Summit Salad!

I love hiking mountains. I love living in Colorado. There’s so much wonderful playground.

My two hiking buddies, Beth and Indigo, watching the sun rise as we ascend.

Hiking with dietary restrictions and standards is challenging. I don’t eat sandwiches, which seem to be the general standard to pack to the summit for lunch. Every time I go out, I struggle in this area. I have taken protein bars (gluten, dairy, corn free), nuts, dried fruit. But it’s still tough. How many protein bars can you eat before you’re REALLY sick of eating them? Doesn’t take me too long.

Back at my house, I’m getting ready for our mountain adventure, and the thought came to me: salad. Why not? It’s not going to take up much room and I have a big pack, so there’s always some extra room for winter hiking, more layers. The salad isn’t going to weigh much more than a bunch of protein bars. And unlike running, I don’t have to worry about eating as I’m moving. We usually take a nice break when we summit, to chow down, recover some, and take several million pictures.

Me, Beth, and Indigo, our 15th summit of one of Colorado’s 14k’ mountain tops (Indy’s 10th)

Hence, the Summit Salad was born! I have made it for two big (and very long) hikes now. Beth even took the hint (guilt? envy?) and made one for the pictured hike of Belford & Oxford mountains. It was fantastic. Refreshing, delicious, colorful, and perfectly filling. There was no ‘gut brick’ feeling, which can follow dense protein bars. Why didn’t I think of this before? Real food. On the trail, with real food. Perfect! So what was in my delicious, awesome salad? Here’s a picture of mine (loaded with nutrients, naturally, and good portions of protein, fat, carbohydrates), but you can put anything that tickles your fancy in yours.

Yummy fuel!

Summit Salad 

  • 1/2-1c roasted sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/4-1/2c black beans
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • sesame seeds
  • mixed greens
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • sprouts (any kind!)

I used a little plastic to-go dressing holder for my dressing, so the lettuce didn’t get soaked. Put all the ingredients in a tupperware container. Toss in pack. Hit the trail.  Smile. Take lots of pictures.

What are your favorite real food trail treats?

Oh, Green Garden! How do you grow?

How, when, and how much!

I’m still working on getting my garden installed in my front yard.

The master plan is to turn my front yard (approximately 1200 sq ft) into a community supported garden (aka CSA, “A” for agriculture). So far I’m running into monetary issues, and soon time constraints. I’ve had many options presented on the install part; but in the end, being the newbie that I am, I need someone to hold my hand through the first year and make sure I have quality soil to start with. I’m still waiting on quotes from some local companies that specialize in just that: installing big ole gardens to make produce. I absolutely LOVE that there are so many local small businesses dedicated to helping people grow food for themselves and others.

There’s nothing we can do that is more sustainable than growing our own food. There are no fossil fuels used to transport produce across the country (or planet). Absolutely everything is useable and/or reusable (take from the soil, return back to the soil). The nutrient impact of garden food is significantly greater than even organically grown produce from the natural foods store down the street: the longer the time from harvest to table, the more nutrients loss; the shorter the time from harvest to table, the greater the nutrient impact.

Nutrients? Yes! Nutrients! Believe it or not, we really do need them. Not getting enough clean (toxic free) nutrients leads directly to disease, illness, pain, neurological and physical ‘malfunctions,’ and eventually death. Getting enough beautiful rich, clean nutrients will lead directly to a much great quality of life, resistance and prevention of disease, illness, etc., and help us feel energized, strong, vibrant, and healthy.

All this ties to my master plan: Education. Healing. Community.

Education: always ongoing. I’m studying to be a Nutrition Therapist. I’m getting educated and simultaneously educating. Healing. Ditto. And, yes, food can replace pharma for health, veggies heal. Taking care of oneself through healthy meals, cooking, being aware can heal and promote healing in others (contagious HEALTH!). Community? How do I bring this together and create a community? Insert my garden.

Hopefully soon I will have the appropriate estimates, supplies, good fortune, and labor to get the garden started. That will about render me about broke. Plants cost money too. Starting seeds is too much for this greenhorn this year, plus, I’d love to see the execution of step 2. How do I get the people and plants involved in this process? Easy! And Fun! Here’s my Step 2:

  1. Install garden.
  2. Make a planting plan.
  3. Publish plan.
  4. Have a party (pretty good so far, eh?).
  5. Everyone brings a plant (or more) off the list.
  6. Plant the plants.
  7. I take care of the plants, garden.
  8. We all enjoy the harvest.

The cost to my friends is $5-$20/each. It saves me hundreds of dollars. There is a risk that I might kill plants. But hopefully I won’t end any plant life, other than pesky weeds. The harvest that comes from all of this will be shared by all. I’m also going to set up a compost in the front (discreetly off to the side, naturally) for ‘returns’. Bring a bucket, pick up (or just pick!) your veggies, drop off veggie waste for the future fertility of the soil.  The cost to me is greater, however. Getting the garden started and maintaining it. But that’s part of my education. If (or when, could take a season or two) I’m successful, I can then start teaching others how to make their own garden; even if it’s just a container in a window.

Stay tuned for an update on the garden, and hopefully a plant list to pick from!

Thoughts? Suggestions? (also accepting prayers, hopes, & well wishes!).


There’s a long line of pack rats in my family. It’s not a bad thing, so much, as a LOT of thing(s). It’s a pretty reliable situation, in which I can trust that I’ll find that unique thing to uniquely fit a particular situation; the good part of pack ratting. The bad part? Well, I moved a LOT when I was living in NYC. A lot. So much, I even got rid of my books (no first editions, don’t worry). I am explaining this to emphasize my fear of having too much stuff. In my kitchen (and home) I’ve always strived for simplicity, minimalism (not always successfully). Less is more.

STUFF! Glorious stuff.

However, I found I was also cooking less and less. It was time to give in. Let go. Cook. I cleared out the decorative bowl (full of miscellaneous junk) and accepted having a counter full of appliances, supplies, food. A permanent cutting board sits there now, and appliances are out for easy use. I finally bought a blender and food processor. So far, it’s working, and I feel a sense of relief, a small weight lifted off my shoulders, by adding stuff (!?!). Happily I go into a counter packed with things to enable me to make good things easily. HUZZAH! I hope going forward I realize more ways to enable good food to happen. Open to suggestions!