Hungry Haley

it's more than food

Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing

Haley HansenComment

Currently adjusting to the realization that the place I'd thought of as "home" for so fifteen years is no longer my home. Whoa. 

Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

In 2003, my family and I moved from Minnesota (where almost our entire family and all of our friends surrounded us) to California. By doing the math, you'll calculate that I was seven years old at the time and my brother was about ten. He found the transition significantly more terrifying and unfair (as any young boy would) than I did, yet I still felt as though I was stepping into the unknown, mostly because my child brain barely understood the concept of the United States. 

Since the summer of 2003, we've lived in and loved Southern California, for the most part. That other unloved part is the traffic, the heat, and the "vibe" we feel, which is too complicated for me to explain. However, I grew up there. I found my first real best friends as I started second grade and walked alongside them through the rest of elementary school. I attached to a different group of friends in junior high and found out about who Jesus is. I entered high school and got my period and played sports and rode the teenage-rollercoaster-of-emotions over and over. I battled my eating disorder and found my first boyfriend and, with him, my first kiss and my first love. I graduated high school and committed to college. 

Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

And then... I went to college, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, if you're wondering. The first segment of my first year away from home was saturated with tears of homesickness and feelings of not belonging. Once those tears dried feelings dissolved (which is easier than done, as always), I found the group of sisters in Christ God had waiting for me to push me towards Him and towards growth and the better version of myself. 

The two years in between then and now have not been absent of tears and homesickness, by any means. Neither, though, have they been absent of discovery (of self and other) and recovery, of smiles and laughter so strong it hurts, of trial + error and finding faith in it all. San Luis Obispo has captured my heart, no doubt about it, but I've been reluctant to call it "home", for reasons I don't even know.  

I chose to spend this summer in Southern California, to take a break from SLO and rent and blah blah blah. Despite the busy-ness of SoCal, for some reason I feel like I can hear myself think a bit more than I can in SLO (probably because I don't spend much time with anyone else besides myself and my parents). That's what has always pulled me back to SoCal - the comfort. 

But it's feeling too comfortable now. Like, boring-comfortable - a bean bag chair that sinks when I sit in it, a mattress without any structure or spring. In other words, there is nothing to challenge me or offer much opportunity for growth. AND, for the past fourteen years, my family and I have made few community connections (though those few are still going strong and wonderful as could be). 

Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

San Luis Obispo, though... my goodness. There's been growth beyond expectation, friendship beyond imagination, and comfort surpassing any level I ever thought I'd need. I found, through God, what a life of freedom instead of slavery around food feels like. I found my best friends/sisters in Christ (which, four years ago, I thought of only as pretend). I found my passion for food and cooking intertwined with health and fitness. 

I found my home. This is home. 

Home isn't where I was born or where my family is or where I grew up or where I spent my teenage years. Home is the place I can't - physically, emotionally, spiritually - be separated from for more than a month, the place where my best friends are not too far away, the place where I'm connected to my community, the place where I found and feel most at peace and in love with myself. 

Home is San Luis Obispo. I love home. 

I just had to get that off my chest because I'm SO happy about it and couldn't help but share it. 

Anyway, about this salad - insanely easy to throw together and unbelievably delicious! Perfect for quick lunches, summer picnics, and even taco toppings! 

Salad:
1 15-oz. can black beans
2 cups finely chopped purple cabbage
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
extra cilantro, for garnish

Dressing:
Creamy Lemon Avocado Sauce + non-dairy milk

  1. Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. 
  2. Whisk the sauce and non-dairy milk until a thin, dressing-like consistency is reached. Pour over the salad and toss again to combine. 
  3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and then serve. 
  4. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days (any longer and it will smell baaaaaad, believe me). 
  5. Enjoy!
Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Kale and Farro Salad w/ Crispy Chickpeas (Vegan, GF)

Salad, Side, QuickHaley HansenComment

So, it is currently 11:27 PM on a Saturday. I'm awake, which is one thing. I'm typing this, which is another thing. 

Kale and Farro Salad w/ Crispy Chickpeas (Vegan, GF)

I'm awake because, quite frankly, I can't sleep. Despite how tired I feel and how much my eyelids want to close, my mind is sorting through feelings and conversations and thoughts and yah-dah-yah-dah. The usual, except this typically happens right when I wake up in the morning and prevents me from going back to sleep like a normal human being would at 5:30 AM. That's just how my body works - 7:30 AM is totally considered (and applauded) as "sleeping in". 

And 11:30 PM? That, my friends, as just shy of two hours past my bedtime. No, I'm not a ten-year-old who still follows the rules of her mother. I'm just a disciplined young woman who physically cannot keep her eyes open at this time. Hence, I don't "go out" or "party" or do really anything past 9:30 PM that requires a bra and me getting out of my bed. 

:) 

Kale and Farro Salad w/ Crispy Chickpeas (Vegan, GF)

Okay - the real reason I can't sleep? I'M JUST HAPPY. It's not the delusional-tired state that most people reach (or maybe it's just me?) - just pure happiness. 

If I were to metaphorically put myself in the shoes I wore a year ago, I wouldn't be this happy, and that would mainly be due to my body. HOW DUMB IS THAT. Like, my size (read: my increase in size) would totally have inhibited any possible experience of joy from then until now. 

Ugh, thank the Lord for getting my shiz together for me. 

Anyway, that's pretty much all I have to say here. 

And for the salad, it's one of the most unique, most tasteful I've ever created - much more than lettuce, fresh veggies, protein and avocado. Crispy chickpeas + hearty farro (have you ever had it?) + crunchy kale + more flavor than one would expect from a 20-minute salad. 

Please please please, for your own personal enjoyment of greens and beans and grains, make. this. salad. There's flavor, there's taste, there's texture. Surprise yourself...

... love yourself! Oh, and love kale. 

Makes 4-5 servings

For the chickpeas: 
2.5 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika

For the salad: 
2 cups chopped kale
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
2-2 1/2 cups cooked farro (or any other rice-like grain)
juice from 1/2 lemon
Optional: hopped red onion and basil

  1. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat with grapeseed oil. Carefully (to not splatter the oil) add in the beans and onion. Cook until the onions are translucent and the beans are lightly charred. Remove from heat. 
  2. Massage the kale in grapeseed oil until bright green and tender. Combine with cooked farro and chickpeas, and squeeze lemon juice on top. Stir to combine and garnish with onion and basil, if using. 
  3. Serve immediately or chilled. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week. 
  4. Enjoy! 
Kale and Farro Salad w/ Crispy Chickpeas (Vegan, GF)

Pasta Salad w/ Beets and Cilantro Lime Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Haley Hansen1 Comment

Can you remember the last time you went to the grocery store? 'Cuz I can't. 

Don't worry - I'm not boycotting the purchase of food or anything. And I haven't developed any early-onset memory-loss. And I'm not (well, not really) trying to brag...

... but I can't remember the last time I've been to the grocery store because I've been buying exclusively from local farmers markets. They've always, without any hesitation, been my Saturday-and-Sunday-morning plans, even though only recently have I been leaving with bags full of groceries for the week instead of just a couple peaches and some local bread. 

Whenever I see an opportunity to brag about my classes, I snatch it up, so here goes. My favorite class this quarter - Food Science and Nutrition, Contemporary Issues in Food Service - taught me about 1) cooking with various dietary/ingredient/cost restrictions and 2) about the benefits of supporting the local community via buying locally grown food. Though I assumed I pretty much had this topic mastered by buying said peaches and loaf of (unbelievably delicious) bread, my professor - and Michael Pollan, mostly (also, is he married?) - convinced me that I had much to learn and much more to buy in order to support my local farmers and bakers and community to the best of my abilities. 

And within about two weeks, I found myself spending Saturday morning (the day of the SLO farmers market, which I attend during the school year) and Sunday morning (the day of the Claremont farmers market, which I attend now that I'm living at home) actually shopping at the markets, rather than just sipping coffee and picking up one or two things.

Considering you're reading my blog right now and maybe you have been for a while, you probably have some idea of the benefits of buying from the farmers market instead of the supermarket, yeah? But maybe you're like me and you want to know more - truly, what's the difference in the food? I'll answer that for you, most definitely, but as I always say: 

IT'S MORE THAN FOOD. 

Anyway, benefits of the farmers market: 

  1. go ahead, call yourself a "locavore" - how fun is that?! 
  2. reduce the carbon footprint produced when grocers have to ship food from across the country because avocados and almonds and asparagus aren't really optimally grown everywhere. ever heard of the term "food miles"? as much as you want to minimize the amount miles you have to run for exercise, you want to minimize the amount of miles your food has to travel to reach your plate. 
  3. increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. at the local markets in my area (both in SLO and in OC), the farmers selling fruits and vegetables FAR outnumber the farmers selling meats, eggs, cheese, etc. similarly, have you ever been to a farmers market that sells Cheetos and soda? I haven't.  
  4. build a stronger sense of community. when was the last time you reached out to participate in some sort of community event? you can easily and genuinely include yourself in your hometown (or wherever you are) by purchasing locally grown foods. connect with the farmers, strike up conversation about their farms, and bring friends with you - "the more the merrier" most certainly applies here. 
  5. get some fresh air. sounds simple, but think about it - most of us drive to the grocery store, which is indoors, and then drive home. if you're able to, try biking to the local farmers market, which is outdoors, and then ride home (bring a backpack or two to carry your purchases). 
  6. get some fresh food. and by that, I mean "seasonal" - farmers in SLO aren't growing mangoes in the middle of December (heck, is anyone?). during this time, you'll find things like swiss chard and cauliflower and sweet potatoes to roast up for warm, comforting dinners. during summer, you'll find juicy peaches and berries and tomatoes for smoothies, snacks, salads, etc. here's a seasonal food guide, based on the time of year. 

How do those not sound appealing? 

Believe me - grocery shopping is my "happy time". Strolling up and down each aisle, browsing the products I know and love and exploring the shelves for new items. And, just letting you know, your local farmers market probably won't be selling Banza pasta, so it's totally fine to purchase that (and whatever else isn't offered at the market) from the store. 

But, I find even more happiness in shopping at the local farmers markets - I'm saving money (yes, you CAN lower your grocery bill), I'm reducing plastic waste, and I'm integrating myself into the community. 

Pasta Salad w/ Beets and Cilantro Lime Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Again, I'm not swearing off anything store-bought. Hello - kombucha and peanut butter are like my besties and I can usually only find my favorites in the grocery store. 

I AM promising to dedicate more time and money into my local peeps - my local farmers, my local vendors and artisans, and even my closest family and friends by frequenting the farmers markets. 

You want to join me? Cool - you know where to find me :) 

Makes 4-6 servings

For the pasta:
1 box Banza chickpea pasta (I used Rotini)
golden beets, about 6-7 small, washed
2 cups mixed greens

For the dressing:
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg's) 
juice from 1 lime
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook Banza pasta according to package directions. Once finished, strain, rinse, and set aside to cool. 
  2. Chop the beets into 1/2"-thick chunks and bring to a boil. Cook until tender when poked with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Strain and combine in a large bowl with the pasta. Set aside. 
  3. To make the dressing, simply combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour over the pasta and beets and toss in the mixed greens. 
  4. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 week. 
  5. Enjoy!
Pasta Salad w/ Beets and Cilantro Lime Dressing (Vegan, GF)