Comfort food for Winter nights

We often think of ‘comfort eating’ as being bad for us; but remember the comfort foods our mammies or grannies used to make for us that helped us to drive away the cold weather.

We often think of ‘comfort eating’ as being bad for us; but remember the comfort foods our mammies or grannies used to make for us that helped us to drive away the cold weather.

By Cara Cunningham, Community Dietitian

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With a bit of thought dishes such as soups, stews and casseroles can be made to have less fat, more fibre and when made from scratch they can fill the whole house with gorgeous smells that can brighten even the dampest, darkest night.

Use leaner meat, make sure to trim off visible fat, and if you are using chicken remove the skin. When browning them off make sure to measure the vegetable oil (use as little as possible). The whole idea is to cook the stew or casserole slowly; this will make even the cheapest cuts of meats melt in the mouth when they are cooked. Remember too, the cheapest cuts can have the most flavour, asks your local butcher about the best cuts to choose for making those hearty stews.

Plenty of vegetables; add as many as you want. All the vegetables now in season, like carrots, parsnips, turnips, can be used. Don’t forget your store cupboard, experiment with kidney beans, sweetcorn, tinned tomatoes, which can all give a lovely flavour to you stew.

Although you may want to add a stock cube, or packet mix for flavour, try to use as little of these ‘additives’ as possible. A lot of flavour will naturally come from the meat and vegetables. With less ‘additives’ your stew will have less salt. Think about other herbs and spices that will add taste without adding to the salt content.

Here is a recipe that is a bit different from the traditional stews we may be used to; the added chillis will definitely warm up the winter nights!

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Mexican Beef casserole

Ingredients:

675g round beef steak or rib steak – cut into strips

1 dessertspoon cooking oil

1 Large onion – chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp chilli powder

1-2 fresh chillies – de-seeded and chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic – peeled and crushed

1tsp fresh ginger – peeled and chopped finely

1 tin chopped tomatoes

¼ pint of water

Juice of ½ lemon

Black pepper

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Methods

1.Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 350ºF/ gas mark 4

2.Heat the oil and brown the beef and the onions. Transfer into a casserole dish

3.To the pan add the cumin, coriander and chilli powder and heat for 1-2 mins, stirring all the time. Add the garlic, ginger, tinned tomatoes, water, lemon juice and black pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and onions

4.Bake in the oven for 1½ hours or until the meat is tender

5.Serve with cooked rice

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Taken from Healthy Food Made Easy’s Participant Handbook

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So wrap up warm, put on the fire and cuddle up with a bowl of Mexican beef casserole that will warm the tummy and do your heart good.

For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact:

The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044) 9353220 or email community.dietitians@hse.ie.