It’s that time of the year again. The kitchen counter is strewn with half-full tins of cookies, the fridge is packed with delicious leftovers, and just a few rooms away we are frantically searching our closets for something to wear on New Year’s Eve (and hoping it’s going to zip over our slightly distended bellies).
Even on years when I’ve been relatively “good” at the holidays—skipping seconds, making sure to exercise, and limiting my cookie intake—it’s a fact of life that food is richer and more plentiful in December than any other month of the year. We simply eat more. And no matter how much will power I apply, the week between Christmas and New Year’s always feels like a battle of the bulge. Somehow, our culture does a full 180 shift from warm, cozy, and sweater-clad on Christmas to sleek, slinky, and sexy on New Year’s Eve. How is that supposed to work?
Don’t get excited, because I have no idea.
But I find that it’s always about time to resume my legumes. Switching straight to salads after weeks of rich, warm food is downright depressing, and so I look to beans and lentils to fill out my meals. These little guys are low in fat, high in potassium and iron and loaded with fiber. They’re a great substitute for meat—which I’ve usually had enough of by now—and are incredibly versatile.
I make hearty bean soups, warm lentil salads, bean and vegetable tacos, and my absolute favorite—Tony’s spicy lentil soup. I used to turn up my nose at legumes, particularly lentils, but nothing fills my (slightly enlarged) stomach this time of year and keeps me full longer.
Trying to skip warm, savory dishes and confine myself to crudités and seltzer water has me sneaking into the kitchen and snagging a cookie in no time. But making healthy, filling, and comforting meals gets the buttons closed on my jeans faster than I expect, every time.
Happy (almost) New Year!