Roasted Vegetable Salad | FoodLovesWriting.com

I had a lightbulb moment last week where I realized I cannot do everything (including, this post seems to indicate, take a non-blurry photo of a roasted vegetable dinner). I was sitting in the dining room when it happened: Like most workdays, I had my laptop open before me, streaming sunlight to my right, and, just then, I saw the neighbor working in her yard and thought how I’d like to go say hi—right as my inbox pulled in two new emails, my phone rang, I noticed dust collecting on the floorboards and my open Word document reminded me of how much left on this project there was yet to do. In that moment—that split-second moment—where so many of my honest desires, from keeping a clean house to being a productive freelancer, collided, this single thought, clear as day, hit my heart: I am just a person and I cannot do everything.

Thing is, saying there are things I cannot do is humbling. In fact, I’m not sure I want to admit it to you. When you ask me to take on a project, I want to say yes—and get it to you faster than you’d expected. When you invite me to a social event, I want to say sure—and then be charming and easy and fun. I want to meet your expectations and I want to meet mine—and the worst part is that I’m just proud enough to think I actually can. I’ll turn myself in pretzels trying to work good, love good, friend good, give good, cook good, look good, decorate good, budget good. But I can’t. Not all of it, not all of the time.

This is the sort of thing lots of people are realizing these days. Two, if not three, of the articles I cited in the last post hit at this same idea, and there are many others, too. For example, I read a fascinating, funny post recently that talked about the guilt parents experience (I can only imagine!) but then, also, it did the thing that 90% of these articles do in response to those feelings, the same thing most of us do in response to people we view as more talented or beautiful or smart or successful or cool: it poked fun/criticized parents who weren’t struggling in the same ways.

In other words, to make ourselves feel better that we aren’t accomplishing X, we dislike or belittle anyone who is.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and about how it relates to blogging and all of life. As I’ve come face-to-face with one aspect of my own inadequacy and needed a way to cope with it, I’ve felt the temptation to discount anyone who doesn’t struggle in the same way. I’ve sat in my dining room, vulnerable and imperfect, and felt unable to be happy for someone who, instead of struggling to accomplish simple daily tasks, is out there taking better photos, building a bigger blog following or, getting a book deal. I’ve felt this way because, in their victories, these successful people are reminding me of my failures. And I don’t want to be reminded of my failures. I want to do everything.

Today’s recipe is super simple. It’s roasting a bunch of vegetables in coconut oil, throwing them all together with herbs and calling it dinner. I’d like to say it’s for all of you people who read this post and relate to it and think, I can’t do everything either! Someone understands! Here’s a meal I can make!, but actually it’s for all of you, even the brilliant, talented, attractive, multitasking types who don’t need to hear how to make a roasted vegetable salad but, reading this post, might remember an even better way to make it and go do that instead.

Because, before God, I know the truth that I, in my imperfection, sometimes have days where all the stars align and the cupcakes I’ve prayed about all while mixing batter end up turning out good, causing me to Hallelujah! every time I mention them, and the to-do list Tim and I talk about actually gets done, turning me into a much nicer wife and friend; but also that I sometimes have other days, like the one last week, where I feel like everything I do is a failure and suddenly feel suspicious of anyone, anywhere, who manages to get anything done. And on both days, I want to remember that I’m just a person, and I cannot do everything, and I want to remember that your successes and failures, and my successes and failures, don’t change that at all.

I want to look at my inadequacy and inability, really look at it, not pretend it or deflect it away, and, instead of needing to take you down to my level, with my words or with my thoughts, to feel OK again, I want to openly admit that maybe you’re more successful or more pulled-together than I am.  And I want to do that with love in my heart that says I’m happy for you to be because the world does not revolve around me.

Roasted Vegetable Salad in Soup | FoodLovesWriting.com

Roasted Vegetable + Herb Salad
Serves four to six

As pictured just above this recipe, the leftovers from this salad are killer in leftover beef broth, the kind you make at home by boiling leftover beef bones in water for six hours or so, replenishing the water as it reduces. Tim and I ate these vegetables in that sort of broth a few Sunday afternoons ago, simply by dumping the salad in the broth and warming it on the stove, and it was one of my favorite meals all week. (Other ideas for using the salad at the bottom of the post.)

Ingredients:
1 head of broccoli
1 head of cauliflower
1 pint of grape tomatoes
1 eggplant
1 yellow pepper
Coconut oil
Salt and pepper
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400F.

Chop the broccoli and cauliflower into similar-sized florets and combine them all in a large bowl. Toss with about two tablespoons of melted coconut oil, and generously salt and pepper the mixture. Spread florets out onto baking sheet(s) in one single layer. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until crisp (and delicious!).

While the broccoli and cauliflower are baking, slice the eggplant into rounds and place on cutting board or other surface and salt. Let sit for a little while so the salt can help draw out the bitterness. Then toss eggplant pieces in the same bowl you used for the broccoli and cauliflower, adding another tablespoon of melted coconut oil. Place on baking sheet and add to oven. Eggplant slices will be done when they’re soft and golden.

Cut the grape tomatoes in half and toss with one or two tablespoons of melted coconut oil and a few shakes of salt and pepper. Place, cut-side-down on a fourth baking sheet or dish, and add to the oven. They’re done when they are wilted and golden; taste one at your own risk at this point—they’re like candy! you won’t be able to stop!

When all vegetables are roasted, quarter the eggplant; combine the broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and tomatoes together in a large bowl. Add chopped parsley and basil. Taste and add salt and/or pepper if desired.

Now you have a wonderful roasted vegetable salad that may be eaten on its own, added to broth for soup, pureed with broth or water into a bisque-style soup, layered with lettuce and cheese in tacos or added to eggs for a morning omelet or quiche.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 51 Comments

  1. Kathryn

    Oh yes, this is something I’ve struggled with and something that I think, weirdly, I’m beginning to come to terms with (which I never thought I would). It helps, I think, to know that everyone suffers from the same doubts and inadequacies and, however much people may look like they’ve got life all sorted, they probably don’t feel like it. Besides, if we never had failures, we’d never know how good the successes can be.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks, Kathryn! I feel a lot of commonality with honest souls who understand this dynamic and can admit it (like you!). You’re right too that everyone is imperfect and so likely has doubts and inadequacies, at least if they’re able to be honest with themselves. I believe this wholeheartedly and also believe that no matter how together someone looks or sounds, they’re just a person, just like I’m just a person, and they can’t actually do “everything” either.

      The thing I don’t like, however, is the way we as people so often use this idea of “we’re all imperfect” to make ourselves feel better when someone else succeeds. I wish so much for a heart that would rejoice when you rejoice. I wish so much for a heart that would let you be greater or more talented or more successful in some way, as a way of loving you.

      1. Kathryn

        Oh I agree. It would be so nice to be able to live without that envy or denegrating other people’s success because of our own feelings of inadequacy. I wonder though if that’s part of loving someone? Being able to rejoice with them despite what you might be feeling inside and being able to overcome that sense of your own failings to really and genuinely be happy for them. It is surely harder than having an open heart but all the more powerful for that.

        I don’t know – as is patently obvious, I don’t really have any answers but it’s something that weighs heavy on my mind often.

  2. Lindsey @ Pas de Deux

    Oh, how I resonate with your description of wanting to do so much in one instant! I often feel like I have so many things to do, both wants and needs, that I don’t know where to start, or when I do start, I try to do too many things at once and loose my sense of purpose or direction entirely…. I really admire the strength and honesty you bring to your self-reflection. Thank you for sharing it here.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks, Lindsey, and you hit the nail on the head with this idea of both wants and needs. If I’m honest with myself, most of the million things I’m juggling in my mind on a given day are things I’ve chosen to put on myself. That’s a good thing for me to think about.

  3. Megan

    Thank you again, Shanna, for sharing your thoughts so openly and honestly. I, too, feel the same way – and it’s such a nice reminder to know that others do as well. We are all in different stages of life, and blessed with our own abilities, and I try to remember that on days when I’m feeling discouraged.
    And for what it’s worth, I think you are pretty awesome at lots of things :) keep it up, girl!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      You’re right, Megan. We each have a unique path with unique strengths and weaknesses, very true. Thanks for the kind words, demonstrating exactly the kind of genuine support of others that I want to emulate in my own heart!

  4. Art & Lemons

    Listen lady, you rock and I think you’re doing amazing work! Besides perfection is overrated. I struggle with it too. I’m learning to let go of any ideal and learn to accept that I’m exactly where I need to be (regardless of what’s happening). Thanks as always for cutting through with truth and for sharing this salad.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks for those kind words, Nikki — I’m definitely not seeking perfection (there’s a losing battle, ha!) but I do find myself sometimes noticing something well-done and beautiful and feeling an inner striving to attain it instead of someone else attaining it. I set them as the standard for what I must hit… when instead I could see their skill or ability and rejoice in it with them, recognizing my different level or ability. I’m longing for the ability to put others before myself, in all of life and definitely in blogging.

  5. Abby

    Oh, I’m with you! Every Sunday evening I despair over the paltry amount of activities I’ve managed to accomplish over the weekend, and I look ahead to the week and think how impossible it is to get everything done. But I’m learning to set aside small chunks of time for each activity, and to truly enjoy the moments while I’m in them. It’s tough.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      That’s a lovely sentiment, Abby, and one almost every article on parenting I’ve read recently has hit on. I imagine being a new parent would try this area of my heart often, slowing me down to take care of one very important thing (person) and learning to let other things go. I’m finding this kind of prioritization so helpful in my non-parenting life lately, if only to teach me to be where I am.

  6. Julie

    This is exactly what I needed to read, because it is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately as well. It is nice to know I’m not the only one struggling with it. This line really hit home for me: “I’ve felt this way because, in their victories, these successful people are reminding me of my failures.” But I’m trying to remind myself that they’re not failures. Different people deal with things differently, approach projects differently. What comes easily to me is more difficult for others, and vice versa. And we all go through phases and seasons in life when things seem harder, and others when things seem to click and we feel productive and successful. Right now, maybe you and I are just in one of the more challenging seasons. Thank you for this post; at least we’re not alone!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Julie, I so agree it’s nice to find real empathy in this blogging community. It’s one of my favorite parts of this little world. I love it. So much encouragement and comfort in hearing someone else say, “Me too,” the way C.S. Lewis said all friendships start. So thank you for doing exactly that!

      You, like so many other voices here, are hitting at a very good point about how everyone has strengths and weaknesses and so my area of weakness might be your area of strength and vice versa, and that’s just because we’re different. It’s true. Also true is that each of us is on a unique path and it doesn’t make sense to compare our paths to other people’s.

      That said though, I hope my heart learns to take this current season and use it to find joy in other people’s successes. And I hope I don’t have to count my own successes in other areas in order to make myself feel okay while I do. Because I think there’s a real beauty in looking at someone else’s skill I don’t have and seeing it as good and rejoicing in it, without needing to validate myself somehow. Oh, for an automatic response that delights for others and that puts you before me! I am learning, slooooowly, what this might mean.

  7. Lan | angry asian

    ugh. you totally described me to the T. i have to constantly remind myself, and curb my negativity when i see peers excelling.

    we just have to remember: everyone struggles, even tho ones who appear perfect. and don’t compare yourself to someone else’s best.

  8. Ashley

    Even the people who we deem “perfect” or “they have it all together” struggle with these same thoughts, I assure you. Not one of us is perfect but we all are set here to reflect and glorify our God who is perfection. So when we don’t adequately share his perfection it’s frustrating but yes, also humbling which is a necessary part of this whole process. But you (and I, and everyone else – because we ALL struggle with this) need to stop the comparison. Learn from and celebrate with other’s journey but trust that their path is not ours.
    “In ALL your ways, acknowledge HIm and He will direct your path.” And we can trust that His plan is perfect for US.
    I ran into this yesterday so the emotions are real. I want my first response for a friend’s success to be, “yes!! Great job!” Not, “why can’t that be me.” It’s ugly. So I resonate with you completely on this and am in my own process of working it out even though to some I might look like, “I’ve got it all together.” Meanwhile I haven’t showered in 2 days, my house is a disaster, there’s breakfast all over the table and floor, and my daughter has no pants on. Nope, not all together but by God’s grace I’m here and seeking His glory and admitting I need Him in my inadequacies.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Ashley, I’m super glad you commented here, and not just because of the fun email exchange we got to have this morning as a result. : ) The thing your comment is reminding me of right now is how easy you make it for me to feel happy for your successes because you say self-deprecating, honest things that make you less intimidating. That makes me feel like I’m still OK.

      But other bloggers who don’t do that? They sometimes hit at this undercurrent of feeling like I’m failing at something they’re not failing at, and that makes me feel not OK.

      And I think that’s the problem for me. Because, totally removed from whatever they’re thinking or feeling in their own hearts, I don’t want to have, in my heart, to tell myself so-and-so “isn’t that great either” or has “problems, too,” in order to cope with his or her success. I want to look at them being successful and let them be! I want to put them before myself. You make it really easy to do, but even if you didn’t, I wish I could have a response that showed real love God sees even if people don’t. So far from that, but I desire it.

      PS – Thankful for you and your insight, always.

  9. Felicia @ Dish by Dish

    hey..

    i think these “aha” moments which draw light on the fact that we’re humans (maybe some more superhuman than others) and have an innate ability to err can be quite liberating.

    because like how so much of our craft is best create when we feel lousy about ourselves, when we feel jealousy instead of happiness upon seeing another’s success, etc- we are returned to the initial places where we started long before everything else: the place where we admit we are far from perfection but still each person beautifully incomplete. I like to think of our lives as unfinished canvases on which a masterpiece is still on its way, so just because we’re reminded once in a while that we aren’t the definition of perfection or all-efficiency, doesn’t make us any less valuable than if we actually were.

    not sure if you understood what I meant. just scribbling whatever came to mind when I read this post.

    hugs,
    f.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I love scribbles of comments and welcome them anytime. : ) I like most what you said about these moments being liberating — I can’t tell you how many times last week I reminded myself I am just a person and cannot do everything, and felt free.

  10. Joshua Hampton (Cooking Classes San Diego)

    So much to do, so little time. I, too, have moments like the one you described in this post. It’s indeed difficult to admit to yourself that you just can’t do everything. We tend to want what others have and we tear our hair out if we find we can’t have it. But when you sit to think about it, life is good. It’s really good. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and the simple but wonderful recipe.

  11. Stacy

    This is lovely. I cannot do everything either, though I really, REALLY wish I could. Thanks for the honest reflections, and for reminding all of us that we’re in it together, imperfect as we are, and that sometime roasted veggies are more than sufficient for dinner. xo

  12. Danielle

    What a beautiful and honest post. I can totally relate as right now I have so much on my plate. Sometimes it is nice to just relax and realize that I can’t physically do it all, and need to stop being so hard on myself. Thanks also for posting such a simple recipe which reminds me that dinner can be simple sometimes. I forget that too.

  13. Jennifer T

    That looks delicious!

    Dave Ramsey said something similar about money recently. He said that sometimes, we look down on people who have money, like if a neighbor makes a lot of money and moves to a nicer neighborhood, we might say to our kids, “Oh, who do they think they are, better than us?” And that kind of attitude keeps us poor, keeps us from trying, keeps us from being successful and from achieving greatness. Instead of trying to make ourselves feel better by criticizing those who have succeeded, we should use them as examples and try to learn how to do what they did.

    I think you’re doing a great job, Shanna!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      That is a good point! Really, this idea of seeing someone else do well applies to a million things, including blogging and including finances, and you (and Dave, ha!) are so right that one of the most common responses people have to others with “more” is to put them down in some way, even if just in the “Well, they don’t have it all together, either,” kind of way. I was just telling a friend that I have started to notice that nine times out of ten when someone puts someone else down, it’s fueled by some sort of insecurity or jealousy. How revealing!

      And it makes me, even more, want to run to Jesus to help my heart see Him instead.

  14. Megan Gordon

    Seriously! Sam just had a “to-do list” intervention with me, encouraging me to keep a realistic list for the day and put all the bigger projects somewhere else … at the end of the day, I look at the lists and how I’ve only checked off a few things and feel so discouraged. It’s so hard to keep a realistic tab on what’s doable in any one given day, I think especially when you work for yourself, right? Anyway, loved this post. So, so true.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh, Megan, I could go for a “to-do list” intervention every so often myself — what a gift! And you’re so right about how self-employment fuels this in many ways. When I know I work from the same place I do everything else, work is ever-present. Learning, learning, learning.

  15. jacquie

    thank you for a very brave post and for being willing to look deep within yourself and share your explorations and insight with others. can we raise a glass of wine and a roasted vegetable (or two) in celebration of each us no matter who we are at or what we have done or not done today? and please let us all be gentle with ourselves for doing the best we can as the mere human beings that we are.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Jacqui, I am scratching my head over here because I swear I thought I responded to you yesterday, but I see no response here. Oh my. Thank you so much for your kind words and for that raised glass — I appreciate it. I agree very much that we need to quit expecting perfection from ourselves, or from others, and I am with you.

  16. Kathryne

    I struggle with this DAILY, Shanna. On a certain conscious level, I know that I can’t do everything, but there’s still a part of my brain that berates me for not being able to get it all done. Ug! Anyway, I love roasting big batches of vegetables for dinner and leftovers (when I have the time).

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Exactly. And then I think, If I can’t do X, I’m failing at life! When that’s not true at all—not any more true than that I should dislike people who can do X. Thanks for your empathy and understanding!

  17. Erin

    Love this post. It is so full of wisdom. I think absolutely everyone struggles with this. And one thing I have had to remind myself of recently is how important it is to set priorities. And when something falls low on my priority list, I need to learn to let it go when life is busy.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Erin, That is my lesson in this season, too—to prioritize what is necessary and what isn’t, letting the other things in when I can. I feel like this should have been a college class, haha. But the up side is realizing my own limitations is wonderfully freeing, too.

  18. sarah kate branine

    Shanna,
    I just couldn’t help but think of the example of the body of Christ all throughout this post. I totally hear what you are saying. These thoughts have long tormented me (or birthed seeds of trust and grace?). Oh the comfort in knowing that *this* is exactly how God ordained it to be–that I cannot be everything at once and that he gets the most glory from it being that way. A big ‘amen’ came out of my mouth after reading your words. Love to you!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Yes. Tim and I were talking last night (in response to a Josh Garrels song!) about how all of creation points to Him — the lion in his terrifying power and ferocity, the lamb in his gentleness and peace. Everything points to Him in part, though, because nothing can ever display Him the way He is. I show Him in part, you show Him in part, but someday we will see Him face to face in His full splendor. Amazing!

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