Tomato, Polenta, and Prosciutto Stacks with Balsamic Syrup

So far, I have been using my summer to become healthier in so many ways: mentally, physically, and spiritually. It’s absolutely blissful to have the time to do this, and I do realize most people do not have the luxury of all this time. So, I’m using it wisely and I am not allowing myself to feel guilty for taking this time to do exactly what I want. It is what allows me to start the school year with a fresh mind and spirit and a revitalized love for teaching. I need to take care of myself, because if I don’t, I’m no good to anyone.

I have uncovered many wonderful tips for being healthier on the inside as well as the outside, which I will share as I try them. One particularly helpful tool I’ve found recently for keeping me mentally healthy is The Four Agreements. I’ve seen these condensed agreements before, and I actually read the more in-depth book by the same name YEARS ago. They are 4 wonderful ways to live more happily, healthfully, and peacefully. I’m so glad I was reminded of them again today (thank you, Facebook!). They are:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
    1. Speak with integrity.
    2. Say only what you mean.
    3. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself of gossip about others.
    4. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
  2. Don’t take Anything Personally
    1. Nothing others do is because of you.
    2. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.
    3. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
    1. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.
    2. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.
    3. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  4. Always Do Your Best
    1. Your best is going to change moment by moment; it will be difficult when you are healthy as opposed to sick.
    2. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Some of them are a little harder than others (*cough* gossiping *cough*), but I will definitely give all of them a try! If you would like to join me, let me know what you think and how it is going for you. Oh, and try this fabulously delicious and light meal as you ponder living with integrity, self-awareness, courage, and self-love. Your tummy and your soul will thank you.

Tomato, Polenta, and Prosciutto Stacks with Balsamic Syrup

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a light dinner (makes 4-5 stacks, depending on how thickly you slice)

2 large beefsteak tomatoes (Trader Joe’s)

1 tube polenta (Trader Joe’s)

8 slices thinly sliced polenta (I get mine at Trader Joe’s…shocker!)

1 bunch fresh basil (at least 8-9 leaves)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper

Balsamic Syrup

1 cup balsamic vinegar

*½ teaspoon honey or brown sugar

2-3 dried bay leaves

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Couple cracks sea salt and black pepper

Instructions:

In a small pot over medium heat, add the glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook for at least 15-20 minutes or until reduced quite a bit. There should be around a ¼ cup left over. I know it will become syrupy when I see a lot of bubbles on the bottom. Also, when you take it off the heat, it will thicken nicely. The longer you leave it to rest, the thicker it gets!

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400F. Slice the polenta into rounds, ¼ inch or so. Brush both sides with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Bake on a non-stick cookie sheet (or use one lined with parchment paper or foil) for around 20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Set aside to cool slightly when done.

Assemble your stacks! I did tomato, prosciutto, polenta, tomato, basil, prosciutto, polenta , basil. Drizzle as much of the thick balsamic syrup as you like. It is a good mix of spicy and sweet.

*if you have IBS or are on a low FODMAPs diet, leave out the honey and just use the brown sugar. That is what I did, and it was fantastic!

Options:

-make it vegan and leave out the prosciutto!

-add sliced mozzarella cheese if dairy doesn’t bother you!

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photo 1 (14)

recipe inspiration from: A Beautiful Mess