Updated: Dec 17, 2021
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.
Even superheroes need their rest. Give yourself the gift of taking some shortcuts to holiday cooking, with these holiday hacks to take some of the pressure off. Then allow yourself to relax and be merry.
Use these cooking hacks for your holiday table
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Here are my top holiday hacks to speed things up a bit. Don't even think about sacrificing flavor or your traditional foods this season.
1) 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.
● Start with a frozen pizza dough or whole wheat flatbread, then add your favorite jarred sauce and vegetable toppings plus a sprinkle of flavorful 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 bagged salads during the week.
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2) Cook Once, Eat Twice
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.
● 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 holiday table
3) Save Time with 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:
Cook dishes directly in your pretty serving dishes. Make sure they are oven or microwave safe.
Create baking pockets by lining foil with parchment then crimping for perfectly steamed vegetables (with olive oil) that never dry.
Use parchment paper on your sheet pans to speed cleanup.
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.
Finally, give yourself the gift of rest. Take breaks often, and try to sit down when a task can be done while seated. Delegate when you can, or consider skipping cooking altogether: Tell everyone to plan to celebrate at your house next year.
I hope you use these holiday season hacks, and be on your merry way.
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