Category Archives: Vegetarian

Saving my sanity by meal planning – simple family meals.

One of the things I am passionate about is making food simple. If you have time and can afford to be fancy with your meals then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Go for it. Normal life for my family in the week involves basic range ingredients, plenty of fresh and frozen veggies and quick meals.  So that is what I am sharing with you today.  Trust me, as a working single mum to 3 wonderfully active, inquisitive, helpful kids (you could read that as noisy, full of questions and chatter, like to stick their fingers where I don’t want them to) I need fast food. However I am wheat intolerant (the proper kind where eating wheat upsets my digestive system for several days) and my boy is lactose intolerance – which quite frankly sucks for him. So we have to cook from scratch. 

I aim to plan at the weekend. This sometimes involves a bit of “get ahead cooking” where I cook a few meals for Monday and Tuesday in advance, or it just comes down to a vague plan. Either way without a rough plan my head gets super stressed.

Family meal ideas for busy parents from a dietitian

“What am I cooking today? How will I fit it into my day? Do I have the ingredients?  Do I have time to get to the shop?”  These are questions that will float around my head taking up valuable time and energy. With a plan I’m part way there and will prep a bit throughout my day. That could mean I prep the veggies or even just get the ingredients out on the worktop so I can cook after the school run. It all helps.

So here is an example of our weeks meals and some of the recipes I cook. Simple things my children eat and that work with our dietary needs. I hope it gives you some inspiration.

 

One Pot Pepper Pasta:

This is one of those meals which I love to make as it is so easy, there is minimal washing up and my kids love it. WINNER.

It’s also a vegetarian, plant based and vegan recipe. So if you are looking for simple ways to increase your vegetable intake here you go. Of course you can totally make this your own and add in any veggies you like.

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One Pot Red Pepper Pasta

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 large red peppers Thickly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium courgette grated
  • 1 tin sweetcorn
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • pinch paprika
  • pinch dried mixed herbs
  • 300g dried pasta
  • 750ml boiling water
  • 50g grated cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in the pan, add the garlic and gently cook.

  2. Add in the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes

  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and spices. Bring to a simmer. 

  4. Add the pasta and water, stir well and bring to a simmer.

  5. Lid on and simmer 12-15 minutes until the pasta is cooked.

  6. Season and serve with grated cheese. 

Fish Pesto Parcels:

These are so simple that I like to get my kids to make their own. That way they can’t moan about the veggies I’ve put in! 

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Fish Pesto Parcels

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 400 g white fish (can be frozen and defrosted)
  • 2 carrots, chunkily sliced
  • 1/2 broccoli cut into florets
  • 1 courgette, chunkily sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thick slices
  • 4 tsp pesto
  • 12 small potatoes (if they are too large they will not cook in time so slice up using large potato)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7

  2. Lay out a square of foil big enough to pop everything in and seal up. About 1.5 times your dinner plate. 

  3. Place a selection of veggies and potatoes on the foil, top with the fish and spread 1 tsp pesto on top.

  4. Fold the foil parcel up so everything is covered and pop onto a baking tray.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes

Lentil Bolognaise:

A regular favourite for us and so versatile. You can use up your odds and ends of veggies, and make this into lasagne, cottage pie of as a bolognaise. It freezes super well too.

Recipe here.

Salmon and Broccoli Risotto:

Perfect weaning food and a great meal to get veggies into! I usually grate a courgette in to boost the veggies up.

Recipe here.

Pizza Wraps:

Literally the easiest thing on a Friday after school. I give the kids a wrap, squirt tomato puree on, they pile on toppings from a selection on a chopping board and we cook them for 10 minutes at Gas Mark 5. Do keep a close eye on them as they cook very quickly! 

Chicken Satay Stir Fry:

You can’t beat a stir fry for ease. My kids love peanut butter so satay is usually a winner. Totally use a frozen veg mix or a stir fry pack for ease if you want to. Serve with noodles or rice.

Recipe here

Sausages and wedges:

As much as I like to have some plant based meals in our week my kids are firm fans of sausages. I’ve been using some meat free variations out and they have been largely successful, plus easy to cook straight from frozen – so do think about the meat free range. No recipe as I literally cook the sausages in the oven, along with potatoes cut into wedges with olive oil and garlic on them. Serve with veggies! 

I hope these are helpful and give you some ideas on how to keep meals simple in your week. I’d love to hear your ideas too as I always need inspiration.

Should I eat more plant based diet?

What are the benefits?

Plant based diets (PBD’s) are better for the environment and provide a more sustainable way of eating. There are also health benefits due to eating more plants altering the nutritional profile of your body. 

PBD’s tend to be lower in saturated fat due to less meat. They usually contain higher amounts of fruit and vegetables which means higher fibre content for digestive health (those bowels) and a greater range of antioxidant plus phytochemicals. 

The inclusion of wholegrains provides B vitamins and fibre, beans/pulses for soluble fibre and these help with blood sugar control, soy products provide phytoestrogens that can be helpful in the menopause plus nuts and and seeds that are packed with antioxidants and micronutrients.

Some specific health benefits:

Research shows us that PBDs can lead to lower levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. This is going to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 Also improvements can be seen in serum glucose levels which helps in overall health and in type 2 diabetes control. 

There has been shown to be a lower level of overall inflammation in the body. These factors combines are thought to contribute to a reduced risk of chronic diseases. 

Does this mean we should all go vegetarian/vegan? Well not necessarily. What I do think it means is that having a greater emphasis on eating plants sources of food is helpful and healthful. As with all ways of eating there are many ways to do it, so the benefits you see on paper will depend on how you actually approach this way of life. This in my mind is about adding in plant foods more than taking things away. 

Will I be missing out nutrients?

It is perfectly possible to meet your nutritional needs on a PBD. However you will need to be more intentional about it. Planning and being thoughtful about some key nutrients plus a couple of supplements will ensure you get all your body needs.

Protein : It can be easier to get protein from animal sources. However this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be eating plant proteins! Most people in the UK are exceeding their protein needs, especially with the focus on protein in so many snack foods right now.  When calorie needs are met it is more than possible to meet your protein requirements on a PBD. However it is a good idea to vary your protein sources through the week so that cover all those essential amino acids the body needs.

  • Mycoprotein, soya protein and pea protein 
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Tofu
  • Eggs and dairy (if these are eaten)

Iron : The recommended daily amount of iron for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher that for non-vegetarians, as iron which comes from plant sources (non-haem iron) is less efficiently utilised in our body than iron which comes from animal sources. Eat iron rich foods daily and all should be well. 

  • Iron fortified breakfast cereals
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Wholegrains 
  • Dried fruit 
  • Green leafy vegetables 
  • Yeast extract 
  • Eggs, fish and poultry (if these are eaten)
johnny-mcclung-702726-unsplash

Calcium: one of my hobby horses, as I like to look after my bones. Calcium can be lower on a plant based diet but there are plant foods that will help those bones stay strong. Check your plant based milk is supplemented and get on those leafy greens. Some studies show a lower bone mineral density in those not eating dairy, so this is definitely a nutrient to think about. 

  • Fortified dairy alternatives (like: soya or nut milks and yoghurts)
  • Fortified juice drinks
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Dried fruit
  • Tofu
  • Beans, lentils and chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Bread
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

Vitamin B12: as this is mainly found in animal products it is one of the nutrients you may end up lacking. It is found in yeast extract and most multivitamins/minerals.

Omega 3 : mainly talked about as being in oily fish but also found in seaweed, linseeds and walnuts. If you know you won’t take in many of these foods you could take a supplement.

  • Seaweed (not recommended more than once per week) 
  • Chia seeds, linseeds/flaxseeds, hemp seeds 
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Walnuts and walnut oil
  • Soybeans and soybean oil
  • Tofu
  • Spreads and breads which are fortified with omega 3
  • Oily fish (if this are eaten)
  • Eggs and dairy which are fortified with omega 3 (if these are eaten)
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Iodine: highlighted in some studies as a nutrient that can be low on a PBD, but also on a meat eaters diet too!

  • Iodised salt
  • A limited amount of fortified dairy alternatives (e.g. specific brands of oat milk) 
  • Seaweed (but this is not recommended more than once per week) 
  • Dairy products and seafood (if these are eaten)

Selenium: mainly found in Brazil nuts so not necessarily a problem on  PBD but a good one to be aware of.

  • Brazil nuts 
  • Eggs and fish (if these are eaten)

Veggie Croquettes

After making these I was named the Empress of Veggies by the one and only Gregg Wallace, so I felt I had to share this recipe! It is a little messy to make (make sure you squeeze the fluid out of the veggies) but those dips combined with the croquettes = heaven. 

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Veggie Croquettes

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Author Eat Well for Less

Ingredients

  • 200 g cauliflower coarsely grated
  • 200 g sweet potato peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and coarsely grated (200g)
  • 1 medium courgette coarsely grated (200g)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch parsley picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp onion granules
  • 100 g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas mark 6. Line a large shallow baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place all the grated vegetables into a large bowl and mix together. Add the remaining ingredients and mix really well, squishing it all together until evenly mixed. Set aside to soften for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix once more then divide into 8 in the bowl, then take each portion and form into two little sausages. Place onto the lined baking tray then repeat with the remaining mixture to form 16 sausages.
  4. Place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the croquette golden brown on the outside, .
  5. While the croquettes bake, prepare the dips.

 

 

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Pea guacamole

Author Eat Well for Less

Ingredients

  • 240 g frozen peas
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli seeded and very roughly chopped
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • ½ small bunch coriander very roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients for the pea guacamole into a large food processor and pulse until just broken down, then scrape the sides of the processor down. Blitz until just beginning to get smooth - you want a little texture left. Tip into a serving bowl and taste
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Sweetcorn Salsa

Ingredients

  • 240 g tinned sweetcorn
  • 4 tomatoes chopped
  • 4 spring onions chopped
  • ½ small bunch coriander chopped
  • ½ lime juiced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients for the sweetcorn salsa into bowl and mix well then tip into a serving bowl.

I hope you enjoy making these and it gets you eating more veggies! 

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

 

Eat Well for Less: Lentil Curry and Naan.

 
So a lot of people have been asking for the recipe for the lentil curry and naan after it was shown on Eat well for less, Series 5, Episode 1. If you haven’t seen then do pop to BBC Iplayer and have a look. We are back on this Thursday too, BBC1  8pm, please tune in! 
 
Firstly a huge Thankyou if you watched. Please do watch the remaining series too there is so much good stuff to come!
 
Secondly it’s music to my ears to know so many were loving the lentils. I’m half Sri-Lankan so this is very much “my type of food”.
 
The BBC made a fab video with the ingredients for the lentil curry.
Do check it out and if you follow my Dietitian UK Facebook and Instagram I will repost any further recipes from the show.
 
The naan recipe cooked on the show, has not been shared yet but I here is a version that I love just as much, made at home for you, as so many people have been asking. Flatbreads and naan are so easy to make and a joy to eat.
 
Homemade flatbread/naan
Serves 4
Easy to make, super delicious with curry
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
139 calories
29 g
0 g
0 g
4 g
0 g
51 g
2 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
51g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 139
Calories from Fat 4
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 2mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 29g
10%
Dietary Fiber 1g
6%
Sugars 0g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
3%
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. 150g flour (can be gluten free, I favour a mix of 100g white flour and 50g wholemeal for extra fibre)
  2. 50g Greek Yoghurt
  3. 50ml warm Water
  4. 1 tbsp mixed herbs or 1 tsp spices
Instructions
  1. Mix the flour and yoghurt together.
  2. Add the herbs/spices now if you remember, if not then can be added at the kneading stage.
  3. Add the water and mix to a dough.
  4. Tip onto a floured surface and knead for just a couple of minutes.
  5. Break into 4 pieces, roll into a round and roll out with a rolling pin.
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calories
139
fat
0g
protein
4g
carbs
29g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Here is the dough ready for rolling. I added a herb mixture into these.

Cook in a non stick hot pan on a medium-high heat. After a couple of minutes it will start to puff up, that is when you turn it over.

Enjoy! 

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The least sexy but vitally important nutrient

Facebook likes too ask “what’s on my mind” well actually right now it is fibre. An overlooked and neglected nutrient, maybe because bowel health just isn’t sexy. However to my mind, neither is constipation or piles. 
 
When the recommendations for fibre increased to 30g per day there were lots of posts out there about how hard it would be to achieve it and how to meet your fibre needs. At the time I remember thinking how hard this would be for many people to achieve. It’s all about making small changes one at a time and then building on these. In my clinic I see the extremes. Sometimes underweight people who are eating too much of the fibre rich foods (and I have to ask them to decrease these) but then also plenty of people who are just not having enough fibre which is causing some of their symptoms. 
 
(Disclaimer: this advice is not for those who are weight restoring from an eating disorder, too much fibre can be very filling and stop you from eating enough energy).
 
So why is fibre important? 
 
  • Bowels, bowels, bowels. As a student dietitian on the wards I remember having to swallow my embarrassment and loudly say to people “how are your bowels today”. These days I’m older, a lot harder to embarrass, mum to small kids and used to talking about bowels a lot… whether it be a clients, a child’s or a worms. Yes this week my girl wanted to chat about worms poo. Having enough insoluble fibre is important for bulking your stool. 

 

  • Soluble fibre forms a gel that slows digestion. This also means it helps stabilise blood sugars, lowers cholesterol and aids satiety, keeping you fuller for longer. Soluble fibre is found in oats, barley, psyllium, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits/vegetables. 

 

  • The microbiome is a fascinating area. Research has shown that the largest influence on the gut microbiome comes from diet. Fibre feeds the gut bacteria so by eating your fibre you are helping ensure your gut stays happy and healthy.

So how much fibre is in your foods? Although I wouldn’t promote you analyse labels all the time it can be interesting to compare the fibre content of some of the foods you eat.

Some fibre rich foods that can help boost your intake are:

Lentils, Spilt peas, beans,  garden peas, nuts, seeds, wholegrain versions of pasta, rice, bread products, wholegrain cereals, grains such as oats, quinoa, cous cous, popcorn, fruit and veggies, potato skins.

Top tips to increase the fibre content of your meals: 

  • Add lentils, beans and pulses to your meals. A couple of handfuls of lentils goes well in casseroles, soups, salads, even stir fries. 
  • When possible opt for wholegrain versions of foods.
  • Add nuts and seeds into meals. I love them sprinkled on breakfast or my yoghurt, you could add to a salad or on top of a stirfry. Sprinkle some in your sandwich or add to baking.
  • Increase your portions of fruit and vegetables if you are not meeting the 5 a day target. 
  • Eating more plant based meals in your week. We aim to eat plant based meals 4-5 times a week in our house. 

Here are some meals where I’ve pimped the fibre:

Oats with fruit, seeds and nuts – 15g fibre. Plus the oats here are soluble fibre. 

  

2 x Rye bread with 1/2 avocado – 10-15g fibre, this particular bread is very high fibre, 10g for 2 slices.

If you used a different rye bread it would be lower, using my normal rye bread plus the avocado it would be 10g fibre.

Risotto made with pearl barley and broccoli – 12-15g fibre per portion. Pearl barley has a high fibre content and is a great grain to cook with. It takes slightly longer to cook than rice but can be used instead of rice, or added to soups and stews. 

Vegetable fajitas with chickpeas, peppers and sesame seeds, smashed avocado and seeded wraps – 10g fibre.

I totally encourage you to try increasing your fibre intake and help your gut bacteria, blood sugars and bowel health. Remember to also drink plenty of fluids to help that fibre move through your system.

 

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Lentil Lasagne and Lasagne made easy

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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:
 
 
 
Lentil Lasagne
Serves 4
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
585 calories
89 g
13 g
11 g
35 g
3 g
533 g
221 g
14 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
533g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 585
Calories from Fat 94
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
16%
Saturated Fat 3g
16%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 13mg
4%
Sodium 221mg
9%
Total Carbohydrates 89g
30%
Dietary Fiber 34g
136%
Sugars 14g
Protein 35g
Vitamin A
203%
Vitamin C
165%
Calcium
24%
Iron
49%
* 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 onion
  2. 2 garlic cloves
  3. 3 carrots
  4. 2 peppers
  5. 1 medium courgette
  6. 1 tsp olive oil
  7. 2 cups of dried lentils
  8. 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  9. 1 tbsp tomato puree
  10. 250ml stock (I used homemade chicken stock but you could use a stock cube and water)
  11. 1 bay leaf
  12. Dried mixed herbs
  13. 1 small glug of balsamic vinegar
  14. Lasagne sheets (wheat free if required)
White sauce
  1. 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  2. 2 tbsp wheat free flour
  3. Soya milk as needed, approx 250ml
  4. 250ml water (you may not need it)
  5. Soya cheese or normal cheese
Instructions
  1. Chop all the vegetables in a food processor (this saves time!) or chop finely by hand.
  2. 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.
  3. Make up the lasagne with 1 layer of lentil mix, lasagne sheets, lentil mix and lasagne sheets.
White sauce
  1. 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.
  2. Top with cheese and bake at gas mark 5 for 45 minutes.
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calories
585
fat
11g
protein
35g
carbs
89g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
 

A healthier cake – Courgette and sultana (wheat and lactose free).

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:

  1. Courgette cake. This has gone down so well. I’ve been making it and freezing it. Recipe below. 
  2. Courgetti. Not because we want to be on trend but because it works. Spiralising courgette, cooking with garlic and lemon juice is a winner. 
  3. Grated courgette in bolognaise, risotto or pretty much any dish!
  4. 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)
Serves 12
Easy to make, reduced sugar recipe and includes plenty of yummy courgette.
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
177 calories
22 g
31 g
8 g
4 g
1 g
82 g
68 g
3 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
82g
Servings
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 177
Calories from Fat 70
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
12%
Saturated Fat 1g
4%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 31mg
10%
Sodium 68mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 22g
7%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 3g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
2%
Vitamin C
9%
Calcium
3%
Iron
3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Wet ingredients
  1. 350g courgette
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 85ml rapeseed oil
  4. 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients
  1. 300g plain wheat free flour (I used Aldi's own brand)
  2. 1 tsp cinnamon
  3. 1 tsp mixed spice
  4. 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  5. 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  6. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  7. 140g sultanas
Instructions
  1. Grate the courgette.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  3. Mix together all the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the flour and carefully mix in.
  5. Now add the remaining dry ingredients and mix.
  6. Pour into the loaf tin and put in the oven.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered and then cover the top with foil to prevent it burning.
  8. 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!).
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calories
177
fat
8g
protein
4g
carbs
22g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

What are your favourite courgette recipes?

Vegetarian Moussaka and going meat free for a week.

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.

 

Vegetarian Moussaka
Serves 4
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
494 calories
81 g
19 g
12 g
15 g
4 g
509 g
124 g
13 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
509g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 494
Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
19%
Saturated Fat 4g
21%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 19mg
6%
Sodium 124mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates 81g
27%
Dietary Fiber 7g
29%
Sugars 13g
Protein 15g
Vitamin A
30%
Vitamin C
35%
Calcium
24%
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. 2 tsp olive oil
  2. 1 large aubergine
  3. 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  4. 1 medium onion, chopped
  5. 2 tbsp white wine
  6. 150g mushrooms, chopped
  7. 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  8. 1 tbsp tomato puree
  9. 1 tbsp chopped chives
  10. 1 tsp paprika
  11. 1 1/2 cups of uncooked rice
Sauce
  1. 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  2. 1 tbsp cornflour
  3. 400ml soya milk
  4. 40g grated cheese
Instructions
  1. Slice the aubergine, onion and garlic.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in the olive oil on a medium heat.
  3. Add 2 tbsp white wine and the mushrooms, cook for a few minutes to soften.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, puree, chives, paprika and rice.
  5. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes whilst you make the sauce.
  6. Heat the oil, add cornflour and turn the heat low.
  7. Add 1/3 soya milk and stir well, add the rest of the milk and increase the heat to medium, carry on stirring as the sauce thickens.
  8. Layer the rice mix with the aubergine, then the rice and the aubergine.
  9. Top with the sauce and sprinkle the cheese.
  10. Cook in the oven at Gas Mark 5 for 30 minutes.
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calories
494
fat
12g
protein
15g
carbs
81g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Carrot and Parsnip Cake

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. 

 

Carrot and Parsnip Cake
Yields 24
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121 calories
13 g
23 g
7 g
2 g
1 g
38 g
173 g
3 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
38g
Yields
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 121
Calories from Fat 59
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
10%
Saturated Fat 1g
3%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 23mg
8%
Sodium 173mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 13g
4%
Dietary Fiber 1g
3%
Sugars 3g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
22%
Vitamin C
2%
Calcium
5%
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. 150ml Rapeseed Oil
  2. 60g Brown Sugar
  3. 3 Eggs
  4. 150g Carrots (2 large)
  5. 100g Parsnips (1 large)
  6. 300g Doves Farm Self Raising Flour
  7. 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  8. 1 tsp Cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Peel and grate the carrots and parsnip.
  2. Mix the oil and sugar together. Add the eggs and mix.
  3. Next add the grated vegetables and slowly add the flour and spices in.
  4. Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin.
  5. Bake at Gas Mark 5 for 30-40 minutes.
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calories
121
fat
7g
protein
2g
carbs
13g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/