Salmon Panzanella

Summer is here, summer is here! This is one of my all-time favorite Summer recipes, and I've been making it for years. It is THE taste of Summer to me. The original recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Eating Well in Season and it's honestly so perfect I don't think I've adapted it too much...primarily just the bread preparation. This is one of those dishes that is perfect for a romantic dinner for two out on your patio on a warm evening or great for a Summer party since it scales up well and doesn't need to be served warm.  It's easy to make, healthy and super delicious...this is one recipe that you'll keep in your Summer rotation for years to come.
Kicking off 2015 Right!
Yoga at Amansala Bikini Boot Camp, May 2014

Yoga at Amansala Bikini Boot Camp, May 2014

I love January.  As much as I love the holidays (and wow, do I LOVE the holidays!), January is never a let down for me. Why? Because there's nothing I love more than a fresh start. A chance to re-examine things, make some changes and believe that you can stick to them. Now, I'm not talking about resolutions per se...I've never really been into those...but I am talking about habits and lifestyles and changes for the better both big and small. I truly believe that every day I wake up is a new opportunity to be the best version of myself, and January is like the ultimate new day! Not surprisingly, a lot of the changes that I start thinking about each January have to do with food, health and fitness.

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.
Lucky New Years Day Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Good luck for the year if you eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day!

Good luck for the year if you eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day!

Every New Years Day for years now I've been making something with Black-Eyed Peas.  It's a Southern tradition that eating them on New Year's Day brings good luck for the year, and while I'm certainly not Southern I like fun food traditions so I've adopted this one as one of my own. Unfortunately, most of the recipes I've tried over the years have underwhelmed me.  They've either been too complicated for the end result, too unhealthy with loads of bacon, or just downright bland.  Until last year!  So since I've finally found a go-to Good Luck recipe I thought I would share:
Garlicky Red Lentil Soup

This is one of our favorite lentil soups. If you've never cooked with red lentils before, they may be a bit harder to find but they are worth the hunt. They cook up softer than green or brown lentils and I think they have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Most health food stores carry red lentils these days, including Whole Foods.

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. 
The Key to My Healthy Eating…Sunday Prep
Sunday prep sets every week up for success!

Sunday prep sets every week up for success!

It's really easy to fall into the trap of "too busy" and let the simple but important things in life get left behind.  You know what I'm talking about...the gym, taking walks, reading for pleasure and most importantly for me, healthy home-cooked food. It happens to the best of us, but the Girl Scout in me knows that preparation is your best friend for these situations.  So over the years I have developed what I consider a fool-proof plan to ensure that at the very least I'm eating healthy, homemade breakfasts, lunches and dinners throughout most of my week (leaving room of course for spontaneity and fun!). I'm not going to go into the dinners...because honestly that's what my weekly menus that I post every Sunday are all about so I think you all get my strategy there.  Plan the full week of dinners in advance, do all of the grocery shopping at once and then just stick to it ensuring you plan your leftovers for the busier nights of the week. If you're new to SavoryGirl here is my original post explaining my weekly dinner menu philosophy. What I haven't shared is what I do for weekday breakfasts and lunches...it's pretty simple and many might call it boring but I figure weekends, dinners and eating out are where I get my variety so if being a bit boring during the weekdays keeps me healthy so be it!

Breakfast...my go-to  choice here is a smoothie and a hard-boiled egg.  The beauty of this plan is that I make a full batch of smoothies up and boil/peel all of my eggs on Sunday so all I have to do is grab them out of the fridge in the morning and enjoy while I'm getting ready (see - efficient with morning getting ready time too!).  My smoothies are pretty straightforward...for 5 smoothies I puree 2-3 bananas, a mix of 2-3 frozen fruits (blueberries, pineapples, peaches, mangos, whatever you prefer), about a cup of OJ, another 1-2 cups of almond milk, a Tablespoon or so of wheat germ and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.  If you want higher protein then you can also add a couple spoonfuls of almond butter or peanut butter. Basically you want a full blender to make 5 servings...then pour them into 3 glasses (freeze the other two so they last until the end of the week) and put saran wrap on the top, making sure to push the saran wrap down to the surface of the smoothie so no air gets in and pop them in the fridge.  For the eggs I simply boil them up, peel them, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and pop them in an air-tight container in the fridge.  In the morning I just microwave my egg for about 20 seconds (I prefer them a bit warm, stir up my smoothie  (they can separate a bit in the fridge) and enjoy!  All of this prep takes 20 minutes max once you get in a routine.  Easy breezy.

Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes

This is our absolutely favorite side veggie dish and if you've been following my menus at all you probably already know that!  You've seen roasted rapini and tomatoes  on my weekly menus a lot so I thought it was about time that I tell you how I make it. It's super simple and once you try it I bet it will end up as a part of your regular rotation as well. 1 large head of Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rabe) 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes (or large tomatoes cut into small chunks) 1-2 TBS olive oil 1 tsp garlic powder salt & pepper to taste Preheat the oven to 400°F
Disappearing Zucchini Orzo with Grilled Shrimp

This is an oldie but a goodie that I found years ago when I read one of my now favorite books Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It is a super simple, healthy and delicious dinner.  Perfect for a warm summer night…particularly late summer when you're just starting to get sick of zucchini.  If you eat seasonally like we do, in the early summer it's hard to imagine you'll ever get sick of zucchini since it's been so long since you've had it…but it can happen!

So if it happens to you whip up this dish,  because as the name of it suggests, the zucchini kind of disappears within the orzo and it helps you use up lots of zucchini if you're lucky enough to have one of those neighbors who keeps bringing you baskets- full!  It's also a great dish if you're trying to sneak some veggies into the kids as I know you parents often need to do.

The original recipe can be found here, but I've also copied it below with a few very minor adjustments (including the addition of grilled shrimp).
Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup with Spring Peas

I know, I know...soup often isn't top of mind as we head into the warmer Spring and Summer months but this soup is so refreshing because of the fresh lemon that it really works all year long.  The original Bon Appétit recipe doesn't call for the addition of Spring peas but I think they brighten up the dish even more. I also made a few other small tweaks, so my adapted version is below:

The 2013 Whole Living Detox – Week 2 Update

The 2013 Whole Living Detox is still in full swing in the SavoryGirl household...two weeks down and one to go!  I'm still feeling pretty great...the turbulent tummy and headaches of week one are gone and I'm still sleeping really well. I'm not waking up naturally as easily and early as I did week one, but I guess it's to be expected that your body would adjust. I don't think I've lost any more weight but I have maintained the same weight since week one so certainly not gaining any back. Week two brought back gluten-free grains, fish and the sweet relief of real breakfast again which made me extremely happy.  Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day so the smoothie-only breakfasts of week one were a little tough!

The Cardamom Quinoa Porridge with Pears and Toasted Almonds shown above was really good and probably something I'll continue to make even after the cleanse is over. Kind of like oatmeal, but a bit lighter and more savory. Christian could practically live on pancakes so he was thrilled to see them included in this week's menu and these healthy Banana-Oat Pancakes with Orange Segments and Honey did not disappoint! Nice and crispy on the outside (which I love!) and fluffy on the inside.  The only thing we would likely omit next time around is the coconut...the unsweetened coconut flakes that we can usually find are just too large and firm so it kind of messes up the texture you're looking for in a pancake.

One of our first meals this week was this Baked Salmon in Coconut Broth served with brown rice and thinly sliced carrots, red onion and bok choy.  In theory this sounded delicious, in reality it was a bit bland. So we had to really season up the broth with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Once we did that it was quite tasty and clearly a very healthy and wholesome meal.

The 2013 Whole Living Detox – Week 1 Update

Week one of the three-week Whole Living Detox is behind us...no sugar, no coffee, no gluten, no processed foods, no dairy and no meat. Week one is the hardest and still, I have to say I'm feeling pretty great! Sleeping better than I have in years, waking up without an alarm every day at 6:30am...seriously, and I'm a big sleeper. I never wake up early on my own no matter how early I go to bed so this is a hugely noticeable difference and a pretty unexpected benefit. I will admit, however, that the first few days of  Week 1 weren't all easy. My energy levels were pretty low, I had more headaches than usual and the stomach was pretty turbulent for most of the week, but all of those early cleanse side effects have almost fully disappeared by now. And to top it all off, I've lost 4-5 pounds this week!  To be clear, I am not doing this to lose weight nor was I expecting to lose weight since this detox isn't calorie restricted at all and I'm working out less due to low energy, but it was certainly a nice surprise.

So, on to the important stuff...how has the food been? Honestly, completely delicious...not a dud recipe in the bunch. The one thing that was tough was having only smoothies for breakfast...left me pretty starving by lunchtime but I think that ends this week. But before we head off to Week 2 here's a run-down of some of our favorites from Week 1: