Happy Thanksgiving – one of my favorite holidays of all! It’s one that brings people together simply for the purpose of being together and reflecting on the many things that we have to be grateful for. In light of our rapidly approaching date of departure, we celebrated our third annual Irish Friendsgiving a little early this year and today I am enjoying a less hectic day of work with a lot of packing on the side. Moving, as stressful and onerous as it can be, always presents a great opportunity to reassess one’s possessions and eliminate or reduce clutter – something I genuinely enjoy. And it provides the opportunity to rediscover all the little treasures and keepsakes I may not often see or appreciate which sparks joy and gratitude for me, especially fitting in light of the holiday back home.
A while ago I read Positivity by Dr. Barbara L. Frederickson the leading researcher on positive emotion. In it she discusses 10 distinct forms of positive emotions (joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love), their ability to profoundly (and positively obvs) affect our lives and how to increase our experience of each in the day-to-day to build a life of more flourishing. One of the more concrete suggestions she makes is to build “positive emotion portfolios” by pulling together objects, mementos, letters, quotes, or photos that carry personal meaning and which inspire each of the emotions for you. Although this may seem “like a childish assignment… it’s inevitable that you will face tough times [and negativity] screams much louder than positivity [so] you may well need more than a handful of dim recollections about what sparked positivity for you in the past [therefore] physically getting your hands on one our your own unique positivity portfolios can make [a big] difference.”
Fredrickson builds a strong case for the utility of such a project and I’ve wanted to work on some version of said portfolios for several months now. However, I knew even at that time that this was destined to be a particularly busy season for me, so I put it on my list of things I hope to accomplish in 2019. Meanwhile, I’ve been packing for the big move and coming across some mementos which will definitely be saved for that activity. And it turns out that she is right, I dofeel happier as see some of these little keepsakes: a deposit note for an unexpected but much needed paycheck a few years ago, an old birthday card with some of the best words I’ve ever had written to me, an apron signed by the staff of my first “big girl job” working in restaurant management, a picture of baby Coco, and so many other little things immediately bring me back to those times – moments of pride, joy, love, and gratitude which genuinely reenergize me and ground me to what’s important and help me remember how to live more fully.
While it’s easy to grumble about packing and unpacking, I have to say I am thankful for the chance to uncover some of these little reminders about some of my big blessings. And beyond that it’s a been a good reminder that being grateful continuously not only requires little effort with practice, but pays dividends. And I’d argue the same is true when it comes to making nutritious meals like this EASY Whole30 Fall Chicken and Butternut Squash Salad.
- Chicken Breast 4 each
- Medium Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped into 1x1" cubes 1 each
- Frozen Blueberries 1 cup (150 g)
- Raw Almonds .5 cup (56 g)
- Arugula/Rocket 4 cups (200 g)
- Coconut Oil, Melted 2 TBSP divided
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- Balsamic Vinegar 2 TBSP
- Olive Oil 2 TBSP
- Creamy Almond Butter .25 cup (30 g)
- Dijon Mustard 1 TBSP
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C and line two baking sheets with foil
- On one baking sheet, toss the chopped butternut squash in 1 TBSP of the melted coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Plan the chicken on the other, brushing both sides with the remaining coconut oil and seasoning with salt and pepper
- Place both sheets in the oven to bake for about 18-20 mins or until the chicken is cooked through and the butternut squash is fully roasted, but not burnt.
- Meanwhile add all the dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, adding water 1 TBSP at a time if required.
- Build your plates with the arugula/rocket and then spread the almonds, blueberries and butternut squash amongst them. Slice the chicken and it to each of the plates.
- Drizzle with the balsamic almond dressing and enjoy the tastes of fall!