Morning Routines + The Weekly Meal Plan

Ottolenghi Chicken with Cardamom Rice

Happy Sunday everyone!

That gorgeous skillet is filled with chicken thighs with caramelized onions and cardamom rice from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem – my favorite dinner last week. I highly recommend it!

Today I spent most of the day outside, taking advantage of this un-seasonalbly warm 52 degree New England weather. I come to you with two lists today – the first is the morning practice that I’m committing to for the month of February. And then capping it off with my weekly meal plan – because most of you are here for the food!

For the month of February, I’m teaming up with some of my favorite biz ladies to do Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning. It focuses on making a habit of six activities – all of which I’ve done on a semi-regular basis in the past – but could use a little more incentive to get rolling on. The first step is waking and drinking a glass of water. This doesn’t count as one of the activities, but might be the most important! Here are the six:

Meditation – I’ve worked my way through the Headspace foundation pack, and am now working through the activity packs. I started with Depression (I have a lifelong history of SAD in the New England winters), moving on to Anxiety (might as well tackle the tough ones first!) and looking forward to starting on “Creativity”. I have a year long subscription and am committed to meditating every day.

Affirmations – this is an interesting one, because I’ve avoided these in the past. Why are affirmations important? Well, we chose the scripts that we play to ourselves in our head, and often they can be a repeat of negative and self deprecating thoughts. By thinking of the same negative thoughts over and over, we can make these thoughts a reality. The goal with affirmations is to re-write the script. I’ve written out a series of affirmations that go beyond the inspirational quotes, but hit on my WHYs, my passions, and my desires. Sometimes you have to give yourself a pep talk to get going! (This is actually a great strategy for racing as well.) As I read personal development books, Internet articles, fiction, or even just talk to people, I’ll be building on these affirmations. I’m looking forward to adding to them as I learn and grow.

Visualization – this goes beyond a vision board, but vision boards are a good start! Just by thinking about the life that we want to be living and what our ideal days and years and accomplishments look like, we are achieving the first critical step to making change happen for ourselves. Today I spent ten minutes thinking what my ideal day would look like this coming week. No dramatic stretches! Just reminding myself how I want to act and FEEL.

Exercise – after a quiet winter season, I’m working to bring back movement in a more dedicated way through race training. But the idea here isn’t my whole workout, but to just get my muscles moving and heart pumping. I’ll be starting with a light weight routine in my house. After far too long in the trunk of my car, I just recently brought my frozen kettlebell up the stairs to have on hand. I will also be planking, squatting, and stretching.

Reading – 10-15 minutes of personal development reading. I have a strong reading goal that I’ve written about this year – 100 books! – and I make time during the day for reading already, so this is just a bonus. For my morning practice, I’m going to keep it to non fiction personal development topics. Right now I’m reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.

Journaling – this is something that I already try to build into my day, but could use the extra motivation. I’ll be doing my typical morning pages – 10-15 minutes of free writing with occasional structure – feelings, thoughts, gratitude lists, and the start of my daily to do list.

The most important part of this month is that I’ve found my accountability partners to ensure my success!

And! To make sure I feel rewarded for my habit building – I have a physical checklist that I’ll be using with little gold star stickers to cross off when I’ve accomplished my tasks. Chore charts don’t just work for kids!

Do you currently have a morning routine? 


:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of January 31st, 2016 ::

I’ve been trying to add in a new recipe from a cookbook each week. Last week was the gorgeous chicken with caramelized onions and cardamom from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. (See above!) – his recipes are always so delicious! Since cooking with Blue Apron, I’ve actually expanded my patience for cooking slightly longer week night meals, so I’m trying for some with a little oomph more often.

Sunday: green salad with smoked andouille chicken sausage and buttermilk biscuits

Monday: shrimp fried rice (Blue Apron) wild shrimp, with a little side of kimchi that my neighbor made and gave to us.

Tuesday: pork chops with brussels sprouts and pancetta, a super simple three ingredient dinner. Okay, plus spices. Maybe five ingredients.

Wednesday: eggs for dinner. I’ll keep this one simple and make a regular scramble and a green salad.

Thursday: the cookbook recipe that I haven’t decided on yet! I know, I know, I’m sorry to keep you hanging! If you have any suggestions for a great cookbook recipe, I’m all ears.

Friday:out! or as we do these days – takeout and an On Demand movie at home.

From my new corner office

ikea home office

Welcome to my new office! Now that I’m working from my home several days a week building my business, I finally decided that I needed to get off the couch and get myself a desk. It feels so good to have a place to strategize, dream, and create! I made a big trip to IKEA and went wild. All I have to do now is add some art, plants, a lightbulb in my new lamp, and I should be good to go.

cart: raskog // tabletop: linnmon 59” // trestle: finnvard // side leg (out of shot) kallax bookshelf // chair with sheep

I have a secret goal to write a list every week in 2016 and publish it on The Second Lunch. One of the key ways to build a successful goal is to share it with others! So here you go. I’d like to hold myself to this practice, at least for the next month, when I’ll sit down and re-evaluate if it’s a thing I really want to do! I hope it is!

Here’s what’s happening over here:


I have a friend Traca who cooks multiple incredible recipes a week for a project she’s currently working on. She’s really pushing herself consistently to learn new things, taste new ingredients, and try new techniques. Each week she posts the list of her global conquests – Mole Colordito Enchiladas, Sichuan noodles and pork shoulder chop, complex recipes from Ottolenghi, Naomi Duguid, and more. I cook a lot of simple meals around here, and it’s really inspiring me to up my game! This week I’m doing the chicken thighs with caramelized onions and cardamom rice from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem.


This week I’m taking a ten day natural light shooting challenge with my accomplished friend Kristin Tatem. She has a stunning studio in Lexington, KY – if you are local, consider taking a class with her! She also has online courses! It’s a good excuse to get some practice, and she’s such a capable teacher!


I’ve started a new EdX course – Berkeley’s The Science of Happiness. It’s a 10 week self paced course that delves into the science of happiness, exploration of global and cultural happiness practice, and helps add to your own happiness toolkit. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my learnings with my clients!


I made my way out to an independent bookstore for a book group this week, one of Book Riot’s read harder book clubs. I follow the organizer Jessica on Twitter, and I’m glad she tweeted about it! It’s an “any book book club” which actually works out great, because you get to talk about all different kinds of books, and we all got Book Riot Read Harder Challenge printables. Mine is going up on the wall!

I’ll also be participating in the Newtonville Books reading challenge, working my way through the Man Booker long list, and slowly working my way through the BBC Big Read – a long term project that I started a few years ago.

This week I’m reading: How to Cook a Moose // M Train // On The Move

Pausing for gratitude.

Bertram the Frenchie

One of my favorite parts of leading a wellness group is working through daily assignments alongside my clients. I find it personally rewarding to engage with the material – one of the most important reasons I chose to dedicate my focus to a career in health and wellness was because of my own pursuit for a healthier lifestyle. On the practical side, it encourages me to assess and reassess the curriculum if I find that I’m personally feeling resistant to the work!

An important part of my regular focus on well-being is my gratitude practice, and so I often begin my coaching work with a short gratitude exercise. Today in Secrets of Self Care, we wrote out 10 things we were thankful for. Here is the short version of mine. The long version took up two pages in my notebook.

Today I have much to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my loving partner.

I’m thankful to work with some amazing women in my program.

I’m thankful for fluffy white snowflakes.

I’m thankful for a trip to Florida for a few months from now when the snowflakes will be less appealing.

I’m thankful for Jamie Oliver’s muesli recipe. With cacao nibs, blueberries, and maple syrup.

I’m thankful for my oldest friend willing to make an IKEA trip with a stitched up foot. And she let me push her in the wheelchair!

I’m thankful for the $20 *already put together* Raskog turquoise cart from IKEA I found in the as-is section.

I’m thankful for dear friends, both near and far.

I’m thankful for the safety of my family in Istanbul.

I’m thankful for my ever-loving sweet pup, Bertram.

What are you thankful for today? 

PS: If you’d like to hear more on this topic, or are interested in future sessions of Secrets of Self Care, sign up for my wellness wisdom newsletter!

The Weekly Meal Plan

Butternut Squash for Days

I spent much of the weekend preparing for Secrets of Self Care and am just now sitting down to one of my favorite rituals of the week – my meal planning! Still a few spots left in the program if you are “Monday motivated” and want to LEAP into action today. Send me an email! 

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying out Blue Apron to assess whether I’d recommend it as a service to some of my health coaching clients. I’ll write up some thoughts soon, but after this week, I’ve put the service on hold – perhaps not indefinitely, but I miss coming up with my own meals! I decided this after getting the last shipment, so most of these dinners will be from the kit this week.

The other thing I’ll be eating is butternut squash. Somehow I’ve managed to amass a small arsenal of butternut squash, and haven’t been keeping up with cooking it. There are five on my kitchen counter, so I’ve been chopping and roasting like a mad woman this week. Do you have any favorite butternut squash tips? I’d love some more ideas!

Here’s what’s on the docket:

:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of January 11th, 2016 ::

Monday: seared cod and date vinaigrette (Blue Apron) with browned butter, quinoa, and spinach salad. Truthfully, I’m not big on quinoa these days, so this is likely going onto cauliflower rice.

Tuesday: cheese and snacks at the Wellesley College Club of Boston board meeting. In some of my spare time, I’m the co-VP of admissions and get to coordinate off campus interviews for prospective Wellesley women! Undoubtedly the best part is that I get to meet up with other amazing alums once a month and partake in high class snacks and wine.

Wednesday: chicken and udon noodle soup (Blue Apron) with napa cabbage and dried lime. I’ll be eating a late dinner because I’m going to try to head to Porter Square Books at 7pm for my friend Annelies’ talk about her wonderful tea cookbook Steeped! After that I have my business mastermind meet up – so this is going to be a late dinner!

Thursday: juicy lucy burgers (Blue Apron) with frizzled onion and romaine-walnut salad. Burgers are always a huge hit in this house. We’ll probably eat them bun-less, because I prefer them that way (and find that hamburger buns tend not to last several days in the fridge.

Friday: Out! Or more likely takeout from one of our favorite neighborhood spots.

What’s on your table this week?

Secrets of Self Care – Starts Monday!

Sam Tackeff Secrets of Self Care

Second Lunchers! A quick post tonight to let you know that my next 4 week wellness program starts on January 11th, 2016. I’d love to have you a part of it! 

Secrets of Self Care is a 4 week program for those who have been focused on career, family, or business, and lost themselves a little in the process.

  • Are you lacking inspiration to make simple, healthy, and seasonal meals?
  • Are you feeling tired with the change of seasons?
  • Does your energy wane in the early afternoon?
  • Do you find yourself making sub-optimal food choices when you don’t have better options?
  • Do you feel like curling up on your couch with a cup of tea, and not leaving?

Join me for this adventure in which we’ll focus on being kinder to ourselves, supporting our needs and desires, and nourishing our bodies.

What you get:

  • Daily weekday emails providing journaling and action prompts.
  • Supportive online accountability
  • A personal coaching consultation with Sam (via Phone, Hangout, or Skype)
  • Additional email support for the duration of the course

What we cover:

  • goal setting and mindset training
  • gratitude and journaling practice
  • meditation and (non-traditional meditative practice)
  • adding more joyful movement into our lives
  • building better eating habits (and cultivating an abundance mindset)
  • and much more!

Here’s how it works:

  • The winter session of Secrets of Self Care starts on January 11th.
  • Participants are expected to put in the work! Accountability is the name of the game – the more you put in, the more you get out.
  • Participants will be added to an online accountability group with other vibrant and kind women!

The cost of the course is $179 for the 4 weeks, including a 1-1 personal coaching session.

We start Monday – I’d love to have you join me – we’ll be thinking, writing, dreaming, and bringing good things to life, and I’ll be doing the work right along side of you!

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