Living Simply: Starting with Pesto

I know I’ve been MIA. And, I’m not sorry.

I picked up this book on a whim:

One chapter in particular really resonated with me. The chapter titled, “On Snow,” began with this verse:

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth,” and to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour.” 

Job 37: 5-6

I was so overwhelmed by the simplicity of this, and what it really called my attention to was how un-simple my own life had become. I was living by to-do lists. Work to-do lists. Home to-do lists. Blog to-do lists. Personal goal to-do lists. Fitness to-do lists. I was just moving from one list to another. Worst of all, I was never fully immersed or focused in one to-do list because I was thinking about all that needed to be crossed off on the next one.

Going back to the title of the book, I was trying too hard to make everything “perfect,” instead of just being present in each moment.

I started thinking…I want to bake without thinking about the pictures I need to take and the words I need to form for a blog. I want to invite my friends over without worrying that I haven’t vacuumed in a week. I want more hours in my work day to be fully immersed in client work instead of thinking about what I’ll accomplish later when I get home.

So, I tried to go a few weeks without to-do lists. I tried to leave a few dirty dishes in the sink overnight, to not pick up the socks James left on the living room floor, and to let my hair and my blog just go rogue.

During this time of trying to appreciate more simplicity, of trying to be “present over perfect,” one of the things I most enjoyed was cooking with the fresh vegetables from our CSA program.

These meals were so delicious – ironically because they were so simple! Some of my favorites included:

tomato, cucumber and pepper salads tossed with a bit of olive oil, basil, oregano and parmesan cheese;


colorful peppers stuffed with homemade goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes;


and pesto!


We were frequently receiving quite large bunches of celery and parsley – so large that I had no idea how I was going to use all of it if I didn’t freeze almost 3/4. But, I’m really not one for freezing, so I was determined to get creative and find a way to use the whole bunches fresh. The answer was pesto. This – you guessed it – simple recipe can be combined with just about any green leaf for a fabulously quick and delicious dinner.

Parsley (Or, Celery) Pesto


  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups parsley, or about one bunch
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  1. Add walnuts, parsley, cheese, garlic and salt to food processor and pulse to combine.
  2. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Let it mix for about 20-30 seconds.
  3. Mix with pasta, spread on top of fish or save some in the refrigerator to mix with eggs or spread on top of toast.

Favorite Eats

As you know, I love sharing recipes here on Foodie vs Fitness. But, those broken up posts make it hard to see how we really eat around the house on a regular basis. So, I thought I’d share a roundup of some of our latest favorites.

Buckwheat Waffles Topped with Blueberries and Pure Maple Syrup
Let’s start with breakfast, because I love breakfast. We start almost every morning with two fried eggs on top of a bed of arugula, hot sauce and piece of toast. On days when I’m really looking to treat myself first thing in the morning, I whip up a batch of buckwheat waffles. I always make sure to keep a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Organic Buckwheat Flour on hand. While I’ve tried several different recipes for these beauties, the recipe on the back of the buckwheat flour bag, and this one here are my favorites. Top the waffles with fruit of any kind and some pure maple syrup ( no Aunt Jemima here) and I’m in heaven.



Mixed Greens Topped with Probiotics
One of my favorite fermented foods, or probiotics, is pickled beets. I like to incorporate probiotics into my diet because they help improve digestion and support the immune system by replenishing your gut with good bacteria. [1] Pickled beets are tasty enough that most salads I put them on require little to no dressing. These salads are great on their own, but I also serve them up alongside pasta dishes and the like to make sure we’re getting our greens 🙂 .



Spinach Salads Topped with Shrimp, Avocado and Cherry Tomatoes
Yum. Need I say more? There are two keys to making this salad the best it can be: 1) season the shrimp with smoked paprika, and 2) grill the shrimp. This is far and away my favorite summer meal because it’s so light and so fresh, but most of all because it’s so easy and so quick to make! Oh, and don’t forget the sprinkle of parmesan cheese.



Greek Yogurt on the Side of EVERYTHING
Greek yogurt is our new sour cream. It really helps to add flavor to many a meal. I especially love a dollop of it atop Indian Dhal, but it’s also great when mixed with a few other ingredients and set atop fish. Here I’ve got it alongside black beans and avocado for a quick healthy lunch.



Zucchini Noodles with Basil, Oregano and Olive Oil 
I love a good Italian pasta dish, but I can’t stand the heavy feeling that follows. Zucchini noodles mixed with a swirl of olive oil, possibly some garlic or onion powder, and a heavy hand of basil and oregano step in as a wonderfully light substitute with all of the same flavors. Top with a mix of orange, yellow and cherry tomatoes and you’ve got yourself a really colorful dish.



Mixed Veggies with Homemade Goat Cheese
I challenge you to name one food that goat cheese does not pair well with. When I make a large bowl of it, it doesn’t last long in our house because we find a way to incorporate it into almost every meal – sometimes even for breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one day.



Seafood Paired with Green Vegetables
We love fish in this house. From Salmon, Cod, and Tuna to Halibut and Trout we love it all. We do our best to purchase wild over farm-raised, and then we grill it, bake it, pan fry it or even sous vide it. It’s never very fancy – sometimes we’ll top it with a yogurt dill sauce, but most of the time it’s just salt and pepper. And, the side is usually pretty simple too – green vegetables such as asparagus, spinach salad, or broccoli. Easy peasy and delicious.


Don’t feel like cooking? Pizza.
Yep, pizza is always an awesome fall back when we just don’t feel like moving around the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good greasy pizza loaded with sauce and cheese, but my all time favorite is pizza with a drier, crunchier crust, no sauce and vegetables such as mushrooms and olives.


As you can see from this round up we love fresh and we love quick. But, for nights like the pizza ones when we don’t feel like doing much in the kitchen, and all we really want to do is pull something out of the freezer, we turn to Trader Joe’s favorites. Check them out here!


Becoming a Part of Community Supported Agriculture

I’ve always wanted to have a garden of my own. Apartment living never really allowed for that – plus I moved around a lot over the last five years. Now, that we finally own a home, the conditions aren’t exactly favorable. Our house sits atop a pretty deep ravine, so there’s little yard to work with and what yard there is to work with is too shady for a full-blown garden. So, I’ve settled for three small pots of tomatoes on the deck.

Whether or not I’ll actually get to try those tomatoes this year is still to be determined. Some sneaky raccoons keep plucking the fruits before I can get to them. Those smug little guys even leave a trail of half bitten tomatoes from the deck to the woods. But hey, we all gotta’ eat, right?

So, in searching for an alternative to growing my own garden I found myself pulling into the back parking lot of a church, right up next to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) truck. I must have been the last of the share members to arrive because there was only one lonely bag sitting in the vast bed of the truck, flanked by two people sitting with dangling legs. One step towards them and I found my arms loaded down with what felt like 100 pounds of vegetables – I could barely handle the weight when I was handed a carton of eggs. Smiling, I thanked them and wobbled back to my car.


When I got home, I felt like my 8-year-old self ready to sort through my treasures after a successful Halloween night. I couldn’t wait to tear open the bag and see all that was inside. How funny that I could garner the same excitement over fresh produce that I was once bubbling over with when eyeing a bulging back of KitKats, Reeses and carmel apple suckers.

Producing healthy food, from healthy soils, for healthy people. 

The CSA tagline says it all – that’s why we decided to join. Our produce now comes from nine certified-organic family farms. On a weekly basis, we can choose to add a dozen eggs, grass-fed beef, honey, maple syrup, baked goods, extra veggies, etc. It’s kind of fun not knowing exactly which vegetables are going to end up in our weekly bag. Meal planning on the fly has caused me to get a little more creative in the kitchen, experimenting with new flavor combinations.

Just look at all the fresh goodies that came in our first bag! Last week, in an attempt to use up the last of the green beans and potatoes, we discovered an amazingly simple recipe: combine red potatoes, green beans, olive tapenade, garlic, olive oil and goat cheese.


Another perk of the CSA is the community. We’ve absolutely loved being part of a herd-share for the past few months, visiting the goats and the people who help raise them, chatting about the latest cheese we’ve made with other members of the share. In a CSA, we can develop relationships with the farmers who grow our food and learn more about how the food is grown.

Most importantly, our little family is getting the nutrients and health benefits that we might not always get from store-bought produce. I’ll let my favorite author Michael Pollan spell it out for you.

He says, “Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. What you will find are fresh whole foods picked at the peak of nutritional quality.” [1]

In a separate article, Pollan expands on this idea, describing how most supermarket produce spends a few days riding cross-country in a truck causing “the nutritional quality of any kind of produce [to] deteriorate.” [2]

This is why he recommends eating both organic and local. So, for the next few months, we’re going to give it a try. We’re going to attempt to live off of what comes from our herd-share and CSA memberships, keeping trips to the grocery store extremely limited.

Wish us luck on this latest foodie adventure!



The Ultimate “Hannah” Weekend

I had really elaborate plans for this past weekend.

I was going to Chicago for bachelorette festivities. But, then the travel plans fell through.

Ok, no big deal. It’s going to be a great weekend in Cleveland – there are a few festivals going on. And, James will be out of town, so I’ll have the house all to myself. But, then I got sick.

Sadly, I didn’t do anything I actually had planned, but I still ended up having a fantastic weekend. I did all the “me” things that I’m finding are harder and harder to make time for.

On Friday night, I had a hot date with a cup of tea and a stack of Country Living and Food Magazines followed by a few cook books and yet another good read by JoJo Moyes.


Saturday, I hardly left the kitchen. This was probably not the best place to be with a cold, but I was making cheese, so I had to sterilize the whole place anyways. My fridge was practically exploding with bottles of goat’s milk.


I whipped up a huge batch of feta and some fresh chevre. With still more milk in the fridge, I planned to whip up a whirl of goat milk ice cream – complete with wine infused dark chocolate – but was disappointed when I found we had no eggs left for the recipe.


As if spending all day in my own kitchen weren’t enough, I went to my parents for the evening and worked on cake decorating skills with my mom. I think the photo below shows we’re still in the infant phases of the process, and there will be many more practice cakes before the final reveal.














Sunday was a great day. Why? Because I finally finished a week long project – a project that I had been wanting to complete for months. When we first moved into our home, we painted a hand-me-down kitchen table (Well, more accurately my brother-in-law and his girlfriend painted the table. Thanks guys 🙂 ). Knowing we wanted to finish the chairs in a different color, we never really got around to them as other house projects took priority. Now, they’re finally done!


I wish I had a picture of the “before” chairs to show you. These were incredibly easy to paint – I used Dixie Bell chalk paint. We love the look so much, that we’re ready to start fixing up all the furniture in our little house.

Well, that’s a wrap on the weekend guys. I can’t believe all that was accomplished with a sore throat, stuffy nose, and aching head, but the older and older I get, the harder I find it to just sit still and do nothing. I mean the hours are going by and there’s so much to be done!

If anything, this weekend was a great reminder of the importance of continuing to find time for the “me” things.


Summer Santorini Salad

July was crazy busy for us. Too many vacations and long weekends. Is that possible?

While the time away from home was well enjoyed, we did also breathe a sigh of relief when we knew it was all over and we could settle back into our own home. The first night back from vacation, we couldn’t wait to enjoy our back patio, fire up the grill and sip something cold.

When I read the description for this Santorini Salad in one of the cook books I regularly flip through, I immediately mentally bookmarked it, and thought what a better time to make use of it.

“A traditional vegetable and feta salad, dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, Santorini Salad sparkles with fresh flavors. Add a crusty loaf of bread, a well-chilled white wine, and perhaps some grilled shrimp, and you will have a very fine summer meal.” 

Can you picture it?

Setting out to recreate this little vision, I started with the search for the perfect loaf of artisan bread. I read so many labels until I found the one that described exactly what I was looking for: crusty on the outside, moist on the inside.


Next up was the shrimp. Given that it’s summer, the question of how to cook the shrimp was a no brainer: on the grill. The seasonings as well came without a second thought: basil, oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil. Simplicity.


With the sides all in place, all there was left to do was chop and mix a few fresh veggies, top them with feta cheese, and call it Santorini Salad.


Well that, and of course the white wine had to be poured, and a glass of extra artichoke hearts set out to enjoy atop the extra slices of fresh bread.


Please note the paper towels. One of the most fun parts of this meal was the lack of utensils. With only a serving spoon to dish out the vegetable salad, the remainder of the work was left up to the fingers and deft bread scooping skills.

Santorini Salad

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Santorini Salad

Adapted from Serving Up the Harvest: Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables


  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts
  • 1 c kalamata or black olives
  • 6-8 oz feta cheese


  1. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and onion in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well and let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Cut tomatoes, cucumber, and red pepper. Add to bowl.
  3. Add artichokes and olives. Mix well.
  4. Add the cheese and mix again.
  5. Serve immediately alongside a crusty loaf of bread.