November 29, 2011

3-Ingredient Kale Chips

What's green, krinkly around the edges, and yummy both raw and baked?

Wait a minute...

...I know the answer to this one...

...give me a minute...

...I know!  I've got it!

Why it's KALE, of course!

(Maybe I should change the name of the blog from ABC to "I. love. kale.")

Seriously, though, I do truly love kale.  As I mention in the ABC About page, I love gargantuan salads!  I eat at least one a day...sometimes more (it may be a problem...hahaha!).  But I will be the first one to admit that I get tired of the same ol' romaine or spinach salad.  It just gets boring after a while.

Enter kale.

I didn't really grow up eating much kale, but as I have become more conscious of the food I put into my body, I have really grown to love the sturdy, earthy, slightly bitter green.  It appears in my salads pretty frequently these days.  Among its numerous benefits:

  • kale provides cholesterol-lowering benefits when it is steamed;
  • kale lowers the risk of getting at least five different types of cancer including bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate;
  • kale provides comprehensive support for the body's detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale's glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level; and
  • kale's flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in a way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. (source)

Talk about a SUPER FOOD!

So what's the point of all this scientific nutrition talk?  You just want a recipe, right?!  (OK, OK, I get it!  I'll get right to it.)

Well, today I am presenting you with one of the simplest recipe EVER.

While I was at the ashram for my yoga teacher training, they used to serve these kale chips/salad at least twice a week.  Once I got home, I tried to recreate the recipe in my own kitchen, and I must say, these three ingredients definitely hit the mark and result in a wonderful combination of flavors!

You can eat these kale chips on their own.  Or, you can use these kale chips as the base for a salad.  I have done both with great success!

3-Ingredient Ashram Kale Chips
(I consider salt and pepper to be freebie ingredients)
Serves 2-4

1 bunch kale
1/8-1/4 C EVOO (or walnut oil for a nutty twist!)
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/2-1 tsp Herbamare (or salt), to taste
1/4 tsp pepper, optional


  1. Rinse kale, tear it into bite size pieces, and place into a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle oil over kale, and toss to coat.
  3. After the oil has coated each piece of kale, sprinkle nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper onto kale.
  4. Toss until thoroughly coated.

  1. Refrigerate for several hours, or up to a full day, before serving.
    1. Note:  I prefer these chips a full day after they have been made because the kale has softened and fully absorbed the flavors.
Don't let kale scare you! 

Next time you are at the grocery store, pick some up and give this humble vegetable from the cruciferous family a fair shot!

Question of the Day:

Have you ever eaten kale?  If so, did you like it?

Ally and Bo

November 28, 2011

Becoming a Yoga Teacher

Preface: In 2012, I plan to start a bi-monthly blog series entitled "Being a Yoga Teacher."  However, before I can talk about "being" a yoga teacher, I have to talk about "becoming" a yoga teacher. 
Thus, this post.

"love the life you live.  live the life you love."
- Bob Marley

This quote goes a long way in explaining why I embarked on the journey to become a yoga teacher.  In short, I wanted to wake up every day, and love. my. life. 

Now, let me take a brief pause here before I go any further.  I'm not naive (OK, maybe a little bit, but that's not the point at hand, hahaha!).  I'm not silly enough to believe that every aspect of life is going to be roses and rainbows and unicorns.  I'm not saying that at all.  What I am saying is that happiness is my birthright.  Happiness is everyone's birthright.  But a right is distinct from a privilege.  Whereas a privilege is given to you, a right must be earned.  So, what does that mean?  It means that I have to work on my happiness in order to obtain my happiness.  And when I decided that I wanted a life filled with happiness - a life that I loved - I knew that I had to go out and get it.  It wasn't going to just be given to me on a silver platter. 

In the ABC About page, I explain:

In 2008, after graduating with my M. Ed., I was offered a job in the education policy field. As a P-20 analyst, and then later as a legislative policy analyst, I performed in-depth research and even had the opportunity to write new legislation. Although I excelled professionally, I realized that research did not fulfill me like I had anticipated. So, in 2011, just two months before Bo and I's wedding, I left my career as an education policy analyst and pursued my yoga teacher certification. Surprisingly, the decision wasn’t a hard one. I knew that I was doing the right thing for me, and almost instantly, I felt less stressed and more at peace. If any decision makes you feel like that, you probably know it was the right one!  I am now a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) certified through the Yoga Alliance.
But that paragraph is just the CliffsNotes. 

This post is about the back story, the incredible journey, and the unforgettable transformation.

And it all began with my mother. 

My mother has been a dance teacher, to some extent or another, for my entire life.  She has taught ballet in small town Alabama for approximately three decades.  She wasn't a prima ballerina, she never won any huge awards, she was never given the key to a city, and her name wouldn't be recognized in well-to-do ballet society.    But, when I visit my mother's Facebook page, I see this:

Happy Birthday, best ballet teacher in the world! :-)

and this:

Happy Birthday to one of the most important people in my life! You're the best. I'll never forget your positive influence on me. Enjoy your special day.

and finally, this:

So good to find you on FB! You will forever be "that person" to me...the one who took me by the hand and led me into the amazing world of dance....believed in my potential from the beginning...pushed me to work harder than I ever knew I could. The confidence and discipline I gained in those years were worth more than I can ever put into words. It made me who I am today in so many ways. You're not only a gifted teacher, but an incredible soul. And I will forever appreciate everything you did for me.
My whole life I saw the positive influence that my mother's work had on all those she came in contact with.  She wasn't doing anything worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.  No, my mother was just living the life that she loved.

And so, at 27, when I realized that I wasn't living the life that I loved, and when I realized that I had an opportunity to change that, I did.  I took a big leap of faith, and thanks to my husband's research for the perfect yoga teacher training program, I landed at Satchindinanda Ashram-Yogaville.

I arrived at the ashram in mid-April, 2011.  In the process of obtaining my 200-hour RYT certification, I would live at the ashram for approximately five weeks.  Other than what I had read on the website, I had no idea what to expect.  I suppose to some extent I expected it to be like school.  I expected to sit in a classroom, learning about anatomy, meditation, and yoga philosophy.  In the end, I did all those things, and yet my time at the ashram was nothing like what I expected.  It was so much more.  For example:

we dressed up in funny costumes for the Kriya Cafe:

we had a dance party, and then took funny pictures while we were hot, sweaty, and red-faced(!):

we took hikes to and from meditation at LOTUS shrine every day:

we took breaks from our karma yoga duties for photo shoots with friends:

we got dressed up every Saturday evening for kirtan and satsang:

we took three-mile long weekend hikes to the top of the mountain (and then enjoyed the view):

and we performed massage trains on our fellow teacher trainees:

At the end of my training, I walked away feeling transformed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Not only did I feel prepared to teach an Integral Yoga Hatha I class, I felt prepared to embrace the life before me.  And the biggest gift of all?!

I. felt. happy.

Swami Satchidananda described Integral Yoga as:
… a flexible combination of specific methods to develop every aspect of the individual: physical, intellectual, and spiritual. It is a system which integrates the various branches of Yoga in order to bring about a complete and harmonious development of the individual. (source)

I think Integral Yoga did all of that, and more, for me.

I have a very vivid memory of my journey leaving the ashram and returning to Albuquerque (mind you, just 12 days before my wedding to Bo).  I suppose I should have been stressed out and overwhelmed with the numerous things I had to accomplish in the days ahead, and yet, as I walked through the airport terminals, I remember feeling so joyful.  I remember thinking that people were just looking at me, smiling, and I couldn't figure out why.

Now that I think about it, I think that I was just overflowing with love and peace.  Because love and peace were full within me, I saw that in the world around me. 

At the end of every Integral Yoga Hatha class we close with a saying in Sanskrit:

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bavantu

Which, in English, means:

May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy, love and light.

On the day I left the ashram and journeyed into my new life, peace and joy and love and light were everywhere!  What's even more amazing?! 

They haven't gone anywhere...

Question of the Day:

Do you love your life?  If so, what do you love about it?

Ally and Bo

November 26, 2011

A Thanksgiving Party & Chocolate Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Butter Crust

This Thanksgiving Bo and I decided to stay in Corpus Christi.  With him not getting more than a couple of days off of work, and me teaching as much as I can before Christmas, it made the most sense to stay here for the holiday.  The problem was, we weren't sure exactly what we were going to do for the holiday...

Thankfully, we were invited to a Thanksgiving party!  Twice a week I teach private yoga lessons to Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence, a couple roughly my parents age.  They are a hoot to teach for, and I always look forward to my lessons with them each Wednesday and Sunday!  They have a beautiful home on Ocean Drive, and when I mentioned that Bo and I were staying in down for the holiday they immediately extended a warm invitation for us to come over.   Little did I know that their house is the. place. to. be. on Thanksgiving!

When we arrived at the Lawrence's around 3:30 pm, everyone was hanging out, watching football, finishing up the food, and having a few cocktails.

Bo and I in our Thanksgiving best!

Shortly thereafter, we were asked to take our seats for dinner in the dining area.

Wasn't it just lovely?!  Every place-setting was filled!

Every plate was also filled...YUMM-O!

My plate :)

Bo's plate!

After we ate, and after the Cowboys won (YIPPEE!), Bo and I figured the bulk of the festivities had come and gone.  Little did we know that the fun was just beginning...

Every year the Lawrence's four children organize a pie contest.  But this isn't just any ol' amateur pie contest.  No, the Lawrence children take this contest seriously!  There are rules.  For instance:

  • You can't judge your own pie(s).
  • No cook can enter more than three pies into the contest.
  • If a pie recipe has won the contest for two years, it can no longer be entered into the contest.
  • and many more...
This year, 19 pies were entered into the annual Lawrence pie contest!

Here is a shot of the majority of the pies, pre-eating:

And here are a few close-up shots of the pies, pre-eating:

Mr. Lawrence was trying to be funny, so he entered two different kinds of "Frito Pie" into the contest - hahaha!

After all the pies were set up, and the ballots were made, the eating commenced!  Bo really took his judging job seriously!  He ate at least a couple of bites of every. single. pie...and then really took his time giving each one a score between 1-10. 

Here is a look at the pies BEFORE eating:

And here are a look at the pies AFTER eating:

Most of the pies weren't fully eaten, but instead were partially demolished.  Even with over 25 people at the Lawrence's for Thanksgiving, if we would have eaten all of the pies it would have equalled over 1 1/2 pies per person!  Can you say tummy-ache and sugar-coma?!

Here's a closer look at a couple of the partially demolished pies:

So, you might be wondering, what kind of pie did I bring to the party?! 

Well, I brought a traditional pie with a twist, and I must say, considering I made the recipe up myself, I think it turned out pretty well.  I knew that I wanted to bring a pumpkin pie...of sorts...but I wanted it to be a little more special than just plain ol' pumpkin pie.  So, per my usual process, I did a little research, took inspiration from a few other recipes (here and here), and then created something unique and delicious!

 Chocolate Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Butter Crust
Serves 8

For the Crust:

1 C oats (I used gluten free because it is what I had on hand.  You could also use steel-cut oats.)
2 C pecans
2 T succanat (or brown sugar)
3 T ground flax
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C maple syrup (or honey)
1 T Smart Balance (or butter)


  1. Grind oats in a blender until very fine.
  2. Process pecans in a food processor for 35 seconds.
    1. Note: The pecans should be finely processed and be able to clump together.  They should NOT be nut butter.
  3. Melt the maple syrup and Smart Balance together in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  4. Add all of the ingredients to the pecan mixture in the food processor.
  5. Process until smooth.
  6. Press the mixture into a pie pan.
    1. Note: I prefer to press the crust mixture all the way up the sides of the pan as well.
  7. Prick the crust 14-15 times.
  8. Bake at 425 degrees for 14-15 minutes.
  9. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
For the Filling:

1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
2 T succanat (or brown sugar)
1 C chocolate chips
Note: I used carob chips because they are what I had on hand.  However, I would strongly suggest using dark chocolate chips, as carob is an acquired taste that some people may not like.


  1. Place the pumpkin, vanilla, cocoa, salt, and succanat into the food processor.
  2. Process until smooth.
  3. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, until completely smooth. 
  4. Add the melted chocolate to the pumpkin mixture in the food processor.
  5. Process until smooth.
  6. Add the filling to the crust.
  7. Refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
This crust was really amazing!  Thanks go out to Angela for the inspiration.  Her recipe was pretty amazing, so I only tweaked the flavors a bit to make it work for my recipe.  I will definitely be using this crust again for future pie recipes.  Store bought pie crust - never again!

With a wonderful Thanksgiving having come and gone, I am already gearing up for Christmas!

Question of the Day:

Does your family have any unique Thanksgiving traditions?  If so, I would love to hear about them!

Ally and Bo

November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Thankfulness


My Thanksgiving holiday has officially begun, and Bo's will begin in just a couple of hours!  I am really looking forward to watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade tomorrow morning, enjoying the company of friends and one another while eating delicious and healthy food, and creating our first memories of Thanksgiving as a married couple.  It is going to be an amazing holiday!

Although I plan to share my Thanksgiving dessert recipe with you later this week (pumpkin + chocolate + pecan = delicious!):'s post doesn't have a new recipe... doesn't have any yoga instruction...

...and it doesn't share a new ABC adventure

Today's post is all about practicing conscious and purposeful thankfulness.

Since I am 27 years old, I figured it would only make sense to list 27 things for which I am thankful.  Some are serious, some are funny, but I am truly thankful for each one.

Thanksgiving Thankfulness Exercise, 2011:

  • I am thankful for no car payments.
  • I am thankful for my fellow Navy wives...which become more like family with each passing day.
  • I am thankful that, for the first time in eight years, I can say "I'll be home for Christmas."

  • I am thankful that I am a full-time yoga teacher = stress free career!
  • I am thankful (for now) for my pixie haircut: fast and easy!

  • I am thankful for a healthy, strong body...even though sometimes it still frustrates me.
  • I am thankful for my dedicated yoga students because they inspire me every day.
  • I am thankful for captivating books.

  • I am thankful for my husband.  There aren't enough words...

  • I am thankful for my stocked pantry (no vegan chef could live without one!).
  • I am thankful for my food processor (no hummus or peanut butter would come to be without it!).

  • I am thankful for our furniture (when we got married, we had a 46" TV, and nothing else!).
  • I am thankful for jeans that fit.
  • I am thankful for shoes and yoga pants that always fit (hahaha!).
  • I am thankful for my relationship with my grandparents, deceased and alive.

  • I am thankful for Satchidinanda Ashram-Yogaville.

  • I am thankful that my husband has finally agreed to get a puppy this spring!
  • I am thankful for holistic medicine.
  • I am thankful for football traditions.
  • I am thankful for unexpected packages.
  • I am thankful that we will always live near the ocean.
  • I am thankful for seasonal produce.

  • I am thankful for soft sheets.

  • I am thankful for pashminas.
  • I am thankful for friendships that continue to survive long-distances apart.
  • BONUS: I am thankful for my family!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Next Time: A post about our Thanksgiving Day celebrations!

Question of the Day:

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday?

Ally and Bo

November 22, 2011

Rainbow Salad

As I was trying to figure out dinner for Sunday evening, I looked into our refrigerator and realized that we had A LOT of produce that was one day away from becoming over-ripe. 

I needed to come up with a recipe that would use over half a dozen vegetables, and I needed it FAST!

Enter this beauty:

Rainbow Salad
Serves 4

5 large stems of kale, stripped from stem and chopped
2 beets, boiled, peeled, and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3/4 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 C butter beans (I got mine from my mother's garden, but you could use frozen peas or cooked lentils)
1/8 C sunflower seeds
1/8 C pumpkin seeds
1/4 C nutritional yeast, divided
1/4 C EVOO, divided
1-1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2-1 tsp Herbamare (or salt)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 avocado, peeled and cubed (for garnish)

Note:  If you don't have some of the ingredients listed above, just substitute them for similar ingredients.  Don't be scared to get creative and use. what. you. have.

Double Note: For those of you that are wondering, I made Bo some Italian Sausage to go on top of his salad! :)


  1. Prepare all vegetables as described above.
  2. Add kale to a large serving bowl.
  3. Toss kale with half of the EVOO and half of the nutritional yeast.
  4. Add all vegetables, peas, and seeds into the bowl.
  5. Toss with the remaining half of the EVOO, the remaining half of the nutritional yeast, and the balsamic vinegar.
  6. Sprinkle herbamare and pepper over the top of the salad.
  7. Toss very well until each kale leaf and individual vegetable is coated with the dressing.
  8. If serving immediately, top with cubed avocado.
  9. If not serving immediately, chill in the refrigerator and wait to top with avocado until ready to serve.

Doesn't it look like a rainbow on my plate?! 

Red = red bell pepper
Orange = carrots
Yellow = nutritional yeast
Green = kale, pumpkin seeds, and avocado
Blue = hmmm....
Indigo = double hmmm...
Violet = beets
White = cucumber

Since I didn't have any blue or indigo in the salad, can I get extra points for the white cucumber?!  Come on, cut me a break!  They say there aren't any true blue foods anyway... :)

Honestly I think this is the prettiest salad I have ever made...and that's saying quite a bit considering I make a lot of salad!

Before I close, I thought this post presented the perfect opportunity to chat a little about nutritional yeast.  I am NOT talking about the yeast you use in bread!  Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that boasts numerous health benefits, especially for vegetarians and vegans. 

For instance:

  • People who follow a plant-based diet, or those looking to reduce their intake of animal base products can receive additional protein by adding nutritional yeast to their meals. One ounce of nutritional yeast contains 14 grams of protein and 79 calories.
  • Nutritional yeast contains a high amount of fiber, containing more than seven grams per ounce. Diets high in fiber can help eliminate constipation, assist in lowering cholesterol, reduce the risk of colon disease, and protect against high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Nutritional yeast's yellow color comes from the B vitamin riboflavin. Nutritional yeast is rich in B-complex vitamins, making it a vital supplement for those who are not receiving their B vitamins from other sources. Many brands of nutritional yeast also contain vitamin B12, which is essential for red blood cell production. (I always buy the nutritional yeast with B12.)
  • Nutritional yeast is naturally low in sodium, making it a perfect addition for those monitoring their sodium intake. Low sodium diets are beneficial for a variety of health-related conditions including prevention of heart disease, controlling blood pressure and weight reduction. (citation)
The point is, if you haven't ever tried nutritional yeast, give it a shot!  It has a cheesy, savory flavor that is great sprinkled on salads, casseroles, and roasted vegetables alike.  What are you waiting for?!
Question of the Day:

What do you make when you have a lot of soon-to-be-over-ripe produce?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Ally and Bo