A Couple’s Countdown to Christmas

image (11)I was pretty much bursting at the seams with excitement when I shared this idea with Eric – a super happy newly married couple’s advent calendar! We’re going to countdown to Christmas and shower each other with a little daily love and joy! Here’s how it works:

image (12)Take 24 small paper bags (available at craft stores) and stamp them with the numbers 1-24.

Divvy them up – each person gets 12 bags to fill! We decided to do alternating days.

image (13)Fill up each bag with a little something special your love will enjoy – a little chocolate, a love note, a gift card…the sky’s the limit!

image (14)Hang the bags with clothes pins where you can see them and enjoy the anticipation! I hung our bags on a frame we used for the wedding. Our frame setup is pretty simple – there’s just some chicken wire stapled to the back of an old barn wood frame. Then, Eric made a simple stand for the frame, which he attached with a couple hinges.

To give the frame a little festive flair, I draped a sparkle star garland of mine over the top.  And voilà – a super special advent calendar was born! Now, I’m ready to shower my sweet husband with love and joy for days!

My Breakfast Salad Smoothie

The other day on Instagram, I posted this little tip:

On the weekends, I pre-prep my dry smoothie add-ins. I put them in small Ball jars and then when I’m making my daily breakfast smoothie in the morning, all I have to do is drop in the pre-measured dried goods, add the raw, pershiable ingredients, blend and go. It doesn’t sound like much, but shaving off five minutes here and there means I can get a workout in before I go to work so that I’m extra energized and ready for the day. For me, that’s worth the extra time I spend preparing for the week on Sunday.

smoothieThis smoothie has become my go-to breakfast these days. I find that when I pair this smoothie with a piece of toast that’s slathered with some avocado, it sustains me until my mid-morning snack. I call it a salad smoothie since I use it to pack in some veggies. The nutty, chocolate flavors in this beverage are so dominant, they easily disguise the veggie flavor and allow me to pack it with raw goodness. I’m not really a fruit smoothie girl anyway – I’ll take a salad-filled chocolate smoothie any day!

Breakfast Salad Smoothie

Makes one 16 oz smoothie

*It should be noted that I have a Vitamix. I say that because it allows me to blend the heck out of otherwise hard to pulverize ingredients like flax seeds and kale stems. If you don’t have a very powerful blender, I’d make adjustments so that you don’t end up with a chunky morning beverage.

Dry ingredients (pre-packed the weekend before):

1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 Tablespoon flax seeds
1 Tablespoon unsweetened, dried coconut flakes
2 Teaspoons maca powder (a Seattle Seedling reader mentioned that this can make the smoothie a bit spicy for his liking and I agree that it does add a bit of a kick. I like that added dimension and the health benefits that come with the root so I add it in.)

Raw ingredients:

1 cup almond milk
1/2 banana
1 teaspoon almond butter
1 Tablespoon (or to taste) agave
2 or 3 pitted dates
1 generous handful of greens (kale, beet greens, spinach, lettuce*, carrots)
a scoop of ice (about a cup)

Add the dry and raw ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. Drink, enjoy, repeat.

* Got some veggies that are a little too wilty for your salad bowl, but not quite ready for the compost pile? Save them for your smoothies! Your belly and your taste buds will never know the difference!

Sharing in the Goodness: An Interview with Solid Ground

GiveRecently, I had the opportunity to chat with the folks at Solid Ground. I was honored that they wanted to hear about my story. We got to talk about what I love about being a giving gardener and about the experiences I’ve had as a child and as an adult that inspire me to keep giving.

goodnessIf you’re on the Solid Ground mailing list, you likely already saw my face on the cover of their quarterly newsletter! I am featured in the lead story! If not, you can read the article by clicking this link: ‘Sharing in the Goodness.’ Neat!


Work Lunch: Roasted Tomatillo Black Bean Soup

WorkLunchThis is a continuation of my new series, Work Lunch, where I’m sharing the simple, creative and delicious things I’m making and eating for lunch. 

Usually, my Sundays are no nonsense.  I spend them getting stuff done. I typically spend hours making snacks and meals for the work week so that I can spend weekday mornings getting in the workouts and breakfasts I enjoy. I find that a balanced, peaceful start contributes to a balanced, peaceful workday.

Photo (28)Some Sundays though, I have other priorities and need to get my work week prep tasks done in less time. It’s on Sundays when I spend the bulk of the day prepping my garden beds for the fall and winter seeds I ordered that I need something easy to cook for the week. Enter roasted tomatillo black bean soup. When you’ve got the goods on hand, this soup is crazy easy – takes about 1/2 hour to put together. It’s super delicious and is especially filling when combined with short grain brown rice. It’s just another easy work lunch to add to your repertoire.

Roasted Tomatillo Black Bean Soup

Makes about 3 – 4 lunches

* Click the links for recipes for my super easy “compost” veggie stock and roasted tomatillo salsa!

~ 5 cups black beans, cooked (or about 3 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
1 cup roasted tomatillo salsa (I happen to love tomatillo salsa, but you could use any salsa here)
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan. Let simmer for about 10 minutes in order to give the flavors a chance to meld a bit.

Scoop out about half of the soup and blend until smooth in the blender.*

Return the pureed soup to the blender and stir to combine. Add salt to taste and pack it up for lunch!

*You probably already know this, but blending hot food can lead to a mini food volcano in your kitchen. No good. To prevent said food volcano, let the soup cool slightly and then blend. Or use your Vitamix, which has incredible food volcano prevention super powers.

For work, pack about 1 – 1 1/2 cups of the soup in a microwaveable glass container.

Also pack about 1 cup short grain brown rice in a container that you can heat. I like to heat these two components up separately so they heat evenly. Add the rice to your soup.

Bring along some garnishes to add extra flavor and flair to your soup. Here are just a few black bean soup garnish options:

  • cotija or feta cheese
  • avocado
  • tortilla chips or tortilla strips (like you’d make for tortilla soup)
  • raw pumpkin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet
  • extra salsa
  • sour cream

Pack your lunch, eat, and be merry!