Archive for February, 2010

A Parsley Cilantro Pesto, made with Love!

I just spent the weekend in a beautiful casita (guest house) in Carbondale, Colorado with a group of wonderful women.  Our time together was filled with yoga, meditation, cross country skiing, dancing, laughter and fabulous food!  Our retreat, facilitated by Tara Sheahan, was full of life and activity, but also plenty of space and time for reflection.  Tara is a generous and gracious host and it was truly lovely to wake up to the sound of the river below with the knowledge that good things awaited…

We arrived on Friday afternoon and did a quick ski, then a blessing and a little yoga before we all sat down together for a delicious meal of Tara’s creation.  One thing you might not know about me is that I have an immense distaste for cilantro.  I just don’t like it.  Ick.  I’ve tried to like it, because it’s a detoxifying food, said to help remove heavy metals from the body.  What’s not to like about that?  Well…like I said, ick.  When Tara said she had a parsley-cilantro pesto to accompany some of the dishes in our dinner, I figured I would take a no thank you serving and that would be that.  But, to my surprise, it was delicious!  I went back for more!  I asked Tara to share her recipe and she kindly agreed.  I offer to you a Parsley-Cilantro Pesto made with love (a critical ingredient in any dish, by the way) a la Tara…Tara suggests some great uses for the pesto below; in addition,  it would also be perfect on grilled tofu or tempeh, roasted vegetables, stirred into some cooked beans, in an avocado and tomato salad, and on and on and on.  When tomatoes are back in season, I am envisioning a black bean, tomato, and avocado salad with parsley cilantro pesto… 

By the way, if a women’s retreat is in your future, I highly recommend attending 2-day retreat with Tara.  She is a  warm and wonderfully accomodating host.  Her property is beautiful, with a comfortable casita for sleeping and lounging, as well as an amazing kiva for yoga, meditation, dancing, laughing, and reflection.  There is a lovely area groomed for cross-country skiing nearby, and since Tara is a former national cross-country ski racer, she is also able to provide a plethora of helpful tips for skiers of all levels.  And, last but not least, Tara is an amazing cook and uses local and organic ingredients, so you will be completely nourished inside and out. 

  • 1/2 bunch parsley chopped  with love and appreciation for parsley in the middle of Winter!
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro chopped the same!
  • 2 small garlic cloves, center sprouting part removed, and same happy appreciation of garlic!
  • 2/3 cup nice quality olive oil (or enough to create a pesto) – California makes great olive oil and it’s somewhat “local!”
  • Sea salt  to taste, or 1/2 tsp.
  • Optional:  2 tbsp. lightly toasted and tasty pinenuts for a rich, creamy flavor.

Whirl around in a blender or cuisinart until incorporated!  Serve on chicken marinated in olive oil, lemon, herbs, mustard and garlic, or on salmon!  Great on pizza crust or sandwiches, in egg dishes or simply on whole grain toast!



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Slowing down…and Miso-Vegetable Soup

A good percentage of my family was home for most of last week with the chicken pox, or taking care of people with the chicken pox.  While this might sound like something less than desireable, it was really a wonderful blessing.  It made me think about our culture and the fact that we have very few natural opportunities to slow down and just be with ourselves these days.  We have phones and email that go everywhere we do, so that car rides and hikes are always in danger of becoming conferences and business meetings rather than opportunities for reflection.  We have machines that dry our clothes, so that most of us don’t have that quiet time outside hanging them on the line.  We have vaccinations that keep us and our children from getting sick, so that we don’t have to take time from work or out of our normal life to be home recuperating.  Of course, the benefits of all of these things are many and I would never argue that, but they also come at a cost.

Being at home without any thoughts of leaving gave us time to be together, as well as time to be with alone with each of ourselves.  After two days, I felt a shift in my body, and my mind opened to a presence that has alluded me for at least the last few months.  Now that everyone is better, it’s a little hard for all of us to think about getting back into the fray.  We truly enjoyed each other in a way that we sometimes don’t when we have so many other things coming at us – work, playdates, getting to the bus on time.   

So, while I know that the week to come will bring rushing and arguing and traffic and everything else that comes with a normal week, I hope to retain some of the calm, connectedness that we’ve experienced in the past week.  I think I’ll turn my phone off more.  It’s finally warm and sunny enough to hang my laundry again.  I might even pull out my book for a few minutes in the middle of the day, and take the time to meditate.  And, I know that I’ll put other things aside to sit with my children more and appreciate some quiet with them amidst the fray…

Here is a recipe that has served us well in the past week, and will continue to serve us well when we want to devote our time and energy to other things, but still eat a nourishing meal.  Miso soup doesn’t have to be any more than miso, water, and seaweed, but even as a more elaborate soup, it’s simple and quick to make and will cooperate with whatever you have in your refrigerator. 

You can use whatever type of miso you want, and the amounts you use will depend on the type and your preference for the strength of the soup.  Do be aware, though, that some types of miso contain gluten.  For those who avoid soy, you can use soy-free chickpea miso and skip the tofu, maybe adding some beans for protein.  I now that aduki bean miso is also available, though I haven’t come across it in Boulder yet. 

One important note is that you never want to boil miso, as it’s a live food and too much heat destroys the beneficial enzymes. 

  • 1 Tablespoon oil (I use olive oil for everything, but you could also use sesame oil, coconut oil, or your favorite cooking oil)
  • 1 small onion, minced (or when scallions are in season, use those)
  • 1/2 pound tofu, cubed (I prefer to freeze my tofu, then thaw and press before use, but that is optional)
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 cups chopped greens (cabbage, spinach, chard – whatever you choose)
  • 1/4 cup wakame flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari, or more to taste ( or salt)
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 3-4 Tablespoons red miso
  • 3-4 Tablespoons mellow white miso
  • dash of toasted sesame oil
  • optional additions: very thinly sliced potato, cooked grains or noodles, frozen peas, sesame seeds, chopped parsley or cilantro, to garnish

Heat a soup pot to medium heat, then add the olive oil and, after about 30 seconds, add the onions.  Cook until soft and lightly browned, then add the tofu and continue to cook undisturbed until it’s lightly browned on the first side.  Flip it around and brown the second side.  Add the carrots and greens and cook until they begin to soften.  Add the wakame, water, and salt or tamari, bring to a boil, and continue to cook until the carrots are soft.  Turn the heat off and ladle some of the broth into a bowl.  Add the miso to the hot broth, stir to dissolve, then add back into the soup.  Add more miso and/or salt/tamari to taste and add a splash of toasted sesame oil.  Garnish as desired.  Sit, take a deep breath, and enjoy!

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