Just because the skies are growing grey and dark, doesn’t mean that we have to resign ourselves to pulling the duvets up over our heads and burying our faces in a selection bag of chocolate bars. While we may be in the grip of Seasonal Affective Disorder, that’s no reason why we shouldn’t resist the temptation to be insular and inactive and subsist on junk food. The reality is that there are plenty of healthy and nutritious yet warming and comforting foods that are perfect for chilly nights in either alone, with the one we love or as friends as part of a cheerfully cozy dinner party.
The trick is moderation
Remember that we have the seasonal excess of Christmas to look forward to, so it’s important to remember that as well as trying to be as active as possible we remember the virtue of moderation. As much as our hibernation instinct may be telling us to load up on empty calories and crawl into bed, there’s a great deal of value in portion control. Many of us also find ourselves drinking more at this time of year and (for obvious reasons) it’s important to be responsible here too. Alcohol can slow your metabolism and compromise your fitness goals so it’s important not to accompany your alcohol intake with yet more empty calories. For a less caloric option go for spirits with high fiber juices or sugar free mixers like the recipes this review Kikori Japanese whiskey gives us. By embracing moderation, the battle’s already half won.
Roasted squash, pancetta and chestnut risotto
All the flavors of autumn are reflected in this healthy, high fiber dish. Cut the peeled squash into slender spirals and accompany it with quartered roasted chestnuts alongside your favourite seasonal greens, shallots, sage garlic, 6-8 slices of crispy pancetta and warming chilli flakes amidst a base of arborio rice (or pearl barley for a healthier option) cooked in vegetable stock or bouillon. This dish is quick and easy to make as well as being a great comfort food on dark, drizzly evenings.
Moroccan squash, chickpea and cavolo nero stew
A great protein and fiber rich option that’s great for veggies and vegans accompanied with steaming green beans and carrots. The large chunks of butternut squash lend the dish substance while the flavor comes from a combination of bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, toasted fennel seeds and warming harissa paste. Not only is this great, warming comfort food but it’s super nutritious, too! In fact, one portion of this represents three of your five-a-day portions of fruit and veg.
Roasted cauli-broc bowl with tahini hummus
The reason many of us find ourselves seduced by high fat, high sugar, nutritionally void convenience foods is because we tell ourselves it’s too complicated and time consuming to prepare healthier fare. This dish, however, proves that nothing could be further from the truth. The combination of quinoa, baby spinach, cauliflower and broccoli means that the dish is incredibly nutrient rich while a drizzling of olive oil, tahini and hummus will ensure a great balance between healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and good quality protein.