If you are like me, and according to Instagram a lot of people are, you've turned all this uncertainty and extra time into loaves and loaves of bread. I've always been a bread baker, but in a more functional than fancy way, I have a basic whole wheat sandwich bread recipe that I developed years ago and make every week or two and if I want good pizza or pita, I'll make it. This, however, is different, though I love yeast, and everything made from it - cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, buttery holiday rolls, etc. - it requires planning and patience; is not a weekday (or night) endeavor and makes so many dirty dishes. That being said, with days to plan meals and no real rush on anything there have been a lot of carby, fresh loaves of bread passing through my oven and into our mouths. For the most part we finish them before they start going stale, but sometimes they get to a point where they are best used for breadcrumbs and croutons. This recipe for Panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad, is a perfect use for those starting to dry up loaves, or if you have bread that isn't stale and you want to make it, the recipe still holds because you crisp it up in the oven anyway. Also, the veggies in this recipe are endlessly swappable. I think we are all learning, or relearning, how to use what we have on hand and spinach and butternut squash where what I had that needed used. You could easily use spring mix with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers or kale with roasted asparagus, or really any kind of green and any kind of fresh or roasted veggie. Enjoy!
Makes 3 main dish / 6 side dish
Prep time: 45 minutes, mostly hands off
For the Salad:
3 cups stale or fresh bread, cut into 1 - 2 inch cubes
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, large dice
1 small red onion, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
4 cups fresh spinach or any hearty greens, rough chopped
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine or your favorite vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl toss bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and garlic. Spread on baking sheet and set aside.
3. In the same bowl, toss together butternut squash, onion, and remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet and roast in pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Remove, flip and roast for additional 20 - 25 minutes or until squash is tender and turning brown.
4. Toast oiled bread in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip and continue cooking for 5 - 10 minutes more or until crisp on outside and soft in the middle.
5. In same bowl from before, whisk together dressing ingredients. Add toasted bread, cooked squash, and greens. Toss well making sure everything is coated well. Divide among plates and top with grated parmesan cheese.
I’m not really sure how day-after-day of staying at home can be so time consuming. I guess when rudimentary tasks become your daily routine you can easily fill all the hours of your waking day with busy work. After coffee and breakfast, there is house cleaning, laundry, kid activities (so many activities!), garden stuff, emails and Island Life business, lunch, planning for dinner, making dinner, cleaning up from dinner, relaxing and then bed. It’s amazing that all of those things normally fit into a day where 2/3 of that time is spent at work. I have to think that once our quarantine days are behind us, we are all going to be trying to figure out how to balance a new found appreciation for the jobs within the home with the job we will go back to outside of the home.
I’ve been using this time to try lots of new recipes, some of my own creation and some from my bedside table pile of Bon Apetite and Cook’s Illustrated that I’ve been wanting to try, the other night I made one of my trusty favorites from the Meal Prep rotation: Tomato & Spinach Rice. I love this recipe because it elevates basic ingredients to become super tasty while also being easy to prepare. It is also easy, flexible and made mostly with things found in your pantry, plus it comes together relatively quickly which is always nice even when time isn’t much of a concern. Enjoy!
Tomato & Spinach Rice
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon rosemary
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper
¼ cup tomato paste
½ teaspoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 small yellow onion, diced
15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes (can use diced tomatoes, if so add ½ teaspoon smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon chili powder)
15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed or 1 pound fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1 ½ cups vegetable broth or water
Garnish: Grated parmesan, parsley and lemon slices
My goal has been to stretch ingredients as far as they can go and not waste anything so we can minimize trips to the store. I know it can be hard to find inspiration when you are preparing two to three meals a day, when in normal circumstances it’s hard to come up with a plan for dinner a few nights of the week. I follow a lot of cooking pages on Instagram and Pinterest, and while I don’t often follow the recipes, just seeing a picture of something, or a combination of ingredients can inspire a meal.
The first recipe I’d like to share is for Okonomiyaki, a wonderfully simple and versatile Japanese pancake. It starts with an egg and flour batter, filled with shredded veggies and some kind of protein, then topped with Asian condiments, typically a sweet and savory brown sauce and Kewpie mayo. I filled my pancakes with fried tofu, finely chopped green cabbage, shredded carrot, minced garlic and ginger, and once fried topped with a sauce I concocted of the remnant of a bottle of hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sriracha and a slightly sweetened Kewpie mayo stand-in of mayo, sugar and rice vinegar, then a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a little more sriracha.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Makes 4 large pancakes
For the pancakes:
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup water
3 eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
1 carrot, grated
5 cups cabbage
Optional: 1 cup protein (I used fried tofu, would also be great with cooked shrimp or ground pork)
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
Okonomiyaki Sauce (My version was 3 tablespoons hoisin, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sriracha. If you don’t have hoisin you can combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce ketchup, sriracha and a little sugar or honey.)
Kewpie Mayo (I mixed together ¼ cup mayo, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar-can use lemon juice or white vinegar- and 1 teaspoon sugar.)
Sliced green onions
As you are well aware, in order to reach your fitness goals, you must be dedicated to both your exercise routine and your diet.
In this article, we take a look at nutrition in relation to your yoga and weight training so that you can discover everything you need to know about eating for your goals
-Nutrition for Yoga
A lot of people don’t realize this, but diet is an essential part of yoga. A poor diet can result in a wide range of illnesses, such as high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and more. However, good yoga nutrition contributes to a healthy and strong body and mind. But when it comes to what to eat for yoga, there’s lots of hype out there. While a true yogic diet is based on the concept of ‘ahimsa’, which involves causing no harm to other organisms and is therefore vegan, there’s a diverse range of food that provides proper nutrition for yoga. The types of food that make up good nutrition for yoga include the following:
• Organic food - It not only tastes better, but also contains higher vitamin content.
• Complex carbs and low glycemic index foods
• Foods low in fat and protein
You need to drink plenty of filtered water and eat foods that contain good fats, herbs, dairy, and oils, such as flaxseed oil. Also, add raw foods that are rich in minerals to your diet as they have the ability to help flush out toxins and keep your immune system healthy. and remember, when feeding your body for yoga, never eat right before a class.
Nutrition for Weights/Interval Training
If you want to build muscle or increase endurance, then your diet needs to focus on foods that facilitate maximum muscle growth. Getting your protein fill each day can be achieved by eating foods like seafood, chicken, dairy, eggs, and so on. Always give less priority to sugary protein bars and more to plant-based and minimally processed sources of protein such as the ones mentioned above.
In addition to having the right nutrition for weight lifting and interval training, you also need to ensure that you are eating your meals at the right time. Meal timing has a lot to do with the types of results you can expect from your exercise and diet. For instance, studies have found that consuming protein about four to six hours before your workout results in maximum muscle growth. So if you want to build lean muscle, then make sure that you’re consuming more calories than you burn.
Here are some of the foods that are great for muscle building:
• Greek yogurt, eggs, beans, quinoa, tofu
• Lean beef, tuna, shrimp, chicken breast
• Salmon, soy beans, cottage cheese
• Protein powders, peanuts, brown rice
As you can see, there are different ways to eat depending on the types of fitness goals you have. But no matter what you’re trying to achieve with your body, just remember that consistency is key if you want to see real results in the long-term.
This week has been all about party planning! Over the weekend we celebrated my son's birthday with a few family and friends, and at the Island we are super excited to be making preparations for our first Luau (August 3rd, don't miss it!!)! I love a good party and really any excuse to make food and celebrate something, but July and August in the Midwest can end up being around 1000 degrees, so when planning for a crowd I'm always looking for food and beverage combinations that are going to be cool and refreshing. I find my favorite things this time of year are crisp and cool, cleansing and bright, a spritz of lime juice, slice of cucumber or dollop of Greek yogurt can cool your core when it feels like nothing else will.
Aside from trying to control the weather, here are three basics that I think about when I'm planning for a crowd:
-Figure out the flavors you want to stand out and plan the rest of the menu around it. Try not to have competing flavors, generally you'll just pile everything onto one plate, so too much variety can be overwhelming when you are eating a pile of miscellaneous hors d'oeuvres. Have one or two standout flavors and then build from there. Blue cheese dip is great, but don't add the spinach artichoke and two kinds of hummus, just add some crudites and pita chips and call it a day.
-Serve the rainbow. We all know we eat with our eyes, so make sure your party table looks like a beautiful and interesting still life, lots of colors and textures to keep the eye moving and everyone coming back for more. People are super impressed by variety, but variety can be as simple as multi-colored peppers and a few different types of berries.
-Consider your budget. Having people over can be expensive, consider things that will stretch or look fancier than they really are. Wine spritzers are great, Greek yogurt with fresh herbs and cucumbers, cut up veggies and cheese drizzled with olive oil and za'atar. Not only are these affordable, but come together quickly, and will leave you with more time to enjoy the party instead of finishing fancy platters of food.
Za'atar is one of my current favorite additions to salads, snacks (see above), and anything headed to the grill, and this time of year its great to make with fresh herbs which takes it to another level in flavor. Here is an easy recipe for your next party.
Makes 1/2 cup
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon ground sumac*
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Make something delicious.
3. Use it all and make fresh next time, it doesn't hold well for use later.
*Tangy spice, similar in flavor to lemon or vinegar. I buy mine at Jay International Market on Grand, but any international market should have it.
Likely your garden, and certainly the farmer's market, is starting to reveal its seasonal bounty. This is the time off year that gives me immense pleasure. Seeing anything blossom and bloom is truly exciting, and as a planter of things both pretty and edible there is a level of satisfaction that comes with knowing that you can deposit a seed in the soul and facilitate something of beauty growing from it.
My garden has been producing greens for quite some time, which I start to take for granted when I'm eating them at every meal, but the real excitement of the last few days were my first cucumbers and tomatoes. In a month I will feel the same way about them as I do the greens now, but for now I will continue to check my plants morning and night to assess the growth and color change so I can be sure to harvest and consume as soon as possible.
I have a few berry bushes which generally go to the birds long before I have enough to do anything with, so I really appreciate when fruit from local farms come on the scene. Last weekend I found amazing peaches from southern Illinois at the farmer's market and have been coveting every last one until I'm there again on Saturday.
While the first few of everything to ripen I just end up popping in my mouth, or in the case of my five-year-old there were many strawberries and our first few tomatoes that were eaten before they were “technically” ripe. I do appreciate when everything is coming in in such a volume that they don’t seem so scarce and I can actually make entire dishes from things what I'm growing. Two of my most poignant summer food memories are that of cucumber and onion salad and mayo and tomato sandwiches. Always a fan of a good mash-up, I love this salad that combines the two, a creamy cucumber, tomato and onion salad, that has both piquant flavors and creamy subtleties and really makes me FEEL summer. Enjoy this recipe, either eating it straight out of the bowl or as an accompaniment to any good summer meal.
Creamy Cucumber & Tomato Salad
2 cups diced tomatoes, any variety as long as they are super ripe
2 cup diced cucumbers, I prefer the English variety or any that are long, slender and don't have many mushy seeds on the inside, and keep the skin on as long as they aren't bitter!
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup Island Life Ranch Dressing
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whole fat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
1. In a large bowl, toss tomatoes and cucumber together.
2. If using Island Life Ranch Dressing: add to vegetables and toss to coat.
3. If making dressing: in a small bowl combine all ingredients thoroughly. Add to vegetables and toss to coat.
4. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Enjoy this season and the amazing abundance, at least we can now see there was some good to come out of all that rain!
Happy growing & eating!
Living and working in Soulard, we’ve tried many different restaurants in our area and trust us, they’re all delicious! From gyros to pizza to BBQ and more, you have a lot of options for almost every type of cuisine and we’re here to help you find some of the freshest lunch spots around:
1. The Woodshack
Located at 1862 South 10th Street, The Woodshack is great at smoking meats and producing dishes with a lot of flavor! While we love their sandwiches and their white cheddar mac ‘n cheese, The Woodshack also offers a great selection of salads and wraps for a healthy lunch treat using those smoked meats. Our healthy favorites include the Power Wrap with quinoa, turkey, avocado, arugula and ginger dressing and the Power Blend Salad with quinoa, brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, avocado and your choice of meat plus a hard boiled egg!
2. Ninth Street Deli
Now serving at their new spot at 2732 S. 13th Street, Ninth Street Deli at Howard’s has some of the best sandwiches in St Louis. They have a great selection of classic deli sandwiches and their own specialties that have become classics in their own right. Plus, their soups and salads are absolutely delicious! If you’re looking for a healthy lunch, we recommend Ninth Street’s “Pick Two” lunch special where you can order two of the following: half of a sandwich, a cup of soup, a house salad or another side for a great deal. This can be a nice way to choose a healthy soup or salad and pair it along with half of a sandwich for maximum enjoyment and health benefit. Our healthy favorites include the chopped salad with fresh corn, avocado, tomato, green onion and tarragon vinaigrette and Ninth Street’s stuffed pepper soup! Plus, if you’re dying for a sandwich (like we often are!), you can always ask them to hold the aioli or cheese on a sandwich or take off half of the bread before digging in.
3. Mission Taco Joint
As Mission Taco Joint expands throughout St Louis, we’re lucky enough to have one of the original locations here in Soulard. When we’re looking for a fresh lunch in the Soulard area, we love to order the South Beach Burrito (grilled chicken, cilantro rice, smashed black beans, Chihuahua cheese, and chipotle aioli; topped with guacamole) and the Cali Burrito (Vegan Impossible™ Burger, smashed black beans, lettuce, vegan cheese, guacamole, and chile de arbol salsa; wrapped in a wheat tortilla). Normally we order them without the tortilla and can only finish about half of the burrito since Mission Taco Joint is definitely generous when it comes to burrito portions!
4. Island Life Soulard
Lastly, you know this list wouldn’t be complete without Island Life! With our meals freshly prepared and ready for take out, it’s as simple as placing an order on your favorite food delivery app or stopping by our studio. All of our menu items are prepared from whole ingredients, using lots of veggies, beans and lean meats and house-made dressings and sauces, so you know anything you order has been carefully crafted by our chef to not only taste good, but be good for you. From a smoothie, quick snack or salad to a robust power bowl or meal kit, we’ve got you covered when you need something in a delicious, healthy and in a hurry.
In the end, Soulard has some incredible restaurant options whether you’re looking for pizza, tacos and burgers or something a little lighter! These are just some of our favorite healthy and fresh dishes in the neighborhood and we hope you get to try each place.
Island Life is so excited to be joining the cadre of delicious food establishments in Soulard. Our take on take-out may be different than others in the neighborhood, but our conviction to provide a great experience and a delicious meal is exactly the same. The great thing about dining in Soulard is the variety of options, if you are looking for Mexican, Irish, American, Greek, Italian or BBQ, it’s all here and it’s all super-tasty!
So, what does Island Life have that is different from everyone else? Keep on reading to find out!
Easy & Convenient Meals To-Go
First things first, our food program makes healthy, delicious meals easy and convenient with breakfast, lunch, snacks and smoothies available for pick-up 7:30 am – 1:30 pm, meaning you can get lunch at breakfast or whenever you need it.
All of Island Life’s meals are freshly prepared and ready-to-go in our display case. Whether you are a yoga student or just stopping by on your lunch break, you can find a delicious prepared meal made of fresh, whole ingredients that is ready for pick-up. All items are packaged in convenient, microwavable and recyclable containers that can go to work, home or wherever you are headed.
At Island Life, we offer a thoughtfully crafted menu, that changes frequently so you can explore a variety of delicious items on a regular basis. From small bites that will provide you the energy you need to get through the day, such as protein snack packs, to breakfast and lunch entrees you can rely on to keep you full, including breakfast burritos, power bowls and salads with all the fixings and house-made dressings.
Prepared By A Nutrition Focused Chef
As head chef at Island Life, I’m also a health nut. So when I think of our menu each week, I want to be sure our meals have health benefits as well as a great taste. We love veggies, healthy fats and lean meats, so if you’re looking for healthy meals to fit into your busy schedule, our selection is perfect for you! (As a side note, we also offer personalized meal prep as well).
We welcome everyone at Island Life and part of our commitment to this ideal involves crafting meals for different dietary needs. Most of our meals are already vegetarian or vegan but we generally have an option to add an animal protein for anyone that wants it!
Not having time to shop for and cook healthy meals is the most frequent reason people give for not maintaining a healthy diet. It takes time to select ingredients that are good for you and prepare them in a way that is nutritionally beneficial. On average, Americans eat out four to five times a week, and typically these restaurant meals are much higher in calories than a meal you would prepare at home, often half of your recommended calories for an entire day in just one meal!
That’s why we try to make it easy! For healthy meals at an affordable price with quick pick-up, swing by our cafe, order online or check out our menu for this week.
At Island Life Yoga & Nutrition, we interact almost every day with first-time yogis in the Soulard area of St Louis who always have great questions before their first class. In fact, one of the most common questions we get asked from first-timers, men and women alike, is “what do I wear?”.
While most people would recommend wearing whichever clothes you would normally wear to go to the gym, yoga does have some special movements and atmospheres where the clothes you wear can be a distraction from your practice. In this post, I’ll talk about the factors you should take into consideration when picking out your yoga wardrobe and how I pick out my yoga clothes each day before going to teach at our studio.
Choosing a Shirt
In general when you’re looking for a shirt to wear to yoga, think about the movements and the condition of the class you’ll be attending. For example, let’s say you’re attending bikram yoga or hot yoga class where the room can be up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In this case, you may want to consider wearing a sports bra or tank top and sometimes men can even forgo a shirt or tank altogether (check with your instructor first to see if this is an option!). If you’re attending a beginner class, it’s likely that any comfortable t-shirt or tank top that gives you a free range of motion will be perfect. You may even be able to get away with wearing a long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt in a beginner’s class so that you’re warm throughout each pose.
Layering can also be a good idea when it comes to a great yoga top! If you’re attending a class where you’ll be doing inversions or more advanced poses, you may want to put a tucked in camisole under a looser shirt if you’re concerned about showing your midriff. This way you can still focus on your poses instead of possibly being concerned with pulling down a t-shirt to cover up. Layering can also work if you tend to get hot and cold during class time. So if you’re cold at the beginning or end, you may want to bring a long sleeve shirt with a tank underneath so you can wear the longer shirt during the cold portions of class.
All in all, in picking out a yoga shirt, you want to be sure you’re not exposing more of your body than you feel comfortable when doing your poses. And you want to be sure you’re able to get into any pose comfortably without your shirt restricting your movement.
I personally like to wear a tank top when I teach or practice because then I don’t have to worry about pushing long sleeves out of the way or worry about a tight t-shirt restricting my arm movements. When picking out a good yoga shirt, I like to do some stretches to ensure that I’m getting full rotation in my shoulders and I make sure the shirt is long enough to cover my lower back when I’m in positions like downward dog or a forward bend.
For a great yoga pant, you have a lot of options! Most athletic clothing brands offer pants made specifically for yoga in bootcut, skinny and cropped designs in a variety of colors and patterns. But if you’re not quite sure you want to invest in a pair of yoga-specific pants, you still have other great options:
Just like with a shirt, the most important part of choosing a pair of pants to wear to yoga is making sure you can move around in them. If I’m not sure whether a pair of pants can work, I do some squats and bends to make sure my pants aren’t restricting my range of motion. I also want to be sure my pants aren’t too long so I’m not accidentally stepping on them. I personally like a high-waisted pair of pants as well, just so I’m sure I’m adequately covered if we’re doing inversions or more difficult poses.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to accessorize! Here are some popular accessories many of my students like to add to their yoga ensembles:
Long story short, you want to wear something comfortable that you can move and stretch in. You don’t want your clothing to limit your range of motion but you don’t want your clothes to become a distraction by being too long or too loose. If you’re a first time student, a t-shirt and leggings or shorts is usually a safe bet! And I encourage you to try different styles during your first couple classes to see what feels best.
All in all, we strive at Island Life to be non-intimidating and to make everyone feel comfortable, so wear whatever makes you feel good to move in. Plus you can even order some Island Life merch from our studio to sport while you’re in class or in your daily life!