The Yoga of Cooking

Plus: a recipe for quinoa-stuffed zucchini — yum!

Quinoa-stuffed zucchini

So many people don’t make time for self care because they think it involves disposable income, massages, and half-days. But the best way I know how to take care of myself and nourish my body is to spend time in the kitchen.

I started my foray into yoga and holistic-based nutrition pretty simultaneously. They have always gone together for me.  I realize yoga isn’t for everyone (though it should be!), but as I was cooking dinner tonight, I noticed how similar their effects are on me.

First of all, as a yoga teacher and health coach, I work a lot of nights and weekends. I understand busy schedules and have to make the time to cook for myself, just like my clients. Monday nights are for Maura!  I pick up my CSA order and round out what I need with a quick stop at the grocery store. I unpack, load the fridge, turn on some good tunes, pull out my favorite knife and get to it. Very quickly, I find my rhythm. I love chopping vegetables; I find it quite relaxing, almost meditative.  I admit, I’m pretty good in the kitchen and can multitask easily. Like they say in yoga, I get in the flow.

When I am done cooking, there is a sense of pride that washes over me –the sense of “I did this,” the feeling of accomplishment many people feel after they create something from scratch.  Five simple ingredients turn into a beautiful, delicious and nutritious meal. (Check out my quinoa-stuffed zucchini recipe below!) It’s almost identical to the sense of joy I feel after teaching (or taking) a yoga class. I feel good. I am calm and relaxed. I feel better.

Preparing your own food is one of the easiest ways to take care of yourself. When you eat better, you feel better. And when you feel better, you live better. It’s that simple. Period. No rocket science. Taking care of yourself from the inside out will prove to the best investment in yourself ever. I promise. Don’t believe me? Try it for six weeks and then tell me how you feel!

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini
1 Lg Zucchini, cut length-wise
1 Md Onion, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 Cup Quinoa (Cooked)
Shaved Parmesan
Handful fresh basil leaves (optional)
Olive Oil Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 450. Cut zucchini length wise and remove seeds and flesh from one half of vegetable. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes or until zucchini starts to brown.

While zucchini is in oven, cook quinoa according to directions on the box.

With both quinoa and zucchini cooking, prep vegetables. Dice remaining zucchini and add to other vegetables in a large sauté pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sea salt. Sautee over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, keeping firmness of veggies.

Remove zucchini from oven. Spoon quinoa down the center and then top with vegetables. Add fresh basil leaves, if desired, and sprinkle with shaved parmesan. Return to oven and broil for 2 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.

Combine extra quinoa and veggies for lunch the next day.

Maura Manzo is the Managing Director of RYAH Yoga and Health in Conshohocken. She is also a certified health coach and yoga teacher. To learn more about her classes and workshops, visit or Read her full bio here.