Yoga and Chocolate

I haven’t stepped foot on my mat in months. Literally, it has been months. In the midst of giant life changes, I put my health on the back burner. Working long hours means any spare second I have is spent with my hound dog, meandering my new neighborhood.

At the age of 27, I finally live alone. To say I enjoy it is an understatement. To say it has turned me into a hermit is even more of an understatement. A little apartment, all my own. This means I can wander around naked and take my time in the morning… yeah, it’s like a piece of heaven.

And yes, it adds to the loneliness that has become my late 20s, but a sweet kind of lonely. The drink-tea-all-day, listen-to-podcasts, spend-5-hours-in-my-kitchen-in-silence kind of loneliness.

b25824d2b49111e381d712615f374a93_8

Solitude is such a breathtaking thing.

So now that I’m settled into an apartment that smells like chocolate and is a block from my favorite bakery, I can address my needs. I can apologize to my aching back that is threatening to give out any day now. I can lace up my abandoned running shoes and start back at square one. I can dust off Gertrude and get back to exploring the streets through the eyes of a red bicycle.

I need to practice patience and start slow. Yesterday I found a yoga studio tucked behind the statue of Lenin and a dumpling shop (have I mentioned how magical my neighborhood is?) I felt my hips questioning my decision to throw them into a hot hatha class, but by the end they were smiling gratefully at me, thanking me for finally giving them some love. Like beating a rug after a long winter, I felt my bones again. I felt my skin sweat and stretch. I congratulated my slumbering muscles on their attempt to wake up. I said hello to my body, greeted it like a dear friend. Kissed my kneecaps and promised to be a little more considerate.

It’s good to be back.

Chocolate Buckwheat Granola

Yeah, yeah… I know. I JUST posted a granola recipe. But you know what? Some days my meals are granola for breakfast, dried mango and random office snacks for lunch and popcorn for dinner. And that’s okay. We can’t always have and make three amazing meals each day. That’s how life is, you know?

Also, this granola is MIND BLOWING, which is to be expected, as I found it on My New Roots, a blog that is nothing short of divine. I like this granola over some coconut milk yogurt with some strawberries on top, but let’s be real… It’s good by the handful.

  •       3 cups rolled oats
  •       1 cup buckwheat
  •       1.5 coconut flakes
  •       1 cup walnuts
  •       ¼ cup chia seeds
  •       ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
  •       ¼ cup coconut sugar
  •       1/3 cup maple syrup
  •       1/3 cup coconut oil
  •       1 tsp vanilla extract
  •       ½ cup cocoa powder

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine oats, buckwheat, coconut flakes, chia seeds and coconut sugar. Roughly chop nuts and add them to the mix. In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add honey or maple syrup, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder. Whisk to combine until smooth. Pour liquid ingredients over dry and fold to coat.

Spread the mixture out in an even layer on a lined baking sheet and press firmly with the back of a spatula—you want to make sure it’s compact. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove from the oven, flip the granola and mix it around and then pop back in to make for another 10 minutes.

Your entire apartment/house will smell amazing—I recommend listening to Ella Fitzgerald and possibly sipping on some licorice tea while you bake. Because, why not?

granola.jpg

Memoirs and Granola

I want to live a memoir worthy life. At 85, I want to have too many chapters to write. I want a whole section dedicated to heart breakers, past lovers and how wading through a sea of men led me to some brilliant discovery.

I want to fill pages with adventures. Scribble out notes on paper napkins in the dive bar of some back alley town I happened upon. I want to remember to carry around notebooks so I can channel that artist that is in me somewhere and write about those moments that we think we’ll remember, but we always forget.

I will write about finding myself in New Zealand, about seeing the Northern Lights on a darkened road in Iceland. I will write about late night cemetery wanderings with the one that got away, and how this boy in Texas showed me what it meant to be loved properly. I will sprinkle in humor and a dash of self-deprecating sarcasm.

My grandma, who is my role model and soul mate, is currently working on piecing together the story of her life. Sitting over her typewriter, she pulls her memories out of thin air—her four husbands, losing the love of her life, having a slaughterhouse as a backyard during the depression. Her life is a Gauguin painting, a John Coltrane song, a large glass of wine… my grandma has lived every second to its last drop.

I can only hope for the same.

I have big dreams and tiny seedling plans. I will take my bicycle across the country and work on farms along the way. I will hike the Pacific Crest Trail with my sister. I will learn how to be better at failing, and tackle my stubbornness head on. I will let my walls down someday, for someone. Or I will let a portion of my walls down for a whole lot of somebodies. I will learn to build something important, successfully grow tomatoes, learn to brew beer and turn most last night trysts into star-gazing opportunities.

To start, I will climb a mountain. The other morning I decided I needed to summit Mt. Baker. So, on July  25th , I will climb to fight breast cancer. I am climbing for my aunt, for all the young women out there who came into this cancer and are fighting tooth and nail to beat it. I am climbing for myself, to test my strength, to raise money for breast cancer and to start collecting stories. Climbing a mountain… there’s something worth writing about.

Quinoa, Coconut and Chia Seed Granola

This is the like super healthy fat kid granola. Honestly, once you start snacking on it, you can’t stop. I had it for dessert one night, it’s that good. Pace yourself, or you’ll end up eating the whole batch.

  • 1 1/2 cups GF rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine all of the ingredients (except the fruit and coconut). Spread the mixture out in a thin, even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and stir to distribute any browning. Place it back in the oven for 10 minutes more. Remove and stir in the fruit and coconut.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes longer or until the mixture is a deep golden brown. Allow to cool. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I realize this isn't a picture of granola OR Mt. Baker, but it sums up how I feel about the next chapter of my life. Grand things, my friends... Grand things, indeed.

I realize this isn’t a picture of granola OR Mt. Baker, but it sums up how I feel about the next chapter of my life. Grand things, my friends… Grand things, indeed.

Adventures and Quinoa

I don’t want to talk about my job, the weather or what I had for lunch. I don’t want to talk about the things we’ve missed out on in the last two years apart.

I don’t want the small talk.

I want to take late night trips to the ocean, and feel the sand in my eyes after 3 hours of sleep. I want to share a bottle of whiskey on a random rooftop, in a sparkling city. I want to go dig for clams, and share the fruits of my labor, as I have no intention of eating them. I want to ride my bicycle on roads I shouldn’t, taking evening routes where the silence seeps up from the pavement, like a secret. I want to shake off formality and the awkwardness that is first dates, old lovers, and the pain that comes with patching up old wounds.

I want to get into the messy stuff. The messy people. The ones that don’t know the meaning of mundane conversations, that laugh off normalcy, and find joy in the bizarre. These people freak me out. These are the people who are out of my comfort zone. I am risk averse, I am calculated, and I find that my type A personality can be suffocating at times.

But I want to shake the dust. What’s the point of this big, beautiful life if we color in the lines? My time away from home pushed me to grow. It nudged me to let go, if only just a little. I will still always want to plan out my life, I will still make lists. These are things I can’t, won’t and don’t want to deny.

So here’s to those big moments. Living spontaneously. Just living.

Vegan Quinoa Bowl with Grapefruit Slaw

Quinoa Bowl

  • 1 cup quinoa

  • ½ red onion

  • ½ sweet potato

  • 1 cup mushrooms

  • ½ red pepper

  • Salt and pepper

  • Dash of cumin

  • 3 green onion stalks

  • 1 can black beans

  • 1 cup sweet corn

  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

  • Avocado

Grapefruit Slaw

  • ½ small red cabbage, cored and shredded

  • 1 small carrot, grated

  • Juice of 1 grapefruit

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 3 green onions, sliced thinly

  • 4 sprigs of mint, leaves sliced thinly

  • Salt and pepper

First things first. Make your quinoa. Bring 2.5 cups water to a boil, and add in your quinoa. Cook for 20 minutes until water is evaporated, and the quinoa is cooked fully. While the quinoa is cooking, chop up your veggies (onions, sweet potato, mushrooms and bell pepper) and saute  in a dash of olive oil for 5 minutes. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and cumin. Continue to saute until everything is cooked. While the vegetables are cooking, heat up the black beans. Once everything is done cooking, warming up, etc. mix it all together– yum. Squeeze on lime juice and mix together.

Set aside and then make some slaw. All you have to do is combine the slaw ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning, adjust and you’re done! And now all you have to do is combine the two over a handful of arugula, and you’re SET! It’s 100% delicious. Oh! And make sure you top it with avocado. Because what’s a dish without avocado?

yum

Home Sweet Home and Kale, Farro & Butternut Salad

I have been back in Seattle for a few weeks now, and life has been a whirlwind. Family, friends, the flu (I wish it upon no one… it was the worst), and a brand new job. It’s funny how in one month my entire life looks different… But somehow things stay the same. I still keep my sanity by spending copious amounts of time in the kitchen, I’m still always followed around by a big, stinky hound dog, I still, and will always, spend too much time (and money) at the grocery store. 

Instead of cacti and sun, I am surrounded by evergreens and thick, heavy clouds. To be surrounded by mountains is like magic, and I’m already itching to strap on my snowshoes and rediscover the silence of snow. There is so much to love about the Pacific Northwest. The damp streets, the cold mornings, drinking cup after cup of the most DELICIOUS coffee. Sometimes it feels like I’m living in Fern Gully. Oh! And have I mentioned the beards? The flannel? The farmers markets? Yes, I was born and raised in this part of the world, and while I have left so much of my heart in Texas, this place is where I belong. 

And to top if off, I started running again (which is the reason that I started writing this blog). While my leg muscles are still moaning, it feels so good to lace up my shoes and run through the sweet, green air. Needless to say, my transition back home has been smooth, and wonderful and exciting. I am happy to be back here. So happy to be near the people I love. And so happy to replant myself back into this beautiful soil. 

de15b84a765811e3ba3212c954fe6f7a_8

Kale, Farro & Butternut Squash Salad

  • 1 head dino kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 cups farro
  • 5 cups water

Dressing

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and cube your butternut squash, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Once the oven is warm, cook the squash for 40-45 minutes, until soft. While that is cooking, cook your farro! Ideally, you’ll want to soak the farro overnight. I didn’t, and it turned out just fine. Put farro and water in a pot with a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40-45 minutes. Once cooked, drain excess water and set aside to cool. 

While the farro and butternut squash is cooking, prep your kale and dressing. I chopped up the kale, massaged it with salt and then whipped up the dressing. After whisking together all the dressing ingredients, pour over the kale and let it soak up the flavors. Once your farro and squash is done cooking, toss with the kale, cranberries and walnuts. Done and done. I had about 3/4 cup of farro left over, which I will toss with some spinach or something in the near future. 

Delicious. Just so delicious. 

My Love Letter to Austin and Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries

I leave Austin in five days.

This flat, hot and beautiful place has been my home for the past year +, and now it’s time to go back to Seattle. I’m returning to green trees, tall mountains, salty seas and family.  I’ve come to the conclusion that a piece of myself will stay in Texas. This town will always be a second home. It wouldn’t be an honest departure without a love letter, so Austin… this one’s for you.

My Southern Love,

I will miss your warmth. I will miss your wet heat that felt like the biggest, sweatiest hug. I will miss riding my red bicycle through your streets in my cut-offs. I will miss eating tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then for breakfast again. I will miss your friendliness and open arms. I will miss whiskey on tap, two stepping with strangers and late nights with my favorite people. I will miss swimming in any body of water I could find, just as long as it got me out of the heat. I will miss being in the land of fireflies and topo chico.

Austin, I will miss your people. The ones that welcomed me without question. Those people who I would carry around in my back pocket if I could, little reminders of what it feels like to be surrounded with goodness. This town is full of folks who live. Take all of it and shape it into something worthwhile. Austin, you are a neverland. Sitting outside of barton springs in my bathing suit, watching the stars in the 85 degree heat on a summer evening, I looked at my friend and said, “this place is magic…”

Austin, you are magic. You are sunshine, pants, bike rides, food, friends and dancing. So much of my heart will be left in Austin, forever.

1468667_10100735626296060_730384068_n

I am moving on to the next adventure. I ate the Texas sun, I had year round freckles, I scuffed my boots and turned all my jeans into shorts. Now it’s time to go home. I’m bringing a bit of the south home with me. I’m determined to bring some of the warmth, some of the genuine friendliness, all of the dancing and you BETTER believe I will bring “y’all” with me…

Onward and upward y’all, onward and upward.

Black Bean & Avocado Salad with Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries & Cabbage Slaw

This is what my perfect plate looks like. Sweet potatoes are my jam, and when you add in the complete protein of rice and beans, I’m in heaven. And it wouldn’t be a well-rounded meal unless there were some greens, and the cabbage slaw fit the bill. It only seems fitting that I give y’all THREE recipes this time around, because everything is bigger in Texas. All of these dishes are great to mix together and stick into a tortilla, because EVERYTHING is better in a tortilla.

Tacos forever.

Black Bean & Avocado Salad

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2.5 cups water
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼-½ tsp salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large avocado, chopped into ½ inch pieces

Cook the brown rice, I use a rice cooker, but you can cook it on the stove top, do whatever tickles your fancy. Drain the beans and rinse. In a large bowl add the beans and toss with limes, cilantro leaves, diced shallots and ground cumin. Season to taste with salt & black pepper. After your rice is finished, set it aside to cool slightly before you mix it in with everything else. Peel and slice an avocado, and serve the beans at room temperature, with chopped avocado on top or mixed in throughout the salad. This salad lasts for several days in the fridge, so it makes for the perfect lunch to bring to work.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch fries
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Ground chipotle chile
  • Garlic powder

In a medium bowl, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, garlic powder and chipotle chile powder. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet. Avoid crowding so the potatoes get crisp. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Ovens may vary so keep an eye on them and be sure to cut all the potatoes the same size. It’ll ensure even cooking. Cool and try not to shove them all in your mouth at one time. These are delicious.

Cabbage Slaw

  • 1 head cabbage, cut into small pieces
  • 2 carrots, shredded (optional, I didn’t have any, so I went without… delicious either way)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey (or agave)
  • Pinch of cumin

Generous pinch of salt and pepper

Chop up your veggies and mix with jalapeno and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice and honey. Add to the veggies and season with cumin, salt and pepper. Toss until finally coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

178dda5440f711e3b05522000ae902ef_8

Singledom and Kale Salad

The other day a friend asked me, “How come you’re single?” I think their heart was in the right place, but it definitely was a rage-inducing moment. The way it was asked was drenched in pity & wonder at how I could be 26 almost 27 and be as single as can be. I laughed it off, shrugged my shoulders and used my age-old adage, “I hate everyone?”, which of course isn’t true. I love people. I really do. But I also have so many deal breakers I find myself tripping over them on the daily.

It’s not for lack of trying or wanting. It’s just for lack of interest. I have had two great loves in my short life, and they’ve set the bar pretty high. While the heaviest of issues gnawed at us until we split at the seams, I loved them with every cranny of my being. You know what I mean, the kind of love that sinks down into your soul and settles there. And without meaning to, I size up every potential partner to what I had… Yes, it’s horrible, but it also means I won’t ever settle. I know what it feels like to be loved so completely that even my bones felt embraced. I know what it feels like to trust and admire and adore. There’s no point in pretending with someone unless I feel the sparks. I know what true, gut wrenching, heart swelling love feels like, and I’m going to wait this one out until it comes around again.

Of course loneliness scratches at me again and again. I pride myself in being fiercely independent, and while my job, friends, dog and yoga keep me busy 80% of the time, that 20% can be achingly lonely. I remind myself that my life is filled with so many beautiful things, but I still have to brush off those self-deprecating thoughts that come up when I reflect on why I am alone.

I suppose my honest answer to my friend should have been, “I’m single because there hasn’t been a person to sweep me off my feet in a long time. I’d rather be alone and occasionally lonely than settle for someone who makes my heart simply pitter. Give me pitter-patter or it’s a no go.”

And that’s what I need. The pitter with the patter. The whole hog or nothing at all. Who knows if or when that will happen, but I’m going to hold out until I feel that again. I remember what it’s like to be filled up to the brim, and I won’t settle for anything less.

Side note not related to love and being single:  If you haven’t yet, help me promote Uber (the best car service in all the land) by signing up with the promo code: UberChelseaD. You’ll get a $30 credit that’s good until 12/30/2013, which means you can get a free, comfortable ride to one of your many holiday excursions. It’s worth it, I promise. Thanks y’all!

Wild Rice & Kale Salad

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrating with good friends. We ate, drank and loved for 7.5 hours. Just how Thanksgiving should be. As a vegan(ish), Thanksgiving has always been hard. Yes, I indulged in some cheese this Thanksgiving, but I also gorged on so many vegetable side dishes I felt ill for two days (over eating for the WIN…?) Either way, this dish is great for Thanksgiving, potlucks or just as a side for your dinner. I had so much left over it was my lunch for a week, and I wasn’t complaining.

ingredients

  • 1 cup wild rice, uncooked
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped/torn
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start with your rice. Bring 2 cups water and your rice to a boil. Bring heat to low and simmer for 50-55 minutes. While the rice is cooking, wash and chop all your veggies and walnuts and prepare your dressing. Combine the lemon juice with the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. After rice cooks, cool before adding in the vegetables, walnuts and dried fruit. Then add in the dressing and enjoy! This is one of those salads that gets better after sitting for a while. Eat and eat and eat.

2db68df057e311e39166126eed24a06d_8

Home for the Holidays, Free Rides with Uber & the BEST Ginger Cookies

uber2

Two posts! So soon! I know, it’s kind of weird. BUT, I was given a promo code (uberchelsead) for my favorite car service, Uber, and felt like I had to share the wealth. Consider it Santa come early. My guess is that many of you have to travel around the holidays, yes? I am also guessing that means you have to deal with rides to and from the airport, dealing with the chaos that is waiting for the taxi/subway/insert delayed transit service here, correct?

Let’s skip all that nonsense and get to the real deal. If you haven’t heard of Uber, pull up a chair and get ready to have your world rocked. Uber is a mobile app that connects riders to drivers, and what you get is a fast, convenient, friendly zero-money exchanged service (believe me when I say you’ll feel spoiled when you Uber.) They are now serving over 22 countries, and happen to be in 30+ cities around the United States. I’m going to assume that some of you will be traveling to said cities this holiday season? Just a guess.

And that’s where I come in. If you have yet to sign up for Uber, today is your lucky day. All you have to do is download the Uber app, enter in the promo code (uberchelsead) listed below and you’ll get a $30 credit on your account. This credit is good until December 30th (it’s a holiday promo, after all), and works anywhere in the United States.

Skip waiting in the cold for a bus or taxi, take an Uber instead. The holidays are meant to be spent with the people you love, not wasting time waiting for a ride. When you get to your hometown, hopefully it’ll be one of the great cities that has Uber (Uber Seattle, you’re just so good to me), and you can use what’s basically FREE money to get back home.

Happy holidays, y’all.

ps. share how Uber made YOUR holiday extra awesome and special on twitter/instagram/blog and tag it with #UberForTheHolidays so I can see how getting from point A to point B was that much easier thanks to everyone’s favorite car service.

Triple Ginger Cookies

These little cookies have been my go-to holiday treat for the past few years. They are perfect. Honestly. Perfect.

  • 1/2+ cup large-grain sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or star anise (finely ground)
  • 4.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup fine grain natural cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 large egg, well beated
  • 1 cup crystallized ginger, then finely minced
  • 2 lemons, zest only

Preheat the oven to 350F, with the racks in the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven. Oil the baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Place the large-grain sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, star anise, ground ginger and salt.

Heat the butter in a skillet until it is just barely melted. Stir in the molasses, natural cane sugar and fresh ginger. The mixture should be warm, but not hot at this point. If it is hot, let it cool for a hot second. Whisk in the egg. Now pour this over the flour mixture, add the crystallized ginger (make sure it isn’t too clumpy), and lemon zest. Stir until just combined.

I followed 101 Cookbooks directions and made them teeny tiny (that way I can eat 4 and not feel TOO guilty about it.) Take a tablespoon, and rip that dough in half. Then you have the smallest, cutest bite sized cookies. Roll these teeny cute lil’ balls in the large grain sugar and bake for 7-10 minutes or until cookies puff up, darken a bit, get fragrant and crack.

I had some of these with hot chocolate while watching Love Actually. Yes, it was that girly, cliché and AMAZING.

photo (1)

 

Quinoa and Being Thankful

Yes, I may be listening to Charlie Brown Christmas and I may be getting weepy. And yes, I have dreams about spontaneously buying a plane ticket home to surprise my grandma on Christmas Eve. All of these things are true. You know what else is true? I am so very thankful for all that I have, both here and in Seattle. When my posts take a nostalgic, “I wish I was there” turn, it’s nice to reflect on the reasons I am thankful to be here, in this place, right now.

Here is what I’m thankful for.

1) I am close to my sister. She is my other half, the pants to my pants, the only person I trust with 100% of my secrets and heart. Living with her for this past year has been nothing short of magic, and I am so very thankful for our morning walks, our afternoon catch ups and our evening popcorn gorging. My sister, she is a light.

871e20043f6c11e38c1522000a1fb2b2_8

2) My friends. Down here, people exude friendliness. Everyone is game to try new things, meet new people, be daring and adventurous. The daily activities include bike rides and endless tacos. The friends I’ve made are from different parts of the country and bring a unique energy to my life. They’ve taught me to be a stronger, braver and happier person.

austin

friends2

3) My puppy. I can’t make a thankful list and not add Zeppelin in here. Sure, he’s kind of a pain in my ass as he hates other dogs, squirrels, garbage trucks, buses and cats. But you know what he loves? Me. And when he runs at me wiggling his rear end and leaning up against me like he’s found true love, I know he’s worth it. This dog has been around the country with me, and my love for him is overwhelming. If you don’t have a dog, get one. Or at least borrow one for a while so you know what unconditional love feels like.

c5e8cabc4bd511e39b8a125d06582ab4_8

3) The sunshine. True, my skin isn’t the biggest fan of that unfamiliar orb, but oh my goodness… it feels so good. It’s currently cold and rainy, and everyone is a little disgruntled about it. I find myself complaining about the cold and then I remember where I’m from, and how there it’s nearly always cold and rainy. So yes, I am thankful for the many, many days of Texas sun.

754d943e2aec11e3982122000a1f8c32_7

4) in.gredients. This place. They took a chance on me. Gave me a job and told me to run with it. Allowed me to be daring and try new things. Because of this job I’ve figured out what I want to do with my life professionally, and that feels so damn wonderful. As someone who has spent the last few years wandering around, not sure where to settle, it’s so nice to at least have an idea of what my strengths are. I owe this huge step in my career to this little, sustainable grocery store. A tiny place with a lot of heart.

322fb6ca919d11e2a64f22000a1f968e_7

5) Change. If nothing else, this town has taught me that I can thrive with big changes. My life can be thrown around like a whirlwind, and I come out the other side a better person. Austin has taught me that the only thing I can depend on is change, and to depend on it means to let go of any preconceived notions of what happiness will look like. Happiness is being present in this place and letting all the new wash over me.

b00492a4bb8311e29e1922000a9f4dd0_7

6) Missing people. That may sound like a strange thing to be thankful for, but being away from my family and friends in Seattle has made me realize how much I need them. When I was living there, I took their love and closeness for granted, and living in Texas has made me realize that. When I get back to them, I will hold on tight and never let go. I come from a family that is strong and supportive. I have a group of friends that are nestled into so many places in my soul. I am so grateful to know what it feels like to miss them, and to know that my place is there, with them.

family

There’s the start of a list that could go on and on. I am so blessed. My life is full of love, and as we come into this holiday season, it’s nice to take some time to remember that.

Vegetable Quinoa Bowl with Food for Lovers Vegan Queso

Queso is a thing in this town. Almost every restaurant has some version of it, and I’ve gone so long without eating it. Sometimes I’ll sneak a bite, because cheese is so darn good. However, if I really was to indulge in a melted bowl of cheesy goodness, my stomach would never let me live it down. That is why I am so thankful for Food for Lovers. Not only are these two people simply lovely, they make delicious vegan queso. It’s gluten-free and vegan AND it only has 10 calories per serving. Which means if I do accidentally eat the entire jar, I can’t feel too bad. I popped it on top of a bowl of quinoa, and my life was as right as rain.

ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup black beans, cooked
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach or kale
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 Tbsp vegan queso
  • 2 Tbsp salsa of choice

This recipe is basically a taco, sans the tortilla. This is my go to when I want to eat healthy, as I almost always have these ingredients at my house. It’s always nice to have quinoa on hand, as it’s a complete protein and makes for a delicious burrito or taco filling.

Start by cooking your quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Next, bring the water or the vegetable broth to a boil and add in the quinoa. Turn to low/medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

While the quinoa is cooking, chop your veggies and heat up a small pan with a splash of coconut or olive oil. Saute the onions for 5 minutes, and then add in the red bell pepper. Let cook for another few minutes until everything is soft. Add in some salt to taste. Warm up your black beans, and chop the rest of your veggies. Once the quinoa is down, mix in the black beans and sauteed veggies. Put the two cups of spinach in the bottom of the bowl and spoon in your quinoa mixture. Top the bowl with the cilantro and avocado, spoon on the queso and salsa, and call it a day.

20547842514a11e3b6b512b0a2d3115d_8

Mac & Cheese and Family

Is it cliché to claim fall as my favorite season? If seasons can “trend”, fall is definitely the new summer (gross. I apologize). Regardless, fall has been my favorite season since I was little, as I come from a family steeped in tradition.

With the return of fall comes all of those things that make me feel warm inside. It starts with a trip to Craven Farms with my dad to get pumpkins, spending far too long in the fields with apple cider and sugar cookies as our sustenance. We each pick out a few pumpkins and line them up, like a casting call. When I took an old boyfriend of mine to the farm I had to warn him that it’s not just a “go out into the field and pick whichever gourd looks okay” situation, it’s serious business.

07e0e9f22d2911e3891a22000a9d0ec6_8

Pumpkins lead us into changing leaves at Greenlake and cold morning walks. From there it’s grandma’s kitchen for Thanksgiving, the window perspiring as we warm up the kitchen with the smells of home. After that? That is when the magic really happens. I’m entirely obnoxious when it comes to Christmas. I watch Elf on repeat, force those around me to listen to holiday songs, and spend hours making a wide variety of christmas cookies and crafts.

See? Obnoxious.

One important detail: all of these traditions are from my life in Seattle. I am not there. Instead, I am sitting in the Texas sun in November and it’s 80 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, this weather is relatively spectacular, and I understand why people are happier in sunny climates. But as a girl who grew up with seasons, mountains and warm coffee in mittened hands, I am just not sure how I feel about a holiday season without my family. This will be the first time in 26 years where I am not going to be home for Christmas. I am not going to go see the nutcracker with my uncle, not going to wake up early to open my stockings, not have Christmas breakfast with my mom. Yes, yes, I am getting weepy as I type this.

It may seem trivial to care so much about the holidays, but it’s more than that. My traditions, regardless of how silly they are, are why I am who I am. I grew up with an extremely strong and supportive family. There was never a lack of love, a lack of understanding or a want for anything. My family, they are my people. Not being around them (well, most of them, thank heavens my sister lives with me) has made me realize how blessed I am to be so close to them, how lucky I am to have so much of my heart in one place.

What I’m trying to say is… Take me home.

Butternut Squash Vegan Macaroni and “Cheese” with Kale

From: Oh She Glows

When I get nostalgic, I cook. This means I have been whipping up all kinds of creations in my kitchen in the past month. Oh She Glows has become one of my favorite blogs, she’s got so many delicious healthy recipes on the website. Seeing as macaroni and cheese used to be staple in my childhood diet, my cravings for something similar have been pretty intense. If I made traditional macaroni and cheese, I would have a stomach ache for eternity. Instead, I made her butternut squash macaroni and cheese and used gluten-free macaroni. It RULED.

  •  1 fresh butternut squash
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 6 Tbsp nutritional yeast, or more to taste
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4-3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt (to taste) & ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 servings gluten-free pasta (I used quinoa macaroni)
  • Mix-ins (I chose kale and spinach, gotta get your greens!)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and mix your chopped squash with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 40 minutes, uncovered, or until tender. Keep your eye on the squash to make sure it doesn’t burn.

While your squash is cooking, prepare the sauce. Over low-medium heat, melt the earth balance. In a bowl, whisk together the milk and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) until clumps are gone. Add into pot and whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, dijon, garlic, lemon and salt & pepper) and whisk over low heat until it thickens (about 5 minutes).

Cook your pasta according to package directions. The sauce will make enough to cover 4 servings of pasta. In a blender, blend the sauce with 1 cup of roasted squash. Add cooked, drained, and rinsed macaroni into pot, along with your sauce and mix-ins. Heat and serve.

Promise me, you’ll add this recipe to your collection… it’s amazing.

97d4fbfa41c111e3b50722000a1fbd1f_8

Scones and Beauty

Today I will thank my ankles.

I will spend some time with my shoulders. I’ll get to know the back of my knees.

Today, I will smile coyly at myself in the mirror… “hey pretty lady, you look like a butterfly, wanna cuddle?”

Some days are thick with self-deprecation. Comments wrapped in humor (being cruel to yourself is okay as long as it’s cloaked in silliness, right?) Beauty is such a fickle beast. So much value balances on its very unsteady definition and we walk the tightrope with so much blame and loathing in our heart of hearts.

When I see a woman like Denise Jolly, I get misty. Be Beautiful. Such courage and grace in her photographs, in her words.

Every day I took time to recognize how beautifully fierce, and gracious my body really is. When it was in joy I met it there; when it was in sadness I honored its sadness; when it was sassy I bore witness to its sass.”

Beautiful. Fierce. Joy. Sadness. Sass.

Meet your body where it’s at. Wherever that may be.

beautiful
Greetings my darling, thank you for all that you are.

Strawberry and Ricotta Scones

Since moving to Texas, being a “vegan” has changed to eating a plant-based, whole foods diet with the occasional dalliance into the land of dairy. I missed cheese. I missed yogurt. So on occasion, when my body tugs on my shirt and asks, “can we? please?” I give in.

What can I say? Self love sometimes looks like fresh ricotta. This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. The original recipe calls for raspberries, but strawberries were at the store, looked better and I adore them… Let me tell you, these are scones to write home about. 

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 cup fresh strawberries, cored and cut into chunks
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup heavy cream (I accidentally grabbed 1/2 & 1/2, which worked out just fine)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bottom of a large, wide bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together. I couldn’t locate my pastry blender, so I just used my hands. Cut the butter into small pieces and work it into the flour mixture with your hands until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas.

Toss in the strawberries and mix in. Add in the ricotta and cream together and stir them in to form a dough with a flexible spatula. Using your hands, gently knead the dough into an even mass, right in the bottom of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 7-inch square about 1-inch tall. With a large knife, divide the dough into triangles or squares (whatever tickles your fancy). Transfer the scones to a prepared baking sheet with a spatula. Bake the scones for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in a pan for a minute, than transfer to a cooling rack. It’s best to cool them about halfway before eating them, so they can set.

These are definitely a scone to make in the morning, right before brewing your coffee. They tasted like heaven right out of the oven, like amazing town a few hours later, and pretty good that evening. They are meant for sharing.

2dcab47622d011e3b93122000a1f8c8d_7