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A Nourish-ing new year

Stewed fruits from Nourish by Jane Clarke

I’m not a fan of detoxes and diets, but I do understand that the start of a new year is a natural time to rethink how, what and why we eat what we do. For me, it’s about finding easy ways to eat better and cook smarter, so that we can enjoy delicious, nourishing food that enhances our health and our lives. So, here are my Nourish resolutions. Please join me in trying out a few, and let me know how they make a difference to you.

Upgrade your water

Drinking enough water (approximately 2.5 litres a day) helps to keep us focused, more energetic and our guts less troublesome, but it can be difficult if you’re not a fan of plain H2O. So, think about using fresh mint and ginger to make soothing infusions. I simply freeze fresh root ginger whole and then take it out frozen, grate the amount I need and then pop it back in the freezer, instead of letting a piece dry out. Freezing also reduces the stringiness. You can do the same with mint. Get a big bunch of fresh mint (which sadly isn’t in the garden quite yet but you can get ahead as soon as it appears), freeze a few springs in a freezer bag and take out the leaves when you need to make a fresh pot of mint tea. They’re also great to put into a bottle of water to carry around.

Use your freezer more

We still consider freezing to be a slight cheat or inferior in nutrition terms, but good-quality frozen food makes healthy eating more practical. For a start, you can stock up on foods instead of dashing into a convenience store and quickly trying to grab something nourishing to eat or ending up at home, shattered, with only a box of cereal to keep you company.
Also, if someone you know is poorly, cooking extra soup or a casserole and then taking it around for them to pop into their freezer, ready for when they need a nourishing meal, can be one of the greatest gifts – and far more nutritious than a box of yet more chocolates.
Consider stocking up on frozen staples, which for me includes frozen peas, broad beans and prawns. You can always jazz up a soup or a salad with some steamed peas or beans. And prawns defrost quickly, so you can stir-fry them with fresh ginger, garlic and some greens to make a quick, nourishing supper.

Make cook-ahead breakfasts

At the weekend, make a stash of stewed fruits (see my stewed apples recipe) and store in jars in the fridge to add to porridge, Greek-style yoghurt or homemade muesli.

Pimp your toast

If you find that toast makes you feel bloated in the morning, try thin slices of sourdough toast instead, as often it’s the slower fermentation breads which sit more comfortably on the gut. The French serve tartines which are thinly sliced sourdough toasts with a protein-rich topping – I love naturally smoked mackerel, spinach, avocado and lemon in the morning. I feel so much stronger throughout the day if I can incorporate some protein at breakfast time, so I also love eggs and sourdough for breakfast. Our hens better get laying again soon!

Feeling anxious? Cut caffeine

I love my one delicious cup of coffee in the morning, so I’m not one to advocate cutting out caffeine for good. However, I do find that patients of mine who are struggling at this time of year, when getting back to work to a tirade of demands makes them feel more anxious, benefit from cutting out caffeine for a week or two. Once you get it out of your system and feel more in control of your moods, then you may well find that introducing one or two cups of caffeinated tea or coffee in the morning is absolutely fine. In which case, make them delicious and worthwhile. There’s nothing worse than a disappointing cuppa!

Invest in a thermos flask

Make this the year of the wide thermos so that you can carry homemade soups or casseroles or even a simple pasta, made the night before, to work. Not only will you know what you’re eating, it can also save you a lot of money. When Maya was little, I used to send her to school with a packed lunch which always had a flask of something during the winter months. She loved having a risotto or homemade soup to go with her sandwich. This year I’m going to make greater use of the flask myself, as so often a cup of homemade soup late afternoon can give me just the lift I need to keep going.
I’d love to hear what your new year’s resolutions are to stay nourished so leave a comment below.
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