I WILL never fully understand why we embrace autumnal cosiness with pumpkin spice lattes and tray-bakes yet, when the temperature plummets to its lowest in the early months of the year, we take to chomping maniacally on salad.

Whilst I’m all for health and wholesomeness, I stand heartily against the tradition of ‘the January diet’.

I’ve barely had time to swallow the last mince pie of the year before one of my nearest and dearest begin staunchly reciting their new year diet plans.

This will be announced gravely, as they pile cheese and crackers onto their plate, aware that every bite must be compensated for with weeks of celery sticks and sadness.

The infamous January diet is the most aggressive and popular of the yearly food-fads, if it were a person it would be a whistle-touting, ex-army, circuit-training instructor with a penchant for juice-fasting and twice-worn gym socks.

A sudden plunge from consistent mince-pie consumption into a calorie-controlled, rice-cake-regime seems somewhat unsustainable so I vouch for simply ramping up the nutritious content in my cooking.

Bake fruity flapjacks in place of cake and and throw a handful of pumpkin seeds into your bread dough.

Chop a banana into your porridge and whip up the odd smoothie or two when you’re feeling motivated.

I can appreciate what drives the masses towards the salad aisle; the festive period can be so decadent, so full of cosy treats, cheese courses and in-between meals that it’s impossible not to emerge on the other side a few pounds heavier, disgruntled and blinking into the bleak winter light.

However, deprivation is hardly good for morale at a time of year when morale is difficult to come by.

I believe that these cold, quiet months should be less about restriction and more about nourishment. I personally survive bleak Januaries by wrapping up warm, drinking plentiful amounts of hot chocolate and baking nourishing treats for both mind and body.

Try this recipe for immune-boosting fuel:


THIS creamy smoothie will remind you of the sweetness and spices of festive baking and is full of immune-boosting ingredients. Perfect fuel for sluggish week day mornings.

Serves 1

1 chopped banana (frozen)*
½ tsp freshly grated ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp maple syrup/honey
2 tbsp oats
½ cup milk
½ cup yogurt
pinch nutmeg

Using a blender simply blitz all ingredients together until smooth. Serve with a pinch of nutmeg on top. 

*NB. I find it best to use frozen bananas, it creates a creamier ‘milkshake’ texture and is a great way to store and use overripe bananas.