“Soul” Food: Creative Soul 2013


Photo courtesy of Alita Araiza-Maini

I was humbled.

They asked me…ME…to provide a healthy meal, nourishing both body and soul, for all of the participants of the Creative Soul 2013 writer’s retreat. Wow.

Why, yes, YES…but of course! Oh, the excitement of thinking, planning, deciding, feeding and pleasing…I love this. It’s what I do. Food is my love language.

1creative soal

(Left) Photo courtesy of Hyacynth Worth – (Right) Photos courtesy of Alita Araiza-Maini

Through calmness, yoga, massage, conversation and writing circles, the basis of the retreat is allow attendees to “just be.” My job, along with the lovely Ms. Hyacynth, was to plan a lunch menu that reflected a “nourished soul.”  An added bonus: the generosity of Whole Foods Market Deerfield couldn’t have been more appreciated, as they provided organic and natural ingredients for the entire meal. All good meals start with quality ingredients…we thank you for being a sponsor.

The Menu

  • Coffee (generously provided by Julie’s Coffee) and Fruited Water
  • White Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls topped with Flax & Poppyseed (provided by Alley Side Bakery)
  • Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Organic Vegetables
  • Chicken Curry Winter Stew over Organic Golden Rose Brown Rice
  • Mango Pudding topped with Organic Strawberry Sauce &  Tajin

Photo courtesy of Alita Araiza-Maini

Located in an old, renovated storefront, The Therapy Tree was a lovely location for Creative Soul…not to mention the fabulous kitchen completely suitable for our cooking adventure and food demonstration. Hyacynth and I both discussed how healthy eating plays a major role in our lives and gave some tips on how others can improve their eating lifestyles, as well. From there, we demonstrated how to simply make our appetizer, home made hummus. We chose hummus because  1.) It’s simple  2.) It’s rich in protein, anti-oxidants & heart healthy oils and 3.) It’s simple! A tasty replacement for those pre-made, store bought cream dips…you know the ones.

Basic Hummus
Basic hummus recipe good to use as a dip, spread or in pasta
  • 1 Can Garbanzo Beans (or chick peas)
  • ¼ c. Can Liquid (or water from soaking)
  • 1 TB Lemon Juice
  • 1½ TB Tahini (ground sesame seed paste)
  • 1 Small Clove Garlic
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • Dash of Cumin
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for topping
  1. Combine all ingredients (except EVOO) and puree in blender until smooth.
  2. Place in a bowl and drizzle EVOO over the top. Other good toppings: paprika, cilantro, roasted chick peas or, for a kick, cayenne pepper.
  3. *If you want roasted red pepper hummus, blacken a red bell pepper on a stove flame, grill or in the oven broiler. When well blistered, place in a ziploc bag and allow to "sweat" for about 15 minutes. Remove skin, ribs and seeds. Puree with the rest of the ingredients.

Next, came the Chicken Curry Winter Stew over Golden Rose Brown Rice. This recipe was actually given to me years ago by some wonderful neighbor friends. They once hosted African missionaries who brought along this recipe. I altered it, a little, to include vitamin rich greens and seasonal root vegetables, perfect for warming our bellies and hearts during the retreat. Some were initially hesitant about “curry” but their willingness to try something new ended in great delight. At our house, we top this curry with items like peppers (sweet & hot), cheese, onions, black olives and bananas…yes, I said bananas. I understand that may sound strange, but the sweetness cuts the salt and spice so perfectly.
Chicken Curry Winter Stew
A warm, hearty seasonal stew poured over brown rice.
  • 1 pkg Skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts (4), diced (I prefer a mix of breast meat and thigh meat)
  • 2 Turnips, peeled & diced
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 2-3 Stalks of celery, sliced
  • 2-3 Carrots, peeled & sliced
  • ½ Onion, chopped
  • Handful of kale, swiss chard or spinach, chopped
  • 2 TB Sea Salt
  • 1 TB Soy Sauce
  • 1 TB Garlic Powder
  • ½ TB Onion Powder
  • 1-2 TB Curry Powder (Depending on how much you like curry)
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • About 4 c. Water, or enough to cover
  • Cooked Brown Rice
  1. In large soup pot, saute onion & celery in oil until transparent. (or, if you have some bacon fat laying around, you can use that instead of the oil)
  2. Add rest of ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover pot and reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Cook until meat is done and vegetables are tender.
  5. Pour over brown rice and top with whatever you would like!
  6. *For children, you may want to cut the curry back a little because of their sensitive palettes. It can be spicy! Also, they will think the turnips are potatoes...and if you chop the greens VERY fine, like parsley, they probably won't think twice about eating it.

Overall, Creative Soul provided a wonderful day with interesting and unique participants with whom I am looking forward to connecting further. Thank you, ladies and sponsors, for your hard work and willingness to make a healthy difference in other’s lives.

6 Responses to “Soul” Food: Creative Soul 2013
  1. Tammi
    January 29, 2013 | 12:50 PM

    Sounds delicious! Our family is a great lover of hummus in any form. And as far as root vegetables, I just served a roasted winter vegetable side dish that included rutabagas. Mixed in with potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots, the kids really didn’t know it was different. I bet turnips would would great in that same dish.

    • Toni
      January 29, 2013 | 1:11 PM

      Oh, roasted root veggies sound wonderful!! A lot of root veggies look like potatoes so they are pretty easy to disguise. hee hee. A co-worker of Kurt’s grew tons of turnips this summer. She gave them to us and we parboiled and froze them.

      Also, I think people underestimate how much kids like hummus! I hope more people will give it a try instead of relying on the same old ranch/french onion dips. :)

  2. Samantha
    February 1, 2013 | 6:53 AM

    We LOVE hummus! Thanks so much for the recipe – Great food!

    Have a fabulous weekend!

    • Toni
      February 1, 2013 | 7:03 AM

      You’ve very welcome, Samantha! My family can’t get enough of hummus. I’m about to start trying some different flavors, like cilantro or sun-dried tomato :) Thanks and enjoy your weekend as well!!

  3. Jen @ BigBinder
    February 1, 2013 | 8:46 AM

    That sounds WONDERFUL, and relaxing, and inspiring – what an awesome challenge (which you were clearly up to!) to find some fitting food! Is the curry yellow curry or red curry? I know this is weird but I think yellow curry tastes like feet – however, red curry rocks my world.

    • Toni
      February 1, 2013 | 10:28 AM

      Hey Jen, the original recipe calls for yellow curry powder…and that’s how I first learned to make it. Now, I get a curry spice from my local health food store, which is just called curry. For this recipe, I used a spice from Whole Foods. I want to say it was called “Mucho Curry” or something like that. But, by all means, if red curry does it for you, then rock on mah sista! (I don’t smell feet in yellow curry…but I understand because I do think cumin smells like armpits. LOL)

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