Smokin’ Chipotle Three Bean Chili

Posted by: Rita in: ● February 20, 2012

It has been a while since my last post…  no excuses, I’m back! I started a 5-day stint of eating zero animal products today and decided to play around with the original Blizzard Chili recipe. The result is a punched up, smokey-spicy deliciously thick stew that hit the spot on another cold winter evening. Taking a cue from a recipe I got at last summer’s farmer’s market, I added wheat berries right into the chili to save the step of scooping it on rice and making it a one-pot meal. Give it a shot, don’t let the seemingly long ingredient list scare you, prep time was a quick 15 minutes, cooking time 30-45 minutes. Makes approx. 4 servings. Bon appetit!

1 tbsp. canola oil

1 large shallot, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 4.5-oz. can chopped green chiles

3 chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce (canned), chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. ancho chile powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 cup cooked wheat berries (for a Gluten-Free chili, substitute Quinoa or leave it out)

1 15-oz. can cannellini beans

1 15-oz. can kidney beans

1 15-oz. can black beans

1 15-oz. can tomato sauce

2 cups vegetable stock

1 large Haas avocado, halved and sliced into slivers

1 large handful chopped fresh cilantro

sour cream or yogurt for garnish (if desired)

Cook wheat berries according to package directions. (This can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator!)

Warm oil in pot and saute onions with a pinch of salt until soft, then add garlic, green chiles and chipotle peppers. Saute for another minute, then add all spices and saute for 4-5 minutes more. Add wheat berries, black, cannellini and kidney beans, tomato sauce and vegetable stock, then cover and simmer on medium for 30-45 minutes, stirring occassionally to keep chili from sticking to pot. The goal is to get it to thicken to a stew-like consistency.  Turn heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to mingle and the chili to cool so you don’t burn your tongue!

Serve with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, 1/4 avocado slivers and a dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt (if not choosing to keep it vegan). Yum!

Lemon Garlic Hummus

Posted by: Rita in: ● May 16, 2011

There was a Mediterranean Feast in the yumyoga kitchen last Friday and this hummus played a very prominent role. Actually, it was the only “tested” recipe featured at dinner as the other players you see where debuted that evening (with great success!) I LOVE hummus for the same reasons I love most food – it tastes great and it is nutritious. Look at the ingredients below… all good stuff. Chickpeas are a great source of protein and fiber (one of the many non-animal protein sources we can consume without worrying about our cholesterol levels as the fiber actually helps that issue!) Olive oil is a “good fat” and fresh garlic is a natural antibiotic.

I give props to a fellow yogi who is an incredible chef and foodie, PJ, for this hummus recipe. After CorePower’s Cleanse program, we had a big potluck and PJ brought this amazing hummus, so I had to snag the recipe from him. It is really easy and delicious and I make it all the time!

2 cans garbanzo beans drained and rinsed

4 cloves garlic

Zest of a lemon plus all of its juice

1t cayenne (adjust or eliminate to your taste)

Olive oil

Sea salt

Add all ingredients to a food processor minus the oil and salt.  Start the processor and slowly add olive oil until the mixture becomes a creamy consistency.  Season with sea salt to taste.


the Mediterranean Feast... Lemon Garlic Hummus on Quinoa Tabbouleh with Sweet Potato Falafel and Tahini Yogurt Sauce

Carrot Cake Success!

Posted by: Rita in: ● April 16, 2011

I really like dessert and have a particular fondness for carrot cake… and so it was time that I put down the wooden spoon, fire up the oven, and pull out the mixer. Days of research went into picking the recipe to get me started. I played around with the idea of making a vegan version but really didn’t love the vegan cream cheeses used for the all-important frosting, and the other “faux” ingredients that are so very processed and full of chemicals… grossness. So until I find a more natural vegan alternative to the cream cheese frosting dilemma, I’m making the choice to stick with the full-fat real dairy version. The ultimate winner for the recipe I ended up adapting was Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)’s Carrot and Pineapple Cake.

There will surely be several versions of this carrot cake as I try different variations of cake and icing, but this first shot came out so yummy I deemed it worthy of sharing now, just as I made it. Enjoy!

Cake ingredients:

1 cup real brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 individual serving all-natural apple sauce (about 1/2 cup)

3 extra-large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup  plus chopped pecans

1 pound carrots, grated

1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

Frosting ingredients:

3/4 lb. cream cheese at room temperature

1/2 lb. unsalted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 lb. confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. You can also line them with parchment paper if you like, my pans were non-stick so I just buttered and floured them.

Beat the sugar, oil, applesauce and eggs with electric mixer, then add vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients, 2 1/2 cups flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and pecans with the 1 tbsp. of flour, then add to the batter. FInally, add the carrots and pineapple and mix batter well. Divide the batter between the 2 pans and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove cakes from oven and let cool completely before proceeding.

For the frosting, mix cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth, then add the sugar.

You want a nice, proportional cake, so you may want to turn the second layer round-side down, or shave the rounded top off with a serrated knife to ensure your cake is not just delicious but also gorgeous. Spread 1/3 of icing on first layer, then add 2nd layer and spread remaining icing on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top with chopped pecans. Refrigerate cake… this is key, in my opinion the cake tastes better the next day! I prefer my cake slightly chilled, but you serve it at whatever temperature you like.


yumyoga 5-Day Cleanse… the day(s) after…

Posted by: Rita in: ● April 14, 2011


First of all, absolutely allow yourself to celebrate this incredible accomplishment. I’d recommend you celebrate in a mindful way, continuing your “conscious consumption”… so rather than throwing caution to the wind and heading to the next fast food restaurant, or indulging in a gigantic gourmet burger with truffle fries and a milk shake (mmmm…. ok, back to reality), chose a mindful way to celebrate your success! You’ve just devoted 5 days to your health and well-being, don’t throw all of that out the window and go back to the old ways you were trying to move away from in the first place.

Some wonderful ways to celebrate:

*get a spa treatment

*go grocery shopping to buy healthy foods

*buy yourself flowers

*treat yourself to a movie/theater performance/fill-in-the-blank

*cook a healthful dinner for friends/family and share your experiences with them

Look at all these amazing foods you can eat now!

Nothing beats fresh flowers!

One of the big eye-openers I’ve found people have when completing a cleanse such as this is wonderment at the fact that they actually “did it.” I’ve heard things like “I never thought I could go a whole day without eating anything” or “I can’t believe I feel great without MY COFFEE”. YES, this is all real and true. Our bodies were meant to function on real food. And you don’t need a ton of it (as we saw on the Smoothie and Apple days) as long as they are nutritionally dense, as most “real foods” are.

My advice to you going-forward as you continue your journey is to think about the nutritional value, rather than caloric value, of the things you are eating. Ask yourself what purpose that food is going to serve your body. And if you are having a really rough day and it is your MIND that needs nourishment, and you know that brownie or bag of chips is going to serve that purpose, don’t beat yourself up. Half the battle is recognizing how our stress levels, emotions, environment, habits and patterns influence our eating. After you start paying attention to these things, strive to make the RIGHT choice (and you know which one that is) about 80% of the time. If you slip the other 20%, be nice to yourself and rather than slide down a slippery slope, make the right choice the next time… which is every time you pick up a fork, open the fridge, or sit down at a cafe.

Afterall, it is with food as with everything else:

“Every day is a fresh beginning, every day is the world made new… this is your day of opportunity.” ~Dan Custer

The exciting news is there are so many good choices to be made, we just need to start seeing them and choosing them. Happy shopping friends!

Grocery shopping at a co-op or health food store after a cleanse is like letting a starving kid into a candy store!

yumyoga 5-Day Cleanse, Day 5: Vegan

Posted by: Rita in: ● April 13, 2011

Hello Cleansers! This is IT…

Day 1: Juice

Day 2: Smoothies

Day 3: Apples

Day 4: Raw… uncooked fruits, vegetables and raw nuts and seeds

Day 5: Vegan… no animal products (meat, fish, eggs or dairy)

Montana Salad from Jivamukti Cafe... you can do this yourself, it is mixed greens and lots of fresh veggies, black beans, and quinoa

On the fifth and last day of our cleanse and after 3 days of relatively limited consumption, Day 4 felt like a free-for-all… which means Day 5 will be just as fun as we add grains and cooked vegetables and legumes back into our diet.

As yesterday, feel free to eat everything you’ve eaten/drank up until now in the Cleanse… all the juices and smoothies are great for you so feel free to keep those if you enjoyed them.

Here’s an example of what your day may look like:

Breakfast: Smoothie made from pear, blueberry, walnut, chia seed, spinach & almond milk

Snack: Carrot-Apple Juice

Lunch: Salad with lots of veggies (fresh or roasted) and quinoa.

Dessert: 2-3 dates (I posted this for Day 4 too, I like it dates so much)

Snack: Celery with almond butter

Dinner: Butternut squash & soy bean curry over brown rice

Dessert: 3 squares of 70% or higher dark chocolate

Butternut Squash and Soybean Curry

Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! Keep eating as many fruits and veggies as you can today, try to get to 8-9 servings total, and work the grains, nuts, seeds, beans around the veggies. Keep drinking water! Your body will thank you. Your energy level should be wonderful today… and you should feel like a full-on rock star for making it to Day 5. Awesome!

Reward yourself with a great night’s sleep so you can start Day 1 post-cleanse still feeling awesome and committed to staying mindful of what you consume and how you consume it. Namaste friends!

yumyoga 5-Day Cleanse, Day 4: Raw

Posted by: Rita in: ● April 12, 2011

Congratulations! You’ve made it through 3 whole days of focus and commitment to your health! In my opinion, the tough part is over, and the next two days are a piece of cake (a healthy, vegan cake that is…)

Day 1: Juice

Day 2: Smoothies

Day 3: Apples

Day 4: Raw… uncooked fruits, vegetables and raw nuts and seeds

Day 5: Vegan… no animal products (meat, fish, eggs or dairy)

Massaged Arugula Salad

Today, we’ll continue to reintroduce plant fiber back to the body, along with variety. We can have any fruit, vegetable, or nut, as long as it is in its’ pure, raw, uncooked form (no roasted nuts, for example… speaking of nuts, go easy on them as they are harder to digest than the fruits and veggies).

Below is what your Day 4 could look like (all recipes found on www.yumyoga.com):

Breakfast: Tropical Green Monster Smoothie

Snack: 8-12 raw almonds, or handful of cashews or walnuts

Lunch: Massaged Arugula Salad

Dessert: 2-3 medjool dates with raw almond butter

Snack: Raw Zucchini Hummus with baby carrots

Dinner: Large Mixed Green Salad with Rita’s Famous Guacamole

Dessert: Live Choconana Mousse

“Dessert?” you ask… why yes, please, enjoy your dessert! When you are eating raw desserts, they are good for you, so no need to feel guilty!

Have fun experimenting with different fruits, vegetables and nuts… if there’s a raw food restaurant near you, I  highly recommend checking it out, you’ll be shocked at the magnificent things they will have to offer.

Continue to drink lots and lots of water, and get your zzzzz’s… you’ve got one more day left of the Cleanse after today. On Day 5, Vegan day, we’ll add grains and start to consume some cooked vegetables, beans and legumes.


yumyoga 5-Day Cleanse, Day 3: Apples

Posted by: Rita in: ● April 11, 2011

Day 1: Juice

Day 2: Smoothies

Day 3: Apples

Day 4: Raw… uncooked fruits, vegetables and raw nuts and seeds

Day 5: Vegan… no animal products (meat, fish, eggs or dairy)

So today, we start chewing again after 2 days of giving our jaws and teeth a break… and we also start adding back fiber without any “help” via blending, letting our stomachs adjust to digesting again. We are still keeping it simple, eating one kind of “whole” fruit, apples. Not much to think about in terms of your diet today, just grab an apple as you’re hungry (definitely during regular mealtimes, but throughout the day as you feel hungry or low-energy.) You’ll probably eat 6-10 apples today so make sure you have enough on hand or can get more as needed. If you can get organic, awesome, and wash them well. No need to put any chemicals, wax or pesticides in your body.

Optional variation: If you’re getting bored, another way to keep cleansing on Day 3, feel free to keep drinking your fresh juices and smoothies in addition to eating apples, rather than doing just apples and water. Your call!

A note if you have a problem with apples… I have an obstinate friend who has decided to eat grapefruit all day tomorrow instead of apples. Totally cool. He is quite smart, after all, so I acknowledged this was a perfectly good alternative. The idea is fiber and a high water content in the fruit and citrus fits the bill!

Hang in there guys, after today, the variety you get to add back to your eating will blow your mind… and we’ll still be cleansing because it will be super-healthy, which is so great!

Day 4 is next… raw!

yumyoga 5-Day Cleanse, Day 2: Smoothies

Posted by: Rita in: ● April 10, 2011

Alright yumyogis… congratulations for making it through Day 1, Juice! On Day 2, we start to add some fiber back into our diet, by keeping the natural fiber that is in fruits and vegetables rather than throwing it away when we juice. Using the blender to break up the fiber, we make it much more easily digestible.

Day 1: Juice

Day 2: Smoothies

Day 3: Apples

Day 4: Raw… uncooked fruits, vegetables and raw nuts and seeds

Day 5: Vegan… no animal products (meat, fish, eggs or dairy)

Today you get to have smoothies all day long, and any kind of smoothies you like, just as long as they are only fruits and vegetables. I recommend not adding anything but water to blend your smoothie, to keep the drinks as easily digestible for your body as possible. So for today, keep things like yogurt, almond butter, nuts, seeds like chia and flax, and protein powders out of your smoothies. Trust me, with the right combo of sweet fruits like bananas and pineapple and nutrition-packed leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, you won’t be missing the other ingredients!

Following the above guidelines, you can be as creative as you like with your smoothies today! If you need a little guidance, here are some ideas and suggestions:


1 banana

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup strawberries

1/2 cup blackberries

1 cup (handful) spinach or kale

1 cup water


Tropical Green Goodness

1 banana

1/2 cup pineapple

1/2 cup mango

1 kiwi

1 cup (handful) spinach or kale

1 cup water


Captain Pearberry

1 chopped, frozen pear

1 cup raspberries

1 cup (handful) spinach or kale

1 cup water

You get the picture. Really, the possibilities are limitless, so have fun with it!

I recommend at least 3 large smoothies (12-24 oz.) during meal times. If you feel like you need more, go ahead and have another one. You can also continue to drink juice if you like, as well as keep guzzling your water and/or herbal teas!

My suggestion:

Breakfast: Smoothie

Snack: Juice or tea

Lunch: Smoothie

Snack: Juice or tea or small smoothie

Dinner: Smoothie

Enjoy the flavors of the different combinations of wholesome fruits and vegetables. Your body is getting major TLC right now after you’ve given it a break from having to digest anything for 24 hours and now are making that digestion super-easy by mechanically breaking the foods that are already most easily digested down into the smallest possible pieces.

On Day 3, we will begin to chew again… apples, apples, and more apples!

yumyoga 5-Day Cleanse, Day 1: Juice

Posted by: Rita in: ● April 9, 2011

‎A couple of friends asked me for advice on how to do a short cleanse. As I started pulling together a program for them, I thought I’d open it up to our online community via facebook and the response has been tremendous! People on both coasts of the US and some friends overseas are all going to do this at the same time and share our experiences on this site and www.facebook.com/yumyoga!

And so begins the first Virtual Group Cleanse!

5-Day Cleanse highlights:

Day 1: Juice
Day 2: Smoothies
Day 3: Apples
Day 4: Raw… uncooked fruits, vegetables and raw nuts and seeds
Day 5: Vegan… no animal products (meat, fish, eggs or dairy)

Homemade Green Juice

Here is my suggestion for Day 1:

Breakfast: Green Juice… 1 head romaine lettuce, 1 green bell pepper, 3-4 sticks celery, 1-2 apples, 1/2 lemon (optional). You can also check out my previous post on Green Juice.

Mid-Morning: Herbal Tea

Lunch: Carrot Apple Juice… 2 apples, 4-8 large carrots. You can add a little bit of fresh ginger (very detoxifying) if you want a kick!

Mid-Afternoon: Herbal Tea

Dinner: Cucumber Melon Juice… 1 large cucumber, 1/4 watermelon or 1/2 cantaloupe or honeydew melon

Evening: Herbal Tea

You can have pretty much any kind of fresh juice you like, but try to add variety throughout the day, and try to mix in some green vegetables. It may be scary at first to drink something green, but the fruits cut the grassy flavor of the veggies so you can barely taste them. The MOST important thing is that the juice you have is fresh squeezed or freshly pressed juice, not a bottled or prepackaged juice you would buy at most stores. It shouldn’t be pasteurized or messed with in any way, and because of that it has to be fresh so it doesn’t go bad. Whole Foods and co-ops will sell freshly-squeezed OJ, but you want variety and greens, so if you don’t have a juicer you’ll want to visit a grocery store, co-op or market that makes fresh juices. Jamba Juice and other smoothie shops and juice bars do this too. You want just the juice, no added stuff like protein powders or supplements. Fruits and vegetables hold tons of water and this “organic hydration” is incredibly good for your body on a cellular level.

When you have your juice during regular meal time, make sure it is a nice big serving, at least 8-12 ounces, but you can have more! The idea is to fill you up. During “snack times,” I recommend having herbal tea (no caffeine) or flavored water. You can make flavored water by dropping fresh fruit slices like lemons, oranges or strawberries in your water bottle. (Try cucumber slices – SO refreshing, I’ve had this in nice spas.)

Drink water, lots of water, throughout the day. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Have a huge jug, bottle, vat of water near you and every time you look at it, take a couple of swigs. Yes, you’ll be running to the bathroom to pee all day, but if you stay hydrated, you shouldn’t feel hungry, grumpy or light-headed. If you feel like you need something “more” just have more juice. Don’t feel like this is prescriptive and you have to follow this to the letter… if you want to drink Green Juice all day and drink 2 gallons of it because that’s what your body needs, allow yourself that.

In terms of physical activity, as long as you are hydrated you should be fine to do whatever you normally do, including vigorous activities like hot yoga or running. However, during this cleanse, you are giving your body a break to allow it to re-set and repair itself. So if you feel like your energy is a bit low, don’t push it. Go to bed early… and low energy or high energy on Day 1, try to get 8 hours of sleep!

Day 2 is next… Smoothies!

Adventures in the City… Part I: Yogathon in NYC

Posted by: Rita in: ● April 5, 2011

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take 2 weeks off before starting a new position with my company, so I went on a trip I’d like to call “The Grown-Up Spring Break.” For 2 weeks, I indulged the passions that fuel YumYoga. Here are some pictures/highlights from the trip…

The Community Boards (and the educators) in every lululemon store are THE best resource for finding classes and activities in the area! Added bonus was running into Caleb, a lululemon educator who moved to NYC from Minneapolis and used to come to my classes in Uptown!

The Mecca of the Jivamukti yogi, the Union Square studio has 3 large practice rooms, changing rooms and bathrooms, a boutique, and classes all day long. Best of all is the JivamukTea Cafe, a wonderful vegan cafe to refuel after a juicy, sweaty practice!

A luxurious haven in the heart of SoHo at Broadway and Grand, this location features 3 large practice rooms and the poshest of locker rooms with showers and saunas. Herbal tea is provided to help you chill out before your practice... classes all day, featuring many different styles ranging from Hatha to Vinyasa.

Founded by supermodel Tara Stiles who actually teaches most of the classes (as does her hubby, Michael), this studio offers no-fuss true vinyasa for only $10 - a major bargain for NY yoga!

The large, open studio is located on Broadway between Houston and Bleecker.

Sankalpah Yoga is the studio of Isaac Pena, lululemon ambassador and also a UN World Peace Ambassador for Yoga - how COOL is that!?! The first class I tried to go to of his, he was at the UN all day teaching meditation and yoga! The sub, David, was amazing, as was Isaac whose class I caught the next morning. Amazingly flowy, creative vinyasa classes at this intimate studio.

This studio is like the "secret clubs" in NYC... you have to know where you're going otherwise you may walk right by this downtown studio on Warren Street. I took founder Schuyler Grant's class... 2 hours on Friday afternoon... blew me away! The most advanced group of students I've seen in any class, great energy and very unique sequencing.

Thus endeth the Grown-Up Spring Break Yogathon… 17 classes in 14 days ~ Namaste!

Creamy Vanilla & Fig Breakfast Quinoa

Posted by: Rita in: ● March 6, 2011

“Quinoa for breakfast?!” you ask… absolutely! Especially if you enjoy oatmeal for breakfast regularly, switch it up with this quinoa every once in a while to get higher amounts of a complete protein.

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

pinch of sea salt

2 cups vanilla almond milk

1 tbsp. real maple syrup

1/2 cup dried figs, chopped

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Cinnamon to taste

Bring water to boil and cook quinoa on medium-low, covered, with a pinch of sea salt for ~ 15 mins or until water is mostly absorbed. Keeping pot on medium-low, add the 2 cups of almond milk and maple syrup. Simmer until quinoa has expanded and it has a creamy, oatmeal-like consistency, then stir in figs and pecans.  Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon when serving and enjoy!

Serves 2-3

Smoothies 101

Posted by: Rita in: ● March 2, 2011

I’m a huge advocate of smoothies and start my day off with one for breakfast, 99% of the time. First of all, they are easy and fun to make. Second, smoothies are an awesome way to start your day off by getting anywhere from 20-50% of your 8-9 recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. The rest of the day just goes by easier when you start it off right, with a nice big smoothie!

All the yummy fruit and nuts hide the flavor of spinach and kale in these nutritionally dense smoothies!

The yumyoga smoothie is not a drink, meant to be had alongside something else. It IS the meal, whether that is breakfast or breakfast for dinner. The idea is that you get a great dose of fresh fruits and vegetables blended up with other delicious and healthful ingredients that serve as an excellent source of clean fuel for the next several hours.

6 components of a great yumyoga smoothie: fruit base, fruit flavors, superfood, protein/fat, greens, and liquid

Fruit Base: the backbone of your smoothie.

Frozen chopped bananas or apples

Chunks of coconut (the white “meat” of the coconut)

These are my favorites and are what will give you most of the structure of your smoothie. Cutting the fruit of choice before freezing is a good idea (trust me on this one)!

Fruit Flavor Enhancers: these determine the flavor profile of your concoction. Fresh or frozen fruit of your choice, depending on your taste that day, or what is laying in the fridge/freezer

Strawberries, raspberries, blue or blackberries

Mango, pineapple, papaya, kiwi

Dates (these add sweetness… pitted, soaked overnight to get them really soft and easy to blend)

Superfood: these nutritional powerhouses will make you feel like a Super Hero!

Flax seeds (ground), Chia Seeds, Powdered Greens, Acai Powder, Raw Cacao, Raw Carob powder

Protein/healthy fat: these nuts will also add some thickness to your smoothie

Macadamias, cashes, walnuts

Almonds (soaked and rinsed) or Almond Butter

Greens: the good stuff, your fruit will mask the flavor!

Spinach, kale, dandelion greens, romaine

Liquid: add as much as you like to get to your desired smoothie consistency

water (I used most of the time)

almond milk (2nd most frequently used)

coconut milk (for really creamy, decadent smoothies with a tropical flavor)

juice… make sure it is 100% real juice, not from concentrate, no sugars or preservatives added

NOW… pick any combination from the above group, assemble in your blender, and go crazy!

Here are a few examples:

A: frozen banana, blueberry, flaxseed, walnut, spinach, and water

B: frozen pear, raspberry & date, chia seed, macadamia nut, spinach, water

C: frozen banana, coconut meat, pineapple, mango, kiwi, acai powder, macadamia nut, kale, coconut milk

D: frozen banana, dates, flaxseed and cacao, almonds and almond butter, spinach, almond milk

Don’t they sound simply divine? In my opinion, there’s nothing better than starting the morning off with an amazing smoothie! I hope you enjoy making your own smoothie creations!


One of my Top 3 Smoothies: The Almonocolate Incident

Posted by: Rita in: ● January 23, 2011

I really don’t like picking favorites. So I don’t. I think Top 10 or Top Whatever is as much as I want to commit myself to choosing anything. I love making smoothies and the options really are endless. so… here goes…

I’ve been saving this one… this smoothie is my Ultimate Guiltless Treat that really feels like a very very Guilty Treat – it tastes like a chocolate milkshake, but better… like a chocolate-dipped banana and a jar of almond butter met and had a love-child… and it is really good for you! The only reason I don’t live on these smoothies is that I’m afraid I won’t enjoy them as much if I have them all the time… When I make them now, I feel like I get to eat dessert for breakfast!

1 frozen chopped banana

1-2 soaked medjool dates, pits removed

1/2 cup soaked almonds

1 tbsp. raw almond butter

1 tbsp. raw cacao powder

1 tbsp. ground flax seeds

1 cup vanilla almond milk

2-3 ice cubes (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend adding additional water if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Now. If you really want to get CRAZY, try throwing in 1-2 handfuls of spinach or other greens near the end of blending… you won’t even taste it in the smoothie and you’ve just snuck in 1-2 servings of leafy green vegetables… how clever of you!

Veggie Quesadillas with Crema Mexicana & Fresh Salsa

Posted by: Rita in: ● January 16, 2011

Crema is Mexico’s thinner, milder version of sour cream. When used as a condiment with more robust and spicy dishes, it cuts the intensity in such a perfect way you’ll understand right away why it is worth picking up this extra ingredient to top off the below veggie ‘dilla that packs serious heat. Speaking of heat… if you want it in a big way, keep the seeds in the jalapenos and habaneros. If you like your Mexican mild, leave out the seeds and the flesh of the peppers will give you all the flavor you need.

2 tbsp. olive oil

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced, washed & dried

1 purple onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 small jabanero peppers, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

12 oz.fresh baby spinach

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

salt & pepper to taste

6 flour, whole wheat or sprouted grain tortillas

8 oz. grated Mexican Cheese blend

Crema Mexicana

Fresh Salsa

Sliced jalapeno rounds

Start by sauteing mushrooms in oil until slightly browned.

Mushrooms release liquid as they brown so let this liquid cook off then add onions and all the peppers. Continue sauteing over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning the vegetables, about 5-7 minutes until they soften.

Next add garlic and spinach and sauté 2 minutes until spinach is wilted. Turn heat off  and stir in cilantro.

Lay tortillas out on flat surface, sprinkle with cheese and distribute cooked veggies evenly among all 6, placing the filling on one half of each tortilla.

Top with more cheese then fold each in half.

Warm a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat and brown each quesadilla approximately 30-60 seconds on each side. (We made these in a pizza oven, hence the smoky, charred appearance.)

Cut each folded tortilla into 3 triangles, and serve topped with crema mexicana, fresh salsa and a slice of fresh jalapeno. A nice green salad to accompany it adds color and boosts the plate’s total nutritional value (try the massaged arugula salad!)


YumYoga European Holiday 2010 – en route to Budapest

Posted by: Rita in: ● December 26, 2010

After a long trans-Atlantic flight with little sleep, I was pleasantly surprised at the recent updates to the dining scene at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. It was “brunch time” around landing and I was quite dehydrated from 8.5 hours in the air on a redeye because a) I ran out of time to fill up my water bottle as usual, and b) the flight attendants in coach tend to come by only 2-3 times and I’m not a fan of using the “call button.” Since I had a 2.5 hour layover I took Jack for a spin around the upstairs food court in the main terminal and stumbled upon the most delightful cafe that had this great fresh fruit and juice bar!

Fruit Bar at Schiphol

I made myself a mixture of strawberry, orange and kiwi juice, got a cup of fresh fruit and a hot tea, which made a perfect breakfast. Jack made several friends while we ate, he is quite a popular chap.

Fresh juice at the airport!

Juice and Fruit Cup breakfast at the airport

Continuing on our stroll around the airport I stumbled upon Bubbles, a champagne and seafood bar, right in the middle of the airport! What a cool concept! I wish we had something like this in Minneapolis…
Bubbles... a champagne and seafood bar
And right past Bubbles, was what to me turned into a little piece of heaven, for me at least…. Cafe Chocolat… where do I begin? The name says it all – this place was all things chocolate and wonderful, including coffee drinks, desserts, bulk chocolate, chocolate bars, and hot chocolate!

Cafe Chocolat

I was so excited to have enough time to stop in and chat with the chocolate barista about what kind of Chocolat Chaud (French for hot chocolate) to get.

Chocolate bar!

Their most popular is an orange-flavored chocolate, but she said given that I was a dark chocolate lover I should go for the Brownie, Dark, or Espresso flavors. I chose the dark and got another little surprise – you get to pick a little chocolate truffle to accompany your drink, in my case, a hazelnut creme truffle. A 4.95 Euro hot chocolate ($6.50 US) is not cheap, but boy was it an experience!

Hot chocolate, with a side of chocolate? Yes, please!

You get a wooden spoon with a hunk of chocolate at the tip, which is placed inside a cup and then filled with steaming hot milk. As you stir, stir, stir, the chocolate melts off the spoon and into the milk, making your hot chocolate. SO much fun having that extra interaction with your food before enjoying it!

once all the chocolate is melted off the spoon...mmmm, YUM!

Yummy, fresh fruit & juice breakfast, followed by a decadent hot chocolate and chocolate snack “chaser,” and I was ready to board the KLM flight to Budapest to celebrate Christmas Eve with my family. I must say, this layover was a very pleasant one, and a welcome change from airports filled with Burger Kings and T.G.I Friday’s. Big nod of approval from YumYoga to AMS, Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport :-)

Karma Yoga opportunity at Ronald McDonald House, Jan. 8, 2011

Posted by: Rita in: ● December 19, 2010

As we approach the close of 2010 and embark on the new year, take a moment to reflect on all you have to be grateful for. Whether 2010 has been a particularly good, average, or not so great year for you, you can start 2011 off with some awesome Karma in the bank…

YumYoga does quarterly Karma Projects and on Jan. 8th we are sponsoring dinner at the Ronald McDonald House on the University of Minnesota campus. The Cooks for Kids program invites friends, families, co-workers, school, community or church groups to cook meals for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Children of these families are being treated at nearby hospitals for life-threatening illness.
What you can do:
-help with preparing and serving the meal

-donate $ towards buying all the supplies (email me!)

Please visit www.facebook.com/yumyoga and RSVP to the Event (link: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=166349010049718&index=1 ), or email me at info@yumyoga.com for more details.

Happy Holidays!



Holiday Gifts for the Yogi, Foodie, and Veggie

Posted by: Rita in: ● December 19, 2010

The days until Christmas are numbered and many of us are still stumped about what to get those special yogis and foodies in our lives who seem to have everything they need and want. I’ve got recommendations for you whether your budget is $30 or $500… and if the below ideas don’t tickle your fancy, email me and I’m happy to offer more suggestions!

Under $30:

For the recent vegetarian or just someone interested in changing their diet to be more healthful, check out the Skinny Bitch series… books are always a great pick since it shows you took the time to think about what they’d enjoy reading! Pick one of the series or put together a duo or menage-a-trois such as Skinny Bitch, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, and Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven!

For the foodie and chocoholic, check out www.vosgeschocolate.com . How can you not LOVE a company who’s slogan is “peace, love, and chocolate” ? I’d encourage you to lean towards the truffles – they have gorgeously wrapped boxes of 9 for $26. If happiness came in a box, I think the Dark Chocolate Truffle Collection, or the La Truffe Chocolat Nature would pretty much be it!

Under $100:

For the yogi, upgrade their most frequently used item – the yoga mat. The Jade Harmony is made in the US of natural rubber and is environmentally friendly. It is also the most slip-resistant mat I’ve found, isn’t too heavy to lug around with you to the studio, and travels well. For around $65, you’ll make their day, and you’ll make their practice every time they use it!

For the foodie, surprise them with a cooking class. Search for one near their home and better yet, sign up to take the class with them, because it is always more fun to play in the kitchen if there’s a friend with you!

Under $500… if you’re really looking to impress…

Send the yogi in your life on the experience of their life by signing them up for a yoga workshop or yoga retreat. Contact a studio in their city and ask them about traveling instructor workshops and/or retreats with some of the biggest names in the yoga world such as Shiva Rea, Steve Ross, Bryan Kest, and Anna Forrest (to name just a few) and sign them up to attend!

For someone serious about healthy eating, there’s no kitchen tool that even compares to a serious blender like the Vitamix or Blendtec. These incredible blenders can basically grind your remote control (OK, don’t try that)… but seriously, they can grind coffee, make nut butters, and raw soups in addition to smoothies and, well, other mixed frozen drinks :-)

So, there you have it. And if you are still at a loss for a gift for the enigma that is this special person, take a hint… get in the car, and get yourself to the nearest lululemon athletica store or showroom, (or www.lululemon.com) and get them ANYTHING. It’ll be a hit.

Happy Holidays!

Blizzard Chili

Posted by: Rita in: ● December 11, 2010

This satisfying vegetarian chili was adapted from a former non-vegetarian favorite White Chicken Chili recipe I got from Cooking Light magazine. For the second weekend in a row Minneapolis was hit with a blizzard and stuck at home with limited options I was forced to get creative and make-do with the ingredients I had on hand. Seeing as I eat mostly fresh food, my canned and dry goods are pretty limited… all proof that wonderful things can still come together if you are open to a little experimenting.

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 4.5-oz. can chopped green chilies

1.5 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 15-oz. can cannellini beans

1 15-oz. can kidney beans

3 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

sour cream or yogurt for garnish

Warm oil in pot and saute onions with salt until soft, then add garlic. Saute for another minute, then add green chilies and spices and saute for 4-5 minutes.  Add beans and vegetable stock, cover and simmer on medium for 45-60 minutes, stirring to keep from sticking. The stew will thicken and the flavors meld the longer it cooks.  Turn heat off and stir in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro. Enjoy by itself or over a bed of brown rice.

Italian Quinoa

Posted by: admin in: ● November 14, 2010

I’m just going to say it. I LOVE quinoa. I’m not sure how I lived my life before I found quinoa, but now that it’s here I can’t get enough of it… it isn’t just a crush or one of those hot and heavy romances that burns out after a while… my love affair with this amazing grain has been going strong for well over a year and is here to stay! Tonight I decided to experiment with a different variation than my usual tex-mex ones and it came out great – but you be the judge…

2 tbsp. EVOO

2-3 minced garlic cloves

1 cup quinoa

2 cups veggie broth

1 cup canned artichoke hearts, chopped (about 1/2 of a can)

1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (the kind in oil)

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh scallion

Optional: 1/4 cup shredded parmesano reggiano cheese

First, toast the pumpkin seeds on an unlined cookie sheet under the broiler of your oven. Keep on eye on them as they toast, they burn quickly! As soon as they begin to brown, pull them out and set aside.

Heat EVOO in pot and saute garlic for 1 min., then add quinoa and saute/toast for another minute. Add broth, bring to a boil and cook 15 minutes until broth is absorbed and grains are cooked. Take off heat, fluff with a fork, and stir in artichoke, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, basil and scallion. Season with salt and pepper and cheese if using (can use other cheeses too if you prefer, feta would also be nice…)… Serve and enjoy!

Buon appetito!

Squash & Lentil Coconut Curry

Posted by: admin in: ● November 14, 2010

This fragrant and warming curry is a perfect meal for cooler weather as we head into winter. Serve as a stew on its own or scoop on top of a bed of brown or jasmine rice or quinoa… you can’t go wrong with this! And PS – this happens to be vegan. I get so excited when I find an amazing dish that doesn’t have ANY animal products in it!!!

2 tbsp. EVOO

2 medium onions chopped

2 medium cubed, peeled fresh butternut squash cut into 1/2″ cubes (approx. 5 cups)

2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger

4 minced garlic cloves

2 seeded & chopped jalapeno peppers

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. fennel seeds

1 tsp. ground yellow mustard

1-2 tsp. curry powder

3 cups veggie broth

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

1 cup dried small red lentils

1 can coconut milk

juice of 1 whole lime

large bunch of chopped fresh cilantro

sea salt to taste

Warm oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute onions for about 5 minutes, then add garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and spices and saute 1 minute to allow flavors to meld. Next add in squash and cook 3 minutes longer. Proceed by adding the red lentils, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, simmering for another 25 minutes with occasional stirring. As the squash absorbs the liquid and breaks down to thicken the stew, stir in the coconut milk, lime juice and salt. Stir to combine flavors, turn heat off and let sit another 5-10 minutes (this is key, as the flavors need to mingle!). In the meantime you can chop your cilantro and that’s the last thing you stir in before serving. Yum, yum, yum, enjoy!!!

Steaming hot and delicious!!!


Facebook Activity

Facebook Feed