Food for a Retreat

Salad, roasted broccoli & red onions, butternut squash & kale lasagna with hazelnuts

I rushed from the airport Wednesday afternoon (just arrived from visiting family in North Carolina) to the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market to gather produce for the women’s singing and yoga retreat with Heather Houston and Jaclyn Long at Skyote Mountain on Saturday. Lots of winter squash! And Happy Boy Farm still had the wonderful watermelon radishes I had shared with my family in NC last week.

Saturday morning I made chai for the group, perfect for the rainy, foggy day. I make my chai without the black tea or milk–that way each person can add what they like. I offered organic 2% milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or almond milk, along with honey, organic sugar, or stevia for sweetener. My mix doesn’t really need sweetener, as the licorice root and star anise sweeten it enough for most.

Chai

For 6 cups

2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds (you don’t need to peel it, just rinse first)

2 cinnamon sticks

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

½ teaspoon whole cloves

10 whole cardamom pods (crushed a bit in a mortar & pestle)

1 tablespoon dried licorice root

A few star anise

6 cups cold water

Bring a pot of water to a simmer with the spices in it and simmer for about 20 minutes. You can just put everything directly in the pot and then strain it out when it’s done. I usually use a large tea ball for the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, and licorice, then add the ginger and cinnamon sticks directly to the water.

When it’s ready, add as much milk or alternative milk as you like. If you are adding a lot of milk, you might heat it first so it doesn’t cool down the chai. The mix without milk can also be stored in the refrigerator and then mixed with milk before heating up.  If you want it with black (or green, or white) tea, just pour the chai over the tea and brew for the appropriate time before or after adding the milk. (Remember that the casein in milk may diminish the antioxidant effect of the tea–studies appear to be inconclusive on this).

The dinner menu:

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna with Hazelnuts

Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions

Salad of Happy Boy Farm Baby Greens with watermelon radishes, carrots, cucumber

Gluten-free Multigrain Miracle bread

Flourless Chocolate Cake & ice cream (plus pistachio halvah that Vladi brought)

Flourless Chocolate Cake with ice cream and pistachio halvah

Recipes

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna with Hazelnuts

3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk

1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (I use a mixture of 2 parts brown rice flour, 2/3 of one part potato starch, and 1/3 of one part tapioca flour)

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup diced onions

1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

8 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Cooking spray

1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. kale, large ribs removed, chopped

9 cooked lasagna noodles (8 ounces uncooked noodles)

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; keep warm.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Melt butter in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat; add flour to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until smooth and golden, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add about 2 tablespoons warm milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add remaining warm milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Mix in chopped hazelnuts. Cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Place squash in a large bowl. Add vinegar; toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and thyme. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon oil, red pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add kale, about 1/3 at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Spoon 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with kale mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, 1/2 cup Asiago, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange 3 noodles over cheese; top with squash mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, remaining 1/2 cup Asiago, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange remaining 3 noodles on top of cheese; spread remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 piece)

Adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2006, by Krista Montgomery, M.S., R.D.

Salad Dressings

Kripalu House Dressing (I used half the amount of oil and it is still delicious)

Tahini Lemon Miso Dressing

1/2 cup tahini

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cups water

2 tablespoons barley miso

1 teaspoons cumin seed, ground

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon tamari

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in food processor or blender.

Servings: 12 (2 tablespoons per serving)

Calories 66.79, Total Fat 5.61g, Saturated Fat 0.78g, Sodium 231.42mg, Carbohydrates 3.01g, Fiber 0.96g, Sugar 0.12g, Protein 2.03g

Poppy Seed Dressing

1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tablespoon red vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Combine in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Servings: 6 (2 tablespoons per serving)

Calories 29.2, Total Fat 1.59g, Saturated Fat 0.24g, Sodium 37.19mg, Carbohydrates 3.18g, Fiber 0.07g, Sugar 2.65g, Protein 0.8g

Rebalancing

I’ve been eating too much – time to really tune in to how much my body needs! Got out for a walk through the woods today, felt good to be outside getting some exercise again. I know those two things are connected for me – the more consistent my exercise, the more tuned in I am to what’s good for my body. I will make an effort this weekend while I’m off at the ATP/ITP conference (Spirituality & Psychology: Promises & Pitfalls) to make sure I still get exercise daily!

So much to do and the year just started!

There is a lot I want to achieve this year, and to avoid overwhelm I am just plugging along, doing what I can do, one step at a time. No point in getting stressed about it – that will definitely not move things any faster. Part of me wistfully yearns for some serious down time to just relax and not worry about all I have on the to-do list. But I know myself well enough to know that having nothing I’m working on isn’t great for my general well-being. Best to have projects that interest me and feel worth doing, and to make sure that I give myself enough time to get them done so that I can enjoy the creative process and not get buried under too much deadline pressure.

Meanwhile, I continue to appreciate the reflective nature of putting together these food collages. I’ve made enough of a commitment to continuing them that I created a back for my business card just for that – something I can hand to people who see me taking photos of what I’m about to eat and ask about what I’m doing.

It’s about time to put together my schedule of workshops for 2012 and send out a mailing – one of my next tasks on the to-do list! Meanwhile, I’m pleased that my Guiding the Journey workshop that is part of the Sacred Centers Immersion is in the spring (May) this year, and in northern California. We will be at Institute of Noetic Sciences’ Earthrise Retreat for the Immersion this year, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be there for more than the brief visits I’ve had there. I’ll also be teaching a 2-day preliminary workshop this year, Exploring Psyche and Soma: Creative & Healing States of Consciousness. This is a response to requests from those wanting an introduction to my work, as Guiding the Journey is a more intermediate/advanced level of training. If you are interested in either or both of these workshops, please feel free to contact me, or go ahead and register through Sacred Centers.

Eating at the Haven

Getting to Gabriola Island, BC, where I am teaching Guiding the Journey right now, required a sea plane for part of the trip – and a weight limit that left me taking only enough food for the travel day. Only a bit of carrot-raisin manna bread, a poppyseed ginger rye muffin and two protein bars made the cut. So I have been dependent on what is served here at The Haven to nourish me. It’s always interesting to me to see the shifts in my meals when I have fewer choices.

Baking for breakfasts

Baked a few more breakfast goodies before I left for the farmer’s market to get the fresh produce to feed 17 of us for 4 days. Cooked up a frittata and salad for the 4 folks who arrived tonight, with vegetable chopping help from the first participant to arrive, while we waited for my husband Rene’ to arrive back from the airport with Steve Gilligan, our workshop leader, and another participant. Finally began to slow down after the somewhat frenzied day trying to get everything in place. Tomorrow morning we begin, coming together over breakfast. I’ll have help slicing fruit, hard-boiling eggs, making coffee and heating water for tea, and setting out yogurt, cottage cheese, cereals, fruit, and whatever else comes to mind in the morning.