“Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken.” -Shakespeare
This warm February in Colorado is making me dream of Maui. And, Maui is where Daniel and I finally took our honeymoon after 18 years of marriage! Shall I tell you my love stories? It’s rather scandalous but I met three of the greatest loves of my life at the same time! I mean, bear with the sap a little bit, it IS Valentine’s week after all! In December 1991, Daniel and I saw each other across the ham and cream cheese rolls at a New Year’s party. We didn’t talk until two years later but had that pause in time where we noticed each other. Not a primal “he’s hot” moment, although I’m sure that was present in my single, 22 year old self somewhere… But, just noticed. It was Hollywood all the way, folks. The air stopped moving, the music became a low jazzy din in the background and people seemed muted and stopped desperately grabbing the Pinwheels, although that is possibly because finger foods at family parties are often very lackluster and warm.
We would finally talk two years later at a little English village church one Sunday evening during their service. Daniel immediately walked up with his wide grin and “Aussie” accent to greet me. Everyone always thinks Daniel is Australian but generation after generation have farmed the rich, brown soil of the English fen in Suffolk. That 1993 Christmas, when Daniel and I first spoke, I also realized that God was real and loved me. There was something soulfully contagious about that cold, stone chapel full of authentic, robust farmers, with the dirt and grease still in the cracks of their hands, singing their hearts out like it was a boisterous and amiable Irish pub; except, they were singing to…. God. After I was baptized, and I mean, while my left foot was still coming out of the baptismal pool, Daniel asked me on a date. From there, push the fast forward button.
Our first date was on Daniel’s parent’s farm, sloshing through the slate gray afternoon in rubber wellies and green wax coats in the rain. The date was all very earthy and English. It was a dreamy start. Daniel, on the other hand, had already planned our wedding date, apparently, as he closed the evening with, “I want to marry you.” To be clear, we’d known each other as real friends for a total of 2 weeks and this was our first date. While I laugh now because he is always decisive, at the time I was shocked. Sure enough, the man could read the situation faster than I, because here we are today, almost 20 years and 7 kids later! I should throw in at this point, that Daniel’s family introduced me to my third great love- Yorkshire Puddings! There is NOTHING healthy about them but fresh out of the oven with butter or gravy, heaven meets earth for a moment. Our wedding celebration was a romantic church gala in the back garden of an ancient, crumbling vicarage in England, with moss covered stone, white tents and sunshine peeking through serene green leaves. We were broke. He was a farmer and I was fresh out of college. So, finally, 18 years later, we would have the most amazing honeymoon in Maui, with it’s miles of hardened volcanic lava, topaz seas, balmy breeze at sunset, pineapple wine and, most of all, focused time with my husband. This Valentine’s Day, I am grateful for Daniel, my kind and genuine English farmer.
And, in light of the holiday of love, I am including a basic, green protein smoothy recipe that happens to be every rugged man’s favorite color- deep berry pink. Yeah, I know, pink seems leftover from the tacky, mauve couches of the 80s or the jello and Cool Whip, Baptist, potluck salads from a small mid-west town but, trust me on this people, if leg warmers and butterfly shirts made a comeback, pink is just around the corner! Besides, I’m not asking you to wear it. And, the berries deviously cover the giant handful of spinach. You’ll never know all that green goodness is even there! Go make it for your loved ones and tell them specifically why you are grateful that they are in your life. Often we think things but don’t say them. One of my personal health goals this year- say things, whether it’s a conflict that needs to happen, because amiably going along with everything isn’t more holy, or saying what I love in people more often. I know that my life will be more rich and healthy with that kind of authentic communication.
My goals in creating my smoothies: big handful of spinach or kale, keep my calories at 250 or below, get my protein to around 17 g or above, no sugar except natural sugars and use something to give it good flavor, because there are some seriously nasty smoothies out there!
Berry Green Protein Smoothy:
- 1 Cup of frozen, mixed woodland berries, Costco (make sure the berries you buy have no added sugar)
- 2/3 C of milk (I use skim or Almond milk without Carrageenan in it).
- 1/3 C of bulk whey protein (no flavor added, I buy mine at Vitamin Cottage, Natural Grocers).
- 1 very large handful of spinach
- 1 teaspoon of Chia seeds, Costco
- 1-2 packets of Stevia (make sure this is the natural plant extract)
Blend vigorously until fully pureed and serve immediately. This makes a creamy, thick shake. Be aware that whey protein has a strong flavor. But, of the smoothies I have tasted that are within my calorie goal, this isn’t bad tasting.
Happy Valentine’s Day, reader-friends! ❤️