lentil veggie loaf via @floptimism ocean

I know, I know. “Veggie loaf” sounds about as unappetizing as unappetizing gets, but I’ve spent about as long thinking about alternate names for this recipe as I’ve spent making it…and it’s about time I quit thinking and start sharing. Ashley over at Edible Perspective first posted a version of this in 2014, based on a recipe originally shared by Angela of Oh She Glows fame in 2012. Now, these women know their way around a plant-based kitchen, and you’d be in good hands to follow their recipes to a T. But after a couple years of making this in my own little space, I’ve developed my own take on it and love it so much, it’s time I tell you about it, too.

lentil veggie loaf via @floptimism ocean

I probably should have done this months ago. This lentil veggie loaf has a very late-Fall feel to it, the kind of meal that has totally usurped the dried out turkey in the Thanksgiving feast of my dreams, but since I apparently know nothing of timeliness and, in fact, just finished sharing a “late late” harvest nourish bowl with you last month, well…Fall in February shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Besides, who wouldn’t want a piping hot slice of this beauty to warm them up in the dead of winter?

lentil veggie loaf via @floptimism ocean

I always, always serve this with extra root vegetables, roasted to perfection with just enough salt, pepper, and oil to elevate their natural flavors — Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, perhaps a butternut squash, and a few big handfuls of kale are always safe bets. They add color, and there’s never such a thing as too many vegetables. The loaf itself is soft, but maintains the perfect amount of textural chew from the walnuts and lentils. I’ll bet sunflower seeds would be equally tasty for anyone with nut allergies. It has a touch of sweetness in the glaze, which I tried once to switch up for a mustard concoction and immediately regretted, because it balances out the savory veggies in the loaf itself. I could seriously live on this one recipe alone from October through March, though I think I would get one or two grumbles from Liam. Something about wanting variety, and also some meat now and again? Whatever.

lentil veggie loaf via @floptimism

Some other pluses? It freezes well. You can make it ahead of time. It’s pretty versatile, so you can change up the grains and even the veggies a bit. I’ve made it vegan with flax eggs, and though it works for the most part, it is slightly more prone to falling apart without the actual eggs, so consider yourself warned. (This may or may not have made for a dramatic fiasco when trying to transfer it to the platter for the photo shoot the most recent time I made it.)

I think my kitchen escapades could make for a fairly successful sitcom.

lentil veggie loaf via @floptimism


lentil rice veggie loaf.

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

This vegan riff on the classic meatloaf is hearty, satisfying, and the only thing I want to eat from October through March.


    for the lentil veggie loaf:
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2/3 cup French green lentils
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup farro
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup grated sweet potato (about 1/2 medium)
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, minced
  • 2 cups loosely packed, chopped curly kale
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat or almond pulp/meal
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • for the glaze:
  • 1/4 cup organic ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


  1. Whisk together the flax and water in a small bowl and set aside in the refrigerator to thicken.
  2. Bring the lentils and broth to a boil in a medium sauce pot over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Stir every few minutes for about 25 minutes, then add in the farro and cook an additional 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the farro and lentils are both tender.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange the walnuts in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven, shaking the pan occasionally and watching like a hawk, until fragrant and lightly golden. Careful - it's easy to burn them! Remove from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and chop up the onion. Add to the pan and saute 6-8 minutes. Mince the garlic and toss that into the pan too, followed by the grated sweet potato for about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and kale, cooking until the greens have just wilted, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Line an extra-large loaf pan (or two standard-sized pans, or a bunch of smaller ones, or...) on all sides with parchment. Set aside.
  6. Whisk together the glaze ingredients. Set that aside, too.
  7. Back to the veggie loaf! Add the walnuts, oats, and half of the lentil-farro mixture into a food processor (I use my vitamix) and pulse until finely chopped but not pureed. Add to the pan of veggies along with the rest of the lentil-farro mixture, flour, salt, pepper, and a few tablespoons of the glaze (you can alternatively use pretty much any other sauce you have on hand: I've used leftover enchilada sauce and worcestershire on separate occasions with success). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, but remember, the glaze will add more flavor to the end recipe. Finally, stir in the flax mixture from the fridge.
  8. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan(s) and press firmly, smoothing out the top a bit. Spread the glaze over the top and bake in the preheated oven until the glaze has darkened and the edges begin to brown, 40-45 minutes for the largest pan size. (Smaller pans may take less time).
  9. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing and attempting to slice, and when you do, do so quite carefully.
  10. Serve alongside extra roasted veggies or a hearty kale salad.


source, adapted: edible perspective


(1) you can use 2 eggs instead of the flax and water mixture; obviously skip the soaking-in-the-fridge step and just add the whole eggs right to the veggie mixture after you season with salt, pepper, and the few tablespoons of sauce.

(2) to freeze, cool completely, slice into smaller portions, and wrap tightly in foil; I reheat by thawing completely and either microwaving (at work, not as ideal) or in a toaster oven until warmed through.


A photo posted by Jessica (@floptimism) on

bookmark love.
seven spice chickpea stew
quinoa with chai-spiced almond milk
vegan chai cheesecake with earl grey fig sauce.

kitchen love.
blood orange, cranberry, + pistachio oatmeal makes a wonderful winter breakfast when topped with extra pistachios, cacao nibs, chia seeds, and unsweetened coconut flakes.

just…love, love.
why you shouldn’t throw away cauliflower leaves [the kitchn]

getting out of my own way via @floptimism ocean

It was morning. I stood in a studio with walls the color of my childhood bedroom, bright cerulean like the ocean on a shoreline more exotic than New Jersey’s. It felt familiar more than new, but the comfort ended there. The body-length board beneath my feet shook, oscillating back and forth with my every attempt to find balance on it. There’s a vulnerability to finding yourself perched on a pedestal, precarious, even a mere foot off the ground, nothing but open space on either side. No guardrails. No solid ground. Though I could have likely reached out and touched the person next to me if I had tried, they were far away, on their own elevated island, maybe feeling vulnerable and watched themselves. I was my only support, and my confidence, in that moment, wavered along with the rest of me.

I was surfing. At least, that’s what I imagined. It’s what I was told to believe as I hovered on the SurfSet board of Shark Tank fame, nearing the end of my very first class. We paddled out away from the imaginary shoreline and into the imaginary ocean space. We spotted an imaginary wave and we were told to duck dive beneath it, my body feeling about as graceful as a waddling duck while doing it. Wave after wave, we spotted and dove, until we found one, The One, imaginary and looming and promising, and we popped up onto our boards and imagined to ride it. And then, we were told, it was time to jump, to squat down and power our bodies up in a 180 degree turn. I had done the move before…on solid ground. And suddenly, as I pictured lifting both feet into the air in the same instant and landing, facing the other direction, on this unstable board, I froze. My feet felt glued in place.

I can’t do that.

getting out of my own way via @floptimism ocean

I laughed a self-deprecating laugh, a panic-simmering-under-the-surface laugh, a you-must-be-joking laugh. The instructor made it look so easy but my body locked up on me and my brain was stuck like a broken record on those words: I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. It wasn’t just a thought, and in fact I wonder now if perhaps it was never really a thought at all. It was a feeling. It was an instinct. It was the safe choice. No matter how much I tried to force the muscles in my quads to fire, my core to tighten, my feet to lift, I didn’t move an inch. I was paralyzed from the ankle down. I felt unbalanced enough standing still on the board. How could I possibly lift both feet up, twist, and land gracefully facing the other direction? I couldn’t. I couldn’t.

But I had to.

I took a deep breath. I closed my eyes. I can do this, I tried instead, not because I fully believed it, but because I was running out of options. I can do this. I lowered down into a squat again, and I drove my body up, and this time, I felt my feet lift off the board and follow me to the other side. I landed, perhaps not gracefully, but successfully, on my feet, and smiled.

How often in life do we find ourselves limited not by our circumstances, but by our own perceptions of our capabilities?

I can’t tell you how often I do.

getting out of my own way via @floptimism ocean

In the face of a challenge, I find that my first instinct is fear. I can’t do that. My first thoughts are those of self-doubt. That’s just not possible. I have a looming deadline, five projects to juggle at once, an act of physical strength or endurance to perform, an invitation to a party somewhere new to which I must respond. I can’t.

Except, I can.

And when I continue to tell myself that I can’t, I don’t. But when I don’t have a choice – when it’s work or obligation or common sense that forces me to grit my teeth and try anyway – and I change my thinking, if not to, “I can” then at the very least to “I will,” then I do.

We can do so much more than we realize. We may not always do it perfectly. We may not always do it on the first try. It may not always feel comfortable, especially at first. But the more we tell ourselves we can’t, the more those words become the truth. We create our realities, and this year, I’m going to pay more attention to how I shape mine.

I can.

What can you do?

getting out of my own way via @floptimism

Something new and different for this week’s meal planning post…it’s shorter because my week is weird and we’re going to have a lot of leftover food, so I don’t want to cook to add more to the already-full fridge. If you miss my alternative suggestions, check out some of my past on the menu posts which are overflowing with ideas:

on the menu #1
on the menu #2
on the menu #3
on the menu #4
on the menu #5
on the menu #6
on the menu #7
on the menu #8
on the menu #9
on the menu #10

[ source ]

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meal one.
vegan black bean enchilada casserole using this mole sauce, which I made last week and have a near vat of it still in the fridge…for real, though. I picked up this bag of assorted root veggies from a local farm, and am planning to roast them on up for the filling along with the beans.

prep ahead: I’m kind of winging this recipe, but you could absolutely roast the veggies in advance and honestly…probably assemble the whole thing at least a few hours ahead. I’m planning to layer strips of whole grain corn tortillas (Ezekiel brand) with the sauce, veggies, black beans, and possibly some nutritional yeast/vegan cheese.

meal two.
kind of similar to an alternative idea I had last week, but this orange + veggie brown rice noodle bowl with sriracha-lime salmon and maybe some kale.

prep ahead: not much – it should really come together quickly enough as-is.

for vegetarians / vegans: try sriracha-lime baked tofu or tempeh instead of the salmon.


work-life balance? via @floptimism

Let’s meal plan, shall we? Last week, I was really off my game. (Feel free to skip this paragraph if you’re not into crazy run-on sentences and not-very captivating stories about weird, spacey moments.) On Tuesday, I wound up cooking the recipe I planned to cook Wednesday because what I planned to cook on Tuesday was a veggie burger but in my head for some reason I thought it was a black bean veggie burger recipe and I didn’t have any black beans cooked so I planned to cook the black beans to make the veggie burgers on Friday and I would make Friday’s recipe on Wednesday but then I felt on Wednesday like I didn’t have a wink of sleep so we ordered take-out instead and then on Friday I felt like the week had gone on for eternity and was not only exhausted but starving by 5pm and the last thing I wanted to do was cook so I ate leftovers and there I was, with a bowl of cooked black beans on Saturday, prepping the veggie burgers I planned to make Tuesday and then Friday but didn’t, only to realize there weren’t any black beans in the recipes at all and I could’ve, in fact, made this recipe quite easily last Tuesday but I guess that’s neither here nor there and you can never really have too many black beans so I popped them in the freezer and went on with my evening…I needed this weekend, to say the least, but I’m feeling better and ready to take on some seriously delicious recipes this next week!

[ source ]

[ source ]


BUT if I were going to cook, I might make something like this: creamy french lentils with mushrooms and kale.

a different winter vegetable stew from last week, served atop freekeh (which I will be trying for the first time!) and a winter vegetable mash.

prep head: most of this recipe should be easily prepped ahead, though I’m not planning to…in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing reheated really well.

Read More →

late harvest nourish bowl via @floptimism

What? Do you not still have squash, apples, and maple on the brain? Because as seasonally inappropriate as this recipe is, I wore a lace dress on Christmas and haven’t yet needed to pull my down comforter out from whatever cranny I hid it in at the end of last winter — we’re living in a reality in which seasons no longer make sense and, therefore, neither must the standards to which I hold the timeliness of my recipes.

And don’t even think about telling me that nourish bowls were so 2015 and now they’re called buddha bowls or grain bowls or I don’t even know what. I’m a grandma in millennial clothing and I can’t keep up with these youngster trends anymore.

late harvest nourish bowl via @floptimism

It’s salad. Salad with a fancy name and lots of colors. Let’s not overthink this.

Read More →

How has 2016 been shaping up so far? Is one of your goals to step up your home cooking game? Get on top of healthy meals for you or perhaps the whole family? Meal planning, for me, is one of those things…I don’t do it because I love the process itself. It requires forethought. It takes time. If you’re totally Type A like me and you get distracted by trying to make it perfect every week, it takes a lot of time and can border on stressful. (No good!) I don’t do it for those reasons.

I do it because in the long run, I’m better off for it. I save money at the grocery store because I have a list of what I’ll need for the next few days, so I’m not tempted to start grabbing random things on sale or that catch my eye. I stay more organized: I know when I need to do some prep work ahead of time and I don’t scramble for dinner when I walk through the door after a long day of work. A meal plan also helps me see the bigger picture of having a variety of foods and recipes (so I don’t serve soup all week straight or have a string of meals that are more up my alley than Liam’s, for example). And I’m working on accepting when it’s “good enough” as opposed to absolutely perfect, because let’s face it, half (or more?) of the stress in our lives is self-induced, right?

If you’re really feeling stuck, take a look at what I’m cooking this week! I’ve done all of the work for you right here, and you can find a whole backlog of meal plans from past ‘on the menu’ posts for even more inspiration right here:

on the menu #1
on the menu #2
on the menu #3
on the menu #4
on the menu #5
on the menu #6
on the menu #7
on the menu #8

winter vegetable chowder via www.thefirstmess.com

[ source ]


BUT if I were going to cook, I might make something like this: winter vegetable chowder, with chickpeas added to the mix; I’m obsessed with this recipe.

prep ahead: this meal reheats beautifully, which is nice because it can be a bit of a process to put together with all of the chopping. If you cook your beans from dried (here’s why I recommend it + how to make the whole thing super easy!), make sure you start that at least a day ahead of time, preferably two. I always keep a batch of chickpeas in the freezer.

Read More →

A photo posted by Jessica (@floptimism) on

kitchen love.
red wine chocolate cake, which I made for Christmas with white whole wheat flour and topped it with a blend of neufchatel, greek yogurt, and just a drop of heavy cream. Oh. And red wine poached raspberries.

sauteed indian spiced veggies, which wound up being a really easy, hands-off recipe that cooks while you go about prepping the rest of the meal. I used avocado oil instead of canola along with a few other very minor tweaks. Delicious!

just…love, love.
in case you wanted to know what my brain is like [ny times]
the just not sorry app to help women be more authoritative in their emails [slate]
more and less [inspiredrd]

In 2016, I resolve to…

  1. be kinder to friends, family, strangers, and myself.
  2. launch the new + exciting floptimism by the end of the year.
  3. find my vibe on instagram and stay true to it.
  4. plan more.
  5. …and sometimes, plan less.
  6. let go of comparisons.
  7. stop “shoulding” myself.
  8. write more, but don’t force it.
  9. play: frivolous games, the piano, with my kittens, in the kitchen.
  10. build my strength, both inside and out.
  11. create a capsule wardrobe, once and for all.
  12. spend more time outdoors and away from screens.
  13. relinquish attempted control in areas I could never really control to being with.
  14. speak up, respectfully.
  15. stop waiting; put down roots, even if it means moving them later.
  16. in short: find what makes me happy, and do more of it.