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  • Writer's pictureSpira

Family Reunion, Put Away Your Hotdogs, The Art of Making Large Healthy Meals from Scratch!

Yoga is not just exercise; it is a lifestyle. Exercise alone will not keep you healthy. For optimal health, you need yoga exercise combined with daily mindfulness practice, meditation, and mindful nutrition. You may have wondered what keeps the Spira yoga teachers looking so vibrant, and healthy into their 40’s and 50’s. Here is your answer in three short bullet points!

  1. We feed your mind: i.) We meditate and practice mindfulness daily!– Check out 200 hour Self Enrichment, 40 days, and Making Friends with Stress Workshops under “Yoga Beyond Asana” tab on our website. ii.) We read! Check out our book recommendations: or read our reflections:

  2. We exercise daily – Take a Spira Power Yoga class 3-6 times a week.

  3. We eat right – nourishing home cooked food made from scratch!

Spira’s Soulfood blog is dedicated to giving you weekly recipes from your yoga teachers kitchen. Nothing staged, nothing artificial in our food or our presentation. What you see on this blog is what we eat at home. We cook it, we take pictures, and we share it with the community.

Our main contributors are:

Carina: She follows an Ayurvedic vegetarian diet that works for her body.

Dora: She had lifelong chronic gut inflammation that she finally got under control with a Low Carb, Paleo, Keto diet. (No grain, no legumes, very little starch of any kind)

Keri: Who is a darn good cook of all scrumptious dishes.

Des: Who is a new mom, figuring out meals that work for her and her baby.

YOU? – Wanna contribute? Write to us:

A family reunion – Dinner for 19 adults and 8 kids. – Dora’s weekend cookout!

My husband’s family is very good about reunions. I don’t know if they know, but I value their efforts beyond words. We live in a very busy world, and it is so easy to lose touch with loved ones just because time and miles sneak between us as we live our lives. It is up to the "elders” in the family to “hammer”good habits into the younger generations. I apologize for using these archaic words, but there is no better way to put it. Relationships; what constitutes a family is given to us by example. Blood relationships don’t magically become strong. Actual genetic relatedness does not guarantee a family. Family is created by a relentless notion; that no matter what happened, we are there for each other. Sometimes it takes a dictator to hold a family together. One that will say; OK gang, sorry that you are busy, but please drop what you are doing and show up. You got to learn to show up! I am grateful for Sharon, Sue, and Jerry for holding us all responsible.

If you have a family that “burdens” you with similar gatherings, be glad for the “burden”. Heck celebrate it! I wish my family would have done a better job at holding the larger extended “gang” together. I am very close to my mom and step dad, but there are relatives that I have not seen in over 20 years. There was nobody to define us as one unit, there were no “dictators” who said: “Too bad you disagree on this and that, work it out! It is called “adulting in a family.” This art has to be done hierarchically. When the youngest tries, nobody listens. Funny, as much we celebrate democracy and independence, in some ways, we are tribal and needing guidance.

Oh but I digress, so this is a food blog right? OK So you have to cook for almost 30 humans? What do you do? Go and buy hot-dogs and burgers? Heck no! YOU RISE, RISE to the Challenge my Friend. RISE!

So I said last week: “Challenge accepted!”

The full table! Rising to the Challenge. Muscles, Salad, Rice, Beef Stuffed with Olives and Pine Nuts (thanks Regan on helping me tie this dish up, Fish on a bed of Wild Mushrooms and Rataouille. Oh and I had time to socialize and went for a kayak trip same day! So really, you do have time to cook well!


  1. Muscles in White Wine Reduction Sauce

The main course :

  1. Beef is from Tom Douglas: Olive and Pine nut stuffed Beef Flank Roulade with Confit Tomatoes

  2. Fish is from French book: Roast Cod with Sage on a bed of Chanterelle mushrooms in white wine reduction.


  1. Tossed basmati rice with herbs

  2. Slow cooked vegetable ratatouille

  3. Caesar salad with homemade dressing from scratch

Yeah, I made all that! It was not too bad; I prepared the Tomato Confit and the Ceaser Dressing as well as the Olive Stuffing a day before.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet guidelines by Dora: All the recipes with the exception of the rice are Keto and Paleo friendly. To make the whole dinner Paleo simply avoid the bread besides the muscles. To make it Keto, avoid both the bead and the rice! All other recipes are perfect for the Keto-Paleo anti-inflammatory diet. Note to reading, when cooking for family. Always share your enthusiasm for health, never force people into your way. I provided rice and bread during this family reunion recognizing that not everyone is ready and want to make the Paleo- Keto jump. It changed my life, saved me from having to take steroids to control inflammation. But you decide on your diet!

In today’s blog, I will tell you about the home made Ceasar Dressing, the Ratatouille, and the Muscles. I will keep the main courses for the next blog.

Why? Because I just got back from the reunion. I have to do payroll for the Spira teachers, I have to teach this afternoon, and my house is a mess. So there, that is what I got time for today. Life is all about being OK with not doing it all! So there, you want the rest of the recipes? Check back in a week.

Muscles in White wine reduction:

Muscles with Dora’s famous White Wine reduction sauce.

  1. Butter

  2. One large white onion

  3. White wine

  4. Chicken stock

  5. 4 tomatoes

  6. a bunch of fresh parsley

  7. 4-5 cloves of crushed garlic

  8. 2 slices of bacon – purchase at the butcher counter; buy apple smoked organic if you can.

  9. Oh yeah and muscles – I got a bag from Costo for this occasion

Dice the bacon and cook it in butter till the fat dissolves. Dice the onions and add it to the bacony-buttery goodness until translucent. I am very generous about the butter, it will give a lovely flavor, and most of it stays on the plate unless you take some baguette and dunk it in the sauce which I highly recommend… So back to the onion. Once translucent add the diced tomatoes, wait until it cooks down a bit, then add the garlic. I always add the garlic later to make sure it does not burn and turn bitter. Once the garlic had a little chance to “party in the dish.” Add 3 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of dry white wine. You can also use a bouillon cube and add water or heck, go crazy and add even more wine. Really, you can’t go wrong with this… Give it another 10 minutes to cook it down a bit and allow the flavors to mix.

Then in really cold water, clean your muscles. Make sure the “mustaches” are pulled out and you scrubbed away the yucky stuff that maybe on the shells

Since I was making muscles for so many people… I transferred my reduction sauce to a large deep dish. The only thing that was big enough was the pot we use to boil the glasses for canning… Yeah, that much! That’s OK, it did the trick, as long as you can cover the pot, any pot will do. So I transferred my reductions sauce to the large pot and added the muscles, on medium heat 4 minutes covered is all it takes. You can check it out, once the muscles open you are ready. Don’t overcook; it will make the muscles chewy.

Once done, take a huge spatula and stir it up, so you get all the yummy, tasty liquid evenly distributed around. Done!

Serve and watch people lick their fingers as they eat. Oh yeah, it is that good.

Making your own Caesar Dressing.

Once I started making my mayonnaise and Caesar dressing from scratch, I wondered why I ever bought that crap in the store full of preservatives and who knows what! It is so easy to make. I found this recipe in one of my favorite cook books: The Primal Kitchen by Mark Sission. I never follow recipes 100% I take them as guidance and inspiration, playing with the ingredients to my liking, and sometimes changing things due to what is available in my kitchen.You will need a whisk or blender or a food processor. I have a small love affair with my food processor, so I tend to reach for her when in need…

Caesar Salad, Of course the dressing is from scratch

I like to make enough for a large canning jar, that way I can use it for 4 days.

  1. 2 egg yolk – put more in if you want it creamier – I like it more vinaigrette

  2. 1.5 cups of avocado oil

  3. 2 tablespoon of white wine vinegar

  4. 4 table spoon of lemon juice- use less if you don’t like sour flavors, I love sour…

  5. 2 anchovies fillets – use more if you love anchovies – I don’t, I like them only once you don’t really know they are there…

  6. 4 garlic cloves – use less if you hate garlic

  7. Salt and pepper to taste

  8. One cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese chopped

Whisk together everything except the avocado oil and egg yolks. Once all mixed slowly add the avocado oil and egg yolk and mix until it reaches the creamy white consistency.

That is it, done really! And so good! Note – since you did not add any artificial homogenizer and stabilizer crap to your dressing, you may have to take it out of the fridge 30 min before consumption since the oils will harden in the fridge. You will also need to give it a good hard shake!

Ok, what was the third recipe that I promised? Oh yeah the Ratatouille Confite

I found this recepie in a French cook book ; “Rotis – Roasts for every day of the week”

But me being me, I just had to change it. I felt it needed a little more zing…

Preheat the oven to 315F

You will need:

Ratatouille Confite and Fish on a bed of Wild Mushrooms

  1. Butter

  2. Onion

  3. Garlic

  4. Eggplant

  5. Red Peppers

  6. Zucchini

  7. Lemon

  8. Bay leafs

  9. Chicken Stock

  10. Wite wine – dry

Now remember, I made this for 30 people, so feel free to decrease my recipe. But truthfully, you can make it as a main dish and enjoy it as left over for a few days. This is one of those dishes that gets better the second day.

In a deep pan melt a whole stick of butter. That’s right, don’t be shy, you Americans have a phobia about fat : – ) , just get over it, melt the butter! DO IT! Chop 3 large or 4 medium onions fine (use food processor unless you enjoy suffering for some reason) yes and use that many onions, do it! DO IT! It is what will give it flavor as it cooks for many hours!

Cook the onions down until translucent. Yeah, do yourself a favor and open every window in the house. It will be worth it, I promise.

While that is going dice up the eggplant and salt it. Let it sit for a while with the salt. The salt will draw out some liquid and take away the bitterness. Once your eggplant has ‘collapsed’ a bit, pour off the liquid and add the eggplant to the onion. You may as well follow it up with the garlic. Let that cook down for a while.

Then add 4 diced Red Peppers (diced to about 1 cm- half an inch size) 3-4 diced zucchinis, 8 diced tomatoes. Let that all simmer while mixing occasionally. Then add 5 bay leafs, salt and pepper to taste, some fresh lemon rind, also juice of one lemon, heck I ended up post squeezing the lemon tossing the whole thing in there for flavor. (you would not eat that, nor the bay leafs)

Transfer to a roasting pan, pour 4 cups of chicken stock and 3 cups of white wine on top. Mix. And leave it in the oven for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

I know, this one takes a long time, but not much effort. As long as you are around to stir the sucker once in a while, the oven does the work for you!

OK, That is all folks. Until next Monday, Happy cooking and as always, do leave me your comments! Peace and Love,



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