Mental Health is a funny thing. It’s something that’s very important to maintain, but is not the focus of a lot of people’s lives. And it is something that can be looked at as a problem “other people have”, but not me. Actually, a lot of people suffer from anxiety or depression and not even know it, they just push their feelings aside in hopes that they subside. People may cope with their anxiety by spending money, drinking or eating, instead of facing what really has them upset. It can be a vicious cycle, and before we know it, we can be in a very dark place not knowing how to get out.
I’ve taken the past two months off from almost every aspect of my life: work, blogging, even cleaning my house! I needed some time to focus on my mental health, as I have recently been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, depression and have been classified as a manic spender. I was actually surprised by that last one! Even though I know I tend to spend more money than I should. I have really begun to accept that depression and anxiety are something I am going to have to manage the rest of my life. But, it’s a new year and I have some decisions to make! Or not make, I guess 🙃 but I want this year to be different! I don’t want to be anxious about my life, and I want to live as minimally as I can. I don’t want the stress of a job or big life decisions to be the focus of my thinking. Most importantly, I want to spend time in my kitchen, cooking and getting back to the foods I love the most, sharing them with the people I love the most. I want to spend hours talking with friends and family, over wine and foods I cooked from scratch. Playing games and talking deeply about God. I want this year to be about intentional relationships. The verse I have on this blog is Ecc 8:15 “eat, drink and enjoy the life God gave you”. That is what I want to feel deeply this year, I want to purely enjoy my life this year. That’s not a bad New Years resolution right?? What is your New Years resolution? I would love to know!
I’m looking forward to a year of cooking, blogging, fellowship and being mindful. I’m hopeful for a good, restful year. Happy New Year to you!
Foodie Highlight of the 2017 Holiday Season:
Family Weekend in Glenwood Springs, CO. I think we may have found a new holiday tradition! It was such a refreshing experience, swimming outside in the middle of the mountains in super cold weather, surrounded by Christmas lights! But this wouldn’t be a food blog without talking about a new food experience. Recommend by the locals, we visited Slope and Hatch for lunch, a gourmet taco and hot dog restaurant. A super tiny venue that was packed from the time we arrived to the time we left. The food was amazingly tasty! They had a unique menu filled with different varieties of tacos and hot dogs, definitely not your usual boring meal. I had to try both of their plant based tacos: a falafel taco and their coconut curry tacos. Definitely a change from rice and bean tacos. My favorite was the falafel taco, as I just love tzatziki sauce and fresh herbs! The coconut curry tacos had amazing curry flavor, but combined in a tortilla made this taco super filling. But totally worth it 😋
Hey there! I know it has been almost 2 weeks since my last post and I apologize for that. My life has been non stop and crazy booked, I haven’t had time to sit, or even have a glass of wine. Some may not think that’s a bad thing 🤗 teehee. Between picking up extra shifts at work (oh I don’t know why!) and the everyday life of being Noah, Abagail and Liam’s mom, and Levi’s wife, I have been working on my admissions essay for a graduate program I am applying to. And it has had my brain all over the place! Trying to get my brain back into “school, paper writing and homework” mode has been taxing! But, also it just seems perfect. I always joke that if being a student was ever a profession, I’d be employee of the month every month. I love school. I love the organization that comes with it, the deadlines and creating papers that have my voice, thoughts and ideas all over them. I love making my brain work. Not that being a mom doesn’t make my brain work, believe me it does! But there’s something about learning that always leaves me wanting more, hungry and thirsty for whatever is out there in the world.
Speaking of being hungry and thirsty, and making my brain work, I had the privilege to provide the food for a women’s retreat at my church this past weekend. I cannot tell you how excited I was to be asked! The retreat fell between two shifts at work (and anyone who knows me knows that I work those lovely 12 hour shifts through the night at a hospital), so sleep was hard to come by this week, but that’s ok! I got to create a menu, put a schedule together on how to get all of the food made during the craziness that is my life! I was able to cook, chop, dice, stir, blend and bake, and write out name tags for the food and share what’s in it (do I sound like a nerd yet??). But most importantly, I got to share the kind of food that I love to cook the most, while (hopefully) blessing 30 women/moms on a day retreat. I’ve mentioned before that food brings us together, it allows for fellowship while nourishing and fueling us. It opens us up somehow, gives us comfort, and helps us feel connected with those sitting with us around the table. And I got to be there and witness the new friendships being planted or old ones being fed (figuratively and literally!). As I sat down for a meal with the ladies of my church, I was so thankful to be there, to be present with such amazing, wise, loving people. And the yummy noises were pretty cool too! It was such an honor to provide the food for this retreat.
This was the first time I’ve catered an event or party that I made everything. And let me tell you, it felt so good to do that! Although, my kitchen looked like a bomb hit it…..sacrifices right? 😝 I was asked to make the morning break snacks and lunch. The snacks were easy to come up with: fruits and vegetables were the obvious choice. But I also wanted a special treat for the ladies, something that hits the spot but would also provide them with energy and not drag them down. That’s where chocolate chia pudding with coconut whipped cream comes in. Loaded with omega-3’s, it was the perfect treat to accompany the morning snack.
I had a lot of fun creating the lunch menu, and by fun I mean wracking my brain for the perfect lunch, trying recipe after recipe, searching for the perfect combination. And course, I wanted the menu to be plant based. I went back and forth on making casseroles, lasagne, or soups, food that is made in bulk and can easily feed a crowd. But, I settled on something a little more simple, something that wasn’t as complex as my multi ingredient cowboy lasagne. While reading through a delightful, easy mom recipe cookbook I recently downloaded onto my kindle, I saw a recipe for cold cucumber soup and it hit me: finger sandwiches, salads and soup. Not to mention chocolatey treats! Such a perfect pairing for a Saturday retreat lunch. Simple. Nummy. And not too heavy, like any casserole would have been. And the prep work for a menu like this, was manageable with my hectic week. I was super excited!
I made two different kinds of finger sandwiches: cucumber dill with a vegan mayonnaise. Who can go wrong with those!?? And carmelized onion with humus sandwiches. A couple of years ago, I had a tea party themed party for my daughter’s birthday, and I discovered these hummus sandwiches. They are so simple to make but so full of flavor! Everyone at the retreat loved them and were as astonished as I was that carmelized onions and hummus paired so well together. I made the sandwiches with Sprouts’ whole wheat bread. I also had a gluten-free option made with Canyon Bakehouse Bread. I like to know going in what food allergies people have, so I can make sure I have something that they can eat.
I made two huge, nummy salads: my shredded kale salad , and a lemon herb quinoa salad, made with 3 different kinds of herbs, white beans, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, quinoa and arugula with a lemon balsamic dressing. I looovvveeee that salad. It’s becoming my go to for parties and gatherings.
For the soup. Oh the soup. By far, my favorite thing that I made. I wrote a blog about Manna Restaurant and in that blog, I talked about a cold strawberry soup I tried there. I absolutely loved that soup, and the concept of it. So, I decided to make it! Made with creamy coconut milk, and a hint of orange juice and cinnamon, the soup was a perfect start (or middle or end!) to lunch. I had the soup waiting for the women at the table, served in individual portions, topped with a little orange zest.
Now, for the chocolate. Every women’s retreat needs a plethora of chocolate, right? Or any Tuesday? 😂 I chose to make two vegan chocolate banana applesauce cakes, one with a fudgy date frosting. I love this cake because the ingredients are simple, and it’s clean: no oil, dairy or eggs.
For a gluten free option, I made rich chocolate brownie bites, coated with melted vegan dark chocolate. The secret to those bad boys? They are made with black beans 😋
I walked into the kitchen of the church Saturday morning, hauling in all of the food I prepped. It took me a couple of hours to put it all together, but I had so much fun doing it! The kitchen was quiet, and I was able to take my time. There was no need to rush. Against all odds, I pulled it off. And the women really enjoyed my food, saying that they really love food that makes them feel good and doesn’t bring them down or make them sleepy. To them, it was delicious! And I was able to make it without any animal products, refined sugar and oil (well, mayo excluded!). I will try to get those recipes up in the Vault recipes page soon.