Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I love zucchini! I know that a lot of people get too zucchinified during the late summer months when zucchinis grow relentlessly and turn into giants if left unpicked for a couple of days. Give them to me! They won’t go to waste, I promise. They might be turned into fancy boat vessels for veggie loaves but most of the time they will be thrown into summer stir fries for a quick and filling meal.

One of the things that I really love is a light and lovely quick bread. It has been forever on my to-do list to bake zucchini bread or something like that this summer. However, there weren’t any recipes that caught my eye. That seems weird, right? Considering how everyone else has baked up zucchini into breads, cookies, and all that.

Two weeks ago, my blogger friend from Greece, Katerina of Culinary Flavors, posted a recipe for Little Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cakes. It was THE recipe that I have been waiting for! So, I made it, all the while trying to follow the recipe as closely as I could given the ingredients that I had on hand. Best decision ever!

Instead of all-purpose flour, I used half spelt and half rye. You would think this would ruin the cake because of how dense these flours tend to be, but it didn’t! The spelt and rye flours gave the cake a nice heft but still left it with a good deal of springiness. The secret to the balanced bread-cake texture was the olive oil and moisture from the zucchini. This cake does not require any butter, just olive oil, which adds a touch of earthiness to the cake.
What about the zucchini? Is there really any zucchini in there? Yep, there’s a lot of zucchini in there but you totally won’t be able to tell. One thing I ask of you though is to please do not let the arduous task of shredding zucchini daunt you, especially if you’re working with a 5 pounder (like the zucchini that my coworker Diana endlessly supplies me with). Just cut it into workable hunks and enjoy the workout. And I will repeat this, if you’re not a zucchini fan, you don’t need to worry because you won’t taste them at all. I believe that the sole purpose for shredded zucchini here is the good hydration that it contributes to the cake.

This chocolate cake is incredibly good, so delicious and wholesome! It is rich with just the right amount of sweetness plus surprise bites of chocolate chips here and there that make it even more special. This cake is filling like a grainy quick bread, but soft like a cake should be.

Make it as a last summer hurrah. You will absolutely love it!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (Makes one, 9-inch round cake)
Slightly adapted from Little Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cakes, by Katerina of Culinary Flavors (original recipe from King Arthur’s Flour)           

1 cup spelt flour
1 cup rye flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa
2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
½ cup olive oil
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups (14 oz) thinly shredded zucchini
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

a bit of olive oil to grease the pan

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the spelt and rye flours. Add in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa, and whisk until everything is well-combined.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat in the eggs, honey, olive oil, sugar, and vanilla using a hand held electric mixer on low speed. Beat well until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

Pour in half of the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix on low speed until everything is just incorporated. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and again, mix on low speed until everything is just incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no dry ingredients left behind. The batter should be thick.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips and the shredded zucchini until everything is spread out evenly. The liquid in the zucchini will cause the batter to become thinner and easier to work with.

Move an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour a bit of olive oil on the palm of your hand and use your hand to thoroughly grease the sides and bottom of the pan.

Slowly pour the batter into the pan. When the oven is ready, bake for 60 minutes. You will see cracks on the top of the cake and the sides will begin to pull away. Just to be sure, test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle. If it’s done, the toothpick will come out clean. If there’s chocolate goo on the toothpick, test again in a neighboring area, you might have just stabbed a melted chocolate chip.

Have a great first week of October friends! As always, thank you for stopping by! 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From Food Blogs to Our Table

Eating good food is a must in our household. If we want to stuff ourselves silly with pizza, cookies, and ice cream, might as well do so with style, right?

Here are some great foods we have made at home from my favorite food blogs. Thank you to Joanne, Joy the Baker, and Food Network for making us happy! Your blog posts and recipes are well-loved in our home.    

I followed the recipe closely… the no-knead pizza didn’t really turn out to be no-knead and I ditched my spatula and used my hands instead. There’s really nothing better than kneading dough and I love every part of the whole process. So using some arm muscles was not a big deal. The dough was delicious, but what is even more amazing about this pizza are the toppings. I altered the recipe a bit by using my own fresh pizza sauce, half mozzarella and half queso fresco, roasted poblano peppers (instead of hatch chile), and roasted corn. The homemade pizza sauce, salty cheese, crispy bacon, spicy poblanos, and sweet corn are so perfect together! One of the best pizzas I have ever made.

Here’s the recipe for my homemade fresh tomato sauce.

Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce (Good for 2 pizzas)

3 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp olive oil
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp salt
a pinch of chili flakes
Place all the ingredients in a blender. Puree until everything is well-mixed and smooth.

You guys, these cookies were so good! That Joy girl sure knows her stuff. When I read her blog post on these babies I knew I had to make them. And boy, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how so much better these cookies were than what I had imagined! DFJ ate about 5 per day until they disappeared. These cookies are a combination of fancy, campfirey, and all-time favorite. Please do yourselves a favor and bake these for your loved ones or just for yourself because you deserve them!

Roasting and Seeding Various Peppers, from Food Network courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

I followed this recipe to make roasted poblano peppers and loved the result. I roasted 4 large poblano peppers, peeled, and then sliced them. They already went on the pizza above, stir-fries, and Zucchini with Sausage and Greens. I love how they add a wonderful mild spiciness to all the dishes they have been thrown into!  

My blogger friend, Joanne of Eats Well with Others, is going through a difficult time right now with news of her father’s cancer. To support her, I decided to make this delicious ice cream recipe that she posted on her blog. DFJ and I made ice cream for the very first time a few nights ago and hovered our ice cream maker like little kids. We followed Joanne’s directions closely and used all the ingredients required except for the peanut butter. Only almond butter was available at home and that’s what we used. If you tasted the ice cream, you would think we had been making ice cream for years. This was utterly delicious! Goodbye store bought ice cream! And hello homemade ice cream, especially you Almond Butter and Honey Ice Cream.

Joanne, thanks for sharing this recipe. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Zucchini with Sausage and Greens

Hello friends, it’s another Food Matters Project Monday! This week’s recipe, Whole Cauliflower with Sausage, was chosen by Gracie of Food Fascination. I almost opted out because there was not a single cauliflower to be seen at the farmer’s market last Thursday.

However, there’s really no reason to opt out when there’s two 5 pound zucchinis sitting on the counter daring me to cook them. So, zucchini it was instead of cauliflower!

I used the rest of the other ingredients from Mark Bittman’s original recipe, which you can find over at Gracie’s blog, namely: sausage, onion, bread crumbs, and parsley. But beyond that, I just kinda did my own thing. So, instead of steamed cauliflower with sausage-bread crumb-parsley sauce, I ended up with a very savory zucchini with sausage and greens stir fry.

Let’s start with the homemade bread crumbs. It really is so easy to make. I just defrosted a hunk of good sourdough bread, tore it into chunks, and dried it in a hot oven for a few minutes. Once the chunks of bread were dry, I ground them in a blender until they resembled bread crumbs. Easy peasy! Keep reading, the recipe is below.

The crumbs sogged up because of the moisture from the zucchini and the oils that I did not drain (no worries, there wasn’t much because I used pre-cooked sausage), but they were so flavorful and added a nice heartiness to the whole dish. Of course it helped that sourdough is already full of flavor all on its own. Thus, I highly suggest using stale sourdough for this recipe.

As for the sausage, I used Chipotle Chorizo Chicken Sausage from Al Fresco. The flavors in the sausage really contributed to how the whole dish turned out. But I believe that you can use any other sausage and the results will be great too. Pre-cooked sausages do not have a lot of oil, so keeping the oil in the pan is fine as it will just add flavor to your entire dish. However, if you use uncooked sausage, I suggest that you drain almost all of the oil that it renders and just leave enough grease to lightly coat the other ingredients. Too much of that oil just makes a dish super greasy and very unhealthy.

Zucchini is such a humble vegetable that turns into something special when cooked right. The trick is to not let it cook for too long so it doesn’t end up mushy, a slight crunch is necessary! I absolutely loved how this dish turned out. The zucchinis and the bread crumbs soaked up all the good sausage flavors and the arugula and parsley added a nice herby touch.  

Homemade Bread Crumbs

2 heaping cups dry, stale sourdough bread

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear the bread pieces into small chunks and measure a generous 2 cups of it. Place the bread pieces on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for a few minutes, just until the bread pieces are dry and crispy, maybe slightly browned but definitely not burnt.

Place bread pieces in a blender or food processor and grind until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. This makes about ½ cup.
The perfect use for old bread.

Zucchini with Sausage and Greens (Makes 3 servings)
Inspired from Mark Bittman’s Whole Cauliflower with Sausage, The Food Matters Cookbook

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, sliced
2 pre-cooked sausages, sliced
1 lb zucchini, chopped
1 small bell pepper, sliced
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp salt
½ cup bread crumbs (see recipe for homemade bread crumbs above)
1 cup arugula, packed
½ cup parsley, chopped (stems removed)
¼ cup sliced roasted poblano peppers (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and sauté until golden brown. Toss in the onion slices and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss in the sliced sausage and cook for 5 minutes until brown spots appear. Add all the zucchini and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often, until the pieces start to glisten. While the zucchini is cooking, season with salt and cumin. Add the bread crumbs, arugula, and parsley. Toss everything until the greens wilt, about 3 minutes. Add the roasted pobalno pepper slices, if using, and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve warm.

This is an all in one meal. We ate it by itself and it was super filling and tasty!  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Beets

Oh my goodness! This, my friends, is the reason why vegetables are so much better than junk food. The combination of roasted Brussels sprouts and beets is so good you would want to eat it right out of the oven.

A long time ago, when DFJ and I were planning to make sides for a dinner party, he suggested this recipe and acted like it was his own brilliant idea. But I totally knew it was an Ina Garten one because I have a knack for memorizing recipes. We never got to make it because Brussels sprouts were not in season during that time. I wish we made it sooner though and not a year or so later because we totally loved it and everything was devoured in less than 10 minutes.

There were some beets sitting in the crisper for a few weeks that needed to be taken care of, so I peeled them and threw them in with the sprouts. Guess what? They go really well together and make for a good-looking couple. It’s like a Christmas tree in your oven! 

The browned Brussels sprouts are crispy and salty on the outside but still tender on the inside. That slight bitterness is still there and is so perfect with the earthy sweetness of the roasted beets.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Beets
Inspired from Ina Garten’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

2 large beets, roughly chopped
½ lb brussels sprouts, ends chopped off
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp cumin
freshly ground pepper

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat the chopped beets and brussels sprouts with olive oil and season with salt, cumin, and pepper in a roasting pan. Use your hands to toss everything well together.

Roast for 35-40 minutes. Stir the vegetables halfway through cooking time.

Turn the oven off and serve immediately.

So delicious and so good for you! I promise this roasted vegetable combination is 100 times better than French fries!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eggplant Nectarine Jam

What?!? Weird, right? But no… it is so good, you must try it! Especially if you have friends named Melissa and Sandra who spoil you with eggplants from their gardens.

Due to my most recent shoulder injury during a yoga class last Thursday, I stayed home to convalesce the next day. What a great teacher I am, already missing school not even a month into the school year. In my defense though, I could not imagine being at work with my shoulder feeling loose like it would fall off if I did one false move.

In order to make myself feel better, I decided to make some eggplant jam. My friend, Jamie, shared a recipe link on her Facebook wall for David Lebovitz' recipe and I was so intrigued.

So, I started off following the original recipe closely. One of the very few changes I made was using both cinnamon and allspice instead of choosing between both as the recipe required. The other was to lessen the eggplants’ baking time by about two minutes since my eggplant slices were a little too thin.

The salting and draining of the eggplant takes time but is important. Salting eggplant slices draws out its moisture and releases the bitter flavor that eggplants naturally have and also helps them stay firm when cooked.

When I was ready to do the last step which was cooking the seasoned mashed eggplant in hot oil, I decided that there was too much sauce and was suddenly afraid that the result might be a super spicy jam. And of course, I really wanted to make something on the sweet side, like chutney.

So, on impulse, I pulled out the last of our nectarines and a nub of ginger from the refrigerator. After slicing the nectarines and taking bites from each to savor the last of summer’s glory, I tossed it in the large bowl and hoped against hope that the gamble would be worth sacrificing three perfect nectarines for. I peeled the ginger, chopped it roughly, mashed it to release the flavors, and then added it into the bowl as well. Everything then went into the pan of hot oil and was cooked until reduced to a thick goodness.

The light texture and flavor of eggplants complement really well with the juicy nectarines. I love the spices that added such a rich flavor to the jam and the fragrance and lingering taste of ginger.

This is a well-spiced and hearty jam! Eggplants meet nectarines in a delightful combination of savory and sweet.

Sweet, spiced, and everything nice!  

Eggplant Nectarine Jam (Makes 1 jar of jam)
Adapted from David Lebovitz’ Eggplant Jam

3 eggplants, the long and thin kind
Kosher salt
olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp harissa powder
¼ cup water
3 nectarines, sliced
nub of ginger, peeled, roughly chopped and mashed
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp salt (or more) to taste

Cut the eggplants in half and then slice each half lengthwise to get three flat slices. Moderately sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt. Move the eggplants to a colander and allow to drain for at least 30minutes.

Meanwhile, generously coat two baking sheets with olive oil, using a cooking brush or your palms.

Then, prepare the sauce. In a large bowl, mix together the garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, harissa, and water. Set aside. In a separate small, ceramic bowl, squeeze 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and set aside.

When the 30 minutes is almost up, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the eggplant slices on the greased baking sheets and bake for about 22 minutes, turning each slice halfway through baking time.

While the eggplants are baking, prepare the nectarines and ginger. Slice the nectarines and then peel, chop, and mash the ginger. Set aside. Roughly chop 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley and set aside.  

When baking time is over, turn the oven off and take the baking sheets out. Move the baked eggplants into the sauce bowl and mash using a potato masher or a fork, making sure to mix everything together.

Toss in the nectarine slices and ginger and continue to mash and mix. There is no need to super mash the nectarines, if thick chunks remain, let it be (you will love the big, sweet bites later). Make sure everything is well-combined.

Coat the bottom of a large pan with olive oil and turn the stove on to medium high. When the oil is hot (but not smoking), move the eggplant-nectarine mixture with all the liquid into the pan. Stir every now and then and cook for 15 minutes, until reduced to a thick paste.

Stir in the lemon juice, parsley, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook for 5 more minutes. If you wish to add more salt, feel free to do so. Turn off the heat and your jam is ready.

It is best to serve this delicious jam warm.

This jam may also be refrigerated for up to 5 days. 

Serving suggestions:

Heat toast in a buttered non-stick skillet with a generous dollop of the jam on top. Cover and let cook just until the jam is warm. Serve this alongside some eggs for a delicious breakfast! 

Heat flour tortillas in a non-stick skillet and top with the jam and Gorgonzola cheese. Cover and let cook for a minute or two, just until the cheese starts to melt and the jam is warm. So incredibly good!

Use warm jam as a dip for pita chips or pieces of flatbread. Makes for a super fancy snack or hors d’oeuvres… yum!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Plum and Cranberry Polenta Cake

I love desserts! Or should I say, DFJ and I both love desserts. Our household never runs out of homemade treats. During the weekends, I (DFJ does his share of this too) would make some cookies, a cake, a tart, muffins, or cupcakes to last us for a week or as long as a week, if we can help it.
We eat desserts during breakfast, lunch, or dinner, which in my opinion, is the way to live a happy life. The trick is moderation and I’m pretty good at it (err… most of the time). A single cookie is split in half and enjoyed with coffee as a breakfast dessert and the other half with more coffee as an after work treat. Then I would eat a whole one for dessert after dinner. A slice of cake is something that I will nibble on the whole day, just a little bit in the morning and then some more for the rest of the day. And then reward myself with a small slice after dinner. Moderation. *wink*
When I saw that this week’s Food Matter’s Project is a dessert, Apricot Polenta Cake, chosen by the lovely Jen of Prairiesummers. I got so excited and was even more thrilled that we had all the required ingredients on hand.

I absolutely love how this cake turned out… it is old-fashioned, unassuming, and surprisingly delicious! A cake so perfect for any occasion and time of day: breakfast, brunch, an afternoon snack, or dessert.  

This cake is made special by the polenta, which I would never have thought could go in a cake batter. Mark Bittman sure knows best and I trust him. The polenta made for a really sponge like cake and it went well with the spelt flour (I used this instead of all-purpose), which added a nice nuttiness to the already grainy texture.

One of the interesting things about this cake is the use of olive oil. It works just as well as butter and although it does not taste like olive oil at all, it gave the cake a really nice, soft texture. Creaming the olive oil, sugar, and eggs took a while, but every minute of it was enjoyable. The golden mixture coming together smoothly is quite a pretty sight.  

This lovely cake is so simple but so good! It is like a creamy cornbread, lightly sweetened with subtle hints of citrus, studded with dried cranberries, and topped with luscious sweet and tart Italian plum slices.

Plum and Cranberry Polenta Cake
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Apricot Polenta Cake, The Food Matters Cookbook

½ cup cornmeal
¼ tsp salt
1 and ¼ cups water

½ cup spelt flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
3 tbsp orange juice, freshly squeezed (if possible)
½ cup dried cranberries

1 Italian plum, sliced

a bit of olive oil to grease the pan

In a small cooking pot, whisk together the cornmeal and salt. Add 1 and ¼ cups of water and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Immediately reduce the heat to low and cook until the polenta is thick. Turn off the stove and move the pot away from heat. Whisk the polenta well and let cool slightly.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with a little bit of olive oil all over the bottom and sides. 

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the spelt flour and baking powder.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the olive oil and sugar using a hand held mixer on low speed until the sugar dissolves. Add the egg yolks and beat on low speed until the mixture is thick, about 6 minutes. Mix in the polenta and beat on low until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add in the spelt flour and baking powder mixture and beat on low for about 1 minute until the batter is smooth. Pour in the orange juice then add the cranberries and beat on low for about 30 seconds until well blended. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed well together.

In a separate small mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on low speed until they form soft peaks. This will take about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir the egg whites gently but thoroughly into the batter.

Slowly pour the batter into the greased pan and very gently lay the plum slices on top to form a circle. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. It should turn a nice, golden color and the sides slightly brown and pulling away from the pan. Turn the oven off and allow the cake to cool in the pan on top of a cooling rack.


P.S. Check out Prairiesummers for the original Mark Bittman recipe and check out what cake awesomeness the other FMP members did at our website. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Sad Break From Yoga

I am humbled and heartbroken.

Thursday night yoga class, I was trying to do a complicated twist/stretch/balance... Almost there, almost there, one more inch and my left hand would have reached my right foot as I straightened my leg with the back of my knee balanced on my right arm, shoulder snuggled securely. My yoga teacher was cheering me on as I was rocking the pose… and then, POP! A yelp of pain came out from my throat.

The pain was so bad, it took effort to even breathe. Everyone in the room looked shocked, anxious, and confused. I knew exactly what happened, my shoulder popped out of its socket for the fifth time since 2008. It came out in a weird way I have never experienced before. How in the world would it ever get back in place? My arm was so tense as I flexed as hard as I could to keep the pain at bay. Pretty soon, my ears started ringing and the voices around me asking me if I was ok seemed distant. My teacher asked if I needed to go to the emergency room and I said no thank you. DFJ came to class with me that night (thank heavens), he held my arm and helped me relax... As soon as I willed my arm to loosen up and I reminded myself to breathe, I felt two pops as my shoulder socket placed itself back where it is supposed to be. I felt like I was going to pass out but I did not... Water, thank you!

My shoulder popping out is nothing new. It all started in 2008 when I had my first shoulder subluxation. I was hoisting myself into a truck and was holding on to the roof when my foot slipped and my shoulder came out. The second time it happened was at a tennis class when I was practicing my serves. To this day, I can’t give a decent serve for fear of over rotating my shoulder. The third time was during a weight lifting class. My shoulder popped out as I was moving a bar from the back of my shoulders over my head. After that, I never again placed a bar on the back of my shoulders. The fourth time it happened was while I was rolling out of bed, it happened too fast and was over too fast, but it shook me up and invalidated my shoulder for a week. Now it happened while I was doing yoga… the only physical activity that I feel really connected to, the practice that my body loves and craves. This time it is really affecting me not only physically, but also emotionally, as my right shoulder will have to be out of commission for a while (yet again). The doctor I saw yesterday told me that the next time this popping out thing happens, I could permanently damage a nerve and that would be no bueno.   

I was never an athlete nor was I even interested in anything that involved any physical activity until I met Jordyn, my closest girlfriend at Central Washington University. We worked out together during our last quarter at Central. Even after graduation and saying goodbye, the habit stuck. That’s when I discovered the joys of intense work out classes, cardio, weights, and Body Flow (a combo of yoga/tai chi/pilates). Soon I developed some muscles and my cardiovascular endurance built up. Body Flow seemed too easy and at some point I rarely went to those classes anymore. However, all that cardio blast and feet pounding came with a price, resulting in months of on and off physical therapy for shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and back aches that cost hundreds of dollars… $15 copays sure add up!

Slowly, I went back to Body Flow and my partner teacher introduced me to Jenn’s yoga studio. After my first real yoga class, I was hooked. By then I had also started listening to what my body wants to do… tons of walking, 3-5 miles of running per week, biking outside when the weather is nice, a 3-mile hike once a week, weight lifting twice a week, an intense ab workout once a week, and doing yoga at least 3 times a week. Doing these activities have made me feel stronger than ever, made me more flexible, and for the first time ever, I can actually see some muscle tone in my arms and legs. Yes, I can be vain like that. But for someone who was always labeled as skinny and weak, I feel proud of looking strong and healthy!

However, Thursday night brought me back to the ground. This time it is painful, like a heartbreak. When I had to stop running for a while due to shin splints and take a break from cardio classes, I was fine with that. When some Body Pump moves caused my back to hurt, I was ok with not going back to another class. But after hurting my shoulder during yoga, I felt devastated.

Over the past year, my practice taught me so much about myself and my capabilities. Yoga taught me how to listen to my body, to be patient, and to breathe and let go. Little by little I brushed off my fears and experimented with advanced variations for basic poses, learned to do headstands without a wall, and just recently conquered the crow pose (finally, after months of endless falls!). Last weekend, I went to an inversion workshop to take my practice to a new level and had tons of fun. Tomorrow, I planned to go to the first Acro Yoga class that my teacher is starting, but that won’t be happening anymore. *sad*

After injuring my shoulder last Thursday, I painfully realized that I won’t be able to move forward in my yoga practice for a while. In fact, I should not even be doing anything before I have to start from the beginning. Down dogs and chaturangas are not even options for me when I go back, which probably won’t happen until I get the go signal from my physical therapist, whom I won’t see until a week from now. Tissue healing and then strengthening muscles around my shoulder are my priorities. Especially if I want to continue my yoga practice until the day I die.

Physical healing is a long process but ego healing is not… I feel so humbled and vulnerable right now. But I promised myself one thing and that is to not give up. This shoulder will never be back to what it was before my very first injury, but it’s still there and it will be strong again in time. All I need to do is take care of it, be mindful, and learn to listen. 

It’s not the end of the world… perhaps this is a sign that I should explore new avenues in my yoga practice. My teacher, Jenn, is very encouraging and supportive and offered to help me start over and guide me through this healing process. It may be slow and my practice might not be the same again, but I won’t give up!

This post is for those of us who are all too familiar with sports related injuries or any injuries for that matter. Yes, it is frustrating to have to take an abrupt break from something we love to do and interruptions in our routines are always a nuisance. Throwing the towel or throwing all caution to the wind are not options for us though. Instead, let us remind ourselves to take it easy, give our bodies time to heal, and use this time to discover something new (the possibilities are endless). Life is too short to waste time being depressed over something that can be fixed or modified. Keep flowing, keep seeking, and keep listening… LIVE!