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Winter has it’s perks – snow, the smell of fires, cozy woolen jumpers – but it also means less daylight, less fresh fruit and vegetables, and a need for hearty but healthy meals.

It’s tricky to find the balance sometimes. While in summer a light salad seems a perfect lunch, in winter you tend to want something warm and rich. On top of that, you need to try and include an extra dose of vitamins in some of your food to make up for the fresh fruit you may be missing out on now that you can’t get those berries in the garden or a fresh apple.

To help inspire your winter dishes, we’ve picked five recipes which you will LOVE and feel good about eating.

Do you have a favourite winter recipe you would like to share? Comment below!

To start with, here is a great recipe for a salad you can easily take to work (practical), which avoids summery tomatoes (seasonal), and instead uses carrots (available throughout winter). Oh, and it is super easy.

Ribbon carrot salad

Carrott

Pick your carrots – as many as you think you will eat, and peel them. Not just the outside, but peel the entire carrot lengthwise into ribbons. Now chop some coriander to add some spice, and sprinkle with sesame seeds for texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. That’s the salad part done.

For the vinaigrette, mix three tablespoons of vinegar (white or rice), with one tablespoon of toasted sesame oil and a spoon of honey. You can add garlic, though for a lunch it’s sometimes better to leave it out.

Cook’s tips: add grated beetroot for an added boost of fibre, iron and vitamins. It adds fantastic colour to it too and tastes delicious.

Lentil one pot

Winter calls for a good stew or chunky soup. This is a bit of both and it’s completely customizable. You can let this one simmer away in a slow cooker or like a normal soup and it is packed with some wonderful things.

Lentil one pot recipe

Being a one pot, all you need to do it put all the ingredients in, in order of cooking time, leaving the shortest cooking time for last. E.g. lentils take might take 15-20 minutes, hardier vegetables 20-25 minutes and softer veggies like spinach mere minutes.

I go for brown or green lentils, or mix two kinds, but any lentils in your cupboard will do. Then add whatever veggies you like. My favourites include: butternut squash or sweet potato, carrots, potatoes, very thinly chopped celery, and sometimes chickpeas. Put all this in a saucepan (or slow cooker) with broth (vegetable for a veggie version, beef if you want a meaty version), herbs and some onions and garlic. Let it cook together for as long as it needs. Then at the end, add lemon juice for a kick and pack of your vitamin C! I always add parsley on the plate, but you can add kale or spinach towards the end of the cooking time. And finally, add a bit of Parmesan to make it creamy. If you take it to work, add the Parmesan before reheating!

Spicy peanut stew

Peanut stew

A while ago I discovered an African inspired Peanut Stew on a website called thegirlonbloor. I fell in love with the recipe and adapted it a little. Now I make a big batch in autumn with extra spice, freeze it in portions and get them out when I am stressed or need a spicy kick. The trick is to add some Cayenne. If you have just a little of it, it clears a stuffy nose and is great for an immune system boost.

Since I freeze it, I make a big batch, so the ingredients are good for about 6 portions.

Simply cut and dice two yellow onions, two sweet potatoes, 1 red pepper, and a quarter of a cup of peanuts. Cook all this with a spoonful of coconut oil, a bit of garlic, curry power, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, two cups of vegetable broth, 1/3 of a cup of peanut butter and a can of tomatoes.

Once cooked, add a can of chickpeas, 2 cups of chopped spinach, coriander (though I add some fresh on top at the last minute as well). Then serve with rice or with bread to dip, or even couscous. It is delicious and will help your immune system.

Butternut squash soup

Butternut squash soup

Butternut squash makes for the ultimate winter soup. It’s creamy and tasty and very filling.

Nigel Slater has one of the best and easiest recipes.

Sam’s spicy butternut squash soup is pretty delicious too! Try her simple recipe, inspired by a trip to New York.

Obviously the simple solution is just to peel and chop the squash, heat some oil in a pan and roast the squash, then blend with a bit of cream.

But if you want to try to use the skin as well, Nigel Slater has a solution I quite like. You keep the long strips of the skin and place them on a roasting tray with a bit of olive oil, rosemary and cook in the over for 20 minutes on low heat, then serve with the soup.

Baked apples

Apple Crumble

Nothing says comfort food more than a warm dessert on a cold winters afternoon. And bakes apples are amazing treat in winter.

Simply core the apple, then try different trimmings and fillings: nuts, chocolate, jam, marzipan, or all of the above. Then lay on a lined baking tray and back in the over at 180c for 45 minutes.

Can you be a little more adventurous if you like, why not soak it in a bit of wine first? Add spices such as cinnamon? Add a different fruit at the core – the options are endless!

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