Let’s get messy together (in the kitchen!)

Let’s talk smoothies. Juices. Chicken, and beans. Some people ski, some people sing, some people volunteer. My “hobby” has become looking for healthy recipes, and then getting messy in the kitchen. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t exactly call this a “hobby,” I would call it “Always adding to, tweaking, and focusing on thriving with my KACP.” A hobby is something that somebody does for fun because they choose to enjoy it in their free time. And while recipe-hunting and cooking can definitely be fun in my free time, I didn’t exactly “choose” what has become a passion, it was presented to me in the form of cancer. When you hear the words “you have cancer,” you try and roll up your sleeves and figure out what you can do to best take care of yourself. And that’s where the KACP comes into play.

I haven’t talked much about the KACP lately, but that doesn’t mean that the wheels aren’t always turning, that I’m pretty much always mindful of how whatever decisions I’m making, whatever choices I have, can either play positively or negatively into the plan. Am I happy? Does my body feel good? Am I rested? Am I energetic? Did I try a new food today? Did I move my body? Did I take the time to focus on gratitude? Am I harboring any anger or resentment, for whatever reason? Am I surrounding myself with people who only make me feel good? These are all some of the questions that I ask myself on a daily basis. And while ​some people may lay their head down on their pillow at night thinking, “Where did the day go today?” I try to not let that be the case for myself, because I’m way more mindful of where exactly my day is going. Does that mean that I’m not busy? Nope. In fact, I’ve actually been feeling lately like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that I’d like! But I do my best to carve out time to check in and figure out if I’m taking good care of myself that day. Some days, it’s easier than others, for sure. Some days I’m cranky, tired, or just don’t want to be at work (just like everybody else, probably), and on those days, it’s a lot harder to want to eat a salad, exercise, or feel grateful for something. Because I’m human. But on the days when I can do it, I try to focus on the connection between the mind and the body. On the days when I can do it (which thankfully are more often than the days that I can’t), I try and nourish my body with a plant-based diet, sweat out the toxins, and do something nice for my mind, like meditate, blog, or watch a funny TV show w/ SHL. I’m taking private yoga lessons right now and hope that not only do I gain some flexibility, but that my mind clears and settles down a little bit as well.

The problem, I’m finding (if you want to call it a problem) is that I wish that I had more time to focus on the KACP, but that pesty thing called work really gets in the way. Not that I’d rather not be working, because then I think I’d have too much time on my hands. I enjoy having a place to go every day, helping others, gabbing with my co-workers, and getting a paycheck and health insurance. These are all really lovely things. But by the time I get home at night and feed the cats, it’s on to working out, which could be anywhere from 45-60 minutes, and then showering, and then getting into the kitchen to try and “whip up” a healthy meal. Then dishes and kitchen clean-up (just a tip, in case you’re not already doing this: I clean up as I’m cooking!), then SHL comes home, and by that point I’m a zombie. Now I understand that this is how most people go through their days—work, errands, chores, bills, cooking, cleaning, etc. And we often think that because everybody else is doing it, we have nothing to complain about. Well, I don’t want to complain, I just want don’t want to feel like a zombie! I want to focus on how to make it feel better for me (and if you’d like to join me, then by all means!). But just because we’re all busy, doesn’t mean that I don’t want to figure out if I’m giving my mind and my body the best care that I possibly can. So on top of work and the bills and the house and keeping up with relationships, I also have to fight. Every day. I’m not complaining: This is just how it is. But I am fighting.

So let’s talk about those smoothies, juices, chicken, and beans. My green smoothies are coming along, although I just can’t seem to do them every day (yesterday I did the vegan cinnamon roll smoothie instead). As long as I’m always working towards my 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and my other breakfast options are healthy, I’m wondering if I still need to juice (technically, blend) every single day. And I’m having a difficult time getting them to not be so thick! This morning’s kale, baby spinach, cucumber, carrot, strawberry and apple smoothie was a little bit on the thick side for me, even with lots of ice and water… (Maybe I need to break down and get a juicer, instead of just shoving everything into my old blender? I emailed Kris and she sent me a link to this video of hers: http://kriscarr.com/blog-video/how-to-make-a-green-smoothie/). I’m also so confused if somebody with cancer should be green juicing or blending (making green smoothies, which is what I’m doing now). It looks like Kris mostly juices, with occasional blending, but I’ll need to consult my Dana-Farber nutritionist on this one as well.


Moving on to chicken. I decided to have one last hurrah with this delicious meat before going veg for the week. So I made a sticky garlic chicken with broccoli and brown rice for SHL and I, a nice Sunday night dinner. It was delish! I halved the recipe since it’s just the two of us, and gave myself less chicken and more broccoli ( but that’s just my preference these days; the plate below is SHL’s). Find the recipe here, from the glorious pinchofyum website: http://pinchofyum.com/sticky-garlic-chicken-broccoli.

chicken with broccoli

So since cutting out meat, at least for the week, I finally decided to try Ree Drummond’s black bean burgers that I saw her make on her show not that long ago. Please, please dear readers, tell me that you know who Ree Drummond is?! The Pioneer Woman? The woman who lives on a farm, home schools her kids, is married to the “Marlboro Man,” wears the coolest blouses with long beautiful earrings, is completely down-to-earth, loves her sister, and even has the prettiest Kitchen Aid (probably custom-made) that I have ever seen? But back to the black bean burgers. I am pretty much obsessed with black beans these days, so I wanted to give this recipe a whirl. Turns out that it was absolutely fantastic! Black beans (drained but not rinsed) with bread crumbs (I used panko whole wheat gluten-free breadcrumbs, because that’s what I had in the house), chili powder, an egg, salt, and onion. Good so far, right? They make nice thick patties. Heat them up with some olive oil (I omitted the butter on my whole wheat buns) and voila! Add some cheese, if you’d like, mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, whatever tickles your fancy! I just loved these! And OK, you dragged it out of me: I will admit that I loved them so much, that I actually ate two! (Did you ever see the movie “The Switch” where Jason Bateman kind of makes that “num num num” noise when he eats? Well, that was me last night). I was thinking that it would be good paired with homemade sweet potato fries, or a salad (or hey, if you’re hungry, why not both?). Find the recipe here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2014/09/black-bean-burger/.

black bean burgers

Tonight I’m trying Sweet Potatoes with black beans, onions, corn, and cilantro. It calls for cream cheese and sour cream, but I think that I’ll omit that, and try the Greek Yogurt instead. I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the exact same thing too the other day– How can greek yogurt really compare to wonderful, creamy, delicious, sour cream? Well, put it with some cilantro, olive oil, and lemon juice and um, it’s just about amazing! Especially with black bean tostadas! But there I go again with the black beans…


2 thoughts on “Let’s get messy together (in the kitchen!)

  1. Hey Samantha!
    Loving the blog and your foodie creativity (look at that burger on that colorful plate!) Bright colors are the greatest way to go ;)
    You’ve had such a marvelous evolution of blogging experience! Thanks for keeping up at it! From our own experience we know ti takes patience and dedication. :) You seem like such a free spirit too, which is so refreshing to read in every word you write.

    Thanks for sharing your life, your food, and your artistic creations with the world!



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