Happy New Year! As I reflect on the past year I’m humbled and empowered by the challenges I faced. I know that many people share this sentiment. Aside from the losses, humanitarian crises and political upheavals, I experienced 2016 as a year of profound grief and fear. My sister committed suicide last October which propelled me into a long period of confusion and anxiety. Her death shocked me and shattered my world view, propelling me into a struggle with long dormant OCD tendencies. For several months I felt out of control, anxious and afraid. But, through the process of learning about how my mind works, and doing lots and lots of hard work to retrain my mind not to jump to conclusions, I feel like I know myself better than ever before. In January my mom suffered a minor heart attack. Old fears were replaced by new ones and I became hyper vigilant concerning my mom’s symptoms, always worrying that she might have another heart attack and die. As I think back on these two monumental events a pattern emerges. 2016 was about death, trying to understand it and what happens next, fearing it, respecting it’s unpredictability, and doing my best to accept it. Nature teaches us that where there is death, there is also life and 2016 taught me to appreciate this dichotomy and to strive to better myself and the world with every action, to see the beauty around us and to appreciate it viscerally and concretely. So, as 2017 begins I’d like to remind you all that your thoughts and actions matter. They have an effect beyond what we can immediately see and no matter what you believe, it’s hard to deny that all living things are connected in some way. This year I challenge you to take on every day as an opportunity to support and foster kindness, compassion, and beauty. This means owning your flaws, staring your weaknesses in the face and taking them on with bravery and pride because you know that the struggle will make you stronger. This means making mindful decisions every day about how you live and what you eat. It means thinking beyond yourself and considering how your daily choices impact others and the planet. It means giving willingly and selflessly to support the good things even at a cost. I think you will find that doing good feels good. In this spirit, from now on, I’ll be donating 10% of all revenue from the blog to non-profits supporting sustainable agriculture. You can read more about this exciting new project here.
Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Lemongrass
2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, inner core cut into 1 inch pieces and smashed in a mortar and pestle
4 cups full fat coconut milk
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
6 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral high heat oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
roasted peanuts, cilantro, coconut cream and hot sauce to garnish
Combine the lemongrass and coconut milk in a medium pot over medium heat and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to steep while you prepare the other ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Toss the butternut squash with 3 tablespoons of the oil and 3/4 teaspoons salt. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until soft.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Saute for several minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the roasted butternut squash and broth. Strain the coconut milk through a fine mesh sieve and add it to the soup.Simmer for 10-15 minutes to mingle the flavors. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a high speed blender and puree until completely smooth. Add the lime juice and blend again to combine.
Serve the soup with chopped roasted peanuts, chopped cilantro, a drizzle of coconut cream and some hot sauce.