I hope you can be back to spending time with family and friends this holiday season. It may still look a bit different for some, but I expect the very busy schedule will return.
Give yourself a gift, look for shortcuts to take some of the pressure off so you can relax, have a wonderful holiday season, and maintain your good health through the end of the year.
I have a few holiday hacks for you to eat well and make your life easier.
3 Time-Saving Kitchen Tips
1. Go Semi-Homemade
Homemade is always best. It’s the only way to really know what is in your meals. But sometimes taking shortcuts can turn a potential take-out night into a total kitchen win. For example:
Grab a rotisserie chicken and incorporate it into soups or chilis so you can reap the benefits of high-quality protein without spending extra time cooking it. Shred the chicken and stuff lettuce leaves with a squeeze of lime for lunch.
Start with your favorite frozen pizza dough, then add your favorite jarred sauce and vegetable toppings plus a sprinkle of flavorful cheese. Add a pre-made salad to the side to make it a meal!
Buy pre-chopped produce, especially those hard-to-manage vegetables (like winter squash) that are more time-intensive to prepare. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and roast for a side dish or added to salads during the week.
2. Cook Once, Eat Twice
Batch cooking is one of the most efficient ways that I recommend to maintain your healthy eating goals no matter what time of year. It simply means cooking more than what you need in the moment so you can take advantage of having all of your cooking tools and gadgets out (it’s way more efficient!)
Not to be confused with leftovers, batch cooking usually refers to one component so you can repurpose it later. For instance:
Need rice or quinoa for a meal on Monday? Make a large batch so you can use it again in salads and grain bowls all week long.
Making hard-boiled eggs? It takes the same amount of time to make six as it does to make two. Enjoy as a snack, crumble into salads, or mash with some avocado.
Baking sweet potatoes? Make a few more than you need and you’ll have the base for an easy, customizable lunch ready to go. You can also purée or mash the flesh for baked goods and use in place of pumpkin in a recipe.
3. Sheet Pan and One Pot Meals
The clean up may be the most annoying part of cooking. Hopefully someone will help you with that part, but if not one-pan or one-pot meals will make your life that much easier!
Here are a few to get you started:
Create baking pockets by lining foil with parchment then crimping for perfectly roasted fish that stays juicy, never dry.
Roasting your favorite protein with seasonal produce is a tasty no-fuss way to incorporate a few servings of vegetables into a meal
Still haven’t learned how to use your Instant Pot? Now would be a good time! You can get frozen proteins to the table fast with this safe and simple pressure cooker.
A simple 12-minute recipe:
frozen protein [like chicken thighs] + favorite jarred tomato sauce + a jar of olives = yummy cacciatore that will have everyone running to the table for dinner.
If you use plant-based protein, like dried chickpeas, just soak the dried beans overnight and be sure they are covered with fluid [jarred sauce + some broth] before cooking in Instant Pot.
Southwest Vegetable Sheet Pan Dinner, from LivingPlate
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 Tbs olive oil
1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (15.5 oz.) can black or pinto beans
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Peel and dice sweet potato. Slice zucchini and bell pepper. Drain and rinse the beans. In a large bowl, combine diced sweet potatoes and oil. Toss to combine. Transfer to a sheet pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove sweet potatoes from the oven and add zucchini, red pepper, and corn to the pan. Sprinkle with onion powder, oregano, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat vegetables in seasoning. Bake for another 15 minutes.
Remove sheet pan from the oven and stir in black beans and sprinkle with cheese (if using). Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender.
To serve, top with chopped cilantro, salsa, and hot sauce.
If you are looking for support to get through the holidays without gaining weight and maintaining your good health, contact Lynda today.