Recipe: DIY Starbucks Kale + Veggie Salad

*First of all, congratulations to Carolyn, winner of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird! Thank you to everyone who signed up for my newsletter. If you haven’t signed up yet, go now! I’m choosing winners at random from my entire email subscription list.

Next up to give away is Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, a clever and entertaining book filled anecdotes about his life interspersed with practical advice.

onwriting

I had it in my collection for years, but for some reason it took me almost a decade to pick it up. Big mistake. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re in for a treat. 

The results of this random drawing will be posted here and on Writing at the Table on Tuesday, December 23rd.

Now for the post…

During the thirteen years I lived in Brooklyn, I never went to Starbucks. Why would I? I lived in the land of Quirky Cool Coffee Shops (that’s a direct quote from the linked article, by the way, I’m not trying to be a snob), and besides, the closest Starbucks was too far of a walk.

But I love writing in cafes, and the closest one to me in Brooklyn was a little sliver of a cafe called Steeplechase, which had the most delicious cinnamon chip scones (alas, not gluten free). I used to go there once a week when my son had a sitter. 

When we moved to New Hope, I knew I’d have to find a place to write. Sure, I had a whole house instead of a tiny apartment, but the thing is, I like the background noise of coffee shops. Plus, I love coffee.

I tried seeking out a cute little independent shop, but seating was a problem. The local Starbucks, however, has some rather comfy armchairs. And did you know they now offer a blonde (light) roast? It’s pretty tasty and far less intense than their dark roasts. Just my personal preference because I know plenty of people who can’t get enough of their regular sludge, I mean coffee.

Anyway, I was also pleased to see that they added some healthy and hearty food options to their menu. Including this awesome salad, which to my knowledge is gluten free (though not labeled as such):

starbucks kale salad

(Yes, it’s sitting on my dashboard because I was too hungry to take it home for a proper photo shoot.)

So, after buying it several times, I decided to make it myself. It’s a bit labor intensive, but it makes a week’s worth of lunches (unless someone in your household steals half of them…)

DIY Kale, Brown Rice + Roasted Veggie Bowl

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For the recipe, head over to Writing at the Table

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Starting Over

We are settling into our new lives here in the suburbs, or as my father refers to it, the country.

Yes, those are sheep. No, that's not our backyard.

Yes, those are sheep. No, that’s not our backyard.

I’m getting used to driving everywhere, which is putting my former exercise routine in serious jeopardy. I don’t exactly miss pushing Little Guy’s stroller all over Brooklyn with bulging grocery bags dangling on both handles, but it was keeping my butt in check. I have yet to find an adequate replacement workout. I guess I could do something banal like join a gym (yawn), but I’d prefer slipping on my very old sneakers and going for a run.

Ah, the bliss of being alone, running free with music blasting in my ears. If you told my adolescent self that I would voluntarily go running, that I would fantasize about going running, that self would have burst into hysterical laughter and then shuffled away nervously.

Until I figure out where I can jog without getting hit by a car (or a deer), I’ll have to settle for this obstacle course:

Doylestown Castle

Castle Playground, Doylestown PA

Climbing through the maze of this amazing castle playground might be good for dexterity, but not so much for, well, anything else. See those dark green swirly slides? They are ENORMOUS and Little Guy goes down himself. This is a kid who until recently held my hand on the puniest of Brooklyn slides. Then again, he is rapidly approaching three. Eeks!

swinging

So, here we are, in our new home, in a new town, starting over. Bunky began first grade a few weeks ago and she is THRIVING. The school has two recesses (freaking awesome) and a lovely staff. We adore her teacher who is going on maternity leave next month (sniff and OY) and I can only hope the sub is great, too. There will be bumps, most likely, because Bunky really loves her. “Mommy, she never yells!” Which is pretty awesome considering I do. Ha. Fingers crossed the new teacher doesn’t.

Also, we found THE awesomest gluten free bakery just a few towns over. The Happy Mixer in Chalfont, PA is exclusively GF and the treats are super high quality, rivaling even our old NYC favorite, Tu-Lu’s. Wow, right?

cupcake selfie

They even have Cookie Monster and Elmo cupcakes because they are super close to Sesame Place, which is just RAD.

Let the sugar high begin!

Let the sugar high begin!

But despite this positive start, I’ve been having pangs of nostalgia for what I left behind in Brooklyn. The ease of my old routine, the well worn streets I walked along with my kids, the stores we frequented, the dances Bunky would do at intersections, how she would sometimes scoot home from school, flying ahead of me for an entire block while I held my breath (or chased her with the stroller). All the walking we had to do, which I used to sometimes moan and groan about. Yet I’m missing that physical travel out here in car country.

I realize some of these pangs aren’t about missing Brooklyn specifically (though some are), but more about the fear and anxiety that comes with starting over. I try to remind myself of what my mom used to say about me, fondly, proudly. You can make friends anywhere. And I could. I did. Every summer I went to a new camp and made new friends each time. Looking back, I wonder why I changed camp every year, why I seemed to crave starting over.

Perhaps it was because I was always on the hunt for that elusive best friend, the one I read about in Judy Blume books and my other adolescent favorites. I found many dear and wonderful friends over the years, one or two who I dared to call ‘my best friend,’ and one or two who reciprocated, but the dream was never truly fulfilled. Maybe because it couldn’t be, because what I was looking for wasn’t real.

The other day I caught myself day dreaming about finding new friends here, more specifically, the friend. You know, the one whose children are similar age to mine, who can come over and drink coffee and/or wine with me while we watch the kids run around in the backyard. The one who might even have a husband or partner that my husband likes. (That is a bonus, not a prerequisite.) The kind I’ve glimpsed in grown up books and in movies. Then I skidded my brain to a halt. I know where that path can lead.

Instead of rushing into the fray and going on a rampage for new friends, I will take it slow. I will find my own rhythm here, a new rhythm, in time.

bunky walkiingWhen I’m feeling bouts of homesickness and loneliness, I look to my kids and notice how well they are adjusting. How they love love their new house even though it is still filled to the brim with unpacked boxes and a kitchen that is being renovated by my handyman husband. Even though we ate on the floor for the first week and slept on it, too. Even though I have yet to schedule a play date for Bunky or find a music class for Little Guy. Even though their future playroom is currently uninhabitable and most of their toys are encased in cellophane wrapped bins. They wake up in the morning and want to play outside, and we are lucky enough to be able to open the door and let them.

Gift from my dad. Thanks dad!

Donated by my super generous dad. Thanks, dad!

I’m living in a state of disarray, inside my new home and in my heart, which is not my strong suit, but what a learning and growing experience it is.

Postscript: In between unpacking and exploring our new community, I’m working on my novel as well as trying out new gluten free recipes (because of course), so keep an eye out for more on the blog soon! Plus, the possibility of change is on the horizon…

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