Cucumber Kimchi

I keep thinking I would write another blog post.  I have pages of ideas and paragraphs waiting to be edited and corrected. If you were to follow me around in a day you would notice that I become easily distracted.  So much to do….so little time!  Well, as I write this I see my last post was from ski camp last year…LAST YEAR!  I can’t believe it has been one year!  What the heck happened?  Old people usually say that time goes by so quickly.  Well, I guess I’m getting old because I don’t know how one year could pass so fast.

I’m still involved with Plenty Heirloom Farms and right now we’ve got cucumbers and patty pan squash coming out the wazoo.  I was honored last week with the presence of my friend’s mother (who is Korean) to come teach me to make homemade Kimchi as well as Cucumber Kimchi.  Sarah from Thrifty Good Lifepickles her zucchini so I thought why not make zucchini kimchi?  These are not fermented and I just keep them in the fridge.

 

Cucumber Kimchi

1 Tablespoon Salt

5-6 cucumbers/zucchini

1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar

1 slice red pepper (remove seeds and slice thin)

1 tablespoon Gochugaru

1 tablespoon honey

 

Slice cucumbers or zucchini and toss in a bowl all the ingredients.  Mix well and store in the refrigerator, if they make it that long.

Building Strength….From The Inside Out

I’ve just returned from Coble Ski School in Lillington, NC where I waterskied with 12 amazing women.  I totally have “Campers High”.  I want to sing songs,  love everyone, roast marshmallows, and change the world.  That’s pretty much why I go.  One of the things I love about Women’s Week is surrounding myself with inspirational women.  They each bring this sense of power or inner strength.  You can feel it by just being in their presence.  Once you feel like a bad ass on the inside you automatically radiate confidence on the outside.

Well, now that I am home and I’m getting back into my life as I know it, I yearn for that feeling of being strong from the inside out.  I’m wondering why I only strive for this once a year?  What is it exactly that builds this strength? Surviving difficult situations, a sense of accomplishment, or by seeking it.  A fellow skier, Lynn Carnes, recently wrote Strong Is The New Strong. A great example of getting more in your life by choosing what you focus on.  I believe you can intentionally build inner strength by setting your focus on finding it.  It doesn’t have to accidentally happen.  I’m getting much better at doing things out of my comfort zone and rising up to the challenge!

So, for all of you that I have reached out to since my return, this is why I need to continue to seek new adventure.  It’s about building my strength from the inside out.

Just like the importance of mental inner strength or confidence, physical strength comes from the same place.  It starts with desire, then focus, and action.  I believe that nutritional choices fuel physical strength.  With vegetables in full harvest this recipe for Grilled Veggie Tacos is a great way to use up the zucchini and fuel your body from the inside out!

Grilled Veggie Tacos

2 medium zucchini

1 eggplant

1/2 onion

2 bell peppers (I like variety of color)

1/4 cup feta cheese

1/4 cup cilantro

avocado

salsa

corn tortilla

black beans*

quinoa or rice*

Spicy Dressing

3 tablespoons  olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 clove minced garlic

3/4  teaspoon cumin

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

 

Directions:

Slice the zucchini, eggplant, onion, and bell peppers lengthwise and dry grill at 400 degrees about 6 minutes per side.

Have the temperature of the grill set to 400 degrees to dry grill

Have the temperature of the grill set to 400 degrees to dry grill

 

Remove from grill and let cool a few minutes.  Once cooled slice them and toss with Spicy Dressing.  Then build your taco:  Corn tortilla, beans, quinoa or rice if you choose, veggies, crumbled feta cheese, cilantro, diced avocado, and a dollop of salsa. You can find my simple salsa recipe in this article here.   Drizzle sour cream or I like full fat plain Greek yogurt on top.

Grilled Veggie Tacos served with lime & salsa

Grilled Veggie Tacos served with lime & salsa.

 

I’d love to hear what you do to make you feel strong, from the inside out!

 

 

The Mad Dash of Summer & My Broken Filter

This summer seems to have been a mad scramble. A typical day starts when the sun comes up and goes pretty hard until the sun sets and then I crash.  My friends all make fun of me for going to bed so early.   Life is good and very full.  (Yes, I’m trying to stay positive)  I probably have more self talk than the average human.  Sometimes the self talk slips out because my filter breaks, and then my husband politely reminds me I will not have any friends if I continue to speak so candidly.  I’ve also come to realize that is just who I am. I still have wonderful friends who love me despite my odd sense of humor and broken filter.

Amidst the fun filled days of summer there is something so grounding in sharing a meal.  What’s even better is the food that is growing so abundantly.   Right now I have  a sea of cucumbers on my counter and some beets from my local CSA, Plentyfarms.    I found a  variation of this recipe in a cookbook by Thomasina Miers called Wahaca Mexican food at home.  I’ve come up with my own variation and it has been a huge hit.

May you find a moment to enjoy with friends, and maybe even bring this salad to share.

 

Cucumber Beet Salad

3 steamed beets, chilled

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot (if you have one)

1 tablespoon olive oil

juice of one lime

slivered red onions (just a few)

8 ounces Ricotta cheese

1 cucumber

1/4 cup fresh parsley

Steam beets and cool.

In a small saucepan sauté minced garlic and shallot on low in 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Remove from heat when golden.

Mix Ricotta with chopped sparsely, sautéed garlic,shallot, and juice from one lime.

Smear Ricotta spread on a plate and place sliced beets first [so you don’t get red cucumbers], then cucumber, and red onion on top.  Drizzle with olive oil and sea salts.  (I love Plenty Farms garlic chili salt!)

I did add some shredded yellow carrots from my CSA share for color

5 Minutes To Make It A Better Day

Have you ever just had a shitty day?  There is no other way to explain it.  Sometimes there are just days that stink.  For whatever reason.  Today I am feeling the weight of compound sad events. I don’t usually even like to talk about things like this and yet I feel compelled to write this  because I know that it is a universal feeling.  No one is immune to being sad, grieving, or getting through difficult times.  The difference is what you do when you feel this way.  I’m sharing to hold myself accountable and hope that it may  help at least one person.

Finding gratitude is something that I feel strongly about.  Whether it be in good times, or in bad, I  begin to think about things in my life that I am grateful for. Vishen Lakhiani refers to this in his recent book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind as “Blissipline” .

Blissipline:  The discipline of daily bliss.  The process of consciously raising one’s happiness level by adopting specific systems for living, including transcendent practices.

I don’t exactly walk around in a happy bubble, but I do feel like in experiencing a day like today in order to get through I ask myself “What can I learn from today?”   Today is about being present.  Sometimes as simple as my breath, and then reminding myself either through writing or though mental notes of how much in life I have to be grateful for.

Among the many things I have to be grateful for, food always seems to show up on my list.  It nourishes me from the inside out.  We are starting to get lots of kale at Plentyfarms and this is a great way to use it.  This also freezes well.

Cheesy Kale Pesto (In 5 minutes!)

Inspired by Sarah Sailer and Plentyfarms

1/2 cup olive oile

2 cups kale

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup soaked walnuts (sunflower seeds or pine nuts)

1/2 fresh lemon, juiced

1 clove minced garlic

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (find this at health food stores)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

 

 

 

 

FREE TICKET TO PLAY

Today you get one free ticket to go have fun!  I’ve recently been reading Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, Your Guide to a Whole-Hearted Life.   One of the things I took away was the importance of play and rest and how it is connected to our emotional health and productivity.  She speaks about “Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity linked to self worth”. I read this and thought…CRAP!  I’m so guilty of this.  All I can do is begin to change today, so this morning I decided to take my work out and make it a little more like play time.

I am so grateful to live in such a beautiful place.  One of the things I like to do to “play” is explore new places. Whether it be a new trail, store, coffee shop, bike ride, or even driving a different route makes me feel very playful.  I have to admit I think I get my sense of exploration from my Dad.  The guy rode his bike from Colorado to Iowa on back roads for crying out loud!  He loves adventure and has a very playful spirit.  In honor of putting my reading into action and notes from School of Rick,  I was determined to discover somewhere new today.

I came upon Rivers Edge Natural Area.

RIver's Edge 960 W. 1st Street Loveland, Colorado

960 W. 1st Street
Loveland, Colorado

It has a great “crush” trail and very few people.  The view was spectacular and it’s surrounded by water.  That’s about perfect for me!

Great jogging or walking path

Great jogging or walking path

Another one of my “play” times is when I volunteer at Plenty Farms.  Sometimes its work, but mostly it is just getting connected to the earth and good friends.  This week we have Lovage, chives, mint, and eggs.  Lovage is related to the celery and parsley family.   You don’t need very much of this because it is pretty potent.  If you don’t have Lovage or can’t find it in the farmer’s market, just substitute some parsley and celery leaves.

Egg Salad

Egg Salad w/Lovage & Mint

Egg Salad w/Lovage & Mint

4 hardboiled eggs

½ cup cherry tomatoes

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Lovage (Julienne sliced) (remember you can substitute parsley & celery leaves)

1 teaspoon chives (chopped)

1 teaspoon mint (Julienne sliced)

Peel and slice your eggs into small  cubes.  In a separate bowl combine Dijon, vinegar, yogurt, salt, and chopped herbs.  Mix with eggs and top with sliced cherry tomatoes.

A few more recipes for Lovage:

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Lovage and Brown Butter

1 teaspoon Lovage (Julienne sliced)

2 tablespoons grassfed unsalted butter

1 clove garlic

¼ teaspoon salt

Over low to medium heat melt butter with garlic.  Make sure you cook it on low.  As soon as the garlic is golden and the butter is melted add the Lovage and salt.  Great over a piece of Plenty Bread or peas.

 

Lovage and Brown Butter Croutons

IMG_8774

3 teaspoons Lovage

6 tablespoons grass fed unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic

¾ teaspoon salt

4 slices of bread

Cut bread into cubes

Spread out on a broiling pan and let dry out (overnight would be best)

Warm butter, lovage, and salt

Pour over bread crumbs and toss until coated

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden

 

Lovage & Chevre Spread

IMG_8778

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

4 ounces chevre

¼ cup milk

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon Julienne sliced Lovage

1 tablespoon minced chives

 

In a saucepan slowly cook the olive oil and minced garlic.  Once the garlic is golden, remove from pan.  Add chevre and milk and whisk until smooth.  Stir in salt, lovage, and chives.  Pour into dish and refrigerate.  It is great for spreading on a cracker (shown) or Plenty Bread.

Here’s the million dollar question….with your free ticket to play, what will you do today?

Strawberry Spring Salad

I’m so grateful that I get to work in the dirt every week with an amazing group of people at Plentyfarms.  The passion of eating real food that is grown locally without chemicals and has consideration for environmental stewardship is very important to me. Other benefits of working in the dirt can be found here.

I’m excited to be providing some recipes for the Plentyfarms CSA and also  share recipes that are using seasonal ingredients. There are a plethora of reasons why I chose to eat as local and as fresh as possible, but one that I think everyone can agree on is  the flavor profile of home grown or fresh food.   If you don’t believe me, just think of a tomato that has been shipped in the middle of the winter to your grocery store versus one you pick from your garden in the summer.  Or fresh picked lettuce versus the packaged variety.  Don’t get me wrong, I go to the grocery store every week.  I just know that if I can source local fresh food it tastes SO much better.  If you don’t like to garden, do as I do, and find people who have gardens. (Thank you to Alan Tomlinson my neighbor who grows the loveliest tomatoes and shares them with me, and to Sara Sailor and Lynn Peterson and Plentyfarms!) You can also support your local farmer’s markets which are firing up!  You can find out more information by clicking on the city.

Loveland Farmer’s Market

Fort Collins Farmer’s Market

Longmont Farmer’s Market

Boulder Farmer’s Market

 

The salad that I chose to share today uses few ingredients that are  in season right now. Strawberries, mint, and salad greens.   It tastes like springtime and takes no time at all.

 

STRAWBERRY SPRING SALAD

1 plate of fresh greens

3 strawberries sliced and chopped

2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts

1 tablespoon hemp seeds (Great source of protein)

6 mint leaves (julienne sliced, see pics below)

*optional 1 tablespoon chèvre (goat’s cheese)

extra virgin olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper

Place the greens on the plate, add the chopped strawberries, toasted hazelnuts, mint, and hemp seeds.  Drizzle olive oil and champagne vinegar over the salad.  Sprinkle sea salt and grind fresh pepper over the top.  You can also add chevre if you like.

IMG_8588

Other helpful tips:

I like to have toasted nuts kept in airtight jars so they are just available and ready to use.

I store my mint in the fridge with the stems in water.  IMG_8730

 

This is how I slice the mint:

Layer the leaves of mint

1.  Layer the leaves of mint

Roll them as they are stacked

2. Roll them as they are stacked

Thinly slice them

3.  Thinly slice them

I’ll keep some sliced and just throw them on everything.  Tastes like spring!

You could also make my lemon vinaigrette I would substitute the rosemary in this recipe and replace with mint.

 

The Can Of Crazy

You know you have it.  That moment when you are holding it inside and the can is just shaking ready to explode.

When my girls were growing up and they weren’t listening I would say “the can of crazy is off the shelf….don’t make me open it up!”  They usually got the idea that mom was about ready to BLOW UP.

Other CANS I still have in possession are:

“I Still Got It”….. sometimes interpreted  as “Drunk Girl On Dance Floor”

“Confidence ”

“Breathe”

“Whoop Ass”

“Patience”

The list goes on. There’s one problem with having a can of something.  When you keep shaking it and it finally explodes you have no control over where it goes.  It’s just a mess and hits anyone that is near you.  (Wise words from D.C. Osborn)

As I get older and a tiny bit wiser I was thinking I should maybe gravitate towards a mason jar.  Now, if you have been to my home or taken a cooking class from me you will know why this makes sense.   I’m obsessed with glass jars.  The lids actually slowly twist off.  The don’t ever explode (unless you try and freeze them when they are too full)

Epic fail trying to freeze vegetable broth. At least it didn't spray on anyone!

Epic fail trying to freeze vegetable broth. At least it didn’t spray on anyone!

I also decided I should be more intentional with what I fill them with.  Instead of my can of crazy and whoop ass, maybe I should have  jars of kindness, compassion, love, and generosity.

My Black Bean Soup is coming from my jar of love. I’m pairing it with my slightly sweet Cilantro Lime Dressing.  Maybe my family will feel the warmth of love and sweetness rather than the effects of a “can” explosion.

I can’t say I’m ready to give up my can of “I Still Got It”.  I just may have to save it for special occasions.

CILANTRO LIME DRESSING*

1/2 cup cilantro leaves (reserve stems to cook with onions for the soup)

1/2 an avocado

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 juiced lime

1 tablespoon raw honey

Put in a blender or small food processor and blend until creamy

IMG_0579

Chop the cilantro stems and reserve to sauté

BLACK BEAN SOUP

1.5 cups chicken stock (contact me if you would like my recipe)

2 can black beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion

2 pieces of celery

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 lime juiced

Saute onion and celery in olive oil.  Cook on medium until they become translucent.  Add in chopped garlic and 1 tablespoons of cilantro stems and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add in 1 1/2 cans of rinsed black beans with chicken stock.  Put in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add remainder 1/2 can of black beans and just pulse so it still has some texture.  Serve with Cilantro Lime Dressing Drizzled on the top and garnish with lime and cilantro.

*Cilantro lime dressing is great on fish tacos, as a salad dressing, on a chicken quesadilla, or as a replacement for mayonnaise.

 

 

 

Super Bowl 50 Victory Snacks

This Sunday can be a win/win….at least on the snack table.  You don’t have to completely throw in the towel and succumb to all of the nutritionally void foods that will be available.  With the Super Bowl being the 2nd highest food consumption day behind Thanksgiving, try putting a few REAL FOOD options on the table.  I guarantee these few recipes will be winners!

 

This popcorn is awesome and super easy to make.  Yes, it has butter, but I’ve air popped it and it also has real ingredients.  You will recognize all of them. Kerrygold butter is the bomb of butter and if you haven’t tried it, I highly suggest it. It can be found at most grocery stores and even Costco.  The truffle sea salt can be found at spice shops and many grocery stores.  I’ve even discovered some at  Marshall’s.

TRUFFLE POPCORN

1/2 cup un-popped  Organic popcorn

2 tablespoons Kerrygold unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup grated parmesan (works best with a microplane)

1/2 teaspoon truffle sea salt

Toss with grated parmesan and sea salt.  Using a microplane or getting the parmesan super fine works best to coat the popcorn.

 

Vegetable Board with Chimichurri 

Assortment of fresh vegetables served with Chimichuri for dipping

Assortment of fresh vegetables served with Chimichuri for dipping

Cut up tons of veggies.  If you don’t have time, the grocery stores have them already cut for you. I’ve included some Jicama as well as broccoli stalks.

Utilize the stalks as another vegetable for dipping and wow your friends with your food knowledge.

Utilize the stalks as another vegetable for dipping by simply cutting the outer layer of the stalk off. There is a delightful tender interior!

 

Serve with my Chimichurri sauce that can be found in Become A Fat-Burning Machine.  You can find about 20 more of my recipes in this book!

Chimichurri

1 cup parsley (leaves only)

1 cup cilantro (leaves only)

1 clove garlic (or 1/2 if you don’t want to kill people with your breath)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth and bright green.  I save my stems to sauté with an onion for other recipes.  Using just the leaves gets you the best consistency.

Lastly, if you are really enamored with the cheese dip, this is a great alternative and really tastes delicious. I mean SERIOUSLY delicious! I’ve made it for a few football get togethers.  I’m sharing the recipe as posted on the  Lulu Lemon blog, as I feel like it gives Angela Liddon the full credit.

Life Affirming Nacho Dip by Oh She Glows cookbook.

Can’t wait to hear what you come up with for your Victory Snacks!

Go Broncos!

How A Sandwich Can Improve Your Life

I had a list of items to do today as I usually do because I am a list maker.  I constantly feel like I have lots to do and not enough time to do it.  In attempting to acknowledge that I can only do what I can do, I am learning to succumb to the thought that I just may not finish everything and my life will still go on.  Anyway,   I had an hour in which I could cross off a few of my “to do” items, or go see my grandmother.  She is 88 and lives only a few miles from my house. She is full of life.  Kay loves scratch tickets, vodka tonics, and playing cards.  She makes me laugh, makes me frustrated, and makes me realize how lucky I am to have her so close by.  I’m a huge proponent of human interaction. Reminding myself of this, I knew it was more important to go see her  than to cross off an item on the “to do” list.

You may ask what this has to do with a sandwich.  Well, it was a choice to integrate human interaction into my day.  There is something magical that happens when you are fully present with people.  This sandwich was a culmination of ideas from the favorite people in my life, my two girls  Madison & Camryn. The sandwich evolved each time we would create it together.  The time that we were fully present and sharing ideas created our favorite sandwich.

This sandwich called Danielle’s Super Sandwich  can be found on the Fat Burning Machine website and in the book Become a Fat-Burning-Machine. The bread was made with love, yes love, from Plentyfarms.com.  It’s made once a month and you must preorder.  If you didn’t order this week, you can stop by  Loveland Ale Works  the 2nd Friday of the month to purchase a loaf.  If you are not local, I suggest an Organic Sourdough in place of the Naked Loaf by Plenty.

My challenge to you this week to choose human interaction when given the opportunity.

Josh Davis, Ph.D and author of Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done said  “One of the strongest predictors of happiness is how much social contact you get“. 

Great ideas can form when interacting with others.  Whether it be creating a sandwich, visiting someone special in your life, or just being fully present,  be open to the gift of human interaction.

-Danielle

 

3 Steps To Make This Your Best Year Ever!

New Years is right around the corner.  Our family tends to set goals for the year.  It has taken me a couple of years to cross off certain goals but I can still see them and work towards them.  This year I was thinking about setting an intention.   I have daily intentions, so why not have one for the whole year?

Years ago I was inspired by Susan Vonderlippe who at the age of 42, made the Olympic Trials in swimming. Typically to compete at this level it is reserved for those under 25 years old.  You can read Susan’s full story here .  Eight years ago I wrote her a letter telling her how awesome I thought she was and it got me thinking…..It’s probably not in my cards to qualify for the Olympics, but why can’t this be my best year ever?  Each year I say this to myself and I believe that by setting this intention I AM improving with age.  (I think my friends and family can attest)

So, here is my thought for you. Why can’t this be your best year ever? Here’s 3 easy things you can do:Best Year Ever

  1.  Tell yourself every day that this will be your best year ever!
    •   Hang a reminder in your bathroom mirror.  Read it every day. (Thank you to my daughter Camryn for making my sign)
  2. Set some goals to move toward your intention
  3. Take Chances
    • You’ll never know how great this year can be unless you put yourself out there.

To feel your best, be sure and supply your body with good quality food. It is your fuel to help you perform.  This simple recipe is perfect to serve for New Years and is packed with protein and quality ingredients to make you feel your best!

Happy 2016 and may this be your best year ever.

Danielle

Smoked Salmon Canapes

1 English cucumber (Skin on)

½ cup whipped cream cheese

Smoked salmon (Lox)

1 small jar capers

Dill weed

¼ red onion, slivered

Wash and slice cucumbers. Set flat on a nice big tray.  Scoop a dollop of whipped cream cheese on the cucumber using two spoons.  Roll or lay a piece of smoked salmon on the cucumber.  Garnish with red onion, capers, and a dash of dill weed. One cucumber will make about 21 pieces.