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Slow Cooker Apple-and-Pear Sauce

Easy to find at the grocery store? Apple sauce. Not easy? Apple and pear, together. Enter your slow cooker, a simple list of ingredients, and a hands-off method for an easy and delicious recipe. When you combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker, it might not seem like enough water, but due to the way a slow cooker works, the steam from the cooked apples and pears will mix in to make sure it’s all good and saucy. Two cooking tips: make sure to remove the seeds before cooking the apples and pears, and cool the apple sauce completely before refrigerating.

Pickled Winter Vegetables

Cucumbers get all the fame in the pickle world, but come winter when cucumbers aren’t in season, radishes, fennel, beets, and butternut squash are all game to get brined. If you don’t want the beets to stain the other vegetables, you can either substitute yellow beets or don’t include them at all. The best part about pickles is that as long as you stick to the ratios, the recipe will work. Once you feel comfortable with the method, you can switch up the spices or vegetables to your liking.

Hot Cocoa Mix

When you’re a kid it’s all about hot cocoa, but then as an adult? It’s all cappuccinos and matcha and Earl Grey. It’s time to bring cocoa back, and this homemade mix is up for the task. The key to a great mix is ingredients that dissolve easily: instant nonfat dry milk and confectioners’ sugar will mix effortlessly into hot milk. Plus, confectioners’ sugar contains cornstarch, which makes the cocoa thicker. Add a hint of nutmeg for subtle spice and salt to balance the sweetness, and you’ve got a cocoa that’s adult and sure to make hot chocolate a regular treat.

Chicken Stock

Once you get the hang of homemade chicken stock, you might never go back to the store-bought kind. When you make your own stock, you can control the flavors and it often ends up to be more affordable. This recipe uses chicken wings, which work well since they’re mostly just skin and bones, but if you have a leftover roast chicken, an equal quantity of bones would work just as well. Smart storage tip: Many recipes call for 4 cups of stock, so it can be convenient to invest in quart containers for efficient cooking.

Spiralized Sesame Beet Salad

Crunchy, sweet, and slightly spicy, this Asian-inspired salad will quickly become a household favorite. It's especially perfect for cold winter months, when you're craving a fresh in-season salad and the pickings are slim. Spiralized beets are the best way to enjoy the veggie raw—you don't have to worry about a grater or mandolin. Serve it as a healthy side dish alongside fish, chicken, or tofu. Add the parsley just before serving to keep it from wilting. Not a fan of beets? The flavors of this salad taste just as great with carrots. In fact, multi-colored carrot ribbons would be beautiful here.

Green Coconut Curry With Zucchini Noodles and Tofu

Spiralized zucchini will never be satisfying if only used as a replacement for pasta. But when added to an easy vegetarian curry, the strands bulk up the amount of veggies, add a fun twisty texture, and eliminate the need for a base of white rice. Adding the zucchini after the green beans and snap peas have hit the heat ensures they retain a crisp-tender texture and don't wind up limp. Searing the tofu separately in a hot skillet gives it those beautiful brown, crispy edges—just be sure to press the tofu before sautéing to reduce extra moisture.

Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

This whole-grain breakfast couldn’t be easier to prepare, and we've come up with sweet and savory twists so you can take your pick depending on the day. Opting for quinoa is a great way to switch up your standard oatmeal breakfast, and makes for a cozy yet nutritious way to start the day. Quinoa is considered a superfood due to its high levels of fiber and protein, and has a deliciously nutty flavor. Though we used white quinoa, red or black quinoa would also be great. If re-heating leftovers, add a splash of milk to loosen up the porridge. 

Miso-Pesto Flatbread With Mushrooms and Tomatoes

This flatbread is packed with so much flavor, you won’t even miss the cheese. Adding miso to the homemade pesto replaces the need for Parmesan, and the golden, tender mushrooms lend deep, earthy flavor. Thanks to store-bought pizza dough, the entire meal comes together quickly—making it a great option for weeknight dinner. That's not to say this isn't impressive enough to serve to guests. In fact, it's ideal for entertaining, because your vegan friends can dig right in. Pro tip: double the pesto recipe, and save the extra to toss with cooked pasta, or to use as a sandwich spread.

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

A creamy tomato soup is typically the result of, well, stirring in heavy cream. But in this vegan version, bread gives the soup its silky-smooth texture. Here's how it works: French bread is soaked in rice or almond milk before getting pureed with a cooked tomato mixture flavored with onion, garlic, and oregano. The vinegar stirred in at the end adds brightness and balance. Serve in bowls garnished with more fresh oregano, a drizzle of olive oil, and freshly-ground black pepper—and the remainder of the French bread on the side. Keep this recipe handy, because you’ll want to keep it in rotation all soup-season long.

Winter Squash Salad

The key to a great salad is mixing up both flavors and textures. When every bite feels uniform, it can be difficult to get through an entire bowl. Here, you’ve got the works. Roasted butternut squash and chickpeas add satisfying heft, while little gem lettuce (it’s like the baby cousin of romaine) and radishes keep things crunchy. Toss in some juicy pomegranate seeds (technically called arils) and mint and you’ll wonder why it’s sometimes hard to motivate yourself to eat a salad at all.