Fear is a funny thing. 

I was at the lake with Emmett playing fetch and the strangest thing happened – he’s a strange dog, but this wasn’t his usual brand of strange – he bolted to the water but was afraid to swim. He learned to swim months ago and being a French water dog, it’s his wheelhouse. I’ve seen him splash around, jumping head first into giant waves, but on this day, with the lake like glass he wouldn’t go deeper than a few inches.

emmett-swimI could see the wheels turning as he tried to figure out how to get his stick that was gently bobbing away. After fifteen minutes and countless frustrating attempts he finally did it – launching himself through the water like a rocket – he retrieved his stick. Of course, he had no trouble paddling around once he took that plunge, but it was a tough moment to overcome.

As he trotted onto shore – stick protruding from his mouth – I could see the pride beaming off him. Emmett became a dog possessed as he tore up and down the beach throwing his stick in the air, jumping around like an idiot. He was crazy for two hours after, running and jumping and acting a little full of himself.

I still don’t know why he doubted himself at first, but it gave me pause. I have always been my own worst obstacle – sabotaging opportunities out of fear of failure. The best accomplishments always come with a precursor of fear – that’s how we know it’s worth doing. Conquering a challenge is ever so satisfying and causes us to grow, to learn.

What’s left after that fear melts away? Well, we know just what we’re capable of. So the next time my heart is leaping from my chest and things seem insurmountable, I will picture Emmett, his stick and his giant leap. It’s important to know that on the other side of fear is joy.

 

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SKINNY PESTO CARBONARA with BROCCOLI & BRUSSEL SPROUTS

serves 2

Jamie Oliver does it again with this Skinny Carbonara in his new book Everyday Super Food. Not only has he managed to take a heavy cream dish and make it healthy, but it is really fast and easy too. I added some extra green power with the broccoli and brussel sprouts.

I’ll say up front that I don’t like creamy sauces. I had a hate on for fettucine alfredo my entire childhood – still do. I realize I’m in the minority here, but they’re way too rich for my palette. This lightened version of carbonara is sheer brilliance, it retains the luxurious nature of the dish, but is considerably more complex, allowing more to shine through than just heavy cream.

Take this in a vegetarian direction simply by omitting the bacon.

 

2 tbsp sliced almonds

1 garlic clove

1 small bunch of fresh basil

30 grams/1 oz fresh Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil

optional: 1 small chili, deseeded

200 grams/7 oz frozen peas, thawed

170 grams/6 oz whole wheat pasta (or gluten free)

2 strips of bacon cut into thin slices

2 handfuls of broccoli, separated into small florets

a small handful of brussel sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded

1 large egg

1/2 cup plain full fat yogurt

 

Lightly toast your almonds in a dry non-stick pan and toss into your food processor and pulse until fine. With the processor still running add the garlic, basil, cheese, lemon, 1 tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few twists of black pepper and chili (if using). Once everything is well combined, drop in the peas and pulse into a coarse paste.

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Bring a well salted pot of water to boil. Blanch the broccoli for a couple minutes until brilliant green and tender crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Return water to a boil if the temperature dropped and cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Gently fry the bacon with 1 tsp oil over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the pan transferring to paper towel with a slotted spoon. Spoon 3/4 of the pea pesto into the pan to warm with the brussel sprouts and broccoli.

In a small bowl, combine your egg and yogurt and season with a little salt and pepper.

When the pasta is done, drain and add to the pesto pan, reserving a cup of the starchy water. Remove from heat and add the yogurt mixture, tossing well to coat. If needed, loosen your sauce with a little pasta water. Taste for seasoning and add a little salt or pepper if needed.

Spoon over the extra pesto and sprinkle with your crisp bacon. Grate on some fresh Parmesan and dive in!

For a little extra decadence: top with a soft poached egg and let that oozey yolk do its thing

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This dish pairs really nice with a creamy bottle of Chardonnay. I like these two Niagara Region vintages: Marynissen’s Platinum Series Chardonnay or Konzelmann’s Barrel Aged Chardonnay.

Looking for something to pair with red wine? Check out this Calabrese Pasta or this Cannelloni.

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