No Child Left Inside

Remember how awesome it was to be a little kid? How you spent so much time in your own head, imagining that your backyard was a pirate ship, your bike was a horse and the woods were your make-believe home? My bestie and I would spend hours on her acre of wooded property, making forts and sneaking into the neighbor’s yard to feed apples to their horse.

Yeah, my youth was pretty idyllic.

I am not sure that outside-all-day, berry-picking, lost-in-the-woods, be-back-by-dusk childhood is all that common anymore. Maybe that is why the childhood obesity rate is 16.9% and why it isn’t uncommon to see seven-year olds with Iphones. What a strange world we live in.

I have decided that if I have kids they will wear recycled pillow cases (fashioned into draw string like dress bags), they will play with wooden toys, live on a farm, play in the dirt and never interact with the outside world. Which means I will live on a commune or be a part of a cult…?

Never let me have children.

I think about kids a lot because I work at a hospital; a hospital that only treats kids. A place where there are a lot of kids who are really sick. It makes me think about how many kids there are that aren’t battling cancer, that aren’t going through chemotherapy every other day, but are still slowly decreasing their chances at a healthy life because of the world and society around them.

Heavy stuff this morning, I know.

All of these thoughts led me to sign up as a running buddy for an incredible organization. Girls on the Run is an international non-profit that runs a 10-week after school program for 3-5 grade girls. It teaches them about positive body image, self love and trains them for a 5k. Basically, it rocks my world.

I spent my Monday afternoon running (let’s be real, it was mainly walking and then sprinting down hills) 3.5 miles with two 3rd grade girls. They were the cat’s pajamas. We talked about school, family, pets, their hopes to go to college together, live together and work as zoo keepers together (bless). It was the best way to spend a Monday. It reminded me that kids are resilient. That perhaps there is a bit of hope when it comes to the next generation.

To top all of this magic off, it is spring and that means rhubarb and asparagus (I am lacking a smooth transition today, oops). After eating a breakfast of vegan, gluten-free banana pancakes with homemade nutella (what?!? So delish) at my favorite spot for a bestie’s birthday we popped by the Ballard Farmers Market.

Perfection looks like bundle after bundle of fresh asparagus. It looks like baskets of fern fronds and bushels of arugula. Perfection is the realization that we are entering the time of year when eating local produce is easy. SO. MANY. VEGETABLES.

Thank heavens.

I bought the rhubarb on a whim. Mainly because it was so beautiful and my excitement got the better of me. This spontaneous purchase resulted in making a batch of rhubarb compote—one of the easiest things to make in the world. This delicious, honey sweetened concoction is best when plopped on coconut milk yogurt or ice cream. Highly recommended.

It is quite the way to ring in the spring. (Rhyming! Huzzah!)

Honey Sweetened Rhubarb Compote

4 cups rhubarb

½ cup water

¼ honey

Juice of ½ lemon

-Wash and cut up rhubarb into thin chunks.

-Place all ingredients (except honey) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

-Reduce to a simmer and cook down until rhubarb is soft—about 15/20 minutes—stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

-After the compote has cooled, pour through a fine sieve to get rid of the excess liquid.

-Add the honey and stir everything together.

-Put in an adorable jar and pop on whatever tickles your fancy.

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Astrology and Seaweed

Two summers ago, while working on a farm in Colorado, I had my astrological charts done. The owner of the farm was the epitome of back-to-the-earth hippie. (She kept her placenta in the freezer—she was one day going to plant a tree with it. Or cook it. I can’t remember)

Her and her family lived out in the middle of nowhere on a huge tract of land. They had an outdoor kitchen, solar/rain water showers and their 5-year-old had dreadlocks. Their pack of dogs roamed free and kept away the bears. I learned how to erect a teepee and worked for hours collecting vegetables to sell to the nearby town.

It was quite the experience.

Needless to say, I spent some time getting to know my spirit animal and my true “sign”. What I discovered was that I am a Capricorn/Capricorn, which is somewhat uncommon. You usually have a moon sign that is different from your sun sign.

Not this girl. I am Capricorn through and through.

My closest co-worker is also a capi/capi, and we always fall back on that as our reasoning for acting the way we do. Sometimes it is nice to explain yourself via your astrological sign.

All of this has a point, I promise.

As a double Capricorn, I am so grounded to the earth it is silly. I don’t even have a touch of water or fire to balance me out. This is why I think I love to play in the dirt so much.

It was yet another day of sun in Seattle, and once again I felt the drive to keep busy and accomplish things. I ran/walked 6 miles with the pup, went grocery shopping and got the soil,compost and seeds I needed to get things cracking with my garden. Living in a city means that I rely on my raised bed and my container garden to produce the food I need.

I planted an insane amount of lettuces today—spinach, kale, bibb and arugula. Greens for days. As a vegan, I feel like you can never have too many greens. As the temperatures slowly start to creep up, I will plant the rest of my raised bed so within a few months my backyard will be overflowing with delicious goodies.

All of this planting and weeding and getting my hands dirty in the sun also brought out more of my freckles. Thank goodness for all these beautiful details.

To keep up with the green theme, and to balance my earthy self out, I had an aquatic themed lunch/dinner—which means I ate my body weight in seaweed. Mmm seaweed salad and brown rice nori rolls, I could eat you forever.

Seaweed Salad (adapted from yumuniverse.com)

  • 4-5 pieces whole or cut wakame
  • Warm water, enough to fill medium bowl
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Cubes of extra firm tofu

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp minced ginger
  • ¼ tsp minced garlic
  • Pinch salt

Soak wakame in a bowl for 5 minutes, chop up tofu and green onion. Whisk together all ingredients for dressing. Toss everything together in a bowl, add the sesame seeds and stick in the fridge to let it soak up all the delicious flavors. Eat until your heart says to eat more. Then eat more.

Brown Rice Nori Rolls (adapted from Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook—what else?)

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice
  • 2 cups sweet brown rice
  • 6 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dried nori sheets
  • Extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Carrot
  • Avocado
  • Scallions
    • Add water, rice and salt into a pot and boil. Once boiling, turn down heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let settle for 20 minutes. Transfer half of rice to a bowl and sprinkle with rice vinegar. (you will have lots of left over rice. Yum.)
    • Cut tofu into strips and marinate in rice vinegar and tamari for 20-30 minutes. After marinating, heat them up in the coconut oil until lightly brown.
    • Cut up carrots, avocado and green onion into thin strips.
    • Lay out the nori, shiny side down and spoon rice onto the sheet, leaving 2 inches on the top and bottom of the sheet. Lay vegetables and tofu at the bottom of the sheet, and roll it all up into a delicious roll of goodness. You can either scarf it down burrito style, or wet a serrated knife and cut those bad boys up into sushi style pieces. Either way it is delicious. Feel free to add any veggies you like… The possibilities are endless.
    • Dip in some tamari, or enjoy on your own. So good, so filling, so healthy.

 

Spring

I was very productive today. This productivity is usually stymied by “wasting” time in my parent’s sauna or watching too many episodes of trashy TV before work. When I sit down and watch Netflix reruns of How I Met Your Mother or Twin Peaks, I always end up eating a bowl of popcorn bigger then I like to admit.  It is huge. Really, really huge. BUT, it is coated in nutritional yeast, so at least it is healthy popcorn.

However, today it was sunny. GASP. The sunshine actually warmed me through my bedroom window and I saw the thermometer hit 50 degrees. Holy hell… spring? Is that you?

Those of you who don’t live in Seattle—perhaps you are in the heat wave of the midwest (you bastards)—50 degrees seems downright frigid. Which it is. The poor daffodils and cherry blossoms are freezing their asses off as they assumed mid March would bring them warmth—sorry little dudes, no such luck.

Here is the thing about sunshine and Seattle. When it is sunny, you do everything in your power to be outside. To be inside is sacrilegious. The sun comes out and people drop their plans, their work, their lives and bask in all that glorious vitamin D. Everyone also assumes that sunshine means you don’t have to wear clothes—but that is a different story for another time.

I spent my morning gabbing with my bestie over coffee as the dogs pulled us down the street, stopping to sniff and pee on every flower that had been brave enough to show its face.

After spending time with a bestie, I feel invigorated—I rode this feeling and did some gardening.

Oh, gardening. How I love you. I adore the feeling of dirt under my finger nails; I seek pleasure in turning over and digging up my garden bed. I like to chat and get to know my worms—feeding them scraps and lovingly covering them with a sheet of delicious dirt.

Today I planted some butter head lettuce, and trimmed back the ever bothersome blackberry bushes. I found my cute little itty bitty terra-cotta pots and started some kale and broccoli starts. Oh my goodness, how excited I am for all things to grow.

All of this walking, gossiping and gardening whetted my appetite and I caught up on podcasts as I whipped up a quick buckwheat soba noodle salad.

What a way to ring in the spring.

Peanuty Buckwheat Noodle Salad

  • Buckwheat noodles
  • Red bell pepper
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic
  • Spinach and Kale
    • Cook soba noodles. Or brown rice. Or black rice. Or anything that goes with vegetables and peanut sauce.
    • Warm up sesame oil in a frying pan on medium/high heat, add garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add spinach and kale and quickly saute until slightly wilted.
    • Cut up cucumber and bell peppers, and carrots and set all of these things aside.
    • Toss noodles with vegetables and peanut sauce (recipe below)

Peanut Sauce

  • 4 tbsp hot water
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1.5 tsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 tsp brown sugar
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
    • Whisk all ingredients together. If it still looks a little chunky, zap that baby in the microwave for 30 seconds and whisk again. Pour over anything and everything. Lick the bowl. It is okay. Everyone does it.