Put your food focus on good health as October sweeps in

Eat well to stay healthy this autumn and winter, says Di Curtin, who shares some 'bug busting' recipes
Put your food focus on good health as October sweeps in

Veggie and Cannellini Bean Broth by Di Curtin.

THE onset of the winter months is always a time to consider revamping the diet to incorporate more bug busting foods.

Given the year we’ve already had, this winter is set to be particularly challenging. Common colds and seasonal sniffles are already starting, as they always do when the weather turns nippy. The big difference in 2020 is that anyone suffering a normal autumn cold is terrified to be seen out in public in case people think they have Covid-19.

I don’t think there’s any getting away from the fact it’s going to be a difficult time ahead. We can only hope for the best, stay indoors if we do catch a chill, strictly follow government guidelines for social distancing, hand washing/sanitising and mask wearing to protect against Covid-19, and eat well to stave off any other random bugs that may be lurking.

With that in mind, this week’s main course is packed full of nutrients, and light on the tummy. I’ve used sweet potatoes, peppers and green beans to make a broth style veggie stew, enriched with cannellini beans for a boost of plant based protein. You don’t need meat for this dish, but you could add some chunks of chicken fillet to poach with the vegetables, if you feel the urge. I think it’s great as it comes, for a seasonal lunch, with lots of crusty bread for soaking up the broth.

Very easy to make, with very little to complicate the simple tastes. It’s adaptable also to any fresh veggies you might have. You could swap the sweet potatoes for butternut squash and the green beans for spinach or broccoli. Butter beans are also good instead of cannellini, as are chickpeas.


For dessert, something warming as the nights draw in. A taste of the tropics gives new life to a bread pudding, with mangos combining with crunchy granola and mixed seeds for texture. Super served with custard or cream!

Veggie and Cannellini Bean Broth by Di Curtin
Veggie and Cannellini Bean Broth by Di Curtin


Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped 

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 

2 largeish sweet potatoes, peeled and in chunks 

2 yellow peppers, seeded and chopped 

100g green beans, stalks removed and roughly chopped 

500mls vegetable or chicken stock 

75mls tomato passata 

2 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 

½ tsp dried mixed herbs 


Good pinch dried red chilli flakes (optional).

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • 1 tbsp fresh curly parsley, roughly chopped.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes over low heat till softened but not browned.
  • Add sweet potatoes, pepper and green beans and turn up the heat to medium. Cook, stirring for a couple more minutes.
  • Pour over stock and add tomato passata and cannellini beans. Stir in herbs and chilli flakes if using.
  • Bring to bubbling then lower heat and simmer, covered, till veggies are


  • Season and add parsley.
  • Serve with crusty bread.


Ingredients (Makes 4  individual puddings)

8 slices of bread softened butter for spreading 

1 large ripe mango 

3 fresh free range eggs 

450mls milk 

50 mls cream 

1 tbsp brown sugar plus a little extra for topping

 1 tsp ground ginger 

4 tbsp granola (optional) 

1 tbsp mixed seeds (optional) extra butter for dotting icing sugar for dusting 


  • Butter the bread and cut into triangles.
  • Peel the mango.
  • Hold it flat and firmly on a board with the palm of one hand, and cut horizontally, holding the knife flat against the stone as you cut. Remove the top slice of fruit. Turn over and repeat with other side. Trim off any excess flesh still on edges of the stone. Cut the flesh into slivers.
  • Arrange bread slices in four individual ovenproof dishes, points facing upwards. Tuck the mango slivers between the bread slices.
  • Whisk the eggs with the milk and cream. Stir in the brown sugar and ginger.
  • Pour over the bread.
  • Scatter the tops of the puddings with granola and seeds and dot with butter. Sprinkle with a little extra brown sugar.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at Gas 5 375F 190C for 12- 15 minutes, or until the custard is set but still sllightly wobbly, and the tops of the puddings are browned.
  • Serve dusted with icing sugar


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