For years I waxed poetic about my morning coffee. The flavor, the aroma, the ritual of it every morning. It was an anchor in my day and got my heart started in more ways than one. I made the switch to decaf a few years ago due to chronic insomnia and the fact that I am, apparently, a low caffeine metabolizer, it was still coffee all the way. There was enough caffeine to get me going and there was no compromise in flavor or enjoyment. Never in a million years did I think my morning obsession would have any serious competition.
Whether it’s in your head or written down somewhere, most of us have a list of those go-to recipes or meal ideas that are family favorites and pretty easy to put together, even at the last minute. Those meals have changed over the years to accommodate expanding palates palates and various dietary needs. Although some items will always be on the menu (like my grandmother's brisket!), now there’s a whole new crop of faves including zoodles with homemade pesto, shepherd’s pie and this recipe for crispy pork carnitas.
Have you heard of adaptogens yet? The Wellness community has been buzzing about them for a few years now but like many things that seem "new" in health and wellness, adaptogens have been used for thousands of years by ancient healing practices like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
I'm a little bit obsessed after using them for the last year and really noticing a difference in my energy levels (up) and my stress levels (down). I started by adding them to my morning matcha and now find ways to incorporate them into my day in other ways as well. Even my husband is smitten and insists that he is more productive when he adds adaptogens to his bulletproof coffee. Our favorites are ashwaganda (for anxiety and insomnia), a blend of adaptogenic mushrooms and he shou wu (also known as Fo-Ti and translated as "Mr. He's black hair", it is anti-aging and a blood tonifier).
I am always on the hunt for interesting recipes. My social media feeds are littered with delicious looking meals, I read cookbooks for fun and I’m that annoying person who tears the recipes out of the magazine at the dentist’s office. The idea that you can take a bunch of simple, naked ingredients and turn them into something delicious, satisfying and nutritious still delights me now as much as it did when I first started cooking. This is one of the reasons I did a program at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition last fall. It was a 14-week training that took me deeper into my understanding of the nutritional and healing properties of food and how to help people incorporate practical and simple cooking skills into their lives to positively impact their health.
It's official: I am obsessed with my Instant Pot. For those of you who don't already know about the cult of the Instant Pot, it's an electric pressure cooker that can also be a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a yogurt maker (haven't tried that yet) and it has a sauté feature. It's freaking awesome! I got mine about 14 months ago and while I used it sporadically for the first 9 or 10 months I got really into in this past fall and now it's seeing some action at least a couple of times per week.
Nothings says "autumn" quite like pumpkin. When I was a kid the only kind of pumpkin in my world was a Halloween jack-o-lantern. We were not a pumpkin pie eating family - in fact I'm pretty sure that the idea of eating pumpkin in any form l was a "gross". That was just something that Laura Ingalls and her family did and we all knew that was just olden days stuff. Admittedly I did grow up in a Philadelphia suburb in the 1970's so if it didn't come out of a can or the freezer then I probably didn't eat it.
Happy September! It's back to school season (insert Happy Dance gif here)! This is my favorite time of year for all kinds of reasons. Back to school means fall is coming!! If you know me then you know that fall is my season. Boots & sweaters, lower temperatures, dense issues of Vogue magazine and best of all, soups, stews and fall produce! After all these years I still have a hot crush on butternut squash, brussels sprouts & chanterelle mushrooms. Being in the kitchen makes me happy and cooking fall foods makes me even happier.
I've been on a bit of a chia pudding kick again lately - probably due to the abundance of fresh berries in the summertime. I'm all about anything that can be a vehicle for those berries! We can easily go through a couple of half-flats per week at our house. This morning I had vanilla chia pudding with a heap of gorgeous blueberries and some cacao nibs and as I was taking a picture for Instagram (as one does) I realized that while I have shared some recipes for chia pudding in my newsletter, I have never shared one on my blog.
My friend Lisa C. turned me on to this delicious quinoa salad that is fast becoming a staple at my house. She makes it a little differently each time depending on what's in her garden and in her fridge. Her rule of thumb is to use a mix of colors and textures with "a punch of sweet and a little bit of crunch." After cooking the quinoa in veggie or chicken broth she'll add things like small cubed/steamed beets, slivers of kale, diced cucumber and bell pepper along with currants or golden raisins and then pistachios, almond slices or toasted pine nuts. You can also add feta or goat cheese or some grilled chicken to make it even heartier. The final ingredient is a whole mess of finely chopped herbs like flat leaf parsley or mint or dill. Don't be afraid to experiment using whatever is available to you. This salad is really versatile!
While I absolutely love to cook and spend a lot of time tinkering with recipes and ideas in the kitchen, I have never been much of a baker. In part this is because baking is more of a science. Back in the day, when I tried things like baking bread but I always seemed to kill the yeast and when I made layer cakes they usually came out uneven and messy. But a larger reason for my not baking was if I baked something then I would eat it - and keep eating it. Cookies and sweet treats have always been a weakness for me. There was always the "bake and release" option but I didn't love baking enough to do it in my spare time so mostly I didn't bake.