Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Has Sprung!

Hot pink tulips and fresh-squeezed orange juice -
a springtime treat!
I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but here in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is definitely Spring! Flowers are popping up, the cherry trees are in bloom, and asparagus is back in the markets! What I love about this time of year is how full of hope it feels. So many of us make resolutions around January 1st, but this is the time of year that I feel is full of promise and new beginnings. Spring is a great time to take a look back at those goals you set in January - Are you on track? Do you need to adjust some things? Maybe set some new goals?

Calla Lilies grow all over the place here.
After spending months cooped up inside due to cold temperatures and wet weather, Spring means that I can get outside for longer hikes and bike rides. More daylight = more outdoor fun! This change in the seasons is one of my favorite times of the year. During the summer months in California, everything dries out and turns golden brown, but in spring the hills are green, still full of water from the winter rains. The grasses and shrubs are in full color, and flowers start blooming on the hillsides. It is truly beautiful!

Muir Beach seen from the Coastal Trail

Looking southward from the Coastal Trail -
somewhere between Tennessee Valley and Muir Beach
The Crystal Springs Reservoir on a recent morning.
As fantastic as it is that I have some amazing places in nature just a short drive away, frequently you really don't have to go very far beyond your door to find beautiful things. For example, this Magnolia tree on my block is absolutely beautiful right now. It's branches were barren for months, but it now has tons of pink and purple blooms. I've seen people taking portraits under it, or snapping a picture of the tree like I did.

Beautiful Magnolia tree in the neighborhood.

Magnolia blossoms

Sometimes all it takes to recognize a beautiful moment is to be more mindful, more aware of your surroundings. Perhaps that means not listening to music on your iPod, and instead listening to the birds. Or maybe it means not texting or talking on the phone as you walk down the street, but instead looking around you, noticing the other people and natural surroundings.

A New Zealand Christmas Tree (metrosiderous excelsus)
in SF's Richmond District.
So, the next time you're out and about in your neighborhood, try putting down the technology, and see what signs of nature you notice. Big or small, I'd love to hear about your observations in the comments below!

Monday, March 18, 2013

My favorite Thai curry, made at home!

I like to set up my ingredients ahead, it makes cooking easier!
Do you have a favorite dish that you always order when you're at a certain restaurant, because you know there's no way you could ever make it at home? That's how I always felt about Pumpkin Curry - my go to order at Thai restaurants. I love the flavor and textural combination of the red curry and the Kabocha Squash. Served over brown rice, it is sooo delicious.

At the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago, I bought an organic Kabocha Squash. I bought it because they were on sale and I wanted some winter squash for my photo shoot. (Btw, have you noticed my new profile picture on my website?) When I bought the squash, I had no clue how I was going to prepare it. So it sat in the cupboard for a few weeks. Winter squashes last a while, much longer than most produce, but I came to the realization that I had to do something with it soon or it was going to get soft. Enter my Thai food craving and the interwebs...

I searched for a Thai curry with Kabocha squash, and after perusing many recipes, I decided to use this one from J.R. Organics, a farm (and CSA) near San Diego, California. I made a few changes that are reflected below, but for their original version please click on the link. And if you're in Southern California, check them out!

Yum! My favorite Thai dish, made at home.
Be sure to prepare some brown rice to serve with this curry, you'll want it to soak up the delicious sauce!

Kabocha Squash Thai Red Curry (serves approx. 6)
Ingredients:
1 Kabocha squash (about 2lbs), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1” chunks
1/2 lb String Beans, cut into 1” pieces
1/2 lb Mushrooms (I used baby Portabella), cut into 1” pieces
1 medium Onion, chopped
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
1T Ginger, freshly grated
1T Coconut or Sesame Oil
1 Can of full-fat Coconut Milk, 13.5 ounces or about 1.5 cups
3 1⁄2 T Red Curry Paste
2T Tamari or Soy Sauce
1/2 C Water (or vegetable broth)
1 lime, juiced
Fresh Thai Basil and/or Cilantro (if desired)

Directions:
- In a large stockpot, warm the oil over a medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and sauté until translucent and starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add squash and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.
- Add the string beans, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger and stir well to combine.
- Add tamari and curry paste, continue cooking until very fragrant and well combined, about 1 minute.
- Add the coconut milk and water and bring the pot to a simmer; lower the heat to medium-low. Avoid boiling.
- Continue to cook over a low heat until the squash is easily pierced by a fork but not so long it turns mushy.
- When squash is done, add the lime juice, stir well, and check for seasoning. Add basil and/or cilantro if desired.
- Serve warm over long grain brown rice.

Monday, March 11, 2013

IIN LIVE in New York City!

Okay people, I'm not going to lie to you. You might have noticed I didn't post a new Zwick's Pick last week, and I feel like I need to explain myself. The truth is, the draft of this post has been up on my computer screen for a week now. Yes, my computer has been on for that long, I don't turn it off very often. I wanted to post my reflections on the IIN Conference I attended in New York during the first weekend in March, the problem was...I didn't know what to write.

My notes from the IIN conference, day 1 (top) and day 2 (bottom).
I'm old-school and still write my notes by hand.
You see, this was the third IIN LIVE event I've been to, and for the first time I felt (and still feel) a little overwhelmed by it all. With the exception of a few presenters (my faves being Dr. Frank Lipman, Danielle LaPorte, and Gabrielle Bernstein) the bulk of the conference focused on marketing strategies. Each speaker seemed to be authentic in their message, and believed in their way of doing things, but at times it felt a bit pushy to me. At no other IIN conference have I seen so many speakers promote themselves through "free, upcoming webinar especially for you!" as I did here. And while I can appreciate that they're doing it for us, to help us succeed in our health coaching businesses, it just felt like the wrong platform to me. I was at the conference to learn, not to be sold something.

But, as the cliche goes, I took what I liked, and left the rest behind. As you can see in the photo above, I took lots of notes. But if I were to sum up the weekend, the over-arching message I kept hearing was BE YOURSELF, and have ALIGNMENT among all aspects of your life. In other words, be yourself, and live your message. That, my friends, I can and will do. :-)

View of Columbus Circle and Central Park from our Saturday lunch spot.

Gabby, on stage and amazingly inspiring!

A chart from Dr. Lipman's lecture:
West views body as a machine, East views body as a garden.

The other conference attendees I met that weekend were all amazed that I flew to New York from San Francisco. And while attending the conference is part of my reason to fly across the country, I also do it so that I can visit my friends and family that live in Manhattan. This time I stayed with one of my cousins, who lives just three blocks from the conference location (score!). Having a short walk to and from was fantastic for this cold-weather wimp. I also was able to visit another cousin across the river in Hoboken, have a yummy organic, vegetarian dinner with good friends from high school, and I got to see my sister three times (including one dinner that was just us).

And so, my complaints fell aside and I left New York full of love and inspiration. Love for myself, those close to me, my clients, as well as our world and all beings that are a part of it. And inspiration to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be in this moment, and to share that with the world. To that end, I am full of gratitude that you're here, reading my recipes and musings on Zwick's Picks. Thank you!

My sister came to meet me for lunch on Saturday, and we had on (almost) the same outfit!
Gray sweater, black leggings, black boots - it's a good look!