Road Trippin Across the U.S. - Let's Talk Snacks to Pack

This morning I write on the eve of a journey. Tomorrow, I will wake early. squeeze the last of my belongings into my newest purchase --one that makes me feel like quite the grown-up -- and with my atlas in hand, head south. Then east. I will be picking up my best buddy, Amy -- a Seattlelite who also works on the farm, and we'll be driving to Virginia to work on the same farm we were at last season for another.

As much fun as it would be to drive all along the coast, there is one stop we must make before returning to life out east: Bob's Red Mill. For some, it may be silly to plan a trip around a granary mill, but to those I say, if we're just going to buy a ton of Bob's Red Mill products out east, wouldn't it make sense to get them ourselves and see where they're coming from? Plus, Bob's is one of the most notable natural granaries in the world. It's a food nerd thing.

photo: Mary Cruse

photo: trekkyandy

photo: dawn paley

From there, we'll hit the coast and spend some time in the Redwood National Forest. I remember driving through briefly as a kiddo, but given my age at the time, the only memories I have are a little less landscape-centric and a little more Baby-sitter's Club. This time through, things will be different, as Kristy and Claudia's antics will be replaced with hikes, yurts and warm sleeping bags. Out of everything on the trip, I think I'm most looking forward to this first stop.

photo: lyng883

Once we've had our fill of the ever tall redwoods, then it's on our way to the Grand Canyon. Now depending on our mood, we may drive through wine country -- Sonoma, Napa -- and continue on 101 to see the California coast, or we may just link back up with the interstate and tuck it down to Bakersville, so it's over and onward to Vegas. One of my good friends from Seattle is a forest ranger in Yosemite, and as much as we tried to swing seeing her and Yosemite for the first time, weather doesn't allow it, so any immediate interludes with Yogi and Boo Boo will just have to wait.

Neither of us are what you would think Vegas girls to be, so I'm sure we'll hightail it out of there as soon as possible to the Grand Canyon, then the Grand Staircase. Cannot wait to hippie it out with epic scenery, hikes and spending as much time in nature as possible. I've never spent time in the desert, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what my impressions are and how landscape, so different to my beloved PNW strikes me. 

photo: Grand Canyon NPS

photo: tombothetominator

photo: SteveD

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Lightening Up in 2013: Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Last week, I was fired-up about ditching some of the hibernation habits I've developed this winter, and as a new day--a new week! is on us, I have already found several recipes -- a breakfast and a few snacks -- that I'm so excited to share with you! 

Snacks are always something I'm on the hunt for, especially little power treats to eat before or after a workout, or perhaps a little somethin, somethin to satisfy that forever thirsty sweet tooth, so we'll dive into one of those here and now.

First up: balls.

Now, now, get your mind out of the gutter, I'm talking about protein balls! Protein balls have become pretty popular anymore, as they're little bites of energy that are the perfect fuel before or after a workout, for a snack on the go, or just a satiating taste of sweetness without any of the guilt. These little guys are a blank canvas in terms of making them your own -- you can keep them simple few ingredients, or go hog wild and roll the final product in finely chopped nuts, unsweetened coconut, seeds, oats, cocoa---whatever you like. Truly the sky is the limit! And don't feel tied to peanut butter, if you face an allergy, try a seed butter. Or, if you're looking to lighten their fat content. I've seen these made with almond flour, apricots, dates, lentils and even grains like oats and quinoa. I even managed to cut down the fat in mine by using some applesauce. If you don't want to go sweet, then try the savory approach like these quinoa-walnut protein bites. And while I'd imagine you need some fat in there to hold them together and give them that rich flavor, feel free to experiment with these to make them your own. I certainly will be!

Another great thing about these is that you can make them as needed, or store them in the freezer and grab then when you need fuel. I almost prefer them frozen, as they take longer to eat, therefore are less likely to be eaten by the handful. And with the fat content in these, trust me, you don't want to eat these by the handful.

It feels silly to tell vegans that these can readily be made using any liquid sweetener (agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, molasses to name a few) instead of the honey. And examine protein powder ingredients closely, as obviously ones like whey have dairy in them.

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Lightening Up in 2013

Winter lesson of 2013: you're not a bear, so stop hibernatating.

Winter and I are going through a rough patch in our relationship. I blame Australia. You see, this native Pacific Northwesterner didn't know that 5/7 days didn't have to be gray and wet, albeit winter, spring, summer or fall. I couldn't wrap my mind around going into the Pacific Ocean...daily! without a death wish and one heck of a wetsuit. Not packing around 87 layers in my purse to protect from bipolar weather. Popping vitamin-D supplements like Altoids. Let alone the food---mangoes from markets; strawberries in September; passion fruit; paw paws, and tomatoes...tomatoes! all . year . long!  I didn't know such a magical place existed until moving there two or so years ago. And now that I do, I'm all the worse for it.

My best buddy has a personal goal: to avoid winter at all costs. She hates being cold, therefore travels to warmer climates once the temperatures start to drop. And after a brief stint of living in Idaho this winter, faring against a three-week saga of sub-zero temperatures, I get it. My inner-romantic coos at the idea of winter. Sweet ideas of woolen blankets, crackling fires and a constant scent of freshly baked bread tangled with roasted roots make me long for a wooden cabin tucked away in perfectly snow-capped mountains. These cool weather permeations are readily forgotten when blue toes, frozen pipes and black ice loom.

 

Suddenly my favorite things become out of reach -- running outside, eating lots of fresh, raw foods, and I settle for nesting. I bake more, exercise less and pass the time eating and napping. A few extra hundred calories here and there become more regular, leaving my pants tighter and tighter. While I can blame the 6-inch-thick ice that paraded the streets in Idaho for not allowing me to get out and jog, or the holidays for it's heavy, rich foods, we all know that the blame game gets us nowhere (especially back into our favorite pair of pants), so I'll instead take the advice from some of my favorite nutritionists' (who just started a neato podcast: Nutritionistas Talk) and forgive myself for turning into Yogi The Bear this winter, and get back on track.


Getting back on track will mean ditching my hibernating ways and whipping my diet back into shape through returning to foods that leave me feeling lighter, healthier and kicking my glow back on. So, expect to see a series of posts from me that will highlight some waistline-friendly meals and snacks that I'm loving.

Until then,
Yogi

Did You Win A Magazine Subscription? Probably!

Ahoy there, readers! I hope you all had a lovely holiday, filled with all sorts of Buddy the Elf-isms and delicious treats.

I'm currently writing from the greater American railways. The wi-fi is thriving, the full moon's apricot hues are flirting from behind the evergreens and I'm readily reminded how much I love, and have missed, the Pacific Northwest.

 

 

I had the chance to spend Christmas on the Oregon Coast, which was the first time in doing so for a few years. Not a single flake fell. A temperature of 102, however, struck. I, of course, had epic lists of things to prepare -- things like chocolate macaroon truffles, a curry carrot tart, chili-lime peanuts -- both for Christmas dinner itself, meals before then for guests and of course, for edible gifts. So, despite my better judgment, I ignored my fever and cooked on. This was the first year I've made all my gifts in the kitchen (well, minus some blueberry honey that I picked-up in the middle of nowhere-Idaho for my berrylovin, Winnie The Pooh of a brother), and I gotta tell you, it's definitely the way to go. Everyone loves a homemade treat. Let alone five of them! Beware though, I learned that edible gifts are not for the faint of heart; I spent a solid twelve hours or so elbow-deep in cocoa powder, doughs and the like. Next year: utilize freezing more and start earlier.

All together, each gift box contained:

Because no one in this crowd is vegan or vegetarian, I just so happened not to mention that all of these are vegan, yet everyone has loved everything so far! Then again, it's quite possible they're all delusional with fevers too!

Oh! And for Christmas Eve, I prepared a new favorite: a curry carrot tart from Calantha over at piecurious (recipe also published in the most recent edition of Real Women Cook). Despite it looking like pumpkin pie, it was such a different take on curry. The tart crust calls for toasted, ground cashews, and despite having a nut disliker at the table, she really enjoyed it. Whew!

Alright, I better wrap this up, as my seat neighbor here on the train is bound to grow tiresome of my mini K2 of Kleenex tumbling on his feet as I juggle one too many things in my narrow little space.

Giveaway Winners

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A Giveaway Update (More Time, More Magazines!)

Good news! I recently learned that I can open up my magazine subscription giveaway to other periodicals, in addition to Vegetarian Times! Therefore, you can enter to win my giveaway for any of these magazines.

In the event you're not in the mood to scroll, here are some that may interest you:

I've also decided to extend the deadline of my giveaway, to give more folks a chance to win. Therefore my new deadline for selecting 9 random winners will be 12/26 at 2 p.m. PT.

Enter to win by leaving a comment here.

Holiday Giveaway: A Subscription To 'Vegetarian Times'

Happy Christmakwanzakah!

Love,
Me (The worst blogger of 2012)

I could blame the radio silence blog on living on a farm with shotty internet. I could blame moving six times (four of which being from one coast to another) within the year. I may even go as far to blame writer's block. But the reality is, I just haven't been inspired to blog. I don't have the same fuel to be as active on social media as I once did. Once upon a time, I was known for blogging effectively...I even taught others how to do it. Here's to hoping none of my former students follow my example, eh? So here's to hoping Santa doesn't determine who's on the naughty or nice list based on frequency of blogging.

Now that I'm living more of an online life, aka not working in the fields ten hours a day, I'll strive to do better. Heck, even updating once a month would be an improvement from once every six months. So be please be patient with me as I get back into the groove.

And what better way to get back into things then channeling the season of giving and hooking some of you up with a free, digital, year-long subscription to Vegetarian Times the magazine of your choice (full choice list here). There are a ton of great periodicals to choose from, but these would likely be my top two: 

 

And if you're already blessed with a subscription to these, then check out this handy list of other mags I think you may dig.

So good! So, so good! Interested? You should be. Plus, in a digi format, your inner-nomad/feng shui-self doesn't have to balk at what to do with one more thing to recycle (or pack around). Oh, and also, this could mark the end of you flipping through the newest copy in the store, covertly taking pictures of tasty recipes on your phone, so you don't have to buy the whole magazine. Wait, you don't do that? No, of course not. Me neither.

Here's what you do to enter:

Comment on this post, indicating which magazine you'd like, along with your email address. And if you like, I'd love to know your take on:

  • a post or subject that you'd like to see me write about here on the blog in the future, or
  • your favorite vegetarian/vegan holiday dish(es)!

And on 12/23 12/26** at 2 p.m. PT, I will randomly select 9 winners. Until then! 

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Seasonal Eats Recipe Round-Up: 7/18/12

Let's talk tomatoes.

Here on the farm, we're growing 30 varieties of tomatoes. Like most, that variety includes a combination of hybrid and heirloom tomatoes. Now if you're thinking, what's the difference between the two? What's the big deal about heirloom tomatoes? then please allow me to elaborate after you scroll past this cute picture of my roommate (and coworker) Amy holding "seconds" heirlooms.

To quickly touch on that, heirloom means a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations -- something that's been passed down. In this sense of the word, heirloom seeds are varieties that have been passed down through several generations because of their valued characteristics (i.e., adaptation to specific growing conditions and climates; evolved resistance to pests and diseases). Think of it as though your grandmother grew tomatoes in her garden, saved some seeds from her favorite tomatoes, and passed them down to your mother, who in turn grew her own garden, saved her own seeds and passed them down to you. You can grow the exact same tomatoes your grandmother did! Heirlooms are prized for their diversity of taste, nutrition and color, but are more susceptible to diseases, can have smaller, later yields and are as ugly as they are tasty (heirlooms are known for splitting, cracking and getting easily beaten-up).

Meanwhile, hybrid tomato seeds are cross-bred to make tomatoes that encompass the best qualities (good looks and disease resistance) of multiple types of tomatoes. If you save the seeds of a hybrid and plant them, the next generation's tomatoes will not be true to the parent, so it requires buying new seeds each season for consistency. Hybrids can make for just as wonderful tomatoes as heirlooms; however, growing hybrid tomatoes often means buying new seeds each year. This means understanding the politics and knowing the good seed guys from the bad seed guys---so that biodiversity is preserved.

So the big deal with heirloom tomatoes is that they are all they are cracked up to be (vegetable dork humor, sorry)! Superior in taste, aesthetic and downright coolness, heirlooms 

So to recap, the big deal with heirloom tomatoes is that they're tried-and-true seeds from way back when, and they just so happen to produce some of the tastiest tomatoes ever. Meanwhile, hybrid tomatoes can still taste nice, but smaller guys been scientifically cross-bred to be heartier and less prone to disease.

But as easy as it is to go on and on with this, that's enough tomato talk for now.

Let's dive into what our CSA folks got in their shares (and what should be in season if you live in the mid-Atlantic):

  • Basil
  • Radicchio or Dandelion Greens
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots or Beets
  • Onion or Shallots
  • Cherry Tomatoes or Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Summer Squash/Cucumbers
  • Jalapenos

To accompany those items, here are some recipes I suggest whipping up:

Dandelion Greens:

 

Now let's talk SALSA!

 

Seasonal Eats Recipe Round-Up: 7/10/12

This week I learned many things about people.

First, the popularity -- and downright obsession -- of kale chips. I cannot count the number of folks at our CSA, farmers markets and stands that rave about their adoration of kale chips. They gather as many bunches as their arms can hold, and proceed to swear it's the only way they'll eat kale. Don't get me wrong, kale chips are delicious, and they have their time and place (like when your kale is wilted and yellow at the edges); however, roasting a lovely green -- or any vegetable for that matter -- to death just isn't how I roll. (I blame too much reading about the benefits of eating organic produce raw.) Myself aside though, it is pretty awesome to see a demand for a green. So whether you enjoy kale in smoothies, as chips or tossed in salads raw, keep the demand'a'comin!

Second, not everyone loves eggplant. How is that possible? Never before had I met anyone who had a strong feeling, good or bad, about these bulbous purple fellas. Yet, just a few days ago, I learned that here on the farm I work with several folks that really dislike the dark purple, Italian eggplant. Then, during CSA pick-up, I learned that several of our CSA members share this distaste. Interestingly, the same folks on the farm that dislike the Italian eggplants do enjoy the long, thin Japanese eggplants. Apparently they're less bitter? I have a hard time tasting the difference between the many different varieties of eggplant, but because my taste buds dig eggplant to begin with, so I'm not exactly objective.

As you can guess, both kale and eggplant were in the CSA shares this week. Here's the rundown of what our CSA was able to select:

  • Basil or Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi or Radicchio
  • Tomatillos or Eggplant
  • Onions or Shallots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Summer Squash/Cucumbers
With these items, I suggested making the following recipes:
 

 

Pickles:

Eggplant:

Radicchio

Tomatillos:

Summer Squash Recipes: 

 

Seasonal Eats Recipe Round-Up: 7/03/12

Ah, the Fourth of July. A day that, for a nomad that's spent a few abroad, doesn't always hold the most significance; however, when that nomad is a food-lovin, potluck fiend, then the slightest whiff of grilled vegetables or slaw will have me pulling up a chair.

This year, I learned that the beauty of having CSA pick-up the day before a summer holiday -- especially one that relishes in bring folks together around a picnic table -- is that their picnic baskets would be stuffed with the freshest vegetables, berries (that's right, our CSA folks got fresh blueberries in their shares!) and herbs, all things I had a hand in growing! OK, OK, stop nerding out about farm life and get to the heart of the issue: the recipes.

For this week's share, our CSA was able to select:

  • Cilantro
  • Kale or Chard
  • Kohlrabi or Fennel
  • Cabbage
  • Onion or Scallions
  • Summer Squash/Cucumbers (mix n' match)
  • Japanese Eggplant
  • Blueberries
With these items, I suggested making the following recipes:
 
Salads & Slaws:
Throw it on the BBQ:
Snacks & Spreads:

Seasonal Eats Recipe Round-Up: 6/27/12

One of my jobs here on the farm is to help run our CSA. Part of doing so involves providing weekly recipes to inspire our CSA members to cook up delicious seasonal food. Because I know you guys are as curious as the next, here are some of my favorite vegetarian recipes that I shared with our CSA members in relation to what's currently growing on our farm and around the Mid-Atlantic: 

Thyme Close-Up

Thyme

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