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Adventures in Cooking… more smoothies

Jul 29, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food  //  No Comments

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’m back to enjoying breakfast smoothies. Thanks to my weekly fruit deliveries, I’ve had a refrigerator filled with fruit goodness that I won’t allow to go to waste, so I’ve been playing with new combinations and enjoying some classic ones. Here are some of my latest smoothie recipes.

Note: serving sizes vary depending on the quantities used, but in general, most of these make enough for two servings. And for all of these, blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Cantaloupe Summer Smoothie


Cantaloupe Summer Smoothie – when I got two cantaloupes in my weekly delivery, it was a must to create something delicious with them.

- 1/2 a medium cantaloupe
- 1 peach
- 1 nectarine
- 1 orange
- 1 packet stevia
- water, adjust quantity to achieve desired thickness



Chocolate Mint Goodness


Chocolate Mint Goodness – a favorite blend that reminds me of the holidays, delicious with the perfect hint of mint

- Chocolate flavored hemp protein powder
- Spearmint or Peppermint leaves
- 1 packet stevia in the raw
- 3 nectarines (I had a bunch that I needed to use, so this was my chosen application)
- water, adjust quantity to achieve desired thickness




Going Green... again

Going Green… again – I’m getting back to my, almost, daily green smoothies. This is a particular blend that I’ve been enjoying.


- 4 stalks kales
- 1/2 peach
- 1/2 nectarine
- 1 banana
- 1 packet stevia in the raw
- water, adjust quantity to achieve desired thickness

This morning, I turned this into a bit of mint bliss, by adding some peppermint leaves to it.


I’ve been enjoying trying out new smoothie combinations. I look forward to enjoying some more new blends very soon. What have you been enjoying for breakfast? Do you have any fruit combos you’d like to share?

Adventures in cooking… tropical chia smoothie

Jul 2, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food  //  2 Comments

smoothie ingredients

I know, it has been just about forever since I last posted to my blog and although it’s not an excuse, I have been busy with life, work, and yoga, and booting up my laptop when I get home has been one of the furthest thoughts from my mind. Although it wasn’t all documented, June was a great month, filled with lots of accomplishments, new projects, and getting back on top of my 2012 intentions.

I’ve needed to get back on top of eating my 5 fruits and veggies a day, so I subscribed to Washington’s Green Grocer. It’s like a CSA, but there is no sign-up fee and I can easily adjust what I get in my box each week by using their website – both adding or changing out items that I prefer not to have. For a girl that doesn’t like to make time to head to the grocery store, it’s great and it is helping me eat healthy again. Since i get enough veggies from lunchtime salads, I receive the weekly mixed fruit box (combo of organic and conventionally grown fruits). My first box came filled with bananas, mangos, oranges, and blueberries and I spent the next five mornings (all the ones I was in DC for) enjoying my Tropical Chia Smoothies.

Tropical Chia Smoothie - bright yellow and delicious

This is another super simple, yet incredibly delicious chia smoothie. The ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chia gel (2 tbls chia seeds to 1 cup water, whisked together and left in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 small oranges, peeled
  • 1 mango, peeled, pit removed
  • 2 packets stevia in the raw

I prepped the fruit (took about 10 minutes), loaded my Vitamix and that was it. It only took about 3 minutes in the Vitamix to blend and I had an incredibly delicious and nutritious breakfast.

I was excited about last week’s box (filled with blueberries, bananas, and grapefruits – I accidentally had declined to receive stonefruit, so no peaches or the like – i have since corrected that mistake) and when it arrived, I identified two new simple smoothie combinations. I’ve enjoyed a twist on this tropical chia smoothie, substituting a grapefruit for the oranges and frozen mango for the fresh. Since grapefruit is naturally more tart, it’s a little less sweet, but still delicious. And all the bananas aren’t going to waste, as I also enjoy Chocolate Chia Banana smoothies – 1 cup water, 1 cup chia gel, 1 banana, and 1 scoop chocolate Vega-One protein powder. It’s my version of my favorite Starbucks smoothie and I can’t get enough of it. I can’t wait to get this week’s box and see what new smoothie recipes I can come up with.

I’m happy with this decision that’s helping me get more fruits and veggies into my diet. How have you been getting your fruits and vegetables lately?

Adventures in Cooking… my quick and simple breakfast smoothie

May 27, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food  //  1 Comment

It’s been a while since I’ve been cooking regularly. Honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten on my home computer more than once a week, too (it explains the lack of blogging lately). In last week, I’ve gotten back on track with my breakfast smoothies and without any greens in the house, I had to figure out another basic recipe that I enjoyed. So, on Tuesday, I made a chocolate chia protein smoothie, which I’ve now been making variations of for the last 6 days.

I’m all about simple, especially when I’m going to be “cooking” it at 6:30 in the morning. I made some basic chia gel (2 tablespoons chia seeds mixed into 1 to 1 1/2 cups water) the night before and left it in the fridge to thicken overnight – overnight is not required, you could make it 15-20 minutes before you want to use it too. The basic recipe was extremely simple – 1 cup water or almond milk, the chia gel, and 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (I’ve been using Vega One – it’s plant-based). I tried this on a whim and was pleasantly surprised at how well the chia gel helped to thicken the smoothie. So in the upcoming days, I’ve continued to play with this base recipe, adding fruits that I have in my refrigerator. This morning’s breakfast smoothie was

1 cup water
chia gel
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 small banana
1 small peach

It was easy to make, tastes pretty good, and is filling. I’m happy to be back to my breakfast smoothies. I can drink them while i get ready for work or bring them to the office. And they are so fast to make. This week, I’ll start adding some greens to these, too (since i’ve made it to the grocery store).

What’s your favorite quick and simple breakfast?

Evoking change… adopting a vegan diet

Mar 8, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food, self-care  //  3 Comments

In the last four to five months, I’ve been slowly implementing changes in my life. These changes include recommitting to and redefining a daily yoga and meditation practice and eating my veggies. My latest change was about making a sacrifice. I decided to try adopting a vegan diet.

I grew up Catholic and spent all of elementary and high school in parochial school. Although I am not actively practicing now, there are still elements of what I learned that have stuck with me. One of those was either making a sacrifice or doing some service for your community throughout the Lenten season. You may or may not know that Lent began on February 22 this year. And while I may not have gone to receive ashes, I did decide that I would make a sacrifice. I would give up all animal products. I’ve been eating mostly vegetarian for about the last two years now, but hadn’t committed to cutting fish or dairy out of my diet. I love sushi and really, what’s a homemade pizza without a blend of four cheeses. I decided that in 2012 I would cut out the fish, but wasn’t so sure about committing to cutting out the dairy.

In January, I actually signed up for the 28-Day Vegan Kickstart, however I wasn’t ready to commit. So I just kept eating vegetarian (no fish at all). When a friend asked what others were “doing for Lent”, I decided that this sacrifice would be worth it. I would try eating vegan through Easter and depending on how my body feels determine if I will keep it up or keep it up 95% of the time and allow for trace amounts of diary in some of my favorite holiday baked goods, breads, crackers, etc.

I am already feeling better. I slipped up and tried to enjoy my regular pizza lunch two tuesdays ago, I felt awful afterwards (and I mean my stomach, not guilt). I hadn’t realized until I was about 10 days into eating vegan (I started before Ash Wednesday) that my body really doesn’t like cheese as much as my tastebuds do. Completely eliminating it and then reintroducing it taught me this valuable lesson. And eating this way has been an encouragement for me to cook (check out my recent Adventures in Cooking). I’m living on lots of vegetables, quinoa, green smoothies, and other whole unprocessed foods. Although it is slightly processed, I do like to slip some vegan protein powder into my smoothies, just to ensure I’m getting enough.

I wasn’t sure how i would manage eating this way – being vegan – but I am managing quite well. I haven’t gone as far as to stop using leather goods, but I am trying to be mindful about what i buy. Oddly, I’ve been using vegan nail polish for the last four years. My favorite brands – Zoya and Spa Ritual – are vegan. They are made without formaldehyde, camphor, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate.

I feel I’m working to embody one of the yogic values – ahimsa – non violence or non harming behavior – through eating vegan. It’s actually the first of the yamas in the eight-limbed path. Making this sacrifice is helping me to embody this yama, as I stop harming myself by no longer eating the things that my body doesn’t react well to.

We’ll see how things progress over the next five weeks and I’ll make a decision as to how I want to go forward, so deciding if this will be a permanent change. If I continue feeling better and healthy, I think this is a change that I may want to stick with (or at least stick with 95% of the time).

Did you make any sacrifices or decide to give back to the community this Lenten season? Why did you decide what you did? How is it changing your life?

Adventures in cooking… how I learned to love brussel sprouts

Mar 1, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food  //  No Comments

a trio of roasted veggies - crispy kale, butternut squash, and mixed veggies

If there was any food that I didn’t like to eat when I was growing up, it was brussel sprouts. Now that I’m an adult I decided it would be wise to give these mini-lettuce looking vegetables another try – they are good for me after all. So when I saw them in my local Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago, I decided, now was as good a time as any. I’m not a fan of wilted greens so finding the right cooking method would be key.

I took some inspiration from Chef Anne Burrell. I remembered watching one of the episodes of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef several months ago, how she made oven roasted brussel sprouts. Growing up, my father used to steam them, making the leaves all wilted and I have never been a fan of wilted greens, so oven roasting seemed like a good alternative. I decided I would give them a shot, mixed with oven roasted kale and butternut squash. I took the plunge by cutting off the bottoms, removing the bad leaves, and then quartering these little lettuce-like heads. Before I put them on my baking sheet, I separated all the leaves as best I could. I coated them (and all the other vegetables) with a bit of olive oil, some sea salt, and some Italian seasoning. Italian seasoning is my go to seasoning blend. I love the flavors and have found the it goes well in a large variety of dishes that I make.

roasted brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and green beans

my first batch of crispy kale

roasted butternut squash and brussel sprouts


I always roast my vegetables on a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean up). I spread them out in an even layer, so that they can cook evenly and always try to keep all pieces about the same size so that they cook evenly. I think you can vary the oven temp and cooking time, but what’s worked well for me is to set the oven to 300 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Generally I make these a day in advance, storing them in a glass container and then heating them up in the microwave at work for 3 minutes. I find that any al dente veggies do their final cooking when they are reheated.

butternut squash and brussel sprouts - before roasting

roasted carrots, broccoli, and brussel sprouts


roasted butternut squash, broccoli, mushrooms, and eggplant


Using this cooking method, I’ve also made crispy kale, which is prepared the exact same way and I find the cooking temp and time are comparable. When my oven is on, you will likely find all vegetables roasting together, so this fact about time and temperature are important. I don’t store the kale in the same container as my other vegetables though, because I found that the crispness tends to disappear overnight when I do that, but in its own container, it stays crispy for several days.

It’s odd how much I love brussel sprouts now, even though when I was a kid, I would do all that I could to get out of eating them. I even texted my dad a picture of them one night, because I thought he would be so surprised and proud that I cooked them (and actually, yes that I cooked in general). I have realized that the more veggies I eat, the fewer cravings I have for sweets, so that being said, I’m going to keep eating my veggies.

Are there any vegetables that you didn’t like as a child that you love as an adult? What changed about them that made you like them?

Adventures in cooking… chia what?

Feb 21, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, food  //  2 Comments

chocolate chia seed pudding

I have to say, I have been spending a little bit more time in the kitchen lately. During my Saturday afternoon of art journaling, I asked my friend Valerie about the chia seed puddings that I keep seeing her post about on her blog. I have often wondered about it and so I decided to give it a try. I bought the chia seeds a while ago, as I learned that they are a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium, and decided I’d like to give them a try. Up until this point, I only put them in my smoothies. Knowing there were more uses, I decided to try out a chia seed pudding. After getting some tips from Valerie and re-reading her blog, I came up with the following recipe (to make 2 servings):

  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (drinkable kind, rather than canned)
  • 6 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened cocoa powder

Whisk the ingredients together and put in a sealed container overnight to chill and thicken. Next day, take out of the fridge and enjoy. You can add frozen fruit or other things if you so desire.

Chia seeds can absorb up to 9 times their weight in water. Since I’d never made this before, I was curious to see what was happening, and I checked on my pudding a couple times in the first two hours it was chilling and watched the chia seeds expanding as they were absorbing the liquid. I finally let it be and when I pulled it out the next morning, I had the above. It was a thick, tapioca-like pudding, which had the perfect amount of chocolatey-ness. I didn’t know what to expect when I tasted, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was fast, easy, and tasted good. I don’t think you can get a better combination in a recipe. I have learned that I need to adjust the quantities sometimes of the liquid to chia seeds, because it can be too thin, but overall, it’s been easy to make and quite enjoyable.

I’m excited to try different variations of this and to use different milks. Although I believe, I’ll likely make all of them some variety of chocolate. I’m always looking for healthier ways to enjoy my favorite sweet treat. With the right blends, this could make a great breakfast or lunch meal or made in a basic way, a really great dessert. Looking forward to making my next batch.

Adventures in Cooking… kale, peaches, and a blender

Feb 15, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food  //  No Comments

My last adventure in cooking found me experimenting with quinoa. A few weeks after that I decided it was time to resurrect my passion for the green smoothie (and it was more than a little bit important for me not to let the great kale I had bought go to waste). When I bought the kale, I had these hopes of making kale chips, which may be possible at some point, but smoothies were where it was at. I defrosted some of my summer peaches. (My money saving tip, when peaches are in season at $1/pound, buy lots of them, clean them, and cut them into bite size pieces. Freeze in freezer safe bags for use throughout the winter. I’m sad to say that I’m almost done with all of my summer peaches.) And the next morning, I decided i could not be lazy anymore and whipped up the following:

1 – 2 peaches
2 – 3 cups of kale
2 tbls chia seeds
1 – 2 tbls pure maple syrup to sweeten
1 – 2 cups water to adjust thickness

I placed it in my blender and that was it. 10 minutes later, I had a delicious and nutritious breakfast smoothie and I wasn’t wasting that beautiful kale I bought. The next time I made this smoothie, I followed some simple advice from my friend Valerie (she read the user manual, I did not). During our last afternoon of art journaling, we discussed how to load our high-power blenders. And I had apparently been doing it wrong. In the high-power blender, the fill order should be: liquid, powder, greens, fresh fruit, frozen fruit. I applied this principle the next time I made my “super” green smoothie (substituted wheat grass powder for the chia seeds) and it was finished in 2 minutes.

This is a modification of a staple smoothie that I wrote about a few months ago. I have found I really enjoy using the maple syrup for a sweetener. I like the taste and sweetness level more than any other sweetener. I still have some kale left, so maybe chips will be in my future later in the week or next weekend or maybe just a few more smoothies.

Do you have any favorite smoothie recipes with kale? What is your favorite sweetener? How often do you find your way into the kitchen?

Adventures in Cooking… sweetened quinoa

Feb 5, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food, meditation  //  2 Comments

Sweetened Quinoa

For a while I’ve been striving to cook at home at least a couple times a week and to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday. Well, a few weeks ago I tried something new. My dad has pulled every breakfast quinoa recipe that he has found for the last couple years and sent them home with me. And in the last couple of years, I read them and then put them in a binder. I finally took some inspiration from those recipes and got a little adventurous in the kitchen – I made some sweetened quinoa. And after I tried a very basic recipe, I then decided that I would get a little more creative with it. Here’s my “more creative” recipe:

  • 1 cup coconut milk or vanilla almond milk
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (if desired, said to aid in digestion)
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped small butternut squash or pumpkin or 1 cup chopped apple

1. Bring “milk” to a boil (watch carefully as it does tend to over boil). Add quinoa and stir constantly for 10 to 12 minutes until grain has fully absorbed the milk and is soft. After finished cooking add maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

2. Place squash or apple in microwave for 3 minutes to cook through and soften. Add cooked squash or apple to quinoa mixture. Stir in and enjoy.

3. Adjust spices for preferred taste level. Can be made in a large batch and refrigerated in small portions for heating up later in the day or the week. Stores well for up to 7 days.

I added the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger after taking a workshop on Ayurveda and learning that they are great for helping balance almost all of the ayurvedic constitutions. And honestly, it gives it a nice taste, which does help me cut back on the amount of sweetener I add,

I had a lot of fun making it, even cleaning up the boiled over almond and coconut milk. And since I really had to watch this, making this recipe was definitely an exercise in mindfulness and I’m actually happy it was. Being more present when I cook, helps turn the basic act of cooking into a meditative experience. I am always looking for more opportunities to bring meditation into my life and if this can be another one, that’s just an added benefit.

I had been making this for my daily breakfasts, but then I got lazy. I am planning on making it again soon. It helps me save money during the week (fewer soy lattes = more money for other things) and is a lot healthier for me, since I can watch exactly what I put in it. I’m also hoping that breakfasts are just the beginning of more home-cooked meals. And I’m looking forward to making more variations of this breakfast quinoa.

What were your last adventures in the kitchen? Do you follow recipes or just play it by ear? What are your favorite home-cooked breakfasts?

Celebrating the Season…

Jan 4, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, Events, food, vacation  //  No Comments

There were so many posts that I wanted to write over the course of the last month and with all the holiday cheer, I didn’t quite find the time to write them, so I am playing a little catch up this first week of the new year. Here are some of the highlights of my holiday season…

A Girls’ Night Out for the Holidays with some of the girls

We enjoyed some good food…

house fries with truffled parmesan

mushroom pesto pizza










white pizza with basil pesto

fried deviled eggs










Then, we had a great grab-bag.

the grab-bag


And here are the girls…

Abby, Jessica, Amy, & Julie








Alison, Nicole, & me



I went home to NJ to celebrate Christmas. It was a great time with my family, getting opportunities to catch up and have a lot of fun.

me on Christmas Eve with my parents Christmas tree




I came back from a great trip home with my family to Virginia to host a game night for me and some of my friends on New Year’s Eve. It was a great way to ring in the new year.

New Year's Eve game night - playing team trivial pursuit

New Year's Eve game night - playing team trivial pursuit

New Year's Eve game night - playing team trivial pursuit - our trivial pursuit host


New Year’s Eve was a blast, as was the rest of the holiday season. This was truly a great holiday season, and although I’m happy that things are slowing down, I’m excited for what the new year is going to bring and hopefully, seeing all of these friends and more throughout 2012.

How did you spend your holidays? What are you looking forward to in the new year?


Holiday Cookie Party… baking cookies at its best.

Dec 10, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, Events, food, knitting  //  No Comments

our finished treats

Today, I had the pleasure of attending my friend Alison’s annual cookie baking/exchange party, hosted by Alison and her roommate Julie. The afternoon was spent enjoying a variety of appetizers, snacks, sweet treats, and libations.

appetizers, snacks, some sweet treats, and libations

Some of us chose to bring our cookies, some just to bake at the party, and some to have fun mixing and creating the sweet treats from start to finish. I mixed my cookies at home and baked them when I got to the party.

We had a great afternoon, enjoying our treats, chatting, and relaxing. And we all got to take home some of everyone’s sweet creations. Here are the results of our baking endeavors…

Alison's Peppermint Meringues

Julie's Toffee Bars










Marie's No-Bake Oreo Truffles

Casey's White Chocolate & Peppermint Studded Chocolate Mountains










Mindy & Jen's Coconut Raspberry Tarts

My Chocolate Fudge Cookie Bites










I had a really great time this afternoon. It was great to meet new people, catch up with good friends, and share some of our favorite holiday cookie treats and for a few, test drive new recipes they found. I’m looking forward to enjoying these treats over the next few days and sharing some of them at my book club meeting tomorrow. And I’m hoping to do more holiday baking in the next couple weeks.

Are you doing any holiday baking this year? What are your favorite holiday sweet treats?


About Lisa

Auntie to two adorable little boys and a beautiful little girl. Sister. Friend. Yogini. Yoga teacher. Accountant. Knitter. Amateur photographer. Very amateur golfer.

Where to Find Lisa

Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m.
Yoga 1 (1 hour)*
Tranquil Space Arlington

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Tranquil Space Arlington

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Tranquil Space Arlington and Dupont

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