Dark mornings, big coats and… it’s time to light a roaring fire and have some cosy nights in. During winter it can be easy to stock up on stodgy food. What if we told you that you CAN have your winter favourites, but with a healthy twist?
Check out three of our favourite winter favourites to warm you up this winter:
Rustic Vegetable Soup
This brilliant winter warmer is packed with vegetables as well as having TONS of flavour! We made a few changes and adapted this recipe from one on the BBC Good Food website.
Low calorie cooking spray (olive oil)
1 large Onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
50g dried red lentils
1½ L boiling vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Leek, finely sliced
175g bite-sized cauliflower florets
1 courgette, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ large Savoy cabbage, stalks removed, and leaves chopped
1 tbsp basil, chopped
- Heat the oil in a large pan before adding the onion, carrots and celery. These need to fry for 10 mins with you stirring them from time to time. Once they start to colour a little around the edges, add the lentils to the pan and cook for 1 min more. Be careful with the lentils, they can stick to the bottom of the pan!
- Pour in the boiling stock then add the tomato purée and thyme before stirring it well. Add the leek, cauliflower, courgette and garlic. Bring to the boil and then cover and let simmer for 15mins.
- Add the cabbage and basil and cook for 5 more minutes until the veg is tender.
- Season with pepper and ladle into bowls to serve.
As well as being really tasty, this soup will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days and can be frozen. If you do freeze it, reheat in a pan until piping hot.
Parsnip Hash Browns
There’s not much we like more than a tasty brunch when it’s chilly out. Get your friends over for a catch up, put on a big pot of coffee and rustle up these awesome Parsnip Hash Browns. This recipe came from the brilliant Jenny White with a few changes for our own taste. There’s enough for 6 people using the ingredients below.
450g waxy potatoes (such as Charlotte)
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
Low calorie cooking spray (olive oil)
6 rashers of bacon, fat trimmed off
6 stems of cherry tomatoes on the vine
- Start by peeling and grating the potatoes and parsnips. If you’re using a food processor to do this, you’ll want a medium grating attachment. Once grated, squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can with your hands and place in a bowl.
- Stir in the onion, garlic and egg. If you want, add seasoning. Divide the mixture into roughly six and shape into flat cakes.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry 3 for 4-5 minutes on each side, until they’re golden and tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a piece of kitchen paper and leave to cool whilst frying the others. If you need to, add more oil to the pan.
- Meanwhile, grill the bacon and tomatoes, poach the eggs and then serve with the hash browns.
You can always cook these as a batch and freeze them for when you want them. Once cooked, leave to cool before putting in freezer bags and freezing. When you want to eat them, heat the oven to 190°C / fan 170°C / gas 5. Unwrap the cakes and spread them out on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush them with a little oil and reheat from frozen. It should take about 15 minutes but check them thoroughly before serving.
Chicken and Chestnut Mushroom Pasta Bake
Pasta bakes make for an amazing winter warmer dinner! Easy to cook, not much washing up and loads of taste. What’s not to love! This super healthy chicken and chestnut mushroom pasta bake comes from the British Heart Foundation.
115g dried macaroni
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 small courgette, sliced
115 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp home-made or reduced salt vegetable stock
1½ tbsp cornflour
425ml skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
75g reduced fat mature Cheddar style cheese, finely grated
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tbsp chopped fresh parsley
85g cooked skinless chicken breast, chopped
2 tomatoes, each cut into 4 slices
1 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/ gas mark 6. Lightly grease your oven proof dish whilst the macaroni cooks to the packet instructions. Drain that off and set to one side.
- Place the leek, courgette, mushrooms and stock in a non-stick saucepan. Stir and then cover whilst it cooks over a medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables soften. Make sure you give them a stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and drain off any liquid before putting to one side and give the pan a rinse.
- You will use the same pan to make the cheese sauce. In a bowl, mix the cornflour with a little milk until smooth. Then pour the rest of the milk into the pan and then pour in the cornflour mixture. Bring this to the boil over a medium heat whilst stirring. Keep this going until it’s thick and smooth before simmering for a further 2 minutes before removing from the heat.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 55g of cheese, the mustard and parsley. Add black pepper to taste. Finally, add the chicken, cooked macaroni and cooked veg, mixing it all together.
- Transfer all the mixture into the prepared dish, top with tomato slices. Mix together breadcrumbs and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle that over the mixture and then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until hot.
Inspired to cook more? Find a whole range of recipes on our other blogs! Happy cooking!