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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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!

 

Embodied Health: A Weight Loss Support Group

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Every year an estimated 45-million Americans attempt dieting to lose body fat. Of these, over 90% of individuals end up in a miserable yoyo dieting cycle that ultimately does not lead to accomplishing their health goals. Many simply lack the quality information, support and guidance needed to make lasting life changes.

Beginning this Wednesday, I am thrilled to be leading a weekly gathering where we will support, motivate and encourage one another in achieving the health and vitality we all deserve. We will discuss the pillars of health and the practical application of solid nutritional information. The focus will be on creating value in our lives surrounding weight loss, building supportive relationships and setting smart short-term goals to call on throughout the week. We will celebrate our success, share our challenges, hold one another accountable and offer insights and healthful recipes.

My vision for this group is to build self-awareness and intuitive eating habits. Show up with an open mind and readiness to shed the patterns that are no longer serving you. Uncover your tremendous potential and embody your greatest health.

Where:

Heroics Training Systems

900 Lenora St

Suite 140

Seattle, WA 98121

When:

Every Wednesday 7:15-8:15pm

Cost:

$12 or 6 weeks for $60

To Register:

Email Instructor Guinevere Amadeo

GAmadeo@Heroicsusa.com

Or connect through Facebook event page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/848439845182660/

Ginger Macadamia Nut Energy Bars

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I love to make these tasty treats for hiking trips or road trips or simply with a smoothie for a light breakfast. They’ve got a subtle nutty flavor with the cinnamon and ginger giving a great little kick! The perfect amount of natural sweetness with the dates, too! Injoy!

 

1 ½ cups raw macadamia nuts

1 cup pitted medjool dates (about 10)

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

Pinch of sea salt

 

1. Place nuts into a food processor and blend with the ‘S’ blade for 60-90 seconds until finely ground.

2. Add the dates, spices and salt, and process another 60-90 seconds until incorporated.

3. Press mixture into an 8×8 inch pan and refrigerate 4-5 hours.

4. Cut into bar shapes and individually wrap in waxed paper. You can also roll the mixture into balls and then roll in shredded coconut.

 

…And now a somewhat unrelated tale of caution about macadamia nuts for you dog owners. I have had a dog my entire adult life and I had no idea that macadamia nuts are extremely toxic to our little four-legged friends.

A few weeks ago I made these tasty energy treats. I had about a ½ a bag of the nuts leftover and stashed in my pantry. Miles, my Boston Terrier, sometimes gets board on days home and entertains himself by rummaging through closets and cupboards (child safety locks have since been installed in my kitchen). On this particular day, he found the bag of macadamia nuts and ate roughly ¼ cup of them.

Later when I got home from work, I walked in the door and he did not come to greet me. He just lay on the couch and stared in the opposite direction. This is a surefire sign that he has gotten into something and knows he will be in trouble. I found the evidence. A chewed up bag with a few crumbs left.

A few minutes later I called him to come outside and take a walk. He didn’t budge, which is very odd behavior for him. I kept calling, then went over and picked him up and placed him near the door, at which point he crumpled into a pile on the floor, unable to hold his body weight up. I tried to get him to move and help him to stand but he just couldn’t. He was essentially paralyzed. I started feeling his limbs and spine to see if he had an injury of any kind. Miles is 10 years old and while he’s a spry little old man, we also have a 2 year-old rambunctious Boxer with 50+ pounds on him. A roughhousing injury is entirely plausible.

There was no sign of broken bones or a specific strained muscle, it just seemed like his nervous system wasn’t firing. We rushed to the Emergency Vet. As I’m racking my brain filling out the paperwork, it doesn’t even occur to me that the macadamia nuts could have been a problem. Now, I realize this next statement makes me sound like a terrible dog owner. Miles has eaten many a nuts in his day. He once ate and entire bag of trail mix on a backpacking trip. Raisins and all (which are also very toxic to dogs). I don’t even want to think about the things he’s gotten into. He’s a terrier. A very food-oriented little dog, with guts of steel!

As I’m sitting in this terrible waiting room, with bright lights and sterile furniture, people sobbing and sick pets coming and going, stressing with thoughts that they are going to come back and say he needs some crazy surgery or will require a little cart for his back legs, a good friend calls and asks if I mentioned macadamia nut specifically. She informs me that they are a neuro-toxin to dogs and can cause paralyzation. What?! Crazy. I update the vet tech and the entire plan changes. (Unfortunately not until after they had done X-rays and lots of other unnecessary, uncomfortable and expensive tests. Lesson learned). They give him a little doggy charcoal detox, pump him full of fluids and 2 hours later he walks out of the vet’s office. A little slower, but walking none the less.

The next day, he is 100% better and back to getting in trouble in the kitchen. Thank goodness!! The moral of the story, no macadamia nuts for your fur babies! And now, when I make this recipe, I buy the nuts in bulk and don’t keep any leftovers in the pantry.

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Mystery Box Challenge: Persimmons, Jicama, Anaheim Chili, Mint, Fresh Ginger and Lamb Chops

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Every so often I like to pretend I’m on Chopped (one of my favorite cooking programs) and participating in a Mystery Box Challenge. You know the one, the box of several mystery ingredients that usually don’t pair well, and a limited amount of time to create an awesome dish to present. In my version, I imagine myself closing my eyes and spinning around in circles in the middle of the produce department of my grocery store and throwing the first few items I point at into my basket. In reality I peruse the brightly colored shelves and give myself 1 minute to choose 4 random items that I’ve never worked with before and take them home to play in the kitchen. And I don’t give myself a time limit, just try to engage my creativity and come up with something seasonal and delicious for dinner.

On this particular foggy Tuesday afternoon, I stopped at the produce stand a few blocks from my home. I had gone to pick out a few items for a dining room centerpiece. Hard, colorful little bundles of decorative corn on the cob, a bumpy dark green gourde and a perfectly round white pumpkin. As I shopped, more veggies were being loaded in from the farm truck and I started to get inspired. Persimmons, about 9 different varieties of squash and lots of leafy greens were beginning to stack up near the entrance. Mmmmm! A perfect opportunity for a Mystery Box Challenge!

I glanced at my watch and begun the 1 minute countdown. I knew those perfectly ripe persimmons were coming with me, so I immediately put 4 into my basket. After that, I passed the pyramid of jicama, a yam-like vegetable from Mexico. I had no idea what to do with that, perfect! Into the basket. Next, I walked quickly over to the herb section. Mint and fresh ginger jumped out at me. Not a likely pair. I very rarely cook with mint unless it’s sprinkled on a fruit salad, so that was a great addition. And ginger I’ve mostly only used in smoothies, tea and an occasional pumpkin pie. Into the basket they went. Lastly, I knew I wanted something with a kick. I grabbed the first hot pepper I saw, which happened to be an Anaheim chili. Great! Done! On the way home, I also stopped by the butcher and picked up a couple of lamb chops for protein and snipped a few sprigs of rosemary from my neighbor’s enormous hedge.

Back in the kitchen, my culinary adventure began. Without realizing it initially, several of the ingredients come from the warmer southern region and actually pair together quite nicely. I used the jicama and fresh mint in a slaw with green apples and carrots. The persimmons I made into chutney with the chili and ginger along with golden raisins, green apple and other warming spices. This went perfectly with the lamb chops, for which I made a rub with the fresh rosemary and some garlic and sea salt. It all came together beautifully! In addition I did sauté up some kale and onion with coconut oil as the plate was looking a bit void of greenery.

When is the last time you challenged yourself in the kitchen or in other areas of your life? Where do you become your most creative self? Do you tend to stay within your comfort zone much of the time? There is a popular saying ‘Magic happens outside your comfort zone.” I certainly agree with that sentiment and the delicious meal created that day is a shining example. This week, think outside the box. Pick up an ingredient you’ve never worked, or try a new technique in the kitchen you’ve never tried (wok much?). Challenge yourself, get creative and have fun! Injoy!

 

Jicama and Green Apple Slaw

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Ingredients:

1 cup matchstick-cut Granny Smith apple

1 cup matchstick-cut jicama

1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Instructions:

1. Toss apple, jicama and carrots together in a large bowl.

2 Place mint leaves, olive oil, sugar, vinegar, Dijon mustard and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until blended but slightly chunky, about two 10-second intervals.

3. Pour dressing over apple mixture; toss until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Persimmon Chili Chutney

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Ingredients:

2/3 apple cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1 cup chopped onion

1 large tart apple – peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 Anaheim chili pepper, chopped fine

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon ground coriander seed

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

4 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and chopped

Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan combine the apple cider vinegar, water, chopped onion, chopped apple, golden raisins, sugar, lemon juice, chili, ginger, lemon peel, coriander and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. Add the persimmons and simmer until the persimmons are tender about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate chutney. May be made a day or two ahead.

 

Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops

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Ingredients:

1 pound lamb chops or rack of lamb

2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, mix the rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the        olive oil together. Coat the lamb chops with the mixture, massaging it into the meat with your fingers. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, sear the lamb chops on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3. At this point, if you want your lamb chops rare, they are likely cooked enough. Remove them from the pan; cover them with foil and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. If you would like your chops more cooked, you can put them in a 400°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or keep them in the hot pan, remove from heat, and cover the pan for a few minutes. Then remove from the pan to a plate or cutting board, cover with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving

The Most Romantic Meal: Messy, Beautiful Love on a Mountain

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Lying in bed with my honey Wednesday evening, reading aloud to one another as we sometimes do, a spread in our free weekly newspaper catches my attention. “Love and Dinner: True Stories from Our Lives by Stranger Staff.“ We read a few of the essays. They are funny and sweet, disastrous, awkward and awesome!

Reading about these experiences with oysters and pearl necklaces, crabs on the beach under the moonlight, makes me think about what I would consider my most romantic meal to date.

There was the dinner I had with the boy from Argentina, perched in a treehouse on a tiny island in Thailand. We sipped ice-cold coconuts, looking out towards the neon orange sunset, over the vast ocean and waves crashing below. The breeze was warm and we sat in our swimsuits, bodies still salty from a day of diving. He spoke to me in his accent that sounded like poetry and fed me the most delicious red snapper from his fork. That was dreamy, but not the most romantic meal. There was the time several years ago when Jasson had a gift certificate for a fancy steak house that was worth more than half my rent. We got all dressed up and ventured downtown to orchestrate a fancy, romantic dinner. It had all the elements. Candles, hand holding, whispering and giggling, hours of being waited on, delicious food and wine. But that wasn’t it. There was also the time a boy I had only been dating a short while surprised me at my apartment with all the fixins for a fresh, delicious meal from the farmers market. And whiskey gingers (my favorite drink). He did all the work preparing sesame stir-fry while I sat and sipped. He turned on Foy Vance and danced me around my onion and garlic smelling kitchen in between stirring. That was pretty close, but also not quite it.

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What I’ve decided has been my most romantic meal to date is perhaps that last thing one might expect. We were freezing cold in wet dirty clothes, brushing mud off of our food, for which we had no plates, silverware or even napkins, and praying that the smell of our lunch in the tent would not attract bears later.

It was mid-June and Jasson and I were on a 3-day backpacking trip to Cashmere Mountain. The first morning was so beautiful we considered leaving the rain fly to our tent back in the truck to save weight in our packs. Thank goodness past experience with the temperament of the North Cascades talked us into stuffing it down with the rest of our gear. Just in case. We hit the trail just after sunrise since the weather reports indicated it would be in the upper 90’s that day and we wanted to get past the long, exposed, intensely uphill portion of the trail before the heat really got going. Fifteen minutes in, a downpour hit so strong it chased us into the largest tree/bush we could find to shelter us from the huge droplets. It passed, we laughed and continued on. The sun came out in very short bursts, enough to dry us off and give us glimpses of the beautiful mountains and cliffs we were passing. Mountain goats, marmots, hawks and wildlife of all kinds visited us on the trail. We were grateful for the cooler temperature since it made hiking the exposed part of the trail where there had been a forest fire last year, much easier. We didn’t go through as much drinking water, and figured the sun would really get blazing as we reached the alpine lakes, just in time for a swim!

Right at Noon, dirty, exhausted and high on mountain bliss, we reached Little Lake Caroline where we planned to set up camp for the night. The sky was still precariously grey and we decided to find a site and get our tent set up before heading out to explore. Not 10 minutes after venturing off from our little home away from home, the rain began again. No big deal, we thought at first. We’re from Washington, it’s par for the course to get a bit wet if you want to be outdoorsy in this state. Then the thunder and lightning began. This was a little more daunting, so we headed back. On the way, the rain became an even heavier downpour than we’d ducked away from that morning, the thunder was clapping and rumbling in loud rhythms just over our heads, and the lightning made the air feel electric all around us. We ran until we reached our little yellow tent, scrambled to get our soaked bodies inside, then fell into sloppy, heaving heap of laughter. It was all extremely exciting!

Twenty minutes later, when we could barely hear ourselves talk anymore, we realized that the rain had turned to hail the size of ripe blueberries and the thunder and lightning was even closer to the little ridge we were perched on. In addition, we were literally sitting in a huge puddle that had collected under our tent, and everything we brought was absolutely soaked. Then the mudslide began. Our puddle turned into a rushing river of mud sweeping rocks, leaves and twigs along with it. We geared up and crawled out of the tent to build a trench and try to divert the river around our meager flat of land. It actually worked pretty well!

Back in the tent, we stripped down and crawled into our down sleeping bags to try and warm up. Laying silently there next to each other, we listened to the earth crack and shatter and rumble, feeling our tent being blown around so ferociously I thought we might soon get flung right off the cliff. Eventually, the exhaustion from the day caught up and the sounds of the forest lulled us into a nap. An hour or two later we woke to our bellies growling. Though the thunder and lightning were a bit further off in the distance, the rain had not slowed much and we had no choice but to eat in our tent. A big no-no in bear country. And the only option we had for lunch was smoked salmon. A double big no-no in bear country. We pulled out our food bag and set a spot in the middle of the tent trying our very best not to spill or leave crumbs.

As I looked over at this man I have known my entire adult life, my best friend, my companion; a man whose blue eyes smile at me and my entire being melts; a man who I am my most favorite self with, I think, this is romance. This silly, scary, adventurous, uncertain, unexpected afternoon trapped cuddling in a tent is the most romantic I have ever felt. It’s the kind of love we dream about, the kind of love we love to doubt. This salmon and avocado eaten carefully off our mountaineering knives, followed by a crunchy bite of trail mix could be a candlelit dinner under the stars, in any city in the world, with harps playing and the most delicatessen food available, and it wouldn’t match the love and intimacy of this moment.

I have always felt that a meal shared offers nourishment on many levels. The pleasure that our senses experience, from the visual appeal, to the smell and flavor to the texture of our food; the nourishment our bodies receive from the energy and nutrients our meals provide; and the connection we feel with our companions over a shared food experience. It all adds to how our bodies integrate the energy of food.

It also seems to me, how comfortable you can be with one another in the most miserable and uncomfortable moments of your life is equally proportionate to the amount of warmth and love that be can shared. If we can laugh through a meal in a tiny, wet tent with mud under our finger nails in a crazy storm on the top of a mountain, I’m pretty sure we can laugh through just about anything.

My heart capacity grew that day. Over salmon, avocado and trail mix, my heart experienced what true romance can feel like. Real. Beautiful. Messy. Bliss.

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Seahawks Sustain on Superfoods, Stress Reuction and Sound Sleep!!

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If you live in Seattle, you might agree that it feels nearly impossible to avoid getting excited about the Seahawks mania that’s going on in our fair city. Twelfth Man flags in store windows, flying off of cars and even over the Space Needle, blue and green Seahawks gear being sported by everyone from grocery store clerks to bus drivers to downtown executives. There’s even a 12th man handshake, the official touchdown celebration for Seahawks fans. It’s everywhere!

What’s even more thrilling is learning about the Seahawks nutrition and well-being practices. Reviewing the changes that have been made in a team that went from finishing the 2009 season at 5-11 before new Head Coach Pete Carroll arrived, to securing a spot in this year’s Superbowl.

It turns out the changes that Coach Carroll has implemented are all about a positive and healthful experience. “I wanted to find out if we went to the NFL and really took care of guys, really cared about each and every individual, what would happen?” Carroll explains in an interview with ESPN. His dream was to fundamentally change the way players are coached. Yelling and swearing are frowned upon, everyone in the facility, from coaches and players to personal assistants and valets, is expected to follow Carroll’s mantras regarding positivity of thought, words and actions. “Do your job better than it has ever been done before,” he tells them. The big idea is that happy players make for better players.

This big idea shows up in many forms around the Seahawks practice facility in Renton, WA. Mac McNabb, the team’s official chef begins breakfast preparation at 4am by cracking 60 dozen fresh, organic, free-range eggs. The Seahawks purchased an organic farm in Olympia, where the chickens roam free and are fed an organic diet including leftovers from the players’ fresh-fruit buffet. In addition, the players are fed all grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, and organic vegetables and fruits. No deep-fried food is made in the kitchen. Even French fries are baked. And no sodas or junk foods are served, but there are fresh-baked cookies on Thursdays.

Along with a foundation of the highest quality foods available, the 91 men that make up the Seattle Seahawks also participate in some wellness practices that are unheard of in the NFL. Yoga classes are part of the team’s regular strength training sessions; daily meditation with Michael Gervais, a high-performance sports psychologist for mental wellbeing; Neurotopia brain-performance testing to manage stress and sleep quality. Carroll has gone to extraordinary lengths to create a culture of happiness and wellbeing for his players, and it shows in their performance.

With this wonderful insight in mind, I am even more excited to cheer on our Seattle team in Sunday’s Superbowl XLVIII! GO HAWKS!!!

Reflections, Commitment and The Hero’s Journey (A personal essay)

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I’ve been thinking a lot about commitment lately. Reflecting on the themes in life past and present and where commitment has shown up. 2013 was a big year of commitment for myself and many of the people around me. Personal relationships and career paths took a big shift forward and I’m excited to see more of that energy created in 2014.

My role as a Nutrition Coach has a lot to do with helping others articulate their goals and align their daily actions with their greater vision. The idea I am feeling confronted with most at the start of this new year, is that whether or not you are conscious of it, you are making commitments to follow one path or another. If you are watching television or being distracted by some other energy draining activity night after night, week after week and then “don’t have time” for preparing food or packing your lunch for the next day, you are making a commitment. A commitment to stay the same and choose the path that has gotten you exactly where you are. If you recognize that change takes sacrifice and commit to adjusting your energy accordingly, change happens. It’s like magic! Only, it’s not.

I read a quote by Thomas Edison recently, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I love this! It feels so spot on. It becomes incredibly easy and comfortable to stay in our rhythm, even if that flow has created a life and a body we never would have chosen for ourselves. Another quote for you: “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.”

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At the end of last year I began attending an Intentional Life Design group at Heroics Training Studio. This has been a beautifully inspiring process of voicing commitments and breathing life into goals and dreams. The idea is to gather with others (which has so far been a beautifully eclectic mix of Seattleites) to declare our commitments aloud, share ideas, do exercises to build skills in communication and test and practice these goals. The leader of the sessions, Titus Kahoutek, co-owner of Heroics, a physical trainer, and graduate of the Newfield Coaching program, brings mindfulness activities and focus to the group. This week, we discussed Joseph Campbell and elements of “The Hero’s Journey.” The call to adventure… meeting the guides… crossing the threshold… tricks, trials and tests… the lessons/rewards… ascension… reintegration. Having a lively discussion around this topic has been a wonderful opportunity to bring real perspective into the commitments I have set for myself in 2014.

Breaking out of the cozy comfort zone with the support of others cheering you on and keeping you accountable, injects a real force and possibility behind the life you are looking to design. For me, it has helped to build momentum behind what I want to create with Kitchen Delightenment this year. I have purchased the official domain name (as apposed to having it at WordPress), which is a small step, but a big symbol for me, ordered professional business cards, began researching education opportunities for personal chef certification, began building resources for professional kitchens and venues I can potentially hold workshops at, and followed up and began working on a business plan for a few clients that have inquired about cooking meals for their family. In addition, I have overcome my hurdle with social media and my limited technology skills. I have posted regular content to my Facebook page involving healthy recipes, wellness articles, facts of the week and inspiring quotes; I’ve gotten in the flow with Instagram and a bit with Twitter, which I still hesitate with, but do recognize the value and am getting better.

At this point, I would consider myself to be at the threshold of the Hero’s Journey. The adventure has been called, the guides are in place and I’m excited to see what tricks, trials and tests my journey has in store. If you are looking to take that extra step this year towards creating change and building your dreams, and live in the Seattle area, I highly recommend checking out the Life Design Workshop at Heroics.

As for your 2014 commitments… What does the life you wish to design this year look like? Are you looking forward to more activities and projects that support your personal identity? Creating better habits to maximize your health and utilize your greatest physical potential? Change your career to align better with your personal happiness and fulfillment? Where are you on your Heroic journey? Get out there and make it awesome! Happy 2014!!

Thanksgiving 2013! Lessons Learned and a Lovely Day in Photos

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Things have been pretty eventful around the Delightenment Kitchen so far this holiday season. Thanksgiving was a wonderful day filled with friends, relaxation, some beautiful sunny outdoor time and plenty of cooks in the kitchen. No holiday is right without a few missteps and opportunities to learn something new. Here are a few tips I learned, followed by Thanksgiving 2013 in photos!

1) Oven bags are not brining bags. This is kind of a no-brainer, I realize. (Or a no-briner, really. Hehe.) Somehow I thought I could make it work. (With a 20lb turkey! Silly girl.) Though, after running around to any open grocery store in the area at 10pm Wednesday night, the boys saved the day with a cooler just the right size. That little blue cooler is now the official tool for large meat marinating.

2) Always ALWAYS check (and re-check) your instant read thermometer and make sure it is not set to Celsius. This mishap was caught just in time and only resulted in the bird being a few more degrees than intended.

3) Wrapping the turkey in bacon once it’s breast side up is delicious, keeps the meat moist and makes the most wonderful gravy I’ve ever tasted. It also may cause a grease fire.

4) When a grease fire erupts and threatens to engulf the kitchen:

1. Do not blow on it.

2. Do not whip a towel at it.

3. Do not run around the kitchen with your hands over your head yelling. It’s not helpful.

4. Don’t bother with the fire extinguisher (it’s just too messy).

5. DO grab some white vinegar and baking soda, mix in a jar (quickly) and toss it at the base of the fire. This chemical reaction creates carbon dioxide and smothers the fire. Thanks Titus!!

5) And lastly, I’ve known this since childhood, it’s always my favorite part of the holiday season, but here it is anyway… Pumpkin pie, especially the gluten-free, dairy-free (made with coconut milk, yum!) low sugar variety that Katie creates, makes an excellent breakfast! Even better thank dessert! I’m thinking next year we should have one for dessert and make one specifically for breakfast the next couple of days.

Anywho… A photo essay. (Recipes will be included in a follow up post.) Injoy!

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Citrus fruits and delicious herbs from the garden for brining.

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The turkey’s in!! Molasses, plenty of pink sea salt and lots of love.

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I have never seen the dogs quite so attentive as when I’m rubbing butter and spices under the skin of a 20 lb. turkey!

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Slow simmering the neck and organs into a stock on the stovetop makes for a delicious and nutritious base for gravy!

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Bird goes in breast side down for the first hour or so to ensure a slower cooking of the tender breast meat.

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Don’t forget to have a good breakfast! We went with green smoothies and latkes (Happy Chanukah) made by Titus!

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The ladies carried on the tradition of taking a walk and collecting lots of live natural objects for the centerpiece. Here’s Pepper putting on the finishing touches.

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Orange cranberry sauce on it’s way….

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Delicata squash roasted with cinnamon, cloves, coriander and nutmeg.Also, brussel sprouts with shallots and maple smoked bacon.

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Lightly blanched green beans with ginger and garlic. Scalloped potatoes with goat cheese and fresh herbs.

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I will totally buy the love of dogs with bacon. That is all.

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Aaaaaaand… the guest of honor. Thank you delicious turkey for sacrificing your life so that we may come together and be nourished and celebrate. Also, the pig who’s bacon got into several dishes and was even wrapped around the turkey for a good portion of the roasting. (Not pictured.) Namaste.

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Dessert time! Gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie; GF/DF apple crumble pie, with apples from the front yard tree. And (oops) frozen coconut whipped cream!! Such a wonderful meal with lots of fantastic leftovers!