This post is sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Fall is my favourite season for running. The bright, golden sunlight, the colours, the intense golden hours, the cooler, crisp air. It’s heavenly. I don’t run far – maybe three or four kilometres – and I don’t run fast – it’s probably only a notch or two above a speedwalk. I get passed by octogenarians on the reg, and I’m totally ok with that – I run mostly for fun and mental clarity, and also to keep me strong.
I find doing 30 minutes is something I can do several days per week without getting injuries (I got so many when I ran longer distances) or taking away from all the other things going on in my life. I don’t get hung up over missing a day (or three months) for illness, busyness, vacation, injury or some combination. I can hop back to it when I’m able, and not miss a beat.
Now that I work from home on most days, I try to squeeze in a quick run just before the babysitter leaves. On days with the kids, I prep dinner in advance, hand the little ones over to my husband the second he gets home, and he gives them a bath while dinner sits on the stove. I’m back in a flash and we’re on with our evening routine.
One of my favourite, easy lunches to carry me through until dinner is a yogurt salad with whatever veggies I have in my fridge. My midday plate almost always vegetarian, so I frequently turn to milk products for the protein part of a meal. I like making a yogurt base for a salad – it’s an easy, delicious way to get that muscle-building protein in. I need the protein to keep me feeling satiated and energetic through work and exercise and kid chaos (er, I mean “family time”).
In the summer, I use fresh cucumber and tomatoes or grilled eggplant and zucchini in the salad. As the weather turns cooler, I like heartier roasted veggies. It’s a riff on an Indian cucumber salad that my father-in-law taught me to make.
A generous swish of thick Greek-style, full-fat Canadian yogurt topped with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of flaky salt, and a pile of vegetables, and you’ve got a satisfying, produce-forward meal.
In this version, I tossed chickpeas, kale, and cauliflower with warm spices and roasted them all until crispy and golden. Crunchy chickpeas and kale chips are both so delicious, it’s almost impossible to stop eating them directly from the pan. And they’re a perfect textural counterpoint to the creamy, cool yogurt.
The kids love this lunch, and it’s uber satisfying with a toasted pita to scoop it all up. If you’re taking it to go, put the yogurt in the bottom of a container, top with a piece of parchment, and then put the veggies on top. Remove the parchment to combine before serving. This’ll keep the crispy bits crispy until ready to eat.
Something about the combination of fresh air and getting my heart rate up makes a big difference to my mental clarity, and leaves me feeling instantly stronger and more positive. (It probably offsets a fraction of the cake testing, too.)
I know I have a really good thing going with working from home and being able to make supper early, but the slow cooker, weekend big-batch cooking for leftovers, and the freezer are a friend to office-working mamas. Planning makes a big difference, too.
Get that protein in with dinner, too – in the post-exercise recovery period, it increases muscle strength and synthesis of new muscle ??
My husband was playing camera man in the pretty golden light. It’s strange to be on the other side of the camera, but kinda fun, too. This little internet space has really been a journal of my entire adulthood, so it’ll be nice to sometimes see my own face when I look back.
Spice-Roasted Cauliflower, Kale & Chickpea Salad with Yogurt
- 1/2 head cauliflower chopped in bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 bunch of kale stems removed, leaves chopped in bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas drained
- 4 tbsp olive oil plus more for serving
- 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt divided use
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
- 1/8 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt made with Canadian milk
- Squeeze of lemon about 2 tsp
- Finely chopped cilantro to top, optional
- Preheat oven to 450ºF (with convection, if you have it) and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss cauliflower, kale and chickpeas with oil, 1 1/4 tsp of the salt, and spices, then arrange in a single layer between baking sheets. Roast for 10 minutes, then remove any kale that's crisped. Flip remaining veggies, rotate pans, and continue roasting 5-10 minutes more, until cauliflower is nice and golden, and chickpeas are crispy. (Check on any remaining kale frequently as it burns quickly.)
- Paws off the crispy kale while you're waiting for the rest (it is so hard to resist).
- Stir together the yogurt, remaining salt, and lemon juice. Divide among two plates or bowls (or lunch containers). Top a drizzle of olive oil, then the chickpea-and-vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.