Each year my love of growing vegetables, well grows. I had a dad who had very green fingers and grew a lot of the vegetables for the small hotel my parents ran. In the summer months our bath water was often emptied by buckets into the vegetable patch! My Sri-lankan grandmother has the greenest fingers in the family. Her windowsills were often covered in seedlings and she would disappear into the garden at mealtime to pick “greens” to make into a family favourite dish. A meal of rice and curry is not right without “greens”.
One of my first successes was courgettes. Most years I get a good crop, apart from last hear but I blame the baby for that 😉
This year however I have 2 plants that are exploding with monster courgettes and a bountiful supply is on its way. Follow my instagram stories for pics of the garden and how I cook them.
Personally I love courgettes. Roasted, in a stir fry, ratatouille, on pizza…. only issue is that Miss K and the J boy are not so keen. So it’s been a season of finding ways to encourage them to eat them. I don’t like to hide vegetables so I do tell them it’s in there, once they have tried some. Here are my top ways that they like and eat:
Courgette cake. This has gone down so well. I’ve been making it and freezing it. Recipe below.
Courgetti. Not because we want to be on trend but because it works. Spiralising courgette, cooking with garlic and lemon juice is a winner.
Grated courgette in bolognaise, risotto or pretty much any dish!
Roasted and blended with tinned tomatoes for a pasta sauce.
Hubby and I love a courgette curry so that’s also on the menu but I have to make the children something different on those nights!
So here is a lovely courgette cake recipe. You really won’t taste the courgette and I’ve lowered the sugar content for you too, it works out at 3g sugar per slice but some of this is the yoghurt and courgette. Per 100g it is 3.6g sugar so a much healthier alternative to many other cakes.
I made this for a family party recently and it went down really well!
Courgette and Sultana Cake (Wheat and Lactose Free)
Easy to make, reduced sugar recipe and includes plenty of yummy courgette.
300g plain wheat free flour (I used Aldi's own brand)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Grate the courgette.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4. Grease and line a loaf tin.
Mix together all the wet ingredients.
Add the flour and carefully mix in.
Now add the remaining dry ingredients and mix.
Pour into the loaf tin and put in the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes uncovered and then cover the top with foil to prevent it burning.
This cake takes 30-40 minutes in my oven, I recommend checking it by inserting a skewer and seeing if the bottom is cooked. You don't want to have the bottom too soft (I've made that mistake for you!).
I’m always after ways to get more veggies into the children and myself. Hubby likes to do his own thing at lunch, so I made these as a preparation for the toddler, baby and my lunches. They were fast to make and went well warmed up with a salad for lunch. Make a batch, freeze a batch and feel smug all week.
Vegetable lasagne is one of my all time fav dishes. Super comfort food, I was looking for a way to make it healthier, not too long in the making and pack it full of veggies. I may have done it 🙂 Cooking around a baby, a toddler and a chatty, needing attention school girl means cooking needs to be simple and quick for school night meals, I managed to do this one in stages. Butternut squash was prepped at lunchtime and left. Tomato sauce was prepped after school. It was all assembled during the afterschool ballet class then popped in the oven. WIN.
Plates were literally licked clean (mental note to work on table manners in our house) and everyone had seconds. There were, of course, fights over the cheese topping. It was one of those meals for me that I just wanted to keep eating. However I listened to my stomach. Sigh. Sometimes intuitive eating is not that much fun 😉
A great meal for upping the veggie content of your meals for the week, a meat free feast.
Butternut and spinach lasagne
A not-so-complicated, delicious vegetable lasagne recipe
Lots of people are working on reducing their meat consumption at present, it sounds easy but if you are doing it you need to replace that meat protein with some other protein sources. Some examples would be soya, tofu, all forms of bean from kidney to cannellini to black beans, eggs, cheese, quinoa and pulses including lentils.
Having Sri-Lankan blood I absolutely LOVE lentils. So here is one of my favourite ways to cook them – DHAL.
Dhal is legendary in my family. We’ve all grown up on it and a meal of curry and rice is not complete without it. It’s incredibly versatile, can be made with all types of lentils and pulses and you can add most veggies to it too. Also a great dish for weaning 🙂
I also have a love of aubergine (or eggplant), so here is my recipe combining the two, slow cooked for true laziness.
An easy dhal recipe using the amazing aubergine, low GI, high in protein and super healthy.
1tsp each of mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and cumin
Saute the onion in pan or crockpot with spices, then add ginger and garlic, plus all other ingredients. Stir well, add water so it's covered by about 1/2 inch and leave to cook on high for 5 hours. Check the fluid level and towards the end of cooking add 100ml milk. I cooked mine for most of the day, it smelt divine.
The weather has turned distinctly chilly, so we’ve turned to soups for our lunches. I love soups as they really are easy to make, they can be an easy way to get vegetables and great nurtitious food into the family and they heat up the insides. This soup was a bit of an experiment, it has a different edge to it with the cinnamon, cumin and lemon. It really does work and makes a fresh, tingly on the tastebuds soup.
To make this a complete lunch we ate ours wih rice cakes and finished with a yoghurt.
Spiced Moroccan Vegetable Soup
A zingy, spiced vegetable soup inspired by Moroccan flavours, quick, easy, healthy, low fat and packed with goodness.
Rattatouille. There is something about it that just tickles my taste buds and makes me feel all warm inside. We usually grow a glut of courgettes in our garden so this becomes one of our courgette loving dishes and because it freezes well I always make a large batch. I know there are hundreds of variations on a theme out there, so here is just my usual variation.
It’s a low fat recipe but packed full of veggies, so counts for 2-3 of your 5 a day 🙂
We serve our with either rice or pasta as a main meal, it also works well as a side dish to go alongside meat and fish.
Super Healthy Rattatouille Recipe. Gluten Free.
A super healthy rattatouille recipe that is cheap to prepare, goes with almost anything and freeze well. Win Win.
I love butternut squash, this recipe was inspired by a friend has made a similar dish for me for lunch on occasion and it’s alwasy stood out in my memory, so here is my take on it. Its a good way to get veggies into those who aren’t keen on them, the butternut goes sweet, soft and sumptuous in the oven.
It was a cold weekend day when I made this one, unusally the toddler was feeling out of sorts and cuddled on the sofa under a blanket, this was meant to be comfort food but it turned out she didn’t want her dinner 🙁 oh well, it happens! Both myself and hubby enjoyed it lots and I’m pretty sure the toddler would on another day.
1 medium butternut squash (will serve 2)
2 cloves garlic
1 cup of lentils
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp mixed herbs
Cut the butternut squash in half (do not peel) and gouge out the seeds. Either throw these away or wash and either roast them or save and plant them!
Remove some of the butternut flesh, leaving a few cm rim around it. You should have a large cavity. Keep the flesh and chop it.
Prepare the onions and garlic. Place these in a pan with a little oil and cook, then add the cumin.
Add the lentils and stir to coat in the onions and oil. Now add enough water to cover the top of the lentils by 1 1/2 cm and leave to simmer.
After 20 minutes add the chopped mushrooms and herbs plus the chopped butternut squash. Cook for 10 minutes so the vegetables are cooked. Season to taste.
Stuff the butternut squash with the lentil filling. You could now wrap these in foil and keep to roast another day.
Top with a little crumbled cheese and roast for 40 minutes at Gas Mark 5, the squash should be soft when pricked with a knife.
It’s officially cold, freezing, cold here. In fact it’s snowing! Here’s my perfect snow day soup recipe. It’s packed full of veggies to boost that immunity, the beans are filling and satisfying, and being a soup, it’ll keep you warm. The pasta makes this a complete meal so no bread is needed. Great for feeding hungry families and using up left over veggies.
It’s no secret that I LOVE a good bargain, last week I picked up Aubergines for 10p, yes you read that right. I’d been saving them and ruminating in my mind about what I should do with them and then got inspired by a chef friend. So here is my aubergine bake.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1.5 tins chopped tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 stock cube
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
Dried mixed herbs
Slice aubergines lengthways into long slices. Drizzle with a little oil and then cook on a griddle pan or under the grill for a few minutes on each side.
Whilst the aubergines cook, put the tins of chopped tomatoes into a pan with garlic, chopped onion, dried mixed herbs, stock cube (gluten free if required), tomato puree, sugar and plenty of black pepper.
Bring to the boil and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes so it reduces and thickens.
Spread a layer of aubergine in an ovenprood dish, top with the sauce and then repeat the layers – a bit like a lasagne.
Finally top with mozzerella.
Bake for 30 minutes at Gas Mark 5.
Serve with pasta and a green salad. YUM.
What’s your favourite Aubergine recipe? Please let me know, I’m an aubergine addict!
I love bean burgers. They are one of those foods that want me make to turn vegetarian. But they just aren’t one of those things that I make very often. Till now.
Tonight was one of those evenings where I hadn’t got round to planning dinner, so I turned to the fridge for inspiration…. the bowl of kidney beans was calling my name. We also had carrot and courgette’s eyeing me. Bingo.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting these to work well as I literally threw them together on a whim, but in my experience that’s often when my best recipes occur. In my opinion this is one of them.
A great recipe for Family Meals, for weaning, it’s vegetarian, gluten free, wheat free, dairy free….need I say more?! Oh, hold on… ITS TASTY!
1 tin kidney beans
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp Curry powder (I used a Sri-Lanka blend, use your favourite mix)
1 tbsp mixed fresh herbs or a pinch of dried
I am a complete cheat. I used my food processor. To do this – place the beans, carrot, courgette, onions, garlic in the food processor and provess until finely chopped.
If you don’t have a food processor then grate the carrot and courgette, finely chop the beans, onion and garlic.
Shape the mix into large patties, pressing the mixture firmly together. I made 5 patties in total.
Place on a greased baking tray, pop into the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. (You could make ahead to this stage and cook later or freeze them at this stage).
Cook in a large pan or on a griddle, turning part way through cooking.
I served ours with salad and potato wedges.
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.