RPL at Home (December 2023)

Welcome to the December 2023 edition of RPL at Home!

This month, I’m sharing the very exciting new business we’re launching in January, what life has been like off of social media for 2+ months, and all my recent fun travel.

Pour yourself a vegan hot chocolate or mulled wine, get cozy, and come hang out for a few minutes :)

Welcome to the December 2023 edition of RPL at Home, where I share what I’m up to when I’m not in the kitchen or in front of the camera. 

Each month, I’ll share snippets of what I’m working on, habits I’m cultivating, things bringing me joy, books/TV shows/podcasts I’m enjoying, and more. Think of it as stream-of-consciousness blabbering meets a semi-curated list of recommendations meets life update. 

🍽️ What I’m working on in the biz 

Honestly, this header should read “What I’m working on in my new biz.” 

In case you missed the announcement, we are launching a brand new and very exciting weekly vegan meal plan service in January! 

I spent a lot of time over the past year surveying the RPL community about their cooking challenges, and it became clear to me that one of the biggest problems had nothing to do with following a recipe. 

It’s all the other stuff that goes into putting delicious plant-based meals on the table on a consistent basis:

ad for meal plans program with picture of woman with button
  • figuring out what to cook week after week
  • making organized grocery lists to avoid impulse purchases and food waste
  • organizing your busy schedule around cooking
  • building an arsenal of recipes that the whole family will enjoy
  • figuring out how to take the stress out of weeknight cooking without succumbing to the same boring dinners (or, ordering takeout).  

So I’m pleased to share that our brand new vegan meal plans tackle all of these problems! 

What you’ll find in each weekly meal plan:

  • A complete grocery list that’s categorized by grocery store section and contains tons of substitutes based on allergens and ingredient availability.
  • High-impact meal prep steps that take 60 to 90 minutes each Sunday so you can save time and stress during your weeknight cooking.
  • Three hearty dinner recipes + a weekly side salad, all of which include shared ingredients and components, reducing your overall cook time and grocery list (and sometimes, grocery bill!)
  • Restaurant-quality dinners that come together smoothly and easily during the week.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about launching these meal plans! I truly believe they will minimize the stresses of weeknight cooking and empower you to fall in love with plant-based cooking. 

We even had a few of our meal plans tested by 40 beta testers in the RPL community, and the positive feedback has been overwhelming (in a good way!).  

If you want to join our waitlist, stay up-to-date with our launch, and get access to exclusive discounts in January, sign up using this form:

Join the waitlist for early access!

    Enter your information above to join the waitlist for RPL meal plans and automatically join my newsletter! Unsubscribe at any time.

    📲 What I’m not working on in the biz 

    With the new meal plan business and all my recent travel (more on that below), there are certain things I have not been working on. Like social media. 

    I took a break from Instagram in September because every time I opened the app, I either felt anxious, envious of something or someone else, or wildly distracted. So after 7+ years of Instagram being a part of my daily life (a truly wild fact), I decided to take a break. 

    I thought my break would last 2 weeks. Yet, here we are in December, and it’s been 2 months since I’ve even opened the app, let alone posted content. 

    This break has been amazing for my well-being: (1) that feeling of never having enough time has mostly disappeared; (2) I feel less anxious; (3) I no longer experience sensory overload.

    I have more time 

    It seems easy enough to say, “If you previously spent 1 hour on Instagram per day and then stopped using the app, you would now have 1 extra hour every day to do something else.” 

    But that’s a dramatic undercount of how much time I’ve gotten back.

    That’s because every time we switch tasks (e.g., taking a break from writing a blog post to check Instagram, then returning to the blog post), it takes considerable time to really get back into the flow of things and to refocus. 

    Research has found that it takes about 25 minutes to return to your original task after being interrupted! For instance, if I checked Instagram twice during a blog-writing sesh, it would take me, on average, an extra 50 minutes to write that blog post! 

    Not having the temptation to open Instagram means I have gained literal hours back in my day, and I’ve been using that time to focus on the high-impact work I enjoy the most (and to do more fun things!).  

    I feel less anxious

    Lez be honest, social media can be a dumpster fire sometimes. And even when it’s fun and light, there are certain things that make me anxious and feel like I’m not doing enough. Like seeing how prolific other content creators are (i.e., posting new recipes daily!). 

    Not exposing myself to this inundation of content means I can stay laser-focused on what I actually have control over. That helps me enjoy the process and feel proud of the work I’m doing instead of feeling anxious, envious, or inadequate. 

    I no longer experience sensory overload

    Short-form videos—which started with TikTok and have taken over Instagram and increasingly YouTube—have made social media platforms places of sensory overload (at least for me). 

    The distraction of a fast-moving, endless loop of quick videos can overstimulate our nervous systems. This overstimulation makes it harder to accurately sense how we’re feeling, which can worsen our fears, anxieties, and stress. 

    Taking 2 months off from social media has not just solved that problem for me. It’s also given me a glimpse into what life used to be like before the digital overload era. 

    For instance, I now find myself craving silence from time to time. The last time I can remember truly sitting in silence and enjoying it was back in college and law school (10-15 years ago). Since then, I have often used social media (and to a lesser degree, podcasts and music) as a tool of distraction when I don’t want to feel my feelings, think about hard things, or do the work that needs doing. 

    That sobering realization has made me seek out silence more often these days. I’ve even found myself driving or cooking without listening to any podcasts or music (an unthinkable fact just months ago). 

    All that to say, my hiatus from social media has been really great for my mental health, productivity, and overall well-being.

    Though, of course, I recognize the irony of being a “content creator” who doesn’t post on social media LOL. 

    At least for now, though, I still feel like I’m creating the most high-value content that I can: long-form YouTube videos, detailed recipes on the blog (not as many as I’d like, but still), and meal plans (for the near future!). 

    That doesn’t mean I won’t ever return to Instagram. I probably will soon, but my relationship with it has definitely changed. 

    being off social media = more time for fun stuff too, like baking cornbread for my family.

    What I’m watching, listening to, and reading

    📺 Watching

    We’re still slowly working our way through The Americans, which is one of the greatest shows ever made and arguably the greatest TV show about spies (though the French spy thriller Le Bureau is also a fave; I would 10/10 recommend it). 

    And a few days ago, we started watching Season 5 of Fargo. I loved seasons 1 and 2 of this franchise and am extra excited to watch this season because two of my favorite actresses star in it: Juno Temple (who played Keely on Ted Lasso) and Richa Moorjani (fellow vegan and IRL friend of mine who played Kamala on Never Have I Ever). We finished episode 3 last night and it’s been brilliant so far.

    📚 Reading

    In a recent edition of RPL at Home, I mentioned I was reading The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese. The novel centers around a family in Kerala, a tropical state in southern India that I visited back in college with my best friends Lucia and Sonia (more on them below!). 

    I was enraptured by how his writing evoked such specific images and feelings of life in India, and Kerala specifically, at precise historical time periods. So I decided I wanted to read more books that take place in India (it is the motherland, after all!).

    While I’m not ordinarily one to re-read books (too many books, too little time!), I decided to revisit two books I previously read ~15 years ago.

    First, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, which I finished a few days ago, and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, which I’ll start in a few days. 

    As soon as you start reading The God of Small Things, it becomes clear why this book was so popular when it was first published in the 1990s and has gone on to sell 6 million(!) copies. Roy has a very unique style of prose, but it’s her narration that sets this book apart. Like any great novel, each character comes alive in your imagination with the most ordinary and extraordinary of details. 

    She effortlessly weaves together personal tragedies and family resentments with larger historical forces, like the Indian caste system and the powerful force of Communism in Kerala to produce a profound and beautiful yet agonizing novel.  

    🎧 Listening

    I haven’t listened to as many podcasts as usual (see above!), but I loved loved loved this recent episode from Modern Love: Two Boys on Bikes, Falling in Love. The writer and narrator, Eric Darnell Pritchard, has the loveliest voice and his narration about his first love is so pure and so sweet that I want to listen to it all over again.

    New Recipes and Videos

    New Recipes you might have missed

    • Vegan Apple Crisp. Hot take: I like apple crisp better than apple pie. It’s so much easier to make and tastes just as good (if not better). This version features gooey, maple-spiced apples baked underneath a crispy, crunchy and slightly chewy streusel and strikes the best sweet-salty balance. A must-make for your holiday dinner
    • Sausage & Fennel Pasta with Crushed Tomato Sauce. In need of a quick but gourmet-tasting pasta dinner? Look no further than this rich and meaty 10-ingredient pasta inspired by the Italian classic dish, Bucatini all’Amatriciana.

    VIDEOS you might have missed

    • Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells. If you’ve ever been curious about my recipe development process and journey, this recent video walks you through how I approach my older recipes and how I improve them. I brought a gourmet upgrade to one of my favorite OG recipes on the blog: pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells! The original is great, but the upgraded version is mindblowing
    • Aloo Gobi. This has been one of the most-requested Indian recipes and I finally filmed a video on how to make it! Bonus: my hilarious and adorable parents do a blind taste test with my version and a restaurant version. 

    RPL Recipe Club

    We’re still going strong with the RPL Recipe Club! Each month, I choose a different recipe for the RPL community to make, and December’s recipe is my Vegan Chili! Anyone can make the recipe, then submit a photo to win amazing kitchen prizes. 

    This month, we’re giving away an apron and knife from Hedley & Bennett (you probably have peeped me wearing their aprons and using their knives in my YouTube videos!). 

    For all the details check out the December 2023 edition of the RPL recipe club.

    Fun Things 

    In the most recent edition of RPL at Home (in October), I mentioned that my sister and I were #blessed to have two best friends (and fellow sisters), Lucia and Sonia. 

    Our moms met in the 1980s as new immigrants from India while both of their husbands (our dads) were busy working as medical residents, often pulling 48- and 72-hour shifts. 

    Despite the fact that, in 1989, my family moved to California and theirs to Maryland, our moms continue to be besties and so do the four of us gals (we’re more like sisters than friends). 

    In November, my whole family took a 2-week trip to Baltimore to celebrate both Sonia and Lucia’s back-to-back weddings! My sister was the maid of honor in Sonia’s wedding the first week, and I was the maid of honor in Lucia’s wedding. 

    It was such a pleasure to be there for our closest friends on their special days and to spend time with both of our families together. 

    PS: Max and I stayed in DC in between the weddings. Similar to our DC trip in October (for another wedding!), we had incredible vegan food at Planta Queen. If you have a Planta Queen in your area, the Pressed and Torched sushi is probably my favorite-ever dish from a restaurant so don’t sleep on it. 

    Okay, that’s it for this last RPL at Home post of 2023! Thank you for reading these personal posts this year. I have so enjoyed writing them and sharing a glimpse of my life behind the screen.

    Drop me a line below and let me know what you’d like to see in the first edition of 2024!

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    78 comments on RPL at Home (December 2023)

    1. Sravya

      :) love you and RPL at Home posts. As soon as we get over yet another episode of “which daycare virus did Dillan bring home this week,” I want to get back to reading for pleasure.

    2. Vickie

      I am so excited!! I struggle with dinner ideas because there are always ingredients I don’t have. Starting the new year, my goal is to plan my meals better and I know your meal plan service will help. 😁

      1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

        We can’t wait for you to try it out, Vickie! :)

    3. Terri

      So excited about the new service! I completely agree about sensory overload with shorts, insta, and tik-tok. I think it takes a huge toll on our psyche while we don’t even notice it at the time. My husband has ADHD and says that shorts were made for him and he loves them! BUT, I have noticed that he has been more down and depressed. He doesn’t connect it to social media, though. Thank you for sharing!

    4. Arpan

      Awesome. I identify with the “needing silence” thing. I drive in silence all the time now – mainly because most of my days are filled with a barrage of noise, emails, and texts – along with mindless scrolling on the internet.

      Kudos to somewhat pulling the plug on social media. The internet can be an abyss of nonsensical distractions.

      Also, as far as books about/written by Brownies, I’d suggest A Fine Balance. Heartbreaking and hopeful – it gives you the feels. A massive – but super solid.

    5. Kebra Bangs

      I really enjoy your newsletter and Youtube channel. I struggle being plant based because I don’t have a lot of time. I do well for a few months then life creeps in. I can’t wait for your meal plan service! Thank you for the great content.

      1. Nisha

        Hi Kebra! It’s so nice to hear that you enjoy my channel and newsletter! I hope that the meal plan service will resolve a lot of the struggles of cooking plant-based meals on a regular basis. We launch in 3 weeks and I’m so excited!

    6. Tara Harney

      Hi Nisha
      I am 73. Years old. I have to say I enjoyed this issue of RPL at home. I can identify with your social media experience. 50 years ago I was a stay at home mom with a new baby, living in a small apartment in a big city. I got hooked on television to entertain myself. Before I knew it I was watching every soap opera and every game show filling my day staring at the screen with never enough time….duh. (And I was living in Honolulu at the time!!!) one day I decided to take a break from tv and start doing things. I had many of the same revelations as you, amazed at how much better my life was without it. My life has changed many times in the last 50 years and I have always had a television in my house. Sometimes I even watched a show or a movie but to this day it is always turned on mindfully with purpose. Now I am retired and live alone. It is easy to pick up my phone or iPad to kill time though I can’t tell you the last time I turned on the tv. I do make it a point to get away from screens though. I get out camping and paddling my kayak whenever possible and when I’m on the water or in the trees I rarely look at my phone. You have learned something that will make a difference in the rest of your life…but of course you know that

      I am very much looking forward to seeing the meal plans hoping they are friendly to singles. I enjoy your recipes very much!
      Tara Harney

      1. Nisha

        Hi Tara! It’s so nice to hear from you and to hear your experience. Even though the forms of technology are different, it’s such a relatable experience. It’s so easy to become enraptured by and addicted to technology, but if you can break away, the little delights of ordinary life come into clearer focus. Being able to mindfully consume technology is one of the greatest skills we can have these days, so it’s awesome to hear that you’ve honed it and continue to hone it. I hope to do the same as my life unfolds. Thank you for stopping by to share your experience :)

    7. Kami Williamson

      Love everything about this, Nisha! I will come back to look again at all of your recommendations. I hear ya on the social media detox!
      I just happen to have your chili on my menu for next week so will submit it for the RPL :)
      Thank you for all you do- your website is one that I come back to more than any other <3

      1. Nisha

        Hi Kami! Consider me honored that you come to my website more than any other. That’s truly the best feedback and support I can ask for! So delighted you enjoyed reading this post and that you are making the chili soon!

    8. Yashodha Govindaraju

      Ah! Loved the RPL Home edition. The God of Small things and Namesake have been on my re-read list. I am curious as to what and how I would take from them reading them after 20+ years – when I actually reread them! Thanks for the nudge.

      1. Nisha

        Yay, that makes me so happy! I started re-reading The Namesake last night, and I can tell you that it’s definitely a different experience than when I first read it (probably in my early 20s). I understand so much more about the sacrifices that immigrant parents make when they move to a brand new country. I could also see a lot of my family’s story in this book in ways that I probably wasn’t aware of 15 years ago. I hope you get a chance to re-read them!

    9. SusanJ

      I love the complex flavors of this chili! Honestly I am not too familiar with “good” chili, but whatever you want to call this dish, it is so delicious, nutritious & satisfying! I did not have time to make the corn bread (which is one of my absolute favorite recipes from Nisha) but we did enjoy the chili with some bread & butter- all vegan of course!

      1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

        Hi Susan, thank you for the kind review! Did you mean to leave it on this post by any chance?

    10. Amanda

      Nisha! This is my first time reading one of your blog posts and I loved it! YES to your comments on tiktok and all the YouTube shorts and the sensory overload!! I couldn’t put my finger on why this bothers me so much but you nailed it. I am crushed that so many of my favorite vegan content creators have turned to mostly or only shorts. I know they have to do what’s best for their brand but I’m so sad to be in the (i think) minority who still prefers long form content :( Also, YES to your Instagram journey! I will share my tip, which is that I only log in to it via the web browser on my phone, rather than using the app (which i deleted). The added friction of logging on keeps me from using it as a mindless crutch. Also, I only use the duck duck go browser, which keeps Instagram from spying on me and suggesting creepy personal ads! Anyway, thank you for all your dedication and effort to long form, quality content, it shows and is appreciated!

      1. Toni

        I agree
        I also still appreciate the full video of steps in recipes and the conversation with the camera

      2. Allyson

        Me too! Your YouTube videos are the best and I love your silly clips edited into it. Lol. I watch your new videos on my lunch breaks, which is just so much easier to watch long videos so I can hold my dish. Haha, you know?

      3. Nisha

        Hi Amanda, thank you for reading and for stopping by to say hi! I’m glad you still enjoy the long-form videos and that you appreciate my content :) I think short-form videos can be fun and exciting, but it’s the constant loop and inundation of them that makes the whole experience less enjoyable and more stressful. Love your tip about only using your web browser to log on! My partner did that last year with Instagram and now he basically never uses it! I guess it worked, HA!

    11. Maria

      I really enjoy your content and am looking forward to the meal plan in January! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends.

    12. Jones LeFae

      Thanks for recommending Planta Queen. I’m currently visiting the DC area and do quite often for work. I saw their listing but haven’t been there yet. I will definitely try it out next time I’m here!

    13. Haydyn Foulke

      I can feel the time, dedication and care you put into all the content you create. I am so immensely grateful for all that you put out into the world, and you do it so authentically. Thanks for not being afraid to be your full, complex, goofy self! I have been eating healthier, saving money, and saving time by following your recipes, and it truly has had a positive impact on my life. I love the way I feel when I eat your recipes! I eagerly await the release of your meal program :)
      I LOVE that you uplifted the power of taking a break from social media. I had been on a several-month Instagram hiatus and WOW I could also feel myself more present and less anxious. Our attention is one of the most powerful things we have.
      Currently, I am back on Instagram to bear witness to the genocide happening in Palestine. Every day I log on and see new depths of evil I couldn’t begin to imagine. In light of this, I’ve been trying to cook more Palestinian food. I believe food is love, food is culture, food is family. I know this is “controversial” — which in and of itself is mind-blowing to me, because we’re witnessing ethnic cleansing to achieve a settler colonial state right in front of our eyes — but it would mean so much to me as a huge fan if you would put out a Palestinian recipe and uplift what is happening to the people of Gaza.
      Thank you for putting your gifts out to the world! So much love! <3

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