As the idea of becoming an empty nester started to really take hold, so did the notion of making a real change in my perspective and priorities. My mind and body are in constant motion providing a free uninhibited physical and mental space for irrelevant worries, tasks, endless to do lists, unknowns, projects, self-improvement, insecurities and the list goes on and on all fueled by projects, plans, and goals. I have finally accepted that my energy is not boundless, and how it is expended lies entirely up to me.
As my youngest headed off to college to experience his new found independence, my husband and I took off for a serious vacation with friends from Spain. This was an out of the ordinary vacation that took us from New York City on the east coast to the west coast from California to Washington. During our journey the clutter in my brain began to diminish and with the natural beauty that surrounded me daily, I was more reflective. It was the small things that were having the most impact on me like eating simple meals at the table with friends in the late afternoon, drinking a glass of wine in the evening while staring at the sunset on Puget Sound and waking up to strong hot coffee in the morning. My body physically moved most of the day but not to the noise of stress and exhaustion but to the humming of a more natural rhythm.
This was the moment of epiphany and it was crystal clear it was time to make real changes.
Where to begin….Started by making simple changes to my lifestyle which includes a simple meal plan scribbled on a piece of scrap paper. No eating over the sink or while in motion. Actually sitting at the table and eating.
Starting each day a little earlier to enjoy the pleasure of just sitting and enjoying my cup of coffee. This allows me to feel more centered and slowly move into my day. Followed by ending my day a little earlier to give myself a little more downtime.
Enjoying a simply prepared pasta dish on Sunday serves as a good meal and a couple of healthy lunches during the week. This pasta dish provides for a generous helping of leafy greens and all the comforts of baked lasagna without having to take the time to layer.
Lasagna Baked Penne with Kale and Mozzarella
Recipe from Hello Fresh
1-lb. ground beef
12 oz Penne Pasta
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
8-oz kale, ribs discarded
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Chili flakes, to taste
1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
4 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Add the penne to the boiling water and cook for 9-11 minutes, until al dente. Drain.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion to the pan and cook, tossing 4-5 minutes, until softened. Add the beef, garlic and oregano, and as much chili flakes as you like to the pan. Cook, breaking up the meat, until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss together the drained penne, beef mixture, tomatoes, kale, and half the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a lightly oiled baking dish (9×13) and sprinkle with panko and remaining mozzarella. Place in oven for 12-15 minutes, or until browned and bubbling.