Healthy dinners for cold winter nights

Wholewheat spaghetti with sardines and cherry tomatoes

Our dietitian suggests lighter dinners for dark nights, plus tips for stocking up your store cupboard.

A lighter evening meal may be in order if you’ve had a big meal at lunchtime. It can still be warming, but your portion may need adjusting depending on what you’ve already eaten that day. If that’s the case, try vegetable soup with a small sandwich, or something like sardines or poached egg on toast with some sliced tomato alongside.

A pattern of two smaller meals and one main meal a day is a simple thing you can do to help you avoid winter weight gain.

To make healthy meals more interesting, stock up on spices to add flavour.

When you are at home more, there is a temptation to keep grazing and snacking over the day but, with Christmas just around the corner, it’s good to keep an eye on the scales sooner rather than later.

If you’re looking for more ideas to keep you warm this winter, take a look at our recipe finder. Why not try braised beef with red onions, chicken and chestnut mushroom pasta bake or a spicy carrot and lentil soup?

Store cupboard tips

Keeping a store cupboard of ingredients is a great way to make sure you have healthy options to hand. And by doing that, there is less chance that you’ll be tempted by quick takeaway or ready meal options, which, although convenient, can come loaded with salt and saturated fat.

When you stock up your cupboards, make sure you have easy, warming and also healthy options that you can put together to make a balanced meal quickly. You’ll need starchy carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta and couscous, and some proteins such as tinned fish in spring water or tomato sauce (which you can use for our wholewheat spaghetti with sardines and cherry tomatoes recipe, pictured above).

Don’t forget about dried or tinned beans and other pulses (try these in our Tuscan bean and vegetable stew recipe) and, of course, vegetables and fruit. These can be tinned or frozen and kept in your freezer.

To make healthy meals more interesting, stock up on spices to add flavour. Chilli or curry powder can provide a different kind of heat to your meals too.

Bedtime drinks Bedtime drinks

A hot drink before you go to bed makes you feel cosy and warm, which will help you to get to sleep. The caffeine in tea and coffee may hamper your sleep so, as an alternative, try caffeine-free options, herbal teas or just hot water with a slice of lemon or orange, or some fresh mint. If you prefer a milky drink, use low-fat milk to cut the saturated fat and go for lighter versions of malted drinks or hot chocolate.

Read our tips for a healthy breakfast

Read about warming lunches that won't harm your heart

Read our dietitian's tips for eating healthily through the cold winter days and nights

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