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Simple Summer Pesto

09 September

endless summer blogpost imageOn Sunday, Liz’s and my families swam full-on in the ocean: over our heads, floating in the waves, staring at blue skies and a nearly empty beach. A storm had just blown through, and another was on its way, but the sun revealed itself for a perfect window of an hour. And we seized it!

As the swells bobbed us up and down, my heart filled with a wave of gratitude and I drank in the beauty and bounty of the moment.

Seconds later, a giant and unexpected sadness welled up inside of me. I couldn’t name it, and I didn’t want to think too much about it, so I pulled it up from my gut, pushed it out of my mouth, and shouted, “Summer isn’t over!!”

I really don’t want summer to be over. I’m not ready.

Since it got summery warm in April, I have been undergoing one of the most intensely transformational periods in my life, and, for the first time, I am truly inhabiting my body and my life.

I enrolled in the Duke Professional Training Program to become a Certified Integrative Health Coach. It’s hard to describe the intensity of this work, the quality of instructors, the level of bonding I have experienced with my peers, and the tremendous content of this program.

It’s work that is changing me, literally, from the inside out.

I am learning to be a true coach: to partner with people to help them articulate their vision for their health, and then move towards that vision with confidence.

And I am also engaging in the work myself, as I explore my own health behaviors, and make slow, incremental changes towards my ideal health vision.

It’s easy to give myself an A+ in the food part, working every day to eat the way my body needs, cook nutrient dense foods, tune into new sensitivities, and enjoy the process of food preparation and nourishment.

And it’s easy to convince myself that with the nutrition piece of the pie in place, I am healthy. Or at least on my way to eating myself there.

But there are so many aspects of health, and many of them I am fantastically good at avoiding.

I looked deeper into the Duke Wheel of Health, and realized I was missing a key component to making my health vision a reality: mindfulness {a concept I had read about and wished for for years!}.

Mindfulness is learning to pay attention to what is happening in the present moment, without judgment.

There are many benefits to engaging in a mindfulness practice, but I was particularly interested in the idea that being in the NOW could help me make changes to the behaviors and thought patterns that were no longer serving me.

It has been 6 months since I have clicked into this concept, and woke up to my life!

According to my husband, I am more patient, calmer, and am more at ease in the day to day. Inside of me, in my best moments, I feel a strong connection to my self, a knowing that everything is ok, or at least is going to be ok. Life just feels so much more…manageable. And I feel healthier and stronger in my body. It’s kind of magical!


So what is it that’s bringing about this change?

A handful of small action steps that are moving me towards greater awareness, and eventually will get me to my vision for myself: a happier, more connected, and calmer me that is positively joyful about the simple and lovely things in life:

  • When I wake up, I try to listen to, and feel, what is happening around me: serious snuggles with my sweet little boy, rain against the window, my husband whistling in the kitchen. Sometimes I smile before I even open my eyes.
  • When I feel anxious and stressed, I breathe into the feeling, releasing it from my body. Then I practice letting go of the unproductive and irrational thoughts that loop in my mind. Sometimes I have to do it a dozen times before they start to fade.
  • I look at the sky at red traffic lights, and allow my brain to let go of thoughts for 30 blissful seconds. It beats being frustrated with the traffic, plus it’s safer than texting!
  • On Wednesdays I meditate with Liz for 20 minutes at GRUB (it’s a free practice, and you are all welcome to join us!).

This summer season has been challenging. None of this change came without tears of frustration, and sadness at all of the life I had missed while I was busy being anywhere but in the present. Plus the many days battling resentment, wishing I didn’t want to move towards more awareness, and, like a rubber band, snapping back quickly and aggressively into old habits and behaviors out of rebellion and fear.

But I have also loved it, and will always remember this as a summer of great transition. It could not have come during a better season. Summer in a beach town demands some stopping and enjoying. If you choose it, it cradles you in the Now.

That same day I declared that summer isn’t over, I also picked the last of the basil.

My summer condiment of choice has always been pesto. It has a nostalgic value for me that is unmatched by many other foods. Every week I harvested from the 3 basil plants in my yard and the 8 at the community garden, and whizzed it up into a perfect paste for topping any bowl of food, spreading on flatbread, and whisking into dressing.

I made 2 half pints after I got home from our beach swim, one to enjoy during this week that feels like the last of summer, and one to freeze for when I need a reminder of how fragrant, pungent, raw and delicious this season of change has been.


What are your small, simple steps to mindfulness?  Do they include fresh basil?

Pesto Collage

Simple, Summer Pesto

2 cups packed basil {feel free to augment with other fresh herbs, spinach, or even kale}
2-3 cloves garlic
¼ cup nuttiness (toasted pine nuts, hemp hearts, or even pistachio)
squeeze of lemon
sea salt, black pepper
¼ cup cheesiness (nutritional yeast if dairy free, Parmesan if not!)
½ – ¾ cup good quality olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a  food processor.
2. Pulse until well combined and chopped.
3. With the blade running, drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream, and process until desired consistency.

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Ryanna Battiste, Integrative Health Coach

Ryanna is a coach, accomplished speaker, and recipe developer with extensive experience helping women cultivate a mindset of self-love so they may heal and thrive while developing new habits in the kitchen.

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6 Responses to “Simple Summer Pesto”

  1. JZD September 10, 2014 at 2:49 am #

    You know what’s so great about pesto, Rye? It lets you seize the moment – the beauty – of every season. Basil is bright and sweet and summery. Carrot tops are herbal and fresh. Kale is earthy and deep. Dandelion is spicy and tart. As much as I try to preserve summer (and I do, freezing and pickling), there’s a freedom in letting it go and embracing the new moment. Cheers to you – your journey is a constant inspiration to me. xox JZD

    • Ryanna Battiste September 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      JZD: Carrot tops?! I’m so excited to try that next! “Letting it go and embracing the moment” sounds like another way to practice that present moment awareness I’m after. 🙂 Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. Cheers to you, sweet lady. I hope all is well on your fantastical journey! ~Rye

  2. Donna Robinson September 10, 2014 at 5:19 am #

    Good stuff. Summer has slipped away from me. I will honor summer by making pesto before the basil is finished. Thank you for recipe.
    I hope to be more mindful going forward. Thank you Rye.

    • Ryanna Battiste September 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

      Donna, Your reply, honest words, and intention to make pesto show that you are cultivating that mindfullness. Thank you for sharing! And enjoy that last taste of summer.

  3. Christy September 10, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Great post!!! Mindfulness is a goal of mine as well. Your explaination of the process and the struggle is perfect.

    • Ryanna Battiste September 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      Thanks Christy! I’m glad the post resonated with you as you work towards your own goal of cultivating mindfulness. 🙂 ~Rye

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