There are few things better in the winter months than tucking into a comforting meal that satisfies us on all levels. During this time, with seasonal celebrations and gatherings often centred on heavier foods, our digestion works a bit harder. So, as we head into a new year, let’s welcome a refreshed outlook on our daily menus.
This collection of plant-based and plant-forward recipes offers twists on classics that family and friends will love to gather around, now and all year long. Cleaner comfort food classics such as mac and cheese (with a secret ingredient!) and khao soi (a Northern Thai coconut soup) offer nutrition without sacrificing flavour or satisfaction. Plus, they’re doable on a weeknight, make for delicious leftovers, and can be prepped ahead on the weekend—all with everyday ingredients.
Ring in the New Year with healthier swaps for convenient, healthy main courses that are big on flavour and nutrition. You may just find a few new recipes that will end up in your weeknight rotation this year and beyond.
This nourishing Northern Thai coconut soup has brown rice standing in for noodles. Vegans can enjoy the meal with chickpeas or tofu, while omnivores can enjoy it with chicken. Colourful toppings soak up the spicy, soupy base. Swaps from traditional khao soi ingredients have been made for convenience, allowing this to be assembled on a weeknight.
Canned beans are braised with cherry tomatoes, fennel, and health-boosting spices, making for a satisfying topping for whole grains, sprouted wheat pasta, or sourdough bread. A refreshing side of creamy cucumber salad makes this meal feel whole. This is a great excuse to experiment with a new-to-you spice.
Sprouted tofu and mushrooms soak up a delicious tamari marinade before being baked along with prepared vegan potstickers and bok choy. A tasty sauce, sesame seeds, and a bed of whole grains to serve tie everything together. Adjust the heat level of this dish in the sauce or at the table so kids can partake.
A tribute to the bounty and beauty of nature, this chocolate bark is studded with nuts, seeds, and berries and flavoured with the warming spices of ginger and cinnamon. Adding sweet paprika and chili also gives an interesting kick to a winter favourite. Cut back on the red pepper flakes if you prefer a less spicy version. Chocolate contains tryptophan—an essential amino acid—that helps our brain produce serotonin. Eating chocolate is a delicious way to get a mood boost, which can help lift our spirits when sunlight levels are low. Food of the Gods In the taxonomy of plants, the cacao plant, from which chocolate is derived, is called Theobroma cacao. Theobroma comes from Greek for “food of the gods.” Cacao comes from the Mayan word for the plant.
Up your omega-3 intake with these easy-to-make salmon parchment pockets. The sockeye fillets are first rubbed with a marinade of juniper berries, citrus zest, and garlic before being enclosed in parchment. Juniper has a strong and piney flavour and lends a unique tang to this dish. It also contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. Be sure to capture the juices that arise during steaming. No mortar and pestle? Crush juniper berries by laying them between two sheets of parchment and bashing them gently with a rolling pin.
Escarole is a bitter green that stands up to heat and is suitable for grilling, braising, or using in soups. In this salad, it’s broiled with radishes before being dressed in a sweet, garlicky dressing that cuts the bitterness. Escarole is high in folate (vitamin B9), important in red blood cell formation, and vitamin A, important in immune function and eye health. Like kale and other cruciferous vegetables, it’s also very high in vitamin K, which assists in blood clotting. Bitter green substitutes If you can’t find escarole, use frisée (also called curly endive), mustard greens, or radicchio. Romaine also stands up to heat well and makes a good substitute, but it lacks the characteristic bitterness of the others.