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Healthy and hearty recipes to beat your winter funk

How to eat every color of the rainbow in one sitting

These bright and flavor-packed spring rolls are the perfect fix to take with you into the new semester
These bright and flavor-packed spring rolls are the perfect fix to take with you into the new semester

For me, winter break is all about the food. I love experimenting with new recipes and trying to find ways to incorporate all the healthy fruits and vegetables that my diet so sorely lacks during the school year. I came up with two new recipes over this long winter break that are both filling and delicious. 

For an appetizer, we have some crunchy rainbow spring rolls. Spring rolls are one of my favorite appetizers. Whenever I choose Thai or Vietnamese food I always gravitate towards their lightness and freshness.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

1 purple cabbage

3-4 Persian cucumbers

1 large carrot 

1 mango

1 avocado

2 limes

1 red or yellow bell pepper 

1 bunch Thai basil 

1 package of rice paper

Instructions

  1. Prepare all vegetables by washing thoroughly and drying. 
  2. Dice all vegetables into thin matchsticks and set aside on a plate or bowl. 
  3. Fill a shallow bowl or plate with lukewarm water.
  4. Dip the rice paper into the water and wet briefly for about two seconds. 
  5. Remove rice paper from the water and place on a cutting board. 
  6. Assemble the vegetables near the top of the rice paper, squeeze on a bit of lime and be careful not to overstuff the roll.
  7. Fold down the top of the rice paper over the vegetables and proceed to fold the sides over, rolling from the top. 
  8. Set aside the spring rolls and cover with a lid or saran wrap if you plan to leave them out before eating. 

While these spring rolls are great on their own or dipped in a little soy sauce, I love pairing them with this creamy peanut sauce. The sauce makes the rolls a little more filling and packs a punch with its flavor. This sauce recipe is easy to customize for your needs — you can add sriracha to make it a little spicier, leave out the honey or swap in almond butter if you don’t like peanuts. 

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

1/4 cup peanut butter – I use smooth, but crunchy also works

2 teaspoons soy sauce 

1/2 lime, juiced

1 teaspoon honey 

1 teaspoon fish sauce 

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. 
  2. Mix thoroughly to combine and let cook for around five minutes, uncovered. 
  3. The sauce should thicken up a little bit, but if it gets too thick, add a splash of water and mix well. 
  4. Give it a taste and remove from heat — it’s ready to serve! 

One of my favorite recipes to eat in the winter is butternut squash soup. This soup is as delicious as it is easy to make. Preparing soups can be intimidating, but fresh soups are always so much better than canned. This soup is a bright and gingery take on a childhood favorite. I love to serve it with a bit of cracked pepper right on top and a slice of crusty bread. 

This soup also keeps well in the fridge, so I can have lunch for days for a great price. My trip to the grocery store for ingredients rang up right around $11, so not only is this soup full of essential nutrients, but it’s super affordable as well. 

Prep time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons salt

Pepper, to taste

1 whole butternut squash 

1 can coconut milk 

1 bunch sage 

1 tablespoon paprika

Red pepper flakes, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil 

1 shallot

1 ginger root 

1 granny smith apple

4 cups vegetable stock 

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the squash by dicing it into one-inch pieces and remove the skin. This is the most time consuming part of the recipe, but I promise it's worth it. 
  2. Wash and dice the apple into one-inch pieces, leaving the skin on. 
  3. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add a handful of sage, a few shakes of red pepper flakes, the diced shallot and two inches of fresh ginger. I like to prepare my ginger by peeling the root with a spoon and cutting it into rough slices.
  4. Cook the shallot, ginger, sage and red pepper flakes for two to three minutes or until the shallot is translucent and stops stinging your eyes. 
  5. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and add the butternut squash and apple. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, mixing often. 
  6. Add one tablespoon of paprika, two tablespoons of salt and as much pepper as your heart desires. 
  7. Add half a cup of vegetable stock and cover for five minutes or until the squash is fork-tender.  
  8. Add the rest of the stock and remove the pot from the heat. 
  9. Add half the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour this into a new bowl and set aside. 
  10. Add the other half of the mixture to the blender and blend. Pour the blended soup back into the original pot and return to low heat. 
  11. Mix the can of coconut milk into the soup until smooth, and serve with another crack of pepper. 

I don’t usually prepare these two dishes together, but I’ve been making them both pretty regularly this winter season. A few of my roommates have pushed me to explore more plant-based and vegan options for dinner, which I greatly appreciate. I’ve noticed that integrating a variety of vegetables into my daily meals helps me look and feel my best. I hope you try your hand at these healthy and delicious vegetable dishes.

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