I don't do detox. After working in an office with a colleague who, when she was on a detox diet, turned into the woman from Hades, it put me off the idea for life. Plus, I savour my food much too much to want to give it up, particularly at this time of the year when hot chocolate on a weary afternoon, luscious cheesy dinners and spiced, mood-enhancing breads are the things that make life worth living during damp coldness.

That said, I also love salads, particularly one that you can make and keep in the fridge to eat alongside all the other good things. Something light, with texture and crunch, and enough chilli zing to awaken dulled tastebuds.

This is not your regular, gloopy, bad-mayo-laden coleslaw; it's a 'slaw that will enhance everything it encounters. Have it in a spiced beef sandwich but don't stop there. It brightens up all kind of winter comfort foods – serve a generous bowl with pasta dishes to lighten the meal, use it to turn tuna melts into a satisfying plateful, eat it with roasted veggies or lentils on the side and a fried egg on top or crumble over some blue cheese for a satisfyingly complex side dish.

It may not be detox but it hits many of the markers: lots of fresh, raw vegetables including the vitamin and folic acid-rich brassicas, antioxidant cranberries, heart-friendly pecans and even a dressing of raw cider vinegar, with all its touted health effects (buy the best stuff from Irish producers like Llewellyn's Orchard in Dublin and Tipperary's The Apple Farm).

Best of all, this salad is delicious. Try it and see.

Winter 'slaw – cabbage, cranberry and pecan salad

I love the cheerful specks of red chilli dotted through this salad but feel free to leave it out if you’re not a chilli fan. If you are, keep the heat, and flavour – according to Lily at MyMexicanShop.ie – by leaving in the seeds. Serves 6-8.

1 small red onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon raw cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

½ red cabbage, white core removed

½ green cabbage, white core removed

½ red chilli, finely sliced (optional)

2 red apples, cored and sliced

½ teaspoon of sea salt

75g dried cranberries

75g pecan nuts, toasted


3 tablespoons raw cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup or Highbank Orchard Syrup

3 tablespoons walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard (I used Garlic & Chili Mustard from The Green Apron)

Freshly ground black pepper

  • Toss the red onion with 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and set aside for a few minutes to soften and mellow. Shred the red and green cabbages thinly – this is easiest in a food processor but you can also do it by hand.
  • Tip into a large bowl, add the red onion and vinegar, chilli and sliced apple, sprinkle with salt and toss well. Sprinkle over the dried cranberries and pecan nuts.
  • To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar, syrup, oil and mustards together. Season well with black pepper, pour over the shredded vegetables and toss well.
  • Best eaten at room temperature but keeps well in the fridge.

    Caroline Hennessy is a broadcaster, author and award-winning food blogger. Visit her website here