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? 

A Few Good Ideas for Winter and my Winter Self-Care Bingo

Winter Citrus

Ah, New England winter. The season of slipping on the ice, freezing through your boots, getting trapped in 12 feet of snow, and braving horrific public transportation. Oh and that feeling that becoming a complete shut-in is a good alternative to braving the bitter cold outdoors and the general societal grumpiness. It’s no joke. At the onset of every winter here I feel like throwing up a big SOS flag and jetting to the nearest warm place to hibernate for the season.

But because I’ve committed myself to living here (at least until I figure out a better idea) I make it a habit to roundup ideas big and small to get me through the seasonal shift and help me actually enjoy myself through the holidays, new year, and the big freeze. I’m a strong advocate of self care (and teach an e-course on it) and am my best self when I actually plan and visualize ideas before being threatened by the winter blues.  Here’s this year’s list:

Food and Drinks to Ease the Chill

Weekly chilis, stews, and braises. Chili is a staple in my household – it’s holds high on the family favorites list. Tori Ritchie’s Braises and Stews, and Molly Stevens’ All About Braising are two seasonal favorite cookbooks.

Winter citrus. While you can pick up citrus all year long in the supermarkets, it’s my favorite time of year for it, and I make time to celebrate the season. A box of clementines or grapefruit overload take the edge off of the weather and always make me cheerful. I love Jamie Oliver’s clementine curd, and Jennie’s clementine, honey, and olive oil cake do the trick.

The Warm Boozy beverage. Mulled wine, hot nog, hot toddies, or my favorite: a shot of baileys in a mug of boiling water. On my to-cook list this month is my own homemade Irish Cream inspired by the brilliant Smitten Kitchen.

Revisiting Habits and Routines that Keep Me Healthy

Up the self-care routines; revisit old routines, habits, and streaks to see if there are ones that I’ve dropped that I’d like to go back on. Re-committing to a weekly number of sweaty workouts, upping the yoga classes, and planning out fun fitness activities help. I also try to make more time for meditation, embrace some “Woo”, and surround myself with green plants. I made my own self care bingo printable to encourage myself to keep up with the small self-care activities that make a big impact.

Simplify where you can! Fall back on some simpler routines – for me that’s shopping once a week instead of several, and re-committing to the “home court habits” that Darya Pino talks about in Foodist. Not just for nutrition but for overall health.

Take advantage of the new year’s momentum. Just because the majority of people fail their seasonal resolutions, doesn’t me that we all have to! Take advantage of the momentum and set some smart health and fitness goals for the year. Mine include training for a longer triathlon, consistent weight lifting and strength training, a faster 5k, and beating this year’s gym trip record.

Winter Tips for House and Home

Hot hands winter warmers. I acquired an entire case of them (before someone pointed out that actually you can get reusable ones). On the plus side, these are great for grab and go, and stashing a few in my car.

Seasonal housekeeping – I like to do some basic seasonal house care tasks as a way to usher in the change in weather. I’m not Martha Stewart, so you won’t see me going overboard with the winter homekeeping, but some basics are a great start. For me, this included doing some Marie Kondo wardrobe assessments, and taking on some household projects. This month it’s making a good 72 hour emergency kit for our home.

Candle season. I pick up a bunch of plain candles (unscented preferably, as I prefer not to inhale chemical fragrance) at Ikea and Trader Joe’s. I light a bunch of them in an area where they won’t burn the house down. These are also a useful part of our emergency stash incase the power goes out in winter.

Need more ideas for self-care this winter?

Download my handy dandy Winter Self Care Bingo printable:

Things that Spark Joy

heath serving bowl ottolenghi tabbouli

With winter in full force today, I’ve been working on a list of things in my life that spark joy to ward off the winter blues. This is a variation of a gratitude exercise that I do with my coaching clients – and something I try to revisit on a semi-regular basis.

I often have difficulty reminding myself what things spark joy when I’m feeling symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many of my friends and clients do as well.

So it helps to do this exercise when I’m on an upswing, and be kind to myself when these things don’t seem like they’ll help. Sometimes the act of making the list is enough to spark positive feelings.

I write out a combination of big things and little things – when I don’t have the energy to travel or adventure, I may still find joy from slicing carrots with my sharp knife, stirring a pot of beans, or cuddling with my sweet puppy. The act of doing something small but satisfying helps to start a positive domino effect in my daily life.

Here’s my list this week.

My red Heath serving bowl, a birthday gift from Devon. And filling it with greenery, such as the parsley tabbouleh picture above. It’s this Ottolenghi recipe.

Chopping and slicing things with a very sharp knife. I purchased a new Kyocera knife as a replacement for one that chipped. At some point, I’ll get a new one with their warranty, but after stalling for a while, I finally just decided to bite the bullet and spend the $30 with industry discount at Sur La Table.

Planning trips, and traveling. I had a few big trips on my to do list this year: my favorites were Florida (twice) and Denver, Colorado! Every year I go with a small group of friends on a spring excursion. We’ve done DC, London, Disney World. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed Disney. I’d like to go back this year. Bonus points for silly out takes from warm beaches.

Sam Tackeff

Helping other people find their passion in life. Life is too short to be drifting down the wrong path. There is a world to explore, and people in need to be of service to. For you Wellesleys out there: Sed Min for the Win.

The feeling of having written something. I do wish that I enjoyed the writing process more – but it’s often difficult to feel like I’m in the zone. That said, the joy of having written is strong!

The ocean. I’ve been blessed to have lived most of my life near the ocean. I love the vivid color of the sea, the lapping of waves, gathering sea glass and worn rocks. It’s a perfect place of contemplation. I like walking past others who walk on the beach alone, a brief nod of solidarity and of knowing.

Acquiring new books at my local bookstore. Or even the non-local ones – I like getting books on trips, and visiting bookstores in different places.

Adding a finished book to my Goodreads “read” list. It’s really nice to see everything I’ve read in one place, and to see the virtual shelf growing. Even on days when I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing, I can see that I’ve read and haven’t given up on learning and exploring.

My sweet bean, Bertram the Frenchie. I adore getting to spend time with him, head into the outdoors on adventures, and see him taking true pleasure in chowing down on whatever is in front of him. He likes sitting on my lap and watching the world. He loves people – it’s actually quite nice to have a social puppy that is different than my own nature.

Bertram the Frenchie

What would you put on your list?

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