“Try to say nothing negative about yourself for three days, for forty-five days, for three months. See what happens to your life.”
I paused and thought about it. I didn’t remember the last time I went a day without reprimanding myself, and just two weeks before, Lewis made an effort to point out every time I said something negative about myself. I said things about myself that I would never say to or about anyone else: that I was stupid for making a mistake, or call myself “fat” on days I didn’t hit the gym but chose, instead, to lounge on the couch with my dinner. It made me realize how unkind I was to myself, and seeing Yoko Ono’s words in print was a big wake-up call. I shared the quote on Instagram, and someone’s comment, “I honestly don’t think I could do it,” made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who struggled be kind to myself. Why is it easy for us to be kind to others, but not to ourselves?
Curious about how long I could keep this self-love challenge going, I decided to give it a try this week. The results? I have been mostly successful in undertaking this challenge. The first few days, however, were the hardest, and I surprised myself with the number of times I caught myself thinking or saying something negative about myself. Eventually, I learned to think twice: is this something I would say to a friend? If not, then I probably shouldn’t be saying it to myself. Once I was consistently more positive about myself, I noticed a huge change in my mood. I no longer felt surrounded by a cloud of negative energy—I was optimistic, cheerful, and motivated to be my happiest. I began to notice little things that made me smile, like hearing the birds chirp on the way to work and enjoying the warmth from a ray of sunshine. Being in a good mood made it easier to ignore the little things that normally would have annoyed me, and each day was more enjoyable because of it.
With that said, I’d like to challenge all of you to take on this self-love project, too. What do you love the most about yourself? What is the biggest struggle you face in loving and accepting yourself?
Give it a go, and then treat yourself to this rich, flavourful meal: fesenjan, a pomegranate and walnut stew, and adas polo, a simple but gorgeous rice dish. Both dishes are Persian, and I paired the two together for dinner this week. I first tried these dishes at a Persian restaurant in Toronto and loved them so much that I decided right then and there to recreate them at home. Fesenjan is made by combining ground walnuts with pomegranate molasses, and while many recipes call for chicken or lamb, I decided to use mushrooms and carrots in this vegan version. The stew is sweet, a little bit sour, and a whole lot of delicious. I loved having it with adas polo, a rice dish scented with saffron and bejewelled with raisins, dried dates, and lentils. I know it isn’t the most appetizing looking meal, but I promise that what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in taste by tenfold: it’s sexy and the depth of flavour is unreal.
VEGAN FESENJAN + ADAS POLO
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 3/4 cup green lentils, soaked for at least an hour
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup raisins
- 10 dried medjool dates, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon saffron
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1-3 tablespoons coconut oil
- sea salt, to taste
1. Rinse the brown rice and place in a separate pot. Add 2 1/4 cups water and simmer for 40-45 minutes.
2. Pour the lentils into a small pot with the bay leaf and a generous pinch of salt. Add enough water to cover them by an inch and bring the water to a boil. Once the water reaches a boil, reduce the heat and allow the lentils to simmer for 25 minutes. Keep your eye on the lentils and add water as or if needed.
3. While the lentils and rice are cooking, melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan or pot large enough for four cups of cooked rice. Sauté the onions until they begin to become translucent. Season the onions with cumin and turmeric. Add the dried fruit and lentils, and continue to stir for another few minutes.
4. Whisk and dissolve the saffron in either melted coconut oil or three tablespoons of warm water. Pour the liquid saffron mixture over the rice and stir to combine. Add the cinnamon and stir again. If the rice appears to be dry, add another tablespoon of coconut oil.
5. Season with sea salt. Once the rice is ready, cover with a lid and set aside while you prepare the fesenjan.
- 4 cups walnuts
- 1 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup shiitake or portobello mushrooms
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- sea salt, to taste
1. In a large pan, toast the walnuts on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Once the walnuts have toasted, remove them from the pan and allow them to cool. Place the walnuts in a food processor and blend until finely ground.
2. Melt the coconut oil in a pot on medium heat. Sauté the onions until fragrant and translucent. Add the mushrooms, carrots, and walnuts. Sauté for another five minutes before adding the water, pomegranate molasses, and saffron. Stir to mix well, and allow the mixture to simmer and thicken on low heat. Stir every now and then to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Simmer for around 40 minutes, until you see a layer of oil appear on the surface.
3. Season with salt and serve with adas polo.
Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
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