Food

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. 


Intuitive Recipe: Gazpacho Goodness

Gazpacho 

Gazpacho 

So it's 101 degrees as I write this in Berkeley, which is pretty INSANE. In the five years I've lived in the  SF Bay Area, I have never felt sooooo hot. It reminds me of Florida, which I appreciate but in Florida you usually have a pool or refreshing ocean to jump into. It would be a trek to go to Ocean Beach and to be honest, it just isn't an appealing beach to me. Try and change my mind?

But anyways, it's HOT so when I was thinking of about what I wanted for lunch all I could think about was Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup. All the traditional style recipes use bread and they recommended using day old country bread which... come on... who has that?

So I kept looking and found this recipe posted in the NY Times of all places. I made sure I had all the main ingredients and just kinda went for it! If you read my Golden Beet Hummus recipe post, you'll remember that I'm new to cooking and am trying to cook intuitively so I'm not so attached to one certain recipe or one certain way of doing something. 

The Gazpacho turned out light, refreshing, and tasty and I highly recommend it for an appetizer or lunch on a hot day. I ate it with a bunch of seeded crackers and felt perfectly satisfied, though you would need something more for a dinner meal. I plan on pairing it with a cold green lentil salad later tonight and will post that recipe later this weekend.

Until then.. eat well and be well, my friends!


Gazpacho Recipe

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

Here's What You'll Need:

A Blender or Food Processor and I have this one. If you don't have a food processor and you can afford it, it's a life changer. I use it regularly to make hummus and all sorts of dressings, soups, and nut butters and bars. It's a must have. 

Ingredients:

Lots of tomatoes, a few cloves of garlic, sherry vinegar (or some vinegar), a bit of olive oil, paprika and salt for the soup.

Finely chopped onion, tomatoes, and cucumbers, basil, and hemp seeds for garnish.

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All you need to do is put the tomatoes, two slices of onion, a few garlic cloves, a couple tablespoons of vinegar, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, paprika and salt in food processor until mixed.

Then, transfer soup to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until nice and cold.

While you are doing that, mix the chopped onion (about a half a cup), cucumber (another half cup), and tomatoes in a bowl- add salt and pepper to taste.

Voila! 

When you are ready to eat and serve, spoon the cold soup in a bowl and top with the garnish: onion, tomatoes, cucumber, basil and hemp seeds. 

Comment below! I love hearing your thoughts and questions and knowing I'm not the only one reading this :)

Light and Love,

Meredith


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. 


Intuitive Recipe: Golden Beet Hummus

I'm calling this an "intuitive recipe." If you follow my stories on Instagram, you probably saw that I discovered and made this Golden Beet Hummus recipe from 101 Cookbooks. It was DELICIOUS and filling and I knew this would be a regular snack item in my house. However, I didn't want to feel like I was tied to the exact recipe so this is my version, from what I can remember, tasting along the way, and from what my intuition told me to put together. The recipe is purposefully vague so you can play around with amounts and ingredients and make something that is satisfying and nourishing for you. It is beautiful, tasty, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, and full of protein and antioxidants.

Here is what I used: a can of chickpeas, one golden beet, one large Meyer lemon, a few garlic cloves, two spoonfuls of tahini, some turmeric, and a bit of salt. 

If you have a food processor, this recipe couldn't be easier- you basically just put, one by one, each ingredient in the food processor until everything is blended together. I wanted my hummus extra smooth so I took the skins off of the chickpeas, though this is entirely unnecessary. I also decided to use a raw beet so I simply skinned my beet and cut it into cubes. If you are going to use a blender, I would recommend steaming your beet for about 15 minutes or until it's soft. After I put the chickpeas and beet in my food processor, my mixture got a bit dry so I added the lemon juice and a bit of ice cold water. You want the hummus to look pasty and then smooth. Once the main ingredients are blended, you can play around with what else you want or have in the kitchen- I added garlic, tahini, turmeric and salt but can imagine this working with a variety of spices and flavors!

I sprinkled hemp seeds on top the first time I made this, but today I used the green onion I had left over in the fridge. You could also try topping it with pomegranate seeds, sesame oil, rosemary, or whatever! Practice cooking from a place of intuition, and let me know how it goes. Cooking in this way has honed my sense of intuition and it leaves me feeling creative, energized, and free.

Enjoy the hummus with raw veggies or seeded crackers.

From my light to yours,

Meredith


 

Whole-Food, Plant-Based Backpacking Meals

Desolation Wilderness, California

Desolation Wilderness, California

Can you stay nourished, energized, and satisfied on this diet while backpacking through the wilderness? YES! I recently gave it a go during a 3-day, 2-night, trip and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. In fact, I planned the food for six people and everyone was thankful for the hearty and tasty meals I provided. Here is what we ate:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, dried fruit, and almond butter

Oatmeal is a whole-grain, making it the ideal breakfast food for a good amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber, along with traces of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, zine, and iron!

The nutritional value of dried fruit depends on what variety you choose. I found a good list with information here. We brought a variety of dried raisins to put in our morning oatmeal, giving a calorie, protein, and fiber boost to our day.

Nut butters are a good source of protein, fiber, and good fats.

 

Lunch: Hummus, carrots, green peppers, whole-wheat tortillas, apples, and almond butter

Although hummus is low in calories, it is high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It also has traces of vitamin k, vitamin c, zinc, iron, and magnesium.

I love the satisfying crunch of carrots and green peppers and used them to dip in the hummus. I also find green peppers refreshing and hydrating. You can play around with what vegetables to bring- carrots and green peppers are pretty sturdy and pack well.

We actually brought whole-wheat tortillas AND pita bread, but I prefer tortillas and use them to make a hummus and veggie wrap.

Apples are also very refreshing and easy to pack. DELICIOUS with almond butter. We managed to bring 6-8 apples (everyone carried at least one) and I think we had an extra to cut up and put in our oatmeal on the third morning :)

 

Snack Attack- nuts and seeds, dried fruit, chocolate- also more veggies, hummus, apples, and nut butter

We brought a variety of nuts and seeds, including almonds, cashews, peanuts, and macadamia nuts along with dried cranberries and cherries and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. They all contain a good amount of calories, healthy fats and carbohydrates, and different vitamins and minerals. Here is more information about nuts and seeds.

We also had a trail mix with chocolate. WARNING: chocolate might melt and turn your trail mix into a gooey, but still delicious snack! 

 

Dinner Meal #1- Green lentils, millet, onion, spices (turmeric, coriander, paprika, ground cumin, and salt)

Green Lentils are packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber! The are also a good source of iron, zinc, potassium and folate.

I had never cooked millet before, but I heard it was very good for you. It took a bit longer to cook than I would have liked, but this could have been because the pot we were using wasn't cooking evenly. However, millet has a TON of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, copper, and phosphorous. Couscous or quinoa would be two other good options to add here.

Onions are easy to pack and add a delicious flavor to any meal! 

I pre-mixed a variety of spices and put them in a ziplock bag. This is totally optional, but definitely added a lot of good flavor to our meals.

 

Dinner Meal #2- barley, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, and green pepper

Barley is whole grain that is very filling and delicious. It contains many good vitamins and minerals and is easy to cook. We added our last onion and green pepper to add some fresh flavor.

Sun-dried tomatoes will add a PUNCH of good flavor along with a good amount of calories, protein, and fiber. 

 

Success! We ate so well and felt great the entire trip.

What is your experience? What meals would you or have you packed on overnight hiking trips? Please share you own ideas! Let's support each other in living long and healthy lives!

#spiritwellness #yoga #meditation #mindfulness #wellness #eatmoreplants #domoreyoga 

A Conversation With My Sister: On A Whole Foods and Plant Based Diet

Farro bowl with fresh peas and pea shoots, radishes, and golden baby beets, all tossed with a spirited dressing

Farro bowl with fresh peas and pea shoots, radishes, and golden baby beets, all tossed with a spirited dressing


I recently sat down with my sister to discuss her recent decision to adopt a whole foods and plant based diet. I was initially skeptical, but after our conversation, I committed to giving it a try! In fact, my whole family is eating this way for the next two months.


Meredith: Break this down for me. I know a bit about veganism and vegetarianism, but this seems like something more. How would you start to describe a whole foods and plant based diet and what makes it different?

Madeline: This diet is essentially "vegan" in that it doesn't include any foods that derive from animals- no meat, no dairy, no eggs. However, it is not so much concerned with what you DON'T eat as much as it is interested in what you DO eat. There is a focus on eating nourishing foods derived from the ground- plants, legumes, grains, etc. It would technically be ok for vegetarians or vegans to eat sugary, processed, or fried foods but this is not true with the whole foods and plant based diet. 

Meredith: Ah, so no french fries?

Madeline: Exactly and I find that I don't even want "junk" food now that I have knowledge of how healing and nourishing plants are. I want to live a long and healthy life, which motivates me to eat this way. 

Meredith: Interesting. So would you agree this is a "selfish" diet? 

Madeline: That is one way of putting it. I know a lot of vegetarians and/or vegans choose to eat the way they do to save animals and the environment. My motivation certainly comes from a more "selfish" point in that I want to live a long and healthy life; however, my choice in diet also positively effects the animals and environment. 

Meredith: So it is a win-win sort of situation.

Madeline: Yes, and I think it is also a situation of taking responsibility for my body- for my health and for the health of the many generations to come after I am gone.

Meredith: Do you think our culture is not taking responsibility for their health? 

Madeline: I think people want to be healthy, but food is so accessible and life is so busy that it is really easy to make beef tacos or order pizza after a long day. I also think there are some myths about the importance of animal protein. The documentary Forks Over Knives is actually what inspired me to adopt this diet and they show how unnecessary and actually harming animal protein is!

Meredith: Yes, I've been wanting to talk about that documentary. Tell me about it- what inspired you so?

Madeline: There was so much DATA! Nearly 20 years of research on the effects of animal protein- leading to heart disease, cancers, high blood pressure and cholesterol, weight gain, early menstruation and menopause, and general grogginess. It highlighted cultures that eat very little meat- only bits for condiments and flavor and after seeing the numbers, the experiments, the data, I couldn't not see anymore. The research made it very clear to me: meat and dairy, in the way most americans consume it, is very unhealthy. Please watch it. It is available on Netflix right now.

Meredith: Haha, ok, I will. One last question because I know you run a lot- you log something like 40 miles a week. You find that this plant based diet gives you enough energy and protein to keep up?

Madeline: YES- absolutely. Legumes and grains like farro and quinoa are packed with protein! I haven't had any issue. Watch the documentary and you'll see.

Meredith: Ok, ok- it's on my list. Thank you for sitting down with me and telling me a bit more about this diet. I have to say, I am curious and look forward to watching Forks Over Knives.

Madeline and Meredith

Madeline and Meredith


It's been nearly three weeks since this conversation and since I also started eating a whole foods and plant based diet. I have to say, I LOVE it! I feel so fresh, light, and energized and the food is so delicious and filling. I'm not sure if I'll ever meat like I did before.

Herbed chickpeas for savory snack!

Herbed chickpeas for savory snack!