I’m on a personal mission to reduce my biscuit intake. Now there is totally nothing wrong with a biscuit or 2, but these carrot cake energy balls add in variety and nutrition. I find they really hit the spot by giving me something to munch quickly when I’m running from job to job and they are more filling than my usual biccie.
These last for 3 days in the fridge and they also freeze well so why not make a batch and get them out the freezer in the morning, ready for when you need them.
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.
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.
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.
Stir-fry the cashews until just golden-brown then set aside with the beef.
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
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).
Add in beansprouts, bamboo shoots if wanted at this stage.
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.
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.
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.
450ml chicken stock (mine was homemade or use a stock cube and water)
2 large carrots grated
2 medium courgetes grated
450-600ml water approx, judge it on the rice as it cooks
dash of lemon juice
250g frozen prawns
large handful of fresh herbs, chopped
Place the spices in a large wide based pan on a medium heat, add the boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the chorizo and allow it to release its oils.
Next add the garlic and rice, cook for 2 minutes. Then add the stock, dried herbs and lime leaf.
Allow this to simmer whilst you prep the veggies, you could use any veggies you like!
Add in the vegetables one at a time and stir in.
Add the water and place the lid on the pan. Allow it to simmer until the rice is cooked.
Finish with the lemon juice and prawns, allowing the prawns to cook in the pan with the rice for a few minutes.
Finally add the herbs, taste and season.
By Priya Tew, Dietitian UK
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.
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.
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.
Lasagne is one of those meals that is loved the whole family. Let’s face it, if you don’t love lasagne then you are very usual! Often seen as hard to make, time consuming and more comfort food than “healthy” I want to share my top tips for making it a standard weeknight family meal.
Pack in the veggies. Lasagne does not have to include meat! I rarely use mince to make lasagne these days. Instead I use lasagne as a way to pack in the veg. You can use lentils, beans or tofu or quorn to get protein in. There is nothing wrong with using the normal beef mince but if you are looking for more variety with meals or like us, are wanting to eat a greater range of plant based protein sources then it’s time to expand your lasagne repertoire.
Making your own sauce doesn’t have to be complicated. As much as I love a white sauce, if I’m in a rush it always goes lumpy or I burn the bottom of the pan. One of my hacks is to use cottage cheese. Add a little natural yoghurt to thin it down and pour it on the top of the lasagne, top with grated cheese and the jobs done. I wasn’t convinced this sauce would pass the lasagne police in my house but it did. Phew. The other easy alternative is to use a half fat creme fraiche, simple.
Embrace your freezer. I totally love my freezer, it saves me on a regular basis. Oh, and it needs defrosting, in case anyone fancies helping me with that. You can either make a double batch of the main filling and freeze it for another meal, or I like to make a whole lasagne and freeze it, makes me feel like a proper domestic goddess. Minus the tidy kitchen, mine is never tidy.
Make ahead. I often make lasagne in stages. so I will either get the main filling out of the freezer and leave to defrost, or make the filling up and leave it. Then later I get a child to help me put it together, layering the filling, pasta and sauce.
Use pre-bought lasagne sheets. I know most people don’t make their own fresh lasagne sheets, but I sometimes do, it makes the lasagne SO good, literally the best lasagne. But it takes more time that I just don’t have that often.
So why not transform your lasagne into sometime more inventive. It’s a forgiving dish. Here is a recipe for a wheat free, dairy free version I made this week:
250ml stock (I used homemade chicken stock but you could use a stock cube and water)
1 bay leaf
Dried mixed herbs
1 small glug of balsamic vinegar
Lasagne sheets (wheat free if required)
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp wheat free flour
Soya milk as needed, approx 250ml
250ml water (you may not need it)
Soya cheese or normal cheese
Chop all the vegetables in a food processor (this saves time!) or chop finely by hand.
Saute in the oil for a few minutes, then add the lentils, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, bay leaf, dried herbs, balsamic, stock and simmer for 20 minutes. This is your basic lasagne filling, You can now freeze this, keep it in the fridge for making up later, or use straight away.
Make up the lasagne with 1 layer of lentil mix, lasagne sheets, lentil mix and lasagne sheets.
Pour the oil into a sauce pan and mix in the flour with a wooden spoon, it will make a thick paste. Mix in a little milk and stir to make a batter, now add in the rest of the milk place on a gentle heat and keep stirring to incorporate it all. The sauce will thicken, if it is too thick add some water. Keep stirring! Let it gently bubble but not too much. I like to let it cool a little and then pour on top of the lasagne.
Top with cheese and bake at gas mark 5 for 45 minutes.
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!).
This week we went Vegetarian for National Vegetarian Week. As a family we always have at least 3 meat free meals a week, so this was a good chance to unleash some new recipe ideas. To be honest I don’t think the family really noticed the lack of meat, though they would do if carried this on for a few weeks. I love vegetarian meals and would probably be one if I wasn’t cooking for the whole family. Eating more plant based meals is better for the environment, a more sustainable way of eating and has some fabulous health benefits too.
Our week of vegetarian meals:
Vegetarian Moussaka, Leek and Stilton Risotto, Courgette and Lentil Lasagne, Vegetable egg Stir fry rice, Quorn Bolognaise and Roasted Veggie Pasta.
The moussaka is something I’d seen a variation on in a gluten free recipe book that I’ve had hanging around for ages. I used soya milk to make it lactose free for my boy – omit the cheese to make it dairy free. A few adaptations made this a super simple meal that is going to stay on our meal list.
I’ve had a hankering for carrot cake for a few weeks after a conversation on social media about a bumper crop of carrots leading to recipes for carrot cake being posted. So when carrots were on offer and hubby came back with 3 bags of them plus 2 bags of parsnips it was suddenly my opportunity. Seriously, there are only so many things you can do with parsnips, so I thought why not try them in a cake. In that moment it felt like probable madness, however actually, you know what? The parsnips add a real kick to this cake. A warm earthiness and nuttiness that really adds to the sweetness of the carrots.
My main critic will always be my husband. He isn’t fobbed off as easily as the children, he has a sweet tooth and isn’t pulled in by any of the latest health trends or superfoods. So I tried him on one. He gave me the “what is it” quizzical expression which I interpret as “What the heck is the crazy woman now trying to give me”. To be fair, you can’t blame him, I am experimental in my approach and a fair few of these experiments just don’t work out. Upon trying it his response was “Actually that’s not bad”. Now for hubby that is a compliment. He isn’t overflowing with expression and excitement like me, thankfully or our house would be even more crazy! So this “Not bad” really meant “I wasn’t expecting it to taste nice but it is pretty good and I like it”. He agreed it was actually the parsnip that made it.
This cake is moist, light and a little to easy to eat. With 250g vegetables in it, it may feel pretty nutritious but you would have to eat a lot of cake to get a portion of veggie in! Having said that these will contain some vitamin A, some calcium and iron, so as cake goes, it is a good option.