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.