How to Spend an Intentional Evening Alone with Southwest Salad and Dip Recipe

All Photographs by   Corina Esquivel

All Photographs by Corina Esquivel

When reflecting on both past and present relationships, the recurring theme I have discovered is how much effort has been put into making those relationships special. Staying up late waiting for someone's call, going the extra mile to get the perfect gift, or cooking up a fancy dinner when normally I’d heat up a can of tomato soup. It got me thinking, I put so much effort into my relationships with others, but do I do the same for myself?

Living in a fast-paced society, where there are more than a handful of social media apps to check into and countless events to attend, I’ve been craving something different: the art of slowing down. I can be so intentional with those whom I love, but I often forget how important it is to slow down and take care of myself. 

Even my plants receive better care than I give myself, which may seem comical, but it is true. When we slow down and acknowledge on our own needs, we rediscover our core and the things that are truly important to us.

I have created a guide that encourages you to take the night off and focus on yourself. In all honesty, it is inspired by the care my plants receive.
— Kim Kimberlin

Their [plants] basic needs are quite simple: nutritious soil, water, air and sunshine. It is amazing how simple these needs are, and yet, they are crucial for plants to survive. How do we nourish our own roots so that we, too, can grow? I decided to ask myself four questions and have used these four questions to kick-start a night where I hang out with myself. I hope you’ll do the same.

What is my nutritious soil?

Plants need soil to absorb nutrients that will allow them to thrive, and so I couldn’t help but think about the nutrients my own body needs. There are so many delicious recipes out there, but I wanted to make one that is not only tasty, but also super nutritious. Here’s a recipe I recently discovered and can’t stop making. It is so refreshing and can be served with chips as a delicious dip, or skip the chips and grab a fork. It is almost better as just a salad.

Southwest Chopped Salad and Dip

Serves 6-8 people (but since you’re taking the night off to hang with yourself, you’ll have leftovers for the rest of the week, and who doesn’t like leftovers?).

Ingredients for the salad:

1 medium bell pepper (red or orange, preferred)

½ medium red or sweet onion

½ medium jicama, peeled

1 medium zucchini

4 medium tomatoes

1-2 cans of sweet corn 

1½ cups of canned black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup of finely chopped cilantro

Ingredients for the dressing:

¼ cup of fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons of honey

½ teaspoon of cumin

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon of salt (feel free to add extra salt if needed)

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper



1. For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix all together.

2. Chop all of your salad ingredients into small pieces (¼ inch is recommended). Don’t worry about chopping the corn or beans, those you can throw straight into your bowl with the dressing.

3. Combine the remaining salad ingredients in your bowl with the dressing. Mix and serve!

What is my water?

When I think of water, I think of movement and something that refreshes the soul. To pair nicely with the recipe above, I’ve created a playlist to help get you moving. Who says you can’t dance while you cook? Or better yet, pick up one of your own instruments to set the mood.

What is my air?

Air reminds me of the very depths of my soul and the thoughts that go through my head. With social media, TV and advertising, it is easy to feel bombarded with excess information, and so learning how to filter information and clear your head is crucial. Maybe for you, this means taking up some breathing exercises, praying or learning to meditate. Maybe it’s grabbing a book.

You can go on an entirely new adventure in a magical and make-believe land, or you can learn about something a bit more serious, perhaps with a biography or self-help book. On that note, here is a book list I’ve made that embraces individuality, slowing down, courage and creativity. It’s a great way to end your evening, and hopefully, will leave you feeling both refreshed and inspired.

1. Rising Strong by Brené Brown

2. Quiet by Susan Cain

3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

4. I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

5. Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg

6. The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron

7. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield  

What is my sunshine?

I definitely know where my sunshine is, and even if the sun is lost behind some clouds, what better way to get some new inspiration (and even a wee bit of exercise) than getting outside? Like books, being outside and changing your environment can completely rejuvenate you. It’s not just the feeling of vitamin D soaking into your skin or the raindrops on your face; it is getting your head into a new and healthy space, one filled with new possibilities.

Maybe getting outside for you is a simple walk around the block. Maybe it is going on a bike ride to the market and picking up fresh flowers. Maybe it is something simpler, and taking your dinner, a good book and a mini stereo with you to the park to have a solo picnic. Maybe it is visiting a museum or volunteering. The point is, it doesn't have to be complicated, in fact, the less you have to do the better, just pick one thing and be intentional about it. Changing your environment and seeing some outdoor beauty can do wonders for the soul.

Full Image Gallery

Full Story Credits: Art Direction and Photographs by Corina Esquivel Art Direction, Cook and Model, Joanne Clara Writing by Kim Kimberlin