Stews for the blues (and curries, and broths, and pilaf’s…)

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Well today is apparently ‘Blue Monday’ – the most depressing day of the year… I’m sorry if anyone is finding it particularly depressing today, but i’m not feeling it – I have the day off, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and it’s nearly my birthday 😉

I definitely understand why January can be a tough month generally for many of us though – trying to be good, trying to keep new year’s resolutions, dark mornings, dark evenings – possibly drinking no alcohol? I always want to start eating a bit healthier in January, partly a new year thing, mainly a ‘I ate way too much over Christmas’ thing! But, because of the cold, dark days I also want to eat food that is comforting and warming – think stews, soups, carbs etc. These can be good if you’re feeling a bit ill or generally down too.

So if you’re feeling either of those, or you have good January intentions that aren’t coming into fruition, Maybe I can help with inspiration. Here are some of the comforting, healthy recipes the OH and I have been making and eating over the past couple of weeks…

Mexican Chicken Stew with Quinoa and Beans

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Recipe found here, serves 4.

This recipe is one of my default ‘healthy but tasty’ meals as it’s all good stuff, but is also hearty and a bit spicy. I found it when trying out the 5:2 diet last year – it was the most filling and tasty fast-day recipe I could find! It has chipotle paste in it which gives it a kick (p.s. I only recently realised chipotle is pronounced chip-oat-lay and unfortunately does not rhyme with aristotle as I had previously thought – sad times.)

If anyone is interested in fast-day recipes I have a pinterest board devoted to them – they are good if you just want to cut down on calories a bit without fasting too.

Courgette and Aubergine Curry

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Recipe found here, serves 4.

This recipe is a hemsley + hemsley one – every time I see their recipes I think how tasty (and healthy) they all are, so I may have to buy their book soon! All the ingredients in this asian-inspired curry are so fresh-sounding, and I love coconut milk. They bulk out the sauce with red split lentils too which is good in my book. P.s. bone broth is just stock, nothing too weird! So if you’re a veggie, just swap for water or vegetable stock.

Beef and Ginger broth with Noodles

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Recipe found here, serves 2.

Another Asian-inspired recipe, this time a warming broth. Tasty, tangy and surprisingly filling – we couldn’t find any wakame flakes so we used wakame miso powder instead (the sachets you make miso soup with), but we did find that birdseye does frozen soya/edamame beans which was quite exciting!

Turkish Runner Bean and Bulgar Wheat Pilaf with Garlic Yoghurt
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Recipe found here, serves 4 as a main.

Another vegetarian recipe, this one can be an accompaniment to meat or fish, or the star of the show itself – we decided to make it the star. We didn’t have the turkish pepper paste, so we put in a fresh pepper, and we also added a pinch of allspice and cinnamon to the dish too. I can’t eat raw garlic in food, I find it waaay too strong, so we also cooked the garlic clove before adding it to the yoghurt. It was a tasty, filling dish and I could almost imagine I was back in Istanbul in the sunshine… until I remembered i was sat on the sofa, under a blanket, with a hot water bottle.

I hope these recipes give you some inspiration if you’re lacking ideas for healthy, comfort food – and I hope none of you have a blue monday – just a blue-sky!

14 Things

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Happy 2015! I’ve decided to take a look back at the year just gone, before jumping into the new one. I’m borrowing the idea for this post from a friend and fashion blogger – I wish I could wink. I like the idea of looking back over the last year and finding 14 things to be thankful for. It’s been an interesting year, a lot has happened, mostly good but some bad, and the last couple of months have been quite stressful for me, so I think looking back and remembering the good could be a useful, positive exercise! It’s a departure from food for a moment (mainly), but indulge me. In no particular order…

  •  Starting this blog! It feels like ages ago now but I only started blogging in June this year – even if no-one reads it, I’m quite proud of it and it makes me more creative with food and writing, which I think is a good thing. It makes me (a bit) more disciplined too.
  • Turning thirty: I didn’t approach this milestone with much trepidation (although plenty of people made me feel like I should) – it’s quite a nice feeling being in your thirties, older and wiser but not old…
  •  All the amazing travelling i’ve done this year: What with the milestone birthdays and a holiday and a couple of mini-breaks, 2014 was a bumper travelling year 🙂 Morocco in February, Cornwall in April and August, London in May, Italy in June, Spain in September, and Edinburgh in November… Good times.
  • Going to the 2nd best restaurant in the world (I really need to finish the last post on this!): For the OH’s birthday I took him to El Celler de Can Roca, the only slight issue was that when I booked it, it was number 1…
  • The support of family and friends: During a couple of difficult months, feeling supported by people close to you is really important, and valued more because I know some are going through difficult times too.
  • Getting a promotion: Moving from Assistant Manager to Manager hasn’t been a smooth ride but i’m hopeful it will be worth it and thankful people believe(d) in me.
  • My nephew! Watching him grow up into an inquisitive, bright, funny little boy is a real joy – and now he’s 3, it’s great to be able to have a chat with him and (almost) understand everything he says 😉
  • Realising I really enjoy photography: I know I’ve got a lot to learn, but I really enjoy taking photographs for my blog, and just generally in life. One day I’ll own a DSLR but I’m happy to play around with my little Nikon Coolpix for now…. (Unless someone wants to buy me a DSLR of course).
  • Realising I’ve kept most of my New Years resolutions for a change: Reading more (working in a shop with a floor dedicated to books helps), being more creative generally (blogging! although my sewing machine is getting a little dusty…), singing/dancing more (I was in a choir for the first half of the year and have been tap-dancing the last few months), being healthier (overall I think so, although the Bake-off challenges scuppered that resolution a bit!)
  • My OH – always supportive, always finding a way to make me smile…
  • New experiences – particularly hot-air ballooning and rock climbing!
  • Starting Tap-dancing again after 20+ years – Ginger Rogers here I come…
  • Living somewhere surrounded by beautiful countryside so I can escape when the buildings and traffic get too much.
  • Häagen Dazs Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream: OMG it’s ridiculously good – thankful that my mother-in-law pretty much always has it in her freezer, but I also have to be thankful then that it’s not sold in my corner shop otherwise I would be the size of a house.

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Here’s to an amazing 2015!

Normal service will now be resumed…