Roasted Vegetable Pizza with Golden Tomato Sauce

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There are few people I respect more than those who live each day in truth with their whole selves. I’m in awe of these folks and admire how they stubbornly live in their brassy, blunt, comfortably imperfect beings.

I am not of those personalities. I tend to be quiet, small, and gauge how much I share with how well it will be accepted. If feathers will be ruffled or judgement passed, I opt to keep my mouth shut. I’m one that avoids controversy and negative attention. I like to be perceived as put together.

 

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These last few months I’ve been working on letting go a little: Being me without so much filter. Wearing less camoflouge. Going out in public in whatever I happen to have on. Saying things I mean. Sharing parts of me that I previously shoved away into dark little corners.

 

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In my food-world, I liken this process to embracing the ugly vegetables.

 

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William is working on an awesome organic vegetable farm this summer and he brings home bags of crooked carrots, too-ripe peppers, and weedy leaves.
 
If truth be known, I have a fondness for the most interesting produce cast-aways. A perfectly straight carrot? An apple that has more beauty than flavor? A purely symmetrical tomato? Perfection in the botanical world is boring, sterile, and dare-I-say-it, industrial. Blemishes have their own unique beauty and the taste, what’s inside that really matters, is rarely sacrificed.
 

If it’s so exciting to embrace ugly produce, why is it like hurdling mountains to get along with personal imperfection?

Tough experiences leave scars which make the good days shine all the more brightly. They leave a life rich with experience. And wisdom.

Exposure to another viewpoint and belief encourages acceptance and understanding.

Having a different opinion is some sort of individualistic awesome.

Critisism can be a catalyst for growth–Or expelling bad juju.

Casting aside worry of another’s judgement is liberating.

Self-acceptance is the best form of freedom.

 

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Back in the kitchen, I’m working with golden heirloom tomatoes of an unknown variety–they were too ripe to sell. I’ve seedy, scarred eggplants, and yellow summer squash from my garden. My squash plant is dying so these are likely the last ones for the summer. I’ve Jimmy Nardello peppers that didn’t come up to size and missshapen bell peppers, still green, which came off with a broken stem from overenthusiastic weeding. There are gorgeous red onions too. I’ve no idea why but they didn’t pass the farm’s to-market test.

 

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As for me, I’m working on being real,worrying less about measuring up or missing out. I’m working on embracing the ugly vegetables in my personality, the crooked roots and misshapenness. I’m working on letting the unique beauty that is the real me overpower the pursuit of being perceived as polished as a tasteless red apple.

 
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We are all glorious in our imperfection. Let’s celebrate a little more of that today. And eat pizza loaded with a bunch of ugly vegetable cast-aways.
 
 
 
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Roasted Vegetable and Golden Tomato Pizza, serves 2-3
Roasted Vegetables:
1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped
1-2 medium yellow summer squash, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1-2 sweet red peppers, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
8-10 kalamata olives, diced
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh thyme, optional
 
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a 13″x9″ baking dish lined with parchment paper, layer in the chopped eggplant, squash, onion, and peppers.
- Drizzle the mixture with a tablespoon of oil, fennel seed, freshly ground black pepper, and salt.
- Give it all a good stir and then roast for about 20-25 minutes.
- When the vegetables are sizzling and soft, take it from the oven and let cool slightly.
 
Golden Tomato Sauce:
2 1/2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lbs. yellow or golden tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
 
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil sizzles, add the garlic and sauté until just golden.  
- Add the tomatoes and spices and turn to low. Simmer for 45-60 minutes.  
- Let the tomatoes cool for a few minutes and then puree in a blender for a smooth, pizza-sauce consistency. If the sauce is still quite thin, put it back on the stove and simmer a bit longer to thicken up.
 
Crust:
The ingredients below make enough for two 10-12″ crusts. Each pizza usually serves two to three. You can refrigerate the dough for the second crust up to two days. Due to the differences in the flours, I like to weigh them with a kitchen scale to get an accurate ratio of 70 percent whole grains and 30 percent starches. I’ve then put those weights into cups so it will be easier to measure without a scale, but if in doubt, I’d use a “short measurement,” rather than an overflowing cup.
 
1 1/2 Tbs. flax seed, ground
3 Tbs. hot water
40 grams (a short 1/2 cup) garbanzo & fava bean flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) brown rice flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) sorghum flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) millet flour
40 grams (1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. tapioca starch
40 grams (1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. arrowroot starch
40 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch
2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
~2 Tbs. olive oil, separated
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/3 cup warm water, divided
cornmeal
 
- Combine the flax seeds and 3 tablespoons of very hot water in a small bowl until a slurry is formed; set aside.
- Combine the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the yeast, 1 Tbs. olive oil, sugar and 1/2 cup warm water. Allow it to rest for 3 minutes or so until the yeast is activated.
- Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, and stir it all up. Then add the flax seed slurry to the dough and a portion of the remaining water; mix until the dough comes together in a ball. If it is too dry, add enough water to for a tender, pliable dough.
- Cover the dough in the mixing bowl and set it aside to rest for 1 hour.
 
Putting it all together:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Separate the dough into two equal portions. Sprinkle your pizza stone or baking sheet with a light sprinkling of cornmeal. Roll one of the dough portions out to desired thickness directly on a pizza stone or baking sheet. 
- Spoon a hefty couple of ladlefuls of the golden tomato sauce over the dough and smooth it out. Then, layer on the roasted vegetables followed by the kalamata olives. If desired, crumble a sprig of fresh thyme over the top. Fold the crust edges in when done, and with your fingers, lightly dab the edges with the last tablespoon of olive oil. Pop it in the oven and bake for about 16 minutes.

Turmeric Ginger Seed + Nut Bars

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Oats are one of my favorite foods of all time, and over the years they are probably the most common ingredient in many of my recipes. Aside from porridge, I really love to try out new variations of homemade granola bars. Recently, I’ve been using bars as a quick form of recovery after hard runs or races. With races especially, I often find it difficult to eat anything offered at the post-race party that might help me start the recovery process in a timely manner. Common post race offerings include bagels, bananas, pancakes, and sometimes pizza, which are all great carbohydrate-rich foods that I cannot eat. Making these bars and stowing them in my bag are the new way to go!

 

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The Sports Nutrition literature recommends eating a post-workout recovery meal or snack with a ratio of carbohydrate to protein of 3 – 4:1. Eating a food or meal in this range helps with muscle glycogen re-synthesis. That’s science speak for sugars in the muscle. Adding amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to the carbohydrate mix also help with muscle protein synthesis. If the muscles begin getting re-fueled and rebuilt quickly, they will recover and be ready to get back out there sooner!

In addition to fitting within the recommended carb to protein ratio range, these bars also contain turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Turmeric has been used for centuries in India. It contains a compound called Curcumin which has often been lauded with potent anti-inflammatory actions. Ginger also has been known to reduce inflammation and it helps settle the stomach. I’ve been struggling with a minor injury all summer and my stomach often begins to feel like I just stepped off a carnival ride after a hard run, so the addition of turmeric and ginger help the recovery process just a little bit more. With the addition of cinnamon, the flavor combination also just plain tastes good, and for that alone, I’d mix these spices in!

 

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These bars are healthy, filling, easy to make, and can be eaten any time of day, even if you’re not an endurance athlete. I’ve also been throwing them in my lunch box all summer to eat between meals when I need a snack.

If you’re really interested in the bars’ nutrient break-down, I’ve included it at the end of the post. For more on healthy inflammation-fighting foods, check out this article from Runner’s World.

 
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Turmeric Ginger Seed + Nut Bars
These can be adapted in infinite ways by changing up the types of dried fruits, seeds, and nuts. I used heaping measuring spoons of the spices, so err on the side of more.
  • 3/4 unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/8- 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a square baking dish (approx. 8″ x 8″) or line with a piece of parchment paper so the bars are easier to lift out.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the vanilla and applesauce.
  3. Place the oats into a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped, but still have a fair bit of texture. Then stir the oats into the applesauce mixture.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients into the applesauce-oat mixture until thoroughly combined.
  5. Spoon mixture into the prepared pan. Press down until it is compacted and even.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes until the bars are firm and lightly golden along the edge. Wait until the bars are cool and then slice into squares or rectangles. This makes 16 small bars (~100 calories each) or 8 larger bars.
Nutrition Information, (for a larger bar or two small ones)
208 calories
10 grams fat – 13% Daily Value
1 gram saturated fat – 5%
0 grams trans fat
0 mg cholesterol
32 mg sodium – 1%
27 grams carbohydrate – 8%
9 grams sugar
4 grams fiber – 12%
6 grams protein – 14%
 
Vitamin A – 0 %
Vitamin C – 2%
Calcium – 2%
Iron – 13%
63 mg magnesium – 20%
217mg potassium – 5%
 
 


Carrot + Zucchini Oat Bran Muffins

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I am a struggling carrot farmer. Packets of seeds. Different locations within the space. Different weather patterns, sowing dates, and groups of planting hands. Gorilla planting at random when watering. Watering frequently. Pre-sprouting. Row covers. Gleaning scraps of information from the successful carrot farmers I know. They’ve all been attempted.

Let me explain. I coordinate a school garden. I plan the crops, the rotations, the amendment schedule and IPM techniques and timing. I coordinate the students, the teachers, the garden club, and the irrigation. Somehow, I can’t quite coordinate the soil to grow a substantial crop of carrots.

The carrots we’ve managed to grow were fat and tasty, and there is a meager amount of later-planted carrotlings still pushing their way through their sparsely sprouted rows. There’s progress. But carrot farmer, I currently am not.

 

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I see this carrot-failure as a small metaphor for the general way of things lately. I’ve been in a real mental funk, feeling like no matter the new tools I gather and employ, the result is still the same. Lackluster. Not the success I had envisioned.

 

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In light of the set-backs and failures, both personal and carrot-related, I’ve been taking stock of the situation(s). I have a few more tools up my sleeve, a little more determination and knowledge with each new attempt. I tend to not give up easily. In fact, I’m more likely to summon the kind of rage orange-haired people are known for and use it to my full advantage.

Those carrots will grow in that garden. They’ve got great soil and an ideal microclimate. If they’re willing to grow in my home garden with its frequently neglected and weed-infested clay beds, those carrots must grow in the school’s garden. I’m insistent.

Harvesting at least one substantial row of carrots is my personal gardening mission for the season. We will have a good and healthy carrot crop come autumn. I’ve the rage on my side. :)

 

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Carrot + Zucchini Oat Bran Muffins, makes 6 large muffins
These muffins are from a recipe in The Sprouted Kitchen that I’ve been slowing adapting and refining for months now. We keep coming back to it and each time the muffins turn out better. They are a perfect way to begin a laidback summer breakfast AND they use up summer squash or zucchini and carrots–because let’s be real, I have five summer squash in my fridge from the last two days harvests, at least six more growing rapidly on the plant, and tons of squash blossoms and bees making more magic happen. I’ve EVEN managed to grow a successful crop of carrots in my home garden. If you’re a gardener, know one who shares, or have a CSA box, you too are probably trying to sneak veggies into anything and everything at this stage of summer! 
 
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
3/4 cup grated carrots (about 1 large carrot)
3/4 cup grated zucchini or yellow summer squash (about one small squash)
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour with teff (see below)
3/4 cup oat bran
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, pour in almond milk and vinegar. Whisk and let sit for a couple minutes. Then measure in the oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the carrots, zucchini, and chopped dates.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, bran, sugar, baking powder, soda, xanthan gum, salt and spices. Then pour into the wet mixture. Let the whole mix sit for about five minutes.

Scoop out evenly into a prepare muffin liner, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F.

 

Gluten-Free Flour with Teff
If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can take the flours and measure them out in 1/10’s. I’ve done this before and it works out to be roughly the same (not quite as exact though, due to the different weights of the flours). The mixture measures out to be 1000 grams or 1 kilo, so if you want to make enough for 1 1/2 cups for the recipe above, use slightly less than 1/3 cup each brown rice, sorghum and millet flours, and a little less than 1/6 cup each teff and tapioca flour, potato and arrowroot starches. 
 
200 grams brown rice flour
200 grams sorghum flour
200 grams millet flour
100 grams teff flour
100 grams potato starch
100 grams arrowroot starch
100 grams tapioca flour 

Apricot-Carrot Muffins

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During the summer of 2009, I ventured off to northeastern Washington, to spend a week at an educational cooking school at Quillisascut farm. It was a Slow Food Youth experience, and the week is ingrained in my memory. Myself and a dozen or so other 20-somethings came together from all over the country to spend a few days harvesting fresh produce, making delicious meals from scratch, baking bread in a wood-fired oven, milking goats, making cheese, and learning about the domestic arts in general. For me, it was paradise and the kind of experience that in an ideal world I’d like to recreate for other people on my own farm someday.

During this time of the summer when local apricots are in season and soon-to-be-gone for another year, I remember those few days at Quillisascut. That week, in addition to all of the above, I ate a lot of apricots.

The farm is located in a remote region of Washington state, hours from any major metropolis, and the experience was all about living off what the local region produces. Aside from the foraged huckleberries for breakfast, the only fruit to be had that week was apricots–and there were A LOT of them! I am a snacker by nature and in addition to apricots in our meals, I probably downed between 15 and 20 a day just in passing, because they were uber ripe and in need of being used–and I like to eat!

 

Prior to that experience, I had never had much of a thing for apricots. Sure, I like all fruit and I grew up with grandparents who would bring us boxes of whatever was in season from their nearby orchards. We definitely had gluts of apricots growing up, and my mom would make apricot upside down cake and jam. Yesterday, I called her and she was doing just that!

These days, since Quillisascut, I’m all into the apricot season. In the last couple weeks, I’ve had them in savory grain salads, in breakfast porridge, in these muffins, in a coming-soon vinegar concoction, and I’ve been downing them just as is–which is often the best way!

 

Apricot-Carrot Muffins, makes 6 large or 12 standard muffins
This recipe is an update of one I posted a few years back. It is now gluten and dairy-free. Use the ripest apricots and the sweetest carrots that you can find–you will taste the difference. Feel free to use the original recipe if you have no dietary restrictions. 
 
1 cup gluten-free flour 
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup oat flour
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup diced fresh apricots
1 cup grated carrots
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. canola oil
3/4 cup almond milk
 
1. Make oat flour by grinding 1/4 cup oats in a food processor until fine.
2. Bring together the flours, oats, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, and milk. Pour into flour mixture.  Give the bowl a couple of turns with a spoon and then stir in the carrots and apricots. Only stir until mixture is just incorporated.
4. Spoon evenly into muffin tins.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and the insides are set.

Coconut Mint Raspberry Panzanella

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We had a raspberry patch growing up that stretched down the fenceline in our backyard. My siblings and I would spend a good amount of our summers wedged between the barbed wire cattle fence and the berry bushes, grazing. Though we often were given chores that included picking green beans or weeding in the garden, picking raspberries never made the list. We spent so much time picking and eating each red jewel one by one that I can recall only once or twice having a bowl of berries big enough to make their way into the house. Even then, there were usually no more than a small handful reserved for my dad, who didn’t have time to stand around in the backyard and eat berries all day.

 

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If we were lucky enough to have an abundance of berries that made their way inside, they were eaten for breakfast, simply, swimming in a bowl of milk.

 

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These past few years, I have avoided purchasing raspberries, not because I don’t love them, but because I have a tough time justifying shelling out so much for a small punnet that I could have picked and gobbled by the red-stained-handful in a matter of minutes. I always tell myself that as soon as William and I live in a place that is ours, berries will be the first green thing we put into the ground.

 

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I tend to spend a lot of time waiting though, in many areas of my life, and I’ve finally come to the realization that what I sometimes consider to be patience is actually avoidance. Waiting is not always the answer. If not now, when?

Even though we are not yet in a place to plant our own berries, the time to eat them is now, when they’re fresh, in season, and local. By the handful. In salads. Because raspberries can do more than liven up sweet things; more too than liven up a bowl of milk.

 

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Coconut-Mint Raspberry Panzanella, serves 3-4
This salad was inspired by all the ingredients I had on hand, and when allowed to sit out at room temperature for an hour or so before eating, the raspberries ooze their flavor into the dressing and bread. Of the bread, you can use any hearty day-old loaf. I have been making variations of loaves from Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread. All the recipes I’ve tried are splendid. The lettuce in this is a mix of gentle leaves, though if you’re in the mood for something heartier, any type of mild-flavored green should do the trick. 
 
2-3 cups cubed hearty bread
1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. coconut oil, divided
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
2-3 green onions, chopped
3-4 cups lettuce
1 cup raspberries
1/4-1/2 cup sprouts
 
Dressing:
~ 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
3 Tbs. orange juice
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. coconut oil
salt and pepper, to taste
 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.On on a baking pan, toss the cubed bread with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Once all of the bread is coated, bake for 10-15 minutes or until bread pieces are deep golden brown. Remove from the pan into a large serving bowl.In the same pan used for the bread cubes, toss the onion and whole garlic cloves. Toss them with the remaining teaspoon of oil and some more salt and pepper. Roast for 10-20 minutes or until the onions are golden and getting tender. Remove from the oven, remove the garlic cloves from its skin, and mash. Toss the onions and garlic over the bread cubes. At the same time add in the garbanzo beans.

While the onions are roasting/cooling, make the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the mint is broken into a puree and it becomes a creamy, coconutty mixture. Taste it for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.

In the serving bowl, gently toss in the lettuce, raspberries, and green onions. Spoon the dressing on top and stop when it has as much as you desire (you might have a bit left over). Toss everything together to combine and season to taste with more salt and pepper.

 

 


Raw Buckwheat Porridge with Hazelnuts & Rose Water

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Almost a year ago, I wrote about a new beginning, my desire to meet new people, and to connect to place. Having grown up on a ranch where we were seemingly always connected to neighbors who often shared their honey, lamb, fruit, or eggs while we returned the favor with armfuls of zucchini, beef, and cookies(!), it is natural for me to connect to a place through its food and farmers. Food is precious, unique to place, and meant to be celebrated as such. I’d like for us all to return to that mantra, in whatever way we can best make it so.

 

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I have high aspirations to grow my own, get to know my farmers, and to share the abundance. The truth is though, I live in a tiny dark apartment under a canopy of giant oak trees. It is shady and I haven’t even been able to successfully grow herbs in the windowsill. I have a community garden plot full of packed clay soil, but at least it’s growing something. (Lots of things, actually!) I’m working on it.

 

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Because life also has room for trade, trying flavors from afar, and celebrating with foods that just won’t grow nearby, I have been finding ways to integrate local flavors into even the most international of themes. It is a balance and I’m still fine-tuning. Mostly though, I’m excited that the Willamette Valley is seeing a resurgence in local grains and pulses–and millers!

 

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Though there are dreams aplenty ’round these parts, I’m holding out for a larger piece of land for my buckwheat and oat plot. In the meantime, I’m excited to be trying out a couple different varieties of “dry beans” in the garden. There is more to eating locally these days than fruits and vegetables–and that is exciting!

How do you connect to your community?

 

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This porridge is raw, Middle-Eastern and June-inspired, and features edible flowers as part of this month’s Recipe Redux theme. There are roses blooming now and the weather has been continuously summer-like. Buckwheat is gluten-free, nutritious, locally grown and processed here (albeit still somewhat seasonally available), and super quick to blitz up on an early summer morning when there is a desire for nutritious, filling, and uncooked.

There are local hazelnuts and honey too, along with rose petals that can be gathered and dried. All together, I’ve gathered the makings of a quick, super delicious breakfast. Top with the berries of the season: Here, we are right at the beginning of blueberries.

 

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Raw Buckwheat Porridge with Hazelnuts and Rose Water
Serves 2–3
 
3/4 cup raw buckwheat groats, soaked overnight 
1 1/2 tsp. rose water
1/2- 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbs. raw honey
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
blueberries, by the handful 
dried rose petals, to taste 
  • Drain soaked buckwheat and pour into a food processor.  Pulse a few times until the grains are starting to break apart.
  • Measure in the rose water, cardamom to taste, vanilla, and honey. Puree until smooth.
  • Pour out into your container of choice and top with hazelnuts, berries, and rose petals. Enjoy!


The Big Picture + Rainbow Salad

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I’ve been keeping journals since I was at least 10 and I’ve held on to each one, lining them up on a shelf, displayed prominently in our living space. Every once in a while, I pull one off the shelf and read through a few pages. Some are light and comical. Others are filled to the brim with quotes and encouragements, the next with lonely prose. They provide a glimpse into the mind of a typical teenager/21yearold/postcollegegirl. Whatever the mood, they give me incite into the journey towards my present state of mind.

I get a kick out of the 2003-04 journal. Its pages encapsulate the internal chatter of a high school girl–the stream of consciousness about various crushes, the silly happenings that mean nothing and consume her days.

Next there is an entire journal of syrupy poetry that can rival any T. Swift song. It slams me back in the moment of that first year in college, those neighbors and dates I had so quickly forgotten.

 

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Then there is the 2007 journal and my heart breaks for that girl. One after another, the pages ring out her longing for affirmation, even as the experiences she captured illustrate it was so obviously given. That girl couldn’t see her friends, her family, her peers reaching out to her, proclaiming their support, admiration, respect. She couldn’t see past her own insecurities and struggles to figure out where she stood in the grand scheme of things.

Looking back, I feel a world apart from that girl and I’m glad she made it through. As I read through the pages again, I also feel an uncomfortable nudge of awareness. Just as we are all works in progress, that girl of 2007 hasn’t entirely conquered all her battles in the now of 2014.

 

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I still push and expect too much of myself. I want to accomplish it all, get everything right, make the process seem effortless even though I’ve kicked major ass to get here. I’m overcome by self doubt in the moment of making a decision and put off making big ones, big life changing ones, for months and years, all the while stewing about them. I seek clarification that I am enough.

When I talk to my friends and peers, I am reminded I’m not alone in these feelings. I’m reminded that it is okay to fail, good even, and optimism and determination go a long way in helping to get back to work. Progress is slow and there’s a big picture. Life is lived in each moment on the way to our destination.

You can be transformed. Not overnight, but over time…We strive toward a goal, and whether we achieve it or not is important, but it’s not what’s most important. What matters is how we move toward that goal. What’s crucial is the step we’re taking now, the step you’re taking now.  -Scott Jurek
 

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As I reflect back on the journey–the life phases spilling out over the pages of my journals, I’m better able to see the the progress, the intricate beautiful details that make up these moments we are in. I’m better able to pause, grab a deep hug and a cup of tea, and celebrate this phase–this spot in my timeline–and stop worrying so much about the getting there.

Today I’m telling the girl of 2007 and the lady of here and now–and you, my friend reading this: You are loved. You are enough. You don’t have to have it all together. Focus on the step you’re on. You will get there.

You can be transformed. That’s the big picture.

 

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Rainbow Salad, Inspired by Green Kitchen Stories
This salad is a celebration of what is in season and available where I live right now. I often make salads like this one that contain whatever vegetables are in the fridge or are available at the farmers market. This one has carrots, fennel, and easter egg radishes along with spinach, mint, and parsley. Fennel stalks, left over from another meal, are particulary good when chopped like celery and roasted. Reserve the frilly fronds and use them as a garnish. 
 
3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
1/4 cup uncooked wild rice
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
Stalks from one fennel bulb, chopped into 1-inch pieces, fronds reserved
3-4 carrots, peeled and chunked
1 bunch radishes, quartered
1 drizzle balsamic vinegar
1 drizzle extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup raw walnuts
2-4 cups spinach leaves
large handful parsley
handful of mint leaves
1-2 Tbs. raw honey
1-2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4-1/2 cup of quick-pickled red onions
more balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
  • In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water and rinsed brown and wild rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 40-50 minutes until cooked. Set aside to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a baking dish, combine fennel stalks, carrots and radishes. Drizzle and toss with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until nearly soft. In the last five minutes, toss in the walnuts, and let them roast together with the vegetables. Take from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • In a large serving dish, toss the rice mixture, garbanzo beans, roasted vegetables, and the remaining herbs, leaves, and additions. Add more honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top with diced fennel fronds.
Quick-Pickled Onions, recipe adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
4 whole cloves
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. Sugar
  • In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, bay leaf, cloves, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the onion slices, stir, and remove from the heat.
  • Once slightly cool, transfer the mixture to a quart jar or another glass container and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours before using.
  • They will keep for about a week and can add an awesome tangy flavor to all sorts of things!

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