When I was a young girl, I remember my mother writing a shopping list each week before we went to the market. In hindsight I realize now that she didn't just pull the ingredients randomly out of thin air; she wrote down what she needed based on her meal plan Meal planning feels passe in today's fast-paced world of eating out and taking in prepared meals. 95% of my clients do not have a meal planning practice. When they come to me they are frustrated with the weekly cooking and lost about what to eat. Of all my culinary nutrition tips, tricks and tools, meal planning is the #1 tool I use to help clients succeed in the kitchen and in achieving their health goals. Research has even shown that those who cook their own meals, as opposed to eating out, are happier*.
WHAT IS MEAL PLANNING?
Meal planning is a way to organize the week's meals so that the shopping, prepping, and cooking are less stressful and more manageable. It involves a menu of what to cook, recipes (if necessary), shopping list, and some people write down how to divide up the cooking over the week so that it is not overwhelming. Like any habitual practice, one needs a plan to accomplish the task at hand. Without a meal plan it is easy to waste food, run to the store more often than necessary, derail from a nourishing diet, and forgo cooking altogether. A little time planning each week can solve these problems.
Do you feel like you’re butting your head up against a wall and no matter how much you try, nothing seems to come together? This is what happens when you’re out of the flow.
Do you feel at other times as though your life is miraculously unfolding in ways that far surpass your wildest dreams? This is what happens when you’re in the flow.
Like a pendulum swinging to and fro, I’ve experienced both extremes. I’ve noticed this especially on my birthday.
My 36th birthday was a disaster. I’d had my heart broken by a man who I thought had potential to be “the one.” And no amount of birthday cheer could pull me out of the dark hole I’d fallen into. My mom tried absolutely everything to cheer me up, but it was for naught. As a result of my spiraling depression, there was no flow to the day. My mom had organized a day of pampering, but somehow nothing turned out as planned. We went to Sephora to have our makeup done, but the woman was out with the flu. As we were walking down the street, my shoe broke. Things that should have been simple appeared as massive hurdles.
What could be cozier or more welcome than homemade soup? If you've never tried cultivating this admirable culinary skill before, this popular post from the archives will guide you to success! Friends, family, and YOU will be thrilled.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s soup season!
When I get that first whiff, that first little inkling of Fall, I take my big old soup pot out and I start sauteeing onions -- the beginning of broth, the foundation of soups to come, the veritable core of both health and flavor, the indescribable difference. The YUM!
I come by my love of soup making honestly. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the little girl who learned to make soup while sitting atop the kitchen counter, watching in wonder as three generations of women worked their culinary magic over my Ma’s flame-enameled Le Creuset cast iron soup pot.
There was something about soup that enchanted me from the get-go. I think I instinctively knew that soup had the power to heal not only oneself -- I always felt better after having a cup or bowl -- but others as well. At my alma mater, Northwestern University, exhausted classmates would straggle by at all hours looking for a bowl of my Nana’s chicken soup.
Before we get into our favorite snack lately, we wanted to talk a little bit about growth and evolution as it relates to this space. We’ve been posting recipes here for close to nine years. It’s a practice that has almost unfailingly kept us inspired and excited about the daily ritual of cooking and nourishing ourselves and others. This whole blog is sort of a family album at this point, since we can pinpoint certain posts to the life events that were happening around us while cooking the dishes. It’s also surreal to be able to put something out there and know that a certain number of people will check out the recipe or even cook it in their own kitchens. It’s a special form of connection that we have with the world, and every time we hear from someone who has made and enjoyed one of the recipes is amazing. It never feels normal or old, truly.
Referencing the old saying, Everything old is new again—all of a sudden, cooking at home is trendy! A recent article in Bloomberg Business with data about current eating habits says,
“Home cooking would be making a comeback if it ever really went away. Restaurants are getting dinged by the convenience of Netflix, the advent of pre-made meals, the spread of online grocery delivery, plus crushing student debt and a focus on healthy eating. Eighty-two percent of American meals are prepared at home [emphasis mine]-- more than were cooked 10 years ago, according to researcher NPD Group Inc. The latest peak in restaurant-going was in 2000, when the average American dined out 216 times a year.” Read the full story.
Way back in the day, you just didn’t have a choice! You grew and cooked your food or you starved, with none of the distractions or choices that people have today. Being in the kitchen, cooking and feeding a family was a necessity. Things started shifting after World War II when convenience features and choices like frozen TV dinners manifested. Now we’re eating IN by choice, because it’s more economical and because we’re more concerned about our health and well-being.
In the past decade we’ve placed SO much emphasis on whole foods, clean foods, paleo vs. vegan, gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant... I think we’re there already, don’t you? We know what healthy eating is. ENOUGH ALREADY! I want to move beyond the research, the data, the shoulds, the restrictions (and the ensuing guilt), and plant my flag right here: are you really being nourished by what you eat?
What is nourishment?
I’ll always remember the first retreat I cooked for at the Commonweal Cancer Help Program in Bolinas, California in 2000. With transient taste changes and discomfort resulting from treatment, people with cancer may eat so little they become malnourished. My challenge was to provide appealing, healing, tasty food. (In fact, this became a centerpiece of my culinary work.) It wasn’t just about nutrition; it was about comfort and nourishing these beautiful people on a very deep level. I rose to the occasion, and watching their faces as they took tentative bites and responded with closed eyes and blissful expressions was unforgettable! That’s nourishment. Deep comfort and delight. I’ve been signing my books “nourishing thoughts” ever since.
Typically, chutneys are rather easy to prepare. In general, the fruits and spices are blended together and served. In some cases, the spices are roasted first and then added to the blender.
The three chutney recipes below are from Heaven’s Banquet by Miriam Kasin Hospodar.
This blog is the first of a three-part series on meal planning. For anyone looking to create more organization and improved quality of their weekly meals, it's important to have a solid place to start from. Have a colorful plant-based list of foods that all of the meals each week will be based around. The list below will give you enough color, variety, and flexibility to choose from seasonally. These staple ingredients are part of a Mediterranean diet, the most well researched diet, showing benefits for many of the chronic diseases the Western world faces today, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and mental illness. Keep reading to see examples of how to apply the science into a weekly meal plan.
Whenever someone tells me they don’t like eggplant, I try to point them in the direction of my marinated eggplant recipe – it’s in our latest cookbook, and it impresses seemingly everyone. Eggplant is spongy and absorbent, so marinating it transforms it into this super flavorful, velvety version of itself that seriously tastes like heaven. I also really like adding eggplant to curry or ciabotta and broiling it in the oven with a miso glaze. It has so much potential to be really delicious!
This eggplant fried rice is our latest obsession. It’s weeknight-friendly, satisfying, and full of fresh, late summer flavors.
Do you have annual food rituals that you love? Making tomato sauce when the season's at its peak, freezing ripe blueberries or making stock when soup season begins in fall? The fizz of anticipation, the planning ahead, the sheer contentment when the treasure is stored away for future delight. If you haven't tried it or tried it with a friend yet, do! Working side-by-side with a dear friend in the kitchen is one of the most nourishing experiences in the world. Enjoy!
Every year around the 2nd week of August, Gravenstein apples make their entrance at our farmer’s market in Marin County, California. Gravenstein is an apple cultivar that originated in the 17th century or earlier. The fruit has a superbly tart flavor cherished for cooking, and it has such a short harvest! Blink and you miss it — which makes it all the more precious. My culinary co-conspirator Julie Burford is our spy. When she sees the apples come in, she orders 40 pounds from the farmer. We are preparing to preserve!
Come and get 'em! The last of this seasons heirloom tomatoes, in the full array of glowing oranges, reds, and golds. But—what to do with them? If you haven't yet tried slow-roasting tomatoes, you MUST! This caramelizes and intensifies the flavor. Be prepared to have your socks knocked off. :)
On my countertop right now I have a collection of tomatoes. It looks like they’re having babies! We’re at the pinnacle of tomato season, when they’re the juiciest, the most flavorful, the most irresistible. I can’t THINK of anything I don’t want to incorporate them into!
Besides slicing the most perfect tomato, drizzling on a little olive oil, sprinkling on some sea salt and just eating it, my other favorite thing to do with tomatoes is to roast them. When you roast tomatoes, they give up their amazing sugars and become so sweet! I’m very fond of roasting the yellow heirlooms, which are lower in acid, meaning they’re sweeter and easier to digest. I peel the bubbly skin right off and throw them into the blender with a handful of basil. People say, “Are you kidding me? That’s ALL you did?” It’s like drinking summer. Or add roasted tomatoes to any soup to turn it into something special. It’s like magic!
Do you ever turn your life into an “if-then statement?” If I have this, then I can do that. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work that way. What if you can’t make the “if” part of the statement true? The second thing can’t follow, and instead you sit around waiting. Sometimes it’s worth just jumping ahead to the “then” part.
Alternatively, do you ever put off doing things because you don’t want to do them alone? A number of years ago, for instance, I wanted to go apple picking but thought that it would be more fun to do with someone else. When I couldn’t find a friend to join me, I decided to go by myself, leaping over the “if” and going right to the “then.” I took my dog, Molly, and found an organic U-Pick apple farm nearby.
A version that marches to the beat of a different drummer from the usual garlic-laden, tahini-based Middle Eastern hummus bi tehina.
Why We Love This Recipe
Pitta dosha types, this hummus is for you! It offers a cooling take on traditional hummus. A bit of fresh ginger helps aid digestion in this protein-rich dish.
Note that you must soak the garbanzos overnight.
The tart consists of three elements that seem to have been made for one another: a 4-ingredient, grain-free crust, a savory cauliflower ricotta, and a layer of juicy, caramelized tomatoes on top.
I love making ‘ricotta’ with almonds or cashews, but thought that my usual recipe would be too heavy for this tart, since I needed a fairly good amount of it to fill up the whole crust. Cutting the nut ricotta with some steamed cauliflower worked amazingly well. If anything, the cauliflower contributed to the nutty and savory flavor of the cheese even further, while making the texture fluffy and light. It never hurts to add a dose of cruciferous veg to your meal, either ;) The richness of the ricotta is the best compliment to the sun-fed, juicy caramelized tomatoes that crown the tart. Add a (vegan) buttery crust to that, and you’re really in business.Because this tart is plant-based and doesn’t contain eggs to thicken the ricotta, and because I didn’t want to over-complicate the recipe with any vegan thickeners, the ‘cheese’ is quite soft straight out of the oven. It’s still possible to get a nice slice though, if you work with a sharp knife and a dependable pie server. The ricotta layer does thicken up after a night in the fridge, so your leftovers will be even more sliceable. We hope you’ll give it a try!Click for GRAIN-FREE TOMATO TART WITH CAULIFLOWER RICOTTA Recipe Serves: one 10" tart
Summer heat getting to you just a little bit? Have I got the coolest, most refreshing ideas for you! Soundtrack included.? An excellent solution from the archives. Enjoy!
My friends, cucumbers have changed! When I was growing up, cucumbers were fat and stubby with waxy skins and big, blah seeds. They were relegated to three uses: a garnish on the plate, sliced in a salad, or finely sliced in little tea sandwiches with butter on white bread. Honestly not a major player, nothing spectacular. The texture was unexciting, the seeds were annoying, the skin was bitter. Meh.
Oh, there was one other cucumber use! Me and my friends all put them on our eyes :) We had sleepover dates, in which we would rummage through our mother’s beauty supplies, slather our faces with face masks and put cucumber slices over our eyelids to get rid of puffy eyes. (Really? Did we really need to worry about puffy eyes?) We listened to Seals and Crofts “Summer Breeze,” face masks hardening on our faces like cement. Straight out of a Patty Duke Show.
This morning I spent an hour on the phone with Verizon Wireless to undo an erroneous charge.
Although this was not how I planned to start my day, it helped me realize something about manifestation. As I dialed Verizon, I asked myself, “What do I want?” Once my intention was clear, I was able to pursue it with determination. Yet, I wasn’t attached to the outcome, which kept me calm and focused. I wanted my account credited, but I knew I’d be okay if it didn’t happen. After talking to four different people, however, I eventually got it.
Whatever your dreams—a refund on your cellular data plan or something much bigger—set your intention, release attachment to the outcome, and feel it with all your might. My mom calls this “acting as if.” Act as if your future is already a reality and believe it or not, once you truly feel your dreams, they do indeed come true.
Cherry, beefsteak, sungold, green zebra. Who doesn't like a ripe, juicy tomato in the peak of summer? They seem to pop out all at once in our gardens, CSA baskets, and markets, which is why we eagerly wait all summer for them to appear. There are so many varieties to choose from, each with a distinct taste, scent, and texture. Even the health benefits vary from one variety to another: smaller cherry tomatoes contain higher levels of beta-carotene than the larger beefsteak and field tomatoes.
Across the board, tomatoes are a nutritional powerhouse. The vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids (a type of phytonutrients) can help protect against cancer, maintain healthy skin, maintain blood pressure, and lower blood glucose in diabetics. Let's dive in a little deeper about some of the health supportive effects of tomatoes.