Potato + Artichoke Frittata and summer guidance

It seems that time is getting away from me this summer. In the midst of this tough year, I’ve found I’ve needed more of a break from the virtual world these last few weeks. In the midst of doing some checking in with myself, I retook a character strengths test around the time of my last post in late June from the Via Institute on Character. Having last took the same test in early grad school, I found that most of my top character strengths are truly mine and have hardly changed, but having moved into my own nutrition clinical work, some of the strengths that were lower as a student have truly risen to the top. The results highlight how much we become what we practice. From that assessment, my top character strength is spirituality, as it has nearly always been. What the institute means by the Spirituality character strength is:

Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.

All of which has guided the majority of what I’ve written here this year and for the last several.

But the too-much-online-all-the-time and never-ending negative news cycle has gotten in the way of that a bit this spring and early summer. My internal guidance has gotten harder to hear and less obvious. On the daily, I have often felt torn between too many demands and not enough complete alone time. And so, in early July, I took a time out. I took a week off completely, from my public health job, from nutrition clients, from running, and from all technology. If I’m honest, what I hoped to gain from it was a flash-bang inspiration and guidance, if only for a moment, to make me feel better about all of this we’re living through.

But I didn’t get it.
It’s often said that God speaks in the whispers of the heart. That his guidance for us dwells in the silent spaces.

One of the things I’m coming to over the last few months is directly on this topic. When I work with individuals with nutrition, I provide guidance and of course my opinion, but I see each encounter with each client as a true collaboration; because as much as I have the professional training and knowledge of nutrition and its impact on physiology, we are each experts on our bodies, or should be. And I think each of us has the intuitive feels right for me knowledge about our bodies hidden underneath the clutter of all our everyday stimulation and egotistical desires.

This year, so many of us have been going through hard things, personally, professionally, with health, and more. It’s been my intention to start writing and sharing more here on the everyday aspects of that that are applicable. Frustratingly, that everyday application has only come easily when working individually with each person. Instead of resisting against this frustration, or forcing something that I’m finding difficult, the right answer for me today is to follow the strings and share here what comes with more ease. All that’s to say, I’m practicing having more grace with myself. And hope you can do the same with you.

And also,
If you are struggling with your relationship to your body this year, or finally beginning to address it, I hear you.
and If you are struggling with your digestion and/or are in the midst of a long frustrating battle with it, I hear you.
and If you are overwhelmed and/or losing hope with this pandemic and lack of true normal or return to it in the foreseeable future, I hear you.

Perhaps I’ll soon begin to provide more concrete words on those topics soon, like I have been meaning to. In the meantime, I’m leaning in to feeding myself and William wholesome meals lately, like this potato and artichoke frittata, and trying to keep the quiet spaces open to allow in the guidance I prefer.
Hope you are taking care.

Potato + Artichoke Frittata, serves ~3
I’ve never been much of a potato person, except the year-ish I lived in Ireland, but William insisted on growing potatoes this year. He chose a variety from Row 7, a seed company founded by chef Dan Barber, whose intent is to work with farmers who are developing vegetable varieties with flavor in mind, a notion that realistically is not done when it comes to developing commercial / commodity foods. It’s clear to me now that good potatoes make all the difference. If you can, I encourage you to buy locally from a farmer near you. I promise, they will taste infinitely better than anything in a standard supermarket.

300 gr. / 2-3 medium potatoes, unpeeled, medium-diced.
a dab of coconut oil or ghee, to cook
6 large eggs, whisked
a dash of black pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt
200 gr. / 1/2 a can of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely minced

  • Over medium-high heat, warm a little coconut oil or ghee in a medium-large heavy skillet that is oven-safe. Stir in the potatoes and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Cover and cook until they are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Whisk the eggs along with the remaining salt and black pepper. Turn down to medium-low heat and pour the eggs into the skillet with the potatoes, along with the chopped artichokes.
  • Cook for a few minutes, until the eggs are just set and there isn’t a lot of liquid running around the pan on the top. To help with this, you can run a spatula underneath the sides of the frittata, and tilt the pan so the uncooked eggs run ot the underside.
  • Remove from the heat and place in the oven under the broiler for a couple minutes, until the top has puffed up and set. If your broiler has two settings, choose the low setting.
  • Remove from the broiler and let it sit for a minute or two. In the meantime whisk together the remaining olive oil and turmeric. Drizzle the turmeric mixture over the top, and sprinkle with fresh minced basil.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh greens or other meal accompaniments.


Are you in need of extra nutritional support?
If so, I invite you to reach out to me for more personalized support. Conditions I often work with include digestive health and food intolerances, meeting needs of endurance athletes, vegan/vegetarian diets, intuitive eating, and autoimmune disorders.

Sweet Potato Spanish Tortilla

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Almost 10 years ago to the day, I spent a whirlwind weekend in Madrid, having said yes along with my roommate when our neighbor down the hall asked if we wanted to go. I was on study abroad that term so Spain literally was a hop, skip, and two-ish hour plane ride away. So of course I said yes.

Even though the weekend was short, it took me a long time to get over it, and having also started my first foray into blogging that term, I wrote about the experience for all the friends and family back home. At the very beginning of that three days I ended up getting my purse stolen, along with virtually everything important to an international tourist save my phone–which ended up being a real saving grace.

What was supposed to be a joyful jaunt to explore the history of another culture became spending much of that time in a tourist police station getting my passport back (thank God!), and trying to be optimistic about how to manage the next few days devoid of spending money. Hostel white bread toast with jam, cheap tea, and relying on my kind but also college-student-budget traveling partners for real meals meant my Spanish food memories are dampened for the hunger pangs. Truthfully, I barely remember the food in Spain save a late night bite of churro (too much sugar), shops with large hams and sausages hanging and full of the neighborhood men, and a solo street cart on a cold, gray October afternoon selling freshly roasted sweet potatoes, warm and sweet, and made even better for the pieces were shared amongst us three as we walked, our bellies and hands growing warmer as we went.

 

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Despite the more stereotypical and/or well known Spanish foods, warm roasted sweet potatoes from a street cart eaten plain will always be my memory of the place.

And for whatever reason 10 years on, I started to get a craving for a simple Spanish meal on a cold and gray October day. So a tortilla with roasted sweet potato it is.

 

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Tortilla, which is really a Spanish omelette, is quite a common dish and one I vaguely recall having for tapas one night of my stay. Generally it’s made with white potatoes and cooked in lots of olive oil in the pan before the eggs are added, but I deviated and like to roast the sweet potato ahead, and then dice and gently crisp the edges in only a little oil. This method also makes this come together in a flash–perfect for a busy night and equally good as a to-go meal for days that call for a rush.

 

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Sweet Potato Spanish Tortilla, serves 2
1 large sweet potato
olive oil
1/2-3/4 tsp. sea salt
4 eggs
1 handful dark greens such as amaranth, arugula, spinach or kale, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Scrub the sweet potato and stab a few times with a fork or knife to allow steam to escape. Roast in the oven until just soft, about 40 minutes.
  • When potato is cooked, dice into 1/2 inch / 1-2 cm cubes. Then heat a little olive oil in a 7 to 8-inch saute pan over medium heat. Sauté the diced sweet potato for 3-5 minutes, just until the edges begin to turn golden. Season with the salt and remove from heat.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a bowl and stir in the chopped greens. Then stir the sautéed sweet potatoes into this egg mixture and stir well.
  • Return the pan to medium heat, add a little additional oil if necessary, and then pour the egg mixture into the pan. Let it cook for about two minutes and then place a clean plate over the pan, flip the tortilla onto the plate, and then slide the uncooked side back into the pan. Heat for 3-4 more minutes until cooked through. It should be firm and golden once ready.
  • Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with a side salad, roasted vegetables, or as is for a light meal.
  • The tortilla can also be stored in the fridge for a couple of days and taken as a to-go meal.

Quinoa + Winter Squash Bowl with Cumin + Lime

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Each year at the beginning of the holiday season, I try to reflect on the people and experiences for which I am grateful. This past week, I’ve been selecting snippets to share, either directly, over on Facebook, or here in this space. When I reflect on the objects that matter most in this life, there’s only a short list: My bible, my wedding ring, my running shoes. Perhaps another day I’ll share about the first two, but this reflection and recipe are about the symbolism of the shoes.

 

Each pair is temporary, special only for a time and then easily replaced. Once done, they get jammed into our tiny front closet, worn out completely in garden work, and eventually tossed in a donation bin once a sizeable pile has accumulated. I tend to treat each pair extra nice until it hits 400-500 miles and then all emotional attachment is heaped on the next. The shoes I’m currently running in are neon-orange and turquoise, and they contrast with whatever I tend to throw on above. Depending on the day, I can pull off looking like I’m late to a one-act circus show.

 

I started running within the first couple weeks of moving into my freshman dorm in college, and over the many years since, I’ve come to know each of the places I’ve lived and visited in my running shoes. I have run 5am dim streets in Limerick, jet-lagged, no phone, no idea where I was going, no one in the whole world knowing my location. I’ve run the streets of La Grande, all hours of the day and night, just to feel alive and at peace. I’ve gotten to know the nooks and crannies of Corvallis, the suburbs of Dublin north and south, the pear orchards and cattle ranches of Southern Oregon’s Phoenix and Eagle Point, the Christmas tree farms and nurseries of Sandy, the angry farmer’s dogs on the outskirts of Albany, the oak savannah, communter-town streets and horse farms of Wilsonville. There was a month when I ran the rural-ish Keizer roads, and then a school-year of running all the west-side neighborhoods of Roseburg. It’s safe to say I’ve seen a good portion of Oregon in my running shoes, both the streets, forested and mossy trails, the beach, and the infinite farm roads. And still, there are all the travel cities I’ve gotten to know in between.

 

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Far more than what I’ve seen in these shoes and the ones that have come before, is what they’ve made me feel: Release from the worry and guilt that makes up my personality. Clarity; knowledge of what sits right in my soul. Cleansing from anger. Cleansing from feeling anything at all. I’ve caught up with good friends and high-fived others out on the paths. I’ve been visible and seen–a role model to the neighbors who knew me as “that runner girl,” and my current neighbor, a 55-year-old bachelor, who frequently runs out the door in his skivvies(!!) to ask, How many miles today? I’ve skipped biology lectures and headed for the trails instead. I’ve conjugated Spanish verbs over and over in my head, and I’ve run faster each mile, using my anger over a guy to fuel each step. I’ve pumped up the techno-dance-treadmill-tunes, and I’ve taken all my closest girl friends out for one last run as a single lady. I’ve listened for the first sounds of the birds in the morning and taken in countless sun rises that never fail to leave me astonished and breathless at the beauty of this world. I’ve meditated on simply living and breathing and just plain being a better me.

 

These shoes have enabled me to find out who I am, to push myself beyond the comfortable, to accomplish things, to release my competitive spirit. They’ve been a way to spend happy weekends with William–and most of all, they’ve helped me to develop a better relationship with my body, to be able to listen and nourish it with the foods and nutrients it needs.

 

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This recipe is one I’ve eaten countless times these past few weeks. After a long or hard run, I tend to go through phases where I desire certain foods. I’m of the belief that my body is either telling me I need to eat those foods because of their nutrients–or I’m simply crazy. Perhaps, a little of both. ;) Eggs, quinoa, and winter squash have been on repeat lately and like many of my favorite recipes, this one came about when I grabbed a random bunch of ingredients from the fridge in a post-run hunger. It was perfect from that first time to every subsequent helping I’ve made since.

 

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Quinoa + Winter Squash Bowl with Cumin + Lime, serves one
1 Tbs. cumin-lime dressing, see below
1 jalepeño or slightly spicy pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1- 1 1/2 cups roasted winter squash, chopped
2 eggs
large handful of spinach or other greens
1 cup cooked quinoa
more dressing, to taste
  • In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 Tbs. dressing on medium high. Sauté peppers for 5-10 minutes until soft, and then add roasted winter squash. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, until squash is warm.
  • Crack eggs directly into the skillet, and stir them amongst the vegetables, making a scramble.
  • When eggs are almost cooked through, add spinach and quinoa and heat through entirely.
  • Pour it all into a bowl to serve, and add more dressing to taste.
 
Cumin-Lime Dressing, adapted from Laura 
1 small jalapeño, seeded
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
juice of 2 limes + a little bit of zest
1 tsp. honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper
  • To make the dressing, puree all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender, and salt and pepper to taste.