Looking ahead to the New Year (and an easy soup)

Life can get so busy sometimes, that its easy to just forget about goals set in the past or what I’ve accomplished. The other day I took a look at my “Life List” and realized that I could tick off at least five things – wow! (It had been probably a year since I’d seriously looked at the list.) I tend to just add things when I think of them, and then usually forget. It gave me a really good feeling, that I could cross these goals off my list. They were:

1. Climb in Italy (September 2009)

2. Climb Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne Meadows (July 2010 – not only did I climb it, but I LED the whole thing)

3. Figure out how to combine passion for outdoors with helping people (August 2009 – started working for Wilderness Youth Project)

4.  and 5. Run a 50k trail race (I’ve done three in the last year, and also ticked off the next goal – run a 50k in under 6 hours!)

6. Backpack in San Rafael Wilderness (October 2010 – girls trip out to the Manzana Narrows)

While I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, I now believe strongly in the power of setting goals. Setting a very specific goal means that you then need to devise a plan on how you’ll reach that goal, and if you go so far as to set it in writing on a calendar, that really holds you accountable. While I haven’t always been successful (I dropped out of my first 50k attempt), the failure can provide additional motivation to accomplish it.

My 29th birthday is coming up in a few short days, so I decided to take on a month-long birthday challenge that will hopefully set me up for some longer-term habits to support my running and climbing goals for the year. While we eat healthy most of the time, I’d like to really ramp it up and see how my body responds. I’d also like to be more consistent about writing and certain aspects of my athletic training.

1. Eliminate meat and dairy (we’ll still eat the few eggs our chickens are laying), refined sugars and grains. Increase raw meals (green smoothies, salads, etc) and do 2 new raw recipes a week.

2. Write something every day (and post to Garden Eats at least once a week!)

3. Follow a strict training plan for the entire month, that includes strength training, yoga, and track workouts every week.

Because this is a food blog, I suppose I should include a recipe, right? This one is incredibly easy – and perfect for a cold, windy, rainy day like today. Over the weekend I finally tried a meal my vegan housemate had been raving about – sauteed walnuts and kale over brown rice – but today I didn’t have brown rice, so instead I put the kale and walnuts over a ready-made soup from Trader Joe’s. The soup isn’t vegan – so its a good thing my birthday challenge starts tomorrow! This would also work as a camping recipe (the original version over rice worked well this weekend – I used Trader Joe’s already cooked brown rice).

Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Kale and Walnuts

Trader Joe’s ready-to-use soup of the same name (although there are probably other ones that would work just as well)

Handful of kale, chopped up

Small handful of walnuts

1-3 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)

Heat enough soup for one bowl. Saute the walnuts in olive oil until they begin to sizzle. Add in the kale and saute another 1-2 minutes, adding the garlic in at the last 30 seconds. Top the soup with the kale mixture, and enjoy!

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