New Orleans round up

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful week in New Orleans. Visiting New Orleans means you’re going to eat well and have a great time.

We definitely ate well on this trip, though I suspect I consumed more butter in 5 days than I do in five months. New Orleans cuisine is far from dietetic or healthy, but just fine for vacation indulgence. Until recently, New Orleans was a difficult place to have any dietary restrictions. Vegetarians are relegated to ethnic restaurants and salads. There seemed to be little awareness of food allergies or restrictions in wait staff.

I’ve been puzzled by the ignorance about food sensitivities–New Orleans’ only real industry is tourism, and people with food sensitivities travel. When I was researching places to eat for this trip I was pleasantly surprised by a reasonably long list of gluten-free friendly restaurants. I think it’s safe to assume that any restaurant that is taking steps to protect it’s gluten-free customers will also do a good job with other sensitivities.

We enjoyed several meals at Drago’s, whose main claim to fame is charbroiled oysters.
charbroiled oysters
Oysters are every day food in New Orleans, and they’re eaten raw or cooked. Drago’s invented charbroiled oysters, and now they’re available all over the city. I’ve eaten them in a variety of restaurants and I have to say that Drago’s might be the best. They are extremely rich, and though we don’t usually eat such rich food, I think we had charbroiled oysters almost every day of our trip.

Drago’s has a gluten-free menu, and the waitstaff at their riverside location was knowledgable and helpful. If you are gluten-free and want to try the charbroiled oysters, make sure to order them without the bread.

We also had a delightful and low-key meal at Carmo’s. Carmo’s calls itself a “tropical cafe,” and their menu includes things like plantains and quinoa. Their menu indicates which items are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. This is definitely not classic New Orleans cuisine, but a refreshing, light break from all the butter and cream sauces. I enjoyed their nourishing Esmeralda salad, made of black beans and quinoa.

No trip to New Orleans would be complete without fried seafood at Casamento’s and West African cuisine at Bennachin, which I’ve blogged about before. Bennachin doesn’t seem to have a web page, but they are on facebook. It’s a great restaurant for vegetarians and people with food sensitivities, and it’s a nice break from heavy New Orleans cuisine for everyone else.

crawfishCrawfish season is in full swing right now, so we did our part to eat as many as possible. One of our best meals on this trip was boiled crawfish and shrimp (along with some potatoes boiled in the spicy crawfish boil). We picked them up at Big Fisherman seafood on Magazine St., and took them to the riverside park that the locals call “the Fly.” for a wonderful and messy picnic.

We tried to do enough walking to balance out all the rich foods, but I also made sure to get a yoga class in at Reyn Studios in the CBD/Warehouse district. It’s reasonably close to many of the major hotels, so it’s easy to get your yoga fix if you’re vacationing there. The space is beautiful, and the owner, Reyn, taught a great class.

I found several other restaurants that either had gluten-free menus or knowledgeable staff, but didn’t make it on this trip. Here’s a list of them–perhaps you can check them out yourself and let me know what you think:

The Palace Cafe, a fine dining restaurant with a separate gluten-free menu.
The Wandering Buddha–has a vegan and gluten free menu
Satsuma Cafe–a small cafe with experience serving GF customers.
Truburgers, which offers a GF bun for it’s burgers.
La Petite Grocery, like many nice restaurants, is said to have a knowledgeable staff to assist diners with food sensitivities.

Crawfish photo CC licensed by adie reed.

Oysters photo CC licensed by  K Tao.

Om Trinity Fall Ecstatic Chant Festival

I’m excited to announce that my office group will have a table at the Om Trinity Chant Festival on Saturday, 10/23, at the Somerville Armory. David Newman, Donna Delory and Girish will perform for hundreds of yoga and chant devotees.

We will have a table at the back of the auditorium, and we’ll be offering free chair massage and ear acupuncture demonstrations. We’re going to have a raffle for our services, and $10 coupons for acupuncture and massage appointments.

If you’re at the festival, please stop by to say hello!

South Boston Yoga grand opening

Yoga is my favorite form of exercise. It’s a great workout, but the real joy of it is the peace and stillness you feel when you do it. It takes you out of your head and lets you truly be in the moment.

My favorite yoga studio, South Boston Yoga, has opened a fabulous new space and is having a grand-opening celebration this weekend, October 1-3. All classes are free this weekend.

One of the things that is most exciting about the new space is their aerial/swing yoga studio. Similar to the Anti-gravity yoga class I went to in NYC, you do the entire class in a special yoga swing.

Hope you can check it out!

Holiday fun and an antioxidant blueberry facial mask

I gave myself last weekend off–with July 4 on Sunday, I knew my practice would be slow, so I decided to take Friday and Sunday off. I love being active in the city, so I planned to do a different fun thing for each day.

I did a few hours of paperwork in my office in Davis Square on Friday, which was O.K. because I spent the afternoon biking the Minute Man Bike trail from Somerville to Lexington.

It was a beautiful day, and I hung out for a spell in Lexington.

Saturday’s activity was a walk from Central Square, up Main Street and over the Longfellow bridge into Boston.

My destination was Boston harbor.

Sunday morning was yoga with David at South Boston Yoga. It was super sweaty! We sweat more and more easily in the summer because our body’s energy (or “qi”) is up at the surface so it can open and close the pores and keep us cool. Which is what sweating is–your body keeping you cool.

Since I had spent so much time outside, I decided to give myself an soothing blueberry antioxidant mask to repair my skin from all the sun exposure. Here’s my recipe. The quantities are approximate–the goal is to have a smooth and creamy mask with a medium-thick consistency. It should be easily spreadable but not runny.


You should always patch test any home made beauty products before you smear them all over your face.

Antioxidant blueberry facial mask

1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp honey
a few drops of Vitamin E (optional)
1-2 tbsp cosmetic clay of your choice (I used Betonite clay).

Combine first three ingredients in a blender and blend well. Pour blueberry/yogurt mixture into a bowl, and stir in clay a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.

To use: Spread thin layer of mask onto clean skin. Relax for 5-10 minutes. Rinse.

Anti-Gravity Yoga in NYC

I just got back from a short trip to NYC where I took this super-fun yoga class called Anti-Gravity yoga. Om Factory Yoga in midtown has a small room full of about 15 yoga “swings” or “hammocks” that hang from the ceiling and the entire class is taught in the swings.

antigravity-yoga

It was a two hour class, and we spent a lot of time hanging upside down in various positions, including forward folds and backbends. I worked up a sweat eventhough it was not at all like an active, vinyasa class. One woman got a little queasy with all of the upside down time, but I felt great. Nothing was sore after class, and I didn’t feel tired. I felt energized, relaxed and stretched-out.

Though I only took this one class, I really liked the studio, and will definitely try to return on my next visit to NYC.

Yoga in New Orleans

During my week in New Orleans, I went to classes at 2 different yoga studios in New Orleans. Swan River Yoga Shala on Magazine St. in the Garden District, and Wild Lotus Yoga on Perrier St. Uptown. Both studios had really great atmosphere. I was in the third-floor Castle studio at Swan River, which had great views of the surrounding rooftops. Wild Lotus and stenciled gold lotus flowers here and there on their floors, which were delightful to use as drishtis (points to focus on to help with balance). Both classes were ashtang/vinyasa style yoga, though Swan River offers classes in other styles.

In Michelle Baker’s class at Swan River, we spent the first 30 minutes of the 75 minute class chanting and listening to Michelle give a dharma talk. The chanting was nice, but I personally could have done with less talking and more yoga. Cecelia at Wild Lotus did no chanting and led us through a solid 90 minute class of ashtanga.

Taking yoga classes in other cities is really a great thing to do on vacation. I like to travel my Yogatoes non-slip yoga towel/mat with me as it packs up pretty small, and then I just use one of the studio’s mats underneath. It’s fun to check in with other yoga communities–I always learn something new!