It’s only been a couple of days but it feels like January has been here for a while already, but 12th night has only just arrived sneaking up on us and the tree is about to come down (next year we go for a real one). I love Christmas; actually, I love the planning and preparation, the feeling of warm and cosy evenings that suddenly feel very different when the tree appears. But come New Year’s Day I’m desperate to get it down and back in the loft for the next 11 months. That Christmas/New Year Limbo period really is the time when I switch off from work properly and focus on me for a while. By New Year’s Eve, my brain is buzzing with ideas and inspiration and I’m eager to jump start everything into action. More often than not, that only happens when I go back to work, as the sofa for one last day is too appealing.
During one of my sofa moments, I ended up on my of my Alice adventures and down the rabbit hole, more commonly known as Pinterest. What started off as ‘I want to redesign the study’ ended up with how many recipes can I pin to my healthy options board. And so it would seem I have enough there now, to see me through the year and back round to New Year’s Eve again.
January is such a limbo month for me, but there is something about getting back in the kitchen to cook up something that isn’t turkey and cold potatoes, or opening the cheese and biscuits and ploughing my way through. Just for the record, cheese and biscuits are a classified as a meal in their own right, aren’t they? If not, they are now! Anyway, going back to work this week has meant food prep has stepped up a notch or two, breakfasts have consisted of mango smoothies, with kiwis that I forgot I’d got in the fridge, lunch is salad (I’ve really not been feeling the soup love this year) and evening meals I’ve got a list of recipes to give a whirl from that heaving Pinterest board.
Whilst my favourite so far is baked oats muffins; I’m thinking I’ll share my take on that one with you soon, I thought I’d let you in on my top five recipes that really help me jumpstart my January and get back on track. Here you go, breakfast through to dessert…
I’d always been afraid of granola; not in the run and hide under the covers kind of scared, but in the most varieties have nuts in them and I’m allergic kind of way. However, after discovering a nut-free version in the supermarket one Saturday, then deciding to make my own, I have fallen a little in love with granola and I’m no longer scared. I’ve tried these granola breakfast tarts from Jessica Gavin with my homemade granola, without the walnuts, and they are a healthy but pretty way to start a lazy weekend breakfast.
I love these Mason Jar Pot Noodles from The Londoner; they are quick and simple to prepare and you can batch make them for the week. Its just a case of adding hot water at lunchtime, and bam its ready. Top tip: stock up on jars when you’re next in Ikea, they are perfect, and if I’m not using them for lunch they look great filled with chocolates as gifts.
January normally means cutting back on the amount of bread I eat, usually because I’ve eaten sandwich after sandwich for lunch over the Christmas period as they’re quick and easy, and who doesn’t love cold turkey and homemade cranberry sauce sarnies, or even salad cream. I discovered tortilla pizza years ago, but its now all about the flatbread. These flatbreads from Avantgarde Vegan make a fabulous plant-based, Moroccan inspired dinner or used as an alternative to a pizza base. They also keep my bread craving at bay for a little longer.
Just because we’re kicking starting doesn’t mean that we can’t indulge; and these BFGs – big friendly gateaux don’t you know – were something that I experimented a couple of years ago now, but still remain in my arsenal of halo-polishing desserts. The secret ingredient being mayo… yes mayo.
Last but not least, what to get you through the day between all these fabulous recipes… more vegetables, but in the form of a crisp. The pre-Christmas debate in the office was when is a crisp a potato snack; so why is a Quaver a bag of crisps, but they are a potato snack? Ponder that one for a why, but first check out these beautiful baked vegetable crisps from Hither and Thither. You won’t reach for those ones in the tube any longer.2