Winter food is a treat for the senses, evoking warmth, comfort and nostalgia as soon as the aromas hit our cold, rosy noses. As it gets chillier and crisper outside with every second, there really is nothing better than throwing on your biggest, cosiest jumper and eating a hearty meal that never fails to warm you up from the inside out.
Winter can be tough on our bodies, but it can also be mentally draining – those dark days that feel neverending spring to mind. So, we not only need winter meals that warm our bodies but ones that soothe our minds and help us switch off too. The Freshways team have come up with a few tasty winter meal ideas that do just that.
What does winter weather do to our bodies?
When we are exposed to colder temperatures, our bodies adapt in order to retain and/or generate heat. Some of these reactions to cold weather include:
- Slowing down – the body reduces muscle contractions, slows the nervous system down, and uses carbohydrates differently to retain heat.
- Shivering – the body shakes in an attempt to increase body temperature.
- Reducing blood flow – the body’s blood vessels constrict and blood flow decreases, which means extremities such as hands and feet get cold fastest.
Foods that can combat the cold
Food is great, full stop, but it’s also beneficial to our health in so many ways. A tasty, hot, and hearty meal can help reduce the effects of colder weather and give the body plenty of energy to burn to keep itself warm. Some foods are particularly good for keeping us toasty and, conveniently, most of them can be easily incorporated into any dish.
Here are a few foods with magic warming powers that you can build a winter meal around:
- Lean meats – meats such as chicken, pork or lean beef are rich in iron, which can help blood flow issues and warm up those cold extremities.
- Ginger – ginger enhances thermogenesis, which is the bodily process of burning calories to produce heat.
- Whole grains and complex carbohydrates – foods such as potatoes and lentils are difficult for the body to break down; the extra energy usage increases the body’s temperature.
- Cumin – many spices will result in sweating when they are eaten, which is actually a cooling In contrast, cumin does increase body heat but not so much that you will sweat, therefore you’ll likely actually feel warmer for eating it.
These next ones aren’t foods, but they’re still good options for those chilly winter months! A hot drink is always a great way to tackle being cold, and there are just so many possibilities. Coffee lovers will be pleased to hear that caffeine actually helps keep the body warm, so that flat white you desperately sip on the way to work is helping in more ways than just keeping your eyes open! Other cosy winter beverages include tea (especially jasmine, mint, or berry teas), hot chocolate and, if you fancy something a little more exciting, mulled wine or cider.
Delicious dishes you need this winter
Here at Freshways, we know nothing beats a rich, hearty dish that not only fills you up, but warms and cheers you up too. So, here are some delicious, warming meal ideas you can use to brighten up those dreary winter days, both for yourself and your customers.
Sausage and mash with onion gravy
Who can resist succulent sausages on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and drizzled in a thick, rich onion gravy?! Bangers and mash has previously been ranked the UK’s top comfort food meal – and we can certainly see why.
While it’s a firm favourite as it is, sausage and mashed potatoes can easily be changed and adapted to suit individual tastes – for instance, swapping out ingredients for a vegetarian or vegan alternative would be no trouble at all. It’s also versatile in terms of what you serve with it; almost any type of veg goes well with this meal, but it’s equally good by itself. So many options!
Mashed potatoes aren’t always the easiest thing to perfect, and it’s so disappointing when they don’t turn out the way you wanted them to, so here are our top tips for making delicious, creamy mash:
- Choose the right type of potato. You want a variety that’s high in starch, but not too high.
- Cut the potatoes into large pieces, not small pieces – it will make a huge difference to the texture and flavour of your mash.
- Avoid overcooking and/or over-mashing the potatoes.
- Add the butter first, then the milk.
- Mash by hand if you can, rather than using an electric mixer or food processor.
- Use hot milk, and remember to add it gradually.
- Stirring in a small amount of mustard, sea salt and black pepper can really take your mash to the next level.
Roasted garlic and red pepper soup
Soup is a great winter warmer that is suitable for both lunch and dinner, and can often be eaten hot or cold. Plus, it has the added bonus of having infinite possibilities when it comes to flavours. It really is as simple as roasting your chosen ingredients with seasoning and oil, before then blending or food processing them, along with a liquid component (e.g. cream, stock), until your soup reaches the desired consistency.
Roasted garlic and red pepper soup is perfect for winter, as it boasts all of garlic’s health benefits, has a slight hint of spice, is smooth and creamy, and is still very low on calories! And, of course, it tastes incredible.
After preheating your oven to approximately 220°C, cut the top off 2 whole garlic bulbs, removing any papery outer layers, then slice an onion and cut 4 red peppers in quarters lengthwise. Make sure you remove any stems and seeds from the pepper before cooking. Put all three in a baking dish, sprinkle any herbs and seasonings you like over the top and drizzle with oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and tender.
Once they’re out of the oven, let them stand until cool enough to handle, before then removing the skins from the peppers and squeezing the individual garlic cloves out from their skins – they should be a paste-like consistency. Blend the roasted garlic, onion and red peppers with herbs of your choice, sea salt, black pepper, and a splash of hot sauce – keep going until the mixture is nearly smooth.
Gradually add chicken or vegetable stock and keep blending until you reach a smooth consistency that is to your liking. At this point, you can add a splash or two of single cream for that extra silky texture, but this step is completely optional – it’ll taste great regardless! All that’s left to do is cut yourself a couple of slices of your favourite bread and either heat up your soup before serving, or simply serve it cold.
Chicken and winter veg parcels
Pastry parcels are a creative alternative to a classic pie, and they often seem more appealing due to their thoughtful presentation and lighter, fluffier texture. Like pie, though, you can put all sorts of fillings and flavours in a pastry parcel, and they go with almost any side dish you could think of. They could potentially even be eaten on the go, if your business offers a takeaway option! On top of all that, pies and parcels alike are known for their tendency to retain their heat long after they come out of the oven – perfect for those chilly winter evenings!
Pastry parcels might seem like they’ll be complex and time-consuming, but it’s far simpler than you think. Here’s one of the recipes we recommend:
- Preheat the oven to 200℃.
- Roast carrots, and boil diced potatoes and frozen peas.
- Heat olive oil and butter in a frying pan, add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned and almost cooked through. Set aside once done.
- Add a leek (white part only, finely sliced) and some garlic to the pan and cook until softened – this will probably take 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in some flour and cook for 1 minute, before then adding white wine and bringing the pan to the boil for another minute.
- Pour in some chicken stock and double cream (or other thick cream) and cook for 5 more minutes over medium-low heat, stirring regularly.
- Return the chicken to the pan, along with the carrots, peas and potatoes you cooked earlier – mix in any herbs and seasoning at this stage. Leave to cool.
- Cut 18cm squares of puff pastry and keep hold of any offcuts. Spoon some of the chicken mixture into the centre of each square, then lift up the sides and corners to form a parcel, pinching edges together to seal them.
- Use the pastry offcuts to make decorative features such as leaves and place these over the joins in the parcel. Do the same for the centre – maybe a flower of some kind would work here.
- Place parcels on a baking tray, brush with beaten egg, and cook for 25 minutes or until golden.
Freshways – Trusted Wholesale Food and Dairy Suppliers Across the UK
Have you been inspired by these warming winter meal ideas? Here at Freshways, we stock a whole range of ingredients, such as bread, eggs, cheese, and jams – come to us for all your dairy and bakery needs. We cater to both sweet and savoury fans, and are dedicated to providing every one of our clients with the freshest products available. From wholesalers and manufacturers right through to small businesses such as bakeries, cafes, hotels and retailers, we are the go-to reliable dairy products supplier in the UK. For more information about our products, simply get in touch today or visit our website. We look forward to hearing from you!