Well, it’s almost here my friends. A NEW YEAR!! WOW!! As I sit down and write this post it brings tears to my eyes. This has truly been a year that no-one in the world will ever forget. Just for a moment, imagine how you felt this time last year. Imagine the dreams, goals, plans, and the wonderful possibilities that lay just beyond the horizon of a new year, a fresh start and the expectation for this to be year you ________ (fill in the blank ). But life has a funny way of giving us what we need the most. I know for me I have learned so much about what truly matters to me and the ones I love. I have seen love ones suffering from the corona virus and losing their family members to the virus. This world and our country has dealt with racial injustice, political unrest and not to mention our own every day personal life challenges. We all have held our breath for this year to be over.
I had two surgeries during this pandemic, digital learning with my grandkids, consoling two of my best friends as they buried their children, dealt with my own family heartbreaks and losses, not to mention trying to live in age of a pandemic as a transplant recipient. Even though these times have been scary and very challenging, I decided that I will no longer hold my breath. I decided to breathe and embrace living. I AM LIVING. LIFE IS STILL HAPPENING. I released the fear that was gripping me and decided to be with life instead of wishing it away. This doesn’t mean that it is easy or that I don’t struggle, but I am living my life as best I can with gratitude, faith, hope, LOVE, compassion, forgiveness and not FEAR. I am going to enjoy how it is. This is what life has given us, so how can we make it work for our highest good.
My husband and I love date night and we have many nights bundle up and went outside and had dinner at restaurants that have outdoor eating with heat lamps. Yes it’s not how we have done date nights in the past, but it’s about us and making that date night commitment work with what we have. I guess that’s it, making the very best out of things that ate out of our control.
Well enough about 2020, let’s talk about bringing the new year in with some good old food traditions and some new perspectives.
We all know that you have to bring the New Year in with two things, collard greens and black eyed peas. Collards and black eyed peas for the New Year symbolizes prosperity, good luck and good fortune. I remember being in the grocery story with my mom as child and seeing ladies fight over the collards. Let me tell you, it got serious in the Winn Dixie, real fast the week of New Year’s Day. My mom always had to have her greens, black eyed peas and of course a piece of smoked meat to flavor them with. These days my collard greens are not cooked down for two hours, they have no meat, but they still have loads of flavor and just as delicious.
Now for a bit of fresh perspectives, my family has decided to focus on the positive and release negative. This year I am going to do a mindful living exercise with my family around the fire pit. We are going to have a night of prayer, writing out some of our blessings and lessons of 2020, but also writing down what we will let go of and not bring into the new year, as we release it to the flames. Fire is purifying, burning off the impurities and allowing room for something new to grow. I hope you will find ways to honor all that this year has blessed you with, enjoy these recipes and make up new traditions for your family to bring in 2021. Happy New Year.
For the collard green recipe:Vegan Spicy Collard Greens with Sundried Tomatoes and Vegan Black Eyed Peas
For the black eyed peas recipe: Fried Black Eyed Peas
Vegan Mac and Cheese
1 pound dried elbow pasta
For the vegan cheese:
• 2 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cashew milk
• 1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
• 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
• 1/2 cup daiya meltable cheddar cheese
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp turmeric
• 1/2 tsp garlic powder
• 1/2 tsp onion powder
• 1/4 tsp smoky paprika
- 1 cup herb panko bread crumb
- 1 tbsp olive to drizzle over bread crumbs
Boil the potatoes and carrots in a large pot for about 20 minutes or until soft.
In the meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Place all the vegan cheese ingredients in a blender (including the cooked potatoes and carrots) and blend until smooth.
Warm up the vegan cheese mixture and mix in the cooked pasta and the vegan cheddar cheese in the pot and if they’re both hot, if the mixture is too thick whisk in a bit of vegetable broth.
Place in a casserole dish or small dutch oven, top with bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven on 400 until bread crumbs are golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. To reheat it, add a little bit of milk or vegetable broth, if the sauce is too thick.
Spicy Sautéed Red Cabbage
1 small red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic glaze
2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
Salt and pepper to taste.
Spicy Sautéed Red Cabbage
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, onions, ginger and red pepper flakes and saute 2 – 3 minutes. Add cabbage and turn in pan, sauteing it until it wilts, 3 to 5 minutes. Add vinegar and glaze to the pan and turn the cabbage in it. Sprinkle sugar or honey over the cabbage and turn again. Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat a bit. Let cabbage continue to cook 10 minutes or until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.
Garlic and Lemon Broccolini
- 1 bunch Broccolini trimmed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves finely minced garlic
- 1/4 cup organic vegetable broth
- sea salt
- red pepper flakes
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the broccolini and garlic, and season with kosher salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Toss with tongs and cook uncovered for about 3 to 5 minutes to develop some color.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and carefully pour in 1/4 cup vegetable broth. Immediately cover with a lid and cook for about 3 to 5 more minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green and cooked through yet still slightly crunchy.
- Remove from heat, season to taste.
- Serve with another drizzle of good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.