Frazzled Scallops & Sauteed Mushrooms

I don’t know what it is about traveling. I love it, of course. But there is a small, homebody part of me that can get stressed out – aka frazzled, in Team Johnson vocabulary – about the actual traveling. I’m not afraid of flying or anything like that, and I’ve been traveling alone for quite some time. I’m not sure why leaving my nest gives me a little flutter of underlying anxiety (god help my future college-age children if I’m a ball of nerves about myself).

Of course, as if I didn’t have enough to prepare for a multi-week, cross-ocean trip – including food for a 12 hour plane ride since United is too silly to provide gluten-free meals! – I like to use big trips as a deadline for achieving stuff around the house: clearing out clutter, seeing friends that I have been too “busy” to connect with in the past month, even creating future recipes. And when I say “like”, I mean, this is an old habit that I fall back on in times of stress, which only makes me more stressed out. Makes perfect sense right? You’ve got a lot on your plate, so you might as well add some more! Eeesh…Really I should be doing these things a little bit at a time, day by day, getting energy-draining or clutter-clearing tasks done immediately. I’m slowly improving on this habit, but I do have a long way to go.

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First Guest Post: Blueberry Avocado Smoothie!

The other day I was searching for an email my brother had sent me and I typed “Joe radish” into the search bar. We tend to like the same sorts of food – and by like I mean rave like addicts – such as grilled vegetables, coconut anything, and of course sweet potatoes. We email at least 4 times a week, and a majority of those emails are about food. I love having a person in my life who gets as excited about making and sharing food as I do. I mean, how often do you pair a person’s name with a vegetable in your search bar? I thought I’d share a few of our missives first before moving on to this gorgeous, quick and easy recipe, perfect for an energy-packed breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up.

it’s go time

Kate:
ahhhhhhhhhhhh your produce box makes me so jealous!!!! salad and green smoothie every week, holla. and KALE. oh momma kale…

***

Joe: got some beef stew meat. What veggies should I put in it?
Kate: Hmm beef stew…sweet potatoes. Traditional is carrots, potatoes, peas. I think any kind of root veggie would be great: rutabegas, parsnips, acorn squash, butternut squash. Butternut squash! That would be really good. Spring onions. Garlic? I can’t think of any American produce right now….some sort of spinach or spinach family…Chard! No , kale. KALE.
***
Kate: Yeah if you could post it that would be great! You can also put your website up there too and get your name out. Btw, are you friends with civilized caveman on facebook????!!!!

Joe: yes walter yes
***
Joe: also, thought you would like my eating adventures… went to yoga first thing this morning and then was having a hungry day.  breakfast was:

9 over easy eggs
2/3 bag baby spinach
2 GF bagels with almond butter and sliced strawberries and banana
1 apple
handful baby carrots

was surprised by the quantity, but I think it was partially because I had a hungry day yesterday too and never quite satisfied the hunger…

Kate:
I do enjoy hearing about your eating adventures. What kind of GF bagels do you get? probably an extra hungry day from all the travel and whatnot. I can’t believe you eat an average of 7-9 eggs! and he’s roughly the size of a barge! Gastoooooooooon….

***
Joe:
today I made pecan-encrusted and walnut-encrusted chicken, and I think it is my new favorite thing.  I also want to try it with hazelnuts and try nut+salmon.  I also roasted my first kabocha squash!
Kate:
AHHH SO HUNGRY TODAY.but those nut encrusted things sound sooo delicious, esp the salmon right now. do you add any other spices? I’m feeling some nutmeg with those hazelnuts, but just a dash. also have you tried herbamare?  its really good
SQUAAAAAAAAAAAASH. I’m buying an oven with my next paycheck. roasting here I come…ps I am drinking this tea called “healthy tea” (or herushii, as the japanese say) and it has carrots, reishi, orange peel, some other random stuff I dont know, but it is for my “Beauty Feeling”. what a country
***

As you can see, my brother does most of the intelligent communication – asking questions, telling stories, sharing recipes and brainstorming ideas. I usually respond with emphatic capitalization of the foods I want to eat in that very moment. Can you turn vegetables into an onomatopoeia? One amazing oversight is that I haven’t included any of the other 10,000 emails where we use the word awesome repeatedly. But having someone like Joe to share food adventures, questions, and inspiration with is nothing short of awesome and awe-inspiring. I’m incredibly lucky to have him as a friend, role model, and brother. And we’re lucky that he is sharing his smoothie-making magic with us today! This guy is a wonder at the juicer, blender, and grill:
Blueberry Avocado Smoothies, by Joe Johnson of Feeling Terrific

Rushing to work and don’t have time to make a big breakfast? Need a summer cool-down but don’t want to reach for ice cream or sno-cones? Just want to experience the fantastic flavors of your favorite fruits and vegetables blended together? Green smoothies to the rescue!
I personally have a smoothie for breakfast every workday. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and I can enjoy it on the road while driving to work. I pack my smoothies full of fruit, greens, and healthy fats to keep me satiated and steady all morning.This version starts with blueberries, my favorite of fruits. I usually get frozen wild blueberries at Trader Joe’s, which remind me of picking blueberries with Kate near our grandparents’ house.

I made another version that used cucumber instead of blueberries – SO GOOD

Coconut milk was a staple in my smoothies until I discovered something better: avocado!
Avocado is an under-used smoothie ingredient that makes any drink incredibly creamy.
Start adding ¼-1/2 an avocado to your smoothies and I guarantee you’ll never go back!
The healthy fats keep my blood sugar stable and keep me full all morning – no crashes like after donuts or coffee.

I throw a handful of greens into my smoothies to give me extra energy and vitamins. Amazingly, they blend right in and you don’t even taste them. I usually use red or green kale, but swiss chard or spinach work well too.

Top your smoothie off with a superfood like raw cacao powder, maca, ground flax seeds,
or chia seeds, and you’ll truly have a breakfast of champions! This version includes chia
seeds, which become awesomely gelatinous and interesting when soaked overnight.

Blueberry-Avocado Smoothies

1 cup frozen blueberries (organic, if possible)
½ ripe avocado
Handful red kale
1 T chia seeds soaked overnight in ½ cup water
2 cups water (add more for a thinner consistency)
(optional) few drops stevia for added sweetness

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Pour and enjoy!

Makes one Joe-sized breakfast, or two large smoothies.

with avocado and a dash of lime

***
I really enjoy kale in my green smoothies as well, but since you can’t get kale here in Japan (yet) I used komatsuna, which is a less-bitter cousin to fully-grown spinach. I recommend using baby spinach in green smoothies for it’s milder flavor. If you want to try regular spinach, I suggest steaming them first. Or you can make a silky green soup for another fantastic way to pack in greens during mealtimes! But back to smoothies, I totally agree about the fun texture of soaked chia seeds. It reminds me of the bubble tea that everyone used to go crazy for in college. I never liked it (too sweet, amazingly), but it always looked like fun to eat.

soaked chia seeds

So dive in to some great smoothie combinations and let us know what you think! I’ll leave you with one last email….
Kate:
AWESOME BREAKFAST THIS MORNING. I put my xmas meal leftovers into a cabbage wrap~ one was sunflower seed spread with tomatoes, avocado, roasted cauliflower, and sprouts. The other was mashed spiced sweets [sweet potatoes], balsamic chicken, perfect onions, and a pickled fig. Trying to do a new blog post on squash and vegetables, but my recent pictures arent uploading and I just formatted my camera! augh, distracting myself with  a snack of half a roasted sweet [potato] too. and I:m going home to make more chestnut soup!

did you find a suitable blender in MI? made some fresh almond milk last night, havent done that in a while and it was delish.

I LOVE FOOD
are you scheming? [skiing]

***
Joe: I like how we seem to be making similar diet changes independently…

Kate: well, auntie patty told me they used to say we had our own language. maybe its food-based
***

Oh. It definitely is.

***
Joined the awesome bandwagon at Diet, Dessert & Dogs Wellness Weekend July 5-9
Happily submitted to Fit & Fabulous Fridays #39

Creamy Coconut Cacao Pudding

I swear, I was never a pudding person before this year. I remember being totally disgusted by my grandfather’s love of tapioca pudding. Sure those snack pak’s the other kids had in their lunches were kind of cool, but that was all pudding was good for – a lowly substitute for real dessert in a boring school lunch. If I was making or preparing a dessert, it had to be something better than pudding.
Maybe it was because I was eating pudding made of all the wrong kinds of things – dairy, sugar, fake caramelchemical flavoring. This year’s pudding is good for my physical and mental health – the ultimate “feel good food”. The ingredients I use are healing for my body and I feel no guilt about eating them. Guilt should never be part of the equation when it comes to food.

For some reason, I like this picture because it is out of focus and therefore seems old school. I could be way off though

Dairy, egg, refined-sugar, and chemical-free, pudding has been elevated from dessert last picked from the buffet table to healthy indulgence in my kitchen. I’m willing to dive in by the bowlful. It all started with that glorious vehicle for roasted sweet potatoes, coconut milk, and chestnuts back in January. This version is also spatula-scraping good, a cold and creamy summer treat that is the perfect start to my hot summer workday. That’s right. I ate this for breakfast (along with a little protein), and it left me energized and really looking forward to tomorrow morning.

Many thanks to Kelly of the Spunky Coconut, whose 60 Second Decadent ChocoChia “Milkshake” Inspired this new breakfast-dessert. Kelly has a new cookbook out too –The Spunky Coconut Dairy-Free Ice Cream: Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan – just in time for a healthy summer!

my favorite coconut milk brand – Native Forest

Creamy Coconut Cacao Nib Pudding

makes 1 serving
3-5 small ice cubes. I like the volume that 5 provides, but my little scrappy blender does better with just 3. If you have a Vitamix or something equally fancy, 5 shouldn’t be a problem.
½ cup full fat coconut milk, make sure it is BPA free!
1 T raw cacao nibs
1 t raw cacao powder
⅓ of a ripe avocado
10 drops vanilla stevia (you could probably substitute 1 T of honey or agave nectar here)
a blender

Combine all ingredients into your blender. Blend for 2-3 minutes until pudding is completely smooth. Enjoy immediately. I doubt you could wait any longer anyway.

Next time I am going to add some mint leaves and see how that turns out! I want to make this a little more shamrock-y.

breakfast milkshake mason jar, where have you been all my life?

Part of Diet, Dessert, and Dogs’ Wellness Weekend June 21-25

Also part of Fit & Fabulous Fridays #37 from Amee’s Savory Dish

Entered in Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at SImply-Sugar and Gluten-Free!

Submitted to Gluten-Free Easily’s Virtual GF Support Group June 2012

Traveler’s Chicken

It’s my dream to wind my way through North Africa and the Middle East – Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, maybe Afghanistan – and stuff myself. That’s right – an eating adventure. I rave about any sort of food from that region, tagines with lemony chicken and olives, lamb and rich, tomato-y vegetables, (gluten-free) couscous with dried apricots, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, baba ghannouj, foul mudammes, and every single amazing vegetable dish that highlights the most glorious food group in the land. And hummus, my god hummus! I could sing it’s praises for an entire week straight.
One of the reasons I want to travel to the Middle East is to experience a new culture of food – one that emphasizes sharing, hospitality, and time spent with loved ones. Not that we don’t do that in America and the West, but entire cultures and societies are built around giving plenty of time and space for meals, something that is not as prioritized in America. I not only want to eat but also learn from home cooks wherever I travel. Learning new tricks in the kitchen is what binds us together as humans. We’ve been cooking and sharing together for thousands of years – passing tips, secret family recipes, and simply sharing our knowledge with the next generation. Cooking with another person makes everything more enjoyable – the work seems easier, the food tastes better, and the cleanup is by far much more pleasantly spent in the company of others.

After a weekend of cooking – but don’t worry, this chicken only dirties one pan!!!

Until the day when I can fulfill my tabe-travel dreams (taberu is the verb for eat in Japanese), I’ll contently stuff myself with this roast chicken. One of the benefits of living alone is that sometimes you don’t have to share! A whole chicken will last me about a week – shredded into tacos or stir-frys, stirred into soups, a balanced way to complete a salad, etc. You can find me many a weekend gnawing on a leg like a shameless prize-eater because 1. I love chicken and 2. I have no one to impress at my breakfast table. Continue reading

Crockpot Bison Stew

Do you ever wish you could come home after a long day and dinner would magically appear and be waiting for you? Let’s make that dream a reality. Introducing…the slow cooker. I grew up with a CrockPot, so that is how I’ll reference it, but the idea is the same. Prepare ingredients beforehand, set it before you go to work, and come home to magic, without risk of burning your house down. I feel like many people associate slow cooker meals with winter, but I find mine most useful in the summer when my non-air conditioned kitchen is already sweltering in the sub-tropical Japanese summer.

Yesterday I wrote about sustainable meat choices. I am not a huge red meat eater, but I’ve found that if bison is in the equation, I’ll go back for seconds (or thirds!). I threw together this dish one morning before I dashed off for presentations and school speeches. My mom was at home so she was able to monitor the meat, but if you are making this recipe for the first time (or any CrockPot recipe), I recommend doing it on a day when you are home to check on it. Each slow cooker cooks differently, so it is good to get a time frame for your machine before you leave it alone all day while you’re off at work or running errands. After the first time, though, you will have a practically fool-proof way to set your self up for a healthy and frankly flippin’ delicious dinner.

The great thing about CrockPot recipes is that they can feed a crowd or keep well for leftovers. In fact, most things made in a CrockPot (can I abbreviate this somehow? CP??) taste better the next day. It’s also much harder to overcook, burn, or dry out meat in a slow cooker – great for those of you still gaining confidence in the kitchen.

My younger brothers both loved this dish – my twenty-year old brother gobbled about half of it and my ten-year old brother also really enjoyed it even though he doesn’t usually care much for meat. By the time I got home, the only thing that was left was this small serving, which is why I don’t have a picture of the whole dish. But this was such a hit that I’m sure we’ll be making it again, so I’ll have a chance to update the picture. This is best served with a hearty dose of mashed butternut squash or sweet potato, outdoors on your patio during a summer day. At least that is what I did.

Crockpot Bison Stew

Inspired by two dishes from the Civilized Caveman, found here and here.

A note about the onions. I just used up what I had found in my family’s pantry. If you don’t have pearl onions or shallots, just add another regular onion or whatever pleases you.

20 pearl onions

3 onions

1 shallot

5 medium carrots, sliced in half moons

4 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch dice

1 1/2 large zucchini, sliced in half moons

5 garlic cloves, peeled

2 bay leaves

2 tsp Herbamare salt, divided

1 tsp thyme, divided

1/2 c chicken broth, optional

one 2 lb bison roast

Layer the onions, carrots, celery, and zucchini in the bottom of your Slow Cooker. Season with 1 tsp of Herbamare and 1/2 tsp of thyme. Add garlic cloves and bay leaves, then place the bison roast on top of everything. Season roast well with the other half of the salt and remaining thyme. Add chicken broth if you would like more of a stew, or leave it out for a more traditional roast.

Cook on low heat for 6 – 8 hours. We checked our roast after 6 hours and it was cooked through and pretty much melted into shreds when prodded with a fork. If the roast hasn’t reached that consistency after 6 hours, continue to cook until it shreds easily. You won’t have to worry about checking to see if it is done in the middle because there won’t be a middle anymore!

Feeds one hungry young man + 3 people with smaller to normal appetites. In regular serving sizes I would guess that to be sufficient for 6 people, especially if you serve with some sort of mashed squash.

Man. I just ate dinner, and I still really want to eat this. Happy crocking!

Everything IS easy when you’ve got a slow cooker!

Simple Green Smoothie + A Stroke of Squash Genius

I wanted to write “A Stroke of Sleep Deprived Squash Genius”, but I thought that might get a little long.

International travel, my friends, is a terrifically wonderful thing. So often we can take for granted the fact that we can get in a giant metal bird and FLY. Honestly, whenever I get a little tired of a flight: dehydrated, headachey, full of airplane food – I remember that it is a miracle that I am even above the clouds at all.

However, I do believe that our bodies have not quite adapted to the wonder of zooming through dozens of time zones in a matter of hours. After a few weeks of here-and-back-again, I am craving the balance of a few goods nights sleep in a row. While I wait for that balance to come back in my sleep schedule, I’ve noticed how incredibly valuable it is to support jet lag and travel with proper nutrition.

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25 Things & Sweet Potato Cakes

breakfast cakes

Hello all!

A little over a month ago, I posted a list of 25 Things for Turning 25. It is a list of year-long and daily goals to improve my quality of life by helping others (and living out a few dreams).  I had a fantastic birthday by sharing service with others, probably one of the best I have had ever. Here is a little run down…

3. Take a walk and pick up litter at least once a month. (Twice a month is ideal)

Achieved!

boo litter. yay clean neighborhood.

4. Make a sweet potato and chestnut layer cake, dairy-free cream cheese frosting optional. Achieved! It wasn’t a true cake with flours, etc, but it was the perfect breakfast. See details at the end of this post.

8. Reverse trick or treat

12. Laugh every day. Check

We also visited a friend in the hospital and had a mini party there. At lunch, my friends wanted to treat me, so I put the cost of my lunch into the donation box for the Japan Disaster Relief Fund. I sent out several care packages this month, as well as postcards. I’m going to start sending my mail with a Smile Card so people will pass it on. And I still need your help with these!

1. Get 25 people to make a $25 kiva loan, or more!

Kiva.org is a way to lend directly, in small amounts or microloans, to alleviate poverty while knowing that your contribution really makes a difference.You make a loan, get updates from your lend-ee, and then get paid back! You can make more loans with that money or do a communal loan.

7. Inspire others to send more snail mail.

A handwritten note speaks volumes from the heart. And they usually have really cute stamps at the post office.

14. Inspire 100 people to do better by the environment

Here is where I really need your help – spread the word! Recycle! Choose sustainable seafood! Conserve on water! Eat more greens! Share your thoughts on how we can integrate sustainable living and joy into our every day lives.

Oh! And I did do #17, Eat breakfast at Tsukiji fish market, the week before my birthday. Check! Sorry no pictures though. I was too busy eating.

I’m still working on the others, especially the daily tasks like getting rid of clutter and complimenting a person or laughing every day. And I WILL get in that hot air balloon sometime this year!!!

My birthday breakfast was slices of roasted sweet potatoes layered with my Sweet Potato Puddin’ Spread and topped with coconut cream. If you refrigerate a can of coconut milk (make sure it is BPA free!), you can scoop off the top layer of coconut fat and use it liked whipped cream! It was a wonderfully indulgent, yet healthy, way to start my day.

THANK YOU for reading and following, and here is to another year of joyful, green living!

Special thanks to Mayumi and Akane, who made my birthday extra special by participating in all the events! You guys are the sunshines in my life.

bringing sunshine with me wherever I go

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to one of my dearest friends. Sig, you will always have a special place in my heart. ♥