Eating habits can turn gimmicky this time of year.
When Jan. 1 hits, we often wake up from the sugar-laden dream that is December and recall with a cringe just how poorly we've eaten over the holidays. So we scramble, promising to eat more salads and less cakes, to cook often and quit the take-out.
Be careful not to take such a sharp turn as we begin a new year. If moderation is key when it comes to food choices, so is being reasonable about what mantras you will and won't stick to.
So during this first week of 2017, we offer ideas for 30-minute meals that will satisfy and keep your dinnertime stress-free. Think of it as a guide to making good choices in the kitchen, not a cure-all. Cooking more, period, will help instill healthy eating habits, even if you only have a half-hour to prepare something.
Another important eating habit worth sticking to in the new year is getting more vegetables into your diet. I know, I don't crave a bowl of steaming cauliflower either. This is why I have come up with four ways to easily work vegetables into the meals or types of dishes you're already likely making at home. My favorite is listed below as this week's recipe: chickpea salad that mimics creamy chicken salad.
Chili is a terrific way to disguise leftover or less desirable ingredients. Make your chili of choice, and when it's time to add the beans, go ahead and also add diced carrots, cauliflower or broccoli stems, or zucchini.
Cauliflower cous cous
Treat this veggie substitute just like you would the small grain, boiling it slightly or using it raw as a base for a salad with peas, dried cranberries and slivered almonds or a warm side dish livened up with fresh herbs. To make, cut a head of cauliflower into large chunks, then add to a food processor and pulse until cauliflower resembles large crumbs.
Work more vegetables into your diet earlier in the day, and you won't have to worry about cramming all those servings in at dinnertime. Chop up whatever vegetables you have in your fridge or pantry — onion, spinach, mushrooms, peppers and broccoli work great — and place them in a nonstick skillet with some olive oil. Let cook for about 5 minutes until veggies start to soften, then crack 2 eggs into the pan and let cook until almost set. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese of your choice on top, and season with salt and pepper. Use a spatula to gently flip half of the omelette onto the other half, and cook for another few minutes until cheese melts.