• Plant-based New Years Eve Appetizers

    We can’t believe 2017 is almost over! What will you be doing when the clock strikes 12? Maybe you’re having a relaxing night in by the warm fire, or perhaps you’re heading out for a night on the town, whatever your plans may be you’ll need to figure out what your going to be eating on the last night of the year! How about your spice up your night with delicious plant-based recipes by Naomi Seifter owner of Picnik Austin! She has pulled together two absolutely amazing dishes just for you and your nearest and dearest to enjoy- Butternut Squash Soup and a Holiday Platter full of incredible flavours with each bite!

    Holiday Platter

    We played around with using yummy ingredients as the ‘bread.’  We used steamed butternut squash, steamed sweet potato, apple, red bell pepper, jicama and cucumber slices.  We also went the traditional route, using bread rounds for the crust.  We wanted to give loose instructions so that you to make this at home with your favorite fillings.  Take ours as a guide, but have fun and make it your own!

    ‘Crust’ Ingredients:

    • 1 large sweet potato

    • 1 butternut squash

    • 1 jicama

    • 1 red bell cucumber

    • 1 cucumber

    • 1 apple

    • Optional: gluten-free bread

    Directions:

    Step 1: Prepare “crust”

    Crust options are: cucumber rounds, gluten-free bread, steamed sweet potato rounds, apple rounds, jicama rounds, and red bell pepper. Mix and match to your heart’s desire! (see image below)

    1. Using a mandolin (or very sharp knife) cut the sweet potato and butternut squash into 1/8 inch thick slices length-wise (see below for reference).

    2.  Steam sweet potato for 5-7 minutes (dependent on how many you put in the steamer at once). You want the potato to be soft but not mushy. You want it to still hold it’s shape.

    3. Steam butternut squash for 5-10 minutes (dependent on how many you put in the steamer at once). You want the squash to be soft but not mushy. You want it to still hold it’s shape.

    4. Place both squash and sweet potato in fridge to cool.

    5. Using a 2 inch round cutter, make your “crust” rounds.

    *Repeat using 2 inch round cutter with other crust materials but do not steam apple, jicama, red bell pepper, or cucumber. These are best served raw! The bread can be toasted to make it crunchy.

    Step 2: Make Fillings

    Curried Chickpea “Chicken” Salad

    Ingredients:

    • 1 15 oz. canned organic chickpeas

    • 1 shallot bulb, minced

    • 1 celery stalk, small dice

    • 2/3 cup apple juice sweetened cranberries, rough chop

    • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard

    • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)

    • 1 tsp. Himalayan sea salt

    • 1.5 cups avocado oil

    • 2 tsp. curry powder

    • 2 tbsp. pecans, finely chopped

    • 1 pinch cayenne

    • 2 pinches paprika

    • himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. Strain can of chickpeas. Place brine in Vitamix and chickpeas in a large mixing bowl.

    2. To the bowl, add minced shallot, chopped celery, cranberries

    3. To the blender, add mustard, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt. Turn Vitamix on low and slowly drizzle in avocado oil to create your homemade vegan mayonnaise (you can skip this blending step entirely by using the pre-made mayo of your choice).

    4. Add ¾ cup of blended mayo to the bowl.

    5. Using a wood spoon, fork, or potato masher, mash the chickpeas for several minutes until the chickpeas break apart and are well incorporated with the other ingredients. *If you prefer, you can use a food processor to speed the process up, although we did not demo this method.

    6. Add curry powder, cayenne, paprika, optional honey, and pecans.

    7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    8. Place in fridge until ready to plate sandwiches.

    Other filling examples:

    Hummus

    Mix a 8 oz. container of hummus with ¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper and ¼ cup finely chopped cucumber (reference photo) or other vegetables you prefer. Place on crust rounds of your choice.

    Nut Butter & Jelly 

    Combine equal parts almond butter (or peanut butter) with jelly. Mix together in a bowl. Try with apple or sweet potato crusts.

    Step 3: Arrange Tea Sandwiches

    Arrange tea sandwiches on a plate of your choice and top with any of the following:

    • Black sesame seeds

    • Hemp Seeds

    • Paprika

    • Flavored Salt

    • Garnish of choice

    Add fruit, herbs or decor to plate for extra color and sparkle!

     

    Butternut Squash Soup

    Before Naomi had a team to support her, she did all of the cooking out of her and Kevin’s house. This was a crucial time in our history because not only was Naomi creating the dishes, but she would then be at the trailer all day receiving feedback directly from our customers. That time laid a solid foundation of our food philosophy and helped us to discover exactly what kinds of food our regulars loved. This soup, was created during that precious time.  

    The coconut milk makes for a creamy and dairy-free base, while the spice mixture creates a unique, yet subtle, flavor profile; the ideal balance of sweet and spicy. Choose a veggie broth to make the soup vegan or a chicken broth if that is more your style. We hope you and your loved ones enjoy it as much as we do! Let’s get started…

    Ingredients

    Produce

    • 3 delicata squash

    • 3 apples

    • 3 cloves of garlic

    • 1 yellow onion

    • Olive Oil

    • Himalayan Sea Salt

    Liquid

    • 1/2 cup coconut milk

    • 1 cup apple cider

    • 3 tbsp maple syrup

    • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (we made a shiitake mushroom broth*, recipe below)

    Spices

    • 1/2 tsp turmeric

    • 1/2 tsp paprika

    • 1/2 tsp cayenne

    • 1/2 tsp ginger

    • 2 tsp cinnamon

    • 4 tsp himalayan sea salt

    • 2 tsp black pepper

    Directions

    1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

    2. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds.  Thick slice the delicata squash and large/rough chop apple and onion.  Peel garlic, and lay squash, apple, onion and garlic in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Liberally apply olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in oven to roast for 1 hour at 400 degrees.

    3. When roasting is complete, add produce from your 1st baking sheet to your high-powered blender (Vitamix/Blendtec) with 1/2 of the liquid and 1/2 of the spices (everything except salt and pepper – this will be added at the end). Blend and transfer to a large stock pot.  Repeat the blend process for the second batch of produce, liquid and spices.  Transfer to the same pot.  

    4. At this point, soup can either be placed in fridge for later or it can be transferred to the stovetop and heated immediately.  I like to season this soup to taste with salt and pepper when I’m ready to serve it.  As the soup is thick, it can “pop” and make a mess as your heat it up, so it is recommended you use a lid.  An additional note:  If soup is too thick for your liking, feel free to add additional stock.

    5. Enjoy!

    Stock Recipe

    1. To make your own shiitake mushroom broth, add 1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms to 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, turn down heat and let simmer for 45-60 minutes.  Final yield is about 6 cups of stock.

    By Naomi Seifter

    Follow Naomi on instagram at @picnikaustin 

    Discover more scrumptious plant based recipes on Omstars

  • Who needs Yoga?

    The imagery of modern yoga has an ethereal edge.  Wherever we look, we see lissome bodies bending into improbable forms, and balancing elegantly on the precipice of medical disaster.  This imagery can lend the impression that yoga is for people who live an ethereal existence, people who may be missing bones, who drift through the atmosphere, and rarely touch ground with their feet.  But these images are incidental.  They do not reflect the profile of the ordinary yoga practitioner.  On the contrary, they do something more interesting.  They reflect our fascination with the contortive potential of the human body, and in doing so, they symbolize, however imperfectly, our inherent admiration for resilience.

    Yogic imagery is remarkably old.  It provides the earliest evidence we have for yoga in the ancient world.  One of the earliest pieces is the Pashupati seal from the Mohenjo-Daro excavation site in present day Pakistan.  It features a humanlike figure with long horns seated in what appears to be Mulabandhasana.  The seal predates the current era by more than two millennia, and represents a civilization about which we understand very little.  The meaning of the seal is veiled in obscurity, and this is usual for artifacts that pertain to the ancient origins of yoga.  Sometimes we can decode their symbology enough to tell a coherent story about what they might mean, but we can only imagine the consciousness in which they were composed.

    Throughout its long and complicated history, yoga has formed countless alliances with  diverse alchemical and soteriological traditions.  In light of the diversity, many scholars now argue that there is no single thing called “yoga” whose tradition we can trace.  And so that may be.  But if we look at examples of yogic imagery throughout the ages—from the ancient seals of the Indus River Valley, to the medieval temple carvings of Tamil Nadu, to the Kalighat paintings of colonial Bengal, and to the crystalline images that stream through our social media channels today—there is always that ethereal edge.  There is always that evident longing to elevate consciousness above our limitations, and so to enrich and expand the human experience.

    This ethereal edge is the common thread to what we recognize as yogic imagery.  And if we can follow that thread through the ages, weaving through countless social and ritual contexts, this is arguably because of the way that what we recognize as yoga practice answers an archetypal human need—the need to be resilient, to be malleable, and to meet the persistent pressures to adapt to the ever changing circumstance of life.  That need has been understood in diverse and often opposing ways, as demonstrated by the Vedic, Tantric, and Advaitic approaches to the problem.  Arguably no single one of these is definitive, but neither can any one of them be discounted.  What is pertinent is the way that each of them answers our felt need to break up our inveterate patterns of conditioning, open our minds and evolve.

    Modern yoga does not cohere around any particular philosophy.  It exists more simply as an open set of practices and techniques for helping us overcome our psychological limitations.  Whatever the promises of yoga practice might be, the most pertinent and most compelling is that yoga allows us to relate more openly to otherness.  The practice teaches us to hold an open space of compassionate awareness for our own thoughts, emotions and memories to unfold, no matter how excessive or threatening they might seem.  Through this practice, we give ourselves space, and we allow our minds to breath, so that otherness can appear within our consciousness, and we can relate to it more openly, without being impeded by our fears and anxieties.  That is, we can receive otherness, and be impacted by otherness, adapting to its reality without having to reinforce any particular idea or image of ourselves in the process.

    The reception of otherness within ourselves helps break up our self images.  And in this sense, the practices of yoga are vehicles for psychical release.  They help us release ourselves from the tangles of thought, emotion and memory to which we so ardently cling.  They help us to let go of things, so that we do not congeal into the imprint of our experiences, but we can continue to change and adapt to our circumstances.  To put it simply, the techniques of yoga help us break ourselves up.  They help us break up the congestion of our delusions and conceits, piercing the armor by which we conceal and protect ourselves from the otherness of the world.  And in doing so, they help us liberate ourselves from the stagnation of our conditioning, so we can open ourselves to new relationships, and new possibilities of experience.

    The orphanage of modern yoga practices from the historical traditions from which they descend is often regarded as corrosive to their potency, but arguably the reverse is true.  However rich and compelling those traditions might be, it remains essential that we translate our experiences with yoga into our own living language, into words that bring those experiences home to us, and engage us as we are.  The elision of antiquated concepts from the language of yoga is therefore an essential and not entirely regrettable aspect of its adaptation to modern life.  Without imposing upon ourselves the arcane limitations of historically distant ideas, we can have a more authentic experience of ourselves through the practice.  The removal of those ideas means that we can give ourselves more room to breathe, more room to settle into ourselves, and more room to follow the currents of awakening that are already flowing through us.

    This is part of the intelligence of modern yoga.  As a global phenomenon, yoga is not bound too tightly to any particular philosophy, nor to any particular conception of the relationship between the human and the divine.  And for just that, it can focus on what is more compelling, namely, the process of breaking up the self, and creating more space for the natural processes of creativity to unfold.  There are, of course, people today who would argue endlessly about the relative credentials of dualism, non-dualism, monism and the like, but the modern yoga movement is largely agnostic on these speculative questions, and understandably so.  In these late modern times, we have no need for the kind of thinking that hangs so breathlessly on these delicate distinctions, and evidence abounds of the problems that arise when we allow that kind of thinking to congeal into certainty.  Moreover, the speculative questions that underlie these distinctions tend to lose their force under the softening influence of the yogic experience, and that experience is really the center of the attraction.

    What holds the attention of most modern yoga practitioners is not any particular view of reality that may or not be encouraged by the practice, but the immediate experience of psychical release that is so warmly invited by each and every breath.  The most intriguing thing about yoga practice is that it works—when we undertake the practice assiduously, without pause, for a reasonable amount of time, we find that we can break into ourselves, creating space within our minds to relate to otherness in a more open and authentic way.  And here is the point—it is only by relating openly and authentically to otherness that we can evolve, for it is precisely in relation to otherness that we express creativity, awareness, compassion, and resilience.

    So the process of breaking into ourselves, and creating space for otherness, is crucial for our psychological development.  And we all could use some kind of internal practice to help make that process unfold, for we all tend to stagnate into our own psychological patterns.  This is perhaps the fundamental problem that yoga practice has always been called upon to solve, the problem of pulling us from the mire of our own conditioning.  This problem is arguably more pressing now then ever.  Modern life, after all, draws us into extremes of isolation, where we shun our collective problems with dangerous apathy.  It is perhaps no coincidence, then, that an unprecedented collective effort is the only chance that we have to reverse our destructive patterns today and resolve the colossal problems of our time.  At this pivotal moment in history, when we have nuclear weapons pointed all over the globe, and our patterns of extraction and consumption are quickly destroying the conditions of human life on our planet, our survival depends on our ability to break our conditioned patterns of thinking and acting, to come out of ourselves, to recognize the stark reality of our crises, and then to join together, with the rest of humanity, to take radical and immediate measures to cope intelligently with our nearly apocalyptic problems.

    Today, we can no longer afford to limit yoga to spiritual purposes.  Yoga is perhaps the most powerful instrument that we have for breaking out of ourselves and overcoming the paralyzing effects of our psychological conditioning.  On the same account, we can no long afford to restrict access to yoga, or create divisions within yoga that reinforce that archaic and destructive “us-versus-them” mentality.  What we think of as “real” yoga might not be for everyone (or anyone living now for that matter) but everyone today needs the kind of provocation to openness and change that even the more popular forms of yoga can inspire.  The real yoga is not the one that comes down to us through this or that authority, but the one that rattles us out of our delusions, draws us out ourselves, and exposes us to the fact that we are not isolated from one another, but bound together inextricably, and tasked to find ways of living together that express our basic resilience, kindness and generosity.

    The popularization of yoga, whatever its drawbacks might be, can help to inspire this kind of realization, by giving us simple and compelling methods for breaking up our mental congestions and our practical stagnations, and dissolving the individual and collective delusions that obscure our deeper and more loving nature.  This is something that we can all support without reservation, if we can only set ourselves aside, and look at the bigger picture.  Instead of creating more divisive hierarchies, more elitist obscurations, or more structures of restricted access and protected privilege, we should work together to churn the collective mind, uncover the potent essence of yoga, and then allow it to flow, so we can share it with absolutely everyone.

    By Ty Landrum

    Have you tried Ty’s Ashtanga course on Omstars? He explores techniques and tips for jumping through and jumping back, the energies of prana and apana in practice and also teaches a full primary series practice as well! Stay tuned for more articles and courses from Ty on omstars, but in the meantime you can read more of Ty’s brilliant articles on his website tylandrum.com!

    Practice Ashtanga with Ty Landrum today on Omstars

  • Forbidden Curry

    Dive into this incredibly delicious curry recipe with fragrant spices, and rich flavours. Warming your body as the winter season approaches, this recipe is also packed with health benefits from it’s key ingredients. Black rice is extremely high in a class of flavonoid antioxidants called anthocyanins, Black Rice is also rich in iron and, according to Chinese herbal medicine, considered to nourish and replenish your blood. Curry and Turmeric are a great choice for people that are suffering from arthritis as Turmeric itself has long been known for it’s anti inflammatory traits. 

    Ingredients

    • 1 Organic Cauliflower
    • 2 Organic Zucchini
    • 2 cups of Forbidden Black Rice (makes extra rice.)
    • 2 cups Coconut Milk
    • 1 heaping tbsp of Almond Butter
    • 2 tbsp of your favorite curry powder
    • 1 tsp Coriander Seed
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • pinch of black pepper
    • pinch of pinch himalayan salt
    • Coconut oil

    Directions

    Rice

    It is best to soak forbidden rice overnight allowing the rice to remove surface starches that cause the rice to stick together.   If this is not possible be sure to rinse well 3 – 4 times.  Place the rice into a large pot with twice the amount of water.   I usually eyeball it to look where the water line falls on the pot.  Once ready put pot on the stove with rice in it.  Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 30 – 40 mins.  When it is close to finishing I usually add a little bit of Coconut oil, dash of pink salt and black pepper.

    Mixed Veggies

    I like the simplicity of pairing two types of seasonal vegetables.  Begin with chopping the Cauliflower into smaller pieces, prepare the pan by adding a little bit of water to cover the bottom.  Add chopped cauliflower and cover on medium.  Once The cauliflower is softening up a bit, add the chopped garlic and chopped zucchini.   The zucchini will cook very quickly so time with the cauliflower.

    Curry

    Begin the curry by add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the bottom of a sauce pan.  Put on low and add 1 tsp of coriander seed.  You will here the seeds pop once this happens turn off the burner.  Allow the oil to cool down.  good thing to do now is start prepping the veggies.  Once oil has cooled poor Coconut Milk in. Allow this to heat up.  Once it is close to boil add heaping tbsp of almond butter and curry powder.  Take the heat back down to med low.  Allow this to simmer for 15 mins, stir occasionally.  Finish it with a dash of pink salt and black pepper to taste.

    Plating

    Very simple plating.  Begin with a bed of the black rice.  Next add the Cauliflower, Zucchini and garlic.  Then pour a desired amount of curry over the top.  Finish with chopped cilantro.

    Health Benefits

    Forbidden Rice 

    This medium-size heirloom rice is treasured for its delicious roasted nutty taste, soft texture and beautiful deep purple color. Extremely high in a class of flavonoid antioxidants called anthocyanins, Forbidden Rice is also rich in iron and, according to Chinese herbal medicine, considered to be a blood tonifier.  A new study shows that a spoonful of black rice bran or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice contains the same amount of antioxidants as a spoonful of fresh blueberries.

    Curry Powder

    Curry powder is a mixture of spices. It is well noted that the most powerful healing herb in the powder is turmeric which gives it a yellowish color. Curry is most known to Fight Alzheimer’s and degenerative diseases. Curcumin, the yellow pigment in curry powder is being seriously looked at by scientists as a tool that fights Alzheimer’s Disease. One of the culprits in Alzheimer’s is a dangerous plaque that debilitates victims ability to function properly. Curcumin effectively blocks this plaque, subsequently protecting the brain. It should be noted that India, a country famous for its use of curry powder in several dishes, has an Alzheimer’s rate that is four times lower than the U.S. Curry is also known to block genes that are responsible for the trigger and spread of some forms of cancer. Curry and Turmeric are also a great choice for people that are suffering from arthritis. Turmeric has long been known for it’s anti inflammatory traits.

    Coriander Seed

    In addition to medicinal properties, coriander has many qualities that benefit general, daily health. It is great for digestion, relieves gas, prevents nausea and is an excellent source of fiber. Anti-inflammatory properties not only aid in digestion as well, but also alleviate arthritis. Coriander works to detoxify the body and also protects against Salmonella bacteria. Similarly, it can be used both internally and topically to ward of allergic reactions.

    Almond Butter

    The number one health benefit of almond butter is that it is good for the heart. It is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are the type of fats that reduce levels of cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart ailments. Almond butter is a sweet and tasty dessert that will not do any damage to your blood sugar levels. In fact, it can even help control levels of blood sugar in your body by reducing the sudden increase in blood sugar and insulin which usually happens after you eat a carbohydrate-packed meal. This makes it an ideal part of the meal if you are suffering from diabetes. Oxidative stress is a common problem in today’s society. Free radicals that do cellular damage to your body are present everywhere. This is why it is important to have proper intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin E and flavonoids, which fortunately can be found in almond butter. Almond butter, thus helps protect cells from oxidative stress and reduces the risk of heart disease and other ailments associated with it.

    Cilantro

    Cilantro is most often cited as being effective for toxic metal cleansing and rightfully so, as this herb is a powerful, natural cleansing agent. The chemical compounds in cilantro bind to toxic metals and loosen them from the tissue. Many people suffering from mercury exposure report a reduction in the feeling of disorientation after regularly consuming large amounts of cilantro over an extended period. Cilantro is also antibacterial and antifungal.  It aids in lowering blood sugar levels, so it is very useful for people suffering with diabetes.  Cilantro has also been studied for it positive benefits as an anti anxiety remedy. Made as a tea or along with food, it helps reduce stomache gas and is a great option for bloating.

    Turmeric and Black Peppers synergistic effects

    Turmeric has long been studied for its anticancer properties, anti-inflammatory effects, and tumor-fighting activities known in nutrition-speak as anti-angiogenesis. The active agent in the spice is a plant chemical, or polyphenol, called curcumin. One problem with turmeric is its low bioavailability when eaten on its own.The solution is to combine with black pepper. Adding black pepper to turmeric or turmeric-spiced food enhances curcumin’s bioavailability by 1,000 times, due to black pepper’s hot property called piperine.

    By Adam Kenworthy

    Follow Adam on Instagram (@adamkenworthy) where he’s constantly posting new and exciting dishes, drinks and snacks and check out his facebook page for some more long form recipes in the meantime. We’re thrilled to be launching a full course on Omstars with Adam in the new year!

    Tune into Omstars for more recipes on our Wellness Channel

     

  • Epic stuffed ravioli lasagna with stretchy cashew mozzarella

    You guys, we did it. We had a dream, and we made that dream come true. Introducing our epic ravioli stuffed lasagna, that’s right, a lasagna stuffed with ravioli + a bunch of other goodies, and topped with a stretchy cashew mozzarella. This will not disappoint, we promise! This is one of those “vegan recipes to impress non-vegans”, and if those have a proper name please correct me haha.

    All of your dreams will come true with this ravioli stuffed lasagna!

    • Author: Sweet Simple Vegan

    • Prep Time: 25 minutes

    • Cook Time: 45 minutes

    • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

    • Yield: 9

    • Category: Entree

    • Cuisine: Italian

    INGREDIENTS

    VEGAN RAVIOLI LASAGNA

    • 18-24 vegan raviolis (We used Rising Moon Organic Garlic & Roasted Veggie Ravioli), cooked

    • 6 no-boil uncooked lasagna noodles

    • 1/2 package vegan ricotta (we used Kite Hill)

    • 1 jar oil-free marina (we used Engine 2)

    • 1 large zucchini (for about 32 1/4″ thick rounds)

    • 1 recipe vegan mozzarella* (below)

    • 3-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped small

    • Casserole baking dish (ours was 8 x 8 x 2.75″)

    STRETCHY VEGAN CASHEW MOZZARELLA

    • 1 cup water

    • ½ cup raw cashews

    • 3 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour)

    • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

    • 1 teaspoon lemon or apple cider vinegar

    • ½ teaspoon salt

    • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

    • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

    • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

    INSTRUCTIONS

    VEGAN RAVIOLI LASAGNA

    1. Cook raviolis according to package directions, then preheat oven to 350 F and grab your casserole dish.

    2. Add sauce to the bottom of the pan, then top with 2 lasagna noodles, ricotta, about 9 raviolis, about 16 zucchini rounds, and repeat until you have formed 2 layers, or as fits in your pan. Top with the vegan mozzarella, followed by more ricotta (if any remains) and fresh basil.

    3. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is slightly browned and noodles are cooked through.

    4. Remove from oven and cool for 10-15 minutes, then slice into 4 and serve!

    STRETCHY VEGAN CASHEW MOZZARELLA

    1. Soak cashews overnight, or about 8 hours, then drain and rinse.

    2. Add the cashews plus the remaining ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

    3. Pour into a medium pan over medium-high heat, and continually stir for about 5 minutes until gooey. Cook and stir for another minute to make sure it’s at the right consistency, then add atop the uncooked lasagna while warm.

    Want to make this delicious recipe alongside Jasmine and Chris? Check out their Youtube channel for more! Sweet Simple Vegan

    NOTES

    Mozzarella inspired by Vedged Out and itdoesnttastelikechicken.

    • If you don’t want to make your own mozzarella, we recommend Miyoko’s!

    By Jasmine & Chris founders of Sweet Simple Vegan

    Follow these vegan recipe creating legends on instagram @sweetsimplevegan, and get over to their website www.sweetsimplevegan.com to check out  loads of articles about veganism, recipes, nutrition and more! We couldn’t be happier to have Jasmine joining us here at Omstars, we’ll be releasing a much anticipated course with her in the new year!

    Check out our Wellness channel for more plant-based recipes

  • Your body is not a car, it’s a living vehicle

    The key to unlocking flexibility is not just practice, it’s about understanding how to speak the language of the inner body. If you practice the wrong technique over and over, chances are that you will not get the desired result. Practicing a flawed method is like driving in the wrong direction. Hitting it faster and harder will only take you that much further away from the goal. Slowing down and checking the roadmap gives you time to recalibrate your course for the right target. In yoga it’s important to remember that the target is always about the inner state. The yoga of yoga is never the pose itself. The pose is the method of experience, but it’s not meant to be your final destination.

    Every pose requires you to embark on a journey to the innermost regions of your body, mind and soul. There are subtle cues to encourage you along the right path and warning signs to discourage you from making a wrong turn. Yoga is more about learning the language that your body’s own navigation provides than it is about forcing your body into a shape. The first step in yoga is more about listening than it is about telling. You have to “meet” your body and bring your full awareness into the quite space of user the surface of the skin. Only then will be able to really hear the messages that your body sends you. There is a natural intelligence in the body and yoga has the ability to tune you into that ancient and powerful wisdom. I like to think of the body like a car that has been designed by a master engineer. Your body has its own GPS and it comes equipped with everything it needs to accomplish its mission. It has been perfectly formed, but it requires care and the right type of sustenance. Flexibility is evidence of a well-oiled and cared-for machine. At the same time, the body is so much more than just a car. The vehicle of the body is alive itself, so it’s more like a partner on the journey than a static piece of machinery. In order to truly find freedom in the practice you and your body have to walk together in unity as friends and learn to speak the same language.

    So often we treat the body as an adversary and blame it for all our problems. We think our vehicle is flawed because of its size, shape or age. And truly, yoga poses can frustrating, sometimes painful and even lead to injury if performed wrong. The deeper work of the yoga practice is about finding a way to practice while avoiding all the damaging pitfalls of unnecessary pain and traumatic injury. But despite our best efforts it’s not always possible to travel the inner roads with absolute ease and flow. Sometimes you hit a traffic jam. Tightness and stiffness in the body feel like congestion. Everything is blocked and there’s no way forward. Sometimes you can find an alternate route, but most often you just have to sit there and be patient. Honking your horn is a fruitless endeavor only certain to annoy everyone around you, just like getting mad at your body for it’s lack of flexibility is a dead-end. Ramming your car into the car ahead of you is criminal and injurious, just like jamming your body into a pose that your body isn’t ready for is also a kind of assault that leads to pain and suffering. So, what can do you? Sit there. Observe. Practice patience, kindness and tolerance. Focus on the breath. Remain equanimous. Breathe. Surrender. Have faith. When the traffic jam is over it will be over. When body is ready to open it will. Sometimes there are good reasons for traffic just like sometimes there are good reasons that the body isn’t full released. All you can really do is make friends with your body and accept where you are on the journey today.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Join Kino for Heart centered meditations on Omstars

     

  • Omstars New Yoga Challenge Course! Pssst…it’s free!

    The Omstars #30dayyogaliving challenge course has been created to inspire, empower, and get you started on your yoga journey. After the holiday season busyness, returning to work, and family life can be challenging enough, let along to think about movement, practice or anything other than napping. That’s where we come in!

    Start your new year, not with a resolution that may or may not stick around, but by joining the Omstars yoga challenge community this January 2018 and you will kickstart the beginning of a yoga lifestyle. Throughout the #30dayyogaliving course you will be supported by your peers and your teachers, challenged to trust and know your inner strength and be motivated by each new day, each new class and each new experience.

    What you need to know:

    1.) For the entire month of January Omstars will be releasing a new video everyday featuring a variety of teachers, styles and approaches to the practice, which have all been curated by world-renown teacher Kino MacGregor. This course is designed for EVERYONE- there is no right body type, yoga pose, or style of practice, all you need to get started on this journey is the desire to do so.

    2.) To join, click here. No payment details are required, signing up allows you access to the Omstars January #30dayyogaliving challenge course. You’ll also receive a daily email letting you know about the latest video release!

    3.) Then, to win some awesome prizes share you journey on Instagram! Re-post the #30dayyogaliving collage on your instagram, tag @Omstarsofficial along with all of the sponsors and the hashtag #30dayyogaliving. Everyday there will be one new yoga posture that will be posted on Instagram taken from the corresponding day of the video challenge course. To help keep you on track participants will be required to post their own photo of that day’s posture to qualify for prizes. But you can also still do the challenge without sharing your journey on IG—just practice every day for the month of January with us!

    5.) Post for the whole month and you’ll have the chance to win one of 10 prize packs which include;  Liforme yoga mats, a variety of different gift cards and apparel from Sankalpa, Jala, Run & Relax, Liquido, Ohmme, a signed copy of Kino’s book “Yogi Assignment”, one of 50 limited edition Omstars January Challenge Tanks and much more!

    The #30dayyogaliving one month challenge course with Omstars is an opportunity to kickstart the new year by inspiring you to get on your mat and practice! You will create more peace, get established in healthy living, increase mindfulness, and embark on living the yogi life. Starting something new can be a time to let go of unhelpful habits, thought patterns and cycles. It doesn’t mean that the month will be easy, or that it won’t be challenging to continue on after January, but by committing to #30dayyogaliving  and joining Omstars you will firmly establish yourself in a routine of healthy, positive and transformative practices. You will become a part of not only a community but of a movement, inviting Yoga into your everyday life, bringing peace into your body, into your mind and into your spirit. 

    Get excited, get involved and join us for our January Challenge!

    By Anna Wechsel

    Join the Omstars January Yoga Challenge Today!

  • Navasana: it’s all about balance

    Navasana gets me every time in a Led Ashtanga Yoga class. No matter how much I practice or how many extra breaths I take on my own, I always suffer when I get to this point in the practice. Since Navasana is traditionally repeated five times it gets increasingly more intense. The first round usually ignites a mild burning sensation in the core. The last round culminates in shaking, burning and emotional anguish. Each time I jump back I feel like a survivor.

    But, you probably wouldn’t see that from watching me practice. The hidden secret of the practice is that often times what looks equanimous and peaceful from the outside corresponds with a great deal of effort and grit on the inside. Knowing how to distribute your effort most efficiently means that you will be able to maintain a balanced state of mind regardless of the challenge. Finding that sweet spot in Navasana begins by changing your focus from lifting the legs to the inner work of the pelvic floor.

    The key to finding good balance in Navasana is to orient both your effort and attention to the pelvic floor. Not only do you need a strong core but you need to distribute your weight between your sitting bones in order to feel comfortable in this asana. Translated into English as the Boat Pose, in Navasana you have to focus on building a firm hull so that your ship won’t sink.

    Start off in a seated position, then bend your knees, place the soles of the feet on the floor and keep the legs together. Root the heads of your femurs into their sockets and begin activating the pelvic floor. Allow a gentle roundedness in the base of the pelvis, in the space between the sitting bones and the tailbone. Contract the anus and the pelvic muscles and draw the lower abdomen inwards. Avoid trying to balance on the tips of your sitting bones. Use a subtle rounding of the base of the pelvis to be your connection into the ground. Especially if you have a bony protrusion around your tailbone, you will find t useful to soften into a more rounded root. Next, lengthen the torso, relax the next and straighten the arms. Then, to enter Navasana, shift your chest back  just to counterbalance the weight of your legs, come up onto the tips of your toes and inhale as your lift and straight the legs. Gaze towards the toes and stay for five breaths.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Practice with Kino and watch the Navasana episode of Yoga Encyclopedia

    Watch Yoga Encyclopedia for more asana tips & breakdowns

     

  • Asana as inner dialogue

    Many of us who practice yoga have heard the quote from the ancient text Bhagavad Gita that “Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self”. Yoga is a means of self discovery that is all. Simple, right? Maybe not at first.

    In another ancient text, The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali presents an eight-limbed path of yogic practices to guide us on that journey. The eight limbs include: how we interact with our world, how we treat ourselves, the physical practice of asana, breathing practices, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and finally, liberation. When we learn about the multi-faceted method of yoga from Patanjali we often come to a question: why is there so much attention on the body contorting, shape taking, third limb, asana?

    In this reality, we happen to exist in a physical form, the human body. This form dictates certain rules of our experience, based on our five senses. Through the senses we receive information about our world, our environment, and other humans. But how do we receive information about ourselves? We begin with our senses and then cultivate a way to turn further and further inward. The body is gross rather than subtle, easy to detect and observe. As we move it around, take shapes, hold positions, challenge it’s mobility, we are able to receive information, and then interpret it.

    As we turn our senses on ourselves, we begin to refine this method of communication, developing the vocabulary, establishing context for greater understanding. In attempting to create the shape of a posture, we look at our feet placement, use references of the room to adjust our alignment, refer to the parallel lines of our mats, and eventually depend only on our own bodies as visual reference. We use the focus of the gaze to align our attention and energy to the intention of the posture. Tuning in to the sounds of our breath helps to avoid distractions in our environment. Suddenly we no longer hear the breathing of another student, a door closing, or traffic on the street outside. Our breath becomes the only thing we hear. Like the act of an inhalation moves air from the space around us to the space inside of our lungs, so also do we move our attention from the spaces outside to the spaces within.

    In the beginning, we identify most physical sensation as pain. But over time and with experience, we begin to refine our understanding of the feedback coming from our bodies. We learn the difference between the feeling of stretch in the muscles and the burning of strength exertion. We begin to categorize our sensations as tolerable and beyond our limits, as safe and risky. As we take ourselves deeper into our bodies, we notice sensation in the joints and develop understanding of what they mean. A sensation that is new is often frightening, so we pause and pay attention.

    There is communication along the nervous system, linking the awareness of the mind with the sensations of the body. Each of us connect to ourselves in different ways. Like speaking different languages, down to the unique dialects, accents, slang. As we learn a new language, we often need to ask someone to speak slowly so that we can identify the subtleties of articulation, enunciation, and delivery. The same is true of the communication in our bodies. By moving slowly into the sensations we experience – by focusing our attention – we can gather more nuanced information. Over time we develop context from our previous experiences and we increase our vocabulary. We learn to not only identify the shouting sensations from deep stretches and long holds, but we learn to acknowledge the whispering sensations of the smallest movements in our deepest bodies. Where at first all we notice is our screaming hamstring, eventually we become aware of the sensation of the thigh bone rotating in the hip socket, or the gentle pull of the psoas drawing the inner thigh and low back towards each other, even the squeeze of our internal organs as we compress with a twist or a carefully placed foot.

    So what is doing the learning? We often think of the mind as the preferred mode of understanding. But the mind itself is a tricky beast. How do you know what you know? This is a topic for another ten pages of contemplation! With regards to the inner communications of the body, the mind can often get in the way. As we try to think our way into postures – into our body – we close ourselves off to any information that doesn’t fit the mind’s current understanding of things. The mind cannot lead the way. It too has to sit in observation, as witness. At most it is an interpreter in the conversation, gathering data, providing reference, mapping experiences, giving background, building bridges, and filling in gaps. If it remains a supportive player in the conversation, it limits influence, and understanding is allowed to be fluid – to alter, adjust, and develop according to experience rather than pre-established beliefs. There is a deeper aspect of self that is learning.

    If our internal communication system can be so refined as to receive the information coming from the body, it can also learn the subtler language of the mind, and emotions. As witness, we can observe the tendencies of our thinking mind and our emoting heart-space. As we struggle with the physical body, our mind also sends us feedback. It tells us we are not strong enough. It tells us our arms are too short. It tells us we will never be as good as that other practitioner over there. We turn judgment on ourselves, become angry or sad or frustrated. If we are using the same skills we developed with our physical self, we receive the information slowly, identify its source, its nature. Without surrendering to its shouting, we can soothe it to a whisper. Context develops around the communication: the sources of judgmental thoughts, the truth or untruth of our beliefs, whether or not the thoughts and emotional responses serve us, benefit us. Within the space of intentional, directed inner dialogue, we can make choices. We can identify who we really are and choose how we present that to the world.

    The body is a tool to develop our communication skills. Those skills are directed ever deeper and deeper into ourselves. We journey through the body, the mind, the emotions to the true nature of ourselves. The self that is beyond the fluctuations of our environment, beyond the fluctuations of our bodies, the tendencies of our minds, and our emotional reactions. We become intentionally responsive rather than impulsively reactive. We trust ourselves because we know ourselves. From that space we can learn to eventually exist in our truest, purest self, the self that yoga calls Atman.

    By Angelique Sandas

     

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  • Lee’s Raw Berry and Chocolate Torte

    If you want to make friends, this tantalising torte is a sure-fire way to do it. Who could resist a rich, chocolatey dessert that is completely guilt-free? You and your new best friends will be bursting with bliss after just one bite.

    Recipe

    Makes 1 torte

    Base

    175 g (6 oz/11/2 cups) raw walnuts

    zest of 1 lemon

    1/2 cup dried berries

    60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) melted extra virgin coconut oil

    1 teaspoon stevia powder

    Filling

    155 g (51/2 oz/1 cup) raw, unsalted cashews

    40 g (11/2 oz/1/3 cup) raw cacao powder

    115 g (4 oz) cacao butter, grated and melted

    2 tablespoons rice malt syrup, or 1 teaspoon stevia powder

    2 tablespoons additive-free coconut milk

    juice of 1 lemon

    2 cups mixed berries, plus extra, for decorating (optional)     

    This recipe is Wheat-free  Dairy-free  Gluten-free & Vegan    

    What to do:

    Place the cashews in a bowl, cover with filtered water and soak for 2 hours. Drain.

    To make the base, place the walnuts in a food processor and blend until they are finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and add the lemon zest.

    Place the coconut oil and dried berries in the food processor and blend. Add to the walnut mixture and stevia and combine well.

    Press the mixture into a 20 cm (8 inch) springform cake tin and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

    To make the filling, place all the ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth.

    Remove the base from the freezer and spoon the filling over the top.

    Chill for 2 hours in the fridge, or 1 hour in the freezer, until set. Scatter over the extra berries before serving.

    This will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge, or 2 weeks in the freezer.

    By Lee Holmes

    We’ll be sharing loads more of Lee’s incredible recipes here on the Omstars blog, so watch this space!

    Check out more supercharged food recipes by Lee

    Follow her on instagram for more inspiration

     

  • The Discipline of Gratitude

    There is so much to be thankful for everyday. There is so much to celebrate about this very moment. It’s a discipline of the mind to train yourself in the attitude of gratitude.

    At any given time at any given moment you can choose to count your blessings or focus on all the things that haven’t gone or way. Life is usually sure to give you an equal mix. When everything works out, it’s important to stop and appreciate it. When nothing works out, your mettle as a human being is tester. You can either lie in the sewers of sadness and self-pity or you can let adversity make you stronger.

    Look for the small moments of joy and if you can, be the joy. Every day in the grand tally of all that happens every casual smile and act of goodwill makes a difference. No matter how much negativity you think is happening, the arc of humanity will always be towards goodness and hope. No matter what catastrophe strikes, whether personal, environmental or political, there is light shining even when we cannot see it. There are a stagger amount of unsung heroes are there in every day. Armies of do-gooders holding doors open for other people, returning lost property, saving lives, and spreading smiles. It might not be headline grabbing newsworthy action, but I guarantee you that in each day the good outweighs the bad.

    Sometimes I get a view of the whole world, all of humanity, and I get sense of how connected we all really are and how sensitive we all are to each other. Even if you don’t see it, you feel it. When you stand next to someone in pain, you sense their pain even if you don’t hear them crying. Maybe this is why we disconnect from our bodies so often? If you drop into your own body have to feel it all. Not only your happiness and pain, and the happiness and pain of everyone around you. Empathy lives in the heart, just around the corner from love and joy. As a yogi you have to learn to let is all in. Actively practice being grateful. Cherish each day. Celebrate every ray of sunshine. Be nice to everyone all the time (or as much of the time as you can). Be strong, not so you can bully people around or compete with anyone, but be strong so you lift others up with your rising tide. This is the yogi life. Live it with your whole heart and soul every moment of every day.

    By Kino MacGregor

    View our Insight channel for meditation and mindfulness courses