So, here we are, January 4th.
How are the resolutions going? Still enjoying that morning kale and spinach smoothie? Salad leaves at lunch just as appealing as on day one? Two litres of water day going down nicely?
Of course, they’ve been really enjoyable days too. The weather has been glorious, not at all depressing. Going back to work has been a true delight.
Ok, come on, who are we kidding? It’s bloody depressing, and this is not the time to deprive yourself. And why would you? I think you end up eating even more after about a week in because the food is ultimately unsatisfying. I watch people in the office with tubs of endless salads and not much flavour going on.
Then there are all the diet drinks…don’t get me started.
I think you need to be on real food, packed with flavour. I think you end up eating less rubbish because you won’t be hungry. What you need are big flavours and big food, but it doesn’t have to be completely unhealthy. Here’s what I’m thinking might do the trick to keep you happy and full, and avoiding the rubbish stuff.
Go big on soup making
I think soup making is a brilliant Sunday afternoon activity to get ready for the week ahead. I am getting ready this weekend to make peanut, carrot and sweet potato soup. Big flavours, texture, real zing…how satisfying is that going to be? Get a wide mouthed flask, heat it up before you pour your soup in and it should still be good by lunchtime. Take garnishes with you, and this is going to be truly a hug in a mug.
I love these as an alternative to tacos, but they never feel like you’re missing out. Plus the kids love them. There are lots of recipes for what you put in them, from chilli to chicken to fish. Play up the flavours, and no one will notice the missing taco. I’m starting with Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap as a great starting point. It works cold the next day too for a great lunch. Take that, insipid salad box.
Get your pulses racing
For me, Indian spices brighten up dull January nights, and a big bowl of spiced lentils is my idea of heaven at this time of year. I’ve got a recipe for a creamy coconut lentil curry that I’m waiting to try, and just reading the ingredients makes me smile. Cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, coriander and coconut: flavours to make my mouth water and to lift your mood. Again, this could be reheated and stuck in a wide mouthed flask for a tasty lunch on the go.
Look, I love a good pie as much as the next woman. My love for Bray’s Cottage Pork Pies is well documented. But pastry is one of those things that I know is not for every day. It’s one of those things that is just so delicious though, and comforting on a cold, windy night. That’s where filo comes in for me. A little goes a long way, it’s brilliant at holding fillings in, and it has that very satisfying crunch to it. Whether you do a classic spinach and feta pie or make mini quiches, it’s easy, quick and satisfying.
Look, I’m no diet expert (not that that has held back some “authors” in recent years), but I think January is a time to be kind to yourself. My health kick started in May, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to get into lighter food when it’s lighter evenings and hopefully warmer weather. I’m not advocating just indulging in everything till Spring, just being mindful in your choices and not going full on “diet” food.
And if in doubt, get up and move around. Moving more is the best diet of all!
What about you? What gets you through January? Are you in full on healthy eating mode, or everything in moderation? Is there a recipe that you think we should all try for the grey days ahead? I’d love to know!