How to stay healthy this New Year
Whilst we all love the first signs of winter and cuddling up with a good book and a cuppa whilst the temperatures drop, it’s important to stay healthy during the colder months.
The temptation is to turn to chocolate biscuits for comfort and warmth (whilst hiding your sins under a Christmas jumper!) but instead, try to fuel your body with goodness when the temperatures drop. We spoke to Angelica Malin, from food and lifestyle blog About Time Magazine, and asked for her pick of healthy, nutritious foods that will keep you going all winter long and get you on the right track for a healthy 2016!
Dark Leafy Greens
The winter months produce an abundance of high quality and super healthy greens from kale to rocket and romaine (cos) lettuce to dandelion greens. Lettuce leaves make perfect salad bases for light, nutritious meals that are high in Vitamins A, C and K. For side dishes think broccoli and spinach – both can be steamed in just a few minutes. With just a dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, enjoying a healthy side to accompany your main meal has never been easier.
Another favourite is Swiss chard – a hearty wintery leaf that adds body to a good stir fry. Add baby carrots, ginger and tofu for a tasty vegetarian version. If you really don’t like the taste of greens, try whizzing a handful of spinach into frozen banana, berries, dates and dairy-free almond milk in the morning for a delicious smoothie start to your day.
Sweet Potato and Squash
The potato’s rich, wholesome cousins – the sweet potato and squash – have a lot to offer but are all too often overlooked. Some of the best winter soups include squash, which takes brilliantly to seasoning and a little spice. For a quick evening meal, cover sweet potato in coconut oil and bake in the oven in tin foil for an hour and serve with a side of protein, such as tuna and sweetcorn, or cottage cheese. As a side dish, sweet potato slices are great under the grill together with honey, onion and garlic. Those are sure to keep your immune system fighting fit. In general, root vegetables work well as a group. Recipes that include sweet potatoes and squash are easily adaptable and will happily accommodate parsnip, fennel and other family members.
Beetroot’s striking colour has long drawn the attention of passing shoppers but few dare to incorporate the high-potassium vegetable in everyday cooking. The truth is that most supermarkets have spared us the long boiling process and sell pre-cooked beetroot. So using beetroot in the kitchen has never been easier. It sits beautifully in salads with peas and dill or marinated in cumin with walnuts and sultanas. What’s more, for those of us less fond of citrus fruits, beetroot is a great alternative source of Vitamin C.
The trick with this category is to know the subtle differences between varieties. Satsumas will consistently give you fewest seeds and strike that beautiful sweet-sour balance. Tangerines and clementines are often sweet and succulent but can also sometimes come out watery and with seed-filled segments. Oranges usually follow the bigger-is-better rule and Jaffa oranges top the list. For juicing it’s better to go with slightly smaller and more compact oranges as they contain lots of liquid as well as pulp. For the experimental types, blood oranges and grapefruit are great juice fruits while pomelo is perfect for a sweet tooth.
Lentils, Peas and Beans
Pulses have made a comeback in today’s foodie world. With more vegetarians and vegans than ever before, health food fans have been flocking to lentils, peas, beans and grains as alternative sources of iron and protein to meat. These foods also come packed with a range of other important minerals such as zinc and fibre. For best results, leave them in a bowl of water overnight and slow cook or stew over the course of an afternoon. Pulses go very well with cumin, parsley and dill. They are frequently used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, which offer some fantastic recipes particularly for red lentils, split peas and black-eye beans.
So there you have it – some delicious and nutritious food to kick off a healthy new year in the right way. Please share any of your favourite winter recipes below…