Monthly Archives: January 2012

Butternut Squash Brown Rice Risotto

When offering my readership recipes over the past 18 months, I have tried to alternate between the uber-simple and more complex foodie projects.  This offering is admittedly, the latter.  Usually when I work with grains, I keep it super simple: aromatic spices that inspire at the moment, boil, simmer, and walk away.  Risotto is not as carefree, especially the whole grain version, but it is a sumptuous offering that is sure to delight and inspire, and hearty enough to serve as a main dish.  It is indeed simple to prepare but requires some serious focus and elbow grease. Like making a good bechamel sauce you have to commit to standing stoveside with a wooden spoon and develop consistency.   With butternut squash, shitake mushrooms, kale, and black walnuts, it is ideal for warming your your winter belly.  To your health!


Prep time: 75 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

Serves: 6-8

2 cups short grain brown rice
1 butternut squash, roasted and pureed, yielding just over one cup*
4-5 cups of veggie broth, heated not boiling
1 medium onion, chopped, yielding one cup
5 leaves of kale, removed from vein, and coarsely chopped, yielding 2 cups
1 cup white wine of choice
1 cup of shitake mushrooms chopped
1 cup of black walnut meal (or chopped walnuts)
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp of fresh sage and rosemary, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1) In a medium saucepan, heat half of the oil and sautee mushrooms over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until almost fully cooked, about 4 minutes. Then fold in chopped kale until it begins to reduce, about one minute. Remove and set aside.
2) In a separate large saucepan, over medium heat, add onions to olive oil and sautee for 3-5 minutes until they turn transluscent.
3) Add rice and sautee until rice toasts and become translucent at edges, about 3-5 minutes. Add wine and herbs and stir frequently until wine is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
4) Ladle in 1/2 cup of warm broth and stir frequently until it is absorbed, about 3-5 minutes. Repeat this process for another 25-30 minutes, until rice is fully cooked through but not mushy.
5) Fold in parmesan and walnuts and allow cheese to melt in. Then follow with squash puree, and kale and mushroom mix. Allow flavors to meld for another minute, throughly mixing.
6) Garnish with extra chopped herbs and walnuts and serve.

*Peel, remove seeds, roast at 400 for one hour and puree in food processor. If this is too involved, substitute with canned pumpkin puree.


Megan Davis on the Art of the Homemade Face Mask

February’s featured self-care tip comes from Megan Davis, known in the local holistic health community as the authority on yoga therapy in the metropolitan area, specializing in post-traumatic healing and injuries.  I usually like BellySatva contributors to surprise me with their offerings.  An admitted face mask junky, imagine my delight when Megan pitched homemade face masks.  The ultimate DIY beauty ritual, face masks are especially important this time of year, offering the skin welcome nourishment and reprieve from the winter doldrums.  Enjoy in good health!



Before using any mask, you should thoroughly clean and exfoliate your skin.

Here are a couple I really like:

Hydrating Pumpkin Facial Mask
Great for addressing dry skin in the winter months.
1/2 cup pumpkin pulp (fresh is better but canned is okay)
2 eggs
2 t almond milk
1 t honey
optional: 2 t apple cider vinegar if your skin is oily
Mix all ingredients together and leave on for 10-15 minutes

Blueberry Mask
This mask is great for skin that tends to get dry and uneven.
1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 t vitamin E (if you don’t have vitamin E you can add a bit more almond or sesame oil)
1/4 t aloe
1/4 t almond or sesame oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oats
Blend ingredients in food processor. Leave mask on for up to 30 minutes.

To remove masks use lukewarm water and follow up with your regular moisturizer.

For more information on Megan Davis’s services, visit:

Smokin’ Hot Mexican Chili!

There is nothing like chili on a cold winter day to warm the belly, warm the soul, and get settled, Not to mention that each bowl of chili is a great source of fiber and protein. This recipe utilizes enough convenience ingredients like canned beans and tomatoes to be accessible to the home cook, but still provides the opportunity to really spend time and connect to the dish and savor the results. To give that extra smoky touch to this chili, I have used not only cumin (my go-to spice), but cocoa powder, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Enjoy with tortilla chips, a pinch of grated cheddar, and substitute strained yogurt (make your own!*) for sour cream.

1 yellow onion, chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
2 bell peppers, red and yellow, diced
2 cups of corn kernels
2 cups of veggie broth (or make your own!)
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 15.5 oz can of black beans
1 15.5 oz can of dark red kidney beans
10 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (7 oz.)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp hot chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
olive oil
grated cheddar cheese for topping
strained yogurt for topping
fresh cilantro and/chives, chopped, for garnish

1) In a Dutch oven or large pot, swirl oil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium high and add garlic, onions, bell peppers, and chipotle peppers. Sautee for about 3-5 minutes until ingredients soften.
2) Stir in diced tomatoes, beans, corn, cocoa powder and spices for another minute until all ingredients begin to meld.
3) Gradually add veggie broth to deglaze, adding up to 2 cups based on your preference for consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4) Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
5) Serve in a deep bowl with tortilla chips and your favorite toppings. Garnish with chopped cilantro and/or chives.

*To strain your own yogurt, use your favorite plain organic brand, preferably in the whole milk variety. Line a large mesh strainer with either cheesecloth or a paper towel and place strainer over a deep bowl. Pour the plain yogurt into the strainer and strain for 4-8 hours. Enjoy!

Exciting New BellySatva Offerings for 2012!

So many of the intiatives I have been working on for the past year are beginning to take shape.  First up, locally-beloved acupuncturist Nicole Mires reports that the expansion of her practice Pekoe Wellness is ready for opening in February.  The space will offer massage, acupuncture, holistic health and nutritional coaching, Thai yoga therapy, community treatments, transformational life coaching, private and semi private yoga classes, meditation, Tai Qi martial arts, workshops, and more! Check out Nicole’s announcement and my office hour schedule below for more information.

Pekoe will also provide the home to BellySatva’s Group Wellness Series to launch Wednesday March 7th at 6 p.m.  In a fun, supporive group setting, participants will enjoy the tools, recources, and knowledge to meet their wellness goals, including sustainable weight loss, increased energy, and detoxification. Based on the principle that everyone comes with his or her own unique health concerns, group workshops and discussions will examine the confluence of bio-individuality and lifestyle on cultivating wellness.  Contact me now for information, only a few spaces are left!

In other news, please check out two new classes that I have added to my teaching schedule below, including a class in my home studio Flow Yoga Center, where I came into my practice almost 7 years ago, and the spiritually fly Fath Hunter’s yoga loft Embrace Yoga.  Stay tuned for news on the opening of powerhouse Emma Saal’s joint, Epic Yoga coming soon.

Please enjoy the contents of this month’s newsletter, including locally-acclaimed massage therapist Tom Coen’s New Year’s prescription to bring life into intention with parallel breaths and my uber-simple roasted root veggie medley. I’m off to Thailand for my honeymoon in February, so I’ll check back in upon arrival stateside :-)

Tom Coen on Breathing Energy into Intention

This month’s self-care tip comes from locally reputed massage therapist Tom Coen, who specializes Zero Balancing – a holistic energy-shifting therapy that I can only describe as an incredibly meticulous form of bodywork that is subtle yet highly effective.  Below he describes a meditation practice designed to breath energy into intention- a perfect practice for the start of a new year!


January, oh January!
Time of resolutions and guilt and unrealistic expectations….This year instead of making a huge list of ridiculous goals, I’ve decided to embrace brief bits of meditation before bed. Parallel breathing is one of the simpler, yet very powerful meditations I’ve experienced over the years. It not only is a meditation in itself, but it can be used to focus energy into a specific intention or problem.

We are Vertical Creatures
One of the most unique developments in the human evolution (perhaps THE pivotal one if you ask me) was when we became upright bi-pedal animals. We are vertical creatures, and this gives us a unique relationship to gravity that no other animal really has.

Gravity is one of the oldest and strongest forces in our universe, so too the vertical currents that run through our body are the deepest flows. Picture yourself standing next to a very tall building and looking up. You can almost feel the height of the building, its size is a strong force. This is the same energy that courses up and down the skeleton, spinning off the major curves of the body to create the chakras. When we focus our attention here, we establish a deep and unswerving calm by connecting to what is deepest and most primal in our natures.

The Parallel Breath
This breathing technique was one I learned from Fritz Smith, the creator of Zero Balancing. We start every day of class with it, and in just a few minutes it can really change your state of mind. Close your eyes and begin by just observing your breath as it is. Now deepen the breath a bit and try to establish an even rhythm. For this exercise I like a 4 count breath.

Now begin to imagine that as you breath in you draw energy from the universe down through the crown of your head. As the in breath continues, draw this energy to the base of your spine. As you exhale send this energy up the spine in a steady stream and back out into the heavens. The key to this technique is to really FEEL that motion. To me it feels like a slight pressure, a little squeeze moving up and down the spine. Others say it feels like a tingle, or like an electric current. As yogis, most of us are familiar with the idea of breathing INTO a particular area, the idea here is similar.

Once you have gotten the feel of this firmly rooted in your consciousness, the next step is to use the breath to work through issues you face in your life or if you choose, issues facing us all. To work with a personal problem, imagine some representation of the issue and place it in your hara (the area more or less between the 2nd and 3rd chakras). As you continue the parallel breaths, be aware of any changes that you observe to your image. See if you can feel the image change and dissolve as you breathe.

If your focus is “world work”, place the issue in the same area but in front of your body rather than internally. Changes might come slower in your imagery of this issue, but when you close, rest easy in the fact that you have DONE SOMETHING to improve it. The energy you have put into the issue makes some sort of difference (it’s quantum physics, look it up!), but more importantly takes away the feeling of powerlessness that we often feel about such big issues.

For more info about Parallel Breaths, Zero Balancing, and Dr. Fritz Smith, email or check out the following:
“Inner Bridges” by Dr. Fritz Smith
“Zero Balancing” by John Hamwee

Roasted Root Veggie Medley

Man, it is COLD out there. Finally winter is starting to feel like winter in the District which means it is time to start enjoying nature’s antidote to this extreme weather: root veggies! Warming and grounding in energy, packed with fiber, nutrients like beta-carotene, and antioxidants – and not to mention and easy on the wallet, root veggies are ideal for the start of the new year. When roasted, their natural, complex sugars percolate, making them a perfect food to curb holiday-end sugar cravings.  I used carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, sunchokes, and rutabagas, but just about any combination of root vegetables will do nicely. Just be sure to have a diversity and easy on the white starchy potatoes. Vibrant color is nature’s way to conveying nutrient-density and rich flavor. To your health!


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 6-8

5 medium carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
4 small waxy red fingerling potatoes, coarsely chopped
2 medium sunchokes, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 large rutabaga, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp brown rice syrup
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dresh ground black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) In a mixing bowl, throughly coat chopped root veggies in olive oil, brown rice syrup, salt and pepper. Pour mixture in 3-quart rectangular casserole dish and put on center rack of oven.
3) Roast until veggies are golden brown, about one hour. If extra crispy texture is desired, broil on high for no more than 5 minutes. Enjoy!