Sure, there are countless vegetables you can eat at any given moment in time. While eating any vegetable is better than eating no vegetable at all, seasonal varieties growing in your region are your absolute best bets. Currently here in Florida, it’s the season for nutrient rich root and cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens. Here’s a quick look at how to get your fill of some of my favorite winter picks.
Don’t be intimidated by earthy root vegetables or fooled into thinking they are too much work. With just a little washing and chopping, root vegetables can be enjoyed a number of ways.
Baba Ghanoush [pronounced BahBuh Guh Noosh here in the South] is a rich, savory eggplant dip—one I am openly obsessed with. Yet I always assumed it was way too much trouble to make on my own. Shame on me for assuming.
Last week, I finally decided to give Baba Ghanoush a fair shot and craft my own easy rendition using this homegrown eggplant I was gifted.
Since using this little guy pictured for my first experiment, I’ve already picked up two more eggplants from local farmers and whipped up round two.
I can’t say my version tops authentic Middle Eastern or Mediterranean Baba Ghanoush, but I can say the result was nothing short of Baba-licious. Not only is this Baba dip creamy and pleasing to the tastebuds, it’s packed with fiber and B vitamins.
Here’s a quick look at how to make your own Baba Ghanoush following my easy bake and blend approach.
“I wish I had the time and money to cook (and eat) good food.”
This is a statement I’ve heard uttered repeatedly, especially in response to my electing to be vegan, and my mention of how much I cook.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted the above photo on social media, along with the following note:
“It only takes twenty minutes (or less) to turn a basket of teeny taters into cheesy mash. The fact that this tater basket was only $1 at the produce stand made last night’s dinner taste ever better. Local green beans, broccoli, red pepper, sweet onion, spinach and cabbage were steamed in a pan on the stovetop and enjoyed alongside this mash + a fresh juicy tomato & DIY goddess dressing.”
I also mentioned that I only gave this meal 5-10 solid minutes of prep and stovetop attention and the rest of the time I let it cook itself while I fed the pup, let him outside, went outside with him (with window open to keep an eye on the food), straightened up some things, washed a few dishes, changed clothes…etc.
Truthfully, I’m always slightly baffled (and bummed) when I hear someone say they don’t have the time or funds to cook good, healthy food. Believe me when I say, it doesn’t take fancy ingredients, excess money, or excess time to cook up a fresh, hearty, delicious, local meal, using just a pot and a pan.
Last week I found myself up against a creative wall, riding waves of self-doubt, and needing much more positive affirmation than usual. I caught myself asking Andrew for feedback countless times, and spent an equal amount of time picking up the phone to call my mom for her words of wisdom. Rather than an “I can” attitude, “Can I?” was a question that played on repeat in my head. I felt far more inadequate than I did renewed.
The thing about opportunity finding its way onto your lap, is that no matter how wonderful it is, it often takes much more energy than we can possibly predict. For the entirety of last week, I spent the bulk of my waking hours glued to the computer screen, pouring my energy into new projects, on top of those already existing.
Despite my enthusiasm about the projects that have come my way lately, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated that this particular week was supposed to be a big running week for me. While struggling to focus on the work in front of me, I found myself daydreaming about the PR (personal record) I had hoped to achieve at the rapidly approaching New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, while feeling as though I was watching it drift out of reach.
In the evening hours, I had high hopes of switching gears to do “me” writing, some yoga, reading ,or maybe even finally unpacking from my holiday trip. Instead, I sat glued to the TV, watching episodes of “Cutthroat Kitchen.” My brain was all but mush.
Aside from an afternoon out and about on assignment, I rocked the same black on black attire the majority of the week, and barely left the house.
Something Andrew and I have discussed at length lately, is the fact that we human beings tend to only showcase the high points in our lives, not the ups, downs and everything in between. Intentionally or not, we show the parts of ourselves we are proud of and comfortable with, and much of the rest goes unseen.
If it seems like there has been a two week delay in my delivering a Thanksgiving (or as I prefer, Thanksliving) followup, it’s because there certainly has been.
Let me explain. Immediately upon arriving home for Thanksgiving, Andrew and I were both hit hard with the sinus infections we had been fighting for days. It’s as if our bodies were saying, “Hey, we know we carried you through an art show and half marathon, but now, it’s time to slow down, rest and repair.”
Naturally, the combination of being home and being sick meant that every plan I thought I had for our trip fell through. Beyond that, it turned into a life lesson (our plans always fail us). It also meant extended family time, with both of our families. Above all, it left me with several valuable reminders:
- Being able to taste and enjoy food is truly such a blessing that should never be taken for granted.
- Snotty tissues are disgusting, but dogs still love to rip them up and chew on them.
- No matter how bad I feel, being at home and curling up on my mom’s couch watching HGTV makes me feel leaps and bounds better.
- Sometimes my body demands a level of rest and recovery that doesn’t include running.
- My flesh is impermanent, but my spirit is everlasting.
Ultimately, it reminded me—”We have food on the table and we are together. That’s really all that matters.”
Speaking of food, despite the circumstances, we were able to have two feasts—one with Andrew’s family on Thursday, and one with my mom on Friday. Here is a look at Friday’s Thanksliving feast showcasing the plant-based creations Andrew and I prepared.
Before departing from St. Augustine, I stopped by the produce stand to pick up all the veggies we would need for our menu, including sweet potatoes, onions, green beans, broccoli, and yellow squash. As a bonus, the produce man gave me an acorn squash I decided to turn into a hummus-filled appetizer.
To prepare, I boiled the squash for about 15 minutes to cook and soften, then sliced it in half, scooped out the gooey portion of the innards with a spoon, added a little vegan buttery spread to the rims, and placed it face down on a pan in the oven to bake for just a few minutes. The only thing that would have made this appetizer better was if I’d made my own hummus. In this case, my mom had some Sabra Spinach and Artichoke hummus on hand. Each bite of hummus was paired with warm, sweet buttery squash.
As for the the main features of our Thanksliving feast, I present to you our vegan spread.
Although documenting plant-based food creations has taken the back burner lately in the midst of major happenings (like art shows and races), my life has certainly not been absent of nutritious and delicious vegan eats (neither has Andrew’s). These eats include quite a bit of seasonal grub—like pumpkin smoothies, beet salads, and leafy greens.
One seasonal green I’ve come to love this year is mustard greens. The best (and most convenient) part about these particular greens, is that they are as home grown as you can get. What I mean is, there just so happens to be a forest of mustard greens growing in my backyard.
Did I mention they’re gigantic? These voluptuous greens have been regularly serving as a base for my salads this season, and a green addition to vegetable medleys. One night Andrew even surprised me by wrapping my macaroni and cheese inside one of these leaves, lettuce wrap style.
Anti-Dye Pasta Salad
This afternoon, I decided to clip some greens from the yard and incorporate them into an Anti-Dye pasta salad. Why the name? Because this pasta salad is packed with powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients (mustard greens and turmeric), and turmeric is a natural dye.
Since I can’t seem to stop talking up autumn harvest, I figured it’s only fair that I dedicate a post to a root vegetable I’ve been slightly obsessed with lately—beets.
I wish I could say I’ve loved beets since day one, but it wasn’t until adulthood that I came to appreciate these bright, vibrant roots.
Why do I love them now? Beyond the fact that I adore their rich taste and color, beets are incredibly good for you. As I noted in a guest post I contributed to Oiselle’s blog last Monday, “Fall Fuel Favorites for Plant-Based Runners,” beets are an athlete’s best friend. Beets get your blood pumping and energy flowing. Both the roots and the greens are packed full of health-boosting nutrients.
Thankfully Andrew loves beets as much as I do. Over the past few weeks we’ve been snagging giant beets from the produce stand every chance we get. I even packed some in the car with me Friday and brought them home to Pensacola so I could share the beet love with my family.
One perk of being home is getting to take over my mom’s kitchen again. Yesterday, I decided to whip us up my rendition of the beet salad Andrew made for me last week. Fun fact: He actually remade this beet salad yesterday too, back in St. Augustine. Clearly our minds and hearts are synced even when we’re geographically apart.