New Beginnings: Date Night + The Hobbit + Three Recipes

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2018 is officially here, which means we have already embarked on a new journey, whether we are ready or not. I like to choose a word each year to sort of embody what I need to work on most. Last year was strength. This year for me is all about patience. It’s about slowing down and enjoying the moment; enjoying life.

I need to embrace my Italian roots a bit more and savor the day.

La vita è bella, la vita è amore. (Life is beautiful, life is love.)

I feel like so many of us are always looking for the next best thing, thus we spend so much time waiting and looking ahead, we forget that we are alive right now, in this very moment.

We forget to enjoy it.

I was guilty of this all of 2017. I was so focused on my future, I forgot to relish my present. Who knows how much time we have left. Not to be morbid, but right now is what we have. So let’s try to make the best of it, even on difficult days. Granted, so many of us are overworked and underpaid, and life is insanely stressful. But that still isn’t an excuse to not find beautiful moments to enjoy.

Thus, I wanted to start out 2018 in a positive, relaxing, relishing way. You know, to go with my theme.

Us Michiganders are currently in the dregs of winter. Now that the holidays are behind us, we’ve got about five months of snow and ice standing between us and spring. But I am determined not to allow the cold weather to derail me from my health, happiness and goals. I’m starting this year off strong with at least a month of cleansing with the Raw Till 4 lifestyle (only eating raw fruits + veggies until 4 p.m.). I enjoyed two superfood smoothies with Garden of Life and Vega meal powders for my first two meals of the day, followed by an hour of yoga.

But for dinner, I wanted something hearty.

Can you guess what my go-to comfort meal of choice is?

It was too cold (9 degrees F) and my husband and I were too tired to venture out for a post-New Years Eve date night after the festivities on Sunday, so we decided to have our date night in.

We are huge Lord of the Rings fans in our house, and it is tradition that we watch all of the movies each year, usually in the fall or wintertime. For Christmas we were generously gifted the extended versions of The Hobbit movies (there’s three hours of behind the scenes footage for each movie. That’s nine hours of BTS footage total!) by my in-laws. So, in the spirit of tradition we decided to have a pasta and movie night watching The Desolation of Smaug.

Our little set up. Much better than a fancy restaurant, in my opinion.


Everything-But-The Kitchen Sink Salad


To start, we made a big salad filled with red and green cabbage, garlic, spring mix, carrot, sweet onion, avocado, cucumber. For the dressing, I mixed spicy mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon and lime. We enjoyed this before our main course: pasta.

I have the full recipe for this salad, here. 

New Years Day Pasta Recipe



  1. Sautée the sweet onion and garlic in water (or oil, if you prefer) until translucent over medium heat with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add in the sliced red bell pepper. Stir constantly about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in the organic stewed tomatoes, turn to low heat to simmer.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta noodles in boiling water.
  5. When they are finished cooking, drain them, then put them right back in the empty pot.
  6. Add in the butternut squash noodles in with the pasta noodles and put the lid on so the butternut squash noodles will steam. Leave for about 5 minutes.
  7. Take the vegetable mixture off the stove and add to the pot over the noodles. Toss well so the noodles and vegetables are evenly distributed.
  8. When you are ready to eat, serve a heaping portion of noodles and top with pasta sauce and nutritional yeast (B12 powerhouse) for a cheesy flavor.
Pasta Cooking
Onion, garlic, red pepper, stewed tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes cooking — it smelled amazing!
Two types of Rao’s pasta sauce – Arrabbiata for me (I love spicy!) and traditional tomato sauce for my husband. And we used store-bought spiralized noodles.
Marcellus Wallace and Kiara Mala lounging by the fire while we cooked dinner.


The finished product. Seriously, this was one of the most delicious pasta’s I have ever made.


Almond Butter Stuffed Dates


For dessert we wanted something healthy but also sweet. So to meet both of those cravings, I made dates stuffed with almond butter. If you’ve never had a date before, they are a wonderful fruit that taste very similar to caramel.

Simply cut the dates length-wise (make sure there are no worms! This has happened to me before, so always check before you eat), remove the seed, and stuff with a bit of raw almond butter. Enjoy this tasty decadence for dessert or it is also perfect for an on-the-go snack.

What’s your word for 2018?



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