Meet My Family

To understand me a bit, and some of the stories that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks, I’d like to introduce you to my family!

Let me apologize for the week without posts–I am currently transitioning from one internship to the next, and this week has been a challenging one. It’s been filled with revelation, self-discovery, and some emotions and realizations that I’m sorting out. I’ll touch on that soon, and how this blog will begin focusing on the relationship between our spirituality and our physical health (while still featuring plenty of recipes)! I have a few of those to share with you that I’ve made, photographed, and devoured . . . YUM!

 My mom is above on the left, I’m in the middle, and my father’s on the left.

The entire family jokes that I am a miniature version of my father–we finish each other’s sentences, think the same way, have inside jokes, the same foot shape, and have a running competition (and have since I was about twelve years old) about who is “right” more often. I’m currently winning 🙂 My momma is a wonderful, dynamic woman that inculcated a deep appreciation of nature, plants, and gardening within me. She is a great lover of people–growing up, I’d often go into our basement to find someone sleeping on a bed that needed “some time to get back on their feet.”

My sister Megan and her husband Tim.

My oldest sister is my mentor, role model, and friend. She has been an incredible source of wisdom and joy in my life, and she currently has her own company, The Binding Bee, that I interned with last summer. Her husband Tim is witty, thoughtful, creative, and contemplative. I wish I could live with them always, and experience the warmth, joy, and happiness that emanates from within them. I love them both so dearly, and they have both shaped and fostered a good portion of my personal growth!

My second sister, Lindy, and her husband Blain.

If I am a copy of my father, my sister Lindy could be a miniature version of my mother! She is about to have the first baby in our family (SO EXCITED!) and is incredibly intelligent, advice-giving, beautiful, and innovative. I appreciate her constancy, calmness, and laughter. Blain is the older brother I didn’t have growing up–playful, protective, sweet, and very diligent and hard-working. He’s also the only person I’ve ever met to be able to toss me over a shoulder and run around like I’m a child!

My sister Kelsey and myself.

Kelsey! Growing up, Kelsey was my constant companion. She is incredibly selfless and a wonderful sister, as well as being adventurous, spontaneous, diligent, creative, and having the appearance of a goddess. Growing up (and still) I undulate between desiring to emulate her as my kick-ass older sister and being jealous of her beauty, courage, and general being.

Who has impacted you most in your life? 

Vegan Stuffed Swiss Chard

I used to really almost loathe swiss chard, which is surprising because I’ll eat just about anything that grows from the ground. I found it too earthy and gritty, but since I’ve been working at Greenbrier and bringing home copious amounts of the colorful, beautiful leaf, I had to find a way to make it that was completely delicious.

Sauteing it with some olive oil, garlic, cumin, sriracha (who doesn’t love the red rooster sauce!), salt, and a hint of maple syrup sold me. But I wanted more–more variety, more flavor, and something that wouldn’t leave me hungry a half an hour later!

Cheezy, slightly spicy, with the flavor of sweet corn and sweet potatoes.

Vegan Stuffed Swiss Chard
10-15 Swiss Chard leaves
1 Medium size sweet potato
1/2 chopped white onion
1 15 oz can black beans (well rinsed)
1 cup sweet corn
2 cups cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa)
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
Sweet Potato Cheeze Sauce  

Sweet Potato Cheeze Sauce
1 cup cooked sweet potato (about half of the sweet potato listed above)
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp turmeric (for color)

1. Cut the sweet potato in half and chop coarsely. Cook on stove top over medium-high heat with olive oil. While this cooks, start the rest of your sauce.

2. In a food processor, blend the cashews, sunflower seeds, garlic, non-dairy milk, and water until smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients. When the sweet potato pieces are soft, add to the sauce and puree until creamy.

3. Make sure your swiss chard is thoroughly washed, and remove the stems by slicing them off of the leaf. Don’t discard them–chop them, the other half of the sweet potato, and your onion and saute in a pan with olive oil.

4. Cook until the sweet potatoes have begun to soften and add black beans, corn, and cooked quinoa. Sprinkle with salt, curry powder, and garlic powder.

5. Now it’s time to stuff the chard! Lay one row of leaves in a 9X13 glass pan. Spoon a generous amount of the sautéed mixture onto the leaves.

6. Add some cheeze sauce and roll the leaves. You will have to break the stalk as you roll it. Continue until you’ve stuffed all your chard (sounds like an insult, doesn’t it?)

7. Top all of the rolled chard leaves with the remaining sauce.

8. Bake in a 350 oven for 15 minutes.

 I enjoyed mine with some sriracha 🙂 You’ll need a fork and knife to dig into this baby . . .

How do you prepare swiss chard? 

This is shared on: Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday.

Frugal Nut&Seed Crackers

So, after making Everything in the Pantry Milk, I had a bunch of this stuff left over:

The leftover meal from soaking, blending, and straining my nuts and seeds to get my milk. Because I didn’t want to waste it, I started googling “what to do with almond meal.” Turns out, there is an entire website devoted to the stuff! I found this recipe there, and wanted to modify it because it calls for a dehydrator and doesn’t use many spices. I knew that Angela over at Oh She Glows had some recipes for crackers, so I looked at this one and this one before coming up with the recipe below!

Frugal Nut & Seed Crackers
2 packed cups of leftover nut/seed pulp
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tsp sesame seeds
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
2/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp dill
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 325.

1. Combine everything except the olive oil and the water, mix well.

2. Add olive oil and water, stir to combine. It should stick together fairly well–if the dough is crumbly, add more water.

 3. Spoon the dough onto parchment paper, spread evenly by patting it with your hands. You will have to use two sheets.

5. Place parchment paper on top of the dough and roll it very thinly with a rolling pin.

6. Take off the upper level of parchment paper and, using a sharp knife, cut out your crackers.
 7. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 325 for forty minutes. After forty minutes, I took the outer ones off that were browned already and let them cook for five more minutes.

What is your favorite use for dill? 

This post is shared on: Monday Mania, Scratch Cookin’ Tuesday, and Fight Back Friday.

Everything in the Pantry Milk

Since I’ve been interning on the farm and going to the farmer’s market every weekend, I think I’ve been to a grocery store . . . once? Maybe twice? I love cooking up all the goodies I bring home from work, and I desperately want to avoid the supermarket as long as I can. I ran out of almond milk last week, and my recent reticence to run to Publix (and the ingredients in my pantry) prompted this lovely, non-dairy milk.

I’ve made almond milk in the past, but don’t do it often because it’s cheaper (and easier) for me to simply buy it. I wondered though if I could get the same results with some of the other nuts and seeds in my pantry!

Everything In The Pantry Milk
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
4 3/4 cup water
2 1/2 tbsp local honey
1/4 tsp iodized sea salt

1. Place the nuts and the seeds in a bowl and cover completely with water (not the water listed on the ingredients list )


2. Place a towel over the bowl and soak overnight.

3. The next day, drain off the water and rinse thoroughly. The cashews looked a bit discolored, so make sure to rinse well.

4. Blend the nuts and water together.

5. Add the honey and sea salt, continue blending. Don’t be alarmed if it starts to froth out a bit!

6. Strain with a fine wire mesh strainer. If you want to ensure there is no pulp, strain with a cheese cloth.

Quick taste test:

And then I added some to my chai tea!

It definitely has an interesting taste I wasn’t expected–you can pick out notes of cashew and pumpkin which I really like! Next time, I may have to do a chocolate milk and add cocoa powder, some stevia, and some cinnamon.

Check back tomorrow to see what I made with the nut/seed pulp . . . I think I may like that even better than the milk!

Do you make your own “milk” or other items most people purchase in the store (bread, yogurt, cheese) ? 

This post is shared on Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade and the Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead!

Flavorful Flourless Fiberful Chocolate Brownies!

Can you say yum? Because I can, and it sounds a lot like eating a gooey, warm, chocolatey brownie . . .

These special brownies have a secret ingredient (not that) that adds protein and fiber! When I served them to friends and asked them to guess, they speculated love and happiness. How sweet. Well, they have plenty of love, but the special secret is black beans! I’ve made these once before with my sister, but re-stumbled upon the recipe at Practical Stewardship. Though most of my recipes are vegan, this does use eggs. I used eggs from my internship at the farm, so they are from truly free-range, happy, heirloom chickens. Farm fresh eggs have less fat, less dietary cholesterol,  more vitamin A, more vitamin E, and more protein (source).

Per serving, these brownies have about 5 grams of dietary fiber,13 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein. Compare that to a Betty Crocker Brownie Mix Supreme with 1 gram of dietary fiber, 32 grams of sugar, and 1.5 grams of protein. Actually, they really don’t compare 😉 In other news, I’m still struggling with my alliteration problem . . .

Flavorful Flourless Fiberful Brownies
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
3 farm fresh eggs
2 Tbls Earth Balance
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbls vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Blend all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a blender or food processor.

2. Pour into a greased 9×9 pan.

3. Sprinkle with dark chocolate chips, or other desired toppings (I think walnuts or pecans would be simply divine).

4. Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Mine were cooked thirty minutes and were still veryyy gooey, so if you’d like them a bit firmer I suggest cooking 32-35 minutes.

5. Let cool as long as you can before eating one (or two)!

Do you ever sneak “healthy” ingredients into indulgent foods? 

Fresh Fare From the Farm

I think I may have a problem with alliteration. . . using it in excess, that is 😉

These past two weeks, I have been bringing home a stunning amount of beautiful, nutritious, fresh-from-the-field food from my internship at Greenbrier Farms. They make sure that everyone working gets to partake in the bounty of the harvest, and it’s contributed to nearly all of my meals being at least 50% local (some of them 100%)! I love eating food that I know I had a hand in harvesting, washing, and packaging earlier that week or even that morning!

These were some of my goodies last week:

That loaf of bread? GARLIC ROSEMARY! DIVINE.

This week, Roddy, one of the owners, told me to just go out in the garden before you leave and pick some of what you want . . . you know what’s out there and ready, you’re in it everyday. Isn’t food the whole point?

Why thank you sir, I believe I will! And, I believe it is!

Farm fresh eggs and crunchy yet smooth and buttery lettuce? Yes please!

This lettuce reminds me of a buttercrunch, but better! It is called kwik, I think. I used it in southwestern style lettuce wraps, and the eggs in mini, personalized frittatas. YUM!

What are some of your favorite recipes with foods in season now? 

This post is shared on: Living Green Linkup at Like  A Mustard Seed.

(Good Enough To Eat) Brown Sugar Scrub

I’ve been plagued with bumpy, red arms my entire life from a skin condition called keratosis pilaris. It is really common, affecting as much as 40% of the adult population. Essentially, the body makes an excess of the protein keratin, which gets stuck in the hair follicles and causes small red bumps. As a kid, I was never super aware of it until a friend would brush up against my arms and comment on their “sandpapery” quality. Luckily for me, my freckly self makes it hard to see, but I hate the way it feels: I’ve always wanted smooth, silky skin like that of my friends.

Not much has eradicated it, but I’ve found several things that seem to help. Along with diet (some people seem to find a correlation between gluten and their aggravated skin, mine gets worse with dairy) the best method of treatment I’ve ever done was to exfoliate and moisturize well.

Enter this gem:

After using this in the shower yesterday and today, my arms feel . . . almost smooth!

It is super simple, and I don’t have exact measurements for you all because I simply eyeballed it myself.

Good Enough To Eat Brown Sugar Scrub
Brown Sugar
Olive Oil
Honey
Essential Oil of Choice (Optional)

1. Fill a glass jar not quite full with unpacked brown sugar (I used an old natural peanut butter jar–you can see part of the label is still there!)


 2. Pour olive oil into the jar, about 1/4 the amount of brown sugar used.

3. Next, add your honey. Add slightly less honey than you did olive oil.

4. Add 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil. I love minty things, so I added 10 drops of peppermint and 5 of spearmint.

5. Stir it all together:

And enjoy your smooth, moisturized, happy skin!

Do you have any DIY beauty favorites?

To see another homemade beauty product from my old blogging work at The BindingBee, visit this post.

This post is shared on: Teach Me Tuesday.

Summer Strength Strategy

Since school ended, I have not been intentional about exercise. Being on the farm, I’m  usually pretty apathetic about working out when I get back, and end up simply snacking, reading, resting, and lazing around. All of which are great things, since this is summer and I am working, and rest is very needed.

I was recently inspired by two of my favorite bloggers, both of which are named Angela! (Funny coincidence, they’re both Canadian too 😉 ) Angela over at Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat sets monthly goals for herself, and checks in near the end of the month to see how she’s done. She also has workout plans that she follows, something that I need to be much more intentional about. I typically just go to our Physical Activities Center and do whatever I feel like. Some days, this results in a great workout where nearly every muscle’s been used. Other days, I get there and am unsure of what to do, or what I need to rest from a previous day’s workout.

Angela from Oh She Glows  recently posted about her yoga routine. She’s a runner, but because of an injury has been focusing more on yoga to give her body time to heal. She’s been doing a variety of yoga classes (hot yoga, yoga with weights, spin yoga) about four times a week!

In high school, I practiced yoga regularly, about 1-2x a week. I loved how flexible I was, and how strong I felt in my own body. I haven’t done yoga with any routine for about a year, but I’d like to start again.

For the summer, I’m going to outline a plan to continue improving my physical fitness: my endurance, strength, and flexibility. Last semester, I was running about 25 miles a week and I felt fantastic–strong, full of energy, and very de-stressed. When it got cold out, I cut back on running and increased my time in the weight room. I haven’t really returned to running with any regularity, and my weight routine lacks substance and measurable progress.

To improve/maintain my fitness, I’ve made a loose plan with enough structure to keep me accountable but enough flexibility  for allowances.

Weekly Fitness Plan: 
Running/Cycling 15 miles
Practicing Yoga 3x a week, for at least 20 minutes each time
Lift weights 2x a week, with a record of the exercises I do to track my progress

I have two goals to be completed before school starts up again:
1) Train for and Run a Race (5K or half marathon)
2)Do a pull-up (without assistance!)

I think my fitness plan will definitely help me in completing these two goals!

Do you plan out your workouts? 

Are you planning any changes for the summer? 

Asian “Mac & Cheese”

This dish is DELICIOUS . . . but not perfect yet. I’m going to have to play around with it a bit to get the texture right on the cheezy sauce. But the taste is outta control delicious, which comes in part from Chinese and Indian influences!

After going to Indian food two weeks ago, I picked up some goodies at the attached Indian grocer. One of the ingredients I bought is called “simmer sauce,” and it looks absolutely divine. It’s ingredients include: cashews, onion, coriander, red chili, sea salt, coconut milk powder, garlic, turmeric, ginger, rice, green chili, green cardamom, safflower oil, pistachio, clove, bay leaf, black pepper, fennel, cumin, mace, and saffron.

I promised you  this recipe for today, so I’ll give it to you! Just realize that soon, I will redo it. And it will be even better!

 Asian “Mac & Cheese” 

1 package of your favorite macaroni pasta shape
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 oz tofu (about 1/4 of a block)
1 cup almond milk
2 garlic cloves
1 tbls earth balance
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp turmeric (for color)
1 tsp miso
1 tsp simmer sauce (substitute any combination of the above list)

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. I usually put some olive oil into my water to keep the pasta from sticking.

2. In a food processor, blend cashews, sunflowers, tofu, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and earth balance until smooth.

3. Combine the sauce and pasta. If you don’t want to do a baked dish, heat on the stove on medium heat until warmed throughout. Enjoy!

4. If, however, you want to bake it . . . preheat that oven to 375, place the macaroni in a dish, and top with Daiya Cheese and homemade croutons*!

5. Bake at 375 for twenty minutes.

6. Devour quickly.

Homemade croutons:
Cube 2 slices whole wheat bread.
Spray with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, and dill.
Broil in oven on high until toasted.

I’m excited to remake this soon! I have some ideas to make it even more creamy and delicious, and to make those flavors really pop! And, even though it isn’t perfect in my mind, I did have a friend tell me at the meal yesterday, “It isn’t mac and cheese, but I think I like it better than mac and cheese!”

Mission, accomplished.

What is your favorite pasta dish?

 

My First Taste

Travelers, yesterday I sampled some of the local cuisine. For the first time in over four years, I had a taste of meat.

Crazy, huh? It was chicken, and just a bite at Greenbrier. Since I’m working there, I get to see how the chickens live, and sometime this month I may get to see how they die. They live like chickens–skittish and slightly stupid, but seemingly happy out on the pasture.

I’ll have to post a series soon on my reasons for eating vegetarian, vegan, and now being open to some good farm raised animal flesh. Even eating it, I don’t think I’ll ever prepare meat for myself. Maybe when it is offered to me on the farm, or when I’m with my sister preparing her chickens, or if my other sister cooks some quality meat from the farmer’s market to share with the family . . .  But it isn’t something I particularly want.

I actually only ate about a third of the chicken showing here, if that.

It tasted fine, nothing spectacular or anything I felt like I needed. And even though I only had a bite, I felt slightly sick to my stomach about an hour after. I guess my body wasn’t acclimated to it yet.

When I got to the farm, we headed out to harvest some more spinach for the CSA that was going out yesterday. Much of my day yesterday was bagging and prepping for the CSA. I got to leave early, which was nice! I’ve been working hard, and haven’t been working out. By the time I get back to the house, I’m usually super tired. Yesterday, though, since I was done early I got to walk around the farm a bit. It was great to get a whole picture of it, and appreciate it for what it is–beautiful. I’ve been so enmeshed in washing greens, I feel like I haven’t been outside beyond the morning harvesting.

Be excited for tomorrow! I have a super tasty dish to share with you that I’m preparing for some friends tonight.

Are you particular about where your meat comes from?