Catching Up…

Where oh where has time gone?! I can’t believe I have already been here for an entire month… and sadly only two posts! I feel I am finally getting a firm grasp on managing my time properly with all the things I’m doing, but with each new week I seem to sign myself up to take on something else. Things I currently juggle (so pardon my excuses for anything, ever):

-Researching for my assistantship
-Slow Food Chatham Co-Leader! Me & some friends are starting a chapter on campus. So excited to bring an internationally recognized organization here!
-Real Food Day Coordinator @ Chatham
-Yoga Flow Work Exchange
-Volunteering @ food bank, food pantry, and Grow Pittsburgh
-Trying to figure out how to avoid the steep hills in Squirrel Hill on my one speed bicycle. Still failing.
-Brewing a new batch of kombucha. Thanks to a VERY generous scoby donation from Miss Amanda West!
-Running around my gorgeous neighborhood and Frick Park when my legs don’t feel they are going to snap off from the all the hills. As a runner I now realize how good I had it in Chicago.
-Reading endless amounts of literature & writing papers that near fry my brain.
and doing all this without caffeine. I cut the cord with coffee back in January and still haven’t returned. I’m toying with the idea of chai or yerba mate. I may need it soon.

So yes, I’ve been settling into my groove here. I’m head over heels in love with Pittsburgh and wouldn’t change it for anything (… maybe a day roaming the countryside in France… that sounds amazing).

Two Sundays ago we had a Food Studies potluck out at Eden Hall Campus. Those in attendance were my cohort, the year above, faculty and some family. Everyone brought something to contribute & you can imagine what a group of foodies would bring…. lots of AMAZINGness! It was so nice to share homemade food with everyone and hang out at the farm. The building we ate in (where we also have classes) has a bowling alley and pool table. Yes, my school is that awesome… as are my teachers. Not only do I get to have class in the garden, munching on delicious tomatoes whenever I please, but my teacher instructs in her socks. Taking off your shoes is encouraged at Eden Hall. I’m so in love with this place.

My contribution to the potluck was a broccoli raisin salad. I’m still under the spell of a raw broccoli craze so in lieu of that I found this recipe on my favorite raw foods blog to share with Chatham folks. You’d never expect this to be entirely raw– the cashew dressing you make in place of mayonnaise is very deceiving to both the eye and palate. Yum!

Broccoli Raisin Salad

Cashew Dressing:
1 C raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours
Juice of 1 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 C-1 C water
1 shallot (2 tbsp chopped)
1 clove garlic, chopped
Dash of stevia or drizzle of honey
1/2 tbsp mustard powder
dash of salt

Blend all ingredients on high until a smooth dressing is achieved. Start with 1/4 C of water and add little bits if necessary until you acquire the thinness/thickness of your choice.

Next… in a bowl add 6 C chopped broccoli florets, 1/2 red onion (diced), 1 C raisins, and 1/2 C sunflower seeds. Mix in the dressing and coat well.

You’ll never miss the mayonnaise and bacon bits! (On a side note… did you know that most bacon bits don’t even have BACON in them? Yep, just like Aunt Jemima “maple” syrup is corn syrup with maple flavoring, bacon bits are probably soy protein with bacon flavor).

If you have extra cashew dressing it also makes for an excellent hummus substitute. With some carrot and celery, I managed to devour the cashew leftovers in just a few minutes. Try it, you just might love it!

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P’Burgh Happenings

Part of my overwhelming excitement to move to Pittsburgh (aside from school) was discovering what my new community has to offer to me. I came here with a whole list of places & organizations I wanted to involve myself with. Two priorities on that list were a) yoga studio & b) raw foods group. I did a bit of research and took on a work exchange with a hot yoga studio,Yoga Flow, just a few minutes from me & campus. They have such a gorgeous studio sans mirrors! It’s been awhile since I did yoga without mirrors and I love it. My concentration is so much better without mine and everyone else’s reflections. The hardest part is getting to and from the studio: the combo of a one gear bike plus many many HILLS is difficult. It involves a lot of huffing and puffing… and cursing under my breath…

After having such a great experience in Hawaii with fellow hikers found through Meetup.com, I decided to see what Pittsburgh meetup community had. I was pleasantly surprised to find a raw foods group with just under 500 members! What?! I would have never thought. PLUS they were hosting an event Labor Day weekend that I was able to attend. Double bonus! So a fellow raw foodie and classmate of mine drove out to Frankferd Farm this Saturday to attend an informational discussion on the family owned farm’s organic store/bulk warehouse, followed by a raw foods potluck in their barn. It was wonderful! Despite it being very hot and humid-like you don’t have to lift a finger and you’re drenched in sweat kind of day-it was such a wonderful afternoon. I met wonderful people, had great conversations, and most importantly enjoyed lots of delicious food. My contribution was wild rice with mushrooms & spiced mango chutney. Considering I had never made this before or even made anything with soaked rice… it turned out to be a success worth sharing. Everyone really enjoyed it… came home with an empty bowl!

The prep for this dish was very easy. Soak 1 C of wild rice for at least 24 hours. The longer you soak the rice, the softer it becomes mimicking cooked. After having soaked rice to your preference, drain rice with a mesh colander and give it a good rinse. Add to a med-large mixing bowl, set aside.

For the spiced mango chutney (adapted from Sunny Raw Kitchen) you will need:
1 medium mango
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp cumin
pinch of salt

Dice mango and place in small mixing bowl. In a blender, add remaining ingredients & blend on high for a few minutes & then add to mango. Add chutney to rice and stir to combine. Next add chopped mushrooms (crimini or portobello), raisins, diced dried apricots, and 2 tbsp chopped cilantro. Mix well. Preparing this dish ahead of time will allow the flavors to marinade together. Although if you can’t hold out it is just as good right away :)

Namaste

Namaste. I love this word; so simple yet profound. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, it is sanskrit and can be defined somewhere along the lines of “the divinity in me honors the divinity in you”. “Nama” = bow, “as” = “I”, and “te” = you. Beginning and ending ones yoga practice involves bringing your hands to heart center, bowing forward, honoring yourself & teacher while saying “namaste”. Something as simple as honoring the good in yourself and teacher (whether it actually be an instructor, the universe, or the person next to you) brings about a powerful sense of gratitude. I particularly love this quote in Yoga Journal from Aadil Palkhivala, “For a teacher and student, Namaste allows two individuals to come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness, free from the bonds of ego-connection. If it is done with deep feeling in the heart and with the mind surrendered, a deep union of spirits can blossom.” Surrendering the mind, letting go of one’s ego, and honoring that around you is inspiring-to say the least.

So I propose to you if you haven’t already done so today… bring your hands to heart center, bring awareness to your breath, and bow forward saying namaste to whoever or whatever you feel strongest about right now. You’ll be giving and receiving powerful energy that will be sure to make your heart shine.