Posted on May 22 2017
I saw you when you were just a cute curious kid who would spend most of days dreaming and looking outside the window with your whimsical imagination. I saw your wildest dreams and all the crazy adventures that played in your head. I whispered in your ear, ‘Royce, what if all your dreams could come to life?’ and I made one your dreams really come true– your love for cooking. I remember the very first Thanksgiving meal you cooked for your family when you were a 15-year-old girl. I saw you toiling all week preparing for the big day. You had your mom shop the ingredients you listed and your dad run to the market for those last minute items! Every dish was made by you with passion and real joy, as you wanted your family to feel me –Love- as they ate. Oh how you loved seeing their smiles as they ate your food. You and I could still hear their laugh and conversations late into the night…
But I remember when your life suddenly turned sour in your late teenage years and when you began facing an identity crisis. You couldn’t find me, you didn’t feel me. Instead you felt pain. You didn’t believe anyone could love you for who you are. You felt worthless. So all that depression, confusion, and void eventually led to your unhealthy and self-destructive eating. You soon suffered eating disorder and bulimic tendencies. And through your twenties, you tried so hard to stay thinner, taking all kinds of diet pills and working out close to 3 hours a day. You were dying to achieve perfection and obsessed over your self-image, trying to appear beautiful and strong to the world and to people you were close to. You understood beauty as looking thin and flawless on the outside- your body, face, hair, skin, make-up, nails, outfits, shoes, bags and more... You spent so much money on shopping things that only added to your outer look but couldn’t cheer your inner heart. You really didn’t know only I could give you such delight deep inside.
You finally hit rock bottom in your early 30’s as your body started deteriorating from all the stress you put on yourself. All the binging on junk food and extreme irregular diets following the horrible eating, all those exhausting workouts that took a toll on your precious body. Your immune system crashed, hormones took a shift, and multiple doctor visits followed. All the health problems developed including allergies, skin disease, digestive issues and IBS… Trying to instantly change your body back to health shocked your body in return, and you actually felt worse. You realized that your knowledge of health had been severely distorted. You realized you needed to reboot and start all over.
Then you remembered me. You realized that you had to actually start from the inside out, from your heart. You slowly learned to love yourself and to free yourself from all the societal definition and pressure of idealistic beauty. You had to intentionally stop caring about what other people might think of you and avoid solely focusing on your outer looks. You learned to let go of all the wrong and unhealthy motives for excessive shopping and eating. You ceased striving to be someone you weren’t. Instead, you embraced yourself and remembered who you truly were. It definitely wasn’t an overnight transformation but over the years in this journey, you became more and more comfortable in your own skin. Loving yourself in a whole new way gave you true freedom and inspired you to make healthier choices for yourself. Your healthier desires were reflected also in your cooking and the ingredients you carefully selected for your food. You took practical steps and incremental measures to be extra intentional on what you put inside your precious body. You finally learned to truly care for your body because you began to love yourself.
Beautiful Royce, today I celebrate with you for feeling healthier than ever before and as those health issues you carried for so long are now gone! I see that your heart is now filled with love and healthy desires. Thank you for your courage in taking one day at a time to make those healthier choices. Thank you for showing us that loving myself starts from the inside out. That the very way we love ourselves is reflected in how we nourish and care for our body. Your heart is full of delight and now you can finally smile when you eat.
So those who are on a similar journey, be hopeful and keep moving! Healthier eating gives us the energy we need to live every day in freedom. Don’t despair when you have bad days. We all do! But remember to love yourself and enjoy who you are. Start making a healthy choice of eating for your body. You are precious.
Royce was born and raised in sunny California with extended family in Hawaii. Besides cooking, she has a passion for interior design and almost everything that involves the home. She says loving myself means just being the authentic version of me - to know myself in moments of joy and discover deeper parts of me in moments of sadness. Invest time in loving yourself. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! - @royceehan
Bracelet: Love Snow Bracelet from PUT ON LOVE
Shirt: Taylor Plaid Shirt from PUT ON LOVE
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Line two baking sheets with foil. Coat one, the one you’ll use for the yams, with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Toss yams with honey, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of pepper flakes. Let it sit in bowl for 5 to 10 minutes. Toss chickpeas with 1 tablespoon olive oil, smoked paprika and salt to taste.
- Spread yams out on olive oiled baking sheet in one layer. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes until nicely toasted underneath. Flip/move wedges around and roast for 5 to 10 more minutes until soft and singed. For extra color, run them under the broiler for a final minute.
- Meanwhile, spread chickpeas on second uncoated baking sheet. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, rolling around once or twice to cook evenly, until lightly browned and crispy on the outside. Set aside.
- Whisk yogurt, remaining tablespoon olive oil and lime juice together in a small dish, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Shred or slice thin 2 bunches of collard greens and sauté with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/3 cup water, and 1 teaspoon garlic.
- Prepare 2 poached eggs as you wish.
- Arrange yams on plate or platter, drizzle some of the yogurt over, then about half the chickpeas. Garnish with scallions, cherry tomatoes, avocados, julienned yellow squash and remaining pepper flakes, plus flaky sea salt. Keep extra chickpeas and yogurt on the side. *recipe inspired by Smitten Kitchen