Work has been manic this week (end of term craziness)- I have spent all evening working (it’s gone 10pm) and I still have more to go. Luckily I have a guest post lined up! Enjoy:
Winter cooking: Tasty food and a toasty kitchen
The offer of a home-cooked meal simmering on the stove at the end of a long day, these are the things we remember. Now that winter is here, what better time to try some healthy new recipes and warm the house at the same time?
For many of us, a drop in temperature stimulates the appetite. Winter activities, whether it’s skating, shovelling the drive, or just standing at the train station shivering in the cold, uses energy that needs to be replaced if we are to remain healthy.
Preparing food with an eye toward nutrition, particularly during the winter months, is crucial. Ensuring that you and your family stay healthy has lots of benefits, beyond keeping your energy up as the temperature drops. It can teach kids valuable habits to keep them eating right as they grow up, prevent health conditions developing later in life and even reduce the cost of life insurance quotes.
Setting aside the season’s ever-present cookies, fudges, and cakes, the following recipes are offered in the spirit of hearty flavours and vitamin-laden vegetables. Be warned: these dinner suggestions are delicious.
Temporarily vegan: Thai curry vegetables
Don’t let the fact that there’s no meat in this offering fool you (sounds good to me!!). The creaminess of the coconut milk, combined with the gentle spice of the curry sauce, creates a flavourful, ’cold-weather’ comfort food. At a sweetly simmered 12 minutes, the vegetables are tender, not soft. The flavour of the vegetables blends slightly, but the integrity and the identity of the eggplant and the sweet red pepper are left intact.
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 1 hour
One 13.5-ounce can coconut milk (do not shake can)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons palm sugar or brown sugar
6 tablespoons Thai green curry paste, like Tesco brand or Thai Taste, neither of which have shrimp or fish paste
1/2 cup diced (1/2 inch) onion
2/3 cup diced (1/2 inch) red bell pepper
2/3 cup diced (1/2 inch) zucchini or other summer squash
2/3 cup diced (1/2 inch) peeled sweet potato
2/3 cup sliced bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
2/3 cup diced (1/2 inch) Asian eggplant
8 large basil leaves, cut into thin long strips
Open the can of coconut milk without shaking it. Spoon six tablespoons of the coconut cream from the top of the can into a medium saucepan. Pour remaining contents of can into a medium bowl and mix well.
In a separate medium bowl, combine vegetable stock, soy sauce, and palm or brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Place saucepan of coconut cream over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble. Add curry paste and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir constantly until very fragrant, about 3 minutes; adjust heat as needed to prevent burning.
Add onion, red pepper, zucchini, sweet potato, bamboo shoots, green beans, and eggplant. Stir until vegetables are hot, 2-3 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the soy sauce mixture and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice to taste; you may use the juice of an entire lime. Stir and mix well.
Add up to 1/4 cup water if the curry seems too thick.
To serve, place the curry in a warm serving bowl and garnish with the basil. If desired, serve over rice, couscous or quinoa.
Slow-Cooked Tofu with Savoury Root Vegetables
This recipe includes parsnips. Nutritionally, parsnips are low in calories, about 130 for a whole one 9″ in length, and contain no saturated fat or cholesterol. That same 9″ parsnip can boast 6.4 grams of fibre, 93.1 mg of folic acid (essential in pregnancy), 59.2 mg of calcium, 46.4 mg of potassium, and lesser amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, vitamin C, iron, and zinc. Eat a parsnip, fight a cold!
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 15 minutes to prepare
1 block of tofu- drained and pressed
2 cups vegetable stock
1 large onion
2 large Russet potatoes
2 large parsnips
2 small or 1 large celery root
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper
In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Drain and press the tofu, then rub with a good helping of salt and pepper. Sear the tofu in the hot oil for at least three minutes.
Roughly dice all the vegetables, peeling the parsnips, onion, and celery root first. You can peel the potatoes if you like, but you might try leaving the skins on to enjoy their texture and flavour.
Toss the diced vegetables into a slow cooker and lay the tofu over the top (or you may want to add this at the end so it stays firm).
Pour in the vegetable stock, cover, and set to your desired temperature: ‘high’ if you will be gone all day (7 to 8 hours) or ’low’ if you’re running errands (3 to 4 hours).
Braised Quorn Gumbo
With the fresh tomatoes, protein from the Quorn and low fat content, this meal is flavourful and filling.
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quorn chicken style pieces
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup sliced okra, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup instant brown rice
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bell pepper and flour and cook, stirring, until the pepper begins to soften and the flour is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Add Quorn, sauce, broth, okra, rice and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the flavours meld and the okra is tender, about 10 minutes.
I totally agree that at this time of year having something lovely and warming in the kitchen warms up the whole house. I don’t have a slow cooker, but I do love slow cooked things like chilli (Andy makes a delicious sweet potato chilli), chickpea stew or even just soups. I also think meals like that are so easy to stuff with veggies, so you give yourself a big vitamin boost as well. What are you favourite winter warmers?