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Finding My True North

Finding My True North

When I returned to yoga in January 2015 due to a back injury, I never expected that in only a few months I'd be enrolling in a yoga teacher training. I had already been very interested in health in wellness tin recent years after transforming my own health through healthy eating and working out. Friends and family would tell me how I'd inspire them to make changes of their own, but I didn't have any true qualifications, nor was I really sure how to help others in their own pursuit of health and wellness. Further, I didn't feel like that great of an example. While I had been in the best shape of my life by the fall of 2014, my regiment started to take a toll on my body, resulting injury. 

Maine: The Way Life Should Be

In our busy, modern lives, the need to slow down is less about changing our pace, but more about awareness.  When I need to get away from the distractions of everyday living, I like to turn to nature. When I'm outdoors and allow myself to tune into the rhythms of the earth, I finally feel connected.  Lately, most of my trips have been camping because it allows me to center and really tune into who I am as this soul, in this body of mine.

My husband and I have a few favorite camping spots in New England, but this summer I was yearning to travel to Acadia National Park for the first time. Acadia is one of those bucket-lists types of places; somewhere you just have to see for yourself.

Chris and I decided to leave for the trip mid-week to avoid some traffic and crowds. Acadia was going to be the furthest away we had camped together so far, about a 5 and a half hour drive. Rather than rush, we did a one night stopover in Freeport at Recompense Shore Campground. It was a great spot, located right on the water. What makes it really unique is that it's right next to  Wolfeneck Farm; you can get farmland and ocean views in one spot. The afternoon we were there, we got to bike around, check out their farm stand will locally grown veggies, see the farm animals (like this adorable baby cow!), and go fishing in the ocean.

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The campground in Freeport was beautiful, but frankly, I had my heart set on getting to Mt Desert Island as soon as we could so there would be plenty of time to explore. We arrived just around noon, and after grabbing some fresh seafood at Beal's Lobster Pier, we headed to our 2nd campsite of the trip.

The planner I am, I had done plenty of homework when it came to finding a campsite. I discovered a spot on Somes Sound, that offered waterfront sites and booked it early. The pictures I saw online were beautiful, but was pleased that it was even better in person.

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This camp site is officially my favorite spot to date. It wasn't as private as some of the other places we've been but the view was amazing and we only had a few neighbors who were all pretty quite. Chris could fish for striped bass while I sat on our little platform basking in the sun and drinking wine. If it wasn't for the 47,000 acres of National Park that was on the island, we wouldn't have any reason to leave.

But, I'm glad we did because Acadia is magical. For instance, take Cadillac Mountain. It's the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and the first place to see the sunrise in the US through half of the year. After setting up camp, we took a drive over to the mountain to get a lay of the land. As we drove up towards the summit, I could feel the prana or energy or whatever you want to call it wake up inside me. It was kind of like having butterflies in your stomach, but without the nervous. Kind of like being anxious for something but without being stressed. It's hard to put in words exactly, but I just felt alive; completely connected to my spirit. If you've been there, you'll know what I mean.

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Three and a half days isn't a lot of time to be in Acadia, but we did our best to fit as much in without burning ourselves out. Chris is happiest fishing and Mt Desert Island has several ponds and lakes to fresh water fish. Although it was a bit foggy and overcast, our 2nd day we rented a canoe and fished for small mouth bass at (Great) Long Pond. The fishing itself was great, but so was just paddling around the pond. There were many special moments on this trip, but one of the most memorable ones was when a doe came down to the water as we fished along the shore. She was beautiful. 

What's great about Acadia, is that nearly everywhere you go is picturesque. Our third day, we took to the Carriage Roads for a bike ride. There are over 40 miles of trails, but we just did a leisurely ride around Eagle Lake and to Bubble Pond. Again, so pretty. The waters were the clearest waters I've seen, and we were happily surprised to know that you could still fish in them. After our bike ride, we went back to the car, grabbed our rods and made a few casts on Eagle Lake. We didn't catch anything. Not even a bite. But it didn't matter. It was so serene and peaceful. We did get to see a family of loons swim by and later, a large bird in the sky we suspected was a bald eagle (although we definitely saw one the next day fly over our campsite).

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I'm the type of traveler who wants to do and see everything; and it often leaves me feeling disappointed because I'm worried I might miss out on something. A lot of the trip I kept thinking, "I wish I could be here longer; there is so much more I want to do", but eventually the power of Acadia's beauty reminded me that everything I needed was right there. Just sit there and breathe. Be.

Watching the sunrise back at the campsite was certainly the best and most profound part of the trip. I am not an earlier riser, yet when I'm camping I have no problem waking up at the crack of dawn. When you spend time outdoors and camp, your body resets itself to the rhythms of nature. It wants to wake when the sun rises, and go to sleep once it sets. It's no surprise I feel so rejuvenated after a camping trip, because my body is getting the rest its supposed to have. 

One morning in Acadia, I woke up at 4:30am, still well before the sun was going to rise. I still felt sleepy, but was interested in the fact it seemed much lighter outside despite how early it was. I peaked outside and saw one of the prettiest skies I had ever witnessed. The light of the sun was just beginning to filter over from the Atlantic towards the coast. A warm, pinkish-purplish glow was starting to break up the deep dark indigo night. Rather than go back to bed, I decided to sit and watch.

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If you've ever waited to watch the sunrise, its pretty remarkable how much the sky changes in the hour leading up to the event. As I watched the sun come up over Norumbega Mountain along Somes Sound those next mornings, I realized how lucky I was to be there.

The sun rising is nothing new. For as long as this planet has been a cluster of matter, revolving around the sun, there has been a sunrise. Every day I have been alive, there has been a sunrise. Yet, in my regular day-to-day life, I've completely under appreciated the magnificence of this event. That's not because it wasn't happening, but rather I wasn't present in the moment.

How much have I missed, racing through life, not smelling the roses? I left Acadia beginning to see the world in a brighter light; noticing more the subtle, but amazing things this world has to offer; and being able to slow down to enjoy those small precious moments like the sunrise, watching a loon family swim by, seeing the fog roll in after the rain clears, and, without fail, the sunrising again the following day.

Golden Goddess Juice

So the story goes, my father-in-law, at one point, was juicing so much that his skin turned orange from all the carrots he was consuming. Carrots get their orange color from beta-carotene, which our bodies turn into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient and supports healthy skin, the immune system, vision and more. If my father-in-law's skin turned orange due to carrots, it would be safe to assume he was full of Vitamin A (however all of this seems like a tall tale).

This is the first year I've really started to get into juicing. We've had a juicer sitting in a closet since my husband and I first moved in together a few years ago. I've always been more of a smoothie person in part for the added fiber, and part because clean up was easier. But lately, with this new year underway, I've found myself taking the few more extra minutes for cleanup to try juicing more. In fact, I think I've juiced more this month than I did all last year. Refocusing on my health and nutrition I've started adding juicing into my routine. I've found I really enjoy it and has been especially beneficial when I caught a cold and needed to boost my immune system. This January I challenged myself to avoid alcohol for #DryJanuary, so juicing has also been a great way to enjoy something other than water. 

Earlier this week I cut into a golden carrot I picked up from Winter Moon Roots. I bit into one of the spears, and I swear, it was the best carrot I've ever had. I've tried different colored carrots before and they always pretty much taste like any other carrot, but these golden carrots were just slightly sweeter than your standard orange carrot. It instantly got me thinking how great this carrot would be in a juice. 

Now, every time I think if juicing, particularly carrots, I think about my father-in-law's story about turning orange (I always picture that oompa-loompa shade of orange and laugh to myself). I wonder what color golden carrots would turn your skin. Gold, like King Midas' daughter? Then all of a sudden the recipe for this Golden Goddess juice came to me.

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With a blend of golden carrots, golden beets, golden apples and a medley of citrus and ginger I can't say that this delicious juice will turn your skin gold, but packed with vitamins and nutrients this juice will give you a burst of energy and certainly make you radiate and glow from the inside out. 

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With the perfect recipe in mind I couldn't wait to get to the Wayland Winter Farmers' Market this Saturday. Even snow wasn't going to stop me (my husband tried to advise against it, but you shouldn't get in the way of a woman a mission). This girl needed her roots!

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As usual, Winter Moon Roots delivered on some amazing produce. In addition to the golden carrots and beets for this recipe, I also grabbed some regular red beets and a watermelon radish to use in some other dishes this week. Michael, the owner, is super nice and hooked me up with some extras too. He saw one of my earlier blog posts this month and when I told him I was doing a special juicing recipe this week he gave me a few extra carrot bits (not pictured). My dog, Killian, was also really appreciative of the gesture; carrots are his favorite and of course he was begging me for snack when he saw what I was unpacking from the market.

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After the market, I stopped at the regular grocery store to pick up a few more things. I lucked out because they had organic golden delicious apples in stock, which is exactly what I wanted for this juice. When I returned home and finished unpacking, I got right to juicing (I've been waiting to try this for days)!

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The golden carrots produced a bright yellow juice that looked so refreshing, while the golden beets had a more orange/gold tint. Things were coming together just as I had imagined. An apple, half an orange, slice of lemon and inch of ginger and I was ready to down this concoction. It was the perfect contrast to the snowy weather outside. Bright and vibrant while the world outside was covered in a sheet of white.

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Ingredients

  • 1 jumbo sized or 3 normal sized golden carrots
  • 1 medium golden beet
  • 1 golden delicious apple
  • 1-2 inches fresh ginger root
  • Half of an orange, peeled
  • 1 slice of lemon, with rind

Instructions

  • Chop ingredients enough to make sure they fit through your juicer's chute (don't give yourself any more work than you need to).
  • Following the manufacturer's instructions, get your juicer ready with a glass large enough to collect all the juice.
  • Start juicing and drink immediately.

Notes

Use a mason jar as your glass. When you are done juicing, screw on a cap and give the juice a quick shake to mix up all the ingredients. Alternatively, give your juice a quick stir to blend the flavors.

Mushroom "Crab" Cakes

I am super excited to share this recipe with you! I'll admit I'm not someone who particular loves mushrooms. In most dishes if I had the option to have the meal with or without mushrooms it would be without. Then again, most of my memories of mushrooms were that of the slimy, rubbery type my father used to get on his pizza everyone and awhile. Lately, I have grown to like them more, and have appreciation for them if I'm out to dinner and they are served in a dish I order. But I've been secretly wanting to do more with them. Then I found Mycoterro Farm at the Winter Farmers' Market last week. I had just grabbed myself some coffee from my new favorite roasters, a local placed called Karma Coffee Roasters, and was heading to line up from my produce when I saw a sea of funky looking mushrooms set up and just had to learn more... 

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The man running the mushroom stand was exactly how you'd might imagine... I was taken back to my trip to Bonnaroo in 2006 and had to laugh. The first thing that caught my eye was a bizarre looking mushroom that resembled a sea urchin and I had to learn more. It's called a Lion's Mane mushroom. The guy (super nice and helpful but I didn't get his name) tells me that the mushroom has a taste similar to lobster, with a texture like crab.

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I had to have one and he provided me with some extra information on the mushroom, including a recipe for a "crab" cake. I took the recipe and tweaked it a bit and have to admit he was 100% right. I could fool anyone with these little bites; no one would know I was serving mushroom! For the most part I remained true to the recipe that came from Mycoterra Farms with the exception of adjusting some of the measurements of ingredients and using Greek yogurt in lieu of mayonnaise as I preferred to use the Greek yogurt as a healthy, fat-free (unprocessed) substitute.

An important note I learned was that raw, or undercooked, this variety of mushroom will taste quite bitter, and is best cooked slowly in a skillet or roasted. This recipe called for roasting the mushroom, so I followed suit. I chopped up the mushroom, perpendicular to the spines, as noted to retain the stringy seafood texture, tossed in some organic extra virgin olive oil and threw in my oven along with a large clove of garlic to roast at 350 degrees for 30-40 mins, turning part way.

Mushrooms retain a lot of water, so they shrink quite a bit when cooked. I was so concerned about overcooking these that I pulled them out on the early side. I could tell they could use some more cooking so after I started sweating some diced onion on the stove top, I added the lion's mane to cook another minute. I put the mushroom, garlic and onion mixture in a food processor and pulsed 3-4 times just to break up the chunks. In a separate bowl I started adding the rest of the ingredients for the "crab" cake: 2 tbs Greek yogurt, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 cup of bread crumbs, 1 egg, a generous amount of fresh chopped parsley, a splash of vinegar, splash of lemon and 1 tsp of paprika (and salt and pepper to taste). I gently folded in the the mushroom mixture with the other mixture to create the cake mix. All they needed was to be cooked!

I'd imagine that you could bake these in the oven, but to really get the true texture of a crab cake they need to be pan fried. My go-to cooking oils are grapeseed oil and coconut oil - both have a high smoking point, meaning they can withstand high heat, without breaking down/burning (and becoming a carcinogen). I was out of grapeseed oil, so I used coconut oil and it worked perfectly. If you've never cooked with coconut oil, I'd highly recommend it. While the oil itself smells like coconut oil, I don't find in imparts a coconut flavor to what you are cooking. (pic) Look at these beauties! Out of the pan, I simply blotted off the excess oil and sprinkled a touch of sea salt on top.

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For dipping (because every good grab cake needs a sauce) I whipped up a quick 4 ingredient remoulade-like sauce and served my creation with a Purple Kale salad with avocado and chickpeas (I'll add a like to that recipe once I post it).

Lion's Mane mushrooms are a vary rare variety, so the fact that I have access to them now this winter through the market means I'll be making and enjoying this recipe a few more times. I don't know about you, but I think this would make perfect game day grub for the big game a few Sundays from now! If you don't have access to lion's mane can you make this recipe? Absolutely! The unique qualities of the lion's mane do add that texture and slight taste you'd expect from a crab cake, but that's not to say you couldn't use this cooking method with a more common variety, like oyster mushrooms (which have a more mild flavor) and replicate something in the same vain. Go ahead! Be adventurous! As the "mushroom guy" said last week, "can you imagine the first person that decided it would be a good idea to try to eat one of these things?!" Curiosity can pay off. I'm very pleased I got over my aversion of mushrooms and discovered something so delicious to add to my cooking repertoire!  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound (2 pints) Lion's Mane Mushroom
  • 2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs Greek yogurt (organic mayonnaise can be used as a substitute)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup organic bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 egg (you can easily make this recipe vegan by replacing this with a "flaxseed" egg)
  • splash of white or red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • lemon juice from 1/4 lemon
  • 3-4 tbs coconut oil (or alternative) for cooking the cakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For remoulade:

  • 1/4 cup non or low-fat organic Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard (I used Trader Joe's Garlic Aioli Mustard)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • juice of 1/4 lemon

DIRECTIONS

  • Dice Lion's Mane mushroom into large pieces. Toss in olive oil and roast in oven, with garlic at 350 degrees for 30-40 mins. Turn halfway through. The mushroom will shrink substantially as the water cooks out.
  • When ready, put mushroom and garlic mixture in food processor and pulse 4-5 times until mix is broken down in smaller chunks.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the egg, soy sauce, Greek yogurt, lemon, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Use a whisk to evenly mix the wet ingredients. Add breadcrumbs, onions* and pulsed mushroom mixture.
  • *If you choose, you can saute the onions instead of using raw onions (this is optional). To do so, cook in a saute pan on medium-low with coconut oil, slowly sweating the onions until translucent (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Use an ice cream scoop or tablespoon (depending on the desired size of the crab cakes) to measure equal portions of crab cakes. With your hands, form into cakes.
  • Heat coconut oil in non-stick pan on medium heat and fry until lightly browned on both sides.
  • Finish with a touch of sea salt
  • For remoulade: Using a whisk, mix yogurt, mustard, parika, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Radish Avocado & Farro Salad

After a long winter, and unseasonably cold Spring, I am so grateful for the weather to be improving. I could have done without the deluge today, but I am sure my garden loved it.

I've been on a bit of a "hiatus" with the blog, but there has been plenty going on at, what now I refer to as, the "Turner Homestead". Most of our weekends have been spent in our backyard, on some exciting projects.

The Garden:

In late March I ordered seeds from Johnny's Seeds, which had a great organic selection. Things were looking promising, with kale, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and peppers sprouting fast.

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In April we "broke grown" and built a raised garden bed to start growing some of our own produce this summer. We have tried to grow tomato plants in pots before, but before we ever had a chance to enjoy their fruit, a pesky squirrel or chipmunk would ravage the juicy ripe tomatoes.

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I was really excited to be growing produce from seed, but once we translanted the little sprouts into the garden bed, many stopped suspended in an infant state. We suspect it was because of the weather, but I'm sure it also had something to do with our little experience in growing vegetables.

With such a short growing season in New England, we purhcased some addtional plants, that were more mature so we'd at least get something out of it. However, in the last week or so, some of what I started from seeds have started growing like crazy. Our kale and boston lettuce is going through a growth spurt and the Rudolph Radishes I planted are ready to pick!

This week for lunch I enjoyed a delicious salad served in a pita pocket using fresh radish straight from my own garden. There is truely something special about eating food your grow yourself. Thats what I love about having a dedicated vegetable garden. I can grow what I want, how I want it, organically, without pesticides and enjoy it FRESH. I am the only one who is handling it before it gets on the plate.

Backyard Chickens:

Speaking of fresh, it doesnt stop at the garden. This year we got chickens. Yup! You heard right, we are raising our own flock of egg

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laying hens. Most of our time the last month or so has been dedicated to builidng a coop for the girls. They've just officially moved out of the brooder we had inside, to the custom coop at the end of May and are LOVING their new home.

You probably have a few questions:

Are you crazy? Maybe, but I'm okay with being a crazy chicken lady. I'll have the freshest eggs on the block!

Are you getting eggs yet? No. They are still too young. And sorry they do not still look like this (warning: the next image may be too cute to handle):

You'd be amazed in just how fast these things grow! I swear, the first couple weeks, I'd come home from work and they'd look totally different than they had that same morning. They are 9 weeks now and resemble mini-chickens. Here is the same girl, all black.

8 week backyard chickens
8 week backyard chickens

If you want to see more pictures of the chicks, you can head to the Mindful Glutton Facebook page. You can expect I will have some amazing recipes using the freshest eggs you can imagine come August. But lets get back to those RADISHES.

A Delicious Radish Recipe:

If you haven't tried radishes, or are looking for ways to use them, salads are perfect. They are slighly peppery, crisp like an apple, and add a great crunch (not to mention packed with awesome vitamins and nutriets).

Ever wonder what makes a perfect salad? For me, its about fresh mixed greens, something crunchy, a creamy fat, and a tasty vinegrette. Chances are, at anytime, I will have all those "essentials" at home. For this healthy lunch option, I employ organic mixed greens, avocado (radish's best friend), some leftover farro I had from earlier in the week, and a tangy soy ginger vinegrette I picked up a few weeks ago.

This lunch comes together so quickly. After warming up the farro in the microwave, I squeeze in some fresh lemon juice, and toss it, with the rest of my salad ingredients into a bowl. Sometimes I will make my own simply vinegrette with a flavored vinegar and olive oil, but I've come to love this store bought dressing,

Tessemae's Soy Ginger Dressing

. I tried a sample at Whole Foods and loved it. They keep their ingredients simple, which I appreciate, and stay away from icky articifial ingredients. I cant speak to all their products, but this one has no preservatives and I can pronounce and know all the indredients listed. I suppose I could make my own, but love this as a quick go-to.

The salad itself is small, so I serve it in pita pocket. My favorite right now is

Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat

version, thats low in calories, but filling. You can certainly opt out, or use half a pita, and eat the rest of the salad as a side.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of organic mixed greens
  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • 2 small radishes, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup of cooked farro
  • squeeze of lemon (optional)
  • 1 tbs of your favorite vinegrette
  • 1 pita pockets

Instructions

  • Mix salad, radishes, avocado, farro, vinaigrette, and squeeze of lemon into bowl and toss. Serve as a salad, or stuff inside of a pita pocket and enjoy.