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Menu planning for a healthy winter

For many people, coming into a cold winter means getting back into hearty and warming comfort foods. And what do we mean by comfort food in the U.K.? Potatoes, mostly, - stewed, roasted, mashed, fried, boiled, jacket-ed - you can have them any way you like. With pies, in pasties, with roast dinners or sausages - potatoes even make it into soups. Heavy and calorific - potatoes feature in some form or other in all our comfort foods, and are often paired with cheese to top it off. You see, as warming as comfort food may be, it is also traditionally high in both calories and carbohydrates, and this means that they are not the healthiest of meals. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with enjoying our comfort foods now and again, there are plenty of healthier alternatives that will still give you that feeling of comfort. 

We at Brigad have compiled some great recipes for winter that are on the healthier side of things but are still comfort foods - ideal for both businesses to include onto their seasonal menu, and easy enough for home cooks to tackle at home.  

Seasonal dishes

Seasonal menus are a tried and tested way to keep the cost of delivery down, and food miles down, whilst keeping a menu diverse and interesting. Chefs, whether they are professional or home cooks, can become tired of making the same dishes time and time again. Seasonal dishes are a great way to find fresh inspiration by using ingredients that might only come into season for a month or two. 

Winter is a bumper season in the U.K. for delicious fruit and veg. December alone can bring many varieties of apples, beetroot, sprouts, carrots, celeriac, celery, chestnuts, artichokes, kale, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, pears, and many more. Make the most of these delicious foods by planning seasonal menus that are healthy and keep the costs down

Healthy winter soups

Soups are a classic winter warmer and with so many great vegetables coming into season over the winter, soups are an easy and delicious way to use them up. You could combine most of these veg to cook up a classic English winter vegetable soup, or you could showcase individual vegetables - why not try a spiced parsnip soup, creamy mushroom, pumpkin, red onion, or carrot and fennel? Combine sweet and savory with an apple and celeriac soup, or forage your own chestnuts and make a chestnut, mushroom, and red wine soup.

Soups are diverse, healthy, easy to make, and most importantly, they’re tasty. They’re also a great way to use up your leftover produce. Whether you overbought or they’re on the turn, you can combine any veg with herbs and spices to make a delicious soup. Pair the meal with a tasty loaf of bread and you’re on to a winner.    

Healthy winter stews 

Somewhere between a soup, a broth, a traybake, and a roast, stews are another healthy and tasty way to use seasonal fruit and veg, as well as meat and fish. Warming and nourishing, stews are the epitome of comfort and are the food version of sitting by a fire on a cold winter night. A good stew is sure to warm your cockles, - as they say - why not try a traditional Scottish recipe? Or, take a tour of the UK with an Irish winter veg stew, and finish it off with a Welsh cawl. Red wine-based stews are a favorite, such as beef and red wine stew, but stews aren’t all meat-based, there are plenty of delicious recipes for vegans and vegetarians, too. Try this winter veggie stew and you can even try making your own dumplings.   

Healthy winter pies 

It’s there anything as wintery as a pie? Delicious, slow-roasted ingredients encased in buttery pastry, then covered in a healthy dose of gravy. Another classic winter warmer, pies are another great way to use up leftover ingredients, saving money and reducing waste. Homity pie is a wholesome British classic, combining green veg to make a healthy meal. Other tried and tested classics are fish pies, chicken and leek, or steak and kidney. For cooks wanting to challenge themselves, why not try a squash and ricotta croissant wreath? Or, try flavours that are a little different for a pie, like acwith crispy kale and caramelised pine nuts.

Healthy winter roasts

Roasts are the pinnacle of British winter foods - it is the roast that gets the family together around the table for Christmas, and it is the roast that has traditionally warmed us up on Sundays and set us up for the week ahead. Veggies aside, it is the meat, fats and oils that define whether or not a roast is healthy. Chicken and Turkey are the healthiest meats to roast, they are classed as lean meats, and so contain far less saturated fats than meats like beef, lamb, or pork.  

Nevertheless, there are healthier ways to eat these fattier meats - research by the British Heart Foundation found that cuts of beef like silverside and topside contain less fat - and the same could be said about lamb and pork when it comes to avoiding the fattier cuts. You can make roasts healthier by cutting back on fats and oils, so hold back on the goose fat when you’re prepping your Christmas roasties, or try opting for healthier oils like vegetable or olive. 

You could also opt for healthy vegetarian alternatives, such as nut roasts, lentil loaves, or even seitan roast beef.  

This Winter with Brigad

Hospitality workers know better than most that the darker nights are also a sign of the hectic Christmas season. Whilst we all love going out and celebrating in bars and restaurants throughout the Christmas season, it is hospitality workers who’re facing up to it and working the long, and often hectic shifts. This is all the more reason to take care of yourself this winter, and make sure that you’re eating healthy foods to keep your energy levels up and morale high. 

For more information on picking up missions this Winter, you can download the contact Brigad app today and talk to one of our team about becoming self-employed.

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