The year 2013 is not one I will remember fondly. There were some high points, most notably our older daughter’s graduations from high school and Sunday school. But 2013 also brought a life changing event that I am still working through almost two years later.
I am not yet able to talk about that event on the blog, and perhaps I never will be. But at the end of that suboptimal year, my husband gave me a gift certificate to a spa for Christmas. He wanted me to go away, rest and “take the break you deserve”, he wrote on his note.
So, what did I do? I started a damn food blog.
A generous gift indeed and I know I am incredibly lucky. But a spa did not feel right for me at the time. I didn’t want to enjoy or take care of myself in an indulgent way. I didn’t feel as though I deserved it.
With the passage of time; however, and when the stars were aligned, my friend, Kris and I booked a stay at the spa. I felt it was finally time to rest, renew and restore.
And then Juno happened, #blizzardof2015. Oh, the best laid plans!
Fortunately, I was able to arrive ahead of the storm due to some quick planning, a flexible child and dog walker and some fast cooking and photographing for the blog. My Turkey & White Bean Chili would feed my family while I was away and make a great post for the Friday before Superbowl Sunday when it’s almost mandatory that you eat hearty food with lots of spice! Kris arrived after the worst of the storm, but we were still able to enjoy some quality time together so it was all good.
I’m on my way home as you read this and my stay was a time for both reflection and looking ahead. It was a great few days of taking care of myself and not in the detox and cleanse way I told you I don’t agree with in my post about Broccoli Salad with Peanut Sauce. No, I used my time to try new exercise classes (Restorative Yoga for this type-A!) and reacquaint myself with some old favorites (hello, aerobics but using drumsticks and an exercise ball), to attend lectures on relevant topics like optimizing cognitive function, nutrition, sleep deprivation and its impact on our health (quite a bit, actually) and inflammation & immunity, and finally to sit quietly and read an awesome book, The Girl on the Train.
I am left asking myself if I really needed to go away to accomplish all of this? Perhaps yes, but that begs another question which is do any of us really take as much time as we need or want to take care of ourselves in our daily lives? Do we exercise as we intend and do we enjoy what we do for exercise (very important to results it seems), eat as well as we really want or get the nightly sleep we desperately need? I know I try, but sometimes I fall short of my goals and I am not sure why, other than to suggest that life gets in the way sometimes.
What I think I already knew, but have definitely felt reinforced in my time away is that we need to find ways to invest in ourselves, not just when we are away from the stressors of daily life, but while they are coexisting with us. Exercise, eating well and sleeping are the fundamentals, but there are other things that help to keep us alive inside. Attending lectures or taking classes in things we are interested in reminds us that there is still a lot to learn, and continuing to learn is the key to keeping our brains functioning as optimally as possible. Trying a new sport or reconnecting with a lost love like a musical instrument promotes a sense of well being. Adding new foods into your diet or eliminating the one or two things that you know you should helps us to feel as good as we can. Mixing things up keeps our brains and bodies active and engaged while also reinforcing positive feelings about ourselves and says, “you are worth it!”
Now, let’s leave the heavy stuff and talk about Chili! You need to make this soon!
My Turkey & White Bean chili draws inspiration from the Silver Palate’s Chili for a Crowd, and a recipe I have made from a community cookbook. I used to make the Silver Palate recipe every year for our neighborhood’s Halloween party, but it’s an involved recipe so I wanted a simpler chili recipe that still had a ton of flavor. If you don’t mind me saying so, this Turkey & White Bean Chili is pretty delicious and super easy to pull together. I asked my friend Deedo to test the recipe and she thought it was to die for – yay!
Drop me a line if you’d ever like to test out one of my original recipes before it’s published!
After diced onions, red pepper and some garlic are sauteed in a little olive oil, ground turkey is added and cooked until no longer pink. It is important to use ground turkey rather than ground turkey breast as it has more flavor and fat and will not dry out. Next, a flavorful combination of spices is added. I like to use Penzey’s medium hot chili powder, but it is spicy so use whatever you like and amp up the flavor with cayenne pepper if you want. Diced tomatoes (I used boxed, but you can use whatever you have on hand) and low-sodium chicken broth along with Cannellini beans are added and the chili is simmered until thickened to your liking. If you don’t have white beans, use red beans! Just remember to use low-sodium broth as the recipe has added salt. If you only have regular chicken broth, cut the added salt in half and then taste and adjust.
Turkey & White Bean Chili (or a double batch) would be a great dish to serve on Super Bowl Sunday when we will hopefully watch the Patriots win! Let’s just hope Tom Brady’s cold gets better and those balls stay inflated! And please share – what do you do to take care of yourself? Let me know in the comments.
Until next week…