Jump straight to the meal prep plan here.
Happy new year friends! I hope you all had a happy & healthy holiday season and found moments of joy, even if they looked different than they ever have before. For us, the holidays certainly felt different, as we struggled to strike the balance between much-needed fellowship with loved ones while keeping them safe.
Needless to say, 2021 might be the most anticipated year in our world’s recent history, and with it, I’m yearning to turn a new page, something that I venture to say everyone reading this will relate to. In an effort to cleanse – mind, soul & body -, budget & kick-start our wedding year (!!) on the right foot, I’ve given up both alcohol and caffeine for the entire month of January. For the past couple of years, I’ve been having digestive problems and trying to pinpoint their root. Passing internet research pointed me first in the direction of caffeine and alcohol, so I figured cutting them out for a month would allow me to better monitor their effects on my body while also gaining a better understanding of how other foods impact me.
I’m halfway through my dry-caffeine-free month and have been surprisingly enjoying myself. I don’t drink soda very often, so firstly, it’s challenged my creativity around beverages. I’ve been leaning heavily on Alex Delaney’s rent-week gingerade from a couple of years ago, and hot herbal tea is, at least, a once a day occurrence. Caffeine has been a little trickier, especially for those early morning flights. Leading up to Christmas, I did the Goop Annual Detox from 2017, and it turned me onto hot lemon water in the mornings. Though it doesn’t have quiteee the same effects as coffee, I’ve heard it’s great for cleansing the digestive system, and there’s just something about sipping a warm beverage in the morning that is just so comforting. Rituals can be made out of anything.
There are still two weeks to go, but I’ve already learned so much about my body and food. Issues arise after eating eggs (though there seems to be a correlation between how runny the yolks are vs. how it leaves me feeling), too many nuts in one sitting, too much avocado in one sitting, too much gingerade in one sitting… are you noticing a pattern here? Clearly, portions and self-control are the main offenders here. My great love of food & the art of cooking, combined with my conviction about food waste, drive me to eat every last bite and clean every inch of my plate instead of listening for when my body is full. I imagine alcohol and caffeine follow this same pattern.
In yoga, you set an intention for your practice before you begin. As a place to anchor your ever-wandering minds as to why you landed on your mat in the first place. So instead of a resolution for the year, I’m setting an intention: moderation. With food, with the internet/social media, with wedding planning, with any and everything that attempts to take first place in my thought life. God blessed Matt and me immeasurably in 2020, and I don’t want to lose sight of his plan for our future. So by his grace, I set moderation as my intention for the year; resisting the urge to let my mind be driven by transient desire; acknowledging my human weakness for pleasant feelings and instant gratification; returning back to something steady in an ocean of constant change; striving to let the Lord guide every step of the way.
3-day flight attendant meal prep
My work lunchbox for my trip last week was what dreams are made of. Two servings each of a hearty salad and a grain bowl kept me both full and still interested by day 3, a powerful combination on the road. For me personally, I have found that 4 total meals is the perfect amount for a 3-day trip: it gives me 1-2 lunch/dinner options per day on the airplane, while still allowing a room to try a restaurant on the layover.
Along with some pre-made smoothies, fruit, and a sweet-and-spicy nut mix, I was ready to take on whatever the world had to throw at me. Here’s how to recreate what I prepped for yourself – whether you’re a road warrior like me or if you WFH – to help you conquer the workweek one meal at a time.
- Winter Salad Hummus Bowls with Seedy Power Sprinkle from Epicurious
- Citrus, Roasted Veggie & Grain Bowl from Food52
- rice cakes with avocado
- toasted rosemary nut mix from Sprouted Kitchen
- bottled smoothies (Arden’s Garden makes my favorite, but they’re only available in the southeast; pick up whatever brand you prefer from the store, or blend your own at home)
- kosher salt & black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- rice vinegar
- soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
- aleppo-style pepper, or red pepper flakes
- cayenne pepper
- sunflower seeds or pepitas
- chia seeds
- flaxseeds (you’ll need both whole & ground; you can either grind yourself at home, or pick up a bag of each type)
- sesame seeds
- 3 cups mixed raw, unsalted nuts
- millet or quinoa (any color, I used red)
- barley, farro (whatever grain you prefer)
- rice cakes
From the store:
- maple syrup
- fresh rosemary
- 1 small bunch curly kale, or other hearty lettuce
- ½ lb. brussels sprouts
- ½ cup store-bough or homemade hummus
- 1-2 parsnips
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 green onion
- 1 blood orange or grapefruit (pick your preferred citrus)
- fruit that travels well that you like to snack on (bananas (day 1 only lol), clementines, apples)
- 1 avocado
- 3-4 bottled smoothies
Toasted Rosemary Nut Mix from Sprouted Kitchen
First, we’ll make the rosemary toasted nut mix, which is the perfect sweet and savory snack to satisfy any craving throughout the day that travels well. These would also be great to leave out as a pre-dinner snacks the next time covid allows you to throw a dinner party.
- 1 egg white
- 2 ½ tbsp maple syrup
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 ½ cups mixed unsalted raw nuts
- 2 tbsp flaxseeds
- 3 tbsp millet or quinoa
- 1 ½ tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
Set the oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put the egg white in a large mixing bowl, and whisk until frothy. Mix in the maple syrup, cayenne pepper to taste, salt and pepper. Finally, add nuts, seeds, quinoa and rosemary and mix thoroughly until well coated.
Spread mixture in an even layer on baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, until browned and fragrant. Remove and let cool before serving. Transfer to an airtight container; keeps for 2 weeks.
Makes about 2 ½ cups.
Winter Salad Hummus Bowls with Seedy Power Sprinkle from Epicurious
The original recipe makes 4 servings, but I cut it in half to give me two servings instead. Making a manageable portion from the start prevents guilt over uneaten leftovers and stops meal fatigue in its tracks.
The veggie box we received for this week included kalettes, a totally new vegetable to me! A cross between kale and brussels sprouts, they’re ready for harvest even in the dead of winter, and their small size makes them totally adorable. I used half of them here in this salad by just peeling the leaves off and leaving them whole; the other half I roasted for dinner one night at high heat – SO. GOOD! Roasting yields a similar to a kale chip, but denser and less bitter. Their size means the only necessary prep is washing them, as they come in bite-sized pieces. If you see them, pick up a bag! You won’t regret it.
- 4* eggs
- *yes, we’re cutting the recipe in half, but the other salad we make hugely benefits from the added protein of boiled eggs, so we’ll go ahead and boil them all at once. If you’re traveling with this, wait to boil the eggs until right before you have to leave, so they’re as fresh as possible for your lunchbox.
- 2 ½ tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp honey
- 1 ½ tsp soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos, whatever you’re using)
- pinch kosher salt
- ⅛ c extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ bunch curly kale, stems removed, torn inot bite-size pieces; alternatively, if you’re using kalettes, just peel the leave from 6-8 of them
- ½ lb brussels sprouts, trimmed, thinly slice
- ½ c store-bought or homemade hummus*
- *I tried the new canned greek chickpeas with parsley & cumin from Trader Joe’s. The chickpeas come completely whole, so I mashed most of them with a fork before packing into a separate tupperware container for my trip. Upon tasting them though, I was slightly disappointed. It’s a great idea in theory, but they tasted “canned” to me, with a metallic aftertaste it couldn’t seem to shake. Try them if you want, but I’d recommend going a different route.
- ½ c seedy power sprinkle (recipe below)
Boil 4 eggs for 9-10 for hard boiled eggs, or less if you prefer a runnier yolk. After cooling in an ice bath, pack eggs unpeeled in a papertowel lined container. I use the paper towel to create “walls” in between each egg, to help protect them while in transit, in addition to waiting to peel the eggs until just before eating.
Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, honey, soy sauce (or soy substitute), salt, and oil in a large bowl. Add kale and sprouts. Toss thoroughly and massage until kale has softened some and everything is well coated. Pack into two separate containers. (If you’re at home or if you want to take the extra container on the road, you can wait to dress the greens until you’re ready to eat. They’re hearty enough though that they can stand up to a couple days in the dressing and still be tasty when you’re ready to eat.)
Pack a final container with whatever hummus you’re using. When ready to eat, assemble meal in salad container with a couple scoops of hummus, a halved boiled egg, and seedy power sprinkle.
Makes 2 servings.
Seedy Power Sprinkle from Epicurious
This is the perfect crunchy topping to any salad, but is also delicious eaten by the handful. The method to make it is almost identical to the toasted rosemary nut mix above. Keep the oven on when you finish the nut mix so it’s one less step when you’re ready to throw this batch in the oven. I didn’t halve this recipe as I knew it would get eaten over the next week or so.
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- Aleppo-style pepper to taste
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup pepitas (original recipe calls for sunflower seeds; either work here, and a mix of both would be great too)
- ½ c chia seeds
- ½ c flaxseeds
- ½ sesame seeds
Whisk egg white, oil, honey, red pepper, salt and 1 tbsp water in a medium bowl. Add all the seeds and stir together until well coated. If you have time, allow to sit until liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. If not (or if, like me, you accidentally glazed over that part in the recipe and omitted the water altogether), carry on with confidence, as the final product is still fantastic.
Increase the oven heat to 325°F. Line the same baking sheet from the nut mix above with a new sheet of parchment paper, and spread the seed mixture in an even layer. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring gently halfway through, until golden brown and crisp. Let cool and transfer to an airtight container (or 2 – one small one to travel with, and a larger one to keep on the kitchen counter for when you return).
Makes about 2 ½ cups.
Citrus, Roasted Veggie & Grain Bowl from Food52
Our CSA boxes lately have been full of carrots and parsnips, hearty root vegetables that grow especially well in the winter, so I stumbled upon this grain bowl recipe in search of a way to use them up. I swapped the blood orange for grapefruit because I love it, but I know I the grapefruit fan club is a small one; use whatever citrus you like/looks best at the store.
- ½ cup preferred grain (I love the 10-minute quick cook farro from Trader Joe’s that comes pre-hulled)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp ground flaxseed
- 1 green onion, chopped
- ½ grapefruit, juiced (or other citrus, like blood orange)
- ¼ c chopped nut (almonds, cashews, pistachios all work great here)
- ¼-½ grapefruit, supreme (again, feel free to sub for your preferred citrus)
Cook whatever grain your using according to package directions. For my quick cook farro, I simmer it in well-salted boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain and cool; then split into two separate containers.
Hopefully, your oven is still on from the seedy power sprinkle you just made. Increase the heat to 400°F. Again, line the same baking dish as before with a new sheet of parchment paper – yes, we’re prepping a lot of food, but that doesn’t mean we need to wash a ton of dishes! Toss carrots and parsnips in 1 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast for 30-40 min, until very tender and slightly brown. Remove and allow to cool; split veggies atop the grain you already put into containers.
Meanwhile, combine the flaxseed and 3 tsp water in a small bowl; allow to soak for at least 1 minute.
To make the dressing, pour about half of the grapefruit juice into a small bowl. Reserve the rest to drink – especially good topped with sparkling water! Add in the green onion, soaked flaxseed, and 3 tbsp olive oil and whisk together with a fork until well emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a portable container, like the LunchBots stainless steel containers I talk about here. Alternatively, this is a great opportunity to reuse those small bottle juice shots come in!
Top grain bowls with chopped nuts and supremed grapefruit. Drizzle with dressing just before eating, and top with one of those extra eggs you boiled.
Makes 2 servings.
You did it! You made it to the bottom of this very long post! Hopefully this meal prep won’t take you more than a couple hours to pull together. This might be more work than you’re used to for meal prep, but this little extra work on the front end is so worth it to take the guesswork out of lunch from home, or eating well while traveling. Was this interesting to you? Or too daunting to take on yourself? Comment your thoughts on this meal prep below and if you tried part or all of it yourself! See you next time.