Carrot Ginger Zinger Soup

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 As the colder weather sets in and the gray days get shorter, it is time for soup season to begin! This is one of my favorite soups to transition from the long summer days outside into the cooler autumn afternoons in my kitchen. My beloved soup pot eagerly awaits this treasure! The rich colors and flavors of root vegetables paired with the zing of fresh ginger make this a deliciously light meal that packs a nutritional punch. Lots of vitamin C and antioxidants boost the immune system for the cold and flu season right around the corner. I like to add steamed kale and roasted chicken to my zinger soup to make it a full meal deal with plenty of protein and leafy greens. InJoy!

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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped white onion

4 cups chopped carrots

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh peeled ginger

1 tablespoon lemon juice

14-ounce can coconut milk

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the carrots, broth, orange juice, ginger, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

3) Remove from the heat. Puree with immersion blender or food processor, until very smooth.

4) Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the coconut milk, salt, and pepper. Reheat the soup over medium heat until hot. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Homemade Vegan and Grain-Free Almond Joy Bars

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This is the kind of recipe that should always be shared with loved ones. When I know I will be inviting a group of friends over or attending a potluck, I like to prepare the most decedent side dish or dessert I can come up with. The kind of thing I couldn’t consider making on any random day because I would single handedly finish it. Sometimes it’s dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. Other times it’s baked brie drizzled with fresh fruit preserves and slivered almonds. For this weekend’s ladies clothing swap, enter: the homemade Almond Joy Bar. This grain-free, dairy-free, no-bake dessert has six simple ingredients and is incredibly delicious! It was certainly a hit among the 20+ ladies surrounding the snack table in my kitchen on Sunday. Injoy!

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Ingredients:

   Crust:


1 cup almond meal

2 Tbls maple syrup

1 Tbls melted coconut oil

1/4 tsp pure almond extract

Pinch of salt

   Coconut Filling:


1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 Tbls maple syrup

2 Tbls. coconut oil

1 Tbls water

   Chocolate Topping:


1/4 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

2 Tbls. maple syrup (at room temperature)

Instructions:

  1. Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. To prepare the crust, combine almond meal, maple syrup, coconut oil, almond extract, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir well until dough is formed. Press it evenly into the bottom of the lined loaf pan, and set aside.
  3. To prepare the coconut filling, combine all of the filling ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir well. Spread the coconut mixture over the crust, then use a spatula to smooth the top. Set aside.
  4. To prepare the chocolate topping, combine all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl and use a whisk to create a silky smooth chocolate sauce. (If any of your ingredients are cold, this sauce will firm up. If that happens, simply place the bowl in a hot water bath briefly to liquify the ingredients again.) Pour the chocolate sauce over the top of the coconut layer and smooth the top with a spatula.
  5. Place the pan in the freezer to set until firm, about one to two hours.
  6. To serve, pull on the parchment paper to easily remove the solid bar from the pan, then slice into bars and plate directly from the freezer. These bars will soften fairly quickly at room temperature, so it’s important to keep them chilled until ready to serve. Injoy!

 

Zucchini Pesto and Goodbyes

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This week has been full of goodbyes. My garden vegetables and herbs spring up with their last hopeful reach for the sun before returning to the earth until next spring. Autumn is right around the corner, so the time has come to bid farewell to long, warm summer nights and hot, sunny days on the lake. And my least favorite goodbye, a good friend Kelly is moving out of state. Portland gets all the cool kids!

Like tend I to do, out of necessity in the process or simply as an excuse to cook and eat, I invite Kelly over for one last meal to share before she hits the road. This is also the exact meal at which summer fades into fall within my kitchen. Huge zucchinis and tomatoes plucked from the vines will be replaced by Crockpot whole chickens and bone broth simmering on the stove. For tonight though, we basque in summer, and fresh zucchini with sundried tomatoes and fresh basil pesto is about as much summer flavor as a plate can handle.

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Ingredients:

2 large, fresh zucchinis

1 cup walnuts

2 cups fresh basil

½ cup high quality olive oil

2-4 cloves garlic

1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

Dash of pepper

¼ cup sundried tomatoes (jarred in oil if store-bought)

Instructions:

  1. Grate the zucchinis on a box grater, through the food processor or if you’re super fancy a with a zoodler!
  2. Combine all other ingredients besides sun-dried tomatoes in food processor and blend until incorporated, but slightly chunky. Mix in tomatoes by hand.
  3. Serve like a cold pasta dish… Place zucchini in a bowl and top with pesto. Viola! Injoy!

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And farewell, Kelly Dear! So many well wishes, new meal memories and southward visits coming your way!

Culinary Adventure

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Food and travel have sparked my imagination and ignited my daydreams as long as I can remember. It occurred to me recently, while looking through old photographs and reflecting on past travel experiences, how deeply my interest and love of food has been enhanced by my adventures in other cultures.

In 2002, while spending a few weeks traveling around Holland and Germany with friends by bicycle, my love for coffee grew as we made our way down the coastline. I can almost remember the exact moment. I certainly remember my surroundings and the view from the little café table on the beach in Zandvoort. The tiny cup of espresso served with a delicious, perfectly sweet, butter cookie. The rich, thick coffee, strong yet subtle flavors, it’s steam swirling above.. I fell in love right there! It very well could have been the caffeine and sugar, but hey.

IMG_6626After that came learning the gourmet adventurer meal preparation. For 3 consecutive summers, 2009-2011, I offered massage therapy sessions on a 7-day yoga and white water rafting retreat down the Salmon and Snake rivers. I have always loved rivers and sleeping outdoors, but in my experience, that environment came at the expense of delicious food. It blew me away how well we ate on those river trips! The gear boats packed up with everything from fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the garden of the outfitter in Joseph, Oregon, to grass fed beef raised just a few blocks away from the rafting company. I loved watching the guides create a 4-course meal for 14 people out of a tub of random ingredients and a cooler. Spices, wine, peach cobbler, bacon… those dinners sitting around the campfire with a guitar, after a long sunny day of rafting and hiking, were something to remember!

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In 2007, I ventured off on my first big solo adventure… a summer exploring Southeast Asia by train, plane, boat, motorbike and tuk tuk. It was the most I have ever explored my taste buds as well. Fried tarantula in Cambodia. Cocoa covered crickets in Laos. Fresh, ripe Mangosteen and the most delicious tropical fruit smoothies, picked right from the trees in Thailand. I had never experienced anything like it!

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Until 2012 that is, when I spent another month in Thailand living out of a backpack. Long luxurious days on white sand beaches, drinking fresh coconuts from a hammock and swimming in the warm turquoise ocean. Indulging in the most incredible Thai food created by tiny old ladies serving from street carts with plastic tables perched next to them. This time, I was so inspired by the food I experienced, I spent three days in an authentic Thai food cooking course in the northern mountainous region of Lampang. If you love food and cooking and immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture, learning the depth and beauty of exotic lands, I highly recommend a culinary adventure! IMG_6013 This year, I have set clear intentions of bringing more of the things I love together on a regular basis. Creating the opportunity to mix cooking, farming, massage therapy, teaching and travel! If you own a sailboat and are looking for a crew member to cook and give massages… if you have connections to retreat centers that would like to offer cooking/nutrition classes, massage therapy etc… or if you know of an organic farm that would like an extra set of hands working the dirt, consider me a part of your team! I would love to hear from you!

Finally, I have been asked by several clients to share some photos from my culinary adventures. Below is a series, all things food, from my last trip to Thailand. Injoy!

There is nothing quite like a delicious dinner on a warm, tropical beach! Thank you for giving me nourishment, Red Snapper!!  KohTao, Thailand.

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My favorite kind of breakfast… Colorful!! Enjoyed with an ocean breeze and inspiration to write!

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The night market… Chaing Mai, Thailand. So much delicious food!!

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Most menus throughout SE Asia look like some version of this…

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…the food always came out amazing, though! Usually some version of this… 🙂

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Smart Cook, Thai Cookery School!! The day begun with a walk to the local market to get a little lesson on Thai cooking ingredients. Vegetables, fruits, herbs etc.

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We then walked to the train station and road the rails about 30 minutes east from Chaing Mai to Lampang. (Pictured is a Anika, a lovely girl from Norway I met in the course and ended up traveling with for a couple of weeks.)

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Arriving in Lampang, our course leader Pung greeted us and instructed each of us to choose a bike! We rode another couple of miles to the farm where all of the food we would be cooking with was grown.

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My favorite part about the experience (besides biking through the beautiful Thai countryside, meeting so many wonderful people, playing with baby chickens, eating all. day. long…) was how interactive each step of the course was. From harvesting our own vegetables and herbs to learning the traditional way to serve an authentic Thai dish.

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The next morning we gathered and made our way to the kitchen where the hands-on cooking and magic making would take place. Each station under the covered patio had the view of a beautiful jungle garden and the farm we had harvested our food from the day prior. The indoor classrooms had long countertops extending through the center and a cutting board and set of knives at each station. Little bottles with labels I couldn’t read lined the wall.

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The following 2 days continued in a blur of cooking, eating, chopping, drinking, laughing, eating, napping, cooking, eating… curries, Phad Thai, spring rolls, papaya salad, Thai beef, tom yum soup, mango and sticky rice, deep fried bananas…

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And I even got a cookbook to take home and try the recipes out on my own! I have collected the obscure ingredients from a small Asian shop in south Seattle and attempted to recreate a couple of the dishes I made on that tropical farm day in Thailand. They were good, but not amazing. There is something about the energy of creating food and building a meal with the local, ethnic ingredients harvested right there… prepared with the creativity of the land that inspired it. Like you can taste the history. So worth a trans-continental flight!

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Aaaaaand… This has absolutely nothing to do with food, but the tiger sanctuary was certainly a highlight of visiting northern Thailand. Browsing through photos of this particular day brought back the incredibly warm and fuzzy awesomeness of this experience. Injoy!

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Summer Collard Wraps

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This time of year, my garden begins bursting with fresh, delicious greens and I know it’s time to start putting together my favorite summer snack… Collard wraps! This recipe utilizes lots of fresh veggies and is super simple to put together. Since myself, and many of the people I know practice a mostly gluten or grain-free diet, these wraps are a crowd pleaser no matter what the occasion. I make them for picnics and potlucks, for lunch at least twice a week and as a delicious and nutritious meal on the trail. They are best when eaten the same day, but can be kept in the fridge for a few days if need be. Injoy!

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Ingredients:

8 large collard leaves

1 ½ cups raw sunflower seed pate

Grated carrots

Sprouts

Sliced avocado

Cucumber (sliced in quarters length-wise, then in half)

**Other filling options you would include in a sandwich**

~Roaster turkey, cheese, salami, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

Instructions:

  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil and blanch each leaf for 30-60 seconds until just softened. Gently remove with tongs and set on a plate to cool.
  2. To assemble the wrap, place a collard leaf onto a large plate or cutting board. Place a spoonful or two of pate on one end, and add other filling options on top of the pate. Fold the sides over and roll tightly like a burrito.
  3. Refrigerate right away or slice and serve.

 

Lemon Walnut Green Bean Salad

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I recently needed a quick, fresh side dish idea for a potluck picnic. This time of year, delicious green beans are in season and offer the perfect spring flavor to any meal. This recipe is a breeze to prepare and with the balance of nutrients in the fresh vegetables and the awesome healthy fats found in walnuts, it is a wonderful complement to a community gathering.

This dish can be made ahead of time, but I suggest leaving the walnuts out until serving to maintain crispness. Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed

1 cup walnuts

2-4 Tbls fresh snipped chives

2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ tsp lemon zest

½ tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. Add green beans and blanch for about 4-5 minutes until tender but still crisp.
  3. Drain using a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Place into a large bowl.
  4. Place the walnuts into an 8 x 8-inch baking dish and roast for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully as they burn easily.
  5. Place on a plate to cool, then chop and add to green beans.
  6. Wisk the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and add to the green beans and walnuts. Injoy!!

 

ABC Fudgesicles (Avocado, Banana, Cocoa/Coconut)

 

 

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With the warm summer weather in full swing, it is a great time to play with some fun, frozen, kitchen concoctions! These naturally sweetened fudgesicles are a hit amongst adults and kids alike. The creaminess of the avocado and banana combined with the sweet delicate coconut flavor works wonders in this delicious dessert.

In addition, it’s always great to find alternatives to the highly processed, super sugar laden dessert options found in the grocery store. Below are the ingredients lists from two popular brands of fudgesicles.

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Yikes!! High fructose corn syrup, aspartame, guar gum, carrageenan, artificial colors and flavors, plus loads of other difficult to pronounce chemicals… this is not the stuff you want to ingest or feed to your kids! Carrageenan for instance, is a gumming agent that is known to cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which is the root cause of ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease and certain types of cancer. In fact, drug investigators have actually used carrageenan in the past to cause inflammation in the tissues of laboratory animals in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. Steer clear of this harmful additive also found in most shelf stable milk alternatives, boxed almond milk, coconut etc. by making your own! The freshness and flavor can’t be beat! Injoy!

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Ingredients:

8 Medjool dates

½ cup water

1 medium avocado, pitted

2 small bananas (or 1 ½ large)

1 cup coconut milk (from a can)

5-7 Tbls raw cocoa powder

2 tsp. vanilla

pinch sea salt

 

Optional additions before blending:

½ cup fresh mint

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

 

Optional additions after blending

½ cup chopped walnuts

zest from ½ orange

dried coconut chips

 

Instructions:

1. Place the dates into your blender and cover with water. Pack the dates down so they are completely covered and let soak for 30 minutes.

2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Depending on your blender, you may need to add a little more water or coconut milk.

3. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours. Remove by running warm water over the molds to loosen fudgesicles.

 

** This recipe makes 8 fudgesicles, I used half of the quantities to make the 4 pops pictured. Another option is to serve the extra as pudding. It is delicious as a creamy unfrozen desert as well! Injoy!

Seattle Tilth’s Edible Plant Sale!

 

 

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This weekend brought us another awesome season of Seattle Tilth’s Edible Plant Sale! An extremely popular event, selling tons organic, heirloom, locally grown and non-GMO seed starters for Seattle area gardens. Every year the varieties seem to get more interesting and abundant. I didn’t even know that many types of tomatoes existed! I have attended the last 5 years to stock up on seedlings for my veggie garden, but this year I decided to volunteer as a cashier. The experience was unforgettable! I highly recommend getting involved with this wonderful organization!

The day began with a check-in at the Volunteer station! Delicious snacks, water and coffee were provided to kick the morning off right! At 8:15am (45 minutes before opening) I was greeted by a line of excited gardeners winding all the way around the park, waiting to enter. This was going to be a busy day!

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Tables full of awesome veggies, herbs and fruit trees waited to be chosen and taken home to their new plot of land. Volunteers checked every last table and stand to make sure everything was all ready to go.

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As the flood gates opened, anticipation and excitement filled the park with a rush home gardeners snatching up their favorite plant varieties!

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Meanwhile, lots of other activities, such as petting live chickens and goats…

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…and snacking on delicious local fare like Patty Pan’s (A farmer’s market personal favorite!) and fresh vegan doughnuts from Mighty O, were enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

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The ticket writing and cashiering went smoothly…

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…and Seattle gardeners found lots of baby plants to compliment their homes!

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All while being serenaded by some wonderful local talent!

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The Seattle Tilth’s Edible Plant Sale is scheduled twice a year, in March and May, and requires more than 400 volunteers to make it happen. Consider offering your time and expertise next year and and join all the fun! Check out Seattle Tilth for more information on this event and many other classes, events and tours they do. Injoy!

 

Raw Sunflower Seed Pate

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As the weather warms up and picnic season is in full swing, it is a great time to seek out healthy snack options. This sunflower seed pate is a versatile recipe to keep around your kitchen and prepare often. It is delicious as a dip for celery, carrots, cucumber or chips and crackers, is a great spread for sandwiches and an awesome compliment to lettuce or collard wraps. The seeds add a good amount of healthy fats and protein to balance out the carbohydrates in the above meal and snack options, and it is a tasty treat that will keep in your refrigerator for 7-10 days. Injoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups raw sunflower seeds, soaked 6-8 hours

1 cup chopped celery

¼ cup finely chopped shallots

2-3 Tbls. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp. fresh time, chopped fine

½-1 tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Drain and rinse sunflower seeds through a fine mesh strainer
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency. I like mine fairly smooth with just a few chunks

 

5 Tasty and Refreshing Workout Waters

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Staying properly hydrated is the number one thing you can do for your body on a daily basis. When it comes to the health of our organs and digestion, fat loss, energy levels, sleep patters, brain function, our detoxification systems and nutritional choices… daily water consumption affects it all. And our bodies are made up of substantial amounts of water: The brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are 31%. We need to drink plenty of water, plain and simple.

The problem is many people have a hard time getting in the ‘half your body weight in ounces’ recommendation. The #1 complaint I hear from clients is that they are bored with plain water. Skip the artificially flavored sugar packets and try these 5 refreshing, whole food based recipes to jazz up your water. I suggest investing in a water bottle that holds at least 32 ounces in order to track how much you’re drinking most efficiently. I really like my HydroFlask!

  1. ½ lime sliced thin, ½ lemon sliced thin, ½ cup packed fresh mint
  2. ½ cup chopped seedless watermelon, 3-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  3. ½ cup chopped pineapple, ½ cup packed fresh mint
  4. ½ cup raspberries (fresh or frozen), 3-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  5. ½ cup blackberries (fresh or frozen), 3-5 sprigs of fresh sage

 

Also, get creative and come up with your own combination! Pretty much any fruit will work, aside from bananas. Use what’s in season in your garden or the farmers market. Mix with other fruits and berries and/or fresh herbs, add filtered water and voila! Injoy!