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chickpea pancakes with leeks + squash (gluten-free + insanely delicious)

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When I think about diets, resolutions, and Hallmark holidays devoted to spending a day appreciating the ones we love, I think about time. We have twenty-four hours to celebrate the anniversary of a beloved; come February, we’ll lament abandoning the resolution we made so valiantly on the eve of the new year; we’ll white-knuckle and calorie-count until the day we surrender to a box of cookies because it’s Monday and the world owes us.

Diets, resolutions and single-day holidays are all predicated on finite time, on a defined beginning and end. We’ll be abundant with our love today, yet tomorrow we’ll resume our pleasant amiability and tender wheedling because we are the wheedling kind. We’ll compose our list, traits of the kind of people we want to be, but we always end up an inch from where we started and then we regard our skin as something like an ill-fitted costume we grow tired of wearing. We wanted that new body, that new love, that new life, but we retreat back to ourselves, defeated, think, I guess this is all I’ll ever be. We’ll pale down to bone because the world tells us about the dichotomy of maths–the more you disappear, the more you are visible, coveted. And the guilt you feel when you wave the white flag over a cookie, a warm buttered bagel, or a slice of blackout cake, that guilt whispers that you don’t deserve those single-day holidays. You don’t deserve all this love.

I have to tell you that I abhor diets, resolutions and anniversaries. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, a single day in November on which we’re supposed to be thankful. Rather, why not work to love and live with abundance every day. Instead of creating silly lists, why not absolve to create something new–big or small–every day? In that act of creation is change. Why not do something selfless without the expectation of anything in return. Why not wake each morning and say, out loud, I love you to yourself and your beloveds. Why not arrive at every meal and regard it as nourishment and fuel rather than a war you wage with flatware? How about we forget about calories as that’s an archaic measurement of health and well-being and focus on putting real food on our body? How about we consider how we feel in our body and our heart rather than whether a pair of pants fit. I’ve been a negative integer. Those pants used to always fit and often hang, and I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t happy. My heart was filled with greed, anger, and want. There could always be more. I could always be less.

I say, fuck diets, fuck resolutions, fuck singular days of economic devotion. Love and live mindfully and abundant every single day of your life. It’s hard to be present. It’s hard to stay the course. But you might wake one day, over the course of your journey, and realize that this deliberate choice you’ve made, being present for the infinite, is the best choice you’ve ever made.

I used to be angry that I couldn’t have gluten or dairy. I used to want to take the easy way out and consume gluten-free versions of all my favorite carbs. But how would I have ever discovered abundance amidst confinement? Would I have ever bothered making these vegetable pancakes when it would’ve been easier to make pesto pasta? Would I have felt a sense of pride over making something healthy and delicious, or continued on with living an uncomfortably comfortable life?

Fuck comfortable. Be present. Eat all the chickpeas.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Bon Appetit
6 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, chopped
½ tsp kosher salt, plus more
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated peeled squash (such as butternut or kabocha)
1 large egg
¾ cup chickpea flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ cup plain yogurt (I nixed this as I can’t have dairy)
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Optional: I served this on a bed for spinach (2 cups per person) + 3 figs divided (per person)

DIRECTIONS
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high. Add leek, season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leek is softened and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add squash and season again. Cook, stirring often, until squash is cooked through and softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a plate and let cool. Wipe out skillet and reserve.

Meanwhile, whisk egg, chickpea flour, baking powder, 1 Tbsp. oil, ½ tsp. kosher salt, and ½ cup water in a medium bowl; season with pepper and let sit 5 minutes for flour to hydrate. Stir vegetables into batter just to coat.

Heat 1½ Tbsp. oil in reserved skillet over medium-high. Add batter by the ¼-cupful to make 4 pancakes, gently flattening to about ¼” thick. Batter should spread easily—if it doesn’t, thin with a little water. Cook until bottoms are lightly browned and bubbles form on top, about 4 minutes. Use a spatula to carefully flip pancakes over and cook until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and tent with a sheet of foil to keep warm. Repeat with another 1½ Tbsp. oil and remaining batter. Serve pancakes topped with yogurt, parsley, sea salt, and pepper.

Do Ahead: Leek and squash can be cooked 2 days ahead; cover and chill. Batter can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.

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pumpkin, tomato + squash soup

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You have to know that I tossed all of my delicious cherry + raspberry bars in the bin because binge. Because sugar addiction–even when you hardly consume it, even when you do and it tastes acidic–is real. I met with my nutritionist yesterday (yes, on my birthday because masochist), and after reviewing my food diary and my BBB challenge, she delivered some news. The good news is that I’m the strongest I’ve ever been with a great deal of lean muscle (YAY!). I’m finally starting to make a dent in my midsection, and can I just tell you that is the WEAKEST part of my body, and I’ve never felt more endurance in cruel, sixty-minute workouts. So fist pumps and orange kittens for everyone. Until the bad news…

Not really bad, per se, but I’m 8 pounds from my goal weight and the scale is just sitting there, all tra la la, unmovable. After recovering from a holiday spent with someone who was unhinged, it took a while for me to reintroduce positive, warm energy back into my days and eat like a normal person. And while my meals have been fine, just fine, I’m on a maintenance diet (more fat) rather than one that induces weight loss.

So, for the next few weeks, I have to say farewell to coconut peanut butter (this particular loss is palpable, people), nuts (awesome since I JUST spent a pile of $ on herbed cashews), and macaroons (not the sugar, multi-hued gross cookies, rather the lovely chewy coconut delights). I’ve let me veggie game slip a little in favor of fat (fat isn’t bad, btw, we’re just talking about balance here), so for the next few weeks I’m getting vigilant, focused, and I need every ounce of good protein and veg to help me survive my month-long BBB challenge.

But can we talk about this soup and how I couldn’t stop eating it? This soup is on the OK list because it’s packed with nutrients and it completely fills you up. You feel as if you’re consuming a creamy, rich soup, while it’s just great veg and solid carbs. You can serve this solo or fry up some sausage–savoring this luscious dish for DAYS.

INGREDIENTS: From The Paleo Kitchen Cookbook, with slight alterations
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
diced coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce/425-gram) can pumpkin puree
1 (15-ounce/425-gram) can squash puree (if you can’t rock squash, you can simply add more pumpkin or more tomato)
1 tsp dried sage
1 (14.5-ounce/411-gram) can diced tomatoes (or fresh, if in season)
2 cups (480 ml) chicken broth
1 tsp cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup (120 ml) full-fat coconut milk
½ cup (60 grams) toasted salted pumpkin seeds, for garnish
1/4 cup organic honey

DIRECTIONS
Heat the coconut oil in a medium stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin, squash, sage, tomatoes, chicken broth, nutmeg, and honey and bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 minutes, then remove the cinnamon stick and add the coconut milk. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or transfer in small batches to a blender to puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and blend once more. Garnish with the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.

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cozy in the kitchen: my fall recipe round-up {old favorites}

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There is nothing that brings me greater joy than nubby sweaters, hot coffee, crisp autumn mornings and cozy socks. Autumn is my preferred time and a cold sky turning leaves a terracotta is my preferred landscape. Many of my adventures have occurred during this season, and I’m thrilled that I can now crank the oven and revisit some of my old friends. If you’ve got a recipe worth sharing, definitely drop a line in the comments field.

Pumpkin Spice Rolls | Pumpkin Proscuitto Sage Risotto | Sweet Potato Soup with Coriander + Sage | Tomato Soup with Orzo | Baked Squash with Millet | Kale, Apple + Roasted Squash Salad | Roasted Squash and Sage Sausage Pizza with Smoked Gouda | Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce | Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread | Pasta Bolognese

baked squash with millet and caponata

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Why not have a big life? — Emily Dickinson

Why not have a big life? Have the most extraordinary life there is? Why settle for anything less than extraordinary? Why not live every day jumping out of bed and hurtling yourself into the trees? Why not fall in love with yourself all over again? Why not sleep the sleep of children? Why not take the sun like sacrament? Why not read a book and then read it again? Why not ride the subway to the end of the line? Why not eat a slice of cake in the morning? Why not forget the calories? Why not watch cartoons like you used to? Why not email everyone you know and tell them you love them, love them, love them, just because.

Why not break ranks? Why not tumble out to the unknown?

Today I woke and fell in love with my life. And I finally could see myself here, and then myself, there. And I could finally draw a line between the two.

Did I mention I took my first French class today and that I. LOVED. IT.? And did I mention I got over my fear of eggplant and dove right into this delicious bit of healthy heaven? Did I…Did I?!

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Blue Apron Meals (serves 2; 525 calories/serving)
2 medium acorn squash
1/2 cup millet*
1 small zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 red pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch parsley (2-3 tbsp chopped)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp raw (cane) sugar
2 oz goat cheese
2 tbsp of olive oil

*If you can’t access millet, I think quinoa or bulgur wheat would do quite nicely.

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DIRECTIONS
First, pre-heat your oven to 425F and put a medium pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops off the squash, then scoop out the seeds. Although this recipe doesn’t use the seeds, I love them roasted and tossed with some chili (yum!). But I digress. Drizzle the squash with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then place them in the oven on a baking sheet. Since the oil drizzled on my pan I managed to set off the fire alarm in my apartment every thirty seconds. Note to self: line the pan with parchment paper to prevent smoking.

Dice the zucchini, eggplant and red pepper (making sure you de-seed the pepper). Then chop the garlic and roughly chop the parsley. Once the water is boiling, add the millet and boil for 10 minutes, or until the it is tender.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil into a medium pan, then turn the heat to high. Sauté the eggplant, zucchini and red pepper for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are soft. It’s important that you cut your vegetables around the same size so that they’ll cook evenly. You may need to add another tbsp of olive oil while your cooking the veggies. After 4 minutes, add the garlic and sugar, and sauté for 30 seconds. Then add the vinegar and most of the parsley. This is your caponata.

Once the millet is done, drain and add to the pan with the caponata. Stir until well combined, then remove from the heat.

Next, remove the squash from the oven and fill with your caponata mixture. Sprinkle the goat cheese over the top, then bake for 15 more minutes, or until the squash is completely tender. If you have extra filling, save it to serve alongside the squash.

Once the squash is tender, remove from the oven and garnish with the remaining parsley and DIG IN!

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dinner on the deck, connecticut style

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