Sometimes a meal speaks to your soul and surprises you. Out of nowhere you’re reminded why you do what you do, and then you feel a little bit silly because…
Well, I mean, come on. It’s just a bowl of food.
After working on a fun treat recipe this morning - these Low-Carb Pumpkin Donuts - lunch had to be the polar opposite. The donut was rich, sweet, and dense, as it was made mostly with almond flour and topped with a coconut butter glaze. Baking requires attention to detail and you can’t really just wing it.
Lunch needed a bit of freedom and lightness. Something thrown in a bowl based on what sounded good, with no real care for measurements or exactness. This lunch I made - Spaghetti Squash tossed with Tuna, Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta - was exactly what I wanted. After one bite, it made me go, “Ahhh….that’s the stuff right there.”
The simple food that hits the sweet spot of “good for you” and “tastes amazing.” Something light, briny, and fresh to contrast with the treat I’d eaten earlier.
This bowl of goodness reminded me of the flavors I tasted on my trip to Spain a few months ago. We were in the Southern part of the country and seafood was everywhere. At some point every day I had a salad with tuna (the kind packed in olive oil), olives, hearts of palm, tomatoes and other fresh vegetables. It was always dressed simply with just oil and vinegar. I vowed to make more meals like it when I came home.
First this meal made me happy, and then it made me a little sad/angry for all the women out there who think meal plans are going to save them.
I hate meal plans for many reasons, but near the top of the list is this:
Meal plans stifle our creativity and keep us from listening to our bodies - and souls. (Yes, I think we need to feed both!) Some days, it’s okay when food and meals are on autopilot, like a uniform. Just the usual. There’s a place for that!
But I think we also need those days where we slow down the pace and ask our bodies and souls, “Hey…what do you want today? What do you need?”
Now, you can’t always listen to that voice, because sometimes it be a real piece of work and tell you “cake and wine” 7 days a week and you know that ain’t gonna work…
Food is so much more than calories and macros. It’s an experience. It’s pleasure. It’s community. It’s self-care.
Meal plans steal all of that from us.
Meal plans don’t give you the freedom to experiment with new flavors and combinations of ingredients, so you never really learn to play and have fun in the kitchen. It becomes a place where things are measured, weighed, portioned out. Where rules are followed. No wonder so many women say they hate cooking. There are too many damn rules in there.
Meal plans don’t give you any freedom at all really, since you’re eating what someone else tells you. Not having to think for yourself feels like freedom at first, but it doesn’t last long.
Mindlessly following meal plans means never experiencing the joy of discovering something brand new and amazing and saying with confidence, “Wow I can’t believe I just made that!”
I’m exhaling a little deeper today and feeling very thankful that I found my way to the food that nourishes my body and soul. It’s a cherry on top that I get to share it with you here.
Thanks for reading.
1-2 c. cooked spaghetti squash
1/2 can of tuna packed in olive oil
~1/4 c. diced tomatoes (better idea: roast some grape tomatoes and toss them in here instead of fresh)
4-5 kalamata olives, chopped
4-5 green olives, chopped
2 Tbs. crumbed feta cheese
red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and black pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, combine spaghetti squash, tuna, tomatoes, chopped olives, and crumbled feta. Add a spoonful of the olive oil from the tuna - this will act like a dressing and pull everything together! Use tongs to combine the ingredients well.
Turn out into a serving bowl and season with red pepper flakes, a couple good pinches of salt (spaghetti squash tastes blaaaahhhh if you don’t season it well!)
Grab a fork! Bon appetit!
P.S. A sheet pan of fennel and cauliflower was roasting in the oven while writing this recipe. I tossed a handful of the finished roasted veggies in the bowl as well. Absolutely. Amazing. I really think you could take this recipe in any direction you like:)