The Best Marinated Lentils from "Oh She Glows Every Day"

Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography

The big day finally came about two weeks ago. I had been anticipating this day for well over a year, and somehow it was finally here. A project I worked on for 4 solid months, nearly 7 days/week, for one of the most creative, inspiring, thoughtful, meticulous, talented women I know. 

You've probably guessed it by now, but yes, this was the day Angela Liddon's second cookbook was released, filled with well over 100 of my photos inside. The cookbook is called, Oh She Glows Every Day, and it's an absolute stellar followup to Angela's first.

I thought for today, I would talk about the process of photographing Angela's cook, tell you a bit about the recipes inside, and then share one of my favorite recipes with you. This may get lengthy...

Also, be sure and hit up Instagram for a cookbook giveaway starting later today (9/21)!

Photographing a cookbook:

It's hard to know where to start on this topic. First, to have the opportunity to photograph a cookbook for someone, let alone an established and highly regarded cookbook author, was an absolute DREAM. I truly never imagined getting to this point, but it was a goal/dream/hope I had for myself many years ago. There's a lot of trust that goes into a project like this. The author has spent countless hours, days, months, and possibly years coming up with the content for their cookbook and then hires you to capture the vision they have of their recipes. In PRINT. Hello, pressure! 

Angela and I emailed and texted probably hundreds of times throughout the process. We started with trying to nail down the style. Angela wanted to stray somewhat drastically from her first cookbook (style-wise), which made me both nervous and excited. Would her followers love it just the same? I trusted Angela's instinct to try something new and dove right in. The style was clean, bright, and fresh. It was truly meant to capture the beauty of the food and ingredients and to make the recipes feel approachable. This style was something I have always felt drawn to, as you've probably noticed if you've been following the blog for awhile now.

Despite the photos looking quite simple, they were still challenging to style. The recipes really needed to POP and look their best. I had to make sure every single recipe was not only made accurately, but also made in a timely manner so it didn't lose its life as I was photographing. And yes, I made every single recipe in this cookbook at least once! Also, with over 100 recipes and each one needing a photo, I couldn't take any "passes" on recipes that might not be the most photogenic. I had to get creative with things like marinated tofu, lentil-walnut taco "meat," shepherd's pie, etc. It really pushed me as a photographer, and I'm so grateful for the entire experience. 

During the process there were definitely days and weeks where I felt strong and super productive and other times when everything felt off. I'm learning it's part of the creative process, but it can surely be frustrating when you're going through it. You feel like you should just be able to keep moving on with the work, but sometimes your mind gets the best of you and you need to take a step back. The tough part is when you feel like you're getting nothing done, and you're stressing that you're getting nothing done, then your creativity plummets even further. I'm still learning how to be kind and gentle to myself in these times and allow myself a true mental release/break. But I'm always fighting against the voice inside me saying, "If you worked in an office, you wouldn't get these breaks!" So although this job is everything and more than I ever dreamed, it still comes with its frustrating--questioning everything you do, types of days as well. 

Luckily, I had Angela's energy and kindness pushing me the whole way. It was my first time really collaborating with someone on a project (especially of this size), and I truly enjoyed it.

And in the end, it comes with such immense reward. Like with the release of this cookbook!!!!!!!!! 

Here are some behind the scenes images I captured on my iPhone during the process (in our previous house!).

Oh She Glows Every Day Recipes:

Since you just read that I made every single recipe, that also means I ate every single recipe, and I honestly can't say enough good things about them. I remember my eyes lighting up and immediately texting Angela SO many times throughout the process. She truly wowed me with her inventive, flavorful, and manageable recipes. Here's a little detail into each chapter and some of my favorites (seriously hard to choose) from them.

Smoothies and Smoothie Bowls: I will admit I rarely make other peoples' smoothies recipes and generally pass over them in cookbooks. Angela's smoothies have made me totally second guess my judgement in doing that. I was continually amazed by the flavors she created with these smoothies and remember having them stocked in our fridge, drinking them down for days after. My favs:

  • salted chocolate hemp for two
  • green team lime pie
  • green-orange creamsicle smoothie
  • pear vanilla mint green smoothie

Breakfast: The mix of savory and sweet recipes in this chapter totally speaks to me. I love the savory recipes for the weekend and more oat-type recipes for weekday. The hazelnut milk was such a star, and I'm not even a fan of hazelnuts normally. The vanilla super-seed granola was to-die-for. I kept a bag of that stocked in my fridge for months on end. Her steel-cut oat recipe was also made countless times, and I also made it numerous times for new-mom friends to keep stocked in their fridge. My favs:

  • vanilla super-seed granola with coconut chips
  • coffee shop-worthy hazelnut milk
  • the fastest sprouted steel-cut oatmeal
  • strawberry oat crumble bars (all out obsession with these)
  • roasted breakfast hash

Snacks: Ohhh, the snack chapter. Angela packed this chapter with so much goodness. Some of the recipes even double as breakfast recipes, while others are great to keep on hand for healthy snacking throughout the week. Nothing is overly complicated, but everything is packed with flavor. My favs:

  • roasted hazelnut-almond granola clusters
  • banana bread muffin tops (breakfast!)
  • endurance crackers (SO amazing with avocado + flaked salt as photographed in the book)
  • cookie dough balls 
  • roasted garlic and sun-dried tomato hummus

Salads: What I love most about this chapter, is that all of these recipes can be turned into full-on entrees. It's like an extension of the entree chapter, along with all of her soups! The recipes are nutrient dense and packed full of different textures and flavors. Each recipe really highlights a group of different ingredients, and I love that. One of my favorite chapters for sure! My favs:

  • protein power rainbow quinoa salad
  • spiralized zucchini summer salad (with marinated tofu)
  • hemp heart sorghum tabbouleh (I love sorghum!)
  • crowd-pleasing Caesar salad

Sides and Soups: Like the salads, these soups are chock-full of nutrition and totally dinner-worthy. They're going to be on regular rotation whenever it finally start to cool down around here. And the sides have turned into some of my favorite recipes of all time. My favs:

  • roasted garlic basil pesto potatoes with arugula (have made at least 1 dozen times)
  • the best marinated lentils 
  • marinated Italian tofu
  • cast-iron tofu (crispy tofu!!)
  • metabolism-revving spicy cabbage soup
  • golden French lentil stew

Entrees: I'm about to sound like a broken record with going on and on about my love for her recipes, so here are my favs:

  • oh em gee veggie burgers
  • shepherd's pie
  • chili cheese nachos
  • eggplant parmesan
  • sweet potato, chickpea, and spinach coconut curry
  • marinated portobello mushroom bowl

Cookies and Bars and Desserts: I'm combining these two chapters, both of which I'm fully obsessed with. If you know Angela at all, you know she tests her recipes (specifically baking) to death. So not only can you count on them turning out, but also tasting fabulous and curing all of your sweets cravings. 

  • the ultimate flourless brownie
  • triple almond thumbprint cookies
  • flourless peanut butter cookies (I make these using just 1 bowl, starting with wet ingreds.)
  • secret ingredient chocolate pudding
  • meyer lemon cheesecake with strawberry-vanilla compote (kept small pieces wrapped in our freezer for months!)
  • mile-high black-and-white freezer fudge 

Homemade Staples: You've never seen so many staples in a cookbook before! From how to press tofu, to a shake-and-go balsamic vinaigrette, to the best vegan parmesan, and an absolutely killer "cheese" sauce. This chapter is not to be missed! My favs:

  • all-purpose cheese sauce (carrot + potato based!)
  • 9-spice mix (insane on avo toast)
  • roasted tamari almonds (snacked on these non-stop)
  • lemon-tahini dressing
  • maple cinnamon coconut chips (addicting!!)
  • shake-and-go balsamic vinaigrette (beyond easy, super tasty)
Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography
Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography
Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography
Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography
Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography
Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography
Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography

Don't forget to check out the pantry section in the Homemade Staples chapter, too! This may have been my favorite chapter to photograph, and it's loaded with  easy to digest (pun intended) ingredient and cooking information.

Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography

And now for that recipe...

Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography

This may seem like an unassuming recipe, but it's one you definitely shouldn't miss out on making. You never knew your love for lentils could grow this much. Seriously, these lentils are addicting. I found myself having to hold back from extra spoonfuls because one person should only eat so many lentils in a day. This is a fantastic staple to keep on hand for weeknights when you need to throw together a meal quickly (pair with rice or quinoa, sweet potatoes, avocado, etc.), and also when you're hungry and need a quick kick of protein. Having these lentils on hand might keep you (ahem, me) from digging into that bag of tortilla chips.

Print Recipe!

From Oh She Glows Every Day. Copyright © 2016, Glo Bakery Corporation. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.

The Best Marinated Lentils

gluten-free, vegan | yields 4 cups

  • 1 cup uncooked French green lentils
  • 1/2 cup uncooked green or brown lentils
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green onions (about 1 medium bunch), dark and light green parts only
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped

Pick over the lentils, discarding any debris. Rinse and drain the lentils and put them in a medium saucepan along with 4 cups (1L) of water. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Stir in the green onions, parsley, and tomatoes.

Drain the lentil very well. Spoon them into the bowl with the other ingredients (it's okay if they are still warm) and stir well. Season with additional salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, or let cool slightly and then cover and marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Stir well before serving. This dish will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or you can freeze it in a freezer-safe-zip-top bag with the air pressed out for up to 1 month. After thawing, I recommend adding extra dressing and salt to liven it up again.

Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon | photography by Ashley McLaughlin Photography

That black and white freezer fudge I mentioned in my favorites list? Yep, that's it right there. I know you want a slice.

Thank you all so much for reading (or skimming) this insanely long post. This was such a huge project in my career, and I really wanted to share a lot of the details with you. Also, thank you for continuing to support me and this blog, even though it's been pretty quiet lately. To show my appreciation, I'm going to host a cookbook giveaway on Instagram starting later today. I'll also be creating IG stories making Angela's lentil recipe above. Be sure and check it all out!



photography 101 {why aren’t my photos sharp!?}

It’s been a few weeks since the last photography 101 post, and I’m excited to dive back in.  At first I wasn’t sure what to cover next, since we’ve pretty much wrapped up camera basics.  Many of you have asked for tutorials on staging, editing, lens suggestions, etc.  We’ll get to most of those, at some point, but today I wanted to go over one of the most frequent questions I get from readers.

  • Why aren’t my photos sharp?  [and a few other related questions…]
    • Why do my photos look grainy? 
    • Why isn’t more of the photo in focus? 

I hope you’re not looking for a one sentence answer.  You know that’s not going to happen.  However, I think I can give you a few good tips + reasons as to why your photos are not as sharp as you would like. 

I’m not going to get into the super specifics of ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc. as I don’t want to be redundant.  You’ll see links to all of my old posts, throughout this post, if you need a refresher.  They can also all be found by clicking on my Photography page link.

Introducing my model, the kiwi.  I used my [new!!!] Canon 50mm 1.4 lens for all of the photos below.  I am loving the difference in quality, in comparison to the 1.8.  This is my first lens purchase since Chris bought the camera about 4 years ago.  But enough about the lens…

Why aren’t my photos sharp? 

  • You’re hand-holding your camera, and your shutter speed is set too slow.
    • refer to the shutter speed post for more detailed information on this

What is too slow for hand holding?

  • It depends what you’re shooting, the size of your lens, and the focal length.  If I’m hand-holding for food photos, with my 50mm lens, I like to work with a shutter speed of at least 1/80 seconds. 
    • The longer + heavier the lens, the harder to control in your hands without moving.
    • Also, as the focal length increases [the “mm” measurement], the more amplified movement will become.
      • Some say, you should use a shutter speed at least as fast as the focal length number. ie: If using a 50mm lens, don’t hand-hold with a slower shutter speed than 1/50 seconds, although to me, that is still a bit slow.
    • Anything slower than 1/80 you will start to see blur in your photos from camera shake.  Your hands cannot hold the camera perfectly still, and if the shutter is closing too slowly, the camera will pick up the motion in the photo.
  • The faster the shutter, the less time there is to pick up the motion from your hands.
  • This is why a tripod is so important in food photography.

Here are a few photo examples:

handheld : iso 100 : f/4.5 : ss 1/6

While the photo below is improved, it’s still not as sharp as it could be.

handheld : iso 400 : f/4.5 : ss 1/30


  • If you’re set on keeping your aperture at 4.5, your only option is to bump up your ISO to 800 or higher [making your camera more light sensitive] and then adjusting your shutter speed as fast as it can go, while keeping your photo properly exposed.
  • Or, time to invest in a tripod!  Make sure to do your research.  Check this post for a few tips on what to look for.


  • Don’t forget, increasing your ISO makes your image grainier, which is another problem we’ll touch on below.  Setting my camera to 1600 [max ISO for my camera] creates photos that are nearly useless.  Every camera is different.  Even at 800, there is quite a bit of noise in my photos.  I like to keep the ISO at 400 or below, if at all possible.

So, what do you do if your shutter speed is still too slow for hand-holding, even after bumping up your ISO?

  • You’ll need to widen your aperture, which will allow more light into the camera, but will also create a narrower depth of field.  This will allow you to raise your shutter speed.  If you want a wider depth of field, try moving further away from your subject.  The further away you move, the more of your subject will be in focus and vice versa.
    • Move your aperture down a stop at a time, and you’ll see your shutter speed increase.

Next up!

Why do my photos look grainy? 

  • The graininess you’re referring to, is called noise, and it’s caused by having your ISO set too high.  While it seems nice that your camera offers you a high ISO, it doesn’t mean it can really be used at the highest setting and produce a quality image. 
    • As I’ve mentioned before, my camera only goes up to an ISO of 1600.  Many cameras have a much higher ISO setting, which makes them much easier to work with in low light settings.  Generally, as cameras go up in quality + price, your ISO range increases.

The three photos below, will give you an idea of the graininess caused by setting your ISO too high.  I will show you the zoomed out and zoomed in versions of each.  These are all using a tripod, allowing the shutter speed to be set much slower than 1/80 seconds.

tripod: ISO 100 : f/4 : 1/13

zoomed: ISO 100 : f/4 : 1/13

Very crisp, with soft + smooth bokeh [part of the photo that is out of focus].

tripod: ISO 400 : f/4 : 1/50

zoomed: ISO 400 : f/4 : 1/50

Still quite sharp, but you can see a slight graininess in the bokeh, past the left edge of the kiwi.

tripod: ISO 1600 : f/4 : 1/200

Even in the full sized image, you can start to see the graininess in the background.

zoomed: ISO 1600 : f/4 : 1/200

The noise is now extremely apparent, even with the part of the photo that is in focus.

Another ISO comparison.

handheld: ISO 400 : f/2.5 : 1/80

handheld: ISO 1600 : f/2.5 : 1/325

The details in this photo, especially the background, are much noisier than the photo above at ISO 400.  You can really see it in the uncut kiwi.  With the photo above, the edges are much smoother.


  • Try changing your aperture and shutter speed, before raising your ISO, while still producing a properly exposed photo and one without camera shake from hand-holding.
  • Learn the constraints of your camera’s ISO.  Take a few photos at different ISO ranges, keeping your aperture constant.  Then check to see at what point the ISO is creating too much noise. 
  • You can also search for this information using Google.  You will definitely be able to find a handful of links discussing ISO and your specific camera.

Why isn’t more of the photo in focus?

  • This has to do with your aperture setting.  The aperture controls how much of the image is in focus and the exposure.

For a quick aperture recap:

  • the wider the aperture [opening] -> the more light will be allowed through the lens
  • the tighter the aperture [opening] -> less light will be allowed through the lens
  • the wider the opening -> the smaller the f-stop # -> the narrower the depth of field
  • the tighter the opening -> the larger the f-stop # -> the wider the depth of field

How do I get more of this photo in focus?  If we zoom in, we see not much of the photo is in focus at all.  Maybe that is the look you’re going for, but maybe you want to show more detail.

tripod: ISO 200 : f/2.5 : 1/50

zoomed in:

The seeds towards the center + slightly to the left are really the only thing in focus.

tripod: ISO 400 : f/11 : 1/5

Much more detail shown, when the aperture is set to f/11.

But maybe you want a very small portion of your photo in focus.  It all depends on the look you’re going for.

handheld: ISO 200 : f/1.4 : 1/125


  • Tighten your aperture [larger f-number], which will widen your depth of field, causing more of your photo to be in focus.  In turn, you will have to adjust other settings to properly expose the photo.
  • Stand further back and your depth of field will also increase.

To learn your how much of of the photo will be in focus, with your specific lens, check out a depth of field calculator.  These are extremely useful when learning your lens.  You punch in a few of the settings on your camera and it tells you how much of your photo will be in focus.

Example:  If you want to set your 50mm lens to f/4 and stand 1.5 feet away, only .02 feet in front of and behind the focal point, will be in focus.

Other reasons your photos may not be sharp:

  • Your lens or lens filter are smudged or dusty.
  • Quality of lens.  Many stock lenses [that you buy with the camera body] are of lower quality, and are not ideal for detailed food photography, or indoor lighting conditions.
    • While my 50mm 1.4 [~$380, but I snagged it on sale for $320!] , produces a sharper image than my 50mm 1.8, an even better image will be produced with Canon’s 50mm 1.2L.  But that comes at a cost of $1400.  I’ll be sticking with the 1.4 for quite some time. 
    • If you’re looking for extreme, close-up detail, you may want to look into buying a macro lens.  This is to capture the detail in things like insects, flowers, seeds in fruit [like kiwi!], etc.  Check the Canon 100mm 2.8 [$600] and the Canon 100mm 2.8L [$1000].  The difference between those lenses is mainly the “Canon L” quality glass.

Recap:  Why aren’t my photos sharp?

  1. Are you hand-holding your camera, with a shutter speed that is too slow?
    1. Try increasing the speed of your shutter.  You’ll have to change a few other settings to compensate the shutter speed adjustment.
  2. Is your ISO set too high, producing a noisy image?
    1. Before raising your ISO, to increase exposure, try playing with your aperture + shutter speed.
  3. Is your depth of field [aperture] too narrow?
    1. Tighten your aperture and/or stand further away from your focal point, which will cause more of your photo to be in focus.
  4. Is your lens dirty?
  5. Are you using the stock lens for food photos?

I hope you’ve found some of these solutions to be helpful in making your photos as crisp as possible.

See you again tomorrow!