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.
Over-ripened bananas, bitter dark chocolate , and a sweet, salty, crunchy peanut topping
When I was young, I hated bananas. They are stringy and soft and, at times, off-puttingly sweet. I don't think that any of my sisters ever cared for bananas much either, but for whatever reason, my mom kept buying them. It seemed as though we constantly had a big bunch of uneaten, overripe bananas sitting in our fruit basket. Thinking back on it now, I wonder if my mom knew each time that she purchased bananas that their fate would be to become banana bread. I don't think I know a single person who doesn't like a good banana bread, regardless of their stance on bananas- myself and my sisters included. And we ate a lot of banana bread growing up. Not only did my mother make it often, but every time we visited my Nana, she'd send us home with a loaf or two and a jar of peanut butter. I'm happy to report that I do enjoy bananas now. In fact, I have several banana trees in the yard and harvest dozens upon dozens of little apple bananas every year. But once a banana starts browning, even the slightest, it may as well be banana bread already. Bananas are like peaches or melons, in that if you don't eat it in just the right window of time, they loose all of their best attributes. So I buy my bananas under-ripe and as soon as the body yellows up, I start eating them daily. Somehow last week, the bananas got neglected, and since there are few things more unpleasant to me than eating an over-ripe banana, I knew exactly what I had to do. And as often happens in the kitchen, a simple recipe that I intended to follow (my Nana's) got away from me. Happily, it led me to this creation, which, so far, has only received reviews along the lines of "Oh my god- that banana bread!".
Crispy sweet potato chips smothered with peppers, carrots, and spicy peanut dressing
Lately things have been feeling weird. Up until the past few days I haven't really felt like myself. And although I have a list of reasons about a mile long why, all those reasons are just bits and pieces of the same driving force. Change. All summer long I worked carefully to achieve a delicate balance. I enlisted new routines, I tried many different approaches to working, I reflected and assessed the strengths and weakness of my days... But now things are just different. The morning routine I proudly settled on by the end of summer is no longer applicable to most of my week. My delicate balancing act of priorities has toppled into a giant mess as a slew of new responsibilities and obligations have been tossed into the mix. My initiative to maintain progress on all of the things most important to me has devolved into a simple system of "what do I have to do immediately, what do I have to do really soon, and what have I been putting off for so long that I can actually justify bumping it up on the to do list?". I won't say my summer of seeking balance was all for naught- it was an important exercise. But life isn't like some project were you work really hard, execute your plan, buffer out the imperfections, and presto: Balance! Contentment! Keep that on the shelf for later! Life is fluid and dynamic. It's always changing and you can try to hold on to your plans and schedules and ideals when the tides shift, or you can go with the flow. And this fall, the current is strong, the waves are massive, and after a few frustrated months of stubbornly trying to swim up stream, I just threw my hands up into the air and let the flow of the water do the navigating.
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 fresh, raw salad that delivers in texture, flavor, and nutrition
I've struggled with balance so very many times in so very many forms throughout my life. Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don't. Lately I've been trying to find the balance between going with the flow and taking decisive action. I like having a plan. I like routine. But I also like spontaneous adventures and getting so wrapped up in something that I forget who and where I am. That's how I tend to feel when I get out into the garden. I go to water something and 4 hours later I've weeded the whole yard, planted a few trees, set up a trellis, and harvested a basket of peppers. Any "plans" I may have fly right out the window. I value that and I need that. But I also need some degree of structure and regularity. It's important to me to maintain certain habits and maintaining these habits requires having some semblance of a plan for the day. So I'm trying out a new approach to balancing these aspects of my life. Set out with objectives and a plan in my head for the day, but allow myself to get lost in each thing that I do and prioritize what I'm feeling passionate about in that moment. If I feel terribly distracted and can't get any work done, then I should go do what I want to be doing instead and not feel bad for taking a break from work. But when I do get into working on a project, I shouldn't just stop at 5 o'clock. I should power through until I get to a satisfying finishing point and not feel bad for skipping yoga and getting dinner started late. Have a plan, but remain willing and ready to re-adjust. Fighting against myself takes too much energy and is much less fulfilling.
Cheeze-its done better and with only 6 ingredients
It's Monday morning. I'm lying in bed sipping on a hot cup of genmaicha looking out at the thick grey clouds sitting heavily in the sky. I grew up on the east coast, where rain was something that was easy to take for granted, but rain is not something I take for granted anymore. I've been living in southern California for four years now and rain is easily one of the things I miss the very most. When I first left New England for South Carolina, I was happy to be in a place where the number of sunny days was at least comparable to the number of grey-sky-days. In coming to California, the grey-sky-days all but disappeared. And while this is quite convenient for bike commuting and camping trips, it's also given me a strong nostalgia for rainy days. Part of my longing for rain is environmental. The southwest is dry enough as it is and with the persistence of a three year drought, the dryness is all the more tangible. The earth is longing for moisture and so am I. But the other part of my longing is more basic and poetic. Sitting in bed, hearing the rain beat down on the roof, watching little rain drops trickle down the window pain, the sun muted out by heavy clouds emptying themselves onto the earth. You know this feeling. You've reveled in it sometime or another. There's something so calming and rejuvenating about it.
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.