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An Introduction to Humble Luxury in the Kitchen

Photo of my kitchen by Sam Stenson on 120mm film.

Photo of my kitchen by Sam Stenson on 120mm film.

As I return to recipe sharing after a 5 year hiatus, I’m excited to do so through lens of humble luxury.

HUMBLE LUXURY is the idea that luxury, pleasure, and safety aren’t exclusive experiences for those who can buy it. These are feelings that live within us and are available to all of us. No matter your budget, humble luxury in the kitchen is all about finding a way that works for you.

This is a process designed to help you meet your unique diet, budget, needs, and desires based on what you have access to. This post is here to explain what that means and how it relates to the food on my blog.


Recipe Categories:

You’ll see me mark each humble luxury recipe with categories that note when it’s good to eat this meal. This is a way to both share resources to help you support your body & family with greater ease, and have a quick guide when exploring the recipes on my site.

When recipes are tagged with the following categories, they may check the box for one or all reasons listed below.

  • Hidden Healthies | exactly as it sounds! nutrient dense nourishment hidden inside something like a pancake or cookie

  • Pregnancy | deeply nourishing, hidden healthies to curb cravings, iron rich, protein rich, fat rich

  • Postpartum  | warming, easy to digest, fat rich, protein rich, iron rich

  • Menstruation  | iron rich, easy to digest, deeply nourishing

  • Immune Boosting | easy to digest, immune supporting herbs & foods

  • Sleep Deprivation | easy to digest, deeply nourishing, easy to make, stores well, freezes, tastes good when cold from fridge

  • Toddlerhood | hidden healthies, easy to pack & travel with, easy to hold, fun to include little hands in the cooking process, make ahead & save



Ratios vs. recipes:

Rather than using the common style of recipe sharing, I much prefer to use ratios. To me, this feels more traditional - like something our grandmothers did. They used about this much of one thing and about that much of another. They cooked with their senses. They smelled, tasted, measured in their palms, picked things up to feel weight, and listened to the songs of their ingredients.

This is how I like to cook and my ratio based recipes are intended to be the foundation that allows you to do the same. This will give you more freedom to explore what you have on hand in your kitchen so you can use what you’ve got, instead of buying new ingredients.

What this looks like:

Rather than saying you need 4lbs of bones and 6 quarts of water for bone broth, I share my ratio of bone broth which is roughly 1 : 1.5 (read as ‘1 to 1.5’). That means for every 1 lb of bones used, you’ll need about 1.5 quarts of water. So if you have 3 lbs of bones, you’ll need 4.5 quarts of water. I say roughly because with bone broth, it really is flexible. If you only have 1 lb of bones on hand but you need more than 1.5 qts of bone broth (and if you’re using a stovetop or crock pot method, note some of that water will cook off) then add more! You can always add more flavor with onions, garlic, and other veggies. It’s a guideline.

When I don’t use ratios:

If a recipe calls for an exact amount of something (often in baked goods with leavening ingredients like baking soda) I’ll note it specifically. If something can be loose, I’ll let you know. If it needs to be exact, I’ll let you know that too.



The essentials and then some:

You’ll also notice the ingredients lists for my recipes & ratios are different than most. I’ll always bold the absolute essential ingredients for a recipe and have additional add ins listed as optional.

I do this so that the recipe are accessible financially to many different households. You can scale the recipes I share up and down based on your budget and family size.

Example:

Continuing with the bone broth ratio, you’ll see the recipe listed like this:

The Essentials:

  • 1 lb chicken bones

  • 1.5 quarts water

Optional Add Ins:

  • 1/2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 white or yellow onion

  • 1/4 cup dried or fresh nettle leaf

  • etc.

See the full recipe for Humble Luxury Bone Broth here.If anything needs to adjust in the basic ratio based on the add ins, that’ll be noted. For example, in the bone broth, if adding an onion & herbs I would also add 1/2 quart more water.

I’m excited to share this new perspective in the kitchen with you!

Now I’d love to hear from you! What do you think about humble luxury in the kitchen?

6 Ways to Find Time to Journal

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1. Stay Committed not attached to the process.

If you miss a day, you miss a day. Don’t let it slow you down. Your success isn’t in the doing itself but rather in the feelings you’ll get from the time spent reflection.

2. Set accessible goals

Set your goals low so you can actually reach them. Explore what would be a realistic goal for you, and try setting your initial goal a bit lower than that so you can build trust and momentum.

3. Don’t Find Time, Prioritize time

If taking time to reflect is a priority for you, ask yourself daily, “what am I willing to sacrifice to journal today?” This question will help you stay present each day with your needs and capacity. And some days journaling won’t be a priority. On those days, it’ll be easy to step away with this perspective. Rather than becoming a point of shame and failure, this will be a clear reflection that you’re taking care of yourself and prioritizing your needs appropriately.

4. Write in the In Between Moments

If you find it difficult to sit down in the midst of parenting, working, creating, processing, healing, etc., try scattering your journal(s) around the house. Engage with them randomly throughout the day in short spurts. Leave one in your living room where you can write a sentence or two at a time. Leave one in your bathroom, one year your bed, one at your desk. Let your journals live in a place where you find yourself making a regular, effortless, and consistent imprint in your life. Then use the whispers of time you may otherwise scroll away to reflect.

5. Get Inspired by your own experience

Go back & read your old writings every now and then when you’re feeling uninspired. This will remind you how powerful it is to capture the fullness of your feelings when you’re feeling them, and can act as a great source of fuel to your process.

6. Use the golden minutes of the day to write

These are the moments before everyone in your home wakes up, and the moments after everyone has gone to bed. Even if it’s just 1 or 2 minutes spent writing before you head off to bed yourself, use that golden silence!

Now it’s your turn! Share how you find time to journal below.

Vegan Chocolate Ganache

This is a recipe from my 2014 blog archive and it’s one I still absolute adore today! A lot has changed since I originally wrote & photographed this recipe, but it’s still a go-to of mine!

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Chocolate ganache is on my list of favorite chocolate treats. Why? Because this stuff is super versatile and it creates a big impact with minimal effort. Pour it on a cake or cookies, whip it for frosting, or roll it for truffles...you just can't go wrong. And it only takes about 10 minutes to make. It’s kitchen magic.

  

VEGAN CHOCOLATE GANACHE

8 oz dark chocolate or enjoy life chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut fat*
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
*full fat canned coconut milk stored in the fridge over night, fat skimmed off the top

 

Measure chocolate chips into a glass bowl and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan bring coconut fat to a boil.

Once boiling, pour over chocolate chips immediately and whisk until completely melted.

Stir in coconut oil until melted.

Add vanilla and salt.

 

Pour onto cake, tart, cupcakes, pie, ice cream, etc. immediately, or place in the fridge to harden for truffles or frosting.

For truffles, let the ganache firm, then roll into small balls. Once formed, you can top your truffles with anything like chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cacao powder, or matcha.

For frosting, let ganache firm, then beat with an electric mixer to fluff. It will still be a dense frosting, but will be lighter than the truffles once whipped.

Now I want to hear from you!

What are you dreaming of using this chocolate ganache for?

VNM Book Club | 2018 Reading List

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Well, 2018 is coming to a close and I love taking time to recap on all I’ve learned, made, integrated, and accomplished. One of my favorite ways to recap a year is to look over everything I read. So here are my 2018 books and what I loved about each!

  1. Essentialism by Greg McKeown: When people ask for my #1 book recommendation, it’s always this book! Although it’s written from a business perspective, I find the concepts outlined to be foundational in all corners of life. I read this book at least once each year and integrate new pieces of knowledge each time.

    I would consider this an essential read for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, stretched thin, confused, and exhausted.

  2. How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman: This book, backed by decades of research, has helped to give language to practices I knew I wanted to create but didn’t know how to name. It’s help me focus my actions and release the shame that often comes from making the ‘wrong’ decision as a parent. Also, it’s been a great resource to get the whole family on the same page. I plan on adding this book to my annual reading rotation too because it has bits of wisdom for many different ages.

    This is a fantastic book for parents, but also for any adults who feel ready to understand how their early childhood may have emotionally impacted them.

  3. Worth It by Amanda Steinberg: Hands down the most impactful read of the year! After reading this book, I used Amanda’s systems to build spreadsheets and daily money habits that have radically shifted the financial foundation of our household.

    For anyone overwhelmed & feeling shame surrounding their finances, read this now.

  4. This Is Marketing by Seth Godin: Seth Godin has been a huge inspiration for me as I reshape and refocus my business. His newest book (out of the 18! bestsellers he’s written) has helped me focus on how I can invest into the amazing community around me in a way that is generous and supportive to my family & time. I don’t understand how this perspective isn’t the norm in the business world.

    If you’re an entrepreneur, or an aspiring one, this is a must read! And bonus, the chapters are spliced up into tiny chunks. Parents with little time: you can actually read & digest the information with ease!

  5. The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson: I loved this book during postpartum for the spaciousness it provided and the affirmation that I wasn’t alone in such an intense experience. It also helped give me language to discuss things with my partner (like returning to sex post baby).

    I highly recommend this for new parents and people who’ve recently given birth.

  6. The First Forty Days by Heng Ou: Although this one is technically a cookbook, it is full of information. I read this before I gave birth in the first quarter of 2018 and it helped me plan for postpartum. Personally I preferred the written content over the recipes, but that’s because I really never cook with recipes.

    This is a great book for expecting parents (really the whole family!) that needs to prepare for postpartum. If you need help setting postpartum boundaries too - this is a great source for that!

  7. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman: Daren and I started reading this book together about halfway through the year. We didn’t finish it yet though because we got busy putting things into practice and then - you know, early parenthood and all. It’s on deck in 2019 to be completed and integrated more fully. And even just getting halfway through was massively impactful!

    I highly recommend this one for married couples and those in long term committed relationships.

  8. Good to Great by James Collins: This is a book I also started and decided to set down before finishing. I got about 3/4 of the way through and then jumped to a new book. Typically I do that if, as I get into the book, I realize there’s nothing I can immediately apply to my life. But, I did take away some great tips in the first half and as I get back to work in 2019, I plan to finish reading it.

    I recommend this book for business owners looking for perspective and actionable ways to refine & improve the culture of their organization.

  9. The Self Driven Child by Ned Johnson & William Stixrud, PhD: This book also falls into the same category as Good to Great and The Seven Principles. I started it, really loved it, didn’t finish it. I love this book because it’s backed by decades of research and work (a major filter for me when looking for parenting books), and it fundamentally focuses on how we can parent in a way that builds self directed motivation in our children. Fantastic! The only reason I put it down is because I think it’ll be more applicable in a few years as Daelu grows older.

    I highly recommend this book for parents with school age children.


Alright folks, there’s the list of books I read in 2018. I hope it inspires you to pick one up. If you get more inspired to read a book with a group of people, join me in 2019 for the monthly virtual VNM Book Club. We’re kicking off the year with Essentialism by Greg McKeown. (I wasn’t kidding when I said I read it at least once a year!)

Now, I’d love to hear from you! What was your favorite read of 2018 and why? Share it below!

Meal & Pantry Prepping for Postpartum

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Everyone has a unique diet, unique dietary needs, and different budgets. In this post I’m sharing a peek into my postpartum kitchen in hopes that it can offer you a guide. I remember feeling so stressed in my last weeks of pregnancy thinking I didn’t have enough food pre-made for postpartum. We ran out of freezer space from all the jars of bone broth we stocked and didn’t have room for pre-made meals. All in all, that actually worked out great. We did great having all that broth on hand paired with a few easy to make recipes, a well stocked pantry, and a weekly meal prep system. If any of this doesn’t work for your family, adapt, omit, and add to it as you need to.

Easy to Make meals:

Take some time to print or write down 2-3 of your favorite crock pot or one pot meals. I have a favorite recipe for crockpot stew (which I have plans to share with you in a very special way!) which I relied on during postpartum. That was the core of my diet.

Some Parameters to Consider When Picking a Postpartum Recipe:

  • easy to make in one pot or in a crockpot/instant pot

  • warming flavors (chiles, black peppercorns, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, cloves, coriander and cumin seeds, ginger*, allspice, cardamom, turmeric)

  • fat rich (coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, avocados, etc.)

  • easy to digest (slow cooked foods like broths, stews, soups)

  • iron rich (if you’ve just given birth, a boost to your iron supply is a massive help. consider adding nettle leaf to broths, dark leafy greens and/or organ meat to soups/stews.

*if you notice your postpartum bleeding increase, remove ginger from your diet until it slows. And talk to your healthcare professional immediately if you’re bleeding through 1 or more pads per hour.

Meal Prep:

Rather than making a bunch of meals ahead of time, try opting for pre cut, roasted, and steamed staple ingredients each week. Ideally someone else would do this prep (especially in the early weeks) so you can rest.

Weekly Prep:

  • Cut 2-4 bundles of dark leafy greens into thin ribbons

  • Chop a few sweet potatoes, or roast a few

  • Cut carrots into chunks & sticks - stored separately

  • Shred 1 head of cabbage

  • Chop mushrooms

  • Cut 1 head of celery into sticks

  • Roast 1-2 squash

  • Roast 2 heads of garlic

  • Dice 2 onions

  • Make crock Pot Broth (bone broth or veggie, depending on your diet)

  • (Diet Dependent) Roast 1 chicken

  • (Optional) Chop 1 head of broccoli*

  • (Optional) Chop or shred (for cauli rice) 1 head of cauliflower*


Additional Produce to Keep on Hand:

  • lemons

  • limes

  • apples

  • bananas

  • freshly dried herbs like rosemary & thyme

*since these items can cause gas, you may want to consider skipping them until your baby has grown a bit.

From this combination of prepped vegetables you can easily make things like pureed squash soup, morning bowls of sweet potatoes with leafy greens & eggs, steamed cauliflower, or sautéed carrots & broccoli. You’ll also have carrot wedges & celery for quick snacking.


Along with weekly prep, having a well stocked pantry full of your favorite items allows cooking to flow effortlessly.

what I kept in my postpartum pantry:

  • Black Vinegar

  • Black Sesame Seeds

  • Sesame Oil

  • Coconut Oil

  • Trace Minerals

  • Cassava Flour

  • Almond Flour

  • Nuts like Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, and Almonds

  • Chia Seeds

  • Turmeric Powder

  • Nut Butters

  • Collagen Peptides

  • Grass-Fed Gelatin

  • Organic Green Powder (for quick smoothies)

  • Probiotic Powder/Pills

  • Hemp Seeds

  • Some Quality Salt

  • Tahini

  • Some type of noodle - our go to grain free options are mung bean noodles & sweet potato noodles

  • Simple Mills mixes like grain free bread mix and grain free pizza crust mix.

Below are some additional medicinal & pleasurable items we kept on hand during my postpartum.

Pantry Bonuses:

  • Nettle Leaf

  • Red Raspberry Leaf

  • Maca Powder

  • Cacao Powder

  • Reishi Powder

  • Chaga Powder

  • Kombu

  • Wakame

  • Dulse

  • Nori

  • Jujubes

  • Brain Octane Oil

  • Refillable growler of Kombucha

  • Chocolate!

  • Siete Grain Free Tortillas

  • Siete Grain Free Chips

  • Capello’s Grain Free Fettuccine

  • Simple Mills Crackers

  • Simple Mills Grain Free Cookies

Rest well, families! May your bellies be warm as you heal and transition into parenthood.