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Last week, I'm sitting under the dryer at the hair salon, basking in the warmth.
My son and I had been planning a visit, and we'd passed a few days playing Schedule Tetris to pull off a phone call. As a sweet older lady nudges at me to pass the People magazine, I attempt to maneuver to a place of quiet, realizing I'd completely lost track of time.
She checks the foils (a little while longer) while we chat about his days. With every pause in the conversation, I find myself reminding him, “You're simply doing your best, and that's really pretty great.”
(Sometimes I need to remind myself as well)
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Doing your best doesn't mean your beans are sprouted, vegetable-filled crocks are fermenting in your basement, and your medicine cabinet is free of Pepto Bismol. It doesn't mean you eat only organic, meditate every morning, exercise every afternoon, and check all the boxes on the list of things you should do every day
Sometimes it does
Other times, doing your best looks like soup from the co-op (for her) and carry-out pizza (for him). Slurping chicken noodle and eating pepperoni pizza on paper tableware, with a stack of scratchy napkins nearby. The last bottle of wine scavenged from the Spaghetti Saturday cabinet.
“Honey, is there a candle in the kitchen drawer? Maybe toward the back?”
The past couple of weeks, my scale was tipped precariously from manageable to down-right busy. Admittedly, my mind was elsewhere. I was awful about writing things down, and dinner wasn't the only thing falling off of my radar.
There were so many things I wanted to write, so many thoughts I tried to capture in the kitchen while I fried another egg (breakfast for dinner, yet again). So many ideas that floated through my head during afternoon walks. They came, they left, and I found myself standing by the stove as the pan began to smoke,
wondering why my mind felt empty
I know I won't remember much about this busy and full season of taking classes, training puppies, participating in a challenge, workouts, cultivating a marriage, and visiting my grandchildren. I'll remember the parts I wrote down, and the rest will be gone like the flame of the candle
Carry-out for dinner, then. Sausage or Pepperoni? Chicken Minestrone or Chili?
Doing your best sometimes means forgoing one thing that's important to you, to honor another
Carry-out doesn't offer me the most nutritious meal (important). Although neither does attempting something homemade on a busy day. A meal I'll serve out of exhaustion, stress, or resentment
Even the artisan mac and cheese with chorizo and roasted poblano peppers will taste terrible if served with a frenzied heart
And so, grace
Doing your best means carry-out, with grace.
It means breakfast for dinner, with grace. It means silencing the voices that say you are only as good as your latest project at work, only as kind as your last interaction, only as healthy as your last meal, only as important as your last errand, only as beautiful as the
number on a scale
Doing your best might simply mean a kitchen full of ingredients like flatbreads, nuts, herbs, veggies, tahini, capers, or coconut oil.
Or it might mean a drawer full of Groupons and a freezer stocked with pizza dough and pepperoni
Doing your best might mean a day of attending a yoga, weight lifting, or kickboxing class; along with an hour of walking.
Or it might mean a fifteen-minute walk over your lunch hour and a set of push-ups on the living room floor in the evening
Pizza, then. With grace
Every week during the Live Healthy Iowa 10-Week Challenge I've been updating my progress
My progress report after week 3?
Total minutes of activity this week = 595 and Overall = 1905
It adds up quick! (a combination of walking, yoga, resistance class, kickboxing, and weight lifting)
Total pounds lost this week = 2.1 and Overall = 9.4
( .. to be continued .. )
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Think of flatbreads as the more authentic version of Italian pizza.
Healthful veggies, herbs, and toppers often replace heavy meats and cheeses; keeping this indulgence light and fresh. When time is short, skip the homemade crust and opt for purchased flatbreads instead
We've really been enjoying this one
Mediterranean cuisine is known to be colorful, with herbs, citrus, and other bright flavors. This flatbread doesn't disappoint. It's heavy on flavors and won't leave you feeling stuffed afterward.
Note: Consider doubling the Baba Ghanoush recipe; it's wonderful for dipping your veggies in, as an afternoon snack
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~ Baba Ghanoush adapted from Epicurious, and Mediterranean Flatbread adapted from Better Homes and Gardens | Mediterranean Recipes Special Interest Publication
Mediterranean Baba Ghanoush Flatbread
- Baba Ghanoush
- 2 - 3 medium eggplants (~ 3 pounds total)
- 2 -3 Tbsp olive oil
- ⅓ cup tahini
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons ( ~ ½ cup )
- fine grain sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- cornmeal for dusting
- 1 recipe pizza dough (or 1 lb purchased pizza dough - choosing a gluten-free pizza dough will make this recipe gluten-free)
- olive oil
- ¾ - 1 cup Baba Ghanoush
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted (optional, but recommended)
- ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
- freshly squeezed lemon juice
- flaky sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Baba Ghanoush
- Preheat the oven to 450°F
- Rub the outside of the eggplants with olive oil and place them in a roasting pan.
- Roast the eggplant until the skin has charred and the interior is tender (~ 15 to 20 minutes)
- Let cool
- Once the eggplant is cool, peel, remove the seeds, roughly chop the flesh, and then transfer it to the bowl of a food processor
- Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, a grind of freshly ground black pepper, and a few teaspoons of cold water.
- Process the mix until it has the texture of a coarse paste, adding a bit more water, as needed, to help the mixture to blend
- Adjust the seasoning to taste
- Preheat oven to 425° F
- Lightly grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal
- On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the dough into a 12" x 8" rectangle or oval.
- Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil. Bake 10 minutes
- Spread crust with Baba Ghanoush and top with tomatoes
- Bake another 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and crisp
- Top with hazelnuts and mint and a squeeze of lemon juice
- Sprinkle with lemon zest and flaky sea salt, to taste