Resolve to be good: Skye Gyngell's healthy recipes for a happy New Year

Now the New Year's excesses are done, it's time to think about eating more healthily – but that doesn't mean giving up on flavour, says Skye Gyngell

Once the New Year festivities have passed, it is the perfect time to start thinking about eating food that is a little healthier – though, as the weather is still so very cold, it is important to feel nurtured by the food you are eating.

The recipes here are both comforting and good for you without, I hope, feeling like a duty or a chore.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Chicken soup

I often make this soup at home in both summer and winter. It's a favourite with my children and feels like a meal all on its own. It needs nothing else as an accompaniment – except perhaps a second helping!

Serves 6

To poach the chicken and create the stock
1 whole chicken
2 fresh bay leaves
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of thyme
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp whole black peppercorns

For the soup

1 tsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small bunch of coriander, well rinsed, stalks and leaves chopped
1 small bunch of mint, leaves only, finely chopped
The juice of one lemon
150ml/5fl oz light soy sauce
100g/31/2oz rice noodles, broken into one-inch pieces

Rinse the chicken under cool water, removing any fat from the cavity as you do so. Then place into a saucepan large enough to comfortably hold all the ingredients. Scatter over the peppercorns, and other ingredients and add enough water to cover the bird entirely. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat until the water is just simmering. It is important that this stock does not boil, as it can become bitter. Simmer for an hour then remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Strain the liquid from the pot in which you have poached the chicken, discarding the vegetables and herbs but retaining the liquid as stock. Remove the skin from the chicken, and shred the flesh using your fingers. Set aside.

Rinse out the pot in which you have cooked the chicken and return to the stove. Place over a medium heat. Once the pot is warm, add a teaspoon of oil and the carrots and onion. Turn the heat to low and sweat the vegetables for 20 minutes or until they are just tender. Now add the ginger, chilli, garlic, herbs and lemon juice. Cook for a further five minutes then add the stock, chicken, soy and noodles. Turn the heat to low and cook for a further 10 minutes or so to allow the flavours to meld. Serve in warm soup bowls.

Brown rice with carrots and spinach

I know the thought of brown rice makes many people's heart sink – gluggy, boring and bland. But I have always loved pulses and grains so this is a dish that I am drawn to. I think you will find that when all the other ingredients are stirred through, it is quite delicious and satisfying

Serves 6

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into one-inch chunks
200g/7oz short-grain rice
200g/7oz spinach, rinsed wellto remove any grit
50ml/2fl oz mild extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
100ml/31/2fl oz light soy sauce
The juice of one lemon
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch of basil, leaves only

Place the carrots in a pan and add enough cold water to just cover, then add a good pinch of salt. Place over a medium heat and cook until just tender – this will take about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the carrots are cooking, rinse the rice well under running water and place in a heavy-based saucepan. Cover with enough cold water to come one-inch above the rice, add a pinch of salt, place a lid on the pan and simmer for 35 minutes – the rice should be tender, but still have a bite. Check the water every now and then while the rice is cooking, for it may need to be topped up from time to time.

Once tender, remove from the heat and, if necessary, drain off any excess water. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach has just wilted. Now simply add all the other ingredients, stir well to combine and serve.

Baked sea bass with ginger, chilli and coriander

Eat this sea bass with nothing more than a small bowl of jasmine rice. The rice will absorb the sauce in which the fish has been cooked and the sea bass will be tender, aromatic and comforting. Ask your fishmonger to gut and scale the fish.

Serves 6

1 whole sea bass, weighing about 11/2kg/3lb
1 thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into fine batons
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 small bunch of coriander, leaves only
200ml/7fl oz light soy sauce
200ml/7fl oz water

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Rinse the sea bass under cool running water, to ensure any residual blood is cleaned away from the cavity.

Lay the fish on a clean board and, using a sharp knife, make three incisions right down to the bone on both sides. Then lay the fish on a rack.

Place the rack in a baking tray and scatter over the ginger, chilli and coriander. Mix the soy and water together in a bowl then pour gently over the fish.

Cover tightly with foil and place on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for eight to 10 minutes or until the flesh is cooked right down to the bone (the flesh will no longer be translucent).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully moving on to a warm plate. Spoon over the liquid from the baking tray and serve.

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