Eat your veggies part 3: White Chocolate Sweet Potato Macadamia Nut Cake

This is a classic Martha Stewart Recipe. TWO POUNDS of sweet potatoes… layered with a white chocolate mousse. Yum. Remember: ORGANIC INGREDIENTS!!

Sweet Potato Macadamia Nut Cake

2 pounds (about 3) sweet potatoes
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
Unsalted butter, for pans
2 cups sifted flour, plus more for pans
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons brandy
1 1/2 cups unsalted macadamia nuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans, dust with flour, and set aside.
Coat potatoes with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and place on baking sheet. Bake until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin, and mash flesh with a fork into coarse puree.
Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Beat eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add remaining 1 cup vegetable oil; beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the cooled sweet potatoes; mix until combined.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; mix into sweet potato mixture. Mix in vanilla and brandy until combined.
Fold in 1 cup macadamia nuts.
Evenly distribute cake batter into prepared pans, and transfer to the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; cool completely, about 1 1/4 hours.
White Chocolate Mousse Frosting

1 pound white chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
Chop white chocolate into small pieces; set aside.
Bring 1 cup cream to a boil; pour over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Chill for 30 to 40 minutes.
When chocolate mixture has cooled, pour remaining cup cream into an electric mixer; whip on medium until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture until fully incorporated.

Cut each cake layer in half horizontally, creating four layers.
Spread 2/3 cup chocolate frosting on one layer, then stack next layer on top, and frost.
Repeat frosting-and-stacking process until each layer is frosted. Spread remaining frosting on sides and top of cake.
Arrange remaining 1/2 cup macadamia nuts on top of cake, and serve.

Eat your veggies part 2: Carrot Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

OK, here’s another fabulous cake, with a pound of carrots AND a pound of pumpkin! Don’t forget the fruit: there’s some orange peel in the frosting 😉

Two-layer Carrot Pumpkin Spiced Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

4 cup grated carrot
1 cup raisins
3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2-1/2 tsp cinnamon
fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
fresh ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 TBSP molasses
15 oz can (or fresh baked) pumpkin

Butter and flour 2-9″ cake pans.
Preheat oven to 350*.
Combine carrot and raisins with 1/4 cup water (or enough to cover) in a saucepan, and cook til raisins are plump. Drain excess water.
Sift dry ingredients together.
Mix wet ingredients together.
Add dry to wet, mix til blended. Add carrot/raisin mixture.
Divide evenly into cake pans.
Bake 45-50 minutes or til toothpick come out clean.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Mix together 8 oz room temp cream cheese, and 6 oz room temp butter til smooth.
Add 1 tsp vanilla, and grated peel of 1 orange.


Let cakes cool completely. Run a knife around edge of first cake pan. Invert over a cake plate, tap till it comes out. (If it doesn’t come out perfectly, don’t worry, this is a 2 layer FROSTED cake, no one will know! Just scoop out cake left in pan, and putty it back into the bottom of the cake.)

Frost top. Do the same with the second cake. Frost top and sides.


Eat your veggies part 1: 2-Layer Triple-Chocolate Zucchini Chocolate Cake

This fall I made three *delicious* cakes, all with a couple pounds of vegetables in each one! Several friends have asked me to post the recipes, so here they are. These recipes are all tried and true, and combinations of recipes that I have found online and in my multitude of cookbooks (unless otherwise noted). I also always recommend organic ingredients all ways.

You might be thinking, Ayurveda? Triple chocolate cake? Remember, everything in moderation. Organic ingredients. High quality cocoa is a superfood. And we need some yummy desserts that satisfy our taste buds and soul. Remember to appreciate every bite, don’t overindulge, and share the choco-love!

So, let them eat cake! Your veggie-skeptical family will never know they are getting full servings of vegetables when asking for seconds on dessert! (I will take photos next time and re-post. Unfortunately, they all were eaten too fast!)

Two-Layer Triple-Chocolate Zucchini Cake

4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup butter, soft
2 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 TBSP vanilla
2 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 cup+ zucchini, grated
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*
Butter and flour 2-9″round cake pans.
Melt chocolate and oil over double boiler.
Cream butter until light. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla. Beat well. Add the melted chocolate and mix well.
Sift together dry ingredients. Stir dry into the batter. Add the buttermilk.
Mix in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly into the pans.
Bake 40 minutes or til toothpick comes out clean.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

Heat 1/4 cup water and 2 TBSP butter in saucepan on low.
Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, heating til chocolate melted and smooth.
Remove from heat. Add 2 cup sifted confectioners sugar, stirring well til combined and silky.


Let cakes cool completely. Run a knife around edge of first cake pan. Invert over a cake plate, tap till it comes out. (If it doesn’t come out perfectly, don’t worry, this is a 2 layer FROSTED cake, no one will know! Just scoop out cake left in pan, and putty it back into the bottom of the cake.)

Frost top. Do the same with the second cake. Frost top and sides.


Ahhhhh… Spa Day at Chico Canyon Retreat

This fall I was honored to be included as one of Chico Canyon Retreat’s Spa Day providers! This was an amazing way for event participants to experience a relaxing, multi-layered day of spa treatments and healing arts information.

A mere 30 minutes east of Chico, California, the surroundings at Chico Canyon Retreat are nothing short of spectacular. When I turned the corner to drop into the canyon, I had that thought, “Where am I?” Reminiscent of a southern Utah canyon, I had never seen a Northern California foothills location that was quite this amazing.

The buildings and property at the Retreat are stunningly beautiful: the main lodge is constructed of natural materials and built into the hillside as if it grew from the rocks; the grounds are returning back to native plants through the loving efforts of the landowner, Dulcy Schroeder; Chico Creek tinkles through the valley floor;  the sun-drenched interior is decorated with memorabilia collected from a lifetime of travels and also from the grounds. Dulcy is an amazing woman with a beautiful vision: to create a serene retreat space where healing arts practitioners can offer their skills, and recipients can sink into the natural beauty of the land and become fully relaxed and rejuvenated.

Spa Day worked like this: the participants each moved through different “stations” where practitioners offered treatments and information: massage, reflexology, astrology, facials, energy work, ayurveda, hypnotism, and meditation. At future Spa Days the offerings will vary, so one could attend several events, each time  learning bits about new therapies that may open doors to their health and well being. Kind of a “Taste Of ” event!

Speaking of taste, a delightful gourmet lunch was served in the fabulous dining room with tea and dessert bar. There was even a bit of time to chill on the patio watching hummingbirds greedily sip nectar and “listen” to the quiet sounds of nature. What an experience for all!

For more information, contact Chico Canyon Retreat at:
(530) 892-8796

(Apologies to the hosts for this late post!)

Ayurveda: Yoga as a Way of Life:: 2012!!

Ayurveda: Yoga as a Way of Life

Kalani Oceanside Retreat, Big Island, Hawaii

February 12-18, 2012

(12/5/11) At this time, there are only six lodge spaces left, so please send me a message if you are planning to attend!)


Once again, Prana Veda Yoga and Ayurveda is offering the 5-day Ayurvedic lifestyle immersion workshop at Kalani Oceanside Retreat! This year I have a new workshop co-leader, Kim Kinjo! Kim and I worked together at the California College of Ayurveda where she was our supervisor during internship, and a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist on staff. We’re working hard to make this year’s event a beautiful experience for all participants.

Read more to find out how this workshop pertains to you!

Have you ever…

…wished for better health: balanced digestion, sound sleep, less anxiety, or more energy?

…wondered about a simple, holistic way of being?

…wanted to “go deeper” into your yoga practice, take it off the mat and into your daily life, but just didn’t know what that meant?

If so, join Kim and Shakti for a five day lifestyle immersion into Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the ancient, healing, sister-science of Yoga. Ayurveda is living in harmony with your environment.  Ayurveda is living in balance…

Like two sides of the same coin, Yoga and Ayurveda are inseparable. While Yoga generally emphasizes postures and breathwork, Ayurveda provides specific, individualized guidelines for your daily life. Together, they promote healing, health, and the foundation for personal transformation.

In February 2012, we will spend six days at Kalani Oceanside Retreat, a fabulous yoga retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii. The workshop will truly be an immersion in learning… and living Ayurveda.

We’ll wake to meditation and gentle stretching, spend the morning in creative hands-on Ayurvedic cooking and nutrition classes, and spend the afternoon learning the principles of Ayurveda and how to achieve and maintain physical well-being and emotional balance.

With three amazing fresh cooked meals and two all-level asana classes per day, free time exploring the natural diversity of this incredible island paradise, and sleeping to the gentle sounds of the rain forest, at the end of the week you will not only be rejuvenated and refreshed, you will have a personalized, practical, daily guide to a return to health and balance.

Our host-location, Kalani Oceanside Retreat was named one of the best coastal yoga retreats by Coastal Living magazine. Bordered by tropical jungle and the Pacific Ocean, Kalani has been a soulful place of refuge and renewal for more than 30 years.

See additional photos of Kalani property, lodge rooms, the coastline, and nearby attractions!

For more detailed information about the workshop/retreat: click here!

Or email:

Or call Shakti: (530) 615-6115



A common, sweet, warm spice, cinnamon  is the bark of several species of trees of the genus Cinnamomum.

Origin and History

Wild and native to India and southeast Asia, cinnamon’s long history places it in ancient Egypt; it was a common gift to the Roman Gods; and it is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Cinnamon has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Healing and in Ayurvedic remedies in India. You will find it ground and in whole bark form: I have both on hand, as the uses vary. There are several varieties, Ceylon being the most common.

Physical Benefits

Cinnamon benefits the circulatory, digestive, and respiratory systems. It increases appetite and promotes digestion. It strengthens and harmonizes circulation, supporting the heart. Cinnamon is an antioxidant, destroys toxins, reduces mucous, and is a good expectorant during colds and flu. It has antibacterial properties and can boost the immune system. Cinnamon in massage oil increases warmth, and it can relieve muscle tension, menstrual pain, and arthritis. It has also been used as an excellent skin cleanser.


Aromatically, the fragrance is warm, sweet, and spicy, and its effect on the mood is uplifting and energetic. Cinnamon is known to be an anti-depressant and a mental stimulant; it can reduce headaches, and increase concentration. It is used in room sprays, incense, and “love potions”, as it’s effect on the mood is aphrodisiac.



Cinnamon cleanses the teeth, freshens the breath, and has been used to treat infection of the gums. It is found in breath sprays, toothpaste, and gums.

Using cinnamon

Culinarily, cinnamon is used in many dishes, both sweet and savory. (Yes, I think I made up that word.) In Mexico it is often used in chocolate (desserts and moles), in the Middle East it is used in savory meat dishes, and is also used in Indian curries.

I love a nice chai tea, especially this time of year, using the whole bark quills. You can find the recipe here!

Enjoy the many benefits of yet another amazing healing plant!


Asana:: Generally known as a Yoga posture or position. From the Yoga Sutras, asana literally means: a steady comfortable pose. Asana is one of the eight limbs of “Yoga” (with a capital Y) and is practiced to make the body supple and strong enough to be able to sit in meditation for extended periods of time. Breathe this mantra with each asana in class next time: steady… comfortable… Otherwise, it’s just exercise.


Sutra:: A sutra (thread) is a literary exposition composed of concise, meaningful statements. The “Yoga Sutras” were compiled by Patanjali, an Indian scholar in the ~2nd century BCE. This text provides the practical foundation for the underlying philosophy of Yoga. There are many interpretations of the Sutras, my favorites being: “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” by BKS Iyengar (in-depth), and “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” by Mukunda Stiles (more concise).


* b r e a t h e *

Life is simply a series of experiences, most of which seem beyond our control or planning. There is no judgment inherent in these actual experiences; the judgment lies in our interpretation of what is happening. We can react to our experiences as either something bad (a challenge) or good (an opportunity), and this interpretation can lead us to either sorrow or happiness. As we go through our daily lives, we tend to attach ourselves to our reactions to the experiences, and these imagined dramas become our reality.

A key concept in many of the major religions of the world is equanimity. Equanimity is an evenness of mind, a state of mental stability or composure that endures through all possible changes in the present moment. It is neither a thought nor an emotion, more a consciousness of the transience of what we perceive as reality.

An attitude of equanimity can help us to detach from the emotion of what we see as a bad or challenging situation with grace. The saying “It is what it is” may seem flippant, but think about that. Things are only what they are: YOU create the response and judgment. Next time something ‘challenging’  happens in your life, take a deep breath, feel the oxygen, prana/life-force surge back into your body filling you with serenity, and release the attachment to the emotional response. The breath helps calm the physical body and leads to balance in our emotional body.

In a major Yogic text, The Yoga Sutras, equanimity is one of ‘four sublime attitudes’ along with loving-kindness, compassion, and joy, and can be realized through meditation.

White Bean Soup with Kale

This soup is so satisfying! Hearty but light, flavorful, simple(!) and literally packed with nutritional powerhouses. Makes an excellent winter meal served with some fresh sourdough bread. (Remember: every recipe I submit, organic ingredients are understood. This is vital.)


2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch dino (flat) kale rinsed, and chopped (big thick part of stem removed)
3 cups veggie stock
1-15 oz can Muir Glen fire roasted chopped tomatoes (or other fresh/canned chopped tomatoes)
2 -15 oz cans cannellini beans undrained
1-1/2  TBSP Italian herbs (thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, parsley)
salt pepper to taste

Heat large stainless pot on medium high. Add olive oil and heat. Add onion and saute til soft. Add garlic and kale, saute for a few minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, stock, herbs, salt, pepper and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

Health Benefits

Upon researching the health benefits of the ingredients in this simple soup, I barely know where to begin. Here is a highlight, but these few food items are powerhouses of health benefits. Check them out in greater detail, or just eat this soup!

Kale: Wow. It is very high in vitamins K, A, and C. Kale’s high levels of several antioxidants help protect our body from oxidative stress. This is important, as our overall risk of cells becoming cancerous is partly related to oxidative stress. Kale is a spectacular source of vitamin K, and we know from research that vitamin K is a key nutrient for helping regulate our body’s inflammatory process. It has cholesterol-lowering and detoxifying properties, and is high in fiber.
Cannellini beans: White kidney beans, cannellinis are high in soluble fiber, folate, magnesium, thiamin, manganese, iron, and (who knew) molybdenum. High in protein all alone, added to a meal with rice, you’ve got all amino acids and thus, a complete protein.
Tomatoes: Providing tons of vitamin C, tomatoes are also full of the phyto-nutrient lycopene. Both are excellent anti-oxidants.
Garlic: Known to benefit the cardiovascular system, garlic has been shown to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides. It has high levels of sulfur compounds and also vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium, and manganese. Add to this its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antiviral properties (eat fresh garlic when you are getting a cold, remember?) and you’ll have no choice but to eat more fresh garlic for its health benefits.