Apple, Fennel + Pomegranate Quinoa Salad



For my birthday in May 2006, my college roommate and good friend gave me a paper bag full of apples. To this day, I  consider it to be one of the simplest and most thoughtful of gifts.

Though I tend to avoid using them in recipes (because I eat them all fresh), apples are my all-time favorite food and I tend to be persnickety about what a good apple tastes like. I have a slight obsession with the kind of apples that can’t be found in most grocery stores and with unique names like Zabergau Reinette, Poundsweet, and Sheepnose. There used to be an old-timer named Joe at the Corvallis market this time of year who would talk my ear off about the 100+ heirloom apple varieties in his orchard while handing me slices to taste, each with a different complex flavor. Basically, I looked forward to market day just to hear his apple stories.




When I was working in Ireland several summers back, I traipsed around counting, weighing, and mostly eating berries all day but one of my highlights was the day Andy asked if I’d like a tour of the orchard. I practically jumped in the jeep before the words were out of his mouth. Prior to that, I toured a couple orchards in northern Washington during my experience at the farm & cooking school, Quilasascut. I was the nerdy annoying girl asking too many complex questions the day we visited the apple trees. And before that in pomology, my favorite class at UCD, we visited farmers who, like Joe, had orchards filled with hundreds of varieties. On our farm tours, we walked and talked, eating apples all the while.

Basically, I love any chance to follow farmers around all day letting them share some of their wisdom about apples.




If ever I come into possession of a few acres to plant a gazillion ancient apple varieties, I might be on to a new calling. In the meantime, I’m trying to convince William to tear out all the worthless pretty flowering cherry trees in our front yard and replace them with apples. He’s basically the yard maintenance guy in this household and after all the work he put into those cherries this summer with no payout, he’s mostly convinced.




Apple, Fennel + Pomegranate Quinoa Salad, serves 4

For this month’s Recipe Redux, we were asked to show what’s in our Plant Protein Power Bowls, or what I refer to as grain salads. Packed with protein, fiber and color, plant power bowls are trendy and delicious. William and I happen to eat some variation of a one-dish grain salad for dinner at least a couple times each week and have been since way before eating plant-based or from a power/Buddha/yoga/nourish/etc.-bowl became a thing. This one, with it’s seemingly interesting ingredient combination, came together out of what was on hand one evening–and because from previous experience, I love the caramelizy-sweet fennel, fresh sage and apple combination. The kale, quinoa, and baby lima beans just happen to be good additions and the pomegranate seeds provide a little festive something extra. I made this twice in a row and much to my dismay and delight, William (who avoids leftovers) took most of what was left for lunch. This little well-rounded salad was so good, colorful, and as I said, festive, that I might just be making it again for some of our upcoming holidays. Enjoy!

3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked baby lima beans (or other white bean)
2-3 cups finely chopped kale
1-2 Tbs. fresh sage leaves, minced
1 small apple, sliced thin
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup roasted/toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1-3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, use to taste
sea salt + pepper, to taste

  • Rinse and drain the quinoa and then place it, along with the 1 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • In a sauté pan over medium-high, heat 1/2 Tbs. olive oil and then sauté the onion and fennel, about 5-8 minutes, until both are soft and golden. Remove from the heat and slide into a big bowl, along with the cooled quinoa, and lima beans.
  • In a small bowl, combine the chopped kale and remaining tablespoon of oil with your hands, gently squeezing the kale to soften it up a bit. Then combine it, along with the sage, sliced apple, pomegranate and hazelnuts, to the quinoa mixture.
  • Add 1-3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, tasting as you go, and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Tahini, Date + Turmeric Bars



Over the summer, I learned about 30 herbs and/or spices that are commonly used in western herbal medicine in my second herbal medicine class, and I really relished the opportunity to both broaden and deepen my understanding of natural plant medicines. In addition to learning that skullcap, the plant I had chosen to focus on learning about for an entire term in my first class, is the most popular herb sold through my university’s herbal dispensary, I spent the summer delving into a lot of research about specific herbs for treating inflammation and allergies due to my project for a client with seasonal allergies. I was limited to working with only the herbs in our class list, however, and because of that I chose a fairly non-traditional approach to working with allergies. Turmeric was among the herbs we studied, and though I did not end up recommending turmeric for allergies, I realized I easily could have and was probably expected to.

Though I know a lot more about the benefits of turmeric than I did before, there is much research to suggest that the curcumin compound it contains has extremely strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant abilities and it is beneficial in all manner of disorders and imbalances. Among others, it has antibacterial, anticancer, anti-rheumatic, anti-tumor, antiviral, anti-phlegmatic, and anti-parasitic properties. I’ve recommended it to my mom who has arthritis, runner friends for pain, and have taken it myself for (nearly instantaneous) relief after slamming my knee into a door. Though my knee incident was an exception, I take a different approach to using herbs than we would for pharmaceutical drugs; I don’t take them for their quick effect. Instead, herbs work to slowly and gently bring the body back into balance, and they work better in conjunction with other lifestyle supports, like getting enough rest, a balanced diet, exercise, etc.

Turmeric is extremely trendy right now, and while there is good reason for it to be, I also like this article about practicing caution with it, as with all herbal medicines. Too much of anything, even a supposed health food, can push us into imbalance. While I came to this conclusion on my own and no longer pop a curcumin supplement for running recovery “insurance” on a regular basis, I do tend to use it in small amounts frequently–and mostly because I really enjoy its flavor.

What I really enjoyed about the class is that we delved into the research on a number of common herbs and spices–ones we are already using and that aren’t the new trendy superfoods–like the ginger and cinnamon these bars contain. After 14 weeks of reading a ton of research articles, I finished the class even more in support of the importance of eating healthfully as the norm and using herbs and spices in small amounts throughout the day in whatever foods we’re eating so perhaps there’s a little less need to use any medicines–herbal or otherwise–to “fix” imbalances.




Tahini, Date + Turmeric Bars, makes 8
I regularly rely on bars for after workouts and for busy afternoon snacks on the go. While I have a few versions of granola or energy bars on this blog that I do go back to, for the last few months I’ve been opting away from oats and grains as a main ingredient. Instead, I’ve been adapting a new favorite packaged bar. It has taken many renditions but now that I’ve finally gotten the base consistency to my liking (actually better than the packaged bar which I find a little too sweet,) I’m excited to begin delving into a few different flavor combinations, especially as William doesn’t favor my heavy affinity for the ginger/cinnamon/cardamom/turmeric spice combination and prefers the berry/fruity realm instead. For these bars, don’t forego the black pepper, as it helps the turmeric to be become more bioavailable. Additionally, for the options I’ve listed, the first is my favored ingredient but I also enjoyed the second or third option. Enjoy!

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup cashew or almond butter
3 medjool dates, pitted
6 Tbs. hemp protein powder or hemp seeds
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cardamom, optional
dash of black pepper
1 Tbs. brown rice syrup, maple syrup or honey
1-2 Tbs. water, as needed
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried figs or apricots, diced
1/2 cup oats, finely ground
1 Tbs. pumpkin seeds or shelled pistachios

  • Puree the tahini, nut butter, dates, hemp, salt, vanilla, spices, and syrup in a food processor until completely combined. Add 1-2 Tbs. water as needed to bring it together, if it’s a little dry. You can also a little more syrup or another date but I found that option a little too sweet.
  • Then add the raisins, diced figs, finely ground oats, and pumpkin seeds. Puree a couple more times until these last ingredients are just incorporated but not completely broken down.
  • Turn out and press into a 8×8-inch baking pan, or something of similar size. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, and then cut into individual bars, store, or eat as needed. They will last in the fridge for at least two weeks with no change in texture/consistency.

early autumn collard wraps with beet hummus, orange quinoa salad + apple slices



I cooked my first winter squash this week, a delicata from the garden. I added it into the lovely split pea, rhubarb and apple soup from Vegetarian Everyday/Green Kitchen Stories. I sipped a rendition of Izy’s autumn-spiced coffee, planted purple sprouting broccoli for a late winter/early spring harvest, and kicked the heat on to a measly 62 degrees in the house. It ran almost all day while I wore my down vest and a blanket and powered through week four of term three–grad school life; the workload is intense; it calls for blankets and my first coffee in well over a year–and yet I love it. I’ve scheduled myself to take one-two days off from the material right now and I still wake up on those mornings ready to dive back in.




It’s safe to say  summer is well on its way out. Ever the seasonal sleeper, I’m waking much later in the mornings. And catching up on processing my recent transition out of school garden education. I also began writing in more detail about my experience with running, eating disorder recovery, faith, and mental health in general–topics that might be a little too intense here. If you first came to this blog for those posts, feel free to read more on my new blog. Otherwise, below are a sampling of the many short and longer reading I’ve enjoyed these past months, a couple podcast episodes I feel are worth sharing, and a few seasonal meals we’ve been enjoying.




How to Build an Empire
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Piccho: perspective +  privilege

David has been cooking with and sharing/photodocumenting the stories of Syrian refugees in Turkey this last week. It is a beautiful experience, important to share, and I think relates a lot to the point made by Ashlae, above.

Why I haven’t weighed myself in 2 1/2 years
The Starvation Study that Changed the World, I’m still reflecting on these last two but they are both well worth reading in terms of body image, eating, and/or weight struggles.

Longer Reading
Food and Healing by Annemarie Colbin. I just finished. I loved it.

Listening to
Up Your Game
How to Cultivate Non-Judgment
Andrew Wheating on Strengthening Your Winning Muscle (I’ve listened to this on repeat for weeks!)

Seasonal Eating–
Basically, I only want to eat Moroccan or Middle Eastern flavors and/or eggplants so we’ve been enjoying these:
Moroccan Eggplant Mini-Galettes with Chickpeas + Harissa
Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets
Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Eggplant & Olive Caponata
We also enjoyed the Eggplant Meatballs from Love & Lemon’s new cookbook at a friend’s last weekend. They were delicious.
And I’m eating all the pears from my favorite pear farmer and these Chai-Spiced Pear Oats, daily.



early autumn collard wraps with beet hummus, orange quinoa salad + apples, makes 4
Every once in a while I get a craving for collard wraps, always with beets and a grain salad of sorts and perhaps some fruit. Wrapped up tight, they make for a delicious and nourishing lunch. This version is inspired by a recipe in Vegetarian Everyday with my own beet hummus (still delicious and addicting), thinly sliced crunchy apples, and locally grown chickpeas. 

1-2 batches Beet Hummus
1 cup quinoa
1 tsp. fennel seeds
zest and juice of 1/2 an orange
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
2-3 spring onions or baby leeks, thinly sliced
2-4 Tbs. minced parsley
sea salt, to taste
2 cups cooked chickpeas
8 large collard green leaves
3-4 small apples, thinly sliced

  • To make the quinoa salad, bring 2 cups water and quinoa to a boil in a small pot. Add the fennel seeds, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Add orange juice and zest, raisins, walnuts, leeks or spring onions, parsley and salt to the quinoa.
  • To assemble the wraps, trim the base of the stem off the collard leaves and take a serrated knife and thinly shave down the remaining stem, getting it to the same thickness as the rest of the leaf. Then soften the leaves by either drenching in warm water briefly or heating in the microwave for a few seconds.
  • For each wrap, arrange two collard leaves head to foot, overlapping them halfway. Spread a generous amount of beet hummus, then quinoa salad, garbanzos, and finally a few apple slices in the center. Fold over each end, tuck one side under, and roll tightly like a burrito. If it’s in danger of coming apart, use a few toothpicks to hold it together, and slice in half.
  • Continue as above to create the remaining three wraps. There should be apple slices leftover which are great eaten on the side.

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