My boyfriend, Zach, and I have been spending our quarantine over the last 6 weeks (woah it's been that long?) in Pennsylvania with his family. For the past couple of weeks specifically we have been at his dad's lake cabin enjoying the peace and quiet. I've been especially enjoying time spent in nature and learning about the plants around us. It is very different from what we are used to living in Brooklyn, but I am grateful to have this time to pause and reconnect with trees and streams and grass and moss. Plus I found the mother lode of RAMPS(!!!) which is incredibly exciting. Not finding ramps growing in the wild on Myrtle Ave anytime soon, after all.
Anyway, when I think "cabin by the lake" I think campfires. And what goes with campfires? Marshmallows of course. Every good cabin will have a supply. Just our luck that we are spending this time in a good cabin.
I have to admit, this whole quarantine thing is really bringing me to a place mentally that I haven't been to in years on top of giving me totally new anxieties. Every other hour I go from being okay to convinced I have or am going to catch this virus. All this during spring allergy season when my breathing is already sub-par? Ugh. And don't get me started on thinking about my friends and family at this time. It feel like everything is just so out of my control! And in a way, it is.
There are a few things I find comfort in during this time, however. Knowing I'm not the only one experiencing these overwhelming feelings of anxiety and depression. Reintroducing calming self care like yoga and meditation back into my daily routine. Cooking for and therefore caring for my boyfriend and his dad (I LOVE cooking in general, but cooking for the people I love is my absolute favorite). This time has allowed me to get creative with what's on hand knowing that a grocery store run isn't so easy to do. And while we may be stuck inside for who knows how long I refuse to let it stop us from enjoying every meal.
When people turn 30 it usually goes one of two ways - they either have a mini crisis because they can't fathom that their 20's are over, or they are ready to take on adulthood by the horns. OK - maybe that is a bit of a generalization. A stereotype at best. But there is some truth to it! I recently turned 30 and I'd say I landed somewhere in the middle. I was SO excited to turn 30 (bye bye 20's) and didn't necessarily have a crisis but I made a lot of change happen (because who wants to waste their time doing things they don't care about anyway). I moved into a new apartment in a new neighborhood, quit my job to pursue my dreams, and decided to take better care of myself and my health. After all, I'm not getting younger.
I'm stretching and meditating *almost* daily. I'm being good about being less negative and having more gratitude in my life. I'm trying to sleep at least 7 hours a night. I've already cut back on/virtually eliminated gluten because it is inflammatory for me. I eat significantly less dairy because, well, same. I eat way more vegetables. And now I'm trying to really get some whole grain balance in there.
I don't know many people who are thrilled at the idea of moving, especially in NYC. I have to say that I am certainly not, so the fact that I have to for the first time in 7 years this coming weekend is stressing me out a bit. Sorting through years worth of clothes and "stuff" and deciding what to toss/donate/keep and how to pack it is tough! But the one fun thing that is involved? Truly clearing out my pantry!
I'm really testing myself with creativity as I work my way through various cans and jars and packets of food I've had forever but never actually used. I don't need that extra weight for the move and I'm certainly not tossing perfectly fine food out! In this time I've discovered I have like, 8 jars of chickpeas. Don't ask me why. I couldn't tell you. But I'm not mad about it because I've been snacking HARD on crispy chickpeas! Crazy easy to make and they're packed full of protein...which lets face it, I need for all of the heavy lifting I'll be doing this week.
Not too long ago I posted on Instagram (@thealiconklin, follow ya girl!) that I'm getting back into the blog thing. It was an announcement to everyone just as much as it was me holding myself accountable to actually do it. With that, I asked the IG world what recipes they would like to see. Oddly, multiple people requested mac & cheese - hence this post!
I debated going healthier with it (and trust me, I've created a recipe for that, too) but ultimately said "screw it, the people want mac & cheese dammit!" So this is my super creamy, super indulgent, super cheesy version full of all the good stuff you crave (minus the gluten...but you can use glutenous ingredients just the same).
Ali is a Brooklyn based blogger and Certified Health Coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, providing you with recipes to inspire you to cook more at home! She is a firm believer in knowing that eating healthy can be made easy and inexpensive if you simply know how to cook and understands that for the average person there needs to be balance between "healthy" and "unhealthy". Whether you are looking for easy weeknight recipes, delicious snacks, or want to try something new, Ali's recipes are easy to follow at all skill levels! For more info about Ali and her offerings, check out the About page.