Learning to Cook with All that Food from the Garden

I would like to welcome another guest writer, Sydney Wilk. I met Sydney while attending my permaculture design course. She a health coach and creator of Plant Love Wellness. She understands the importance of fueling our bodies with healthy choices. Enjoy her blog!

Since when did eating healthy become so dang complicated?! Counting calories, weighing portions, eating no fat, no carbs, no sugar, high protein, no grains, following the diet of our ancestors, consuming only raw food… the list goes on and on of what you should or should not do when it comes to food. Each new diet trend claims to be better than the next and is the ‘perfect’ and only way you should be eating. The more mainstream these diets become and the more experts that back them, the more credible they seem. And look I’m not discrediting them, but just because a particular way of eating works for you, it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone else, or ANYONE else for that matter. Believe me, I have tried pretty much every diet out there and while they were tolerable at first, I wasn’t able to stick with any of them for more than six months. My issue isn’t with the creation of a new diet to follow, it’s that it claims to help everyone and usually has a strict regiment that you must follow. No one likes being told what to do (honestly they don’t!) especially when it comes to what they decide to put in their mouth every day.

While these diet trends have certainly helped numerous alleviate their illness or gain a six-pack, the best thing you can do to eat healthy is find your own diet that works for you. This likely isn’t going to be some plan that you can follow in a book–although there A LOT of diet books out there. Finding your perfect way of eating is going to involve a good deal of trial and error, and consulting popular nutrition material can be a great sounding board. Though, the key to solving the mystery of ‘what should I eat today’ ultimately begins with listening to your body and noticing how it responses when you ingest certain foods. This method is going to take some time to fully figure out–mostly because there are so many food choices, but it shouldn’t take long to discover a general idea of what works and what doesn’t.

It is a really really good idea to keep a journal (or mental note- if you can remember everything you ate the previous week, I cannot) of the types of foods you eat each week, as well as making a note of how you felt throughout that time. This will allow you to create a food map of which types of food are nourishing you and which you should probably cut back on. If you really want to figure out a sufficient diet quickly working with a health coach, or someone who can hold you accountable, can ensure that you will reach those break-through moments.

I’ve learned that, like most things in life, feeling truly healthy is a journey not a destination. It took me almost ten years to finally find an eating style that suited me and I am still constantly making adjustments. Have fun with the process and don’t get caught up in what is right or wrong. After all, eating nutritious foods is only secondary to keeping healthy (yes, I said it!). You can eat all the kale in the world, but if you are in a career you hate or stuck in an unhappy marriage, you will not experience optimal health. Sure, eating well is an important FACTOR, but it is not the secret ingredient for losing that extra fifteen pounds. Nurturing yourself from the inside out first is when you will see the real transformations take place.

I’m including a couple recipes that have help ME to feel like my most vibrant self, that may be of some use to you as well. And if not, hey that’s okay too! It’s all about the journey anyway.

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Mango-Berry Smoothie Bowl   

serves 1

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen mango chunks

½ cup frozen raspberries

½ cup almond milk or other nut milk

your favorite toppings like sliced almonds, coconut shreds, cacao nibs, fresh fruit, granola

Recipe: Combine first three ingredients into a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, and blend until creamy. You may have to add more milk depending on the thickness desired. Then add toppings and enjoy!

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Eggplant Pasta  

serves 2-3

Ingredients:

2 large zucchinis

2 medium sized tomatoes, diced

1 eggplant, cubed

2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 bunch of greens (romaine or spinach)

¼ cup diced onion (white or yellow)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 TBS pine nuts

1 bunch fresh parsley

1 TSP dried oregano

1 TBS sesame seeds (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

Recipe: Start by turning your zucchini into pasta via a spiralizer and set aside. Then add the minced garlic and onion to a large frying pan on medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes until garlic is fragrant. You can add water, 1 TBS at a time, to prevent garlic and onion from sticking. Add the diced eggplant to the pan along with a couple TBS water and cook until eggplant starts to get tender, but isn’t finished cooking yet. Next, place the zoodles (zucchini pasta) into the pan. The zucchini will release a lot of water while cooking, so be careful to not have too much liquid in the pan beforehand. Stir mixture together, and after a few minutes add the tomatoes. Add the balsamic vinegar and dried seasonings (oregano, salt & pepper, sesame seeds-if using) and combine well. Continue cooking on medium to low heat until eggplant is done and tomatoes have broken down some. When the mixture is done, but still hot, add the greens and stir constantly until they are wilted (this works best with spinach), then remove pan from heat. In a separate sauce pan, toast the pine nuts on high heat until golden brown. Place eggplant pasta onto serving dishes and top with freshly chopped parsley and pine nuts. Dig in!

IMG_0299Sydney graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2018, where she received her certification in health coaching. With her passion for all things food related she started Plant Love Wellness, a health coaching practice that helps women discover how food is affecting all areas of their life. She regularly holds cooking workshops at her local grocery co-op and is in the midst of writing a plant-based recipe eBook. When she isn’t in the kitchen, she is in the garden getting her hands in the dirt or chasing her bite-sized dog around the yard. She currently resides in the horse capital of the world, but thinks she is more suited for a place that isn’t quite so land locked. You can keep up with her food creations and adventures on Instagram or Facebook @ plantlove_wellness