When you can’t find a recipe you like…

…make it up.

I just got back from a 3 week opera gig on Martha’s Vineyard. It was hectic. And chaotic. With more mosquitos than should be allowed on an island paradise. I didn’t get my script (they cut the recit & wrote new English dialogue to fill in the holes) until 4 days into rehearsals, which left me 2 weeks to memorize & bring it to life before we had an audience. Oh, & in the meantime, we were singing development concerts all over the island, not to mention staging an opera. And it was awesome. The cast was astounding – incredible artists, and amazing people to boot – and we were greeted after every performance with a standing O. And boy, did we work for it. It was a real gift to have our efforts so soundly appreciated. I don’t sing (solely) for the applause, but it certainly sweetened the deal when we had effectively done the equivalent of a modern dance piece while singing one of the hardest ensembles ever (countless pages of Italian patter in the passagio, no less…).

In my house of 5, 4 of us were real foodies, so there were some good eats happening around that table. I spent a fortune at the market (have you ever shopped on MV? Holy cats!), but had enough time in my schedule to prepare all of my own food without having to do it the night before. It wasn’t always glamorous – there were days when I brought a bag of celery sticks & a tub of hummus to rehearsal & called it lunch. There were days when I cooked the. best. fish. ever (striped bass, which is in short season). Some days I packed a kale & white bean salad with sesame oil & Bragg’s Amino Acid (GF soy sauce substitute). Some days, I had a vegan protein shake for breakfast AND for dinner. The last week on the island, a local friend invited to to go “shopping” in her vegetable garden. I picked chard & kale with my own two hands. (And oh, the spearmint!) I ate what my body needed, & I felt amazing. My stomach started to get flatter. I was able to deflect an allergy attack without extra medication. And then I started to cheat. A little wheat here. A little wheat there. A little bacon here, a little chorizo there. And after the show closed, fudge & champagne. And yesterday, I felt it. I simply have to be more careful about what I eat. There’s no way around it anymore. Alcohol and sugar do me no favors. The temporary rush isn’t worth the suffering that follows. Thankfully I have learned to recognize my limits, and I’ve learned that if I limit myself to protein & vegetables (especially leafy greens), I’ll recover from anything quicker. Clean eating can sure help cure what ails you. So…

I bought a pound of shrimp at Whole Foods after work but couldn’t find a recipe I liked that included the other ingredients I had at hand. (I really should pick my recipes before I shop, but that’s never been my style.) I was getting hungry & frustrated, so I faked it. I had two organic bell peppers (one yellow, one orange), French green beans, fresh garlic, shallots, sesame oil and fish sauce. Et voilà! A perfect dinner.

Like I said in my last post, eating wellthfully doesn’t have to be complicated. I heated the wok, then added the oil, vegetables, garlic & shallots, then the fish sauce & shrimp. I stir-fried it til the shrimp was cooked through. Easy peasy, & so delicious! Don’t be afraid to make it up as you go along. (I should apply this little lesson more wholeheartedly to my life outside of the kitchen…it would make singing coloratura a lot less scary. And could make big decisions seem like an adventure, and not like a test I’m afraid of failing.)

Anyway, it seems I could go on and on tonight, so I’ll leave you with this: sometimes, your best choice is to make it up. Exercise your creativity in the kitchen, on the stage, at your desk, and the results may surprise & delight you!

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