Category Archives: Special Diets

Gingerbread energy balls

One of the questions I get asked a lot is for healthy snack ideas. Walking around the shops there is a plethora of snack items but so many of them are expensive items that you can make yourself in batches with a little knowhow and patience. Energy balls are one such item. Often sold for £1.50-£1 a portion, these can be made a lot cheaper at home. See my analysis below.  Whilst there are a lot of energy ball recipes out there on the internet this one is so delicious that I had to share it. I love having snacks  like these to hand for instant snacking and even better, these freeze well. My boy also loves making these with me.

Perfect mid morning snack for me between clients and an afternoon snack for the kids at a much better cost than buying from the shops.

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Gingernut Energy Balls

Ingredients

  • 100 g unsalted cashew nuts
  • 100 g dates
  • 25 5 oats
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

Recipe Notes

Blitz up the cashews, oats and dates in a food processor or grinder. I do this in batches as my grinder is smalll. You may need to stop grinding and stir it around a bit from time to time.

Put the mixture into a bowl, add in the ginger and stir.

Now roll into balls and roll in the sesame seeds (if wanted).

Store in a tin, the fridge or freeze.

 

Costing = £2.20 for 10 balls (5 portions for an adult)

100g cashews £1.10

100g dates 66p

25g oats 27p

1 tbsp sesame seeds 9p

1 tsp ginger 8p

 

Quick, Tasty Beef Stir Fry – Eat Well for Less

Stir Fry is one of those meals we make a lot at home. It is fast food, easy to make and satisying. This one, made on Eat Well for Less uses frying steak which is quick to cook due to it’s thinness and cheaper than other cuts.  Top tip – you don’t want to overcook this so having all your ingredients pre chopped and ready for action is a good idea.

This is one of those recipes you can make your own. Adding bamboo shoots and beansprouts would give it a nice Chinese style touch, or add any other veggies you have.

Use gluten free soy sauce  and stock cube to make this a gluten free meal.

Red meat is important for iron and zinc intake, something that we know is an issue for teenage girls and young women. This can then be exacerbated if you become pregnant. So whilst red meat is sometimes frowned upon, this recipe provides a great way to include it in your weeks meal plan.

I’ve modified it from the version on the show, scaling it down to serve 4 people rather than 6. 

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Easy Beef Stir Fry

Servings 4 adults

Ingredients

  • 300 g basmati rice
  • 1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 400 g frying steak
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour
  • 40 g cashew nuts
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • thumb sized piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 small bunch coriander
  • pepper

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain the rice. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the  basmati, stir well then cook according to the packet instructions.


  2. Heat a wok over a high heat until hot, add half the oil and when it’s just smoking, add the beef. Sprinkle with cornflour and stir-fry until browned all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.


  3. Stir-fry the cashews until just golden-brown then set aside with the beef.


  4. Carefully wipe the wok until clean using kitchen roll. Bring to a high heat and add the remaining oil. Once hot, add the red onion and fry for 1–2 minutes, or until just soft. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute


  5. Half fill the kettle and bring to the boil. Add the broccoli, soy and oyster sauce to the wok and mix well. Add the vegetable stock cube with 400ml/14fl oz boiling water and bring to the boil, stirring well. Cover with a lid (use kitchen foil if you don't have a suitable pan lid) and cook for 2 minutes or until the broccoli is just tender (you don’t want to lose the bright green colour).


  6. Add in beansprouts, bamboo shoots if wanted at this stage.



  7. Stir the cooked beef and cashews through the sauce and heat for a minute. Scatter over the coriander and serve immediately with the cooked, drained rice.

Eat Well for Less: Healthier cheesecakes.

Cheesecake. It’s tasty, but it can be pretty high in calories. Now whilst I totally do not advocate calorie counting regularly, I do like having healthier alternatives to foods like this that mean I can make them without it being an extravagance.

So here is the much asked for recipe for those cheesecakes we made on Eat Well for Less. I made this for Christmas and it made a great lighter dessert.

Here is the video clip of Gregg, Chris and I in action making it.

 

Here is the recipe in all it’s glory.

Healthier Cheese Cakes
Yields 12
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
174 calories
14 g
59 g
11 g
4 g
5 g
53 g
93 g
7 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
53g
Yields
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 174
Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 5g
26%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 59mg
20%
Sodium 93mg
4%
Total Carbohydrates 14g
5%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 7g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
8%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
4%
Iron
4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  2. 60g/2¼oz honey
  3. 120g/4½oz porridge oats, gluten-free, if required
  4. ½ tsp ground mixed spice
  5. 300g/10½oz fat-free Greek-style yoghurt
  6. 300g/10½oz lighter cream cheese
  7. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. ½ lemon, zest only
  9. 1 tbsp stevia
  10. 1 tbsp light soft brown sugar
  11. 1 tbsp cornflour
  12. 2 free-range eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3½. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin with some oil.
  2. Put the remaining oil and honey into a saucepan, heat until warm and runny.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats and mixed spice until completely coated.
  4. Divide the oats between the muffin tin holes, pressing down on the mixture to make a solid base.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the yoghurt, cream cheese, vanilla extract, lemon zest, stevia, sugar and cornflour. Mix the eggs into the cream until smooth. Spoon evenly between the muffin holes on top of the oats.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until just set. (They should still wobble a little.) Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  7. Carefully remove the cheesecakes from the tin and top with fruit of your choice.
  8. Serve immediately or transfer to a sealed container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Notes
  1. Truvia is fine to use in this recipe or you could swap the Stevia for another sweetener of your choice.
Adapted from BBC Food
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calories
174
fat
11g
protein
4g
carbs
14g
more
Adapted from BBC Food
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
A word of caution – these are portion controlled but very tasty, so you need 11 friends to share them with 😉 

Eat Well for Less: Ham and Cheese Bites

Everyone is always after quick, nutritious, filling snacks. So this one shared on Eat Well for Less ticks all those boxes. 

If you want to give these a go here is the recipe, you can totally make this your own, add your favourite herbs, veggies etc. These are gluten free, dairy free (if you use dairy free cheese) and nut free.

These freeze well or keep them in the fridge for 3 days. I think they are fab for packed lunches.

Don’t forget to watch the rest of the series – BBC1 Thursdays 8pm. Or get it on BBC Iplayer.

Ham and Cheese Quinoa Bites
Yields 12
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
159 calories
13 g
111 g
7 g
11 g
3 g
144 g
188 g
2 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
144g
Yields
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 159
Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
11%
Saturated Fat 3g
16%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 111mg
37%
Sodium 188mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates 13g
4%
Dietary Fiber 2g
8%
Sugars 2g
Protein 11g
Vitamin A
16%
Vitamin C
16%
Calcium
11%
Iron
9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 180g quinoa, cooked in water and left to cool
  2. 6 spring onions, chopped
  3. 6 tomatoes, chopped
  4. 6 eggs
  5. 1 tsp mustard powder
  6. 120g ham, chopped
  7. 120g grated cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the quinoa and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
  3. Chop the veggies, ham and grate the cheese
  4. Break the eggs into a bowl, beat.
  5. Mix all ingredients together and stir well.
  6. Grease a muffin tin.
  7. Spoon the mix in then heap it up on the top, making mountains.
  8. Cook for 20 minutes.
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calories
159
fat
7g
protein
11g
carbs
13g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

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Easy Peasy Paella

With parents who reside in Spain, paella is something my whole family loves, my mum has been taught how to cook it by the locals. This weekend with my mum in the UK at my home I decided to cook her my version. It’s probably not a true paella but hey, it’s tasty family food and a one pot meal that you can put in the middle of the table so everyone helps themselves. 

Of course you could totally add chicken, fish or your own favourite vegetables to this, I used what I had in my kitchen. Make your own version and let me know how it goes.

Easy Peasy Paella
Serves 6
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
490 calories
70 g
105 g
13 g
23 g
4 g
335 g
736 g
5 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
335g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 490
Calories from Fat 114
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g
20%
Saturated Fat 4g
18%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 105mg
35%
Sodium 736mg
31%
Total Carbohydrates 70g
23%
Dietary Fiber 5g
21%
Sugars 5g
Protein 23g
Vitamin A
88%
Vitamin C
27%
Calcium
9%
Iron
14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 tsp tumeric
  2. 1/2 tsp paprika
  3. 1/2 tsp cumin
  4. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  5. pinch of saffron (optional)
  6. 1 tbsp olive oil
  7. 100g chorizo, chopped
  8. 3 cloves garlic
  9. 450g basmati rice (you could use paella rice)
  10. 1 tsp Italian mixed herb mixture
  11. 2 dried lime leafs (optional)
  12. 450ml chicken stock (mine was homemade or use a stock cube and water)
  13. 2 large carrots grated
  14. 2 medium courgetes grated
  15. 100g mushrooms
  16. 100g peas
  17. 450-600ml water approx, judge it on the rice as it cooks
  18. dash of lemon juice
  19. 250g frozen prawns
  20. large handful of fresh herbs, chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the spices in a large wide based pan on a medium heat, add the boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the chorizo and allow it to release its oils.
  3. Next add the garlic and rice, cook for 2 minutes. Then add the stock, dried herbs and lime leaf.
  4. Allow this to simmer whilst you prep the veggies, you could use any veggies you like!
  5. Add in the vegetables one at a time and stir in.
  6. Add the water and place the lid on the pan. Allow it to simmer until the rice is cooked.
  7. Finish with the lemon juice and prawns, allowing the prawns to cook in the pan with the rice for a few minutes.
  8. Finally add the herbs, taste and season.
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calories
490
fat
13g
protein
23g
carbs
70g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
Check out a little video of us cooking it here. My 7 year old girl was on “sous chef” duty tonight and she totally enjoyed helping out. Her tasks were to measure the rice using the Carb Spoon, to cut the chorizo up, grate some vegetables, add them and stir the pan. She added the stock, picked the herbs and chopped them too. Plus she got the prawns out of the freezer and added those for me.

I’m trying to get my children to each cook with me once a week, making it a scheduled activity and time with mummy all at once. It slows me down and means more planning is needed but it is also teaching them valuable skills.

 

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Family friendly “not a chicken curry”

Usually my children are not so keen on curry, however being half Sri-lankan this is not an option for me! My oldest girl used to eat a lot of spice, in fact at 22 months in Sri-Lanka she was eating curry off my plate. She went off spice and is now age 7 working back onto it. My boy has never been into anything spicy and so he is definitely a work in progress.

So this time I went at it from another angle. A fragrant but mild curry served with rice and optional naan on the side. However I sold it as “it’s not a curry, it’s chicken with naan”.  It worked. WIN.

The beauty of this meal is it can either be made in the slow cooker/crock pot or on the hob.

Here is the recipe:

Family Friendly Chicken and Naan
Serves 4
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504 calories
39 g
115 g
17 g
48 g
7 g
454 g
363 g
14 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
454g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 504
Calories from Fat 147
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
26%
Saturated Fat 7g
33%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 115mg
38%
Sodium 363mg
15%
Total Carbohydrates 39g
13%
Dietary Fiber 12g
49%
Sugars 14g
Protein 48g
Vitamin A
192%
Vitamin C
141%
Calcium
7%
Iron
25%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  2. 500g chicken on the bone, skinless
  3. 2 onions
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 2 peppers
  6. 3 carrots
  7. 500ml chicken stock (mine was homemade)
  8. 50g sachet creamed coconut
  9. 1 tsp tumeric
  10. 1 tsp cumin
  11. 1 tsp coriander
  12. 1/4 inch fresh/frozen ginger, grated
  13. 1/2 cup dried lentils
Instructions
  1. Brown the chicken in a pan. Add the onions and garlic to soften them.
  2. Then either place all ingredients in a slow cooker/crock pot and place on high for 8 hrs.
  3. Or cook in a large pan on a medium heat for 40 minutes.
  4. Serve with rice and naan if wanted.
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calories
504
fat
17g
protein
48g
carbs
39g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
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Peanut Butter Cookies and Smart Snacking.

Snacking sensibly for me is a must. I need bucket loads of reliable energy to get me through my day. An average day for me involves 3 kids, much pilates and 1-2-1 dietetic clients. I don’t sit still for long, so crashing mid afternoon is not an option, especially as that’s the school run and my hungry time of day. So one thing I teach my clients and work on myself is balancing my snacks.

Yes fruit is fabulous, however it doesn’t keep me full for long or sustain my energy. So I pair it with protein or a wholegrain, higher fibre carb. Or if I’m feeling outrageous, I mix all three.  For me it is not about the calories or the macro’s but the balance. 

Satiety is the feeling of fullness that persists after eating. It affects the length of time between eating events and possibly the amount of energy consumed at the next. Protein  is filling and can help stabilise blood sugars. Fibre rich foods require more chewing so psychologically take longer to eat, they can displace other energy rich food and slow gastric emptying. 

Some of my favs:
Apple, cheese and oatcakes
Dried apricots, almonds and 25g dark chocolate
Oatcakes with nut butter and banana

Then there are these peanut butter cookies. Perfect with fruit and they take just 10 mins to bake. These make me feel like the perfect mum on those days I manage to whip the mix up before the school run and have them ready 10 mins after the kids walk in the door! Better still the kids can make them – I haven’t let them loose on this recipe yet.

 

Peanut Butter Cookies
Yields 8
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
175 calories
13 g
23 g
11 g
7 g
2 g
38 g
75 g
5 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
38g
Yields
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 175
Calories from Fat 98
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 2g
10%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 23mg
8%
Sodium 75mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 13g
4%
Dietary Fiber 3g
11%
Sugars 5g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
4%
Iron
6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 100g peanut butter
  2. 150g granola
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/2 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Bake at Gas Mark 5 for 10 minutes.
  3. Store in an airtight tin, they are best eaten on the day.
Notes
  1. I used my own homemade granola (recipe on the blog) which is wheat free and gluten free if you tolerate oats or use gluten free oats.
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calories
175
fat
11g
protein
7g
carbs
13g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Nutty Granola – a lower sugar version.

My children love granola as a topping for their yoghurt, but often the shop bought versions are super sweet and the lower sugar options are pricey. In my mind making my own sounded like a faff, hence it’s not something I’ve investigated… until I started making a new flapjack recipe and didn’t get the consistency quite right. You know when you know it isn’t right but you keep going regardless. Silly me. As an experienced flapjack maker (and eater) I should have know better. Flapjack intuition.

So when Miss K tried to pick up and eat said flapjack and it crumbled to smithereens we needed a quick rescue as I’m not one to throw away food. Turns out it makes an amazing granola. Sweet enough but not super sweet. I’ve worked  out the nutritional info as about a 30g serving. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutty Granola, a lower sugar version.
Serves 20
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226 calories
19 g
0 g
15 g
7 g
2 g
45 g
22 g
4 g
0 g
12 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
45g
Servings
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 226
Calories from Fat 127
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g
23%
Saturated Fat 2g
11%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 22mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 19g
6%
Dietary Fiber 3g
12%
Sugars 4g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
9%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
4%
Iron
10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 250g oats
  2. 150g almonds and cashews chopped
  3. 75g sunflower seeds
  4. 50g dried apricots, chopped
  5. 75g honey
  6. 75g margarine
  7. 75g peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Grease and line a baking tray.
  2. Heat the honey, margarine and peanut butter (I used the microwave) until it is melted.
  3. Mix in the oats, nuts and sunflower seeds.
  4. Press into the tin and bake at Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir and break it up, bake for another 5 minutes.
  6. Cool and store in an airtight container such as a kilner jar.
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calories
226
fat
15g
protein
7g
carbs
19g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
This is one of those foods to watch your portions and to eat with enjoyment. I’m a huge believer in having some sweetness if you fancy  and not depriving yourself. I’m trying to model this and teach the children. My boy has a sweet tooth so this granola enables him to have the sweetness but also get a good balance of nutrition in.

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Is eating gluten free healthier?

Gluten free eating has been bang on trend recently. Why? There is a thought that gluten affects weight, causes bloating and is commonly poorly digested. However, often it is not actually gluten that is the issue. There can be several other explanations, for example: large portions of carbohydrate foods can cause bloating, just because of the amount of food in one sitting. In those suffering from IBS, the issue is unlikely to be gluten, but that of FODMAPS, which include wheat, lactose, beans, pulses, plus certain fruits and vegetables. Another key reason can be the overall diet. Eating a diet that is high in packaged, processed foods can cause symptoms that then disappear when you remove gluten. Why? Because why gluten is removed, your whole diet changes. It is not gluten that is always the culprit, take a look at this clip from Food Truth or Scare for more.

Gluten free foods can be: 👉 lower in fibre. 👉 higher in fat. 👉higher in sugars 👉higher in calories. 👉lower in B vitamins. 👉lower in iron 👉often they are not wholegrain.

Therefore gluten free foods are not healthier!  Of course if you are gluten free for medical reasons you may need to have these foods but you can also use grains such as buckwheat and quinoa to provide your wholegrains. So it also doesn’t mean you can’t have a great healthy diet and be gluten free, it just require more planning and thought. Top advice: only go gluten-free if you absolutely need to.

 

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Simple Chicken and Butternut Curry.

Comfort food for me is curry. Being half Sri-lankan it’s in my roots that curry is delicious, nutritious and part of life. For me a good curry must include fragrant spice, vegetables and lentils. Or at least have those as side dishes. I’m not about the greasy, ultra spiced up meals with lots of sauce and no veg. Curry can be a great way to be creative with vegetables and give them a twist. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated but it does have to be tasty.

Chicken and Butternut Curry
Serves 4
Family friendly curry
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
504 calories
64 g
55 g
7 g
46 g
1 g
233 g
87 g
5 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
233g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 504
Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
11%
Saturated Fat 1g
5%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 55mg
18%
Sodium 87mg
4%
Total Carbohydrates 64g
21%
Dietary Fiber 31g
124%
Sugars 5g
Protein 46g
Vitamin A
154%
Vitamin C
13%
Calcium
8%
Iron
47%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 large butternut squash
  2. 3 medium carrots
  3. 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  4. 3 chicken breasts
  5. 1/2 tin coconut milk
  6. 2 cups lentils
  7. 1 tsp tumeric, coriander, cumin
  8. 1/4 inch grated ginger
  9. 2 cloves garlic
  10. 80g mushrooms
Instructions
  1. Peel and chop the butternut squash (or use frozen chunks) and the carrots.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and gently cook the butternut and carrots for 3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile chop the chicken into bite sized chunks and set aside.
  4. Add the tumeric, coriander and cumin, it will smell fragrant and delicious. Stir around to coat everything. Next add the chicken and stir to coat.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and add lentils. Top tip: if you use the smallest lentils they cook extra fast.
  6. Whilst this comes up to a simmer prepare the garlic cloves, I like to smash and chop mine. Grate the ginger and add the ginger and garlic to the pan.
  7. Finally add the chunks of mushrooms and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  8. Serve with rice and a sprinkle of coriander if you have it and your family will eat it (mine moan at the green stuff).
Notes
  1. I use frozen ginger and grate it with the skin still on, you could also use it fresh and peel it first.
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calories
504
fat
7g
protein
46g
carbs
64g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
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