Chicken Nicoise Pasta Salad from Foodie Crush

The New Years resolutions have rung themselves in. And some of them, for some of you, are already on their way out.

This year I’m not making New Years resolutions. Instead, I’m setting goals that aren’t beginning-of-the-year-dependent, the kind that once the shiny sparkle of the New Year has faded so with it go the good intentions of achieving those rock hard abs and closets that look like they were ripped from the Container Store catalog.

That’s just not where I am anymore, looking toward the unknown of what might or might not work, what might or might not make me happy.  It’s not that I don’t want to be in good health or have a clean and organized home, its just that I know time is precious and flies by too quickly. Instead, I’m going to go retro this year. I’m going to remember the way I used to behave, the way I used to enjoy, because I know what I did then worked and made me happy. The essentials are there, and can easily be adapted to where I am now in my now, much happier life. So, here are my goals for this year.

Chicken Nicoise Pasta Salad from Foodie Crush

GOAL 1. The perennial goal on everyone’s list: Eat healthy. While I’ve been on a continual diet of one sort or another for the past 17 years or more—with a background working at a nutrition magazine where I learned more than most about each and every diet book, fad and trend, believe me when I say, I’ve talked about or tried them all—I’ve found the constant obsession with what goes into my mouth has only led to feelings of deprivation or an increased aversion of being photographed after my daughter was born 8 years ago thanks to an upward tick of the numbers on my home scale. (See goal #2.)

This year instead of doing Weight Watchers, Atkins, Mediterranean, or eating due to my blood type, I’m going minimal style and simply watching what I eat and incorporating plenty of fresh veggies into my diet. I’m going back in time to when I was at a weight I was at for years (and maintained thanks to exercise, again see goal #2) and harkening to the portion sizes I ate in my younger days. Smaller portions, fresher portions leaving room for my beloved cheese and a few snacks along the way. It worked then, it should work now.

Chicken Nicoise Pasta Salad from Foodie Crush

GOAL 2. Getting off my butt and out from behind the computer. As referenced in goal #1, after the birth of my daughter I lost all the baby weight relatively easily after my Smudge was born thanks to the muscle memory my body had from seven years of working out with a trainer prior to my baby delivery.

But thanks to a new morning routine of juggling a kid, a full-time work load plus a few hi-jinks my body played on me thanks to childbirth, my exercise habit was, and has been, greatly reduced, resulting in an expanding waist line and way less time for the gym. Yep, those are my excuses. The ones I think of every time I hit my snooze alarm instead of getting up and moving my butt. The ones I think of every time I pull my jeans from the dryer after they accidentally got mixed in with the heat instead of air dried and I realize its going to be a wrestling match getting those babies on.

So this year, my goal is to get up and move, just like I used to 3 times a week when I worked out with my trainer. I’m going to make time for me and schedule my workouts just like I schedule time to create a blog post or vacuum the house. So whether its right after I pop the contacts into my bleary and barely opened eyes or once I’ve “shut down” for the day as a separation from my home work like and home family life, the trainer may no longer be in my budget but the exercise surely can be.

Chicken Nicoise Pasta Salad from Foodie Crush

GOAL 3. Be a better friend and get off of my one way street. I have several people in my life who have been with me through a myriad of mazes and situations, friends who have knitted themselves into the fabric of my life. Over the past few years I’ve a few more who after getting to know them on the surface, I’d love to add them to the deeper thread of my life’s fabric of friendship.

I’ve been driven to create a job, a career, one that’s taken a lot of focus. But in doing I’ve let my need for friends to take the fall. This year I’m going to harken back to the time in my life when I was a better friend, and to create that balance and restore my friendships will mean I must give more of myself instead of taking for myself and quit being a martyr by putting my work in front of friendships.

I have to invest in my friendships, both old and new, to have friends. A strong friendship, just like any personal relationship, is not a one way street. And as much as I need friends, they need me too. This will be the year my goal will be to send more flowers, writing more friend songs and heed the wise words of Neil and Barbara.

Chicken Nicoise Pasta Salad from Foodie Crush

4. Create more memories. This was my main goal for 2012, and I truly think some of the changes I made in my life and my schedule made me actually achieve it. I quit my job working for someone else and am now an independent business owner, allowing me to pick up my daughter after school and the flexibility to have more time with her and my husband.

I feel like I created a better balance of family time and social media time (although my husband will likely dispute this) and I took a social media sabbatical from Christmas thru this past week to create family memories both around the Christmas tree thru New Years on an amazing, relaxing Mexican vacation. Sure there was plenty of cooking that would have put me squarely ahead of my editorial schedule to create some amazing blog posts, but instead of being busy documenting and taking myself out of the moment and being present and accounted for, I relaxed and simply enjoyed it all.

This year I’m going to do more of the same as last year, focusing on mini vacations for my family and more time to be us, whether its in the kitchen or on the slopes. It won’t matter as long as we’re together.

I highly recommend that if you are a blogger, that you too take vacation—from yourself. It’s the only way to be inspired to continue to give back.

Chicken Nicoise Pasta Salad from Foodie Crush

Before I left for my New Years vacation, I created this delicious salad that works oh so well for bringing a bit of freshness with ingredients available all year round into the winter wonderland thanks to crunchy veggies, chicken and pasta. It’s hearty enough to serve as a main or can easily be adapted as a side.

And best of all it addresses and adheres to each of my goals for 2013:

goal 1. It’s a healthier version of pasta, delicious in just the right portions.

goal 2. It’s perfect to be eaten as a lunch or dinner after you’ve gotten moving or even before thanks to high protein and a healthy dose of carbs.

goal 3. It’s simple to create and is easily transportable to share with a friend on a park bench, beach blanket or a dinner table.

goal 4. It’s based on mine and my mom’s favorite pasta from one of our favorite eateries where they serve it with French Onion Soup.

I hope it helps you in some of your 2013 goals as well. Good food, it does that.

Chicken Nicoise Pasta Salad
 
Ingredients
  • ½ pound fettuccine noodles
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, sliced
  • ½ pound green beans
  • ½ cucumber
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • ¼ cup capers
  • ⅓ cup caesar salad dressing
  • 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt and add fettuccine noodles. Cook according to package directions or until al dente. Remove noodles from water to a strainer, reserving water in pot. Rinse noodles and set aside to cool.
  2. Trim ends of green beans and add to hot noodle water. Remove after one minute then rinse in cold water and set aside.
  3. Peel cucumber and red onion and thinly slice. Seed and core red bell pepper and thinly slice.
  4. To assemble, group fettuccine, green beans, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion and capers in sections on a serving plate. Mix dressing with champagne vinegar and dress fettuccine noodles then season with kosher salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: serves 2

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