If you’re anything like me, the start of the new year usually means the end of eating all things that make you happy and the start of New Year Punishment, a ritual that includes the pushing around of sad-looking salads and the unenthusiastic motion of swinging mud-bars to and from your face with a half-grimace during every bite, otherwise known as eating protein or meal replacement bars.
New Year Punishment usually ends somewhere around the fourth or fifth day when a surge of hangry washes over you. This part results in the ceremonial hiding of the empty Cheeto bag just underneath the upside down Chips Ahoy box that’s been strategically placed beneath the brown paper bag from Five Guys that looks very similar to the brown paper bag from Whole Foods.
New year, new you, right?
Well, for me, the idea of “diet” and making drastic changes to my day and expecting my taste buds to suddenly enjoy things I don’t ever dream about eating (I can say with full confidence) doesn’t work. So, this year, I’ve replaced New Year Punishment with New Year Choices – same taste buds, different approach.
I mean, for Pete’s sake (sorry, Pete), I love food. And, the only reason why junk food was ever the last hoorah when the hangry took over was because I’d denied myself so much happiness (otherwise known as cheese, bacon, and chocolate) that I was desperate for anything that remotely resembled the things I love to eat.
Why in the heck was I repeatedly denying my love of food when there are plenty of flavor-packed choices I could have, and guess what, folks??? I can cook!
Geesh. So, I’ve decided to challenge myself. I will create healthier versions of everything I love to eat, and sometimes I’ll just make things I love that don’t need a healthier twist. I am simply making better New Year Choices because I deserve to be around for a long time.
Better choices that celebrate my love of food, remember? Not denial and tasteless choices that make me psychotic.
And, I’ll tell you another thing. I have every friggin’ exercise guru’s VCR (yes, VCR), DVD, BlueRay, poster, flipchart, and dance chart one could possibly imagine. And, I’ve taken just about every class that’s offered by anyone peddling a “fun” workout and been in every gym within a 20 mile radius of my home. In all the years I’ve been wasting money buying crap I don’t use or stopping doing whatever class after the hangry stage, there’s only one exercise that has ever made me happy.
Want to know why I love me some Turbo Jam?
Because it’s only 20 minutes, has fun music, includes Chalene telling me how awesome I am for making better choices, and I don’t want to kill her. She’s got me jammin’ and jumpin’ and movin’ and shakin’ for 20 minutes, and I don’t feel like I want to seek and destroy, much like many other programs in which I’ve participated. That’s why I love me some Turbo Jam. That’s it. No health aspect. No variety of cardio and strength training blah, blah, blah. No. I don’t want to kill her. I can stand it for 20 minutes. It makes me happy. Ahí esta.
And, this kick-off week to making better choices has been exactly what it should be, flavor-packed and fun. At no point did I find myself crying in a corner while hoarding Ding Dongs. It was good.
Here’s one of the many super-easy and tasty recipes that made the week successful.
1/2 Onion, frenched
2 Cups Asparagus
1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper
4 Green Onion
6 Grape Tomatoes
1/4 Cup, Plain Panko Japanese Style Bread Crumbs
1 TBS Whole Grain Mustard
1 TBS Fresh Dill
1 TBS Fresh Chives
1 TBS Fresh Parsley
2 6oz Portion of Fresh Salmon
1 TBS Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBS C&J Farms Scarborough Fair Herb Blend
Preheat oven to 375°.
Take one asparagus and bend it in half until it breaks on its own. Use that broken asparagus as your guide to trim the rest of your asparagus into a similar length. Set aside.
Cut zucchini and red bell pepper into matchsticks or long slices, and set aside. Slice the green onion on the bias, and set aside. French the onion and slice the grape tomatoes in half, and set aside. Finely chop the dill, chives, and parsley and place in a small bowl. Add the mustard and panko to the herb mixture and set aside.
In a large baking dish, add the zucchini, onion, asparagus, red bell pepper, green onion, and tomatoes. Drizzle with 3/4 TBS of olive oil, reserving the rest for later. Salt and pepper the vegetables, add the Scarborough Herb Blend, and toss everything together to coat evenly with oil and seasoning. Place the two salmon portions directly on top of the seasoned veggies. Salt and pepper each salmon portion.
Stir together the panko, herb, and mustard mixture. Add the rest of the olive oil to the panko mixture. Using a spoon or your fingers, crust the top of the salmon with the panko and herb mixture, ensuring the top of the salmon is completely covered. Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes, depending on how well-cooked you prefer your salmon. And, enjoy every single flavorful bite – that dill and mustard pop makes every mouthful dance – I’m telling you.
So, here’s to making better choices! I look forward to sharing my adventures with you in 2017, and may you also journey through your own best adventure this year – because you deserve it.