12/06/2013 06:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Flexible Cuisine With Elena Brower


Elena Brower, founder and co-owner of Virayoga in NYC is more flexible than most. Firstly, she takes to the yoga mat with finesse, strength and of course the kind of flexibility you expect from a yoga expert. However, we refer to her as flexible because of her many talents and involvements. She is always switching gears as a mother, business woman and teacher. She is an author, having penned a yoga workbook entitled "Art of Attention;" and has written for various media entities including the Huffington Post. Her talents have even extended to film as an executive producer of a film called "On Meditation." On top of all this she has started a company with her sister-in-law, "GIVE" scent, producing three beautiful perfumed oil concoctions for women that are not only natural and non-toxic, but also propel women's causes. A percentage of every bottle sold is donated to Women For Women International and Every Mother Counts.

As you can tell, Elena is very busy and whipping up quick, delicious and healthy meals is also one of her many talents. Elena is flexible when it comes to creating dishes. In fact, she takes a gatherer approach at times and will experimentally "repurpose" leftovers into new dishes. Recently, after a trip from a New York City Persian restaurant Elena realized she had she could use to make a delicious and healthy meal for four.


"To work with, I had salads, creamy dressing, hummus, lentils, babaganoush and some yogurt with chopped beets. I needed a good grain, some dark greens, avocados and some of my own already-made miso dressing (which consists of equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, with three heaping teaspoonfuls of sweet white miso, blended with a whisk).

First I just went shopping in the salad. Tossed the sliced tomatoes, kept the still-crisp greens and carrots. There were four of us eating so I set up the four plates and started making an artful assembly line. Another look in the fridge yielded a pint of organic tomatoes which I chopped up to make bruschetta. First I toasted four slices of Ezekiel bread, poured on the olive oil and sprinkled with coarse sea salt. Then I asked everyone to place their orders (hummus, babaganoush, tomatoes, sliced avocado). In the habit of cutting off the crusts for my kid, we had triangular perfect-bite slices to order. One of my friends is gluten-free so I gave her some Mary's Gone Crackers to go with her choice of toppings.

After washing the kale (1-2 bunches for 4 people), I boiled a shallow pan of water and blanched it quickly in the water. Keeping the colander in the sink, tongs are great to quickly bathe the kale in the hot water. Once it's been dunked, take it out, put it in the colander and douse it with cold water (ice works as well) to stop it from cooking. Tongs help squeeze out the excess water from the hot kale and then I like to chop it up super fine. I got a can of organic spicy black beans and heated those up, put them on top of the quinoa, then sprinkled the chopped kale on top. Then I added some sprouted raw pumpkin seeds for crunch, poured my miso dressing on top and voila!"


The moral of the story, GET CREATIVE! Not only are you making the most of your dollar, practicing conservation, but experimenting with prepared ingredients that are on-hand can be a fun, healthy and rewarding experience.

This and That: ELENA BROWER


Food Philosophy in One Sentence:
Green in your breakfast, eat a burger when you wish to, don't eat sugar unless you are going to REALLY enjoy it, and drink green juice as much as you can.

Travel Destination:
Como Shambhala Bhutan - Uma Paro. I'm planning a yoga retreat there for April 2015.

Current Book:
Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark, The Four Desires by Rod Stryker, and The Mirror of Yoga by Richard Freeman are all within arms' reach right now.

Beauty Product?
Pangea Organics' Lavender Cardamom Body Oil

What are the key components to living a balanced lifestyle?
Arianna Huffington taught me this. Sleep, sleep and more sleep.

I never leave home without:
My bottle of Kangen filtered water, lip balm, a good pen and my notebook.

Follow Elena on Twitter