The Month of Joy


True Life: I have been in a two week funk.

I am just not my normal cheerful self. To put this into perspective for those who do not know me well I am an optimist. My motto is “cautiously optimistic”. I have been perpetually agitated, and finding annoyances in every little thing. I feel slightly off kilter, a little out of tune.

So this month is about reminding myself what makes me happy. I am doing one small thing each day that brings me joy. This can be anything from going to my favorite workout, reading my favorite new obsession (Halfbaked Harvest Cookbook), to watching a new series I have been putting off, or going out with friends. Anything to remind myself, in this most festive of seasons, what I am thankful for and to re-ignite my creative juices.

Part of keeping myself balanced both mentally and physically is my diet. I am finally at the last diet change of the year! This month the goal is simple. I want to maintain a diet that keeps me uplifted. I am chronicling what I eat journal style for the month and identifying which foods make me feel happy, which slow me down, and which (outside of onions) just downright don’t agree with me. It is the final step in my food discovery journey of the year. The final change before I pick the diet I will stay with, at least for the foreseeable future.

During this diet I am trying to create at least one new recipe a week. These recipes are clean, healthy, and balanced meals. I created one such meal Wednesday. It was beautiful, it looks tasty, but I made it at 4:30pm when I was not ready to eat it but the sun was in the perfect place to photograph it (epic eye roll from the non-food photography obsessed reading this). I had a late workout and I left it still feeling uninspired and also that sushi would boost my mood rather than the veggie packed meal I created earlier. Fusian people, go there now. I made the worlds most perfect “To-Go” sushi roll. It was my item of the day that created a little happiness. It had tuna, avocado, cucumber, jalapeno, carrots, and pineapple. Totally overstuffed and topped with a spicy creamy sauce, sesame soy sauce, and masago. It was a beaut. Thank goodness my previously made dinner was even better for lunch Thursday morning.

This “noodle” bowl tastes even better than it looks, especially if you cooked the ingredients together and everything is now a little purple thanks to the beets. The multitude of flavors produced using these simple ingredients really come together and compliment each other well.

This bowl is also totally stress free. The majority of the prep can be done a day or two before. The zucchini can be spiralized, the winter veggies can be roasted, and the red pepper can be cut. The hour you see in the recipe is the total time but really it took me all of fifteen minutes to create since I had meal prepped. That is my kind of mid week meal.

Winter Veggie and Black Bean Zoodle Bowl

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 50m
  • Total Time: 1h


  • 2 zucchini (spiralized)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup basil and cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup beets (cubed)
  • 1 cup squash of choice (cubed)
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 bell pepper (cut however you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Add cut squash and beets to sprayed baking sheet, toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes until they are fork tender. (Can be done a few days before)
  3. Add remaining tbsp of olive oil to a pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and wait until fragrant.
  4. Add the red pepper. After 2 minutes add the spiralized zucchini, black beans, cumin, and red pepper flakes.
  5. Add the squash and the beets cook for about 5 more minutes just so the flavors blend then add the spinach and mix ingredients for 2-3 more minutes until the spinach is wilted.
  6. Place an even amount in two bowls and top with parmesan cheese and herb mix.
  7. Enjoy!

After this meal mix equal parts toasted hazelnuts, dark chocolate chips, and dried cranberries in a bowl and enjoy with red wine for dessert. If this doesn’t add a little joy to your day, I’m not sure what will. Trust me it is dessert gold.



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