My adventure in food began when I explored the world of Vegetarian eating and living. I was in college at the time I decided to make the leap, and I had no idea what I was supposed to eat except veggie burgers and alternative roast beef sandwiches. Luckily, I landed a job at MOM’s Organic Market, which opened my eyes to a whole new world of food to explore.
After 8 years in the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, I did come back to eating meat- and I only buy meat to prepare from MOM’s because I know the animals had more than happy lives. But the biggest appreciation I have for my time eating vegetarian is learning some pretty cool outside the box recipes. You mean salad is more than just iceberg lettuce, carrots, underripe tomatoes, croutons and fatty ranch dressing? It’s amazing what we discover when we step outside of our box. There is an adventure to be had in every meal if you’re open to it!
Today, I’m working with a Red Kuri squash. But before I even begin, I’ve prepared the EXPERIENCE. I set the mood by lighting an incense, making a cup of coffee, putting on the apron and turning on some jams (today it’s The Chainsmokers because it’s a dance in the kitchen kind of day). When I was completing my Health Coach training through Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I heard a lecture about creating some magic in the experience. Why not drink your orange juice out of a champagne glass? Why not sing at the top of your lungs when you’re driving to work? Why not dance in the kitchen while you’re cooking? It’s these simple little tweaks that sprinkle a little magic in the experience.
Back to the Red Kuri squash. I’m working with an excellent recipe from the kitchn. I’ve been coming back to this recipe every winter for 5 years. Such a gem. I love how soft and sweet this squash is. Almost like a sweet potato! This recipe is also excellent because it can be made vegan or not vegan. I chose to use the chicken stock that I made from a whole chicken Brad and I prepared earlier this week. Typically though, I use vegetable broth. My little helper will tell you that the homemade chicken stock is definitely a treat.
TIP: If you’re squash is giving you the most difficult of times to cut, find a concrete sidewalk and drop it. It’s truly magic. Apologies I didn’t photograph! But here are the perfect chunks that came of it.
Part of the experience for me in cooking is not feeling rushed. So this whole okay, while this is happening dice all the garlic and after that sauté for one minute and then dice the ginger and toss that in and…. no. I like to take the time to prepare all the ingredients so I can enjoy the art of combining them. I don’t feel rushed, and I’m not frantically looking for the curry powder hiding behind the big tub of coconut oil. Ahhhh- breathe.
Mmmm… can you taste it yet? It smells so wonderful. The garlic, ginger, shallot and curry all blending together with the sweetness of the Red Kuri. Taking a moment to notice the smells is part of the experience too, my dear friends!
While the soup is simmering on the stove, I’m going to go ahead and take care of these dishes. Normally, that would be pretty daunting. But add a little swing of the hips and a bending at the knees, this is bound to be a live concert experience! Thank you The Chainsmokers for your upbeat goodness!
Once it’s done simmering, it’s time to go Ninja on this soup!
Last, but MOST IMPORTANT, is presentation. I referenced finding the magic in the moment earlier. There is certainly something magical in the creativity of food presentation. I let this be a way to apply my artistic creativity. What do I have floating around to use on my canvas? For starters, I’m going to use the fancy bowl. I normally use these painted ceramic bowls for serving nice dinner sides, but today, I’m going to eat lunch out of a fancy bowl.
My paints today include shredded coconut, cashews and chili flakes. Some other add-ins for my future bowls will include baby kale, tortellini and rice. I also love to complement this dish with warm homemade bread.
I hope that this encouraged you to find a little magic in your own kitchen, and of course, your entire day. Cheers!