I have tried to be the perfect modern yogi, trying to grow my hair, wearing Birkenstocks (I do like them, but they aren’t the most flattering or dressy shoes, in my opinion), and sticking to a Paleo diet. Somewhere along the line, within the past 16 years of my yoga practice, I had absorbed the idea that to be a good yogi, I needed to fit the perfect Instagram image of a yoga girl and that to inspire others, I needed to live up to a certain lifestyle stereotype.
Over tea with a dear friend this afternoon, I confessed this to her, adding, “Really, I love drinking lattes with real dairy milk, not almond milk or soy milk lattes. I love eating dessert with real sugar from time to time and I don’t want to give up my favourite crème brûlée. I sometimes eat too much chocolate.” Deep breath. Let it out. Phew.
My friend was not in the least surprised. “Of course,” she said, “you’re a European girl.”
I’m curious to know about the lifestyle of European yogis, though I have heard that the health craze is not as strict in Europe as it is in North America. I have never been to a studio in Europe — it’s been six years since I last traveled to Europe — but I’m curious. I love real coffee and dessert. I had given it up for a short while, just as I attempted to give up gluten. I also gave up dairy for a while. Yet, I soon realized that my approach to healthy diet and exercise was an ‘all or nothing’ approach that stemmed not from within, from the desire to feel better in my body. Instead, it stemmed from the ubiquitous stigma that certain foods are ‘clean and good’ and others are ‘bad for us.’ Because of this, if I allowed myself to slip and eat a sweet pastry one day, the following day all my diet rules would go right out the window.
Ayurveda has been the perfect approach for me and I learned how to eat best for my constitution, how to best honour my body, when to eat my most substantial meals (breakfast and lunch) and how to eat a light dinner, as well as which food combinations to avoid. Nevertheless, though I know that it’s never a good idea to mix two different types of protein, I still love St. Julien cheese with its beautiful walnuts in the creamy centre. I eat that particular cheese probably once a year (also because it’s not cheap), but I enjoy it to the maximum. Nowadays, I’m trying to take a more balanced approach to nutrition, eating healthy foods 90 per cent of the time and allowing myself treats on occasion. I eat a bit of dark chocolate every afternoon while taking a short siesta, but I allow myself dessert with real sugar (gasp) once a week. Sometimes, I even drink a bit of wine. I don’t drink green juices and smoothies in the colder months and only enjoy them in the summer. I don’t use protein powder because I’m wary of anything over-processed, and that includes what the health world considers to be good for us. I make my own diet rules. I eat real food, made with real ingredients. I use olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and yes, butter. I eat real bread from time to time, slathered with organic peanut butter. Some mornings, when I want to take a break from my usual steel-cut oats, toasted bread with peanut butter is the best complement to a latte made with organic 2% milk (there’s the dairy and nut protein combo again).
I do take Ashwaganda and a few other supplements that could be featured in an article or video titled Sh*t Crunchy Girls Say. Yes, I do some crunchy things and eat typical ‘yogi’ foods. I do enjoy Ezekiel sprouted grains bread and happen to go crazy for a splash of almond milk in tea or when it’s used as a base for smoothies in the summer.
The bottom line is that I will continue to make my own rules, listen to my body and its needs every day, and choose wisely… Most of the time. I will continue to fine-tune the way I eat and my approach to nutrition. I believe most of us need to continue to make small changes to our diet and the way we eat, in general.
Now, here’s a truly healthy simple, vegan (unless you do choose to add the chicken breast mentioned at the end), gluten- and dairy-free, and (I think) guilt-free recipe that I’d like to share with you…
I love roasted root vegetables for their sweet taste and grounding effect. For the Vata season, roasted vegetables are my go-to recipe.
Aren’t beets absolutely gorgeous? I’m in awe of their stunning colour.
2 sweet potatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 onion, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Coarsely chop the sweet potatoes, beets and peppers and place in a baking pan. Pour the melted oil over the vegetables, sprinkle with the sea salt and oregano, and stir. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. At medium-high heat, stirring constantly, toast the pumpkin seeds. Remove and set aside to cool. TIP: The seeds will continue to toast if they remain in the hot pan, so it’s best to pour the seeds out into a separate bowl.
4. Using a small amount of coconut oil, toss the onions at medium-high heat until they are soft and golden-brown in colour.
5. To plate, serve the roasted vegetables with the onions and seeds on top.
If you prefer meat to plant-based protein, omit the seeds and place grilled chicken breast pieces on top of the vegetables.
The result is delicious and satisfying.
Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
We are curious to know about your approach to healthy nutrition, so leave us a comment with your opinions.
Until next time,