plant eater

The Queen Of All Tomatoes: Early Girls from Live Earth Farm

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Earlier this month I discovered Early Girl tomatoes. I was shopping at Monterey Market in Berkeley, California when a huge box of the most amazingly vibrant tomatoes caught my eye. A worker was unloading them and I simply asked, "What are those?" Before he could even respond, the lady next to him said, "The most delicious tomatoes you'll ever eat. Just get a whole bag full." The worker went on to tell me that they were Early Girls, a dry-farmed tomato variety. He told me that the tomatoes are just watered a few times right when they are planted, and are then left to do their plant magic! The result is a smaller, yet more flavorful tomato. I was sold, did what the lady recommended, and brought a whole bag home.

The lady was right! They were the most delicious tomatoes I ever tasted and couldn't help but eat three whole, raw tomatoes when I got home. Like literally, I just ate them like you would an apple. After I took a moment to pause and gain some composure, I decided to make gazpacho! You might remember that we had a few 100Β° plus days earlier this month so I needed some thing cooling and refreshing. You can check out that recipe and the Gazpacho Goodness post here. It was simply divine and perfectly delicious.

The thing is, once you get a taste for Early Girls, you won't want anything else.

The tomatoes whispered and reminded me that it’s OK to be vulnerable and that there is actually great authenticity and desirability in being delicate and fully seen.

I have come to realize, over and over again, that as much as you look for something, something also finds you. Through a series of choices and a commitment to following your heart, you arrive at something that you have no choice but to accept: to learn more, work for, live with, or live for. It becomes a part of you and you become a part of it. You become a dedicated Spirit committed to the path, the direction, the life that has found you. Teaching yoga and meditation is that for me AND I'm starting to discover and get pulled by plants and the land as well. Vegetables, herbs, and aromatherapy keep walking into my life and I feel like I have no choice but to walk with them. I am particularly drawn to specific plants such as frankincense, calendula, eggplant, olives, and now dry-farmed tomatoes.  

After I ate my first Early Girl, I had this urgent need to know where these perfect little tomatoes came from and after a bit of online researching, I found Live Earth Farm in Watsonville, CA. They are committed to growing exceptional food with care and respect for the land. They grow all the amazing things: apples, strawberries, kale, lettuce, carrots, peppers, beets, summer squash and what I now call the Queen, Early Girls, dry-farmed tomatoes. 

Shelby, farmer, holder of the land, and spirited human being, greeted me with kindness and open arms. She showed me to the tomato fields and set me free! It felt like she was saying, "My farm is your farm," and the land was saying, "This is yours and you are mine." There was a harmony, a peace, and wildness to the time I spent wandering and being in the fields. The tomatoes whispered and reminded me that it's OK to be vulnerable and that there is actually great authenticity and desirability in being delicate and fully seen. 

I know this is a start of a life-long relationship and I'm excited to learn more and experiment with different recipes. If you are near Watsonville, I highly, HIGHLY recommend a visit. They have lots of u-pick weekends and a few yearly events. Right now you can pick strawberries and tomatoes and soon you will be able to pick apples! And on Saturday, October 21st Earth Live Farm is hosting a Harvest Festival with apple cider pressing, pumpkin decorating, tractor rides, live music, and lots of goodies. Check it all out here. 

And now I'll leave you with a contemplation:

What does the land offer?

What do we offer to the land?

How do our actions affect the land?

How can we, human beings, be more mindful, respectful, and compassionate to the life and nourishment all around us?

Peace Out,

M


Intuitive Recipe: Cold Lentil Salad

Cold Lentil salad

Cold Lentil salad

Living and growing up in Florida trained me to manage the hot and humid weather and so while most everyone around me was complaining and saying "I am hot," this past weekend, I happily embraced the rare muggy and intense heat. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that Saturday was my FIRST beach day in California, where I actually wore a bathing suit and went INTO the ocean.

I never, never thought that day would come but it did and it was a much needed and enlightening homecoming. It inspired me to think about my life in California and how long I'll really be able to live here. I am a beach and warm weather girl and know I will one day find my way back to a more tropical location to call HOME. There are lots of things I appreciate about California, like the most delicious and accessible produce, wild landscapes, and open and curious people, but I know in my heart California is not HOME for me. My body and mind and overall wellness thrive in warmer and wetter climates.

But for now I'm here in Berkeley and know there is work, good work, to be done.

So when the 100 degrees hit us last week I noticed one, and I realize it's a big one, difference between 100 degrees in Florida and 100 degrees in Berkeley. There is NO air conditioning here, or at least not in my modest cottage. So while the indoors, pools, and beaches are a respite in Florida, it's a little more difficult to cool off here in California. We bought fans and went to the beach, and ate cooling foods and drinks. 

I already shared my delicious dry farmed tomato gazpacho recipe and plan to add it to our "go-to" recipe list. Seriously, if you have never tried a dry farmed tomato, please go out and find one. They only water the tomatoes when they are planted, which results in a smaller and more flavorful tomato. Srsly, tho... it means business. 

Here is another fabulous cooling meal with LOTS of protein. The original recipe with exact amounts is here, but I used it mostly to gather key ingredients. If you've been reading my Intuitive Recipe posts, you'll know I am practicing my intuition by cooking from a place of "feeling" and with LOTS of taste tests.

It turned out perfect and much more filling than the gazpacho recipe. Did you know there are 18 grams of protein in one cup of boiled lentils? So if you are looking for a refreshing and protein-rich meal, this is your gal!

As always, please comment below with any questions or thoughts and if you find this recipe tasty, share with friends and family.

Light and Love,

Meredith


Cold Lentil Salad Recipe

Remember, this is a guideline and it's purposefully vague. Practice your intuition, be playful, and do lots of taste tests! 

Ingredients:

Green lentils, two bay leaves, some garlic, olive oil, salt, whole grain mustard, sherry vinegar, cucumbers, mint, tomatoes, pitted olives, and avocado.

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Process:

Place lentils, garlic cloves, and bay leaves in a pot and pour water until it's covered by two inches. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat until it's a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender. Drain and chill in the refrigerator until cold. 

While the lentils are chilling, whisk together mustard, vinegar, salt and olive oil.

Chop up the cucumbers, mint, tomatoes, olives, and avocado.

When the lentils are cold, stir in the vegetables and dressing and there you have it! A deliciously cooling and filling meal for your hottest of days. 


The Conversation Continues: Eating Whole-Foods and Plants

I called my sister Madeline to see how her newly adopted plant-based diet was going. If you remember, Madeline inspired and encouraged me and my entire family to explore whole-foods and plants while eliminating meat, dairy, sugary and processed foods. We checked in yesterday and you'll never believe what she had to say!

Enjoy and comment below with any questions or thoughts! 

Light and Love,

Meredith


Meredith: Hey, so it's been two months since we started this diet. How is going for you?

Madeline: Good. It's been really fun to learn more about plants- I had no idea there were so many varieties and tastes.

Meredith: I know, right? It's been fun for me too- going to the market and choosing the most colorful, vibrant, and enticing vegetables. I've also haven't ever really been into cooking so I've been enjoying my extra time in the kitchen. Have you noticed any changes in your life?

Madeline: Hmmm... a lot of people have been asking me if I've noticed any changes in my energy levels. To be honest, I'm young and I think I had pretty stable energy levels before this change in diet. On the other hand, Mom and Dad have noticed a lot more sustained energy throughout the day. The main, and pretty significant, difference in my life is how fast I can run now!

Meredith: What do you mean? How fast can you run? 

Madeline: Well, you know I run a lot and go on two 10 mile runs each week. I used to average 9:25 minute miles. But now... I average 8:10 minute miles. That is over one minute faster for each mile! I've shaved 10 minutes off my long runs.

Meredith: What?! That is insane. Do you contribute your increase in speed to the diet?

Madeline: I certainly think it has helped. I have made a few other changes in my life and in my training routine that I think have also play a part.

Meredith: What else are you doing differently?

Madeline: Well, I'm more consistent with my training. I created a more difficult and strategic training plan this summer and have stuck with it. I also started practicing yoga three times a week, which I think helps with sustainability and recovery. 

Meredith: Interesting- you know I'm not that into running, but I would be curious to see the plan you followed. Maybe you can send it to me?

Madeline: Yeah, sure. I also changed my post-run shake to align with my diet, which I think has played a huge role in recovery time. I noticed that I'm never sore!

Meredith: What is in your post-run shake?

Madeline: almond milk, Vega Sport Protein Powder, a handful of greens, one banana, frozen or fresh fruit, 1/2 teaspoon of chlorella powder, 1/2 teaspoon of Maca Powder, a heaping teaspoon of flax seeds, ice, and a drizzle of blue agave or honey for sweetness.

                Madeline's morning post-run shake

                Madeline's morning post-run shake

Meredith: What is chlorella and maca?

Madeline: Chlorella is an algae that contains 19 amino acids, making it a complete protein. It has the highest content of chlorophyl of all known plants, which acts to detox and oxygenate the body. I think chlorella has played a huge role in my speedy recoveries. And maca is a root that helps balance hormones and relieve stress. I think maca has helped me sustain my energy and intensity during long runs.

Meredith: Interesting, I'll have to look more into this. I wonder how you would modify this for someone who isn't as active as you are.

Madeline: I use Vega Sport Protein powder, but there is also a Vega One option that already has chlorella, maca, and flax among lots of other good things! I would recommend Vega One for anyone eating whole-foods and plants and the Vega Sport for anyone extra active, like me. I use the Vega Protein for extra muscle strength to support my running. In general, these smoothies are an easy way to make sure you are getting the proper spectrum and amounts of plant protein and amino acids. 

Meredith: Yes, it does seem like a quick and efficient way to get all the good things into your body. I've been doing a lot of cooking and do spend quite a bit more time in the kitchen than I did before. Ease and convenience seem to be major concerns for people who are interested, but hesitant to explore the plant-based diet. I know you and the rest of the family recently spent some time in the Florida Keys. Was it hard to travel on this diet?

Madeline: Surprisingly, not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. We didn't plan ahead and pack meals for the drive down, but we still managed to find protein-rich items at fast food restaurants likes Chipotle and even Wendy's! And when we ate out in the keys, the chefs were all very accommodating. 

Meredith: So you have managed to stay very active and travel on the whole-foods and plant-based diet. What would you recommend for someone who is curious, but overwhelmed by the idea of giving up meat and dairy?

Madeline: I would recommend learning all you can! Knowledge about animal protein vs. plant protein and their effects on the body was more than enough motivation for me to go all in. Like I mentioned before, Forks Over Knives is a great starting point and source of inspiration. 

Meredith: And I think curiosity is what made this approachable for me. I went in thinking this was an exploration, not a permanent change. I don't think I'll ever go back to eating meat as my main source of protein, but I could see myself eating locally caught fish or even pizza everyone once in a while. I feel energized, clean, and AWAKE when eating whole-foods and plants and that is what keeps me going. 

Madeline: Yes, this diet seems to support the the active and full lifestyle that I want to live. 

Meredith: You have been home for the summer, but are about to go back to college. I wonder how your school environment will effect this diet. Let's reconnect in a few weeks. 

Madeline: Yes, me too. Even though my school has good and healthy options, I do think I will blend my own smoothies and cook more in the communal kitchen. I'll feel it out and update you when I know more. Thanks for taking the time to listen, explore, and share my journey.

Meredith: Likewise- love you, sis! I'm very proud of and inspired by you and your commitment to your own well-being.