Noodles are delicious comfort food to guard against winter's chills.

On frosty winter evenings, it is tempting to cook hearty rich meals. I love slow-cooked meaty dishes but if you eat them too often you can be left feeling sluggish and craving a lighter alternative. Cooking noodles is a good solution.

First choose which type of noodle you prefer from the options available from Asian stores and supermarkets. Then choose your favourite core ingredients - chicken, fish, beef or tofu. Now you can consider the spices and herbs - chilli, ginger, garlic, lemongrass and coriander all provide invigorating, warming flavours.

Chillies comes in many forms, either fresh or dried, red, green yellow or purple, small and hot or larger and mild.

The membranes attached to the seeds provide most of the heat, so, if you wish, remove them by scraping away with the point of a sharp knife. Some people believe that endorphins are released after eating chillies, providing a sense of pleasure, but whether that's true or not, the flavour and heat contribute to a delicious dish to ward off the winter chills. Ginger and garlic are renowned for their anti-oxidant qualities.


Eating plenty of ginger may ward off colds.

Make sure you ginger looks fresh and feels crisp in order to gain as many of the health benefits as possible. If it's pliable, don't buy it!

Incorporating garlic into these dishes fights disease and can contribute to reducing high blood pressure. When choosing garlic, make sure the head is firm and there are no cloves that feel soft or show signs of mould. Don't keep garlic in the fridge where it may become mouldy; a dry spot in the kitchen is much better.

Try to use fresh lemongrass which is very easy to grow in a pot. The preserved option in a jar has a strong flavour of vinegar and the flavour is not the same.

Noodles are quick to cook.

As soon as they are ready, and all the delicious ingredients are ladled over, gently combine then spoon into a large warm bowl and curl up on the sofa to enjoy a healthy mid-winter meal.

Chef's tip

Many varieties of fresh noodles are now available. Whether using fresh or dried, follow the cooking instructions on the packet but remember to allow less time when cooking fresh noodles.

Here are three recipes to try:
* Soba noodles, ginger and garlic broth, chicken and coriander
* Stir-fried hokkien noodles with chilli prawns and lemongrass
* Rice noodles, shitake, fried tofu, sesame and soy