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Turkey Apple Chili

Losing Fall makes me cry a bit.
So acceptant, a sparkling
of golden leaves let loose
by October wind.

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Waxy warm shower of sunbursts
getting to the ground
in winter’s impending name.

Soon, we should all meander
closer to the ground
and blanket ourselves in each other.

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The high air will be all frost
and mad wind whip
So I aim to make like the leaves
and lay my body down…

Put some thoughts to bed with her
and send only the scout of my spirit to
the blustery tree tops to watch
as Autumn grins slowly away
carving the curve of the seasons.

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ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey
2 cans cooked beans (black, kidney, pinto… variety is the spice of life.)
2 cups chopped apples
1 head chopped celery
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic
6 oz tomato paste
2 t chili spice
2 t turmeric
1 t cinnamon
1/8 cup each chopped sage + thyme
1/4 cup or less whiskey
splash of strong coffee (optional)
1/2 cup apple cider
water as needed
butter or oil for sauté
sea salt

process:

Mince garlic and roughly chop red onion. Heat oil or butter in a large pot and add garlic + onion, sautéing over medium heat for about 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in sage + thyme with a pinch of sea salt. Pour whiskey in slowly over the aromatics, and cook ~3 minutes to burn off alcohol and infuse flavors.

Add turkey to the pot and allow it to cook through and brown a bit… about 10 minutes, maybe a bit less. While turkey is cooking, chop apples and set aside.

Once the turkey is cooked and fragrant, add beans, tomato paste, raisins, cider, apples and spices (and splash of coffee). Stir well and add enough water to allow chili to simmer. Keep the pot on low heat for 20-30 minutes to allow for full flavor mingling.

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Love Is the New Anything

I was standing in the swimming pool in my pajama shirt and nothing else. I hadn’t showered since the show the night before, I’d just woken up. The Idaho oven-sun beat down and brewed the chlorinated water around my waist. I was on the phone with my dear brother, laughing and goofily half naked in the pool.

I felt so beautiful and true.

Boise sunset.

Boise sunset.

This post by Stefani Ruper at Paleo for Women tackles this thing we have beating inside us. It’s not just women, it’s the whole human lot of us. We are soft and supple; our minds absorb and it takes time to learn how to wring it out and stay clean in there. As much as we may know how silly it is to try and be “skinny” or “strong”, or any-adjective the world has picked for us to chase, these things are heard.

They may be soft. They may appear benign. Force may come in handy here and there, but it makes me sad to think of all the days I dragged my tired, emotionally exhausted butt out of bed to go run on the treadmill in college. It wasn’t from any deep desire other than to control my body, to have a “routine”. Exercise is useful in burning through pervasive, foggy negativity, but first we have to see the negativity for what it is. We can’t escape to the gym, to the self-esteem hit or distraction we receive there.

Tree fairy lady.

Tree fairy lady.

I encourage a partnership with your body, your instrument, your human-life home. There are a million work out “challenges” out there, and some people respond very well to them- this post isn’t for you.

This post is for you if your legs want to give out from three dance classes and the StairMaster. This post is for you if you’ve gone to the gym, putzed around for five minutes and left, totally dejected. This post is for you if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and explained to yourself that what you see is okay because of some- any- external message. This post is for those of you who need gentleness and love to be their guides to knowing their body beauty.

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If you believe that “love” might be your new “strong” or “skinny”, here’s how to bring it into your life.

1. Never underestimate the power of free dance. Walking down the street, in your bedroom in your panties… just groove, y’all. The groove feels so good. The groove gets you movin’ and shakin’ and that’s where the magic happens.

2. Give up “working out” for a week and instead be an active person. Walk or bike everywhere. Stretch when you get home and realize your lower back is full of the day’s tension. Do the weekend hike. Go swimming in the ocean… or the hot tub. Be in your body, move in the world. Embrace that you’re inhabiting an instrument of movement.

3. Know your body in a deeper way than as a sculpture. Get interested about subtle energy, the chakras, the tapping technique, massage, etc. Know your body as a river for energy, not just a canvas to paint abs on.

4. Eat with love and lust and joy. Food is a gorgeous part of getting to be alive. Learn how to make the real stuff- maple syrup in for white sugar, veggies, runny egg yolks over smashed sweet potatoes, homemade dark chocolate coconut bark. Swear off any “low- or -free anything” foods. Trust that nourishment is a body and soul practice, that you are -free enough as is. Just eat real, whole food.

This works because you get to be alive. This works because you get to be your body’s best friend and lover, instead of critic. This works because we don’t fling ourselves on the merry go round of adrenaline and exhaustion. This works because it comes from a place of love and simple joy. That is where sustainable health comes from- not a three day cleanse, but from loving yourself, loving your experience, getting clear and consciously true.

Float on.

Float on.

Sesame Kefir Raita

Indian food always makes me think of my mother. Specifically, my mother sitting next to me inside the sunny windows of Raja Rani in A2, across from another mother-daughter pair, savoring gulab jamun, how she “only needs just a little bit”. I love watching my mother enjoy that gooey, saccharine dessert. And lassis. Ohhhh, mango lassis…

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I don’t eat too much dairy. I’ve lost my taste for cow’s milk. But goat milk kefir is something I’ll swipe off the health food shelf when I’ve got an extra $8 lounging around in my gifted wallet. It’s tangy, smooth and just feels nourishing. It tastes like tradition. Can you get down with that?

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Anyways, you have to drink a lot of it before the expiration date. So sometimes it’s milk for chia pudding, or a welcome addition to oatmeal… or sometimes you throw cucumbers into it, smother your salmon and crucifers and sheepishly call it “raita”.

Sesam Kefir Raita

1 cup goat milk kefir

1 tbsp sesame seeds

3 tbsp minced cucumber

1 tsp curry powder

sea salt to taste

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The Lovey Things

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Four years ago, I went to a Thai restaurant with my best friends on this day. It was snowy and we were 19 and documented everything quite well… myriad pictures on snowy sidewalks, freshman year of music school.  

Three years ago, I was somewhere between NYC and Cleveland (as it’s so often been), auditioning with hundreds of me-s for summer jobs. Two boys, rowdy and (I thought) way too cool to be my friends, told me to “take chances” in their guffawing, irreverent manner. I decided to.

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Two years ago when I woke up at 6 AM to squeeze into ballet tights and snow boots, he had set up an animation on his computer, set to oldies, pictures of us so happy. That was the biggest 6 AM smile I remember.

A year ago I was in Florida on a school trip. I think it was raining. I was wearing a boxy t-shirt and school hopping, singing for teenagers. 

This year, it’s a sunny morning after a massive snowfall. Yesterday was sleet, cotton snow, wind, lightning, and perpetual drip. I like that. I like this, too. I bought new coffee yesterday and now it sits by my side, brewed and mingled with coconut cream. Today I’m seeing some of my favorite speakers do their thang at the V-Day Just Love Event. Today I am walking slowly, today I am wearing a skirt, today I am breathing deeply. Today I am sending out love, putting down roots into that. “Bare attention and love are exactly the same thing.” -Brene Brown

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To days of celebration, daze of lust, and many lifetimes focusing, touching this moment, loving what is. Happy Saint Valentine’s Day, all!

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Find Your Version

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Your food is what you think it is.
Is your food making you fat? Is your food cleansing and beautiful? Is your food making you sick, bent over in pain, light?

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Your food is with your life.
The latte tastes different at 6 AM on the way to work than it does at 2 in the afternoon at the outdoor cafe with your new lover.

Watch where you connect your inner, expanding, confusing, painful, glorious life to what you put in your mouth. Let it be delicious. Consciously nourish yourself.

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I got the hell outta Dodge this weekend. Up above, that’s my Metro North ticket tucked into my socks. I climbed a mountain. I’d never been hiking alone before. My legs were (are) swollen, my feet were soaking wet, I got lost and intentionally slid down a snowy cliff on my yoga-pants-butt. I walked on the slight shoulder of a highway two miles back into town, honked at and squelching in my boots. I was so, so happy.

Practically sleepwalking, I ordered a gouda avocado panini and a coffee at a small cafe. Nothing has ever tasted so good. My body accepted that food so well. Totally satisfied. Total smile.

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It wasn’t so much the gooey, white bread crispiness that left me high. It was where I’d been, the way my attitude got wrung out and re-stretched by the hike, the way I remembered how to breathe. The way I lived that day.

Be healthy. Find your version. Do not look around. Look inside. Look while you hike, maybe…

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The Love of A Day + Candy Bars

We both agreed we were in a movie that day; the way we stood across the sidewalk from one another in frozen sunlight, trying to plan our next move authentically. Delivering great confusion to the woman on the corner handing out flyers. Earnestly plotting the next destination.

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One thrift shop, no, next thrift shop, no… we didn’t find what we were looking for. There was an in-between time when we let go of that plan and found our new adventure. That middle bit was static, stretched cotton… what do you say, what do you do, when you’re with one of your favorite people but feel totally uninteresting, bland and destination-less?

You go to the East Village.

You delight in the sight of the cobblestones, creeping up on you. You laugh about text messages and plan fake (absurd) vacations. You wonder out loud; wonderings that aren’t yet fully formed. But now they’re breathing between brains.

You meander into your new favorite bookstore, whose bathroom requires the payment of a quarter because “the disposal of needles in the toilet had become overwhelming”, or so reads the sign. That’s when you know you’re still in the belly of a metropolitan beast. That was easy to forget when you and your best friend sat reading dessert cookbooks and giggling about nonsense.

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Standing at a counter in a restaurant themed of your past- Michigan, everywhere- you order a $7 peanut butter and jelly sandwich on sourdough. You wanted the least expensive thing on the menu, since you splurged on two beautiful, brand new books full ‘o’ life just moments ago. You laugh that anyone, anywhere can charge $7 for a swipe of fruit, pulverized nuts and two slabs of white bread. But you eat it, smilingly, in the corner. You listen to the bizarre but highly sing-along-able radio playing over your heads. You “table dance”- swinging your arms from side to side and bopping your head while you chew.

It was a great day, and it’s hard to say why. All you know is that your friend found a book about homemade candy bars and it snagged his appetite. So you start thinking…

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Candy Bars for Breakfast

Caramel crunch layer:

1 cup medjool dates

1 cup almonds

Coconut layer:

1/2 cup shredded (unsweetened) coconut

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp maple syrup

Chocolate shell:

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 tbsp coconut oil

You’ll need a blender, some bowls, a pan and the “HBO Girls” Spotify playlist.

For the caramel crunch layer, pull dates apart and pit them. Soak them, covered in water, for 10 minutes or so. While they soak, put your almonds in the blender and blitz them until they’re small, nibby pieces. Set aside in a bowl. Blend your soaked dates until they’re smooth and resemble a thick caramel sauce. Mash together almonds and date puree (preferably with yo hands).

For coconut layer:

Mush together shredded coconut, coconut oil and maple syrup. That was easy.

For chocolate shell:

Boil water in a sauce pan and stick a medium ceramic bowl in there… or use a double boiler, but I’m going un-fancy here. Put your chocolate chips, coconut oil and cocoa powder in the bowl until they’re melted by the warm water around them. Stir and remove from heat once you’ve got a uniform texture.

Assembling los bars:

Press the caramel crunch layer into the bottom of a small pan, about 1 cm thick. Top with coconut layer (or do a peanut butter variation, like I did, and just smother some refrigerated PB on top of the crunch), also about 1 cm thick. Freeze those two layers for about ten minutes. When they’re thoroughly cold, slowly pour your chocolate shell over the bars. Freeze overnight… or not… and consume.