foodradical

The space between the refrigerator and the stove


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Blaze Your Own Trail Energy Snack

I cannot believe it is almost the end of August!!  We are rolling into the fall season even though the weather still feels like summer.  The months have been flying by and upon reflection last night, I realized that today marks eight months since my life was tossed around by “M”.  I think I’ve picked myself up damn well!!  It still does not seem like all that nonsense happened eight months ago!!  Of course, I lived in the basement guest room of “M’s” house for a month while I scrambled to find other housing.  I say “M’s” basement, even though it was “our” house.  I never felt like it was mine or any part of “ours” and that feeling was regularly reinforced by “M” in words, but mostly in actions.

C’est la vie! Or as we American’s say, “that’s life”.  Never could I have imagined while I was in that basement that my life would become what it is today.  I certainly remember many conversations in my mind as I reassured myself I would be in such a different and much better place in six months than what I was experiencing, even though I had no idea what that would look like or how it would happen; I just needed to comfort my panic.

I still have brief periods where I feel like that trauma happened more recently.  When I think that through I realize it took me until late May to feel completely settled.  I lived in a space with no furniture for months, I sat on pins and needles about a wonderful job opportunity, my current position, for two months and it took me time to get back to some sense of financial stability.  I was in complete survival mode for too long and is was often difficult to relax into contentment with my new life.  I am still working on the emotional aspects of being treated so horribly in such a surprising way, but at least I’m actively working it through.  Clearly, working through the emotional facets of a relationship is not something “M” could do, which is why I am where I am.  Isn’t it a strange thing that I can say I am grateful for this experience?  I know, it’s odd to say out loud.  I absolutely would not wish this upon myself ever, ever again and I wish “M” had chosen a better way to end a relationship that did not leave me in such an awful state, but I feel like it catapulted me directly to my dreams.  For this I am truly grateful.  Additionally, I feel “saved” from a life I thought would be wonderful but realize now it would have been totally miserable.

I have a job that is perfectly suited for me.  It is the job I wished for and desired, it just looks different than I imagined.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself about this amazing job to make sure I’m not dreaming!!  I completely love it in all ways.  It has opened so many new doors for me that will let me continue to build on my dreams.  I am taking classes again!  Now, that is amazing!  They are not college classes, but it is education and I am really enjoying it.  I live in the sweetest little place located in one of the wealthiest areas of Portland for a fraction of the cost of what others would rent it for and I have the most awesome landlady ever!  She truly cares and has given me the sense of comfort and security I needed.  I have learned to live in a small space which is giving me practice for my future tiny house living.  I have let go of so much, giving me a feeling of lightness and freedom.  I have met some incredible people, I reconnected with people I haven’t seen for years.  I am developing new relationships, traveling often and generally enjoying life immensely.  I love working on my tiny house process.  It’s so exciting to think about and plan!!

Isn’t it grand?!  When I see all the incredible things that have fallen into place; when I read my own story, even I get blown away by the goodness of it all. With all this amazing and powerful stuff, it requires some high energy food to help me keep up the pace of my new life.  I am a busy woman and I realized that keeping a supply of high energy snacks is essential in my work day since I’m bouncing around town all day and sometimes into the evening!

I wanted to use more of those powerful cocoa nibs I’d written about in a previous post so I came up with this delicious trail mix that is simple and much less expensive than buying it in pre-made packages.  I buy all my nuts, seeds and dried fruits in bulk so the savings is even greater.  I’m all about the money saving right now because there is a piece of land calling for me and I need to build up my savings for that and the house that’ll I’ll plunk down on it.  Give this trail mix a try and keep a stash in your own workplace, or for a quick on the go snack from home.

Who knows what the next eight months has in store for me, but I am imagining nothing but amazing goodness because I will make it happen.  There is certainly power in positive thinking!  I am moving comfortably forward to the next best part of my life with hope and joy.

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raw walnuts, cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, candied ginger and raw cocoa nibs.


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Purple Power Smoothie

I was in the mood for something a little different than my usual breakfast smoothie this morning. Digging through my cupboard I happened upon an open bag of raw cocoa nibs. Why I’ve been sitting on this bag of healthful jewels is a mystery to me!  I pulled them out from the basket and decided to use them as part of my smoothie!

Raw cocoa nibs provide some amazing health benefits. They are a great source of iron, manganese and copper.  Cocoa nibs are known to be one of the foods with the highest source of magnesium. They are also high in flavonoids which are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties.  Believe it or not, they even provide a good source of fiber at nine grams per ounce!  If all that good stuff isn’t enough, these little brown nibs also give you a boost of some essential minerals that we humans are often deficient of so if you’ve got these dark nibs hiding in your kitchen, pull them out and get this smoothie going!

Yesterday was my long day with work then class.  It got me home late, but because of an intense resident issue at work and my excitement over an upcoming community event I’m planning at my “home base” building, I was up even later with thoughts swirling!!  Even with a solid night of sleep, I woke up feeling a little slow to shake the brain fog.  One more thing that is fabulous about cocoa nibs is their caffeine content, though lower than the average cup of coffee, nibs provided an added boost with naturally occurring stimulants called Theobromine and Phenylethylamine, which act as mood enhancers and increase energy.  Like I said, why have I been letting these sit in my cupboard!?

I got on to making an incredible breakfast drink that is waking me up and making me feel ready for my day!  Seriously, give this a try.  It tastes great.  It’s quick and easy to throw together and it’s super satisfying.  Oh, yeah….one more thing; cocoa nibs helps stabilize blood sugars and with that good dose of fiber, your tummy will feel happily full for hours! Cocoa nibs; my new super-food of the day!

Purple Power Smoothie

small banana

1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

2 Tbsp flax meal

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp raw cocoa nibs

1 cup almond milk

Add all ingredients to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a glass.  Enjoy!!

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Blackberry Birthday Crumble

It’s my birthday!! It’s my birthday!!

Dessert for my special day made on the cheap!  Staying within my new food budget is made easy when the main ingredient is free!!  Wild blackberries are growing in abundance at Sauvie Island!

Made with a grain free topping, this crumble will be delightful!!  Today will be a great day!! Happy Birthday to me!

IMG_3406Crumble Topping

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

dash of cloves

5 Tablespoons cold Earth Balance Spread

Combine the dry ingredients then add the spread.  Using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, mix until well combine and clumps form.  Sprinkle over 3 cups of berries in a greased 8×6 dish (or similar)  I added some turbinado sugar, about 1 teaspoon of arrowroot and a little more cinnamon to the berries, gave them a good mix then spread them evenly in the dish.

(slightly adapted from: http://www.thesensitivepantry.com/small-recipes/)


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Daring Greatly With Delicious Simplicity

One of the many awesome benefits of blogging through WordPress are the writing challenges offered by authors of the Daily Press. I consider them all, yet only write when the topic deeply moves me.  A lot of the time topics have nothing to do with food or cooking.  I usually work to make the spin since that is the focus of my blog.

The challenge: What is vulnerability to me and how does it influence my writing. The topic developed from Brene’ Brown’s book, Daring Greatly. Brene’ Brown is a social worker who studies shame and vulnerability. I first learned about her several months ago when my bff suggested I watch her TED Talk presentations. In those beginning days after “M” shocked me by telling me to move out without explanation, I was definitely exposed to raw vulnerability. Brene’ Brown’s words were my steadfast companion nearly every night for countless weeks. I read her books, too. Her words resonated with me so strongly and deeply.

Brene’ says, “to feel is to be vulnerable”.  In those first few days I was shocked and numb. I spent them at my bff’s house drinking rum and eating potato chips when I wasn’t laying on the couch staring at the ceiling, in alternating states of utter disbelief and paralyzed panic. I had no control over what was happening, didn’t know why it was happening and it was threatening the very core of my sense of safety and security.  Home.  I thought I would be homeless.  I thought I would have to give up my cats.  I had no money and a very part time, minimum wage job.  I was so deeply disturbed by the behavior of this person I loved. It really scared me. I wondered what other awful things “M” might inflict on me. It triggered past trauma that created an inner tsunami. I felt unbelievable anger and confusion, made even worse by “M’s silence. Every imaginable feeling coursed through me. Mostly I felt defenseless and unsafe. My bff supported me through all my messy feelings, never once making me feel ashamed of where I was right in any given moment. That exposure was pure vulnerability; allowing others to see me and to really be seen at a time when I needed to be seen the most.  My bff loves me through my struggles and my strengths.

I spent the next several months feeling incredibly exposed and vulnerable as I struggled to secure a place to live, get a job and re-build my life. I asked for help often. What I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sob uncontrollably while screaming to the skies, why is this happening?!  But, I faced each day; I did what I needed to create stability and security for myself again.  Along the way I have been so blessed with good fortune in every aspect of my life. I have received an abundance of love in endless ways by countless people, some of whom I did not know at the time and are now friends. This story, part of my journey, has unmasked a level of vulnerability I am so grateful to have experienced. I feel deeply humbled by this walk in life.

Vulnerability is pure courage.

Brown says “only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Whew! That is a big statement!!  Makes me catch my breath! Seems so scary!  Yet, also as Brown says, one must believe they are worthy of love and belonging. What I currently experience is a complete sense of wholeness in my life.  My job reflects my truest self and I am excited as I develop my role and do what I love.  My relationships are blossoming.  I am stable and happy in my home.  At this moment I can truly say I feel I have everything I want and need right now.  I am happy.  I do believe I am worthy.  I know I am not perfect. I own my mistakes.  I am willing to show up in life with all my imperfections and just be real. Truth and courage are not always comfortable, but they are never weakness.

Vulnerability is not weakness.

To say this is to say having feelings equates to being weak. Vulnerability is certainly risky and scary. It opens one up to the possibility of hurt and betrayal, but it also creates connection and love.  I would much rather live with love and connection in my world than feeling the need to be perfect, having fear of rejection and judgement for not being so.

How does vulnerability influence my writing?  It challenges me to be thoughtful in my words, to speak my truth and to risk the criticism of others.  I also feel strong enough in myself to take that risk because I know the critics don’t matter.  I don’t think it makes it less scary to “put myself out there”.  I just feel the need because to do otherwise is to reject who I am. To see my own words gives me strength in my truth. It cultivates a momentous energy of joy and fulfillment.

As I said earlier, this topic and the story that developed has nothing to do with food. Here’s my twist; I took one of the biggest steps of my life thus far; one that makes me feel completely vulnerable and exposed. That is, I am actively taking steps to buy a tiny house and a piece of land.  Scary and so incredibly exciting!!  With this decision comes huge responsibility and accountability.  I decided to cut back on my grocery bill so I can save more quickly toward my goal.  I developed the most delicious soup recently that was simple and cheap.  Getting a little more creative in the kitchen and using what is on hand in my fridg helps me save money and feel accomplished as I work to make a long time dream a reality.  I know this to be true: I am worthy.  It’s okay if I feel completely vulnerable even saying that!

Enjoy the delicious simplicity of this soup, know you are giving your body healthful nutrients and saving a little money while you’re doing it!

Simply Delicious Soup on the Cheap

Put the carcass of a 2# chicken (organic, free range) into boiling for 30 minutes to 1 hour, allowing any remaining meat to come off the bones.  Strain liquid into bowl then add back to the stock pot, keeping the burner on simmer.  When bones are cooled, clean the meat from them and add back into the stock pot of liquid.  At this point you can add any spices and veggies you have accessible in your kitchen.  Bring the stove temperature back up to a boil for 2 minutes then reduce heat to a simmer for 1 hour or until all vegetables are tender.  Here’s what I added:

9 radishes

1/2 of one yellow onion

1 garlic clove

1 small patty pan squash

1 medium yellow squash

3 medium carrots

1 cup of chopped fresh parsley

1 15 oz can of great northern beans, drained

1 small handful of quinoa linguine style noodles (just enough for some “chew”)

Spices included: garlic powder, tumeric, thyme, crushed pepper and sea salt

In total this entire soup cost me about five dollars if I don’t include the price of the entire chicken, which I got several meal from before the soup!  I am still eating it 6 days later. Today’s lunch will be the last of it!  Now that is savings!

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Dairy free “ranch” dressing

I got some fantastically beautiful heads of lettuce at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend. The heat has given farmers an abundance of lettuce and there were plenty of vendors offering great buys on what some were calling  “heat wave lettuce”!

I often have dinner with a friend who usually offers salad as part of the meal.  She makes a dairy free dressing for me that is similar to ranch and her base is mayonnaise.  I wanted to mimic this dressing to use for my lunch salads, but my goal was to find a more whole foods way to do it.  I found this creamy alternative and while it did not turn out quite like I had hoped, it was a delicious flavor.  The texture was more like a blue cheese than the smooth “buttermilk” ranch I thought it would be.  I blame that on my blending option.  I used a large blender for a small amount.  When I try this recipe again, I will use my magic bullet instead.  This makes about 1/2 cup of dressing.

On Sunday I made a last minute plan to have a couple of friends over for “happy hour” so I used this dressing with a salad made of butter lettuce, red onions, thinly sliced Bartlett pears, dried currents and candied pecans.  It turned out beautifully and received a thumbs up from my guests.  I used the remainder of the dressing for my lunch salad yesterday, but I chose a more hearty salad that can withstand a little travel bouncing.  I used butter lettuce, red onions, shredded carrots and zucchini, toasted almonds and some chili cilantro spiced chicken thigh pieces, cut bite sized.  It was a delicious salad!  I will definitely try this recipe again, adjusting my blending tool for the amount this makes.  Give it a try! It’s a great alternative that provides a great whole foods protein punch!

This is where I got the original version:

http://www.rickiheller.com/2014/05/kale-salad-with-fennel-and-radicchio-in-a-creamy-buttermilk-dressing/

Here’s my version:

1/4 cup hemp seeds

1/4 cup cashews

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (I’m trying pickle juice next time!)

1 clove garlic

1 tsp agave

2 Tbsp water

BLEND WELL

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Gluten Free Breakfast Tortilla

Back when I was working in the Head Start kitchen, I had an assistant that would come to work with her breakfast.  A native of Ethiopia, I often got to be the recipient of her traditional dishes she brought to eat.  She would make a type of quick tortilla that she considered a decent substitute for the time intensive injera bread, an Ethiopian staple at meals.  She would eat it with Atkilt Wot or Mesir Wot.  While I completely enjoyed these two dishes, I could not try the tortilla she made with regular white flour.  They always looked so delicious, cooked perfectly with just the right amount of browning.

I was reminiscing about my old kitchen assistant, who became a wonderful friend in the time we worked together.  Remembering her food gave me a craving and I just had to give these tortillas a try.  After trying a few different flour combinations, I decided that sticking with a single type of flour works best.  I really liked the Chickpea flour version I made because the texture was spot on, but the flavor wasn’t quite what I was going for.  I ended up just trying Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour and while I am not as excited by the texture, the flavor is perfect and just what I had in mind.

They are so quick and easy to make and when scrambled eggs and spinach get added in, the combination is fantastic!  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  It starts great with this delicious meal!

Try it for yourself.  It just takes:

3 1/2 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour (or chickpea flour)

3 1/2 Tbsp cool water

mix together until thoroughly combined and smooth in texture.  Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into a skillet.  I used olive oil.  Swirl around the pan to coat, pre-heat the pan and when ready, pour tortilla batter into pan.  Use a spatula to spread the batter about 6-7″ round.  I like mine to be crepe thin and I think it gets the best consistency.  Cook on each side for about 2 minutes.  Remove from pan, add scrambled eggs and spinach!  To prepare my egg, I cracked one egg in a pan, scrambled it up a bit, tossed in thinly sliced spinach leaves, scrambled until done.  Added a little sea salt and freshly crushed peppercorns…boom! Enjoy breakfast!

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Gettin’ My Spiralizer On!!

I have finally grasped the true use of my spiralizer that I have had for months.  I just could not seem to make that thing work the way I wanted then I realized I was using it incorrectly.  I am left handed so it took me some time to master the skill of right handed spiralizing in a left handed way.  Did you get that?  Hehe….This world was not made for left handed people!

I finally made what I would consider a true success in spiralizing.  In case you don’t know what spiralizing means; it is the art of turning vegetables into noodles.  While I was working at a local kitchen store a while back I took advantage of my discount and purchased a tool that makes spiralizing a breeze.

My farmer’s market haul this past weekend included several zucchini and yellow squash so I made a plan for “zoodles” {aka: zucchini noodles}.  This morning I made them and created a fantastic salad that was my lunch today.

I was so impressed with my creation I swear that made my lunch taste even better!  It was delicious!  I ate well today.  I am feeling great for it tonight!

Spiralizing my veggies will be my new favorite way to prepare my meals!

Spiralized Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

With one medium raw zucchini and using a spiralizing tool, create long, curly threads, resembling spaghetti noodles. Use this as the base for your salad.  Top with cooked (according to package directions) quinoa that has been cooled.  I used about 1/3 cup of cooked quinoa for this salad.  To these add:

1 medium raw carrot, spiralized

2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds (heat raw seeds in skillet until lightly browned)

1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts

Drizzle with this dressing:

2 Tblsp. olive oil

2 Tblsp. balsamic vinaigrette

1/8 tsp crushed fresh peppercorns

1/8 tsp agave syrup

1/4 tsp garlic powder

dash of sea salt

Whisk in bowl or shake in jar to incorporate ingredients. (there will be more than is needed for the salad)

Enjoy!!20150720_080131 20150720_082522 20150720_082542

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