Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Plum Bistro

Every time I make a declaration or life pledge, the universe sweeps in to test me.  “What are you going to do now?  How are you going to fix this problem?” taunting me while flicking out the power in my entire neighborhood.  My friend was expecting a dinner of saffron and apricot quinoa, cheese with crackers, mint water and a strawberry dessert in an hour at my place.  Hmmmm.

I decided that my food culture needed to hit the road, as in walk up Broadway to Pike and find Plum Bistro, an organic and vegan oasis.  I had been wanting to try Plum for months, but it takes an open-minded foodie friend to dive into organic vegan food with as much enthusiasm as me.  Kristen is that person.  Embracing a raw food diet, CSA produce boxes and homemade coconut ice cream, I knew Kristen would be game.
Immediately I knew I would not be disappointed.  My eyes lingered over the long wood communal table, exposed concrete walls, thick wood beams and pink carnations in small ceramic vases. The tall ceilings and open garage style window created an airy, lofty feel.  This gorgeous environment plus a glass of crisp water (no ice) with lemon, orange and cucumber left me feeling pampered and content within minutes.  The menu detailed grilled seasonal pizzas, traditional raw plates and many dishes with a southern, Cajun or Jamaican influence.  These people share my food culture. 
Happy hour allowed us to try several small plates for affordable prices, another reason to love this place.  We shared everything and started with their famous spicy, chili mac and yease.  I didn’t even get a chance to ask how they made it because I was savoring every creamy bite.  It reminded me of El Gaucho’s burnt mac ‘n cheese with the crunchy top layer.  I loved the spicy kick.
Next we had quinoa nachos.  Eating decadent, rich foods has never felt so good because they were made with whole grains, veggies and sauces made from nuts.  What guilt?  More nachos, please!
Our third dish was a beet and citrus salad.  It was simple and clean.  However, I prefer my beets with a little goat or feta cheese and some greens.  This dish wasn’t my favorite, but I appreciate the creative combination of beets with oranges.
Finally we had the Breaded Portobello Steaks.  This felt like man-food.  The filling and hearty mushrooms had a crunchy and savory outer layer that felt meaty and substantial.  It came with roasted capers, grape sauce, fennel and smashed purple potatoes.  The effect was a colorful and satisfying entrĂ©e. 
The entire experience left me feeling satisfied and energized.  Amazing conversation, slow courses, the gentle hum of other patrons at our community table and great service turned my plan B into an A+.   Vegan cheesy, I know ;)

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Food Culture

Inspired by many friends and lunch time conversations, I decided to finally read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Like me, Barbara decided to live via experimentation and break out of her food comfort zone.  Her commitment is to eat foods grown locally and seasonally by real people, including her own family on her new farm in Virginia.

I’ve read a few chapters and already experienced some strong personal connections.  On page 17 she writes, “…we’re looking hard for a food culture of our own.  A profit-driven food industry has exploded and nutritionally bankrupted our caloric supply, and we long for a Food Leviticus to save us from the sinful roil of cheap fats and carbs.”  I relate to this perspective because I do feel like I’m yearning for a healthy food culture.  There are so many things I try to avoid (processed foods, fast food, simple sugars, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) that it takes work to cook real food that is wholesome and nutrient-rich.  She adds that fad diets have “helped us form powerfully negative associations with the very act of eating.”  My reaction is to declare my own personal food culture.  This culture I will create at home, offer to friends and family and value as an important part of my life, finances and energy.
Nicole’s Food Culture
● Food and eating are for pleasure, for nourishment and for building community.
● I eat a diet based on fresh and whole foods, mainly fruits and vegetables.
● I eat slowly to savor each bite and stimulate healthy digestion.
● I avoid highly processed foods, high fructose corn syrup and mystery ingredients.
● I use spices and herbs to enhance flavor and promote health.
● I value the time spent eating with family and friends over a beautiful table.

As I continue reading and learning about my country’s food industry and the challenges of farming, I feel my awareness expanding.  I'm looking at food labels, not at calories or carbs, but at ingredient lists and investigating where the product was produced.  I'm initiating conversations with friends and community members about these topics and developing my food culture.  I'm cooking dinner for a friend tonight.  It's the perfect opportunity to share my culture and enjoy it's delicious fruits.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blog Under Construction

Pardon the dust... I am in the process of restructuring my blog.  The monthly experiments no longer inspire me, so I'm refreshing my focus.  Instead of a disjointed, short-term experiment, I'm now interested in diving deeply into the topics that most intrigue me, namely naturopathic medicine, yoga, meditation, kirtan, cooking and creating a balanced lifestyle.  My job as a teacher provides me enough free time to explore these areas and process my learning through writing.  For that I'm very thankful.

Last Friday I attended a campus tour and presentation at Bastyr University called "the Bastyr Experience."  As I drove through the entrance, surrounded by lush trees and fresh air, I knew I was on to something good.  That day I learned more about the Naturopath program.  They define naturopathic medicine (sometimes called "naturopathy") as a distinct system of primary health care that emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process through the use of natural therapies. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) blend centuries-old knowledge and a philosophy that nature is the most effective healer with current research on health and human systems.

Effectively, I'm considering going to med school.  This possibility is blowing my mind.  The program, campus, doctors, philosophy and career possibilities speak to me.  In order to create a venue for my own learning and growth around this dream, I'm dedicating my blog to my many mini-steps that will lead me down this path.  Join me as I remove my own internal obstacles and doubts to consider this dream as a real possibility for my life.