Monday, October 28, 2013


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for many reasons. I love the idea of gathering around a table, motivated by no more than the celebration of gratitude, family and friends, and really, really great food. I start the T-Day planning weeks in advance out of pure excitement and anticipation [which is the main reason you're getting this post in October].

A few years ago, because I [and now my girls] forgo the standard turkey and stuffing fare, my mom came up with a more-than-suitable main course to stand in as centerpiece of the table. She wowed even the veggie-phoebes with her artistic arrangement of the harvest's finest treasures. As other's gasped with appreciation, I was taken aback by the time and care she put in to making something special for her daughter [a common occurrence throughout my life]. It has since become a much-loved Thanksgiving tradition.

Over the next few weeks, as you plan and prepare for the upcoming holiday[s], I hope you find the time and presence to name every person and thing you are grateful for with each cut or chop or assemble. May you let the anticipation be part of the giving thanks, letting it seep into each day. May your heart swell with blessing and body warm with really, really great food.

Oh, and thanks mom for taking care of your girls. This one's for you!

Adapted from my mom's stuffed Hubbard squash recipe debuted Thanksgiving 2010 and adamantly requested every Thanksgiving since.

Many of the vegetables listed are great storage fare and can be purchased weeks in advance [like now!]. Other's, like Brussels sprouts, get sweeter after the first freeze and, if available, can mostly likely be purchased the week of Thanksgiving. If you plan to make this for Thanksgiving day, I recommend chopping everything the day before and storing in glass containers in the refrigerator. This alleviates much of the "day-of" work and allows you to focus on other, more pressing items.

If you have the space in your oven, arrange the cooking racks so there is one close to the bottom, one in the middle and one near the top. Use the convect cooking option if available. This way you can cook everything at the same time.

1 small Golden Hubbard squash [or any winter squash you prefer]
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp sea salt, divided
freshly ground pepper

Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Reserve seeds to make roasted pumpkin / squash seeds. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place 1 tsp. of olive oil in each half and, using your hands, rub along bottom and sides. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. in each squash and grind about a 1/4 tsp. of pepper in each. Flip so flesh side of the squash halves are facing down and place on a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Place in oven and bake at 375 degrees for 60 minutes.

3 potatoes [I like using one of each red, yellow, purple], peels on*, cut into small chunks
1 beet, peel on*, cut into small chunks
1 stalk Brussels sprouts, sprouts removed and washed [you can save the stalk, peel, and cut into chunks and roast or compost], cut sprouts in half
1 leek, whites and light green, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
large handful green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [choose fresh or frozen depending on what you can find locally]
1 large fennel bulb, fronds and stems removed, thinly sliced
1 - 2 carrots, peels on*, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
small handful of fresh sage, ground
1 small branch fresh rosemary leaves, stem removed and leaves ground
1 T nutritional yeast
2 tsp sea salt, divided
freshly ground pepper
2 - 3 T extra virgin olive oil

Optional veggie additions: rutabaga, shitake mushrooms, parsnips, kale, sweet potato

*If your vegetables are organic you can simply scrub the peels and leave them on.

While the squash is baking, wash and chop all of the vegetables as noted. On a stone or parchment paper-lined baking pan, toss beets and Brussels sprouts with 1 tsp. of sea salt, a little pepper, half the rosemary and sage, and 1 - 1 1/2 T. olive oil. On a different stone or parchment paper-lined baking pan, combine remaining ingredients and mix well [I use my hands].

Place in the oven with the squash and roast for about 30 minutes or until veggies are soft and the lighter vegetables are just starting to take on a golden brown color.

1/2 c. millet, rinsed and drained
3/4 c. water
1 T extra virgin olive oil

While vegetables and squash are roasting, prepare millet. Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse the millet under cold water until water runs clear [about 30 seconds]. Drain well. Warm olive oil in a medium size pot and, when just hot but not smoking, carefully flip in millet and saute, stirring frequently, for 3 - 5 minutes. The millet should begin to smell nutty. Pour in water, cover, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook covered until no liquid remains and millet is fully cooked.

Once all of the vegetables are roasted and millet is cooked, toss vegetables with millet in a large glass bowl [please use glass or stainless steel rather than plastic as the heat will cause the plastic to leach chemicals into the food].

Fill each of the squash halves with the veggie mix. You'll have extra mix which makes for a great breakfast the next morning!

You can top with chopped toasted walnuts and sea salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Sometimes reading books or magazines or blogs or articles just plain adds stress to eating well.

I mean, seriously. Now I need a juicer in addition to my dehydrator, food processor, blender, spice grinder, toaster oven, Crock-pot, and mixer?!

Sometimes I simply get fed up with it all, throw modern-day convenience out the window and put on my thinking cap. You know, the scrappy, frugal, brilliant one our grandparents seem to have. The hat that allows me to make something out of nothing and use what I have rather than purchasing something new because, I need it.

I'll say it right up front, this juice will take more time than it's juicer-pressed counterpart. Whenever we choose to walk away from the machine and do things by hand it generally does. But the process will also connect you to something more melodic, more fluid - something slower and more present.


Juicing is an incredible way of getting easy-to-assimilate vitamins and minerals into your body quickly and effectively. It's said to be easier on your digestive system, not requiring the effort many fruits and vegetables would normally take. This doesn't mean forgo eating whole foods in favor of juicing everything. It means juice in conjunction with eating whole vegetables and fruit. It also offers a great option during illness or during fasting.

Not all juice is equal. Many commercial juices contain far more fruits than vegetables which can have a blood sugar spiking effect. A good rule of thumb is one fruit for every three vegetables.

Because juice tends to digest both faster than whole foods and dilute stomach acid [necessary for digestion], it's important to drink juice at least 30 minutes prior to eating or an hour or more after eating rather than with a meal.

So, take a little time to squeeze your own juice. Make a large batch and freeze some for later. Enjoy walking away from the "I need's" for a moment - from the stress, and information, and noise - and simply enjoy letting juice run through your fingers and down your arm.


Leaving peels on, rinse, scrub, and quarter or cut into chunks each vegetable or fruit listed unless otherwise noted

2 - 3 small beets or 1 large one
2 carrots
3 celery sticks [optional]
2 small apples or pears or 1 large one
large bunch of kale
1/2 cucumber [optional]
1/2 lemon, juiced
one 1" piece of ginger
1 - 2 cups of water
1 nut bag or large piece of cheesecloth folded in half

Place all chopped produce in a blender and cover with water. Blend on high until mixture is smooth [1 - 2 minutes].

Place nut bag or cheesecloth in a large measuring jar or bowl. Pour mixture into bag or cloth [you may have to split mixture into two]. Gently lift up bag or cloth and twist top to secure so the mixture does not squeeze out. Slowly begin to squeeze the mixture, sort of using a milking-the-cow like motion. Continue until all of the juice has been release and all that remains is a solid ball of pulp. Remove pulp and repeat if necessary.

Pour desired juice into a glass and freeze remaining for later. It's important to drink within a day or freeze to preserve the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals released during the juicing process.


For a nice early winter juice try this recipe using persimmons [you might be able to score some at your Farmer's Market]. Persimmons are awesome for reducing excessive mucus, are packed with vitamin C, and counter the effects of dry weather. This recipe is great for building the health of your blood, boosting your immunity, and helps fight those nasty colds.

2 persimmons, remove stems and seeds
2 carrots, rinse and remove end
2 medium beets, rinse and remove end
2 1-inch pieces of peeled ginger
juice of 1 lemon

Follow juicing instructions above.

Monday, October 14, 2013



This post makes me want to cry it gets me so excited.


Fat tears of joy.

There are many things I love but few rival my affection for pumpkin. I'm not sure how to explain it except to say, try a few of the recipes listed here and you too may get the love.

Thus, as a shout-out to my favorite orange [sometimes green, and white, and blue, and yellow] beauty, here is a conglomeration of my best-of-show pumpkin and friends, well, everything!



Spiced Pumpkin Waffles with Maple-Ginger Syrup
Pumpkin [Rice] Bran Muffins
Pumpkin Porridge


Spiced Pumpkin Latte
Pumpkin-Goji Smoothie
Creme De Pumpkin Shake


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: 3 Ways
Roasted Delicata Squash
Cheesy Pumpkin Dip


Butternut Squash Soup
Pumpkin Risotto
Spaghetti [Squash] and [No Meat] Balls


Pumpkin Ice Cream
Buttercup Custard
Upside-Down Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin-Apple Crisp

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


There are better writers, certainly, who could summarize what I am about to say more eloquently with a lot more wit and pizzazz. I hope they do. And I hope many ears are ready to listen and act.

But because I am both frustrated and devastated, I thought I would add my voice to the mix.

Today it was announced a Monsanto executive won the prestigious World Food Prize or “the Nobel Prize of Agriculture”. This award is “an international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world” [1].

Maybe this means nothing to you but I hope it will because it absolutely affects you.

In case you don’t know who Monsanto is, they’re the brains behind Round-Up, the oh-so-popular herbicide sold in every garden and food store across the country [and DDT and agent orange and PCBs and on and on]. They are also responsible for creating seeds resistant to Round-Up; the leader in fact, in producing genetically engineered seeds.

And, in order to grow their seed you must use their herbicide and vice versa. A brilliant business plan some would say.

However, because we have gotten to a mono-crop agricultural system [think corn, soy, and wheat], a demand by large farmers has been created for a seed able to withstand the herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides necessary to grow crops at the scale we do today. And, because we are a nation in quite a powerful spot, this seed and herbicide can be widely distributed to the less powerful countries now dependent on our business and seed and herbicide.

So what was once a brilliant business idea has now become a monopoly on global food crops. A monopoly taking actions to limit competition [think buy-out, small farm lawsuits, patented seed, etc.].

Something apparently illegal in the United States.

Unless, of course, you know the right people and have the correct amout of change because really, it’s all about the Benjamin’s baby.

And today this form of commerce was just given an award. A very prestigious award.

Simply put, we just rewarded monopoly – the very thing we rightly should stand against.


Because when one person or country or organization or business grows large enough to dictate what we do and do not eat, what is available and becomes unavailable, what genes get modified and what don’t – I get nervous.

Yet we support it every single day.

You. Me. Everyone. We support it with our dollars, with our influence as consumers, and with our voice [or lack thereof].

And now we support it with awards.

Biodiversity is the key to a sustainable healthy world, yet an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are threatened with extinction [2].

In the last century, 75% of agricultural biodiversity has been lost [3].

These aren’t plants with big names found in the rainforest somewhere. These are plants we rely on as food.

And by the by, the loss of biodiversity is essentially irreversible – we can’t bring diversity within our food system back once it’s been lost. And we’re losing big time.

I’m not okay with this.

I hope you’re not okay with this.

I hope it makes you mad - like red-faced, fists balled, blow steam out your ears mad.

Because it should.

And I hope it leads you to action.

I hope you use your power as a consumer to give voice to the powerless, the ignorant, the speechless and hopeless. I hope you write your congress people, and your Facebook friends, and the President. I hope you talk about it in the grocery store and at the Farmer’s Market, at church and the bank and the bar.

I hope you get mad and then you get moving because fighting for justice is powerful. More powerful than a company fighting to control the global food system and winning awards for it. Fight with your dollars and your votes and the choices you make regarding food each day.

Because there's hope. And there's beauty in groups of people coming together to fight for what's right. Not just for us but for all. We can make change happen.

May you use your voice and change the world.



Understanding biodiversity and its importance:

Monday, October 7, 2013


Hang out with a kid for a few moments and you'll quickly realize something - adults can be booorrrriiing.

Don't get me wrong, I love adult conversation, tasks, relationships, and responsibility. These and other things add meaning to my life. What I've found however, is adults have a hard time simply relaxing and having fun. Not "haha, I just bought a boat and a condo and I'm so good looking the mirror can't handle it and my wallet can't contain all the bills and my life is so busy and my cell phone won't stop ringing because I'm just that important" kind of fun. 

I mean real fun.

Fun void of busyness, to-do lists, self-proclamation, self-critcism, gossip, cruelty, empty relationships, superficial adventure, alcohol, small talk, and money - essentially fun absent of needing something to get us to fun.

Enter a child.

Kids need nothing to laugh - they laugh at themselves because life is simply hilarious. They play with whatever they can get their hands on and if all else fails, with air  because hey! there's a ton of that. They let their imaginations run wild and then they run wild. Kids fart and spit and get dirty and jumble their sentences in both confusion and excitement and run around naked and sometimes pee their pants but it's all good because life is awesome and the moment is to precious to worry about what anyone else thinks. Kids aren't proper or careful or neat or disciplined. 

Kids are expert be-ers.

Of course we can't live all of life like a kid - there is purpose to our growing up. Amazing things are built on the notion of maturation. 

But I wonder what would happen if we took a bit of child with us. 

For as long as I can remember I have loved to swing. Few things bring me the joy that comes when I'm sailing in the air, feet outstretched just trying to touch the sky, pretending I actually can. Swinging allows me both freedom and control. Faith and tangibility. Gut-busting excitement and unmovable peace. It makes me want to laugh and cry and squeal and listen. It brings out the best of opposites in me each and every time. 

Swinging is my kid-space. 

It's on the swing I allow my boundaries to shrink away and embrace the person I am and the world I live in. I give myself permission to be wholly me and express my emotions is their purest, deepest way. The swing reminds me that this world is good and beautiful and enchanted and worth believing in. The swing is where God speaks to my heart and my mind and every part of me I don't understand and every part I think I do. The swing embraces me in the moment and only asks that I climb up and start to pump, promising to take care of the rest. 

Swinging lets me feel all the realness of heaven while keeping me anchored to earth. 

Living a life of wholeness and health has a lot to do with food, what and the way we eat, but has so much more to do with our experience with living. If you go a day without a genuine smile [tragedies aside], you aren't living a healthy life. If you go a day without meaningful conversation where you both listen and are heard, especially with and by someone close to you, you aren't living a healthy life. If your answer for "how are you doing?" is "so busy" every time, you aren't living a healthy life. If you go a day without experiencing or noticing the hand of the Creator in the world around you, you aren't living a healthy life. If you look back on your day and can't point to a moment of authentic joy and purpose, you aren't living a healthy life.

Health may begin with food but it must turn to life, all of life, to be real and sustainable.

So maybe start by swinging. Put aside how old you are [or think you are] and let your boundaries crash, emotions go and, if only for a second, become a kid again.

Sometimes one second is all it takes to change your life.


1- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 - 2 large bunches of kale cut into small strips
1 large eggplant, roasted and peeled*
1 -2 heads of garlic, roasted**
6 c. white beans [Great Northern, white lima, or bean of choice] cooked, drained, and rinsed
8 c. vegetable stock [recipe below]
2 - 3 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 - 3 T. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Optional Additions: 1 head of lightly steamed broccoli and / or 1 head of lightly steamed cauliflower

*To roast the eggplant: place whole eggplant on a baking sheet. Put in oven with the rack in it's uppermost/highest position and broil on high [make sure the eggplant doesn't touch the oven coil - lower rack if necessary]. Broil until skin darkens and begins to crack, 10 - 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Hold the stem end with an ovenmit and, using cooking tongs or a fork, gently pull skin away. Compost or discard the skin and set eggplant "meat" aside.

**To roast garlic: preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wrap garlic clove in tinfoil and place on oven rack. Roast until clove is soft, approximately 30 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully squeeze each clove from the skin. Discard skins and set cloves aside.

In a blender combine 3 cups of the beans, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, ground mustard, cumin, eggplant, and garlic. Blend until very smooth. Set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute onion in olive oil until just translucent and soft.

Add broth and pureed bean mixture to pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain and simmer. Add the remaining 3 cups of beans and kale. Cook until kale is soft and bright green, about 5 minutes.

Puree some or all of the soup using a immersion or regular blender. 

Garnish with roasted kale strips, gluten-free croutons, toasted pumpkin seeds, or toppings of choice.

Adapted from It's All Good by Gwenyth Paltrow

2 onions, quartered or 2 - 3 large leeks, chopped
2 large, whole carrots, quartered
2 stalks of celery with greens / leaves, quartered
8 - 10 shitake mushroom stems [reserved from past cooking]
3 whole large tomatoes, quartered
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
large handful of fennel greens
large handful of fresh parsley [stems and leaves]
large handful of fresh thyme [whole sprigs]
2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
3 - 4 bay leaves
1 tsp. turmeric powder
2 - 3 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns
3 quarts of water

Combine all in a large pot or Dutch oven and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Strain vegetables and bottle liquid. Option to can stock using a pressure canner according to manufacturer's instructions. I like to reserve the vegetables for a second round, adding more tomatoes, herbs, seasoning, and water.