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The Sharp Side on Mmm! MONDAY: The Benefits of Balance

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It’s one of those weekends for me.

I have a relatively long to-do list that consists of chores no 28-year-old wants to do and so naturally, here I am… laying on the couch, wrapped up in the warmest blanket I could find, puppy in my lap, coffee in my cup, and Netflix on a never-ending loop. I’m so happy. That to-do list may need to wait until tomorrow… or next weekend… or when the temperature gets up to at least 30 degrees for a few days and cures my winter blues.

The reality is this – I will get to that to-do list tomorrow and I will be just as happy then as I am right now. I won’t sit on the couch all day, Zuno will be sick of me (especially after puppy class tonight, <insert evil laugh>), and Netflix will be on – probably an Audrey Hepburn movie – but only as background sound as I clean, do laundry, iron, and conquer my to-do list with the enthusiasm and energy I just don’t have today.

It’s all part of this balance I am always trying to achieve, but it usually works best on the weekend – equal parts relaxing, writing, exercise, errands, chores, time with family, time with friends, time with myself. It’s something I’m trying to bring to my meal-planning as well… healthy, tasty, variety, fresh, new recipes, old recipes, sweet, spicy, light, and filling.

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I think it’s why these two recipes from my last post – the pasta and the soup — were so successful. The angel hair pasta was light and spicy and a great non-meat alternative. The chicken soup was sweet and packed some heat. The recipes are very different from each other, but have three things in common: they have balance, they make great leftovers, and they leave the kitchen a total mess.

Balance is hard for some people and by “some,” I mean Zach. He loves spicy food, but not everyone shares his crazy tastebuds. A perfect example is this past Friday.

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We participated in a chili cook-off with our friends and even with my warnings to hold back a little bit, he made a very hot chili that was delicious… but did not win. Meanwhile, I made Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Cookie Dough Pretzel Bites and they were a hit – sweet and salty. Even Zach “I love hot sauce with every meal” Sharp loved them. In fact, after I made them last week, I gave him – always my taste tester – just one and put the rest in the fridge. It didn’t take long before he quietly got up from the couch… “Zach, we need to save the rest for the party.” No response. Soon, I hear him opening the fridge. “Zach…” No response. All of a sudden, there he is in the family room eating another one. “I told you not to eat anymore!” Zach’s response: “What!?” I swear…

So, with balance in mind, this is what I’m putting on the menu this week:

Monday: How Sweet It Is’ Caramelized Chicken With Jalapeño Cream (We’ll serve this over brown rice.)

Tuesday: Primavera Kitchen’s Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet

Wednesday: The Skin-ty Gourmet’s Crock Pot Beef, Peppers, and Broccoli 

Thursday: Damn Delicious’ Copycat Chick-fil-A Nuggets

Yes, I know that last one isn’t the healthiest thing on the menu, but I love figuring out how to make a fast-food favorite in a lighter, homemade way. Also, it’s part of this whole balance idea to have a cheat day. I’ll let you know how these recipes turn out.

Now… if only I could get the motivation to stand up, put on six layers, go outside, and drive to the grocery store… I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. I have to, or else we’ll be eating toast tonight.

Happy Cooking!

– A