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FD Healthy: Curry in a Hurry!

By: Rachel "Wizard" Hogan

Rachel Hogan here, aka FD Chef Wizard! I am so excited to share this fan fave recipe that is sure to warm hearts and tummies!

After a life altering illness left me wheelchair bound for a few years in my early 20s, I became intimately aware of food and its relation to our body’s wellness potential and our mental health and human connections. I learned of First Descents in 2013 while attending a nutritionally based culinary school in Denver. After my first program (Sous Chef for surfing in Santa Barbara) I was hooked. I found the whole thing to be completely overwhelming, awe inspiring and life changing. You simply cannot un-FD…

Since then, I have worked programs all over the country, loving the creative challenge and wacky love fest that is an FD weeklong program. Programs truly are the wind in my sails and the uplifting energy that gets me through many challenging days in the “real world”.  When I am not #outlivingit, I am growing my career working in wellness as a Personal Chef, Craniosacral Massage Therapist and Health Coach. 

Being a bit off beat but totally earnest, I take a moment on the first night of a program to introduce myself and welcome participants to the culinary journey that is ahead. My goal is to allay any fears, let people know that this food is personal, that I’m not just preaching at anyone, and that I am there to support and uplift through food. In an effort to communicate how deeply passionate I am about sharing food in a way that is nurturing and soul satiating, I managed to tell 20 something strangers (soon to become family) that I was there to “make love to all of you. Through food…” Oh yes. I did say that! Slight looks of alarm and a bunch of giggles made way to full blown laughter as a bond was formed around campfire that night. And the magic that is First Descents was fully under way. Even now it gives me goosebumps– no, that’s not just the freakin COLD winter weather! But speaking of cold weather, let’s get to the tummy-warming food!

Don’t be afraid of the healthy fats, my loves. They are what our brains need to thrive! I adore this curry-ish style of cooking because it’s full of herbs and spices, paired with veggies and healthy fats. It’s also easy to add in a clean animal protein to round out the experience according to your dietary style. I’m giving you a protocol not a “recipe” for my curry-ish creation so that you can riff and create awesome dishes that appeal to you, with the guidance you need to not get lost along that way. So let’s go!

Wizard’s Curry-ish Protocol:


• Fresh garlic
• Fresh ginger
• Yellow onion
• Veggies you love! Think cauliflower, potato, frozen peas, cooked chickpeas, spinach, zucchini… the world is yours!
• Herbs of your choice
• Coconut oil
• Canned coconut milk, full fat
• Veggie broth
• Red curry paste
• Cooked rice or quinoa for your base


Start by making a garlic/ginger paste. This is done with equal parts of fresh garlic, fresh ginger and coconut oil- blend or utilize a food processor to make a smooth paste and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. (This mixture is amazing! Make extra and keep it on hand for roasting/sautéing veggies etc)

Next, get your pot really HOT. You will want a pot large enough to hold a saucy curry in the quantity you desire. Add enough coconut oil to cover the bottom. You want to hear the applause of the oil when you start cooking or it’s not hot enough!

Sauté your garlic/ginger paste until it browns a little. You will want approximately 1.5 tablespoons of paste per 4 servings. Make sure to stir and breathe in the fantastic aroma. I would wear this as a perfume if I could…

Add in red curry paste (store bought is perfectly fine) and diced yellow onion. Plan 1 tablespoon of curry per 4 servings, and onion to you preference. Brown slightly.

Now for the fun- add in veggies! At this point I love to toss in cauliflower chunks and potato pieces (bite sized) to coat in the curry/onion mixture. (feel free to add turmeric and a dry curry spice at this point if you like. It is your masterpiece.) Cook a few minutes until some yummy caramelization starts. Don’t worry- the pan will be looking really dry and funky. This is what you want!

Add in about 1 c veggie broth (per 4 sevings) slowly and scrape the bottom of the pan. Get all those yummy bits up. Let the liquid evaporate slightly and add in canned, full fat coconut milk. I usually use enough to almost cover the veggies. Simmer GENTLY until the vegetables are tender. Add frozen peas and allow to simmer 2 mins. I also add a TON of spinach and let it wilt in. Now it’s time to TASTE, TASTE, TASTE and season. You have fat and spices already- ask yourself:

Is it thick enough? (If not, simmer a little more). Is it too thick? (add broth) Is it savory enough? (Add salt) Does it need some acid to brighten it up? (lemon/lime) Is it flat? (maybe it needs more salt or a touch of sweet? Honey? Agave? Coconut sugar?)

Last step- HERB IT UP! Herbs are super nutritious and flavor packed! They add that fresh note and some amazing visual flourish. Don’t skip them. I love to mix herbs too- think a mixture of cilantro and parsley. Thai basil and chives more you? Do that! Follow your heart.

With these steps and this final bit of critical thinking, you will be able to make tummy warming, soul hugging deliciousness!

Enjoy over quinoa or rice, or just standing over the stove with the pot and a spoon. No judgement. And think about making any leftovers into a fantastic wrap or pita, if you have any left.

And since you CRUSHED that, here’s a program favorite sweet treat for you to enjoy…

Almond Fudge:

• 1 1/2 cups smooth almond butter
• 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

For the chocolate topping:
• 3 tablespoons coconut oil
• 1.5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
• 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• Coarse sea salt, for garnish (optional)


1. Lightly grease a standard size loaf pan (9″x5″) and line with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the length of the pan.

2. For the fudge: Spoon the almond butter into a large mixing bowl.

3. In a small pot, add the coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt (only the fudge ingredients here). Heat over low, until the oil is melted. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the almond butter, stirring as you go. Stir until completely smooth and combined. It’ll be quite runny at this stage.

4. With a spatula, spoon the almond butter mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth out. Place the pan, uncovered, on a flat surface in the freezer. Freeze for around 1 hour, or until the fudge is solid.

5. For the chocolate topping: In a small pot, add the oil and melt the oil over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the maple syrup, cocoa powder, and salt until smooth. I like to place the chocolate sauce in the fridge for several minutes until thickened slightly.

6. Slice the frozen slab of fudge into about 21 (1-inch) squares and place on a large plate lined with parchment paper, about a half-inch between each piece. Spoon the chocolate sauce on top of each square (a scant 1 teaspoon per square). Place back in the freezer until the chocolate is solid. Sprinkle on some flaked sea salt, if desired.

7. Break apart the squares of fudge (if the chocolate pooled at the bottom) and enjoy immediately. Return leftovers to the freezer.

Bon appetite!

To order a copy of our very own Out Cooking It with First Descents cookbooks, explore our FD Store.

Please note that First Descents does not conduct nutritional research studies, nor does FD encourage readers to ensue any dramatic dietary or nutritional shifts without first consulting a doctor or certified nutritionist.

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