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winter-recipes

It can be hard to stay healthy at this time of year, the cold weather can make stodgy food more appealing and special offers in all the supermarkets for unhealthy ‘winter comfort foods’ don’t help. However, you can still get that warm, comforting satisfaction from your food without compromising on health. There are some amazing winter foods in season at this time of year, so here are some recipes and inspiration for how to incorporate these into your healthy winter diet.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels-Sprouts

Hated by some, these little green beauties are vastly underrated in culinary and health terms and are sadly only eaten on Christmas day by many of us. They are however versatile and work well in salads, stir-fries and casseroles as well as the usual side dish. My favourite way to eat them is by roasting them, which changes the flavour and texture quite a bit, so anyone that doesn’t like them boiled may be surprised.

Sprouts are a member of the Brassica family, along with cabbage and broccoli. Vegetables in this family are cleansing to the body, as they contain compounds that stimulate detoxification pathways in the liver. They are also a source of natural plant compounds that protect us against disease. Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and fibre.

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When choosing sprouts they should be firm and compact and should not have a strong smell – when they do this means they are past their best. Those sold on the stalk, should stay fresh for longer. Cutting crosses in the bases of sprouts is common practice, but is actually unnecessary, so don’t waste your time doing this!

Roast-Brussels-Sprouts-with-Chestnuts

Roast Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 500g Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 100g vacuum packed chestnuts
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Simply put the sprouts, oil and seasoning in a roasting dish, mix and roast at 200°C for 35 mins, adding the chestnuts and lemon zest halfway through and tossing again thoroughly.

FACT:

Whether or not you like sprouts, broccoli and cabbage is partly genetic. There is a gene that makes some people dislike the bitter chemical PTC in these foods and this gene has been traced back to Neanderthals!

FACT:

Did you know that children actually have an inbuilt fear of new foods called ‘neophobia’? It is an evolutionary mechanism to protect us from being poisoned. The good news is that it can be overcome by repeatedly tasting a food, it takes an average of 7 times. So the message with sprouts and other veg is perseverance!

Cranberries

Cranberries

Cranberries are in the same family as the other berries and pack the same nutritional punch, being a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants. This means they are great for protecting the skin and body against free-radical damage, disease and ageing. Their high vitamin C content also means they are good for supporting the immune system to help ward off winter colds. Cranberries are also a good source of the mineral manganese, needed for healthy bones, blood sugar regulation and brain function.

Cranberries are well known for their ability help treat and prevent urinary tract infections, which they do by virtue of the proanthocyadins they contain. These natural plant compounds prevent bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder, reducing their ability to cause an infection.

Cranberries work really well in salads and a few dried cranberries add a delicious sweetness to couscous and quinoa dishes. They also work well in baking, or on your porridge or muesli.

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Watch out for cranberry juice drinks as most are loaded with sugar to combat the natural tartness of the berries. Instead opt for fresh cranberries if you can find them, or dried cranberries, which should be eaten in small servings due to their high content of natural fruit sugars.

Sweet Spiced Quinoa Porridge

Serves One

  • 40g quinoa
  • A tiny pinch of pink salt
  • 200ml coconut or almond milk
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • A grating of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp pistachio nuts or flaked almonds
  1. Put everything in a pan except the nuts and cook for around 15 minutes, stirring continuously
  2. Top with the nuts and a drizzle of honey if liked

Sweet-Spiced-Quinoa-Porridge

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is an amazingly versatile vegetable that can be used for everything from cauliflower rice to purée and pizza bases. Roasting cauliflower also really brings out its flavour, simply drizzle with olive oil, season and add a grating of nutmeg or some garlic and lemon and roast for 25-30 minutes.

Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and several B vitamins. It is low in fat, calories and carbohydrate, so can bring the energy content of a meal down when you substitute it for rice or mash potatoes. Cauliflower is another brassica, containing those beneficial protective compounds.

FACT:

As well as the usual white variety, cauliflower also comes in green, orange and purple! Purple cauli is a rich source of protective antioxidants also present in berries and red wine.

Cauliflower-pizza

Cauliflower Pizza Recipe

Makes one pizza

  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100g ground almonds
  • Salt and pepper

Tomato Sauce

  • ½ tin of tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Toppings

  • Black olives
  • Sun blush tomatoes
  • Spinach, wilted
  • Vegan pesto (pine nuts, basil, nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt)

Optional:

  • buffalo burrata

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan
  2. Remove the leaves and stalk of the cauliflower, cut into chunks and blitz in a blender until it resembles a course flour.
  3. Mix with the other ingredients to form a wet sticky dough.
  4. Line a baking tray with parchment and grease with oil, transfer the mixture to the tray and shape into a pizza base shape using a spoon and your hands. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown
  5. Meanwhile make the tomato sauce by chopping the garlic clove, sautéing in a little oil for a couple of minutes until soft, adding the tomatoes, and some seasoning and leaving to simmer and reduce for 15-20 minutes.
  6. When the base is cooked, spread the tomato sauce on and then arrange the olives, sun blush tomatoes and wilted spinach on top of this. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile blitz the pesto ingredients in a hand blender, then remove the pizza from the oven and drizzle with the pesto, and torn burrata if using it.

Celeriac

Celeriac

Not the prettiest looking vegetable, but it has inner beauty! Celeriac is a relative of celery and a good source of vitamins C and K, potassium and phosphorous. Like cauliflower, it can also be substituted for potatoes to make lower calorie and more nutrient rich mash and fries, it can even be cut into thin slices and used in place of pasta in a veggie lasagne. Celeriac fries are delicious and go well with fish, simply cut into thin strips and roast in olive oil with thyme, honey and seasoning.

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Choose medium sized, firm celeriac and allow for about 25% wastage by the time you have peeled it. Stored in a plastic bag in the fridge they will keep for two or three weeks, but like all vegetables the fresher you eat them, the higher their nutrient content will be.

Parsnip and Celeriac Soup

Serves 2

  • 200g celeriac, peeled and cubed
  • 150g parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500ml vegetable bouillon
  • Optional garnish: parsley, walnuts
  1. Toss the parsnips and celeriac in the olive oil, season and roast in the oven at 200°C until soft, around 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a pan along with the vegetable stock and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Top with chopped parsley and toasted walnuts

Parsnip-and-Celeriac-Soup

 

Best of the Rest in Season Now

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Rich in antioxidants and super high in nutrients. For a fast supper, stir-fry with garlic, chilli, olive oil and 1 or 2 finely chopped anchovies (omit if vegetarian) and stir through wholemeal pasta. Drizzle with a little olive oil and add grated Parmesan if liked.

Chicory

Great for digestion and a good source of vitamins A and K and calcium. Make a winter salad with chicory leaves, toasted walnuts, sliced pear, pecorino shavings and a honey and mustard dressing.

Parsnips

A good source of vitamin C, fibre, folate and potassium. Try them in the soup recipe above or in a medley of roasted roots as a filling, hearty side.

Blood Oranges

Catch them while you can, these beauties are in season for a very short time right about now. Their red colour is indicative of beneficial antioxidants called anthocyanins. Try some freshly squeezed with your weekend breakfast.

Beauty & Go drinks contain plenty of great winter fruits and vegetables to feed your skin, including berries and pomegranate. Include one to three per day as part of your winter health and beauty regime.

postres-sanos

Deserts and sweet treats are one of the great pleasures at this time of year. Unfortunately most are packed with refined sugars and other ingredients, which are not great for our skin, our general health or our waistlines in excessive amounts. The good news is that you can enjoy deserts and stay healthy at the same time – yes really! Below are some recipes for healthy, nutritious deserts with health benefits for you and your skin!

Avocado & Chocolate Mousse

Avocado-Chocolate-Mousse

The avocado in this delicious chocolate mousse is rich in vitamin E and healthy monounsaturated fats, which help your skin retain moisture. Chia seeds provide more essential fats, protective antioxidants and minerals. Cocoa has stress relieving benefits and can also improve skin condition, as well as being an amazing source of antioxidants. Natural sugars are provided by the dates and banana, so there is no need for adding any sugar or sweetener.

Serves 4

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 4 medjool dates (remove stones)
  • A pinch of pink salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • Raspberries or other berries to decorate
  1. Simply peel the avocado and banana, discarding the stone of the avocado, and chop into chunks
  2. Add along with all the other ingredients (except berries) and blend everything together until smooth and creamy
  3. Add water to thin to desired consistency
  4. Pour into small bowls or ramekins and decorate with berries

 

 

Poached Winter Fruits with Cashew Cream

Poached-Winter-Fruits-with-Cashew-Cream

Cashew nuts are another brilliant source of vitamin E and healthy fats, along with minerals zinc, iron and magnesium, for an energy boost. Soaking nuts in water makes them easier to digest and the nutrients become more available to the body. The different fruits provide vitamin c for collagen formation and to help ward off winter sniffles, along with plenty of fibre for healthy digestion. Cinnamon helps balance blood sugar.

Serves 4

  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 8 Dried apricots
  • 8 Dried prunes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • Juice of 1 orange and zest of ½ the orange
  • 100g cashew nuts
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  1. Soak the cashew nuts in a bowl of filtered water for 30 mins to an hour, depending on how much time you have
  2. Meanwhile prepare the fruit by adding the pears, dried fruits, spices, orange juice and zest to a pan with about 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook gently until the pears are soft, about 15-20 mins. Remove the lid and reduce the liquid until it is thick and syrupy.
  3. Remove the cashews from the water but reserve the liquid, add to a hand blender with the vanilla powder and 1-2 tbsp of the reserved water. Blend until smooth, adding more water as necessary until you have a thick ‘cream’.
  4. Serve the fruits warm in bowls, removing the spices first, with a generous dollop of the cashew cream.

 

Banana Nice-cream

 Banana-Nice-cream

This is a wonderful, healthy, dairy-free alternative to conventional ice cream and ridiculously easy to make! It is also free from sugar and the bananas are a fantastic source of potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium and vitamin C. Cinnamon is optional but makes the nice-cream and bit more festive as well as helping to balance blood sugar levels. This goes well with Christmas pudding, anything else you would have ice cream with, or simply on its own topped with nuts. You can even have it for breakfast, I love it on buckwheat pancakes drizzled with raw chocolate sauce!

Serves 2

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1-2 tbsp almond milk
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
  1. Peel and slice the bananas, place in a Tupperware container and put in the feezer overnight
  2. The next morning, remove from freezer, add to a blender with a splash of almond milk and the cinnamon if using, and blend until smooth.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

 


 

Sugar-Free Spelt Carrot Cake

Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat, higher in nutrients and lower in gluten, which is the protein some people find difficult to digest. Spelt is high in fibre, a good source of protein and rich in minerals and vitamin B3. It is great for bread making and general baking and can be used in place of wholemeal flour in most recipes. The carrots in this cake are a brilliant source of the antioxidant and skin protector beta-carotene, also great for the immune system and healthy eyes. Pecan nuts provide healthy fats, zinc, manganese and vitamin B1.

Cake

  • 150g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp pink salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 180g grated carrot
  • 1 very ripe banana, chopped
  • 50g pecan nuts, chopped
  • 50g plump raisins and/or sultanas

Topping (optional)

  • 4 tbsp cream cheese, tofu cream cheese or thick coconut yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice (omit if using coconut yoghurt)
  • grated rind of ½ orange
  • pecan halves to decorate

Sugar-Free-Spelt-Carrot-Cake

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and spices together in a bowl
  2. Stir in the eggs and oil and mix thoroughly
  3. Add the carrot, banana, nuts and raisins and mix again
  4. Spoon into a cake tin, greased and lined with baking paper and level the surface
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes at 190°C, until golden and firm to the touch and you can pull out knife from the center, clean
  6. To make the topping mix ingredients together and spread over the cake once cooled. Place pecan halves on top to decorate

 

Baked bananas with vanilla

Almonds are another great source of skin feeding vitamin E, along with healthy fats, vitamin B2 and magnesium. Coconut yoghurt is an amazing dairy-free alternative to conventional yoghurt but still contains those beneficial live bacteria to help keep your digestive system healthy. It is available in most supermarkets now, so try it if you haven’t already!

Baked-bananas-with-vanilla-

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp honey, maple syrup or a pinch of stevia
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • flaked almonds, toasted
  • Coconut yoghurt or organic Greek yoghurt to serve
  1. Place the bananas in foil, drizzle the honey on top, and the vanilla and lemon juice. Close the foil, seal well.
  2. Bake for 5-10 minutes at 180°C
  3. Meanwhile gently toast the flaked almonds in a pan, being careful not to burn them
  4. Remove the bananas from the foil and transfer to a serving plate, scatter over the almonds and serve with a generous dollop of yoghurt

 

 

References
Wirtz PH1, von Känel R2, Meister RE2, Arpagaus A3, Treichler S3, Kuebler U3, Huber S3, Ehlert U3.Dark chocolate intake buffers stress reactivity in humans. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Jun 3;63(21):2297-9.
Yoon HS1, Kim JR2, Park GY3, Kim JE2, Lee DH4, Lee K5, Chung JH6. Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Nutr. 2015 Nov 18. pii: jn217711.

healthy-autumn

Autumn is well under way, the leaves are changing, the evenings are darker and the weather is decidedly chilly. Now is the perfect time for snuggling up, all warm and cosy indoors with some comforting food. Comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy though! In fact, the wonderful array of foods in season at the moment are just right for cooking delicious, healthy and comforting meals. This week is therefore all about some of the healthy foods that autumn has to offer and some delicious, healthy recipe ideas to use them in.

Figs

Figs are an amazing fruit in season now – they are great for breakfast, healthy deserts and are also wonderful in salads. Their beautiful jewel coloured flesh not only looks gorgeous on your plate, but is a sign of their high nutrient value. Deeply coloured fruit and vegetables in general (think beetroot, blueberries, plums, kale etc.), are richer in beneficial plant compounds, and figs are no exception. They are an excellent source of antioxidants, to protect your skin against ageing and are rich in minerals potassium, manganese and iron, along with vitamins A, B and C. They also provide a good amount of fibre.

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Figs do not ripen after picking so avoid unripe figs. Choose figs that are dark in colour, plump and soft but with unbroken skins.

fig-porridge2

Recipe:

Fig and Chocolate Porridge

2 servings

  • 80g porridge oats
  • 2 dried figs, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 400ml almond milk
  • 6 small squares 80% dark chocolate or raw chocolate, chopped
  • 2 or 3 fresh figs, chopped
  1. Put first 5 ingredients into a pan and cook until you have a nice creamy porridge, adding water as necessary. I like to cook the porridge for at least 10 mins so it is extra creamy.
  2. Remove from heat and stir through the chocolate, top with fresh figs and serve immediately.

Beetroot

Beetroot is another richly coloured vegetable with corresponding health boosting powers. It is high in beta-carotene, folic acid and fibre and regular consumption can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular consumption of beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve the health of blood vessels, both predictors of stroke and heart attacks. Beetroot juice also helps people to acclimatise to high altitudes so if you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu or Mount Everest, get drinking!

Most of us are used to pre-cooked beetroots, but buying fresh beetroot is a different thing altogether and worth the extra effort. Beetroot can be boiled in their skin, is delicious roasted in the oven, and it makes a cleansing juice ingredient. Wear rubber gloves when preparing beetroot to avoid pink-stained hands!

beetroot

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Don’t throw away the leaves, beetroot greens are a rich source of iron, magnesium and calcium. They can be cooked and eaten in the same way as spinach

Artichokes

Artichokes are a wonderful vegetable available at this time of year, with many health benefits. French or Globe artichokes are a super source of vitamin c, folic acid, potassium and fibre. They work especially well in salads and pasta.

Artichokes leaves are used medicinally for digestion, stimulating liver function and bile flow, helping to relieve indigestion and bloating. Some of these benefits may also be present in the vegetables.

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When choosing, the heavier ones are fresher due to their higher water content and the leaves should be tightly shut.

artichokes

 

Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichokes are not actually related to French artichokes, but they are both in season now and have many of their own health benefits. Jerusalem artichoke is one of the best pre-biotic foods, feeding the good bacteria in your gut, encouraging them to multiply and promoting intestinal and general health. For further information on the benefits of prebiotics click here. They also contain vitamin C, potassium and iron. They can be cooked many ways; roasted, steamed, sautéed or boiled, and can even be eaten raw in salads.

jerusalem-artichoke

Kale

A well know ‘superfood’ kale has become popular in the last few years and rightly so as it is nutritionally rich. It has a high mineral content, providing iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. It is a good source of the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, as well as being rich in protective plant chemicals such as sulphoraphane, which may protect against cancer.

Kale can be tough, so preparing it well is key to enjoying it – unlike other vegetables it is nicer when soft, than ‘al dente’.  As a vegetable side dish, steam the kale until soft and then sauté in a little oil with chilli and garlic. Kale also works well in many recipes, as a substitute for cabbage or spinach.

Recipe:

Kale Pesto

4 servings

  • 1/2 cup of toasted walnuts
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 large handfuls of kale, blanched
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp pink salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Place everything in a food processor
  2. Blitz till it forms a nice paste, add water to thin if necessary.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning
  4. Serve tossed into courgetti or spelt spaghetti, topped with toasted walnuts or pine nuts and slow-roasted cherry tomatoes
  5. Keeps in the fridge for a few days and freezes well

kale-pesto

Blackberries

Berries are high flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that protects the body and skin against free radical damage and aging. Berries are also an excellent source of vitamin C – 1 cup provides more than 100% RDA. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant itself, protecting cells from free radical damage. Berries also contain less natural fruit sugar than other fruits.

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Include a serving of fresh berries every day.

Blackberry-Pear-and-Pecan-Bircher

Recipe:

Blackberry, Pear and Pecan Bircher

2 servings

  • 1 pear, cored and chopped
  • A handful of blackberries
  • 150ml almond milk
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 20g pecan nuts, chopped
  • Maple syrup (optional)
  1. Put the oats, cinnamon and almond milk in a bowl, mix well and leave in the fridge overnight
  2. Top with pear, blackberries, pecans and drizzle of maple syrup the next day and enjoy!

Orange vegetables

Orange vegetables such as butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are all in season now. They contain particularly high levels of beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which give them their lovely colour. Beta-carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A, an essential nutrient for healthy skin and eyes and for the immune system. Beta-carotene itself also helps to prevent free radical damage, as it has powerful antioxidant effects. Orange veg also provide vitamin C, for boosting collagen production, vitamin E and a host of protective plant compounds. Just 100g of sweet potato provides the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and is a great source of slow-releasing, healthy carbohydrates.

Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are both delicious baked and mashed with a grating of nutmeg as a warming side dish. They are also wonderful cubed and roasted in salads.

Recipe:

Superfood Frittata

Makes 1 large frittata, or 4 portions

  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into small cubes,
  • 2 handfuls of kale, woody stalks removed
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
  • 1 chopped red chilli
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 6 eggs
  1. Toss the sweet potato in 1tsp oil and roast in the oven 20 mins or until soft. Allow to cool completely
  2. Meanwhile, steam kale until soft about 10-15 mins, and roughly chop. Allow to cool completely
  3. Stir-fry onions, garlic and chilli for about 5 mins. Allow to cool completely
  4. Beat 6 eggs in a bowl add 2 tbsp chopped parsley and all the vegetables, once they have completely cooled.
  5.  Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook 5 mins or so in a non-stick pan and then place under the grill to cook the top.
  7. Keeps in the fridge for 2 days, makes a great portable lunch.

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How to choose a butternut squash. The skin should be very tough and hard, if you can push your fingernail into the rind it is unripe and will be low on flavour. It should feel heavy, due to the high water content and generally the bigger they are the more flavour they will have.

frittata

Recipe:

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

2 servings

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1.5 tsp vegetable bouillon or 1 veg stock cube
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 200ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  1. Peel and cube the squash, toss in 1tsp oil and roast at 180°C until soft (approx 30 mins)
  2. Put in a blender with the other ingredients except the seeds and blend until smooth
  3. Toast seeds in a pan and sprinkle on top

woman-eating-butternut-soup

Beauty & Go drinks contain plenty of great autumnal fruits and vegetables to feed your skin, including artichoke (Skin Detox), grapes and berries (Skin Revive), pear (Skin Brilliance) and apples (Skin Vitality). Include one to three per day as part of your autumn health and beauty regime.

 

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