December can often be a decadent month, filled with candy, cookies, eggnog and rich, filling plates of food. It tends to be a time of excess and splurging when it comes to our social calendar, our pocketbooks and our diets. As we close out 2017 and look toward the new year, we are understandably looking to dial it back and resume a more moderate lifestyle.
If you think about it, New Year's resolutions often tend to be negative — I won't do this or that. I'm swearing off this or eliminating that — when really our intention and our hope is to enrich our life and make it more positive than it was before. I'm the type of person who, instead of asking what I'm going to eliminate from my life in 2018, I'm asking what I need or want more of. What do you need more of? Perhaps in 2018 you need more quality time with your spouse or kids, more time off or more sleep. Maybe you need more balance or to be more present or to establish healthier boundaries. Maybe you need to get outdoors more or read more books. Inevitably, when we intentionally prioritize the things we need more of, the things we need to eliminate become clear without our needing to focus on them. In order to make room for the things we need, we gradually step away from the things we don't.
For example, if I'm wanting to eat more vegetables and fruit in 2018, then I head to the produce section of the grocery store first thing and fill my cart with all the colorful, fresh, seasonal things. Then, when I get to the snack aisle or the bread aisle or the ice cream aisle, I have less room in my cart and in my budget for those items, without ever having to explicitly say "I'm going to eat less ice cream in 2018." It helps me focus on what I'm gaining rather than anything I might be losing.
To help begin everyone's 2018 on a bright, fresh note, I've made you some crisp ginger pork lettuce wraps. They are a little spicy and a little sweet. They're bursting with flavor, protein and lots of goodies from the produce aisle. And if you do anything in 2018, spend an excess of time and energy on those around you. Splurge on love. Focus on the positive, on the things you need, on the things that will make your life a little better than it was before. I hope, for everyone's sake, to see a little more positivity in 2018.
Ginger pork lettuce wraps
1 pound ground pork
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
8 ounces water chestnuts, drained and diced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 head butter lettuce, separated into individual leaves
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the pork, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, sweet chili sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil until thoroughly combined. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Swirl about 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in the pan.
Add the pork mixture to the pan, breaking up the meat with a spatula, and cook until browned and done. Stir in the water chestnuts and oyster sauce until coated. Remove the mixture from the heat. Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro. Spoon the pork mixture into the lettuce cups. Serve with Sriracha on the side. Enjoy promptly. Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.
Maya Wilson lives in Kenai and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your inquiry may appear in a future column.