Eat real food.

I’m a firm believer in less is more. As I wrote about last week, when it comes to getting shit done – or setting goals for a new year – it’s most productive to focus on one thing at a time. But what does this mean for all the other stuff that’s important to you; what about the necessities? This is a question I asked myself last fall, during a conversation with my fantastic business coach, Emily Summersett.

Prior to hiring Emily, my life revolved around my own health and wellness. I’d spent the beginning part of 2015 finding a job that would support my ideal lifestyle, and got settled into the new routine. Once that was established, I moved on to creating my ideal day-to-day, which involved a lot of working out, cooking of healthy meals, and reading books in the park. I got to try lots of different workouts and experiment in the kitchen, ultimately finding the diet and exercise that works best for me. I allowed myself time for rest and relaxation, and got comfortable biking just about everywhere. For the first time, possibly ever, I was just living the life I wanted, in the moment, not working towards something else. It felt fantastic, in many ways.

Then all of the sudden I felt it – that feeling that it was time to move on to the next phase. Now that I’d created my own ideal lifestyle, I wanted to help others do the same, to start my business. I already knew who to call; Emily and I got to work right away.

About a month into my work with Emily, I found that my own self-care and regular routine was suffering to make time and space for all this business work. I still wanted to do it all, but I was exhausted. Emily would check in by asking me what was more important right now, and my answer was usually the business (or, sometimes, rest). But that’s not to say my health wasn't important; I wasn't gonna plant on the couch and order pizza every night while tapping away on my laptop. Emily helped me realize that I had established my self-care practices well enough that I could put them on autopilot.

One of the most helpful simplifications I made was in the kitchen. Over time I had found a few recipes that I could make from memory and felt pretty easy to just throw together, but sometimes I didn’t even have the capacity for that. I found myself falling back on the simplest of my recipes, which really isn’t a recipe at all. And whether your resolution is to eat healthier, or to streamline your eating habits so you can focus on a different priority, this go-to meal will apply. Check it out:

Ingredients: Any veggies, quinoa

Okay, I’m oversimplifying for dramatic effect, but really this is where it starts. I run through the grocery store grabbing whatever veggies look good, I don’t even think about “the plan.” I try to keep quinoa in the house, along with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and of course some spices in the cabinet. If I’m feeling sassy I’ll grab some feta cheese crumbles and pepitas to sprinkle on top. Note: this is a vegetarian dish (vegan if you skip the feta), you can certainly add some simple chicken if you’d like, prepped pretty much the same way.

I peel and chop the veggies to roughly uniform size. Throw them all in a big bowl, coat lightly with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and whatever spices – lately I’ve been putting cumin and cinnamon on everything (yes, cinnamon on broccoli – try it!), sometimes I throw some crushed red pepper on there for spice, and/or garlic if I feel like chopping (usually not); sometimes a squeeze of lemon juice if the mood strikes. Just play with it and you’ll find what you like and what goes together best!

Once coated and spiced, I lay all the veggies out on a flat baking sheet (covered in foil for easy clean up) and throw it in the oven at about 375. Depending on the veggies, it takes anywhere from 15-45 minutes, so keep an eye out and flip them at least once.  Note: denser veggies such as potatoes and beets will take longer, so get those into the oven first, then prep your broccoli, carrots, etc.

Meanwhile I cook some quinoa on the stove. Since quinoa is a 2:1 ratio (water:quinoa), I grab any cup or jar nearby, scoop some quinoa, dump it in, and then do that twice with the water. My point: it doesn’t have to be perfectly measured out; it just needs to be twice the amount of the quinoa.

When it’s all ready I pile the veggies on top of the quinoa and sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles and pepitas (or toasted nuts?). Sometimes I add beans (black, chickpea), tofu, or a side of avocado slices (yummm). Sometimes these ingredients find their way into a corn tortilla, making for some delicious veggie tacos (best combo for that: sweet potato, red pepper, black beans, feta, pepitas, avocado, yessss).

Even better, there are some fantastic ways to use the leftovers:

  • My new fave – the veggie sandwich! Sweet potatoes roasted to the point of spread-able, smushed onto a piece of whole wheat sourdough bread. A second piece of bread smothered in avocado. Whatever roasted veg is left goes in the middle, and voila, a delicious, healthy veggie sandwich. I did this with broccolini and I felt like I was at a fancy overpriced cafe. Note: longer veggies (like broccolini) or any cut into strips will stay put better. Maybe throw the whole thing in the toaster, and… holy crap I want one right now.
  • Toss all your leftover veg and quinoa onto a bed of mixed greens for a salad - great for a brown-bag lunch the next day!
  • Scramble roasted veggies into your eggs on Sunday morning – heyyyy frittata ;)
  • Have them as a side with some avocado toast and eggs. The best.

Now I know I threw a lot of “sometimes” and different variations at you just now, but that’s the whole point – this meal is totally flexible! When in doubt just return to that super simple combo: veggies and quinoa, and take it from there. As you play around with them more you’ll find new ways to spice them up, pair them with other faves, and will be psyched to know you can whip up a healthy meal with little-to-no thought.

And don’t get me wrong, I still love hitting Pinterest or my fave cookbooks and trying new recipes – that is how we get better at naturally pairing things and finding our own creativity in the kitchen. But these days I don’t have much time for that kind of play, so I fall back on this go-to meal and keep my focus on whatever my priority is at the moment - I hope it helps you do the same!