One of the key insights of the past decade: if I write it down on a list, I’m more likely to do it.
Lists enable me to dream and achieve in ways that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. They are the structure that enables me to envision more and do more. I keep master lists, reading lists, home projects, work lists, and more. Some are written as a way to to plan, others as a way to acknowledge achievements – one of the highlights this year was my “movie consumption list” – my goal to watch 52 new to me movies! (I even have lists of lists.)
One of my favorite lists to come back to each year is my Kitchen Resolutions: my commitment to spending more time doing the things I love: cooking, reading about food, talking about food, and eating…. all of the food.
I’ve been writing these resolutions for more than a decade, and some of them pop up year after year – affirm doing good things that work – and a handful are new each year. You can take a peek through previous years here: (2012) (2016) (2017) (2018)
First, here are some of my previous resolutions I’d like to continue with:
My weekly meal planning process – this has gone through different iterations over the years – waffling back and forth between digital and paper, depending on mood. Currently it’s a revised template that ends up either in my Evernote or paper journal (which I then snap a photo of before heading to the grocery store.) Each week I sit down and assess the things in the fridge or freezer that need to be used up, plan out things to batch cook, and dream up my dinners, lunches, and snacks. Then I shop.
Bucket list restaurants – I can count the number of times I ate out on my two hands in the past year. While I’m all for home cooking, I’d like to continue to eat my way through some of the local gems we have in this area. (To that end, I use the Eater 38 as a guide.)
100(0) fruits, nuts, and seed to try – here’s my list; quite a few of these I’ve definitely eaten (but can’t actually remember eating…. hello aging) so I’ve left them on my master list to actually re-try for the record. A good friend is on a quest to fall in love and try new vegetables, so I might rope her in to some of them and see how we do.
Minimize the amount of stuff on the counter in my kitchen –I generally like access to “all the things” in my kitchen. That doesn’t mean that they have to all be on the counters everywhere. This year I added a handful of new pots and pans without getting rid of other stuff, and it’s clear that I need a better storage solution for everything. (I did however add spice racks to my kitchen, which was a good move!)
Cooking recipes from cookbooks – while I’ve never been one to actually cook recipes from cookbooks regularly (I usually read, learn, and adapt), Alison Roman’s Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes had SUCH great recipes that I cooked many of them this year, and will concede that sometimes it’s fun to let someone trusted “take the wheel”. I’ll make an effort to add at least one cookbook recipe to my weekly meal plans, and combine this with some favorite cookbook re-reads:
What other resolutions are on the docket for 2020?
Blogging my weekly Good Things: yup, back on the wagon. I’ll note that one of the biggest differences between writing each week and not writing each week (hello, crazy back half of 2019!), was that without the suggestion of public accountability, my meals got much more boring, and not in a good way.
Cookbook Dinners: over the past few years I’ve made some half-hearted attempts to form a cookbook club, but I think I’ll take it up again this year, even if it’s only me doing the cooking. The last one I did was Zahav, and it was a good time for all. (Despite the recipes needing more seasoning, but I digress.) My goal here will be a minimal and doable 3 times this year.
Revise my backup list: (a version of it here) even when I meal plan, some days, I just want comfort food that requires little effort and really only muscle memory. A bowl of rice with yogurt, a box of Annie’s macaroni and cheese, or gasp – TJ’s chicken nuggets. I’m going to peruse Dinner: A Love Story, because I seem to recall that she has good inspiration here.
Food memoirs and literature: while I made it through more than 52 books in 2020, there was NARY a food memoir or food history, and boy do I need to change that. It’s one of my favorite genres. To do this week: add a handful of these to my January reading list to get off on a good start.
Garden 2020: this year I made the effort to grow more in my pots and had ample fresh herbs. I also weeded and tended to the back plot – and grew some medium-happy potatoes (I’ll probably go for bigger ones next year), an outsized rosemary, lavender, and more.
Other notes: taking a new stab at a Kitchen Projects list, having people over for casual meals more often, cooking with my Turkish spices more often, making a batch of ice cream every so often, baking pumpkin chocolate chip cake.
Do you have any kitchen resolutions this year?I’d love to hear about them!
Every morning before I start work, I devote an hour to personal development (largely non-fiction) reading while I let my cup of coffee do it’s magical work. Reading is the best way to kickstart my workday – it’s flipping the switch: from brain fog to focus. Sometimes I need a mere 15 minutes, other times, I take the whole hour if I’m enjoying what I’m reading. (On the flip side, I read fiction and cookbooks in the afternoon and evening to wind down.)
Here’s [version one] of my personal development reading list for 2018. I’ll be supplementing this with plenty of fiction (usually YA novels, sci-fi,and fantasy), and other books as I see fit. I typically write out a quarterly reading list that is a little bit more robust with variety, but I wanted to work through these as a starting point. Some of these books I’ve read before, and I’m looking to read with a new lens to apply to my current work. Many are books that I’ve had on my list for years, and feel like I’m at the right moment to actually get what I want out of them.
How did I pick the books? When I sit to create lists like this, I’m interested in hitting on different aspects of “whole being development” so I try to fill up with a series of business, life, psychology, health, financial, self-help, creative and inspirational reading. I find biographies and history particularly stimulating – if anything, reassuring that you don’t have to have it all together to succeed in life…Also, it’s usually a criteria that they don’t suck. If I really hate the book 50 pages in, I can quit.
Next steps for this list:I try to keep my lists updated as I work through them – there’s no hard and fast rule to sticking to what I’ve added on here. I also want to cross check and make sure that I’m reading a good amount of books written by women, POC and global voices. Already this list is skewing a little too male for my preference. Other things notably missing: I’m a little low on health, wellness, and fitness reading – I’ve had trouble finding great books that have come out in the past decade. (Suggestions welcome here!) I’ll update the list as I make adjustments and read through these.
I’m taking any and all suggestions – do you have a favorite I should read? Anything on here that I shouldn’t waste my time with?
These categories are… loosely organized here. Several of these books fit into more than one of these categories; the top of the list are one’s I’m going to likely start with in the new year.
[ ] Tribe of Mentors – Tim Ferriss
[ ] Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World – Gary Vaynerchuk
[ ] The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
[ ] The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Mark Manson
[ ] The Five Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage – Mel Robbins
[ ] Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Jocko Willink
[ ] Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration – Ed Catmull
[ ] Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramahansa Yogananda
[ ] Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! – Tony Robbins
[ ] The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change – Camille Fournier
[ ] Founder at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days – Jessica Livingston
[ ] How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
[ ] Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini
[ ] The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers – Ben Horowitz
[ ] Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work – Chip and Dan Heath
[ ] How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of “Intangibles” in Business – Douglas Hubbard
[ ] The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It – Michael Gerber
[ ] What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful – Marshall Goldsmith
[ ] Getting Everything You Can out of All You’ve Got – Jay Abraham
[ ] Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – Cal Newport
[ ] Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown
[ ] Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson
[ ] Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done – Jon Acuff
[ ] The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure – Grant Cardone
[ ] Daily Rituals: How Artists Work – Mason Curry
[ ] On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction – William Zinsser
[ ] The 80/20 Principle – Richard Koch
[ ] The Gift of Fear – Gavin de Becker
[ ] Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message – Tara Mohr
[ ] Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel Pink
[ ] Getting to Yes: Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In – Fisher, Ury, Patton
[ ] The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy –Stanley and Danko
[ ] The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing – Taylor Larimore
Self–Care/ Better Living:
[ ] Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Atul Gawande
[ ] Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Mediation and Practice – Shunryu Suzuki
[ ] Stumbling on Happiness – Daniel Gilbert
[ ] The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work – Shawn Achor
Health, Wellness, the Body:
[ ] Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease – Gary Taubes
[ ] Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain – Oliver Sachs
Biography or Autobiographical
[ ] What Happened – Hillary Clinton
[ ] Promise Me Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose – Joe Biden
[ ] Find a Way – Diana Nyad
[ ] Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE – Phil Knight
[ ] Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice – Bill Browder
[ ] The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics – Daniel James Brown
[ ] Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! Adventures of a Curious Character – Richard Feynman
[ ] Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu
[ ] Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Harari ; THEN Homo Deus
[ ] Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
[ ] Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone – Brené Brown
[ ] Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business – Danny Meyer
[ ] Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse
Other people’s lists of note which I used for some inspiration while putting together this list:
Non-business: I’m still working my way through the BBC’s now deprecated Big Read – a catalyst for making 2017 a year of Terry Pratchett.
A few other notes:
On Application: I think it was Darren Hardy who mentioned – you are better off reading one business book and applying it fully than binging on business books and not acting on what you’ve learned. To this end, every book I read I try to apply a portion if not multiple aspects to my work. Most people read and don’t apply what they’ve learned… and that’s a shame. To push myself towards doing more of this, I’ve started taking notes in my books (GASP!), testing and applying.
But sometimes I just read for the sake of reading. One thing that I’ve learned in the past few years is that one of the best results of reading non-fiction is actually just a simple context switch and brain shift in order to get myself going in the morning. So I try to use reading as a multi-purpose tool.
On Writing: The past few years I’ve been trying to commit and re-commit to sharing what I’ve learned from my reading (as opposed to hoarding knowledge.) Each year I try to write more than I did the last. It takes a bit of a mind shift from reading for one’s self, to reading with the intention of sharing the knowledge and learnings. Friends, hold me to this! (Yes, I give you permission to guilt and shame me for not writing about what I’m reading.
Do you have a 2018 reading list? Have you ever done a reading challenge? I’d love to hear about it.
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!
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:
While I’m not doing a Whole30 this January, I’ve done several rounds of the nutrition challenge in the past, and one of my favorite parts of the experience is the planning process! For those of you unfamiliar with Whole30, it’s a 30 day nutrition challenge created by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, which focuses on eating unprocessed whole foods, and cutting out inflammatory foods such as sugar and alcohol. For more information, go to Whole30.com, and make sure to get a copy of their book “It Starts with Food”.
1. Plan, plan, plan! Go into your challenge with a plan in mind. I actually use a Google spreadsheet – here’s my sample Whole30 template, feel free to copy and make your own – to plan my month in advance. I’m flexible as I go along, but having done some of the heavy lifting before I dive in really helps me to stick with positive choices.
2. Batch cooking is your friend. Every weekend on Whole30 I plan an afternoon where I make a few staples for the week. I hard-boil a dozen eggs, roast a tray of vegetables, bake some sweet potatoes, and grill a few pounds of chicken or other meats to keep in the fridge. I like also making a sauce of the week, such as mayo, romesco, or chimichurri. Overall I spend about two hours in the kitchen – so I can cut my daily cooking time down to a minimum!
2. Whole30 should NOT be a consistent test of your will power. Build yourself up for success! Clear your house of treats you know you won’t be able to stay away from. If you go consistently to social events, prepare by eating in advance, keeping a compliant snack in your bag, and stay prepared! If you happen to live in a place where social life seems to revolve around alcohol (ahem, Washington DC?), go to the bartender and order a soda water with a lime. (Pretend it’s a gin and tonic if you are tired of explaining Whole30 to people.)
4. Make a list of restaurants where you can get a Whole30 compliant meal, and schedule in at least a weekly dinner out. Eating at home for thirty days can be exhausting if you haven’t gotten used to it. I like having a few options in my back pocket where I know I can get meals that fit with the program. In the past, I’ve done Chipotle, and one of my neighborhood restaurants where I can order a steak or roast chicken, potatoes, and greens with minimal fuss.
5. Make a list of easy pantry meals that you can fall back on if you don’t want the meal that you’ve planned for the night. This is crucial if you aren’t used to sticking to meal plans. Some nights things change – be it your schedule, the weather, your mood, and you find yourself wanting something different. I keep a list of pantry meals or quick fix meals for these evenings so that I’m not left making a bad choice. Breakfast for dinner is often a solution for us. I always keep a bowl of chili in the freezer to pull out in an emergency.
6. Find support. Whole30 can be mentally challenging, and it always helps to do it with a friend. If you don’t have friends or family on board, there’s a great community out there – Instagram (#Whole30) and Pinterest are both good places to find people on the program.
7. How can I Whole30 with a family? This can definitely be a challenge, but it’s doable! The challenge is certainly easiest if everyone in the house is eating the same meals and your spouse is on board – but you can still do it if they aren’t! I’ll usually make a main dish that works for everyone, with optional non-compliant sides for those who aren’t participating in the challenge. Encourage family members to eat treats out of the house, or if they’d like to eat them at home, don’t feel like you have to sit there suffering and watch them while they do it! Take some me-time!
8. A Whole30 challenge does not need to be boring! If you are worried about eating boring chicken breasts and broccoli for thirty days, I promise you, the Whole30 does not need to be that! Many cuisines are naturally Whole30 friendly. I do a lot of Mediterranean tray bakes, Mexican inspired meals, Italian, and Middle Eastern meals. Spices are your friends – stock up at Whole Foods or Penzey’s before your challenge.
9. Rely on some template meals. You do not need to plan elaborate meals each night of your Whole30. Mel Joulwan champions the “Hot Plates” – Protein + Veggies + Fat + Spices + Sauce = Meal. (Lots of good stuff in her cook book Well Fed!) I like doing theme days for inspiration: “egg night”, “soup night”, or “meat + two veg night”.
10. Whole30 does not need to break the bank. Eating organic meat and vegetables and cooking all of your meals at home can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. I practice this year round: find your sales and purchase in bulk. I ask the butcher to package meats in pound increments so I can freeze each separately and defrost as I go along. Trader Joe’s Organic Free Range chicken thighs are delicious. Make use of the frozen vegetable – they can be great convenience foods, and are often riper than out of season vegetables. I subscribe to a CSA farm share in the summer time, and a meat CSA all year long to help lower the cost of these higher quality foods. (Plus, you’ll likely be saving money by not drinking alcohol and avoiding treats.)
11. You do not need fancy appliances to do a Whole30. A good pan, sharp knife, a roasting sheet, and a dutch oven are what I use most often. If you do want to get a little fancy, I love my spiralizer for making vegetables for salads, crispy fries, and vegetable noodles.
12. Know what to expect. It helps to go into the challenge with the right mindset. Whole30 isn’t a crash diet, it’s a way to reframe your eating style, and form new healthy habits. That said, it can very be challenging. Cutting sugar and alcohol cold turkey can be difficult. Be prepared to notice your feelings, acknowledge them but don’t fight them, and persevere. It will be hard, but you can do it!
13. Commit to the month. You can do anything for a month! If you find yourself frustrated, take solace in the fact that this is a finite challenge, and you will definitely learn things about yourself along the way. Choose a few new recipes each week, commit to learning some new cooking techniques, and have fun!
For more Whole30 resources, check out these resource posts on a few of my favorite blogs:
If you are interested in any personal coaching to support your Whole30 (or gym nutrition challenge) – I do schedule one-off consultations to help you strategize your month of good eating in compliance with the program! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This week has been a vibrant whirlwind – which is sort of how I’ve come to expect my fall to be – life reflecting nature – the leaves changing colors, the winds picking up. Except I’m not gearing up to hibernate, but instead bolster myself for the holidays and the new year. It’s a little scary how fast it’s come this year. Wasn’t it summer yesterday? (Okay, so maybe it did hit 73 degrees here this week…)
Much of my free time has been spent building out my fall wellness program which starts on Monday! – the Secrets of Self Care, and I realize that I haven’t talked to you about it here on my corner of the internet, and YOU are who I’ve been writing this course for!
Secrets of Self Care is a 6 week program for those who have been focused on career, family, or business, and lost themselves a little in the process. (Okay, isn’t that all of us?) Six weeks leading up to the holidays to help you get back in touch with yourself.
Are you lacking inspiration to make simple, healthy, and seasonal meals?
Are you feeling tired with the change of seasons?
Do the holidays cause you anxiety?
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 variety of printable handouts
– A personal coaching consultation with Sam (via Phone, Hangout, or Skype)
– Additional email support for the duration of the course
The cost of the course is $179 for the 6 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!
If you want to hear more, email me at email@example.com, and I’d happy to hop on the phone with you for a few minutes to talk about the work that I do, and how I can help!
I occasionally link to products using affiliate links, including Amazon. I get a small commission if you purchase something from that link and this helps cover hosting costs (I use DreamHost and have been a happy customer since 2009). Thank you for supporting The Second Lunch!