recipes on repeat: pickled turmeric & mint-date dressing

it's hard for me to swallow that it's been four full months since my last blog post. one of my longest breaks in my eight years of drumbeets! my occasional pauses from blogging are rarely an issue of lack of inspiration for blog-worthy ideas. it's more like my own form of seasonal depression... less motivational energy and lack of natural daylight for photographing in the middle of winter seems to have a recurring effect on my blogging routine. unfortunately, chronic pain has been compounding this season's blogging lull. i've been so busy in other people kitchens and cooking for events and yoga retreats that my dominant shoulder and neck are starting to develop chronic problems. yeah, those lovely seasonal root vegetables are literally a pain in my neck. to be fair, loading my shoulders heavily with bouldering certainly does not help my situation and only reinforces lines of tension. but regular yoga was no longer enough to counter the repetitive damage i was doing, rock climbing hurt and i was starting to cook less and less for myself! 

pain is a downward spiral. i've been depressed at the bottom of that chronic pain spiral once before in my life. this time i refuse to loose the joy that cooking, climbing and yoga bring me! so i've been busy working with great occupational and physical therapists and a phenomenal myofascial massage therapist to help correct the damage i've done. i'm taking on a lighter chef schedule while i figure out what is sustainable and am taking time to care for and nourish myself in all ways! 

part of my self care routine has been eating loads of turmeric with black pepper to calm the inflammation in my shoulder and taking WithinUs collagen supplements to support my joint health. i know there are a lot of mixed reviews on the effectiveness of collagen supplements... so after reading and researching, i decided to try out a reliable and sustainable brand that came recommended to me. i've noticed a visible effect the collagen has had on the cracked skin on my heels (nice side effect), but it's difficult for me to distinguish what's been impactful on my shoulder - was it the therapy, the turmeric or the collagen that's brought back my range of motion? it's all taking me up out of the depressing spiral, so i'm just going to keep all the parts going! 

today i wanted to share with you my favorite way to consume turmeric (besides golden mylk made with homemade almond milk, collagen, turmeric and honey!)... quick pickled shaved turmeric! a concept my friend becca turned me on to! they are delicious on salads and grain bowls! and to pair with that, a delicious dressing inspired by a recipe from my new root's new cookbook 'naturally nourished.' the combination is vibrant, springy and oh so nourishing! 

it's good to be back here :) 

quick pickled shaved turmeric
*6 thumb size pieces of raw organic turmeric (smaller pieces will be difficult to work with) 
1 pair disposable gloves! 

8 oz unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons coconut or raw cane sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt 
optional aromatics: 2 bay leaf, peppercorns, raw or dried chili, a few whole cloves or star anise 

dawn those gloves!! (or accept that you're fingers and nails will be yellow for a couple days). use a vegetable peeler to gently peel the rough surface off the turmeric. use a mandoline to finely slice the peeled turmeric into long thin shaves. the turmeric should be a little bendable, but not so paper thin that it's floppy. i usually shave down to where i still feel my fingers are safe and just save the leftover nubbin to grind into a curry or to puree into a smoothie or juice. *knowing that, sometimes i just buy twice the amount of turmeric i want to pickle!* 

once peeled and shaved, lightly pack turmeric into a glass jar. bring rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and aromatics to a boil, stir and simmer until sugar is dissolved. taste the brine and decide if you want more sweetness or spice - know that the turmeric will also add both a bit of sweetness and spice. 

carefully pour boiling brine over the turmeric to fully submerge turmeric. depending on how much turmeric you shaved and how tightly packed they are, you may have more vinegar then necessary - or you might need to add a splash more rice wine vinegar to submerge. 

let cool before refrigerating. they are ready to eat once chilled, but best after a couple days! they store up to 2-3 weeks in the fridge although they get a little softer over time.

date-sweetened mint hempseed dressing

2 medjool pitted dates
1/2 cup boiling water
4 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 cup mint leaves
juice & zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic, crushed
salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste

soak pitted dates in 1/2 cup hot water until softened and cooled. combine with remaining ingredients in high-speed blender. blend until smooth, adding enough (or all) of the soaking water to get things moving in the blender. use immediately! you can certainly store it in the fridge for a few days - it will separate and need a good shake before enjoying leftovers, and will start to darken after several days but still tasty!

salad combinations that i've had on repeat this season: 
- kale salad massage with lemon juice, olive oil and a drizzle of maple syrup tossed with pickled turmeric, diced dried apricots and toasted pepita seeds! great served with dal lentils or curry! 

- chilled quinoa, julienned/grated beets, fresh herbs, hemp seeds and pickled turmeric topped with mint-date dressing!