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Seasonal cooking

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- (Left) Kaleb Albert, son of Heather and Staff Sgt. Matthew Albert, 354th Contracting Squadron, and (Right) Kendall Butler, son of Thomasenia and Master Sgt. Linwood Butler, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Kunsan AB, Korea, goes head to head in a cook-off competition August 14 at the Youth Center. The Youth Center is conducting a six-week cooking program for children aged 9-12 to teach them the importance of eating healthy and experimenting with different tastes. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder)(Released)

We’re well into January and it’s that time of year when people ditch the junk and try to eat a little lighter, to build up some much-needed nutritional content after the excesses of the festive period.  However, this also being deepest, darkest January, chances are you’re craving something carb-laden and calorie packed.  Here are our top three January recipes that use seasonal fruits and pack a nutritional punch while still being yummy and kid friendly.

Veggie curry 

This is a quick and easy way to add in lots of seasonal veggies, but pack them with flavour.  Swapping meat for sweet potato gives you substance and a touch of sweetness.

Simply soften an onion in a small amount of oil, add garlic and a teaspoon of curry powder, however hot you dare.  You can also add chilli powder for extra kick and a cinnamon stick and garam masala.

Once the spices have released their oils, add in cubed sweet potato and toss in the onion and spices.  Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and half the tin of water and leave to bubble.

For a creamy taste add zero-fat yogurt or low-fat coconut cream. 

Once the sweet potato is tender add in chopped green beans and peas.  If you want to add a side dish that lacks carbs, cauliflower rice is a great alternative or use brown rice instead of white.

Apple slices 

If you want a treat for the kids when they come in from school, or a healthy snack to pop in their lunch boxes, apple slices are easy to produce and kids love them.

Simply slice the apple into thin rounds and leave the core and seeds in, they’re the most nutritional part.

Make a spice mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and a small amount of brown sugar if you wish and lightly sprinkle the slices.  Place them on a baking sheet in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour at 225F/110C until the edges start to turn up slightly.

Once cooked, allow to cool and eat as a snack, with yoghurt for breakfast or with granola and warm honey for a warming dessert.

Pomegranate chicken

Pomegranates may not always be in season, but are usually available as imports.  They offer a burst of colour in the winter months and sweetness without adding sugar.  This is a simple dish, but one that looks super pretty and tastes great.

Simply chop chicken breasts into strips and place in a plastic bag with the juice of a lime, a red chilli with or without the seeds, a knob of ginger that you’ve chopped and chopped coriander. 

Leave to marinate for at least twenty minutes.  While it’s marinating remove the seeds from a pomegranate, keeping any juice.

Heat a little flavourless oil in a pan and sear the chicken strips.  Once you have a toasted coating, add the pomegranate seeds and juice to coat the chicken.

Serve in a warm tortilla wrap filled with chopped crunchy lettuce and sticks of cucumber with, maybe, extra chilli.  Serve it with a dollop of yogurt that’s been spiked with a squeeze of lime.