Sheet Pan Shrimp and Eggplant

Sheet Pan Shrimp and Eggplant

(serves 2)

The very first time I sent Mister to the store to pick up a few items and eggplant was on the list, he texts me with the “what is eggplant and where do I find it?” query.  I sent him back an emoji and the word “produce”. He tells me later that he finds some other mister also wandering around the produce department, also looking befuddled, and they try to interpret together. I imagine their conversation would have been a great bit on a Seinfeld episode.  Success was found, eggplant came home!

So let me stop for just a second here – don’t be hating on this recipe before you even get to the ingredient list.  Eggplant gets a bad rap just because it’s purple, and it’s one of those ingredients that when prepared correctly, it is divine, but when it’s not, it can scar a child for the rest of their life!  We’re going to do it the divine way so that it’s soft and creamy on the inside, toasty and crispy on the outside, and it’s packed with all kinds of flavor. Also, this is literally a one sheet pan meal, so there’s easy clean-up for you, too.

This recipe is loosely based on one from the cookbook “Dinner” by Melissa Clark.

 

Ingredients:

8-10 oz shrimp, peeled, deveined, and with tails on

1 Globe Eggplant, firm, leave skin on

4 Tbls olive oil, divided

1 lemon

Turkish Seasoning (I like Penzey’s) *

10-15 fresh mint leaves

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Dice your eggplant into cubes and toss in a bowl with 3 Tbls of olive oil and 1 Tbls of Turkish Seasoning.

Spread the eggplant out onto the sheet pan and roast for approximately 20 minutes, stirring once.  Your eggplant should be gently toasted.

 

In the meantime, rinse and pat dry the shrimp.  Toss the shrimp with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper, and the zest from half of the lemon.

After 20-ish minutes of roasting your eggplant, add the shrimp to the sheet pan, raise the oven temp to 425, and toss the sheet pan back in for 7-9 minutes so that the shrimp are opaque and cooked through. (The tails should be bright pink.)

Take your sheet pan out of the oven, spritz everything with half of the lemon, and sprinkle mint leaves over the top.  The lemon will give everything a bright flavor, and the mint will add a freshness and spark of green to your bites.  Plate it up and serve!

* If you don’t have Turkish Seasoning, no worries!  Use 1 teas salt, ½ teas black pepper, 1 Tablespoon oregano, ¼ teas onion powder, and 1/8 teas cayenne. 

 

 

Nutritional Info: (per serving)

Calories           410 kcal

Carbs               13 g

Fat                   29 g

Protein            27 g

Sugar               6 g

Plant Impossible Dreams

Four years ago, I decided on January 1stthat I was going to accomplish something “impossible” that year. Up to that point, I’d never been a runner. I’d barely accomplished the 100-yard dash in elementary school, and that was only because we were required to attempt it as part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. (God bless the 1980’s.) Running a half marathon was the closest thing to impossible that I could imagine, especially as I had friends at the time who were all constantly training for “this Half Mary”, or “that race” in some exotic location, or simply wanted to “be ready” in case a “fun” Half showed up. (Be ready? For what? The apocalypse?  This seemed like utter nonsense to me. Who trains to run 13.1 miles on a whim, just in case? I had weird friends.)

Thus, I embarked on this impossible goal, set up a training schedule, and I stuck to it through heat, snow, rain, wind, and shin splints. I was not fast, but that was ok with me, my goal was simply to finish, and to “run” the whole thing – no walking. I trained for 18 weeks, and at the end, I ran 13.1 miles without stopping. It was amazing, exhilarating, I was proud, and I was completely surprised at my own abilities.

The day before I ran my race, I received a plant and a beautiful note delivered to my door. It was from a friend who simply said, “Congratulations on making your goal, you’re going to do great.” I was so touched that someone would celebrate my impossibility with me! I loved that plant and what it symbolized – the work, the effort, the daring to dream, the follow-through, and finally, the tenacity to do the impossible. Every time I looked at it, I thought about how I went from not believing in myself to accomplishing more than I ever gave myself credit for.

Historically, I have not been a good plant keeper, I water plants too much, I water them too little, I put the ones that are supposed to be in shade in the brightest room, I put ones that need sun in my cave of a den.  Suffice to say, I am generally a plant killer rather than a nurturer, and I even manage to kill the ones that are supposed to be hearty and un-killable. Yet, this plant has survived. Nay, not just survived, it has grown and thrived and continues to flower. This plant that symbolized impossibilities realized, is an impossibility itself, a testimony to overcoming impossibilities. Yesterday, I transplanted that plant into a new pot, one where it can stretch out and keep growing, and when I look at that plant now, I find myself asking what impossible thing I am going to attempt next.  #NeverSettle #ImpossibleContainsPossible #KeepGrowingBecome

Glazed Rainbow Carrots

One of the things I love about roasting things is how easy it is to let the magic of time in the oven, without a lot of supervision, create a masterpiece.  The second thing I love about roasting vegetables specifically is that it’s easy for those dishes to pull double duty.  What’s fantastic as a side dish for dinner is sometimes even more tasty the next day when I throw it into a salad!  Roasted glazed carrots are one such item – they caramelize as they cook, and the natural sugars make the carrots practically taste like candy when they’re done.  The sprintz of lemon gives the carrots just the right amount of acidity to add a small punch at the end. When you use rainbow carrots, the result is also just incredibly pretty. This is what healthy living looks like!

Glazed Rainbow Carrots

 

(4 servings)

2 lbs rainbow carrots

Salt & Pepper

1/4 teas ginger

4 Tbls olive oil, divided

2 Tbls honey

Lemon wedge

2 Tbls Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Peel the carrots and cut them into ½ inch disks.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet, and then place carrots in one layer.  Don’t worry if the carrots are touching each other.  Drizzle the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the carrots and then salt and pepper liberally.  Sprinkle the ginger on the carrots and roast for 25 minutes.  Flip the carrots, drizzle the honey over the carrots, and roast for another 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, spritz with the fresh lemon, and garnish with parsley.

 

Nutritional Info: (per serving)

Calories           299 kcal

Carbs               32 g

Fat                   19 g

Protein            0 g

Sugar               21 g

California Poppies

Lately it seems like making “positive choices” is not moving the needle in any direction whatsoever…and when that happens for me, I start to question if my choices are worth the effort. Choices like buying organic (it can be more painful for my wallet), or choices like walking at least 3 miles a day (not exactly sore muscles, but I don’t see a difference in muscle definition or tone), choices like actively finding educational books to read to expand my mind (it takes more “work” than reading pop culture magazines). None of these things are bad.  I don’t regret choices to read something that expands my understanding and challenges my assumptions or to fuel my body with food that I know is more healthy.

Today I was reminded that sometimes even when we can’t see a difference being made every day, doesn’t mean work, growth, or change isn’t happening.  I’m talking about the poppies in my yard. I have always thought of myself as being a notorious black thumb; once I almost killed a cactus because I didn’t water it enough. I have felt for a long time that plants see me coming and immediately commit suicide as an easier means to death than to suffer my nurture. My neighbors, on the other hand, are naturals; if they just think about planting it in their amazing yard, the plants thrive. Inspired by their success, (albiet slightly intimidated), last summer, I planted a dozen seed packets around the yard, near the walkways, in patches by the fence, in the healthy unused outside my front door.  I figured that if something grew, I could be delighted, and if nothing grew, no one would know that I’d attempted, and therefore, couldn’t give me a hard time about the short life span of plants at my house.

To my delight and surprise, the poppies grew around my flagstone walk, but there weren’t any flowers, just the green plants.  That was ok, I’d managed to grow plants, and in my mind, that was a win right there! The season turned and winter came to Colorado; everything died amid the snow and cold. Then a month or so ago, little sprouts started to appear around the flagstone walk, and I was once again delighted to see that my poppies were going to come back. Next door, the neighbors’ poppies were in full bloom, and mine were still just the straggly plants, but they were getting bigger.  Yesterday, it was all fronds.  Today, there was a flower.  Just one flower, but it was a flower, and in my mind it was perfect!  All the work, the patience, the care, the watering, the sun, the consistency….it paid off.  Today there was a flower.  And next door is a promise of many more to come. Consistency in life – there is a payoff, and it’s worthwhile.  This is what healthy living looks like.

No Dressing On The Salad?

Everyone knows that salad is healthy, and it’s a great way to give your body the nutrients it needs. The problem I hear with salads is that it’s boring – iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and maybe some mushrooms. There is no real texture, it’s bland looking, and the only way to get more flavor is to add dressing which usually negates the healthy intentions of a salad in the first place! Salads are a perfect place to be creative. Remember that your palette desires sweet, salty, savory, and texture. Leafy greens, which are high in iron, calcium, and vitamin a to name a few, form the base of your salad. By adding natural sweetness and juice from fruits, salt and protein in the form of cheese, and using nuts as additional protein and texture, you won’t even need any dressing. This salad is healthy, quick to assemble, beautiful, and tasty – this is what healthy living looks like.

 

It’s Almost Summer Salad

2 cups of loosely packed greens*

½ cup blackberries, washed

1 blood orange, peeled and sliced into disks

1 oz cambozola cheese cut into chunks

¼ cup pistachios

 

*I use a mixture of whatever I have on hand – spinach, green leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, etc. I have found that for this salad, using more mild greens compliment the fruit and cheese better. But by all means, if you have kale or arugula and want to use that, go for it!  The goal is to incorporate dark green lettuces rather than an iceberg variety which is mostly water.

 

 

Nutritional Info:

Calories           396 kcal

Carbs               33 g

Fat                   27 g

Protein            13 g

Sugar               18 g

Balance

If you ask, it seems like everyone has The Answer; the one way to be healthy, the one way to eat, the one dietlifestyle you should follow, the one thing you should omit, the one thing you should add, the one exercise regimen that works, the one supplement package that is right for everyone, everything in pursuit of The Answer to lose weight/gain weight/add bulk/trim down/sleep better/get stronger/become more flexible/look younger/feel better/be more healthy. But is that the right way to find the answer…?

Maybe it’s actually the wrong answer. Maybe instead of one universal answer, there is simply an answer that’s right for you.  Because you are unique – your gender, age, metabolism, work requirements, habits, family, genetics, and DNA. You are special. Instead of trying to make everyone fit into the current fad or lifestyle de jour, maybe it should be about Balance, and finding out what works for you.  Don’t get me wrong – for every fad, lifestyle, diet, or exercise/training plan, you will find a kajillion testimonials, and chances are, those testimonials are true!  People share them because they found something that worked for them, and they want others to feel and experience that same kind of health and wellness. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at the end of the day, no one knows you better than you.

So consider Balance – in your work, your attitudes, your eating choices, your exercise habits, your excitement and your calm…in short, consider Balance in your life, and how that might be part of your answer.

Committed to Healthy Living

A commitment to healthy living is more than just a diet or commitment to exercise; a commitment to healthy living means to do, act, and be as healthy as you can be.  It is not, or should not be, a set of rules that you chain yourself to, at the cost of your own sanity.  For some, rules can be helpful, and for others, rules feel like the ultimate test of winning and losing – follow the rules, you are successful, miss the mark even once and you have failed completely.

I believe a commitment to healthy living should be more like what’s described in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl on the subject of the Code of the Brethren.  Upon being chastised for what he should or should not do, Captain Barbosa says, “…the Code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. Welcome to the Black Pearl, Miss Turner.”  Well said, for a pirate, I think.  It’s the principle of the matter – guidelines are good, and often necessary, but they aren’t written in stone or blood.  Know your guidelines and then move on, get on with the business of living.

The fact is, you can’t just eat whatever you want, whenever you want, as much as you want, without exercising.  Doing that for one day might not hurt you, but a lifestyle of that behavior will affect your health and wellness.  At some point, the calories, the fats, sugars, and sedentary living will catch up with you in the form of higher weight, decreased sleep patterns, skin problems, joint pain, or loss of energy to name a few. Healthy living is about making and owning your conscious choices. Healthy living also means taking your whole life into consideration – the wellness of your body, mind, soul, and spirit.  Healthy living is not restrictive – it’s liberating because it takes the whole of the person into consideration.  It is the balance of needs and desires, it is where I want to meet myself, it is balancing in order to thrive and not just survive in this world.

I am committed to living out Healthy in the coming year. A healthy body that is intentional about the nutrients and fuel I give myself, and the exercise I do. I will choose to move on a daily basis, not just because it’s good for my body, but because it’s also good for my soul and well-being. I will engage my mind in new endeavors, new topics, new books, and new skills. I will keep writing. I will care for my soul by allowing myself to have space and grace, I will continue to find stillness and quiet times that allow my spirit to refresh.  I love people, and I love spending time with them, but I also know that for me to be in my best possible place in life, I have to have my own downtime.

Do you know what you need to maintain a healthy balance in your life?  Do you need more social interaction with community? Do you need to allow yourself more downtime?  Do you know what fills up your soul and ignites passion in your life?  Have you thought about what foods truly make you feel good to be alive?  When you know the guidelines for your own life, you have a blueprint for your own healthy living.  Join me. #LiveIntentionally