Without question, Summer is my favorite season. I love the heat, sunshine, even the humidity. Being able to be outside and enjoy a picnic in the park, a day at the lake or an outdoor meal makes my heart sing. Running in the heat, feeling the sun on my skin, my muscles warm and flexible - it's a feeling like no other. Then there is the Farmer's Market, a little slice of heaven in our neighborhood. Since the market opened, we have been going weekly and I have been so impressed by the variety available. Baby lettuces, a variety of greens including Bok Choy, Mustard, Dandelion and Kale, hothouse tomatoes and cucumbers, mushrooms, beets, zucchini, rhubarb, asparagus, garlic scapes, strawberries and cherries are all abundant right now. And the taste... this produce is fresh and flavorful. I am especially blown away by how good the tomatoes have been! Fresh tomatoes, in June, what a gift.
Our market is small, but the options are plentiful. We begin by perusing the entire market, walking from one end to the other, getting a sense of what is available. Then we head to our favorite farmer's booth and load up on everything that looks good including a variety of greens, lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers and what else is new this week. Chatting with the farmer, we learn about the growth cycle of the baby lettuces and that a strange fungus took out the recent crop so he won't have them again for a few weeks. His cucumbers are delicious, but he doesn't have any this week and shares that cucumbers have a very disappointing yield - the plant grows about 12 feet high but produces only a few cucumbers, I had no idea. We continue onto other booths, picking up a fresh bouquet of flowers, some mushrooms, a vegan/gluten free pizza crust, we sample tofu and pickles. I learn about composting and purchase a bucket to take home with me and I'm pleased to report we are off to a solid start, it's easy, it doesn't stink and we have less garbage - win, win, win.
When I arrive at the market, I don't have a plan to buy particular items. I buy what looks fresh, I taste items I haven't tried before and bring them home to experiment. Each day, I assess what I have on hand and pull together different combinations of ingredients. Some of my favorites so far include:
I'm looking forward to what this week will bring. What are your favorite items to pick up at the Farmer's Market?
Over the last two weeks, I have been focusing on eating mindfully and being present with my meal. No working, no multitasking, no upsetting conversations while eating. I sit quietly and focus on my food. I enjoy each bite and chew my food thoroughly. I find putting my fork down in between bites helps me focus on chewing. I notice that I'm breathing - full, deep breaths. Some days are more challenging than others and I want to look at my phone, or email or even flip through a cookbook, but for the most part, I stay present. This practice is teaching me how often I reach for a distraction and how much I hurry to get to the next thing - for what?
After my meal, I sit or lie down for 5 minutes and then walk or move mindfully for another 5 minutes. Sitting after eating has been the hardest part, but setting my timer helps, as does focusing on my breath. Interestingly, this practice is creating more space in my life.
It's prompting me to slow down and become more aware.
I tend to reach for my phone and listen to a podcast or manta music whenever I go for a run or walk. Yesterday, I left my phone at home and walked for an hour with my pup, Ollie. I felt more connected, more at ease and less hurried. Ollie seemed more relaxed too. It was a refreshing and peaceful experience.
"Those who have the most success and last the longest are the ones that truly enjoy the training [practice], the journey, self-exploration and daily self-care... They are process driven vs outcome driven." Chris Hauth
After a very cold, snowy and windy training - I ran my first race of the year today. I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to cold weather running, but I scheduled this Half Marathon to motivate myself to get moving and to condition myself for Marathon training. This race was my I did it moment as I happily waved goodbye to winter. The weather this morning was beautiful, sunny and mild. The course was hilly. I felt strong and better prepared than I realized. I can't ask for much more.
This is what I ate yesterday and this morning, in preparation for my race today. I started yesterday with a smoothie very similar to my Spring Super Food Smoothie except I substituted orange juice for the plant milk and omitted the cacao.
My pre-race meal will sound familiar. One hour before race time, I ate one half of a brown rice tortilla with 1 Tbsp nut butter, 2 dates, a sprinkle of hemp seeds and about a teaspoon of maple syrup. I also had coffee with soy milk and drank about 32 oz of water before the race began. We had just over an hour of driving which gave me plenty of time to hydrate and eat my breakfast.
Here I am, post 13.1 - Mission Accomplished!
If your cutting board slides or moves on your counter when you are slicing veggies, place a damp cloth under the board. This will keep it firmly in place, allowing you to chop your veggies safely. When you are done, use the cloth to wipe down your counters and stove top.
CWAU = Cooking While Angry/Upset
Stop. Don't do it.
Life happens. An argument with our partner, the kids are fighting, a parent is sick, rough day at work, just finished the tax return - and we owe. Situations that may cause our stomach to turn, a sinking feeling, rage, frustration, gritted teeth - and yet it's 5pm and we need to get dinner started. Take a deep breath (no really, take one right now), the energy we put into our food affects how we digest it, our emotional state impacts digestion as well.
Here are a few tips when you are feeling angry or upset and it's meal prep time:
Know that you are loved and appreciated. xoxo
It's Friday also known as my long run day, but today is a drop back week (yay!) so only a 10k - which felt really good. It was my first run this year without needing to wear a jacket, the sun was out, it wasn't windy - it was beautiful! While I have been having smoothies most mornings, today I opted for my brown rice tortilla-nut butter-dates and hemp seed combo.
I seasoned the peppers similarly - chipotle and chili powder, cayenne, garlic and onion powder and cooked until they were softened, but still had a little bite to them. As you can see, they retained their bright color. To make the tostadas, I heated corn tortillas right on the rack in a 350˚oven until they became just crispy. I topped the tortillas with beans, veggies, avocado, salsa and nutritional yeast for a lunch rich in fiber, protein, healthy fat, antioxidants and vitamin C.
At the start of winter, I watched a video by Dr. Douillard about the importance of eating seasonal foods to maximize our digestion and nutrient absorption. It made sense. While we have access to all sorts of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, it doesn't mean we should eat all that we have access to. Over the last few months, I focused on eating more winter foods - root veggies, cooked foods, more oil, soups and stews and what I found was that these foods were easier to digest and most notably - I did not have the eczema break out that I typically have toward the end of winter which was not only a relief, but an indication that what I was eating was being optimally digested and absorbed.
I have noticed at the grocery store that asparagus is affordable again which means it's in season - an indicator that spring has sprung! From an Ayurvedic perspective, in the months between March and June, we want to focus on foods that are Pungent/Spicy, Bitter, Astringent/Light, Dry and Warm. This includes some of my favorites like asparagus, beets, carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers and spinach. While not in season here in the midwest, using chilies and hot peppers are a nice way to incorporate some of the pungent taste into dishes in the spring. We don't have an abundance of seasonal fruit this time of year in the midwest, but frozen berries and dried fruit are good options for spring. I've been enjoying nuts and dates as an afternoon snack lately, very rich and satisfying to my sweet tooth.
In terms of legumes and grains, try to incorporate kidney or garbanzo beans, lentils and mung beans, quinoa, oats, corn and millet into your spring recipes. Dr. Douillard also provides a list of recommended spices and more suggestions for spring foods here. Just reading through this list and seeing what is currently available locally is making me excited to create and share some spring recipes using the pungent, bitter and astringent recipes.
What are your favorite spring veggies?
Well seasoned food is important for any cook, but especially the plant-based cook and especially if you are cooking for people who still eat meat. I find if I season food well, my husband not only enjoys it but let's me know he doesn't "even need meat with this meal." This is music to my ears.
I love my spice collection. I enjoy having a variety of spices on hand so I can create any flavor combination and try new pairings. But as you can see below, I have a lot of spices and organizing them has been a challenge. We moved into our place about 3 years ago and at the time, I wasn't sure what to do with my spices. I knew I wanted to have them near the stove and I wanted to be able to see them. We have these little shelves next to the stove and I though - perfect! I'll put them there and they will be accessible when I cook. But they didn't all fit, so I also used a small drawer and put less used spices in the drawer and the spices I regularly use on the shelf. As you may imagine, that didn't last long as drawer spices ended up stacked on the shelf and while everything was accessible, it was such a pain because I could only see what was in front. I had spices stacked on top of each other both on the shelf and in the drawer. It was messy and inefficient.
In January, I watched Marie Kondo and was totally inspired to overhaul - well - everything 😂 especially my kitchen. I pulled everything out as she suggested, and yes, it was OVERWHELMING. I went through my spices and tossed those that were old, empty and rarely used. Because I pulled everything out of my cabinets and drawers (which was totally worth it) I was able to assess the best place for each item and I realized I have these big drawers that would be perfect for spices. I selected a large wide top drawer that had the perfect depth for spice jars and lined them up, they all fit nicely. I categorized the jars placing spices with each other, then herbs, then blends and seeds and extras in the back. While I alphabetized everything as I put them away, that didn't last long (let's not get too crazy), but this system has worked VERY well for the last 2 months. I know what I have and where to find it. It is functional and I feel happy and inspired took cook every time I open my spice drawer.
I would love to know, what type of organization do you use for your spices?
I am an animal loving-Vegan runner, I practice and teach Kundalini Yoga and I love to cook and eat flavorful plant-based food.