Real talk: Last week was a rough one.
What specifically was the reason? It was more like a culmination of little things. Working in corporate retail means that we’re currently in the biggest quarter of the year – the one with the largest amount of work, the biggest demands, the highest revenue expectations and the loftiest targets. And just like in any job, there are deadlines, unexpected obstacles, on-the-spot problem solving and plenty of other challenges that can create a fair bit of stress.
I know I’m certainly not the only one who experiences this – you can surely relate in some way. But you know how sometimes, all those work things, plus personal commitments, plus things like a change to a new season with shorter days and gold weather, all build up and leave you feeling irritable and overwhelmed? Last week was just one of those here in Angela land.
Conveniently, I happened to have some extra vacation days banked up so I decided to take Friday off in the name of self care. First up on the calendar that morning was hot yoga (which felt so good!) followed by my usual monthly tea/juice date with one of my besties, Trevor. I always leave those chats feeling like a renewed person, and this was no different.
As I drove home, I focused on putting my mind in a place of gratitude. Canadian Thanksgiving was back in October, and even though we’re not celebrating with those of you in the US this weekend, there’s never a bad time to feel grateful, right? This strategy always makes me feel better, and even though it felt like a slog of a week, there was a ton of positive things hidden in it too.
Isn’t it funny how situations or events, when perceived as stressful or negative, have a way of totally overshadowing everything else? All it took was a shift in perspective for me to see the great parts of the week, and not too long after, I was feeling so much better – and unbelievably grateful. The list included…
My amazing team at work. Up until a couple of months ago I was an email team of 1, which made it hard to take vacation because it seemed I always needed to spend just as long preparing to be off. I’m so thankful to have 6 others to help balance the load now, and everyone is really good about supporting each other. At first, I felt really guilty about considering the idea, but when my realist brain kicked in, I told myself that I’d be a better person for it when I arrived back at the office on Monday – for everyone’s benefit.
Getting to come home to a beautiful apartment each night. It may be less than 400 square feet, but it’s my sanctuary and the moment I walk in the door at the end of the day, I can instantly feel the tension in my shoulders start to release.
The grand opening of Saje in Pacific Centre Mall. I was lucky enough to be invited along to this event, and the party was amazing! Saje’s limited edition holiday collection this year is unreal, and if you have a location near you, I strongly recommend checking it out – even if you’re just stopping in to smell a bunch of lovely smells! And if smelling turns to buying, I highly recommend the 12 Days of Wellness Advent Calendar, geo candles, aromaTime ultrasonic diffuser (I’m lusting after this hard!!), and of course, the new Travelling Pocket Pharmacy. It’s like the regular Pocket Pharmacy (which goes with me everywhere!) plus 3 more roll-on remedies, plus the Sleep Well, Quick Study and Energy roll-ons.
Crawling into a bed made with fresh, clean white sheets. Alright – this obviously took some laundry effort on my part last weekend but this has got to be one of the best feelings in the world. Anyone else feel the same?
Soul-nourishing, body-energizing meals. I talked on Monday about maintaining healthy lifestyle habits during times of stress, and how knowing that food can completely change the way I feel is often plenty incentive to make me invest the time in healthy meal prep. When I anticipate that a week is going to be particularly crazy, I’ll spend a little extra time on prep so that those meals feel more special.
In the case of last week, I made what I’m now calling a Fall Gratitude Quinoa Salad – a mix of balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, cinnamon roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa, fresh pomegranate and crunchy seed clusters. It was a meal I came home very hungry to on several nights, and every time, a meal I was extremely glad to have waiting there for me! To keep things interesting, I mixed up the protein source depending on the night – roasted chicken on some, and maple marinated tempeh on others. No matter which option you try, or if you prefer to serve this salad as a side dish rather than the main part of the meal, I can assure you that it won’t disappoint!
Warm roasted veggies, quinoa, crunchy seed clusters and fresh pomegranate make this Fall Gratitude Quinoa Salad an extremely flavourful, texture-rich, vibrant dish that’ll keep you feeling full for hours. I recommend adding roasted chicken or maple marinated tempeh for extra protein to make it a complete meal.
For the sweet potatoes + Brussels sprouts:
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 cups diced peeled sweet potato
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp each ground cumin and paprika
- 5 cups trimmed + halved Brussels sprouts
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp dark balsamic vinegar
For the seed clusters (see note):
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp each sunflower and hemp seeds
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
For the rest:
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 4-6 cups shredded baby spinach
- arils from 1 pomegranate
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Prepare the roasted veggies: In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes in 1 tbsp of the olive oil, plus the cinnamon, cumin and paprika. Toss well to coat, then scatter in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Do the same with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, Brussels sprouts, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. If you like, switch to the broil setting for the last 5ish mins of cooking to create some crispiness on the edges.
For the seed clusters: Mix the seeds and maple syrup together in a smaller bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt to enhance sweetness, then pour the seed mixture out in a flattened layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, stopping half way through to break the layer into clusters. Let them cool completely (which will help them solidify after you take them out of the oven.)
Once the roasted veggies are ready, combine them in a large mixing bowl with the quinoa, shredded spinach and pomegranate arils. Stir well to combine, then distribute between 4 bowls.
When the seed clusters have cooled, use them to top each salad.
- If you’d like to boost flavour further and don’t have time to let the salad sit for a while (which helps flavours develop), mix 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, plus some sea salt and black pepper into the salad when you mix everything together in the mixing bowl.
- I often bulk up my meals with shredded greens, which is why I’ve indicated 4-6 cups for this salad. If you want to make the portions even bigger without adding heaps of calories, feel free to toss in as many shredded greens as you like!
- This salad tastes great as leftovers – I actually prefer it on day 2!
- If you prefer not to make the seed clusters or don’t have time, you could mix in whatever combo of raw seeds you like, or use something like Navitas Organics Coconut Hemp Pumpkin Seeds.
So tell me… What are you especially grateful for today? For me, it’s cozy sweaters, the soy candle sitting on my desk that smells SO good, and you guys. ? Mwahhh! Have a great day!