Hearty bowls full of flavour, nutrition and warmth are not difficult to have on your table this winter. This is the season where we all feel like a comforting meal to warm you up from the inside. And the beauty of it is, that it doesn’t need to be expensive and it can be healthy too.

Almost any combination of ingredients can be turned into a delicious winter meal, whether it’s a soup, stew, hot-pot or oven bake. From red meat, chicken and fish to vegetarian proteins like lentils, beans or chickpeas, all are great to use with a wide range of veggies. Winter food doesn’t only need to be seasoned with spicy or curried flavours to be warming. A tomato-based stew with ginger, fresh herbs and mild spices like paprika or cumin is delicious and aromatic. Use a combination of spices, like coriander, masala or curry powder to keep a meal interesting and even some garlic or a hint of chilli if your family will enjoy that.

A simple, yet effective way to add lots of flavour to a meal, is to sauté ingredients like onions, celery, carrots and spices as the first step in the recipe. This will enhance the natural flavours. Add a flavourful liquid and then simmer gently to not overcook the ingredients and almost more importantly, to allow all the flavours to develop.

Stretch meat by bulking a one-pot meal with veggies and even some legumes. It is both a more affordable way to feed a family and adds wholesomeness to the meal. These ingredients will ensure that a meal contain enough fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, especially in winter when our immune systems need it most.

One group of food that we also tend to eat more of in winter, is white starch in the form of foods like rice, potatoes, pasta or mealie pap. These are however often the reason for weight gain during winter, as it can add unnecessary carbohydrates to a meal. Rather add starchy veg like butternut, sweet potatoes or carrots to the meal to fill you up. Then it may not even be necessary to serve something like a stew on rice or another starch or you can make the starch portion so much smaller, yet still enjoy a comforting meal.

The Cooking from the heart range of recipe books is a treasure trove of healthy one-dish meal recipes. These range from stews and curries to casseroles, soups and more. Try the Spicy samp and beans or One-pot chicken from the first book or surprise your family with the Tuna and bean hot pot, Veggie and mince lasagne or the ever-popular Chicken and broccoli bake from the third book. All these healthy and affordable family recipes are available from https://cookingfromtheheart.co.za/cfthdev-recipes/ or visit www.cookingfromtheheart.co.za. Follow the Facebook-page www.facebook.com/CookingFromTheHeartSA and sign-up with Ginger, the Cooking from the heart ambassador for weekly inspiration on healthy cooking, recipes and practical kitchen tips.