Happy Friday, everyone! I’m excited to share some of my favorite things with everyone today. I’ve been thinking about what exactly to share because there are so many things I’m loving right now, so hopefully these give you some inspiration and excitement too.
- CookSmarts. Two years ago, Mrs. Octopus put up a post about CookSmarts, a meal planning service that provides a weekly meal plan tailored to your needs. I’ve generally been weary of meal services with pre-packed ingredients like Blue Apron, but I’ve been looking for inspiration in my own kitchen, and Mrs. Octopus’s post was perfect. I signed up for CookSmarts that day, and it has been the best $8/month I have ever spent. My husband is a lifelong vegetarian, and a picky one at that, so I’ve always struggled to figure out what to cook for our family. Before CookSmarts, our repertoire was limited to bean-based dishes and pastas, but with the CookSmarts plan, every week I get 4 different recipes that are automatically set to vegetarian, so there are a ton of options in a wide range of cuisines (Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, you name it) with great meat substitutes like tofu, which my husband refused to eat before I started using CookSmarts recipes. I save meals that seem interesting, try them out, and if we don’t like them, I can delete them, but I think that’s maybe happened once or twice at most in the two years I’ve been using this service. My recipe box is currently up to 80 different dishes and growing, our dinners are much more varied now than they ever have been, and CookSmarts sends out a ton of great kitchen organizing and meal prep tips as well. I can’t recommend this service enough!
- Chia seed pudding. While we’re on the subject of food, I want to tell you about chia seed pudding. I am a morning person, and as such, I need to have a hearty breakfast to keep myself going through the day, but I don’t like eating first thing upon waking up, so I usually eat breakfast at work, a couple hours after I’ve been up. I love eggs and various savory breakfasts, but unfortunately I don’t love them reheated, which makes it tough to have those options at the office. So I tend to stick to oatmeal and bagels, but it’s been obvious that those options don’t satisfy me as much, so I’ve been on the hunt for protein-heavy breakfast options that also work well for my schedule. Chia seed pudding fits that bill perfectly. There are a ton of recipes you can Google and Pinterest, but mine is super simple: 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt (I use either Fage 0%, which has much more protein than most other yogurt, or Skyr, the Icelandic yogurt that’s also very protein-rich), and 1/2 cup of regular milk (for protein, and also to dilute the heaviness of the yogurt). In all, this recipe has about 20 grams of protein, which is hard to find in a non-savory breakfast. Stir that all together and let sit overnight, ideally. Pro tip: take the pudding out about an hour after you put it in the fridge and stir it. The chia seeds expand and form a gel-like texture (I swear, it’s delicious despite how that sounds) and tend to settle to the bottom, so if left that way overnight, the bulk of the pudding will be on the bottom, with a layer of milk on top. Stirring it as it starts to thicken helps make it more even as it expands. To this base, you can add any kind of customization – cocoa powder for chocolate, sweeteners that you like (I use a bit of agave), berries, fruit, granola, you name it. I find that this pudding keeps me pretty full through the morning, the way a more savory, protein-based breakfast would, and it takes me all of 2 minutes to make it the night before and stick it in the fridge for the next day.
- TOMS shoes. Now that it’s finally getting warmer here in the DC area, I am most excited about breaking out my TOMS collection again. And I am not exaggerating when I say “collection.” About 8 years ago, I was lucky enough to work for an organization that partnered with TOMS for a charity project as they were just becoming a household name. As a thanks, TOMS sent everyone on our team a pair, and I was immediately hooked. At the time I was working a job where I was on my feet a lot, and these shoes basically conformed to my foot, and thus they were great to have during pregnancy and beyond as well. Since then, I’ve gone through 3 pairs of the TOMS classic red slip-ons, because they pair so well with such a wide range of outfits that I wore them out, and a few different pairs of blue slip-ons (I’ve had stars and polka dots and there are always new styles coming out). Based on my wardrobe, I’ve also acquired some various fun patterns and colors, and currently have 7 different pairs in my closet (told you I wasn’t exaggerating!). A current favorite is this super-soft pair of rose-patterned espadrille-like slip-ons (it doesn’t look like this exact pair is still available, but here are similar options!) that looks great both with jeans and work clothes. Unfortunately I haven’t had much luck with their other shoes – I tried some sandals and they were a bit tight on my wide foot – but I’m a slip-ons fangirl for life. (Editor Note – You can get $15 off $75, $20 off $100, or $30 off $125 on your purchases on TOMS official site today using the code “SAVEMORE”, plus 4% cash back using Ebates!)