Swiss chard is such an easy veggie to grow and it gives you back time after time. Plant a few seeds, water and care for a few plants lovingly and you will find you always have bountiful supply.
Some interesting chard facts.
Swiss chard was discovered by a Swiss botanist – hence it’s name.
It is a member of the goosefoot family, called this due to the leaves looking like a goose foot.
Chard is packed with nutrition including vitamins A,C, K plus magnesium, potassium, iron and fibre.
So the question is what to do with it? The great news is it goes in virtually everything. I’ve added baby leaves to smoothies, savoury muffins and scones. Then use it like you would spinach in dhal, stir fry and omelette. Or wash it and freeze, I’m totally up for an easy life and don’t cook it before freezing. I find it works fine to add to casseroles and other meals where you add as it cooks.
One of the easy summer recipes I sometimes pull out the back of my mind when the chard patch and my mind are overflowing, and I need to cook but also need a break – this chard and pasta dish. It works so well. The rosemary gives it a warm lift and the bacon adds the saltiness, plus it means my children eat it. Now my boy isn’t a fan of his greens, but will eat this meal all up. It goes to show sometimes it is what a food is paired with that matters.
I let my children decide their own portions of this meal and eat according to appetite. My eldest girl after a busy day at school had seconds, my boy cleared his plate and was satisfied. My toddler ate off my plate too!
I love vegetarian meals and we actually eat more vegetarian meals in our house than meat containing ones. However it is all too easy to get stuck in a rut. I realised that I haven’t used many beans for a while and I have a store of dried ones of all varieties. Partially this is because I don’t cope too well with having large portions of them in my diet. Also I wasn’t sure my boy would be best impressed with me. How wrong I was, tthe dish was emptied, plates all cleared and everyone had seconds!
Beans and Pulses are a Fodmap so they can cause issues for some people… the trick is to work out how much you can tolerate, I know my limit is a small portion (2 tbsp) about once a week. As with many things it is all about tolerance and moderation.
Apparently 2016 is the year of pulses. This group of foods includes beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils, they are probably best know for their fibre content and wind producing abilites! It is recommended that we eat 30g a day of fibre, which is actually a fair amount to fit in and requires a healthy, well thought out eating plan for your day. Pulses can be a helpful way to get that fibre content up, 3 tbsp is about 6g fibre. They are a great source of insoluble fibre to help sweep the system through and helps with constipation issues. They also contain soluble fibre, which binds with cholesterol stopping it being absorbed and can help control blood sugar levels too.
A great protein source for vegans and vegetarians too. However they do not contain all the essential amino acids that our body needs to build proteins, so my advice is to always eat a variety of protein sources and a variety of different pulses. In this recipe I included cannellini beans and chickpeas.
Added bonus 3 tbsp (80g) also counts as a portion of fruit and vegetables. This recipe contains 400g beans so 5 adult portions. Along with the vegetables this works out at 3 portions of vegetables in a meal.
Risotto, it’s a staple in our house. I love the way you can reinvent it each time you make it. Weaning baby 2 has also remined me how it’s completely suitable for everyone in the family. He has been loving risotto from his first taste of it at 6 months old. So if you want a meal you can cook that everyone will enjoy, try this out. This is real food and tasty food.
Today’s variation includes salmon for extra omega 3 goodness and monounsaturated fat. I always pack whatever we cook with plenty of veggies. The courgette was grated as my toddler “is not keen on courgettes mummy”…. but it also adds extra vegetables without you really noticing they are there.
Here is the 3 1/2 year olds portion… she like risotto alot.
And the husbands portion – hence all the cheese, the man is a cheese monster…
Salmon and Spring Vegetable Risotto
Packed with vegetables and omega 3's, a super healthy, tasty dinner suitable for the whole family.
Heat the oil in a large pan and sweat the onions and carrots for a few minutes.
Now add the rice and stir to coat in the oil, leave for 2 minutes.
Add the wine, and stir, bring to a simmer on a medium heat.
When most of the wine has been cooked out add the stock, about 100ml at a time. Stir frequently whilst it cooks as this helps release the starch from the rice and stops it burning on the bottom, plus it gives you a good arm workout 😉
About half way through the stock additions add in the cubed salmon and grated courgette.
When you have added all the stock, it's time to add the milk and let it cook out too.
Now add the quark and grated parmesan.
Finally stir through the spinach and allow it to wilt, and season.
I love butternut squash, this recipe was inspired by a friend has made a similar dish for me for lunch on occasion and it’s alwasy stood out in my memory, so here is my take on it. Its a good way to get veggies into those who aren’t keen on them, the butternut goes sweet, soft and sumptuous in the oven.
It was a cold weekend day when I made this one, unusally the toddler was feeling out of sorts and cuddled on the sofa under a blanket, this was meant to be comfort food but it turned out she didn’t want her dinner 🙁 oh well, it happens! Both myself and hubby enjoyed it lots and I’m pretty sure the toddler would on another day.
1 medium butternut squash (will serve 2)
2 cloves garlic
1 cup of lentils
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp mixed herbs
Cut the butternut squash in half (do not peel) and gouge out the seeds. Either throw these away or wash and either roast them or save and plant them!
Remove some of the butternut flesh, leaving a few cm rim around it. You should have a large cavity. Keep the flesh and chop it.
Prepare the onions and garlic. Place these in a pan with a little oil and cook, then add the cumin.
Add the lentils and stir to coat in the onions and oil. Now add enough water to cover the top of the lentils by 1 1/2 cm and leave to simmer.
After 20 minutes add the chopped mushrooms and herbs plus the chopped butternut squash. Cook for 10 minutes so the vegetables are cooked. Season to taste.
Stuff the butternut squash with the lentil filling. You could now wrap these in foil and keep to roast another day.
Top with a little crumbled cheese and roast for 40 minutes at Gas Mark 5, the squash should be soft when pricked with a knife.
Serve with a mixed salad.
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.