By ensuring that tasty, nutritious food is always on hand, these strategies can help busy people stay on track.
1) Prep a “salad tower” of ingredients in stackable storage containers every few days so you’ll always have easy, healthy options staring you in the face when you open the refrigerator. Stock up on dark leafy greens like kale and baby spinach, then mix and match. Prep any combination of the following items, making sure to include some high-protein options like beans and tofu. If you can, grilling some items adds flavor.
Raw: greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers (all colors)
Steamed: broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower
Cooked or canned: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, white beans
Sautéed: mushrooms, tofu, squash, zucchini
After assembling your salad, add avocado and nuts. Make your own dressing with oil and vinegar, or, if you prefer, just add a squeeze of lemon or lime.
2) Stock up on liquid egg whites and tofu. They’re convenient sources of protein that should keep in the fridge for at least a month.
3) Stash a loaf of sprouted-grain bread (like Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9) in the freezer and toast or defrost as needed. It’s higher in fiber and protein than conventional bread, and lower in sugar. Because it often doesn’t have preservatives, sprouted-grain bread can spoil faster at room temperature.
4) Substitute plain oat milk for dairy milk. It contains no major allergens, has a lower impact on greenhouse gas emissions than other milks, and is great in coffee.
Changing what you eat doesn’t have to mean surrendering to deprivation. These versatile recipes can help you get started.
Dairy-Free Egg White Bites
Makes about 15 4-ounce bites
These bites are a good way to start your day. They’re full of flavor, high in protein, lower in fat than versions with whole eggs, and easy to make ahead in bulk. They cook in a hot water bath, aka sous vide, but a sous vide thermal circulator isn’t necessary. You’ll need a blender, some canning jars, a thermometer, and your creativity. This recipe allows you to flex your culinary muscles and experiment with flavors.
When selecting vegetables to cook, good choices include bell peppers, mushrooms, corn kernels, and hardy greens such as kale and chard. Aromatics like onions and shallots add zing. Sun-dried tomatoes are a tasty addition, but fresh tomatoes are too wet — steer clear of them and other high-moisture ingredients (such as zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant), which grow mushy after a day or so.
Here’s what you need:
3 cups cooked mixed vegetables (see note), diced
1 cup thinly sliced scallions, whites and greens
½ cup (about 3 slices or 2 ounces) vegan cheese, diced (optional)
3 tablespoons mixed minced fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, and/or tarragon
1 14-ounce package firm tofu, drained
2 cups liquid egg whites
4 garlic cloves, trimmed
½ cup plain oat milk or other nondairy milk
On a cooktop or using a thermal circulator, heat a large pot of water to 172 degrees (a bare simmer, with wisps of steam on top and medium-sized bubbles on the bottom).
Grease the inside of 15 4-ounce canning jars with the cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the cooked vegetables, scallions, vegan cheese (if using), herbs, and 1 teaspoon salt. Distribute the mixture equally among the jars, using a scant ¼ cup per jar.
In a blender, combine 2 teaspoons salt, tofu, egg whites, garlic cloves, and oat milk. Blend on high speed until the mixture is homogeneous.
Divide the tofu mixture equally among the 15 jars, filling about ¼-inch shy of the glass rim. With a small spoon or the end of a chopstick, gently stir each jar to distribute the vegetable mixture. Seal each jar with the lid, using only your fingertips to tighten it; do not overtighten.
Using long tongs or a canning jar lifter, carefully submerge jars in the water, stacking them if necessary. Bring the temperature back up to 172 degrees and cook the jars for 1 hour, measuring the water temperature occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed.
Carefully remove the jars from the water, cool for 15 minutes, and then store them in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Before eating, rewarm the egg bite by removing the lid and placing the jar in the microwave for 45 to 60 seconds.
Makes about 5 cups
Salmorejo is gazpacho’s less complicated cousin from southern Spain, a light, cold soup that highlights the flavor of ripe tomatoes. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner, especially in the late summer. Serve with croutons made from sprouted-grain bread (cubed, tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes). Diced hard-boiled eggs or egg whites make for a delicious accompaniment and add some protein.
Here’s what you need:
2 pounds (about 6 baseball-sized) beefsteak tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
3-4 garlic cloves
1 piece sprouted-grain bread, like Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 brand, torn into pieces
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Combine the tomatoes, garlic, bread, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ cup water in a blender. Cover and blend on high until the mixture is homogeneous. Slowly drizzle in the oil to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to an airtight, non-aluminum container and chill for several hours. Serve cold. Leftovers will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Denise Drower Swidey is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.