Dinner drop-off: Sweet potato, coconut, and red lentil daal

I’m in the season of life where everyone is having babies. The season where happy hours often include holding a friend’s baby in one hand and a cocktail in the other. The season where multiple friends at a time are down for the count with morning sickness.

While it feels a tiny bit bittersweet for the spontaneity of childless years to be leaving my friend circle, it mostly feels exciting. I love babies, and I love seeing the strong, awesome women I hold so dearly with their little ones.

Today, I want to share with you my favorite way to support the new mamas in my life: bring them a meal! This idea isn’t innovative or difficult or expensive, but it’s something I wish we all did more of. When a friend is in need, whether that’s because they’re struggling or celebrating, feed them!

Honestly, you don’t even have to enjoy cooking for this to work. Bringing your friend’s favorite takeout is probably just as welcome as a homemade meal. When you bring them food, any food at all, that means they don’t have to worry about the chore of making dinner, even if it’s just for the night.

When you bring a new mom dinner, sometimes you have to carry strange bags into the office. 

I’ll be sharing a series of these recipes that work well for the dinner drop-off in the coming months. These meals have to fit several criteria: 1. Cozy and simple, 2. Store and reheat well, 3. Walk the line between healthy and indulgent.

My best tips and tricks for meal delivery success:

  • All-disposable everything. When you’re bringing a friend a meal, it’s likely because the rest of their life feels overwhelming. Don’t give them the additional task of remembering to return your casserole dish. I am usually a stickler for glass storage and reusable containers, but this is an exception. I have a few Rubbermaids that I am not attached to, and I just tell the recipient to pass that container along as needed. If a gallon ziplock will do the job, use one.
  • Check in about food preferences. If you’re not sure if your friend has any allergies or aversions, just ask. Especially if you’re making food for a newly pregnant and possibly nauseated friend or a nursing mom. I usually send a text or email like this: “I want to bring you dinner Wednesday evening. Are there any specific foods you’re avoiding?”
  • Give a heads-up. Since the idea of this good deed is to take the weight off your friend’s shoulders, let her know a day or two ahead of time what you’re thinking. That way she doesn’t spend any time stressing about what’s for dinner that night — she knows she has a delivery from you on the way.

The meal I’m sharing today, a simple lentil daal with sweet potatoes and green peas, is a favorite at my house. It’s spiced and flavorful, but not spicy; it’s hearty, but not heavy. It freezes well in case your friend can’t use the meal right away. I brought it to a friend and her husband earlier this week with brown rice, garlic naan, and chewy blondies with chocolate, coconut, and pecans.

Sweet potato, coconut, and red lentil daal

Serves 2 hungry adults for 2 meals

I know that this dish isn’t authentic. But it’s wholesome, hearty, and has all the coziness of chicken noodle soup.

Ingredients:

Medium yellow onion, diced

Coconut or olive oil

Four cloves of garlic, minced

Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

 

Tbsp yellow curry powder

½ tbsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp salt (more to taste)

 

3 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into small cubes

1 c red lentils

1 can full-fat coconut milk

1 cup water (more to add if daal gets dry)

 

1 c frozen green peas

  1. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat (I use my cast iron skillet). Once hot, add a couple tablespoons of your chosen oil. I use a combination of coconut and olive. When the oil is melted/hot, add the onions. Sautee until golden brown, up to ten minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ginger. Sautee for 30 seconds, or until very fragrant. Lower heat to medium.
  3. Add spices, and — stirring constantly — toast for one minute. I add more coconut oil at this step if the pan looks dry.
  4. Add sweet potatoes, lentils, coconut milk, salt, and water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally, ensuring that the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If the lentils or sweet potatoes need more liquid to cook, add about a cup of water halfway into the cooking time.
  5. Once the potatoes are fork-tender, stir in the green peas. Allow to simmer for five more minutes to warm the peas through.
  6. Serve with brown rice, naan, or both if you need extra comfort. Sriracha and cilantro are welcome compliments.

Heavily adapted from this recipe.

Note on rice: for the best reheating experience, spread still-hot, freshly cooked rice in a flat layer (like on a big baking sheet) until completely cool. Then store and refrigerate. The rice will reheat in individual grains, not as a big clump.

Get your ass to the front of the class! (And two more secrets to enjoying group fitness)

Until a few years ago, I had never, ever exercised with any intention. I played basketball and volleyball in middle school, but those practices were largely spent hiding from the ball, avoiding drills, and I rode the bench a lot during games.

In college, I would occasionally use the elliptical, and I took a pilates class to fulfill my physical fitness requirement.

That was it.

I do remember setting out to “go on a run” on campus at some point, maybe my junior year. I couldn’t even run for one straight minute.

It wasn’t until a few years later, when I was in grad school, that something snapped. I don’t remember what the catalyst was, but I do know that I downloaded the Couch 2 5K app on my iPhone 4, and I taught myself how to run 3.2 miles on sidewalks around my shitty apartment in midtown Kansas City. It was the first time that I had stuck to an exercise regimen, and I got so much stronger. I had calf muscles! I had cardiovascular endurance!

But, the truth is that I never really liked running. It’s just fine. It’s basically free, you can do it anywhere, and it doesn’t take long to get a solid, fat-burning workout in. It’s just so boring. So I didn’t stick to it. I’d go through phases of running 10-or-so miles each week and phases of barely getting my ass off the couch.

So, between 2014-2016, I exercised off and on. I ran on the treadmill, I went to occasional church rec room zumba classes (can’t beat a $3 class, even if you don’t attend the church), and I did some yoga and pilates.

It wasn’t until the start of 2017 that I really figured out how to stick to exercise. Turns out that I love group fitness. I love the accountability and the community, I love watching my classmates get stronger and slimmer over time, and the classes are FUN. Beyond getting a genuine runner’s high once or twice, I’m not sure I’d ever had fun before with routine, weekly exercise.

Each week, I take four classes: two zumba and two spin. Those four hours are some of my favorites of the week. I show up, give it my all, and then coast on the endorphins that you only get from dripping sweat.

Keep reading for my top three tips for liking, loving, and looking forward to a fitness class.

Note: I’m lucky enough to take zumba at my company’s gym for free, and I take spin at my very cheap suburban community gym (only $25/mo, all classes included). I found those spin classes through Google! If you’re interested in taking a class, and don’t know where to start, Google is your BFF. If your city has a gym that you’re already subsidizing through taxes, take advantage of it! I’m kicking myself for not using this resource earlier.


  1. When you show up to class, get in the front row!

    This tip is the most important of the three, and the next two depend on this one to really work.

    If you’re new to the class, it may be your impulse to hide in the back. Don’t do it! Getting in the front row means that you’ll have fewer distractions, you’ll be able to see the instructor better, and she’ll be able to see you! In a class like zumba, where you need to be able to see the instructor’s whole body, you’re doing yourself a huge favor by getting to class early and claiming one of those front row spots. You’ll be able to see exactly how the instructor moves her feet, which means you won’t have to guess.

    When the instructor can see you, she’ll be able to correct your form, which means your workout will only be better. There’s no sense in doing an hour-long workout incorrectly, especially since you could hurt yourself that way.

    Being in the front has always helped me to learn the moves more quickly. There’s no trying to see around the woman in front of you, or finding your view blocked during songs with lots of jumping (I’m pretty short). And learning the moves means that you can get that much more sweat out of the class. Once you learn all the moves to a zumba routine (the BEST feeling), you can power through the song at your maximum level, instead of pausing to watch the instructor.

    This is pre-workout. Post-class is not nearly as cute.
  2. Even once you’re in the front, please remember that no one is watching you. No one looking at your resistance level on your spin bike, and no one’s making a mental note when you miss an arm press rep. Everyone is focused on their personal workout. Especially in a studio with mirrors, they’re looking at themselves or at the instructor. Seriously.

No one cares that you’re sweating like a cold beer, no one cares that you’re tomato-faced, and no one cares that you’re not performing at the same level as the instructor.

If someone has time to stare at your workout, they’re not working hard enough. 

Deciding that you won’t take a class because you’ll feel embarrassed or because you’re unsure that you’ll be able to keep up is just an excuse. No one is perfect in these classes. People modify the moves all the time, instructors lose count of reps, and no one cares. We’re all there with the same goal, so perfection isn’t expected. 

When it comes to zumba, for example, I may know the moves, but I’m not executing them with any style or grace. And moves when the arms and legs move in opposite directions? Forget about it. I am literally incapable. But you know what I do instead? I just move my body in the best approximation of the choreography that I can. Because the only thing that really matters is that I keep moving. So what that my left hand is in the air when my right hand should be? No one cares!!!!!!

Making this realization was the biggest turning point for me. Once you get in the mindset that no one is watching, it’s so much easier to go all-in. If your instructor says to sing along, sing along! If a zumba routine ends with you slapping your own butt, slap your butt! What is the point in showing up if you’re not going to give it your all?

  1. I love classes because they’re a combination of solo exercise and camaraderie, but that camaraderie only comes it you make buddies. It’s the best to have someone to high five after getting through a particularly hard set of reps or someone to roll your eyes with when an annoying song comes on. Chat with other women in the locker room, commiserate about how sore you are from Monday’s class, and encourage them if they seem down. Knowing that I have friends in the class that will miss me if I skip makes it that much more important to get my booty to the gym.

Exercise classes have changed my life. Seems melodramatic, but it’s true. I am more fit, more confident, and more energetic. And I look forward to classes, even the one at 5:15 a.m. And, that, my friends, must be some kind of magic.

What classes do you love? What are your best workout tips? Are there roadblocks preventing you from taking a class?

My No-Fail System for Getting. Shit. Done.

Hi! Long time, no see! ✨

In all honesty, I haven’t been making time to write lately, and I have been feeling real crappy about it. This blog was totally off my radar, so much so that I’d be taken a little off-guard if a friend asked me when I’d have a new post up. If you’re one of those friends, thank you. Without your reminders, I seriously may not have gotten my butt back in gear.

Ok, on to the topic of the day: PLANNERS AND SCHEDULING, I.E. MY FAVORITE TOPIC

Last week, I was engaging in my favorite procrastination activity — watching Instagram stories. A creative, smart, and funny woman that I really enjoy following, Miranda Anderson, was talking about her lack of organization skills.

She said that, while she may be a good mom in a million other ways, she’ll never be a good school mom. She held up her son’s school calendar and said that she didn’t know what to do with it and that she would probably throw it away. I started giggling, in shock, I think. What does she mean, she doesn’t know what to do with it? She should add all of those dates to her calendar right now, and make sure her husband does the same. How can she not know that?

She then held up a nametag that her son had received in a back-to-school packet. He was supposed to wear it on the first day of school. She just knew it would get lost, and she didn’t know where to put it to prevent that from happening. Again, my reaction was just like WHAT?! What do you mean?! PUT IT IN A SAFE PLACE, WOMAN!

Now, we all have our strengths, and organization just isn’t one of hers. I tell this story with no judgement, at all. Miranda has infectious positivity and a great eye for design. BUT, her Insta story made me realize something that seems silly and obvious now: not everyone enjoys planning like I do and that may mean that they don’t even know how to do it.

I am bad at a million different things: I have terrible handwriting, my balance is a joke, and I can’t carry a tune (that never stops me from singing along, don’t worry).

But I am excellent at schedules and organizing and to-do lists and planning every hour of the day for maximum productivity. And you know I’ve never heard a tip that I don’t want to share with all of you!

If you’re like Miranda and can’t figure out which way is up when it comes to organizing your calendar or your family’s schedule, you’re in the right place.

My No-Fail System for Getting. Shit. Done.

Note: This is my tried-and-true system. I have tried many, many, many alternatives, and this combo is what works for me. Don’t feel like you have to follow this exactly. Take what works for you and leave the rest! There’s no right way to do this.

  1. Use a digital calendar and a paper planner in tandem

This may seem like overkill, but it is so worth it, I promise. Documenting schedules in two places is my secret.

I have a Google Calendar where I log and schedule everything. Upcoming events, planned workouts, upcoming blog topics, date night, must-see T.V. (hi, Bachelor Nation!), what I’m making for dinner, and more. If Grant is invited to an event, I literally invite him via email on the calendar event. He also has access to my calendar, so he can easily check if I’m free next Thursday.

All that said, I am still an analog planner at heart. I love, love, love my Simplified Planner. I have the Academic Daily in Gold Pineapple. The format is of this planner is awesome: an hour-by-hour schedule for the individual day is in one column, and a to-do list for that same day is in the other column.

During the day, I refer to my planner constantly. My to-do list lives there, so I’m x-ing items off, assessing how much time I have to complete the next task, and checking if I’ll have a minute or two to take an afternoon walk.

I typically check GCal in the morning and in the afternoon. First thing, I check in to make sure that I haven’t forgotten any upcoming events or tasks for the day. Towards the end of my work day, I check in again. I assess how much I got done from today’s to-do list, think about which tasks need to be “rescheduled” for tomorrow, and adjust tomorrow’s schedule as necessary.

And, yes, I literally block off chunks of time to write or clean or exercise. If it’s not on the calendar, it is all too easy to “run out of time” for these tasks. Saying that I will work out at some point on Saturday does not work for me. Scheduling a run at 10 a.m. Sunday morning means that, come hell or high water, I’ll be lacing up my sneakers that morning. I have a personal rule that, once I have scheduled one of these blocks of time, it can be rescheduled, but not deleted. That workout has to happen at some point, even if I’m nursing a sore knee.

  1. Download on Sundays

    On Sunday, I open my GCal and my paper planner at the same time. I transfer any relevant info from the GCal to the planner for the upcoming week: coffee with Maggie at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, movies with Grant Thursday after work, early meeting at the office Wednesday morning, etc. Once I have these events in my paper planner, I can start distributing my to-do list throughout the week. If I know I have a freelance deadline Friday, I’m sure to block out several 90-minute chunks of time. I may not use all of the time that I schedule, but a surplus is better than a scramble to meet deadline. (And usually means that I have time for coffee and a book.)

Grant and I do a short pilates workout together every weekday (thank you, The Balanced Life YouTube channel!), so I write “pilates” on my to-do list Monday-Friday. I do this for two reasons: 1. It feels good to cross it off, and 2. It’s a great reminder that’s staring at me all day long if we oversleep and don’t get the workout done in the morning.

If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not you should write something down, WRITE IT DOWN. A superfluous reminder or to-do item is WAY better than forgetting something or someone or some paperwork.

  1. Make it messy

    This is the best tip I’ve got: make your planner a MESS. Do not care if it looks pretty or if anyone else can read your chicken scratch. Being hesitant to mark up your planner because you want to keep it neat is holding you back. It’s not uncommon for me to plan out a busy Saturday hour-by-hour, and then have to cross it all out and start over when plans change. I really do not care if it’s messy, but I know that some women tape scrap paper over their “mistakes” so they’ve got a clean slate to work with.

    Daily messy planner page

I usually keep another small notebook with me, where I can take further notes, or brainstorm various ways that I’ll get all my shit done. It’s a real mess, and it’s full of meal plans, tentative schedules, estimates for how long tasks will take, and more. I carry this notebook so I have more space to write, not so my planner stays cute.

Wrenches will get thrown, and you will have to cross a list out and start over. It doesn’t matter. No one is looking over your shoulder or checking your work. Your planner is only valuable if you use it!

  1. Set up a reminder system

Of all the tips, this one is the most personal, and it’s totally trial-and-error based. No matter how much planning you do, no matter how organized you are — you’re going to get distracted, and you’ll need to be reminded about something. For example, I need to bring my friend a book they want, and we’re meeting for drinks Thursday evening. I would never forget about our date, but sometimes I might forget that I promised them a book. Solution: I set several reminders. First, when they ask for the book, I add a red all-day event to the day I’ll see them next in my GCal (Thursday all-day event: GRETCHEN RUBIN BOOK FOR KARAH). On that prior Sunday, I’ll see the red reminder in GCal, add it to my paper planner, AND I set an alarm on my phone for Thursday morning at around the time I’ll be packing my lunch (Thursday 7:30 a.m. alarm: GRETCHEN RUBIN BOOK FOR KARAH).

Yes, this is a lot of steps. But they take, what, two minutes total? And that way Karah gets her book!

Second reminder tip: clip any paperwork you’ll need to the planner day that you’ll need it! If your dentist appointment is Monday, clip the check for the dentist to Monday in your paper planner. This tip is new to me, and I’m not great at implementing it. But when I remember to do it, IT WORKS! Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s the fact that my bills have always been largely online, but whatever it is — paperwork is my downfall. (Sorry, dermatologist, I know I owe you that form.)


What do you think? That this is overkill? Maybe. What I know is that this level of planning allows me to relax and to get a large amount of stuff done. I work full-time, write freelance, exercise daily, see my friends every week, and make most of our meals from scratch. The only way I get this done is by planning every single day. On weekends, I’m way more flexible. I usually plan the first half of the day with exercise, chores, and errands, and then leave the rest of the day open to veg out and read. And, I know y’all with kids are laughing at me. It’ll be a whole new ballgame once I have kids with their own schedules. (But I can’t wait to get some sort of color-coding system going when I do!)

What I know now, and what works for me now, is that whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, I get my pen and my planner, and I start figuring stuff out.

As my favorite internet celebrity, Ben Franklin, said: “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” Do you think I should get that quote as a tattoo? I’m considering it.

How do you plan your life? Is it different now if you have kids? I know you’re just as busy as I am, so what tips do you have for me?

Reminders to Myself // 5 ways to get back on track when Monday sucks

We’ve all been there. It’s Monday evening, and the first day of the workweek just did not go as planned. Maybe you slept through your alarm, missed your workout, and forgot to pack a lunch. Or maybe you pressed snooze on purpose, grabbed coffee instead of a gym session, and couldn’t resist the call of pizza in the cafeteria. I’ve been there. Often.

Or maybe your 11 a.m. meeting goes over time, and you can’t run those errands over lunch like you needed to, which means that your quiet evening at home has turned into a mad dash to Target, Trader Joe’s, and the bank. Been there.

And I’ve told myself that since I blew my Monday, I might as well wait until the next Monday to get back on track. I should just relax into the fog of a rushed, frantic week with pints of ice cream, oversleeping accidentally-on-purpose, and skipping the gym. Then, next Monday, I can really do it right. I just need to get to next Monday. 

This is so stupid, so self-defeating, so damaging. Perfection isn’t necessary or even really attainable. The perfect week does not exist, no matter how much planning you do.

I need this reminder. Often. I’m betting you do, too. As the great Miley Cyrus once said: “Nobody’s perfect. I gotta work it.”

Here’s to a new week: a new chance at being better than we were the week before. When I totally eff up a Monday (or a Wednesday!), here’s what I do to get back on track.

  1.     Let myself wallow.

Just for a minute! But I let myself, usually on my drive home, think about the ways that the day went wrong. I think about why I made the choices I did and how ANNOYED I am about it. If I skipped my workout, was it because I was genuinely sore and tired, or was it because I was feeling lazy (um, prob the second one)? Understanding my motivation helps me to figure out how to make more positive decisions the next day.

Often, if I have a freelance deadline early in the week, I’ll try to write for a couple of hours early Monday morning. This means that the deadline is off my back, and I can enjoy my week (and watch TV with Grant that evening). When I sleep through my early morning, I’m really punishing my evening self. I then have to come home from a full day of work and write some more. Reminding myself of that consequence helps me to make more fruitful choices next time.

  1.     Drink an obscene amount of water.

Nothing helps me feel more like I’m in control than getting my preferred amount of water every day. Lots of water makes my skin clearer, my belly less bloated, and my mind sharper. In a day where my choices felt negative, this is an easy way to reset.

  1.     Make a plan.

Saying that I want to do better tomorrow is useless if I don’t make a plan to make it happen. I grab my little notebook and plan the next morning. What time am I waking up, what time do I need to leave, and what needs to be in my bag?

If that plan includes a gym bag, I’ll often pack it the night before or at least mentally pick out an outfit that I’ll pack in the morning. I usually don’t pack my lunch in the evening, but I do think about what I’ll pack in the morning, so I’m not going at it blind.

  1.     Eat a healthy dinner.

Even if my bad Monday was because of a missed deadline and not three break room donuts, eating a healthy dinner is a good reset. It’s a positive button on the end of a day. Plus, eating a lighter dinner means that the next goal will the all the more achievable ⬇⬇⬇.

  1.     Get to bed on time.

If I want to kick tomorrow’s ass, I have to go to bed on time. For me, this means 9:30 or 9:45. Making this a priority for the evening (and skipping that next episode of The Leftovers) means I’ll be able to pop out of bed in the morning, ready to hit the gym or get some writing done.


Reminder to myself: Being perfect isn’t possible, but being my best self is. To feel my best, I need to sleep a lot, drink a ton of water, and read and write and sweat on most days.

One lunchtime pizza on a Monday isn’t going to break those habits, even if it might make me feel like taking an afternoon desk nap. Skipping the gym once shouldn’t lead to skipping it daily.

I’m not perfect, and I’m not trying to be. That reminder feels powerful when we all spend entire days running ourselves ragged, striving for the next, the biggest, the best.

Reminder to myself: Perfection isn’t attainable. Goals are. Happiness is. So Monday was the worst? OK. Get back up. Dust off. And keep going.

What are your Monday pitfalls? How do you reset for a better week?

One Month Vegan: What I’m Eating and What I’ve Learned

As of Tuesday, my husband will have been eating vegan and gluten-free for a whole month. The reasons why are complicated and health-related and none of your business 😝, so let’s get to the real question: WHAT THE HELL DOES HE EAT?

Lots of chickpeas, really. Also, did you know brown rice pasta tastes basically the same as regular pasta? I’m finally figuring out tofu, so that’s been fun.

Even if this diet doesn’t end up doing the trick for Grant’s allergy problems (which I alluded to here), I’m really enjoying learning new techniques and trying new things. Once it’s consistently warm outside, I can’t wait to check out some vegan grilling options. (Not sure what those will be. Eggplant? Tofu planks? Hit me up if you have ideas!)

Once we decided to give vegan a try, I started reading. Before, when I had served G meatless meals, he had a hard time getting full. I think some of that may be psychological and based on expectations of what a meal should be, but I was legitimately concerned about getting enough protein into his diet.

Well, guess what? Vegan diets are, like, super full of protein. Lentils and quinoa and nuts, oh my.

My initial research was fueled by this cookbook ⬇⬇⬇, which I’ve had for a long time, but hadn’t done a whole lot of cooking out of. Isa has stews, pastas, sandwiches, salads, everything.

Meal planning in bed.

I read the whole thing like a novel, earmarked a bunch of the recipes, and I’ve been aiming to make one each week. Our very favorite so far has been lentilroni (another blogger made it here). It’s kind of like canned beefaroni (I always preferred the ravioli). But instead of weirdly textured “ground beef,” there are lentils, and pureed cashews make the sauce creamy and delicious. (I also forgot to soak the cashews the first time I made this, and it didn’t matter at all. I ground them to a powder in my food processor, and they incorporated with the vegetable broth perfectly.)

Minimalist Baker is another plant-based inspiration. Her roasted garlic mac and cheese is incredible.

One cannot live on peanut butter sandwiches on super-expensive gluten-free bread alone, so here’s a by-protein breakdown of what we’ve been eating (and really enjoying (mostly)).

PINTO OR BLACK BEANS

I made a big batch of pintos in my slow cooker, stuck most of them in the freezer, and now they’re ready to pull out for burrito bowls or taco salads at any time. Beans and rice is also an easy, simple meal, especially so with avocado and hot sauce.

TOFU

Whenever I’m at an Asian restaurant, I almost always order tofu as my protein. The crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside texture is so delicious, and I know that texture is accomplished with lots of oil.

A good runner-up tofu prep – and one that’s healthier and easier to make at home – is baked in a hot, hot oven. I press extra-firm tofu for at least 90 minutes to get excess water out, cube it, toss it in cornstarch, soy sauce, and olive oil, and bake it for 25 minutes at 425, tossing the tofu halfway through.

Crispy tofu, broccoli and tomatoes, and this creamy coconut turmeric rice. We topped it with bottled carrot-ginger salad dressing.

This method is easy, quick, and the resulting crispy tofu soaks up any sauce you drizzle on it. I’m partial to a homemade teriyaki or a citrus vinaigrette.

LENTILS

I’ve taken to making a batch of green lentils over the weekend to have on hand when we need a protein. I’ll stir them into salads or serve them with leftover grains and roasted vegetables.

CHICKPEAS

Hummus is a regular in our house, vegan diet or no, but I’ve learned some new ideas. Hummus pasta is my new Friday night too-tired-to-read-a-recipe meal. Boil pasta in well-salted water. Saute onions, garlic, and big handfuls of fresh spinach. Reserve a mugful of the pasta water and drain. Add half a container of hummus to the saute pan. Heat until creamy, adding splashes of pasta water as needed. Add drained pasta and stir. It will be so creamy, and it really scratches that mac and cheese itch. I add lots of red pepper flakes to serve.

We’ve also been eating chickpea scrambles a lot. Saute onions, garlic, and whatever veggies you’d like, add drained chickpeas. Smash them up a little and let them sizzle for 5 or so minutes, adding paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve with salsa and roasted potatoes on the side.


What’s true regardless of which vegan protein you pick: there is little flavor in these plant-based options on their own. They all can take a lot of salt and a lot of hot sauce. They’ll also meld super well with whatever sauce you choose. On my list for this week is tofu cubes in BBQ sauce with corn, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Maybe some fresh pineapple for a “Hawaiian” vibe?

I don’t think we’ll be eating vegan forever. G really likes and misses chicken, and you all know how I feel about a whole roasted bird. But I think we will stick to the routine of more meatless meals. It’s heart-healthy and planet-healthy, and a bag of lentils is a hell of a lot cheaper than a package of chicken.

What are your favorite plant-based meals?