I could not have been happier to say goodbye to 2014. 2014 was a pretty trying year for me, and that is totally fine. Once in a while you need those years to kick things into perspective.
As you may have read from my instagram, my mom went back into the hospital the week before christmas. Just hours after we picked out our xmas tree and decorated our home with garlands and nutcrackers together, I was driving to the hospital, trailing an ambulance, for what I thought would be an overreaction on my part to a cold or flu that mom was coming down with. It turned out to be much more serious than that, and much more serious than her first time in the hospital. That was a vey hard day.
I tried as hard as I could to forget that is was christmas all-together this year, to save myself from being a bah humbug in future years (keep in mind, I am a lover of xmas, so this was not easy). The holiday music and decorations everywhere made that pretty much impossible, so I decided that instead of forgetting it …. I was going to embrace it. The good things, the selfless giving and kindness parts. It was the first christmas in my adult life that I did not give gifts, and it gave me a totally different perspective on things, and life. STUFF. Stuff that does not matter, and stuff that does matter. Living a life with purpose and a full heart, matters …… STUFF, does not matter. We both know that, but sometimes it takes an event like this to give an extra reminder.
Be kind. Love with all of your heart. Do things matters, and don't worry about the things that don't. Always give it your all every single day, because if life changes, you will look back with little regret. This is my new years revelation. Things that I hope to remind myself of much more often.
You know what else matters? Food matters. It's what fuels us, it can keep us healthy (if consumed properly), and it connects us to our loved ones as well as strangers. On xmas eve, we wanted to be close to the hospital and my mom, so Michael and I had a quiet dinner at a restaurant nearby. I don't know if it was because of the oh-so-many hours spent in a hospital, but that meal tasted soooo damn good. Maybe my levels of appreciation were heightened, I was finding it easier to appreciate a lot more of the little things with my new perspective. We made a few friends at the bar seats around us, and by the end of the night, some carolers sang a few songs that we requested. It was perfect and magical in it's own quirky way.
Now more than ever, I am trying to keep my health in check, starting with the food I am eating on a daily basis. This is not a new thing for me, or a new years resolution …. instead, I am just emphasizing the good things that I already do, so I do not fall into a hole of unhealthy habits - as anyone can very easily do when life gets stressful. My health is #1 right now, because I need to be healthy to be there for my mamma and the rest of our family. Healthy should always be a priority … not just a new years resolution.
So, I am going to start this year off by sharing a salad …… because salads are what I eat for lunch, and salads are what I eat to keep healthy in check. And this one happens to be extra delicious too.
Happiest of new years to you friends. I am sure this one will be wonderful, and healthy one for you and me.
squash salad with lentils + pomegranates with a roasted garlic cashew cream
SERVES // 2
2 delecata squashes (or 1 acorn or 1 small butternut squash), de-seeded and sliced or cubed
a couple tablespoons of olive oil
a sprinkle of herbs de provence
salt + pepper
1/2 cup of french green lentils, rinced
2 cups of water
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
5-6 kale leaves, ribs removed and finely chopped
about 1/2 cup of purple cabbage, finely chopped
for the roasted garlic cashew cream:
1 head of garlic
1/2 cup of cashews (soaked for about 3 hours, or as long as you can)
1/4+ cup of water
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of brags amino
Roast the squash + garlic:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400º.
- Place the squash onto a roasted pan and toss with the olive oil, herbs de provence, salt, and pepper.
- Prepare the roasted garlic by slicing off the top (the pointy part opposite the root) just enough to expose the ends of the garlic cloves. Then, wrap the garlic in a small piece of parchment and then wrap it all up with a piece of foil. Place on the same pan as the squash and roast it all in the oven.
- Roast for about 30 minutes then check both the squash and the garlic, They will likely have slightly different cook times (garlic will likely take a little longer) so remove them accordingly. The squash should be browned around the edges and the garlic cloves should be very soft.
While they are roasting, cook the lentils and prep the kale and cabbage:
- Place the lentils and waters in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. You want the lentils to be tender, but still have a bite to them. Drain and rinse.
- Place the chopped kale and cabbage in a salad serving bowl and set aside.
When the garlic is done, make the cashew cream:
- Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, then remove the cloves from the skin and place them into a blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients for the dressing. Run the blender on high until you have a smooth consistency. If you need to, add more water little by little until you have the consistency you desire (but be careful you do not add too much water), you want it to have some thickness to it.
Assemble the salad:
- Start by dressing and massaging the greens. Pour a little less than half of the cashew cream over the kale and cabbage, and massage it in using your fingers. Sprinkle the pomegranates on top and finish with the squash. Drizzle the last bit of the cashew cream over top and serve immediately.