Monday, January 4, 2016

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Here's a quick recipe I dreamt up last week when I needed something that would get me several meals!

I made a crockpot full of buffalo chicken (see recipe page to learn how to make it -- bonus, it fed my husband too!)

I cooked up half a cup of dry quinoa in 1 cup of water. 

I washed some romaine lettuce leaves.

I grated up some of my favorite ever cheese - Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar. 

Quinoa Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps were born.  

For all of my 21-day-fixers, this recipe counts as 1/2 green, 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1/2 blue!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015: A Year in Review

January is undoubtedly the highlight of the year.  It's hard to follow up getting married!  The morning of our flight home to NJ to kick of wedding week, we fell asleep in the airport.  Cranky and tired as we were in the tiny Grand Rapids airport, we chose to hang out and wait for our flight at a different gate, away from people so that I could finish putting together my handmade wedding ceremony programs.  When I was done I laid my head down on Ryan's shoulder and apparently closed my eyes.  We woke up to our names being called on an overhead speaker to please board the plane!

We got married on a 20 degree January day with a perfect amount of snow dusting the ground.  My bridesmaids were troopers, standing outside in strapless dresses to take photos.  I forgot my veil on the way to the church.  My stepdad had to go home and get it.  The limo driver pinned it to my hair in the back of the church.  I didn't cry walking down the aisle, but I burst into tears when my brother came to give me a quick hug before the ceremony.

I spent most of my reception dancing, alternated with taking photos and chugging ice water.  Ryan sang the words to our wedding song while we were dancing, and that was my favorite wedding moment of ours.  I had tears pouring down my face when my dad and I danced to our song (which we have had picked out for years).  There were so many important, special people there to celebrate.  I wish there had been time to sit and catch up with everyone.  Over the next 50 years of my life I plan to give back at least a full evening to each and every person who was there.  It may actually take that long to do so.

In April we honeymooned in Aruba, at the Bucuti & Tara Resort.  As a foodie, I wanted to pick all of my own restaurants and food, so we stayed at the island's #1 ranked hotel in our own bungalow, and each night we tried the best recommended dishes at carefully chosen restaurants.  We paddleboarded.  We snorkled.  We got tan (and the irish half of us got a little crispy).  We even went to the casino and made back a few dollars on the slots!

We rescued the sweetest little black kitty in the month of May.   After an unsuccessful trip to the Humane Society, we stopped at PetSmart.  They have a Humane Society section for adoption, and a little black cat only 10 months old named Gucci came up to the front of her cage and rubbed her head against the door.  "I'm a head-butter, please scratch my head!" read her sign.  All the other cats were asleep and uninterested.  We were sold, but you can't adopt on Sunday!  Had to come back on Wednesday.  I frantically emailed three different people on the Humane Society website, trying to "reserve" my little head-butter kitty.  We showed up Wednesday intent to take her home... and we did!  She lived in our master bath for the first few days.  She hissed at me and refused to come out of her crate.  I told Ryan we needed to take her back because she hated me.

Fast forward, she sits in Ryan's lap as soon as he comes home, and sleeps next to my head on my pillow every night.  She wakes us up when she hears the alarm.  She got Christmas toys from every one of our family members, but prefers taking branches from the Christmas tree and batting them around for hours.  She is our favorite thing in the world.

In June I finally followed my dream of becoming a nutrition and fitness coach.  During our honeymoon I told Ryan I was ready to commit my free time to helping other people build healthy habits.  At first, he was skeptical.  Now he spends Monday nights on coach calls with me.  I once asked him if he thought I should back down from coaching, if he thought I was too busy with both residency and running a part time business.  He told me if he thought I should stop he would have stopped me a long time ago -- that this is a part of me and he can see that it makes me happy.


I joined this team of coaches (this is about 1/20th of our team) and never knew that there was so much support and positivity in the world until I became surrounded by it.

This July I left the comfort zone of intern year and started of my second year of residency.  You don't know how much of a badass you can be until you do 8 back-to-back c-sections in one day.  You stop thinking that a 12 hour shift is long and terrible when you have to start working 24 hour shifts.  You learn that tired is now a way of life.  You also learn that, by choosing obgyn, you learn to handle every possible emotion, at every possible hour of the day, and can tackle almost anything thrown your way.  Nothing is a surprise anymore.

August brought us to the east coast for a family vacation in the Outer Banks.  This is the 17th year our family has rented a beach house in North Carolina.  I don't always get to go, and it's a hard sacrifice to make in the years when I have to work.  It is the one week every year where I feel completely at ease with no schedule, no alarm, lots of free time, the beach a few steps away, surrounded by my cousins and aunts and uncles, and the comfort of being under the same roof as my dad and brother again.

The year ended in a blur of visiting different family members each day in New York and New Jersey over our 5 days of holiday break.  We have been fortunate enough to have Christmas off for the past two years in a row, and I know the day may come where we aren't as lucky to be able to travel home for family Christmases that are so important to us.

In the past couple of days, with the arrival of the new year, I've seen a lot of statuses going up on social media telling me that "2016 is going to be my year!" or "2016 will be the best year yet!"  Some people detail their goals, and some, like myself in this post, recap 2015 and their gains and losses.

Every year you have lived has been your year.

Every year has been the best year, as long as those years keep coming.

The digit changes.  You don't.  You are you.  Don't make this your year.  Make this your life.

I hope that in this moment, you are being unabashedly, unashamedly YOU.  I hope you are choosing what to do with your time.  I hope you are spending that time acting like yourself and surrounded by people who like it when you are yourself.  I hope you are honest, with others and within.  I hope that 2016 is your year simply because you continue being you and doing YOUR thing.  Don't change, just do more of what makes you happy, do more of what you are celebrating from 2015.  I'm going to keep being married, keep loving food, keep coaching, and try to get through my residency one day at a time.  No different.  Just more of me.  Better at being me.

Happy Weekend.