Three years ago I would have sworn to you that yoga was just not my thing. Over the years I had tried a class here or there but the thought of getting me to sit still for extended periods of time seemed impossible. My mind was always racing in a million directions.
At the time we had a young woman living with us from Slovakia, Bara, who was diligent about her yoga. She practiced every day and often went to classes. And while her presence and commitment to yoga didn’t really inspire me to join in the fun, I appreciated her commitment and sense of calm.
That same year, I managed to throw my back out right before Christmas. It was just a small wrong twist as I rolled out of bed that took my breath away. It was painful and shocking. I worked out regularly and believed that somehow this should protect me from such an incident. I was always careful not to lift things that were too heavy or do other things that I was certain would have injured my back. So I was baffled by this unexpected turn of events.
Part of my stubborn personality carries over to my passionate dislike of medications. At this point I had little choice and started taking ibuprofen, because sitting down was impossible. For the following next few weeks I would only be able to stand and lie down.
When the pain began to slightly ease up, Bara suggested that I try a yoga class from this instructor she felt was one of the best she had ever practiced with. She assured me that Vinyasa yoga was filled with movement and that I would not be board. I quickly discovered that this class helped me.
My yoga instructor, Lori, became a treasured friend. I would occasionally pop into other classes here and there to see if I liked different types of yoga, but until this day there is nothing like Lori’s Vinyasa class to take my mind to a far off place, while pushing my physical endurance to the limit. More importantly, yoga has helped me maintain my back.
Even after I had my knife injury. I managed to attend a few yoga classes, which I realize seems impossible if you know how many ‘Downward Dog’ poses can be done in one class; but Lori encouraged me to come, in her kind gentle way. I was hesitant as I was very limited with my injury, but she modified the class to be a handless Vinyasa class. I imagine it is one of the first of its kind because Lori is that category of brilliant!!!
Recently she ended class by asking us to place one hand on our heart, and then asked us to repeat to ourselves “living in love”. Meaning have kindness and love towards oneself first. She then had us place our other hand on our belly, telling ourselves, “with no fear”.
My take away- Life is a journey, filled with so many wonderful (and of course a few not so wonderful) moments. You truly never know where your next bout of inspiration will hit or someone you meet will change the path of your life in some big or little way. But I am learning to be thankful for all of these good little moments and to find meaning in those that are not so good.
I share this with you now as we approach the season of ‘Thanksgiving’. I think it is important to be thankful for all we have, all that we are surrounded by and despite the pressures life puts on us to be kind to ourselves as well. I am sure my husband will read this post and wonder if I am still writing a food blog or having some sort of personal epiphany. The answer to the blog is an astounding YES, and to a personal epiphany likely. But I am embracing my more spiritual side. I have yet to totally define what that means, but stick around and I’ll keep unraveling the layers of this onion of life.
Now back to my love of food! As Thanksgiving rolls around each year I love to immerse myself in the flavors. This week was an unexpected surprise that happened. I love that moment when flavors start to amalgamate and inspiration hits. I am a recipe junkie and while I’d like to say I read books often, I probably read more articles for work and recipes in my free time. Not every recipe is a success, but I do always hope for some level of yumminess.
This salad is my take on winter salad that was spotted in Williams of Sonoma some years ago; I’ve remade it to reflect my palate and my love of sweet and savory. The tartness of the vegetables really work well with the sweet flavors and firm textures of the fruits. I think this dish makes a great vegetarian entree if not a unique side salad. My take is that this recipe is food poetry – serve at room-temperature and adorn with the fruits of the harvest season.
Note: While you may not have my latest toy, a spiralizer, have fun making your own unique shapes for this dish.
Brussels Sprouts Persimmon & Pomegranate Mustard Salad
Sweet Hot Mustard Dressing Ingredients
2 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS whole-grain mustard
3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 TBS honey
1 tsp sriracha sauce
2 shallots, sliced into thin rings
3.5 TBS extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into quarters
2 large Fuju Persimmons
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 Gala red apples
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup chopped extra aged gouda cheese or fontina cheese
To make the sweet hot mustard, mix the following ingredients together in a jar with a lid– both mustards, apple cider vinegar, honey and sriracha sauce. Set aside.
In a large high sided pan, over medium heat, and add in 1 TBS olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the shallots, season with salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes or until lightly caramelized. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Using the same pan, return to medium-high heat and add the final 2 TBS of olive oil. Once heated, add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, for approximately 5 minutes, then add in the kohlrabi, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are just tender and lightly browned. Add shallots back to pan, remove from heat and pour dressing over the mixture and combine well.
Using a large platter, thinly slice the persimmons and arrange on the bottom, next cut and layer the apples. Transfer the brussels sprouts kohlrabi and mustard-shallot mixture over the top and add in the almonds and cheese. Arrange on a platter and serve at room temperature.