As the night’s draw in we all naturally want to hibernate and we start to crave richer, stodgier food.
Whilst our ancient ancestors may have needed to turn to whatever sweet, fatty and salty offerings were available to see them through the harsh winter months, our increasingly sedentary lifestyles mean that we have to try and resist these cravings if we want to keep ourselves fit and healthy. We appreciate that this is so much easier said than done, so here are three of our favourite comforting and healthy food swaps.
One of our all-time favourite super ingredients, but did you know that it’s not actually a potato? In fact it’s a root vegetable which is part of the Morning Glory family. Not only does sweet potato have a vibrant orange colour (making it a really visually attractive meal for little ones), it’s packed full of vitamins (A, B6, C and E), antioxidants, manganese, potassium and a good source of dietary fibre.
But the benefits of the sweet potato don’t end there. They also have a low Glycaemic Load meaning they will give you a slow and steady release of natural sugars into your blood stream which is great for keeping the hunger pangs at bay. Whilst most of the sweet potatoes you find in the supermarket are orange in colour, there are also purple varieties which studies have linked to healthy ageing.
If that weren’t enough, the sweet potato is really easy to prepare and cook in so many ways. We love it mashed on top of our popular regular sized and Minis Cottage Pies but you can also add small chunks of it to stews and curries. We also admit we are partial to sweet potato fries but we try not to give into these too often and save them for a treat like Friday Night!
Give Kirsty’s Spicy Sweet Potato Soup a try. This will soon become one of your new comfort food favourites.
Another of our favourite healthy food swaps, this delicious variety of squash can look rather pale and uninteresting from its rather beigey outer skin but slice it open and it reveals its bright orange flesh and seeds. It might be a fiddly little beggar to peel and cut into cubes but it’s a great way of burning off a few calories, which is an added bonus!
Butternut Squash shares many of the healthy nutritional benefits as Sweet Potato. They’re also a good source of vitamins (especially vitamins A and C), calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and dietary fibre.
Harness the power of the pulses! Lentils are a fantastic source of complex carbohydrates and can help raise your iron levels. With a high fibre content, they are a really filling ingredient that will help lower your cholesterol levels and keep you regular (if you get our drift). Lentils are also a good addition to your diet if you are trying to conceive as they are high in folic acid.
Lentils are more versatile than many people give them credit for. They’re great as part of one pot dishes such as soups, stews and curries. They also work well as a side dish when combined with other vegetables – peas, leeks and onions for example, or try adding them to a salad.