Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Balance | The YogaWorks Blog

I have an exciting announcement: I am now the managing editor of Balance | The YogaWorks Blog! Come check out the latest yoga & healthy lifestyle posts from the incredible YogaWorks community.

Here are my 2 latest pieces: 

10 Things that Happen in A Year of Yoga

“This practice of yoga is built, with devotion and commitment, over a lengthy time period.” - Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (1, 14)

In todays fast-paced world where instant results have come to be expected, it’s rare for a person to commit to anything for longer than a week. But when it comes to yoga, it takes time to reap the plethora of mental and physical benefits. Sure, you might feel revitalized and calm after one class, but what about after 10, 20, 50 or even hundreds of classes?

Here are 10 things that can happen in a year of yoga:

Fall Food Focus: Apples

It’s almost fall, which means apples are back in season! I absolutely adore apples, and who wouldn’t? They’re sweet, tart, super versatile, and most importantly, really good for you. We’ve all heard the age-old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and it’s actually true in some cases. Separate studies have shown that certain antioxidants and phytonutrients in apples can help prevent health problems such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, asthma and other respiratory symptoms. They’re also a great source of fiber and vitamin C.

That said, here are some tips for how to get the most nutritional value out of apples, as well as some tasty ways to enjoy them this season…

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fresh Piña Coladas

On May 2nd, the day before my birthday, my boyfriend proposed to me in Malibu, CA. It was without a doubt the best day of my life thus far. During that weekend of pure celebration, my future husband and I concocted the perfect summer drink: fresh piña coladas. I had always associated piña coladas with the saccharine, artificial sludge you get at a cheesy hotel bar. Little did I know that when you make them fresh they're the most delicious summer drink of all time. All you need is 2 ingredients and an optional dash of rum!

The first ingredient is the water and meat from young thai coconuts, which look like this. You'll want this type of coconut because the meat is soft and very easy to scoop out. If you don't have a meat cleaver at home, cracking these babies open can be a real pain... let's just say I've seen friends break out a power drill. That said, you can usually ask the grocery store to open them for you, which will save you a ton of time and protect you from all sorts of injuries.

Coconuts are loaded with potassium, manganese, copper and fiber. They have a reputation for being fatty, but this is somewhat misunderstood. Yes, they contain saturated fat, but the saturated fat in coconuts is a medium chain fatty acid, which means it's more easily absorbed and less likely to be stored in adipose tissue. They're also cholesterol free. Long story short, coconuts are a valuable source of nutrients and healthy fats - but like nuts, you'll want to consume them in moderation. 

The second ingredient is pineapple, which has anti-inflammatory benefits, digestive enzymes and is loaded with vitamin C. Pair it with refreshing coconut water, creamy coconut meat and a dash of rum and you'll truly be ready to kick back, relax and enjoy a beautiful summer day. 

Makes 6-8
2-3 young thai coconuts (ask the store to open them!)
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups rum (optional)

We used an 8 cup blender, so if your blender is smaller you may want to cut the recipe in half. 

In a powerful blender, such as a Vitamix or Ninja, add the chopped pineapple. One at a time, drain the water from the coconuts into the blender and scrape out all of the meat with a spoon. Continue adding coconut water and meat until your blender is full. Blend thoroughly until smooth and creamy.

If your blender is not very strong you could potentially try straining the mixture, though I haven't tested this method and can't vouch for the end result

In a glass with ice, add 1/4 cup of rum, 1 cup of fresh piña colada mixture, stir and drink up.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Spring Challenge - Week Four

We’re finally in the home stretch – ONE WEEK LEFT! I’m incredibly proud of all of you for making it this far. How do you feel? I wish I could sit down with each and every one of you and hear all about it.

This week, we’ve finally reached what we’ve been leading up to for the past 21 days: an elimination diet.

Click here to move on to week three...

For those of you who missed week oneweek two, or week three, no worries! You can start at any time. Set your own start date for the challenge, read along on the blog, and reap the benefits of taking care of your body, mind and spirit.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spring Challenge - Week Three

Now that you’re halfway done with the challenge, I invite you to take a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling after eating greens and whole grains every day. How’s your energy? What about your mood? Have your cravings shifted? Any other positive changes to take note of? It’s amazing the difference you can feel in just two weeks with such simple additions to your diet.

Click here to move on to week three...

For those of you who missed week one and/or week two, no worries! You can start at any time. Set your own start date for the challenge, read along on the blog, and reap the benefits of taking care of your body, mind and spirit.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Spring Challenge - Week Two

Congratulations on completing the first week of the 28 Day Spring Yoga Challenge! Hopefully you're feeling great, ready for longer classes, and have started a lifelong love affair with greens.

Click here to move on to week two... 

For those of you who missed week one, it’s not too late to start! Click here to read last weeks post, which outlines the first challenge and what to expect for the next few weeks. 


Monday, April 28, 2014

28 Day Spring Yoga Challenge!

I'm thrilled to be leading the nutrition portion of the MyYogaWorks.com 28 Day Spring Yoga Challenge (starts today)! In addition to daily yoga and meditation classes from Alex Crow, I’ll be providing you with weekly nutrition guidance. Hopefully by day 28 you'll feel stronger, happier, healthier and more energized than ever before!

To sign up, click here. To find out what your nutrition challenge is for week one, click here

NOTE: If you're not a MyYogaWorks member, you'll have free access to the challenge videos for week one. After that you'll be asked to sign up, but if you use promo code JOANNA at checkout you'll get an additional 4 weeks FREE on top of your 2 week free trial (6 weeks total)! 

Good luck!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Gluten-Free Oatmeal & Sweet Potato Breakfast Muffins

Okay, so it's been forever since I posted a new recipe. I honestly don't know where the time has gone, but here I am with one of my most recent creations: a gluten-free and nutritious oatmeal & sweet potato muffin. 

As most of us know, it's really hard to get the right texture from gluten-free baked goods; glu(e)ten is basically the "glue" that holds it all together. So, the other day I was making old-fashioned oatmeal, noticed the sticky texture, and wondered how oat flour would work in this recipe I'd been dreaming up... Turns out, really well! 

Oats have a unique composition of fiber and other nutrients that make them a particularly powerful tool for lowering cholesterol, reducing risk of heart disease, stabilizing blood sugar, and even enhancing our immune response to bacterial infection (1). You often see oats on the list of stuff you can't eat if you're going gluten-free, but this is because they're often processed in the same facility as wheat or other grains and have become cross-contaminated. Oats themselves do not have gluten, so all you have to do is buy a certified GF brand

This recipe calls for both whole oats as well as oat flour. But don't worry about buying a bag of oat flour because it's super easy to make your own. For 1 cup of flour, simply place 1 1/3 cups of oats in your food processor/Vitamix and pulse/blend until it's the consistency of flour. It takes less than 2 minutes! 

Another ingredient in these muffins that I've been really into lately is ghee, or "liquid gold" as they call it in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic doctors say it will do everything from improve memory and digestion to loosen tight hamstrings. So what the heck is this magical ingredient? Well, it's clarified butter, or butter that has been melted down and had milk solids removed. Ghee is also lactose and casein free - lactose intolerants of the world rejoice! That being said, unfortunately if you have a severe dairy allergy (which is different than an intolerance), you'll most likely still react to ghee. If that applies to you, try coconut oil in this recipe instead.

The sweet potatoes themselves add a good amount of sweetness to this recipe, but to bump it up an extra notch I added some maple syrup. First of all, maple syrup and sweet potato are a delicious flavor combination. Second of all, maple syrup has greater nutritional value than cane sugar - it's a rich source of minerals such as manganese and zinc, and vitamins such as A, niacin and folic acid (2). I recommend buying Grade B maple syrup because it's darker, thicker and richer in flavor.

Click on the following links to read articles I've written on some of the other ingredients in these muffins: sweet potato, almond milk, and chia seeds

Makes 12 muffins 
1 cup mashed sweet potato
1 cup gluten-free old fashioned oats
1 cup gluten-free oat flour (or 1 1/3 cups of oats ground in the vitamix or food processor)
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup 
1/4 cup organic ghee (or coconut oil)
1/2 cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 organic egg 
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. 

Cut two small, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and bake until soft, about 30 minutes. Scoop out the insides and discard the skin. Place in a blender and blend with the ghee. 

In a medium bowl, beat the egg lightly. Add maple syrup, whisk until combined. Add almond milk, sweet potato mixture, chia seeds and vanilla, whisk until combined.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together except for the walnuts.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stir in walnuts. 

Distribute batter evenly between your muffin cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 


(1) Whfoods
(2) Livestrong

Monday, February 10, 2014

Are You Cleansing the Wrong Way?

Find out in my latest newsletter along with 5 tips simple ways to detox regularly, and a promo code for 10% off Juil shoes with a portion of every purchase donated to the American Heart Association. Click here to check it out, subscribe and/or share with friends.

Also, Pepper My Salt is now on Instagram! Follow me @peppermysalt.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December Newsletter

The Pepper My Salt December Newsletter is here with 5 tips for striking a healthy balance this holiday season, spotlight on: Juil shoes, and more. Click here to check it out, subscribe and/or share with friends.

Also, Pepper My Salt is now on Instagram! Follow me @peppermysalt.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: my favorite thing about the cooler seasons is hot soup. This delicious and satisfying chili is jam packed with heart-healthy black beans, nutrient dense veggies, and warming spices. You can serve it over wild rice to make it a bit more filling, but it's fantastic by itself if you're avoiding grains.   

Sweet potatoes are an all-star seasonal ingredient in this recipe. To read more about the health benefits of sweet potatoes, check out my November Newsletter

1 cup wild rice
1 tbsp organic canola oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed & chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, stemmed & chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded, stemmed & chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled & cut into small cubes
3 cloves garlic, diced or pressed
3 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 bpa-free can or box of chopped tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 bpa-free cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cilantro
Greek yogurt (optional)

Cook the wild rice per the package instructions. 

While the rice is cooking, heat organic canola oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the next 10 ingredients (everything through the cayenne pepper) to the pot. Stir until ingredients have softened. Onions should be slightly translucent and the sweet potato should be soft enough to easily pierce with a fork. 

Add tomatoes, vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes. 

Add the black beans and cook for another 5 minutes. 

Stir in the cilantro. Serve over wild rice. Top with avocado and greek yogurt if desired. 

Leftovers are freezable.