Bangin’ Pesto

Christmas tree!

Christmas tree!

December is half way over, meaning this year is about to end. Did this year go incredibly fast for anyone else? It feels like just yesterday I was waking up in the little house in Knoxville and working at the food co-op. As December 31 gets closer, I find myself thinking through this year more and more.

Hiking at Chimney Rock!

Hiking at Chimney Rock!

Ben David got home a week ago and we’ve been hanging out alot. He came to stay with me in Asheville for a bit, and I love showing him my new city. Living in Asheville looks good on me, I think. I’m loving all the wonderful things to do. I can get on the Green or go climbing or trail running or yoga just about everyday.

My roommate's birthday!

My roommate’s birthday!

For dinner after climbing one day, we made pesto and veggies. And boy was it delicious and easy!

dinner

I whipped this sauce up quickly, making it a sure-to-be-repeated recipe for me. The less time I spend cooking and the more time I spend living is what I’m about these days.

pesto

Oil Free Pesto
-½ cup soaked or boiled raw, cashews
-handful fresh basil leaves
-garlic clove
-1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1) Cook cashew nuts until soft, unless you’ve soaked them. Blend in a food processor while drizzling water in until soft and creamy.
2) Add basil, garlic, and nutritional yeast
3) I find it delicious to add this sauce to the drained noodles in the pan on the stove so the whole thing gets warm.

Enjoy!

Thanksliving and Green Burritos

Happy Thanksliving! Yes, Thanksliving! This year my friends and I are going to order some vegan goodness from a take out place near the tree lot and celebrate life! Not only are we thankful for our lives, but also the lives of animals that we get to determine!

StuffingVegan_thanks

This year has been truly an amazing year. I started it out in Knoxville at a little party at some stranger’s house. At 12:01 I got an email letting me know I would be published in an online journal, and I just knew this would be the year of doing.

There are alot of lists out there, several I was reading this morning, about ways to avoid regrets, things to do to live an adventurous life, etc. One of the biggest changes I made in my life this year was to just open myself to the Universe and say yes to everything that came my way. The results have been fantastic!

I moved back to North Carolina, started kayaking again, ran a dessert department at a restaurant, lived in staff housing, went to San Francisco, and a hundred other amazing things. I’ve started doing yoga regularly, which is changing my life.

One of the things I am most grateful for this year is my job at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. I’ve worked seasonally for NOC for around 6 years now. It has been an up and down ride, like most jobs. This year I came back simply to see what it would be like, and it turns out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made yet. At the end of the season, I got a job in Asheville in the office. I’m learning how to be a logo and giftware buyer. I love my job, and most importantly, I love my bosses and co-workers. The job is part time and hourly, so its provides alot of freedom and flexibility still, which is perfect.

Thanks to the NOC, I’m living in Asheville with a dear friend and loving my job (which is more than half my waking time, so that’s a good thing).

I can’t figure out how to post links anymore, but if you go to google, search for the song “Don’t fight with Life”, by Osho. Its the perfect song for this year.

And now! A simple recipe. Last weekend I got back on the Green River Narrows with Rachel (my summer roommate). It was her first time and my first time in over 2 years. We had a great day. The Narrows are a blast, a fun stretch of river with boot’s, slides, holes, and good old fashioned fun.

I made scrambled tofu burritos to take on the river. They’re my new addiction. Because I’ve been moving so much lately, I’ve cut my tofu scramble recipe down to just a few ingredients then jazz it up with add in’s.

Green River Tofu Burritos

Tofu Scramble for Burritos

Tofu Scramble for Burritos

1 package of sprouted, firm tofu
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Burrito fillings:
1 bell pepper
1 onion
3 or 4 stalks of kale
coconut oil
avocado
Corn tortillas

1) The night before, crumble the tofu and add the spices. Mix well and store in the fridge overnight.
2) Dice the bell pepper and onion, while heating up the coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the kale and sauté until soft.
3) Add the tofu and break into clumps. Let cook until its slightly crispy and warm throughout.
4) Spread avocado on corn tortillas. Add the tofu mixture with the veggies. Add salsa, etc at this point. Roll up (I find it easiest to roll in tin foil) and enjoy!

What are you thankful for today?

Stove Top Popcorn and South Eastern Creeking

Mid November brings the beginning of cold weather, and the promise of rain soon (or snow). Despite the cold, rain means creaking. Thanks to my drysuit, I’m looking forward to getting on several of my favorite local creeks this season. The North Fork of the French Broad is a must; it was a favorite during college and I can’t wait to get back on it.

Thanks to Hipgrave from the NOC, I have a new AT Super Duty to try out this season. I’ve never been a huge fan of bent shaft paddles, but I will see what I think after this weekend! On Sunday my friend Will and I plan to get on the Tallulah one last time. The 600 step stair case down to the put in has been surprisingly nice to me this year. Maybe all the running on hills I’ve been doing is paying off.

The Tallulah gorge is beautiful, with mostly clean pool-drop rapids and high rock walls. There are boofs everywhere and its always a good time. Its a short run, so taking your time is important or you end up with a 45 minute run after a 3 hour process to get there. The 3 mile lake paddle out is a good time to decompress and catch up with your friends, and just enjoy being in nature. We are so lucky in the South East to have such access to quality runs!

popcorn

Right now, I can’t seem to get enough of popcorn. Making popcorn on your stove top ensures that you have more control over what goes into. No greasy oil-coated bags for me! I find the best topping to be a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and curry powder, no joke! Its delicious!

How to Make Stove Top Popcorn

1) Heat a pot with a tight fitting lid on med-high until hot. Add coconut oil until melted. Once the oil is sizzling (a drop of water bounces in it), add a handful or so of popping corn.
2) Add the lid and wait for it to pop! It will pop for a while, then start to slow down. Once the popping has slowed to more than 2 seconds between, take off the heat.
3) Let sit for a few seconds to cool down. Then add to a bowl and toss with the nutritional yeast and curry powder!

Notes: a little goes a long way, don’t over load the pot with corn! You can find the corn in the bulk section of your local health food store. I suggest buying organic, obviously. Corn is a common genetically modified plant in the US.

A Little Ramble on Coming Home.

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Its November, and I’m moving into the 5th place I’ve lived this year. I’m down to two car loads of belongings, just a few boxes that hold a couple shirts, a tattered cookbook, my boating gear, and my plastic three-drawer “kitchen”.
This house will probably be the last place I move into for a while. The next time I move it will probably be back to the Nantahala Gorge.
Right now I’m lucky because I have my dog and a kitchen. I also have my own bathroom and a full bed.
Being a nomad is fun but a lot of work. Being a nomad is teaching me a lot about coming home.
Home isn’t a house with a yard and a garage, a mortgage payment, or a basement full of storage. Home isn’t coming back to the same street in the same town everynight for years.
Home is the front seat of my car on warm afternoons, driving back from a day spent kayaking with my friends. Home is the middle seat of my car, where my dog spends approximately half his life but loves it because he gets to be with me. Home is the trunk of my car, where I can fit my entire life and someone else’s if need be.
Home was my staff housing room this summer, with a girl who taught me everything I need to know about trusting my dreams and passions. Home is the tiny kitchen I shared with 30 others, laughing long into the night over wine and board games.
Home is the house I share with an artist in Asheville. Its coming home each day and getting to see the progress she’s making on the silver jewelry she taught herself to make.
Home is my mother’s house, where she always has food I can eat and is ready to do my laundry and give me a bed for the night, usually with a mere 1 hour warning.
Home is my friend’s camper trailer, up on a mountain. Its rickety and cold, but we curl up in blankets and listen to Eddie Vedder in the mornings, watching the sun light the leaves on fire and sipping hot tea while we talk about life. He teaches me so much about letting go.
Home is knowing that its ok for you to not be traditional, its ok for you to have struggles staying anywhere for any length of time. Home is wherever you are at that moment. Its knowing yourself so well and being so ok with yourself, that you are at home wherever you go. Home is the yoga studio, the grocery store, its next to your lover, your dog, your friends. Home is in the sound of laughter at the bottom of a challenging rapid you just crushed. Home is the relief of hot water on sore muscles. Home is packing up your car every Friday and venturing off for a few days because that’s what makes your world make sense.

Butternut Squash Soup

Tallulah Paddling

Tallulah Paddling

I’ve been kayaking with the fall leaves lately. I’ve been kayaking in gorges lined with rock, with snow, with roads, with half naked trees getting ready for hibernation. I’ve been kayaking with friends I love, sipping warm coffee on the windy roads on the way there, listening to get pumped music, whining about the cold.

In real life I keep moving, I’m getting rid of so much stuff that eventually I’ll just be living in my car. Its a not so distant dream now. My nomadic blood is running truer than ever and I’m figuring this process out.

There is not possible way to get an appetizing photo of this soup, so just believe me when I say its delicious. I fry kale and tempeh and add that when I need more of a real meal from it.

Butternut Squash Soup
1 farmers market butternut squash, peeled and diced
½ white onion diced
4 cloves garlic
1 sweet potato diced
1 carrot diced
dash salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1) In a pan in a little water, saute squash, potato, carrot, garlic, and onion until soft. This may take a while, so put on some Chet Faker and get groovy with it. Once you have a soft, potato hash sort of mix, add the spices and stir on the heat until you can smell them.
2) Add the squash mix to the blender with the liquid and the nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth. Ta da! Easy and delicious.

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
salt/pepper

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!