Healthy Comfort Dishes

Healthy Comfort FoodsWhen I think about chilly weather comfort dishes, I think not only about eating them, but also about the joy of preparing them. For those who love to potter in the kitchen as I do, there is something wonderfully relaxing about a quiet, autumnal afternoon or evening spent ‘creating’ by the oven (especially if it's dark, grey and miserable outside). I turn on the radio, cover up with my favourite apron, enjoying the process as much as the results. My Squash, Mushroom and Swiss chard ‘Lasagna is the perfect recipe for exactly those moments.

Sometimes, I need comfort foods that are also super simple and quick to prepare: perhaps we have friends staying, or I've a busy day ahead out and about. By the time we're home, we'll be yearning for a steaming bowl of something hearty on the table pretty quickly. These are the times when my slow cooker comes in handy: I throw in the ingredients before we leave, allow it to slowly bubble away safely, and the meal is cooked to perfection by the time we arrive home. There's very little effort required! My Slow Cooked Mexican Beef is just perfect for such occasions, especially when served with a big pile of celeriac mash and steamed greens.

There will always be days during winter when we feel a little blue, maybe because it’s been a crazy week (when isn’t this the case?!), we’re plain exhausted, or perhaps we feel under the weather with the onset of a cold. When it’s one of those evenings, I want something filling, warming and tasty to wrap my hands around and enjoy, like a good dhal, to brighten my spirits; there is something immediately arresting about a bowl of dahl with its jewel-like colour and warming flavours. I'm sure my new Pumpkin Dahl Soup is going to become a staple supper over the coming months.

I now know that 'comfort eating' is never the answer, no matter how low I feel. I've learnt that food itself can't empower me emotionally or satisfy a void. When the going gets tough, I’ve found the best way to boost my mood is to spend time relaxing, chatting and laughing with friends, or taking precious time out to be silent 'da sola'. Nowadays, I am rewarded by the ‘comfort’ of food in the joyful process of preparing and sharing it with friends and family or, if alone, by the sheer creativity of preparing a beautiful plate of food.

I love to serve big, sharing plates of simple food for people to dig into, or in the quieter moments, to have a satisfying, warming plate by myself in front of the fire. My Spicy Meatballs on Squashetti and Simple Ratatouille are two dishes that can be prepared in advance (in fact, they get better when allowed to 'marinate' in their juices for a day or two), and which are especially delicious to arrive home to.

For tips on how to stay healthy this autumn, read my blog post 'Autumnal Health'. 

Happy Autumn & Happy Cooking!

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Slow Cooked Mexican Beef

Squash, Mushroom, Chard Lasagna

Photo credit: Emma Godwin