After speaking to a group of young writers, hubby and I visited Legume Kitchen and Bar in Fredericksburg, VA. We had meant to visit on Valentine’s Day but I wasn’t feeling well. We always meant to make the trip and since the restaurant was only 15 minutes away from the library, it was a perfect time to visit!
Although Legume isn’t a vegan restaurant, they had plenty of plant-based options available. We started off our meal with vegan nachos. For my entree, I ordered the Meatless Ball Sandwich and a side salad. It was a hearty sandwich made with garbanzo bean fritters, marinara sauce and vegan mozzarella. My husband ordered the coconut-green curry rice noodles meal with shitake mushrooms, tofu and bok choy. We ordered dessert, too: dark chocolate cake with rasberry torte and for him, a mango sorbet. Even though the chocolate cake wasn’t my favorite, I definitely indulged in a few bites. Everything was well-made and I am planning a trip back to Legume in the very near future.
The final spotlight for Haitian Heritage Month is on Michele Voltaire Marcelin. She is a poet, painter and writer. Her work has been published in French, English, Spanish and Kreyol. She also writes in three languages. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States in D.C., the Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center and at the National Museum in Haiti. I saved her for last because Hubby and I chose her poetry to be featured at our wedding reception in 2012.
Here is one of our favorites:
what magic names of places
shall i whisper in the dark
while you hold me
so we travel at least through the night
what sweet syllables of cities
ancient or new
what bird-laden trees
in what gardens
shall i offer you
so that at last i see the world with you
walk with me
through streets i have loved
in buenos aires, aix, lisbon, jacmel
keep your steps aligned with mine
walk with me
there is an alleyway called paradiso
i want you to kiss me there
a church of holy wisdom
where we will on the altar light candles
there is somewhere in port-au-prince
a crumbling wall fired with hibiscus
where blossoms wait to be chosen by you
to flower my hair
or shall we go off on a barge
floating on the seine
when the city darkens and the bridges spread
across the silent river
will we be drunk with each other
or will it be the boat dancing on the water
there is a stretch of sand i remember
crusted with salt from the waves
we will leave our footprints there
drink pisco in a secluded bar in santiago
sit in pelhourino square in salvador
later i will giggle as you carry me
on the stairs to the capri grotto
somewhere there is a bed unmade
in a new york hotel
where we’ll return at dawn to make love
as sleepwalkers do
after seeing the ghosts of jazz musicians
at the blue note
somewhere someday we’ll go away
but tonight let’s recite as we would poems
names of places
that await our pleasure
hold my hands my beloved
look in my eyes
tonight let’s travel in our dreams
while we remain immobile in the dark
I hope featuring Haitian poets this month has opened you up to writers that you may have never had the pleasure of discovering on your own. I know choosing to celebrate my heritage this way has been a wonderful and educational experience for me.
Thursday wellness update time! This past week I lost 1.2lbs which felt amazing to me. I worked hard even when I slipped up and ate too much on some days. There were many reasons why this week felt amazing to me. For one, I rediscovered some belly dance videos on YouTube I used to do several years ago featuring the Bellydance Twins Veena and Neena. I spent many hours doing their workouts and learning routines which led to classes I eventually took years later. I had a ball doing their intense Arms & Abs video. It reminded me how much is available for me to do even when we don’t make it to the gym.
Another reason is that I just attended a networking event for women at an awesome juice bar this evening. I spent the evening learning about how to brand yourself led by a photographer and business coach. Their presentation was dynamic and interactive. We even got a chance to learn about the origin story of Ginger Juice, the venue where the event was held. It was incredibly encouraging to listen to this woman recount how she left the corporate world to take the risk to found a business where she is contributing to the health of her community and spending more time with her children.
I am grateful for rediscovering old joys and having the chance to surround myself with new, enterprising women.
Have you revisited anything you used to love doing lately? Or had any new experiences lately? I would love to hear from you in the comments.
Today’s feature is Kettly Mars, an award-winning Haitian poet and novelist. I wanted to feature her for a very specific reason, besides her talent. She worked as a administrative assistant for several years and didn’t begin to pursue her writing until she was in her 30’s. I love that she knew it wasn’t over because she started down one path and had the courage to go down another. She has written seven novels and several poetry and short story collections including young adult. She writes in French but her work has been translated into Kreyol, English, Italian, Dutch and Japanese.
My hand and the stone (as translated by Alexander Best)
My hand and the stone,
sage rebellion of noble particles
gripped in my palm.
I’ve made my own her reality:
grey, heavy, oval.
lays claim to nothing other than a
defiance of oblivion.
I came home from the movies yesterday and decided it was high time we cooked the Pho waiting for us in the cabinet. Any kind of soup or stew is Hubby’s specialty so I let him have at it. It wasn’t a traditional Vietnamese Pho although he did use the rice noodles and the seasoning packet that came with it.
He started by using a little oil in the pot. He then added onions, hot sauce, minced garlic, red pepper and celery with Himalayan sea salt and peppers. After they caramelized, he added 4 cups of mushroom broth and then 4 cups of water. He brought it to a boil and then added 3/4 cup of broccoli. Three to five minutes later, he added the rice noodles and let boil for 2-3 minutes. Cilantro was added to garnish the dish. The spice combination was fantastic! We are excited to eat it again, tonight. Sometimes, leftovers is what’s best for dinner and that is always alright with me!
The days are getting longer and hotter and it’s the perfect time to try new salads. I found this recipe at the minimalistbaker.com. I was especially excited to try making another salad dressing. The fact that it includes oranges made me even more curious. Instead of mixed greens, I chose spinach leaves. I also used the sweet Cara Cara oranges in the dressing and to adorn my plate. The sweetener brand used was Truvia. We loved the combination of sweet and savory on the plate and will definitely try again!
Here’s the recipe:
- 5-6 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup cooked quinoa (red or white)
- 1/2 cup fresh or canned corn
- 1 cup cooked black beans (seasoned with equal pinches sea salt, cumin, chili, + garlic powder)
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1 orange, segmented
- 1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped or torn
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 1 large lime, juiced (~4 Tbsp)
- 3 Tbsp orange juice
- 1-2 tsp sweetener of choice (maple syrup, agave, cane sugar, etc.)
- 1-2 tsp hot sauce
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- 1/8 tsp chili powder (or sub extra hot sauce or chipotle powder)
- Healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper
- optional: 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro
- 3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- Begin preparing quinoa first by thoroughly rinsing 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer then bringing to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare salad ingredients by chopping vegetables, segmenting orange, and warming black beans and seasoning with salt, cumin, chili and garlic powder.
- Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added more hot sauce, orange juice and salt. TIP: if you prefer a vinaigrette, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Either plate salad and serve with dressing on the side, or toss with dressing before serving. Pairs well with salsa, fresh lime juice and tortilla chips.
- Leftovers keep for up to a few days, though best when fresh.
Time for a wellness update. I am not sure why this one is so hard for me. I was thinking about why some weeks I work so hard to fight for my goals and others make me want to crawl under the covers and not come out for a couple of days. My couple of days was this past week. I found myself doing things I wouldn’t normally doing. I know I am not scared of success, especially if it brings me closer to my health goals so when I do things to sabotage my goals even if it only shows up as a 2 lb weight gain, what does that mean?
It may mean that I am close to a breakthrough which doesn’t happen often. And if it doesn’t happen often, the lack of familiarity makes me freeze up and want to run back to the comfort I know, even if it’s not the healthiest place.
The difference is I recognize it and want to lean into whatever breakthrough is coming, no matter the discomfort or the uncertainty that makes me feel like I am breaking apart and coming together over and over again.
I had a full day and when I stopped over at Whole Foods for lunch. While I was shopping, I saw Beyond Meat has started selling a few flavors of their “sausage”. I also spied an almond milk, soy an dairy-free version of ravioli by Kite Hill. I chose the Hot Italian flavor of the sausage and the spinach and ricotta for the ravioli. When I ate dairy products, cheese was one of my favorites so I have always been willing to explore the alternatives. Most brands get it wrong but I love what Kite Hill did with their nut cheese filling. The consistency and the taste were better than I expected. Tonight, I kept it simple. I boiled the ravioli and cooked the Beyond Meat sausages on a stick-free pan. I added some tomato sauce and basil and I was satisfied. As much as I love discovering new recipes, some nights call for discovering new products to cook quickly and have the rest of the night to yourself.
Every week, I try new plant-based recipes and explore ways to move my lifestyle away from “if it’s vegan, I’ll eat it” to “whole foods plant-based.” I can’t say I am always successful but I see the difference. For example, I cooked without oil for several meals this week and after a rigorous workout, I chose to blend a Honeydew lime smoothie with watermelon on the side. It helps to eat something light but filling and I can sit here and write afterwards without a problem. I even managed to release 3.8 lbs this week and I know it’s because of a concentrated effort to adjust my habits and a willingness to adjust my attitude. There were (and sometimes are) times where I wouldn’t consider the fruit smoothie and melon as a worthy snack after exercise. My greedy eyes would be searching for a “real meal.”
I know this mentality is something that is learned and ingrained after a period of time. I believe making wellness a priority will change my eyes with many things. I am looking forward to it, especially as I get more busy with my writing.
Have you made any changes lately that has impacted your wellness? If not, what do you plan to do?
This past weekend I went to a wedding. Outside of the beauty of watching them become husband and wife, it had me thinking about commitment. What happens when you go from flirting with it to have it living on the insides, this willingness to attach, gambling with your heart, betting you will gain more than you could ever lose?
Writing feels that way to me. When I left a career a few years back, I was betting that I would not only brush past my fears, but that I would take them by the lapel, throw them to the ground and proceed to kick them into submission. It needed to be that serious for me. I saw how easy it could be. I could have spent the next 23 years at a job that admittedly had more lows than highs but I could have scraped by. I could always look forward to being in my mid-50’s and starting over again from there.
But I didn’t want to wait until I was worn down by years of stress and lack of fulfillment. The need to commit to finding out if I had what it took to do this far outweighed staying in misery, even if there was a level of comfort in that misery. I realize I am blessed to put in the work, even if half the time I am scared I am doing this only half-right or not at all. Even when it feels like no one is reading.
I will (and have) made my fair share of mistakes but I don’t have to live with wondering what could’ve happened if I never took a chance on myself.
If I never decided to commit.
Your turn: What have you recently committed to? How has it changed you?