Yoga thought for the day: “No single posture is the antidote to an overdose of chaturanga dandasana [four-limbed plank pose], but if you had to pick just one, purvottanasana [upward plank pose] would probably be your best choice. Why? First, it stretches most of the muscles that chaturanga strengthens. Second, it strengthens opposing muscles (antagonists). . . . In short, while chaturanga primarily strengthens the front of the body, purvottanasana stretches the front of the body and strengthens the back of the body. This makes the two poses wonderfully complementary.” – Roger Cole, “The Anti-Chaturanga Dandasana,” http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2051/
A lot of vinyasa classes probably means a lot of chaturanga dandasanas, as well. Chaturanga is a basic yoga pose that builds strength, but it is not an easy yoga pose. Proper alignment – elbows directly over wrists and in close to the ribs, shoulder blades down the back, quadriceps engaged, belly pulled into the spine – is critical to avoid injury to the shoulders, wrists, and low back. And as Roger Cole suggests, practicing purvottanasana along with chaturanga can help us create a more balanced, flexible strength in our bodies.
If chaturangas are a staple in my yoga diet, chutneys are a staple in my culinary diet and cheesecake . . . well, cheesecake has always been one of my favorite sweets.
With friends coming for dinner a week ago Saturday, I decided to make two varieties of chutney to serve as hors d’oeuvres with assorted crackers and Mitica Cana Cabra cheese. Mitica Cana Cabra is a soft-ripened goat milk cheese from Spain – creamy and mild, with a hint of mushrooms. The one I found (at Whole Foods Market) was made with vegetarian enzymes rather than rennet. My chutneys were a blueberry nectarine chutney and a curried leek and golden raisin chutney (recipes follow).
I then brought the chutneys to the table to serve with our main course, as well – my
version of a Thai red curry with broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, potato, and red lentils. The two chutneys, along with fresh avocado lightly mashed with a tiny bit of salt, freshly ground pepper, and a splash of white balsamic vinegar, each added their own particular accent to the curry.
For dessert – scrumptious, vegan, mini blueberry cheesecakes. I love mini cheesecakes, because I can indulge my sweet tooth without overdoing it. And they freeze well, too. So you can pluck just one from the freezer whenever you crave a delicious and nutritious treat.
I’m not sure which I enjoy practicing more – my chaturangas or my chutneys and cheesecakes!
Plum Nectarine Chutney – makes about 2 cups
- 2 plums, more ripe than not ripe
- 2 nectarines, more ripe than not ripe
- ¼ cup chopped white onion
- ¼ cup turbinado sugar, sucanat, or brown sugar
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until mixture thickens. Transfer to glass jars or plastic containers. Let come to room temperature. Then store in refrigerator. Refrigerate at least two to four hours before serving. Will keep at least two weeks. Serve with all your pastas, chilis, lentil dishes, curries, cheese, bread . . . .
Curried Leek and Golden Raisin Chutney – makes about 2 cups
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon saffron, optional but adds nice color and subtle flavor
- ½ cup golden raisins
- 4 medium leeks, trimmed of all but 1 inch of greens
- ½ tablespoon unsalted EarthBalance or coconut oil
- 4 tablespoons low-sodium vegetable broth, divided, plus additional for pureeing
- 1 ½ teaspoons vegan sugar
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 rotations of the pepper mill
Instructions: Combine curry powder, 1 teaspoon sugar and vinegar and whisk in olive oil. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and then crosswise into half-inch slices. Place in colander and rinse. Combine saffron threads with 2 tablespoons vegetable broth. Melt EarthBalance or coconut oil in dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add leeks, 2 tablespoons vegetable broth, remaining 1/2 teasoon sugar and water. Add half of the salt and half of the pepper. Simmer, covered, for ten minutes. Stir in raisins, pine nuts, saffron and vinaigrette. Let cool about 10 minutes. Puree in food processor. Stop occasionally to scrape down sides. After the second stop, add vegetable broth or water by the tablespoon as necessary and the rest of the salt and pepper. Continue to process until smooth. Keep adding additional vegetable broth or water to reach desired consistency. Remember that the chutney will thicken as it cools. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to glass jars or plastic containers. Let come to room temperature. Then store in refrigerator. Refrigerate at least two to four hours before serving. Will keep at least two weeks. Serve with all your pastas, chilis, lentil dishes, curries, cheese, bread . . . .