This lean mean fiery green drink is packed with protein & anti-inflammatories to leave you feeling like a super hero
Here we are in mid-February already. The weeks are flying by. Each day is over almost before it begins... I blink and another weekend has passed. Somehow, through careful and conscientious choices, I have mostly embraced the pace and acclimated accordingly. This is a season of serious business - of finishing big projects and publishing papers, of wedding planning and house cleansing (p.s. I got engaged!), of birthdays and holidays and new nieces and nephews soon to come. This whole year, in fact, I expect to be nothing short of a glorious whirlwind. But guess what? It's okay. I'm ready for it. I'm not just going to put my head down and barrel through until I see the light at the end of the tunnel- not this time. That, my friends, is a one way ticket to getting seriously bummed out about your own existence and a strategy I have all too often resorted to in fast-moving times. But this time, I intend to keep my head up, my eyes open, and breath deeply through each rapidly moving moment. Life is both the ups and the downs. You embrace both or you embrace neither. And part of successfully embracing the hustle and bustle is having the right tools in your tool belt. For me, one of those tools is this magic morning green drink, which I dreamed up a couple of weeks ago and have enjoyed nearly everyday since.
Punchy tofu larb over cabbage, carrot, and cucumber slaw with fresh edamame and sprouts
It's nice that a new year gives us a sense of beginning. Symbolic as it may be, this year is fresh, new, unblemished. And I, for one, can say that I needed that. Whether I aligned with the year, or the year aligned with me, the timing was really just right. The month of December was like slowly waking up from a long nap - and not with disappointment or resistance, but with awe. I was slowly waking up to my life. All year I felt this kind of deep dissatisfaction, and I kept wondering why the things I usually enjoy and take solace in were not bringing me a sense of fulfillment. I should know this by now, but I'm woe to forget, that this is a backwards approach. These things are not the source of my joy, but and expression of my joy. The problem was internal. The problem was perspective. It's so simple, yet so evasive. But as soon as my focus changed form what I was doing (or trying to do) to my perspective, I started to wake up. I felt gratitude. I could see the beauty around me. I could see the traps I was setting for myself and how easy it is to avoid them with a little bit of consciousness and awareness. I felt contentment. Inspiration. Hope. I felt a lot of things I hadn't felt in a while, and I felt them deeply. Months later, I still feel this way, but I realize that I must play an active role in maintaining it. I have to pay attention to my perspective and to how I react to things. I have to choose to acknowledge the beauty around me and to engage in it. I have to cut off negative thoughts at the source rather then feeding them. Tending the mental and emotional garden. It is an active processes of maintenance and care, and I am grateful for this renewed opportunity to do so.
Power your immune system with this tasty, easy on the stomach smoothie packed with vitamins and minerals
For anyone still hangin' in there, thank you. I have been a terrible food blogger lately, but I've been being much better me. I've pretty much been working on two things for the past month: hiking and camping as much as possible and getting fit. Chris and I have finally woken up to the fact that our days in southern California will be over before we know it, and there is so much to take advantage of out here. So we've been traipsing all around our local ranges these days and it feels good. It feels almost like the rest of the world disappears, which is sometimes very nice and very necessary. The rest of my available energy has been focused on fitness. I love my work from home life, but ever since I stopped bike commuting my body has suffered. I was finding myself out of breath more often, feeling generally weak, and, well, getting a little flabby where I used to be firm. No beuno. A lot of my friends roll their eyes when I start talking about how out of shape I am, and I'm not delusional - I know that I'm a fairly thin and generally fit person - but being in "pretty good" shape isn't exactly what I'm after. I'm after strength. I'm after health. I'm after longevity. And in addition to my increasingly jiggly butt, there are three factors that have really motivated me to start focusing on these goals. Ever since I was a little girl I've idealized strong women. Strength can be so much more than and aspect of one's physique and I respect it in all forms, but there's something about feeling physically powerful that has always attracted me. So that's the first thing. The second thing is fear. This past year, I've watched a lot of older people in my life have their bodies start failing them. I know aging is inevitable, and I'm not trying to fight it, but I am trying to be prepared for it. The third is something I mentioned in my last post (which was so long ago you've probably forgotten all about it by now). I've been spending so much time in my headspace trying to balance my mental and emotional world. But I'm not just a brain, I'm a body. Ignoring my physical health to work on my mental health was not going to get me anywhere, because the two are inextricably linked. It's easy to feel like your brain is you and your body is just a meat-sack carrying you from place to place, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Your brain is your body. You are your body. And we've got to treat ourselves better people!
Hearty, spicy, chai-spiced steel cut oats & pears to boost your morning
I have happily been a morning person for the past seven years and I've come to cherish those first few, quiet hours of the day. It's a beginning, a renewal, something fresh and ripe for cultivation. In this period of reassessment, my mornings have suffered as I have not pursued much from them. But now, as fall drifts in, a renewed sense of humble empowerment is emerging. It's young, still malleable, waiting to be nourished and grow strong. That is what I'm striving for in my mornings now: nourishment, strength. I've been spending a lot of time in my head and I'm ready to start spending time in my body. I'm ready to focus on fueling my body properly, on exercising it, challenging it, stretching and adequately resting it. A healthy mind- a healthy being- requires a healthy body, and that's exactly where I intend to start. In practical terms, this means waking up, hydrating, filling my body with something hearty and nutritious, and getting in a solid work-out, preferably accompanied by yoga. It also means sustaining these habits throughout the day, but the morning has always seemed to carry my compass.
Y'all, things have been weird.
I realize I haven't posted in over a month, and trust me, I feel bad about. I've been trying to write this post for weeks. The first time, nothing came out. The second time, a lot came out, and it got a little too real. The third time I wanted to make these bold statements about new changes I'm enforcing in my life and on this blog, but then thought the better of it. I want to promise you a certain frequency, a certain standard- hell, I wanted to promise you weekly meal plans. Similarly I wanted to promise myself this new approach to life, this regimented diet and fitness schedule, all sorts of things. But then, at the same time, I don't want to promise anything. I don't need one more thing to feel obligated to and get anxious over... So this is where I am lately. Stuck in the middle, avoiding any sudden movements for fear of darting in either direction. And truthfully- I'm okay. Certain aspects of life have been stressful and challenging, but overall things have been pretty good. I've been getting a lot more outdoor time, work has been productive, Chris and I have spent more evenings giggling over gigantic glasses of wine and just letting ourselves loose awareness of time and life and things... But I still feel weird almost every day. I know that I'm at this strange place, just standing still. Breaking. Breathing. It feels good and unbearable all at once.
Lasagna-style zucchini noodles with fire roasted tomato sauce, meaty eggplant, fresh ricotta, and crispy mushrooms
Guaranteed to please meat lovers, Italians, and veggie-heads alike!
If you're a gardener or you know a gardener, you've probably found yourself with an abundance of overgrown zucchinis. I do a little harvest from the garden every couple of days and even though I swear I've picked all the zucchini there are to be picked, somehow there's always a gigantic one hiding out that I missed last time around. These massive zucchinis start to pile up in the fridge as I silently protest baking them into something. Don't get me wrong, I love baked goods, but I don't need to make dozen muffins each week for a household of two. And a dozen muffins doesn't even make a dent in the rapidly mounding pile of zucchini giants. Because, don't forget, I still have plenty of young zucchini, lovely and soft, ripe for the eating! So the giants sit and wait to be loved while I think desperately about ways to love them that don't involve sugar and flour. Such problems I have, huh? Well, fear not dear readers, for I have found a solution. A few weeks ago I made a pasta dish with zucchini noodles (a delicious little work in progress that I intend to post soon), and it got me thinking about the great potential these subtle little veggies have. I like the zucchini noodle concept, but I have a few qualms with the common zucchini noodle, the foremost of which is moisture. Pasta noodles, not watery. Zucchini noodles, way too watery. But not these zucchini noodles. No, no. These zucchini noodle are salted, squeezed, and baked until they retain just the right amount of moisture. And magnificent as they are, there is A LOT more to love of this lasagna. This is one of the best lasagnas I've ever eaten, and I say this as someone who grew up eating lasagna every other week from skilled Italian mamas and aunties and nanas.
Easy peasy zucchini popovers drizzled with lemon glaze and thyme
Last month I introduced a new post series, the "About" series, which spotlights a particular fruit, vegetable, or grain for botanical and culinary celebration. This month we're shining the spotlight on zucchini. The glorious zucchini. I've been bringing in armloads of zucchini this season and the constant supply has forced me to stretch the bounds of how I think about and cook with it. One can only have so much zucchini bread or ratatouille. I can assure you that the recipes featured this week will be the start of many more zucchini-based recipes to come, because these babies are prolific and I am determined to use them in new and interesting ways. I love zucchini and it's got a lot of potential, but it can be really underwhelming. I say this as a former vegan who's eaten my share of squeaky, flavorless zucchini stir fries and mushy veggie burritos. Zucchini isn't a particularly flavorful vegetable and the texture can be wonderful, but it's touchy. You've got to treat her right. The zucchini's culinary strength lies in it's versatility. It can easily sneak into sweets, adding a subtle note of savoriness (as in today's recipe). It can be consumed raw- crunchy and fresh. I can be tossed into a quiche, sauteed, or grilled. And if you take the time to remove a little moisture from it, it soaks up flavors miraculously well, making it an excellent choice for sauce-y dishes. You can also eat zucchini flowers, which have a similarly delicate flavor and really unique, almost creamy, texture. They're often served stuffed with some sort of cheese and herb mixture, lightly battered, and fried in a way that feels utterly luxurious.
A story about stillness, getting back in motion, and trying not to loose your shit
It was somehow nearly a month ago that Chris and I left for vacation. Until very recently, we've rarely taken vacation together for various reasons of impracticality, but we're trying to make it work because it's really so much more enjoyable. Our recent trip consisted of five days in South Carolina staying with Chris' mom and stepfather, followed by 5 days in New England with my family. It was a really lovely trip. The travel was not bad- we had audiobooks, good snacks, and each other's company. All of our flights were on time, miraculously, and no one got sick. In South Carolina we spent most of our days out and about with Chris' mom or exploring on our own. In the evenings we would meet up with friends for drinks and the kind of lively, exuberant conversations that can only occur between kindred spirits that haven't seen each other in far too long. It was wonderful. Soon after we arrived in Massachusetts, we headed down to my parent's beach cottage on Prudence Island. Prudence Island is a seven mile spec off the coast of Bristol. It's a very simple place with little in the way of entertainment. Activities on the Island consist mostly of laying on the beach, climbing rocks, reading books, photographing nature, and eating excessively. Places to go are mainly limited to other beaches, the roadside farm stand, and the new community garden. It's a magical places that gently forces you to relax. We stayed there with my parents and a fluctuating presence of sisters, brother-in-laws, and my sweet nephew for the rest of our stay. The whole trip was enjoyable and satisfying, and Chris and I both found ourselves feeling like we'd finally unwound in a very necessary way.
Let me start by saying that I'm not the type of food blogger who buys a nice camera, learns a little Photoshop, and then starts calling myself as a "photographer". I have a lot to learn and I respect the art and its artists too much to consider myself among them. Besides, I'm a graduate student- I can't afford Photoshop- let's be real. But I am the type of food blogger who is ecstatic to have a new toy that can vastly improve the quality of my photographs. And I'm a little bit in love with these macro shots. Ok, a lot (hence the long-form photo post). Aren't they pretty !?
Toasted bran muffins sweetened with brandy-poached raisins, honey, and a sprinkle of bee pollen
A refreshing blend of gin fennel, and papaya, and brightened with green apple and lime
I'm exhausted. We're leaving for an 11 day tour of South Carolina and Massachusetts on Monday and I am so excited, but this week has been a massive stress-fests. There is always so much to do before a trip! And with us both leaving, there's four animals and a ridiculous amount of plants to be cared for. In retrospect, this was not the smartest week to start my new post series- but hey- I'm nothing if not ambitious. And somehow in this whirlwind of stress and work and lists, I'm finding myself, surprisingly, on track. Maybe even a little ahead. The tension is finely beginning to release from my shoulders... but maybe that's just the gin! I'm very excited like to share this delicious little cocktail with you. It's super refreshing and herbal. And in the spirit of me currently enjoying this fine beverage and finally starting to relax, I'm going to stop the narrative here. Below you'll find some lovely pictures that I took with my new birthday camera (!!!!) and the (very brief) recipe. Happy Friday all! Get your fennel gin on!
Hi there! I'm Cara- plant ecologist, gardening addict, and whole foods enthusiast. My whole life revolves around plants, including my kitchen. Join me here at LWM each week as I post local, seasonal, plant-based recipes and write about my never ending quest to find balance and tranquility in this crazy little world.