I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person that needs to switch things up, often. I like change and welcome it with open arms, even sometimes going so far as to seek it when life feels too calm. That’s a little embarrassing to admit, even.
A lot has been going on in my life lately that has done just the opposite of that change I usually seek. Rather, it has been thrown at me from every which direction, every time being right when I thought I was getting my tush settled into a comfy seat. It’s particularly in those moments that I awaken to acceptance, and start to look a little closer at the importance of sitting still. Seeking out change can be fun, but it isn’t always the most healthy approach.
So today I thought I would start small. I took a killer yoga class at Y2 Yoga, where I will soon be an Energy Exchange member (free yoga!!!!)), and I made a smoothie that I have never made before. I had never taken this class before (Tanner’s insanity, errr “Double Shot”). It was great for my brain, even when I had to walk out after the first sequence. This smoothie was equally delicious and refreshing, and will help keep me still while I sort out some details about my life. I was more than able to enjoy this one to the end. Whip it up the next chance you get!
2 Cups Kale (I used Red Russian)
1 Cup Blueberries
½ Cup Water
4-5 Basil Leaves
2 tsp Chia Seeds
1 tsp Spirulina
Blend and enjoy! And remember to sign up for the occasion emails I send! I’m going to send a “Year in Review” soon that I don’t think you’ll want to miss.
I was sitting here debating the course of the rest of my life when it dawned on me that things could be so much simpler. Instead of trying to be a magician who can predict the future (and do a terrible job, at that), I could just do something right now, like share a recipe that’s been in my queue for over a week now!
I feel so lucky because amid a lot of mayhem, life just keeps getting better. I've been a bit on edge lately because I have to move tomorrow, I'm house-sitting this week (bad timing on my part), my cat needs a temporary home, and I don 't know where I'm going to be living next besides my mom's spare room. Nonetheless, I found out today that an article I wrote for NPR's Charlotte food blog, WFAEats, is live! Read it here. What great news!
I also recently quit my job as GM at Luna’s Living Kitchen to do something that feels totally insane - bartend at a diner. Yep, you heard me correctly. I left a community of like-minded hippies who are mostly vegan, and all love raw, organic anything, to serve a group of folks who mostly can’t fathom why anyone would EVER consider being a vegetarian. This isn’t a criticism, by the way. It’s just...totally and completely opposite where I’ve been. Nonetheless, inspiration has ensued. I will share more about my decision in a future post.
At Pinky’s Westside Grill, we serve a burger (beef or the veggie Nature Boy) “Ding Dong Style,” which means it is topped with Honey-Cilantro Coleslaw, Peanut Butter, and Sriracha hot sauce. Unfortunately the slaw contains mayo, so I have not taken the risk of extremely upsetting my stomach, even if I could have gotten it on a veggie-dog. Ya'll know I don't do dairy. Yet that hasn't kept me from drooling at the genius flavor combination that I serve every day.
So, I made my own version at home and have been eating it for days. It is so good! I put it over romaine leaf “tacos,” with hot sauce, peanut butter and some blackened baked tofu to create my healthier version of Pinky's favorited offering. I've also sauteed it with brown rice, and of course have eaten it just plain as well. Since my version is half cabbage and half kale, the options really are endless.
I hope you enjoy it!
Summery Sweet Kale Coleslaw
1 Small head Green Cabbage, shredded or finely chopped
1 Small Green Apple (or 1/2 of a Large one), peeled and shredded
1/2 Bunch Lacinoto, aka "dinosaur" Kale, shredded or finely chopped
1/2 Cup Cilantro, packed, then diced
1/4 Cup Red Onion, diced
1/4 Cup Brown Rice Vinegar
3 tbsp Honey or your favorite liquid sweetener
1 Lime, Juiced
Optional: 1 diced Jalapeno, per cousin Brendan's suggestion!
To taste: Salt & Pepper
Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Massage with clean hands until the sweetener is evenly distributed and the kale and cabbage are tender. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy!
It dawned on me last night just how much I am like my Poppop. I never fully realized it until, in the hours after his passing, I sat there with my family just wishing it were me and him. I could always sit with Poppop in silence, not a trait that comes easily to anyone else in my loud family. I always admired how, amidst the mayhem of story-telling and opinions flying like pigs, Poppop could just sit there and listen. And when he did have something to share, it was immensely important.
Poppop was a genius, the kind that let his instincts dictate his work, as opposed to having an exclusively intellectual drive. What I mean by that is that he knew what needed to be done, and he did it. It was the only way he knew how to raise 10 kids. He worked his ass off.
The truth is that I, like my Poppop, was working hard to get through it all. I never knew what a drive I had until this last day of a long work stretch, when I wanted to just push through it and pretend everything was okay. I’m so glad I reprioritized my life once I really understood the plight of his condition.
I sat by his side at 1am on Saturday, sharing his sentiment: a desire for silence. I held his hand and cried by his side, hoping that in some weird way he could hear what I was saying to him in my head. The room spun and I needed him to myself. Finally, after about 45 minutes of not knowing how to ask for such time, my mom suggested to my 8 aunts and uncles that I be left alone with my granddad.
I told him I wished we could have gone running together, and that I would miss him terribly. After my father passed away, when I was 5, I would spend hours at a time by his side in his home office, just writing on notepads and wishing that someday I could be a businessman like him. I shared his passion for words and languages, beautiful penmanship and art, and a palate for ethnic food like no one I’ve ever known. I, too, am gentle until I’m crotchity, feel certain that I always know best, and have a hard time giving compliments. I get these things from my Poppop. I will always cherish these beloved traits that both endear and deter those around me.
After hours of eating and drinking wine with the family, last night, I retreated to the back bedroom and proceeded to allow myself to cry. I’ve always been a sympathy cryer, but this was a moment I needed alone. Finally, my mom came and held me. She, too, understood the weight of his loss, her father. We both knew it was time for us to leave.
I said all of my goodbyes, being careful to lag behind my mother so that I could complete one final task. If there’s something my grandfather taught me, his Hannah Banana, it’s to enjoy a good scotch. I quickly reached into his liquor cabinet, and stole his last set of Brandy mini-bottles, and the drop of Dewars that remained.
Today I made these cookies to commemorate my dear Poppop. And enjoyed a sip of VSOP in his honor.
To Poppop, with love.
Soft-baked Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 Cup + 2 tbsp White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup Oats
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil, melted
3/4 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar
1 very ripe Banana
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Vegan Chocolate Chips
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Combine flour, oats, and baking soda in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mash banana with oil and sugar. Add salt and vanilla extract.
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and stir until just combined. Add chocolate chips and stir.
5. Drop by heaping teaspoon onto a baking stone. Bake each batch for 8 minutes. Allow to cool for 1 minute before removing from pan.
Enjoy, with a loud "mmmmmm" just like Poppop did. Follow with a sip of scotch on the rocks.
While Spring may technically be just around the corner, it’s been alive in my heart for weeks. How else is one to get through slushy cold sleet and days of cloud cover without going stir crazy? I have pounced on every opportunity to lay in the sunshine, wear bright colors, and eat ripe fruit. Oh, it’s coming, folks. We’ve all summoned it.
Seasonal change invites new “clothing,” whether it kickstarts your running habit or forces you to put away the cozy scarf. This week, I was simply in the mood to change the color palette on my plate, when this salad came to mind.
As much as I love warm, roasted tahini veggies (that, yes, I have eaten 10 times), I bought some blackberries that just begged to reclaim my tahini addiction in the form of a new dressing. A splash of good balsamic vinegar enriches the flavor, and perfectly compliments the berries.
I also make a point each week at the grocery store to purchase a fruit or vegetable that I haven’t used in a while, if ever. If I have no idea how to use it, even better. This week: radishes. I didn’t do anything fancy with these bright red pearls. I shaved them thin and put them atop baby kale, along with sliced strawberries, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds. Next time I’ll also add avocado and peas.
Yet, as-is, this combo got my taste buds ready for Spring without too readily ditching the warmth we’ve all needed for the cold. This would also make a great mock-chicken or pasta salad dressing. I hope you enjoy!
Blackberry Balsamic Dressing
1 Cup Blackberries, the more ripe the better!
2 Dates, pitted
¼ Cup Water, plus a splash
¼ Cup Olive Oil
2 tbsp Tahini
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
S & P, to taste
Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor, or using an immersion blender, until well combined. Whisk in oil. Enjoy!
I was sitting here this morning, catching up on the blogs I haven’t had time to read, when a sudden urge [read: distraction opportunity] grasped me. I awoke my iPhone and eagerly launched the horoscope app that I’ve come to use daily. I am okay with admitting that, since I immensely appreciate the little things we do just to get us through the day. For me: a silly horoscope can propel my thinking from self-centered to more generous. If that’s what it takes, who can blame me?
Today in particular, though, I was sinking into a steep frenzy of whosits and whatits and future-predictions GALORE. Anxiety, panic, not staying in the present. But when my horoscope read, “you aren’t recognizing what you already have,” I felt an oh shit jolt right through me.
I do have a lot. How refreshing to step out of the rut of discontentment just for this moment.
The words we tell ourselves about our current situation are exclusively to blame for our ability or inability to express such gratitude. I wish I had, I can’t wait until, and One day I’ll… remove us from our current reality of fulfilling abundance and displace us into Self Land. In Self Land, one need not leave the windows open. It’s sad, lonely, and scary.
In Self Land, we lose sight of a lot of things. We lose sight of the simple fortune that it is simply to wake up each day. We start to think about the things we wish we had instead of what we currently do have. Unfortunately, when those long-lost wishes do come true, we find ourselves right back in Self Land, staring at the grime of dirt beneath our feet when there’s a beautiful forest and sky above us. Here, we refuse to embrace the here-and-now, rather owning the imagined perfect life that would certainly woo our contended selves out from beneath the rocks.
I prefer to choose gratitude for the present. Learning to return oneself here often is an art form I have yet to master. Fortunately, though, life is so forgiving that we can start back at square one when we find ourself absorbed in negativity and unaware of reality. Someone said to me this week, what is your reality? This helped tremendously.
In reality, I have a roof over my head.
In reality, I am able to feed myself.
In reality, I have an awesome job.
In reality, I know how to have fun.
In reality, I am loved.
I AM loved. When I started this blog, it was part of a commitment to loving myself through the food choices I make. I show myself love by preparing delicious, healthy food on a regular basis. This dish in particular has also come to represent my love of a simple life. I have given myself permission to eat this- not once- ten times, in the past two months. I love it that much. It is easy, wholesome, comforting and light all at the same time. It makes my taste buds sing.
It also quickly snaps me out of that ungraceful food rut. I’m not kidding when I say I will never tire of this salad because I can make it notably different every time without sacrificing the parts I love so much.
The gist is as follows: roast cauliflower and whatever else you have on hand. Warm evoo, garlic and tahini. Toss. Serve over your favorite greens with a squeeze of lemon, and enjoy. Slices of avocado or crusty bread take it over the top.
To the Here and Now,
There are so many variations to the salad, so trust me when I say to experiment outside this basic guideline!
Warmed Tahini-Cauliflower Salad
1 head Cauliflower, cut into florets
2 other vegetables, chopped:
- Sweet Potato
- Bell Pepper
- Snap Peas
- Red Onion
- You name it!
Kale, Romaine, or a blend of the two!
1/2 Cup Chopped Parsley
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Tahini
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 lemon, quartered
1. Lightly oil veggies. Roast at 350 just until fork tender. It's important to roast each vegetable separately (as opposed to all mixed together), since they may take different times to cook. I always check first at 10/15 minutes, then every 10 minutes following.
2. Meanwhile, add olive oil and garlic slices to a small soup pot. Put on Low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat if the garlic begins to fry, as you are just trying to warm the two and infuse the oil with the garlic.
3. Turn burner off and whisk in tahini and juice of half the lemon.
4. Top greens for one with 1/4 cup of each veggie (still warm!), and drizzle with the warm dressing. Squeeze another quarter lemon over each and generously sprinkle with parsley, salt, and pepper. Avocado makes a great addition!