beet + radish carpaccio w/ preserved lemon coconut yogurt

I’ve been traveling a lot the past few months. Not necessarily anywhere exciting or new or for long periods of time, more like old and familiar for a couple of days here and there, just to escape. I have a major addiction to travel ….. literally any excuse or invitation to hop on a plane (or train or car) and go somewhere, I will take it. Admittedly, I have been using it as a bit of a crutch to get me through some heavy times, and the colder weather. And while some may say that running away is not always a good thing, in this case I would beg to differ. Traveling is what keeps a spark inside me alive, and in many cases it has introduced me to people or things that have taught me something that I wouldn’t get exposed to from inside my normal routine.

Last week I was in Mexico for my friend Grace’s birthday, and after a few days eating tacos and dancing to mariachi in an hacienda a few hours outside the city of Guadalajara, Michael and I then decided to turn our trip into a multi-destination tour of Mexico. It was the best vacation I’ve had in a really long time. For the past few years, Mexico, or anywhere warm and tropical has been off limits because we’ve been trying to get pregnant. The Zika outbreak started right around the same time that our fertility journey began, and for someone like me who loves both travel and really hot climates, it felt like a cruel joke. What do you mean that I can’t escape to any of my favorite warm, tropical places while I am going through this stuff??? For years, it kept me from some of my favorite wintertime escape routes, and we ended up being forced to get super creative with travel…. which wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but after three year of that, we were really missing visiting certain areas. So when they lifted the Zika travel restrictions just a couple of months ago, I knew exactly where I would be heading first. When we touched down in Mexico for the first time in years and I felt that humid, warm air hit my bare skin, I realized how much I missed it, and how much I needed this.

One of our stops in Mexico was Tulum, to the area where Michael and I got married 7 years ago. We hadn’t been back since, and while it has changed so much, the energy about it was just as I remembered. Mystical, magical, calming….. it’s a complete sensory experience, just being there makes you feel relaxed and at ease.

We only spent four days in that area and it was all I needed for a total reset. Halfway through our time there, I went to seek out a reiki session …. because I knew it would be the right place and the right time for a little spiritual makeover. As my reiki lady ushered me to the treament area, she reminded me that it was also a full moon, and that the energy of the area, as well as our session, would be highly charged. Lucky me. As with any spiritual experience in a special place, there were some really powerful takeaways. We talked a lot about confidence. Not the kind of outer confidence you can portray (or even fake) when you are trying to impress ……more so the confidence that lives within us. She explained to me that the older we get, the more our inner confidence, our deepest expectations, and our peace, can get chipped away, little by little. With each passing experience that dosen’t go the way we hoped, or as life unfolds and feels different than we pictured it, or if we lose a loved one, that confidence… if not nurtured, can start to feel bruised. And, if it gets too badly hurt, then you need to seek help to repair it. To get back to peace, and to get back to a healthy flow of life.

This flowing life is something I (and I assume, we all are) trying our best to achieve, no? But, unless you’re incredibly lucky, this dosen’t always happen with ease or on it’s own. It takes effort. It take a conscience shift in behavior and habits to get to that place. All the diets and exercises and magical potions in the world cannot take the place of, or get you to, that kind of inner peace. That major trust in the universe. Deep down, this was a concept I was already familiar with and have worked on in the past, but until my reiki session that day, I suddenly became aware that I haven’t been nurturing it more recently. And, that I especially haven’t been able to forgive myself for life not happening the way I always envisioned it. I have so much work to do.

She instructed me to not eat any meat or drink any cocktails for the next 24 hours after our session, so that I could feel and really relish in the new energy she gave to me. I may have had a cocktail with dinner that night (oops) but I could still feel the buzz all around me for days after. It was energizing, but more so motivating, to get to a state like that more permanantly.

Oh. I almost forgot the best part. She told me that I needed to focus on embracing my inner goddess. That I should go and buy an off-the-shoulder, shimmery, gold dress, and wear it often. Immediately, my brain went to thinking: I don’t have an inner goddess, and even if I did, who am I to embrace this inner goddess??? Who do I think I am? She continued on and told me that as a woman, it is important to nurture that inner goddess and let her be seen, because she’s the one who nurtures and takes care of your inner confidence. SO, she had me convinced that I needed to find that inner goddess, and that it was in there, somewhere. She also told me to embrace color (not as easy as it sounds as a neutral lover), but that one way I could do it is creatively, or in my case, with food. So when I got home, I headed to the market to fill my basket with the most colorful foods I could find. Lucky for me that day the market was filled with the prettiest candy striped beets and purple radishes, and that is how this simple, bright dish came to be. And, she was right. Just looking at these bright pinks and purples makes me happy and makes my inner goddess want to come out and play.

Speaking of that inner goddess, we had a little chat and I told her that she needs to come out and show up big time for me tonight. My cookbook, More with Less, is up for a James Beard Award (!!!) and I am heading to the awards ceremony tonight (in a couple of hours!!!!) ….. and, as you can imagine, I am a BIG ball of nerves, and excitement, and all the things. So, I went out earlier this week, got myself a dress that made me feel like a goddess (which isn’t exactly like the dress my reiki healer suggested… it’s long and floral, and covers most of my body, LOL, but it makes me feel special). So, now I’m off to get my hair and make-up done, I am going to do my best to keep those nerves at bay, and not be afraid to let the inner goddess come out for a bit tonight. EEKK, wish me luck!!!!

SERVES
2-4

INGREDIENTS

for the yogurt:
5-6oz of coconut yogurt, or greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of preserved lemon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
freshly cracked black pepper

for the carpaccio:
3-4 radishes (I like to mix up the types and colors, if possible), sliced super thin on a mandolin
2-3 medium sized beets (also, mixing up the color, if possible), sliced super thin on a mandolin
the juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of maldon sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

optional toppings: a sprinkle of herbs such as mint, cilantro, and or parsley, as well as some sesame seeds

METHOD

First, mix the yogurt. Combine all of the ingredients for the yogurt in a small bowl, cover, and set in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Then, in a medium bowl, combine the sliced radishes and beets along with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Allow them to sit for no less than 1 hour, but the longer the better. Overnight would be best (but not necessary if you’re short on time).

Assemble, and serve. When you’re ready to serve this dish, spread the yogurt all over a medium-sized plate, and then place the beets and radishes on top (leaving behind some of the liquid, if there is a lot). Top with some herbs and another sprinkle of salt, if you like.

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