Let’s face it, this is the time of year where most of you regret your eating habits (AND drinking habits) of the last month or so. Christmas dinners, Christmas drinks, Christmas snack, Christmas fat over fat fat, followed by a dose of New Year’s fatty fat fat. The worst realization is how hard it is to get passed the habits you’ve acquired over the course of a couple of weeks. Now, don’t be embarrassed, as I said, most of you probably feel this way by now. Of course, the shitty weather isn’t helping. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly keep my eyes open in the afternoon anymore, let alone, feel like cooking myself a decent meal when I come home at night.
Needless to say, there are tons of easy ways to avoid having to cook from scratch every day. Here are my suggestions to make sure you don’t forget to include a healthy dose of vegetables to your meals, without the daily prep.
Roasted veggies: Let me start off by saying that these a great to make because they require next to no prep, and require you to have the oven on for a while which heats up your apartment, finally. All you need is a roasting pan, and considering the size of it, enough veggies to fill it up. I’m talking here from anything to root vegetables to mushrooms, to kale, to tomatoes, anything! To your vegetable mix, add some oil, salt, pepper, and any other herb or spice that you enjoy. Easy! I find the difficulty most people have with roasting is that they never know how long to keep anything in the oven. Let me assure you, no recipe will ever be accurate enough to cure your uncertainties. You have to stick your head in the oven once in a while, poke those veggies, see how hard, soft or brown they are. At a temperature of about 400 degrees, roasting vegetables will take between 20 to 40 minutes. You try this once, you’ll definitely do if over and over again.
Soups: Not necessarily as a full meal, even as a side dish or warm snack, soups are a winter must. A base for any vegetable soup is starting off by browning onions in oil and butter, to which you’ll add, once done, garlic and which ever other vegetables you have. Again, don’t stress the small stuff. You just need to chop your veggies quickly so they are about the same size, to make sure they cook at the same rate. The idea is to get a nice gloss on your veggies before adding the liquid. Shockingly enough, you don’t necessarily need a broth to make soup. Water is fine, and for the more adventurous, you can also add a bit of juice (like for an orange-carrot soup). Of course, if you aren’t using broth, make sure to SEASON ACCORDINGLY! Add enough liquid to cover your veggies with an inch or so on top of that. Once you’ve brought this to a boil and let simmer until your veggies are cooked, the last thing you’ll need to add are potatoes. This might be the trickiest part, because depending on the amount and type of veggies and liquid you are using, it might differ from time to time. I usually go with about 1/4 in potatoes of the amount of veggies I used for my soup, cut into cubes. Once your potatoes are cooked, you are done. All you need to do I throw everything in a blender, or use a good ol’ hand blender, to mix everything into a beautiful dish.
Warm salads: Honestly, as much as this one is a no brainer, I’m sure most people skip salads altogether during the winter to avoid eating a cold meal. Preparing a warm salad is pretty much as easy as preparing a cold one, the difference is in the temperature. Duh! I’ve found in the past that warming up any salade in the microwave is more fulfilling and tempting than eating it cold, especially if we’re talking out-of-the-fridge cold. Gross. To make a warm salad, you can use a base of roasted veggies, or grilled veggies (try grilled lettuce as an alternative to fresh lettuce, you won’t be disappointed), boiled veggies, sautéed veggies and meat, or pasta, quinoa, couscous, to which you add your regular fresh ingredients: more vegetables, fruit, bread, legumes, tuna, tofu, nuts, cheese, herbs, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, BAM! I’m drooling already. You don’t need me to tell you how to make a salad (I hope, come on), but I’m encouraging you to reheat that baby in the microwave for a few seconds when you are ready to eat and reap the benefits.
Crudité: Yep! A five year old could’ve told you this. And while you might not feel you are necessarily getting the freshest ingredients from your local grocery store at this time of the year, try not putting this snack aside altogether. I won’t tell you how to cut up your veggies, how to store them in water for a few days, if dip is necessary, or how to NOT annoy your coworkers during snack time. This is finally your chance to be creative.
Cover photo: Victor Hanacek
About Isabelle Royer
Has only been in Montreal for a few years now, but has learned the few important lessons of never biking behind a delivery truck, never flashing loose change on a street corner, never thinking a pigeon will move for you, and never taking the metro while in a hurry. Writing is a great way to share deep and life-changing experiences like these.