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Ingredients for Salmon Cooked in Parchment with Tarragon and Peas (c)2013 La Domestique

I’m stubborn. I don’t like to be told what to do. Try to push me and I’ll probably do exactly the opposite. Luckily, my husband finds this quality endearing. Was I born this way? Is it genetics, birth order (I’m the eldest), or ingrained in my Southern roots? Maybe my obstinate nature became stronger after I was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of nineteen. The chemo, the radiation, the doctors – I had to follow orders or die. I fell ill over the course of a weekend and was transported on an emergency jet from a tiny college town in Arkansas to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. The next day I got a diagnosis of cancer and my first round of chemotherapy. Like a dog backed into a corner, I had no choice but to do what I was told. Months of chemo, radiation and a bone marrow transplant followed. The doctors handed down mandates. Because of the treatment, I would never be able to bear children. My chances of survival would be 20% at best. The treatment would destroy my body and cause lifelong side effects. If the treatment was successful, my body would heal and I would survive.

Even though I hated living under the rule of doctors and hospitals, I’m grateful for the expert medical care I received eleven years ago. Now I’m a normal thirty-year-old woman who, like many people walking this earth, takes life for granted. No doctor informs my daily choices and I can do as I please. I’m sleep deprived and stressed. Though my diet is pretty healthy and I eat a fair amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, I have a sweet tooth and love to over-indulge in refined carbohydrates. For years after cancer treatment I’ve struggled with acid reflux and something called Graft vs. Host Disease, an immune condition in bone marrow transplant patients which causes inflammation of the digestive system. This results in weight loss related to chronic stomach upset and inability to retain nutrients. It’s like having the stomach flu all the time.

Western medicine cured my cancer and taught me to avoid anything holistic or natural, which could interact with the chemotherapy drugs. As a cancer patient, I’ve always been suspicious of natural remedies that promised a miracle cure, and resented friends who tried to push alternative treatments on me. Yoga really isn’t my thing**, and I have trouble holding back the giggles in a meditation session. {**Note- No offense to yogis. I have many friends who are into yoga, but it’s just not for me.} However, I’ve become increasingly disheartened by Western medicine. During years of battling stomach problems no doctor has recommended diet changes. I’m on and off steroid meds and popping antacids like candy. Last week I found myself in the emergency room with excruciating chest pain caused by spasms of the esophagus. That’s when I realized I am ready to change.

I enjoy eating fresh and healthy foods, but resist special diets and detox plans because I don’t want to give up the foods I love (pasta, bread, dairy, wine). At this point I believe there must be something I can do to help my body heal, and I’m willing to make some dietary changes. I feel inspired by reading the stories of other bloggers (Caitlin of RoostAran of Cannelle et Vanille, and Sarah of My New Roots) who changed their lives with food and still enjoy beautiful meals. Yesterday I went to the public library and picked up a handful of books on healthy eating. I was surprised to find several books on how to eat if you’ve got acid reflux. Today I’m halfway through the New York Times Bestseller, Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself, by Alejandro Junger, M.D. If any of you are familiar with the Whole Living Action Plan, Dr. Junger designed the first one based on his book, Clean, back when the magazine was called Body + Soul magazine, five years ago. My husband agreed to do a cleanse (detox plan) together, and I think investing in our health as a couple seems like a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. I’m still doing some research, but the plan is to do a combination of the 2013 Whole Living Action Plan and the cleanse from Dr. Junger’s book. We’re going for what’s called a Nutritional Cleanse which involves lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes, rather than a liquid diet, like Juice Fasting.

Did you start out 2013 with a cleanse or healthy eating plan? I would love to hear about it in the comments section. Please feel free to share your favorite resources and those who inspire you. Below is a simple recipe for Salmon Cooked in Parchment that the husband and I will definitely be eating during our upcoming cleanse. Also, I’m collecting recipes for our cleanse on the La Domestique Pinterest page with boards dedicated to Cleanse Inspiration and Smoothies.

Salmon Cooked in Parchment with Tarragon and Peas (c)2013 La Domestique

Salmon Cooked in Parchment

If you’ve never tried cooking fish at home this simple recipe for salmon baked in a parchment bag is a great way to start. The fish stays moist and flavorful steaming in lemon juice and a splash of extra virgin olive oil. Toss in a handful of spring herbs and vegetables – I’ve used peas and tarragon – but leeks, baby greens or spring onions would be delicious. Other fresh and lively herbs such as mint or chives are also a good option. Salmon Cooked in Parchment is an easy technique, and once you’ve become comfortable making the dish it’s open to endless variations.

Serves 1


  • 1 piece of parchment paper, 10 x 12 inches
  • 1 Salmon fillet, weighing 6 ounces
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small lemon
  • ½ cup peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

Heat the oven to 400°F. Place the salmon fillet in the center of the parchment paper. Season with salt and drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over top. Slice the lemon thinly and layer the slices atop the salmon, reserving extra lemon to serve with the finished dish. Arrange the peas around the salmon and sprinkle tarragon over everything.

Fold the parchment around the salmon to enclose it completely, as if wrapping a present. Fold up the short edges on either end then bring the long sides together by creasing one over the other. No need to stress about this step, you can always place the parchment bag in foil and enclose the package completely if you’re having trouble.

Bake salmon until just cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. The fish should flake easily with a fork and the flesh should no longer be translucent, but rather a cloudy pink color. Serve immediately, either in the bag or transferred to a plate.