I spent 5 glorious days in Amsterdam this April exploring what this vibrant city has to offer. The Dutch have a “live and let live attitude” which makes Amsterdam a friendly and welcoming place with something for everyone. Beyond the happening restaurants and hip cafes, Holland has: extraordinary tulip fields, deeply moving museums, the BEST hummus bistro, quirky buildings, a mouth watering farmers market, and unique canals. All this plus a beautiful yoga school with drop-in classes. I walked everywhere stopping in cute cafes or browsing interesting boutiques when my feet cried out. Here are some highlights from our recent trip.
This healthy lentil quinoa protein salad was one of the first recipes I made from Oh She Glows, Angela Liddon’s amazing vegan cooking blog (and still my favorite). It’s got all the things I love mixed together in a mouth watering bowl of plant based protein. Lentils, grains, leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, and a tangy Tahini dressing that would make anything taste divine.
“Asparagus is a very helpful food if you struggle with shyness, self-consciousness, concern over what others think of you, fear of breaking out of your shell and exposing yourself, or dread of venturing out in public. If you truly need help in these areas (as opposed to if you’re just a natural introvert who’s comfortable with who are are despite other’s misguided opinions that you should act more like an extrovert), asparagus will come to your aid and give you the confidence to rise up and claim your place in the world.” — Anthony William
Hygge and Happiness
Copenhagen consistently ranks as one of the happiest cities in the world and after a quick 3 day visit, I can understand why. I believe their happiness lies in the culture of Hygge! Hygge (I’m convinced the correct pronunciation requires Danish linguistics) loosely translates to “cozy” or “hug” but its really about savoring life’s simple pleasures and finding delight in our ordinary habits. For example, sharing a special bottle of wine with friends, freshly baked bread, flickering candles, decorating with cozy fabrics, or lingering over coffee in a sun-filled cafe. According to The Year of Living Danishy, by Helen Russell, “Hygge is about being kind to yourself, having a nice time and not punishing or denying yourself anything”. (I think my cat is onto it)!
Do you ever eat a dish that stays with you long after the meal is over? Even years later? For me, this is case with burnt broccoli! Many years ago, I was developing a friendship with a woman who happened to be a great cook and as (my) luck would have it, she invited me over for lunch at her house. I knew she enjoyed cooking, but I didn’t know I was in for such a memorable treat. She explained that her boyfriend wouldn’t eat this dish because he was more of a meat eater type, but she knew I loved veggies and figured (accurately) that I would. Moreover, she was pleased to share this healthy meal with someone else. It was her favorite!
I was trying to decide what to do with the extra black beans I had on hand when I remembered a mouthwatering recipe for vegan black bean brownies by Chocolatecoveredkatie. I’d been wanting to make these treats for awhile and this felt like the perfect opportunity. I love baking with healthier ingredients and you’d never suspect there were black beans in these brownies. Getting a protein boost from the black beans removes the guilt but not the pleasure.
I knew when I stood at the counter and polished off an entire bowl of this incredible smoky salsa, that I wanted to share this recipe on the blog. My friend Alexia, whipped together this tongue craving salsa in 5 minutes as I sipped delicious wine and watched her cook (she always serves the best wine and champagne). I kept the conversation flowing as I watched her toss a few ingredients into a mini-chop food processor, zip, zip, zip and emptied the contents into a bowl which she placed on the counter in front of me. After inhaling the entire bowl of salsa and the chips that went with it, I begged for the recipe.
This salsa combines the sweet taste of fresh tomatoes with the deep smoky flavor of chipotle peppers (the ones in adobo sauce – how cute is that word??). A touch of white vinegar adds a tangy brightness that makes this salsa highly addictive (fair warning).
Yesterday, I completed the inaugural Encinitas half marathon. The beautiful 13.1 mile course parallels the Pacific Ocean and was mostly flat with a few long inclines and two short, steep hills. Over 5,000 high spirited runners came from all over to challenge themselves to finish. The energy was palpable.
What is uncooking??? The term comes from the “raw” diet but I’ve adopted it to mean something slightly different. To me, uncooking defines those times when I’ve lost my motivation to cook and instead of eating proper meals at set times, I allow my body to “decide” what it wants when it’s hungry. In some ways this is a more “reckless” approach to eating but I love that it allows me to break out of fixed patterns, routines, and food ruts. It’s a “re-set” for my body.
During this time, I usually crave healthy fruits and vegetables that I eat “raw” and why I’ve adopted the uncooking definition. I’ll make crazy salads with lots of red cabbage and raw broccoli or enjoy a bowl of fruit and seeds for dinner.
Several weeks ago, my husband and I hosted a BBQ with all the accouterments to make grilled steak sandwiches. Grilled meat (none for me), sliced red onions, crimson beefsteak tomatoes, Swiss cheese, spicy sweet mustard and organic mayo to spread onto warmed sourdough baguette. The spread was so appetizing but to my surprise, hardly anyone ate the bread. This is usually my favorite part of the meal. Instead, our friends ate deconstructed “carb-free sandwiches leaving us with 3 long uneaten baguettes.