Hey readers! It’s been a while. I’m knee-deep in training right now, which I’ll talk about in a post soon, but for today I have a really exciting treat for you all.

I love cookbooks. I’m a cookbook hoarder/collector/connoisseur/hobbyist – if you will. When Linda Ly – the talent behind Garden Betty reached out to me to review her brand new cookbook (The CSA Cookbook) of course I accepted. As a regular reader of her blog, I had been anxiously awaiting her book release for a few months now. I am so honored to have an opportunity to write this review!


As a graphic designer, I’m compelled to talk about the design – after all, who isn’t immediately drawn to a well-designed book? At first glance, the cover design is incredibly catchy – something that I would definitely hone in on at the bookstore. I especially love the spine design with its white and lime lettering reading prominently against the bold red background. The book is enriched with colorful, contrasty photographs – many of which fill entire pages. Let’s take a moment to celebrate because every single recipe has a photo! Some recipes, which have more involved processes, include step-by-step photos as well.


I strongly encourage anyone who is lucky enough to hold this book to read it. I don’t mean absent-mindedly skimming the photos and glancing at the recipe names. There is some really valuable material in the content before the recipes. There is so much to learn from this book. Linda has filled those first 30+ pages with vegetable-storage tips, recipe basics, pantry staples and a list of helpful kitchen tools.

Many of my friends didn’t even know you could eat radish greens, let alone carrot greens. It seemed like half the vegetables you purchased went straight to the trash or, at best, made for some rather expensive compost.

Linda Ly, The CSA Cookbook

The CSA Cookbook is unlike many other cookbooks in circulation right now. The recipes are all unique in that they glorify, for the most part, using the whole plant. I didn’t even know that you could eat tomato leaves and broccoli leaves! I’m especially excited about a recipe that makes use of those tough kale stems.


There are some fantastic recipes in this book and some really creative ways to use even the most common of vegetables. The best part: none of the ingredient lists are extensive. I found that I had most of the ingredients in my pantry that were listed in the book! Sometimes the careful curation of ingredients in a cookbook is what ends up making it the most useful book on the shelf.


Another aspect that I picked up while reading is that there’s a lot of give with many of the recipes. Linda includes tables of ingredients in the front that work well together. For example – and I’m really excited about this one – she’s got a mix-and-match-style pesto recipe. Pick your ingredients from the table, blend, and eat.


A few days ago I had picked up some beautiful portobello mushrooms in preparation for dinner tonight. When I saw that basic pesto recipe, I decided that I had to try it out as a portobello burger topping. I didn’t have basil – and that’s okay. In fact, the whole point of her pesto table is that you’re encouraged to use other vegetables and greens to pull together a delicious condiment.


Using The CSA Cookbook as a guide, I pulled out some cilantro, spinach, walnuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil. Not your classic pesto by any means! Pulsing for a few seconds in the food processor, I had created a delicious spread for those portobello burgers. I love that Linda’s book encourages you to contribute some of your own creativity in the kitchen.


A few words about the style of recipes. The recipes are definitely plant-centric. It’s not 100% vegetarian: there are a few that include meats. For those of you who love your meat, there are a handful of recipes that will appeal to your tastes – but I don’t think you’ll miss the meat all that much. For those of you who are vegetarian – you can always forego adding the meat. The real star of these recipes are the vegetables anyways!


Interested in picking up your own copy? Check out The CSA Cookbook‘s page for everything you need to know! (Plus some interior shots of the book!)

I was given a copy of The CSA Cookbook in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own, and I think this book rocks!

practice gratitude

03 20 2015.

Gratitude - Send Cards

As I’ve mentioned before, Fridays are my rest days. Every morning, I look at my calendar to see what I have in store for the day. I’ve done hill climbs, speed work, endurance runs, and yassos – yet no daily task varies as much as Friday tasks do.

And for this reason, I love them. I opened up TrainingPeaks this morning to review my rest day assignment.

GRATITUDE! Send (or at least write) thank you notes to at least three people.

Kelsey Abbott, Find Your Awesome

I have a lot to be grateful for. I consider myself to be a lucky person, graced with many fantastic, inspiring, and selfless people in my life. Though I wasn’t immediately certain of who I was going to write to, I knew that I’d have no shortage of words.

The thing is, I was actually nervous to write. Writing thank you notes in such an out of the blue fashion seemed really awkward. I wasn’t sure how to start them. I considered starting with a disclaimer – hey I’m supposed to be writing thank-you notes to people so here goes – but that felt like I was undermining my gratitude and seemed entirely less authentic.

After sideways glancing at my stack of cards all day, I finally just said eff it and wrote. I decided to write on a piece of scrap paper first, rather than in the card itself – not convinced yet that my words would be worth sending. And I love everything that I had to say. It was completely honest and I set my reservations aside very quickly.

I wrote out four cards to four very special people. People who I am so very thankful to know and love; people who don’t often get to hear my thank yous because they’ve become (unfortunately) silently understood. Having written out the words – words that I will be sending – I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to say those things.

For the privacy of the recipients, I’m not going to share what I wrote here, but I want to strongly encourage others to thank the people around them. For doing absolutely nothing – and everything. It’s empowering and actually somewhat relieving to finally say things that needed to be said.

And send ’em snail mail style. Mail is exciting. You can hold it. It is precious, like the words you wrote.

It’s been forever and a day since I talked about my Sugarloaf training and just general life updates. So let’s jump right in!

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loving – daylight savings! I’d take dark mornings in exchange for light evenings any and every day of the year. While it’s unarguably easier to wake up to a warm, sun-filled apartment – I’m not a fan of leaving work in the dark, let alone running in the dark! I did catch a beautiful sunrise this morning, though, which I would have missed prior to the time change. Is it too soon to say that spring is here?


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readingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I just started it so I have very little to say so far. But, I’ve seen this book everywhere. Friends and other bloggers seem to all have read this book and say that it is, truly, life changing. One of the things that I’d like to accomplish this year is to get rid of a lot of the clutter in my apartment – unneeded things. I’m hoping that Kondo’s book will provide me with not only the motivation, but also the method to do this right. On queue: Dan Barber’s The Third Plate. I can’t wait to read this one. Em recommended this one and I trust her opinion completely. (She was the one who urged me to read Born to Run and Eat and Run – two of my favorite books!)


eating – everything in sight? I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting lately. I got myself a cast iron pan and made a really delicious frittata topped with smoked paprika! I’ve also been using the Spiralizer a lot more lately. Despite those two really awesome inventions, my diet is still mostly bananas and oatmeal.

learning – about food blogging! I took a food blogging class on Saturday and it was phenomenal! It was taught by Susan and Ted, two established chefs/photographers/bloggers from Spoon and Shutter. I had a great time. We talked a lot about recipe creation and appropriation, blogging ethics and, of course, photography! Susan baked up a delicious looking (and smelling!) rice pudding and we were given the opportunity to photograph the process for practice. Ted took photos as well, so we were able to watch his process. I’ve got some plans for Spice & Dice as well as another project involving food, so stay tuned!


recovering – from a really, really long run. Sunday morning I ran 15 miles! I’m getting to the point in my training where every mile beyond 13.1 is a new “longest run” for me! And that’s exciting. It’s not without a bit of pain, though. Running on snow and ice is actually pretty tough. It takes a toll on my knees (shorter, more cautious strides) and feet. When I returned from that run, I felt an odd sensation on my left foot. I removed my sock to find that I broke a toenail – right in half! It’s not as gross as it sounds, it doesn’t actually look bad at all. It just hurts a bit. It’ll probably bruise – but I can’t help but feel a little proud of my broken toenail. Does this mean I’m a real runner now? Was that my initiation?

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I wanted so badly to wear my running tights to work because my legs are stiff. Tights aren’t exactly work appropriate, especially since a client is coming to visit today – so I compromised. I traded my comfy pants in for compression socks. No one will know! (Except you.)

loving – a CLEAN FRIDGE! After my run yesterday, Darren and I did a deep clean of the kitchen. Mostly the fridge. This involved removing everything from it, scrubbing the shelves, and tossing lots of old food. I had a berry mishap (I’m not even kidding when I say this) two months ago where a huge bag of frozen berries spilled all throughout the freezer and into the fridge. We had been finding berries stuck to the bottom of some of our fridge items for a while. Finally, on Sunday I decided it was time to…actually clean up the berries. Please don’t judge me on my half shelf dedicated to butter. The fridge was so messy that I had two whole boxes of butter unopened in the back and didn’t realize it, and I don’t like the taste of butter, so unless I’m baking, we rarely use it.


listening – to This American Life’s No Place Like Home. Last year, my boss helped Portland establish the slogan Portland, Maine. Yes. Life’s good here. He shared with us a presentation about town/city slogans. One of the things that he mentioned was that many many many MANY places use the “Hello” song – altered slightly – for their slogans. This episode of TAM brings that up right in the beginning! I love when little details like that come full circle.

The many faces of Kelsey. Late 2011 – 2015.

This weekend I purchased Andie Mitchell’s book It Was Me All Along after discovering her blog a few months ago. To be honest, her posts always spoke to me – as a fellow someone who’s been through my own issues with food and weight loss.

Her words are so beautiful, her book so raw and honest. I love the story that she’s told. As I was reading, I related on a level that I didn’t expect to. I recognized similar patterns, while less extreme, that I experienced while growing up. Though I’ve never dealt with what is classified as disordered eating, I’ve certainly struggled.

In honor of Andie’s courage to share her story about her history with food, I feel compelled and inspired to share mine.

Deciding to live a healthy life is more than just working up a sweat by getting my body moving every day. It has a lot to do with what I choose to eat. Looking back at my eating habits in college, it’s no wonder that I gained weight and had high blood pressure. Changing my diet has made me a true believer in healthy foods for both the body and the mind. I’ve kissed my hypertension goodbye. I’ve lost weight, improved my skin, become a happier person. I have energy. I sleep 8 hours a night and wake up before 7 even on the weekends. While I used to get sick 2+ times a year, I rarely ever get sick anymore – and if I do, it lasts only a day or two. I attribute all of those things to a well-balanced and nutritious diet.

There’s a point in most peoples’ lives where they exit childhood and enter a stage of greater self-awareness. At this point, you learn what is in the food that you eat. You don’t just learn about calories and nutritional value, you understand them. You recognize – though hopefully not obsessively – the content of what you’re putting in your body.

Though I was an “A” student and paid full, uninterrupted attention in health class, I think I breezed through that phase a little bit too quickly. I never ever exercised. I didn’t enjoy sports. Without worrying about it, I never gained weight. I figured that I was destined to be thin. You’ve all heard the story. Until college, my weight was pretty constant.

As recently as three years ago, my diet was out of control. I’m not talking about binge eating or indulging too much on desserts. I just truly did not care about what I put in my body. I figured that I was eating foods that were good for me (and for the most part, they were!) and no harm could come from that.

However, I disregarded the beer and cocktails, the appetizer-before-dinner-before-bedtime-snack pattern that was emerging, the meat-centric style of meals that I was consuming. I loved to eat. I still love to eat. I just didn’t think that what I was doing was harmful or unhealthy. I’d sit down to a healthy dinner and used the health factor as an excuse to pile a bit more on my plate. My favorite food at the time, sushi, was supposed to be relatively healthy. So I ordered a lot of it.

My (now ex) boyfriend’s family loved food as well and hosted two family dinners each week that included drinks, lots of appetizers, a big meal and often dessert. One of the meals was the “take out” meal, where we’d choose between pizza or Chinese food. I was – more often than not – stuffed by the time the appetizers were put away. Yet I always found more room for the main dish and dessert. I don’t even want to crunch the numbers to figure out the calories, the sugar, the fat that I was consuming in one meal alone. But after four years of that, I had gained 15 pounds!

My struggles with food and exercise really started when I turned a new page. The day I decided to change up my eating habits back in January of 2013, I went from eating enough to feed two to eating so. very. little. It was a drastic change. I was so hungry. All I could think about was my hunger. I’d spend my free time perusing healthy recipe websites so that I could have my meals all planned out ahead of time. If I hadn’t planned it, I didn’t eat it. Of course I was still participating in the two large family dinners a week. I would stress about it all day leading up to it. I made a special trip to the grocery store to buy seltzer and vodka so that I could have a “healthy” drink option. (I didn’t and still don’t like vodka at all.) I went into each dinner with a “plan.” I limited the number and type of appetizers I could eat. Vegetables with a healthy dip were okay. I would allow myself to sample one of each “new thing” at the table (new crackers, new veggie straws, etc) – since the family prided themselves on finding fun and interesting foods. I would allow myself a small portion of the dinner. And I’d take the dessert home “to go” in hopes that someone in my family would eat it before I gave in to the pressure. I was probably eating 1200-1600 calories a day, which is not nearly enough, especially at the rate that I was exercising.

Examples from my 2013 food tracking.

I took photos of all of my meals and kept a food journal. I weighed myself almost every day before breakfast because I weighed the least in the morning. I kept an exercise journal. (At the very least to satisfy the list-maker in me.) There was no such thing as a rest day at the time. (Heaven forbid I eat more than I burn.)

I was a mental mess. I was headstrong – but too headstrong.

Like Andie, I, too had an all-or-nothing mentality when it came to keeping the weight off. I either succeeded, or the day was ruined. I either ate healthy and exercised and had a calorie deficit for the day, or I went over by a lot. I was petrified that I would gain back the weight. I was afraid of unhealthy foods and desserts. If I accepted a treat, I felt wracked with guilt for hours. I’d feel so guilty, I’d exercise (sometimes for the second time that day) purely for the sake of burning the dessert off.

I remember retreating to my room during a commercial break of The Biggest Loser (a show that I watched with my mom) to do some situps. My mom happened to walk by and see me. She poked her head in and told me, “Don’t get obsessed like this, okay?” Without saying more, I knew what she was talking about. That’s all it took for me to be able to see myself properly.

I just didn’t understand weight maintenance. In my mind, if I wasn’t losing: I was gaining. There was no in-between. When my mom made that statement, I realized that I was over-involved in the weight loss process. It shouldn’t have been on my mind as much as it had been. It shouldn’t have dictated my emotions. It shouldn’t have controlled my depiction of what a “bad” day looks like versus a “good day.”

Looking around me, I realized what healthy truly looked like. Healthy was happy. Healthy was eating good foods, eating enough, and eating intuitively – not by the numbers. Healthy was exercising because it made me feel great, not because I needed to create a calorie deficit for the day. Healthy was forgetting the calories.

I don’t track anymore. I will admit – sometimes I do glance at the nutritional value of certain things, as should many health-conscious people. I don’t own a scale. I have no idea how much I weigh at the present moment. My desire for a healthy body has transformed from a purely visual goal or number on the scale to a fixation on what’s going on inside.

Spice & Dice meals

I eat because it’s my fuel. So that I can run. So that I can hike. So that I can feel energized, not weak and devoid of life. I eat immediately when I get back from a run: a recovery drink or a snack so that I can heal my body and get back out there and do it again soon! I eat when I’m hungry. I sometimes eat when I’m not hungry! I eat because I love to cook and bake and I love to sample. Food is a passion of mine.

Yes, it took experiencing extremes from overindulging to obsessive restricting to finally see what moderation was. I can recognize when I’m swinging too far to one side and know how to balance myself out.

I’ve learned to eat based on feel. I eat foods that make me feel good. I eat until I’m no longer hungry yet not overstuffed. I don’t need extra servings just because the people around me do. On the flip side, if I want extra servings, despite a lack of interest around me, well I’m going to go ahead and have extra servings! I’ve learned what my body needs and what I want versus what I feel pressured to have.

The funniest part about all of this is that I don’t regret any of it. I’m thankful that I’ve experienced life on both sides of the coin. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve learned from them. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for my body because of what it’s been through: what I’ve put it through. I now know contentment and satisfaction. I’ve discovered a deeper love and respect for food through its creativity, nourishment and social qualities.

Most importantly, I know what it feels like to eat too little, too much, unhealthily and healthfully. That’s why I’m passionate and committed to whole, healthy foods. That’s why my meals are plant-centric. That’s my promise to myself and that’s what you can expect from me.