Bring on the Balance

It’s officially the peak of summer (yes I know summer started weeks ago) but for me, summer is teaching children’s pottery workshops and I’m knee deep in week one, heading into week two at this point. I love having children in the pottery studio and seeing their expressions with their hands on clay, the giggles and the moments when things go awry and how they react. In general kids are looser when learning new things, they don’t come in with grandiose expectations to make a giant bowl on their first class and more than anything they still know how to have FUN! It’s a hoot to see what they come up with when the wheel thrown pots are ready for decoration, often they will willingly distort them or add sculptural elements to them, not caring about maintaining their naturally symmetrical nature. Kids remind me that the process of creation should be a complete exploration and they reinforce the mantra that I try to instill in my adult students “the joy is in the journey”.

The sacrifice of teaching full days/weeks of kids summer classes is that I have to give up my own work time. I was listening to an interview on The Potter’s Cast (podcast by Paul Blais, look it up if you love listening to potters talk about making pots…..I know, kind of specific but clay people are generally obsessed) and the woman being interviewed was discussing her making process and how her days are scheduled. What resonated with me the most was the fact that she tries to get the most important decisions that have to be made completed as early in the day as possible when her mind is the sharpest. She went on to say that decision-making becomes harder for her as the day goes on and that the process of making pottery requires lots and lots of decisions. It’s so true, so while I think to myself, I might have 2 hrs. free after the kids depart in the afternoons and before my adults show up for evening classes to get my own work done, I quickly realize the quality of my work will suffer if I try to squeeze it into an already busy day.

So I’m using my teaching time with the kids as a vehicle to be inspired and fuel up for the next time I get to sit down to my own wheel. I’m enjoying the ‘journey’ of the summer so to speak. Without a lot of time, food prep also becomes important and quick and easy recipes are always my go-to at this time of year. I’ve been cutting way back on my gluten intake and consIMG_1703equently feeling much lighter the past year. The more veggies the better in this summer heat and what better time to use my new kitchen gadget ‘spiralizer’ to make Zucchini pasta!     (yes, the recipe is below as always!). Not to mention this meal is perfect for eating out of a bowl and my bowl obsession continues!

I love meals that can be adapted to seasonal foods and flavors that enhance the time of year. My yoga training has further informed my food choices over the years as I have become more familiar (barely scratched the surface of this vast ancient healthcare system) with the healthcare of yoga, Ayurveda. When I try to explain Ayurveda in a few sentences or less it goes something like this:

“It’s a system of caring for the body, mind, spirit that is as old as the practice of yoga (which is roughly 5,000yrs old). Ayurveda looks at a persons constitution (or general makeup) in terms of three main doshas or ‘types’ and then assess the best way to bring those types into balance so that the body functions at optimal potential. “

So if you want to know more about this practice I would suggest the Ayurveda Institute or reading anything by Dr. Vassant Ladd, a leading expert. The thing I love most about thinking about food from an Ayurvedic perspective is that you must look at the time of year (season), the imbalance of dosha or ‘type’ for the particular person, the time of day the food is being consumed and the qualities of the food itself. Yes, it seems intricate and it can be, but generally I know that as someone who has Pitta, or fire type, in excess, I can be easily aggravated by heat and summer weather and so I try to eat more cooling foods during this time of year. The bottom line is that what little knowledge I have of this system assists me in making food choices that can bring my body, mind, spirit into BALANCE.

Who doesn’t want a little balance? So in this ‘teaching’ week, when I’m trying to maintain a balance and ‘enjoy the journey’ I’ll use food and yoga to maintain this awareness. Did I mention the kids pottery week’s begin with a 45 min yoga class? Our studio motto is “Get Centered” and so I carry this theme out for the kids with a fun and interactive movement practice that sets the stage for fantastic clay play! Is it clear yet that I design ALL my classes around the things I personally love? Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Zucchini Pasta & Marinated Tofu

I know a lot of people are 'afraid of' or 'don't like' tofu, well, my response to those things is 'you just havn't had it prepared the right way!' Here is a quick and easy way to prep and cook tofu that never fails. It's not slimy or squishy at all! It's delicious so give it another try!!!!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 zucchini (preferably organic so you can leave on the skins)

1 package of extra firm tofu drained and pressed (this will make more than 2 servings

2 shallots thinly sliced

½ red pepper diced

1 Tbl capers

1-2Tbl Garlic Infused Olive Oil (or your favorite oil of choice)

2 Tbl chopped pecans

1 sprig fresh basil

1/8 cup Tamari or soy free alternative

1/8 cup Lime Juice

1 Tbl maple syrup

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

salt & pepper to taste

tofu prep Place the tofu in a shallow baking dish and coat with 2/3 of the marinade and refrigerate. When you are ready to cook, pour on the rest of the marinade.

You can use paper towels in a pinch to press tofu. Layer it and then use a heavy cutting board on top and let it sit for 10 min or so to press out the water.

This is delicious hot or cold in salads or stir fry, a quick snack or sliced over brown rice. Make the Tofu Marinade: Wisk Tamari, Lime Juice, Maple Syrup, paprika in a small bowl and set aside. Slice the tofu into ¼ rectangles and lay them in a shallow baking dish, pour over the marinade, refrigerate for at least 1 hr or overnight. Bake at 400 flipping every 20 min or so, for approx. 1 hr or until tofu has browned and shrunk up. Set Aside to cool.

This is delicious hot or cold in salads or stir fry, a quick snack or sliced over brown rice.

Thinly slice or spiralize your zucchini to make noodles. Assemble the veggies (leave the pecans and oil to the very last moment before serving) When ready to serve drizzle olive oil and toss in pecans. Slice the tofu or serve as slabs over the noodles.

Enjoy!