With the release of my novel this past week, I got the chance to reflect on some of the things that have inspired me over the years. I chatted with Karla Walsh from Fitness Magazine about cooking, surfing and finally getting the chance to write my own novel. Though cooking has always been my passion, I’ve found surfing offers me that piece of mind I’ve been looking for. Check out the interview to learn more about what encouraged me to start hitting the waves and get one of my favorite healthy comfort food recipes that doesn’t weigh me down after a long day at the beach.
How did you make the transition from chef to novelist?
I have wanted to write a novel for years, but I never could find the right story to inspire me. I tried so many times, but I always thought the story had to involve food and I just couldn’t get it right. I guess writing is kind of like love: If you’re looking for it, you’ll never find it. It’s when you least expect it that it sweeps you off your feet.
What inspired you to begin surfing?
I was going through a rough time in my personal life and wanted to try something completely out of character to “get out of my head.” I was always enamored with the ocean, but terrified of it at the same time. One day, I was on the beach watching the surfers and thought I’d give it a shot. I signed up for lessons and went to my local surf camp.
What have you learned about yourself from the sport?
I’ve never been particularly athletic or good at sports, so I was really surprised that I was able to surf! I’m by no means a great surfer, but I love it and the mind-body connection I experience while surfing. It gave me a new sense of confidence and achievement.
Besides surfing, how do you stay in shape?
I exercise about six days a week. I live to eat, rather than eat to live, so I have to really work out hard! I do Core Fusion, SoulCycle, yoga and run on my treadmill.
Do you watch what you eat?
I do, but don’t count calories. I try to eat a mostly plant-based diet, making my plate 70 percent vegetables and 30 percent protein. During the week, I don’t eat sugar and save my indulgences for the weekend.
I do love my comfort foods, so I make healthier versions of my favorites. Growing up, I loved Sloppy Joe night. Now I make a guilt-free lentil and tempeh version that’s amazing. I usually serve them with baked sweet potato fries! See below for the recipe…
Lentil and Tempeh Sloppy Joes
- 1/2 cup lentils
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
- 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whole-wheat buns
- Sliced avocado, pickles
- Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with water.
- Boil until tender, about 30 minutes, and drain.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add onion and red bell pepper and saute until onions are translucent and pepper is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook about 1 more minute.
- Stir in crumbled tempeh and chiles, and cook about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add reserved lentils, BBQ sauce, ketchup, chili powder, sugar, Worcestershire, vinegar, Dijon and 1/2 cup water.
- Reduce heat to low and let simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve on toasted whole-wheat buns, topped with sliced avocado and pickles on the side.