Tag Archives: vegetarian

Chisai (small) harvest

The first “bumper” crop came in from my garden. Let’s just say it was a bumper from a Mini Cooper instead of a Hummer, but at least I’m keeping it green šŸ™‚ Chisai (small) is the word my Japanese mother-in-law used to describe my harvest. Although these plants are tiny compared to the one’s seen in the store, they are indeed some delicious delicacies. I’d like to share them with you.

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Above is how the cucumber from a few posts ago turned out. It was near the ground and grew into a circle. This was probably the first bona fide vegetable I grew from seed, so I am extremely fond of it. As Fukuoka’s theory of gardening was based on the concept of “mu” or “nothingness” this cucumber reminded me of an enso circle in Zen Buddhism which symbolizes that we are nothing and everything. In a strange cosmic way, I felt this was Fukuoka’s way of giving me his blessing for my garden. I also harvested this near his birthday on Feburary 2 (he would have made 104 this year). After showing this to my family, I cut it into three pieces and we all enjoyed it.

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Below are some Romanine lettuce mixed with daikon leaves. The daikon leaves were spicy and mustardy and mixed well with the mild Romaine. As you can see this is about a tenth of the size of the variety that comes in your caesar salad. But we ate these without any dressing and they were delicious!

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Below are snap peas. These have come from a confused plant which has tried to latch on to anything it can to trellis itself upward. I thought the windy dry weather had done them in, but they rebounded nicely and produced these beautiful pea pods. Sweet, crisp and succulent.

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Below is a “preemie” daikon. If you have ever seen one of these in real life, you’d know that they are huge with a root the size of toddler’s leg. This little guy was growing right next to another daikon and was competing for space, so I decided to pluck him and add him to my stir fry. When they are small and young like this they pack a spicy punch much like horse radish or wasabi. Bold, assertive flavor from this pint sized offering.

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A few haricot verts from my bush bean plant. These grow quickly. The beauty of bush beans is they magically keep giving and giving. In fact is in encouraged to harvest often so the plant does not flower and go to seed.

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And last but not least, this wonderful Kabocha pumpkin plant is snaking through my garden like a dragon complete with scales. I’ve never grown a pumpkin before and didn’t realize what a regal and dynamic plant it is. It uses its tentacle like vines to secure it to the ground like staples and behind the “head” large yellow flowers bloom on the body like fireworks. A female flower finally emerged but has not opened. The large black bees which circle overhead will certainly pollinate this plant once the female flower opens.

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Although the plants are small, these mini harvests have given me hope. As one of my Facebook friends said “Don’t be put off if things grow smallish this year. They will grow bigger and better each year.” There is a nice quote from Audrey Hepburn: “To plant a garden is toĀ believe in tomorrow.” With all the craziness in the world right now, my garden and my yoga practice have kept me grounded and optimistic about the future regardless of world events. Although you couldn’t taste these, I hope they were a feast for the eyes. Many blessings!

New classes going well!

Kombucha pumpkins I am settling into my new schedule of early morning classes. Today I had the same group as Tuesday give or take a few new students. We worked on the hip actions of Parighasana and I related them to the hip work in Vrksasana. The students took well to the instructions. I remember laboring over these poses while preparing for my Intro I back in 2011. It is easy to do a pose like Vrksasana, but to learn how to teach it properly is very difficult.

My classes have been averaging about 10 students. There was a time when I don’t think I could have handled more than 10 students at once. But because of how the Iyengar system is logically laid out, it is easy to organize many more than 10 students if you have a good plan. The shape of the room is critical to where you place yourself as a teacher relative to how many students you have. If I have less than 6 students, I will teach in a different location in the room because I don’t want to seem too far away.

A new challenge for me as a teacher is to make each class unique even though we have the same clan of poses taught to the same students two days apart. My plan is to use the class earlier in the week to go over rudimentary actions of certain poses, and then use later class in the week to add refinements to those actions. That should keep things fresh and interesting for my students.

Another challenge for me is adjusting to the early morning teaching schedule. My wonderful wife is accustomed to waking up at 5 am and is a morning person. As I rouse from my umpteenth snooze, she joyfully helps me get through my morning routine. This week she gave me simple math problems to get my brain moving. I am grateful that she married me.

I wrote in my previous post that the many benefits one gets teaching Yoga are so unique that they are difficult to write about. I will try to highlight these benefits in future posts. The one benefit from this week is that there is farmers market at Manoa Marketplace on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And since my class is early, I have first pick of the fresh produce. Today I bought a Kaboucha pumpkin, slathered it in olive oil, Ā and roasted it for dinner for my wife and I. It was delicious and caramel-ly. Since I’m sure all of your are tired of seeing the same version of the lithe Lululemon ambassador in the #namasteeverydamnday #bakasanadujour, I instead posted a picture of my beautiful roasted pumpkin.

Enjoy your weekend!

Eat whatever you want during the holiday

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It’s that time of year again. The Thanksgiving/Yule tide festivities are breathing down our necks. Now is the time of year we see all the posts on how to survive the holidays if you are on a Paleo dietĀ or some other evidence-of-virtue low caloric intake plan. Panic sets in for many this time of year as is has for me in many Christmas pasts. “I am going to gain a thousand pounds” you say to yourself. So here is my radical thought of the day: eat what ever you feel like eating during holiday time with family and friends.

No I am not going psychotic. It has just been one of those years where I realize how fragile our loved ones can be and how quickly they can be taken away without much notice. Do you want memories of fussing at the dinner table because someone but real butter in your casserole? Or do you want memories of enjoying and being present with your loved ones during what could the last time you would be gathering all at once?

I come from experience. I was on a raw food diet for a time. Many people had to make accommodations for me during that time and it was not a pleasant experience. Come to think of it, I don’t think I was invited over for holiday dinner the next year.

Since then, I have found some sort of enlightenment, and realized I actually enjoy eating good food with my family. So here is my proposal to you: If you have a steady and regular yoga practice, you have my permission to feast with everyone else during the appropriate time. I think that by giving yourself permission to do so, you will have a much better attitude toward the holiday. If you are doing yoga properly, your body will tell you how to offset the large intake of food.

In terms of eating, I often think about the Buddha. He was a serious yogi who starved himself doing extreme acetic practices. He only found enlightenment when he ate a grain of rice that was given to him. He didn’t go overboard with it. He just realized that the practices were holding him back from his true nature.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, stay that way! Just enjoy what is given to you and you can eat and don’t feel guilty if everything isn’t just so. Holidays are sloppy. Families are sloppy. Friends are sloppy. Just use the discipline that you have acquired through your dietary practices to fully enjoy the holidays with a present and clear mind.

And by all means, enjoy your holiday!

When Life Hands You Mangos…

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There are many fringe benefits of being a yoga teacher. That includes the occasional gift from a student. The other day, one of the students at Iyengar Yoga Honolulu brought me two bags of mangos from her tree. It is a bumper crop season here in Hawai’i as we have had a rain-filled winter.

The catch is that these particular mangos have a shelf life of about 3 days before they start to go bad. You can see the black forming around some of them. So I have been giving as many away as I can eat.

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After reflecting on my windfall of fruit, I realized that mangos have been a staple food for yogis for thousands of years. I remember going to the Honolulu Academy of Art and seeing a statue of Buddha with a mango similar to the one seen above.

I don’t usually like to talk about food or diet because to each his/her own. BKS Iyengar says that one should gauge his/her diet by how it effects one’s yoga practice and vice versa. But it may be safe to say that mangos are an ideal food for yoga practitioners for several reasons.

First, they are loaded with fructose. Although not so good for those prone to diabetes, it isĀ great for teachers who need a sugar rush before they teach a class. I have noticed that when I sub a lot, my eating clock becomes critical especially for morning classes. I don’t like to eat a whole lot before I teach, but I don’t want to not eat and lose all my energy. I find that mangos are a good solution to pre teaching breakfast.

Secondly, they have lots of fiber. So much that you just aboutĀ need to see a dental hygienist after eating one because of all the fiber stuck in your teeth. That fiber really moves things along if you know what I mean.

Thirdly, they are delicious. Imagine eating sorbet in fruit form.

Other interesting facts are that mangos are actually in the cashew nut family and more mangos are eaten world wide than apples.

So thank you to the student who brought the treasure trove of mangos. They have made many people happy!