29 Thu, 2010 § 6 Comments
“This is what I desire most; to be able to sit with you & watch the shifting shadows cross a cliff face of sandstone.”
It was in Indian Creek that Dave & I realized the love we shared for the desert — & for each other — & we knew we would spend our lives together experiencing this kind of beauty & adventure. It seemed only fitting we marry here with bands of red cliffs looming overhead as witnesses. For us, the heart of Indian Creek has always been in the canyon…at the base of 300-foot sandstone cliffs…admiring the sheer faces & clean lines [cracks].
For us, Indian Creek is not just rock climbing; it is crack climbing. It is perfecting tape gloves & hand jams; consenting to gobies, scars & blood. It is sweat, tears, feeding off the desert’s calm & facing fears. Fulfillment & success are equated to falling into our sleeping bags at the end of the day…exhausted.
What does a typical Creek day look like?
[Take a deep breath now…& GO]: I’m awake just before the sun bundling up in layers, trying to wash the sleepiness from my eyes; I let Eisley out of her bed, do some quick yoga to warm up; Dave’s up, scanning the climbing guide for our daily agenda & preping required gear while I prepare a simple breakfast [usually oatmeal & yogurt], hot chocolate & tea, still trying to warm up…pause…just long enough to admire the sun spilling over the horizon into full view…eat, quickly clean up, jump in the FJ, aim for the crag, always at least second — if not the first group – at the base; finally, climb until our muscles, joints, skin, nerves, all-of-the-above fail. [& breathe]
So what happens when you take the familiar, with its established meaning, intimacy & expectations, step back & peel off the layers? What does it look like naked, raw & fresh without our agenda?
I’m still up before the sun letting Eisley out. It’s a bit chilly, so we walk. At the point of a drop off, I find a perfect stone platform to watch the gold & orange expansion of the soon-to-be-sun shooting across the horizon. I let Eis wander within eyesight, while I practice sun salutations & warrior poses with the rising sun. I sprint back to camp overcome by the desire to share this with Dave. We bike down the dirt road looking for other sunrise photo ops. Eventually we walk to the rim to experience the morning view.
These same walls are normally met by our anxious ambitions to get up close & personal; this time, we admire their beauty & magnitude from above…from a distance.
We spend our days practicing yoga; biking till the road ends, then hiking till we discover a new path, then walking until it’s been too long since Eisley’s last drinking puddle 🙂 Rather than concerning ourselves over what will be quick & effortless over the fire — & take up less space than the climbing gear — we savor “gourmet” camp meals [Salmon with Blackberry Sauce, Chickpea Burgers, Eggs & Bacon, etc]; we even enjoy actual lunches rather than bars & snacks hastily consumed between pitches. We sleep under the full moon on cots. We borrow my parents’ one-up!?! Partake of midday siestas?! Have we gone soft?? We read & write; we enjoy music as well as the stillness. We love just being in the desert & just being with one another.
Our trip wasn’t always this sunny, light-hearted view; we were initially welcomed by tall bolts breaking through the sky not nearly far enough away. Among the grey, drizzling sky & massive gusts of wind, we found what appeared to be an ideal campsite & waited out the storm. Dave entertained me on his ukulele with John Williamson’s “Home Among the Gum Trees” & tried to teach me the Maori Kamate Haka…with little luck :P. We became immersed in our own little world & cannot tell you when exactly the rain ceased.
The wind never really eased up that night…& after a coyote sauntered to within 15 yards of camp [my primary concern regarded Eisley; I could claim sole concern, but coyotes have always creeped me out], we seriously contemplated packing up & heading to more familiar pastures down in the canyon. The point of our venture was to experience the less familiar though, so we committed to give it until morning.
Our faith rewarded.
We will not be giving up our typical climbing-centered/active camping trips any time soon; however we did gain much from loosening our grasps & letting go of an agenda. It is ok for us to bend even how we enjoy recreational activities: rather than baha-ing downhill on mountain bikes at god-knows-what-speed [Dave, not me], we can also be more moderate & playful with our approach. We do not always have to dig in so deep; we can relax, welcome flexibility & leave room for spontaneity. Let life happen…& enjoy.
29 Thu, 2010 § 5 Comments
A mere sampling of our car camping eats:
Angela’s In A Jiffy Curry Chickpea Burgers
The first time we had these, they kind of fell apart in the oven, but I loved the flavor. I do not know if it was the freezing before hand or the pan frying method, but they were an awesome arrival dinner our first night. The outside browned & crisped up just slightly. I’ll be making them like this at home. SO GOOD!
Process until smooth:
- ½ C Oats
- 2 Carrots
- 1 ½ tsp Curry
- ½ tsp Paprika
- ¼ tsp Tumeric
- ¼-½ tsp Sea Salt, to taste
- ¼ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Parsley flakes [optional–did not use]
- 1 ½ C cooked chickpeas [add these as 1/2C increments]
- 1T coconut oil, melted
- 3T Sunflower seeds
- ¼ C Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Wet hands & shape into patties. Angela suggests baking at 375* for about 20 minutes. Like I mentioned, freezing “raw”, then pan-frying seems to be the way to go though or at least finish them off on the grill if you bake them.
Flax & Oat Breakfast Power Muffins. Another treat from Angela [can you tell I have a blog crush on her yet?]
I love how I feel after eating these — not heavy & gross like many muffins leave me — but I will probably tweak this a bit, because I’m not completely loving the flavor & texture yet. If I discover a tweaking trick, I’ll share.
Veggie & Black Soy Bean Scramble in Rice Tortillas
Scape & White Bean Dip via Ashley, who is amazingly creative in the kitchen.
We love hummus, but it’s nice to switch it up a bit; white beans are usually our next go-to. The garlic scapes give this a nice, pale shade of green & make me think this would be an excellent dip to sneak in some spinach [no one will ever know] & make it even greener & more fun! We devoured this with raw cauliflower & Olive chips.
- 4 Garlic Scapes, chopped
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 C White Beans, cooked
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- Pepper, to taste
Stream in 1T EVOO at a time, alternating with 1T water until you reach the desired consistency.
- ¼ C EVOO
- 2-5T Water
I wanted an afternoon-energy-boosting-snack that was not oat based [since the muffins were primarily oats]. This granola, with its complete protein quinoa, seemed the perfect fit. It was lovely sprinkled over large lunch salads. Mmm…strawberries & balsamic.
I checked midway through cooking & decided it needed dried cherries thrown in; I’m glad I did. This simple granola is not super flavorful, so the cherries amped it up some. This creative spin on granola is sure a party, but not exactly a party in my mouth. Next time, I’ll follow Ashley’s suggestion & add coconut butter in the mix; I might also swap walnuts for cashews, which Dave will like more. Even so, I can’t stop munching on it — it’s great with rice milk — so it must have something my body needs.
We never have wine — alcohol for that matter — while camping, because…well, I guess it’s just not our usual style. For this trip though, we found this 2007 “earth friendly” Cabernet Sauvignon from California & even managed to safely pack the wine glasses. Neither of us really cared for this particular bottle; we found it fairly acidic. Dave & I enjoy saving & writing on some of our corks; we display them in a bowl at home: mini-journals of special occasions, friends, events, etc. [Thanks for the awesome idea Julie!]
Essential for me while camping. It warms me up on those cold, cold mornings & soothes my tummy in the evenings. Camping seems to throw my digestive system for a loop; & next thing I know, it’s off & I feel less than terrific. Ginger & Lemon Tea does wonders for calming my tummy, & I’m anxious to explore other blends that may help. Though the weather was generally quite hot on this trip, I still enjoyed my tea by simply adding cold water or rice milk after it brewed. In the future, I think I’ll take fresh lemon to add to water in the morning like I do at home. This is an amazingly cleansing way to start off your day.
Raw Brownie Balls
Rich. Decadent. Glorious. These are a favorite indulgent from TKD that do not feel indulgent; raw desserts are like that — they just seem clean & nourishing even — so I make these often. These little beauties are even growing on Dave: from his first taste test came this reply: “kind of nutty” [not a lover of nuts in treats] ; this time: “mmm, chocolatey.”
Process until coarsely ground:
- ½ C raw Walnuts
Add & pulse until well combined:
- ½ C Pitted Dates
- ½ C Carob Powder
- ½ C Maple Syrup
- ½ C Organic raw Almond Butter
- ½ tsp Pure Vanilla Extract [I used half a Vanilla Bean]
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt
Process until thick & smooth.
- ½ C whole raw Almonds
-Pulse a few times until combined, keeping chunky for crunch.
-Allow to sit outside the freezer for a couple minutes before devouring 😉
To me they taste like heaven & brownies [hence the name alteration — she calls them Raw Balls, which just sounds weird to say to people].
I made about 17 balls [my “golf balls” are kind of small, so I can eat two at a time & not feel bad :P]. I could probably get 18 out of these by the time I scrape all the sticky batter & stop “taste testing” — did I mention — they taste like brownie batter!
What do you normally eat while camping? I’m anxious to try other meals & make more of our camping experiences “gourmet”. 🙂
28 Wed, 2010 § Leave a comment
You know those weeks when you spent way too much $$$ camping over the weekend; so, now you are left to recover by pulling out all the creative meal stops, using what you have on hand & sticking to minimal grocery shopping? This is such a week.
Sometimes shooting from the hip in the kitchen really pans outs though. It is kind of fun not knowing whether dinner will be a flop or turn into a favorite. Monday night’s whim was the latter. I have found the simpler you keep it, the better shot you have at a win; but don’t let that stop you from pushing your artistic culinary limits.
I simply sautéed a couple cloves of crushed garlic in EVOO; added a shredded carrot & half a shredded bell pepper with a substantial splash of lime juice; once the vegetables started to wilt, I added about 3 sliced mushrooms; once those were nearly tender I tossed in two servings of cooked soba noodles to pan fry. This whole process took only minutes.
We scooped this stir-fry-of-sorts into romaine leaves my mom was nice enough to donate & drizzled with Peanut Sauce. Not bad, not bad at all. To supplement, we finished off the Garlic Scape & White Bean Dip from our camping trip with the assistance of sliced baby cucumbers & Food Should Taste Good, natural Olive Chips.
- ¼C *natural Peanut Butter
- 2T Coconut Milk
- 1 tsp Red Chili Paste
- 2T Maple Syrup
- 2T Lime Juice [I got just over 2T from one lime]
- 1 tsp Tamari or a couple sprays of Bragg’s Aminos
- Splash of Grape Seed Oil [I would have liked to have used Sesame Oil but I only have toasted which I don’t care for the flavor.]
Whisk all ingredients together, thinning with water if necessary to desired consistency. [I did not add any water, but I used Light coconut milk which made it thinner.]
*We only use fresh-ground nut butters with nothing else added. If you are using conventional, jarred peanut butter, look for one with the simplest ingredient list & adjust recipes accordingly. If it already contains sugar or HFCS [which I urge you to eliminate from your diet], you might want to leave the maple syrup out; if it has salt, you might use less tamari/soy sauce.
21 Wed, 2010 § Leave a comment
One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing & devote our attention to eating.
Now, how do I put into practice what I’ve learned during my culinary dabbling?
- Eat Whole, Clean Foods. These are foods in or closest to their most natural form. Avoid refined & processed foods as well as additives/preservatives [by listening to my body, I discovered I have a huge intolerance for Sulfur Dioxide]. Rather than focusing on how much I can eat with the fewest amount of calories, I focus on foods with the most amount of nutrients. Consider the source: when you can easily trace back to the source of your food [say quinoa & broccoli vs a box of mac n’ cheese], the connection you gain with food is profound.
- Following a primarily, plant-based approach — mostly vegetables & fruit — makes me feel best. I like how John Berardi put it: “Sometimes in our quest for filling 1/3 of our plate with animal flesh, we forget to think about what the other 2/3 should be…& that can be a big, gut-expanding, health-degrading mistake.” Rather than planning meals around meat — or even a protein — I start with vegetables; this has made meals more creative & nutrient-dense. Veggies don’t take a backseat to be easily forgotten all together. P.S. I’ve not lost muscle tone/strength, but actually gained, while cutting body fat %.
- Limit Dairy. After a really bad experience, I have never liked milk much & think it’s kind of weird that we drink another mammal’s lactation; let’s admit though, cheese just tastes good & makes us happy. It should: as casein breaks apart during digestion, it produces abundant amounts of morphine-like compounds called casomorphins; these opiates appear to be responsible for part of the mother-infant bond that occurs during nursing. I’m finding it easier & easier to go without cheese though, because I just don’t feel that great after eating it. That being said, if you can’t say goodbye to cheese, I recommend strong ones [& of course, organic], because you’ll generally be inclined to eat less at a time. Goat’s milk cheese is also easier to digest. Frankly, dairy just doesn’t quite agree with me. However, I do enjoy plain, greek & icelandic yogurt with fresh fruit from time to time. The probiotics seem to help with the digestion, & I feel it’s a good protein source for me [especially during hot summers].
- If at all possible: No Sugar. I rely on “kinder” sweeteners & make my own indulgences. Sugar is poison; it’s addictive, leaches minerals from your body & makes me feel awful.
- Don’t Stress this all too much. Food is one of life’s pleasures, meant to be thoroughly enjoyed. Orthorexia can become a real issue if you can’t be flexible, open & fun when it comes to food. Just breathe…& enjoy the next bite.
- Indulge daily. I’ve found so many indulgences that I feel good about — I don’t even classify them as “guilty pleasures” — Coconut Bliss ice cream, dark chocolate, Raw Brownie Balls, etc. Because I allow myself these nearly daily, I’m satisfied with one piece or a small bowl/serving, because I know it won’t be forever until I’m permitted more. I’ve also learned to embrace other “desserts”, such as tea & fruit.
- Dietary Needs are Transient. They change with age, the seasons, activity level, mood…even the day. It’s arrogant to think you’ve figured it all out & know exactly what your body will need every day for the rest of your life.
20 Tue, 2010 § 1 Comment
To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.
Vegetarian. Omnivore. Vegan. Flexitarian. Flirt. Raw Foodist. Warrior. Paleo. Superhero.
Do you know which of these you are? It’s crucial to know which label you fit; otherwise, how will you know what you “can” eat?
I’ve dabbled with everything from Raw to Ayurvedic to Vegan to something deemed Superhero (similar to Macrobiotic Diet) by Alicia Silverstone. Each enlightened me to some extent about food & helped me really think about what I was putting in my body & why.
While I rely heavily on nuts & seeds, too many make me feel heavy & icky; Raw & Ayurvedic also helped me realize I better digest some vegetables lightly steamed or roasted over raw; Vegan opened my perspective concerning protein & made me rethink dairy; Superhero was nourishing in the fall & winter, but when spring & summer hit, so many beans got old & my body & palate craved more. I also grew extremely tired of the phrase “you win some, you lose some” when it came to food deprivation. Why? Why should depriving ourselves for the “greater good” always rule? Yes, eating ethically is important, but not one label alone encompasses ethical eating.
My greatest gains from these experiments in food? 1) I’ve learned to listen to my body. 2) I’ve also realized I hate restricting myself to labels [in every aspect, but we’re just talking food today]. It’s not about being “perfect” according to a certain label but about doing what feels best for your body. [This differs from just following mindless cravings.]
I love food. I love the planning…the choosing…the preparing…& of course, the eating. This was not always the case without even realizing it. As I’ve simplified my habits to eating local, seasonal whole foods & learned to connect with these in a positive way, my food view has changed. Rather than seeing it as something that will make me fat, I’ve realized food nourishes & energizes me. My body not only needs it to meet the demands I challenge it with, but simply to survive; so why not appreciate & enjoy the experience of food?
By eating a simple, clean diet, I’ve tuned into my body & dialed down cravings. Now I can tell the difference between “I think I want this” & “hi, I’m your body, I need this”. Eliminating sugar & refined flours was a huge step toward learning to listen. Cleaning up the way you eat – this might mean caffeine, sugar, additives, refined food – will really help fine tune your ability to sense what your body actually needs.
As I’ve changed the foods I eat, my palate has also changed. I’ve found myself craving — & falling in love with — foods I’d never have guessed I’d even like [kale, collards, bok choy, live sauerkraut, on & on]. I’ve also witnessed this transition in Dave. Once a hater of spinach, that is his choice salad leaf now; & lately, he’s been wanting mushrooms, which he truly despised in the past.
Along with focusing on whole foods, we’ve also committed to eating seasonally & locally. The seasons provide the perfect backdrop for healthy, balanced eating. Changing of the seasons is essential for balancing earth’s resources as well as its lifeforms. Are we so arrogant to believe we know better than earth? By eating seasonally, you enjoy food when it has the most flavor, nutritional value & is most affordable. You gain even greater freshness from foods that are locally grown. As if we haven’t heard “better for you; better for the planet” enough — have you tried it yet though? True, we really only eat tomatoes when they are at their peak, in summer. But, Oh. How. We. Love. Those. Tomatoes. You will never appreciate food more.
My appreciation has continued to grow as I’ve developed a habit of thinking about the source of my food & the life from which it came. How far did it travel? How was it grown/raised? What was the quality of its life? What is the effect on the planet? On others?
I pause before each meal & contemplate the process of its journey until reaching my plate. This connection runs deeper when you’re thinking about vegetables being planted, cared for & harvested as opposed to a bowl of mac n’ cheese that came from a box. A realization of a great love for animals has also struck, which has made it more difficult to eat meat — especially when the thoughts are those of suffering & crowded stalls — obviously, the source here has become of great concern, so Dave’s meat comes from small farmers whenever possible & is, of course, organic/grain-fed. Currently, I am only eating fish.
Food choice is obviously personal & a very touchy subject; it mirrors religion in sacredness to people. Eat for yourself but please don’t do so ignorantly. The true art of eating means considering the implications of what is on your plate. What does ethical eating mean to you? Does this food nourish? Can you connect with this bowl of macaroni & cheese? Or are you left feeling empty?
19 Mon, 2010 § 8 Comments
So, what on earth is VOO? Vegan Overnight Oats of course 🙂 I love muesli, but often after a few days of eating raw oats, my tummy doesn’t seem to completely agree. It’s so hot out, cooked oatmeal does not appeal at all. This overnight stuff though? Perfect! After soaking the raw oats, my tummy agrees & my taste buds love it too!
Now, if you’ve heard of Banana Soft Serve & have yet to make it, kick yourself; kick yourself all the way to those unused bananas on the counter & make it. Gina’s right: it will change your life–& it’s too simple!
Each of these are terrific alone — & I would probably partake from time to time — but I was not ready for the amazement of VOO Parfaits: a combination of these two dishes. Wow, wow & wow. I can’t get enough, & it’s just what my body craves on these hot, hot, hot summer mornings [& some afternoons]. Here I have created a cooling, afternoon delight — with fresh figs from California — that Dave & I shared after a long, hot bike ride on Saturday.
I simply stir sunflower seeds & pepitas (pumpkin seeds) into my VOO; spoon half the mixture into the bottom of a deep cup, place half a chopped fresh fig over that, then layer with half the Banana Soft Serve, repeat.
Banana Soft Serve [are you ready for the simplicity?]:
- Bananas–however many you want–I use one as a small serving
- Peel, cut into pieces & freeze.
- Place in the food processor & blend until smooth, about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down as needed.
Now make it yours! Mix in nut butter or other fruit [I want to try raspberries); almond or rice milk; chia seeds to thicken it; carob powder. Top with nuts, cacao nips, coconut flakes, etc. Or simply enjoy the simplicity of the frozen bananas, which is how I like it in my parfaits.
Vegan Overnight Oats [VOO] I usually just scoop/pour & guess, but here are some approximates I’ve adapted from Angela’s version; just play around & decide what you like best.
- 1/2C Thick-Rolled Oats
- 1T Chia Seeds
- 1/2dose(2T) plain Hemp Powder, or other [flavored] protein mixture [I’ve been forgetting to add this lately & need to make a point of remembering, because I want the added protein], optional
- 1/2C-1C Unsweetened Almond or Rice Milk [I error on the lower end because I like my VOO thick; I actually pour to just cover the oat mixture]
- optional stir-ins: cinnamon & sea salt [I think these are essential & accent the flavor greatly, but you decide], vanilla extract, other spices
- Combine all ingredients, whisk together [I think the longer you whisk the thicker it will be] & place in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, give VOO a quick stir, adding nuts & seeds if desired.
17 August ~ Parfait Update!
I just made one of my favorite VOO Parfaits ever! Extra Whipped PB & J! Ok, so there really is no jam — though you could definitely stir that into your VOO — but the local strawberries I have are perfect. They are tiny, dark & sweet without being tart. Local produce is the best! Have you had PB Banana Soft Serve yet? It reminds me of those ice cream candy bars I use to have as a kid. Just blend Peanut Butter into your soft serve; I let it blend extra long today to give it a truly whipped texture. Yum. In general, I normally stick to Almond Butter but it is just not the same in soft serve. I am keeping a little PB on hand just for this. 🙂