I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Fresh Starts, Homemade Mayo, and Cashew Chicken Salad

I love January for its fresh starts.

The month is literally saturated with beautiful intentions and fervent conviction. My own home is no exception.

But come the third week of the month I find it all waning a bit. Perhaps it’s the bone-numbing cold that lingers outside, creeping indoors the moment I let the fire dwindle. Perhaps it’s the early darkness that seeps over everything around 4 in the afternoon. Perhaps it’s my children’s endless energy and ravenous appetites for cheese, peanut butter, and Oreo cookies. But whatever the cause, my own desire to make healthy choices (for both mind and body) become a bit of a struggle. The thought of a movie and popcorn sound much more enjoyable than reading, exercise, and carrot sticks once the kids are in bed. Can I get an amen?

But it’s all about balance and moderation, right? Choosing great over good—Best over immediate. And when it comes to making food, elimination and denial is no way to live. (Words of a die-hard foodie, right there). Substitution is a reasonable shift. One of my favorite ways to do this is by whipping up my own sauces, dressings, and marinades, and making friends with coconut oil and homemade nut-butter. If you are prone to using butter, topping your food with dressings, or turning to the peanut-butter jar when you need a snack, replacing these foods with healthier versions can go a long way. Homemade mayonnaise is my absolute favorite.

Did you know you can make your own mayo? I almost never buy it anymore because it’s so much easier, inexpensive, and better for your health to make your own.

To make your own Mayonnaise you will need:

1 egg
1 ¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
fresh herbs (optional)

Combine the egg, a ¼ cup of olive oil, and ground mustard in a blender or food processor. Whirl on low speed. Throw in a handful of fresh herbs like rosemary, parsley, or dill for extra flavor. Continue whirling, and add in the remaining cup of olive oil in a very slow steady stream. I use a long-necked glass bottle to help me drizzle the oil into the whirling egg mixture as slowly and steadily as possible. This is the most important step. Immersion is the means by which a thin liquid is slowly incorporated into another thin liquid, and its physical composition is changed in the process. Olive oil and egg, when blended together, slowly thicken to a beautiful consistency without any additives or preservatives.

Once the oil has been added and the mixture is thick, pause the blender or food processor, and add the lemon juice. Whirl to incorporate. It will thin the mixture slightly, but not enough to worry about. Store in a tightly sealed container, and refrigerate. Unlike store-bought mayo, this recipe contains raw egg and refrigeration is important. Toss the unused mayo after two weeks if you’ve not used it all, and whirl up a fresh batch.

One of my favorite ways to use my homemade mayo is in a batch of cashew chicken salad.

Benefits: It’s the perfect lunch. It goes great on sandwiches, over greens, or independently right out of the mixing bowl. Also, it reminds me of summer. Which, in the heart of January, is a beautiful thing.

Healthy Cashew Chicken Salad

2 cups of shredded chicken (diced chicken breast, rotisserie chicken, or canned chicken all work well)
3 Tablespoons of mayo
¼ cup celery, diced
½ cup red or green grapes, halved
½ an avocado cubed
½ cup of celery, diced
dash of salt
dash of pepper
handful of roasted cashews

Mix to incorporate, top with cashews, and serve chilled.

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