I had the pleasure of meeting Laura through her blog over the summer and was instantly captivated by her honesty, authenticity, and food philosophy. There is a light about her too, the kind you gravitate to, the light that makes your heart feel full. I’d like to call her a friend in real life, one day. At her blog, The First Mess, Laura shares seasonal recipes that are accessible, and full of gratitude. When she sent over the writing, recipe, and gorgeous photos for today’s guest post, I had to resist an urge to make a second trip to Whole Foods for the day and pick up some dill for this recipe. This is the kind of thing I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your passion and light in this space…
Afternoon walks are my new thing. For about an hour each day, the dog and I take to the streets to stretch our legs and quiet the mind. One foot in front of the other; exhale. The simple act of unplugging to appreciate a bit of late sun with my curious friend has been such a tonic as of late. On most walks, I have a strict “no-thinking” policy. We over-thinkers need a break from time to time. No thinking, just being. When I pass walkers now in the car, I feel solidarity with them – sort of the way my dad feels when he spots another mini cooper on the road: I’m with you, I get you, keep walking woman!
Things have been exceptionally busy this month and for that I really can’t complain. A full plate of work and opportunity for growth is a gift, and I try not to take it for granted. I spend all day writing for other institutions and publications, so Happyolks is getting a bit of the short end these days. It’s okay. This is real life. We’re trying to strike the balance. The walks help; I highly recommend it (smile).
A few months ago we agreed to do a guest post for The Ravenous Couple, which you can find the recipe for the above photos on their site this Friday. They’re getting married! Love, light, and good ju ju to them.
Take a walk today; leave your thinking cap at home. Unless, of course, you live in the Midwest. In that case. Dance around your air-conditioned room to this video.
Although we would like to believe that many of our better qualities have been independently developed through time, growth, and experience; I think that our parent’s unconscious role-modeling profoundly influences (for better or worse) how we decide to live out our own lives. From the day we enter the world we are watching, observing, and absorbing information from our surroundings and constructing our own sense of self and character. The in-between moments, the day-to-day transactions and behaviors of our closest human contacts, our parents, were (and for many of us, still are) making a mark on our own disposition and decision making.
This can be a scary thought for parents and adult children alike. No, you are not your mother or father. But his and/or her tremendous qualities and frustrating blind-spots have forced a response to change or emulate. The older I get, the more realizations I have about how my behaviors have been shaped by family. In lieu of Sunday’s passed celebration of Dads, here is my public thank you to my own, whose traits I am happy to share.
Dad, I’m so glad you’ve rubbed off on me over the past twenty-one plus years. Your love, encouragement, and support have meant more than words can truly express. Thank you for consistently modeling patience, leadership, and how to ride the waves of change as they come in and out of life. You’ve helped shape me to be a fearless opportunity seeker, showed me how (and how not) to work with challenging colleagues, and at the end of the day laugh it all off over a game of Liars Dice and an oatmeal rasin cookie. When my handwriting gets wonky I practice the curly-cue technique, and I always lean forward and try to “chi it” while running downhill. And like you, I also receive great satisfaction from fixing things, getting my hands dirty, and being the first one up in the morning.
But seriously, Dad. You’ve been a role model through your intentions and actions, but also by just being yourself. Without trying, your fearless and adventurous nature has helped fuel my own fire for travel and exploration in the world. As a child, watching you pack on a dime and jet around Asia, Europe, and South America for work encouraged me to not fear the diversity and grandiosity of the planet, but to take it by the reigns. You planted a seed, without knowing it perhaps, that would later grow into a confidence* that I was meant to travel and explore without fear. Thank you for sharing this quality with me. In every sense of the phrase, it has given me the world.
* … so, looks like really it was your fault that I trekked Vietnam by myself (wink wink)
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I’m proud to be your girl.
My dad loves pea soup. I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan, but then again I’ve only encountered it in shades of grey thanks to my grandma’s copious post-Easter ham bone batches. Time for a remodel. I used a homemade mineral and marrow broth as the base, and added fresh spring peas from the market, a squeeze of lemon, garlic, and a little salt and pepper to make this a bright and nutritious alternative. Don’t hesitate to use quality, grass-fed animal bones in your broth, take note from Rebecca Katz: “Beef bones are filled with collagen and minerals the body uses to build connective tissues, such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus,” making them ideal substances to expedite the natural healing process from a range of abuses from exercise to chemotherapy. This recipe can be easily made vegetarian, omit the bones, but increase healthy fats with more olive oil when sautéing the peas or adding avocado while blending.
Pea Soup, featuring Mineral and Marrow Broth adapted from Rebecca Katz
1 large beef shank with bone and marrow
1 large stalk of celery,
6 large carrots
2-3 sweet onions
3-4 red potatoes
1 large head of fennel
1 bunch of Italian parsley
5 cloves of garlic
1 strip of kombu seaweed
2 Tbs juniper berries
1 Tbs peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves
Roughly chop all ingredients, leaving on the peels and skins. In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients. Fill the pot to two inches below the rim with water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, remove lid, and let simmer for 2-3 hours. The longer the simmer, the more flavor and minerals the broth will develop. As water evaporates, add about two cups, and allow to simmer for another hour.
Strain stock into a large bowl or glass storage container using a large colander – it would be helpful to have an extra set of hands, as the transitions are heavy and quite hot!
As the broth rests, prepare:
3-4 cups of fresh peas, shelled from the pod (frozen is okay too)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs olive oil
In a small saucepan simmer garlic and olive oil for a minute over medium heat before adding the peas. Stir until just tender and still bright green. Add a Tsp of salt (or Herbamere) and pepper at the last moment. In a blender, combine half of the peas and 3 cups of the hot broth. Blend for 2-3 minutes until pureed. Pour into a large serving bowl straight from the blender, or through a fine mesh sieve to ditch the pulp (I’m a pulp person, but to each her own). Repeat process with the second half of the peas. Add a cup of plain broth to the mixture, then squeeze in the juice of one lemon. Take a taste test. What does it need? More salt? A little red pepper? A quick hit of apple cider vinegar? Use your gut, and serve as you like. Mark Bittman says a few crusty garlic croutons wouldn’t hurt, just sayin’.
During times of inordinate stress, pressure, or change, I find that more than any amount of yoga or breathing, the best meditative practice is simply the act of remembering. Remembering is an act of the heart. It gathers the images and energy of the people we associate with the past experience, and we cannot help to feel a pang of gratitude that we were there to share that specific moment in time together. It’s a practice we can do anywhere, anytime. Driving home from work, checking out books from the library, making the bed… you get the idea. We bring these memories into focus and suddenly the many worries and preoccupations of our day fade to the background. The wisdom of friends, family, and strangers who occupy these memories should remind us that the love and admiration we feel for them is reciprocal – they love and believe in us just the same.
Some of the most powerful memories we can access, especially during times of self-doubt or criticism, are the ones of our younger and enthusiastic selves. As children, we were not buried deep in worry, restraint, or stress. Our full time jobs were to explore a world in its limitless intricacies. We were constantly seeking, questioning, creating, laughing, and enjoying.
When I think of myself at three or four years old I see a little girl who was uninhibited, and free. She beamed with light and exuberance, and felt blissfully content to be who she was. The words “you can’t” were not in her vocabulary yet and she was assured that the entire world was at her fingertips.
I remember that girl. She was amazing. I remember her smile, her confidence, and certainty. But then I realize… hey, that girl is me! That same spirit and lightheartedness still lives inside of me. I can still be free like her; and so can you. We should remember the energy and lightness of our childhood and give ourselves permission to cultivate it in our seemingly constrained lives. Conjuring the memory of such a lightness and warmth can even be enough to push you up the hill on a hard day.
Carrot cake is a dessert that brings together the best memories of my both my childhood and of my mother. All twenty-one of my birthdays (which is actually in December) have been celebrated with an original carrot cake recipe that she has saved from the 80s. When I emailed her asking for the recipe last week I think she was probably expecting me to completely transform it into a fat-free sugar-free relative. But I couldn’t – memories associated with this keepsake are of an auspicious nature, and I needed to (mostly) maintain its integrity if for no ones sake but my own. A few tweaks to the icing and oils, but otherwise pretty darn accurate. For me, carrot cake celebrates life, love, remembrance, and the many more memories to be made in the future. May it bring you a moment of lightness and tenderness in the way it did for me this weekend.
Preheat the oven to 350′. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat the eggs and add the sugar. Slowly beat in the coconut oil, vanilla, and pineapple. Add the flower mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Finally, stir in the carrots and walnuts. I decided to make these in mini loaf molds, but it would also work in large loaf or round pans. Depending on your preference, grease your pan(s) and fill to 3/4 full with cake batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes.Remove from oven and let cool before drizzling with coconut glaze
For the cream cheese frosting, beat together ingredients in a stand mixer until completely combined. Test for taste. You might prefer it sweeter or with more acid, add sugar and lemon and vanilla accordingly.
Oh, how I love beets. Too much, maybe? Last week I had some cooked up version of this root-y earthy veg five days in a row. After I polished off this heavenly masterpiece, I actually decided it was best to cut back… you know what color it turns your pee, five days… enough said. But this last tribute to beets was everything I hoped it would be and I think you should give it a whirl. Have I talked about the benefits of beets yet? Here’s a bit of a refresher:
Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains from beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. The detox support provided by betalains includes support of some especially important Phase 2 detox steps involving glutathione. Although you can see these betalain pigments in other foods (like the stems of chard or rhubarb), the concentration of betalains in the peel and flesh of beets gives you an unexpectedly great opportunity for these health benefits. What’s most striking about beets is not the fact that they are rich in antioxidants; what’s striking is the unusual mix of antioxidants that they contain. We’re used to thinking about vegetables as rich in antioxidant carotenoids, and in particular, beta-carotene; among all well-studied carotenoids, none is more commonly occurring in vegetables than beta-carotene. In beets, however, the “claim-to-fame” antioxidant is not beta-carotene, but two different antioxidant carotenoids, not nearly as concentrated in vegetables as a group. These two carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin. beets demonstrate their antioxidant uniqueness by getting their red color primarily from betalain antioxidant pigments (and not primarily from anthocyanins). Coupled with their status as a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C and a very good source of the antioxidant manganese, the unique phytonutrients in beets provide antioxidant support in a different way than other antioxidant-rich vegetables.
In recent lab studies on human tumor cells, betanin pigments from beets have been shown to lessen tumor cell growth through a number of mechanisms, including inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes (specifically, cyclooxygenase enzymes). The tumor cell types tested in these studies include tumor cells from colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate and testicular tissue. While lab studies by themselves are not proof of beets’ anti-cancer benefits, the results of these studies are encouraging researchers to look more closely than ever at the value of betanins and other betalains in beets for both prevention and treatment of certain cancer types.
Maybe I don’t need a break from beets after all? Hmm…
What I love about this recipe is that it gives you that sweet, salty, herb punch that I happen to crave. Be forewarned that this project can get pretty messy around the kitchen. Don’t even think about wearing anything white, and have a towel on hand to keep beet juices from running around the counter tops off the cutting board. An apron will be useful too, or maybe your yard-work duds. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic.
Here’s what you’ll need:
3 medium golden beets, and 3 medium red beets stems trimmed
8 carrots cut into sticks
4 cloves of garlic, minced, plus more for roasting
juice of 1 lemon
2-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups of 1 inch cubed (leftover) multi-grain loaf
1/2 cup goat cheese
Preheat oven to 425F. Wrap beets with a splash of water, olive oil, lemon juice, 2 sprigs of thyme, a few cloves of garlic, salt and pepper tightly in foil with skin, then roast 1 hour . Carefully unwrap, and when cool, rub off skins with a paper towel and discard. Chop beets into 1/2″ cubes and transfer to a bowl. When there is about 15 minutes left on the timer for the beets, toss carrots and chopped bread with olive oil, garlic, and a little lemon in a bowl, then bake on a cookie sheet with parchment paper until the timer runs out. As soon as you pull the beets out, switch the oven over to broil mode and move the carrots to the top rack. As the beets cool, keep a close eye on the oven to make sure things don’t go up in flames. The carrots should be slightly browned and the croutons crispy. When all the components are done, mix together well in a large bowl with goat cheese and extra leaves of thyme and some s/p to taste. Viola. Soft, buttery beets and carrots, crispy croutons, and creamy goat cheese. Bon Appetite!