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Is it me, or has winter well and truly plonked itself on our doorsteps? The evenings are dark, my gloves have come out from hiding and the heating has been blasting in my car every morning. Yesterday when I got up to go to work, I could actually see my breath!
I don't know about you, but I seem to lose my appetite a bit as the seasons change. Summer to me is bursting full of delicious food - salads, barbecues, tapas, all sorts - but when winter hits I just want to shove a pizza in the oven and curl up on the sofa. I feel the cold zapping the energy out of me and with that it's goodbye healthy food and hello yet another pizza.
Before my holiday to Cuba I was doing really well - I'd cleaned my diet right up, was training regularly and feeling on top of the world. Even on holiday - apart from the rum - I managed to eat a relatively healthy diet. But since I stepped off that plane it's all crashed and burned around me and I feel like I am back at square one.
During the summer I often turned to salad for two of my four meals a day. But now it's cold I'm trying to find a way of incorporating just as much goodness into a hot meal, as I try and get myself back on track. I'm hoping that writing this will help inspire me a bit more - once it's in writing I can't go back, right!?
My first mission has been trying to come up with meal ideas that are simple to make, can be reheated at work and easily transported from job-to-job. As a reporter I need my meals to be ones I can grab on the go or shove down my throat as I try and wrap everything up for deadline. It's not the most ideal eating pattern in the world but I'm working with what I've got!
With all sorts of stress going on, I've been feeling a bit under the weather which has set my workout goals back a lot. So this weekend I opened up the cupboard and set myself a mission to make something packed full of vitamins, protein and healthy fats to try and give myself a bit of a boost. The result? The first in my warming winter lunches series - butternut chicken mess.
I chose the name because really, it was a bit of a mess! It's not the prettiest of meals but it's full of flavour and goodness. I found this was best cooked the night before and then reheated the next day, giving the flavours a chance to really develop. I divided mine into four portions, froze two and kept the other two out for my lunches. So simple, yet it really is a warming dish. Enjoy!
Butternut chicken mess
Makes 4 portions
4 chicken breasts
1 tsp coconut oil
1 medium onion
2 tsp very lazy chopped garlic in white wine vinegar
1 small butternut squash (or half a large one, as I used!) peeled and diced
1 red pepper
100g chopped frozen spinach (defrosted)
3 handfuls of frozen mixed veg (peas, sweetcorn, carrot, beans)
½ tin coconut milk
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp cumin
- Gently heat the coconut in a large non-stick saucepan, before adding the onion (finely chopped), garlic and chilli flakes.
- Sweat with the lid on, on a low heat for five minutes
- Add the chicken breast (diced) and cook for several minutes until brown
- Add the spinach, mixed vegetables and pepper and cook for two minutes
- Add the butternut squash, coconut milk and remaining spices
- Cook for approximately 25-30 minutes on a low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally. The dish is ready when the butternut squash is soft - but not mushy.
- Either serve straight away or portion out and freeze for up to three months. Can also be reheated.
I'll be running the warming winter lunches series over the next couple of months, so stay tuned for the next installment. I'd also love to heat your suggestions and would love to take on some guest bloggers! If you'd like to feature your recipe, get in touch using the form below.