I am writing this post from a small seaside town on the southwest coast of Mexico, where we have been spending the holidays with my family. Our days have been filled with sunning and swimming, beach-strolling, surfing (Kiwi), and market-going and cooking (me).
I’m happy to say that after two weeks here I have finally mastered guacamole: 4 avocados, juice of 2 limes, handful of chopped cilantro, half a red onion (finely chopped) and a couple generous pinches of sea salt. Mash with a fork until chunky-smooth. For years I’ve been messing around with garlic and cumin, pomegranates and olive oil, and various other things that have no place in a guac. So landing on this bright and simple version was a (dare I say, life-changing?) revelation.
It feels good to ring in the new year on the beach—energizing, invigorating and inspiring in a way that a cooped-up wintry Canadian start to the year never is. I can literally feel the trials of 2015 seeping out of my pores (that would be sweat) and I’m ready to take on 2016 with a renewed focus.
I’m not usually one for food-related new year’s resolutions. At the risk of sounding terribly sanctimonious, I will say that I don’t really ever stop eating healthy (ish) or exercising, January to December. I have other things I need to focus on, of course: being more present and patient with my family, living in the moment, eliminating clutter, being more organized. The list goes on.
But since I know many of you will be making food-related resolutions at this time of year, I thought I’d round up some of my favourite and most helpful resources on everything from meal planning to (non) dieting, and I hope you will find some inspiration hiding somewhere in here.
Here’s to a productive, healthy and joyous 2016.
Meal Planning and Prep
Meal Planning Tips and Template. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the daily chore of feeding your family, a new meal planning routine might be just what you need. This post from a couple of years ago is a good place to start, and includes a printable fill-in-the-blanks template to get you started!
Kitchen Tips. This is another great post—a collection of kitchen tips for working parents. I sourced the majority of these from the experts—Kiwi and Bean readers!—so the tips and solutions in the post are totally realistic and attainable.
Slow Cooking. The slow cooker is a great ally in the quest to master the family weeknight dinner, and these recipes for Healthier Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Sliders are not only favourites in our house but reader favourites too. They both make large batches, so you can stow the leftovers in the freezer and pull them out on a busy weeknight.
Make-Ahead Meals. One of the greatest strategies for simplifying family-feeding is the make-ahead meal. Whipping up breakfast before you go to bed, or dinner before you head off to work in the morning eliminates so much mealtime stress. Try these dinners: Make-Ahead Black Bean and Spinach Enchilada Casserole, this freezer-friendly Tex-Mex Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie and this big-batch hidden veggie bolognese. And try these breakfasts: a make-ahead steel cut oatmeal (just warm it up when you get out of bed), some fruity overnight oats, and a batch of make-ahead whole grain banana waffles.
Non-dieting. I have a hate-on for fad diets that involve eliminating entire food groups. I don’t think they are sustainable, and they take a lot of the fun out of life. So I love love this recent article (and this one) that give you simple and refreshingly realistic and approachable guidelines for eating “healthy-ish”.
Healthy Family Food Habits. Simple Bites is one of my favourite family-feeding resources, and this post with 11 healthy family food habits to embrace in the new year is inspiring. Less waste, less stress, more planning, more trust, and more date nights. These are all habits I can stand behind.
Meatless Monday. Incorporating a weekly meatless Monday into your weekly meal plan is a great way to up your veggie intake and reduce your grocery bills. Bonus: it’s good news for the environment too. Try these recipes for Miso-Mushroom Oven Baked Risotto, Fridge-Clearing Veggie Chili and Pantry Pasta with Kale, Chickpeas and Sun-dried Tomatoes.