drop-in classes and I will definitely keep an eye out for any good deals they might have in the future.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

White bean, Spinach and Goat cheese Lasagna

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is The Fitnessista. I have found so much great info on her blog, from training programs to fashion tips and yummy (healthy) recipes. She follows more diet restrictions than I do, but the recipes she shares are easily adaptable.

When I saw "white beans", "spinach" and "goat cheese" together in the same sentence, I knew immediately this was a recipe I needed to try! And it did not disappoint, even Michael loved this meatless recipe.

I made note of the changes I made, it can easily be made vegan or gluten-free if that's how you roll.

Lasgna noodles I used oven-ready whole wheat noodles
1 med white onion
2 cloves minced garlic
Olive oil
1/2 container organic baby spinach (I ended up using the whole container)
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans
1 jar tomato basil pasta sauce
2 servings of soft goat cheese
3/4 C shredded goat gouda (Vegan? Use Daiya instead of both goat cheeses) I used shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
Juice of half a lemon
Cayenne, sea salt, pepper, garlic I used red pepper instead of cayenne

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 and boil 8 lasagna noodles so that they’re slightly undercooked. Pat dry.

2. In a pan on medium heat, sauté the chopped shallot and 2 cloves of minced garlic in olive oil and a little butter until soft. As I noted, I used onion instead of shallot and I left out the butter

Wilt in the spinach, add the beans (drained and rinsed) and season well with sea salt, pepper, the lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne.

3. Next, layer the lasagna!

Sauce on the bottom, covered by 3 noodles. Then 1 serving of crumbled goat cheese, 1/2 of the bean mixture. 2 noodles, sauce and shredded goat cheese. Top with the other half of bean mixture, crumbled goat cheese, 3 noodles, sauce and shredded goat cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes covered in foil, 15 minutes uncovered.

This turned out great and was so easy to put together! It made really good leftovers, too. The goat cheese was so good (and definitely a different twist on traditional lasagna), but you could also substitute ricotta cheese and I think it would still taste great.

Sauteed Chickpeas with Broccoli and Parmesan

I've been in the mood for beans and rice lately. Beans are inexpensive plus a great source of protein. I love pretty much all beans but my far-and-away favorite is chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), yum! I love them in soups, pasta, hummus, falafel, or even just roasted and nommed like popcorn.

So when I came across this recipe I couldn't wait to try it! It's an easy recipe to play around with, you could easily use different kinds of beans, different vegetables and even different seasonings. It turned out great and took very little time to prep or cook. Since we usually have so many of these ingredients on hand, it's a great meal to throw together on a busy night.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced I used about 1/4 of a large white onion
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 heads broccoli, including stalks, trimmed and chopped (2 cups) I used a bag of frozen broccoli
1 (10.5 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed I used 2 cans. Mmmm...chickpeas
1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth Instead of broth, I added a can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/3 cup Parmesan shavings

In a large skillet (preferably one with a lid), warm olive oil over medium heat until hot. Carefully add onion, garlic and salt, and sauté, stirring often, until onion becomes transparent and garlic just begins to turn golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
Toss in broccoli; sauté for 3 minutes. Add chickpeas, broth and red pepper. Stir once, cover and cook for 3 minutes more, just to heat through and finish cooking broccoli.
Uncover, season with pepper, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve. I served over brown rice