The Weekly Meal Plan

Asparagus

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.

spring vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, celery root, leeks, scallions, spinach herbs: tarragon, parsley, chives, dill
spring fruits: mango, passion fruit, strawberries

recipes of note: a second batch of Nom Nom Paleo’s matcha gummies, the stunning Gjelina strawberry rhubarb polenta crisp

:: 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.

Edible adventures: 1000 new fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds

I added a new list to my list of lists this week: one of my kitchen resolutions for this year – a thousand new fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, stretching both my culinary chops, shopping habits, foraging opportunities, and encouraging and indulging my travel bug. I suppose this is more of a lifelong quest to eat with curiosity. I don’t exactly plan on trying a thousand new foods this year, but hopefully I’ll get a good start. Game, on!

The full list (or at least the start!) is here.

Have you gone on any epic culinary quests? Traveled the world to try a new food? I want to hear about it!

The Second Lunch Kitchen Resolutions, 2017

julia child in her kitchen

Well yes, it’s that time of year again! I’ve spent the better part of the weekend taking stock of my kitchen resolutions – really, the only resolutions I make each year!

Some of my 2016 and previous years’ kitchen resolutions included:

:: to use my large/fancy appliances more often (done!)
:: to do a weekly assessment of fresh produce in my refrigerator (done, and was significantly less wasteful!)
:: to cull the pantry (did a decent fridge cull, pantry is still overwhelmed)
:: to take better care of my cast iron (nope, yikes!)
:: to not use the wrong lid on the wrong pot (learned my lesson and stuck with it)
:: to not season directly into the pan (took this one to heart!)
:: to read my new cookbooks cover to cover before buying several more (fail)
:: to wash all dishes and wipe down counters before going to bed each night (mostly)
:: to keep a running kitchen journal (for the most part, electronically this year)

In 2017, I’m doing things a little differently. My word of the year is share, and so this year I’m focusing my kitchen activities on content creation. I thought it would be a good year to get a head-start on two of my cookbooks that I’d like to write. I’ve had these bubbling for the past decade, and thought that it’s a good time as any to get crackin’.

This year I’d like to write two cookbook proposals – one for a Turkish cookbook with family recipes and a love letter to Istanbul, and another for an everyday eating cookbook, in the style of Nigel Slater, Anna Jones, or the Leon cookbook.

Create two seasonal healthy cooking e-books – with meal plans to take advantage of the seasonal bounty, fresh produce storage tips, easy dinner ideas, and suggested pantry upgrades.

Continue with my weekly meal planning – I was quite consistent in 2016 writing my meal plans, and I’d like to continue the trend. I’d like to write more about how I go through the process of meal planning, the resources that I use, and how I simplify the process of making weeknight meals.

I’d like to start eating my way through some restaurant bucket list restaurants – as part of an overall goal to start traveling more. Since moving back from California, I can count my exquisite dining experiences on about one hand these days. We’re not talking all Michelin, but really experiencing the work of some notable chefs and global cuisine to continue my lifelong education in food.

Start working my way through at least 100 new fruits and vegetables – and come up with my list of 1000 to try. This is more complicated living in New England, but it occurred to me that I’ve been lacking in novel food experiences lately and need a good place to start. I’m going to be compiling a list by sitting down with Elizabeth Schneider’s Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables, Alice Waters’ fruit and vegetable tomes, Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, and some of my River Cottage Guides, and researching vegetables and fruits unique to specific global cuisines in some of my regional cuisine specific cookbooks that I already own.

Write out a list of challenging cooking experiments to try, and add in a good weekend cooking project at least once a month. My default in the kitchen is quick weeknight meals, and there are some great projects that I’m missing out on.

A short list of cookbooks that I already own and love that I’d like to re-read and cook a recipe from this year:

January – 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer
February – Zuni Cafe by Judy Rodgers
March – The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson
April – French Feasts by Stéphane Reynaud
May – The Italian Baker by Carol Field
June – Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen
July – Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
August – Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
September – The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert
October – My New Orleans by John Besh
November – Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji
December – Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Do you have any kitchen resolutions this year?

2017 Reading List; Part One

2017 Q1 Reading List

(There are affiliate links in this post.)

I am a voracious reader. One of my favorite ways to transition to a new season is to making myself a list of great books to read. I see it as a personal syllabus – you are what you read (and subsequently act upon). The syllabus in itself is a great art – What do I want to learn? Who is the best person to teach it to me? Whose words will inspire me to act? I usually sit down with a list of topics that I’d like to delve into, and take great pleasure in searching for the perfect book to add. I’ll take a second look over my list to make sure that I have representation by women and POC’s.

Here’s what is on my list in the coming months. A few are re-reads related to projects I’m working on, another note is that I don’t typically list out my cookbooks, and I read dozens of them a season. I typically use this as a starting point for requesting books from the library, and usually manage to squeeze in a handful of last minute un-planned reads as well. After each read, I spend just a little bit of time debriefing: writing out my takeaways, and acknowledging the things that resonated and piqued my curiosity.

We Should All Be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi

Couple Skills: Making Your Relationship Work
by Matthew McKay

The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy
by Lewis Howes

Personal Kanban: Mapping Work Navigating Life
by Jim Benson and Tonianne Berry

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
by Oliver Sacks

H is for Hawk
by Helen Macdonald

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook
by Dana Velden

Yes, Chef
by Marcus Samuelsson

Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa
by Haruki Murakami

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
by Simon Sinek

The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success
by Darren Hardy

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity
by Ryan Holiday

Designing Your Life: Build a Life that Works for You
by William Burnett

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley
by Antonio Garcia Martinez

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams

One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez

Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
by Angela Duckworth

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life
by Brian Grazer

Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want
by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

Shaping Success (dog training)
by Susan Garrett

What are you reading this winter?

Is there anything brilliant that I should add to my list?

The Weekly Meal Plan

Steak Kale and Latke Dinner

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

While 2016 will be marked in almost everyone’s books as a doozy of a year, I’m truly looking forward to what 2017 has to bring for me, my friends, my community, and the world. I’m riding a good amount of momentum for the new year – I spent the last few weeks setting concrete goals for my business and my life, and I did quite a bit of clean sweeping. It feels good to have the year off on a good foot.

I don’t typically make resolutions, but I use the season to double down on my goal setting and reinforcing good habits. I’ve been working my way through my own winter self-care bingo board, and got extra points for starting off the year with a 5k race this morning. I’m using it as a benchmark for some running goals this year: I’m hoping to run a 26 minute 5k (and not die in my A race triathlon – the Patriot half). This month I’ll be doing a mile a day running streak, and for strength work, I’ve signed up for a women’s lifting class that meets on Monday and Wednesday night each week.

I DO however set some kitchen resolutions, and I’m diligently working on my updated list this week. It includes more cookbooks, more home cooking, and some food related adventure (100 new fruits and vegetables!) In years past I’ve done a January Whole 30 to reset, I’ve actually been really enjoying my home cooking the past few months, and am just looking to continue on with the good practice! (If you are doing a Whole 30 and want some tips and resources, I wrote a long post last year to help you out).

:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of January 1st, 2017 :: 

This week’s prep: none! After a week of parties, I’m starting fresh by going shopping on Tuesday for the rest of the week’s meals. One notable change these past few months has been my refrigerator. After a lifetime of operating a refrigerator by stuffing it to the gills with options, I decided that I really wanted my fridge to look more like those sparkling clean specimens in those “fridge sneak peek” articles about famous people. Years old condiments were tossed (don’t worry, I still have full side door shelves), and I know keep food in there primarily for the week and no more than that. I can actually SEE what there is to eat, and it really helps to curb snacking.Sunday: skirt steak with latkes and kale salad. This is truly an amazing kale salad. The recipe is from Epicurious, and I’ve made it a handful of times at home now. We had it again this week at a party, and I remembered how much I love it and made it again.

Monday: seafood medley cioppino. I have a bag of mixed frozen seafood from Trader Joe’s which is going in a pot with a jar of Rao’s marinara and possibly a little bit of wine.

Tuesday: beef bottom roast in the InstantPot. I’m still looking for good recipe inspiration for this. It may end up being ropa vieja style, or possibly Irish beef stew.

Wednesday: roast chicken, potatoes, and a Hungry Root spiralized side – a few weeks ago I tried my first Hungry Root box – it’s spiralized veggies which come with sauces that you toss and cook. The price is insane ($9 at Whole Foods), but they are so good that I’ve been buying one a week and loving them.

Thursday: yellow lentil soup – I think I’m going to go with some South Asian flavors here, and make some Dal.

Friday: turkey, refried beans, and egg. I’ve been cooking this almost every Friday. It’s a 100% winner for the household, and always makes us happy.

Saturday: Out!

What’s cooking on your table this week? 

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