Oh man, I sure do love how Friday feels! Even when I have work or other projects lined up for the weekend, something about a Friday afternoon just feels so relaxing and inviting.
Ease yourself into the slower pace that weekends can bring. Plan a special mini-adventure of tea sipping, window shopping, flower smelling, beach bumming, star gazing or whatever you especially enjoy that takes you away from the daily grind for a couple of hours. Relax, you deserve it!
Behind every harsh self-criticism is a tender soul who just wants to feel supported. You, Dear One, have heard more than your fair share of criticism throughout your life, and it’s time you put a stop to it. Instead of being your own worst critic, become your own biggest ally. Abandon the nit-picking and instead offer yourself the grace you’d gladly give to your very best friend!
I want you to realize that you are no longer bound to impossible standards of perfection, no matter what that nagging voice from the past may say. You, Dear One, were created as whole and beautiful and strong and perfect already. Own it! Heaven looks at you daily and smiles like a proud parent. Release the reigns that you have been holding so tightly to and allow yourself to be free, make mistakes, and simply do the best that you can. After all, self discovery begins when self criticism ends.
Cooking fish can be tricky, but these two recipes for salmon will yield a perfect dish pretty much every single time. Be sure to select the freshest filet possible. I prefer wild caught over farm raised, but it tends to have a firmer texture and more flavor than farm raised. Either way, it should not smelly “fishy” and if it does, it’s been sitting too long to enjoy. Once you have your big beautiful filet home and in your kitchen, give it a good rinse in cold water and gently pat dry with a paper towel. If you feel any bones in the filet while rinsing, go ahead and pull them out carefully and discard. Now, all you have to decide is which way you want to cook it: in the oven or on the grill?
Perfectly Baked Salmon
Preheat oven to 375F
Place prepared salmon filet skin side down on lined and lightly oiled baking sheet
Bake uncovered 8-10 minutes; test to make sure it’s cooked through (no translucence) but not overcooked. 15 minutes should be the max for a thick filet
Remove from oven and let rest for a hot minute while you are plating the rest of your meal. Enjoy!
Perfectly Grilled Salmon
Get your grill good and hot
Place prepared salmon filet skin side down right on the hot grill (be sure to lightly coat salmon skin in oil and a bit of coarse salt)
Cover and let cook unbothered for 8 minutes; check to see if it needs a few more minutes (Skin will get crispy and lift off the grill easily when it’s done)
Remove from grill and let rest for a hot minute while you are plating the rest of your meal. Enjoy!
Perfect Salmon Preparations (always rinse first with cold water and gently pat dry with paper towel)
Asian Garlic Sesame
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds (white or black)
saute garlic in sesame oil for about a minute, then add in soy sauce and sesame seeds. Remove from heat, let cool, then pour over salmon to marinate.
1/2 lemon, sliced into rounds
3-5 pats of butter, depending on size of filet
3-5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
fresh cracked pepper
extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
lightly coat the salmon filet in olive oil (if grilling, add a bit of coarse salt to the skin as well)
sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper
arrange butter, lemon slices, and rosemary sprigs across top of fish
OMG. The flavors in this gluten free, dairy free dip are outstanding! The combination of sweet red bell pepper and nutty sesame seed from the tahini go great with crunchy crackers and fresh, raw veggie sticks. Consistency is on the thin side, not as thick as hummus or bean dip, so it also works really well as a salad dressing. Mmmmmmmmmm
Here’s the super simple recipe:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon EVOO
1/3 Cup organic tahini
1 Cup fresh sweet red bell pepper*, seeded and chopped
*for a smoother and smokier flavor, try using roasted red peppers from a jar
1 clove fresh minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
dash of low-sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos, optional
Combine all of the ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and whir until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Chill before serving, at least 30 minutes to thicken. Enjoy!
Whether you prefer a long hike or a gentle stroll, or even if you just want to enjoy a healthy snack to munch on at your desk or during your afternoon commute- my Goddess Trail Mix is an easy winner. It packs a high-energy punch, hits the sweet and savory notes, is low in sugar and high in good fats and even has tasty dark chocolate antioxidants. Gluten Free, Paleo friendly, and Vegetarian.
You can substitute different nuts if you prefer, such as walnuts or pecans. Here’s my super simple recipe:
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup natural roasted macadamia nuts
1/3 cup unsalted plantain chips
1/3 cup yogurt covered cranberries
1/3 cup dark chocolate covered coffee beans
Mix together in a big bowl. Transfer to smaller resealable bags or containers. Enjoy! Makes 1 dry quart.
So this morning, St. Patrick’s Day, I am facing one of my fears and sitting in the waiting room at the doctors office. Dermatologist, to be exact. Seems that having pale white & freckled Irish skin (or Welsh, or English, depending on which branch of Dad’s family tree I’m following) and growing up in sunny Southern California is more than challenging to the tanned, beach bunny stereotype. Add in growing up in the era of no sunscreen and generous pours of baby oil to sunbathe for hours on end, and it’s generally a pretty good recipe for some skin cancer.
So yeah, I’ve been avoiding this appointment for a few years. (Read: Forever)
Nonetheless, I’m here. I’m ready to get naked and super personal with a complete stranger. Hell, I’m even paying for the privilege! And though I definitely had to take some deep breaths in the car before walking in, I feel pretty lucky today knowing that no matter what she finds, I will be okay. If I get a diagnosis of skin cancer, if I have to face aggressive treatment, I will still be okay- because I am loved. Always.
I also bought a lottery ticket, just in case. Because you know what? I’m feeling Lucky.
I do love to eat a tasty dip! Even better when it’s healthy AND tastes great, just like my favorite Creamy Dreamy Carrot Dip. This one is Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo-Friendly, Vegetarian and Vegan. And it still tastes great! It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and a whole lotta awesome.
Here’s the super simple recipe. Enjoy!
One package organic baby carrots
1 clove garlic, peeled & minced
Juice of ½ a lemon
1½- 2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp cumin
⅛ tsp ground coriander
⅛ tsp smoked paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
Using either a veggie steamer or a large covered saute pan, steam the carrots until just soft (but not mushy)
Place the steamed carrots & any remaining liquid in a blender or food processor.
Add olive oil, minced garlic, dry spices, and lemon juice; blend on high until desired creamy texture.
Stir in salt & pepper to taste, then chill before serving.
Anger- there is no shortage of it. Even though for my own health and sanity I take care to spend the bulk of my time around people who are positive, mellow, and well-suited to handling stress, this powerful emotion is one that never seems far enough away. All I have to do is take a quick scroll through Facebook or Twitter to see and feel the anger, wrath, or full-blown rage seeping through post after post after post, from the POTUS to the online trolls and everywhere in between. It’s exhausting, and I believe it is killing us.
Now wait a minute Michelle, you might be thinking, you are all about being positive and joyful. What do you even know about Anger? Oh, Honey- me and Anger go waaayyyy back. I used to sugar coat it as “being passionate” or “hot blooded” but the truth of the matter is that I had a problem with unresolved Anger, and no amount of clever euphemism was going to bring it under control until I found the courage to deal with it. My Anger was quite literally killing me in the form of heart problems, addiction, panic attacks and sleep disorders. So yeah, I have learned a thing or two along the way and it has helped me to become an expert in mastering a positive mindset.
Scientists and researchers have suggested that people who are prone to a short temper can also pass this trait along, whether genetically or environmentally or in some combination of the two. It is also widely held that anger and anxiety go hand in hand, as the two emotions feed off each other. Since I was a young girl, I have had to cope with a short fuse. My mom, god rest her soul, was a wonderful woman but DAMN did she have a quick temper. And when she got mad at you, you had better look out because she would definitely smack you with whatever was handy. My dad, god rest his soul too, was also a good man and more even keel than mom… but when he lost his temper, oh boy. I think I found it most terrifying because his normally gentle face and soft voice would change so dramatically in the heat of the moment that I didn’t recognize him. Also, he was pretty tall so it scared the shit out of me as a scrawny little girl to see this giant and hear him yell.
I don’t want to suggest that we kids were getting beaten regularly nor were we systematically abused. Not at all. But I can very easily connect my own path of angry rebellion, my pattern of very bad relationships (a pattern now broken, thankfully), and my own failures as a parent before learning to manage and express my anger responses in healthy ways. It was killing me and destroying my relationships, and until I learned to identify what was at the root of my rage it was a cycle that I felt hopelessly stuck in.
I sought help from a professional therapist years ago who was great at helping me get unstuck. It was scary at first, but so totally worth it. In the decades that followed, I’ve explored various ways to help process all of my hard emotions, including writing, yoga, meditation, prayer, forgiveness, and gratitude; it’s made all the difference. Now, whenever I am angry about something, I try to take the time to explore what is going on inside before letting out a fiery string of profanity*. *Unless it’s hockey season, but hey I’m working on it!
I want to acknowledge that there are very valid situations and circumstances that we come across that can elicit anger. Each one of us has our own triggers or hot buttons that are a shortcut to our anger response, and it is very important to learn what those are for yourself so that you can manage your emotions in a healthy way. It’s important also to recognize that Anger in and of itself is neither a bad thing nor a good thing. Anger is simply a very powerful (and perfectly normal) emotional response to external stressors. It is designed as a biological messenger that signals for our “fight or flight” survival mode to kick in by instantly elevating our heart rate, cortisol levels, and adrenaline. Our wonderful bodies are not meant to operate at that heightened level of intensity for prolonged periods, so it is vitally important to get a handle on the things that piss us off. It is in how we experience and express our anger that, when not handled in a healthy way, brings up real problems and can destroy our relationships and our own health.
I was having lunch recently with a dear friend who suffers from chronic pain throughout the body, has sleep disorders, and teeth/jaw issues. I cannot help but wonder how the years of suppressed anger and bouts of rage have played into creating these conditions. It truly breaks my heart, and I would do anything to take that pain away. It’s what prompted me to write about this here today, in the hope that someone reading this will find the courage to face their own Anger issues. Maybe it will save their life and bring them the peace they so deserve.
I do love so many things about this time of year: Winter Solstice, My Birthday, Christmas, Holiday Lights, and all of the celebration and reverence for the different sacred holidays. I love the festive feeling in the air and the excitement of finding special little gifts to give away. I love seeing the best in people, the spirit of generosity, the hope, the joy.
I’ve seen the darker side too, and I know that this is also a very difficult time of year for many people. It can bring up family tensions through forced interactions, and it can put a glaring spotlight on loss, pain, and grieving. It can foster unrealistic expectations and disappointment. It can usher us into significant debt if we are blindly spending on stuff and more stuff out of a sense of guilt or obligation.
If this is you, I want to extend to you my love and an encouraging word: You are free to be as festive as you feel like. It’s your choice, and if you feel the need to dial things back, take a time out, or take a rain check on the holidays this year- honor that. You are Loved.
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I love to cook, and I’ve been told that I’m pretty frickin’ good at it. ::blushes:: My hottie boyfriend Chad loves that I love to cook, and that I’m pretty frickin’ good at it, because that means he gets to enjoy lots of great-tasting home cooked meals almost every day! One of his favorites that I make is a stuffed chicken breast that tastes way more high-calorie than it actually is. We have this about 1x a week because he loves it so much, but he would not be mad if I made it even more often, LOL! (Takes about 15 minutes to prep and about an hour to cook, so pour yourself a glass of wine and plan accordingly, darling.)
Chad’s Favorite Stuffed Chicken Breast (for 2) approx 450 calories per serving
**CHEATER VERSION: Substitute the cream cheese, spinach, Parmesan cheese and garlic with a pre-made Spinach or Spinach & Artichoke dip! Shhhh)
*OPTIONAL: 1 Tbsp mayonnaise & about 1/2 cup seasoned Panko or bread crumbs to coat chicken
Preheat oven to 375F. Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts, carefully butterfly cut them (or cut a pocket into the thicker side of each breast) and set aside. Mix together cream cheese, spinach, garlic, and Parmesan cheese in small bowl. Stuff the chicken breasts with about a Tbsp of cream cheese mixture per breast, leaving about 1/4-1/2 inch between mixture and cut openings; close the chicken. Place chicken in lightly oiled, shallow baking dish. [*If using crumb coating, sprinkle a little of the crumbs on the pan first and rest the chicken breasts on top of it; coat top and sides of chicken with a little mayo and cover with remaining crumbs.] Bake uncovered for 40-60 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center and juices run clear.
Serves up nicely alongside sauteed or roasted veggies, rice, garlic mashed potatoes, or with a simple Caesar salad. So good! Enjoy!