Lopez Island & S’mores

There’s an island in the San Juans that is magic.

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Every summer, the people I hold closest to my heart leave behind their lives and we get on a ferry, 45 minutes later and we’re home. The first year we felt brave and found humor in our ill preparedness as we ate cold veggie dogs and tortilla chips. Each year additions and changes have been made, and while I put my heart back together in the south, they carried on the tradition.

I am so blessed to have these beauties in my life. There is such a comfort in knowing that you have people who know you down to every last insecurity, and love you throughout. Lopez is like coming up for air. Stripping down to my most basic self. Waking up when the sun hits the tent, and watching the fog roll out of the bay. We explore the island by bicycle, making our way past farm stands and curious horses. Everything slows down, from the way we make breakfast to never knowing (or caring) what time it is. Even our coffee is slower, more perfect than the usual morning rush.

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My goodness… how I love this place, these girls.

They hold such strength and grace and humor! While they dream of weddings and babies, I dream of careers and cross country bike trips– and we hold each other up in our differences, an endless stream of support. To have this kind of friendship is a blessing, and I will be forever grateful to know this kind of love.

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We made wishes on stones, tossing them over our shoulders and shouting our hopes to the sky. We stayed up late over our campfire, sinking into those conversations you’ve been meaning to have with someone, but forget to make time for. No matter what we’re doing, it’s right. It can be getting lost on the backroads of the island, or sitting on a park bench over some of the best iced coffee we’ve ever had. We come up with grand life plans: raising our families together, owning houses next to each other, someday buying a farm on our beloved island.

When I leave Lopez I feel whole again. I leave that island as my best self.

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Until next year, Lopez. You have my heart.

“Walk through rivers. Climb steep hills. Stay hungry. Keep cool and good natured always. Possess courage and ingenuity. You will endure to the end. Stake your claim.” 

Handy Dandy Zippy Snippy Snappy S’mores (thanks for the name, Kee)

My darling friend has more dietary restrictions than anyone I have ever met. Because of this, she hasn’t been able to enjoy the quintessential summer treat… s’mores. This would not stand, not on Lopez. Leave it to the three of us to figure out how to make this happen. And while this isn’t REALLY a recipe, it is what summer is meant to be, so deal with it.

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  • Dandies GF/Vegan marshmallows (we got them at PCC, of course)
  • Mary’s Gone GF/Vegan Gingersnaps
  • Theo salted dark chocolate with almonds

Build the perfect fire. Drink cider and talk about the things that make your heart heavy, happy, full or curious. Wait until the embers show up, so hot you can feel it warming your cheeks. Find the best stick you possibly can, stick on a mallow or two, and roast away. Monica always catches hers on fire. I like to brown each side evenly. Keelin wanted to wait until she got the perfect char.

We all have our roasting techniques.

Once you’ve reached your perfection, grab two gingersnaps, pop on chocolate and then enjoy; sticky fingers, the smell of campfire and spending time with your best friends, exactly what summer should be.

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Lists & The Perfect Peanut Sauce

I have always made lists.

When I was younger I tried to play it off like I wasn’t an anxious, type A individual who has to be in control.

Now I know that my spirit word is stubborn, and my bull headedness is known to get me into trouble. My stoicism has caused many a silent heartbreak, believing that showing emotion (even a little) will cause me to lose control.

Hand in hand with all its downfalls, my personality lends itself to an absurd amount of ambition. I am willing to push myself into any and all things with confidence that I will make it work, no matter what the situation.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have learned to love my less-than-carefree personality.

I have learned to love my crazy.

And while I haven’t seen The Bucket List (mainly because Jack Nicholson’s eyebrows scare me) I have started a “bucket list” of sorts. It’s what I go back to, again and again, when I feel I’m losing inspiration. It’s always necessary to keep these reminders in this silly, haphazard world of ours.

Things I Must Do.

1)   Hike the PCT. I need to get lost in the woods with my sister. Get close to trees and mountains and silence. Forget about showers for 5 months, and remember what it feels like to fall asleep from sheer exhaustion.

2)   Bike across the country. I will one day find the courage to bike from west to east, capturing farmer’s stories. Get dirt under my fingernails and trade eggs for stories. Take pictures and learn what it means to live off the land.

3)  Help my grandma write her memoir. Her life is technicolor perfection. She has lived more than most people dream. No guilt, no jealousy—a life full of adventure and sex and love. My kind of life. I want to help her capture it, hold it close and share it with anyone that will listen.

4)   Learn to play the banjo. It’s hanging on the wall, silently mocking me. I know, I know. Patience isn’t my thing. Being new at things is the worst. Failing is hard. I’ll get over it and learn the damn thing… One of these days.

5)   Fall in love again. I suppose this isn’t something I can control (no matter how hard I try.) I have loved with all my heart two times in my life, and everything else has been white noise. I hope there’s a few more out there for me, because god damn… how big that kind of love can be.

6)   Relearn yoga. I am such a fool. Yoga has healed me in every way, and I always let it fall by the wayside. Here’s to making it a priority again—just like brushing my teeth. Yoga needs to become my habit.

7)   Let go. I have a deep desire to go to Burning Man. Which I never thought I’d say. A friend of mine said it’s a place where you leave everything behind. All those things you carry, you just let it go. Sounds like some sort of bliss.

We all know that list goes on and on, but seven seems like a good place to stop. It’s one of those things that won’t ever be finished—just another ellipsis in my life.

How grand.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

The Perfect Peanut Sauce (with Summer Spring Rolls)

You know the sauce. The one you find yourself licking out of the bowl at the Thai restaurant. I never thought I would be able to recreate it, and then I stumbled on a recipe that just about nails it. And yes, I have no shame—I licked every last bit out of the bowl… Like you do.

  • ½ can of full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/8 cup Thai red chili paste
  • ½ cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • Dash of red pepper flakes

All you have to do is put everything into a pot and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Let the mixture simmer, and make sure it doesn’t get burnt, as that’ll do some weird things to the coconut milk. No one wants curdled coconut milk. Let it cool and then eat to your hearts desire. I mixed in some red pepper flakes, because I love some extra spice.

I ate it with some tofu fresh rolls, which is another go-to recipe. This version included green onion, avocado, tofu, red bell pepper, cucumber, grated carrots and thai basil. Yep, it was delicious.

Fun fact about fresh rolls; when you are preparing your rice paper, dip the paper in nearly boiling water. There’s no need to let it soak, just a dip in hot water will get them to the perfect texture. Learned that trick in Texas, of all places.

This really is the perfect summer meal. Add it to your list. (hehe)

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Revitalization & Pizza

My mom called me out. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve updated this bad boy, and I think it’s because when I sit down to write, and I try to be poetic or some shit, it all seems false.

Here’s the reality of my life. I’m busy with work. I wake up, I exercise, I work, I make food, walk my dog and then I go to sleep. Repeat that 5x and then, on the weekends, I throw in a farmers market or two. Who wants to hear about that?

Too bad, you already did.

A part of me wishes I had boys and drama to mull over, but I don’t. I am still fighting that creeping loneliness, but I am just so damn busy that I don’t even want to make time for that horrible thing the world calls dating. I have fundraisers to plan and fitness goals to reach. I’m loving my job, and I now understand what it means to have a “career”, which is terrifying and wonderful, all at the same time. (I mean, who wouldn’t want to work with these jokers?)BnEOqapCcAACF2_

See? I’m boring.

The BEST news about me being so dull is that I’m 100%, head-over-heels happy. I’ve started taking care of myself again, and even though that looks like a 4:30 am wake up time, I can’t complain. I’m back to riding my bicycle every day, and being reunited with Gertrude makes me a better person. I buy myself flowers every Sunday at the Fremont market, because what is a life if not bright and beautiful?

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I’m all blue-bird-on-my-shoulder and what not, and it’s a wonderful thing. I recently went and saw my brother-in-law perform poetry at the University of Puget Sound. Before hand, I visited with my grandma in the sunshine as we gossiped about her past lovers over ice-cold beer (my grandma is my spirit animal.) And while ALL his poetry blows me away, it’s sometimes nice to sink back into his most well known poem and remind myself… Yeah, shake the dust.

Arugula, Sweet Potato & Asparagus Pizza

A pizza piled high with fresh arugula might make it on my list of favorite things. I know there are plenty of arugula haters out there, so… just ignore this post if you’re one of those. I cracked an egg on top of mine because I’ve added farm fresh eggs back into my life. It’s good without. Do whatever tickles your fancy.

  •  Vicolo Pizza GF crusts (delicious)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup Rice/soy/real cheese (grated)
  • ALL the arugula
  • Splash of red wine (if so desired)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and slice up your sweet potatoes. I did mine in thin rounds, kind of like sweet potato chips, that then put them on a pizza… MIND BLOWN! I also chopped up the asparagus, and  drizzled the combination with olive oil and salt, and threw them in the oven.

While those are cooking, warm a tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat, chop up your red onions and sauté! I added a splash of red wine while they were cooking because it was sitting by my stove. That really is the only reason. It’s also delicious.

After the vegetables are done, increase the heat to 425 F.

Then it was just a matter of grating the cheese and preparing the crust, which just means mixing some olive oil with crushed garlic, spreading it on the base, and popping the veggies on when they’re done, finishing it off with cheese. Place the pizza on the middle rack of your oven for 10-12 minutes, and if you’re adding the egg, crack it over the top before the final two minutes of baking, and you’ll have a delicious smack of protein on top (put an egg on it.)

After 10-12 minutes, take it out and let it cool for a bit, then pile it high with fresh arugula. It’s just so good.

Arugula Pizza

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.

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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?

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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