My 80/20 Practice and Weekly Meat-free Rotation Ritual


Words I live by. Many ask me about my personal dietary pattern and Michael Pollan’s words sum it up.

I eat real, whole, unprocessed foods 80-90% of the time. This eating pattern provides my body with sufficient nourishment to process 10-20% of my diet that might be less than optimal. People always automatically assume that I only eat “health foods” but that’s not true! I mean really, what’s the point of living if you can’t enjoy French fries, popcorn, and wine once in a while?! I keep a varied diet and rotate my foods so an 80/20 practice gives me the energy and nourishment I need to feel good while still enjoying little indulgences here and there.

Luckily my perpetual desire to try new things forces me follow the cardinal rule of keeping a varied diet.  I grew up in southern California where I had access to all sorts of food so I’ve never been a very picky eater and can eat almost anything (except watermelon – yuck!). I follow a plant-based diet, so good thing I LOVE vegetables and always enjoy finding new and unique ways to prepare them. I eat animal protein and products but typically limit my intake of meat to one meal per day. Due to the detrimental environmental impact of heavy meat consumption and the knowledge of how my own body responds to too much animal protein, I also incorporate 1-2 meat-free days in my weekly rotation. My meat-free days are where I like to experiment and practice more variety through different vegetables, beans, grains, seeds, and spices.

Some of my meat-free day breakfasts, lunches, and dinners:

With my favorite season upon us, I am getting excited for the autumn harvest foods like winter squashes and root vegetables. I’m a huge fan of the pumpkin spice everything that invades us this time of year (I mean, how else would we know what season it is here in southern California?!) and love to incorporate those same warming spices in my cooking . This Moroccan Lentil Soup recipe from the Forks over Knives cookbook website is one of my favorite vegan recipes I like to use this time of year. It’s great on its own but also delicious served up in half a small roasted winter squash “bowl”.



  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups chopped onions, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1½ heaped teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1½ cups split dry red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup chopped parsley
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste


  1. Heat ¼ cup of the vegetable broth in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and sauté, adding additional broth as necessary to keep the vegetables from burning, until the onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  1. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the flavors to bloom. Add the remaining vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, and lentils and bring to a boil.
  1. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked.
  1. Add the parsley, cilantro, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.


  • For texture variation, pulse the soup a few times with an immersion blender.
  • For extra brightness, squeeze an additional slice of lemon over each bowl.

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