lemon-roasted asparagus + green bean salad with smoked paprika dressing

Self-doubt's a pain in the arse, but it's something most of us deal with in greater or lesser degrees, every damn day. It's that demon which renders me useless on occasion and is something that I feel we all need to be more open and honest about. See, some people suffer in silence, thinking they are the only ones who doubt their own abilities, looking at everyone else's perfect lives/photos/recipes/family, whilst instantly downplaying their own. But what we all need to realise is that we are not alone. I recently spent time with a beautiful group of talented females and the subject of self doubt came up in a slightly emotional way, for us all. I shared a few of my thoughts on the matter, but it's also a conversation I'd like to start here too.

Self-doubt is nothing new, but I feel in this world of social media and over-sharing that this feeling is becoming somewhat of an epidemic. All it takes is for one quick scroll through Instagram or Facebook to leave you feeling like what you are contributing to this world is just not good enough. And well, that just plain crap. I think what people need to remember, what we ALL need to remember is that what is shown online (and often in person too) is usually just the shiny pretty bits. That one corner of the house which looks tidy and together. What we don't often see is what's outside of that frame

It's all too easy to believe that everyone else has their lives together, only leading you to that feeling of inadequacy again. I mean, surely everyone else feels happy all the time.. their Facebook status is always so positive?! Ha! It's a crock I tell ya (and part of the reason I've pulled back from social media of late).
I'm a perfectionist, but I'm far from perfect.
Chatting with one of my friends whom I look up to (in every way) earlier this year, I was shocked to hear she too had self-doubts about herself and her work. From the outside it looks like everything she touches turns to gold and so effortlessly too. With this in mind and the profound effect this had on my own feelings of self-doubt, I offered up that we all feel this way at times when I was with this group last week. I talked about how there were days during the writing of my book where I was so overwhelmed with self-doubt that I verged on having panic attacks, I'd look at other cookbooks or blogs and think I'd might as well give up now. I think every creative struggles with these demons and while I'm far from ridding myself of these feelings, I do think the key is to not let them stop you from doing what you love. Or more simply put (and in the words of my dear friend Grace), 'give that little gremlin the middle finger!'.
I have to admit I've felt a little lost on here since working on my book. This is a space I love and I've always used it as a place to share whatever has been inspiring me in that moment, but after the book I've been feeling like I can't post recipes on here unless they are truly amazing. The more followers I've gotten and recognition I've had has only increased this feeling of pressure to perform and my overthinking mind. I constantly have to remind myself of why I started this blog in the first place. It sure as hell wasn't to try and attract thousands of followers on social media or to win fancy awards (that's nice don't get me wrong, but has never been my motivation). The self-doubt has kept many recipes from appearing on here, even though I have all the photos for them and they are probably still of a much higher quality than most of the recipes I was posting a few years back, but for some reason or another I've managed to talk myself out of sharing them in the fear that they won't be seen as good enough. I was actually close to talking myself out of sharing this simple, but tasty recipe with you all today, but after witnessing my eight year old wolfing down a huge plateful and licking her lips, I thought what the heck. It may not be award winning, but it sure is good...

lemon-roasted asparagus + green beans w/ smoked paprika dressing
Toasted hazelnuts would also be lovely in place of the macadamias, as would macadamia nut oil in place of the olive oil.
Serves 4-6 as a side or 2-3 as a light lunch.

3 bunches asparagus (approx 500g), hard ends trimmed
2 big handfuls green beans (approx 300g), trimmed
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
olive oil, sea salt + freshly ground black pepper

1 small clove garlic
1 teaspoon runny honey
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
handful macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
handful of dill, roughly chopped (or use mint/parsley/coriander (cilantro))
lemon wedges, to serve

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Lay asparagus and beans out onto two large baking trays, drizzle with olive oil, season well and scatter with lemon zest. Bake for 20-ish minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and golden. 

Finely chop garlic clove, sprinkle with a little sea salt and use the side of your chefs knife to mash the garlic to a paste. Transfer to a bowl, add honey, smoked paprika, lemon juice and vinegar and whisk. Continue to whisk whilst drizzling in olive oil in a steady stream. Season well. I've left the dressing quite piquant to counteract the oiliness of the roasted veg, however you can increase the amount of olive oil in the dressing if preferred.

Remove asparagus and beans from the oven, transfer to a serving platter, scatter with macadamias and dill and spoon over dressing (any leftover dressing will store happily in a glass jar in the fridge for 5-7 days). Serve salad with extra lemon to squeeze over.
Note: I chopped the asparagus spears in half when serving, to make it easier to eat. In hindsight I probably should have just done this before roasting...

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  • Reply
    November 11, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Yes – we all have wee gremlins lurking in our subconscious. Take time for yourself, breathe deeply, eat well, laugh often, love fully and those gremlins will quiten a little

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 1:55 am

      Thanks love! I think it definitely helps to know we are not alone in these thoughts xx

  • Reply
    Jess Aan
    November 11, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Yes – keep it simple – that's what we love. I bought the book because of the blog! Because I love it. So stick to how you have always done it. With confidence and love.

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 1:55 am

      Thanks Jess! xx

  • Reply
    Max Brearley
    November 11, 2014 at 6:09 am

    I think there's so many people who'll get this, Emma. When what you do as an outlet becomes more, whether it’s a job or there’s just a lot more people watching, self doubt and criticism become a daily heckler. I decided long ago I heckle back. Sometimes I win, sometimes not.
    P.S. If you're hiding any more asparagus recipes, please, set them free.

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 1:57 am

      Thanks Max! I'd love to get better at heckling back 🙂
      ps I'll see what other asparagus recipes I have hiding back here xx

  • Reply
    Lizzy (Good Things)
    November 11, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Emm, your recipes are always awesome, even when they are just quick things you've rustled up for the family (most of us eat normal everyday food and many people are looking for those quick and fabulous recipes…. please don't stop posting here… social media is a bit of a cow in that way (as you indicate)… if there is one thing I've learned in life it's that everyone has a cross to bear… some are way heavier burdens than others, but if people always indicate that they have their lives squeaky clean and shiny happy, it's most likely not true… they are just not willing (or able) to say so. Sending you big hugs… from my muddled world to yours. xox

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:00 am

      Thanks Liz! Social media's a funny thing isn't it, on one hand it's amazing and so many of the beautiful people I have in my life have all come from this online world, but on the flip side it's super easy to get caught up in those feelings of self-doubt and comparison, even when you know you are being ridiculous thinking these things! xx

  • Reply
    Lucy W
    November 11, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Such an important post that rang so true with me. And that recipe sounds "get out of town" gorgeous to me! Definitely on my to make list for the weekend!

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:01 am

      I'm so happy to hear this post spoke to you love xx

  • Reply
    myriam / rhubarb! rhubarb! rhubarb!
    November 11, 2014 at 9:14 am

    lemon & asparagus are such a delight, and your photos capture so much of this delight. i echo the commenter above who's calling for more asparagus recipes to come out of hiding (if there are more hiding)!

    social media always makes me feel inadequate. i started food blogging very recently to escape, to create, to seek inspiration, but i can really relate to the pressure to perform (in other aspects of life), and I can imagine how hard it would be if my outlet became yet another source of stress. as a reader i think I'm rarely critical, I'm mostly overjoyed whenever I see new posts = new inspiration from my favourite bloggers.

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:16 am

      Thanks for your lovely comment Myriam xx

  • Reply
    November 11, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Those are the recipes to share because they are authentic and reflect your true self and spirit. I think being true to yourself is the most important aspect of blogging or anything for that matter and having your own unique voice. That you have accomplished beautifully and even if you post a simple dish like this one, it still has your imprint on it and your special touch. I struggle a lot with revealing how I truly feel sometimes and I would hate it for others to pity me in some way. Your observations are so true and yes, we are not alone! It takes a lot of courage to talk about your self-doubts and I admire you for that.

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:19 am

      Thanks Aleksandra! I've been putting off writing this post for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I'm not fishing for complements in writing this, nor do I want people to feel sorry for me, but I felt like I really needed to share my thoughts and feelings if only to help make others realise that it's something we all feel and to not feel so alone. xx

  • Reply
    london bakes
    November 11, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I always find your recipes and photography so inspiring but I think I find your honesty and authenticity even more so.

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:19 am

      Thanks Kathryn! Much love xx

  • Reply
    Clara P
    November 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you for your post. I feel like that most of the time and its nice to know that Im not alone.
    Your recipes are always awesome and full of love, and thats what matters.
    thank you Emma, xx

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:20 am

      Thanks Clara, I do really think it's such an important thing for us to all realise, that we are not alone in these thoughts and that these thoughts don't have to over-take our lives xx

  • Reply
    Christine // my natural kitchen
    November 11, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    I sometimes am surprised to hear that even people I really admire and look up to feel self-doubt sometimes too over their work, but it reminds that there is a vulnerability involved in opening up to share something with others and I'm so glad that people like you do it. Thank you for sharing 🙂 this looks like something that I'd love to serve in my home!

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:23 am

      I too find it amazing to see how many 'famous' people suffer from self-doubt, anxiety and depression, but it just goes to show that it's not something that has to define you or take over your life… I think it's just all about finding ways to deal with these feelings and carry on anyway xx

  • Reply
    The Life of Clare
    November 11, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Beautiful post Em. It's so true, this need for perfection, the comparisons we put ourselves through, and not feeling good enough in this world. Your recipes are beautiful and real and honest! And I'm going to make this for lunch. Thank you.

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:24 am

      It's a funny old world we live in isn't it Clare?
      xx Emm

  • Reply
    November 11, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I love what you do – your blog is one that I drool over, and not just because of the food! But although I adore the recipes and the amazing pictures, I read it to hear from the person behind it all – the good, the bad (from your perspective – not mine!), and everything in between. It's a leap of faith share yourself with the world in any capacity. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:25 am

      Thanks love, it definitely makes me feel vulnerable at times… but I'd be lost without this space too! xx

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Two Blue Lemons
    November 12, 2014 at 12:40 am

    It may seem silly but try to think of one of your children in your situation and what you would tell them! I try to do that all the time when I'm beating myself up about something and I know I should be kind to and proud of myself (easier said then done!). In any case, you rock and who wants to be friends with a perfect person anyway?! XO

    • Reply
      November 12, 2014 at 2:27 am

      Such a great idea Sarah! xx

  • Reply
    Fiona @ Brave New Vintage
    November 12, 2014 at 1:37 am

    Oh Emm! I knew you were special…thanks for being honest. I delight in cooking your recipes, our palettes are very similar so I never worry when trying a new one of yours. This recipe sounds right up my taste bud alley! Please don't let self-doubt stop you from publishing your recipes (here or in print). I know I'm onto a winner with you. Either way, keep being kind to yourself. You have a gift. Xxx

  • Reply
    molly yeh
    November 12, 2014 at 2:17 am

    i think self doubt is normal, and maybe even necessary to create and to continue to develop creativity. you're being hard on yourself, you're questioning yourself, but you're also pushing yourself, and that's how you've been so successful in what you do. (i think it goes without saying that i'm obsessed with your work????) when i was in music school, i always used to struggle with balancing two forces: the rate at which i improved, and the rate at which i felt like i should be improving. self doubt happened when the latter increased faster than the former, but that didn't mean that i wasn't actually improving. it just was kind of sucky to practice on those days, and it was extra sucky knowing that it was all in my head. so give that gremlin the bird and show us those posts that you're hiding!!!! we come here because we love you and your work!!!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    November 12, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Ah yes, self-doubt! I find it puts a fire under my butt sometimes and other days it makes me just want to sit down and eat a pint of ice cream. This recipe is totally my kind of salad!! So yummy!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Thank you for sharing such a tender part of your self. I love you're blog always inspires me. I have struggled with food allergies and feel so happy I have found you're book at my local library then ordered the book. You give me hope Emma. I found recipe just to make a cake I can eat. Simple healthy nourishing food. We need more nourishing thoughts and recipes. Find time to make a list of self care for you and write and print it out. thanks for some fab recipes. Leanne

  • Reply
    Kate (thelittleloaf)
    November 12, 2014 at 11:55 am

    If bloggers as brilliant as you are feel self doubt, there's no hope for any of us. Emma, you are a constant source of inspiration – your blog, your book, your outlook on life, everything.
    But seriously, this is such an honest, open post and I think so important to share these feelings. It’s so hard not to compare ourselves to others, but real happiness and success comes from being unique and being yourself.
    Keep up the amazing work, you’re a star x

  • Reply
    November 12, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful post Emma. I came back to this post again this morning because I felt compelled to re-read your words. Self-doubt can be a powerful force but having the strength to find yourself through it has incredibly beautiful results. Keep up your amazing work!

  • Reply
    erin {yummysupper}
    November 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Hey lovely, I hear you. Your feelings of self-doubt are shared by so many of us these days (actually probably all of us.) The external pressure and relentless of social media can be crippling, but I keep thinking that more than anything it's the internal pressure that gets the best of us. If only we could be kinder to ourselves and allow for time for rest and reflection and not insist on pushing ourselves constantly. It's just too much to expect.
    That said, you are so adored in our community. Keep doing you thing at whatever pace you need and we'll support you. And thanks for sharing this touchy subject here.
    xoxoxo from Berkeley,

  • Reply
    November 12, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Don't you dare start being a blog that blows flowers out your arse all day!!I love this blog because of its cracks not its perfection,very very tiny cracks mind you:)Life is trying enough without trying to remember who your supposed to be,your blog has always been a natural evolution,and its been beautiful too watch xxxxx

  • Reply
    November 12, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Amy I have never posted a comment on a blog but after reading your post felt compelled to.
    I love your blog. Exactly the way it is.
    You give me inspiration and comaraderie in my joy of feeding my children good food.

    I have learnt so much from you.
    Thank you and please feel strong in knowing that there are many of us who love your work and offerings exactly the way they are.

  • Reply
    Alena Grahn
    November 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Thank you so much for this very honest post. As a beginning blogger, I often times find that I try to compare and measure myself against other bloggers and writers, and sometimes think " I will never be able to take pictures like that or write in that way!"

    Your post is so encouraging- exactly what I needed to hear right now, this moment. Thank you! I am forever a fan of yours.

    Alena, rednailsgreenveggies.com

  • Reply
    Leanne Morris
    November 13, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    I love any recipe that makes me think outside my comfort zone. I have never cooked asparagus, although I love it and you have now tempted me to do so, I may even grown it in my new vege gardens. Your photography is also great. Thanks

  • Reply
    Jasmine Ann
    November 14, 2014 at 2:44 am

    Bloody gremlins… they're a pain in the butt and you're right most of us only share the shiny side of life rather than the grotty, grimey parts. Simple is sooo good though Em, look at this recipe, no bloody wonder your littlie wolfed them down, I always find it hard to think up ways of 'zhooozhing' up my greens but you've gone and done it so damn easily here.

    Bring on the simple and the imperfect – they're generally the better bits anyway 🙂

  • Reply
    November 14, 2014 at 6:08 am

    I was thinking of something new side dish for thanksgiving. This one looks like a perfect match with roasted turkey..

  • Reply
    Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen
    November 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for addressing the demon of self-doubt in this post. I feel you! It's so hard to stay confident in what you're doing, in truly focusing on your work when the internet is full of brilliant stuff. It's mostly an emotional, not a rational reaction, so I try my best to talk myself out of those dark places of self-doubt. I really love your work, Emma! This recipe is just too great to just dumb down – it should be cherished like the rest of what you're creating. When spring returns to this part of the world, I'll remember this recipe and make a huge plateful of it.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Thanks for sharing. Everything you shared absolutely resonates!

  • Reply
    InTolerant Chef
    November 15, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Wonderful writing sweetie. I'm been struggling with these issues myself lately and it's certainly been impacting on my blog as well. One of the things that I admire about you though, is that you are so real in your writing, stories and recipes- real food, real feelings and real life. Keep up the good work, we believe in you, even when you don't believe in yourself xox

  • Reply
    November 15, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Don't worry, as a singer/songwriter and perfectionist I well know that feeling of 'its not good enough.' But seriously, your photos and blog are amazing! I'd never heard of it until my friend gave me you're cook book for my 21st and its now a definite favourite. I love you're approach to healthy eating – it's made me view healthy food in a different manner. Something to be enjoyed and shared that is healthy but still tastes amazing! Keep up the beautiful work! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sue/the view from great island
    November 17, 2014 at 1:10 am

    This looks amazing…I adore smoked paprika and I think this would be such a nice change for Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Beautiful styling and photography! Also – I second the comment above – I adore smoked paprika!

  • Reply
    Blue Apocalypse
    November 19, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Loved reading this post after our chat yesterday 🙂

    Reading Christina's post yesterday and yours today, I can totally relate and it's good to know that there are bloggers out there who aren't wrapped up in the noise and just want to be themselves.


    I can totally relate and if you can share such an honest post about your self doubt, I think you need to share all the recipes you have been keeping away


  • Reply
    Mary Frances
    November 19, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    I think self-doubt is something everyone struggles with. What's important is to recognize that even though it is present, it need not define or hinder your actions, and it's your ACTIONS that make the difference. I love your recipe here, it looks perfectly comforting 🙂

  • Reply
    November 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    looks yummy. Thanks for the recipe

  • Reply
    Rosie Beare
    November 21, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I remember the first time I grilled asparagus instead of boiling it, It darn near changed my life. It made me a bit angry actually, that I hadn't started doing it this way in the first place! Love the recipe, totally scrumptious, thank you.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Emma,
    I've only just stumbled on your blog (where was I?!!!). It is beautiful. To hear that you go through what we all go through is humbling. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so openly and honestly and for inspiring. 🙂

    • Reply
      February 4, 2015 at 4:11 am

      Hi and welcome Kimberly! I'm so happy to hear this post spoke to you, I think it's so important for us to all realise we're all the same and all in this together! Much love xx

  • Reply
    Hannah Tunnicliffe
    February 26, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Dear Emma, I am so happy to have stumbled across your blog. So many similarities – NZer, little ones, food blogger, self doubt sufferer. So pleased you put yourself and your work and your passion out into the world. Very best wishes, Hannah x

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 7:51 am

    I opened your page and found the words: "Self doubt is a pain in the arse…." and I am hooked. You are my kinda girl!

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