Winter Wellbeing #5: Cook Up A Storm

According to various studies, people are hungrier and do eat more in the winter months (you are not imagining it – good to know!).

There are a few potential factors that may contribute to this increased hunger. Most people would agree that winter is the season for hearty foods. Heavy, carb-laden dishes, sugary treats, and rich sauces are all cultural staples of the winter diet. Many people also report being hungrier in winter, with stronger cravings and an increased urge to snack.

So – given that biologically we are going to crave more food (for energy, to keep warm) and culturally (it’s the season for comfort food) – what can we do to avoid packing on a little winter padding?

A few tips are to fill up on healthy soups, stews and other low-calorie dishes that contain plenty of fibre-rich vegetables and other healthy ingredients, along with protein to keep you feeling satisfied, and to find healthier versions of your favourite comfort foods so you can indulge without blowing out on your calorie intake.

My healthy go-to option in the winter is the good ‘ole crockpot. It is amazing for creating nutrient-dense, hearty, warming dishes with minimum fuss (always a big motivator in my world!) like stews, chillies, and soups. PLUS – the added bonus of making me feel like FREAKING SUPERWOMAN by having dinner all sorted and bubbling away BY BREAKFAST TIME!

The key is to WORK WITH WINTER and the push towards hearty meals –and create ones that are guilt-free and hassle-free for you.  Nutrient-dense, healthy and comforting is the way to go.

PS: My recipe for my “CROCKPOT OF GOODNESS” – aka, my vegetarian chilli, is below 🙂

~ Vegetarian Chilli – aka The Crockpot of Goodness ~

I have a MASSIVE crockpot, so this makes enough for at least a dozen meals! Not bad for 15 minutes prep!

Ingredients:
Diced:

• 1 onion
• A few cloves peeled fresh garlic

A couple of handfuls of the following, all roughly chopped:

• Carrots
• Courgettes/ zucchini
• Cauliflower
• Leek
• Celery
• Capsicum/ Pepper – try to get a few different colours
• Mushrooms
• Any other vegetable that you have in the house that you want to throw in

Cans/ Tins of the following:
Five cans of the pulses in total in whatever combination works or is available:

• Chopped tomatoes x 3
• Lentils x2
• Black beans x1
• Four bean mix (inc chickpeas) x 2 – or alternatively, choose single beans or chickpeas

A variety of liquid ingredients that can include the following:

• 1 cup red wine
• Splash of Worcester sauce
• Splurt or tablespoon of tomato paste
• A spoon of crushed garlic from a jar (if fresh not available)
• Pasta sauce mixed with water (optional)
• Tube of fresh hot chilli sauce (optional, adjust for spice)
• Salt and pepper

How to make it:

1. Place diced onion, leek and garlic in a frying pan and gently fry (‘sweat’) for a few minutes.
2. Place all the roughly chopped vegetables and the cooked onion mix in the crockpot and mix around with a big spoon.
3. Add 3x cans of chopped tomatoes to crockpot, mix again.
4. Drain and rinse cans of pulses using a sieve in the sink and then add to crockpot, mix with the big spoon again.
5. In a separate bowl or jug add all the liquid ingredients together, including the salt and pepper, and mix well with a whisk or spoon, then pour liquid mixture into crockpot and mix the whole crockpot well with spoon again.
6. Put lid on crockpot and cook on low all day or on high for the afternoon.

Serve it up with nachos, tacos, brown rice, quinoa, gnocchi, pasta, jacket potato or kumara: super versatile!

Top tip:
– Batch up and freeze for an easy meal later.

Want to read Tip One? Click here. Tip Two is here, Tip Three here, and Tip Four here.