I have been super MIA. This time of year I seem to get so sucked into laziness as the days get shorter and the sun and warmth disappear. This makes it particularly hard to snap a photo of dinner when dinner is a bowl of roasted veggies we eat at 9pm.
With my husband and I both in grad school (me full time, him part time) and both working (him full time, me part time) we often find ourselves home late only to look at each other and almost simultaneously say "wanna order sweetgreen". Maybe I am SUPER basic, but I freaking love sweetgreen. Something about being able to order a hardy, filling salad that's comparable to something homemade feels like such an easy satisfying choice.
And being the total creature of habit that I am, despite going to sweetgreen maybe 20 + times I order the same thing literally every time: The Harvest Bowl no chicken. Sometimes I add tofu, sometimes I add falafel, sometimes I add nothing but it's so damn good on it's own.
With thanksgiving coming, I knew I wanted to recreate my beloved salad at home. I spruced it up with pomegranates and used warm roasted butternut instead of the cold sweet potato slices and it is everything. Prepping all of the different elements takes some time - which is part of what makes sweetgreen so damn tempting for folks who are busy, but it is worth the effort if you have some extra time. And because kale is basically the most badass green you can totally eat the leftovers the next day without them getting soggy! This will for sure be on our thanksgiving table this year!
Serves 4 as a large meal, or 8-10 as an appetizer/side
Inspired by: sweetgreen
1 small butternut squash
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 cup wild rice, uncooked
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large pomegranate (or about 3/4 cup arils)
1 large bunch of kale (~10-12 oz), de-ribbed and thinly chopped
1 large honeycrisp apple, cored and diced into large cubes
3 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the balsamic vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Meanwhile peel the butternut, then slice in half and discard the stringy center and seeds (or toast them with olive oil and salt for a tasty snack). Dice the butternut and then toss the cubes with oil and a liberal amount of salt. Bake the butternut for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned, tossing halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly as you assemble the rest of the salad.
Make the rice. Bring water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then add the rice, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 50 minutes (or per the instructions on your rice container).
Slice open the pomegranate and remove the seeds. I find the easiest way to do this is to quarter the pomegranate then submerge one quarter at a time in a large bowl of water. Underwater carefully tear away the pith, removing the rubies. The rubies will float to the top of the water and the pith will fall to the bottom!
Roast the almonds. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees (alternately you could roast the almonds in a small toaster oven - that's usually what I do). Toss almonds with olive oil and salt and cook for about 5 minutes until almond skins begin to crack and turn a dark brown color (watch carefully so they don't burn). You want to bring them right to the edge of burnt so they are crunchy and extremely fragrant. Roughly chop and set aside.
Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients into a airtight jar (I use a mason) and shake until combined. Pour about half of the dressing over the kale and using your hands, massage the kale and dressing together for a good 3 minutes until the kale becomes limp and the pile decreases in size. Top with the roasted squash, wild rice, pomegranate seeds, almonds, goat cheese, and apple. Drizzle on the remaining dressing, toss and serve!
These cookies smell and taste like a soft gooey version of girl scout's thin mints (without all the chemicals!). They're made with almond meal which makes them gluten-free and surprisingly loaded with protein. They're also dairy-free and made with coconut oil, which makes them sort of healthy, but still ridiculously delicious.
They're great right out of the oven but better the longer they sit. Topped with crunchy sea salt, they're crispy around the edges and soft and brownie-like in the center. I don't mess around when it comes to chocolate so I more than tripled the amount of chocolate chunks from the original recipe. Each cookie is filled with big puddles of chocolatey goodness. Also, they will make your house smell amazing!
Makes 18-20 cookies
Adapted from: Sprouted Kitchen
1 1/4 cups (137 grams) almond meal
1/2 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (65 grams) brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (I used the frontier brand)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup (120 grams/6 oz) dark chocolate chunks
chunky sea salt for serving
In a small bowl combine the almond meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil (make sure it's melted but not hot as you don't want scrambled eggs!), peppermint extract, and vanilla extract.
Gentle whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Pour in the chocolate chunks and stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate into the dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Note the dough can be made a day in advance.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, place the dough balls onto the parchment then flatten slightly. Cook for 7-10 minutes until fragrant. Sprinkle with chunky sea salt. Best served when cooled completely.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
- Mary Oliver
I teach a weekly mindfulness class at my practicum site to patients suffering from chronic pain. I'm also finally taking an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class myself right now so mindfulness has been on mind a lot recently.
I teach my class every week and wonder how I will attempt to articulate to my patients that instead of ignoring, fighting, or trying to fix their pain they should actually sit with and attune to their pain. Creating some space and acceptance for their pain and their experience of it. I tell patients this and I get a lot of looks from people who think I must be out of my mind because why on earth would they want to be with pain? This becomes even more uncomfortable coming from someone who doesn't truly get what it's like to live with chronic pain. How easy it is for me to teach when I don't truly understand.
Then, this week I was personally struggling with anxiety so consuming it felt debilitating. And for the first time came to understand Mary Oliver's famous Wild Geese poem that I must have heard a thousand times but never really understood. The poem says that despite our suffering, the world lends itself to us, moment by moment. All we have to do is open our senses and plug into it.
My work this week has been to stay will my anxiety, to watch it wash over me like a wave with a rip current so strong it threatens to pull me under. To sit with it, and notice how intense and consuming it feels in my body. To be with it's intricacies. Pema Chodron talks about how quick we are to pull away from our heavy experiences. She uses the metaphor of staying with the experience, taking off our shoes and coat and walking around in our experience for a while, getting to know it more intimately.
To watch as this anxiety rushes through me, and stay with the experience of it until it dissipates or evolves into something else. And it will. It will change and evolve, it will become manageable. And then it will probably come back again. And the closer I can stay to the experience of it all, the sooner it will pass. And although my anxiety is undoubtedly much different than living with chronic pain, I feel that it has helped me connect more deeply to the patients I work with. It has reminded me on my bike rides to work that the world offers itself to me through the changing leaves on the trees in lincoln park and the reflection of the cars on lakeshore drive on the glassy water. It reminds me through my dog's adorable way of nuzzling her head against my chest when she knows I really need it. It reminds me through the crisp air that makes contact with my skin as I feel the seasons change. It reminds me through my intimate connection to the saving grace that is my breath, that is there for me to use it at any second of any day. The world around us is there to support and carry us, should we be brave enough to look outside of ourselves and connect to it.
I feel so strongly about this work. I feel so strongly that by attuning to and being with our experience we can find healing within ourselves. And I'm not sure how all of this relates to these apple bars but I felt the need to share.
This recipe is my mom's. I ate it most Falls growing up. My mom is the type of person who always has at least 5 different types of breads, cookies, and desserts in the freezer or fridge defrosting at any given point. And even though I might have replaced the all purpose flour for oat flour, it still tastes like the original. It's sweet and moist and loaded with apples which is great if you're like me and came home with way too many after a day of apple picking.
3 large (flax or regular) eggs*
1 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
3/4 cups olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups oat flour (I blended 2 cups old fashioned oats in a blender)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 apples (~1.5 pounds), peeled cored and very thinly sliced
Notes: I've made this recipe with both flax and regular eggs. If using flax eggs, combine 3 tablespoons of flax seed meal with 1/2 cup minus 1.5 teaspoons water in a small prep bowl. Stir to combine and let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Use this mixture in place of the 3 eggs.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13 inch (or something close) pan.
Combine oat flour, salt, baking soda, and spices in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla. Gentle pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine. Gently fold in the apples. Pour the mixture into the pan and use a spatula to flatten out the top, ensuring that apples are evenly distributed.
Bake for 1 hour - 1 hour and 10 minutes until the top is lightly crisped and browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool, then cut into squares and serve.
These are particularly fantastic server warm with vanilla bean ice cream.