The January Blues are a well-known phenomenon with the lingering aftermath of the festive glut and the shiny newness of resolutions said to be most on the wane by week three when we have what is known as Blue Monday. The third Monday in January is said to be the absolute worst day of the year since it is between paydays alongside the cold and general darkness.
In an effort to combat all that, our focus for this month then is on foods that not only contain the 12 nutrients that are said to be the most mood-boosting ones, but also retain a huge dash of colour to give a visual boost too.
In order to do this, Jason has chosen squash as a key ingredient for this month’s recipes. It contains huge amounts of mood-boosting Vitamin A, as well as healthy fibre and a host of antioxidants, while being low in starch compared to other staples, and also relatively low in calories for those who are in a weight-conscious mood for January.
There are some wonderful looking cute baby squash varieties available now, with premium-ish prices and little flesh, which is why Jason has taken the humble butternut squash – a winter staple – and demonstrated its versatility.
In this batch of recipes – and there are many variations this month – there are more uses for our Brilliant Bases, as well as stand-alone recipes: starters, light lunches and full-blown main courses, all packed with flavour and high in nutritional value.
Jason’s favourite herb coriander (or cilantro as it’s also known) is another great source of nutrition and features on some of this month’s recipes, in the form of piquante chimichurri sauce, also known as Argentine barbecue sauce.
Coriander is packed with flavour and bursting with antioxidants that make it antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, while it has also been shown to have anti-anxiety properties too, so it’s another great choice for beating the blues.
Feel free to use it to add a dash of colour or flavour on anything else you cook: steaks, fish, scrambled eggs, tofu or any other protein. It will last in the fridge for up to a month.
In the first of these two recipes we take lean pork loin that is high in a number of nutrients that are said to affect mood – such as protein, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc – and marry it with our butternut squash and sage, which is also packed with antioxidants that support memory and brain health.
In the second, oven-baked salmon or sea trout, rich in omega 3s and protein, take centre stage alongside a poached egg for more protein and vitamin D and our super light Hollandaise sauce.
Two great dishes here for a quick lunch or dinner using our boat-roasted squash as a ‘vehicle’ to deliver some top-class, mood-boosting nutrition.
In the first, we take our squash boat and load it with antioxidant-rich beets and either aged feta or cheddar, while the second is a Veganuary special thanks to it using our homemade vegan protein.
As a reminder, this is fully nutritionally balanced with a full compliment of amino acids and B12 (both of which can be challenging in a vegan diet). The fact it tastes delicious is an added bonus!
Here, Jason has come up with two great suggestions to re-use some of our Brilliant Bases, perfect whether they’ve just come off the stove or if you’re looking for ways to use up those last few bits before moving onto a new batch.
The chicken katsu marries our katsu curry with our cooked chicken breast and adds a side of coconut rice, while the second is a simple use of Tomato Fondue, with an added spice kick and topped with some melted mozzarella.
Our two final dishes for the month bring in the Hasselback way of cooking squash. This crisps up nicely and is a great way of serving it to kids. In the first option, we use a pan-roasted tuna, rich in protein and omega 3 fats, and add in broccoli (rich in vitamins K, C and A) and another favourite, pomegranate which has three times the antioxidant activity of red wine or green tea.
The second sees us use langoustines (or Dublin Bay prawns) that are also protein and omega 3-rich, but contain other antidepressant nutrients such as iodine, selenium, phosphorus, copper and vitamin B12. We add in here our chimichurri again, for those anti-anxiety properties of coriander.
So that’s it for this month, aside from to say: Have the best New Year ever… We’ll be back in February with some affairs of the heart for Valentine’s Day. See you next time or on our social feeds.
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