After 4 weeks of loads of travel, I am back home and getting back into real life. Interestingly, I have never been more organized with my content when traveling, especially before 4 weeks of on and of travel. I had plenty of content to share posts just as regularly while I was gone. From this time last month, until right now, I have been in Mexico, Portland Oregon and finally, Buffalo, New York. I’ve been down the road and back again, to say the very least.
This final leg of travel, which I just returned from last night, began as an innocent surprise trip home to see my family. I somewhat randomly selected this week, though it was my Mother’s birthday and my nephew’s first birthday, but it was just all a good excuse to come home and surprise everyone.
Sadly as the trip crept closer, I received word that my Grandfather had fallen ill and it wasn’t looking great this time. His body was failing him and it was his time. He was in Hospice. I kept checking in with my mother, from my trip to Portland, asking how he was and managing the wonder of what would happen if he passed if I was in Portland, mere days before my scheduled surprise trip. Could I book a rush trip back to New York from Portland? I would also have to spoil the surprise that I had worked so hard on and it would be a challenge cancelling a non refundable trip, just to come a couple days sooner.
The universe aligned in a way that he didn’t pass while I was in Portland. I didn’t have to make up any stories or spoil the surprise. I boarded the plane thinking, I cannot believe I am going to make it in time to see him and say ‘goodbye’. The very very early morning I landed in Buffalo on my red-eye flight from LAX, as my sister picked me up at the terminal we received the word that Grandpa had passed. Just mere hours before my flight touched down. I missed saying my goodbyes, but I was glad to know he was no longer suffering. I was also grateful to be able to be there that morning to surprise my mom and to grieve together as a family.
At the funeral one of the funeral directors read this beautiful poem that he read at his own father’s services and it struck me.
The Dash by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?
So right in that very moment, I decided to say ‘F-it!’ to all the work I had planned to get done and all the recipes that were to go up and rather I chose to fully embrace and enjoy the ‘dash’ on this trip. I didn’t want to get so caught up in work and obsessing over getting all the posts up on my website that I was sacrificing my time with my family. I chose getting to my parents house earlier for Sunday dinner, instead of going to the gym or working, because this was time to make everyone homemade gyro and to chat and play with the kids. I could lift the weights and run the miles when I got home. Staying at my sister’s house, every moment the baby was awake, was a moment to catch a smile or a giggle. With every nap, an opportunity to connect with my sister and chat about life outside of the kids. Whenever my niece was around, we were having amazing conversations about amethysts and other crystals, how to meditate with them, it was time to play Candy Lane, have fun on Snapchat and to bake grain-free chocolate chip cookies.
This is the dash. This is what matters.
It’s those moments together that are what it’s about. Not the new posts, not the likes, not watching and reading everything in your feeds, commenting on every post or the un-answered emails. It’s the moments. The Meals. The Dash!
Chicken Souvlaki is a meal that I have grown up on. A meal that has always been something we enjoy together as a family. Dad marinates the meat and grills it up for a simple, fuss-free Greek Sunday meal that we either enjoy as a huge salad or tucked into pita pockets. Ironically we didn’t make souvlaki on this trip, everyone begged for my gyro, instead, but I can guarantee when I am home in the warmer weather it most certainly will be.
I am kinda shocked that I have never shared the souvlaki recipe. It’s a really simple one. We tend to make it with chicken breast, just always have, but it can also be made with lamb, beef and probably even shrimp.
While I am sure there are gluten-free pita pocket recipes out there, I personally have always preferred my souvlaki served up salad style, I like the crunch of all the greens and the fresh veggie toppings, so this here is a hybrid of the two. With crisp, green lettuce wraps, you pile the souvlaki ingredients in, customizing to your preferred taste, add a little tzatziki and feta and a squeeze of lemon, wrap it up and munch away! For my dairy-free friends, skip the feta (or opt for a crumbly feta or goat cheese-style nut-based cheese) and make your homemade tzatziki with plain, unsweetened coconut yogurt.
I hope you enjoy this family recipe and take time to cherish the dash! It all goes far too quickly.
- 4 large free-range, organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ¾ cup lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- at least ¼ cup Terra Delyssa Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or as needed
- Butter or bibb lettuce leaves
- thinly sliced cucumbers
- thinly sliced red onion
- small diced tomatoes
- thinly sliced radishes
- crumbled sheep's milk feta
- sliced kalamata olives
- lemon wedges
- Greek dressing
- tzatziki (see recipe below)
- 2 cups full fat greek yogurt (you can also use goat milk yogurt or non-dairy yogurt)
- 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoon fresh dill, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Marinate the meat: In a shallow glass baking dish, add the chicken breasts. Pour the lemon juice over, add the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir it all really well to combine. Pour the olive oil over top to seal it. Make sure that the chicken is submerged. Cover with lid or saran wrap and let marinate at least 30 minutes, preferably 8 hours/ overnight.
- Make the tzatziki: Drain the yogurt by placing it into a sieve/strainer lined with cheese cloth or several layers of sturdy paper towels, and set over a bowl. Once the yogurt has drained for at least one hour, discard the liquid. Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel or a bunch or sturdy paper towels and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard the liquid. In a medium bowl, combine the drained yogurt, drained cucumber, garlic, fresh dill, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir well. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. The tzatziki can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
- Grill the chicken: Preheat the grill to medium-high and lightly oil grate. Alternatively, you can use a grill pan, heat on medium high heat. Cook on the prepared grill around 10 to 15 minutes per side, or until no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove chicken from grill when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 150°F. Let the chicken breasts rest: Cover the breasts with foil to rest. The chicken will continue to cook in its residual heat while it rests. Let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into it. Cut the chicken into thin slices.
- Prepare all of your toppings for serving, wash your lettuce leaves and then you can build the perfect Lettuce Wrapped Chicken Souvlaki of your dreams. Top with a dollop of homemade tzatziki, a little feta and kalamata olives.
For paleo, dairy-free, Whole30 - leave out feta cheese and tzatziki or opt for non-dairy yogurt
For AIP leave out above dairy and skip the tomatoes
For FODMAP leave out garlic and onion