Post-Holiday Meal Prep

Sipping: Lime La Croix

Listening: Spotify 2022 Wrapped

I’m hardly alone when it comes to holiday season indulgence. First there was the early celebration with my folks where my dad brought three racks of ribs and a perfectly smoked pork butt. Then there was my traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my partner (pan roasted duck breast and butternut squash risotto this year, perfection!). Then there was Christmas Day with his family, with a vegan yet flavorful spread of carb-rich holiday classics. In between it all, of course, there were gatherings with wine, cheese, chocolate, etc.

Needless to say, my system needed a cleanse in the middle of all this. As a registered nurse, there’s no time to go out for lunch during shifts. I have to meal prep. This is especially true when I work three twelve hour shifts in a row and need to dedicate post-shift time to eating a quick meal, showering, and getting some sleep for the following day.

I have a few meal prep favorites. Bowls are one of the best, because they pack a healthy variety into one meal and are fun to prepare. I created a winner recently, one that sustained me for a week of 3-12.

The Protein

With 14 grams of protein per cup, chickpeas don’t match meat-based proteins, but make an easy (and delicious) source of plant-based protein nonetheless. Chickpeas are also high in fiber and folate, and they provide a moderate source of iron.

Chickpeas have their own nutty flavor that compliment additions readily. For this recipe, I tossed a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas with the following blend:

  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • a generous sprinkling of dried oregano

To cook, sauté 1/2 cup red onion for about 2 minutes until soft. Reduce heat to medium and add seasoned chickpeas. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes, then add juice from 1/2 lemon. Cook another 3-5 minutes until crispy, scraping brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

The Veggies

Even as a kid I never had to be told to eat my vegetables. In preschool I reported that my favorite food was broccoli, and my mother would regularly catch me eating lettuce out of the crisper drawer.

But like so many children of the 80s, my vegetables were frequently served flavorless, raw or boiled. It’s no wonder so many kids didn’t like them. I had to discover the magic of roasted vegetables as a young adult, which opened a whole new world for me.

Sweet potatoes, prepared spicy and savory, are my favorite. My grandmother always said that if there was one food she could eat for the rest of her life, it would be a sweet potato for its taste, versatility, and nutrition. Given her 95th birthday is fast approaching, I think she may be onto something: sweet potatoes are fibrous root vegetables high in nutrients. They’re packed with Vitamin A, copper, iron, zinc, and antioxidants. Sweet potatoes are additionally high in B vitamins including niacin, known to help lower triglyceride levels and promote heart health.

To prepare the sweet potatoes, tossed 2 sweet potatoes cut into 1″ cubes in olive oil and seasoning. Salt, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. How much? I don’t recall. As the meme goes, “measure that shit with your heart.”

Spread evenly in a roasting pan and roast at 420F for 25 minutes.

I chose the earthy and somewhat bitter kale to compliment the sweetness of the potatoes. Roast kale, also immensely nutritious, can be tricky to roast because of its tendency to burn. Getting that nice crisp without adding a charred bitterness is a little challenging, but throwing them in with the sweet potatoes for the last five minutes provided excellent results. To prepare, remove thick stems and toss with olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

The Carb

I don’t “do” low carb. This is in part due to my chronic hypoglycemia and the fact that carb-less meals have me hungry within an hour. And no shade to you keto folks out there, but I simply don’t buy the health benefits of a fully zero-carb life barring childhood neurological disorders or a medical need for rapid weight loss. Plus I just love carbohydrates.

Unless you’re plating your components on a bed of lettuce, bowls practically require a carb. Quinoa is a healthy option, but it gives me a little gastric upset. Plain old white rice is my go-to. I prepared 3/4 cups (dry measurement) and it provided enough for four bowls.

The Sauce

What are some sauces to top off your bowl? Fridge staples like salsa and sour cream are a delightful easy addition, but I had an avocado that was begging to be used. So I created a creamy and tangy avocado sauce. Other than being delicious, avocados are a great source of healthy fats and fatty acids. The added fats to the bowl makes it more filling and provides sustained energy.

For this sauce, add 1 medium avocado, 1 garlic clove, 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil, 1 tsp salt, and the juice from 1/2 lemon into a food processor. Process until just blended, then drizzle in 2-3 tbsp olive oil and emulsify until your sauce reaches desired consistency.

This recipe provided a very generous dollop of sauce for 4 bowl servings.

Putting It All Together

Line a wide bowl or glass to-go container with a pad of cooked rice. Add components in lines across bed of rice and top with avocado sauce.


Shopping List for this Recipe

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 large bunch kale
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 avocado
  • Garlic
  • Fresh basil
  • White or basmati rice or whichever carb you like
  • Spices for chickpeas and vegetables