Pumpkin Enchiladas

Hello Blog family!

Big Redwood Trees!

Big Redwood Trees!

Ben David and I just got back from San Francisco! We had an amazing 4 days on the West-is-Best Coast! We ran a 5k (and had personal best times!), checked out Oakland and Berkeley, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, ate an obscene amount of food, rented a car and checked out the Muir Woods and the coast, and generally just fell in love with the whole area! It would be a dream come true for us to move out that direction one day, but neither of us feel ready to leave the Southeast yet. He’s still figuring out the jobs and I’m loving my new life in Asheville and my new job with NOC.

Right now we’re sitting at my new neighborhood coffee shop, enjoying a beautiful fall day. There a little lake down the road from my house with a one mile loop trail, with beautiful fall trees lining it. I can picture taking Pigeon on evening runs there and following them up with my fresh pumpkin enchiladas!

Pumpkin enchiladas!

Pumpkin enchiladas!

I made these for my mom and her boyfriend last night, both of whom are committed meat eaters. They loved them! I made a second sauce with more of the heat (jalepeno and chipotle) for the rest of us because my mom doesn’t like heat. If you want, I would spice up the initial sauce and just add hot sauce to taste at the end. But you could always do half the heat in the original sauce and then make a second sauce with twice the heat like we did. I also served this with my homemade guacamole, which is apparently the most amazing guacamole ever, so I will post on that soon.

A messy workspace is a great workspace!

A messy workspace is a great workspace!

Pumpking Enchiladas
1 can pureed pumpkin (I used fresh pumpkin which is more water-y than the canned kind, so I would add a ⅓-¼ cup of water if you used canned)
½ large tomato
¼ jalepeno (slice the seeds and ribs out if you want it milder)
1 teaspoon Chili powder
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce (add 2 for more heat)
½ teaspoon chopped garlic
juice of half a lime

Enchilada filling:
1 can black beans drained and rinses
¼ red onion, diced
1 cup sweet corn
dash of paprika, chili powder, oregano
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)

Corn Tortillas

1) Saute onions in olive oil and/or water until translucent, add the garlic and seasonings and wait until you smell them mixing together. Add the corn and black beans and heat thoroughly. Meanwhile, blend the sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth. Turn the oven on to 425.
2)Pop the corn tortillas in the oven for a minute to warm them and make them easier to handle. Pour ½ cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a square baking dish. Place 1 heaping scoop of black bean mix in the middle of a tortilla and roll it up. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Fill the rest of the tortillas in similar ways.
3) Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy with guacamole and a simple side salad of fresh lettuce, red onions, pears, and tomatoes!

(Of course, you can add cheese if you like, or top with cilantro, but honestly, they were just as good with the guacamole)

Banana Bread Granola

This week has been the week of packing. While I’m happy to report that I’ve also been able to get on the Ocoee and run more than I have in months, I’ve also been over my head in boxes. But we’re almost there!

My old kitchen, which I'll miss dearly

My old kitchen, which I’ll miss dearly

After a run, I don’t want a heavy meal so I skip my amazing oatmeal bowls and go instead for easily digested carbs. Soy yogurt (Nancy’s Cultured Soy is awesome: no sugar or hundreds of weird additives), fresh fruit (especially berries), flax seed for some easily digested protein, and a little banana bread granola. Simple, easy, and delicious.

Post-run breakfast by the river

Post-run breakfast by the river

This granola I’ve been making in staff housing because it require so few ingredients and is so easy to whip up!

Banana Bread Granola
2 Bananas
2 Cups rolled oats
2/3 cups of nuts and seeds (I use an assortment of sunflower, pumpkin, chia, and sometimes walnuts)
1 tablespoon honey (Yes, I know its not vegan!) or maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1) If the bananas are less than brown and bread worthy, roast them in the oven for 10 minutes until brown. Let cool and mash with other wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients, and spread over a slightly oiled baking sheet.

2) Bake at 300-350 for 20-30 minutes, turning often. I baked it at 275 the first time and it turned out great.

Everlasting Kale Salad

Hello world!
I haven’t posted in a long time because I’ve been BUSY! I got a new job at NOC (Merchandising Assistant) and am moving to Asheville for the winter. This means I’ve been house hunting again, packing, working, etc. Of course, I’ve also made time for playing.
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With all the stuff going on here, I haven’t been very diligent with taking good photos of my food or wirting down recipes. I’ve been making a lot of amazing food lately, such as granola, spring rolls, etc.
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One thing I’ve been doing that is helping me eat healthy while on the go-go-go, is making a huge kale salad that I can dip into everyday. Here’s how I’m doing it:
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Everlasting Kale Salad
1 bag of dino kale (from Trader Joes)
1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 peeled, shredded beets
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
Dash of pink Himalayan salt and fresh pepper
shredded red cabbage
Mix the kale with the lemon juice and olive oil in a ziploc bag. Rub vigorously until the kale starts to soften and become limp. Let sit while you assemble the rest of the ingredients. Add to the kale salad and keep in the fridge. Add toppings as you use the mix such as: avocado, fried tofu, fresh carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, hummus.
An amazing thing about this salad is the vitamin C from the lemon helps your body absorb the iron in the kale and pumpkin seeds. It’s a great base for a heaping lunch salad or a good snack on its own. I’ve also been using a carrot-ginger salad dressing lately that is amazing. Its raw and oil free (except for a tiny bit of sesame seed oil).
Enjoy the salad!

Cilantro-Pesto Kabobs

The thing that makes Pigeon so unique and special is his crazy happiness about life. It overflows and infects everyone around him. When he wakes up in the morning, he gets so excited about life he turns into a one man wrecking ball: tail flying into everything in sight and energy sky high.
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I take him on morning walks with coffee. He can’t get enough of the early morning world: the birds, the sounds, and the endless sources of smelling.

If I could be as happy as Pigeon all the time, well, I’d be slightly crazy.

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These cilantro-pesto kabobs are delicious. I wound up making a sandwich with the left over kabobs. I spread the cilantro-pesto on toasted bread with spinach and ginger vinaigrette. It was great way to use them up.

Avocado is the magic ingredient

Avocado is the magic ingredient

Mexican Kabobs
Diced veggies and tofu- I used squash, mushrooms, peppers and onion.
Cilantro pesto:
1 bunch cilantro
3 leaves kale
2 cloves garlic
¼ olive oil

1) Soak your kabob sticks in water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile make the pesto by combining all ingredients in a food processor and processing until smooth but still slightly chunky.
2) If you are using tofu, press it for 10 minutes or so to get a lot of the water out. Then cute into cubes.
3) Make the kabobs by piercing the vegetables and tofu with the moistened sticks. Heat the grill to medium. Using a brush, spread the cilantro-pesto on the kabobs and grill, rotating regularly until vegetables are cooked through and tofu is crispy.
4) Eat on a sandwich, or on a huge spinach salad, or right off the kabobs!

Super Power Crackers

Mary’s Gone Crackers.

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Sometimes at the store those crackers are my splurge, the most expensive thing in my basket. They are awesome with almond butter, unbelievable with avocado, delicious with hummus… I can eat a whole box in one sitting (its been done).

Seeds for strength!

Seeds for strength!

So I needed to learn how to make them myself at home without breaking the bank.
Chia for protein, calcium, iron
Pumpkin for iron
Flax because why not, it’s the seed golden child. Loaded with healthy omega’s, it also helps hold the cracker together
Brown rice for healthy carbs, protein, and because I have a love affair with it.
Quinoa because I don’t eat it enough and of course it’s a complete protein.
Soy sauce for flavoring. Use tamari to keep these bad boys gluten free.
The secret it to whip the cooked rice and quinoa for quite a while and add water. You won’t want to, you’ll want to keep it kind of mushy and intact and nice and gooey. But trust me, you’ll create miniscule air pockets that will result in an amazing light, fluffy, and crunchy texture.

The fully whipped batter, super gooey and runny! If you use wet hands to handle it will be easier

The fully whipped batter, super gooey and runny! If you use wet hands to handle it will be easier

They’re addicting.

In other news, I was so happy when there were eleven women at Wild Women Wednesday this week! This is a little group my roommate and I started at the beginning of the summer. We half expected it to fail because a women’s paddling group has NEVER been successful in the gorge. But somehow we hit the magic combination! Our group was wildly successful. Next week will be the last week, and we’ll continue it next summer. It was so great to get so many women out on the water this year feeling comfortable and loving the experience.

Multi Seed crackers:

1 cup cooked quinoa and brown rice
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Olive oil spray
Parchment paper

Score the crackers BEFORE you bake them or they'll just crumble when you try to separate them

Score the crackers BEFORE you bake them or they’ll just crumble when you try to separate them

Cook quinoa and brown rice and allow to cool completely. Blend in a food processor for several minutes until fully blended. The mixture will be very gelatinous and gooey. Add the seeds, water, and soy sauce. If you want any other flavors, now is the time to add those as well. Blend until completely blended throughout. Spread a large piece of parchment paper on your counter and spray with olive oil spray. Place half the dough on one side, and then fold the paper over it. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until thin and flat. Cut the top half of the parchment paper off the dough and score with a knife into the shapes you will want. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until brown and crispy. Allow to cool and then break apart along the score lines.

Morning Oatmeal

As much as I like variety in my diet, I do admit its easy to have standard meals I eat on the daily to make sure I’m eating a balanced diet. One of these meals is my trusty oatmeal. I’ve tried the fruit only in the morning craze, even pumped it up with protein smoothies. However, my body needs carbs: good, whole grain kind of carbs. And it wants them early in the morning.

Healthy breakfasts keep us full all day, and help us become BEASTS!

Healthy breakfasts keep us full all day, and help us become BEASTS!

Why spend years of light-headed mornings fighting my body’s desires just so I can eat fruit like people tell me to?

Life is much better with energy and a calm heart.

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Every morning I eat the following:

⅓-½ cup rolled oats or steel cut if I have the time. Steel cut oats are the closest thing to the actual, whole oat groat. The more you process oats, the more they turn into empty carbs that wind up as sugar. Oats are anti-inflammatory and provide an awesome source of fiber to keep you full. They are slow burning fuel for a long morning.

1 diced banana. Bananas are full of magnesium as we all know. They also provide free-radicals to help fight disease, as well as being full of anti-oxidants.

Handful of berries. Everyone knows the antioxidants in berries are great for you.

Almond milk. Almond milk is a great source of calcium and protein.

Raw walnuts. Walnuts have plenty of vitamin E and omega 3’s, as well as anti-inflammatory properties.

Honey. Honey is sweet, and local honey is great for your immune system.

Ground flax seeds. Another great source of omega 3’s, actually, the highest source in the world of nuts and seeds.

Of course, I try to source all my ingredients as locally and organic as possible. I switch it up a lot, too, but this is the basic agenda. This weekend I added peaches and grilled pineapple and let me tell you- ah-ah-amazing!

This weekend my husband and I got to spend a lot of time at the farmer’s markets on Saturday, buying fresh vegetable, which we then ate all weekend. We also went to the lake and took the dog swimming and talked about the future.

He also took me out for brunch!

He also took me out for brunch!

Our life is fluid. We have general ideas of where we want to go, but we also have standards for living we want to maintain. These standards include not begin so married to a career that we forget to live. I’ve been reading this book about food and I know more than ever, that food and healthy living are things I’m passionate about. I want to empower people to create the kind of preventive lifestyles that will help them have long, healthy lives.

Educating people on health and health matters is something I’m getting more and more interested in as well as passionate about.

And that’s pretty much as much as I’ve got for now. Life is a puzzle, my mom says. I feel like I keep finding the puzzle pieces, and as long as I’m finding them, that’s ok. My current life quote is: “You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.” I’m not drowning, but I’m not stopping my life puzzle either. I’ll be in touch.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

The gorge is going full force right now. I’m appreciating cooking huge batches of brown rice ahead of time, having fresh produce endlessly, and early mornings. My 5 am morning routine is going really well. I’m getting a lot done every morning as I wake up with the birds. I read, stretch out, make my coffee, and generally set my intentions for the day.

Traveling to Gatlinburg to work

Traveling to Gatlinburg to work

At the river we have attainment races every Tuesday evenings at 5. At the beginning of the season my time was 8 minutes and 40 seconds. I’m proud to report my time last race was 6 minutes and 38 seconds!

My little room at staff housing

My little room at staff housing

Lately I’ve been trying to break out of my daily food routine. You know, the one where I eat a veggie burger or hummus sandwich for lunch everyday and a brown rice-tofu-stir fried vegetable dinner. I’m living in a little rando right now with some amazing people, in the middle of the woods. As much as I love my little home, with various shacks perched in between the trees on the side of the mountain, my cooking is greatly limited as a result. I have to keep all my food in a mini-fridge and carry my bamboo-cooking basket down the walk-way every time I want to cook. I’ve stopped experimenting as much as a result, and am looking forward to this winter when I’ll be able to cook more and have more time and less disruptions. Last time I was at home in Knoxville I was able to make hummus for the week, which is quite a treat. Here’s a super simple recipe for roasted red pepper hummus. I don’t have a lot of ingredients anymore, so most of the food I’ve been cooking is super simplified, cheap, but good.

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Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus
1 roasted red bell pepper
dash cayenne
1 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can drained and rinsed chick peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash chili powder

To roast the red pepper, simply put it on the grill or in the oven at 350. Let it roast until almost the entire thing is black. Next, place it in a plastic bag for 10-15 minutes. once it’s cool, you can simply peel the blackened skin off and rinse. OR you can use canned red peppers, no judgement here.

Next, pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Especially delicious on toast!

Especially delicious on toast!

Nine Tips to Being Plant-Based

_ Tips on Being Plant Based
Hello little/big blogging world! I’m so bad at keeping up with this blog in the summers. I was speaking with a dear friend of mine the other day who works at NOC with me. We haven’t seen each other in a month, even though we work 100 yards from each other. We were talking about how nice it is that most of our friends work seasonal jobs, so no one gets upset when we simply disappear for 3 months every year. Its nice out, my work is busy, and when I’m not working, I want to be outside, not on my computer.

My brother is considering trying to be plant based again, so I wanted to write him a little tip list. I’ll share it with you guys, since who knows who may benefit from it! I also have 3 recipes WRITTEN already on my computer, so be on the look out for those!
1) Remember all the food groups, not just protein. When I was first becoming a vegetarian, I focused so much on making sure I was getting enough protein, I totally never realized that with the absence of meat, my diet was also lacking in fat as well. Animal protein comes with a good amount of fats. And while its good to cut most of those out of your diet, you do need fat still and especially certain kinds (those omega 3’s!). Nuts, seeds, and avocados are great sources of healthy, plant based fat that your body will use for shiny and strong hair and nails, energy, etc.
2) Know when to accept advice, but also when to say no. A lot of people will be excited for you when you decide to try a plant based diet. And everyone who has ever eaten a salad will suddenly feel the need to give you endless amounts of advice. Its good to ask for help. When you don’t know how to incorporate more protein into your breakfast routine, have the humility to ask another vegan. But when people are telling you what to eat for every meal, its also ok to tell them to go away, politely.
3) Be ready for spontaneous confessions and ridiculous questions. For some reason, when people find out you are plant based, they will feel the need to start telling you what they eat and how horrible their diet is. I’m not sure why this is, but just listen patiently. On the flipside, people will also ask ridiculous questions. One lady asked me if I still ate fruit!
4) Refrain from judging. Once you become plant based and have a good handle on your diet, you will feel great. You will also feel great about your choices. This can lead to becoming extremely judgmental. You will start to wonder why no one else is following your lead because your life is so much better as a result. I have a friend who will literally rip yogurts out of other people’s hands and read all the bad ingredients in them. No one likes this person. You are not making a good case for being plant based, or impressing anyone. I try to remember that 6 years ago I thought eating yogurt with sugar and oil-laden granola was the healthiest I could be, and that getting sweet potato fries with my bacon hamburger was close to being vegetarian. Remember where you came from and how you got to where you are now. Chances are, it wasn’t by anyone preaching to you.
5) Keep your whole identity. Its easy to love your new lifestyle so much that it becomes all you can talk about. But realize that the way you eat is just a part of the awesome person that you are. You are also a world class kazoo player, or a giraffe expert, or closet line dancing champion. Stay unique. Stay you. Just be you 2.0.
6) Go slowly. Everything about being a vegan revolves around making the diet/lifestyle sustainable. Being a zealot for the rules will make it hard for you to be plant based for long. You will wind up falling off the wagon and hating yourself. So start slow, and build up to being fully plant based. Also have grace with yourself. If you slip up and eat a cheese pizza, move on.
7) Be realistic. You won’t be able to eat a fully organic spinach salad with a nut based dressing, sprouted, non-gmo tofu, and brown rice for every meal. You will go to Thanksgivings in Mississippi with your in laws where the only vegan thing is peanut butter, bananas, and corn chips. You will eat green beans at said Thanksgiving even though they have butter, because you are not just a vegan, you are a living being who needs food. You have a better chance of being a life long vegan if you are realistic about life.
8) Surround yourself with support. For me, living in the deep-south as a scrawny vegan is really hard sometimes. I have a few friends I hang out with regularly who are also vegan. I also have an extensive online community. I read vegan blogs, follow other vegans on instagram, and surround myself with other plant-based eaters. These people encourage me to continue with my lifestyle choices amid the land of carnivores.
These are just a few ideas I’ve had over the last few months on being a successful plant-based eater. A lot of them are mistakes I’ve made, and I hope that you will find them helpful!

I’m reading this book right now, and its really, really interesting:
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After listening to a podcast by Jeff Sanders, I’ve been getting up at 5 am to meditate, do yoga, and prioritize my life. It’s a pretty awesome habit.
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I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
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I’m also building muscle. And paddling a lot. Which is really, really awesome.

Little baby muscle :)

Little baby muscle :)

The lately

I’m here in the mountains of Appalachia still. I’m attaining everyday in the sun, I’m hiking to the fire tower for yoga in the evenings. The other afternoon I hiked up alone. I got to the top, sweaty and red faced, and laid down into happy baby pose. I rolled around until the combination of wood and bones began to hurt, then I went into downward dog, then plank and up dog. And the whole time, with the mountains spinning around me and the oceans of clouds with their little green mountain islands letting my eyes rest, I heard this truth inside me:
You know who you are. Step into it.
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I have a new hashtag: #letkayakingruinyourlife

I’m selling vegan chocolate cakes like they were the last bit of water in a desert.

My winter plans are all up in the air. I’ve been busy living here in this moment: in the dark coffee mixed with almond yogurt in an old jelly jar, with a strong paddle stroke in the current and my abs pulling me upstream (upstream all the time), with pans full of every fresh vegetable imaginable with fried tofu and volcano rice.

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I don’t have a recipe for you guys because all I eat right now is brown rice, tofu, fresh veggies, and chocolate of every form.

And an insane amount of oatmeal.

You don’t have to spend hours in down dog to know who you are. You don’t have to walk through the desert or spend months on top of a mountain to find yourself. You have to simply be ok with whoever you find inside yourself. You have to let go of who you want to be, of the idea of someone, and you have to realize you can spend your life fighting yourself or celebrating yourself.

I’m philosophical today because its the first time in 8 days straight I have more than an hour to myself. I hiked up the road for blackberries this morning, did yoga, and now I’m reading. And talking to no one.

I’ll post again soon with a recipe, I promise :)

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