Tuesday Dinner: Black Bean Soup with Onion-Pepper Relish

So, I’ve joined the Whole Life Challenge again. My goal is to accomplish each of these seven goals every day: eat wisely (no sugar, cheese, or flour of any kind, mainly); stretch for at least ten minutes; exercise for at least ten minutes; sleep enough (for me, that means seven hours); drink enough water; meditate (or do another task focused on well-being); reflect each day on how I’ve done (the accountability element). 

This is my third time doing the WLC. Each time through I’ve picked up at least one good habit that stuck—I’m much better at drinking water during the day than I used to be, and for a long while I started each day with meditation and stretching. Over the summer, though, my good habits slipped, and I was hoping that this six-week challenge would nudge me to get my habits back in place, and maybe even help me start exercising on a regular basis.

But it’s not working! The requirement is only for ten minutes of dedicated exercise, but I can’t seem to find the time. Between taking care of a house, two kids, and a business, I’m somehow unable to find ten minutes for exercise and ten minutes for stretching and ten minutes for meditation. One of my kids is pretty self-sufficient, and my standards for house-keeping are pretty low, but I still find myself choosing to wash a sinkful of dishes over doing a ten-minute yoga routine, or forgetting to stop and take a walk when I’ve finally found an hour of quiet to work on my website. 

How does anyone do all the things? 

The one habit that’s been pretty easy to slip back into has been eating better. I like vegetables with a fried egg for breakfast, and it’s not super difficult to choose a roasted sweet potato over a plate of pasta. And beans! I’m happy to eat more beans! 

Last week I made myself a pot of beans that was so good I found myself eating them cold out of the fridge—that was a definite sign that I needed to make them for you. Black bean soup made with ham hocks, so it’s rich and slightly smoky. On top, a zingy onion-pepper relish for contrast. (Heads-up that the relish is a tidge spicy, maybe too spicy for kids.) That’s a bowlful that’s both delicious and healthy.

The backyard tomatoes just won’t stop, so we’ve got them in salad again today, and even blended into the dressing. Tons of cucumbers, a sprinkle of green onions, and a mixture of head lettuce and spinach that feels slightly nostalgic to me, like a salad my dad would have made when I was a kid.

The bread is new this week: soft potato rolls. My levain starter was very excited to have potato in the dough; it was crazy vigorous. Luckily, I managed to get it into a bucket before it outgrew the proofing bowl and got my mom’s oven all messy. As I write this, I haven’t taken the dough out of the fridge yet, so fingers crossed that it hasn’t grown so much that it’s popped the lid off the bucket! 

I made you brownies for dessert. They’re called “double chocolate” because half the chocolate is melted with the butter and sugar, and the other half is stirred into the dough just before it goes into the oven. The result is brownies with pockets of concentrated chocolate—yum!

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