With “D1NNER For ONE,” Lauren Napier Wants You to Nourish Yourself

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One of Lauren Napier's greatest acts of self-care was pressing stop. After two decades as a successful makeup artist for prestigious celebrities, films, and TV shows, she walked away from an industry riddled with racism and tokenism toward a path she knew was better for her well-being. "People tell you your whole life, 'Don't be a quitter,'" Napier tells POPSUGAR. "If you have to leave a situation that does not serve you — that is not healthy for you — it doesn't make you a quitter. You are saving yourself."

Napier says leaving the industry isn't the first time she's had to make a life-altering decision for the sake of self-preservation, but she's learned the growing pains that come with these decisions are temporary. The resulting positive lifestyle changes, however, are lasting. "If I had not stood in what was right for me . . . I would've still been accepting the crumbs. We want the whole loaf of bread," she says. "That's taking care of yourself."

The Lauren Napier sitting across from me now seems to have the whole loaf and then some. She joins our video call from a meeting room in a new office, where she's working on the "[coolest] venture" to be released in 2023. "People are going to lose their mind," she says, revealing no major details apart from the fact that she's linked up with a chemist from Harvard and a team of STEM professionals. "We are getting ready to take over the world."

Of course, Napier is ready to take over the world now because of the time and energy she poured back into herself over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of which she spent alone. While that caliber of isolation took a toll on her from time to time, Napier, who "can be a bit of a loner" to begin with, mostly looked on the bright side. "I dated a guy once who said to me, 'If you can't be good company to yourself, how are you going to be good company to anybody else?'" she says. "That really resonated with me because if I don't want to spend time with me, who else does?"

So, Napier looked inward, ruminating on what she really enjoyed and didn't, what she was consuming too much and too little of. In doing so, she learned a lot about herself, including that she can make it through almost anything, from finding a rat in her car to, well, navigating a global pandemic. But mostly, she learned how to nourish herself in a way that felt special and intentional, giving way to Napier's latest act of self-care: "D1NNER for ONE" ($42)

"When I realized that all of us were single, but for three different reasons, I realized that we have to operate in a way that still allows us to have some joy and have some fulfillment when it's just us."

A cookbook created with single portion sizes in mind, "D1NNER for ONE" came to life during the pandemic with Napier's own recipes and photos. "I thought, the one thing I can do for myself every day is create a nice experience," she says.

Combining her own knowledge of conscious eating, grocery-shopping tips, and her ability to take a killer photo on an iPhone, Napier pulled together more than 40 recipes she'd spent the pandemic making for herself as a simple form of self-care. "I always tell people, 'If something tastes really good, don't you close your eyes, lean back, and let that wave of goodness fall?'" she says. "Food is really sexy, so I gave myself a sexy vibe. I ate good food, I had flowers, I had candles. I did that almost every day [throughout the pandemic]." Throughout the cookbook, Napier tucked in tips and thoughts on scaling recipe serving sizes down and making the most of what you buy, especially when you're not splitting the grocery tab with anyone else.

Although she never expected to turn the meals she made for herself into something concrete, a turning point came around Valentine's Day and the mushy, couples-focused hoopla that comes with it. Napier was single, her sister had recently gotten a divorce, and her mother had lost her husband to COVID. "When I realized that all of us were single, but for three different reasons, I realized that we have to operate in a way that still allows us to have some joy and have some fulfillment when it's just us," she says. "At least a million people in America have experienced the loss of a loved one, and many are sitting at a table for one. That's when ["D1NNER for ONE"] came to me."

Rico Kinnard

Each recipe contains nods to Napier's life and loved ones. There's a colorful taco salad inspired by her sister who loves Mexican food. There's a recipe for crab legs she learned from her stepmother. There's a chocolate mousse recipe so good, one of Napier's friends called her from the grocery store and demanded to know the ingredients, so she could make it herself. There's a Caesar salad recipe named for Napier's niece and nephew's teacher Miss Romaine. "They don't get any of my jokes. I'm the cool aunt, but I do my best to make them feel like I'm ridiculous," she says. "I said, 'What did you learn in Miss Romaine's class? How to make Caesar salads?' And they're like, 'What?'"

Above all else, "D1NNER for ONE" is Napier's love letter to all the people eating for one and deserving of a moment of luxury created for them, by them. Enough time spent on self-love and, hopefully, we can all adopt her perspective on riding solo: "I'm a hot old lady who's just vibing with what comes," she says. "I'm good company to myself. If you're a guy that wants to come for the ride, then you're really lucky, because I bring a lot to the table literally and figuratively."