Sunday, October 25, 2009

Recipe: Toasted Nori Hand Rolls

I think sushi might be like pizza. Anything you put on it tastes good. At least that's been my experience as of late as I've been craving the salty, crunchy, 'mineral-licious' taste of nori.

I like to serve nori rolls with a variety of fresh vegetables. In addition to the standby avocado and cucumber, I also like to cut up red peppers, carrots, scallions, cilantro - and if I'm feeling adventurous some roasted sweet potatoes! I suggest putting out a plate with all the toppings and letting everyone make their own.

My recipe requires minimal cooking and is perfect for those who love to chop! It's also great for those who struggle to roll perfect sushi rolls.

Note: Most nori sold in the store is already toasted. I suggest buying untoasted nori (Emerald Cove sells this) and doing it yourself. I think you'll find it to taste much better.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet potato, cut into wedges

2 sheets untoasted nori sheets
1 cup cooked short grain brown rice
2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 carrot, cut in matchsticks
1 cucumber, cored, peeled and cut in matchsticks
1 red pepper, cored and sliced
1 avocado, sliced
2 scallions, sliced
few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
pickled ginger (optional)

Coat a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan with olive oil. Cook sweet potatoes for about 10-15 minutes until soft.

While sweet potatoes are cooking, briefly pass each sheet of nori over a gas flame until it turns bright green. Cut each nori sheet into four quarters. Mix cooked brown rice in a bowl with vinegar and sesame seeds.

Top nori sheet with vinegared rice and choice of vegetable toppings. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Integrative Nutrition live classes to end next year

Recently, I learned the school that I graduated from, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, will cease to offer live classes starting next year. That means the upcoming school year (beginning January 2010) will be the last opportunity to sit in a live classroom.

Starting in 2011, the school will move entirely online with its Distance Learning Program. The effort according to its founder, Joshua Rosenthal, is to make the school more of a global one as opposed to a regional one.

While I think it's great that the school will be opening up itself to those unwilling to travel to New York City, I was upset to learn of this development. In my opinion, there is nothing that compares to the opportunity of attending live classes. I made so many great friends and loved being in the same room with so much like-minded energy.

My intention though is not to criticize the school, but rather to urge those of you who've been on the fence about enrolling to seriously consider taking the plunge. I know there are some of you out there! It's truly a life-changing experience - and you won't regret it.

The school's curriculum is unique, and so much more engaging than any other educational experience I've had. Integrative Nutrition does not have an espouse any sort of dietary ideology. You learn about it all - from raw foods to macrobiotics to Atkins. In the end we have to make our own decisions. I remember starting the school as a vegetarian. Now I'm a conscious carnivore. It happens.

The school is also fun. Joshua said his intention was to create a school that students would be excited to come to - more rock concert, less boring classroom. Which is why the school has chosen to host classes in vibrant spaces like Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

And if you're outside the New York area or have a full time job, don't let that stop you! Classes are on the weekends, so you can still earn that paycheck. The school also offers discounts for those traveling from outside of New York. I myself was living in San Francisco when I started the program.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thich Nhat Hanh visits NYC

This weekend I had the privilege of seeing one of my heroes, Thich Nhat Hanh, in New York City. He was in town for two days, leading an event called Building a Compassionate Society, sponsored by the Omega Institute.

As someone who is passionate about personal growth as much as natural foods, I jumped at the opportunity to see this Vietnamese Buddhist Monk. He is one of the most prolific Buddhist teachers and I have always found his writing to be very accessible, simple and profound. Obviously, I'm not alone, as tickets were very hard to get - opening night was sold out! [That's New York for you - plan ahead, cause everything sells out here!]

My introduction to Thich Nhat Hanh came from the book Timeshifting written by Stefan Rechtschaffen, founder of the Omega Institute. [I reviewed the book in December 2008.] I was intrigued my him ever since, especially when he described one of Thich Nhat Hanh's mindfulness walks. It seems when he leads one time stands still and by watching you become transformed. I was excited to learn that he'd by hosting one in NYC as well. So on Saturday afternoon we lined up outside the theater to give it a go. Unfortunately, with 2,000 other folks in attendance, I don't think it necessarily had the same effect.

Yet, the weekend was still powerful. I especially enjoyed his Dharma Talk on Saturday morning. He spoke of Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, and our President Obama. As someone close to Dr King, he said he sees a lot of the same characteristics in our President. He believes his winning the Nobel Prize this week will help shape his legacy, and help him stay true to his innermost beliefs. When one is in office he can easily be surrounded by folks wishing to influence him. This award, he hopes, will give him the courage to stay true to his convictions.

For an introduction to Thich Nhat Hanh and the power of his words and teachings, I strongly suggest the book Anger. It's an emotion we all share and can relate to, whether or not we care to embrace it.

On a side note--
I was saddened to hear of Thay's bittersweet homecoming in Vietnam. After being exiled for 39 years for his protest to the Vietnam War, his country's government opened its doors to him in 2005. His return has been embraced by many young people, eager to learn from him and become monks. Yet, apparently the government had a change of heart and views the Bat Nha monastery he set up as a threat to its power. There have been raids and mobs harassing the peaceful monks at Bat Nha and the government simply watched on as they took place. You can learn more about the situation at I plan to write Senator Gillbrand's office to voice my concern.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why I love the parks

the view at crater lakeI spent most of last week camped out in my apartment watching Ken Burns' amazing series of our nation's National Parks. I loved learning the history, and the personal stories of individuals who were committed to growing the park service and saving the space from development.

I too feel strongly for the need to preserve these magical places. For me, visiting the parks has always been a restorative, even spiritual experience. The parks are a place where I can shut off my mind, gain perspective, and simply be with my natural surroundings. Living in the city, you'll be amazed by how hard this is to do.

This summer Swati and I went and visited Crater Lake in Oregon and Redwoods National Parks in California. It was a second honeymoon for us of sorts, and a trip we desperately needed to take.

Swati's position as a Pro Bono Coordinator was eliminated from her law firm, and now she was spending her days with me in our one bedroom apartment. As I work from home, this was mighty challenging to do. I found my work being putting off. My blog posts reduced to virtually nothing. Instead of enjoying our time together, we sparred regularly. We needed a change.

biking in bainbridge, waWe decided to get out of the city and head West. We bought a one-way ticket for San Francisco and rented a car that we took up to Seattle, visiting friends and beautiful sites along the way. It was just what we needed. We again found the joy of being together. Our fights at home seemed petty, small. When looking at the larger picture, everything was okay.

I think the Redwoods had something to do with that realization. :)

next to fallen giant @ redwoods national parkIt's been six weeks since we've returned from our trip, and our home situation has improved dramatically. To make things easier for us both, I decided to take a part-time position that I have really been enjoying. I am happy to give Swati some time at home so she can reflect on her next career move.

If you missed the series, you can still watch them online until Oct 9. Just visit the official website for the PBS series on National Parks.

Integrative Nutrition