Relationship Realness: Baby Talk Part III

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And we’re back! It’s been a couple of months since my last baby post and quite a bit has changed. Processing though my feelings in public around the baby conversation has been such a gratifying and healing experience. I’ve connected in new ways with my Mom, cousins, friends and you. I am humbled by everyone’s generosity and honesty. Thank you hearing me out and sharing your feelings and experiences. Once again I am reminded that it really does take a village.

So the news is….. I’m in. Yup. The girl who never saw herself as a Mother and couldn’t imagine settling down long enough to have a family of her own is open and willing to go for it. After tons of writing, meditating, listening, and talking I came to realize that I’ll never be 100% ready for something like this and the only thing standing in my way is fear. Today that isn’t a good enough reason to not create a family with a person that I love so dearly and see myself growing old with.

And when I’m really honest here like I was with my friend on the phone the other day, I want a family with a child. It took me a while to get to the truth as there were years and years of emotional build up. So much clearing has taken place over these last months. I’ve had many Reiki treatments, burned loads of sage, taken more heart-centered herbs, and done breathwork like my life depends upon it and here we are. I’m standing in the clarity that is here in this moment. I will never be more ready or more sure than I am right now.

Everyone tells me you can’t have it all figure out beforehand and the folks that think they do are the ones that need to loosen their grip! I’ve learned a great deal from my parents and my community and I won’t be doing this alone. Jason is an equal participant and I can’t think of anything more amazing and terrifying than creating a life with him.

Honestly I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Jason has been so patient with me since we had our first baby talk over a year ago. That’s real right? I remember calling a friend being like god it was so much easier in my 20′s when nobody talked about babies! When we revisited the baby conversation in the beginning of this year I realized that I needed to sort this out for myself because Jason knew he wanted a child and I didn’t. Having that big unknown baby shadow in my corner was scary until I started walking over to it and seeing it was just a shadow and I didn’t have to keep living in my past.

This process of answering the question do I want to have a baby? has been a deeply healing and spiritual quest. I’ve been able to see how much healing has already taken place inside of me, all I’ve need to do is be willing to let go of that shadow. Stepping into this new space with myself and with Jason feels sacred.

Even though we aren’t starting today in one sense, in other ways we are. We’re taking steps to move-in together. I’m going to start eating differently to prepare my body. It’s all very real and it’s all very wonderful. I realize that it takes more than willingness to create a life and that there are many pieces that need to come together. We aren’t in a rush. Right now we are simply enjoying walking hand in hand towards the beauty and mystery of the unknown.

Thank you again for holding space for me on this journey. I am deeply grateful for each of you.

xoa

roasted cherry tomato sauce

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Greetings friends! I am really happy to share a new recipe with you today. Tomato season is in full swing right now and I could not be happier about it. I LOVE tomatoes of all shapes and sizes and when they are in season like this is just awesome.

When I first started getting into seasonal eating years ago it changed my life. I remember biting into an apple I had just picked on a farm in Washington and thinking, omg, this is the best apple I’ve ever tasted! I’ve never forgotten that moment. From that point on I became fascinated with eating locally and seasonally. It was just mind blowing how much better everything tasted when it was in season.

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Tomatoes are in the nightshade family with bell peppers, eggplant and potatoes. Tomatoes are often referred to as vegetables but in botanical terms they are a fruit and if you want to get really technical they are more like berries. They are acidic when consumed but after they have been digested they actually alkalize blood.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that supports healthy vision and can be protective against breast and colon cancers. To get the highest lycopene content look to the color of the skin, the reddest varieties have the highest quantities of this health promoting carotene. Lycopene is also a great deal higher in cooked tomatoes.

Vine-ripened tomatoes are great sources of vitamins C, A and B complex and folic acid. The most nutrient dense tomatoes are purchased when they are in season. When they are shipped they are picked before they are ripe and then ripened with gas. Tomatoes are one of the foods that was on the Dirty Dozen list for years because it’s easy for pesticides to seep through their skin. It’s always best to buy them organic.

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In Chinese medicine tomatoes are considered a cold food that can clear heat, encourage body fluids, and cool down and detoxify the blood. They are also a yin tonic meaning they are sweet, sour and  good to consume in small amounts on a regular basis versus a large amount infrequently.

The Ayurveda system tomatoes are avoided except in small quantities. Practitioners advise not to consume tomatoes with starch such as pasta. Tomatoes are rajastic which is associated with aggression and outward motion. They are also vipak which is part of their sourness that can irritate the gut lining if over consumed. Personally I enjoy a tomato sauce and starch occasionally and don’t have issues with it. I know that I could not eat it more regularly though as it would bother my system.

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Tomatoes are often associated with allergies. They can disrupt our bodies calcium balance and have been known to aggravate arthritis symptoms. Tomatoes also contain small amount of oxalate and if you have a history of kidney stones should not eat them.

This recipe comes together quickly and will keep for several days in the fridge. When coming to the end of tomato season it’s nice to make a huge batch and freeze it. The flavors in this sauce are classic and delicious. Serve with zucchini noodles, as a sauce for pizza, in chili, rataouille, or my famous Greek Green Beans.

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Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

serves 6

 

Ingredients //

  • 1 lb. cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, un-peeled
  • A few springs of fresh thyme
  • Small bunch of fresh basil
  • Celtic sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

 

Method //

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Wash and dry tomatoes. Place in a medium mixing bowl
  3. Toss tomatoes with olive oil.
  4. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and a few twists of fresh pepper.
  5. Spread out on baking sheet evenly.
  6. Add the garlic and thyme on top.
  7. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the skin is blistered and golden brown. Check after 20 minutes to make sure they don’t burn.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool until you can safely handle them.
  9. Peel garlic and put it into a food processor fitted with the S-blade.
  10. Pick out thyme stems and put in compost bin.
  11. Put the tomatoes in the food processor add 1/2 c. packed fresh basil leaves.
  12. Process until you have a chunky sauce.
  13. Adjust seasonings.
  14. Pour into a glass container and store until ready to use.
  15. Will keep 3-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

There you go! I hope you enjoy this. See you back here soon.

xoa

late summer slow down (& playlist)

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I’ve been pretty tired the past week and have needed to step back from the blog a bit hence no recipe on Friday. It’s hard for me sometimes. There are so many exciting things I’ve been working on for the blog but these last two weeks I’ve been drained and I want to show up here with something useful. Blogging has always been a form of creative expression for me and a way to make connections. These days I have needed more time to connect with myself.

Unplugging a bit from the blog is scary for me. I hear all these stories that if I don’t post all the time people will stop reading the blog. When I am super honest with myself it’s all really okay with me. Everything changes. People come and go. Inspiration waxes and wanes. It is the nature of life to ebb and flow not to charge full speed ahead into the internet 24/7.

Slowing down, taking on less work, reading more books, meditating and just staring out the window has been so good for me. Life moves so fast these days and I don’t want to miss it because I’m worried about the blog or posting another photo on Instagram.

I want to feel the humidity on my face. I want to spend more time with Jason and the cat and myself. I want to visit my parents and friends and create more space for what feeds me.

Today I fed my spirit by making a non-yoga playlist. That is seriously no small feat for me these days! For the last year I’ve pretty much only made playlists for yoga classes. Lots of chanting and meditation music. I decided to step away from the yoga music today and create a summer playlist for fun. One day I might even share a yoga playlist here. Maybe.

If you want to listen you can on Spotify here.

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Adanowsky // Dancing on the Radio
Grouplove // Ways To Go
Spoon // Do You
Yalls // Weave It
Gardens & Villa // Gypsy
Mr. Little Jeans //Oh Sailor feat. The Silverlake Conservatory of Music
Howls // No Man
Sébastien Tellier //  Divine
Summer Heat // I Wanna Go
Highs Highs // Bridge
Coldplay // Midnight
Houses // Soak It Up

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Wishing you all a peaceful evening and wonderful week ahead. I’ll see you sometime soon this week. <3

xoa

ginger detox bath

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Hi friends! I hope everyone is having a great week. Last week I got sick and to help cleanse my body I took several detox bath. It’s well known that taking a steam or sauna at the beginning stages of a cold can be very beneficial. In my studies of holistic health and now Chinese nutrition, I’m learning just how important it is to sweat as soon as you feel yourself coming down with a cold.

In Chinese medicine diseases are classified into eight categories, the two that I will discuss today are described as external or internal. External diseases affect the areas of the body on the surface, the skin, mucous membranes, nose, throat and lungs. Internal diseases affect the blood, bones and internal organs. The common cold and the flu are the most wide-spread exterior diseases that are often easy to cure if we take action right away.

 

Typical signs of exterior conditions:

  • Sudden onset of symptoms
  • Sometimes aversion to cold or wind
  • Runny nose, congestion, headache, fever, body aches, sore throat and cough
  • Chills/fevers

 

From the Chinese perspective one of the goals is to balance the condition. In order to create this balance it is recommended that we expand, taking the disease to the outer edges of our body. We do this by consuming foods that are expansive in nature (think fresh fruits and vegetables) and by opening our sweat glands. To open our sweat glands I like to use a ginger detox bath.

 

About the bath:

You can take this bath with fresh or powdered ginger. Ginger is one of my favorite decongestants and works well to open up the pores. I prefer powdered ginger because it works deeper and faster. The ginger will make your body super hot and you will sweat more than you would in a typical hot bath. Take your bath in the hottest water you can stand and try to stay in for at least 15 minutes. You will sweat a ton!

In addition to the ginger I use Epsom salts to draw toxins from the body and help soothe achy muscles. Sometimes I add a few drops of ginger essential oil as well.

A ginger detox bath will help lessen your symptoms and in many cases shorten the duration of your sickness. This bath will make you tired and you will likely sweat for a good hour after the bath. I prefer to take them late morning or late afternoon followed by a nap. Some people like to take them before bed but I don’t like to sweat all night. You can try them at different times and see what works best for you.

After your bath dry off and wrap yourself in a large towel and get right in the bed. Cover yourself with a blanket and try to stay bundled up for the next 45 minutes to an hour. You’re going to keep sweating. After an hour hop in the shower and rinse off.

If you own a dry brush it can be nice to do some dry brushing while your bath is running. This will also make your skin extra glowy and smooth. Be sure to brush gently in circular motions towards your heart.

Drink plenty of water after the bath to rehydrate!

Please note if you have a cold/flu and are already sweating a great deal, a detox bath is not advised. Also not a good idea if you feel very weak, if you tend to sweat without moving very much, are pregnant or have a liver condition. If you have any concerns please consult with your doctor.

 

Ginger Detox Bath

 

Ingredients  //

  • 1 c. Epsom salts
  • 3 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • A few drops of Ginger essential oil or other scent preference (optional)

 

Method //

  1. Fill your bath tub with the hottest water you can stand.
  2. Add the salt, ginger and optional oil to the running water and give it a good swirl to incorporate.
  3. When the tub is full submerge yourself up to your neck. It’s okay to do this slowly as it will be super hot.
  4. Try to stay in for 15 minutes and up to 30.
  5. When finished towel off and hop in the bed for a hour to sweat.
  6. Afterwards rinse off in the shower and continue to rest.
  7. Drink plenty of fluids!

 

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There you go! This Ginger Detox Bath can be used when you feel a cold coming on or in the winter when you want to detox safely and warm up. As always, follow your intuition with these remedies and adapt them to suit your needs.

xoa

honey thyme cough syrup

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I’ve been quiet on the blog and social media this past week because I was sick. Last Sunday while I was visiting Jason in Ventura I woke up with a swollen throat and headache. I knew I was coming down with something. I drove home that day and by mid-afternoon I had a full blown cold. Runny nose, body aches, sinus pressure, the works. For anyone that has had a summer cold you know how terrible they are!

In the past when I have been sick I kept up with my normal activities and subsisted on cold medicine. I would try and fight the sickness instead of allowing it to pass through me. As a result I stayed sick much longer than needed and I would often get sick again soon after. These days I know that rest is key. On my way back from Ventura I stopped at the market and picked up everything I’d need for several days at home. When I got back I rescheduled clients and got my classes covered. I surrendered.

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As a few of you know I have been tinkering around in the kitchen making herbal medicine for the last few months. I’ve developed a few tinctures and essences just for my own use to learn about the process and get to know more intimately the effects of particular plants. Towards the end of my cold I developed a cough and decided to make a cough syrup and see how it went. I am happy to report it works really well and I’ve been looking forward to sharing this simple recipe with you.

Learning how to make simple and effective remedies has been an empowering experience. As someone who spent years being sick taking loads of conventional drugs, it feels amazing to know I can create a medicine to relieve my cough. I’m not saying I’ll never go to a doctor again or take medications if absolutely necessary nor do I want to take the place of a medical professional. What I want is to learn to take care of myself on a new level and deepen my relationship with my own health. I want to become more self-reliant and this humble cough syrup is a step in that direction.

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Thyme is an aromatic, savory, warming herb that supports our lungs. It aids in relieving chest congestion, coughs and indigestion. According to several studies done by Dr. Paul Lee, a professor at UC Santa Cruz, thyme has a strengthening effect on the thymus gland which boosts immune function. Thyme can be used externally as a disinfectant.

In Ayurvedic medicine thyme is considered an antiseptic, astringent and expectorant. Thyme is used to treat respiratory issues and headaches. It reduces vata and kapha. An Ayurvedic remedy for treating coughs is using a drop or two of thyme essential oil in a facial steam. This will help to clear congestion and soothe the throat.

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Raw honey has a long medicinal history and is a very powerful remedy with many uses. It has many antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Raw honey has been used to treat seasonal allergies, coughs, dry skin, constipation and to enhance immune function. Traditional Chinese medicine classifies honey as sweet and neutral and associates it with the lungs, large intestine, spleen and stomach.

To receive the full benefits of honey it is important to consume raw honey. Excessive heat will strip honey of its medicinal and nutritional properties. Ayurvedic medicine has been using raw honey medicinally for ages. It is well known that cooked honey has no benefits and causes mucus. It reduces vata and kapha.

I purchase local raw honey from the farmers market. It should not be given to children under 12 months or consumed by diabetics.

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Honey Thyme Cough Syrup

makes 1 cup

 

Ingredients //

  • 1 oz. fresh thyme
  • 3 c. water
  • 1/2 c. raw honey

 

Method //

  1. Add the thyme and water to a pan over low heat. Put a lid on top, slightly ajar so steam can come out. Simmer at the lowest setting possible until the water is reduced to 1 cup. This will take a while so be patient!
  2. Strain the thyme and let the tea sit for a few minutes.
  3. Stir in the honey until dissolved completely.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 6 weeks.

 

Directions //

  • Take 1 teaspoon every few hours as needed to relive cough.

 

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There you have it! My first official medicine recipe. I hope you don’t get sick but if you do get a cough try this and let me know how it goes.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

xoa

summer buckwheat blackberry peach porridge

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Happy Friday friends! I managed to get out of L.A. with the cat in tow before traffic today. Miracles do happen! Falcore and I are hanging in Ventura with Jason for the weekend. So far he’s liking it here which makes me happy. I’ve never traveled with him before other than to move and I’d like to be able to start bringing him up here. We’ll see how this visit goes.

I’ve got a satisfying summer breakfast recipe to share with you today. I love my cooked buckwheat porridge in the morning but lately it’s too hot to eat a warm meal in the morning. I have big smoothies like this one, but on the days I am looking for something a little more hearty I’ll opt for a raw version of buckwheat porridge.

Okay so just to be clear this really doesn’t resemble porridge but it’s the closest name I could come up with and it’s what I’ve been calling this breakfast since I started making these several years ago. You might remember my Cardamom Ginger and Raw Pink Porridge from a few years back my and. This week I’m sharing an updated recipe on a summer breakfast staple.

I’ve written in the past posts about the benefits of soaking and sprouting buckwheat. It’s got all the info you need on why soaking is awesome and how to do it. For this recipe I just use the soaked buckwheat groats but you can make it with the sprouts too just don’t dehydrate them.

What I love about this breakfast besides the fact that it is a nutrient power meal is that it literally takes 5 minutes to make in the morning if you soak your buckwheat groats the night before. Wake up, rinse them off well (they can get gooey, don’t be alarmed!) and throw everything in the blender.

I prefer a smooth consistency here so I blend everything for about 40 seconds. You pulse it for a chunkier texture or keep a few tablespoons of the soaked buckwheat out and stir it in later for a nice crunch.

One of my favorite summer pies is peach blackberry. It reminds me of growing up in the South. After 2.5 years of living in Southern California I finally got my hands on some sweet peaches! They are still pretty small compared to the ones back home but at least they taste good. Since blackberries are pretty tart I added 1/2 of a banana and 2 large dates to the mix. Buckwheat has a wonderful nutty flavor and pairs well with many different fruits.

 

Summer Buckwheat Blackberry Peach Porridge

serves 2

 

Ingredients //

  • 1 c. buckwheat groats
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. almond milk
  • 1 medium peach, pit removed
  • 1 c. blackberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 large pitted dates
  • 2 tsp. ground vanilla
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Pinch of Celtic sea salt
  • 1 medium peach sliced into wedges for topping

 

Method //

  1. Rinse the buckwheat groats in several changes of water.
  2. Place them in a medium size bowl and cover with room temperature filtered water.
  3. Add the lemon juice and cover with a cloth. Let soak overnight on the counter. In the morning rinse it very well in several changes of water.
  4. In your high speed blender add the soaked buckwheat, almond milk, peach, blackberries, banana, dates, spices, lemon juice and salt. Blend on high until you reach the desired consistency.
  5. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  6. Pour into small bowls or glasses and top with sliced peaches.
  7. Serve at room temperature.

 

You can easily make a double batch and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you don’t have blackberries blueberries would work great in their place, frozen berries are an option as well.

There you go! If you make this recipe I would love to hear how it goes. Feel free to comment or tag me on Instagram, @ashley_neese. Wishing you an awesome weekend!

xoa

zucchini noodles with avocado basil cream

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Hi! I hope you are having a wonderful Saturday. I have a delicious summery recipe for you this afternoon. It’s just cooling enough and even better than the noodles and cream sauce I loved eating in college.

Zucchini is such a versatile summer squash that has a high water content making it a great beauty food. It provides quality antioxidants A and C which is also great for our skin and promotes healthy hair. In Chinese Medicine zucchini helps reduce heat in the body.

Zucchini is easy to digest, light and refreshing which aren’t usually the words that come to mind when I think of pasta ;) When I first learned to make zucchini pasta it was amazing. I rushed out and bought the Paderno Spiralizer and pretty much spiralized anything I could until I got bored with it and gave it away. Well I finally purchased it again (the same exact one) and am happy that I did! It’s such a fun tool and as we move into the hottest part of the summer it’s natural to eat light. Zucchini pasta has been a staple over here again and it’s been awesome!

If you don’t have a spiralizer you can slice the zucchini with a mandoline and then use a sharp knife to make the noodles. I’ve even seen bloggers use a regular old grater or vegetable peeler. I’ve made them with a mandoline and vegetable peeler and it’s worked beautifully – you can get a really flat noodle almost like fettuccine! And know I use the word almost very loosely ;)

One of the best things about this recipe is that it comes together in minutes. You can eat this dish totally raw or cook the noodles just a little on the stove. To cook them heat a little coconut oil in a medium pan and sauté them over medium heat for a few minutes. Because they are so high in water they will shrink a little but still taste great!

You can spiralize a bunch of zucchini at one time and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. In addition to pasta you can use the noodles in salads, soups and stir-frys – so many possibilities!

 

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Basil Cream

serves 2

 

Ingredients //

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/2 ripe large avocado
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. tahini
  • 5 large basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. Celtic sea salt
  • 1  c. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 10 basil leaves, sliced thin
  • 4 Tbsp. hemp hearts

 

Method //

  1. Spiralize the zucchini or make noodles with a mandoline or vegetable peeler.
  2. Combine the avocado, lemon juice, tahini, 5 basil leaves and salt in a small food processor. Pulse until combined. If it’s too thick and not moving well add water by the tablespoon (I used 1 tablespoon in mine) and process again until you have a creamy sauce. Add more lemon juice to taste.
  3. Toss the noodles with 1/2 of the cream sauce until well combined.
  4. Add the tomatoes and basil and toss again.
  5. Serve in two pasta bowls and sprinkle with hemp hearts.
  6. Season with a little more salt as needed.
  7. Extra cream sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days.

 

There you have it! So simple and delicious. We’re already planning to eat this again tomorrow. The avocado cream makes a perfect spread too, enjoy!

xoa

homemade coconut yogurt

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Happy 4th of July! I’m up early so I can beat the traffic up to the beach today. I’m hoping to be out of LA by 9:30 :) I’ve been sitting on this recipe for over a week and it’s been so hard not to post it! I promised a coconut yogurt recipe months ago and I really appreciate your patience. I had to go through a couple more tests to get it just right.

The most challenging part of this recipe is opening the fresh coconuts! I like to use the young Thai coconuts because I can get them at a discount in bulk here and they tend to have more water and flesh inside. Also, the water of the young coconuts has more electrolytes than mature coconuts. I never know what to call the insides of coconut. It always seemed weird to me that we refer to it as “flesh” or “meat” when it’s the inside of a nut! Anyway, just crack a few of these babies open and you’ll have the best dairy free yogurt ever. Promise.

I’ve been consuming more probiotic rich foods this summer to take care of my gut. Fermented foods give your gut a healthy dose of friendly bacteria which helps the entire body function smoother. Our guts take a heavy hit of toxins from water, stress, food, and the air we breathe. Even when we try to live as healthy as possible we cannot eliminate all of them. Personally I take a daily probiotic and consume fermented foods at least once a day if not more.

The beauty of these foods is that a little does go a long way. You don’t have to eat a bowl of sauerkraut or three cups of yogurt. A small glass of kefir (posting on this next week), a Tablespoon or two of kraut, 1/2 c. of yogurt. It’s really pretty simple and delicious too!

What I love about this recipe is that it doesn’t include any added sugar. Many of the homemade recipes I read had added sugar. The beauty of the coconut is that it already has sugar in it and it’s enough to activate the cultures in the probiotic – it’s such an ideal way to make yogurt. Another huge benefit is there are no added thickening agents because the coconut is loaded with healthy fat and doesn’t need anything to set up into the perfect yogurt consistency. Amazing right?!

I want to take a few moments to write about coconuts because they are so incredible. In many Pacific Asian Island and Polynesian communities coconut is part of the daily diet and has a host of medicinal properties. In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as ‘kalpa virksha’, meaning “the tree that supplies all that is needed to live”. Chinese Medicine views coconut as a warming, sweet food. Coconut water builds blood and strengthens the heart. Coconut can also be useful in clearing summer heat.

Some of the other health benefits of fresh coconut:

  • Support the immune system, they are anti-bacterial and anit-viral
  • Improve digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Supports thyroid restoration
  • Keeps hair and skin well hydrated
  • Promotes kidney and bladder function

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For the recipe you can adjust the consistency by adding more or less coconut water. I like my yogurt on the thicker side but I know some like it more runny. It’s totally your call. I like to top mine with fresh fruit and raw bee pollen for the ultimate superfood breakfast. Crunchy granola, seeds or nuts work well with it too.

If cracking open fresh coconuts isn’t your thing you can use frozen coconut flesh and raw coconut water. Let the flesh thaw first bu running the pouch in hot water or letting it rest on the counter.

Note: if you’re using fresh coconut and the flesh is grey please discard.

 

Homemade Coconut Yogurt

serves 6

 

Ingredients //

  • 16 oz. coconut flesh, cleaned (about 3 large  young coconuts)
  • 1  c. coconut water (plus 1/2 c. if needed)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 probiotic capsule (I use ReNew Life, Women’s 90 Billion)

 

Method //

  1. Blend the coconut flesh, coconut water and lime juice well.
  2. Add more coconut water if you want it thinner. I used 1 1/4 c. coconut water.
  3. Empty the capsule and blend for a few seconds.
  4. Pour contents into a clean glass jar and cover with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.
  5. Set on the counter to ferment for 12 hours (I do it over night)
  6. Refrigerate and eat!

 

If it gets clumpy after it’s fermented you can put it back in the blender and then in the fridge. I can’t wait for you to try this recipe!

Have a fantastic weekend.

xoa

she finally came home

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Last weekend I flew out to Chicago to meet my Dad and brother. We drove up to Beloit, the small Southern Wisconsin city where my brother and I were born, for my Grandma’s memorial service. She passed away in January of this year and her wish was to have her ashes sprinkled on the farm outside of Beloit that my Grandfather built.

Losing a Grandparent is like losing a big part of your history. When they leave this life as we know it many of their memories and stories go with them. It’s a very strange feeling to not have any more Grandparents. It makes me wonder what it’s like for my parents, to be parent-less. I realize I am fortunate to be as close with my parents as I am an to have had relationships with three of my Grandparents for as long as I did. The older I get the more I miss my Grandparents and wish they were around. There are so many unanswered questions.

Spending time in Beloit was a little surreal. My Dad’s family had lived there and owned a huge business for 100 years. There are names on college buildings belonging to my Great Grandparents and even a middle school named after my Great Grandfather. It’s a strange feeling to see all these names and wonder what they were like. We moved to Atlanta (where my Mom grew up) when I was four. I have some vivid memories of Beloit which seems odd since I was so young. My brother couldn’t believe I remembered so much because he doesn’t have any memories of that time. He was one when we moved.

There is this one memory that sticks out in my mind. My Dad and I are in a narrow diner, sitting up at the counter. I’m drinking hot cocoa. I remember feeling really content, happy and safe. Afterwards he took me to the family company and introduced me to people. Even though I didn’t have the words for it I knew he was proud to be there with me. That might be one of my favorite memories of us.

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We drive out to the farm and I don’t remember much until we are inside. The long hallway with all the rooms off of it. The light wood is everywhere and it even has a similar smell. The man who owns the farm now is kind enough to let us walk his property, come inside the house where my Dad and Uncle are sharing stories from when they lived there. It’s fun to watch them walk into a room. Their eyes change and the memories flood in.

We walk around outside and I see the patch of pine trees that my Great Grandfather planted for his Grandchildren. They are over 60 years old and are so tall. It’s peaceful there and the energy is good. My Uncle walks to the car to bring Grandma’s ashes out. They are much heavier and lighter in color than I would have imagined. The wind is blowing South East. We form a semi circle around a plaque on a large stone that says that is where my Great Grandfather planted all of those trees.

It’s late morning. The air is clean. A few, honest, heart felt words are spoken. My Uncle spreads the ashes. The wind stops. Four magnificent hawks fly over head. There is a brief silence as we all stand there, tears streaming down our cheeks. This is what she wanted. Grandma told us for years the happiest memories of her life were living on that land and now she had finally come home.

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4pm we head to my Uncle’s farm and it’s just as amazing as I remember. It’s been about 25 years since I’ve been there and it’s the first time we’re there with our cousins. The water is crystal clear and fresh from a well. There are fields of sunflowers (not quite in bloom), this beautiful tall grass, and the most gorgeous Weeping Willow I have ever seen. And another memory flashes in my mind. The Weeping Willow in our backyard at the house my Dad built in Beloit. And the brown swing my Grandfather built that I’ve always been sad my parents didn’t bring to Atlanta.

We eat a beautiful dinner. Laugh a great deal. My Dad and Uncle are hilarious together, always have been. I think of Grandma and her stories of dinners at the farm and how my Dad and his siblings would just tease each other the entire time.

Midwestern sunsets feel like home. You can see for miles and miles and the colors are like nothing I’ve ever seen. We say our goodbyes and get in the car. As soon as I close the door I see a lightening bug (now my Southern accent comes out a bit) and cheer with delight. Dad stops near the end of the driveway and tells me exactly where to look for them. We wait, patiently to see their amazing flickers. He urges me to get out of the car and catch one.

Another flash in my mind. Mom, Dad, my Brother and I are up at Lake Geneva in Grandma’s condo. Lake Geneva is about 45 minutes from Beloit. I remember the Weeping Willows by the lake and running around with my Brother catching lightening bugs at dusk. We just sit in the car, staring out the windows. Waiting for another flash.

I wanted to sit there forever.

We slowly pulled out of the driveway and head back to Beloit under that incredible sunset. There was this unspoken peaceful feeling between us. As we drive along the empty country road I look up at the sky and smile. She was with us the entire time.

xoa

cauliflower tabouli

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Today I am sharing a new twist on one of my favorite Arabic salads. Tabouli also spelled Tabbouleh is widely popular in Armenia and Turkey and is usually served as part of a mezze, a variety of small dishes all served together often on the same plate. I ate many of these mezze platters as they are often referred to in Berlin and fell in love with all the different flavors and spices.

Tabouli is traditionally a salad of fresh tomatoes, parsley, mint, onion, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Often bulgur wheat is tossed into the mix as well. In the past I have made it with quinoa but this time I wanted to make it with cauliflower “rice” just as an experiment. I literally ate it all in two days, but I did save a bite for Jason who approved of it’s flavors and textures ;)

Cauliflower “rice” has been making a big appearance on my Pinterest feed lately and I wanted to jump in on the fun. To make the “rice” all you do is pulse the cauliflower in your food processor until you have little rice-like pieces. It’s super easy!

Eating raw cauliflower, even when it’s broken up into tiny pieces isn’t my favorite. Instead of using it totally raw like many recipes, I dropped it in boiling water for just a few minutes and it was so much better. The key here is to use a fine mesh strainer to properly drain the cooked pieces otherwise you will have a watery salad. Tabouli is all about the flavors, the word is actually derived from the Arabic word taabil which means seasoning. You want to be sure to drain the cauliflower “rice” well. I used the back of a large flat spoon to press the cooked cauliflower pieces into the strainer. A nut milk bag would also work well.

I love eating fresh micro greens whenever possible in the summer so I threw a few handfuls into this dish. I also added diced cucumber which gave it a lovely crunch. If you don’t like those just leave them out. This tabouli keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

 

Cauliflower Tabouli

serves 4-6

 

Ingredients //

  • 3 c. cauliflower (about 1 medium/large head)
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 c. tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 c. purple onion, minced
  • 1 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c. fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 c. fresh micro greens (I used a mix of arugula, broccoli and kale)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 tsp. sea salt to taste

 

Method //

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, chop the cauliflower into large chunks. Place in the food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse until you have a rice like consistency.
  3. Once water is boiling put the cauliflower “rice” into it, reduce heat to medium and boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the cauliflower “rice” into a fine mesh strainer. Set aside for a few minutes to let it cool.
  5. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley mint and micro greens to a large mixing bowl.
  6. When the “rice” has cooled a bit get out as much water as you can by pressing the it with the back of a large spoon.
  7. Fluff the “rice” with a fork and let it stand another 10 minutes to drain and cool.
  8. Transfer “rice” to the mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.
  9. Toss well and serve at room temperature or chilled.
  10. Keeps 3 days in the fridge.

There you go! I’m out of town right now for my Grandma’s memorial in Wisconsin. It’s been sad but really good to be with family. I’ll share more about that in the next few days. Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

xoa