As expected, the internet was awash this week with New Year’s resolutions, juice cleanses, scary workout ads, and general “New Year, New You!” madness. I tend to avoid making resolutions because they stress me out, but I do like to take a little time each January to reflect on the past year and set some goals for the next one. It makes me feel introspective and productive, which I like.
Several years ago, a friend introduced me to the practice of “emptying the nets,” which is something that his family does after spending time together. Basically, each person lists the highs and lows of their experience in hopes of embracing the positives and letting go of the negatives. I loved the idea of this, and I thought about trying it with my own family once or twice, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t go over so well. We have some criers.
Instead of engaging in a family game of emptying the nets, I’ve adapted the philosophy slightly to create an annual tradition of writing out the year’s personal highs and lows. I find this practice to be majorly cathartic, and it’s actually kind of fun. I have never emptied my nets publicly before, but in the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d give you the Cliffs Notes version of 2013’s list. You’re welcome?
1. Relocating with my roommate to a grown-up apartment with multiple rooms. I love doors.
2. Domesticate ME!’s sexy new look. The new and improved site went live at the end of July, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to finally have a blog that reflects my love of food, fun, and oversized pictures of Logan. It seems that many of you were also swept off your feet by Domesticate ME!’s makeover, since the number of visitors to this little blog has tripled in the past six months. It was only a matter of time…
3. My sister’s wedding. My sister married her bestie, and it was a magical weekend filled with love, laughter, champagne and whoopie pies. Plus, I got to use a microphone for my speech. Microphones are the best.
4. Brown Rice Jambalaya. Personally, I think it might be the most delicious recipe on this site, and it’s hands down my favorite creation of 2013. If you haven’t tried it yet, that would be a good (and realistic) goal for 2014.
5. Growing The Dude Diet. Few things gave me more pleasure in the past year than expanding The Dude Diet’s repertoire and following. From cocktails and carbohydrate cravings to burritos and cheesesteaks, The Dude Diet blossomed in 2013, and I am so grateful for all of those who have joined me in my quest to put an end to nutritional idiocy and moobs. I really feel like I’ve found my calling.
6. Cooking for TR. Taking on a private chef gig for an NFL player was perhaps the best professional decision that I made last year. While it didn’t necessarily pan out exactly as I hoped (aka me and TR starring in a Dude Diet Super Bowl commercial), I learned a lot, and The Dude Diet got an unofficial celebrity ambassador. Booyakasha.
7. Significantly improving my anxiety. This was huge, people. Sure, I still have the occasional panic attack, but on the whole, I’m feeling remarkably zen. Fainting at the holistic doctor was totally worth it.
9. Discovering Friday Night Lights. Football is the worst, but I am eternally grateful for Tim Riggins.
10. Finding one kale salad that I like and one tofu recipe that doesn’t make me want to die. This makes me feel both proud and virtuous, and honestly, I think I’ve gotten better looking just from eating them.
1. Not accomplishing 2013’s loftiest goals (which were a carryover from 2012) to write a cookbook, get a cooking show, and pose for Maxim in a classy way. Don’t worry, I plan to recycle these goals for 2014. I’m all about persistence.
2. Realizing that I am a hoarder. I have yet to do anything to curb this disturbing tendency.
3. Hangovers. So many hangovers.
4. Excessive Domino’s consumption. I know I give my roommate a lot of shit for his Domino’s fetish, but the truth is, we both got weird on the Domino’s front in 2013, and for that, I am sorry.
5. Living with a mouse. I thought he was gone for a blissful few weeks, but he came back. The thing is practically a third roommate at this point.
7. Discovering Friday Night Lights. Yes, Tim Riggins got me high, but I feel obligated to admit that watching all five seasons in less than a month had detrimental effects on my social life and sleeping habits. Shame spiral.
There you have it, friends. Nets emptied. As you can see, there were far more highs than lows last year, and now that everything’s out in the open, I’m going to let all the negative aspects of 2013 float away into the universe like the remarkably well-adjusted human being that I would like to be. Forward and onward.
In the spirit of starting 2014 on an emotional and physical high, I thought I’d share one of my favorite salads with you. I hate to be cliché, and I’m sure you’ve been bombarded with salads on the interweb this week, but whatever. You can never have too many salads, and Pomegranate, Clementine and Ricotta Salad with Avocado and Toasted Almonds is ridiculously bomb.
As far as salads go, this one is a serious crowd pleaser. The combination of tart-sweet pomegranate and clementines, peppery arugula, creamy avocado, and crunchy toasted almonds is heavenly, and the mild and slightly sweet taste of fresh ricotta adds the perfect finishing touch to this bright, fancy salad. All of these flavors are subtly enhanced with a drizzle of avocado oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a touch of honey. It’s simple, beautiful and unbelievably delicious. (If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, try adding ½ cup of cooked quinoa or some grilled chicken breast to the party. Done and done.)
In addition to the aforementioned awesomeness, this salad is a nutritional powerhouse. I often refer to this recipe as “Antioxidant Salad” because it’s pretty much bursting at the seams with the disease-fighting, immune-boosting, age-defying vitamins and minerals. Oh, and avocado oil is the tits. It’s been shown to lower cholesterol, decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease, and promote healing and skin quality. Boom. Plus, it tastes delicious, so I highly recommend investing in some stat. (Yes, you can obviously use plain old olive oil for the salad dressing if you must. I’m just trying to broaden your horizons.)
Here’s to happy and healthy 2014! I’ve got a really good feeling about this year…
Pomegranate, Clementine and Ricotta Salad with Avocado and Toasted Almonds: (Serves 2)
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 clementines (or 1 navel orange if you can’t get your paws on clementines), peeled and segmented
5 ounces baby arugula
½ cup pomegranate arils
½ avocado, chopped
¼ cup fresh ricotta cheese
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons avocado oil (Yes, you can use olive oil if you must)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Preparing your Pomegranate, Clementine and Ricotta Salad with Avocado and Toasted Almonds:
-Start by toasting the almonds. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. (Do not put any oil in the pan!) When hot, add the almonds and toast, shaking occasionally for 3-4 minutes until they are lightly browned. Set aside until ready to use.
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 2 clementines (or 1 navel orange if you can’t get your paws on clementines), peeled and segmented
- 5 ounces arugula
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- ½ avocado, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil (Yes, you can use olive oil if you must)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Start by toasting the almonds. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. (Do not put any oil in the pan!) When hot, add the almonds and toast, shaking occasionally for 3-4 minutes until they are lightly browned. Set aside until ready to use.
- Peel your clementines, removing as much of the white pith as humanly possible, and separate the segments.
- In a small bowl whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing.
- In a large bowl toss the arugula, toasted almonds, Clementine segments, pomegranate arils, avocado and ricotta. Drizzle with the dressing and gently toss again. Serve immediately.