Potato + Artichoke Frittata and summer guidance

It seems that time is getting away from me this summer. In the midst of this tough year, I’ve found I’ve needed more of a break from the virtual world these last few weeks. In the midst of doing some checking in with myself, I retook a character strengths test around the time of my last post in late June from the Via Institute on Character. Having last took the same test in early grad school, I found that most of my top character strengths are truly mine and have hardly changed, but having moved into my own nutrition clinical work, some of the strengths that were lower as a student have truly risen to the top. The results highlight how much we become what we practice. From that assessment, my top character strength is spirituality, as it has nearly always been. What the institute means by the Spirituality character strength is:

Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.

All of which has guided the majority of what I’ve written here this year and for the last several.

But the too-much-online-all-the-time and never-ending negative news cycle has gotten in the way of that a bit this spring and early summer. My internal guidance has gotten harder to hear and less obvious. On the daily, I have often felt torn between too many demands and not enough complete alone time. And so, in early July, I took a time out. I took a week off completely, from my public health job, from nutrition clients, from running, and from all technology. If I’m honest, what I hoped to gain from it was a flash-bang inspiration and guidance, if only for a moment, to make me feel better about all of this we’re living through.

But I didn’t get it.
It’s often said that God speaks in the whispers of the heart. That his guidance for us dwells in the silent spaces.

One of the things I’m coming to over the last few months is directly on this topic. When I work with individuals with nutrition, I provide guidance and of course my opinion, but I see each encounter with each client as a true collaboration; because as much as I have the professional training and knowledge of nutrition and its impact on physiology, we are each experts on our bodies, or should be. And I think each of us has the intuitive feels right for me knowledge about our bodies hidden underneath the clutter of all our everyday stimulation and egotistical desires.

This year, so many of us have been going through hard things, personally, professionally, with health, and more. It’s been my intention to start writing and sharing more here on the everyday aspects of that that are applicable. Frustratingly, that everyday application has only come easily when working individually with each person. Instead of resisting against this frustration, or forcing something that I’m finding difficult, the right answer for me today is to follow the strings and share here what comes with more ease. All that’s to say, I’m practicing having more grace with myself. And hope you can do the same with you.

And also,
If you are struggling with your relationship to your body this year, or finally beginning to address it, I hear you.
and If you are struggling with your digestion and/or are in the midst of a long frustrating battle with it, I hear you.
and If you are overwhelmed and/or losing hope with this pandemic and lack of true normal or return to it in the foreseeable future, I hear you.

Perhaps I’ll soon begin to provide more concrete words on those topics soon, like I have been meaning to. In the meantime, I’m leaning in to feeding myself and William wholesome meals lately, like this potato and artichoke frittata, and trying to keep the quiet spaces open to allow in the guidance I prefer.
Hope you are taking care.

Potato + Artichoke Frittata, serves ~3
I’ve never been much of a potato person, except the year-ish I lived in Ireland, but William insisted on growing potatoes this year. He chose a variety from Row 7, a seed company founded by chef Dan Barber, whose intent is to work with farmers who are developing vegetable varieties with flavor in mind, a notion that realistically is not done when it comes to developing commercial / commodity foods. It’s clear to me now that good potatoes make all the difference. If you can, I encourage you to buy locally from a farmer near you. I promise, they will taste infinitely better than anything in a standard supermarket.

300 gr. / 2-3 medium potatoes, unpeeled, medium-diced.
a dab of coconut oil or ghee, to cook
6 large eggs, whisked
a dash of black pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt
200 gr. / 1/2 a can of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely minced

  • Over medium-high heat, warm a little coconut oil or ghee in a medium-large heavy skillet that is oven-safe. Stir in the potatoes and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Cover and cook until they are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Whisk the eggs along with the remaining salt and black pepper. Turn down to medium-low heat and pour the eggs into the skillet with the potatoes, along with the chopped artichokes.
  • Cook for a few minutes, until the eggs are just set and there isn’t a lot of liquid running around the pan on the top. To help with this, you can run a spatula underneath the sides of the frittata, and tilt the pan so the uncooked eggs run ot the underside.
  • Remove from the heat and place in the oven under the broiler for a couple minutes, until the top has puffed up and set. If your broiler has two settings, choose the low setting.
  • Remove from the broiler and let it sit for a minute or two. In the meantime whisk together the remaining olive oil and turmeric. Drizzle the turmeric mixture over the top, and sprinkle with fresh minced basil.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh greens or other meal accompaniments.

Are you in need of extra nutritional support?
If so, I invite you to reach out to me for more personalized support. Conditions I often work with include digestive health and food intolerances, meeting needs of endurance athletes, vegan/vegetarian diets, intuitive eating, and autoimmune disorders.

Handmade Pizza

What I consider our first date–my fiancée and I’s–occurred over pizza.  I meant to take him to a cute little Southwestern restaurant but ended up at my favorite local pizza joint instead.  Come to find out later, he didn’t think much of the Southwestern restaurant, so apparently I made an excellent choice.

And while my favorite pizza restaurant in town is certainly not his, we do eat a lot of pizza together.  We live in a college town, after all.  After about a year of pizza-critiquing the local restaurants, and somehow finding each wanting in some way, (This one’s crust is just bland, I don’t like that one’s sauce, the other one has boring toppings, etc.) we decided to go into business–the handmade pizza à la us–business.

I discovered homemade pizzas during my first years in college, when my grandma sent me off with a bread maker, which made great dough, but not great bread.  It was just one short step from pizza dough to pulling out of the oven goodness, and any toppings that were lying around in the fridge were fair game.

Fast forward several years, and I’ve discovered the crust and the sauce.  You know, the one’s that blows all the local pizza restaurants out of the water.  What’s more, Will and I finally agree on pizza.  We like this one best.

While we may finally agree on dough and sauce, we still haven’t come to terms on toppings.  In particular, as you can see–one of us tends to go for a heavy hand with the cheese.

Favorite Pizza Dough (adapted from The Art of Simple Food)
2 tsp. dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup  + 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • Stir 1/2 cup warm water and yeast together in small measuring container.  Add in 1/2 cup flour and mix well.  Cover this container and set it for about 30 minutes.  Make sure your container is large enough to allow for big expansion of flour/yeast mixture!
  • When this mixture is quite bubbly, pour it into a large bowl with remaining flour and salt.  Mix well with cold water and olive oil.  You may need to add more flour or water, depending on the temperature and moisture in the air.  Once ingredients are incorporated, pour out on floured surface and knead for five minutes.  
  • Once kneading is complete, put dough back into oiled, clean large bowl and give it a couple turns to cover dough with oil.  Cover and let rise for about two hours, until doubled.  You can also put it into the fridge in the morning and let rise slowly all day.  This develops even more flavor in the dough.  If you do this, make sure to take the dough out of the fridge approximately two hours before baking.  
  • Once ready to form into pizza, split dough in half.  Use either your hands or a rolling pin to form a circle and place on a pizza stone or circular baking sheet.  
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  When sauce and toppings are on, pat a small bit of olive oil around the edge of the crust and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over toppings.  Bake the pizza for 10 minutes.
Favorite Tomato Sauce (adapted from Joe Bastianich in Runner’s World Magazine)
2 1/2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes, no salt or seasoning added.
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
  • Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-heat.  When it sizzles, add garlic and sauté until just golden.   Add tomatoes and spices and turn to low.  Simmer for about 45 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes, and then puree in a blender for a smooth consistency.
For this particular pizza, we layered sauce, a small handful of cheese, onions, mushrooms, green bell peppers, and artichokes.  We followed with a good amount of cheddar and Parmesan cheese.  Feel free to experiment with toppings!
Hint:  This tomato sauce is also are signature stand-by for a quick pasta dish.