It’s almost the middle of January, the time that most New Years Resolutions fall by the wayside. If I might make a suggestion, let’s all drop any crazy juice fasts and extra hours of extreme cardio right now. What we really need now, and all year long, is balance. And soul satisfying bowls with herby, tangy chimichurri sauce, of course.
Balance, Not Diets
As much as we’d like to think that adopting a short term diet or exercise regime will fix our dietary sins, the truth is that we will be happier and healthier if we just seek balance, day in and day out.
I know, the instant fix is so much more appealing. But I have learned from experience. Diets don’t work, habits do. And seeking the “middle path” is a gentle, life-affirming way to find your healthy weight, take care of yourself, and be in the right place when you do decide to indulge a little over the holidays.
Like all of you, I spent much of December “misbehaving.” I carved out two whole weeks to spend with my family, and to eat pie, drink wine, and sleep late. It was glorious, and I have no guilt or regret. There are times when it’s more important to be fully present and take it all in, and recharge.
Filling the Well
I love the work I do, creating recipes, writing about food, and teaching people about the joys of real food. But by the end of the year, I was feeling drained. I felt as if I had no new ideas, nothing to say. I posted my last blog a week before Christmas, and fell silent. I gave myself over to having long, lovely breakfasts with my Mother and husband, to napping, to going out to eat. I hugged my Mom alot. I cooked for friends and family, but didn’t write any of it down. I soaked up some intangibles. I meditated a little. My creative well was drained, and I was filling it back up.
Back to Life
So, when it was time to get back to work this week, It did feel as though I had veered a little to one side of my middle path. But I knew I didn’t need to drive into the ditch on the other side. Just cook up a pot of grains, roast some vegetables, and resume living the way I usually do. I had a big pile of work waiting for me, so all I really needed was to nurture myself and get back into it. Refreshed and re-inspired, I was ready.
Which brings me to chipotle-roasted cauliflower and chimichurri sauce. There’s no need to eat boring meals when you are eating healthfully. A big bowl of brown rice is soul food, and topping it with lots of textures and flavors creates a riot of flavor. Crank the oven and roast the cauliflower, heck, double it and use some in a salad the next day.
The chimichurri is garlicky, herbal, and sparked with red wine vinegar. It’ll wake up your palate in this cold, snowy season. Toasted pumpkinseeds, or pepitas, give the dish a nutty crunch, as well as providing protein and good fats. Avocado, olives and olive oil taste great, and also provide the kind of fats that have been shown to reduce the risk of depression, so drizzle the chimichurri on with abandon.
So if you are struggling a little with post-holiday readjustments, and feeling like you need to make 2018 a little bit better than 2017, remember balance. Just breathe, and look for the middle path. Big, grain based bowl meals are the culinary embodiment of balance. You can find your own sweet spot when you add a little more of this, less of that. Check out my book, Great Bowls of Food, for even more recipes that help you find that balance.
But don’t skimp on the chimichurri sauce. You need some zing, right about now.
Chimichurri Topped Brown Rice Bowl with Pepitas and Chipotle Cauliflower
- 3 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 large carrot quartered and chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup flat leaved parsley
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 1/2 cup pepitas toasted, divided
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped red shallot plus slivers for bowl
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- 16 large pitted kalamata olives chopped
- 16 pickled peppadew peppers sliced
- 1 large ripe avocado sliced
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the cauliflower, carrot, onion, and chipotle pepper on a sheet pan, salt to taste. Roast for about 10 minutes, until browned in spots. Keep warm.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the parsley, cilantro, garlic, half the pepitas, and process to mince. If necessary, scrape down and repeat. Add the vinegar, olive oil, shallot, oregano and salt and process to make a chunky paste. Scrape into a small bowl.
- For each bowl, spread a cup of cooked rice in a wide bowl, and arrange 1/4 of the cauliflower, peppers, olives, avocado and some chopped shallot on top. Drizzle with chimichurri to taste and sprinkle with the remaining toasted pepitas. Serve.