Mexican Lasagna / Layer Cake / Tamale Pie / Polenta Casserole?


Mexican Lasagna / Layer Cake / Tamale Pie / Polenta Casserole?

Sometimes naming a dish gets really hard. I consider myself fairly good at creating new dishes, even better at eating them, but pathetically helpless when it comes time to name them. If I were to have kids I’m sure they’d either have some new age hippie name that makes people roll their eyes when they turn away, or just number them out to reduce the pressure.

This recipe is gluten free and can easily be vegan (replace cheese with nutritional yeast, skip the turkey).

1 cup polenta corn meal
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tspn black pepper

1/2 onion, diced
5 white button mushrooms, diced
1 pound of ground turkey
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced

1 tablespoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tspn onion powder
1 tspn garlic powder
1/2 tspn salt
1 tspn pepper

1 can black beans
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 avocados, sliced
1 tomato diced (or I had cherried tomatos, whatever your pleasure)
1 bunch cilantro, diced
2 limes

Directions: Boil your polenta with the vegetable broth, adding in garlic and pepper until it is a thick but moist mixture. Because you are going to bake this again, you may want to add a little extra broth so your polenta is on the creamier side – coconut milk can help too. In a skillet with olive oil, cook the ground turkey, adding in the veggies to very lightly saute them. Then, add your spice mixture (essentially a taco seasoning, if you’re feeling lazy just add taco seasoning). Once the polenta is down, pour it down in an 8 x 8 baking dish, and then add the meat and veggie mixture on top. Then, drain your can of black beans and add that on top. Spread cheese on top of the beans, then adding the sliced avocado and tomatoes on top. Place the casserole into the oven to heat for 20 minutes on 350. When the baking is done, add cilantro and lime on top for flavor. Dig in!


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Larb: When good food gets a bad name


Between June of 2012 and August of 2013, I spent approximately 11 months living outside. No electricity, no flushing toilets, no wordpress blogging. It was at the beginning of this stint, in June of 2012 in the woods of Southern Oregon that I first hesitantly tasted larb.

Initial thoughts:

A) Sounds like lard.

2) Described as “meat salad”

&) words I don’t like together = meat + salad

D) Fish sauce sounds gnarly.

Fast forward 7 months and I am in Laos, the homeland of Larb. I know what you’re thinking, and no, I did not travel to Laos on a soul searching quest for the real deal Larb, it was just a bonus born from a quest for climbing limestone.

While I truly believe in engaging the traveling spirit and playing things by ear, I am by nature, a planner. After six weeks in Tonsai I was ready for a change of scene, and after hearing about the ever-popular Green Climbers Home I made reservations for a bamboo bungalow for the week after New Year’s. The Green Climbers Home is essentially what it sounds like,  a young German couple and many of their friends have set tons of incredible routes on limestone and have maintained a restaurant, dorm style rooms, bungalows and tent sites  for climbers to rent while they stay at the crag.

It was New Year’s day when I overheard a man in the Boathouse Restaurant in Tonsai, Thailand state “Oh my god, The Green Climbers Home burned down last night!”


I don’t do so well with changes in plans. Um, what? It was true. Quite tragically, a firework went off into one of the bungalows, quickly burning that bungalow and those surrounding it, the dormitories, the restaurant, all but three bungalows (as seen above). Many people in Tonsai had the Green Climbers Home on their list, but now everyone seemed unsure of what to do. Tanja, co-owner of GCH and total crusher assured us that while the climbing camp had burned down, the rocks had not. The mission continued.

The Green Climbers Home was indeed burned. As promised, the rocks were not. The one week “plan” quickly extended itself to ten days, We were amazed by the incredible limestone roof, home to truly world classic climbs like Saugeburt (which takes you into a cave, births you out of a tunnel, and then traverses you to a final committing crimp pull below the anchors, arguably the most dramatic crescendo of awesome I have ever experienced on a climb). We were equally amazed by the community that had formed after the tragic fire. People were still climbing, the owners, Tanja and Uli, were clearly distraught, but seemed as strong mentally as they appeared physically (which is very strong). Rebuilding was the only option, but in a “sabai sabai” environment like Laos (Sabai Sabai quite literally translates in English to “Obla-di, Obla-da”) construction can take quite some time.

Now, a year later, I have heard that the climbers home is ALMOST entirely rebuilt. If you like climbing, or larb, or maybe you’re nervous about larb because it sounds like lard but you think you might want to give it a shot, or maybe you’re nervous about climbing but you think you might want to give that a shot too, I would suggest the Green Climbers Home in Laos. My theory is that if you do two things that scare you at the same time, then you don’t have the bandwidth to fully fear both at the maximum fear potential. So maybe if you started rock climbing in conjunction with trying larb, neither would seem so scary. I can assure you that both larb (depending on how you make it) and rock climbing (depending on how you do it) are really, really good for your health.

In the event that you are not going to Laos this week, I will give you an extremely modified recipe for Larb. This recipe is paleo friendly, gluten free, and can easily be made vegan.

If you like this post or recipe and want to help fund it or others like it, check out the campaign at Indiegogo:


  • 1 pound ground turkey (I fried this up in a pan with toasted sesame oil) – for vegetarian option you can sautee Tofu or mushrooms instead
  • 1 chopped and sauteed baby bok choy
  • 1/2 diced and sauteed red onion
  • 1/4 cup minced lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or if you really can’t stand it or want vegan option, use Tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or agave)
  • *I added 1/2 cup chopped cashews for texture and flavor, not traditional at all, or necessary, but really good!

Directions: Add ground turkey (or diced tofu, or minced mushrooms) into a frying pan with toasted sesame oil, once mostly cooked add red onion and bok choy, continue to sautee. Add lemongrass, and then finally garlic, sautee for another minute and then remove from heat. Add chopped mint and cilantro and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine lime juice, fish sauce (or tamari) and honey. Dress the “meat salad” with the lime juice conglomeration, and then add cashews if you so please. Climb on!

Nut Buttery Goodness sold at Coffeebar

You’ve been to Coffeebar, remember? You said you wanted to get coffee but really it was just a front for bumping into that cute guy or girl you’d been wanting to talk to, or that person you really wanted to chat business with, or that friend that has been on your call list but it would be so much easier if you just ran into them- so you went to Coffeebar and it all happened. Because just like your desire for coffee was a front, Coffeebar is a front, they say they are a coffeeshop but really they are the epicenter of the Mountain Renaissance movement; a pillar of the community, a host for all things artful and interesting and forthcoming, a place where you want to go to just be. …oh, and it’s extremely convenient that they happen to serve really great diesel.  


A friend filed a formal complaint. “So, I looked at your blog and it’s great and all, but…I’m allergic to nuts.” Guess what friend, you’re just going to have to wait a week. 


Perhaps you’ve been curious about the food I make and what it tastes like, but the output of my personality within these blog posts has made you second guess whether you really want me to come into your home, understandable. Now you can safely try some of my food at a comfortable distance. 

Tis the season to be gifting, and now Elevated Cashew Butter and Alpine Almond and Coconut butter are for sale at Coffeebar – they make great stocking stuffers. 

And the timing could not be better, this week the New York Times published an article (see link) in regard to research investigating the use of nuts as a weight loss aid. Granted, the research has not been completed yet and the question not yet answered, however it is hypothesized that nuts aid in weight loss as they make people feel well satiated, they are high in protein, and as much as 1/5th of the fat in nuts is not even absorbed by the body. This all comes hand in hand with a new article being published by Kaiser Permanente encouraging doctors to recommend vegan diets to their patients. Big stuff.

…And in the midst of all of this cultural-artful-medical mumbo jumbo, I forgot to mention that i LOVE nuts, most specifically in butter form. As stated previously, anyone who knows me well or has gone on a multi day river trip with me knows that my diet consists of three food groups; vegetables, nut butters, and things that can go in, under, or around nut butters. Not to mention that turning nuts into nut butters means that I get to hang with my best gal pal, Xena the Warrior Food Processor. 

So go to Coffeebar – you can use checking out these new nut butters as an excuse to bump into that person you’ve been wanting to talk to 😉 and further elevating yourself as a member of the Mountain Renaissance movement.




Powder Days call for Sustenance…Cashew Cheez



Where I grew up on the East coast, snow meant that my mom would buy a gallon of milk, a carton of eggs, she’d fill the bath tub with water (in case the power went out, which it did), and we’d bundle up and wait out the storm. School was cancelled, the roads were closed, the town quiet.  Where I grew up in New York state, there were no “powder days,” only “snow days”, and my how things have changed…

Here in Truckee, California, a powder day seems to output more energy than every skyscraper in Manhattan. The bars are filled, the happy hours extended, the restaurants bustle, and this sometimes sleepy mountain time comes alive. Powder days mean setting your alarm to 6am so that you can shovel out your car, make a totally hearty awesome breakfast, and head up the hill to grab first chair. Powder days means reconnecting with friends, turning up the music, and getting ready to go out and play. 

Powder days require more fuel than we think, from waking up earlier to staying out later, shoveling your driveway, clearing your car, walking around in boots you haven’t worn in 8 months, being cold, oh, and shredding the pow – these things all require energy. For all my talk about eating lots of vegetables, salads may not be adequate fuel for a powder day.

…so tonight I’m breaking out Xena (the warrior food processor) to make some cashew cheez. 

Cashew Cheez Curry

  • 1.5 cups roasted salted cashews (processed into a cashew butter, this takes roughly 8 minutes)
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 3 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbs red curry paste
  • 1 tbs yellow curry
  • 1.5 cups lite coconut milk
  • 2 cups chopped veggies sauteed in toasted sesame oil (broccoli, carrots, onions, mushrooms)
  • 1 cup diced tofu, or 1 pound chicken breast
  • 2.5 cups of brown rice (cooked) 

Directions: Serves 5 with leftovers, first process the cashews until they become a nut butter like consistency, then add basil, nutritional yeast, curry and tomato paste into the food processor and blend it all well. Put the nut butter mixture into a sauce pan and heat it slowly, adding the coconut milk gradually to form a sauce. If the sauce is too thick you can add tamari or fish sauce for extra salt and moisture. In a separate pot, cook rice (I’ll leave you on your own for that one), and in a separate pan, sauté vegetables in toasted sesame oil or coconut oil. Once everything is hot, bring it all together as per usual in an epic one pot meal. You can also put this sauce on noodles and pretend it’s mac n cheese, if you’re in to that kind of thing. I suggest saving yourself a tupperware’s worth (small thin tupperware, can fit inside ski jacket) so that you can have prepowder day dinner, AND a powder day lunch. Fuel is key. 



Curried Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Pistachios (V, GF)

I may or may not have cooked over 15 cups of quinoa since Monday. I only personally consumed about a half a cup, meaning that I probably over quinoa’d a few people this week. I’m sorry, and you’re welcome.


This recipe is simple, elegant, colorful, and keeps a fine balance between sweet and savory.

The first step is cooking quinoa, and then tossing it lightly in coconut oil, agave, curry and cinnamon.

The second step is adding pomegranate seeds and pistachios, in a ratio that makes the salad both flavorful and aesthetically pleasing.

…oh, and that just happened. (There were only two steps!)

Pistachios contain B6 which aids in the process of building hemoglobin and boosts nerve function. Pomegranate seeds are packed with vitamin’s C, K and magnesium.

simple, vegan, gluten free.

Smoothie in a jar, and a note on my dream business…


Smoothie in a jar, and a note on my dream business...

While I love what I do for a living, my true dream job is an imaginary business called “Mocktail.” I would really love to open Mocktail, however everyone consistently tells me that it is an absolutely horrible and useless idea, and I can’t disagree. Mocktail (in my dreams) is a bar, that stays open late, plays great music, has awesome bar stools, but does not serve alcohol. A place to hang out at night without the pressure to drink or negatively affect your health.

“Um…you want to open a bar…without alcohol? I don’t think that would work here. That’s just a bad idea.” (says every person I’ve ever told about this).

Fine. Fair game. Whatever.

…But if Mocktail opened, I would totally sell this smoothie.

Vanilla coconut yogurt, organic berries, coconut water, banana, almond butter and last but not least, chia seeds. Chia seeds are filled with fiber and protein and I swear every time I eat them I want to run a few miles, climb something hard, and then go tell someone how awesome chia seeds are.


I never thought of smoothies as a make now eat later kind of food, but they really are. Keep them in a mason jar in the refrigerator and enjoy it whenever you want! This one is vegan and gluten free.

I mean, come on, I’ve had worse ideas.

The plethora of lovely things one can do with Ginger Syrup.

I was at a clients house when I saw ginger syrup for the first time. Ginger is a great addition to your diet as it aids digestion by soothing the intestinal tract and reduces inflammation, making it ideal for those with arthritis, joint pain, or general inflammation. Ginger syrup does of course add quite a bit of sugar, but of course it is imperative that food provides sustenance as well as joy. What does one do with ginger syrup you might ask? Oh a plethora of lovely things, let me tell you.


This is quinoa with roasted butternut squash, pecans, asian pear and basil dressed in maple syrup, lemon, cayenne pepper, (master cleanse sauce) aaaand of course ginger syrup The last time I made this I did without the ginger syrup and secretly the recipe may be better that way, but both options are fun to play with. By the by, this recipe is indeed vegan, gluten free, paleo friendly, might make you run faster.


But what else can you do with ginger syrup?

  1. Add it to your favorite whiskey (I suggest Pendleton) with club soda and fresh lemon or lime for a fresh and awesome whiskey ginger. (Yup, that’s a great idea).
  2. Mix it with wasabi and soy sauce for a sweet dressing to go on top of ahi tuna or sushi.
  3. Dress a fruit salad in it.
  4. Put it on pancakes or oatmeal.
  5. Put it in your tea.
  6. Drizzle some on top of tofu fried in toasted sesame oil.
  7. Make a dressing with tahini butter and miso.

7 officially makes this a plethora so I feel good about stopping here.

  1. ImageImage

Baked Sweet potato smothered in fresh Almond butter


DSCN0978Baked Sweet potato smothered in fresh Almond butter

Sounds weird right? But it is sweet and delicious and excellent for recovery. Sweet potato is loaded with beta carotene (which boosts your immune system), and that beta carotene is best absorbed when paired with fat, for example, nut butter. Sweet potatoes are also full of magnesium and potassium, boosting nerve function.

Vegan, gluten free, paleo, probably makes you fly.

Post work out, this meal is packed with iron, carbohydrate, natural sugars that don’t spike your glycemic index, and healthy fats and proteins. This is great recovery food filled with lots of awesome. Don’t miss out.