A bit of winter has finally arrived in the UK, with a few exciting flakes of snow the other morning in the Chilterns followed by a pinch of frost. Time for comfort food: soups, casseroles, baked pasta and cheesy gratins. But how to marry that craving with trying to lose post-Christmas pounds? What to do if you lust after creamy casseroles and your bathroom scales suggest two stalks of celery?
Let's cheat a little. Swindle extra veg into otherwise attractively carby dish or skim the sauce a bit. Try my mac n cheese one night this week, only it’s a mac, leek n cheese. Fancy a fish pie? Potato slices as topping will work better for you than buttery mash, or even more buttery pastry. And if you fancy fries, make them from parsnips.
You can cook soups with impunity; unless super-creamy or starchy, they will be warming AND easy on your waist. Leek and potato is my favourite; there is also a leek and potato bake version: satisfying, vegetarian and easy to make ahead.
If you want a creamy meat casserole, use chicken in it and if you’d like saucy meatballs, smuggle extra veg in it and make the sauce homemade tomato. You can virtuously have a salad one night this week – except it could be a warm salad of spicy potatoes, bacon and cucumber or a smoked mackerel and roasted potatoes combo.
For desserts you can do worse than baked fruit: spiced pears or figs with blue cheese, or a peach with savoury crumble. And if it is a cake you must have, how about the Venetian carrot cake, low in fat and gluten free?
Hope these suggestions help; there are more on the contents pages. And if you’d like me to keep you posted with new recipes, get the weekly newsletter subscription.