Happy New Year! It is, inevitably the season of fitness videos and diets, but I am here to tell you that there is another way. Most of us tend to go a little bit crazy in December, we eat lots of rich food, sit around more, and probably drink quite a bit of alcohol too (guilty)! So, setting a new regime for the new year is absolutely the right thing to do, but rather than go on the latest fad diet think of it as improving your lifestyle!

First of all, make sure that the amount of food you eat is correct based on how active you are, and secondly eat a good range of foods to ensure you are getting a balanced diet including plenty of fruit, vegetables, starchy foods such as whole meal bread and wholegrain cereals, protein rich foods like meat, fish, eggs and lentils, and finally some dairy foods too.

This can all seem a bit daunting, but if you feel you need help there are lots of nutritionists around and it can be well worth making an appointment with them to get you off to a flying start. The Food Standards Agency also have a brilliant on-line booklet called EatWell that is a good starting point.

Here is a good Winter Warmer recipe, that only takes 20 minutes to prepare and an hour to cook.

Barley & Lentil Soup
Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons Filippo Berio EV Olive Oil
  • 6 spring onions – chopped and white and green parts separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk (use a light version if you can find it)
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • Handful chopped coriander

Optional extras:

  • Frozen turkey leftovers can be defrosted and added
  • Add a tin of chick peas to bulk out


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the white parts of the spring onion, carrots, celery, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently until soft – 3-4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and curry powder. Cook stirring until the tomato paste darkens (1 to 2 minutes).
  2. Add the coconut milk, lentils, barley, 4 cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and barley are tender, 35 to 45 minutes (adding more water if needed to loosen).
  3. Serve, topped with the spring onion greens, chopped coriander and yoghurt.

Tips and swaps:

  • You can use leftover chicken or turkey – simply add during step two, towards the end of the cooking time.
  • Add tinned chick peas during step 2, after the lentils have been cooking for about 30 minutes.
  • Serve with naan bread or whole meal bread.
  • If you (or your children) don’t like chunky soups just blitz it in the blender.

In season at this time of year;

Jerusalem Artichokes, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Garlic, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Red Cabbage, Shallots, Spinach, Swede, Turnips.

Fruit & Nuts;
Apples, Pears (late – Concorde, Doyenne du Comice, Conference and Winter Nellis), Rhubarb (forced), Walnuts

Duck (end of season), Guinea Fowl, Hare, Partridge, Venison

Fish & Seafood:
Brill, Clams, Cockles, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Salmon (coming into season), Monkfish, Mussels, Oyster, Plaice, Turbot

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Suzanne is a professional chef, wife and mother who has lived in East Dulwich all her life!

This article first appeared in the January 2018 issue of SE22 magazine.