Recipes: Moderate portions for a healthy January

Whisky Sticky Toffee Pudding. Picture: Contributed
Whisky Sticky Toffee Pudding. Picture: Contributed
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EAT in moderation and you can keep pudding on the menu, says Carina Contini

Most people think I’m slim. I’m tall yes, but slim no. Good at covering it up, possibly. I’m also two stone heavier than when I got married which sounds even worse when I realise that equals a 25 per cent increase in body weight.

So what to do? Like most things the answer is staring me in the face. My mother wears the same dress size she had 50 years ago, while my father often needs a bigger jumper at Christmas. Is it genetic? Undoubtedly. However, luck and a bit of choice are involved too.

My mother’s father played football for Celtic from 1919 to 1929. Their health and fitness programme was cutting edge and Grandpa carried his training through his life. Breakfast was one boiled egg, a small bowl of porridge, half a grapefruit, three prunes, a glass of orange juice, a glass of warm water and a tablespoon of olive oil. Grandpa never ate between meals, had one slice of toast with marmalade and a cup of tea for his supper and never drank much alcohol. Discipline decided his diet and my mother is the same. They both ate to their body type. The rules are simple; avoid what doesn’t agree with you, consume everything in moderation and take a brisk walk every day.

There are many fad diets and fancy health regimes. I try to live an active life, make the choices that I know work for me and practise moderation. One or two chocolates won’t do any harm – finishing the tub in front of the telly will.

CHICORY, ORANGE AND POMEGRANATE SALAD WITH MUSTARD DRESSING

Pomegranates are at their best at this time of year. Their colour, flavour and added immune-boosting qualities (they’re packed with vitamin C and B), make them a must for the winter months.

Serves two

1 Roast the pumpkin and mustard seeds in a moderate oven for 5 minutes until crisp.

2 Choose a large platter and scatter the chicory, orange segments, pomegranate and the hot seeds on top.

3 Dress with the olive oil and lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt.

4 Mix well.

LEMON AND GINGER SEA BASS

After the meat feast over Christmas and New Year, this dish rings the changes with delicious sea bass and the fresh flavours of lemon, thyme and capers. It also includes the medicinal marvel fresh ginger that will settle the digestive system after any excesses.

Serves one

1 Wash the fish and dry, then lay it on a baking sheet.

2 Mix the ginger, lemon juice, capers, oil and thyme together and liberally dress over the fish.

3 Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes at 200C/Gas Mark 6.

WHISKY STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING

We all need an occasional treat and with Burns coming our way tomorrow night a wee dram never does any harm.

Serves six

1 Place the dates in a pan and add 150ml of cold water. Bring to the boil.

2 Remove from the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda. Mash to a smooth paste and leave for 10 minutes.

3 Make the sticky sauce by melting the muscovado sugar, butter, cream and whisky in a pan. Stir until you have a glossy, smooth, shiny sauce.

4 In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Slowly beat in the eggs, flour and ground ginger.

5 Gently fold in the date mixture and the stem ginger until it’s all incorporated, then pour a thin layer of the sticky sauce mix into the bottom of the buttered baking tray (30cm x 20cm x 7cm deep) or ceramic dish.

6 Pour the date sponge mixture on top of the sauce in the dish. There should be enough room for the sponge to rise. The mixture is wet, but don’t worry.

7 Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes at 180C/Gas Mark 4.

8 Serve straight from the oven with additional hot sticky sauce and a little pouring cream.