Market Minestrone

Market Minestrone

A variation of a classic minestrone soup. It’s packed with super green nutrients for increased energy. Use whatever you find at the farmers market in season. 

Serves 4

Soup Ingredients

4 -6 cups vegetable stock, recipe below

1 bunch asparagus, tips only

1 bunch of spinach, or kale, chopped

2 cups english peas

1 head fennel, sliced, then chopped

4 garlic cloves, smashed with salt

1 spring onion, minced

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 lemon, juiced, plus zest

1 cup olive oil

1 tsp. salt or to taste

1/4 cup parsley,chopped

Pesto Ingredients  (Optional)

Bunch of basil leaves, 25 leaves

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup parmigiano reggiano, or nutritional yeast

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted 4 minutes, dry pan

1 clove garlic

squeeze of lemon

Preparing Pesto

Mix all pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse. Leave a bit chunky. Do not over mix, it will make the pesto taste bitter. Set aside.

Preparing  the soup: 

Add half of the olive oil to a hot pan on medium heat. Add the onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add smashed garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp salt. Add fennel and saute 5 minutes. Add warm stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach, asparagus, peas, and the rest of the olive oil. Simmer for another 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat. Add lemon juice, zest, and chopped parsley. Taste again for seasoning.

Add half of the pesto and mix into the soup. Put soup in bowls and top with more pesto.

Easy Vegetable Stock Recipe: 
In a soup pot on medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Then add 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1 turnip, 1 white onion, 2 leeks, 2 twigs of thyme, a handful of parsley, 1 garlic clove, 7 whole peppercorns, and 1 tsp. sea salt. Add 6 cups of filtered water and simmer for 1-2 hours. Strain Vegetables. Broth keeps in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freezes up to 3 months.

Buon Appetito

For scheduled Cooking Classes in Asheville, Visit:

Plant Based Living

Plant Based Living

 A plant based diet comes with a multitude of flavorful health benefits and little to worry about.

Food For Thought? Nutrition for mental health…

Think of food as the foundation to getting us back to where our mind and body naturally wants to be. I like to call it good mood food…  

It wasn’t that long ago, if someone dared to share that what we eat connects to how we feel, we might have been labeled one of those new age people. A new field of psychiatry is showing some exciting links between what we eat and our mental health. Thank goodness science has caught up with the divine wisdom of nature.

Did you know that eating certain foods like refined processed carbohydrates such as white bread and sugary foods can zap your energy and give you brain fog? 

~  In addition to adding on some extra pounds.

Let’s clear up the carb confusion. Some trends suggest that carbs are the enemy. I disagree, at least a little. I admit I do pay attention to my carb intake. However, If you are eating whole foods, picked at the right time, grown in a healthy environment, you don’t have to obsess about it. For example: complex carbs like whole starchy vegetables, and grains are a healthy source of carbohydrates, and gut loving fiber, and have a host of health promoting nutrients for the mind. 

I can not hide how happy it makes me to cook and eat with the seasons, knowing my body is getting exactly what it needs, and when it needs it. The biggest joy for me is to explore and share the delicious pairings of seasonal ingredients with friends and folks like you. 

Oftentimes, there are very small windows to create with a seasonal ingredient.  Asparagus and English peas come to mind. Which has me thinking of one of those perfect pairs to cook a delicious Spring Minestrone. 

So Go Cook!  Make something that nurtures you and the people around you, with the intent to inspire and nourish your soul.  Explore, laugh, daydream, visualize a beautiful day, and remember to take notes… Journaling is a wonderful way to inspire new ideas, especially when the fog is lifted.

The key thing to remember when embarking on a health journey is to be patient with yourself, as your body needs time to physically adjust to the changes in your diet as well as maintain this new healthy habit.

To get you started, here are some perfect pairings that will decongest the body, balance the gut flora, and feed it delectable important nutrients that increase energy, therefore increasing the quality of your life. Who doesn’t want that?

Foods to boost daily energy ~

Grilled Radishes with Herbed Yogurt (a beneficial probiotic for the gut)

Steamed Salmon over English Pea Puree, with Tarragon Lemon Clarified Butter 

Market Minestrone

To your good health ~ If you are a curious cook, join me on my Podcast  ~ A taste for All Seasons ~

It is a cooking, cultural, and inspirational way for us to explore the world of food. And… as always, l will share a seasonal recipe, cooking tips, and kitchen essentials that will inspire you in the kitchen.  All recipes at

You can listen to all the shows, on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and Google Podcast.  We talk to local farmers, and wellness experts, where you can learn how to cook your way through the seasons. 

Laurie Richardone is a seasonal gluten free chef and certified health coach.  

To work with Laurie, visit

Women Making Music – Abby Bryant

Women Making Music – Abby Bryant

We’ve been “friends on Facebook” for the past few years, but we’d never met in person until a few months ago. We were invited to a mutual friend’s house with several other female musicians. Abby’s aura is warm and inviting. Everyone’s taller than me, but she’s a good bit taller. She bent down to keep me from having to stretch up for a lovely-to-meet-you-in-person hug, and a gesture like this is not lost on me.

Post release of Abby Bryant and the Echoes’ 13 track debut, Not Your Little Girl, she called me from the road for our interview. We began our conversation before a show they had that evening and she’s excited, blessed and grateful for the large audiences they’ve been attracting. 

My aim for this feature is to skip the incidentals. You can read her bio on her website. What I want to do is dig into each of the tracks on NYLG, giving my reaction to each one, and getting her responses to share with you. Abby agrees and clears us for take-off. 

The debut album is heavy emotionally, but throughout there’s hope, joy and liberation. “Challenges expressed in an inspiring way” is how she summarizes the crux of the record.

Track: Not Your Little Girl

P:  This feels like a celebratory liberation song; especially when the horns kick in.

A:  I wrote this song as I was first navigating the music industry. Especially because I’m young, I often hear conflicting voices spouting every type of opinion. I liberate myself from the opinions of others as best I can. This song is me finding my own voice in there. The horns especially express the positive take I’m going for just the same.

Track: Tried

P:  Confronting the conundrum of breaking up and how taking the high road is a good strategy when faced with questions from friends about the reasons why. 

A: Of the different facets of breaking up, the social piece of the break up is hard. When someone can’t control what you do or say anymore, they’ll respond to that by trying to control how other people see you. While that can be hurtful, time will reveal the truth as long as you stand there with integrity.  

Track: Better Now

P:  Now you’re feeling trust again. 

A: It’s about a mix of core people in my life. Allowing myself to trust means I allow myself to thrive. It’s also about my business partnership and longstanding friendship with Baily Faulkner (her co-founding friend, co-writing partner and lead guitarist). 

Track: When I’m Gone

P:  I’m inspired to call this an “exit” anthem. That trying to hold you back in any situation, only makes you want to break free. Here’s another example of you taking the high road with someone who’s been oblivious to accountability. While listening to this, I actually pictured you throwing open the storm door of your house, sauntering down the steps and onto a side walk, and as you stroll you begin boogying to the beat of your own song.

A:  What you’ve imagined is right on with what I was intending with this song. But I also hope people take what they’re hearing and imagine what they will, cause I’m okay with any interpretation. 

Track: Had To

P:  Being you, doing you is not a slap in the face to anyone. Sometimes you have to make decisions based on the natural next step in your life. 

A:  That’s very true. It’s about making tough choices and sitting in your own resolve about what you need to do in your own life, in your own career. But it’s also about the pain that comes in the aftermath of changing something that wasn’t working. 

Track: Hold Me

P:  It’s such a fine, melancholy groove. “That you’ll long for me, way after I’m gone” from the chorus struck me. That use of the word “way” really sticks with me. The vocal improvisation at the end too, was super compelling.

A:  We spent a long time on that ending with the backing vocals and it’s a special moment on the album. It’s about deeply connecting with someone even though circumstance and lifestyle can’t sustain it. It’s a song of longing and hoping I stay on that person’s mind.

Track: Roll with Me

P:  The first time I ever heard your band was from a YouTube video, and you’re performing this one live on the ‘Floyd Fest Bus Stop.’ I thought what an appropriate tune to choose to do on the bus! 

A:  (Laughing) I get happy just thinking about that bus stop recording session! We had just played to one of our biggest crowds when they invited us to play on the bus. We ended up winning the “artist on the rise” prize that year. It was a really big day for us; even more then I realized at the time. 

Track: Love Crush Blues

P:  I hear a double meaning on this one. It’s a revelation every bit as much as it’s an accusatory lament.

A:  It’s a song that describes a sort of pre-teen, preconceived notion that I was going to one day be magically swept away by love and romance. And I come to realize that that doesn’t necessarily happen for everyone. “If I want love, I can only love myself” is the bottom line.

The Last 3 Tracks

A: *Keep Moving is about our resilience and our determination as a band. *Time Wasn’t on Our Side is the most personal and vulnerable track. It’s a mournful acceptance of when things don’t align. 

*I’m Telling You has a jubilant groove. It contrasts the struggle with its joyful sound. It mirrors my personality. There’s a lot going on in my mind and there’s always a lot I could complain about but I’m also pretty good at laughing things off cause riding the highs and lows of this business is so crazy and it’s so easy to get caught up in that rollercoaster ride. It’s a tough skill to master, but the middle ground for me is laughing with my bandmates. 

Visit her website for tour dates and links to streaming platforms and to pre order the album: 

Peggy Ratusz is a vocal coach, song interpreter, and songwriter.
For vocal coaching email her at

Superfood Green Smoothie

Superfood Green Smoothie

Start the day with a nourishing nutrient rich green drink. Add a banana for a kid friendly smoothie.

Serves 2

2 cups organic spinach, or kale

1-2  cups nut milk or coconut milk, recipe for nut milk below

1 tsp. grated turmeric

1 tsp. grated ginger

pinch of black pepper

2 tbsp. hemp seeds, or chia seeds

1/2 tsp. cinnamon,or cardamom

2 medjool dates, pitted, or fresh berries

1 granny smith apple, cut into pieces (to replace other fruit, this is lower in sugar)

1 cup hot filtered water, in cooler weather for blanching greens

Add On ~ For gut health, add 1/2 cup goat yogurt

1 tbsp.raw cacao nibs, optional

Optional: Pour hot water just before boiling over spinach or kale. It is good for digestion.

Add to a high powered blender with all the other ingredients. Blend well. 

Homemade nut milk:  1 cup of raw nuts such as almonds, cashews,or  macadamia nuts, soaked overnight in filtered water. Drain. Add soaked nuts to a high power blender with four cups of fresh water. Add a pinch of sea salt, and a dash of vanilla. Blend well. Keep refrigerated for up to 5 days. If nuts are not your thing, make hemp milk. (1 cup organic hemp seeds, 4 cups filtered water, pinch of salt, ½ tsp. Vanilla) Blend very well.

For Almond milk, you might want to pour it through a cheesecloth or sieve, for creamy milk. Press down with a wooden spoon. Discard remaining pulp. If using a Vitamix, omit
this step.

Spring Clean Your Health

Spring Clean Your Health

As we contemplate the arrival of Spring with childlike anticipation, there are many reasons to love this time of the year.

It’s the season of possibility…

We have long awaited entry into more daylight, and this is a boost to our mental health:

Schedule in some time to walk around the neighborhood and take in the greenery, and bursts of color, that start to blanket the city. This will surely lift the spirits, in addition to lowering cortisol levels, the stress hormone.

Spring is a favorable time to rethink our diet with lighter seasonal ingredients.

Rest assured, There is no “right” way there is only what works for you.

Go on an internal quest, with a hint of curiosity, and an intrepid explorer. It will reveal what your body is asking for.

Checking in with yourself with a quiet mind is a wonderful way to cultivate intuition, and is a beneficial practice for your wellbeing: as it opens the doors to clear decisions.

Once we know what is best to feed our body each season, It does take a bit of discipline to shift what we normally eat.

After a long winter, there’s nothing more welcome than celebrating spring with the sight and flavor of new colorful, tasty ingredients: arugula, mustard greens, asparagus, and peas are all starting to come available at the farmers markets. 

The good news is:  By eating with the seasons it will create a reset both in the mind and body. This way of feeding ourselves adds to better digestion, which all supports an uplifted frame of mind.

Tips for Success

One thing that helped me was to keep a journal of everything I ate in the day.

Also, noting what is going on when I crave certain foods?

If I am feeling stressed or sad, I lean into unfavorable choices.

We all do this to some extent. Be gentle with yourself! We can always start anew.

It’s helpful to have someone hold you accountable, like a good buddy or a health coach.  Personally, When I have someone that I am accountable to, I am more likely to be set up for success.

It doesn’t have to be a daunting task to make a shift in your health, you can start by incorporating one small thing at
a time.

What if? It is as simple as having a twelve ounce glass of fresh lemon water upon waking, before that yummy cup of coffee, or tea touches your lips.

I love starting the day with an energizing green smoothie: made with plant based protein, such as hemp or chia seeds, a bunch of leafy greens, and a couple of nutritious Medjool dates, or a handful of berries. It’s more delicious than you might think.

During this wonderful time of renewal, allow fresh Spring ingredients to clean out the habits of winter.

To your good health ~

 If you are a curious cook, join me on my Podcast  
~  A taste for All Seasons ~

It is a cooking, cultural, and inspirational way for us to explore the world of food. And… as always, l will  share a seasonal recipe, cooking tips, and kitchen essentials that will inspire you in the kitchen.

You can listen to all the shows, on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and Google Podcast.  We talk to local farmers, and wellness experts, where you can learn how to cook your way through the seasons.

Laurie Richardone is a seasonal gluten free chef and certified health coach. 

To work with Laurie, visit 

Get Away Without Going Away

Get Away Without Going Away

Family vacations are a great way to bond and take a step back from the hectic schedules that accompany everyday life, but sometimes time or money (or both) make planning an elaborate trip a non-starter.

However, a staycation – a vacation you take right in your hometown (or nearby) – can be much less expensive and fit into nearly any amount of available time with the added bonus of skipping out on potentially stressful travel.

Consider these staycation ideas to take advantage of your local area’s attractions and prove you don’t have to go far to spend quality time together.

Visit local landmarks. Just because it’s not a traditional vacation doesn’t mean you can’t pretend to be tourists. Start by visiting the places you recommend to friends and family from out of town or pick up a city guidebook to uncover hidden spots you may not even know exist. Make a plan to seek out historic sites, visit local landmarks like museums or try an out-of-the-way restaurant (or two) you’ve never eaten at before.

Camp out in the backyard. Camping doesn’t have to be done far from home. In fact, it can be done right in your own backyard. Pitch a tent to sleep under the stars and plan a night full of traditional camping activities like roasting s’mores, telling spooky stories by flashlight and trying to identify stars and constellations.

Set up a picnic in the park. Pack a basket with sandwiches, fruit and other treats and head to the park. You can enjoy a casual meal then take advantage of the open space for a family walk or game of tag before retreating to the playground to let the little ones expel any leftover energy.

Have a home spa day. If you’re looking for some relaxation but don’t want to splurge on the full spa treatment, plan an at-home oasis instead. Light some candles, run a bubble bath and break out the facial masks and fingernail polish.

 Visit an amusement park. No matter where you live, there’s probably an amusement or water park within driving distance. A quick online search before you arrive can help prepare a strategy for hitting the most popular thrill rides and waterslides while skipping those that may not provide quite the same entertainment value.

Find more tips and tricks for enjoying family time together at