Staying motivated to make healthy choices through the winter may seem tough, this year in particular, as the stress surrounding the pandemic continues to impact all of us. Here are some simple ways to keep your food choices warm, comforting, full of nutrients, and to keep you feeling motivated and happy.
Making soup is a perfect way to incorporate a number of vegetables into a single dish, that will keep you feeling warm and satisfied on the coldest days. Soup can also be a great way to keep picky eaters in your family consuming all of the veggies they need.
Adding leeks into a potato soup is a great way to add some nutritional value to a hardy winter classic. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash can make for a great soup that will satisfy your sweet cravings, without any added guilt of eating sugar-filled treats. An added benefit of making soup is that it’s a dish that requires minimal effort and only a few steps. Winter can be a time for many people where they find themselves experiencing a low mood, and minimal motivation to do things such as cooking big meals. This is especially evident as people continue to feel the devastating effects of the pandemic, and struggle with depleting mental health. Making a soup can be an exciting way to experiment with ingredients you may have never used without overcomplicating things in the kitchen, making for a more enjoyable cooking experience, that won’t leave you dreading dinner time.
Homemade Stocks and Broth
Making homemade stocks or broth is a great way to get even more use out of the food you eat, and can also provide you with a healthy cooking ingredient that will last for meal after meal. A perfect chance to make homemade stock is if you find yourself with a pile of chicken bones from dinner the night before, or a bunch of leftover vegetables that you have no other use for. Simply simmer your ingredients of choice for a few hours in water, season to your liking and you’ll have an easy homemade stock to use in many other recipes. Furthermore, making your own stock at home is a much healthier alternative to store bought stocks that may contain preservatives, or very high amounts of salt. Moreover, if you find yourself down and out with a bad cold, flu, or even COVID-19 this winter, a nice hot cup of broth can soothe a sore throat and be a perfect light and easy meal.
Finding ways to add variety to the vegetables on your plate can be difficult, but roasting vegetables is a great way to switch up how you serve your favorite veggies. Roasting carrots and parsnips with a bit of cinnamon and other spices makes for a great side dish that will pair well with all of your favorite dinners.
Moreover, almost any vegetable will roast successfully, and taste delicious. One great option in particular is roasting kale to make kale chips. Kale is packed full of antioxidants, is a great source of vitamin C, and has even shown to lower cholesterol. Adding a bit of salt or sesame seeds to some crunchy roasted kale is a great healthy potato chip alternative that can also aid in boosting your immune system to keep you healthy and strong through these uncertain times.
Crock Pot Meals
Using a crock pot or slow cooker to make meals is an ideal option, as they make it easy to prepare a large variety of meals that require relatively low effort. Crock pot meals are as easy and tossing all of your ingredients in and letting them sit throughout the day as you get on with all the things you need to do. This will remove the stress of having to spend time in the kitchen that you don’t always have, especially while many people are working from home due to the pandemic. Crock pots are perfect for preparing comforting healthy dishes. Some great ideas are soups, stews, pot roasts, pasta bakes, and so much more. All of these dishes can easily have a number of vegetables incorporated into them to help increase your nutrient intake. Slow cooker or crock pot meals are also a fantastic way to use up any frozen vegetables you might feel less tempted to use. Simply add in the last of your frozen peas or corn into a stew and you have yourself a warm nutritious meal that took almost no time!
Cook With the Whole Family
Winter time and the holidays are, for many, a time all about seeing family and spending time with loved ones. With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, it might not be possible to see the whole family, however, cooking delicious meals is a great way to spend quality time with those you can see. Experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen is a great activity that can be a perfect distraction from stress, especially when stuck at home, and provides an opportunity to get the whole household involved.