Hearty and healthy meals to fight the chill

Orla Brady, MINDI, Community Dietitian

It is the ‘Beast from the East’ and it is heading this way!

It is tempting in the cold to choose stodgy comfort foods, making it difficult to meet the new recommendation of up to seven pieces of fruit and vegetables a day. But one great way to address this is by having homemade soups, as they give an ideal opportunity to add extra helpings of vegetables to your daily intake, and also to pack extra nutrients into your meals.

Using vegetables in season and that grow plentiful in Ireland can mean cheaper and tastier food too. Soups are also a great way of filling you up without filling you out, helping you keep your new year’s resolution to watch your waistline.

Some of the winter vegetables readily available in Ireland during this time of year are: Brussel sprouts, celery, green or red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, curly kale, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, swede and turnip and also beans, peas and lentils. Not only are these winter vegetables at their best for this season, they are also grown in great quantities in this country, so including these foods at this time of the year is kind to your purse and is good news for the Irish economy.

Winter vegetables have many benefits, such as:

Low in calories and fat: This means they can help you to watch your weight and your waistline.

Good source of fibre: This contributes to a health gut by keeping you regular, helping to control blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol levels, and keeping you fuller for longer.

Help you get your five-a-day: It is recommended to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables each day as this has been shown to help reduce your risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer and stroke.

Kind to your purse: buying vegetables which are in season can help you to save euros on your weekly shopping bill.

Homemade vegetable soup (serves four )

Ingredients

2 onions, chopped

1 leek, sliced

2 medium sized carrots or 1 large carrot, chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

1 small turnip or ½ a large one diced into cubes

1 clove of garlic, chopped

Fresh parsley and thyme

Olive oil

Knob of butter

1 ½ pints of vegetable stock

Method

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil and a small knob of butter in a large saucepan.

Sauté all the vegetables in the oil for 10 to 15 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic, one tablespoon of herbs and one and a half pints of vegetable stock. Vegetable soup can also be made with chicken stock for extra flavour.

Bring the soup to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes.

You can eat the soup as it is or cook it for another 20 minutes and liquidise it to make a smooth soup. Add some chopped fresh parsley and serve.

For more information on diet and nutrition see www.indi.ie or contact Maria, The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster, on (044 ) 9395518 or email [email protected].

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