Friday Feelings + 2016 Reflections

Tomorrow is the last day of 2016. *Insert cheesy line about time flying.* This year has been challenging, inspiring, confusing, scary, thrilling, sad, and a roller coaster of emotions in between. I’ve laughed until my ribs hurts and cried myself empty. Since it can be therapeutic to look back and uplifting to look forward, I thought I’d cram some 2016 Reflections into a Friday Feelings post. It’s not all about food, followers, and Pinterest, but writing about life makes me feel good and I hope you can relate!

Friday Feels + 2016 Reflections

In between the bowls and plates of delicious food, 2016 brought ups, downs, and a plethora of new experiences!

Into It

For lack of more eloquent phrasing, 2016 was pretty shitty all around. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t fun, happy, and exciting days. Somehow this world continues to turn, the sun still rises everyday, grass grows, babies are born, and the miracle that is life carries on… Here are a few 2016 things I’m totally into:

Friday Feelings + 2016 Reflections

  • If I didn’t know it before, this year taught me even more how lucky I am to have an incredible partner in life. John and I are halfway through our fourth year together and we’ve never been closer. This year, we learned that I better express difficult emotions by writing them down, so that’s how we work through tough times. I’ve learned to accept his help, rather than push it away, when I’m feeling anxious or down. We also went on a fantastic vacation, continue to make our tiny rented house a home, and have vastly expanded our board game collection. I love you so much sweetie, and adventuring through life with you is my favorite pastime.

Friday Feelings + 2016 Reflections

  • From sappy to soapy, one thing I’ve gotten way more into this year is natural home & beauty products. I never put much thought into the products I put on my skin, in my house, or around my pets before this year. I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with homemade replacements for harsh chemicals (i.e., I now use this recipe for carpet cleaner), using coconut oil for just about everything, sniffing new essential oils (got some new Doterra products for Christmas!), and swapping in natural beauty brands (Toms, 100% Pure, and ZuZu Luxe makeup are some current favs).
  • Chocolate smoothies. Even with the cold weather settling in, I can’t stop drinking chocolate smoothies. It’s like waking up to a milkshake, and who doesn’t want ice cream in the morning? Or any time of day for that matter…

Friday Feelings + 2016 Reflections

  • I got a foam roller this year, and I’m aware this sounds like an exaggeration but I’m pretty sure it has my. life. I have a pretty drastic scoliosis curve, which has always caused me back pain. After having multiple chiropractors tell me “You may just have to live with pain your whole life…”, I was feeling pretty defeated and hopeless. Enter foam roller, who swooped in to save the day and provide a kind of comfort I haven’t felt in years.
  • Binge watching TV shows. I’ve never been a big TV person; I could easily live my life without cable. Buttttt, I have to admit that this year John and I have watched a lot of quality programming. Some standouts include Parenthood, West Wing, Stranger Things, and Westworld. #joshanddonnaforever

Over It

I’d like to keep thing positive, but there’s no getting around the fact that 2016 brought its fair share of crappy days. Here are a few things that made me sad, mad, cranky, or just generally left me feeling blah…

Friday Feelings + 2016 Reflections

  • At 26, I’m finally starting to bear witness the ugly and depressing signs of getting older. No, not in myself, I am aware that mid-20’s hardly qualifies as aging. I’m talking about facing the facts that everyone you love and hold dear will someday get old, fall ill, and eventually leave this world. Maybe I’m naïve in that I’ve never suffered a major loss, but this year we lost John’s grandmother (the funeral was two days before Christmas), my grandparents hit 96, and I’ve spent more time in nursing homes than I have in nightclubs. While I often marvel at the circle of life, it’s sometimes easy to feel like the process is cruel and unfair.
  • While I have learned a great deal about dealing with my depression and anxiety this year, I can’t deny that there have been days and weeks where the battle has been hard fought. In 2017, I’m committed to attacking this lifelong problem head on, facing some fears and haunting memories, and coping with this condition better than ever before.
  • I don’t like to get too political, because I know it can be controversial and alienate good people, but I am so nervous about the state of our future government. I had so much hope, was so inspired, and got more involved than I ever have in the past with this year’s election, only to have my hopes and dreams extinguished by a very dark and daunting outcome. I’m nervous for America but empowered to take as much action as I can to make sure that the rights I value stay intact and available to people of all types and backgrounds.
  • Chia pudding. Sorry, I just think the flavor is weird, the texture is gross, and I’m ready for that food trend to fade into the background.
  • Snapchat. With Instagram’s new stories feature, do we even need Snapchat? How many channels do I need to broadcast every meal over? These are the existential questions I ponder in the New Year… Lolz.

Looking Forward to It

Looking back at the highs and lows of the year makes me inspired to think about the future and what 2017 has in store. I won’t pretend for one second like I have some type of grand plan, but I know this year will be filled with some pretty cool things.

  • I recently transitioned into a new job as Data Services Coordinator and I’m ready to learn more about nonprofit finance processes, improve my data visualization software skills, and hone my Excel prowess (which is one of my favorite characteristics about myself to be perfectly not humble). This is certainly the most challenging role I’ve ever stepped into but I know I’ll grow more professionally this year than I have in my working adult life.
  • Although it wasn’t under the most uplifting circumstances, both John and I got to spend more time with family than we have in years past and I’m hopeful we continue that into 2017. We’re navigating that weird and uncomfortable time period of being our own adults with lives outside of our nuclear family but I’ve learned that family never goes away. Nothing is more important and I plan to be intentional about cherishing every moment with the ones I love.
  • One of my goals for 2017 is to do more blog planning in advance. My posts have been sporadic and I’d like to get organized so that I’m not scrambling to get a post ready at the last minute. If anyone has any pointers, I’d love to hear them!
  • More plants! Two years ago, I took the Veganuary challenge to try out a lifestyle free of animal products. Clearly, something clicked and it stuck! I’m nowhere near perfect and I’d be a damn dirty liar if I said I didn’t steal bites of John’s Jenis ice cream cones but I absolutely love this lifestyle. Freeing my diet of meat (been almost 15 years!!), dairy, and eggs, along with refined sugar (most of the time), processed foods, chemicals, and alcohol (ok, that one’s harder) has allowed me to be so much more in touch with my body. I can tell when I’ve eaten something that doesn’t nourish my body and I feel strong and powerful when I’ve been filling my plate with nutrient dense eats.

Mustard Snap Peas and Radishes | AreYouKitchenMe.com

Th-th-th-that’s all folks! Thank you for reading, today and everyday of 2016. I hope you find peace, success, happiness, fulfillment, purpose, and anything else you’re looking for in 2017! Cheers!

What I Ate Wednesday

Happy humpdaayyy! I hope you’re all having a wonderful week. I’ll admit I’ve been pretty exhausted and feeling crummy but it’s a busy work week, so the time flies by! After all, somehow it’s What I Ate Wednesday already!

This banana was nowhere near my usual criteria for fruity ripeness but it was all we had and still got me through a good workout.

I was about to gnaw my arm off as I flew out the door to work and I was soooo looking forward to this green smoothie. I whipped up my favorite combo as of late with frozen dark cherries, frozen banana, frozen cauliflower, spinach, chocolate protein powder, raw cacao powder, spirulina, and almond milk. Today I switched up my routine and tried a sample packet of protein that has been lurking in my pantry for ages. To my tragic disappointment, it was gritty, bland, and a little bitter. But it still tasted kinda chocolate-y soooo.. down the hatch it went.

I was wicked busy all morning and before I knew it, the clock struck noon. Lunchtime! And boyyyy was it bomb diggity. This weekend, I roasted a shiz ton of veggies for lunches and dinners. I dumped a mix of Brussels sprouts, green beans, mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, and delicata squash onto a plate because sometimes eating off a plate makes me feel less like a broke a$$ college kid and more like a fancy adult. Yes, I just considered eating off a paper plate while staring at spreadsheets fancy. Ermmm… Anywho, I topped all the goods with my fav oil-free hummus and heated up some mashed acorn squash on the side. Best (ugly) work lunch evaaa!

I got super wrapped up in work projects again and forgot to have a snack after lunch… Who even am I?! Needless to say, I was ravenous by the time I left work, picked up my sweetie, drove to the store, grabbed some necessaries, and fought through the snowy neighborhood roads to get home. I needed an easy, filling meal STAT. Avocado toast to the rescue! Smashed some of the green goodness on my fav Ezekiel bread and topped with salt and chili flakes. Oh, and more roasted veg because greeeeeens.

While sitting on the couch attempting to make a dent in my never-ending inbox of junk, I snacked on my all time fav salted dark chocolate and some peanut butter. Perfect way to end the evening. I’m SOOO excited because I did something spontaneous today and signed up for a 3-hour restorative yoga workshop. Tomorrow! I’m so excited to Zen out and try to bring some peace to what has been a very unpeaceful mind lately. This week I challenge you to engage in some sort of self care. Whether it’s as small as stretching before bed or painting you toenails, reward yourself for doing something amazing- being you!!

Happy snacking, friends!

Maple Mustard Roasted Butternut Squash

I’m baaaaack with a new recipe today! Maple Mustard Roasted Butternut Squash coming in hot!

Before I dive into today’s recipe, I just want to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who commented, messaged, texted, or otherwise reached out after my last post. I felt so vulnerable before sharing but today my heart is absolutely exploding with the love you all shared. Knowing that so many people relate makes rough days far less lonely. So thanks for that!

Maple Mustard Roasted Butternut Squash | AreYouKitchenMe.com

Anywhooo. How about we talk about a recipe?! Finally!! And what better a recipe than one that gets back to basics. In fact, this is so basic, I hardly even considered it a recipe and debated not posting it at all. But then I realized that I’ve made it every single week for the past few months so it had to be shared.

Maple Mustard Roasted Butternut Squash | AreYouKitchenMe.com

Maple + mustard is one of my fav combos of all time. Something about the tang, with the sweetness, with the salty, with the bitter… My taste buds are doing a little tango just thinking about it! I like to make two giant trays of this on Sunday and pop it all in the fridge to munch on all week.

Maple Mustard Roasted Butternut Squash | AreYouKitchenMe.com

Maple Mustard Roasted Butternut Squash | AreYouKitchenMe.com

What’s fun about making big batches of staples like this is that it can be used in so many ways. Here are a few suggestions for eating the roasted nuggets:

  • On top of a salad (I added some to this kale salad recipe at Thanksgiving- huge hit!)
  • Blended into a soup (1 recipe squash + 1 can coconut milk = TOO GOOD)
  • Dropped into a simmering curry
  • As part of a bowl-style meal
  • Wrapped up into burritos or enchiladas
  • As a side dish for a potluck for family meal
  • Tossed into a breakfast hash
  • Straight from the fridge dipped in almond butter

Errrr… Maybe that last one is kind of weird. But it totally hits the late night sweet- salty spot! Plus, having these roasted jewels in the fridge ensure that I have a healthy snack and don’t end up eating an entire bag of tortilla chips… Not that I’ve ever made that fatal mistake before…

Maple Mustard Roasted Butternut Squash | AreYouKitchenMe.com

Here’s to being back in the recipe game. And to you. You rock.

Maple Mustard Roasted Butternut Squash

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 5-6 servings

A basic method for roasted one of fall and winter favorite vegetables. Maple Mustard Roasted Butternut Squash are good with practically everything!

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ¾” pieces
  • 4 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 4 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. each, salt & pepper
  • ½ tsp. each, smoked paprika and cinnamon (or other spices)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the over to 425F. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or foil lightly sprayed with non-stick coating.
  2. Toss the chopped squash with the maple, Dijon, and seasoning. Feel free to use whatever flavors you favor!
  3. Roast the squash for 45-50 minutes, gently tossing once.
http://www.areyoukitchenme.com/maple-mustard-roasted-butternut-squash/