Month: July 2017

Minted Chickpea Salad with Creamy Curry Dressing

I’ve been wanting to create a recipe for a curry-flavored salad for months. I’ve come to love Indian food over the past few years and have noticed that curry makes its way into a meal at least every other week in our house. A last-minute dinner date with our friends Lisa and Brody and a whole lot of quinoa and curry powder prompted me to come up with a new recipe.

As a total aside, Lisa and Brody have the cutest kiddos and just welcomed a little girl into the world earlier this month with the same name as my younger sister, Jane! Their kids are always up for trying anything, so that makes experimenting with new recipes that much more fun with their family. They’ve found that introducing their kids to a variety of foods from a young age without making a fuss about it has resulted in kids who aren’t afraid to try new foods!

Now, back to the curry 🙂 I didn’t try anything with curry powder in it until my mid-20s. I was too weirded out by the color and didn’t really know much about it, but since then, it has become a staple in our spice rack. We use it in everything from hummus and curry-roasted potatoes, to fancy pants curried cauliflower steaks and mash and one of my favorite dishes ever – this curried lentil and rice casserole.

Something I didn’t know about Indian food when I first started trying it (no small feat for a picky eater!) was that a lot of it isn’t spicy. Sure, it’s made with lots of spices, but that doesn’t mean that all of it is going to burn your mouth. Some Indian food is spicy and made with different types of peppers, and I’m not a big fan of those dishes, but this particular dish isn’t spicy and is full of flavor and a variety of textures.

Curry likely started as a combination of ginger, turmeric and garlic, the origin of a signature Indian spice blend that has been traced back thousands of years to the Indus Valley Civilization in modern-day India. Most likely rooted in the South Indian term for sauce (kari), British traders adopted the more familiar word curry to categorize these spice blends. It has evolved and been adopted by other cultures since then.

Curry spice blends vary widely, depending on which region they’re from and based on people’s personal tastes, but some of the most common ingredients include turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, coriander, and cinnamon. Other varieties include cayenne pepper, cumin, mustard seed, and cardamom. You can find curry powder in the spice aisle at your grocery store or make it yourself following this recipe if you’re feeling really ambitious.

You’ll notice that I used yogurt in the dressing instead of an oil to serve as the source of fat and a base. I used Forager Project’s plain, unsweetened cashew yogurt instead of a dairy-based yogurt, since dairy products trigger a lot of my past health challenges (allergies, reflux, ear infections, congestion). I wrote all about their dairy-free yogurt and milk products in this post!

Adding some lightly toasted cashews gives each bite a nice crunch. The fresh mint leaves add a pop of color and pair perfectly with the curry spices. The finishing touch, which my friend Brody said really completes the dish, is the raisins. Raisins are commonly used in south Indian cooking, and they round out the dish by adding a hint of sweetness.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did! 🙂



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Minted Chickpea Salad with Creamy Curry Dressing

This light and refreshing side salad is packed with flavors and a variety of textures to keep your taste buds happy!

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

Salad Base

  • 1 cup quinoa drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cashews chopped and toasted
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup mint thinly sliced

Curry Dressing

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt plain, unsweetened
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice fresh
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions (or instructions below in notes!). Set aside to cool.

  2. Toss salad ingredients together in a medium bowl.

  3. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over quinoa mix. Toss to combine. 

New Series: “I’m Into It!”

I’ve been away on vacation since late last week in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. My family has a house up here, and we have spent part of every summer up here since I was a little girl. It’s my little slice of heaven on earth. 

Spending time away from all of the distractions and pressures of everyday life is always so restorative for me. My creative juices start flowing and I’m drawn to write again, something I love to do but don’t often make time for at home. As I open up space and give my mind permission to wander, all sorts of new ideas come to me, including what I’m sharing today!

Over the past few years, I’ve also found that people frequently ask me about my recommendations for a variety of things – from food brands and supplements to books, gadgets, bloggers, recipes and words of inspiration. I thought it would be helpful to do a biweekly recap (that feels reasonable to start!) of what I’m exploring and post it on my blog, to share with all of you!

I’ll try to keep it simple and share with you maybe three to five things every other week in a series called, “I’m Into It”.

I’m excited to start inviting you into my world more regularly and taking some of the headache out of the decision-making process for you. I’ll put some affiliate links in the post to support my blogging activities, but I will never in a million years promote something I don’t use myself and believe in, so you have my word that it’s legit if it’s on here!

For those of you who are new to my blog (welcome!), you’ll notice that all of my products recommendations are gluten-free, dairy-free and focus on simple ingredients that we can pronounce and find in the store. To learn more about my personal food philosophy, check out this post I wrote earlier this year.

I will be sharing these posts on the weekend, but I was so ready to get moving that I’m going to give you the first one today, on a Tuesday 🙂 

Let’s dive in to the very FIRST post in this fun new series.

Book: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

“The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing. You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out. It felt like someone had taken away my credit card and I was having to learn how to budget.”

As I shared in my most recent post, I’ve been healing from Epstein-Barr Virus and taking steps to restore my immune system after a lifetime of pushing myself too hard. I connected immediately with this passage from the book about the process of healing.

Grab your tissues. In this heart-reaching story of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon whose life takes a sudden turn when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer, you’ll be taken on a journey of joy, inspiration and sadness. The story is an inspiring testament to the power of the human spirit and the importance of leaving a legacy.

Read It: Order it here.

Supplement: Vital Proteins Collagen Proteins

My sister, Jane, did her third Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid, New York this past Sunday, which marks the 10th time someone in my family has completed the grueling 140.6-mile race.

In the days leading to the race, we always scope out the scene at the Ironman Village, where the athletes check in and amass a collection of Ironman gear and performance-enhancing products.

I was excited to spot the Vital Proteins booth as I wandered through the village.

I’m a fan of their products for a few reasons. They prioritize quality and purity in their products. They source from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals. My favorite product, collagen peptides, contain only one ingredient, mix easily into smoothies and liquids and are flavorless and odorless. One serving contains a whopping 20 grams of pure protein, which contributes to feelings of fullness and staves off cravings. I also use their bone broth and tried their newer line of collagen beauty water (lavender lemon, cucumber aloe or melon mint), which was refreshing and delicious! 

Try It: Order Vital Proteins products here.

Product: Numi Organic Tea – Gratitude

I have a little bit of an obsession with and a growing collection of herbal teas. Drinking herbal tea is a quick and easy way to boost your immune system, balance your mood, and promote healing by reducing inflammation. The exact combination of herbs and spices determines which purpose a particular tea serves, but I was so drawn to this one because of the name of the tea (Gratitude!) and the specific blend of ingredients.

Anti-viral licorice, anti-inflammatory turmeric, calming chamomile, and libido-boosting maca (a Peruvian herb from the cruciferous veg family) are just a few of the supercharged ingredients in this amazing tea. Holy basil, tulsi and ashwaganda are three additional ingredients that have adaptogenic qualities. Adaptogens (notice the root word, “adapt”) help our body respond better to stress by promoting a sense of balance and calm. You can get all of them in supplement form, but why not just drink a cozy cup of tea instead?

Try It: Order online here or buy in person at The Vitamin Shoppe and at some Whole Foods Markets.

And that’s a wrap! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve used any of these products or read the book, When Breath Becomes Air.

The Gift of Sickness: How EBV Changed My Life

Most people would not think of sickness as a gift.

When we’re sick, we tend to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, confused and irritable. Most people would hardly call those feelings “gifts,” but I’ve learned that some gifts come in unexpected packages. Sometimes we’re given gifts that we would have never asked for that end up being more valuable than the thing we thought we wanted.

Over the past eight months, I’ve been through a journey with sickness that I’ve shared little about with you. I’ve continued posting recipes and tips and tricks all while going through an incredibly challenging time with my body and my spirit.

It’s time to share what I’ve been going through and learning in the process of this time of transformation and growth. My wish is that you find hope for your own situation in the midst of mine. When we are honest and vulnerable about our own struggles, we invite other people to be honest about theirs.

Gift #1: Pain is the body’s way of bringing us back to the present; it grabs our attention.

It was Valentine’s Day 2017.

Instead of enjoying a romantic dinner with my husband, I’d been home sick all day and was at the doctor’s office feeling depleted, exhausted and in pain, so tired I felt like I was going to pass out.

It was the fourth time in four months that I’d been sick for a week at a time with symptoms of fatigue, pain in my throat, swollen lymph nodes, and listlessness. I just didn’t feel like myself. My voice was always one of the first things to go as a result of each bout of illness, which was problematic, considering how much of my time I spend speaking, presenting and consulting. I love to sing, too, and I hadn’t been able to do that joyfully and fully for months. I couldn’t seem to get to the root of why I kept getting sick.

I felt isolated, alone, defeated and scared. 

I sat next to my husband, Bill, and across from Dr. Bill Rollow, an M.D. trained in integrative medicine, who has become my parents’ doctor and mine in recent years. He understands how the body operates as an interconnected system rather than a set of disconnected symptoms. He approaches his patients with an abundance of gentleness, kindness and love and seeks to identify the root cause of why someone isn’t well.

As I was lamenting how awful I felt – sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, low energy, malaise, a cough, congestion – Dr. Rollow asked me:

“Would you say this is the result of pressures from the outside and work, or would you say that it’s more self-inflicted?”

Without hesitation and with a great deal of conviction, I knew the answer:

“Oh, it’s totally self-inflicted. 

I do this to myself.”

Tears began to well up in my eyes and roll down my cheeks, as I sat in a state of sheer desperation, realizing how much of what I was experiencing was brought on by my own demands. It was my relentless drive to achieve, succeed, and be perceived as worthy and valued throughout school and in my career that brought me to this point of exhaustion.

A lifetime of striving, proving, achieving, and performing.

My body and soul were tired.

We talked candidly about how I would have to decide that I wanted my life to look differently if I wanted to feel differently. I would have to change some things if I wanted to start feeling better and heal emotionally and physically. I had to be honest about how much I tend to set my personal needs and health aside for the sake of my career and my desire to get ahead.

At the end of our conversation, Dr. Rollow said he was going to test me for Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). I had never heard of it and had no idea what it was. I’ve come to learn that EBV is an acute form of mono that many people have in their bodies but that does not often manifest full blown. It tends to be brought on by prolonged stress and other hormonal changes. It’s more likely to occur in an immunocompromised person. I fit the bill perfectly.

I’ve learned that many doctors don’t think to test for EBV right away and often test patients for things like Lyme disease, lupus, and mono when they have symptoms like mine. Fortunately for me, Dr. Rollow knew better. When the lab results came back, it turned out his suspicions where confirmed; all of my EBV antibodies were elevated.

Each month when the virus reactivated, I would get more and more dejected and distressed. I felt like my body was betraying me again, as it had for much of my life with chronic ear infections, sinus infections, strep throat, bronchitis, acid reflux, and amenorrhea.

What was going on?

Will I ever feel better or like myself again?

Why was this happening to me?

I’m supposed to be the healthy one.

In the midst of my desperation, I was given the gift of hope.

Within a week or so of receiving the news about Epstein-Barr, I received an email from my nutritionist, Kasia Kines, who has helped my body heal from years of other dysfunctions and ailments. She is finishing her PhD in Functional Nutrition and sent this email to her email list serve on February 28th.

No way. 

I couldn’t believe it.

She’d picked Epstein-Barr Virus.

“Here’s your sign, Rachel.”

Suddenly, I had hope.

As I’ve shared before, Kasia has been instrumental in my healing journey and has given me hope before. I immediately reached out to her to let her know I had the virus she was studying and had no idea what to do about it. She was eager to help.

As I began working with her, I learned what a nasty virus EBV is and how it ravages your immune system and can wreak havoc on your neurological system as well, left unchecked. In my case, it camped out in my throat, which was a primary cause of losing my voice. I learned that stress and hormonal changes trigger reactivation of the virus, which meant I’d have to make some lifestyle changes and reprioritize sleep, friendships and aspects of my job. I added in even more nutrient-rich foods to my diet and started taking about a dozen different supplements to restore my immune system and fight the virus (I’ll share more about that later!).

Within a week of treatment, I felt like a switch had been flipped and started to feel energized again. It was amazing how quickly my body responded.

Sickness was my body’s way of saying, “Hey, listen up. Something’s not working here. Pay attention.”

Gift #2: We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.

The more I reflected on why I’d gotten to this point, the more I realized this virus was a symptom of a deep-seated issue. Growing up, I felt like I had very little social value and worth in my peer groups, so I sought my worth in other places and found it in achievement.

If they wouldn’t embrace me socially, surely they’d find value in what I could bring to the table by being smart. It was hard for me to see how I brought value if I wasn’t being useful to someone in some way. The idea that just being me and not doing anything to earn acceptance was foreign to me. I pushed myself academically and made sure I was always performing at the highest level.

I’d show them I was worthy of attention by achieving. 

As soon as school ended, I sought the same validation in my career. I pushed myself to be a leader in my field, to create and design new initiatives, to build my job from scratch, with little to no model for how to do that. And I did. I’ve won awards and received national accolades for my work. The satisfaction that followed was always temporary and just another opportunity for me to up the ante on myself.

C’mon, Rachel. What’s next?

Don’t settle. Don’t get complacent.

You might be outdone. You’ll be forgotten.

I put work ahead of everything else, partly because I love what I do, but also because I wanted to keep “winning” in my career. I wanted to keep showing everyone how worthy I was of attention, praise and love.

I pushed and achieved my way right into sickness.

But instead of resenting it, I’ve come to embrace what this time of healing is teaching me.

Getting sick in that way made me realize the way I was living wasn’t working. Something had to change.

I had a lot of time to reflect, think, read and write during the weeks I was home sick. That alone was a gift. But, more than anything, this journey is teaching me that I maintaining my former way of living is not sustainable and that I don’t have to do this on my own.

Instead of trying to conquer this challenge by myself, I’ve sought support and help, not only from my nutritionist but also from my workplace, the Baltimore health community, and my church. I’ve had people praying for my health and healing each week and checking in on my regularly. I talked to my boss and explained what was happening, and he supported me in setting healthier boundaries at work and getting support.

I’m spending more time talking and hanging out with my friends and am fostering new relationships. I have more community and a stronger support network around me now than I’ve ever had before. I’ve come to realize how lonely life would be with lots of professional success and no friends to share life with, but that’s the path I was on, blinded by my own ego.

Seeking growth and opportunities to challenge myself are hardwired into who I am, and I know I will continue to pursue excellence in my career, but not at the expense of my health and relationships. I’ve learned two lessons in the midst of this healing time:

Connection is more important than all of our success.

Gift #3: Transformation happens when I’m not in charge.

This has been an incredibly humbling time for me. My EBV journey has reminded me who is in charge of and in control of my life – God, not me. It’s like I was playing God, thinking I could run the show and fix any issues that arose by myself.

I don’t need help.

I’ll hold the world on my shoulders.

I can do it ALL.

But I can’t, and no one ever asked me to.

I remember back in November when I first started experiencing symptoms of fatigue and a recurrence of vocal strain. I was so frustrated. I was talking with my friend, Heather, and she said something so profound that I will never forget:

“Maybe there’s something you need to hear, but you need to be quiet enough to hear it.”

Oh.

In the midst of my constant striving and busyness, I didn’t leave any room for quiet.

Maybe losing my voice had a purpose other than frustrating me. Maybe being forced to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing had a purpose. Maybe there was something I needed to hear; maybe someone was trying desperately to get my attention – God, friends, family, my body – but I was so busy being important that I missed it.

For years, I had ignored the voice beckoning to me to “SLOW DOWN” and “BE STILL.” Just yesterday, I heard the song, “Still” three times on Pandora Radio.

You’re parting waters
Making a way for me
You’re moving mountains that I don’t even see
You’ve answered my prayer before I even speak
All You need for me to be is still

Being quiet and sitting in the unknown is so challenging for me, but I know it’s one of the gifts EBV has given me, and for that I’m grateful. It has given me the time and space to be transformed, initially against my will, but now for what I know is my greater good.

I feel like I’m more supported and loved than ever before. I am not in this alone. All of the frustration, overwhelm and pain were not without a purpose. In fact, I’ve already met several people who have told me they or someone they know is struggling with Epstein-Barr, and they don’t know what to do about it.

At the very least, perhaps I can offer them some of the perspective I’ve gained and the hope I’ve experienced.

I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom passed on to me by my friend, Stef, about finding purpose in the midst of the pain:

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