Annabel Langbein: Healthy jar salads for busy days
Every year I swear I'm not going to get caught up in the madness of the pre-Christmas rush. And every year, as Guy Fawkes rolls around and the crackers start banging, it feels like one of those starter pistols on the athletics track has gone off in my brain. Boom! Run!
The realisation of the 20 gazillion things that need to be done before the finish line that is Christmas kicks every ounce of my adrenalin into action.
Unlike other forms of anxiety, pre-Christmas madness dissipates overnight on December 25, so you just have to get through it.
One strategy is to eat indiscriminately. When life is crazy we don't have time to shop or chop or sit, so we eat on the run - pies and chips and chocolate, and tubs of icecream late, late into the night when we finally finish something on the ever-expanding to-do list. Booze, which goes hand in hand with the silly season, is another tempting fallback to help us deal with life at this time of year. Unfortunately the aftermath of this approach leads to a lack of productivity, which just compounds the problem.
But this Christmas it's all going to be different. You will be calm, healthy and happy. The shopping will be done, the laundry will be done, cupboards stocked, presents wrapped. "How?" I hear you ask.
The secret lies in a jar, and a little ritual that will take maybe five minutes a day. Prepare a few of them at the weekend or early in the week to have on hand for a workday lunch or midweek dinner on the run.
Jar salads keep in the fridge for two or three days and are a perfect make-ahead portable meal. Start with the dressing in the bottom, then layer in wholegrains or pulses, some kind of protein and loads of vegetables, keeping crunchy and fragile ingredients like nuts and salad leaves on the top. When you're ready to eat, turn it out into a bowl, toss and enjoy.
Lest you forget, your body is actually a finely tuned high-performance machine. For once, in its time of need, you are going to treat it right, and fuel it with the goodness it needs to perform. In all the madness, you don't need to fall off the bus. It's that easy to be zen.
Using nut butter in a dressing is a great way to make it rich and creamy without any cream. Peanut butter, cashew butter and almond butter all work well here. Mango is a superfood that helps regulate blood pressure, improves memory and aids digestion. Get the recipe
You can use about 2 cups of chopped, leftover roasted veges instead of the pumpkin in this Middle Eastern-inspired salad. One of my favourite timesaving tricks is to roast a big tray of veges at the weekend to add to salads and couscous for for weekday lunches and sides. Get the recipe
This combination of soba noodles, edamame, salmon, crunchy veg and a light dressing is positively addictive. Salmon supports the immune system, eases inflammation and helps lift mood. For a gluten-free version use buckwheat noodles instead of soba, and tamari in the dressing. Get the recipe
For more great Annabel Langbein recipes see her new winter annual Annabel Langbein A Free Range Life: Share the Love (Annabel Langbein Media, $24.95) or visit annabel-langbein.com.