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Winter Warmth

by Milissa on January 23, 2011

in Nutrition,Seasons

Nourishing body and soul is a daily practice for me. There’s more to sadhana than yoga asana, pranayama and meditation. Eating well is an essential ingredient in my spiritual life. I like to share with others the increased energy and goodwill that I receive as a benefit of the optimum nutrition I give my body. Whether it’s answering children’s questions, in the cafeteria at the school where I work, about the quinoa sautée I’ve brought for lunch. Or serving a tasty, nutritious meal to students on my retreats. I try not to preach, but I love when people take interest in this practice that has helped me to transform from a low-energy person to a more vibrant community member.

In the past few years, I’ve brought more communal meal preparation and gathering to enjoy good food onto Tree of Life Yoga retreats. Sharing flavorful food, that’s filled with vitality, or prana, is an essential element of community building, I’ve found. The breaking of bread together has—throughout history—been a way to unify families, tribes, neighborhoods. To share in the abundance of life—creatively and joyfully—whether it’s at a family reunion picnic, a block party or a yoga retreat.

To keep it joyful, it’s all about ease of preparation and simplicity of serving for me. With fresh, organic ingredients and mindfulness in the kitchen, food almost always tastes better. Yesterday, at the Half-Day Restorative Yoga & Mindfulness Retreat I served vegetarian chili with all the fixin’s, a fresh green salad with coconut vinaigrette, pumpkin-coconut bread and a colorful plate of mandarin oranges, medjool dates and home-roasted cashews for dessert. I was able to prepare the chili a day ahead, take the pumpkin bread out of the freezer and wash the greens and cilantro in the morning before my students arrived.

I’ll share my chili recipe with you here. It’s a foolproof, hearty meal in a pot to gather friends, coworkers or family around on a brisk winter day. And it’s quick, though it tastes like it’s been simmering all day (thanks to two secret ingredients: refried beans and chocolate).

Vegetarian Chili (serves 8-10 hungry yogis)*

4-15 oz. cans black beans                        2-15 oz. cans mixed chili beans

1-16 oz. can refried black beans              1 large onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced                                  1 large green pepper, diced

1-15 oz. can of fireroasted tomatoes        1 cup frozen corn

30 cherry tomatoes, halved                       1 Tbs. ground cumin

1 Tbs. chili powder                                     sea salt, to taste

4-squares baking chocolate                       cayenne, to taste

*Please note: I use organic ingredients and local produce, when available.

Sautee chopped onions in olive oil in a large soup pot. Add salt and spices. When onions are translucent, add peppers and carrots. Cover to soften carrots, simmering for a few minutes over medium-low heat. Add canned beans (except refrieds) and fireroasted tomatoes. Stir to mix. Blend in about half of the can of refried beans, to desired thickness. Add frozen corn and cherry tomatoes. Let the chili simmer to blend spices. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs, grated goat cheddar and hot or medium salsa. Serve with organic tortilla chips and a wedge of lime.

Join me for lunch during the next Half Day Retreat: Restorative Yoga & Mindfulness, March 19, to celebrate the Spring Equinox. And registration for the North Shore Summer Solstice Retreat, June 23-26, will open soon. Watch for an early registration discount. Hope to break bread with you soon!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Brynn January 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Lovely… one of my favorite topics – food :) I will definitely be trying the vegetarian chili recipe this winter. I don’t suppose you’d send me your quinoa saute recipe or the pumpkin-coconut bread. I’d love to try those!

Thanks for your refreshing Sunday blog posts…

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