The last thing many of us want to do at the end of a dark and cool winters day is run home and spend time prepping and cooking food. As some may find this grounding and nourishing, others would report having a hard time finding the motivation to do so, especially during the shorter days where most of the time take-out and a movie ends up being the perfect alternative. However, and most unfortunately, health sustainability isn’t always met when our main meals come from the back of a paper menu. My hope is to share with you a few quick and effective cooking tips to utilize for this coming winter season that will assist in easy meal preparation and maintaining the consumption of healthy, nourishing meals.
Steaming is one of the easiest and most health promoting ways to prepare your veggies. Chop up some broccoli, yam, squash, spinach, etc., and steam over boiling water until tender. Most veggies will be ready when a fork can gently poke through, although for leaves such as spinach or kale, these don’t take as long and just need to be gently wilted. Once steamed, toss in a bowl with some light oil (olive, avocado, coconut, toasted sesame, etc.) and season with any of your favorite herbs or spices, salt and pepper always works here too. A little tip would be to steam a large amount of veggies at the same time, allow to cool, and place in the fridge to utilize throughout your meals for the week.
2. Rice Cooker
A rice cooker is an incredible kitchen tool to have and provides an unbelievable amount of convenience with regards to meal prep. Rice, quinoa, and oats, are just a few of the grains you can prepare in a rice cooker and many of these rice cookers come with a built in steaming compartment so you are able to steam veggies from the heat of the grain! Add in a tablespoon of coconut oil while cooking, cover with the lid and turn on. Once finished and cooled, package up and store some in the fridge for the week ahead and some in the freezer for future use! I would recommend cooking as much as your rice cooker can handle, or do a double batch as it’s incredibly helpful to have on hand for quick comforting meals.
A crockpot can be very handy for meal preparation for the work week. You can cook soup, stew, chili, curry, breakfast oatmeal, and the list goes on. There are literally hundreds of recipes online to scope out and I would highly recommend doing so for the winter season. It’s simple, chop and prepare all of your necessary ingredients and place everything in the crock pot, cover, turn on and allow it to do its thing! Most of the time I will throw everything into a crock pot, either in the night or early morning, and allow to cook and stew together all night/day, waking up or coming home to a house filled with beautiful, nourishing smells. You can make a large amount of food this way and store in the fridge or freezer for meals ahead. A very easy and effective meal prep routine for the winter season as a grab and go while still ensuring the consumption of nutritious, flavorful foods.
The oven is a wonderful way to cook food and prepare for meals ahead. Tossing heads of broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower together in a little olive oil, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast and then baking for 15-20 minutes provides one with an array of tasty little nutritious sides to add to a main meal or have as a snack on their own. Roasting yam or squash is always recommended throughout the winter season as they are actually in season and provide a bounty of necessary nutrients we need during these darker days. Roast spaghetti squash, yam, beet, butternut squash, etc., and store in the fridge once cooled. Take some on the go for lunch or for dinner with a handful of leafy greens, a protein source, a sprinkle of nuts or seeds, a drizzle of your favorite oil or sauce and season with your desired spices or herbs. This is a very quick and easy way to prepare food for the week!
5. Choose Frozen
This may come to an alert for some, but really if you think of how food is being brought to us these days, frozen is a fairly optimal choice. As most of our loved veggies and fruits don’t come fresh during the winter season, they are usually pre-maturely picked, (which immediately begins to decrease their nutritional value), stored in a dark place, shipped from all over the world and then brought to our local groceries stores where there is little nutrients left. Frozen veggies and fruits are usually flash frozen within a few minutes or hours of being picked, securing in more of their health promoting vitamins and minerals. If you can get them local and in season, I would recommend purchasing this way, however if not, frozen and organic could be your best bet. It also makes it easy for effective meal planning, as you can quickly cook or re-heat frozen foods to create various nutritious meals.