How This Award-Winning Cookbook Author Keeps Mealtime Interesting

Last Update: September 27, 2022

For Sarah Copeland, an award-winning cookbook author, Food Network veteran, and mom-of-two, food is much more than fuel. “I learned from my dad that deliciousness trumps all,” she says. “He is big on healthfulness, but will not relinquish deliciousness or pleasure—or just plain fun—in the name of health alone.”

This “dad test” inspires recipes like her delicious gooey chocolate blondies, which include plenty of chocolate, but skip the butter, refined sugar, and white flour. “I’m big on training kids’ palates early to like things that are also good for them, and to enjoy treats that aren’t overly sweet or sugar-laden,” explains Copeland. “What’s trickier, and really motivating for me, is to make my recipes so good that people can’t get enough, even those people who think ‘healthy eating’ isn’t for them.”

Copeland has no shortage of passion for new flavor combinations—lately, she reports being drawn to comforting seasonal squash served with tangy kimchi—but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t experienced the same cooking fatigue that many people have felt after so many months spent mainly at home. Here are three ways she keeps things fresh:

  1. Send the rest of the family out to eat and reclaim some time for yourself.
    “Once a week my husband takes my kids to the local diner for breakfast,” she says. “They eat things I never make (like a big stack of pancakes with bacon, eggs, hash browns, and more) and I don’t worry or think about what they’re eating and everyone comes back happy. I’m at home getting to write or do yoga—no cooking or dishes, so I’m happy too.”
  2. Take one night every week to enjoy a low-lift, crowd-pleasing meal, and get in some family time while you’re at it.
    “We do snack dinner in front of a movie about once a week with popcorn, cheese, crackers, fruit, veggies, yogurt dip, olives, hot cider or hot cocoa, and that’s a great no-cook night to look forward to,” says Copeland.
  3. If you’re at the end of your rope, have a go-to recipe or restaurant at the ready.
    “If I need to shake it up when I feel I’m about to snap on cooking and cleaning, we all go out to eat, or we do something fun and easy, like breakfast or waffles for dinner,” she reveals. “My kids will eat my pumpkin waffles for any meal, any time, and now that I’ve taught them to make them, too—there may be more nights off in my future.”

Keep reading to learn more about Copeland’s routine and the recipes that punctuate her days, including one from her new cookbook, “Instant Family Meals.”

What Sarah Copeland Eats in a Day

9:00 a.m. Breakfast: We don’t have a strict breakfast time, but somewhere in this hour everyone is up. I make a green juice every single morning, with tons of kale from our garden, celery or celery leaves, half a banana or a whole apple, lemon juice, water, and collagen. It’s my form of coffee. Sometimes I drink a double and that’s my meal, otherwise we have homemade granola and yogurt, or porridge/hot cereal with a loose berry sauce. I have a LOT of favorite recipes in all my books, but here’s one of our favorites. My favorite thing about breakfast is that on weekdays, I always read aloud to the kids, one or two chapters from a book we’ve all chosen.

12:00 p.m. Lunch: I’m homeschooling my kids this year, and I find that keeping an exact lunch time helps us through the morning. On days we have a sitter, we pack kids lunches in the AM and on those days I enjoy something like shakshuka or an earthy grain bowl. On the days I eat with my kids, I usually have exactly what they’re having, which can be a sort of ploughman’s lunch (cheese, olives, grapes, salami, plus yogurt, and a home-baked treat) or a smoked salmon sandwich, which is everyone’s favorite.
On the weekends, we bike to our favorite beer and pizza garden and get oysters, pizza and beer, or take a drive for homemade pasta, or schnitzel and pretzels. Weekend lunch is what dreams are made of!

5:30 to 7 p.m. Dinner: This is often when I’m trying out new recipes on my family for my books or my blog, so it could be anything from a mushroom ragu to congee, tacos, or often—soup. We are a massive soup family—we have soup for dinner, with salad or bread, at several times a week. That’s very Hungarian (my husband is Hungarian), and in the fall and winter in upstate New York, something warm and soothing is always the ticket to an easier night. Sometimes we have dessert—a recipe I’ve been working on, or a pie we’ve made together. Or, on nights when we’ve eaten kind of light, we are huge “popcorn-an-hour-after-dinner” people.

Snacks: I always need an apple or something sweet mid afternoon to get me through. My son and husband are giant snackers so I have to have huge bowls of fruit everywhere for them—mostly apples and pears, because they honestly each eat about three a day.
I need at least one little piece of chocolate every day, and my favorite is the TCHO Almonds & Sea Salt Chocolate. Usually I dip it into hot tea and make it last as long as possible.

Drinks: In the spring and summer, I’m a beer or kombucha girl. Kombucha is like my healthier cocktail without any next-day regrets. My husband and I also deeply love a good German or Belgian beer.
In the fall and winter, I drink tea all day long: Early Grey or Chai in the morning, and a lemon verbena tisane (from the garden) or chamomile mint herbal tea all afternoon and into the evening.

Sarah Copeland’s Creamy Carrot Soup

The ingredients in this crowd-pleasing dish are also crowd-friendly; this delicious combination of sweet and umami flavors is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. Using a pressure cooker brings out the best in freshly peeled carrots, coaxing out their bright flavor and achieving just the right texture.

Yields: 4-6 Servings
Active Time: 8 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes

2 lbs carrots, scrubbed and trimmed
4 1⁄2-5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, sliced into coins
1 tsp fine sea salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp white miso paste
1 lemon, halved
3-4 tbsp chopped or snipped fresh chives
Crispy Bread and/or Croutons (use gluten-free croutons or omit to make this recipe gluten-free)

Combine the carrots, broth, olive oil, garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt in the inner pot of the pressure cooker. Lock on the lid and Pressure Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Release the steam manually, then open the lid. Check to ensure the ginger and carrots are completely tender; if not, lock on the lid again and Pressure Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes more.

Open the lid. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth, about 3 minutes (or blend in batches in an upright blender). Add the miso (if using) and season with salt and pepper as needed— if you skip the miso, you may need up to
1⁄2 teaspoon more salt. Blend until creamy and smooth, another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.

Return the inner pot to the pressure cooker and leave on the Keep Warm setting until you are ready to serve.

Spoon the soup into bowls, squeeze the lemon over the top, and serve warm, topped with chives and croutons, if desired.

For a creamier carrot soup, stir 1⁄2 to 1 cup heavy cream or coconut milk into the pureed soup and warm it thoroughly before serving.

Reprinted with permission from Instant Family Meals by Sarah Copeland, copyright © 2020. Photographs by Christopher Testani. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House,LLC.

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Kendall Lowery

Kendall Lowery is a current college student and a lifelong food enthusiast. When she’s not studying, she spends her time playing the flute, finding her next great bite, and working at Thrive Market as Content Contributor.

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