I’ve started to get back into a steady running, yoga + a workout routine lately. Spring/new warmth just brings that whole personal betterment strategy to the forefront for all of us I think. I found myself running on a path near my house recently when I encountered another runner, this lady of about 60-something with a dope ninja-style headband on. I see this woman running by our house all the time and dang if she isn’t IN SHAPE. Definitely one of those badass older ladies that sets the example for graceful aging. Anyway, we were running towards each other and as she passed me by, she looked up, smiled at me so genuinely and waved hello. It was such a simple point of contact, but I felt so great afterward, like she had given me a little fist bump and shot me an “eff yeah!” or something (just imagine the sweetest older lady doing that). I always feel a bit rocky when I get back into running, but that simple gesture made the shakiness just fine.
Other things that have been helping: snacks. You knew that was coming. When I was studying nutrition in culinary school, I learned that my tendency to eat everything in sight after some physical exertion wasn’t the most sound strategy (weird, right?!?). Needless to say, there are some things that need to be taken care of to help your body recover and thrive with a set workout routine. I’ll point out that I’m not like, a fitness expert or anything (I had to ask my man what “beast mode” meant the other day…). I can tell you that after I get sweaty, I want some wholesome carbs (sweet potatoes, fruit, whole/sprouted grains), clean + easily assimilated protein (hemp, legumes, plant-based protein powder, spirulina, soaked nuts + seeds) and mega hydration (fruit again, coconut water, chia seeds, herbal tea). These 4 snacks, generally paired with a non-caffeinated + unsweetened drink (like water or iced rooibos tea), hit all of those marks for me and keep me bright in that amazing exercise contact-high.
So there’s that! I have two sweet recipes and two on the savoury end. Most of these are super quick to rig up if you have the ingredients ready to go. There’s a blackberry smoothie filled out with coconut water, a little protein boost and a healthy squeeze of lime. The chocolate chia bowl needs an overnight rest, but leaves you set for 4ish solid servings of decadent recovery snacking bliss–easily my fave of the bunch. I wrote about some chia seed benefits here if you’re into that. Also, if you have weirdness about chia texture, the crunchy granola on top completely banishes any sort of tapioca vibe, I swear. The loaded sweet potato incorporates some smoky-crunchy roasted chickpeas and fresh chives. This is something you would catch me eating with frequency throughout the week-just a bunch of good things tossed together. Lastly, there’s my favourite variation on avocado toast, all protein and omega boosted with hulled hemp seeds and flavour-maxed with lemon and nutritional yeast. Let’s get pumped! :)
1. blackberry, vanilla + lime smoothie w/ coconut water
notes: If you don’t vibe on protein powder, you could always throw 1-2 tbsp of hemp seeds or a scoop of almond butter in here to boost it a little.
1 cup coconut water (C20 brand is my fave)
juice of 1 lime
splash of vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blackberries
couple pieces of frozen banana
knob of extra virgin coconut oil
1 scoop of protein powder (I like Vega One or Sunwarrior brands, both in vanilla flavour)
Combine everything in a blender pitcher and blend on high for a minute or so, or until you’ve achieved a texture that you like.
2. chocolate chia granola bowl
notes: If you aren’t into chocolate, you can always make raspberry + vanilla chia pudding, just a thought :)
chocolate chia pudding:
heaped 1/4 cup chia seeds
2 cups unsweetened milk of your choice (almond, coconut, goat etc)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cacao powder
3 tbsp – 1/4 cup maple syrup (depends on your sweetness preference)
pinch of sea salt
wholesome/non-junky granola (may I humbly suggest this recipe?)
The night before, whisk together the chia seeds, milk, vanilla, cacao powder, maple syrup and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and set it in the fridge overnight to thicken up.
When ready to eat, stir the chia pudding up a bit and portion it into a bowl. Top with granola, berries and cacao nibs.
3. sweet potato w/ brown rice, chives, crispy smoky chickpeas + almonds
notes: I love to batch-cook brown basmati rice and sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week, just so that snacks/meals like this are always within reach. A nice dollop of plain yogurt (coconut, goat, cow, whatever-based) would be great on top of this too.
1 sweet potato
oil of your choice
salt + pepper
1/3-1/2 cup cooked brown basmati rice
6-7 almonds, chopped
3-4 blades of chives, ripped up
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Pierce the sweet potato a couple times with a fork, wrap it extra good in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, toss the chickpeas in enough oil to coat, salt + pepper to taste and a little smoked paprika. Spread them out on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until crispy and golden. Set aside to cool.
To serve: Split open the sweet potato and season the flesh with salt + pepper. Place the cooked rice, some of the chickpeas and chopped almonds on top/inside. Garnish with the chives and an extra sprinkle of smoked paprika.
4. my fave avocado toast
notes: There’s a lot of toppings here, but it’s worth it. This is all stuff I seem to have on hand, but feel free to switch up acidic components, nuts/seeds etc. The bread is crucial though. It’s literally the crutch upon which the entire enjoyment of this snack stands. Choose wisely :)
1 fair-sized piece of whole grain/sprouted grain bread (about the span of my outstretched hand is an amount that feels right to me)
1/2 a ripe avocado, peeled + sliced
salt + pepper
1-2 tsp nutritional yeast
squeeze of lemon
1-2 tbsp hulled hemp seeds (as much as you can handle)
good balsamic vinegar/reduction
Toast the bread to your liking.
Spread the avocado slices across the bread. Season the avocado with salt, pepper + nutritional yeast. Mash it into the bread with a fork. Squeeze a bit of lemon on top and mash the avocado one more time with the fork.
Dribble some balsamic vinegar/reduction/glaze on top of the mashed avocado. Top with the hemp seeds and enjoy.
“Each of us feels some aspect of the world’s suffering acutely. And we must pay attention. We must act. This little corner of the world is ours to transform. This little corner of the world is ours to save.”
-Stephen Cope (seen in this month’s Yoga Journal)
I think that’s about all I have to offer you today, other than the recipe of course. These lettuce-wrapped veggie delights made my little world quite bright when I finally got the ratios, salt/spice levels, stickiness etc to my liking. The patties have everything that hippie dreams are made of essentially. There’s brown rice, millet, tamari, nutritional yeast, chopped up tempeh, grated veg, the whole tree-hugging vibe thing. This is no instance of beef burger mimesis and it’s not a heavy-topped/”ultimate” veggie burger kinda scene either (sometimes those are great though). It’s a little giving/crazy moist, crunchy-golden-crispy on the outside and super flavourful in a way that doesn’t suggest animal protein, which is ideal for my own taste. Most importantly, the burger can stand alone. Of course I wouldn’t let it, but this seems important to mention. I served it up with a sliced ripe mango, lots of sriracha, sweet pea shoots and tiny, pungent red onion slivers. Balanced, handheld and lovely.
I lettuce wrapped these because I’m feeling that kind of lightness lately. I have about a jillion things on my plate these days, but I’ve been trying to go gently into Spring in a full body + mind sense. Hope you’re all being good to yourselves in your own corners of the world as well :)
tempeh, brown rice + millet veggie burger recipe
special equipment: a food processor
notes: I leave a lot of room for mods here because I know everyone’s spice/ingredient needs are different. Also, I would highly recommend refrigerating the patties for at least an hour before cooking them to let them set up all proper. I haven’t tried grilling these, but I feel like that endeavour would be unsuccessful. Sauté all the way, guys. (If you try baking or grilling or some other method, let me know how it goes)
1/2 cup millet, rinsed
1/2 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed
1/2 cup nuts + seeds (I used walnuts + sunflower seeds)
1 clove of garlic, peeled
3/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
1/2 cup grated vegetables (I used carrots + golden beets)
3/4 cup roughly chopped tempeh
1.5 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp GF flour blend (or wholewheat, spelt etc)
2 tsp organic, non-GMO corn starch OR arrowroot powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1.5 tbsp ground spices (I used za’atar, ancho chili powder + Old Bay seasoning)
1/4 cup chopped herbs/greens (I used thyme + arugula)
salt + pepper
1-2 tbsp water
grapeseed/coconut oil for sautéeing
1-2 heads of butter/bibb lettuce, washed and leaves separated
sliced ripe mango
red onion slivers
pea shoots/other sprouts
+ anything else you like!
Combine the millet and brown rice with 2 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt. Bring this mix to a boil and simmer until all of the water is absorbed about 15 minutes. The grains will still be quite chewy. Scrape the cooked grains into a large bowl and allow them to cool a bit.
In a food processor, combine the nuts/seeds, garlic, chopped onion, grated vegetables and tempeh. Pulse the mixture a few times until a moist + chunky paste forms (doesn’t that sound great?!?). Scrape this mixture into the large bowl with the cooked millet and brown rice.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl except for the water. Stir everything together until thoroughly combined and the mix resembles a thick paste. It should hold together when you pinch it with your fingers. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if necessary to bind it at this point and mix one more time.
Form the mixture into 6-8 patties with your hands. Place them on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet, cover them in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge for at least an hour. If you want to freeze these babies, place the covered tray in the freezer for an hour or two to firm the patties up. Then individually wrap them/place all of the patties in a large zippy bag for maximum storage capacity.
To cook: Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cover the bottom with grapeseed/other neutral oil (like a 1/4-1/3 inch? you could also spray the pan with oil if you have a misto thing). Gently transfer 2-3 patties to the pan and sauté until golden on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the patties over and cook until golden on the other side, another 3 minutes. I kind of nudged the patties up against the sides of the pan to brown them all over as well. Repeat with remaining patties, while you keep the cooked ones warm.
Serve the hot veggie patties with lettuce wraps, toppings etc.
Despite bemoaning comfort food’s ubiquity or “upscale comfort cuisine” in predominantly shoddy-glossy establishments, I do find these foods to be rather important in a day to day sense. Misery, sickness or fatigue aren’t the only occasions that find me seeking that sort of cozy reassurance though. I work towards comfort immediately upon waking every day — and I find it in a cup of tea, a piece of fruit, a handful of granola, some avocado smushed on toast with chill flakes, whatever’s there… Perhaps my angle on this sought-after feeling is different, but when I think of comfort and an optimal self, I aim for renewal. If there are harsh forces in the world, I won’t bring more of the same violence down onto my body. The food or drink’s abilities to soothe and revitalize must work in tandem.
With that criteria floating in the background, I generally find the most comforting foods to be elemental, aligning with the makings of our magnificent earth. In nature, that force of Goodness or God is all around. The total immersion in colour and textures is evidence of this power. I want that on the plate in front of me in as much as I can manage. The approach to nourishment carries itself out from there rather seamlessly, making its own intuitive connections along the way.
There are poached eggs adorning the top of any dish you could imagine, their gleaming whites evoke drifting clouds and life-moving/affirming breezes. A salty noodle broth splashes, cleanses and renews us from deep down like the sea. Greens and roots arrive with the earth still intact, upfront with their healing power. The deep brown bottoms of heavy sourdough loaves remind us that fire was the original cooking tool of choice, that it really is all we need for sustenance. The flavour and whole-life-satiety of such things are with me long after the food is gone. These are instances of true comfort, one’s self made better by reconnecting with the world for a moment and a meal.
It takes me in with its warmth and, more importantly, the meal brings me outside of my own mind a bit as well. There is an awareness involved that goes beyond automated fork and spoon lifting. In this particular example of simple soup, there are still-toothsome bits of greens, heavy with garlic, that require a small chew. The broth is a bit saline and can be sipped carefully while piping hot. The sweet potatoes are soft and rustic, bringing a very felt fullness. I add lentils to contribute even more hearty qualities, which I find necessary on these cool and damp early spring evenings. The chickpea flatbread has a bit of a socca vibe, but it’s more of a low maintenance affair, doing its thing in the oven while you simmer the soup and what have you.
So with that, I’ll cut it short and sweet right here — hopefully leaving you all in thoughts of comfort, vibrance and the many other good things that we have going.
I almost forgot to mention that I have a guest post at the wonderful Golubka blog this week. Anya’s cuisine and photographs speak of life lived well and vibrantly, so I’m more than happy to be sharing some little (gluten free and vegan) lemon tarts over there for you. You can check them out by clicking here.
simple garlic + greens soup with sweet potatoes
notes: Use regular potatoes if you like and any kind of greens that strike your fancy. This soup is rather easy going.
1 tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/3 cup french/brown lentils, rinsed + picked over
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2-1 inch dice (peeling is optional)
5 cups vegetable stock (or 1 veggie bouillon cube + 5 cups water)
4-5 cups of roughly cut, sturdy greens (mustard greens, kale, cabbage, collards)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt + pepper
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are quite soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils and diced sweet potato and stir them about to coat in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the stock to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring the pot here and there. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes/lentils are just soft, about 15 minutes. Add the greens and give the pot a stir. Allow them to wilt just slightly. Add the lemon juice, taste for seasoning and serve hot with chili flakes, drizzles of extra virgin olive oil and whatever else you like.
smoky chickpea flatbread
notes: You can mix this up with any spices/herbs/citrus zests etc that you like. Also I mixed this batter up, covered it, and left it in the fridge for 3 days. All worked out fine and it baked while my soup was happening.
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
salt + pepper (I was liberal with both)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (I used bittersweet)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups filtered water (approx)
In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, salt and pepper, smoked paprika and olive oil. Stir that up a bit. Add the water, starting with about 1 1/4 cups. Stir the batter with a spatula until combined. The consistency should be like thin pancake batter. Add more water if necessary. Cover the bowl with saran wrap, pressing the wrap onto the top of the batter. Let it sit for 2-3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease it with more olive oil.
Scrape the batter onto the prepared sheet pan and spread it out to 1/4 inch thickness or so, shaking the pan and banging it on the counter to do so. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden in spots and lifting off of the pan with ease. Remove from the oven, cool slightly and serve warm in torn pieces. Optional: drizzle with more olive oil and black pepper.
I was cleaning up one evening in the small kitchen at a community centre in the city. An after-school program held for teenage girls had just wrapped up. In the previous 3 hours, we had talked about the benefits of produce and whole grains for growing bodies, made hummus, wholewheat pita from scratch and a huge tabbouleh salad together. We had also discussed the disappointing aspects of school lunch programs and some simpler things on how their day had gone. I was wiping the counters down, filing away the knives and cutting boards, digging the crud out of the dishwasher strainer as the sun disappeared outside–just trying to finish up so that I could hop on the bus and have a quiet night at home.
As I was wiping the main island countertop, with its stacked pots, bowls and bins of donated wooden spoons + other necessaries stowed away underneath, the two women who ran the program were in discussion. One was holding a can of chickpeas. She led another program at the centre for women who had recently immigrated, where they would cook and discuss the transitions taking place in their lives. Leaning on the counter, she said something to this effect: “The women in my group, they tell me that they don’t know what to do with these. *gestures to can of chickpeas* They get them all the time from the food bank, and because they don’t know them, they throw them away.” This was a strange dilemma (and further proof that food banks are often a bandaid solution to issues of hunger and good health). The wholesome food was made accesible in a very physical and easy way, but the barriers to wellness and prosperity still shot up.
What followed was her strategy of trying to incorporate legumes into more of her sessions, to use encouragement and to approach the many-sided issue, as always, with respect. Something as simple-seeming as teaching individuals to cook and incorporate certain foods into family meals led to the conclusion that more support was needed from the community at large. It’s never enough to simply provide the food, wish the individual good day and move on with your life. That disappointingly frequent support paradigm is an exercise in isolation. The second that dignity is compromised, the road to health and vibrance becomes rougher and frustratingly longer for the individual. There is a disconnect between their life and the community that they are trying to thrive in. By asking questions and thinking on her feet, this woman was paving a way forward, for her program participants and their families.
This moment of realization and moving ahead is on my mind often and remains a motivation when I develop a recipe. It’s the reason why I would never, ever say that refined flour is inherently bad, that sugar/agave/any sweetener should be banned from your cupboard without question, that all of your stone fruit must be organic because the pesticide level deems a conventional version too toxic etc. It is wonderful to work with whole grain flour, natural sweeteners and organic produce, sure, and sometimes those things can be quite affordable (this depends on your priorities too). But you have to know what to do with them first. Food has the power to heal and nurture, but it is first and most importantly necessary for life. It gives you strength for everything else.
As humbly and deliciously as I can offer, I made you a salad primarily composed from chickpeas and stale bread this week. The vegetable component is 3 distinct alliums (just onions y’all). The grassy chives, the pungent red bulb onion and sweet charred leeks. These flavours epitomize early spring for me. We stuck a chive plant into an old pot many years ago, basically neglected it and have since been rewarded with emerald green, fresh blades every year when April rolls around. Low maintenance, supremely cost-effective flavour right outside my door. I am trying to work more towards dishes with this kind of feel–ones that anyone can make in whatever capacity so that they can go into other aspects of their lives with vibrance and capability, whether because of nourishment or a small shred of empowerment.
Hope you’re all seeing beautiful green, spring-y things in your little nooks of the world. Big hugs. xo
chickpea + spring onion panzanella recipe
notes: If you have ramps or green onions popping up where you are, I would definitely slice up the greens of either and add them in. Also, I grilled some of the vegetables, but have included instructions for oven-roasting here, since that seems to be more of an option for people. If you have a grill, just brush the veg with some oil, salt + pepper and place them on a medium-high grill until charred a bit and soft.
2-3 cups roughly cubed stale bread
2 tbsp oil of your choice, divided
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 bunch of leeks, tough greens + roots trimmed away
1 small red onion, peeled + quartered
4-5 stalks of lacinato/tuscan kale
2-3 radishes, thinly slices
chopped chives for garnish
salt + pepper
1/4 cup chopped chives
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
splash of water
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt + pepper
1 tbsp raw honey/agave nectar/brown rice syrup/maple syrup
1/3 cup grapeseed or other neutral tasting oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
On one sheet, toss the cubed bread with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season to your liking. Once all of the bread is coated, slide the sheet into the oven. Bake for about 13-15 minutes or until bread pieces are deep golden brown. Set aside.
Cut the trimmed leeks in half down the middle, lengthwise. Rinse them thoroughly to remove any grit between the layers. Place them on the other lined baking sheet. Place the quarters of red onion on the sheet as well. Toss the vegetables on the sheet with the remaining tablespoon of oil and some more salt + pepper. Slide the sheet into the oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are browning and getting tender. Toss the kale leaves onto the sheet in the last 5 minutes if you like, or leave them raw. Allow vegetables to cool slightly.
While vegetables are roasting/cooling, make the dressing: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. Mix or pulse everything until a pale green and creamy mix is achieved. Taste it for seasoning, adjust if necessary and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas and toasted bread. Chop up the leeks, red onions and kale into bite size pieces and toss them into the bowl as well. Season the whole mix with salt + pepper if you like. Pour the dressing on top (you might have a bit extra). Toss everything together to combine. garnish the salad with chopped chives and sliced radishes. Serve immediately.
A few temporary deficiencies in the home-base kitchen means some more fresh, raw and vibrant salad goods are in store for us here (and lots of smoothies and bowls of granola seem to keep reappearing for myself especially). The stove is kind of a nonentity at the moment, so in the spirit of rolling with it I threw this together super quick like it was no thang (and photographed it before the electrical/plumbing dudes got here and thought I was a weirdo). Also, it secretly/not so secretly was a thang. The threat of frequent stove meals/snacks being taken away threw me into a bit of a cooking rager of sorts (very mature, right?). Let’s call it an adventure.
So now there’s a tupperware of quite lovely salad on the top shelf of the fridge. I’m feeling well and good about that being within reach. We’re getting pummelled with unseasonable cold and winds in my little ‘hood at the moment, but I still crave crunchy veg as much as ever so this is all fine by me as long as a full tea cup is nearby. Also, the sun is still bright and making itself known through the bitter winds. It’s a nice reminder of the good graces in store for us.
Whatever the season, whatever the weather, carrots are always lurking in our crisper–waiting for a simple steam, a little slice + hummus dip or a plunge into some stock. This humble and dependable root is cut into elegant and thin matchsticks here. I thawed some shelled edamames and tossed them into the mix for some protein tasty times. The dressing is completely bright with fresh orange and lime juice, a healthy dose of ginger and a couple drops of sesame oil. The salad tangles all up in that and a heavy hand of black sesame seeds. I love how they coat and fleck every little matchstick piece of carrot, veering away from garnish towards key textural component territory. The cilantro comes in all perfumed and light while creamy avocado bits offer a touch more heft and body.
I think you can buy carrots pre-cut all fancy like this in stores? No matter though because it’s super easy to do all by your fine self. After I peel the carrots, I take one and cut it into 3 even lengths. From here, I cut off one of the sides. Roll the carrot piece so that that flat side is facing down. Then I cut off another rounded side. I repeat this until I have a rectangular prism of carrot so to speak (it’s all geometry, guys). From here, I cut the carrot into slices so that I can cut those slices into matchsticks altogether in one move. After that, I slice up those previous round parts of the carrot too. Cutting the carrots into thin coins is an option if you’re more into that. You could even ribbon the carrots with your peeler–just make sure that the salad doesn’t sit too long in the dressing if you’re going that route.
ginger, citrus + black sesame carrots w/ edamame and avocado recipe
serves: 6-8 as a side
notes: If you want to make this more of a main event sort of thing, you could serve it with some grilled tempeh/tofu and toss a couple handfuls of greens and cooked grains into the mix. Also, you bet this mix would be tasty rolled up into a rice paper wrap or a sheet of nori.
5-6 carrots (this was a bunch for me), peeled + cut into matchsticks
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
big handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (mint or thai basil would also be delicious)
salt + pepper
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled + chopped
ginger citrus dressing:
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
juice of 1 lime
salt + pepper
1.5 tbsp agave nectar/raw honey
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated finely on a rasp/microplane
couple drops of toasted sesame oil
1/4-1/3 cup grapeseed or other neutral-tasting oil (I tend to like vinaigrettes on the more acidic side so I go with less)
Combine the carrot matchsticks, thawed edamame, sesame seeds and chopped cilantro in a large bowl. Season the whole mixture with salt + pepper and toss lightly with your hands. Set aside.
In a small-medium bowl, combine the orange juice, lime juice, salt + pepper, agave nectar, ginger and sesame oil. Whisk it all together until incorporated. While whisking with one hand, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil until you have a homogenous and unified dressing.
Pour the dressing over the carrot + edamame mixture. Toss to combine. Top with the chopped avocado pieces. Garnish the dish with more sesame seeds and cilantro if you like.