Winter is a time of hibernation, where we crave comfort foods and warming drinks. But we're usually so busy keeping warm, we tend to spend more time eating, less time cooking and even less time working out - which inevitably adds to that extra winter pudge! (Hello... Love Your Gut powder!)
But it's important to keep in mind that winter is also one of the best times of year to stock up on those essential nutrients and eat healthy.
My winter menu generally rotates between comforting soups, spicy stews, crispy stir fries, perfect porridges and spiced teas - all of which can be packed full of nutritional whole foods. Curries and stews are perfect for packing in your veggies and protein, but the misconception is that these delicious wintery meals take a lot of time to cook.
Enter your new best friend: the slow cooker!
Basically, a slow cooker does all the hard work for you, and they're easy to clean - which I know will have most home cooks cheering! If you're time-poor in the evenings, find some slow-cooker recipes - lamb shanks, curries and stews are perfect - throw the ingredients into the cooker, and it'll be ready for you at dinner time.
One of my all-time favourite slow cooker recipes to eat during winter is my Rosemary and Thyme Chicken Stew from my latest book, Fast Your Way to Wellness. It’s budget-friendly, perfect for the whole family and won’t leave your body worse for wear. Chicken supplies us with protein and essential vitamins and minerals, and can be beneficial in helping us lose weight, and to help control cholesterol and blood pressure.
So pop the slow cooker on in the morning, throw in the ingredients, head to work and come home to the delicious smell of a homemade stew!
Rosemary and Thyme Chicken Stew
- 145g (or 2 large carrots) halved lengthways and sliced
- 4 small red onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 leeks, white part only, sliced
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves
- 370 g (13 oz/about 2) skinless chicken thighs, halved
- 625 ml (211/2 fl oz/21/2 cups) chicken stock
- 400 g (14 oz) tinned diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- a few thyme sprigs or dried thyme
- a few rosemary sprigs
- drizzle of apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar-free wholegrain mustard
- Celtic sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) or turn on slow cooker to low.
Put the carrots, onions (if using), leeks, lemons and garlic in a large roasting tin or in your slow cooker. Rest the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables, then pour in the stock and tomatoes and top with the herbs. Drizzle in the apple cider vinegar, then bake for 35–40 minutes or leave in the slow cooker on low for six - eight hours, until the vegetables and chicken are cooked through.
If using the oven, remove the chicken and vegetables from the pan and keep warm. Discard the bay leaf (and perhaps the lemon quarters if you prefer) and transfer the juices to a saucepan. Bring the juices to the boil, then add the mustard and boil for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, then serve.