winter maybe-maybe-not-minestrone soup

Contrary to what you might have (not) seen on this blog or in my kitchen lately, I do love to cook. I love combining flavors and nutrition, and, most importantly, eating. And while I haven’t been super inspired lately, I finally went running back at the beckoning of being cold, hungry, and needing more vegetables in my life. This soup gives me that.

It’s a win-win: Soup is delicious (especially the day after you make it), and having a pot of soup in the fridge is one of the best ways to get your veggies in. Just heat and serve! If you’re in a rush, you can even blend it all together to make one weird-ass, but healthy, smoothie to drink on the go.

At first I was calling this a winter minestrone, but now I’m not so sure. Wikipedia says minestrone is “a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice… usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season.” I can’t confirm if the Italians have jumped on the all things pumpkin/butternut/turmeric/quinoa trend train, so let’s just leave it at this: Soup is good.

soupWinter Maybe-Maybe-Not-Minestrone Soup

1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 butternut squash, chopped
2 cups diced tomatoes (or 1 can)
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 cartons chicken stock
salt & pepper
turmeric
2 cans great northern beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups quinoa, cooked
fresh grated parmesan (for garnish)

In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute onion, celery, and carrots until onion is translucent. Add garlic, saute until fragrant. Add pumpkin puree, butternut squash, diced tomatoes, kale, chicken stock, and flavorings (salt, pepper, turmeric) to taste. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, until veggies are tender. Add beans and quinoa, simmer a few minutes until warmed through. Enjoy with freshly grated parmesan on top.

makes me feel old

Sometimes I feel like I’m still 19. And then I talk to a 19 year-old and realize, NO.

Don’t get me wrong, I am unceasingly grateful to be adding wisdom to my years (and vice versa). There is beauty and growth in each season of life, and I hope to hold on to it while it is my reality. But part of that is being able to take it all in stride, so without further ado…

Things that have made me feel old lately*:

  • Receiving a graduation announcement from someone I used to baby-sit… When she was still in diapers.
  • My friends are having babies on purpose.
  • My little brother just finished his first year of pharmacy school.
  • This work of art. Notably:
    • #42: It’s been 25 years (!) of Full House.
    • #40: Haha! Also: Saturday morning cartoons. And TGIF.
    • #36: If you think about it, it’s kind of creepy. But still true.
    • #18: No.
    • #10: Clarissa Explains It All!
  • Catching myself saying, “How is this year almost half over?”
  • Had to inform the youngin’ cutting my hair that the song I was raving about that was playing in the studio was by Ace of Base. Also: I think “The Sign” was my first CD… Too embarrassed to mention my first casette tape.
  • Being called “m’am.” I know being in the “south” is part of it, but it still freaks me out every time.

And to bring it all full circle… This. Search your Twitter handle (or mine: @cooktravelyoga) or the Wikipedia entry for “meditation,” and carry on from there.

*Apologies to my mom who probably has her own list, starting with “My daughter wrote this blog post…”

thoughts on meditation

Just wanted to pop in and share this beautiful thought on meditation practice from this interview with spiritual teacher Sally Kempton:

For many of my students, the key is to realize that when you sit for meditation, you are entering into a relationship with yourself. As in any relationship, it will sometimes feel easy and flowing, and sometimes feel challenging. If your commitment is to exploring the self, then whatever you experience in meditation is interesting, juicy. And the more you are interested in the process, the more meditation reveals itself.

Another secret is simply to give yourself time. At its core, meditation is a bandwidth in consciousness. It’s a state of presence that is always present behind and within the thoughts and emotions that normally clog the mind. If you sit for long enough, that bandwidth will naturally arise, and you’ll shift out of identifying with thoughts to being fully present in the meditative channel. Depending on how active your mind is, you might need to sit for between half an hour and one hour to fully enter into the natural state of meditation.

Finally, you need to be willing to experiment. Some of us do best with a simple breath and mindfulness practice. Others go deeper when they practice with a mantra. Some people respond to guidance, especially visual guidance. So it’s important to play with different practices, and find an approach that feels juicy to you. That helps you feel peaceful. That you enjoy. The more you enjoy it, the more likely it is that you’ll do it.

And, it’s important to read about meditation. Many great meditators have shared their personal experience. When you’ve read the teachings from the different traditions, you start to see what they have in common, and where the experience of meditators of the past can inform your own. And, if you read widely and intelligently, you begin to realize that meditation is never one size fits all, and it encourages you to experiment, which I believe is crucial.

pasta primavera

Why, hello there. My birthday was last week, and I have a gift for you! A recipe (method) for easy, peasy, delicious Pasta Primavera.

Spring vegetables are so fresh, beautiful, and bursting with flavor right now. I filled two half-sheet baking pans with a bag of baby squashes that I picked up at Costco (cutest things ever!), chopped asparagus and carrots, and a thinly sliced onion and roasted them, then added jarred roasted red peppers and fresh grape tomatoes. Use any combination you like. More color means more nutrition and yumminess!

pasta primavera

Pasta Primavera

spring vegetables for roasting
olive oil
salt, pepper, dried herbes de provence
1/2 box whole wheat pasta
roasted red peppers
grape tomatoes
chopped flat leaf parsley
shredded fresh parmesan (optional)

Trim and chop vegetables and place on baking sheets. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbes de provence. Roast at 450F unti tender. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain. Toss pasta, roasted vegetables, roasted red peppers, grape tomatoes, and parsley with pasta water until desired consistency. Season as desired, topping with parmesan if using. Enjoy!