Among my resolutions for 2018 is the promise to be more adventurous in the kitchen. Like a lot of home cooks, when my schedule gets busy, I fall back on the same rotation of quick dishes—many of which aren’t exactly the healthiest (hello, pasta!). Also inspired by an eco-conscious friend who cut red meat out of her diet, I was ready to revamp my eating habits for the sake of our ozone and my health.
I picked up a copy of A Beautiful Mess’s new cookbook, Weekday Weekend. As a typical glutton, I had previously tried only a few dessert and cocktail recipes from A Beautiful Mess, the crafting, home decor and recipe blog started by native 417-landers Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson. Those dishes were consistently tasty, easy to make and beautifully photographed, so I knew this cookbook would follow suit. Weekday Weekend is not a typical cookbook, which tend to be merely a collection of recipes. Weekday Weekend is more of a manual of how to think about food and make healthful choices—with the added bonus of recipes to get you started.
The name Weekday Weekend comes from the format the cookbook sets forth: follow five rules during the week, then eat whatever you want on Saturday and Sunday. The weekly format keeps you from feeling deprived, but it also gives you a chance to see how your palate changes over time. I created a four-week meal plan, which gave me the chance to work through a lot of the recipes, and it would be a substantial enough time to see how my habits changed. You, of course, have the option to use Weekday Weekend like a normal cookbook and pick and choose recipes as you like, but I was looking to overhaul my lifestyle for the long-term. The cookbook is broken into meals (breakfast, entrees, snacks and drinks), and each section includes weekday-compliant recipes and weekend rule-busters.
The five weekday rules are straightforward: eat a variety of foods, no refined or artificial sugars or sweeteners, no refined white flour or white rice, no dairy and no alcohol. Additionally, the entire cookbook is vegetarian-friendly, so you won’t find any meat-based options within its pages. Reading all the rules at once makes a meal plan seem like an impossible task, but realistically, you probably already follow a lot of these in little ways. For example, during the week I eat a primarily vegetarian diet and avoid alcohol, and you’d be surprised by how many alternative grains are already in your meal-prep rotation. The no dairy rule was my biggest adjustment, but knowing I would only have to wait a few days to tuck into a bowl of macaroni and cheese made it much more bearable (see how the format works?).
In my four weeks cooking my way through Weekday Weekend, I had a lot of great meals and discovered some ingredients I wouldn’t normally consider, but the biggest change came in my habits. Avoiding added refined sugars meant I was reading a lot more food labels—there are hidden sugars in so many foods! I learned how to rely less on dairy products and starchy carbs to fill me up, and I started discovering the non-meat items that give me the protein I need. Weekday Weekend was developed with input from registered dietitians and nutritionists Sarah O’Callaghan and Lindsey Kelsay, so you can trust that you aren’t blindly cutting components out of your diet. Even if a full lifestyle overhaul isn’t for you, it’s worth reevaluating some of your dietary choices at least a few days a week. Not only will your cravings change, but your body will thank you.