First Times

September 22nd, 2015

This morning there was a new girl in yoga.

Our class starts at 5:00 a.m., but you can arrive any time. The New Girl came about 5:30, and the group was already entrenched in the rhythmic breathing of our individualized practices.

Without even looking up, I could sense that she was inexperienced, just from the tentative way she unfurled her mat. She warily claimed the space next to mine, careful not to take up too much room. She began moving self-consciously, hesitatingly.

I admit that for a moment I was distracted. A flood of empathy came over me as I remembered myself being “the new girl,” not just in yoga but at so many things. New in school, at a class, in a job. New at the computer, new at being a vegan, new in a relationship. It sucks to be green at something, partly because the things we’re experienced at give us such a contrasting feeling of competence and a sense of place. There is no feeling of belonging when you first lay your yoga mat down in a new studio or when you give your initial speech.

Still thinking about the topic, when I got home from yoga I looked in my archives and I found a videotape of the first recipe demonstration I gave, back while I was in culinary school. It was filmed in March 2007, over eight years ago. I’ve given hundreds of talks since, most (tho certainly not all) of them better than my maiden voyage presentation.

I had wanted to connect with New Girl after yoga today, but the moment did not present itself; she was done and gone before my practice was complete. I wanted to tell her to hang in there, to give herself a chance. I wanted to make a sweeping gesture at my fellow yogis and say, “every one of us has felt—and still sometimes feels—like a beginner, and as though we will never truly ‘get it.’”

Because I missed that chance today, I dedicate this message to anyone reading this who is trying, or even thinking of trying, something new. Know that you are brave, bold and daring. Trust that whether anyone says it to you or not, you are respected for your courage and tenacity and pluckiness. And believe that you will only be New Girl (or New Guy) for a short while. Just keep showing up.


Recipe from video linked above:


Yield: 1 1/2 cups (6 servings)




1 1/2 cups red bell peppers, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup pine nuts soaked, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup purified water, or more as needed

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, leaves only

1/2 tablespoon paprika

1/2 tablespoon hot mustard

1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic

1/4 teaspoon solar-dried sea salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 tablespoon agave nectar, if needed

Place all of the ingredients except the agave nectar in a high-powered blender, and puree until smooth. Taste the blended mixture and add up to 1/2 tablespoon of agave nectar if it needs more sweetness. Serve over vegetable dishes. Store in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two days.


This recipe may be thinned with water and used as a salad dressing for fruit or vegetable salads.

~Adapted from a recipe by Chef Cherie Soria

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Rise…and Shine!

August 28th, 2015

“The difference between rising at five and seven o’clock in the morning, for forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour at night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man’s life.”

~Philip Doddridge

Most people would identify themselves as either larks (early risers) or night owls. Several weeks ago, we asked Fork in the Road fans to tell us why they get up at the butt-crack of dawn and what they get out of it. Here’s what they told us, and some of the beautiful images they provided to help make the point.

Photo courtesy of Deb Dyar

Photo courtesy of Deb Dyar

Deb Dyar: For some reason, the most spiritual moments for me come in the early morning. Breathe deeply and experience the beauty.

*TerriWiebold sun picture

Photo courtesy of Terri Byrnes Wiebold

Terri Byrnes Wiebold: I wake up early on my own. My time then meditating and journaling sets the tone for the day. Each day this anchors my connection with the universal energy and flow of the day.

Kelly Bittner: I get up at 4:30am to go to kickboxing/strength classes. Initially, it was a struggle, but now I love being awake that early. I can take my time and not feel crazy rushed to get to work. Plus I have all the time in the world after work to still cook/meet friends/do anything. BONUS: it’s so peaceful in the morning. I love seeing all the deer and hearing the birds chirping.

Sue Goode: I love to see the sun rise…the quietness of the hour, preparation for the day. Prayer, exercise and meditation.

Photo courtesy of Tracy L. Kelley

Photo courtesy of Tracy L. Kelley

Tracey L. Kelley: Few things are as amazing as watching the sun come up, listening for birds, and having a moment of peace that sets the day in motion. Night has its own special energy, but I like who I am when I get up early instead of staying up late. I read, do yoga, take a walk or—if I’m really lucky—witness some pretty incredible scenes in nature:

Sarah Harding: My morning routine is essential. Getting up “early” for me means before the three kids and preferably 5 hours or more after going to bed.

Shirley Treanor: When I get out of bed early it allows time for me to take care of my sunflower garden while beating the heat of the hot summer days.  It is a good way to start the morning because it puts me in a meditative state and connects me to the plant kingdom.

Photo courtesy of Shirley Treanor

Photo courtesy of Shirley Treanor

Tiffany McSkimming: I love being up early. I workout first thing–P90x3 or Les Mills Combat, 30-45 minutes. I’m more energized for the day and able to handle life’s stresses better. It’s my “me” time to get focused in for the day!

Photo courtesy of Tiffany McSkimming

Photo courtesy of Tiffany McSkimming

Photo courtesy of Tami Thompson

Photo courtesy of Tami Thompson

Tami Thompson: I was really struggling with how I would capture the joy I have in early rising. Then I realized it would be simple. One of my very favorite things to do as a mom is watch my kids, especially when they don’t know I’m watching. And I love looking at their faces while they’re sleeping. This is pure joy and it is that joy I have when I get up early.

Jenny Comstock: I like to be doing one of four things as the sun comes up: yoga, running, roller skating or meditating. Sunrise truly is a magical time. If I can do something to nurture my soul right off the bat, I find I will continue to do so for the rest of the day.

Photo courtesy of Julie Poore

Photo courtesy of Julie Poore

Julie Poore: That still and quiet time before the neighborhood comes to life is a holy moment for me: To bear witness to all of creation coming to life. My morning starts with going straight to my yoga mat. Breathing in and out, deep into my lungs, is an act of gratitude for the breath and life. My morning ritual ends with the blessings of a shower. Water has always been a powerful element for me.

Photo courtesy of Diane Baker

Photo courtesy of Diane Baker

Diane Goodson Baker: I have always been an early riser—it is the best part of my day. I have more energy early for yoga, walks or exercise followed by meditation or gratitude journaling. I like to keep my life balanced and fun after years of deadlines and taking life too seriously.

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2015 Iowa State Fair Raw Food Winners

August 22nd, 2015

Forgive me for sounding press release-ish here: I wanted to make sure I got all the facts in.  Special thank you to our judges who gave up part of a Saturday to come taste all the wonderful entries. I am indebted! ~ Sheree


*2015 ISF Grand Prize presentationThe third “Eating Without Heating” raw food competition, sponsored by Fork in the Road, was held at the Iowa State Fair on August 22. To be eligible, entries were required to be both vegetarian and not heated to more than 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Judging criteria included taste, appearance and creativity.

The Grand Prize Blue Ribbon winner was Holly Houg of Des Moines, whose No-Bake Peanut Butter Cups won accolades from the judges. A Blue Ribbon was awarded to Lucas Burr of Iowa City for his Blueberry Fruit Leather. At age 15, Lucas is the youngest winner in the annual competition so far.


2015 ISF Blue ribbon boy

The 2015 Eating Without Heating judging team included:

Missy Keenan, a freelance writer, editor and user experience consultant living in Des Moines. Her professional projects include writing website copy, helping clients make their sites easier to use and writing stories for the Des Moines Register and other publications. You can see more about Missy and her work at

Laurie Moritz, a raw food chef, instructor and creator of Sweet Raw Joy, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa based line of nutrient-rich, full-flavored raw vegan desserts and raw stone-ground chocolates. She is a certified instructor for Alissa Cohen, raw food chef, teacher, and author of Living on Live Food and Raw Food for Everyone. You can learn more about Laurie and Sweet Raw Joy on social media or by emailing

Anne Rierson, Public Relations Manager at Frontier Co-op. In her role, she manages media, community and influencer relations for the co-op and its three national brands – Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia. Her Twitter handle, @Spicegirl, hints at her love of flavorful food. In her free time, Anne enjoys long-distance running and traveling with her husband, Jeff.

2015 ISF Judges - very intentThis years’ Blue Ribbon winners each received cash awards. Frontier Co-op of Norway, Iowa, provided a healthy living gift basket, which was presented to the Grand Prize Blue Ribbon recipient.

For information next year’s competition, visit the Iowa State Fair website after February 2016, or email Sheree at ISF Crowd + judges 2

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