With back-to-back holidays quickly approaching, time becomes a precious commodity. And if you’re anything like me, you tend to swap nutrition for convenience. It’s just so easy to order a pizza and a liter of soda and tuck in after a long day of holiday planning, shopping, and baking on top of working.
But what if we could have our cake and eat it too? Bad analogy aside, nutrition and convenience don’t have to be mutually exclusive. This is where a little pre-holiday meal-prep strategy comes in. Meet the grain bowl—that delightful combination of carbs, protein, veggies, and fat. Many of these components can be prepared well in advance and assembled just before serving, putting convenience and nutrition shoulder-to-shoulder.
- Whole grains are the foundation. I like to make a double batch of farro, barley, wheat berries, or brown rice and freeze it in single-serving portions. After cooking, just spread them out on a baking sheet, cool completely, then package and freeze. Refresh them with a quick pop in the microwave or skillet with a tiny bit of water.
- Protein is the power house. It can be canned beans, tofu, or even better, seafood. Luckily, fish thaws quickly and cooks even more quickly, putting high-quality, lean protein within reach. If you have leftover fish from the night before, dinner can be on the table faster than pizza delivery.
- Veggies add virtue (and fiber, vitamins, flavor, and texture). Fresh produce is awesome if you have it. But frozen veggies like green beans, corn, peas, edamame, squash, and vegetable medleys are nutritionally equivalent to fresh. They just need a little zhuzhing to maximize flavor and texture: Toss with a bit of olive oil and stir-fry or oven-roast at 425°F to get a little Maillard reaction (browning).
- Fat is the universal lubricant (and flavor-booster). This can be a drizzle of olive oil, sriracha mayo, or vinaigrette. It ties the elements together and frankly, makes everything taste better.
We put together a collection of 8 yummy seafood grain (rice and noodle) bowls to get you started this autumn.
Wishing everyone a nutritious and delicious holiday!