The joys of cold weather food

Summer might be the peak time for fresh fruits and salads, but fall and winter are the most wonderful seasons for home cooking. The cold and dark make us less likely to want to leave the house, which is perfect for spending some time in the kitchen trying new recipes and whipping up a few treats to keep the spirits up. Here are a few ideas good enough to make you want winter to last forever.

Comfort food

Okay, we all know healthy eating is the right thing to do. In the summer months it’s easy, hot weather lends itself perfectly to salads and fruit and all the things that make us feel virtuous. When the weather gets colder it gets a little trickier, but it’s not impossible. Fall and winter often means carb-heavy meals reliant on potatoes and pastry, but it doesn’t need to. These are the seasons of squashes, root vegetables, and beautifully lean game meats. Experiment with hearty, veg filled soups and stews – especially easy if you have a slow-cooker, or filo pastry topped pies, accompanied by roasted root vegetables dressed with honey and balsamic vinegar.

Warming drinks

Is there anything more comforting than a steaming hot mug of something delicious on a cold day? You could stick to your usual coffee or tea, with the occasional hot chocolate thrown in on particularly cold and uninviting days, but where’s the fun in that? Everyone needs a little boost during the shorter days and freezing cold nights, and the ‘hug in a mug’ effect of a special hot drink is a fast and easy way to achieve it.

Coffee drinkers can take inspiration from their local café. The flavored syrups used to make your favorite latte are widely available, and can make your morning brew feel a little bit special. For an extra treat, add hot chocolate powder, a squirt of cream, or a sprinkle of chocolate flakes or cinnamon. If tea is your go-to drink, consider investing in a special blend and save it for those times you need to indulge yourself.

Of course, the ultimate indulgence is hot chocolate. And this is where you can go nuts. All those flavored coffee syrups will work for hot chocolate as well, or add marshmallows, or cream, maybe a splash of your favorite liqueur for the adults. For really special occasions add the lot, just try to ignore the calorie count.

Gifts for family and friends

With the colder months come the holidays, and with the holidays comes gift giving. This is where you can get really creative. As fall comes to an end, there is a glut of fruit which needs using quickly. Beautifully preserved fruits and home-made jams make thoughtful and inexpensive gifts, with a distinctly personal touch. If preserving and jam making aren’t your thing, why not give home-made sweets as gifts? Marshmallow, fudge, marzipan, and chocolate truffles are all quick and easy to make, and make popular presents. If you have children, then get them involved as well. Most kids love the interactive, and often messy, nature of sweet making.

If baking is more to your liking then Why not try these incredibly sticky, toffee and chocolate chip cookies Pack them in a decorated airtight box, and give them alongside the ingredients for a special hot chocolate drink. They make a wonderful gift for a loved one with a sweet tooth. For a slightly more long-life option, iced fruit cake is a traditional gift.

It can be tough to motivate yourself to cook during the cold dark months, but it really is worth forcing yourself to do it. Proper home cooking is essential self-care, and your family will thank you as well.