Super healthy winter warmer
Happy New Year! Well here we are on the other side of the festive season and I couldnt be feeling more perky. I could be feeling more toned, but more of that later. After a fabulous but freezing Christmas in the UK it is so good to be home and dry (I do mean that literally.) And despite getting hit by the flu bug, we are now coming out the other side. In fact, theres nothing quite like the sick days to make you appreciate the healthy days. The girls have been bouncing around the house at full volume tonight and though my ears are ringing, I am so relieved.
Christmas for us was jam-packed with family, friends, booze and cake. There were a lot of vegetables involved but I suspect the desserts had the upper hand. In fact, at one point I opened the salad drawer in my Mums fridge, only to find it full of cheesecake. I think it was then I realised we would be coming home with excess baggage. Of course, none of this was helped by the fact it was far too cold to go outside and exercise. I packed the kids off in three coats each so they could jump in muddy puddles with their cousins but this was very much a wave-from-the-window activity for me. I am all for setting a healthy example, but there are weather conditions attached! Pathetic, I know.
On the up side, my New Years resolutions are in full swing. The LH suggested an alcohol-free January and so to be supportive, I joined in. I will probably regret that in a few days time, but so far so good. I have also dug out my running shoes and started stocking the freezer up with healthy family dinners. After one too many rounds of scrambled eggs on toast in 2012, Ive started making double every time I cook something I can freeze. Its been so easy why didnt I do this before?
Tonight I whipped up this incredibly simple one pot wonder. This is wintery comfort food at its best so its great to have it on standby. While Im hardly going to tell you that bacon is a superfood, there are ways of including it in a healthy meal. Its hard transitioning from the relative indulgence of the holidays to all the self-imposed restrictions in January, so I thought I would go easy on you this week. Obviously its best if your bacon is ethically farmed (Niman Ranch, Applegate) and its always better to choose Canadian cut, so dont go and buy a bumper pack of Oscar Myers rashers. If you do, watch Food, Inc before you open it, and I bet you never will.
Bacon aside, this recipe is packed with antioxidant and fibre rich ingredients. Butternut squash, lentils and broccoli complement the bacon wonderfully and may even win over the veggie-phobic in your house. Lentils and butternut squash are fantastic, nutrient-dense, slow-releasing carbs which means they are the right kind of carbs to have at night when your activity levels are winding down. This is a really flexible dish. You can switch the broccoli for kale or spinach, switch the bacon for chicken, and switch the lentils for any type of bean really. It works lots of different ways. However you make it, enjoy!
Broccoli, Bacon and Squash pot
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pack Niman Ranch Canadian cut bacon (or a well-trimmed pack of their regular bacon), chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into one inch cubes
1 white or red onion, peeled and chopped
500ml organic chicken or vegetable stock (preferably low sodium)
1 regular tin beans or lentils (Eden Organic), drained and rinsed
1 medium head broccoli, broken into small florets
1 bay leaf
Handful fresh parsley, chopped optional
1. Gently sauté the bacon and onions in olive oil in a large saucepan until the bacon is cooked and the onions softened.
2. Add the squash and cover the pan for a few minutes to allow the vegetables to sweat.
3. Next, add the stock, bay leaf and white pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered over a medium heat for 8 minutes.
4. Sprinkle the broccoli florets on top of the squash, cover the pan and reduce the heat. The idea is that the steam from the cooking squash cooks the broccoli. Dont let this boil too vigorously.
5. When both the squash and the broccoli are tender (approximately another 6-8 mins), stir through the lentils (or beans.)
6. Gently simmer for another few minutes, allowing the lentils to heat through nicely.
7. Remove the bay leaf and then serve as is, or with quinoa.
The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the Managing Director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a Registered Dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda