The Big Picture + Rainbow Salad

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I’ve been keeping journals since I was at least 10 and I’ve held on to each one, lining them up on a shelf, displayed prominently in our living space. Every once in a while, I pull one off the shelf and read through a few pages. Some are light and comical. Others are filled to the brim with quotes and encouragements, the next with lonely prose. They provide a glimpse into the mind of a typical teenager/21yearold/postcollegegirl. Whatever the mood, they give me incite into the journey towards my present state of mind.

I get a kick out of the 2003-04 journal. Its pages encapsulate the internal chatter of a high school girl–the stream of consciousness about various crushes, the silly happenings that mean nothing and consume her days.

Next there is an entire journal of syrupy poetry that can rival any T. Swift song. It slams me back in the moment of that first year in college, those neighbors and dates I had so quickly forgotten.

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Then there is the 2007 journal and my heart breaks for that girl. One after another, the pages ring out her longing for affirmation, even as the experiences she captured illustrate it was so obviously there, for the taking. That girl couldn’t see her friends, her family, her peers reaching out to her, proclaiming their support, admiration, respect. She couldn’t see past her own insecurities and struggles to figure out where she stood in the grand scheme of things.

Looking back, I feel a world apart from that girl and I’m glad she made it through. As I read through the pages again, I also feel an uncomfortable nudge of awareness. Just as we are all works in progress, that girl of 2007 hasn’t entirely conquered all her battles in the now of 2014.

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I still push and expect too much of myself. I want to accomplish it all, get everything right, make the process seem effortless even though I’ve kicked major ass to get here. I’m overcome by self doubt in the moment of making a decision and put off making big ones, big life changing ones, for months and years, all the while stewing about them. I seek clarification that I am enough.

When I talk to my friends and peers, I am reminded I’m not alone in these feelings. I’m reminded that it is okay to fail, good even, and optimism and determination go a long way in helping to get back to work. Progress is slow and there’s a big picture. Life is lived in each moment on the way to our destination.

You can be transformed. Not overnight, but over time…We strive toward a goal, and whether we achieve it or not is important, but it’s not what’s most important. What matters is how we move toward that goal. What’s crucial is the step we’re taking now, the step you’re taking now.  -Scott Jurek
 

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As I reflect back on the journey–the life phases spilling out over the pages of my journals, I’m better able to see the progress, the intricate beautiful details that make up these moments we are in. I’m better able to pause, grab a deep hug and a cup of tea, and celebrate this phase–this spot in my timeline–and stop worrying so much about the getting there.

Today I’m telling the girl of 2007 and the lady of here and now–and you, my friend reading this: You are loved. You are enough. You don’t have to have it all together. Focus on the step you’re on. You will get there.

You can be transformed. That’s the big picture.

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Rainbow Salad, Inspired by Green Kitchen Stories
This salad is a celebration of what is in season and available where I live right now. I often make salads like this one that contain whatever vegetables are in the fridge or are available at the farmers market. This one has carrots, fennel, and easter egg radishes along with spinach, mint, and parsley. Fennel stalks, left over from another meal, are particulary good when chopped like celery and roasted. Reserve the frilly fronds and use them as a garnish. 
 
3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
1/4 cup uncooked wild rice
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
Stalks from one fennel bulb, chopped into 1-inch pieces, fronds reserved
3-4 carrots, peeled and chunked
1 bunch radishes, quartered
1 drizzle balsamic vinegar
1 drizzle extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup raw walnuts
2-4 cups spinach leaves
large handful parsley
handful of mint leaves
1-2 Tbs. raw honey
1-2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4-1/2 cup of quick-pickled red onions
more balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
  • In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water and rinsed brown and wild rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 40-50 minutes until cooked. Set aside to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a baking dish, combine fennel stalks, carrots and radishes. Drizzle and toss with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until nearly soft. In the last five minutes, toss in the walnuts, and let them roast together with the vegetables. Take from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • In a large serving dish, toss the rice mixture, garbanzo beans, roasted vegetables, and the remaining herbs, leaves, and additions. Add more honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top with diced fennel fronds.
Quick-Pickled Onions
1 large red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
4 whole cloves
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar, maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar
  • In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, bay leaf, cloves, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the onion slices, stir, and remove from the heat.
  • Once slightly cool, transfer the mixture to a quart jar or another glass container and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours before using.
  • They will keep for about a week and can add an awesome tangy flavor to all sorts of things!

Turkey Sandwich with Carrots, Kale and Dukkah

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Back when I ate gluten and cheese, sandwiches made their way into my life every day. Sometimes more than once. I don’t mean I ate a normal PB&J or ham and cheese. Instead, a cheesey-gooey Tex-Mex, PB & Apricot-Apple with Spinach, Curry Chicken & Apple, Roasted Beets, Hummus & Turkey, or Cranberry Pear Peanut Butter spanned the norm of my sandwich creations. I was obsessed with perfecting my homemade whole wheat bread recipe, and I frequently brought loaves home from my bakery job. My then-roommates regularly commented that, for sandwiches, mine were abnormallybeautiful. With a roomate that worked at a bakery gig, they ate their fair share as well.

Fast forward a few years and I rarely eat a sandwich. If I hadn’t had to forego the gluten, it is safe to say they never would have escaped from my daily ritual!

It just so happens that a dear friend gifted an awesome cookbook to me last year and periodically, when I need a homemade bread and sandwich fix, I bake up a loaf. One such baking episode and a haphazard collection of lonely ingredients in the fridge resulted in this amazing combination for lunch.

In a hurry to get out the door one morning, I pilfered through, came up with kale, carrots and the last bit of sliced turkey. I threw the kale and carrots in a dish and tossed in dukkah for good measure, spread the mustard on the turkey, and packed the bread separately.

Later, I put the whole-shebang together at work.  Holy-moly, I couldn’t believe my tastebuds! We are back in the sandwich-making business.

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First, start with good bread. Make it yourself. Or find a nice bakery. Barter with your neighbor. Please, don’t waste your time with store-bought sliced bread.

 

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Then, smear and sprinkle on a thin layer of dijon mustard and dukkah spice mixture to each slice.

 

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Lay down a thickish layer of the best turkey you can find.

 

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Pile on equal parts chopped kale and shredded carrots.

 

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Carefully sandwich the two pieces of bread together. Slice it in half and eat.

 

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When finished, I completely condone licking your plate clean. :)

 

Turkey Sandwich with Carrots, Kale and Dukkah, makes 1
 
Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture with coriander, cumin, and sesame seeds shining through. There are countless recipes for it across the interwebs. I used Deborah Madison’s recipe from Vegetable Literacy. You can also purchase the mixture at Trader Joe’s or other well-stocked grocery stores. 
 
2 slices bread of your choice
dijon mustard
1-2 tsp. Dukkah
2-3 oz. low-sodium deli or leftover roasted turkey
1/2 large carr0t, shredded
1/2-1 cup shredded kale
 

 

 

 

Kale Chopped Salad with Roots, Millet and Chickpeas

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7:35 am.  End-of-March morning. We were up, out, and running.

From the Inn, we ran a block over to Beacon Hill Park, along the bark trail up Cook Street, past the daffodils waving their morning hellos, to Dallas Road and the Sea Wall.

The sun was shining brilliantly over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the water smooth and clear. Nature’s morning show stopped and held us multiple times. We shared an experience of taking it in, the view, the moment, our connection to the place—before beginning again.

Will waved hello and called out good morning as is his usual, making an instant connection with strangers. I smiled my greeting and couldn’t help but let my thoughts and gaze glide out towards the sea. “Welcome to this new place,” the sun beamed. My feelings in those miles reflected the spectacular light around us.

“You are not separate from the whole. You are one with the sun, the earth, the air. You don’t have a life. You are life.” – Eckhart Tolle
 
 
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Often, despite nearly-contant connectivity, I feel disconnected. Not up on what the rest of the world is doing, feeling as if something out there is not getting experienced, feeling left behind. In this mindset, I prompt myself out the door to experience life outside, where I draw my energy from running.

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This last week was no exception. We semi-spontaneously took a few days to travel to Victoria, British Columbia, a place we have longed to visit. Pots of tea, delicious food, and reading by the fire were all in order, but first, those mornings spent out on the Sea Wall.

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There is a certain energy about the early morning hours, and to me, it is best experienced over a few miles by foot. The locals are slowly coming about their daily business and the world is unspoiled. Out on the trails, I share a connection to this place, these people, and all the daily concerns and uncertainties fade.

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Victoria, we found, is a city of runners. We spent the inbetweens of the days walking the better part of the downtown neighborhoods and no matter the time of day, there were runners about. Friendly. Hardcore. Peaceful. University girls talking sorority topics. Ladies clearly out for a run-chat. With their pooches. Visitors from our section of the world. Displaying their I-Conquered-That-Race shirts. They were all out and about, running the city.

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When I venture off to other places, I am reminded we are all visitors in this space we inhabit. We wander about all our lives,  knocking into each other, waving cheerfully, yelling obsenitites, and feeling alone.

We are not alone. Over the miles, I am reminded of our connection. We live different experiences and we wake each day viewing a unique piece of the world. There are scars that we accumulate and monumental joys that we have to live through to understand. In the moments when we feel the most separate, we can draw together, smile in greeting to a stranger, and have faith that we are all in this life together. Whether it is through running, cooking, eating, or wherever your passion lies, know that ours is a life meant for celebrating our kinship with the whole of each other.

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Kale Chopped Salad with Roots, Millet & Chickpeas, serves 3
 
Not only did we run in Victoria, but we ate. Amazing food. This salad was inspired by one I ate at Irish Times Pub in Bastion Square. Live music, a cozy nook, Bulmers Cider, and this salad were all I could ask of a good evening. Quinoa was in the pub salad, and can easily be subbed in for the millet. Among all the other ingredients, the flavor and texture comes out quite similar either way.
 
1 large bunch kale, destemmed and chopped
6 small beets, cooked, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, shredded
1 1/2 cups cooked millet or quinoa, warm
3/4 cup chickpeas, cooked and warm
3/4 cup edamame, gently steamed and warm
1 Tbs. dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbs. honey
6 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
  • In a large bowl, toss chopped kale, diced beets and shredded carrots.
  • If not already, warm the grains and beans. Then toss them on top of the vegetables.
  • In a small bowl, stir in mustard, honey, oil and vinegar.  Whisk together, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour dressing on top of the mixture, and stir together. Enjoy!