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.
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.
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
Wine poached apricot, shredded zucchini, oat, and flax seed muffins
Today I feel so satisfied. I woke up early this morning and went straight into the back yard. Chris joined me after not too long. He cleared all the dead trees and dried up leaves out of the banana tree bed while I dug out another large sunken bed in the side yard. Afterwards I got four fruit trees that desperately needed to be planted into their new homes in the yard. It was almost unbearably hot by the time I finished. I was absolutely soaked through with sweat and covered in dirt. It felt good. Of course, I was also exhausted. But then the best possible thing happened. Dark, heavy clouds started rolling in. The wind picked up. Big, heavy drops started to fall from the sky. Thunder started cracking loudly in the distance. In a matter of minutes the rain went from scattered showers to an absolute downpour. Forceful winds and rain, beating down on the ground with an intensity I have never witnessed in southern California. The electricity flickered out pretty soon after all that started up and stayed off for nearly 4 hours. Chaco waited out the storm in the garage, Sila hid under the bed, and poor Binx spent half of the storm hiding out outside before he hurried back to the house during a break in the rain. I spent the first half of the storm glued to the window (while intermittently calling out for Binx) before falling asleep to the sound of the wind and the rain. That's a sound I haven't been able to enjoy for quite some time.
Spiced, carrot and oat muffins with bourbon cinnamon infused raisins
There's a switch in my brain that got flipped on Monday. As I've mentioned before, I am a planner by nature. More days than not, the plans that I devise for myself are flexible and adaptive. I have a rough timeline in my head of how the day will go, and I execute and adjust as necessary or desired. But when I'm busy, the switch gets flipped. And once the switch is flipped, the plan becomes a very strict, detailed timeline and there is no deviation. The plan is law. So Monday afternoon I got a call that we were moving a research campaign to Tuesday, staying overnight and returning Wednesday evening. I spent the better part of the evening ticking things off a mental list and constructing a strict plan of attack for the morning. There was one important errand that I had to run the following morning, so I wanted to have everything ready ahead of time, just in case it took longer than expected. But when I awoke on Tuesday morning with the plan engraved in my brain, I just couldn't do it. I woke up with a buildup of unpleasant sinus allergies, grumbling hunger in my belly, and a painfully swollen big toe form having the insides of an overstuffed closet fall on me the night before. And even though I wanted to get done what I planned to get done, and I was slightly disappointed and very internally resistant to letting it go- I just had to. I was tired, hungry, and not feeling well, and I had a massively long, demanding couple of days ahead of me- and I thought to myself, "Hey, maybe don't push it this morning. Maybe skim down your plan to just the essentials and spend the rest of your time and energy trying to put yourself into a better mental and physical state to take on the days ahead. Maybe jumping right into a million things is not the best way to feel prepared for the day. Maybe I have to just forcibly flip that switch back in the other direction."
A savory, hearty breakfast bowl with pickled radishes and sriracha cucumbers
Everything feels very quiet and still today. Chris left for a conference on Saturday and won't be back until Thursday. I always feel suddenly incomplete when we have to spend time apart. We're both fairly independent people who require a certain amount of alone time, but we've grown very content and comfortable in each other's company and it's just strange when we are apart. Joni said it best- "the bed's too big, the frying pan's too wide". I usually spend the first day after he's gone bumbling around, feeling off and a little lonely, and then perk up around the second day and try to pack it full of things. If I can get swept up in my usual string of passions, I can drift off into a world where I forget that he's not here and avoid the onset of boredom. This morning, I woke up early and decided I ought to head off missing his companionship by cooking a really hearty, savory breakfast dish. Chris and I have been entertaining this idea of savory, vegetable-infused breakfast dishes a lot lately, but we haven't done too much actual experimenting. I think mostly it has to do with time. We get up plenty early, but always manage to fill up our mornings with odds and ends and usually just try to throw together something quick for breakfast. But if I planned my mornings a little better, I could be eating dishes like this every day.
Light and fluffy, yet still moist and rich- the perfect pancake
Hi, my name is Cara and I am addicted to breakfast food. As someone who identifies as a healthy, veg-heavy food fanatic, it feels good to get that off my chest! Growing up, every Saturday our family would prepare what we affectionately referred to as "big breakfast". Big breakfast is the kind of breakfast you might expect to get at a top-notch old fashion diner. A heaping plate of diverse breakfast foods- ideal for the indecisive eater and all-around breakfast food lover. A typical big breakfast menu in our house consisted of "eggy-tatoes" (don't bother googling it- we made up the name and my mother is the only person on earth I've ever seen make them), scrambled eggs, english muffins, bacon, and either french toast, waffles, or pancakes. Even with six people at the table this is, yes, a massive amount of (mostly very unhealthy) food smothered in butter and syrup. But it is soooo good. So good.
I don't eat big breakfast very much anymore. A couple times a year I catch one when I'm home visiting the family and every once in a great while, Chris and I will go out for a gluttonous breakfast at our local diner. But by and large, my big breakfast days are a thing of the past- a happy, delicious memory. Once every couple of weeks, though, we indulge in a "little breakfast", which is essentially some carby, buttery deliciousness that normally wouldn't fly in this house as a respectable breakfast (a respectable breakfast being one with nutritional value that doesn't make you immediately feel full and lazy).
Dark savory caramel, mildly sweet figs and tangy yogurt
Today has been immensely lazy. We did our 8:30 market run, but despite leaving early it was miserably hot by the time we got back. I was already feeling sleepy this morning after a post-wine-Friday dinner party that went to 11 pm, and the onslaught of 100-degree heat just totally deflated me. I came back to the house, stuffed the dairy in the fridge, drank down a couple glasses of water, and laid down. It's 3 pm and all I've done since then is get the rest of the groceries put away, load the dishwasher, and eat a number of snacks that are supposed to collectively pass as lunch. Am I slightly disappointed that 1/4 of my weekend is gone and I haven't hardly moved today? No. Not really, actually. The weekend is my time and I like to use my time productively and constructively, but today the most productive thing I could do with my afternoon was to just be a bump on a log - to embrace being lazy. Sometimes going from tired and lazy to active and engaged is just a matter of getting going. Sometimes its a matter of needing to be a waste of space for half of the day and then rebooting yourself. After heaps more water and an afternoon coffee, I'm starting to feel ready to take on whatever little odds and ends peak my interest today. I think the beginning of a nice fresh loaf of bread is on the horizon for today. Maybe a little stretching, a phone call to my dear mother, a nice hearty curry for dinner, a long walk once the sun goes down... I'll make the rest of the day count. I promise.
A vegetarian version of a Vietnamese classic
I moved to California shortly after graduating college. I had a bit of money saved up and a place to live, but no job prospects to speak of. But I had a good degree, a spotless academic record, 8 years of solid work experience under my belt, marketable skills... how hard could it possibly be for me to find a job? If you've been unemployed any time since 2008, you're already nodding you're head at me, fully aware of how naive a question like that is. It doesn't matter how qualified you are- these days finding a job is incredibly difficult. So I went through the same monotonous soul-sucking motions as anyone else in that position. For months I spent 6 or 7 hours a day scouring job sites, sending in resume after resume, writing cover letters, taking skills tests. This process is so grinding, so disheartening. I'd send out a hundred resumes in a day sometimes and never hear anything back. So when I did finally get an offer, I jumped on it. So what if it's something I've never done and know very little about? I have loan payments that are going to start coming due next month. I have rent to pay! So I took the job. It was awful. Awful! I was working for peanuts in this lonely office on the other side of town, spending all day long arguing with banks over lost paperwork and unfair denials of loan modifications. If you've ever had to call a bank for any reason whatsoever, you can imagine how truly horrible and infuriating this line of work was. Hold music... talk to a machine for 20 minutes... more hold music... talk to a representative who makes you repeat everything you already told the machine.... get transferred to someone else.... repeat. A month or so later, I started my job hunt again.
A sweet, simple, and satisfying household staple
Today I am sitting in my windowless office, staring hard at the clock as if I can somehow mentally force it to wind to 4 o'clock. My desk is a mess with papers about ecotoxicity and greenhouse gas emissions but I cannot bring myself to read more than a page at a time without feeling mental exhaustion. After a whirlwind spring and a much-needed vacation I feel like a car that's been driven across the country and then left to sit in the garage for a month. I keep turning the ignition and getting out a sputter or two, but the motor just doesn't want to run. But beyond this (hopefully temporary) lack of motivation, my head is already elsewhere. It's Friday after all, and that means a few things. First, it means the work week is almost over, which is simultaneously exciting and slightly daunting as I realize how little work I have completed this week compared to the mountain I'm slated to tackle this summer. Second, it means that when the hands of the clock finally do reach 4, it's time to go up to Picnic Hill with some friends and pop open a few bottles of wine to celebrate surviving another week of graduate school. And third, it means that tomorrow is shop day, which makes today the last day to plan out our weekly menu.
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.