Preparing for Nepal and Mood-Enhancing Pesto!

In 5 days I leave for Nepal and I am excited! I‘ve also been crazy busy and somewhat stressed. In addition to a spike in client workload, I’ve had book related meetings, video shoots, and blog and recipe creating projects. If that were not enough, I needed to get in all last minute doctors appointments and blood work before Obamacare kicks in and my coverage changes. I also had friends in from out of town a couple of times and that led to more socializing in general. I’ve been so frenzied that I haven’t even packed for my trip!

For a minimalist trip such as this where the weight of one’s rucksack is everything, you would think it easy to bring just the essentials. But it is that exact challenge that makes packing so difficult! What do I bring on a trip that requires I carry everything I need on my back at oxygen-depriving altitudes? How many socks, underwear, walking pants and t-shirts will I need along with the smallest bar of soap on the planet? It’s firmly established that there’ll be no need for a blow dryer or makeup, so I am assuming that evening attire is moot. Aside from that, I have no idea what to leave behind. At the moment everything I think I’ll need is spread out on my floor and although sparse, it’s still more than I care to carry. Mercifully, I have a lovely and chivalrous boyfriend who insists on carrying as much of my stuff as he can in order to lighten my load.

There’s a lot to coordinate when traveling for three weeks, and as a result, my sleep’s been off, and stress has been a little more perceptible. To help modulate my mood, I’ve been really focusing on including calming foods into my diet and practicing some of the habits I know to be helpful for managing stress. I have an apple with almond butter and a tablespoon of flax oil daily,  and salmon three times a week. I’ve also included more sweet potatoes in my diet as well as my carrot-tarragon soup—all delicious ways to stay grounded.

Today’s recipe was a result of need and intention. I’ve been intentional in my selection of calming foods while needing to clean out the pots of herbs I grew this summer. In keeping with the medicinal pesto theme of last week, I decided to make use of some of the lavender and left over basil to make a calming and nourishing version of the classic that can boost serotonin production and help offset some of the effects of stress. The lavender will help promote a more restful sleep while the cashew nuts (rather than the standard, pine nuts) are a nice source of tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to serotonin. The combination makes this pesto a perfect sauce to use at dinnertime to help get you relaxed for sleep.

If you are keeping to a low-carb lifestyle, then use a dollop of this pesto in a nice vegetable soup. Or if you’re really feeling anxious and stressed and need more of a serotonin boost, then combine it with rice pasta for a very delicious, hearty and calming pasta dish.

This version is more fragrant and somewhat sweeter than the standard pesto, but will satisfy and titillate nonetheless while delivering a good dose of calm…


I’ll be posting from Nepal, so watch out for updates from there. Have a great week everyone—and stay well!


Lavender Cashew Mood-Enhancing Pesto

Lavender and Cahsew Pesto

  • ¼ cup lavender
  • ¾ cup basil
  • 1-cup raw cashews
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Blend together in a food processor or Vitamix. Yields just above one cup. Store in refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for up to one year.

Share Your Thoughts...

18 comments on “Preparing for Nepal and Mood-Enhancing Pesto!

  1. AvatarGeorge

    Hey B what are you doing I have friends that call me from there it’s crazy Off the hook. God willing things will settle down before your arrival….remember G did the chapter that you are about to do do under Better weather circumstances… to do what you got to do so keep on trekking and be safe~~~Om Mani Padme Hum~~~

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez R.Ph. M.S. Post author

      Thanks George! I’ve been checking with TAAN and as far as I know ABC is open it’s the circuit that’s closed, so hopefully we’ll be ok. If not, we’re prepared to do different treks and perhaps go to Chitwan as an alternative. I heard there is a really funky hotel situated in a jungle or something like that. Either way, it will be a fun trip and I am open to wherever the experience takes me. Hope all is well with you and your son!

  2. AvatarBrenda Crawford

    I am halfway through my own three week vacation. Just finished 12 days in a surf camp in Sumatra, and now on my way to Thailand and Cambodia. I packed too much clothing, but it turned out to be just the perfect amount! I was able to give away several items that the Villagers were all too happy to receive. Now I am traveling light the rest of the way. Seeing the look on those sweet peoples faces, made me want to give them even more. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive! My husband gave away all of
    his surf shorts and rash guards, with a big smile that still has not left his face!

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez R.Ph. M.S. Post author

      That is so nice to hear Brenda! That is my plan too… to leave everything behind. Your trip sounds wonderful! I was in Cambodia last year and LOVED it and Thailand is definitely on the list!
      Thanks for your comment!

  3. AvatarDavid W - UK

    Thanks Barbara, I’ve been so anxious this past week and so that’s definitely a recipie I’m going to try. What parts of the lavender plant should I use?

    Hope you have a fantastic trip, love your updates and advice – can’t wait to hear how things go in Nepal…

    Safe travels, God Bless

    David ;o)

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez R.Ph. M.S. Post author

      Thanks David! I had the pesto the other night with a minestrone soup I made and it was outstanding!! I loved it even more than the sage pesto from the week before~ I used all the leaves and soft stems. I have a vitamix so it blended well. If you have a standard blender then use the leaves.
      In what part of the UK do you live? My boyfriend lives in St Helens and he is the one I am traveling with.
      Thanks for your comments and enthusiasm~ I hope the pesto is helpful~

      1. AvatarDavid W - UK

        Hi Barbara, I just love this recipe – thank you SO much!

        Your trip sounds just amazing – I’m a huge fan of hiking, have completed the St James Way in Spain the other year, South Downs Way this year and planning the North Downs Way and hiking in the Yorkshire Dales. There’s nothing like being out in nature and connecting with the environment on a long distance trail. What a blessing!

        As for me, I’m in a little place called Willingdon, on the edge of the South Downs National Park and Eastbourne, East Sussex.

        Awesome that you guys got together accross the pond and now share Napal – amazing life long memories in the making!

        Best wishes and prayers for the rest of your trip!


        1. AvatarBarbara Mendez R.Ph. M.S. Post author

          Thanks David! It was an amazing time! I have plans to do the Camino at some point but may defer it for later in life and in the meantime try to keep up with Fozzy and do more arduous journey’s until then. When in England we hike the Lake district often and I love it there~ Thanks for your good wishes! I appreciate your enthusiasm for my blog~
          Wishing you all the best!

  4. AvatarJorge Mendez

    Nice recipe, I will try it when I get back home. It is good being busy with good projects, and definitely going tracking in Nepal sounds like fun. Not for me or your mother, but I know it is the sort of thing that you enjoy the most.
    I wish we could take you out to dinner in your way to the airport, but I promise we will do it upon your return.



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