As the holidays begin to wind down towards the massive explosion that will be the New Year, diets and sobriety will have long been forgotten in the quest for revelry and celebration.
What better way to start preparing for the year to come with several simple methods you can integrate into your daily consumption that will eventually become habits by the time your throw out your old calendars for the new.
Here are 7 tips to help you make a healthy transition into next year’s eats:
#1. Tricks to the perfect cup of tea
While nothing beats a good strong cup of joe to help banish hangover cobwebs from the night before, your next best option is to learn how to brew the perfect cleansing beverage that’s an ideal morning after cure – tea.
#2. Hearty, healthy stew
Too much turkey, steak, fried greasy food, and other artery-clogging eats can wreck havoc with your health. Learn how to make this savory seafood stew called Cioppino (pronounciation: “chee-o-pee-no”).
Here are the ingredients you'll need.
Nourishing and nutritious, this rich stew is filling, and will impress your guests with your culinary genius. This dish serves 8:
- 2 (28-oz.) cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large fennel bulb, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups vegetable or fish stock or water
- 1 ½ lbs. mussels, scrubbed
- 1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 lb. cod or halibut fillet, cut into 2 inch pieces
- ½ cup tarragon or parsley leaves, and/or the fronds of the fennel bulb
- Crusty bread, for serving
Put the tomatoes into a deep, large bowl (or a pot, that works too). Using your hands, crush the tomatoes until no obvious large pieces remain. You’re not going for a puree or anything, just crushed tomatoes.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, fennel, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and bay leaves, and stir to combine. Cook this another minute or so, to just toast the fennel seeds.
Add the white wine, the crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook this 10-15 minutes to concentrate the tomato juices, stirring occasionally.
Add 4 cups of vegetable or fish stock (you could even use water, if you wanted) and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer away until this soup tastes so good you can’t stand it anymore, 45-60 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
Once this is all good, increase the heat to medium and add the mussels. Cook them until they just start to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and the cod and cook another 4 minutes or so, until the mussels are completely opened and the shrimp and cod are cooked through.
Remove from heat and serve right from the pot with crusty bread for dipping. Tarragon, parsley leaves, or fennel fronds on the side are nice to sprinkle over, too.
#3. Train yourself to pack your own lunch
After the holidays, you’ll probably have a glut of leftovers to turn into several tiny meals, so start by breaking them down and freezing them for when you get back to work. Not only will you save more money during your first foray into the new year, your fresh start into better health can begin with your basic brown bagged lunch:
Or bento box…
Or salad bowl
Or food skin
Take your pick.
#4. Pancake in a smoothie
Love pancakes for breakfast but you’re pressed for time? Celebrated chef Jamie Oliver has come up with a novel way to have your favorite first meal of the day via a blender: his special blueberry pancake smoothie. Drop in fresh or frozen blueberries, a banana, milk, an egg, and whole wheat flour…then blend and voila! A blueberry pancake you can drink.
#5. Be aware of olive oil’s low smoke point
If you’re already a health nut and cook every single thing you eat in olive oil, you had better know its ideal temperature point at which it starts becoming carcinogenic instead of healthy. Once you reach 375 degrees Farenheit, your olive oil ceases to be useful and will end up smoking you out of your kitchen.
#6. Have healthy starters and desserts
Like a pumpkin bean dip:
Just dump all these ingredients in your food processor and blend away:
- 1 C (overflowing) canned pumpkin
- 1 C black beans (rinsed)
- 1/2 C cannellini beans (rinsed)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice from 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp cumin (this totally made the dip!)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Or a caramel apple crisp:
- 7 cups chopped apple, with the skins left on (above 7 – 8 apples)
- 2 tbsp arrowroot
- ⅛ tsp fine grain sea salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup oats (gluten free, if necessary)
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ½ cup almond meal
- 5 tbsp grass fed butter or coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
Vegan Caramel Sauce:
- 1 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss together all FILLING ingredients, then fill a 10″ round baking dish (I used my Lodge Cast Iron) or baking dish of choice. Mix together TOPPING ingredients, then sprinkle evenly over top of filling. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.
Meanwhile, mix together coconut milk and coconut sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick, syrupy and deep brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the coconut oil and vanilla; stir vigorously to incorporate oil; set aside.
Drizzle the caramel atop the crisp and serve. Serves 10 – 12. The crisp can be stored in the fridge for 3 – 4 days, and the caramel can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for 4 – 5 days.
#7. Learn smart stir frying techniques
Turn a random assortment of meats and vegetables lying around in your fridge into a healthy meal any time of the day with these easy-to-understand graphs:
Here’s to better health in the coming year!
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