Yoga; A Bad Backs Best Friend

Strengthening yoga postures like this Four-Pointed Staff

© Renata Ferraz is  pictured in can lend to a healthy back.

Nothing makes you feel older than a stiff back. That’s what I remember thinking as a recent post-grad in my early twenties. It was exhilarating getting my first salary and a gig at a prestigious company– it was debilitating sitting at a desk for eight hours, plunked down another four hours for my daily train commute. I started scheduling bi-weekly chiropractic adjustments to cope. I was just one of countless Americans, “spending $50 billion a year on medications, physical therapy and related costs” for back pain alone as the New York Times‘ Well Blog reports.

That’s until I met yoga. My back pain is nevermore and now science has just corroborated the same. Yoga is a bad back’s best friend.

Start chatting up other yoga practitioners. They’ll likely tell you the same. My yogi boyfriend found himself literally stuck on his back for a month or more after working for an advertising firm. Hours were long, hard and yes, at a desk and in a car commute. He had started practicing yoga earlier but was in a period of intermittency.

The Science of Yoga and Back Care
No, you don’t have to jump ship from your career for the life of an aspiring yogin, but you can jump in and obtain the body-soothing findings from the latest study published in the
Archives of Internal Medicine.

228 participants suffering from chronic low back pain were randomized and divided into 12 weekly classes of yoga (92 patients) or conventional stretching exercises (91 patients) or a self-care book (45 patients). After 12 weeks, the patients were given a questionnaire and asked to rate their pain using a numerical scale. The results: yoga practicing patients felt better than those using the self-care book, but conventional stretching methods — when combined with strengthening exercises — were just as effective as yoga.

Skip the Meds! Build a Yogin’s Back
The yoga group was given only 5-11 yoga postures. I’m convinced that if the yoga group were given a more comprehensive practice, they would have outshone the stretching group.

If you’re looking to build a strong iron-clad back through yoga, look for a quality instructor (even better if they’ve had a history of back challenge) or class that’s offering just as much strengthening postures and transitions as it does stretching, and commit to a thorough, consistent practice. It requires discipline, but man is it worth it.




Coconut Apple Crisp

photo at: Kate in the Kitchen

The topping is browned separately and the apples are cooked stove-top in this recipe. The two are then combined and finished off in the oven.

Apple Filling

2 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 5 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 medium)
1/4 cup Demarara sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup coconut cream or buy canned coconut milk, use just the creamy part, after letting the can settle.

Streusel Topping

1 cup Rice flour
1/4 cups Tapioca flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoon cornmeal
7 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
1 1/3 cup grated coconut

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

2. For the apple filling: Peel, quarter, and core apples; slice each quarter crosswise into pieces 1/4-inch thick. Toss apples, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl to combine. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over high heat until foaming subsides; add apples and toss to coat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until apples are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in raisins; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until Granny Smith apple slices are tender and McIntosh apple slices are softened and beginning to break down, about 5 minutes longer.

3. Set large colander over large bowl; transfer cooked apples to colander. Shake colander and toss apples to drain off as much juice as possible. Bring drained juice and coconut cream to boil in now-empty Dutch oven over high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and wooden spoon leaves trail in mixture, about 5 minutes. Transfer apples to 8-inch square baking dish; pour reduced juice mixture over and smooth with rubber spatula.

4. For the streusel topping: Combine flour, sugars, and cornmeal in medium bowl; drizzle with melted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened and mixture forms many large chunks with pea-sized pieces mixed throughout. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread streusel in even layer on baking sheet. Bake streusel until golden brown, about 5 minutes; cool baking sheet with streusel on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle streusel evenly over pie filling. Set pie plate on now-empty baking sheet and bake until streusel topping is deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack and serve.

Online Hub Could Become the ‘Fresh Direct’ of Locally Grown Food


Brian Merchant
Via- Treehugger 
October 25, 2011

tami.vroma via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Local Orbit founder Erika Block believes that more restaurants and shops would stock locally-sourced food — if only the process of tracking it down and arranging distribution were easier. As of now, Block says, a chef, shop owner, or determined local eater must maintain many disparate relationships with farmers and producers in order to make sure all of the ingredients they need make it into the kitchen or onto the shelves. Local Orbit, an online hub that streamlines the connections between buyers and growers, seeks to provide the missing link that makes the process easier and much more efficient.

I sat down with Block at this year’s Poptech conference; as a social innovation fellow, she delivered a talk about how Local Orbit could broaden the horizons of possibility for local food markets everywhere. She sat down with me for an interview, and we discussed all of the above:

CLICK HERE to watch the Interview

ANOTHER Reason for Wearing All Natural Fiber Clothing

How Washing Machines Are Adding to the Plastic Pollution Problem in Our Oceans

Another great post from Treehugger 

Rachel Cernansky
October 21, 2011

Environmental Science and Technology/via
Turns out that the
plastic pollution problem in the world’s oceans is not just a result of improper or irresponsible disposal of our waste: Some of the plastic collecting in the oceans is coming directly from our washing machines.

A story in Environmental Science and Technology presents research showing that micrometer-size fragments of plastics have contaminated the shorelines at 18 sites around the world, from the poles to the equator, with greater levels of contamination in densely populated areas.

The contamination is traced to “sewage contaminated by fibers from washing clothes,” and the fibers are plastics used in clothing materials so many people wear every day: Acrylic, polyethylene, polypropylene, polyamide and polyester.

More from Environmental Science and Technology:

Experiments sampling wastewater from domestic washing machines demonstrated that a single garment can produce >1900 fibers per wash. This suggests that a large proportion of microplastic fibers found in the marine environment may be derived from sewage as a consequence of washing of clothes. As the human population grows and people use more synthetic textiles, contamination of habitats and animals by microplastic is likely to increase.

Put more simply, from the New York Times, “Examining washing-machine waste water, they found that 1900 fibers can rinse off a single garment during a wash cycle and that those fibers look just like the microplastic debris on shorelines. As the human population increases, they say, the problem is likely grow.”

Using Clean Green Cleaning Products

I have been looking for years for the perfect dish soap.   I have given up bleach, use vinegar and baking soda for most cleaning, use Soap Nuts for laundry, Dr. Bonners great soap for body wash…but had yet to find the best laundry soap.  Either they are too weak, don’t really cut grease. are expensive…or are made by companies like Clorox which I won’t support.

Then I found Planet Ultra Dish Soap.  It’s affordable, completely clean and green and IT WORKS! It REALLY cuts grease, doesn’t dry my hands and takes a very small amount to get the job done!

Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid

Find it ONLINE or locally here in Jacksonville at Grassroots Market in 5 Points has it.

Roasted Red Pepper Baba Ganoush

Basil1I’m making baba ganoush; surely one of the best dips on the planet.   I was talking to a friend just now who commented that she didn’t ever have time to cook.  But I thought about all the time in her life devoted to allergies, going to the doctor, feeling bad, lost productivity..low energy.  Ah yes, I remember all that.   It’s been 25 years ago that I got well from changing my diet and cannot imagine not taking the time to cook.  Breakfast every morning, dinner most night…

I roast a chicken once a week, make bone stocks every third week and freeze them.  Yogurt about every two weeks.  And these are foods that take you hovering over them; you put them, and they simmer or inoculate…or brine.  Whatever.  I make it work and multi-task while I do it. 

Breakfast; put the iron pan to heat, wash face, put moisturizer on…start getting ready. Back to kitchen to throw turkey bacon on; wash hair or work on computer.  Write, sit outside, water plants.  Whatever…                                                                       

Get lunch ready; whatever was dinner last night, plan leftovers on purpose, keep caramelized onions in fridge to dress up some broth with chicken, coconut milk yogurt, fruit.

Dinner…again, kinda in stages, get dinner started while doing other stuff, multi-tasking.  I am either cooking something that doesn’t take long (eggs, salmon, tuna, steak) or stuff that roasts or cooks longer (roasts, whole chickens)… So either way I just make it work. 

Roasted Red Pepper Baba Ganoush                                         Two Eggplants

1 large eggplant

8 ounce jar of roasted red pepper, not in oil

1 cup black olives

1 T. Roasted or fresh tahini

Handful of fresh basil

½ t. dried basil

¼ t. dried thyme

1 t. Grey Poupon Mustard

1 t balsamic vinegar

1/3 t. garlic granules

Salt and pepper to taste

Roast eggplant in oven until it implodes, about an hour at 350º. You can microwave it also, but I tend to cook in the oven more. I bake them when I roast a chicken, with whole sweet potatoes, all in the same roasting pan.

Remove meat from eggplant and place in food processor. Buzz briefly. Add all ingredients except olives and peppers. Blend, leaving it chunky. Then add veggies and buzz a few times, leaving the olives and peppers in pieces, NOT Blended.

Then add the basil and barely buzz until it looks chucky and still colorful.

This is great on chips, rice crackers, Ezekiel toast points, carrots, celery.

Fresh ThymeTonight, Baba Ganoush with Ezekiel Bread Toast Points