LEARN HOW TO KEEP MEALS SIMPLE WITH RDN EMILY WEEKS OF ZEN AND SPICE
Emily Weeks of Zen and Spice believes you should “life live balanced.” As an RDN and LD, as well as being a new mother, she empowers her followers to trust in their own abilities to create a nourished life. This practice often stems from food! As our February Pasta Spotlight, we sat down with Emily to learn about how she’s juggling life as a busy blogger, mom to sweet baby Abigail, and why she loves pasta!
- You’re a mom now! How has becoming a mother changed the way you cook and prepare food for your family?
- Motherhood is still so new to me – right now, Abbey is just two months old. We’re still in the “eat every three hours” phase, so life is quite hectic! If I’m not feeding the baby, I’m chasing our dog around the house (he likes to steal her socks), trying to keep up with cooking and laundry, etc. Quick meals are a lifesaver right now. Lots of healthy convenience foods like frozen vegetables, grilled meats and quick cooking grains like pasta. We also only cook every other night and eat leftovers in between. It’s helpful to have a day off from cooking to rest. I’ve always planned our meals the weekend before and go grocery shopping for the week (using a list!). This hasn’t changed and has made cooking at home with a newborn much more manageable.
- Pasta is a quick and easy way to incorporate a lot of veggies or protein into a meal, like many of your recipes As a registered dietitian, what do you want people to know about including pasta in a healthy lifestyle?
- I wish people wouldn’t be so scared of pasta. I feel like many people avoid it due to misconceptions about pasta that just aren’t true! Pasta is an excellent source of carbohydrates and like you said, mixed with veggies and protein it can be a complete meal. I practically survived on pasta during my college years because it was affordable and delicious. It’s one of the cheapest forms of carbohydrates out there and in my opinion, the most delicious! I’ve got over 30 pasta recipes on my blog so I’m a huge fan. Pasta can be enjoyed whether it’s covered in a delicious creamy cheese sauce or paired with grilled zucchini and chicken!
- On your blog, you’ve discussed how you grew up in a family that cooked together and how important it was to you as you became older. What simple tips do you have to bring loved ones together in the kitchen and incorporate kids?
- I can’t wait to cook with Abigail once she’s older. You can start as early as when they can stand and hold a utensil! You can find kid friendly knives that aren’t sharp and have them chop veggies, or add ingredients to the pot or pan while you cook. Pull up a chair (safely) and let them watch and involve them whenever you can. I remember being about six years old and standing on a stool in the kitchen, helping my mom sauté veggies or make chocolate chip cookies. It’s this involvement that made me so interested in cooking from the start!
- You often talk about why food should be kept easy and that, “Not every meal needs to be a gourmet experience.” At Pasta Fits, we encourage people to try our simple pasta recipes and keep meals easy. In what ways do you believe that cooking your own meals can change the way you view nutrition?
- I think the reason so many shy away from cooking at home is that they believe meals need to be super “fancy” or “healthy” to count. We get so much pressure from TV shows and social media for our meals to be perfect and delicious, that it may cause some to just give up. Meals can be as simple as pasta tossed in olive oil and parmesan, with a side of frozen green beans and chicken. Cooking simple meals such as this one eases the pressure to be perfect, allowing for more meals to be cooked at home (which in the end, end up being healthier than most meals eaten out!).
- Which pasta dish of yours would make the perfect meal for the chilly month of February?
- Last year I made this amazing shrimp and crab orzo “risotto” recipe for Valentine’s Day. It’s toasted orzo pasta cooked until soft with broth, tomatoes, shrimp, lump crab, parmesan cheese and fresh julienned basil. A delicious and romantic recipe that looks like you spent a ton of time making, but comes together in less than thirty minutes.
Emily Weeks, RDN, LD is a nutrition and culinary communications expert based in Dallas, Texas. Emily believes the path to a nourished, happy life is to develop a healthy relationship with food, our minds and our bodies. By cooking more at home, eating and moving intuitively, we can achieve peace of mind and be happy in the here and now. Follow along for delicious, easy recipes and simple strategies to learn how to become comfortable in the kitchen and embrace mindfulness.