Delicious and healthy autumn comfort food ideas

As the colder weather sets in, we begin to crave food that offers a little bit of warmth and comfort. Unfortunately sometimes a nourishing salad or smoothie just isn't going to cut it!

But before you turn to mashed potato or cheesy pizza, why not try one of these hearty but healthy menu options? These are all ingredients that can be used at home with very little effort, and you'll feel full and satisfied without the guilt!

1. Porridge
The perfect morning option for those freezing cold mornings. Add toppings like berries, a touch of honey, some vanilla essence or some cinnamon for a really moreish meal that is just the definition of TLC. If you're in a rush, bring the dry oats to work and cook them in the microwave, or make overnight oats the night before by allowing the grains to soak in milk or yoghurt in the fridge. See our yummy overnight oats recipe here

2. Sweet potato
Mashed, roasted or blended in a soup – sweet potato is such a versatile food and is a great healthy alternative to normal white potatoes. Sweet potato's nutty flavour and creamy texture makes it the ultimate comfort food – and it just so happens to be bursting nutrients too. Enjoy!

3. Herbal tea
An evening spent curled up in front of the fire isn't complete without a cup of something warm in your hands. Instead of hot chocolate or milky tea, try a soothing herbal tea like peppermint, chamomile or a flavoured berry tea. Not only is it far healthier, but it'll calm you down before bedtime too – a win-win!

4. Pumpkin
Autumn's best friend! Rather than a calorie-filled Pumpkin Spice Latte, get hands-on with the real deal! Pumpkin is a great base ingredient for soups, breads and casseroles and as it's low in carbohydrates it won't leave you feeling bloated like pasta or potatoes.

5. Barley
Forget rice, fibre-packed barley is where it's at when it comes to autumn grains. It can be cooked using an absorption technique, the same as rice, so it doesn't take any extra effort. Choose it as a side to hearty meals like chilli, or use it instead of arborio rice in a risotto. Yum.

6. Pears
The humble pear isn't just for your lunchbox. Stewed or poached with cinnamon and nutmeg, it makes a pretty epic dessert. Add a scoop of ice-cream and you're good to go!