Wednesday, November 27, 2013
This year however our gathering is smaller, the list a bit shorter, and my attitude surrounding the entire day a little different. I love Thanksgiving. It ranks as one of my favorite holidays to be sure and this year is no different.
The change comes in my mindset.
Instead of freaking out about things being just right I'm learning to be kinder to myself. I'm realizing a magazine-perfect setting is beautiful but doesn't really change what happens around our table, it just stresses me out. I'm finding my girls would rather help me clean [a game in their beautiful minds] if I relax, turn on some music, throw in some terrible dance moves, and let go of getting every nook sparkling. I'm working on living in the present moment taking in the blessing that comes with the preparation - a time bursting with love and anticipation yet so easy to miss in the chaos, turkey guts, and veggie scraps. As I write this I take a few glances out the window watching fat snow flakes lazily make their way to the ground. I listen as my baby coos herself to sleep and my oldest works on her letters in between setting up a card game for us to play later.
I have my lists, things to get done. But I've also planned in moments to be and enjoy and what I'm finding is everything gets done and I treasure each step along the way.
Pre-Thanksgiving meals are a perfect place to start simplifying. Through paying attention to how my body responds to food, I've found I do much better on a high protein, low sugar [natural or otherwise] breakfast. Slowly I'm putting together simple breakfasts to fit my needs. Below is an example of one of my current favorites. The quinoa + bean combination provides a complete protein while the sweet potato and kale [seasonal favorites these days!] packs the meal with essential vitamins and minerals. Fennel and cumin aid in the digestion of beans and using the whole seeds ensures these properties have stayed in tact. Nutritional yeast is high in protein and is one of the few non-meat food sources of B vitamins we have available.
May you find the time and presence to give thanks in whatever chaos you find. May you surround yourself with those you love and tell them why they mean so much to you. May Thanksgiving be a day bursting with blessing and may the times surrounding it bring moments of grace and beauty.
Serves 2 - 3
1 large sweet potato or 2 small: washed and cut into very small cubes [if you are using organic you don't need to peel]
1 large bunch of kale: washed, spun dry, and cut into small ribbons
1 c. kidney beans [or beans of choice]: soaked, cooked, rinsed, and drained [or drain and rinse a can of pre-cooked beans]
1 c. quinoa: soaked / sprouted, rinsed, and cooked
1 - 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. granulated onion
1/4 tsp. freshly ground fennel seed
sea salt, to taste
Prepare all vegetables as noted above. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet until hot but not smoking or popping. Carefully add sweet potatoes, toss to coat with oil, and then let cook for a few minutes or until the undersides are browned and crispy. Stir, add cumin seeds, and repeat until most of the sides are browned and potatoes are just soft. Add cooked kidney beans, oregano, nutritional yeast, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and ground fennel, stir, and let cook for 1 - 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium - low, add kale and gently try to stir [the kale will probably be heaping], add a 1/8 c. of water, cover and let steam for 30 - 60 seconds or until kale starts to wilt. Remove cover and stir to combine. Add cooked quinoa stirring gently until quinoa is warmed. Salt to taste.
I usually make the full recipe and then store the leftovers for the next day's breakfast.
[A SEASONAL THANKSGIVING DAY MENU]
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Holiday Crackers with Cheesy Pumpkin Dip
Three Winter Salads + One Dressing
Roasted Veggie-Stuffed Hubbard Squash
Mixed-Vegetable Mashed Potatoes
Quinoa-Walnut Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Spiced Pear Sauce
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Upside-Down Pumpkin Pie Crisp
Spiced Pumpkin Latte
Chamomile Latte [a little digestion aid!]
Friday, November 15, 2013
However, winter makes finding fresh local greens and the standard cucumber + tomato combination next to impossible or really, really expensive [both in transport and in purchase].
Yet I love and crave salads and have come to anticipate each season's special twist. So here are three of my favorite winter-friendly salads I make more than I care to admit.
I encourage you to drop into a winter Farmer's Market or find a local farm with a winter CSA option available, stock up on these veggies, and enjoy warm salads all winter long. I like to make these in the full batches and save for easy lunch options. All three also make fantastic sides for holiday celebrations.
This is the dressing you will use on all of the salads below.
1 part extra virgin olive oil [1/2 cup is a good place to start]
1 - 2 T. raw local honey or maple syrup [adjust to taste]
2 - 3 tsp. gluten-free Dijon mustard [adjust to taste]
large pinch or two of sea salt
Place all ingredients in a glass jar and seal with tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously for a minute or so until all of the ingredients have been incorporated.
[WARM BEET SALAD]
1 large beet - washed, peeled [optional if using organic beets], cubed
1 large carrot - washed, peeled [optional if using organic beets], sliced
1 - 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
small handful [about 2 T.] cashews - slightly crushed and toasted*
2 - 3 T. dressing [recipe shown above], adjust to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the chopped beets and sliced carrots on a stone or parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until all pieces are covered in oil. Place in preheated oven and roast for 10 - 15 minutes or until vegetables are just soft.
Remove from oven, spread onto plate or bowl and toss with a couple tablespoons of dressing. Sprinkle with toasted cashews and serve warm.
[WARM BROCCOLI + KALE + WHITE BEAN SALAD]
Adapted from Whole Living Magazine: Issue No. 73 / January-February 2013, p. 51
Serves 4 - 6
3 c. broccoli, stalk + leaves + florets, rinsed and cut into chunks
1 large bunch of Lacinato or favorite kale variety, washed and chopped
3 c. white beans, soaked and cooked
1/2 c. chopped parsley [if available]
1/3 c. toasted sunflower seeds*
2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 - 1/3 c. dressing [recipe shown above], adjust to taste
Steam cut broccoli stalk[s], leaves, and florets until bright green and just soft but still a bit crunchy [about 3 - 5 minutes]. In a large cast iron skillet, saute kale in 1 T. of the olive oil over medium-high heat until the kale is bright green and just soft. Place broccoli in a large food processor and pulse to chop into small pieces. Place into a large glass bowl and repeat with the kale and parsley. Place with chopped broccoli, cover, and set aside. In same large cast iron skillet pour in remaining 1 T. olive oil and bring to just hot. Carefully add beans, toss and let sit a minute or so. Stir and repeat. Beans should begin to brown on edges. Remove from heat and add to bowl with broccoli, kale, and parsley. Add toasted sunflower seeds and dressing and gently toss it all together adding more dressing if necessary. Serve warm.
[WARM KASHA SALAD]
Adapted from Delicious Living Magazine: November 2013 Issue, p. 34
Serves 4 - 6
6 cups of loosely packed arugula, rinsed and spun or patted dry
1 medium to large onion, chopped
1 1/2 c. sliced celery [may be available at Farmer's Market into November] - rinsed and sliced
1 large or 2 small kohlrabi - rinsed, peeled, and chopped
2 large radishes - rinsed and chopped
1 - 2 medium-large carrots - rinsed, quartered, and sliced
1 - 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. hulled, gluten-free buckwheat groats or kasha [soaked for 4 - 6 hours, drained, and rinsed]
4 c. pure water
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. pumpkin seeds, toasted*
1/2 - 3/4 c. dressing [recipe shown above], adjust to taste
Roasted white or garbanzo beans ["Mildly Spicy" recipe], optional
In a medium sized stainless steel saucepan bring 4 c. water to boil. Add salt and soaked buckwheat groats. Cook for 7 - 10 minutes or until just soft. Drain in a fine mesh strainer, rinse briefly with cold water, place in glass serving bowl, cover and set aside. In a large cast iron skillet place oil and onion. Bring to sizzle and then reduce heat to medium low, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and just transparent. Add celery and carrots and cook for a few more minutes. Add kohlrabi and radishes and cook another few minutes or until vegetables are just soft and warm but remain crunchy. Remove from heat and add to cooked buckwheat. Sprinkle in toasted pumpkin seeds, dressing, and stir until well mixed. Place about 1 cup of arugula on 6 plates [or simply in a large serving bowl] and top with a large scoop of the warm kasha salad. Garnish with roasted white or garbanzo beans [optional] and serve warm.
*To toast nuts or seeds: If you have a toaster oven, spread nuts or seeds out on a baking sheet. Using the "Toast: 1" or lowest setting, cook until beeper goes off. If you are using a skillet: place nuts or seeds in skillet and bring heat to high. Toss continuously until nuts / seeds become slightly browned, adjusting heat as necessary. If you are using an oven: place nuts / seeds on baking sheet and place in 300 degree preheated oven. Watch carefully and remove when they are slightly browned or smell really nutty.