orecchiette with kale + balsamic coconut dressing

I recently discovered a flavor combination I can't get enough of, you really have to try this it tastes phenomenal : mix melted coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, and pasta! This is a perfect, "I haven't gone grocery shopping for a while' kind of meal, because turns out that coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, and pasta are pretty shelf stable. I added some farmer's market kale and zucchini to give the dish some crunch and color.  I would venture to guess that there are many other vegetable combinations that would taste amazing in this dish as well. This is a super simple meal, really only 5 ingredients.  The kale and squash were brought to you by Spring Hill Organic Farm . They kindly drive into Portland from Albany, Oregon to sell their beautiful vegetables, and I'm pretty happy about it.

pasta orecchiette with kale and balsamic coconut dressing, mindful eating

Mindful Eating Book Review - How To Eat - Thich Nhat Hanh

For those of you on this mindful eating journey with me, I thought I'd share one of my favorite books on the subject. It is a simple, short compliation of a few meditations on ways to think about cooking, shopping, and enjoying food. It has a focus on how mealtime can connect us with the ones we love, and how to really be satisfied from your experience of eating. It is simple bite size reminders to practice slowing down and being grateful for what is right in front of you. It also has that unmistakable Thich Nhat Hanh tone that makes you feel like you're getting a hug from your grandfather every time you open a new chapter. 

The thing I like the best about this book, is that mindful eating is difficult to keep up when your life gets busy and things distract you from staying present. While other books on the subject are long how-tos, this is easy to pick up and read a little each week to re-focus on mindfulness.  Here is a link: How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh  

pasta orecchiette with kale and balsamic coconut dressing, mindful eating

orecchiette with kale + balsamic coconut dressing

servings: 2-3
10 mins prep
15 mins cooking

ingredients
3-4 cups kale cut into long strips (Lacinato if possible - the one that looks like a dinosaur)
1 zucchini chopped into thin disks
8 oz orecchiette pasta
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (a sweeter thicker kind works best) 
*optional: goat cheese
*optional: red pepper flakes

directions
1. cook the pasta per the package directions, slightly on the al dente (underdone) side. Chop the vegetables. 
2.Add one tablespoon of the coconut oil to a large skillet and then the zucchini, cook on medium heat for about 2min, then add the kale and cook for about 4-6 minutes longer, stirring the vegetables frequently. The goal is to get them just slightly soft, but really you don't want to overcook these guys. 
3. Melt the rest of the coconut oil in the microwave and then add the balsamic. Put the dressing and pasta into the skillet, mix everything together and serve!

Want another coconut oil, balsamic vinegar dish? Check out my brussel sprout mini galettes w/balsamic caramelized leeks

spicy butternut squash + carrot soup + spooning tips

This is my go-to crowd pleaser butternut squash soup. Very easy to make, versatile and packs so much delicious goodness. My secret is adding in a TON of ginger to make the soup really pop with flavor and spiciness. 

spicy butternut squash soup

I generally always like to keep a butternut squash around. Besides the beautiful big yellow gourd always staring me down, frankly a squash nearby just makes me feel comfortable.  I know people can get hung up on squash because it does take a couple of steps to get to usable chopped segments. However I would say, it is worth it every time, and after a little concerted practice, the peeling de-seeding and chopping can speed up significantly. I recommend a strong vegetable peeler, a sturdy spoon to scrape the inside contents, and a sharp large knife for chopping. 

spooning tip

Do you find it hard to slow down during a meal? Put your spoon down in between bites! Use this pause to help you slow down and finish savoring and tasting your last bite. You can also use this little pause to take a moment to take a deep breath and re-focus on the present moment and your experience of eating. 

butternut squash soup with carrots and ginger

Ingredients
-1 small-medium butternut squash
-1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
- 2 -3 medium carrots
- 3 (or more) tablespoons of finely chopped ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 6 cups vegetable soup stock

Garnish
-blue cheese, sesame seeds, red pepper chili flakes

Instructions
in a large pot simmer the ginger and oil on low heat for 3 minutes, then add the chopped carrots and butternut squash. Let all the ingredients simmer on medium heat for about 30mins or until soft. Make sure the soup stock level is at or slightly above the vegetable pieces. Use an immersion blender to  mix all the ingredients.  Garnish and enjoy!