Lemon Saffron Quinoa with Shrimp

a riff on paella inspired by a photo!

Hi! Welcome to “good mood food” from Kale Me Maybe’s Carina Wolff. If you’re somehow reading this and aren’t yet subscribed, be sure to do so below. You can expect recipes in your inbox every Tuesday, and paid subscribers receive extra recipes, behind-the-scenes content, articles, and more!


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Recently, I’ve been treating this newsletter a bit like a journal and getting much more intimate with my thoughts. It has felt freeing, but if there is one thing I’ve learned with being an online figure is that the second you commodify yourself, the pressure is on to always perform. My fear with expressing myself this way publicly: What if I don’t have an interesting thought to share today or an inspirational emotion? Then what? It’s that type of burden that makes me start to play the comparison game or start to question how interesting I actually am. How come other people have a revelation worth sharing every week? Not to mention that that motivational story is often accompanied by a beautiful image of some candid moment in a picturesque location with some person dressed to the nines.

Thankfully, I’m far too aware to believe in the magical serendipity of that moment. I know that person didn’t just happen to take a candid photo. Those types of posts involve work. And I admire those who can keep that up regularly. I just can’t.

In some phases of my life, I do have a lot to stay. It comes in waves. Emotions ebb and flow, and you’ll make yourself crazy if you expect yourself to always extrapolate a piece of your life in order to impart wisdom. Anyone who works in a creative industry knows how exhausting it is to have to pull something from your brain during times when it feels like there’s nothing there — not to mention that guilt that comes along with feeling drained from a career that other people view as the ultimate dream job. I’ve learned that both things exist at once. I can truly, deeply love what I do while also sometimes feeling frustrated that I have to perform for others to make an income.

Last week, I was feeling very depleted, and worse, feeling really guilty about it. After a few days of beating myself up, I decided to just STOP. Turn off the socials, take a few days off, and most importantly, don’t feel bad about it (I cannot stress that point enough). And guess what happened? I felt happy, light, and this week’s beautiful newsletter recipe emerged without any planning!

In my relaxed state, I decided to just enjoy making my lunch, no pressure, just the leisure time of prepping food. This used to be my way to unwind or destress after a hard day in school or after work, but now it has become work. And it would be dishonest to say that my relationship with cooking hasn’t changed because of this. With the recording off, the expectations swept away, I found that joy again. So I snapped a picture, and this week’s newsletter recipe was born.

I love that feeling of pride, the excitement to be able to share my love of food with thousands of people. This was once a novel concept to me, and I like to remind myself how incredibly special that is. Sometimes it just takes a little reminder, a small step back to reflect and reconnect. Being frustrated and burnt out from blogging is not the same as not wanting to be a blogger. I love what I do. Sometimes I’m just tired. And what do you do when you’re tired? You rest. Everything feels better when you’re well-rested.

And here I go, without even meaning to: I’ve ended this newsletter intro with a little life lesson related to my life, and this is only because I started writing without really trying. This is why I love writing — because it helps me find the meaning of the words and feelings swirling chaotically around in my head. Somehow, putting them to paper gives me clarity. And then I get to share that with others. What a phenomenon. What a special career.


I love Instagram because I’m a visual learner. I don’t even need to see a recipe to be inspired — a photo will do. I’ve never even been to Rosaline in West Hollywood, but I saw a picture of their paella on my friend Natalie’s story, and it was so beautiful, I had to get to cooking something similar on my own.

I definitely won’t call this a paella (it’s not), but the flavors (and appearance!) are inspired by the dish. The saffron and lemon add a world of flavor the quinoa, and all the herbs make it feel nice and fresh.

Lemon Saffron Quinoa with Shrimp

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley

  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided

  • A medium pinch of saffron threads

  • 1/2 lb medium shrimp (peeled, deveined and tail off)

  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (I used a mix of colors)

  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • Mint, for garnish

1. Prepare quinoa according to package. While quinoa is cooking, heat up 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add onions, and cook for 7-8 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Add in the garlic, and cook for an additional minute. Mix in the parsley, 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, and saffron threads. Bring to a steady simmer, and continue to cook on low heat while you prepare the shrimp.

2. In a separate medium pan, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the shrimp, and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat.

3. Once the quinoa has cooked, add the quinoa to the pan with the simmering broth. Mix in the cooked shrimp, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, salt, and lemon juice. Add an additional 1 cup of broth if the quinoa is looking dry (mine needed it). Cook for a minute or two on medium heat until everything is mixed together and warm. Transfer to a bowl or plate and top with fresh mint.


Are you dying to make some fall recipes? Last week, I rounded up the best of the best of what Kale Me Maybe has to offer when it comes to autumn cuisine. Paid subscribers received a list of my “Favorite Fall Recipes,with everything from breakfast, to sides, to mains and desserts.

good mood food
Favorite Fall Recipes
Hi friends! Sorry for the delayed newsletter today — I didn’t forget about you! I was feeling weighed down yesterday from the pressure of working and social media, so I decided to log off. I felt a little guilty doing so, knowing that I already take Saturdays and Sundays off… but two days isn’t always enough! I know all the 9-to-5ers out there agree wit……
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