Chickpea Waldorf Salad Recipe


Last Saturday we visited Larriland Farm to pick apples and pumpkins, and we came away with about 13 lbs of apples. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share a few of the recipes we’ll be using to make our way through our stockpile. First up is this Chickpea Waldorf Salad from The Kitchn.

I love that this used plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise (I used Greek yogurt because that’s all I had), and the addition of red pepper flakes added some good spice to balance out the sweetness of the apples and grapes. I only had green grapes, so I used those in place of red, and I threw in a little more apple than the recipe calls for, because I have a lot of apples that I need to use!

This recipe made a really generous portion. I ate some for lunch and then my husband and I split the rest as a side with dinner. I didn’t serve it over spinach or other greens, just on it’s own. For lunch, I ate it with a little bit of toasted pita bread, and at dinner, we paired it with some rice pilaf and grilled chicken. It’s pretty simple and quick to make and was really tasty.


First Trimester Insights

I am currently in my 22nd week of my first pregnancy. So far it has been a fairly easy and joyful experience. I certainly don’t have much room for complaint. But now that I am safely and securely in the middle of my second trimester, I thought I would share a few first trimester insights. If you are newly pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, I hope this post will bring you some comfort and a little guidance as you transition to life as a person with another person growing inside of you.

It is important to note that this post is based on my own pregnancy experience and what I write here may not be true for every pregnant woman. Every pregnancy is different, with distinct aches, pains, anxieties and desires. No one can tell you exactly what your pregnancy will be like. It can be a really fun shared experience when you are pregnant alongside your friends, but it is also a wholly unique experience and you shouldn’t waste any emotional energy on comparing yourself to other pregnant women. We are snowflakes, ladies. From a distance we all look like the same round-bellied waddling baby-growers, but viewed up close, we couldn’t be more different for a group of people who are all going through the same physical process.

Congratulations to any and all pregnant readers of this post, and best wishes to anyone out there who is trying to get pregnant.

You may instantly regret your decision or feel completely terrified, and that’s okay.

I did not get pregnant on a whim. I have been married for the better part of a decade and am in my thirties. My husband and I had countless conversations over the course of several years about if and when we wanted to start a family. The timing of when we started trying to conceive was chosen with very specific scheduling concerns in mind. This was very much a planned pregnancy. And yet, when I got that positive test result, I immediately thought, “oh god, what have we done.” I later learned from talking with several friends that this is a fairly common experience. No matter how planned, or desperately desired a pregnancy is, it’s pretty natural to have an oh crap moment.

I think it took me until about week 17 to be fully on board with being pregnant. To go from not pregnant to pregnant feels like such a sudden, momentous shift that you shouldn’t be surprised if you find your head spinning for a while. Even if you were beyond ready to have a baby, it’s hard not to fixate on all the ways your life will change, the big and little things you’ll be missing out on, all the stuff you don’t know and need to prepare for, and all the stuff you don’t know for which there is no preparation and you just have to wait for it, live it, and hope you make the right choices.

Allow yourself some space and time to feel frightened, rattled, or even disappointed. It’s okay to grieve the part of your self and your life that will be lost through pregnancy and childrearing. It’s okay to be scared about what the future brings and whether or not you’ll be able to welcome all those changes with an open heart and mind.

I wanted to be overwhelmed with happiness and excitement at being pregnant, but I found that my emotions were much more mixed. I was excited, but anxious, confused and a little bit sad at moments. I really could have beaten myself up for feeling this way (I am very good at beating myself up for having less than perfect emotional reactions), but I decided early on that because I had never been pregnant before, I couldn’t possibly know what kind of reaction was the “right” reaction for that moment. I needed to let myself feel whatever emotions came up, and just accept that, like the rest of me, those feelings would likely change a lot throughout the course of my pregnancy. Flexibility and a nonjudgemental approach are positive parenting qualities, so you might as well start practicing them now on yourself.

It can be helpful to tell a few trusted friends early on.

How and when you decide to tell people that you are pregnant is a very personal decision. Some people like to get the word out right away, and others choose to wait until the end of the first trimester, or even longer to start spreading the news. You have to do what feels right for you. I had originally planned to tell my sister a couple of days after getting a positive test, but ended up waiting several weeks before letting her know. The moment just didn’t feel right before that. We ending up telling most of our close friends and family sometime between week 7 and 12, but that’s mostly because I found that trying to hide it or keeping it secret felt too stressful, and I just said the hell with it and let people know what was up, especially if we saw them in person.

Week 7 is a pretty early reveal for most people, but I actually told a few people even before that. Because I was feeling such a wide and confusing range of emotions, I found it really comforting to tell a couple of friends who had either recently been pregnant, or were currently pregnant. The first trimester can feel very isolating, and kind of lonely. You probably don’t feel your best, you may be worried that your pregnancy will end before it even has a chance to really get started, and your mind is racing trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do next, what things you should be avoiding, and if you’re making the right decisions. It helped me to have a couple people I could turn to and say, “what did you do about x, y, z; when do I need to decide about the following things; is this a normal feeling or something I should call the doctor about?”

I found it calmed my nerves to have people I could turn to who had recently been in my situation and could advise, celebrate, and commiserate about what I was going through.

Everyone will tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.

Pregnancy is a global experience. I don’t mean that women all over the world get pregnant (though, of course, they do), but that you’ll likely find that everyone you encounter will feel like they have a role to play in your pregnancy (this includes strangers that stand behind you in line at the grocery store). This happens a lot more once you are further along and visibly pregnant, but just know that once you start telling people that you are with child, everyone will have a story to tell you and advice to offer. In a lot of ways this is very sweet, and it’s nice to hear other people’s stories and, you know, some advice is good advice and I’m thankful to hear it. But for the most part, this gets tedious really fast and you need to quickly perfect your polite smile and nod, because you are in for a long 40 weeks of hearing about what other people think you should do while pregnant.

I have noticed this mostly in people telling you what you can and can’t eat, especially as caffeine and alcohol are concerned. I have run out of fingers for counting the number of times someone has said to me (or more often about me, to the group), “well Claire can’t have a drink,” when discussing general evening plans, or what everyone would like to drink to accompany their dinner. My dirty little secret is that I’ve had an occasional drink throughout my pregnancy, pretty much exclusively in the second trimester. For the most part, I’ve only done so around male friends, who either don’t know much about the big bad faux pas of pregnancy behavior, or just don’t care. I read up a lot on the topic, did my due diligence in terms of research, and made the decision that a small glass of wine once or twice a month is something I am comfortable with. Now whenever someone mentions how I’m not allowed to have anything to drink, I just smile and nod and make a mental note not to have my monthly glass of red when I am around them.

You will get so many opinions and so much advice that eventually it all turns into white noise. My recommendation is to pick 2-3 people whose advice you trust and go to them with questions, and just let everyone else become background buzz. There are so many “rules” to pregnancy, and very little consensus on which ones are the most important to follow. It’s impossible to do everything exactly right, because you have to live your life and that means that sometimes you need to pick up a quick meal on the go and are not consuming enough fresh produce for the day. Or you need to lift something a little heavier than is preferred from time to time, or you have a long day, or a restless night of sleep and you need a caffeine boost to make it through. You have to decide for yourself which rules matter most to you and which ones you don’t think are as important, or are simply not realistic for your life. Everyone has an opinion on how you should behave when pregnant, but the only opinion that really matters is your own. Feeling anxious and stressed out about every little choice you make is not any better for your health than avoiding all caffeine, never having a sip of alcohol, or cutting out certain foods entirely because of a small risk of food borne illness.

If you don’t know where to start when making these decisions, talking to your doctor is a good first step, but most docs will give you advice that carries the absolute smallest amount of risk or liability for them (which is to mostly avoid all things that could be considered slightly dangerous during pregnancy, or have never been tested and the risk is therefore unknown). I recommend checking out Emily Oster’s book Expecting Better: Why The Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know. I found it to be extremely useful in helping me feel more empowered to make my own decisions and cut out the excess noise of everyone’s advice.

Take it easy on yourself.

I went into my first trimester thinking I was going to continue full steam ahead with my fitness and exercise plan. My hope was that I could use those first few months to get into really great shape for the six months to come when my growing belly would inevitably slow me down. This did not turn out to be the case even a little bit.

I was lucky in that I didn’t feel too sick during my first trimester. I had some mild nausea that I could mostly manage by eating something small every couple of hours (string cheese, kiwis, and dried fruit and nuts worked pretty well for me), or munching on a piece of candied ginger whenever I started to feel especially queasy. I did suffer from pretty extreme fatigue, though. I blame this in part on being newly pregnant in ridiculous hot and humid weather, so that pregnancy fatigued combined with miserable Baltimore summer fatigue. Either way, I was ready to drop into a deep sleep within about two hours of waking up each morning, and by the end of the day, it took every ounce of will and resilience to keep myself standing upright, which was not so great given that my job is physical and requires a lot of time on my feet.

My dreams for a supercharged first trimester were dashed pretty quickly. I did find that sticking with some amount of exercise kept me slightly more energized and helped me fight my nausea a bit, but I only managed about 20-30 minutes each day and none of it was especially rigorous. (In a future post I will share some of the online videos that I found useful for first trimester workouts on the days when I was feeling my worst.)

Most women experience some degree of illness and/or fatigue during the first trimester. It’s okay to take it easy and give yourself some extra rest and respite. Whether that means cutting back on the intensity of workouts, trying to reduce your work hours, making space to accommodate a midday nap, or going to bed much earlier than you ever have before, you need to do what feels right for your body in those first few months. It takes a lot to grow a baby and a placenta. Your body is working overtime, and dealing with significant changes in blood volume and oxygen needs. You may find that you get dizzy or feel out of breath more easily. Be gentle with yourself. While some women continue to struggle into their second trimester, I found that my energy returned by week 13 and I felt much more capable of doing longer and higher intensity workouts, and could make it through my standard workday without worrying that I’d fall asleep in the middle of massaging someone.

My one recommendation would be that if you have access to a swimming pool during your pregnancy, use it. I swam laps a couple of times a week during the first trimester and I definitely felt my best when I was in the water.

It’s important to celebrate.

I’m not super into baby clothes or the little stuff that most people find so adorable about tiny humans (should I be having a baby?), so I didn’t feel the need to run out and buy up a bunch of cute onesies during my first trimester. But if you do feel that need, go for it. Fill your house with baby books, or go out and purchase some nice maternity clothes even if you don’t need them yet. Do something that makes you feel like you are recognizing and celebrating this momentous occasion in your life. Other people might not know that you are pregnant yet, but you do and you have right to celebrate and make a big deal out of it. My husband and I went out for dinner to celebrate very early after finding out, and it was really nice to be out at one of our favorite restaurants that we had been to countless times, but to feel like this time it was different. Pregnancy can feel scary and overwhelming, but it can also be really great and it deserves to be celebrated in whatever way feels right for you.

Five Simple Pleasures


I spent the better part of the past week on vacation, enjoying some beautiful hikes and wonderful fall weather in the Finger Lakes with my husband and our dog. It was an easy-going, restful trip that didn’t require that we be anywhere at any specific time. We got up each morning when we wanted to, and leisurely went out about our days.

Whenever a vacation ends, though I am always happy to be back home in my own bed, with my cat who becomes temporarily, adorably lovey after several days of loneliness, I find that I feel a little down for a day a two. There’s something about getting back into the flow of my regular daily life that takes a bit of extra adjustment. My mood will usually drop a bit, and I feel extra tired and lazy. The daily grind feels extra grinding whenever I return from a few days of unscheduled, uninterrupted free time.

When this happens, I try to remind myself of a few things that are really specific and special to my daily life, small pleasures that only occur when I am back at home and going about my regular routine. Here are five simple pleasures that are helping me break through my post-vacation blues this week.

  • There’s a group of cats that live in a house along my walking route between my home and my office. They are always hanging out on the sidewalk when I walk by, and I love how consistent and predictable their behavior is. There’s a large orange tabby with no tail who plops himself down right in the middle of the sidewalk and stares straight at me as I approach, letting me know that he has no intention of moving. There’s an orange and white striped tabby who is very friendly and he’ll approach me and roll onto his back, tempting me to pet his belly. There’s a calico who sits on the edge of the sidewalk and always waits to the very last second to turn and suddenly sprint away. It’s like she’s challenging herself to be brave, but then loses her nerve and has to run for cover. After more than a year of walking past these cats on a nearly daily basis, I feel like I know them and I’m always happy to see them out there on the sidewalk like a bunch of furry, friendly neighbors.
  • My husband wakes up much earlier than I do and will often walk the dog in the morning, or at least let him out into the yard. And yet, every morning when I wake up, the dog is back on my bedroom floor, sleeping at the foot of my bed and waiting for me to start my day. I love that he always comes back upstairs to get me each morning so that we can always begin the day together.
  • The weather is starting to change and it’s getting dark much earlier now. While I don’t love the early nightfall, I find that I really enjoy how much the day changes from the time when I first enter my studio, to when I leave after my final session. After a summer where the nights stayed much too warm for comfort and the air remained heavy and sticky for 24 hours straight, I love stepping back outside at the end of the day and there’s a chill in the air and I can already see stars in the sky. It helps to cap off my day and shift me quickly out of a work mindset.
  • Trying out new restaurants while on vacation is always fun, but I much prefer cooking at home, and fall is my favorite season to cook. I am looking forward to making lots of soup, and other warm, hearty meals that are delicious and don’t require that I put on actual pants and leave the house to enjoy them.
  • While watching the colors change in upstate New York was beautiful, and I’m certainly looking forward to more fall colors popping up here in the weeks to come, my flower garden is still going strong and I know there’s a limited time remaining before it gets cold enough at night that all the blooms will wilt. I need to soak up every last second of my glorious dahlias before the time comes for me to begin prepping the garden for winter.




Creating New Traditions

It’s fall, the season of cool nights, warm colors, and in our household, the celebration of the Jewish High Holidays. My husband is Jewish and I am not, which means that when it comes to Jewish holidays and observances, we tend to default to the traditions that he grew up with. Often for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), we’ll make a dish for dinner that he recalls his mother making many times for that same occasion. If we are unable to attend services for Yom Kippur, or opt not to go one year, we’ll spend the day outside in nature, as his family often did when he was growing up. I embrace these choices and all of his other traditions wholeheartedly and am happy to not only participate, but to help perpetuate his family’s specific customs. Over the last few years, though, we have started to develop a few traditions of our own. It is important to me to not only continue the practices that he grew up with, but to create new ones that are unique to the two of us as a unit and that we can eventually pass down to kids alongside these other longstanding traditions.

For example, a few years back for Yom Kippur, I suggested that we acknowledge this day of reflection and the sense of resetting for a new year by listing a few things from the past year that we hoped to move beyond in the year to come, as well as few things that wanted to focus on in the year ahead. My thought was that this would be a way to really reflect back on the year behind us, and to look forward to what we had coming up in our future. Time seems to move so quickly, it becomes easy to forget what all you have done as the months stream by, and it can be hard to know how best to organize your efforts and attention as you continue to move forward. So now each year for Yom Kippur, we both list a few negative things from the past year that we would either like to finally let go of and just release into the past, or work to improve upon and turn into more positive experiences. We list a few positive things from the last year that we hope to continue into the new year, or perhaps give more attention in the year to come. And we list a few things that we are excited about in the year ahead, or that we want to focus our attention on and make more space for in our lives.

I have said before that I don’t think resolutions are particular useful, and instead I like to focus on creating intentions, or guiding principles for a new year. This tradition is within that vein. It is about acknowledging both the good and bad in our past experiences, and setting our sights on healthy, positive experiences and interests still to come.

It’s a small thing, this new tradition, and it requires very little time to accomplish, but it demands some careful reflection and insight, which I feel is in keeping with the intention of the holiday. I like that it is something that my husband and I do together, but that it can be easily combined with, and doesn’t take anything away from, his existing traditions. I look forward to it each year, and to creating more traditions of our own in the future.

What are some traditions that you have created in your families? I would love to hear!

On Pushing Away Fear

I am not in the habit of rereading books. When I finish a book,  I tend to move on to a new one and rarely find myself returning to stories no matter how much I loved them the first time around. There are, as is always the case in life, a few exceptions to this rule. Ordinary People was the first “adult” book I ever read way back in fourth grade. The school library copy I was reading landed in a swimming pool when I was on vacation and I was forced to buy it because of the damage. It’s the same copy I still have and I’ve read it countless times since my elementary school days, gently turning the stiff, nearly ruined pages. When I was young, I also read Say Goodnight, Gracie over and over again. It’s an incredibly sad story and I cried every single time I read it. I’ve read To Kill A Mockingbird more than once because it was assigned reading in a couple of different classes. Same with The Canterbury Tales. And I’ve read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, several times now, even though it was only published four years ago.

Wild is the book I think about most often. It has stuck with me in a way that no other writing has. The wilderness, the solitude, the search for a self that is better and more whole than the person that heartache and self-hatred has forced you to become. I will return to certain passages in this book at moments in my life when I need particular inspiration. The section I go back to most often is one where Strayed writes about fear. As she first sets out for her long journey across the Pacific Crest Trail, Strayed describes her mental processing as the full weight of her decision (and of her immensely heavy, overpacked camping backpack) settles on her:

Within forty minutes, the voice inside my head was screaming, What have I gotten myself into? I tried to ignore it, to hum as I hiked, though humming proved too difficult to do while also panting and moaning in agony and trying to remain hunched in that remotely upright position while also propelling myself forward when I felt like a building with legs. So then I tried to simply concentrate on what I heard–my feet thudding against the dry and rocky trail, the brittle leaves and branches of the low-lying bushes I passed clattering in the hot wind–but it could not be done. The clamor of What have I gotten myself into? was a mighty shout. It could not be drowned out. The only possible distraction was my vigilant search for rattlesnakes. I expected one around every bend, ready to strike. The landscape was made for them, it seemed. And also for mountain lions and wilderness-savvy serial killers.

But I wasn’t thinking of them.

It was a deal I’d made with myself months before and the only thing that allowed me to hike alone. I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked. Every time I heard a sound of unknown origin or felt something horrible cohering in my imagination, I pushed it away. I simply did not let myself become afraid. Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.

I am in the middle of a major transition in my life. My most significant transition yet. I find myself repeatedly returning to this passage. “Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story…” Whenever I am feeling unmoored and anxious about an uncertain future and all of the hiccups, both large and small, that could greet me on my path, I make the conscious decision to tell myself a different story. I remind myself that I am strong, I am brave, I am safe. I tell myself that everything will be okay, because I have the power to deal with whatever comes my way. It is working. In the past few weeks, I haven’t felt even a little anxious about what the future holds for me. I feel confident and capable. I decided not to be afraid, and I no longer am. I am telling myself a different story and allowing that story to guide me.

It has been about a year since I read Wild in its entirety, but I return to this section probably once a month, pulling the book off of the shelf and opening directly to page 51, where the spine is a bit worn and loose from so much use.

Our lives are made up of thousands of little stories we tell ourselves, and that others tell about us. If you are feeling lost, afraid, stuck or unsettled, try evaluating the stories of your life and make the choice to tell a different one. Tell yourself you’re not afraid and perhaps, before you know it, you won’t be anymore.

The Elusive Trainable Cat

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This is my adorable cat. He’s so soft and sweet, and when he’s cold he likes to snuggle up against you and purr. He’s also incredibly mischievous, ridiculously stubborn and downright bad most of the time. I think this is 95% his personality and 5% our failure as cat owners when he was still an energetic kitten. I’ve always appreciated cats for being strong willed and independent. When this guy was little and was constantly jumping up on our counters and kitchen table, the vet told us to use a spray bottle and spray him with water every time he jumped. This would force him down and eventually he’d learn to stay off the counter. It worked the first couple of times; he did not enjoy being sprayed in the face. But he quickly learned that the water was just an irritant and not a danger and before long, rather than jumping down when sprayed, he would just hunker down, stare us straight in the face and allow us to soak him until he was dripping wet. It was pathetic and a little alarming. We eventually just gave up and he won ownership of the counters and tabletops and anything else he could jump on, which was basically everything in the house because he’s pretty fearless when it comes to leaping from surface to surface.

Unlike dogs, who seem to feel shame and an unyielding desire to please you at all costs, cats don’t seem to care what you think about them and live for themselves. You can’t train cats, or at least that’s what I’ve always thought. It’s admirable, if a bit annoying. But I caught a bit of an interview on NPR the other day that suggests otherwise.

Sarah Ellis, a cat behavior specialist explains that, compared with dogs, cats are “less likely to understand the cues that we may give, for example, things like pointing. They’re less likely to naturally attune to us, so they’re much less likely to look at our faces, to be able to read our expressions, and that’s where we’ve got less of a currency … than we have with dogs when training. Because [dogs] naturally want our affection. They naturally want to please us. With cats we have to use a different kind of currency.”

It might be more difficult and require a different approach than dog training, but apparently cats are in fact capable of being trained, and all that bad, stereotypical cat behavior stems from our own failures to properly understand our cats.

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I’m pretty sure it’s too late for my guy. He is almost 10 years old and has enjoyed a rich life of pushing us around and doing whatever he wants whenever he wants. I suppose I could try to go back and train him now, but odds are one of us would end up dead in the frustrating process, and since he pretty much always gets his way, I’m guessing I would be the casualty of our training war. But if you have a new cat, or are thinking about getting a cat (you should, despite being selfish jerks cats are really wonderful and super easy to care for), you should check out this interview and learn how to create a better, more harmonious relationship with your feline companion.

Post-Run Stretch Sequence

I almost never cool down and take time to stretch after running or working out. I’ve just spent however many minutes exercising, and when I’m done, I want to shower and move on with my day, not spend more time stretching and giving my body some time to release and wind down from the workout. But I always feel so much better when I take a few minutes to stretch my legs. I really have a tendency to tighten up after a run and then continue to feel tight and uncomfortable all day. A short stretch routine post-run almost entirely does away with that discomfort. I am lazy, though, and if I have to create my own stretching routine, I’m far more like to just skip it. Lately, I have been using this short yoga sequence to loosen up legs after my runs. It’s really quick–less than 10 minutes–and hits all my major areas of running-related tightness. Check it out if you could use a little guidance and motivation to add a bit of stretching to your running or workout routines.