Now that the festivities and celebrations of December are over and we face the long, quiet month of January, I turn to food to brighten dark evenings while waiting for spring to arrive.
As much as I want excitement in my food, I also want to cook and eat healthy dishes. Having eaten my way through all of the treats over Christmas and New Year, I’m determined to lose the extra weight I gained as quickly as possible! But I also want to keep it off, so it’s healthy choices rather than fad diets for me. To get me into the mindset to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the year, I’m also starting off with a detox in the form of dry January, in the hopes of counteracting the damage I did over the festive season!
But back to the food. For me, the key to cooking delicious food that’s also healthy, is to up the flavours without increasing the fat. Fat does add a lot of flavour in less healthy dishes, but there is another way to add flavour so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on delicious eats. Enter my beloved spices cupboard. Herbs and spices add a huge amount of flavour to food, particularly in slow cooked dishes.
The longer and slower something is cooked, the more time flavours have to intensify, so a little goes much further. On top of that, cooking meat or vegetables in a sauce means it’s not cooked in fat, cutting the calories down straight away! I love hearty stews and soups, and they are the perfect way to pack in flavour, include lots of healthy veg, and as it’s all cooked in together, you don’t lose any nutrients that cook out of the veg and into the sauce. Win!
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favourite recipes to nourish you through January and beyond. The first is my chilli chicken stew recipe. The thick sauce is savoury and spicy, and feels more like comfort eating than being on a diet! I love the deep flavours from the tomato, chilli and dark chocolate. This the perfect combo to kick off January 2019 with a bang!
I’d love to know what you think of the recipe, and what you’re eating this January! Let me know in the comments below.
Chilli Chicken Stew Recipe
Serves 4, cooking time 1 hour & 20 minutes
500g Chicken breast fillets
1 pointed red pepper or bell pepper
Small red onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 tbsp. rapeseed oil
3 ripe tomatoes & 2 tbsp. tomato puree or 1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 dried chipotle chilli pepper, soaked in boiled water for 20 mins
Chicken stock pot, dissolved in 400ml boiling water
2 squares of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
Salt and pepper
Finely chop the onion, celery stick, chipotle chilli and garlic clove.
Gently fry in the rapeseed oil over a medium heat until softened. Add a splash of water to prevent the vegetables from burning.
Chop the tomatoes and pepper into 1cm dices, and add along with the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, tomato puree, paprika and cumin. (Or pour in the tinned tomatoes if using.)
Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, and turn down to a gentle simmer.
Place the chicken breasts into the stew and add in the chocolate to the centre of the liquid.
Cover with a well fitting lid, or use tin foil or a plate if you don’t have one. Turn the heat to the minimum level and cook for 1 hour.
Taste and season with salt and pepper to your preference.
Serve with rice or over a baked potato.
If you’re looking for more healthy recipes with a chilli hit, try my fiery squash soup recipe here.