“I’ll have some bangers, mash 
and a dollop of 
smug satisfaction”

Enjoy your comfort food with our healthy recipes that keep the fat off and boost performance

Best for energy: Shepherd’s pie

Ingredients
500g lamb mince, 900g potatoes, 1 large onion, 2 carrots, 1 organic stock cube, 1 tin of tomatoes

Method
Brown the lamb in oil and remove from pan. Sauté vegetables for five minutes, add the lamb along with the rest of the ingredients – except the potatoes – and enough water to cover. Simmer gently for one hour, then leave to cool in an oven-proof dish. Boil the potatoes until tender, then drain, mash and season. Spoon them over the meat and cook in a pre-heated oven at 200ºC for 30 minutes.

More after the break

How it helps
“Like many comfort foods, this is a great dish for carb-loading the night before a game, packing the liver and muscles with energy-storing glycogen,” says Matt Lawson, head nutritionist at Notts County, including the club’s WSL ladies team. “Add mushrooms and peppers  for a mineral-rich crunch. Instead of topping with calorie-dense cheese, try balsamic vinegar and ground pepper.”

Best for strength: Lasagne

Ingredients
500g beef mince, 400g lasagne sheets, 1 tin of tomatoes, 2 carrots, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 sticks of celery, 1 large onion, herbs, 400g feta or cottage cheese

Method
Brown the beef and set aside. Sauté vegetables for five minutes, add beef, herbs, tomatoes and enough water to cover and simmer for one hour. Layer pasta with the meat and veg, top with cheese and cook at 200ºC for 45 minutes.

How it helps
“Saturated fat in beef is essential for muscle development and strength,” says Lawson. “Add olives to give Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids for healthy hearts.”

Best for recovery: Chicken curry

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts or 8 boneless thighs, a teaspoon each of coriander, cumin and turmeric, 1 chilli, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 large onion, 8cm piece of ginger, 4 tomatoes, 300g brown rice

Method
Brown the chicken and set aside. Sauté onion, garlic, ginger and chilli for five minutes, return chicken to the pan with spices, add chopped tomatoes and a little water and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, boil rice with a little salt.

How it helps
“This is a great post-football meal, recovering carb and protein stores that will work into the night,” says Lawson. “Brown rice will release energy slowly, maintaining a steady blood glucose level.”

Best for Boosting the immune system: Bangers & mash

Ingredients
8 large sausages, 900g sweet potatoes, 1 organic stock cube, 1 large onion, 300g peas

Method
Cook sausages and sliced onions in a roasting tray at 200ºC for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until tender. Put roasting tray on hob, remove sausages to rest, add a little of the potato water, plus the stock cube and peas, and stir until thick and smooth.

How it helps
“Bangers from the butchers are best, with a high meat content, meaning more protein,” reckons Lawson, who also works with Paralympics GB. “Sweet potato is a higher-fibre, lower-carb option and packed with Vitamin A – particularly good for eye health and the immune system. For a further boost to help fight off illness at this time of year, add a splash of wine and some dried rosemary and thyme to your gravy. The peas are a great source of fibre.”

Best for muscle: Building beef stew & dumplings

Ingredients
600g braising steak, 300g wholegrain flour, 1 egg, 4 slices cubed leftover bread (crusts removed), 200ml milk, 1 organic stock cube, 1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 carrots

Method
Brown the cubed steak and remove from the pan. Sauté the chopped onion, garlic and carrots for five minutes, return the meat to the pan with the stock and enough water to cover. Simmer for two hours. Half an hour before the end of cooking, combine the flour, eggs, bread and milk with a pinch of salt, baking powder and anti-oxidant-heavy herbs into golf-ball-sized dumplings and add to stew.

How it helps
“By using wholegrain flour instead of suet in the dumplings, you will get a low-GI, slow-burning carb hit,” says Lawson. “Try cooking the meat in good-quality real ale, which, in small doses, is full of nutritional benefits.”

For more nutrition tips:
Get the most from your roast
The Brazilian buffet
"Make mine a half, Jeff..."
“What?! Ronaldo’s coming to the BBQ!”
Pizza Power
Pre-match winter warm-up meals
“I’ll have a full English and three points please”

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