Chicken Skewers with Chopped Cucumber, Arugula, & Olives (Paleo, AIP)
Hello from Boulder, Colorado.
I’ve just arrived and I’m staying for at least a month. It was a rather last minute decision that had been brewing for awhile, if that makes sense. For the last couple of years, I’d been pondering the fact that because Nathan is in college, and because my work is relatively remote, I could head to a lovelier climate to explore and work kind of whenever I wanted to.
But as life goes, I was busy living my Minneapolis life, and other than on horribly cold-windy or hot-sticky days, I let the idea slide.
And then I got stuck.
I mentioned in my last post that I decided to quit drinking alcohol forever, primarily for health reasons but also because being around alcohol wasn’t feeling very fun anymore. Well that decision has kicked off a whole series of changes. Good changes, like I feel physically fantastic. But rough changes too, a torrent of them, in fact. For one, it opened the floodgates on my own grief – apparently unresolved, even though I feel like I’ve addressed it 1000 times – for my childhood experience with my mother’s alcoholism. It sounds cliche, even to me, but I am going with it. I’m using the baby (baby!) steps I’ve taken in learning meditation and instead of making myself crazy busy and running away from my grief, I’m facing it. Head on. This is good grief, if you know what I mean, as in it feels productive. My mother is sitting alongside me as I do this and that is the grace of sobriety, right there. Mine, hers. My sister Stacey’s, my father’s. No one in my family of origin drinks anymore and it’s awesome. There are few things as beautiful in life as sobriety. Newborn babies come to mind. They’re actually not so different.
My decision to quit drinking also ripped me out of my previous social life. Not entirely – my girlfriends are my heart friends, not my party friends, and they remain the warm bath of love and support I soak in every single day. But it’s knocked my food identity a bit sideways and it’s been confusing and difficult to define my new path, especially in the midst of above (and below) mentioned grief. It’s no surprise to you that I’ve been moving from a food-as-delicious-decadence to food-as-delicious-healing model over the last several years. But it’s still a work in progress and not drinking has made it both clearer and murkier at the same time because the food industry tends toward the boozy side of life and I’m headed toward health and vibrancy.
It’s also meant the end of my romantic relationship, and that is a sad and difficult thing, as you all know. The grief of letting go, pared with examining my history with alcohol, has knocked me flat but also…opened my eyes and heart to living the life I’ve envisioned for many, many years but have not had the courage to fully attempt. That means I am both deeply sad and full of hope, both at the same time. I am basically everything at the same time and it is exhausting.
And so, it probably makes all the sense in the world that the idea to leave rushed back into my brain like a cool, September breeze and…I knew it was time to go. I knew I wanted mountains and a health-focused community. I was inspired by my sister Etta and brother David, both of whom recently left NYC for Aspen, Colorado, and have loved the change. So I put the word out to friends and family. Etta came through with her boyfriend Ian’s home in Boulder (he currently also lives in Aspen) and just like that (and after a lovely two-day drive)…here I am.
So for now, I’m just here and looking around and figuring out my new groove. I arrived with a bit of a head cold – and a broken heart – both of which have forced me to be gentle with myself. Boulder is all about hiking and yoga, my two favorite things, and I’m looking forward to both. There’s a fantastic delicious AND healthy food scene here too, so stay tuned (especially on Instagram) for highlights.
Thank you, as always, for reading and eating along with me. I hope I haven’t been too revealing and emotional here, I know I’ve been absent for awhile. I’m very sure there are many of you healing from the tragedy of addiction, in various sad and courageous and inspiring ways, and I’m doing my best to be grateful that my past has given me a passion for healing that I’m only just beginning to explore.
In that vein, here’s a recipe I shared years ago but totally represents everything I love about cooking: simplicity, nourishment, comfort, beauty. Food heals.
I’ll be back sooner, I promise. xoxo Stephanie
Here’s a light, refreshing take on the familiar chicken skewer. While the chicken marinates, heat the grill and chop the cucumber, olives, and herbs. Grill the skewers, grill some zucchini brushed with olive oil, and enjoy outdoors.
That’s pretty much it.
Use the same marinade for pork or fish – you’ll find it’s fantastic. Finely dice other combinations of vegetables (or fruits) and herbs. Keep it simple. Always finish with a drizzle of excellent olive oil.
This is how to close out summer. Agree?
Chicken Skewers with Chopped Cucumber, Arugula, & Olives
Adapted from La Cucina Italiana Magazine August 2010
For the skewers:
1 3/4 lbs. boneless chicken thighs (or breasts)
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for finishing the skewers)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (plus more for finishing the skewers)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (and/or other favorite fresh herbs like oregano, mint, basil, thyme)
For the vegetables:
1 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded cucumber (from 1 medium)
1/3 cup finely chopped arugula
1/3 cup finely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves (or other favorite fresh herbs)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional; skip for AIP)
Freshly ground black pepper (AIP reintroduction)
In a large bowl, combine chicken, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, garlic, and rosemary; stir to combine. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Thread chicken onto skewers. Grill skewers 4 minutes/side, turning once, until chicken is just cooked through, 8-10 minutes total. Transfer skewers to a large plate.
In a small bowl, stir together cucumber, arugula, olives, thyme leaves, and red pepper flakes. Spoon mixture over skewers. Drizzle with more olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
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