Fall Friday Favorites
It’s November! Living in North Carolina has helped me to really embrace the changing seasons. I love that the weather gets chilly without lasting forever. Right now, the weather has been absolutely perfect for hiking. Most Sundays, Matt and I have been starting the day hiking on some of the nearby trails by our house. Walking through the woods right along the water is such a rejuvenating way to start the day and recharge from the week. I hope wherever you are, you’re enjoying the fall vibes!
It’s time for another Friday Favorites. These are some of the other things that have been bringing me joy this month.
Do you find your body craving different foods at different times of the year? In the summer, I’m drawn to cool and refreshing salads, fruit, and lighter foods. As the temperatures get cooler, my body transitions to craving warm, grounding, and comforting foods like soups, roasted root vegetables, and casseroles. While those foods sound “heavier”, they really don’t have to be! Foods can be comforting and satisfying while still delivering a huge dose of nutrients and without weighing you down. Soup is a perfect example!
Lately, I’ve been making soup at least once a week for dinner for Matt and myself. It’s easy to make a big delicious pot of soup in under 30 minutes that we can also use for quick lunches during the week. While there are lots of fantastic recipes out there, like this Lemony Chicken and Kale Soup, I tend to just use a general formula to create my own based on whatever ingredients I have on hand.
This is how I whip up a quick soup:
- Saute chopped carrot and celery along with garlic, onion, or leeks in a pot with some olive oil for a fragrant and flavorful base.
- Add a large amount of whatever vegetables are on hand. I love the meaty texture of mushrooms in a soup. Zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, and green beans are some of the ones I have used recently, but the sky’s the limit! When I’m getting short on fresh vegetables, I also love utilizing frozen veggies. Lately, I’ve been tossing in frozen spinach and cauliflower rice straight into the pot. Canned tomatoes are also a super easy and delicious addition.
- Cover the veggies with broth, bring to a boil, then set on low heat to simmer. I like using chicken bone broth because of the big dose of protein it provides. However, you can use whatever you enjoy!
- Add in whatever herbs and spices you desire. I almost always toss in a bay leaf with salt and pepper or coriander. Right now, I’ve been using Italian herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme. Trader Joes also has an umami seasoning that adds a nice depth. It’s fun to play around with different spice combinations depending on what you’re in the mood for!
- If you’re using a meat like turkey sausage or ground chicken, cook that in a separate pan while the soup is simmering. If you want something extra quick, you can toss defrosted shrimp in during the last couple of minutes cooking. Rotisserie chicken or canned beans are also good zero prep options.
- Add a grain, if desired. Lately, I’ve been tossing in Batistini Farm’s Organic Ancient Tuscan Grains Campanelle pasta. I really love the texture, it soaks up so much flavor (especially for the leftovers), and cooks in under 10 minutes. If I have more time, I’ll add in quinoa. Check the cooking time of your grain at the beginning to see how long it will need to boil. If you’re short on time or want an extra light soup - skip this step!
- Once everything’s cooked, taste, and adjust any seasoning if needed. Then, enjoy a comforting, delicious soup throughout the week!
I can’t get enough of swiss chard right now. My local Farmer’s Market and Misfit Market have both had it available every week, which makes me so happy! While I love salads, as the temps are getting cooler I really enjoy cooked leafy greens. Swiss Chard is not only delicious, it’s a nutrition powerhouse.
Swiss Chard is packed with nutrients like Vitamins A, K, and C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and more. It’s also an excellent source of fiber (so important for GI health!) and antioxidants to fight chronic inflammation.
One of my go-to dinners lately is a yummy fatty fish like salmon with a giant side of sauteed swiss chard and another vegetable or grain. It checks all my boxes for a weeknight meal: simple, satisfying, nutrient-packed, and delicious!
To cook swiss chard, simply rinse the leaves. Separate the leafy part from the stems. Chop up the stems and add them to a pan with your oil of choice (olive, avocado, or coconut are good options). Chop up the leaves and add them. I like to add a little water or bone broth along with a dash of apple cider vinegar, salt, and coriander. Then, I cover the pan for a few minutes to steam and wilt the leaves. Once softened, I uncover and allow any remaining water/broth to reduce. Swiss chard is another great addition to soup or it can be used as a wrap similar to how I used collard greens with these High Protein Broccoli Quinoa Veggie Burgers with Lemon Tahini Sauce.
Annual Physical Exams
This week, I finally scheduled our annual physical exams and blood work. While this may not be a “favorite” activity, it’s an important part of the puzzle when prioritizing health. It’s so easy to put off scheduling these types of preventative appointments, because there will always be something else that feels more urgent. Make sure this is something you check off your list each year! Things like high blood pressure and unhealthy blood sugar or lipid levels can sneak up without you even realizing it. It’s so much easier to identify patterns early so that you can be proactive with your health. An annual exam and blood work is one of the things I recommend as a baseline, especially when identifying what food and lifestyle factors work best for you!
The Anticipation of Adventures
Matt and I are supposed to be traveling to Switzerland very soon. To be determined if we will actually be going due to some COVID and weather logistics, but regardless the anticipation of a fun new adventure has brought me a lot of joy! One of the things I absolutely want to do is paraglide in the Swiss Alps. Can you just imagine?! I felt a giddy excitement as I was researching the details last week, and it made me realize that I hadn’t had that child-like thrill for a little while. It made me mindful of how much I enjoy that feeling, and it was a reminder to embrace more fun and play. Even if we don’t end up traveling, I need to prioritize finding activities around my home that push me a little outside of my comfort zone for a sense of adventure.
A Mindset Shift Away From Scarcity
Lately, I’ve been reading a couple of books that all touch on the topic of scarcity. We live in a society where we tend to focus on not having enough. As soon as we wake up, it starts! Not enough sleep, not enough coffee, not enough time, not enough exercise, etc, etc. I’m guilty of often feeling like I’m “too busy” to do certain (often fun) things. My default is to focus on working harder to accomplish more. Yet, no matter how much I accomplish, I will always have that drive to accomplish more. If I never enjoy what I have now, what’s the point? Being aware of this mindset towards scarcity and “needing more” has really helped me call myself out and to shift my perspective.
The past couple of weeks, I’ve really been focusing on the feeling of “enough”. Practicing gratitude and being mindful of the amazing things I have in life right now helps. Whenever I see myself feeling like I “don’t have enough time”, I’m working on reprogramming. Instead, I’m telling myself that I DO have enough time for the things I prioritize. I always find myself going back to this quote by Dwight Eisenhower,
“What is urgent is seldom important, and what is important is seldom urgent.”
It’s easy to feel like a work project is urgent and to feel like I should work through dinner. In reality, what is truly important is sitting down with Matt for an enjoyable dinner together (of comforting soup!) and having time to connect.
Mindset work is so fulfilling, because a shift in perspective has the power to change the way you feel about your circumstances - even when those circumstances don’t actually change!