Refreshed dinners for a new year

Ring in the New Year with healthier swaps for convenient, healthy main courses that are big on flavor and nutrition. You may just find a few new recipes that will end up in your weeknight rotation this year and beyond.

One-Pot Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower stands in for milk in this nostalgic comfort food recipe that’s ready in as little as 20 minutes. The easiest method for this is using a multi-cooker, but stovetop instructions are included if you don’t have one.


1 Tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter or olive oil
3/4 cup (180 mL) whole grain or gluten-free panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried thyme
1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas, warmed
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground black pepper

Cauliflower mac and cheese

3 cups (750 mL) water
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) pasta (like macaroni)
3/4 lb (350 g) frozen cauliflower florets
1 Tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter or vegan butter
1 tsp (5 mL) dried onion flakes
1/4 tsp (1 mL) grated nutmeg
2 cups (500 mL) grated old cheddar cheese or meltable vegan cheddar cheese

Salt, as needed

For bread crumbs, in your multi-cooker, press saute on the normal setting. Add butter or olive oil, waiting until butter is melted or olive oil is shimmering before adding bread crumbs and thyme. Stir until bread crumbs have toasted, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl until ready to serve. Wipe out or wash pot to remove any crumbs.

For mac and cheese, in your multi-cooker, add water, pasta, cauliflower, butter, onion flakes, and nutmeg. Close lid and ensure it is sealed (not venting). Select pressure cooker function on high and cook for 9 minutes. Quick release using the venting lever (best to do this under a running kitchen exhaust fan). Once pressure has released, open lid and vigorously stir and mash with wooden spoon to break up cauliflower, creating a creamy sauce. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted, close lid, and rest for 5 minutes. Stir again before serving topped with bread crumbs, warmed peas, and black pepper.

Stovetop mac and cheese

Make the bread crumbs using the same directions but in a large pot over medium heat, then wipe out or wash pot. Add water, pasta, cauliflower, butter, onion flakes, nutmeg, and salt to large pot. Bring everything to a boil, reduce to medium, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until noodles are cooked. Add additional water if it looks dry before noodles are tender. Mash cauliflower to form sauce, and stir in cheese until melted. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Cover and rest for 5 minutes before serving. Stir pasta and serve topped with bread crumbs, peas, and black pepper.

Serves 4

Each serving contains: 581 calories; 29 g protein; 26 g total fat (16 g sat. fat); 61 g total carbohydrates (2 g sugars, 10 g fiber); 436 mg sodium

Curried Coconut Lentil and Rice Porridge

Brown rice and two varieties of lentils cook in one pot with broth, coconut milk, and simple spices. It’s true sunshine in a bowl for those cold winter nights.

2 Tbsp (30 mL) coconut oil or vegan butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) ground turmeric
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1 tsp (5 mL) ground coriander
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) brown basmati rice
1/2 cup (125 mL) red lentils
1/2 cup (125 mL) split yellow lentils or split yellow peas
2 – 14 oz (400 mL) cans light coconut milk
3 1/2 cups (875 mL) water
1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice, more to serve
4 cups (1 L) packed baby spinach
1/2 cup (125 mL) frozen peas
1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut yogurt or plain yogurt
1 Tbsp (15 mL) crunchy chili condiment
6 wraps of your choice

In large pot, heat oil or vegan butter over medium. Add onion and ginger and saute for 5 minutes, lowering heat, if necessary, until onions are softened. Stir in turmeric, cumin, coriander, and salt, and toast until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in rice, red lentils, yellow lentils, coconut milk, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook partially covered, stirring often, until lentils and rice are broken down, about 45 minutes. Add more water, if needed, to thin until desired consistency. (The porridge thickens dramatically as it cools; enjoy it thick or more souplike.) Stir in spinach and peas, cooking until wilted and warmed through. To serve, spoon porridge into bowls and top with yogurt and chili, with wraps on the side for dunking.

Serves 6

Each serving contains: 495 calories; 17 g protein; 14 g total fat (7 g sat. fat); 78 g total carbohydrates (4 g sugars, 16 g fiber); 481 mg sodium

Supersalad with Sprouted Quinoa, Beans, and Roasted Veggies

A satisfying plant-based dinner or packed lunch, quinoa and beans add filling protein, while greens, cucumbers, roasted veggies, and a probiotic-rich dressing bring texture and flavor.

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in (2.5 cm) pieces
1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder or cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) uncooked sprouted quinoa or sprouted grain mixture
2 cups (500 mL) water
1 – 19 oz (540 g) can black beans, chickpeas, or white beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups (1 L) salad greens such as arugula
1 English cucumber or 5 baby cucumbers, peeled if desired, diced or sliced


1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) raw apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 mL) low-sodium, gluten-free tamari
1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Add sweet potato to large rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil, chili powder or cumin, and salt. Spread in an even layer and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender and beginning to brown. Add to large mixing bowl.

For dressing, whisk all dressing ingredients until fully combined.

To cook sprouted quinoa, bring quinoa and water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand for 5 minutes. If using sprouted grain mixture, cook according to package directions. Fluff with fork and transfer to same bowl as sweet potatoes. Mix in beans or chickpeas and half of dressing.

If serving immediately, add greens and cucumbers, tossing to combine, adding remaining dressing or to taste. If making ahead for lunch, keep quinoa mixture separate from greens and cucumber, and combine right before serving.

Serves 4

Each serving contains: 555 calories; 12 g protein; 35 g total fat (5 g sat. fat); 54 g total carbohydrates (7 g sugars, 10 g fiber); 450 mg sodium

By Allison Day