2017. Hello! I’m glad to be here. I hope you are, too.
2017 sounds so… futuristic. And although we may not have flying cars and hoverboards (Marty McFly style, not those stupid things on wheels), we are totally living in a futuristic world that once seemed pretty impossible. It happened gradually and fast all at the same time, and it can be a lot to wrap your head around. This post has taken me a few days to write because I just can’t seem to put my thoughts down on paper… err, a computer screen… in a way that makes any actual sense. So, bear with me through my ramble. If it’s only the FOOD you’re after, just keep scrolling to get to the good stuff.
2016 was undoubtedly a weird year for the world. It was the year technology officially came to define us as a culture. We lost many great ones (Bowie! Wilder! Cohen! 😥). We had simultaneous droughts and floods across the country (hello climate change). There were far too many unthinkable, horrifying acts of violence. There was Brexit?! Fidel Castro died and Cuba opened it’s doors to outsiders. The crisis in Syria continued and refugees sought new homes in unwelcoming places. Standing. Rock. And regardless of your politics, you have to admit that having Donald Trump as our president is downright bizarre – especially for a girl who grew up in the Atlantic City casino industry.
Who’d-a-thunk we’d be living in the world we live in today? It’s easy to sit back and focus on all of the many bad things that are happening on this precious planet right now, but if you try even just a little bit, it’s easy to find the good stuff, too. Are you looking?
Personally, and I’m almost ashamed to say it, 2016 was a pretty great year for me. It’s silly to feel bad about feeling good, but sometimes when so many people are down and out, it seems a bit pompous to talk about how great my life is. But you know what? I’m gonna own it.
I entered my 20’s with my parents moving half way across the country to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My dad was soon diagnosed with cancer, and right when he went into recovery, my mom was diagnosed with ALS. I moved to Louisiana to be with them, and then the next year, shortly after my mom’s diagnoses, they made the difficult decision to move moved to South Dakota for my dad’s job. I, on the other hand, stayed in Baton Rouge to finish school in the wake of hurricane Katrina. My mom passed away when I was 22. It was just a few short weeks after my college graduation, at the post-teen age when many women start to realize their mom is an amazing person, who’s just like them, and more than worthy of calling a friend.
I moved back to New Jersey, something I said I’d never do, but I had family and friends here and I didn’t know where else to go. Not long after that, I lost a best friend to addiction, my grandfather to cancer, and had to put down my dog when he was only 3 years old. And like most other women in their 20’s, I struggled with body issues, being broke, and jumping from job to job with no real vision of a future. It’s taken me the better part of the last 10 years to work through a lot of that baggage.
2017 is significant because it marks 10 years since my mom died. It’s something I’ll never fully get over and I’ll never stop missing her every single day. But I’m finally getting to a place where I feel at peace with it. I had a hard time in my 20’s, and an even harder time turning 30 because I felt like I’d wasted a decade being sad and confused rather than young, carefree and happy.
But then, at the ripe age of 32, something clicked and I started to feel incredibly grateful for my life and everything in it. My career is going well (you guys, I was on the TODAY SHOW this year!), I’ve been so fortunate to start traveling to the places I’ve always dreamed of, my marriage to Chaser – my best friend – is stronger than ever, and I have a wide circle of amazing friends and family that I get closer to and value more with each and every day.
I look back at the times when I was really struggling. When my family was struggling, when the people I loved were sick and dying and it really puts into perspective how good my life is at this moment in time. I now see friends going through difficult situations, and my heart breaks for them, but it makes me so grateful for the fact that my life is currently stable and everyone in it is healthy and happy (relatively speaking). I know things won’t be like this forever, so I’m learning to live in the moment and be happy and grateful for what is happening in my world right now, rather than dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. It’s a simple and cliche concept in theory, but it’s so hard to actually practice. I think this is called emotional maturity.
So, what’s in store for my 2017? Lots.
For starters, I’m kicking off 2017 with a cleanse. A major one. And so far, not gonna lie, it’s been kinda rough (and we’re only 4 days in. ugh.). I’m cutting out sugar, gluten, booze, coffee and a lot of dairy (because I NEED yogurt, some butter, and okay, maybe just a little cheese) to give my body a break. I desperately need to hydrate, clear my mind and set the tone for a year of wellness. But mostly, I just want to prove to myself that I can do it. Discipline is necessary for growth, and it’s been a long time since I’ve practiced any in my diet. Not to mention, the cookie consumption I exhibited in December was next level.
Chaser and I are in the midst of a major house purge and office switch, too. It’s a huge undertaking, but it will feel so good once it’s done. And trying to do this all sans caffeine? Holy hell batman, the struggle is so real.
Later this month we’re taking off for what I expect to be an amazing trip to Chile! Remember this recipe for grilled lamb chops that I posted back in June? The folks at Santa Rita Vineyards liked it so much that they selected it to win us a trip to visit the winery. Like, can you even?! We’re beyond excited. What a way to kick off the new year! Thank you, thank you, thank you to Santa Rita and Honest Cooking for this incredible opportunity.
I’m excited to announce that this month I’m starting my new position as corporate chef for Australis Barramundi! I’ve been endorsing this incredible fish for the past year and I’m thrilled to be working with the brand in a larger capacity. If you still haven’t tried this mouthwatering, omega-3 rich, hormone/antibiotic/mercury free fish yet, 2017 is the year you must! Stay tuned for more information and, of course, plenty of killer recipes.
In May, Chaser, myself and a partner will be be opening up a little smoothie and coffee shack called SoulBerri here on our little island of Brigantine. We’re in the process of converting a shipping container into a pretty cool-looking building that will have a surfer vibe and plenty of outdoor seating. We’ll be serving a small menu of Coley-crafted smoothies and smoothie bowls, plus high-quality, locally roasted coffee drinks. We’re pretty pumped. We hope you are, too. Come see us this summer!
2017 will be the year we get a puppy. Not “I hope we get a puppy”. No. I’m putting my foot down and we’re getting a damn puppy already. Chaser, are you reading? Get ready. Fact: Life is better with a puppy.
What else? I don’t know! That’s what makes life so neat. I cannot wait to see how this year unfolds. What’s happening in your world? I’d love to know what you’re looking forward to in 2017!
If you, like me, are trying to do the whole clean-eating thing this month, I have you covered with my best healthy recipes from last year. Check them out below, and for even more inspiration, check out my picks from last year’s healthy recipe roundup.
My Every Day Smoothie (GF / Vegan optional)
Chicken Lettuce Wraps (GF/Paleo)
Ribolita: Tuscan Bean + Kale Soup (GF)
Quinoa Crackers (Vegan/GF)
Kale Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons (GF)
Barramundi Bites with Chorizo + Romesco (DF)
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino and Herbs (GF/Paleo)
Panelle: Italian Chick Pea + Veggie Fritters (Vegan/GF)
Chorizo con Huevos (GF/Paleo)
Fried Artichoke, Kale + Asparagus Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing (GF/Paleo)
Lightened Up Creamed Spinach (GF/Paleo)
Jerked Barramundi with Grilled Pineapple Salsa (GF/DF/Paleo)
Tzatziki Sauce (GF/Paleo)
Tomato + Fennel Risotto (GF/Vegan)
Herb Roasted Barramundi with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette (GF/DF)
Blueberry Almond Baked Oatmeal Cups (GF/DF)
Grilled Lamb Chops with Eggplant Puree, Tomatoes, Cucumber + Crispy Chick Peas (GF/Paleo/DF)
Clams with Tomatoes, Basil + Blue Cheese (GF/Paleo)
Guajillo Chile Hot Sauce (GF/Vegan/Paleo)
Smoked Barramundi with Spring Vegetable Salad (GF/Paleo/DF)
Cucumber Radish Salad with Yogurt (GF/Paleo)
Shaved Summer Squash Salad with Thai Basil + Peanuts (GF/DF)
Roasted Cauliflower with Breadcrumbs, Capers, Almonds + Raisins (Vegan)
Lentil Beet Burgers with Green Goddess Dressing (GF/Vegan)
Salt Roasted Beets with Tahini (GF/Vegan/Paleo)
Perfectly Pan Seared Scallops (GF/Paleo/DF)
Ecuadorian Shrimp Ceviche (GF/DF/Paleo)
Romaine Wedge Salads with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette (GF/Paleo)
Grilled Lamb Meatballs with Tahini Sauce (GF/DF/Paleo)
Cioppino with Barramundi (GF/Paleo)
Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Hazelnuts + Lime (GF/Paleo)
Brussels Sprout + Kale Salad with Aged Cheddar, Bacon + Pecans (GF/Paleo)
How to Make a Vinaigrette (GF/Vegan/Paleo)
Here’s to a very healthy, and definitely happy 2017!
Cheers. (sans booze.)