February 2010

Delicious Winter Dinner

I found a recipe that gives a new twist to the traditional carrot soup dish, and tried it tonight.

It is easy to make, and after tasting it my husband proclaimed it a “world-class soup.”  He’s a soup guy.

And after a gray and rainy Monday, where the temperature was 10 degrees cooler at noon than it was at 6am…it really hit the spot!

Here’s the recipe just for all y’all soup lovers:

Carrot-Ginger Soup with Curried Tofu

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (2 tbsp. + 6 tbsp.)
  • 1 1-pound bag frozen chopped carrots, thawed (I used fresh carrots)
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 2-to-3-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 2 cups carrot juice
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • Torn fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and ginger and cook until the vegetables are just soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the 5-spice powder, carrot juice and 3 cups water, then cover and boil until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Mix the cornstarch and curry powder on a shallow plate and season with salt. Pat the tofu dry and roll it in the cornstarch mixture. Heat the remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the tofu and fry, turning, until golden and crisp on all sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Transfer the soup to a blender and puree in batches, or puree directly in the pot with an immersion blender. If you use a traditional blender, handle the hot liquid.  Blend in small batches (fill up blender about halfway) and do not use lid.  Instead, hold a dish towel over the top of blender to prevent spew.  Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the fried tofu. Garnish with cilantro.

Yum! Happy eating!

How massage transformed my pain

massagepublicity1In 1999, I enrolled as an adult student at The University of Memphis to complete my undergraduate degree in journalism.  I had visions of righting the world’s wrongs through investigative reporting.

But first, I had deadlines to meet. Not just school deadlines — family deadlines, work deadlines, personal deadlines.

Trying to do it all at once came with a price. The constant anxiety led to shortness of breath and a recurring pain in my neck, shoulders and arm. I was irritable during the day and sleepless at night.

That’s when I began studying yoga, a practice that eventually led me to open Evergreen Yoga Center.

While yoga has numerous medical and spiritual benefits, and has changed the lives of many, it is not a magic bullet for  anyone. Not even yoga teachers.

The neck pain continued to spread down my right arm and into my hand. I was sure that the more yoga I did, the faster the pain would dissipate.

But relief did not come. Finally, after complaining to enough friends about my stress and pain, one friend slipped his massage therapist’s card into my backpack.

I lied when I told him I’d call. Massage was not for me.  I considered it the realm of ladies who lunch, the rich and famous; those with too much time on their hands and who need fragrant soap and pampering.  I was tougher than that.  The thought of spending money to have someone rub me for an hour seemed extravagant.

Another pain-filled, sleep-deprived night made me reconsider, however.  The therapist said she could see me that afternoon. I might have cancelled if I had more time to think about it.

As it turns out, massage was exactly what I needed.

At the time I was clueless that my lifestyle could have anything to do with the problem. But I was so knotted up that the therapist said it would take at least three sessions to completely address my current condition.

While I had neither the time nor the money for three sessions, I had a good feeling about this therapist. She seemed professional, knowledgeable and clear about my problem. I was definitely tired of the pain.

Skeptically, I scheduled the remaining two appointments. That night after my first massage, I went home and slept.

It was hard to tell if I felt better because there was less pain or because I got  a full-night’s sleep.  Either way, I looked forward to my next massage and the possibility of feeling even better.

After the initial three appointments, I was pain-free. A month later the pain was back.  I scheduled another massage session and immediately felt relief.  A month after that, same thing.

The therapist suggested I schedule monthly “tune-ups.”  She said I needed regular massages to break that pattern of stress and tension in my body.  It was a substantial time investment for me, as a student.  And it had to be worked into my budget. But it seemed worth it.

Yoga changed my life, and regular massage therapy makes it more comfortable.

According to a recent article in Yoga Journal, many people need extra help releasing contracted muscles due to their habits, physical patterns, emotional traumas, and stressors.

Yoga therapist Leslie Kaminoff says if you’re a beginning yoga student and are experiencing difficulty, you should try having a private yoga lesson so the teacher can help you address the issue through yoga.

“But,” Kaminoff says, “also know that there is a range of limitations that might be neuro-muscular.  And with those things, bodywork can really help.”

If you feel that massage might help you, look for a therapist who is knowledgeable and professional, and who understands your problem. A good therapist will encourage you to think for yourself and help you learn skills that will empower you to deal with your concerns. As with any other health care professional, you may want to try a few of massage therapists until you find the right person for you.

If you practice yoga, it’s helpful to see a massage therapist who has an understanding of yoga and which asanas you are practicing.

At Evergreen, our in-house massage therapist, Lorrie Garcia, is a longtime yoga practitioner and is skilled at helping people with patterns of pain, gripping and holding in the body. She is also on the faculty of the Memphis Institute of Massage where she teaches theory and technique to student massage therapists.

lorrie

Lorrie Garcia, LMT

“Therapeutic massage may seem too simple to be so transformative,” Lorrie says.  “If you have a yoga practice, you’ve undoubtedly encountered those who are skeptical about the power of yoga.  But of course you’ve experienced some simple-looking  (like learning to stand in Tadasana) yoga poses that have turned out to be profound. Massage is similar in this way.”

When asked about what keeps yogis from trying massage, Lorrie says, “It  surprises me when yoga students hit-a-wall in their practice or continue to have pain, and they don’t seek massage.

“I want people to know therapeutic massage is much more than rubbing and petting, just as yoga is much more than sitting and standing. Massage and yoga are parallel paths on the way to self-healing.”

“It can take various approaches for a person to discover what works for best for him or her. Ultimately, the path we follow on the journey of transformation is rarely a straight line.”

To reach Lorrie Garcia, email her at lorrie@evergreenyogamemphis.com. To schedule an appointment, contact her via text or cellphone at 901-496-2881.