Vegan Truffles and a Restorative Winter Yoga Sequence

truffles

How is it the end of January already?

As usual, I’ve been craving something sweet and chocolatey. It must be the cold-as-crap weather we’ve been having today in Chicago. Yesterday was 45 degrees, and today it was a fuh-reezing 15 degrees. Maybe 22. Whatever it was, it was too cold for anything except….truffles!

I made these over Christmas and they were so incredibly satisfying. Not too sweet, very chocolatey, sugar-free, vegan, raw, and action-packed with protein, antioxidants and other good-for-your-bod yummies. Oh, and only 4 ingredients. What up.

Delicious, Decadent Winter Truffles

·      6 Pitted Medjool Dates
·      One heaping spoonful of almond butter (or nut butter of your choice)
·      One spoonful of raw cacao powder
·      Shredded coconut, cocoa powder, or cinnamon

Soak the dates for 5 minutes in a small amount of water, then discard the water and put them in a bowl with the nut butter and cocoa. Get in there with your fingers and blend until all the ingredients are combined. Divide into smaller balls, and roll in your choice of toppings. Voila!

That’s it! I like to store them in the freezer to eat with a warm mug of Trader Joe’s Ruby Red Chai–I like to mix in a little stevia and coconut milk, too.  That particular libation got me to kick my coffee fix*.

Now, on top of my little sweets craving, I’ve been a bit under the weather lately too, like most everyone in the dead of winter. This is translating to being perpetually “a little sick,” and feeling generally blah. Here are a few yoga poses that have been helping me chill out and reset, either right before bed to quiet the mind, or right upon rising to get centered and focused for the day. For maximum yoga bliss and relaxation, find a quiet place to do all five poses in this sequence, holding each pose for 2-3 minutes. Or try one or two of them for as long as it feels awesome.

 

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Start on all fours in table top pose. Spread your fingers wide, then make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders, and that your knees are directly under your hips. Tuck your toes, press into your hands and lift your hips high into the air. Take any organic movement: pedal your feet, sway your hips, bend and straighten one knee then the other. Bend your knees deeply to lengthen the spine and feel the lovely release of the low back.

Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Start with your feet hip distance apart. Inhale and circle your arms overhead, then exhale as you fold forward with a flat back. Bend your knees deeply and let your neck relax completely as the crown of your head reaches toward the floor. The fingers can stay on the mat, or reach for opposite elbows. Sway the torso back and forth like a pendulum as you focus on your breath.

Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

Find a comfortable seat and stretch your legs out straight in front of you. Flex your feet and feel your thigh muscles contract. Inhale and find a straight spine. As you exhale, fold forward without rounding into the upper back. Grab onto the backs of your thighs, knees, shins or heels, and use the strength of your arms as leverage to pull your spine longer. Breathe here.

Reclined Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Begin by lying flat on your back. Bring your heels in toward your hips and let the knees fall open to the side. Let your arms extend outward with a slight bend in the elbows. Feel the gentle hip opening while you take long, slow, full, deep breaths here. (For an even more restorative pose, use rolled up blankets or a couple pillows under each thigh. This is a great position to fall asleep in if you’re having trouble dozing off.)

Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Begin with a firm pillow, rolled up blanket or stack of towels 5-6 inches from the wall. Sit on the right side of your support with your backside facing the wall. In one smooth movement, roll sideways on to the support and swing your legs up the wall. This may take a few tries, but don’t get discouraged! Be sure that your support is under your low back and sacrum. Experiment a little by moving closer toward or further away from the wall. Once you find a comfy place, extend your arms out and bent and the elbows like goal posts. Close your eyes, lift your chin and breathe deeply here.

What are some of your go-to cozy poses? Did you know that I was secretly an artist?

*Then I started working at a place that has really, really good coffee. Stumptown, to be exact. Needless to say, I am right back on the coffee bandwagon. In moderation. Mostly.


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