Some lighter options for January

Like most people, I pigged out over the Christmas holidays – lots of rich foods, plenty of booze and far too few vegetables.  I don’t really go in for detoxes or diets, but since getting back to France I’ve been making a conscious effort to eat a little bit healthier to make up for all the excesses.

When I can, I like to take my own lunch to work.  It’s usually healthier and cheaper and it is a great way to use up leftover portions from evening meals.

Unfortunately as the only microwave is located far away from my desk many floors below me, and I am very lazy, most of my lunches are cold.  However sometimes in the winter months you really need something hot and tasty to keep you going.  On such occasions I like to break out the thermos flask and bring soup.

If I’m having soup for lunch I prefer it to be quite thick.  I drink a lot of tea when I’m working so a change of texture is needed – a thin broth just will not do!

The one I went for last week was a Fragrant Cauliflower Soup.  This is a Moroccan/eastern inspired soup thickened with ground almonds which really help to give it some body as well as adding some great flavour.   They do add a bit to the calorie count, but not that much – this soup is still very healthy.

Fragrant Cauliflower Soup - Ready to Serve

Fragrant Cauliflower – Ready to Serve

Fragrant Cauliflower Soup

Fragrant Cauliflower Soup

I really enjoy having a good kick of chilli in dishes like this, and cauliflower if a vegetable that can really take some heat so I have added plenty.  However there are enough other flavours and spices in this dish that it also tastes fine with a bit less harrissa if you’re not such a chilli fan.

Sticking with the spice theme, but on a bit of a milder front, for some of this week’s lunches I prepared a Smoked Mackerel and Pea Kedgeree.  When I have the time I love a traditional kedgeree make with freshly poached smoked haddock, however sometimes I just don’t want the hassle or the smell that comes with poaching smoked fish at home!  On such occasions smoked mackerel fillets are a wonderfully convenient alternative.

Smoked Mackerel and Pea Kedgeree

Smoked Mackerel and Pea Kedgeree

While oily fish like mackerel are quite high in fat, it’s largely good fish oils rather than saturated fats so they count as a healthy option despite this.  In addition, the flavour is so strong that a little goes a long way so you don’t really need that much to create a tasty meal so the end result is still pretty low in calories.

The final healthy option that I cooked recently was Baked Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad which also has a seeming unhealthy main ingredient.  As with the mackerel in the kedgeree, with the goats cheese as little goes a long way.  Plus, the beetroot and leaves are really healthy and make up for the naughty bit of cheese!

Baked Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad - Ready to Roast

The beetroot ready to roast

Baked Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad

Baked Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad

I love the colour of beetroot.  That wonderful pinky purple always makes me smile.  While I will eat them, I’m not that big a fan of boiled or pickled beetroot.  However for me roasting beetroot does something magical to it.  It seems to enhance both the sweetness and the earthiness.

So there you go, some delicious healthy options to soothe the conscience make up for the Christmas indulgences.

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