VEG OUT: MY WINTER SURVIVAL SECRET
Christ on a crispy cold cracker I am DONE with winter. It’s freezing, it’s windy, it’s rainy, it gets dark before dinner and I have a hole in every single pair of my tights. I’m also exhausted from constantly fighting the urge to gorge on savoury fatty cheesy carby warm calorific things, which would be all well and good if I was bunkering down for hibernation, but as we are all very sadly aware, humans do not hibernate (god, how good does sleeping for three months sound right now. SIGN ME UP).
I got a cute little passive-aggressive text from my gym the other day (they do that if you miss a few days in a row. So thoughtful) that said “Remember Gillian… summer bodies are made in winter! Xx ”. At the time I received said message, I was in my pyjamas eating chocolate and drinking wine at 7pm. In my defence, it was raining. Now obviously the whole concept of a “summer body” and “winter body” is ridiculous… BUT, it must be said, I do not like what winter does to my body. I’m currently on the pasty, Vitamin D-deficient side of pale, and I feel a little soft and sluggish and sorry for myself. All the cheese I eat has not been helping with this.
So I’ve been trying really hard to find some winter dishes that are hearty and comforting but also don’t make me feel like I’ve eaten an entire sack of potatoes, and will soon start to resemble a potato. And I really think the secret is (and bear with me here): vegetables. As soon as you pack a dish full of fresh veggies, you can scoff it on the couch while wrapped in a doona watching Friends re-runs and still feel ok about where your life’s at. You just have to fool your taste buds and body into believing that vegetables = comfort food. And it can be done!
Warming coconut curries. Fragrant noodle stirfries. Delicious soups with fresh crusty bread. Spicy dhals. Baked sweet potatoes topped with chilli beans. Vegetarian spag bol with spelt pasta. Mushroom stroganoff. Brown rice risotto with leeks and garlic. Lentil-herder’s pie. Fettucine with seared sprouts and asparagus. Moroccan-spiced roast veggies with balsamic caramelised onion chickpeas and steamed greens (this one sounds FANCY but it’s easy af and to prove it, we’re going to make it in a minute).
These are all things that I can throw together after work without too much hassle and shovel into my gob while wearing my dressing gown and slippers, but don’t leave me zapped of energy and a general sense of wellbeing like many other “comfort foods”. Now please don’t get me wrong – there’s a time and a place for mac and cheese and hot cinnamon doughnuts. But what I have discovered is that time and place simply cannot be “every night in winter on my couch” or I just can’t do it. I can’t face the going to work and coming home in the dark, or shivering at the tram stop. Spring will roll around and I will roll around with it, an energy-sapped blob of fried sugary carbs, and possibly the first human in existence to introduce hibernation to the species. Let’s… not do that. Let’s roast some veggies instead!
MOROCCAN ROAST VEGGIES WITH BALSAMIC CHICKPEAS AND GREENS
1 x large sweet potato
3 x potatoes
2 x carrots
½ x cauliflower
1 x bunch broccolini
1 x large handful green beans
1 x tin chickpeas
1 x onion
2 x cloves garlic
3 x tbsp moroccan seasoning
Large splash balsamic vinegar
Several glugs of olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
- Finely slice the onion and put it in a frying pan with a big glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on a very low heat.
- Peel and chop the sweet potato, potato, carrot and cauliflower into mouthful-sized bites (small mouthfuls. The kind you take on a first date, before you’re ready to unleash your true cookie monster self on the new person. Just me? Oh. Ok.)
- Check on that onion. Is it golden-brown and syrupy soft yet? No? Good. Leave it. Yes? Turn the heat off and get faster at chopping vegetables. Life is short and vegetable chopping should be kept to a minimum.
- Line two oven trays with baking paper. Spread the peeled and chopped vegetables, and drizzle them with olive oil and Moroccan seasoning (this is an actual thing you can buy! In the spice section of all supermarkets. It’s mostly salt and paprika but also other delicious things). Throw them in the oven for approx 35 mins, but check on them every ten, because we might have very different ideas of a small mouthful.
- When the roast veggies have been in for about 15 mins, chuck a small pot of water on to boil. Chop the ends off the broccolini and beans, and when the water’s boiling, throw them in for 3 minutes or so – until just soft enough to eat. Drain and set aside.
- Turn the onions back on, low-medium heat, and add the drained chickpeas and a little more oil and vinegar.
- Pull the veggies out of the oven as soon as they’re golden round the edges and easily speared with a fork.
- In a bowl, layer roast veggies, chickpeas and onions, and steamed veg. Season with a little more moroccan seasoning and a drizzle of balsamic. Pop the rest into containers for work lunches/other dinners.
- Enjoy!! No guilt, no gross heavy feeling, but warming and filling and delicious.
Only one month left of winter guys. WE CAN DO THIS!