To mark each season, in practicing what I preach, I’ve been making a new Self Care Bingo board to print out and complete. I thrive on gold star stickers and crossing things off the list; and if I don’t plan to do it, I don’t do it! So much of self care is really fitting in the little things – day to day activities that bring calmness, clarity, and joy to life.
If you want to play along, download your summer self care bingo board (just click that “I Want It” button; it’s free), get yourself a pack of gold star stickers, choose your own adventures, and make yourself a priority! Bonus points if you cross out every single box – I’d love to see your completed boards!
:: This week in food ::
I’ve been on a potted herb buying spree, and have put myself together a nice herb garden – theoretically to cut costs on herb buying – although, I think I’ve probably been a little overkill in my plant acquisitions. I have multiple types of basil, thyme, oregano, parsley and cilantro, lemon verbena, and dill. Don’t mind the over-exposure, there’s far too much sunshine out today!
I was ahead of the game with my meal planning this week, and my absolute favorite shopping is on holiday weekends when everyone has theoretically already shopped for the weekend and the aisles are totally empty. The store was practically blissful, and the samples plentiful. Here’s my meal plan for the week.
:: The Weekly Meal Plan : Week of July 3rd, 2017 ::
This week’s prep: I roasted a chicken on Sunday, and popped the carcass in the slow cooker overnight for stock. I still have to hardboil more eggs, but I’ll likely do this mid-week.
Fitness and nutrition: I finished Amanda’s FasterWay bootcamp (the new session starts on July 10th and it’s almost sold out!) and have moved on to training for the Falmouth Road Race (7 miles; near the end of August). I’m still trying to stick with some of the carb cycling and IF from the Faster Way (Amanda’s program) because it works well for me.
Sunday: Nom Nom Paleo’s Damn Fine chicken, Jamie Oliver’s extra crispy roasted potatoes, green beans. I was hoping for the grill, but for some reason the ignitor stopped working on me and it was too hot out to troubleshoot. The green beans I steamed in an inch of salted water on the stove for about 7 minutes, and tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.
Monday: cod with bright herby sauce, mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower. I’ve been getting frozen wild cod pieces from Trader Joe’s for the times when I’m not likely to pick up something fresh at the market. These are cheaper, and I could care less about eating big pieces. I’ll make a bright sauce (like a chimichurri) with some of my fresh garden herbs, and serve with mash, and golden roasted cauliflower.
Tuesday (4th of July!): hot dogs, baked beans, and steamed broccoli. We aren’t going anywhere for the 4th, so it’s staying home and eating some comfort foods. I have some strawberries and whipped cream and if I get my act together, some shortcake biscuits.
Wednesday: taco salad and enchiladas. We don’t eat too much processed food in this house, but Amy’s cheese enchiladas are a universal favorite. Somehow they are SO good!
Thursday: takeout – likely Chipotle! It’s a full day of meetings and errands, so I’ll likely pick up some Chipotle on the way home.
Friday:Turkish ground meat and zucchini. With fistfuls of my grandmother’s Istanbul spice mix, dill, parsley, and yogurt.
This weekend, we drove into Boston to take Bertram to the French Bulldog Meetup at Peter’s Park, and hang with my friend Melissa and her pup Bentley. If you haven’t seen dozens of French Bulldogs having a total snort fest; well… it’s an experience! What I lack in extroverted-ness, this little dude makes up for as quite the social butterfly. He makes human and canine friends pretty much every where he goes.
Aside from my role as Bertram’s human, life these past few months has been overwhelmed by business ownership work-mode, a big family loss (my grandmother passed away), and the general craziness of spring time. It’s been hard to sit down to make time for reading, but in a re-commitment to self-care, I made a concerted effort to do so. Here’s a snapshot of my weekend reading.
My friend Traca turned me on to the author Dorie Clark, and I’ve been diving into her writing on marketing, branding, and thought leadership. She’s highly prolific on the internet, but I’m a fan of hardcover, so I picked up her 2015 best seller – Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. I have a bit of an elevator pitch problem as a Jill of All Trades, and have been trying to improve my own messaging around what I do and who I can help – lots of nuggets of wisdom in this one to set me further down the right path.
Truthfully it has been more than a few months since being able to really curl up and dive into a new cookbook, but I’ve been lucky to read my way through two incredible ones over the past few weeks that I can’t not mention here. Both fall into the long-anticipated cookbook category, and neither have disappointed.
Part biography – part recipe book greatest hits; Unforgettable is my favorite type of cookbook – one that I can sit down and read like a novel, featuring tried and true dish inspiration that connects deeply with time and place. The biography gripping – as a pioneer of middle eastern and mediterranean cookbooks, Paula has long been one of my heroes. Her cookbooks are almost all on my shelves, and yet in each page of Unforgettable I learned so much more – from her persistent reinvention, to her struggles with early onset Alzheimer’s. Truly thankful to Emily and team – this book is a gem. (As is Paula – if you aren’t following her on Twitter, you should be!)
Now, I’m actually fairly certain we had one such conversation in November of 2010, right around the time that I was working with my friend Karen on her cookbook Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It because in that conversation I was so amazed by her energy and enthusiasm that I distinctly remember going home feeling empowered and writing the ENTIRE outline, syllabus, and recipe index for my Turkish cookbook. Which.. of course is sitting in my Google Docs.. and hasn’t been written yet. Alas, c’est la vie!
But I mention this not to feel sorry for myself, but because seven years is quite a long time to wait for a cookbook, but this book does in fact, live up to the wait.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is part textbook (in the best way possible), part master recipe guideline and inspiration. And filled with Wendy MacNaughton’s cheeky hand drawn illustrations. The entire first half of the book is Samin being Samin – an incredible teacher and guide, with infectious enthusiasm for food, good cooking, and good eating. While I consider myself an adept cook, each section was filled with new easy ways to think about cooking – written in a manner that would teach and inspire novice and expert alike. How she *actually* manages to pull this off, I have no idea – this is so hard to do and it’s brilliant. (You’ll likely want to grab a copy, and go ahead and buy a second one to give to someone as a gift.)
And most importantly for me it provided a wealth of inspiration for this week’s meal plan! The best reminders from the book this week – the power of salt – and how important it is to salt your food early. In two weeks, it’s changed my habits completely – and the food all tastes more delicious.
:: The Weekly Meal Plan : Week of May 21st, 2017 ::
This week’s prep: hard boiling eggs for snacks. I bought myself a new gadget – despite committing to avoiding the purchase of uni-tasking – a bright turquoise Dash Go Egg Cooker. Cute, no?
Fitness and nutrition: I’m heading into week 4 of my online fitness bootcamp; going strong! We follow a carb cycling plan, which focuses on timing meals to match our training days to ensure we are eating enough to support our fitness levels to allow for both fat loss and muscle gain. It’s a more mindful way of eating to support athleticism.
Sunday: Braised beef, tiny baby potatoes, and sprouts. This meat and potatoes dinner is the ultimate comfort food. (Cheat sheet: buy the Braised Beef with Demi Glace from Trader Joe’s. It’s divine.)
Monday (low carb): Samin’s citrus salmon, avocado salad, and steamed broccoli. I get wild salmon, either frozen sockeye, or if the fresh catch looks good and is on sale, treat myself to King salmon.
Tuesday (low carb): Samin’s glazed five-spice chicken + bright Asian slaw. I’m always a sucker for five spice.
Wednesday: Turkish taskebab with tomato rice. This is a family favorite – a meaty tomato-ey braised stew.
Thursday: Jamie Oliver’s Aegean Kakavia. Fish stew from his travels cookbook. As we creep onto summer, I find myself consistently craving Mediterranean food.
Friday: I have a credit to Sweetgreen; I’m likely to pick up a salad; but honestly, I’m treating Friday like a free spot this week.
Saturday: out! We’ll be at a wedding. Bonus, they’ll have Middle Eastern catering, which is pretty much my jam.
We’ve launched ourselves well into spring here in New England. This winter was only moderately oppressive, but still, when the days become warmer, I always feel massive relief. I can breathe again. This weekend I went to my first Red Sox game of the season – a perfect 80 degree day with seats in the shade. The stadium was filled with what felt like the entire population of Chicago rooting for their Cubs. We sat in a sea of cheering Cubs fans, as our multiple run head start was wasted. They caught up and then hit after hit we fell behind, and ended up losing 7-4. I would have been sadder for the loss, but the game was good, both teams played with zest, the stadium was packed, and the air was warm with a breeze. A great day for baseball.
This coming week is a full one, and to get a head start, I’m sitting on a Sunday planning out my meals. In the spirit of springtime, I’ve made a short list of things I’d like to eat.
:: The Weekly Meal Plan : Week of April 30th, 2017 ::
This week’s prep: hard boiling eggs for snacks. I have a tray of wilted fennel salad to incorporate for the first few days of the week, and green beans, and leftover beef tenderloin. I have some kabocha and cauliflower rice in the freezer that I’d like to use up.
Fitness and nutrition: For the next six weeks I’ve started a new training cycle opting for an online boot camp to keep my fitness level up until triathlon and racing season start. We follow a carb cycling plan, which focuses on timing meals to match our training days to ensure we are eating enough to support our fitness levels to allow for both fat loss and muscle gain. It’s a more mindful way of eating to support athleticism. While my normal meal planning balances macronutrients more generally, when I’m carb cycling, I’ll have lower carb days on more cardio focused fitness days, and higher carb days when doing heavier strength training, which I’ve noted below in my meals. (If you have questions about carb cycling, feel free to ask!)
Sunday: salmon, roasted potatoes, and green beans.Mostly leftovers, I’ve been picking up frozen wild salmon from Trader Joe’s to keep for days that I don’t have time to shop.
Monday (low carb): stir fried chicken thighs, with sliced leeks, mushroom, and asparagus. Getting several seasonal vegetables in at once.
Tuesday (low carb): cobb salad with avocado, chicken sausage, tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon, and lime vinaigrette. It has finally become warm enough for salad for dinner!
Wednesday: pork bolognese over spiraled carrots. Grabbed a batch of spiralized carrots from the Trader Joe’s freezer section to test out.
Thursday: ground beef and beans. Usually topped with an egg.
Friday: leek and cauliflower frittata.
Saturday: out! We’ll likely head up to Maine for some lobster for the Coloradan house guest to get her summer time fix.