Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Winter warmers

There was a winter chill in the air today which finally gave me cause to don my winter coat. But it's not just my outer wear that has to change when the temperature drops ... so does my lunch.

A salad just doesn't cut it when it's chilly out, instead I crave hot cooked food. This actually makes sense in terms of how the body reacts to the cooler temperatures. Firstly our immune systems operate better at a higher temperature so sitting still at a desk all day can leave you cold and vulnerable to infection - this is why exercise is important over the winter months and also why having hot food and hot drinks can help keep the bugs at bay.

Secondly, despite not being doormice (although I sometimes feel like I am one!) our bodies do crave certain elements of hibernation, we need to (and tend to want to) sleep more, we naturally store more fat to keep us warmer and our digestive systems become more sensitive, so stewed and cooked foods which are easier to digest are better for you over winter.

I'm not a huge fan of microwaving and as the party season starts I won't always have time to make a packed lunch so as a result I tend to buy my lunch much more often over the winter months.

One of my go to winter lunches is soup - easy to digest, satisfying and usually pretty healthy. However, assuming all soups are healthy is a mistake, they can be just as fat laden as other city lunches.

One way to make sure your bought lunch is healthy is to go for the vegan option. You meat eaters may turn your nose up at this suggestion but by choosing a vegan option you're guaranteeing you're missing out on any unhealthy animal fats. You'll also likely be getting a lot more nutrient rich veggies than in the other options. For the budget conscious meat-free options are also usually relatively cheaper (lunches in the city are pretty extortionate).

Unfortunately if you want vegan and gluten free you're much more restricted on choice but both EAT and Pret have options that fit both, just not every day.

However man cannot live by soup alone, although the EAT very big soups are filling enough! But I like a bit more variety to my lunch. Firstly if the soup doesn't contain any pulses I'll want some extra protein to go with it and might get a small serving of sashimi or sushi to go with it. A natural yoghurt, low-fat cottage cheese, or some hummous with crudites would be some other healthy protein options.

Even with the soups with pulses I still enjoy some nice bread to dip in it. EAT actually does a good wheat-free bread, but sadly if you want gluten free you'll have to BYU. Dietary specials wholemeal ciabatta rolls are my favourite for soup dipping. It's a simple meal but one I find totally satisfying and warms me right up.

Vegan/Gluten free soups:

Spicy tomato and basil
Goan potato

Lentil and coconut dahl
Spicy three bean chilli
Sweet potato and lentil

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