• Tamar Rothenberg, MS, RD

Do these 3 holiday hacks and banish scrooge from your anti-cancer kitchen

I don't know about you, but I'm about to flatten my chef hat and throw down the knife (safely). I need some holiday hacks and I need them now.

The holidays are looking a lot different for most of us this year: holiday parties, school concerts, family gatherings, shopping, and vacations are a long memory away. Yet somehow, why are we all still VERY busy?

Even superheroes need their rest. Give yourself the gift of taking some shortcuts to anticancer foods, and holiday hacks to take some of the pressure off. Then allow yourself to relax and be merry. These cooking hacks will banish scrooge from the kitchen, because no one wants them around during the holidays.

Use these cooking hacks for your holiday table
Use these cooking hacks for your holiday table

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The holidays are not quite the same way online, yet we still want to retain the holiday spirit and show festive tables, even it's just on Zoom. So I've whittled my kitchen hacks down to my best three. Here are my holiday hacks to speed things up a bit. Don't even think about sacrificing flavor, nutrition, and anticancer foods this season.

Go Semi-Homemade with these Hacks

Clearly, we are very pro-cooking around here, but sometimes taking shortcuts can turn a potential take-out night into a total kitchen win.

For example:

● Start with a frozen pizza dough or whole wheat flatbread, then add your favorite jarred sauce and vegetable toppings plus a sprinkle of flavorful dairy free cheese or nutritional yeast to make it a meal!

● Buy pre-chopped produce, especially those hard-to-manage vegetables (ahem, squash) that are more time-intensive to prepare. Toss with a tablespoon of flavored olive oil (lemon, rosemary or garlic) and roast for a side dish or add to salads during the week.

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Cook Once, Eat Twice with these Hacks

Batch cooking is a super-efficient way to maintain your healthy eating goals anytime of the year. What is batch cooking? It essentially means cooking more than what you need in the moment, because all of your cooking tools and gadgets are already out (read: it’s way more efficient!). Not to be confused with leftovers, batch cooking usually refers to one component you can repurpose later.

For instance:

● Need whole grains for your Monday night meal? Make a large batch of quinoa and wheat berries, for example, so you can easily incorporate it in salads and grain bowls all week long. Make a batch of lentils and add them to whole grains for a filling meal with a side salad.

● 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. Mash them and saute in a bit of oil for a change from ordinary potato pancakes. Or fill a whole sweet potato with canned chickpeas and tahini, for a Mideastern flair.

cooking hacks for your anticancer table
3 anticancer cooking hacks for your holiday table

Sheet Pan and One Pot Meals

Raise your hand if your least favorite part of cooking is the clean up. I'm with you! Make it easier on yourself by searching for one-dish meals to seriously cut down on time spent doing the dishes. All you need are a couple of tools that do multiple types of cooking. Let them do all the work for you.

Here are a few to get you started:

● Create baking pockets by lining foil with parchment then crimping for perfectly steamed vegetables (with olive oil) that never dry.

● Roasting tofu, seitan, or tempeh with seasonal produce is a tasty, no-fuss way to throw 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 plant proteins to the table fast with this safe and simple pressure cooker. A simple recipe: Chickpeas + favorite jarred tomato sauce + a jar of olives = a yummy plant forward dish recommended for breast cancer survivors. Just soak the dried beans overnight and be sure they are covered with jarred sauce or some broth before cooking in Instant Pot.

I hope you can use these holiday season hacks, and be on your merry way.

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