Healthy comfort food to keep you warm this Autumn

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Love it or hate it - Autumn is definitely on its way. Personally I love it. I can wear clothes that hide my lumps and bumps, layers and layers of woolly jumpers and jeans, go for long walks at night and then come home to a steaming cup of tea, curled up on the sofa with my lovely fleecy blanket!

Autumn is also a good excuse to cook comfort food; there’s an abundance of fruit and vegetables which can turned into soups, casseroles, stews and the fruit can simply be stewed. If you are feeling really experimental you could also have a go at pickles, chutneys and jams. Comfort food doesn’t have to be stodgy and filled with calories – you can make a lovely casserole with loads of vegetables and serve it with mashed potatoes and even more vegetables – you’ll be surprised how few calories you have on your plate.

This weekend I dug out my slow cooker and I made Slow cooked BBQ Pulled Pork, it was absolutely gorgeous and there’s plenty left over for tea tonight too! I also made a batch of soup. 

For the soup I had a glut of tomatoes, some courgettes and a couple of small squash, a packet of dried fava beans and some chorizo. I dry roasted all the vegetables and then made up litre of vegetable stock from a stock cube which I added to the vegetables for the last 20 minutes along with the chorizo which I chopped into chunks. The fava beans only needed to be boiled for 20 minutes. Once the vegetables were tender I blitzed them all in the food processor and then added the beans and chorizo. Once the soup had cooled I poured into several zip top bags and popped it in the freezer. 

Now there’s no excuse to pop to the shop for a calorie laden sandwich whilst at work, I can just take a bag out of the freezer and by lunchtime it has defrosted.

Here are a few suggestions to keep you warm during the coming months:

Breakfast

  • Porridge always makes a good start to the day – slow release oats keep you feeling fuller for longer. Top with a banana and a drizzle of golden syrup or honey. Try making the porridge with half water, half milk to cut the calories.
  • Poached egg with mushrooms on toast. Clean and slice 5 or 6 the mushrooms and place them in a microwavable container. Add a couple of shakes of Worcestershire sauce and cook on high power for 5 minutes.

Light meal

  • Home made vegetable soup - See the recipe here
  • Small jacket potato with 8oz tin baked beans – add grilled mushrooms and tomatoes to fill your plate

Main meal

  • Chicken casserole – chop one chicken breast per person and add as many free vegetables such as carrots, onions, mushrooms, swede, peppers, squash, tomatoes as you wish. Make up a chicken or vegetable stock cube and add to the casserole dish. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. You can also add herbs and spices. Service with either a small jacket potato, 4oz boiled rice or pasta or 5oz mashed potatoes (a good tip for perfect mash is to warm the milk before you add – this means you don’t have to add any butter/margarine but still get that lovely creamy result). You can also use liver instead of chicken – it’s surprisingly low in calories and a fantastic source of iron.

Desserts

  • Stewed fruit – pears, apples, plums, blackberries, gooseberries. Add a tablespoon of 0% Total Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, maple syrup or golden syrup or as a special treat have a scoop of low fat vanilla ice cream.

So don’t be despondent with the dark nights - it can be a really good time of year to diet or just increase your intake of vitamins and minerals with all the lovely vegetables that are available.

Leave a comment on this post if you have any Autumn recipes or tips that you'd like to share with us, or tweet us at @bebeautiful

Read our next blog post in a three-part series about Autumn - Boost your immunity by adding these 7 essential foods to your diet.