This year, however, my focus is a bit more on mental health than on food, physical health or fitness. Why? Because I feel like I inadvertently dabbled in this space a lot in 2014 as I went through my hardest year yet. And every time I dabbled, it felt really, really good. So good that I want to make this focus a more central part of my life and routine. In 2014 I crossed an item off my bucket list and went to Amansala's Bikini Boot Camp, I took a 6-week meditation class, I got back into therapy after 10+ years off, I read a couple of really empowering and fantastic books (The 5 Things We Cannot Change and Nonviolent Communication for those interested) and I just genuinely focused on improving myself in areas where I was feeling a bit shaky.
So to start off 2015 I'm heading to a 3 day yoga and meditation retreat to try to lock in all of that cumulative goodness that I acquired in 2014 and really start this year off right. I'm super excited to take a solo and leisurely drive up the coast, have a few days with no cell service, practice lots of yoga and meditation, eat all organic, vegetarian meals, have time to hike in beautiful Salt Point State Park and then cozy down each night with a good book and a warm bubble bath all while surrounded by the beauty that is coastal Northern California. I mean really, doesn't that sound divine?
But before I head out, I thought I'd leave you with a few links to my blog posts, below, summarizing what I focused on in January 2013, two years ago. That year the focus was on food, so I did the 3-week Whole Living Detox which was amazing. A lot of prepping and cooking each Sunday, but so worth it as you'll see in my four summary posts below which are chock full of all of the amazing recipes and photos. And the three habits that seemed to make such a difference for me back then, I'm proud to say are still 80% a part of my life 2 years later! When I return from my 3-day yoga and meditation retreat I'll be picking out a few of my favorites from that detox to include in my weekly menus throughout the rest of January to keep my healthy momentum going, so stay tuned.
This soup recipe is from the cookbook, Soup; Superb Ways with a Classic Dish, and is super easy to make...well beyond mincing up two onions. Get out those swim googles so you don't cry like a baby and risk chopping your fingers. It does take about 90 minutes to cook though, so best to make it on a weekend and eat it as leftovers during the week. It holds up well for about a week and also freezes perfectly...I often make a double batch.
Tortilla Española...truly no tapas party is complete without this (above). It is a signature Spanish tapa that you will find at every single tapas bar throughout the country. While it doesn't sound particularly exciting (essentially a potato & onion omelet), trust me on this one...it's always a huge hit. This one always feels a bit scary for people to make, review the step by step photo recipe attached in the linked recipe...it's really pretty simple and straightforward if you take it one step at a time. And just be bold with the flip...own it and it will go perfectly! Traditionally it's served on top of a thin slice of bread but you can eat it on it's own as well (which I prefer).
Shrimp, Salmon and Egg Pintxo - this was my favorite of the entire spread! Not surprising since it's a pintxo which is the Basque version of tapas and I studied abroad in Basque country. So this was more reminiscent of the tapas that I ate while living abroad. Slightly more complex and often including amazing seafood. The viniagrette that you make for this pintxo is to die for and I've been putting it on everything else since (it makes a ton though so you could 1/2 it if you want to). KILLS me that I've lost my pictures of my favorite tapa...guess that means I need to make it again ASAP so I can share the photo!Pancetta Fig Crisps - ok, I took some liberties with the word "tapa". This technically isn't Spanish but it is an appetizer that I've made several times and is always a huge hit so I decided to include it. Delish as always.
It makes me feel connected to my Italian roots and think back to the amazing two trips I've taken to Italy. I'm fortunate enough to have actually visited the Ligurian region of Italy and enjoy truly authentic Ligurian Pesto while there...so I'm excited to bring a taste of that amazing vacation back home with this recipe! Since heirloom tomatoes are in season right now (along with all of that basil I needed for the pesto!) I tossed some chopped tomatoes into this dish to brighten it up a bit. Sometimes pesto can feel a bit indulgent with all of that olive oil and cheese. Add a glass of Pinot Grigio and you have a happy Italian SavoryGirl!
The pesto recipe that I used can be found here. I typically use the pasta recipe right in my Kitchen Aid manual, but this is a pretty similar recipe. Mangia!
It's been years since I've bought dried pasta. That may sound impressive, but when you try to make it yourself once and see how easy and delicious it is I promise that you'll be making your own pasta too. The trick is that you need a pasta roller...it can be a hand roller or an attachment to a fancy kitchen aid. In my opinion, the latter is well worth the investment. Back to the pasta...the great thing about pasta is you pretty much always have the ingredients you need to make it in the house. Flour, eggs and water. That's pretty much it! Give it a quick mix and knead and then roll it out and your ready to cook. We often make double batches of the dough and freeze it in single serving sizes so we can quickly thaw and roll it out with even less work for future dinners. The difference between dried pasta and fresh pasta is amazing...try it yourself, you'll see!
The original recipe calls for topping the lasagna with herb feta cheese, but over the years we've decided that we like it better the traditional way so we just put lots more mozzarella on top. We also always make our own lasagna noodles vs. buying store bought...which means no pre-cooking of the lasagna noodles required! That was always one of the biggest pains of lasgna to me...cooking the noodles, then keeping them moist enough while you layer so they don't all get stuck together but also waiting long enough so your not burning your hands. Issues! So homemade noodles are the way to go in my opinion...preferably wheat.
The most labor intensive part of the recipe is julienning the beets and carrots, but if you're like me and you find chopping kind of soothing and relaxing you won't mind it. If you're not like me and even if you're not super handy with a knife it only takes 20 minutes max. Oh, and if that's the case, a quick definition - julienne means to cut into small match-stick shaped pieces.