Being Basic

I realize my posts have been a little exotic lately, and somehow doubt very many readers ran out to make anchovy butter, radish sandwiches, or Asian-inspired mustard greens. ¬†And that’s okay ūüôā

Remember how I suggested going to the store and picking out a new ingredient with which you have never cooked? ¬†Well, sometimes that isn’t something so exotic. ¬†Sometimes we are intimidated by very basic items. ¬†For me this week, this has been corn on the cob and sugar snap peas. ¬†Both were in my CSA box and honestly I have never prepared either.

I’m happy to report both turned out to be crazy easy and super delicious!

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Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas

To prep the peas you just snap or cut off the end and then pull the string off like a seam. ¬†It’s actually kinda soothing lol. ¬†The saute takes all of 5 minutes, tops, and the peas turn a gorgeous green. ¬†I seriously could have gobbled up the entire bowl. ¬†I am vowing to never buy a bag of frozen peas again!

Oven roasted corn on the cob

My husband had always grilled our corn and it was relegated to his territory. ¬†But it’s so easy to roast them in the oven! ¬†They shuck easily afterwards too. ¬†I just slathered them with butter and salt; why mess with a classic? ¬†Again, SO not buying frozen corn moving forward!

Finally, I was happy to find a recipe for a cool, creamy, fresh salad that took care of several of my CSA items:  green onions, avocados, and cucumbers!  This is so easy, so good, and so perfect for summer.

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Obsessively Good Avocado Cucumber Salad

I had this hot sauce on hand for the salad and the citrus-y/salty/sweet condiment was the perfect grace note! ¬†Again, I could eat this whole thing in one sitting…and make it again tomorrow.

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I hope you enjoy simple pleasures, today and always!

Happy Summer!

I hope everyone is making the most of every second of sunshine as the beautiful season of summer commences. ¬†One of my big takeaways from my yoga retreat was that I want to spend more time outdoors. ¬†I’ve taken a (wobbly) step in that direction by beginning stand up paddle board yoga classes; even though I have never considered myself a water person there is something so peaceful about being on the lake in the early morning.

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I also continue to make the most of the produce I am receiving from my CSA membership! ¬†It’s causing me to be more innovative which is just what I had hoped for. ¬†This past week, my box contained both mustard greens and plums. ¬†For whatever reason I have never been a big fan of plums, and mustard greens are a stretch even for me. ¬†They are spicy and bitter and I knew I couldn’t just throw them in a smoothie! ¬†I honestly thought about just throwing the greens out, but couldn’t bear the waste, and wasn’t willing to give up and admit defeat.

I took to the Internet and quickly landed on a savory recipe for my plums РPork with Gingered Plums.  Intrigued, it only took a few more clicks to find a recipe for Asian Inspired Mustard Greens which I thought would pair well with my entree.  Both recipes were easy, fast, and clean.  The final result was another *good* shock to my palate (like my radish and anchovy butter sandwich) and I loved the transformation!  It was seriously so good.

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Pork with Gingered Plums

Asian Inspired Mustard Greens

 

I also continue to enjoy my summer “grazing plates” – I sliced up the cantaloupe I received and added salty prosciutto, continue my radish sandwich obsession, and always have veggies cut up now to eat with a good hummus!

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Finally, we all need treats sometimes, and I have been drowning in apples, so I made crock pot baked apples and bought some coconut whipped cream/coconut ice cream to top them with!

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Baked Apples

I feel so much healthier in that I am eating more fresh produce (obviously) but also that I am eating more variety.  I think we are all guilty of going to the store and picking up the same items over and over again.  I am enjoying losing some control (gasp) and trying new things.  I know it offers me a greater range of vitamins, minerals, and health benefits.  Whether you utilize a CSA, farmers market, or the grocery store, I challenge you to pick up something new today and let it inspire you!

 

It’s Too Hot to Cook

After a week “off” from my CSA for my aforementioned magical yoga retreat, I was excited to resume having a kitchen stocked with fresh produce….especially as summer has¬†finally arrived in Colorado and I find myself craving light, cool meals.

Last week there was a bunch of radishes in my share and I took to the Internet to figure out something creative/interesting to do with them.  I quickly learned that radish tea sandwiches are a thing and as a fan of all things High Tea, I decided to go this route.

Remember when I talked recently about the health benefits of consuming small fish high in omega 3s? ¬†Well, guess what you get to slather on your radish sandwich? ¬†Anchovy butter! ¬†I know it sounds crazy….but it’s actually far more palatable than sardines in my opinion. ¬†The butter offers a rich umami flavor and isn’t overtly fishy. ¬†If you can find or order anchovy paste, as I did at Whole Foods, your life will be just a little bit easier.

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I blended maybe half the tube of paste with a whole stick of softened (Kerrygold) butter in the food processor along with half a chopped shallot.

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There!  Then I found this great pumpernickel bread, also at Whole Foods, which was sliced perfectly thin for my sandwiches.

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I mean, look at that couple.  Who knew pumpernickel could bring people together like this?

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Et voila! ¬†I sprinkled my little tea sandwich with some coarse salt and was shocked by how good it was. ¬†If you had told me I was going to crave radish sandwiches this summer I would have been dumbfounded….but it’s happening! ¬†With some sliced up veggies, hummus, and fruit, it makes for a perfect meal when it’s too hot outside to consider using the oven.

Of course you can just use regular butter if the anchovy throws you off. ¬†But I encourage you to try it because it’s so unexpectedly delightful and adds some dimension to this simple sandwich.

No matter what you incorporate, I encourage you to try making “grazing boards” for your dinners this summer. ¬†You could incorporate olives, nuts, stuffed dates, prosciutto-wrapped melon…. have fun and be creative! ¬†It feels elegant, won’t weigh you down, and will feed your eyes, tummy, and soul ūüôā

Retreat

This past weekend, I retreated. ¬†Joined by a dear friend, I drove a few hours to a hot springs resort near my home (I can’t believe I can say that) and spent several days unplugged (thanks terrible WiFi/Sprint!), doing yoga, hiking, and communing with nature.

I have done two retreats, and both times I have wanted to leave halfway through. ¬†My hips and knees aren’t accustomed to long periods of yoga and sitting meditation. ¬†Although not something I am conscious of/grateful for on a daily basis, I balk at my sudden lack of choice and freedom when given an itinerary. ¬†I crave the comforts of home nearly as soon as I leave it.

I have done two retreats, and both times was rewarded with magic. ¬†Bear in mind, I am not a mystical or romantic type of person. ¬†I am practical; not given to fits of emotion. ¬†But I cannot deny my experiences. ¬†At retreats, I have had profound dreams in which important messages were conveyed. ¬†I have had a life-changing spiritual experience. ¬†I have witnessed synchronicities that cannot be easily explained. ¬†I believe this is because of ¬†going within, nurturing intuition, and doing away with distractions. ¬†We all have this ability every day, I think, but the “real world” and our “real life” drowns it out.

Going on wellness retreats is becoming rather trendy, and I think it’s well worth exploring opportunities in conjunction with travel and vacations. ¬†But it’s also possible to do a retreat at home.

Here are some ideas and guidelines if you want to create your own retreat.

  1.  Set your intention.  Do you have a question you need answered?  Are you at a crossroads in life?  Are you wanting to cultivate a quality in yourself or make a habit shift?  Focus on what you want to get out of this time.
  2. Plan and prepare. ¬†Schedule a day or two for your at-home retreat. ¬†Have everything on hand that you will need. ¬†What food are you going to eat? ¬†Do you need to prep smoothie bags or have a pot of soup ready? ¬†Do you need to buy a journal, book, or a yoga block? ¬†Make sure your loved ones know you are going to unplug so everyone’s mind is at ease.
  3. Create an itinerary for yourself, then stick to it.

Sample Itinerary:

  • 8:45 Sitting Meditation
  • 9:00 Morning walk or yoga practice
  • 10:00 Breakfast
  • 10:30 Inspirational Reading
  • 12:00 Journaling
  • 1:00 Lunch
  • 2:00 Nap
  • 3:00 Afternoon walk or yoga practice
  • 4:00 Inspirational Reading
  • 5:00 Journaling
  • 6:00 Dinner
  • 7:00 ¬†Self-care practice: bath, face mask, oil massage, etc
  • 8:00 ¬†Sitting Meditation
  • 9:00 Sleep

 

Of course this is just a generalized framework and easily customizable. ¬†Retreating offers peace and quiet and insight. ¬†If you’re feeling lost, this is an excellent map for finding yourself again. ¬†You have the answers within you. ¬†Listen!

My CSA experience so far (plus recipes)

I recently joined a CSA and in so doing (and telling) have realized that many aren’t aware of this resource. ¬†CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it basically means that you are partnering with a local farm. ¬†You pay for whatever share/package fits your lifestyle, you support the local farmers, and you get fresh produce (or more) in return. ¬†It’s win-win!

I chose a single vegetable share, a single fruit share, and a dozen eggs, which I pick up at a local yoga studio on Thursdays. ¬†I’m only 2 weeks in but I think this was the perfect amount of food for me and my husband. ¬†It’s doing exactly what I hoped: ¬†making me more creative in the kitchen, and produce is now the focal point of my meals. ¬†I pretty much avoid anything in a box or package right now because I know I need to eat all those beautiful vegetables and fruits in my fridge!

The thing about a CSA is that you typically have to pay for a season upfront, so it seems like a lot of money. ¬†I opted for a payment plan that split it into two payments…but it’s still a lot of money! ¬†But if you look at what you spend on groceries, not to mention convenience items, it’s no more expensive – and it’s better quality. ¬†I actually share this as a positive motivator for me; seeing what I’m spending makes me want to make sure that nothing goes to waste. ¬†And knowing these local farmers toiled to produce this food also makes me take it more seriously. ¬†I realize this is sorta irrational (someone worked on all the food in the grocery store too) but it’s how my brain works and I’m going with it.

If you want to look for a CSA (or farmers markets) in your area, check out this site:

Local Harvest

I get an email every week letting me know what I’m getting and suggesting a few recipes, which is great for planning.

Also, I love getting farm fresh eggs!

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In my first week, I think I was pretty good about using up the produce, although I had some recipes that I liked better than others. ¬†One of my easiest dinners was I roasted baby potatoes and topped arugula greens with rotisserie chicken and some clean Primal Kitchen ranch. ¬†I felt very French ūüėČ and it was so comforting! ¬†I also made a deconstructed cabbage roll dish in the crock pot which I think could use some tinkering but it was a great way to use the half head of cabbage I received.

I wanted to share a few successes. ¬†I know we’ll all have more zucchini than we know what to do with soon (now?), but zucchini is SO versatile. ¬†I love making a savory pancake with shredded zucchini.

Zucchini Pancakes

I also shredded some carrots and finally made this amazing Morning Glory Oats recipe by Joy the Baker that had been sitting in my inbox for ages.  It is SO good!

Morning Glory Oats

 

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I am really excited to continue to share my CSA experience this summer! ¬†I’ll be focusing on how I incorporate all the veggies and fruit I receive in interesting ways. ¬†I’m picking up my next box in a few hours….it’s like Christmas every week to this foodie!

A Home Yoga Practice

I don’t really know why, but a lot of my routines and habits are shifting now that I have moved to Colorado. ¬†Perhaps I am just building upon what I had already started before. ¬†Rationally, there is no reason I couldn’t have been doing all the things I’m doing now back in Missouri, but I guess sometimes you just need a fresh start and a blank slate!

For example, I meditate for 10 minutes almost every day now. ¬†“Meditate daily” has been on my New Year resolution list for….three years? ¬†Five years? ¬† Suddenly – while the practice isn’t effortless itself – I am drawn to sit every day. ¬†I look forward to it. ¬†And I think it’s no coincidence that I am suffused with a sense of gratitude and calm.

I’m also committing more to a yoga practice. ¬†I don’t think I have been a member of a yoga studio since 2004 (ironically, the year I probably made the least amount of money EVER) and I have practiced very sporadically since then. ¬†Now, I crave it. ¬†It helps keep my body stretched out and cared for as my work is physically demanding. ¬†And, again, it’s doing great things for my mind and awareness.

As a newbie in town, I’m still shopping studios a bit, but I will be a member soon. ¬†In the meantime, leading up to the yoga retreat I am attending in a few weeks, I am dedicating myself to a home practice and wanted to share the resource with everyone.

A home practice can be great because it makes it way more convenient to show up everyday.  You can practice in your pajamas and crazy bedhead (see: me) and make it fit with your schedule.  Also, it is very affordable as there are many free resources online (or inexpensive DVDs to own).

I am partial to Yoga with Adriene on youtube. ¬†She is compassionate and has the right yoga attitude of “be where you are” skill-wise; she also encourages a lot of free-style movement which I think it great. ¬†Adriene can be kind of goofy and doesn’t take it all too seriously (although she clearly knows her stuff).

Leading up to my retreat, I am doing her 30 day yoga camp:

Yoga Camp – youtube

Yoga Camp – Adriene’s Website

If you’re not already doing yoga, whether at a studio or at home, I highly encourage it. ¬†Our culture is really drawn to high-intensity, achievement-oriented exercise, but we need to focus on developing or maintaining flexibility too. ¬†As a massage therapist, I work on so many clients who clearly have reduced range of motion, and the adage “use it or lose it” is apt here. ¬†I always say that yoga is like giving yourself a massage from the inside out….and who doesn’t want a massage?

I’m headed to my mat (ahem, really just my living room floor) right now! ¬†Namaste!

 

 

What I Ate in a (Detox) Day

I have a specialized food diary post for you that I think we can all relate to and need sometimes! ¬†My mom just visited me for 48 hours and we indulged ourselves as you do on a vacation or even just on a weekend – I had to show off our local chocolate shops, and then there was the huge blueberry pancake at Over Easy….and the carrot cake at Garden of the Gods cafe….(hey, there’s vegetables in there!) ¬†We had an amazing time together, and even though we also fit in A LOT of activity like hiking and yoga, I wanted to get right back on track with diet and bring down the inflammation in my system.

My personal opinion is that a “detox” can still involve chewing actual food. ¬†I don’t think it needs to be a fast or liquids only or anything so extreme. ¬†If you want to detox, just cut out all the major known inflammatory food groups – dairy, grains, and sugar, and eat lots of greens. ¬†I also cut my caffeine down but not completely out.

Here’s what I ate (and drank) yesterday!

Breakfast:

I ate 1.5 scrambled eggs with my mom before taking her to the airport (not pictured). ¬†When I came back home, I toasted 2 slices of gluten free bread, slathered them with roasted red pepper hummus, topped with mashed sardines, and sprinkled smoked paprika on top. ¬†The sardines are rich in omega 3s which promote gut-brain health and decrease inflammation; if you are also concerned about the environment, consciously choosing small fish means you aren’t participating in the over-fishing of popular, larger fish like swordfish and tuna. ¬†That said, if you just can’t stomach sardines on your detox day(s), salmon is a more popular alternative that also offers omega 3s.

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See?  Not so scary.  With a flavored hummus and the paprika, the fish was fairly mild.  I also drank green tea (Tazo Zen) which has a lot of antioxidants and less caffeine than black tea or coffee.

 

Lunch:

I came home from work and heated up some leftover white bean and kale soup from Whole Foods. ¬†I also drank half a bottle of GT’s Multi-Green Kombucha, which has probiotics for my tummy. ¬†This particular flavor also offers blue-green algae, chlorella, and spirulina – all freshwater algae that offer powerful detoxification! ¬†After this, I seriously skipped down the steps to return to work and had a boost of energy!

 

Dinner:

I had scallops with bok choy, sugar snap peas, and baby carrots in a coconut-lime sauce and drank about 16 ounces of water. ¬†Here’s the recipe (with veggie variations)…Curtis Stone never disappoints!

Scallops with Spring Vegetables

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That’s it! ¬†If weight maintenance is a priority to you, I can report that I weighed this morning (day after detox day) and had no gain even though I ate virtually every meal out with my mom and was more indulgent than I normally would have been. ¬†Keep your activity level up, eat extra clean after, and enjoy the sweetness life has to offer with no regrets!

Salvaging Spaghetti

I suppose I’m “lucky” that my husband doesn’t much care for pasta, as it curbed my consumption even before I paid attention to my diet for health reasons. ¬†I used to eat spaghetti sandwiched between buttery slices of bread….carbs with a side of carbs! ¬†Now I rarely have it, but I hate to write Italian cuisine off the home menu altogether.

People get fixated on the “eat” and “don’t eat” categories with the Paleo diet, and that’s a shame, because I think the letter instead of the spirit of the law is then followed. ¬†The¬†spirit of the Paleo diet is to always seek nutrient density. ¬†My brain pretty much automatically functions this way now (which can be a drag, I admit)…it’s why I’m always seeking innovative ways to add veggies or greens to my meals and snacks.

To this end, when I went to Sprouts a few days ago, I carefully checked the pasta section for alternatives, and decided to try chickpea spaghetti!  A serving offers 11 grams of protein (from the chickpeas and also from pea protein) and 5 grams of fiber, both of which will help mitigate any quick insulin spike.  A serving contains 30 grams net carbs.

Today I made a yummy shrimp dish with my chickpea spaghetti and I can personally attest that the mouthfeel and flavor of the pasta were totally normal. ¬†I don’t think someone would know they were eating chickpeas if they weren’t told!

I’ll buy this again in the future but be more mindful to load it up with veggies…in that case I think this could make a really great well-rounded meal. ¬†This won’t be in regular rotation, but if you are craving pasta, I think it’s the better choice. ¬†There are so many alternatives to wheat pasta now and they’ve come a long way!

 

What I Ate in a Day (without meat!)

Sometimes I get in moods/phases where meat just doesn’t appeal and I want to eat a little lighter. ¬†This day incorporates a couple of my favorite vegetarian (or even vegan) recipes!

Breakfast:  Berry Baked Oatmeal

You can make this at the start of the week and cut squares to warm up all week long! ¬†It’s also pretty decent cold though ūüėČ ¬†Consider adding flax or chia for some extra protein (or add collagen to your tea or coffee like I did!)

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Berry Baked Oatmeal

 

Lunch:  Slow Cooker Chickpea Stew with Apricots

I loooove this dish (although I must confess it is not husband-approved in this house). ¬†Unique Mediterranean flavors, chickpeas for protein, and turnip is hidden in there (you won’t notice it at all). ¬†I serve over jasmine or Basmati rice. ¬†Don’t skip the fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice when serving!

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Chickpea Stew

 

Snack:  Lara Bar

Lara Bars make a terrific snack, but I think it’s well worth it to seek out the superfoods and/or greens versions. ¬†The regular ones are tasty, but all dates and fruit are a bit high in sugar.

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LaraBar with Superfoods

LaraBar with Greens

 

Dinner:  Jeweled Beet Salad and Roasted Butternut Squash

You merely have to search a few posts earlier on my own blog for the recipe for the beet salad!  Today I also roasted some butternut squash, wilted spinach, and threw it together with some pumpkin seeds, currants, and spices.  It still needs some tweaking but if/when I perfect the recipe I will share it!

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Jeweled Beet Salad

 

 

Mashed Cauliflower (a few tricks)

There are many healthy food “hacks” out there, but my favorites involve Disguising Cauliflower. ¬†Cauliflower is a vegetable that I used to just not eat, period. ¬†Thinking about eating those nubby little florets was just so texturally unappealing!

Unsurprisingly, cauliflower is really, really, ridiculously good for you.  One serving offers 77% of your daily vitamin C!  It also offers protection against free radicals and is anti-inflammatory.

When I entered the Paleo world, I learned about cauliflower “rice”, which entails pulsing cauliflower in a food processor until it is broken down to rice-like pieces and then sauteing and seasoning it.

Then I discovered mashed cauliflower and have been refining my take on it ever since!   I recently made a cottage pie that was topped with this and wanted to share a few tricks I have learned along the way.  First, and I mentioned this recently on Instagram, the recipe came from Fed and Fit, which is my absolute favorite Paleo cook book.  So if you are thinking about buying ONE cookbook, it would get my vote.

Fed and Fit Cookbook

For some reason I have only come upon this gem of advice once, but if your intent is to make mashed cauliflower, buy frozen cauliflower! ¬†There’s no reason to buy a head and break it down in this case. ¬†Steam your cauliflower in the microwave (I like the Ziploc Zip’n’Steam bags), dump it in your food processor, and you’re practically done already.

Second, and this is in the Fed and Fit cook book, roast some garlic! ¬†This really elevates the mash and offers incredible flavor. ¬†I put my bulb in a muffin tin and it worked great. ¬†Here’s an online tutorial (Note: I roasted my garlic the day before; it will keep in the fridge for about a week)

how to roast garlic

Add your roasted garlic cloves to the food processor, along with salt and pepper to taste, lemon juice for acid/brightness, and 2 tablespoons of  full-fat coconut milk (from the can, in the Asian foods section of the store), olive oil, or melted butter.   Blend until creamy and smooth and voila!

This mash was the cherry on my comforting cottage pie!

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