YOGA BODY BASICS
How Your Meal Plan Will Work Best
FOOD & DRINK
Before you move, on or off the yoga mat, it’s important to first fuel yourself properly to get the best results. The Meal Templates that follow give you the power to keep creating healthy meals as a lifestyle for a lifetime. I want you to learn through creative repetition and recipes-with-room how to make every meal work for you.
Also, you can mix and match any recipe within the week for which you’ve purchased the groceries from the Pantry Lists; so if you feel like the smoothie from Day 3 for lunch on Day 6, be my guest.
As long as you’re using fresh, quality ingredients and not veering wildly from the basic recipe (adding a cup of sugar and a bag of chocolate chips to the quinoa protein bars, for example, or eating from the Avoid List) you’re good.
If you’re eating out, try to approximate the types and sizes of meals on this program: fresh, whole foods; not a lot of sauces; and a mix of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. The Ingredient Templates that follow will give you some options.
You can always make more of any dish and take it to work the next day, too.
A Word on Weight Loss
This is not a calorie-restricted, weight loss program. It’s sensitivity training for your palate, your body, and your health.
When you eat a whole-food diet and eat just until you’re satisfied, not stuffed, you are not likely to gain--or sustain--unhealthy amounts of weight. Many people tell me they lose excess weight naturally on this program, although losing weight just to be skinny is never my aim. It’s my intention to make you fit, strong, energetic, and “belly-happy” at your body’s natural set point--not imbalanced on either side of the scale.
Definition of Food Types
PROTEIN: lean meats, beans, lentils, quinoa (a high-protein seed), organic tofu, seitan, tempeh, nuts, and nut butter (cashew, almond, peanut, sunflower)
WHOLE-FOOD GRAINS: any whole rice (brown, red, black), quinoa (technically, a seed), amaranth, Kamut, barley, buckwheat, millet, rolled oats, oat groats, spelt, wheat berries, and teff
SALAD GREENS: spinach, arugula, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, Bibb lettuce, watercress, kale, mixed wild greens
COOKING GREENS: spinach, arugula, kale, collard, Swiss chard, dandelion, cabbage, beet greens, escarole
HEALTHY FATS FOR COOKING: extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, extra-virgin coconut oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, organic butter
HEALTHY FATS: all the fats just listed, plus nut oils (like hazelnut or pumpkin seed), fish oil, actual avocado, all nuts, seeds (like pumpkin or sunflower), and limited amounts of eggs and aged or organic cheese
ALTERNATIVE MILKS: coconut, almond, oat, hemp, rice, soy; if you drink animal milk, ensure that it’s growth-hormone-free and preferably organic
FRUIT: fresh or dried, unsulfured, unsweetened fruit of any variety
DAIRY: organic cheese, fresh or aged (limited amounts) and yogurt. If you’re lactose intolerant, goat’s milk or aged cheeses are often easier to digest
General Meal Guidelines
Most meals, drinks, or snacks optimally should include:
whole-food, complex carbohydrate (vegetables, fruit, beans/legumes, whole grains)
fun, inspiring stuff, such as a sprinkle of cheese or the aforementioned chocolate chips
Menu Basics: Creating Your Meals & Drinks
These are suggested ways to compose different drinks or dishes; a road map of what you might put in each type of meal as you move through the 21 days.
FRESH JUICES: I didn’t mention many of these, since we’re trying not to break your bank. But if you can get a juicer or go to a local juice bar, I highly recommend it. You can also throw these ingredients into a blender; you’ll get a more smoothie-like texture, or you can strain the mixture. Fresh fruit and vegetable juice is an amazing meal or snack substitute to give your body the enzymes and nutrients it needs to heal and cleanse. If you juice, here are some of my favorites blends.
A Note About Fresh Juices: As full of goodness as fruit and sweeter veggie juices are, they can still cause a blast of blood sugar and insulin into the system. Drink them in moderation, or, optimally, balanced with fats, fiber, and protein, as in a smoothie.
EYE GLASS (great for vision): beet, carrot, orange, mint
GREEN GODDESS (a detox-o-rama): cucumber, spinach, kale, celery, lemon, apple
PURPLE PASSION: blackberries, raspberries, beet, blueberry, apple
ORANGE YOU HEALTHY: pineapple, mango, orange, a splash of lemon
GREEN MARIA: green or red tomatoes, spinach, cilantro, black pepper or cayenne, a pinch of sea salt, lime; blend this one until pureed
It’s hard to say how much you need, since fruits and veggies vary in size. Experiment until you hit the recipe that works for you, but, in general, choose from
4 cups leafy greens
1 to 2 medium-size pieces each of fruit or water-based veggies, like mango or cucumber
a 1‑inch cube of peeled fresh ginger (optional)
pinch of spice: cinnamon, cayenne, salt, pepper
half to a whole lemon or lime, squeezed
If you have a juicer (suggested), feed all veggie and fruit ingredients through it as usual, including the ginger. Add any lemon, spices, or seasonings at the end.
If you’re using a blender, peel any veggies or fruits that require it, like mangoes, oranges, and the like. Remove any hard pits. Chop everything into rough pieces. Put all the ingredients into the blender, and alternate blending on Low and High until pureed.
Pour the puree into a large microstrainer set over a bowl. Stir the puree periodically for a few minutes until juice collects in the bowl. You can also pour the mix into cheesecloth or a thin towel over a bowl, fold the towel edges over the mix, and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Pour into a glass over ice and drink up.
Your goal is to see how many balanced nutrients and how much vitality you can fit into one glass, fast.
2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
ice, if not using frozen fruit
1 cup milk or alternative
1/2 cup filtered water or to desired consistency (I also recommend coconut water for added electrolytes)
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar (optional)
1 tablespoon flax oil, if not including nuts
1 to 2 cups spinach leaves or de‑stemmed kale
protein of choice (either 1 scoop of Vega One or other protein powder supplement, 1 tablespoon nuts or nut butter, 1 cup yogurt, or 1 cup silken organic tofu)
1 capsule probiotics and/or digestive enzymes (break capsule and shake into smoothie)
Place frozen fruit or fresh fruit and ice into the blender first. Add all liquids and then the rest of your ingredients.
Blend on High for 30 seconds and then Low for 30 seconds, alternating until the desired consistency is reached. Pour into a tall glass and serve.
Serves 4, or 1 with leftovers
Otherwise known as a frittata, this one’s so frickin’ fast I had to rename it. You’ll get a whole lot of nutrition in not a lot of time, including an optimal balance of fats and protein from eating the whole egg, not only the white. You can mix and match the ingredients you like, and if you don’t have fresh herbs, use a dash of dried. Save some and eat it cold or reheat in an olive-oiled pan on medium heat for a quick meal or snack.
8 organic eggs
1/2 cup grated or crumbled cheese
3 large fresh basil leaves, minced
3 large fresh sage leaves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely sliced or chopped mixed veggies of choice (try red bell pepper, red onion, green onion, spinach, asparagus tips, zucchini, sundried tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon salsa, sour cream, or splash of hot sauce (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, cheese, herbs, and salt and pepper. In a medium ovenproof saucepan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add veggies and garlic; and sauté until soft, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
Pour in egg mixture, and stir once to mix. Cook until frittata begins to set, about 2 minutes. Do not further scramble or stir. Place in oven; bake until just set, 7 to 9 minutes.
Slide the frittata onto a platter. Cut into wedges and serve at any temperature with desired accompaniments. Keep the rest in your fridge, well-wrapped, for up to 3 days.
A staple of any healthy diet, salads are invigoration in a bowl. Mix and match a variety of ingredients, and change them up each week to get the maximum benefits.
2 to 4 cups organic salad greens
2 cups fresh chopped veggies of choice
1/2 cup fresh or dried fruit
1/4 cup nuts
1/4 cup organic cheese
1/2 cup dressing of your choice (see recipes that follow)
pinch fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste
Place all ingredients except dressing and pepper in a medium bowl. Toss lightly to mix.
Serve on a separate plate or bowl, and drizzle with the dressing here, not in the mixing bowl. Add pepper to taste. Nondressed leftovers (dressing wilts the lettuce) will keep longer in the fridge.
Here are five of my go‑to dressings.
This miso-based, nutrition-and-digestive-enzyme-packed dressing can be used over salads, rice, and veggie dishes, and even as a sandwich spread. It’s so good, I’d take a bath in it if I could.
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons white miso paste
1 carrot, chopped into medium pieces
1 teaspoon peeled, chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend on High for 20 seconds and then Low for 20 more seconds, or until the desired consistency is reached.
Pour into a serving container. Store any extra in the fridge in a sealed container. Keeps for a few days.
BADASS BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
This was the first dressing I learned to make, and I still use it constantly.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional: 1 teaspoon honey or 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon minced scallions and 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
Whisk together all the ingredients in a measuring cup or small bowl. Or put all the ingredients into an almost empty mustard jar and shake vigorously. Store leftover dressing in a sealed container in the fridge. Keeps for up to a week.
CREAMY GARLIC DRESSING
This creamy delight also serves as a dip for raw veggies or can be poured over any skillet salad or quinoa/rice bowl dish. Plus, it’s vegan, so it’s perfect for those who are dairy- and egg-free or lactose intolerant.
1/3 cup cashews
2 cups filtered water
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or parsley (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Place the cashews in small bowl. Pour the filtered water over them to just cover. Set a kitchen towel over the bowl, and let the cashews soak for at least as long as it takes you to prep the other ingredients or overnight in the fridge.
Blend all of the ingredients on Pulse for 30 seconds or until smooth. Store the dressing in a sealed container in the fridge. Keeps for up to a week.
ROCKIN’ RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE
This tangy, fruity dressing is a lovely addition to your salads, especially ones that contain nuts.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup organic apple juice or cider
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
Put all liquid ingredients into a blender, and puree until smooth.
Add the raspberries last, and blend on Low to desired consistency. Store leftover dressing in a sealed container in the fridge. Keeps for up to a week.
5‑MINUTE SHAKE ’N’ SERVE LIGHT VINAIGRETTE
This sweet-and-savory dressing contains heart-healthy olive oil, and the Dijon binds it perfectly for a smooth, tangy dressing.
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine all ingredients in a Mason or other glass jar with a screw‑on lid. Immediately before serving, tighten lid and shake vigorously until entirely mixed. Keeps for 4 days in the fridge.
SADIE’S RICE COOKER CASSEROLE OR SKILLET SALAD
I designed the following two dishes to give you the maximum nutrition in the minimum amount of cooking time. It’s fun to play with the ingredients, so mix and match as you wish to create your own signature favorites.
I love my rice cooker, and I suggest you get one, because it multitasks so many meals, but you can do these on your stove, as well.
The Beautiful Body Bowl (uses a rice cooker)
1/2 cup quinoa or other grain
1 1/4 cups water
dash olive oil
2 to 4 cups sliced, assorted veggies and protein
sea salt, pepper, or other seasoning to taste
Add the grain, water, salt, and oil to the bottom of the rice cooker and cook according to directions.
After 5 to 10 minutes, add the protein to the bottom of the steamer tray, and then cover with veggies and set on top of the grain. Cover and let steamer cook until ready.
When done, place some grain in a bowl, cover with the veggies and protein, and add any additional salt, pepper, or seasoning (for example, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, dressing, olive oil, lemon). Stir together and enjoy.
Skillet Salad (If you don’t have a rice cooker, use a pan!)
1 cup grain of choice (I use wild or brown rice or quinoa)
filtered water according to package directions
pinch of sea salt
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups mixed, chopped fruit, veggies, or nuts of choice (peas, raisins, dried cranberries, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, edamame beans, garlic, carrots, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, and pine nuts all work well)
8 ounces protein of choice, sliced (I often use chicken sausage, tofu, or steak, or fry one egg in the middle of the skillet)
2 cups cooking greens (optional)
seasonings of choice (hot sauce, balsamic vinegar, any leftover salad dressing, sea salt, and pepper) to taste
In your pot, mix together your grain, water, and sea salt. Cook the grain according to the package directions.
In a sauté pan over medium-high, heat the olive oil until a piece of garlic thrown in sizzles. Add any garlic, onions next, and sauté until slightly brown. Add any other veggies, nuts, protein. Stir in any seasoning.
Sauté until protein browns and veggies are slightly soft. Add any greens on top, remove from heat, and cover for 1 to 2 minutes or until greens wilt.
When the grain is cooked, place the desired amount into a bowl. Stir it together with some of the same seasoning that you used for the skillet mix.
Place desired amount of skillet mix on top of the grain or mix everything together. Garnish with more seasoning, and serve.
I always make a little more than I need. You can store the extras in the fridge for up to 3 days, so you’ll have something ready-made when you’re busy (and hungry).
"A Brooklyn-based yoga teacher and host of Veria TV's Rock Your Yoga, Nardini is known for founding Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, which is described in detail in her first book. She is more concerned with building a strong and fit body than with weight loss: 'Healthy is the new skinny.' Her program addresses the 'whole enchilada,' using three transformational guideposts from the ancient yogi sage Patanjali (the author calls him 'Pat') who penned the yoga sutras: tapas (presence, new energy), svadhyaya (inner inquiry, truth, center) and ishvara pranidhana (aligned action, surrender). In separate chapters, Nardini takes readers through the eponymous 21 days, offering a three-pronged daily program of theme (i.e. 'get off your asana'), yoga sequence (with accompanying photos), and food (a variety of creative recipes ranging from smoothies to main entrees). Irreverent, but practical, Nardini enjoys a good steak and a glass of wine, as will readers who follow her program, if they so choose. She encourages readers to eat 80-percent whole and healthy, and the other 20 percent 'not so much.' With honesty, humor, and enthusiasm, Nardini takes a playful, yet energetic approach to strengthening and toning body, mind, and spirit. 337 b&w photos. Agent: Stephanie Tade, Stephanie Tade Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
SADIE NARDINI is a renowned Ultimate Wellness and yoga expert and founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga. Yoga Journal calls her "a star instructor" for her ability to make real transformation accessible on all levels. She lives and Oms in Brooklyn, New York, and regularly tours internationally to share her expertise.