Category Archives: Recipes

10 Minute Minestrone Soup

It’s officially winter in our house, which means the jumpers are out, the heating on and soup is being made. We love soup. What’s not to love…it can be packed with veggies, warms you up and is easy to make.

Yesterday was a rush around day and I knew we were out over lunch so would come back home starving, wanting an instant late munch. So whilst baby had her lunch I threw together this 10 minute Minestrone number. The added bonus being it was made from store cupboard ingredients and our version was wheat/gluten free, plus baby friendly 🙂

Here’s what I did…

Put 1 tin of chopped tomatoes in a pan with 1 litre hot water and a salt stock cube (gluten free and low salt in our case), of course you could use fresh stock if you are clever enough to have some. As this all comes up to simmer add in some broken up thin noodles or spaghetti. We used rice vermicelli which cooks almost as soon as it hits the water. Whilst that is simmering for a couple of minutes, dash to your freezer and pull out a bag of frozen veggies, add about 300g. Let the whole thing simmer for a few minutes, season well and there it is. Soup in 10 minutes. Enjoy.

What’s your favourite soup? I’d love to hear your recipes.

Small Potato Rock

I’ve been working with the Potato Council recently doing parent and toddler roadshows with the Small Potatoes. For those of you up on Cbeebies you’ll know all about the “Small Potatoes”.  These potatoes like to sing and dance…. so that’s exactly what I have been doing too! Songs include “Small Potato Rock”, “Potato Love” and the “Potato Train”. No laughing now, this is serious stuff.

It’s been a lot of fun watching excited toddlers hug the potato characters, judging colouring competitions and talking to mums about healthy eating and family meals. It’s also shown me how needed this type of thing is, the mums had loads of great questions and were dying to get recipes, meal planners and tips.

My little one meets the "Small Potatoes" who are rather larger than her!

So here are a few potato inspired recipes for you:

BOMBAY POTATO CURRY (serves 4)

  • 500g new potatoes halved
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds, tumeric, cumin and coriander
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bag spinach

Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds, let them pop for a couple of minutes then add the onion and garlic, saute. Add the tumeric, cumin and coriander plus a little chilli if wanted, cook 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and potatoes, plus spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes.

POTATO AND VEGETABLE TAGINE (serves 4)

  • 2 tsp paprika, cumin
  • 600g potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions in large chunks
  • 3 carrots, in wedges
  • 1 red pepper, thickly sliced
  • 2 parsnips, in wedges
  • 1 star anise
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 handfuls dried apricots

I sometimes do this one in the slow cooker – throw it all in, press the button, walk away and come back several hours later to eat it 🙂

Alternatively….cook the spices in the oil, and add the potatoes, after a couple of minutes add the rest of the vegetables, plus the chopped tomatoes and half a tin of water. Stir and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree, star anise chick peas and dried apricots and simmer for 10 minutes.

So what are your favourite potato recipes? Let me know by commenting below.


Risotto Love.

We love risotto in our house. It’s just so versatile. You can dress it up all fancy and swish for a dinner party or keep it simple for an everyday family meal. Plus, its wheat and gluten free, can easily be vegetarian and it’s easy, peasey to make….even my husband who isn’t into cooking can make a risotto 😉

Our favourites at the moment are mushroom and blue cheese and a creamy leek and lemon version with salmon. Butternut squash with a grating of nutmeg works well as does chicken and pea.

Risotto’s take a bit of love and time, you can’t really walk away and leave them to cook themselves, unless you like crunchy rice…so stay by the cooker and let it cook slowly, simmering not boiling.

Using a home made stock is tasty and lower in salt. We make stock using the chicken bones after a roast and freeze it down for later.

Swap cream for low fat creme fraiche or natural yoghurt and low fat creme cheese. Keeps the creamy taste but cuts the fat.

Add a splash of wine and some fresh herbs for extra flavour. You can go fairly bold in a risotto so try some different flavour combos.

You can make it in advance, then finish off with the last bit of stock or a swirl of milk/wine when heating up. It also makes great leftovers for lunches.

If feeding a baby it’s perfect sticky finger food, my baby adores risotto.

 

Tips to reduce food waste.

Mouldy carrots, liquid cucumber, out of date yoghurts…we’ve all had it. In this time of us all trying to be more eco-friendly not only should we be trying to shop more locally and reduce petrol, buy local produce and reduce food miles, grow more food ourselves…but also not overbuying food that we don’t need and making sure food doesn’t get wasted.

The Food Waste Report says we throw away 1/3 of the food we buy, 6.7 tonnes a year. The main foods wasted being potatoes, bread and fruit and veggies. According to statistics if we stopped wasting food it would be the equivalent to taking 1 in 4 cars off UK roads! I found this figure pretty alarming. Reducing the amount of food waste is key if we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Being a dietitian I must admit I do watch what others do in their homes. I’m not judging but just interested. What I tend to see is a lot of wasted food. Leftovers from meals being thrown away, things in the fridge not being used in time, fruit half eaten and then chucked in the bin. None of that is allowed in my house. If a banana is left in the car and is by the husband and is past its best it either gets used straightaway in my banana flapjack recipe or frozen for use later on. Leftovers are fought over for lunches! In fact I now just cook extra so the baby and I can have leftovers for lunch in the week, and the freezer can be fed.

I’d like to inspire you to be a little less wasteful so here are some tips:

Top Tips:

1. Plan, Plan, Plan. At some point in the week plan out what you are going to do for meals. In our house this is a flexible plan as I’m guided also by what is on offer in the shops. So I may decide to do a risotto, but leave the type of risotto flexible until I shop. Planning helps me buy the right things, saves me time and money and keeps me organised! It also ensures that most of  the time we don’t get caught out on a busy day with no time to cook…as I think about what we are all doing and try to plan in when I will have time to cook dinners.

2. You don’t need to throw away food just because it is past the best before date. There are 2 types of dates on foods…the use by date is important, food can be eaten up to the end of the ‘use by’ date, but not after even if it looks and smells fine. The best before date is different. This refers to quality rather than food safety. When the date is passed, the food won’t be unsafe but it might begin to lose its flavour or texture.

3. Keep leftovers. Leftovers are amazing. Use them for lunches, add them into the next days meal, add them to a whole new meal – use as the base of an omelette, a frittata, soups and stews… Or freeze them.

4. Be aware of what is in your fridge and veggie rack. Think about what needs using up first before you start to cook. Is the spinach wilting? Are the peaches going off? Then use them up quick! Stir fries are great for using most veggies, fruit can be lightly stewed and turned into a dessert or a compote for breakfast. Use the internet to find a quick recipe.

5. Make soups…if we have a glut of veggies it becomes soup time.  Homemade soups are so quick and easy to make. Soften a little onion, ad your veggies, cover with stock and simmer till the veggies are soft. Whiz in the blender, add seasoning and hey presto…fresh soup. It’s cheap, easy and full of nutrition.

6. Get composting 🙂 Scraps, peelings, apple cores, teabags, torn up paper and tissue, toilet rolls etc… can all be composted. Get a compost collecter in your kitchen and start a compost heap in the garden. Then use the compost to grow some yummy veggies!

7. Try to buy food that has less packaging or biodegradable packaging. Fruit and veggies can be bought loose, from the green grocer or have a box delivered from the farm. Recycle as much packaging as possible or compost some of it.

References:

WRAP. Food Waste Report. The food we waste.  April 2008. http://wrap.s3.amazonaws.com/the-food-we-waste.pdf

The Art of lazy cooking…by the slow cooker.

I love my slow cooker. Fact. It’s one of my fav kitchen gadgets, along with my food processor, bread machine and the kettle. Shows I’m pretty lazy doesn’t it! I’d love to have the time to mix everything by hand, make bread by hand and boil water in a pretty singing kettle on the hob, but in my whirlwind life it just isn’t going to happen. So I cheat…pretty much all the time.

Today I fancied cooking a heathy stew full of beans, lentils, veggies and chicken. Now I’m looking after an active baby, running pilates classes, teaching step aerobics and writing a diet sheet today, not much time to cook. So my solution was to get out the slow cooker.

This is what we do…raid the cupboards and veggie rack, chop things nice and chunky, throw it all in and switch it on 🙂 Today we have chicken thighs, chunky bacon bits, carrots, squash and mixed beans and pulses all with some chopped tomatoes, fennel, mustard seeds and balsamic vinegar plus a star anise. Towards the end of cooking I’ll add a handful of fresh herbs and serve with mashed potatoes as its potato season in our house.

Give it a go, the house will smell lovely, the food will taste great and it’s all healthy stuff.

Wheat free/Gluten Free Pancakes

Everyone loves a good pancake, myself included. So here is my adaptation… its both wheat free and gluten free 🙂 quick and easy to whip up. We like them for brunch with bacon or as a snack.

135g rice flour

1 egg

130ml milk

1 tsp baking powder

2tbsp oil/melted marg

optional –  1 handful sultanas.

Mix up the batter adding extra milk if needed, it needs to be fairly thick, about the consistency of double cream. Heat up a non stick pan (or I use a large griddle that fits across 2 burners on my cooker) and drop tablespoons on. When bubble start to appear on the surface flip the pancake over.

They take a couple of minutes each side. Best eaten warm 🙂

If you have any left (unlikely), these freeze really well, I tend to make up a big batch and freeze some, then take a few from the freezer and toast them as a snack.

Penny saving Prawns.

This weekend it was my birthday…. and birthdays mean special meals 🙂  This year having a baby meant the idea of getting dressed up and going out past 8pm felt like the last thing we fancied, and the prospect of an early morning after a late night was not so appealing….so instead we opted for a meal in. Take-away is almost a non-existant word in our house, mainly because I’m wheat free, can’t take too much spice at present and am not great with fatty food. I know, I’m a tough cookie to please at times. So we wanted a quick, tasty meal. The decision – king prawn and mussel thai green curry. Easy to prepare with fresh lemongrass, ginger, chilli, coriander and coconut milk, full of tasty veggies alongside the seafood and served with thai style rice and a chilled glass of white wine. Prawn crackers on the side as a treat . I could eat it all over again.

We ended up buying the fresh shell on prawns from the fish counter. These were not only cheaper by far, tastier and we got the added fun of deshelling the prawns 🙂 After dinner we collected up all the prawn shells. They have made a delicious fish stock and then got scoffed by the cats. A true bargain, feeding 2 adults, 2 cats and a tasty stock ready for a fish pie. Yum.

Prawns are a good lean source of protein, they have high levels of vitamin B12 as well as being a good course of Selenium, Omega 3, Vitamin E and Phosphorus. They are also low in fat and saturated fats so a healthy choice.

So I’d encourage you to have a look at your fresh fish counter/fishmonger, not only can it be tastier and fresher but it may be cheaper too.

Peppers stuffed with Quinoa (Wheat free, GF, DF)

I love vegetarian food, though I’m not actually a vegetarian. I love the colours, flavours and creativeness of it. We tend to have meatless meals 3-4 days a week and use lentils, beans and pulses a lot.

Last week I really fancied having a go with Quinoa, its not something we eat that often but being wheat free I can’t eat cous cous and had had an urge for making stuffed peppers, plus the baby hadn’t given Quinoa a go yet.

These came our really well, even if my husband had to take his in a plastic tub back to work to eat as his on-call phone rang! His comments were that it was difficult to eat without a knife but the Quinoa was delicious and nutty. The baby managed to eat hers all without a knife 😉 fingers sufficed and the whole lot went quite quickly, so I’m taking that as a compliment.


Recipe:

Remove the stalk and seeds from the pepper and then halve them, roast in the oven for about 30 mins at Gas Mark 5.

Saute a mix of veggies (I used mushrooms and courgettes), cook the Quinoa using stock and then add to the veggies with a little stock and plenty of fresh herbs.

Stuff it all in the pepper and top with grated cheese, bake until the cheese bubbles (Use Cheezly if you are dairy free as it melts best). Yum yum.

Fresh, Fresh, Frittata.

I love summer. Firstly because I am so not built to enjoy a cold climate, the first sign of chillier days and the jumpers, fur lined boots and gloves come out. I end up wearing gloves inside and out when it’s properly cold. But I also love summer produce. Especially anything that I can get to grow in my garden. Having had a baby this year I’ve not managed to be as green fingered as I’d like, but we’ve still done quite well with white and red currants, plums coming out of our ears, greengages, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, kale, onions and courgettes. A post to come on the courgettes as they deserve it, I have a bountiful harvest of them.

Last night after a tiring day with a teething baby I set about thinking up a quick, easy, healthy dinner that required minimal thought and energy. Here’s what I came up with….

A fresh frittata using eggs laid that morning by our resident chickens, kale, courgettes and herbs from the garden and all the leftovers I could find in the fridge. Frittata’s are great for using up leftovers. Served it up with a salad using some home grown lettuce and a quickly made coleslaw. Yum and super healthy.