Quinoa and Kale Minestrone Soup

I am always on the lookout for new, healthy, but most importantly delicious recipes. Here is a great minestrone recipe I found using quinoa instead of pasta (perfect for my wheat sensitivity) and with the possibility to be sugar and diary free. The original is here, but I made some small changes to fit my personal eating needs and preferences (my substitutes are in italics).

The best part about a good minestrone is that you really can’t mess it up–a necessity if you are a novice in the kitchen like yours truly. Add some of your favorite ingredients or, better yet, use what is available seasonally. Be creative!


  • 1 sweet onion – medium diced
  • 2 celery stalks – medium dicedMinestrone-850x400
  • 3 carrots – medium diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh zucchini – medium diced (about 1 medium or 2 small)
  • 2 cups green beans – cut in 1 inch pieces (I left these out accidentally, but it was still great!)
  • 1 bell pepper – medium diced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 28-ounce cans of water
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups kale – stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (or to taste)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish with parmesan to taste (I left this out, no dairy for me)
  • Garnish with slivered basil or finely chopped rosemary


Place a large stockpot over medium heat and add the oil, onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for about one minute or until garlic begins to color.

Add the zucchini and the green beans, season with salt and pepper, add the turmeric, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and the water, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium/low and allow the soup to gently boil (uncovered) for about 20 minutes.

Add the quinoa and cover for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover, add the kale and the canned beans (more water if needed) bring back to a gentle boil and cook for another 5 minutes or just until the kale is tender.

Celebrating Quirky Men!

The statement, “Eat more kale” sounds like something you might hear from Dr. Oz, Kris Carr or anyone at a health food store, but when a Vermont man named Bo Muller-Moore took the slogan to a t-shirt, he got some very  surprising resistance. The fast food chain Chik-fil-A filed a cease-and-desist letter for infringement on it’s slogan “Eat mor chikin.”

In Bo’s words, “Cease and desist? Like hell. I’ve decided to fight.” Choosing to stand up for the little guy,  this man is a lesson in courage and determination. Now he’s making a documentary, aptly titled, “A Defiant Dude” that earned a landslide of Kickstarter funds. Like his cause? Find him on Facebook!



Bob Carey’s Tutu Project began as a heartfelt way to help his wife beat breast cancer for the second time. He wanted to give her the gift of laughter and began taking pictures of himself—a chubby, middle-aged man—in a pink tutu. These beautifully shot, funny, and often poignant, profiles capture the sadness, joy, and confusion of his journey.


-Compiled by Courtney Sorrell

Start the year with a delicious detox plan

Indulge a bit too much over the winter holidays? Don’t worry, the beginning of the year is a great way to get back on track!

After having a couple too many glasses of wine or a handful too many sugar cookies, not all is lost. But now is the time to eat foods to replenish the nutrients you didn’t take in from that Christmas ham or potatoes au gratin.

Essential nutrient: glutathione

What does it do? Gultathione helps your body repair pretty much everything, as well as get rid of toxic chemicals and regulate hormones.
Where do I find it? Leafy green vegetables! Broccoli, kale, and arugula are great sources, but milk thistle is really a glutathione super food!

Now make it yummy!
1 head broccoli
4 tablespoons pine nuts
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper

  1. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees
  2. Clean brocolli of stems
  3. Place on tin foiled cookie sheet with pine nuts
  4. Drizzle with olive oil
  5. Broil in oven until florets begin to turn brown (about 7 minutes)
  6. Toss with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Essential nutrients: Vitamins A, B, C, and the rest of the alphabet

What does it do? Vitamins help your body to rebuild and recover after stress, whether that be exercise, illness, or injury. Vitamin C is instrumental in collagen formation, which forms the basis of your connective tissues and Vitamin B is important in the creation of new tissues.
Where do I find it? Get your vitamins by eating the rainbow. Different vegetables contain different amounts of the vitamins your body craves, so try to get at least 3 different colors on your dinner plate!

Crave it.
1 each red, yellow, green bell pepper
1 bunch asparagus
olive oil
2 tablespoons goat cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper

  1. Sautee bell peppers and asparagus until soft in a lightly oiled pan
  2. Add goat cheese and lemon until vegetables are covered
  3. Sprinkle with lemon juice
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste

Essential nutrient: L-Tryptophan

What does it do? Besides making you drowsy after too much Thanksgiving turkey, tryptophan is essential in producing serotonin, the chemical that helps to regulate mood and make you feel happy.
Where do I find it? The most common source of tryptophan is turkey, but eggs, spirulina, Parmesan cheese, and sesame seeds are where you can find even more of the happy chemical.

Cook it up!
3 egg whites
Handful of spinach
Leftover or deli turkey
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

  1. Cook spinach until wilted and tomatoes until soft in small pan
  2. Add egg whites, stir constantly
  3. When eggs begin to firm, add rosemary and parmesean
  4. Cook until eggs reach desired firmness

After getting in some good nutrients, come sweat out your toxins at YYF!

Maple Syrup: The New Superfood

This is the sweet season of maple syrup, thanks to early April’s warmer days and cool nights. What great timing, then, that researchers are now telling us that maple syrup has been determined a “superfood,” because it contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties similar to those in other superfoods such as green tea, blueberries and açai berries.

While researchers are quick to note that maple syrup is still a high-carbohydrate sweetener to be used in moderation, its healthy compounds could make it a better choice over nutrient-poor sweeteners like corn syrup and white sugar.

The findings were presented this week at an annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California and are to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Functional Foods.

From Discovery News:

“In our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses,” said lead researcher Navindra Seeram, assistant professor of pharmacognosy at the University of Rhode Island.

Initial studies also suggest that polyphenols in the syrup may help keep blood sugar levels in check, important for diabetics, by inhibiting enzymes that are involved in the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, he said.

The discoveries of new molecules in the syrup also provide chemists with leads that could prompt synthesis of medications to fight other diseases.

The study was funded by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

A total of 54 beneficial compounds were identified by the researchers in pure maple syrup from Quebec, including five of which have never been seen in nature.

Among the new compounds is quebecol — named in honor of the Canadian province of Quebec, which leads the world in maple syrup production. The researchers believe it is created when a farmer boils off the water in maple sap to get maple syrup. It takes 40 liters (20.5 gallons) of sap to make one liter (two pints) of syrup. The sweet sap is collected from maple trees in the spring when freezing and thawing cycles cause it to rise and flow from taps hammered into tree trunks.

Seeram said the irony of finding a potential anti-diabetes compound in a sweetener is not lost on him. “Not all sweeteners are created equal,” he said.

But while it may make a good substitute for high fructose corn syrup on pancakes he discourages anyone from going out and drinking gallons of it in hopes of extracting the benefits.

Yes, the study was funded by maple syrup producers… but we’re still happy to hear that maple syrup has redeeming qualities beyond its dark golden deliciousness. We like a little maple syrup stirred into our coffee or oatmeal, baked into homemade granola, or poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a treat. What’s your favorite way to use maple syrup?

The Case for (Temporary) Meatlessness

Take a meatless challenge!

Last week marked the beginning of Lent, when many people choose to abstain from something they love: sweets, meat, TV. Some people take the meatless thing a step further by choosing to practice a vegan diet for this 40-day period (an interesting throwback to Lenten traditions during the Middle Ages, when all animal products were strictly forbidden). 

Aside from religious reasons, giving up meat and/or all animal products—even if just for a fixed period of time—is a great practice to adopt, for a healthier body and a healthier planet. Veganism in particular is a hot topic right now, having garnered much attention last month when Oprah and nearly 400 of her staffers took on a challenge to “go vegan” for one week. Strict vegans might scoff at the idea of temporary vegan-ness, but the truth is, if many people cut out animal products for even just one day (or one meal) a week, it could have a profound impact on the planet, as well as our overall health.

Wanna try veganism for a day? The New York Times recently ran an article featuring lots of great vegan recipes, inspired by people giving up meat for Lent. You can also check out Oprah’s Vegan Starter Kit, which has tons of recipes, tips, and multi-media features to answer questions. 

In the meantime, here’s a list of benefits to reducing consumption of meat and animal products, compiled by the folks at Meatless Monday, a grassroots movement to help people improve their personal health and the health of the planet by cutting out meat once a week.

LIMIT CANCER RISK: Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer

REDUCE HEART DISEASE: Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (for example, meat and full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (for example, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%

FIGHT DIABETES: Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

CURB OBESITY: People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. A recent study from Imperial College London also found that reducing overall meat consumption can prevent long-term weight gain.

LIVE LONGER: Red and processed meat consumption is associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.

IMPROVE YOUR DIET: Consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.

REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT: The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.

MINIMIZE WATER USAGE: The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.

HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.

Red Wine for Heart Health

February is American Heart Month, and today is National Wear Red Day—a movement to spread awareness about heart disease risk in women. Yen Yoga is offering free classes TODAY for anyone who comes into the studio wearing red! And throughout the month, we’re sharing tips on ways to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Red wine has long been thought of as a heart-healthy treat. And while the jury is still out on the nitty-gritty health facts about wine, there is some evidence that supports the thought that red wine can be good for your heart.

Red wine is packed with antioxidants called polyphenols that help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. These antioxidants come in two forms: flavonoids and nonflavonoids. The nonflavonoids are of particular interest to researchers, because they appear to help prevent arteries from becoming clogged with fatty blockages. However, these studies mostly involved mice — not humans. Which is why researchers have not been quick to label red wine as a health food.

Resveratrol is the nonflavonoid that’s received the most attention from researchers, as it might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces “bad” cholesterol and prevents blood clots.

Of course, alcohol itself is associated with a range of health issues (high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents, etc.), so consuming it to combat heart disease is not condoned by the American Heart Association nor the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The key, as with most things, is moderation, which is defined as an average of two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

For more information on red wine, resveratrol, and heart health, visit the Mayo Clinic’s website. And don’t forget to stop in to Yen Yoga today wearing red!

Recipes: Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Image via MindBodyGreen

Celiac disease is on the rise in the U.S.—up to four times more common today than it was 50 years ago. An autoimmune response triggered by a sensitivity to gluten protein (found in wheat, rye, barley and many packaged foods), celiac disease can be crippling. It can also make holidays like Thanksgiving difficult, as seemingly everything on the table—from gravy to pumpkin pie—contains flour, and therefore gluten.

But with the rise of celiac disease comes a rise in awareness, and subsequently an increase in products and recipes to make gluten-free cooking and baking easier and tastier.

All around the web we found stories and recipes for gluten-free Thanksgiving foods, including that holy grail of Turkey Day traditions: pie.

Here’s a quick round-up:

NPR.org: In “A Gluten Free Thanksgiving,” food writer Stephanie Stiavetti recounts the story of her first Thanksgiving as a gluten-sensitive gal, and shares recipes (and photos) of jalapeno cornbread, stuffing, and butternut squash pie—all gluten free.

NYT.com: The Times‘ Well blog talks to baker and food editor Silvana Nardone, whose son was diagnosed with gluten intolerance three weeks before Thanksgiving. Check out her recipes for gluten-free pumpkin dumplings, apple-pecan cornbread stuffing, and pumpkin muffins with crumble topping.

: A writer with a degree in naturopathic medicine shares her recipe for scrumptious-looking gluten-free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

Recipes: Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Image via nyt.com

In keeping with our mission to share some alternative Thanksgiving recipes, we had to pass along the link to this gorgeous interactive spread of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes from the New York Times.


More Americans are becoming interested in vegetarian cooking, even if they don’t plan on giving up meat entirely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only a quarter of American adults eat veggies the recommended three or more times a day. But a study published by Vegetarian Times in 2008 found that 10 percent of Americans are trying to eat less meat and incorporate more grains, fruits and veggies in their diet (only about 3 percent of Americans identify as strict vegetarians).


Whether you’re going all-veg or full-on traditional turkey this year, we bet these veggie dishes will make your mouth water (as it did ours!).


What are you excited to dish up this Thanksgiving?



Recipes: Vegan Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, our thoughts turn to all the incredible food we can’t wait to enjoy with family and friends that day. Of course, the larger the crowd, the more people there are to please—including those with dietary restrictions. So over the next two weeks, we will share healthy recipes in various categories (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc.) and provide some food for thought about expanding traditions at the holiday table.


Spice up brussels sprouts for a meat-free holiday dish.


There are lots of reasons why some people choose to reduce or completely cut out meat from their diets. For some, it’s a health choice: Reducing meat consumption can lower your risk for a variety of health issues, such as heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. For others, it’s a moral choice: Some cite animal welfare as a reason to go meat-free, or practice meatlessness as an interpretation of the yogic philosophy called ahimsa, which means means to do no harm.

Veganism goes beyond vegetarianism, in that adherents seek not to use or consume animal products of any kind. This translates as no meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or dairy, of course, but also no honey, beeswax, gelatin, whey, fur, leather, wool or silk. That might seem severe to carnivores, but it doesn’t have to be—think of vegan cooking and baking as expanding your creativity and palate rather than limiting what you can eat. A recent article in the New York Times health blog Well interviewed vegan superstar chef Chloe Coscarelli about the vegan Thanksgiving meals she’s served in the past:

“I have served an all-vegan Thanksgiving to the most die-hard carnivores and no one misses the meat,” she says. “You don’t need animal products to capture the spirit and savory flavors of Thanksgiving on your table. I personally think that a vegan Thanksgiving is more exciting than a regular one — there’s always something new and it’s not just the same old spread. The plates are pretty darn clean when we get up from the table.”

Whether you’re vegan, have vegan friends or family, or just would like to introduce a delicious new dish at your Thanksgiving, check out the following links to vegan Thanksgiving recipe round-ups:

101cookbooks.com: Award-winning vegetarian blogger, photographer and cookbook author Heidi Swanson compiles some of her favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes here, including Thai-spiced pumpkin soup, maple grilled tempeh, and shredded brussels sprouts with apples.

NYT.com: Vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli shares two savory recipes and one dessert recipe for the Well blog’s Eat Well Vegetarian Thanksgiving series. (The chocolate pumpkin bread pudding is definitely on our list to try.)

VegetarianTimes.com: Browse the “vegan” category of this popular vegetarian magazine’s extensive online recipe database for all kinds of great seasonal dish ideas, including pear tarte tatin, maple bundt cake, rosemary sweet potato chips, and stuffed cauliflower.