Sprouts are for winter, not just for Christmas!

Winter is a time for hearty grub that warms and comforts us (as I await my slow cooked beef stew with carrots, onions and parsnips) but it’s also a time we often eat less fruit and veg. The lonesome sprout is banished after Christmas and we seem to forget and bypass what’s on offer. Partly because we fill up on starchy, fatty foods first as our primitive, hoarding instincts kick in and we forget what’s seasonal and actually the best stuff to go for.

We are told to aim for 5-a day yet we often  choose fruit over veg. I always recommend to go for 3 veg and 2 fruit each day to help keep the sugar levels within limits. Oh and starchy veg like potatoes don’t count 😉

Making every time we eat a challenge and an opportunity for creativity, we can look to incorporate more veg into the mix, even if it is not a full serving.


What are the benefits of this?

  1. Going for a ‘veggie first’ approach means we are less likely to load the plate with more calorific and energy dense foods.
  2. The nutrient value of your meal goes up! No doubt you’ll get an extra boost of protective antioxidants, energy boosting B vitamins and fibre to name a few. If you’re feeling tired or a bit run down, these can help refil the necessary reserves to build yourself back up again.
  3. Seasonal veg is more likely to be fresh and richer in vitamins and minerals! You might be fortunate to shop at a local farmers market or have a local farm down the road that sells their own produce fresh from the ground but most of us treck to the giant supermarkets for our weekly shop. We now demand seasonal foods all year round, so we can have strawberries and asparagus 365 days of the year. Have you ever noticed how far your food has traveled? If your green beans and blueberries are coming over from China or New Zealand, the likelihood is they ain’t as nutritious as we think they are, never mind the carbon food print that has been stamped by the global efforts to get them from field to fork.

Vegetables at a market stall

This is a list of foods that grow NATURALLY in the UK in the winter months and are at their best. Whether you aim to be more adventurous with your meals or need covert operation veggie to get the kids to eat anything other than baked beans, have a go at introducing a new / different one each week.

  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli (the young tender stem is amazing right now!)
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Kale
  • Leek
  • Swede
  • Turnip

Why not check out this seasonable food table from BBC Good food to keep up to speed with the best pickings 🙂


How to eat healthily without breaking the bank

I am sat in the car on holiday and in true British fashion, it’s raining cats and dogs……..My son is asleep in the back so I am taking advantage of a bit of r and r…….I have just read the British Heart Foundation reported over 1/3 of people in the UK can’t afford to eat healthily. In my mind this is no surprise at all – I have had a good rant at supermarket BOGOF offers before (one of my early posts called the real cost of BOGOF’s) but this is not the only reason for eating to much cheap, processed stuff.

Now I must make a statement here, that being on holiday relieves me of any responsibility to eat healthily. I very much enjoyed my cornish pasty, fish and chips and clotted cream fudge at the seaside (not quite all in one go!) thank you 😉

So here is my list of suggestions on how to eat more healthy and not break the bank :

1. Don’t be a food snob. I admit I was…..but I’ve been converted!  Aldi and Lidl offer great quality food at very cheap prices. The fruit and veg especially! If I had been shopping at these stores since they arrived in the UK I probably would have saved enough money to go on a luxury holiday by now! I really cannot taste the difference between the expensive brands and the ‘I’ve never heard of that make before’ brand so wish I had moved camps ages ago. The fruit and veg look no different, you just have to chop them up yourself 😉

2. Pick your moment to go shopping. Get your pick of the reduced section (meat,  fish,  fruit n veg – don’t go near the ready meals!) by going shopping an hour or so before they close, especially before a bank holiday, the shops have to get rid of it so practically give it away 🙂

3. Plan your meals for the week and then write a shopping list. That way you are less tempted to throw whatever looks tempting into your trolley and just buy what you need. Plus you can ensure you eat a range of foods over the week so get your quota of fish, lean meat, rice, pasta, potatoes and different vegetables etc.

4. Don’t ever go shopping when you are hungry. This is a BIG MISTAKE!  You lose all sense of rationale and you’ll only end up with junk. Trust me I know!

5. Give yourself rules when the cupboards get low. My husband and I take it in turns to rustle up dinner when we are getting towards the end of the week. We are not allowed to buy anything to supplement or accompany our meal. This suits our competitive natures and we have had alot of fun. I think only once (when my husband cooked) it was inedible so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

6. Invest in a breadmaker. I bought one last October and without a doubt it is the best gadget I have ever bought! We use ours at least every other day and I am pretty sure we’ve got our money back already. A 750g loaf only costs about 40p to make and what’s even better, you can show off you made it yourself, people will be so impressed! You also know exactly what’s in it – you can control the salt and there will be far fewer additives and the smell as it bakes!………and you just can’t beat the taste of warm, fresh-out-of-the-‘oven’ bread mmmmm 🙂

7. Cook with more veggies! Protein, especially meat is expensive so bulk out your meals with nutritious vegetables that will make your dinner tasty and satisfying and your meals will go further.

8. Batch cook. When you are making a meal,  particularly if it’s a one pot wonder,  double the quantities, portion it up and stick it in the freezer. That way you’ll always have a fall back plan so you’re less likely to get that takeaway menu out the kitchen drawer. It also helps if everyone in the family eats the same thing.

9. Don’t automatically throw away your leftovers. Think how you can reuse them and make a new dinner – see tip 5! Soup is always a winner. Just chuck it in the pot and play soup roulette 😉 It also really makes a difference if you watch the portion sizes so you don’t have to waste food unnecessarily.

10. Take a packed lunch to work. I know this can be a tricky one. Who has time to make their lunch in the morning. Well I don’t either so I do it the night before……or I ask my husband very, very nicely and I am lucky enough that he will make mine. I take leftovers or homemade bread / sandwiches with some soup roulette. I bet if you added up how much you spent on bought lunches per week,  per month and per year you would be shocked!

11. One of the main reasons why people eat a lot of processed food (apart from the low cost) is that we simply don’t make the time to cook and now we seem to have forgotten how to cook. My last suggestion is ask someone you know who is a good cook to help you out or teach yourself! A good way is to get a bunch of friends together and cook together. Why not have a simple cooking night when you can make a main course and dessert each. You can set the rules so it’s healthy and support each other in healthy eating. You’ll be on ‘Come Dine With Me’ in no time!

That’s it for me now but I’d be really interested to see what ideas you have!  Comments on a postcard please 🙂

This is an interesting article How to eat healthily on £1 a day which shows you CAN eat cheaply so it’s worth a read if you need some inspiration!