Positively Midlife Podcast

Mastering Midlife Meal Prepping: Transformation with Chef Laura Pauli - Ep. 78

November 29, 2023 Tish & Ellen Season 2 Episode 78
Positively Midlife Podcast
Mastering Midlife Meal Prepping: Transformation with Chef Laura Pauli - Ep. 78
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Are you forever puzzled about what to cook for dinner? Well, this week's podcast is for you! We're talking meal prepping, a game-changer for creating fast, delicious, and nutritious meals, especially for those of us in midlife.

We pull in Laura Pauli, chef and founder of Cucina Testarosa, to shed her culinary wisdom on creating those hearty fall and winter meals. Laura shares her journey from the world of tech to the kitchen and then onto philanthropy, all while emphasizing the importance of having healthy food at your fingertips.

Now, what's the secret of meal prepping? One strategy is preparing a base recipe that can be magically transformed into a variety of dishes throughout the week. Laura and co-host Ellen take you through a versatile tomato soup recipe that's not just for a bowl and spoon but also forms the base for pasta sauce, gazpacho, and even Bloody Marys. Ever struggled with kale? Well, Laura has some tricks up her sleeve to make it more palatable. And wait, there's more! We also share recipes for an enticing kale and quinoa lentil salad, and a flavorful carrot ginger soup.

The second strategy is to prep a variety of fresh ingredients that you use to put together fresh and nutritious meals in minutes. We've got some handy hacks for storing your prepped veggies for the week and the importance of having hard-boiled eggs on hand (talk about a protein-packed snack!) and prepping veggies and grains or legumes to mix and match. Laura also shares her secret weapon – using seasonal ingredients to create nutrient-rich dishes. Eat the rainbow is the secret to a healthy diet. We delve into how prepping meals can be your one-way ticket to health and convenience. By the end of our chat, we promise you'll feel inspired to create mindful, delicious, and economical meals for you and your family.

So, what's on your meal prep menu this week?

Obsessions:
Souper cubes- meal prep soups for easy storage
A 12 pack of glass Mason jars
Glass meal prep containers

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Ellen:

When we move out of daylight savings time and we move from fall into winter, I'm definitely challenged when it comes to dinners. It's dark, so early. We're wanting to, I think, have some options during this time of year and now that I'm not cooking for a big family as a midlife or just cooking for one, I find that meal prepping what I've been doing in some way without even knowing it is really amazing. But I know I can do more in this area. So today we have a fantastic guest joining us again on the podcast the incredible Laura Pauli, chef and founder of Cucina Testarosa, who's been on the podcast before talking about her journey from technology to cooking, to philanthropy. She's going to share with us why meal prepping is key to creating fast, delicious and nutritious meals here at Midlife, with some great fall and winter recipes too. But first you'll notice Tish's in on this week I'm flying solo with Laura as Tish's out in the field doing some research for us for a future episode. And before we talk to Laura, you know I love this part of the show. It's our weekly obsessions, and my obsession this week is wide mouth mason jars Six packs these come in 12, 18 packs these are 14 ounce. They're not the huge ones, but they're perfect for some things. We're going to talk about Meal prepping, overnight oats. I use them for salad dressings. You can put flowers in them, you can put sugar in them, I mean, you can do anything. You can make a drink with it and serve them up to guests. And I know, laura, you love your mason jars, right, oh my.

Laura:

God, I want to be buried in a coffin full of mason jars.

Ellen:

When I've seen your pantry, it is just finely labeled mason jars I mean it's pretty amazing. So we'll put a link to some of our favorite mason jars and some meal prep containers in our show notes. And I just want to start by saying welcome back, laura.

Laura:

Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here, and this is just one of my favorite topics. This is my obsession as well, so I'm so happy to talk about it.

Ellen:

Well, I have to say that you are the person that introduced me to meal prepping A while back when I was struggling with getting hot and fresh and nutritious meals on the table with my kids. So I feel like listeners. We are with an expert here on this topic, so diving in. We're going to talk about meal prepping especially kind of tailored towards midlife women. Laura, just for listeners that may not know you or may not have listened to the last episode, can you give us a little bit about your background and what inspired you around this topic of meal prep?

Laura:

Sure, so I've worn many hats in my life, really struggling to find my way in this world. Mostly, though, I've been doing marketing in the tech field, and in 2003, when the dot com world dot bombed, I sold everything I owned and went to cooking school, and then I moved to France and cook for six years and then came back to the US, got back into tech, and then, in 2020, that's when the philanthropy side of things kicked in I started cooking with World Central Kitchen, which we talked about on the last podcast, and then last year, with Russia invading Ukraine, I actually went over there and cooked for two months on the border, and then just recently returned from Poland and Ukraine on my own looking to see how I can help in the mental health space. So that's my world in a nutshell Amazing, amazing background, thank you. How I came to food prep? I resisted it. I mean, I had the local Chinese restaurant on Speed Dial, and it really came out of a need to watch my finances, because we don't realize how much we spend. If you don't work somewhere that has a kitchen or a cafeteria or a little restaurant in it that subsidize, you're going out every day for lunch and then you come home and you're tired and the thought of cooking dinner after working 10, 12 hour days is the last thing you want to do. So really it came out of initially out of financial control Right and not keeping the local restaurants and business, and then really kicked in seeing the health aspects of it, and so that's really where it came from.

Ellen:

You know I agree with you. After having reviewed how much I spent at Chipotle when my kids were teenagers, I could have bought a car honest to God, right.

Laura:

I only could have bought houses from what we spent.

Ellen:

It's so true, it's true Our 20s too, and 30s and 40s. But you know also there's so much sodium in other things, in what we're getting when we get takeout all the time as well, and I think you know just that control of the quality of what we're eating, I think, is good. You know why do you think fall and winter meal prepping is particularly important for mid-lifeers like us?

Laura:

You know, fall comes, it's cold. We need that sustenance, we need to keep our bodies warm, and so if we can have something healthy on hand, like having soups on hand, it's just so important because, like you just said, that fast food, that grab, the food that we can just grab in a grocery store, is so unhealthy. I mean, like you said, there's so much sodium, there's so many preservatives. You know they would say, if your great-grandparent wouldn't recognize it on the ingredient label, then don't eat it. And you know, shop the perimeter of the store and that's where all the healthy food is. You know, it's easy in the summer because there's always fresh fruits, there's always fresh vegetables on hand. Like, you can't really grab a potato and eat it, you can't grab a fresh beet and eat it, and so that's why I think it's really important, especially in the winter, to do meal prep.

Ellen:

Yeah, and really I think some of us are afraid of some of these more winter vegetables which I know we'll put too right where they're not. Just, you know you need to do a little bit of prep and I think enjoying these seasonal flavors is part of it, and that makes a kind of sense to me, laura, and I know that it saves time, it reduces stress, especially Like a lot of us are still really busy working and you know our schedules as we head into the holidays especially are busier and it seems a little harder, for me at least, to stay on track with healthy meals.

Laura:

Yeah, absolutely, and that's why it's so important to do this meal prep, to just always have healthy meals breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks on hand to grab on your way out. And we can go into some of those details as we talk.

Ellen:

I know I'm excited to jump into those and I know we're going to talk about two main ways to meal prep today. The first is to make something you can eat over several days, or a base that can be turned into several dishes, and this is the first thing you taught me several years ago. The second is to spend some time prepping ingredients that you can make, like the basics, on a Sunday, and then I don't want to say throw them together, but combine them in different ways with different flavors throughout the week, so it doesn't seem like you're eating the same meal day after day.

Laura:

Right, right. I mean nobody wants to have asparagus five days in a row. Nobody wants to have this main bowl of soup five days in a row. I mean, after day two you want to throw it out the window and you're starting to put it in the dog's bowl. So one of the things I do, especially in the winter, is I make a big pot of soup every Sunday and it's usually a tomato soup. That's me. I call it my Ford F-150 workhorse, because you can take that tomato soup and turn it into so many things. And tomato soup is the easiest thing in the world. I love doing it with heirloom tomatoes because they're so good at one, ripe and full of juice, and all you need to do is roast the tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper and I put in a little time. I don't put in basil, because to me that makes it taste like pasta sauce. Italian, yeah, yeah. So I just do a little bit of time. It's a really very sweet gentle herb and I love that in there. And so the first night I'll have tomato soup and the next night you can take some of that tomato soup and add oregano and basil and put in some pasta and you've got tomato sauce and you have your pasta and then you can add grilled chicken breast or grilled shrimp. So then you have a full meal. The next night take some of that tomato sauce and add some ground beef and you have bull and easy. And you can put that over the pasta sauce I mean not over the pasta. Or you can take it and make a lasagna and the next night have tomato soup and grilled cheese. I mean, who does not love? I mean that's going to be a great lunch the next day. Who doesn't? I mean that takes us back to our childhood and those Campbell soup commercials. You know, if it's the summer, take the tomato soup and put some chopped vegetables and you have gazpacho. When I taught at Rancho La Puerta, we always made this tomato soup and gazpacho and we would chop up fresh vegetables from the garden. So there's always cucumbers and red peppers and all these delicious fresh vegetables. And then we would grill some shrimp on a rosemary skewer and we would put it in a plate and present it to look beautiful. It's really simple. I mean you can saute some shrimp in a saute pan and then skewer them, if that's easier. If you don't want to grill, don't have a grill, but it's just a beautiful way to present it. If you're having people over, you can do that with the sauce as well. There's a recipe called Fish Veracruzana from Veracruz, mexico, and it's basically taking that tomato soup and adding olives, cinnamon bay leaves, capers, and you braise the fish in that and it's delicious. And then you know day seven by that point. Just add some vodka and you've got a Bloody Mary. Oh my gosh, there's a whole week of seven very different recipes that you can do with a huge pot of tomato soup. So those are the kind of things that I encourage people to do. So there's your Ford F-150 tomato soup.

Ellen:

I love it and I have made this. This is that base recipe that you taught me years ago with my kids, and I have really loved the soup and grilled cheese aspect. But also we'll share the recipe with our listeners. This is so simple to make you just can't believe it. But it's kind of like. The roasting and the caramelizing of it adds this extra special flavor to it and you'll never buy tomato soup ever again if you make this recipe. Once it is so yummy, the caramelization deepens the flavor, so you don't have that.

Laura:

Tomatoes have a lot of acid in them and so by roasting them you just cut up the tomatoes, olive oil, salt pepper time, put it in a 375 to 400 degree oven and I usually roast it for about an hour. I do five pounds of tomatoes and you can see the tips of the tomatoes. They start to caramelize and what that means is the sugars are actually turning into caramel and so you're getting this in teams, and in the autumn we want those deep flavors. It's so beautiful, those deep caramel flavors, and so it takes the acidity down. It sweetens the tomato. It's a beautiful flavor.

Ellen:

You know I love this soup and you and I have chatted about the super cubes, our listeners. These were one of my obsessions last year, but they're silicone containers with lids that you can store your soup in, and you can get them with two or four, or you can get one with 12, where you could put stock, and I always have this tomato soup, almost always in my freezer, easily accessible, so I can do something with it. I don't know, laura, what do you think of those super cubes?

Laura:

Okay, I wanna know why we didn't think of those. Because I've been putting my stock in the ice trays for how many decades no, I know, oh my God I've been putting sauces, stocks, into ice cube trays. And oh, yes, you know it's brilliant. And yeah, do it, because if you're making a sauce or a soup and you need to thin it out a little bit, just throw a cube of stock in. Or, you know, just pop out a few cubes and you've got soup for a day, you know, for your meal, instead of frosting a huge container of it. You know they're great for grab and go Put it in the microwave and you've got soup in two minutes, right? Or?

Ellen:

putting it in frozen, taking it to work and popping it in the microwave at work for a really healthy lunch and I know, maybe we can also share your veggie stock recipe with our listeners. During COVID, I attended some of Laura's community-based cooking classes, which were amazing. She did a lot on the basics and I learned how to take everything I was going to throw out on Thursday night which is my garbage night and put it in a pot and create really delicious, amazing chicken and veggie stock. I'm more prone to the veggie stock because there was always something I was throwing out there.

Laura:

Yeah, especially with three boys. Yes, you buy so much food and then you find something in the back of the drawer. It's like limp onions.

Ellen:

Limp green onions were always the thing. That was like heading out the door. I want to just chat briefly about macael, which I think is a really big fall vegetable. Not a fan here. I know everyone keeps telling me massage it and do different things. But I know you have a kale and quinoa kind of lentil salad. Could you share a little bit about that?

Laura:

Yeah, absolutely. I'm one of those people that loves kale. It is a tough one, though. Everyone talks about kale chips. I recommend, if you want to make those, just eat them at home. I eat them at work. Once it was not a good thing, but kale what I do? They tend to be a little bit bitter if you sauté them. So I like to have kale salad. But if you chop them up very thinly and then massage them with some salt and some lemon and I think you can even do this while you're watching TV or something Just massage them with lemon juice, squeeze half a lemon in and salt and just massage them and that will break them down so they're not so tough to chew. You don't feel like you're eating. We laugh here. I'm staying with friends who live on a golf course and I ordered this kale salad and she's like that looks like the 18th green. So you don't feel like you're eating the 18th green. You massage it down so it's a little bit softer, so it's more like a lettuce than you're chewing on this tough thing and that brings out a bit of the sweetness of it. So, and then a chef who sadly passed away recently, michael Cahirello, had this incredible salad. He did it with Brussels sprouts, but I've done it with kale. You chop up marcona almonds and what was the other ingredient? Oh, there was parmesan, parmesan, parmesan, lemon and chopped eggs yes, carbola eggs, and I did that with a kale salad and that was in a lemon vinaigrette. It's really healthy, really delicious. You're getting the protein from the nuts and the eggs and you're getting the green and the fiber from the kale and that great flavor from Parmesan or the pecorino, and it's just something very different because you just, you know, we get so tired of the same old salad every day. And one of the doctors who came on my zooms, they always say eat the rainbow, and we hear a lot about this term the gut biome. And in order to have a healthy gut biome, she says you need to have 30 different fruits and vegetables, like gooms, every week. Wow, and I know that sounds overwhelming, but a really easy way to do that is through a salad. So, right there, we've got, you know, four or five things. Right there, you have the kale, the nuts, the cheese, the lemon. So you know, there's five things right there. You know the egg for the protein. So you know, really, eat the rainbow. And salads are a great way. You can throw in some oh God flax seeds All the ways to get in these proteins. You'd ask me about the bowl, the lentil bowl. So that's another way to hit your number and that's also part of the meal prep. I'll make a big jar of lentils and you can serve them different ways. So you can serve them cold. Lentils are really good with raspberry vinaigrette, raspberry vinaigrette or raspberries who knew. But they really lend themselves to raspberry and beets, and so if you can find these combinations, so I'll do lentil and kale, and if you have some butternut squash, I put those in, and it's just a delicious bowl for lunch or for dinner. Poached eggs are, you know, the holy grail of dinner. I like throwing a poached egg on top of kale or on top of lentils. You always want to try and get legumes in as much as you can, so I think I went off track.

Ellen:

No, but it's fascinating to hear, and I do feel, that lentils are a winter food in my mind too. I don't like that soup, but I want us to put that Michael Chiarello recipe in because I think it's so stunning. I know that you've taught me another recipe. As far as our like, make a pot of something and be able to change it mysteriously into 10 different things, and I think it's your carrot ginger soup. Can we chat about that one?

Laura:

Yeah, so I learned this I guess about 20 years ago. I was living in Paris and this was from Gwen Walters of Penn Communications in Scottsdale I think it was Penn and Fork in Scottsdale and it was really hot. It was, I don't know, over 100 degrees for a stretch and she said make this as a chilled soup. But you can make it hot as well and it's just carrots and fresh grated ginger and lemon juice and lemon zest and it's vegetable stock. You can use chicken stock and it's absolutely delicious, super healthy and, again, like the tomato soup, you can serve. Serve it with chicken, you can serve it. You can buy a roast chicken at the grocery store. You can make roast chicken and serve it with that. You can braise fish in it. You can reduce it down and make it thicker like a carrot puree and serve it with fried.

Ellen:

Yeah, yeah, or put the chicken or fish on it, right, you can actually make a beautiful presentation with a puree. I like this idea that this can be a summer or winter soup as well, and it sounds really simple, which I think is like the basis of all of these things. It's kind of keeping it simple, yeah.

Laura:

I mean, you can take it any direction. So really, the basis is carrot soup and we took it ginger and citrus. But you can take it more earthy with cumin, coriander, or you can take it Greek. You can put dill and stir in some yogurt, right, right. You can put more Mexican with chili spices. However, it's one of those base soup and then flavor it whatever you're feeling. So if you wanna make that base carrot soup and then flavor it whatever you're feeling that night, so you're not married to carrot ginger soup for five days.

Ellen:

Right, I love that. I love that All of these recipes sound amazing, laura. And let's talk about some practical tips that you have for our listeners for successful meal prep, because I know you're really good at this. What advice for our midlifers who are just starting or just considering doing this?

Laura:

First of all, you've gotta have good containers. Yes, totally, totally. You've gotta have a good line, and I'm a fan of glass. I should have stock in ball mason jars Everything I store in jars and there's a reason. I've found that things last so much longer if they're stored in mason jars, I mean chicken.

Ellen:

Really good to know, really good to know.

Laura:

And you're saving money because you're not throwing things out every few days and so I have every size mason jar you could ever imagine. So one of the things I do, first thing I picked two days. I know it's hard. One of the hardest things everyone says is how do I cook for one person? Right, and that's meal prep. I mean, that's the easiest way, especially going from cooking for four or five and then you're cooking for one or two, and it's meal prep. So some of the things that I do and this is what I tell all my students is you always wanna have something healthy on hand to grab. So for thinking economics and we're thinking health you wanna have something healthy to grab. Otherwise you're gonna go through Jack in the Box and get curly fries, like I did for 20 years. So I always have a hard boil of dozen eggs. So I picked my two days to shop. It was Wednesday and Sunday, or as I got older, it was just one day. Sundays. Boil a dozen eggs, so nine minutes, wait till the water boils, put the eggs in nine minutes. You have a dozen, perfectly. Then take them out, put them in a bowl of ice water perfectly, hard boiled eggs, and always have a dozen on hand for the week. You grab and go, you're running late or you're on a Zoom call for the next eight hours. Right, right, have a hard boiled egg or two next to you. Turn off the camera for a minute if you have to eat something. Have some different fruits on hand so you can have apples every day for seven days. But buy a couple apples, a couple of mandarins, a couple of bananas, have different blueberries are so great for antioxidants and fiber and again, eat the rainbow that week, so always think rainbow. So there's four of your 30 right there. Yes, we don't want to eat the same salad every day, so buy four different salads and what I do is I'll take the, take them out of the bath, whatever they're in, and do a very light wash, dry them as much as you can and wrap them in a towel, wrap them in, and then I put them in a Ziploc bag so I portion them out. So here's one day, one day, one day, one day. They're ready to go and the paper towel will soak up any moisture. So the lettuce or the green isn't sitting in its own moisture and that's what makes it go bad so quickly. So if you wrap it in paper towel and then put it in a Ziploc keeps the air out. Towels soak up the moisture and then, when you're ready to eat, you just pull out your portion and it's ready to go.

Ellen:

What I love about this I just have to jump in here is that it helps you avoid that a bunch of rotting vegetables in your refrigerator at the end of the week, because it is this grab and go and I know that you can do this. Also, I love those little Persian cucumbers I think they're called the little baby cucumbers. You have to take things out on that day, that prep day, and really make them, clean them and make them easily accessible to you, right? I think that's one of the keys here.

Laura:

Exactly, and with vegetables I always say take them out, prep them, clean them, portion them, like sometimes, if you need to cut them, cut them, but don't cook them, because there's nothing worse than like four-day-old cooked asparagus. But the whole thing is to make the cooking quick, because we're hungry, we wanna eat now and the thought of like having an hour to cook something is overwhelming, and that's when you pick up the phone or drive through the drive-in.

Ellen:

Or you eat a bunch of cheese and crackers while waiting for that hour to go by, right, exactly, and then you're not hungry, exactly, your head is in the bag of chips and dinner is finally ready and you're like whatever.

Laura:

Right, exactly. So buy a few different vegetables for that week. Again, we wanna hit those 30 of the rainbow and prep them, wash them, dry them. If you need to cut them, cut them. Cut the broccoli four times so that you just throw them in the pan. And, I'm sorry, cut the asparagus. You throw them in the pan and they're cooked in two, three minutes. Right, exactly. Cut them into little florets I love bok choy, that is, that's one of my favorite, just a snack on as well. Carrots. Cut them into little coins, mm-hmm, and again, take them out. They're clean, they're cut. You just throw them in the pan. Or you can throw them on a sheet pan, put them under the broiler and they're done in a few minutes.

Ellen:

And then you just put them in the pan. What I'm just gonna say here is, when I prep things like red pepper or cucumber or carrots, they're great to just have a little hummus, which is so healthy too. So even if I need something absolutely ingeniously, I have something other than a cracker or a chip to put in the hummus, and I love that.

Laura:

Exactly. I also recommend that people make a pot of grain or legumes, like we talked about, whether it's quinoa, lentils, brown rice. People are encouraging, like hemp and other ancient grains that are coming out now.

Ellen:

Yes, yes, because my gluten-free. There's an ancient grain I might not be pronouncing it right, but it's called like aromath or something like that. Oh yeah, I think I tried it. It was delicious and I make all of this in my rice cooker Like you can do the quinoa and couscous too, right In a rice cooker.

Laura:

Yeah, absolutely, and just make a big pot of it and then you mix it. So how much do you need for Monday, for Tuesday, for Wednesday, for Thursday, and then take that out, warm it up and then flavor it based on what you're eating that night, so that you're not stuck to the same thing every single night? So much like the Soup or tomato soup, yeah, you can add if you're having, if you're feeling Zorba the Greek, you can add some. You'll deal to it. And Somsedda, yeah, exactly. So whatever you're in the mood for that night, you can add herbs, spices and make it however you like. Another thing that changed my life was a George Foreman grill. Ooh, do tell. It just changed my life because I never knew how to cook. I mean, I literally burned water before I went to the school. I mean I had the police, the fire department show up one day because I had put some pasta on the stove and fell asleep, and and so I mean a George Foreman grill especially for one person. You put a chicken breast on your George Foreman grill and it's done in five minutes. I just put a little mustard, dijon mustard, some thyme and you've got something really healthy. It tastes really good and, as that's cooking, you saute some of your vegetables that you've just pulled out. You've got your grain, that's already been cooked and you just flavor it with whatever you'd like and you're good to go. So, rachel Ray and her 30-minute meals, you can go fly a kite in 10 minutes.

Ellen:

Yeah, you know, what I love about this is that it's almost like this idea of a bowl or a meal that is just so interchangeable, right, depending upon just those little flavors that you're adding. And one thing you taught me to do and I think this has been one of the biggest changes for me, laura is making my own salad dressing and using, of course, my maple jar. Right, and I'm obsessed with a mustard maple vinaigrette. This is my fall, my ode to autumn, the mustard and the maple. But I know you have a great recipe for a lemon vinaigrette. Maybe you can share that with us.

Laura:

Yeah, absolutely. I'm so glad you brought that up. You know, again, I try to teach the basics and then give people ways to build the blocks, and that's how I was taught it's called the La Technique. So once you learn the technique of something and I'm sorry I didn't bring this up sooner Once you learn the technique of something, you can take anything. So, like we talked about the, so we'll talk about the technique of vinaigrette. Vinaigrette is acid, fat and flavor, and that's all there is to it, and you can put it in any proportion that you'd like. What you want to think about when you're combining those, though, is that there's balance. So you want to have a if you're doing like a light salad, you want to have a lighter olive oil. You don't want a super heavy olive oil with, like, an orange juice. Right, right, balance, those things you know. So, fat, acid and flavor. Fat can be any fat. It can be olive oil, great seed oil, butter, salted butter, whatever it is any fat. And then acid is any acid balsamic, vinegar, red wine, vinegar, champagne, vinegar wine, orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, any kind of acid. And then flavor is, you know, spices, herbs, anything that you want to put into it, salt and pepper, right.

Ellen:

Yeah, and you can try it right and you can adjust as you go Exactly so.

Laura:

most in cooking school our recipes were always three fat to one acid, and to me that was way too way too fatty. I like mine stronger. One to one. So I do one acid ratio. And you always want to taste the, the vinaigrette, on what you're serving it on, because if you taste it on a finger or you're tasting on a spoon, it's going to taste very different than on that lettuce you're serving it on, because lettuce has so much water in it, mm, hmm, going to taste very different.

Ellen:

I love that. That's a lot technique I'm going to take away from today Exactly. I'm going to use that all the time you know it's le take away for a lot technique.

Laura:

So so I always make a big jar of lemon vinaigrette it's just, you know, olive oil, lemon juice, and whenever any recipe calls for a citrus juice, or lemon, lime, lemon, lime, orange, blood orange, any kind of citrus I always add the zest. Oh, so an obsession is my microplane and I always zest the citrus first, because that very, very top layer and you don't want to get the white because the whites better that very top layer of citrus has all that beautiful oil, the citrus oil, and that's that deep flavor. So that tart, tangy flavor is in the flesh, but that deep, beautiful oil flavor that you know, those little tiny one ounce jars that cost $50 of oil or lemon oil that comes from the zest and that just deepens the flavor. So we want to add flavor without adding fat or salt. And then we add flavor. It's through through herbs, spices, zest. You know it's keeping things healthy. So, I love that.

Ellen:

I love that and you know what. Everyone should own a microplane.

Laura:

Everyone, everyone put that on your your holiday list for your stocking. Totally totally, you know.

Ellen:

Laura, I have been doing this other thing that my friend's feathers mom. It was one of her recipes where I just really roast a lot of baby tomatoes with olive oil and a lot of times I would put herbs to province like different flavors and using those in salads. But on avocado toast, I don't know about you but you know one of the best meals for me is avocado toast and having some like just I think they call them, like you know, juicy plump tomatoes, that jammy, jammy tomatoes, right, I think that was the word. So again, another way of prepping something that you can use in so many ways. I love this idea.

Laura:

Yeah, and if you're, if you are lucky enough to have a garden and can grow these tomatoes, you know, end of summer you just have this abondanza of tomatoes and that's something that you can do. You can roast them, roast red peppers, roast them and put them in olive oil and preserve them. You know, you can freeze them and pull them out throughout the winter and they're delicious on toast, they're delicious over grilled pasta, grilled chicken over pasta. They just add depth of flavor. Yeah, I know that's what we're looking for. It's a depth of flavor that just you know. It just lights up your mouth.

Ellen:

Right, but in ease, in easy, an easy way to get that, the fast way, the prepping way. Can we talk and pivot just quickly to overnight oats, which whenever I see anyone meal prepping, they're always talking about making overnight oats in glass mason jars. What do you think about overnight oats?

Laura:

I think they're brilliant because mornings are always so hectic, and especially when you have kids. Like good Lord, I don't know how y'all do it I can barely get myself out the door, much less for little people and myself. So I think it's great. And the thing I love about it I mean talk about hitting your rainbow. I mean there's half your rainbow right there. If you do mason jars seven mason jars, and each day you have different fruits, different berries you throw in chia seeds, you throw in flax seed, you throw in hemp seed, you throw in you know different seeds, there's 14. So there's half your rainbow right there. Yeah, I love that.

Ellen:

I love that idea. I've been trying it. I'm really partial to this PB and J1 where you actually can put like some almond butter, some peanut butter and then you put blueberries as the J right on it. But I love having one of those ready when I have to go into my office down in Santa Clara again, because otherwise I'm getting a latte and a muffin downstairs at the cafe right If I don't have these. So I think it really is that that, just that thing that prevents me from or an almond croissant or whatever.

Laura:

I mean there's a million things. Yeah, and if you're, if you're, you know, if you live in the Bay Area and you're commuting, you're sitting in traffic. You know, have your overnight oats and just eat that there, you know, just sitting in traffic, not while you're moving. But if you know I can't. I mean, how many hours did we sit in traffic on our way to and from Oracle?

Ellen:

Many, many, many too many days to count. You know, and I you know what, laura, thank you for coming today and sharing this. I just want us to say you know, there is the create something like a soup that you can really change up and not feel like you're eating the same thing every day, or you can, twice a week or once a week, prep the basics. I love this idea of having all of these things prepped. I love making your own vinaigrette and changing that up and then really again just using the things in La Technique because I'm got to say that word to really make fast things, or just think that you can bind without even cooking. Brilliant here.

Laura:

Yeah, absolutely, and the I forgot to mention. With the vinaigrette it's the same as the same thing as a soup. So I make a big jar of vinaigrette on Sunday and then I can flavor it. I can take a quarter cup out and flavor it. So you add mustard to it, you can add maple syrup to it, you can add dill I keep going back to dill and yogurt. You can add, you know, mexican spices, you can add those beautiful Middle Eastern spices, you know, based on what you're having, so you're not stuck with the same thing every day. It's all about giving yourself options, like, if you think about it, it's like a Lego, you know, plug and play. And these are just some ideas to have on hand, just so you always have something healthy to grab and make cooking not only economical but easy and healthy. And that's what it's about.

Ellen:

I know it's a win, win, win all the way around and you know to our listeners. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of the Positively Midlife Podcast. I know that Laura and I both hope you feel inspired by her expertise around meal prepping and really embracing the fall season and the winter season and taking charge of your help here with mindful, delicious and economical meals through meal prep, all of the recipes that we've talked about, as well as a micro planar, some mason jars and some meal prep containers and glass. We'll have a link to those affiliate links to those in our show notes. And again, thank you for being here. Thank you, merci, all right, merci la technique, all right, until next week. Midlife first.

Meal Prepping for Fall and Winter
The Importance of Meal Prep
Fall Vegetables and Meal Prep Tips
Meal Prep and Healthy Eating Tips
Easy and Healthy Meal Prepping