Tag Archives: meat free meals

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.

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.
beta
calories
494
fat
12g
protein
15g
carbs
81g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Aubergine Dhal, the slow cooker way.

Lots of people are working on reducing their meat consumption at present, it sounds easy but if you are doing it you need to replace that meat protein with some other protein sources. Some examples would be soya, tofu, all forms of bean from kidney to cannellini to black beans, eggs, cheese, quinoa and pulses including lentils.

Having Sri-Lankan blood I absolutely LOVE lentils. So here is one of my favourite ways to cook them – DHAL.

Dhal is legendary in my family. We’ve all grown up on it and a meal of curry and rice is not complete without it. It’s incredibly versatile, can be made with all types of lentils and pulses and you can add most veggies to it too. Also a great dish for weaning 🙂

I also have a love of aubergine (or eggplant), so here is my recipe combining the two, slow cooked for true laziness.

Dietitian UK: Aubergine and lentil Dhal
Dietitian UK: Aubergine and lentil Dhal
Aubergine Dhal
Serves 4
An easy dhal recipe using the amazing aubergine, low GI, high in protein and super healthy.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
62 calories
14 g
0 g
1 g
3 g
0 g
209 g
16 g
5 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
209g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 62
Calories from Fat 5
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 16mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 14g
5%
Dietary Fiber 6g
25%
Sugars 5g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
40%
Calcium
3%
Iron
5%
* 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 mugs lentils
  2. 1 aubergine
  3. 3 cloves garlic
  4. 1 onion
  5. 1.5cm fresh ginger, grated
  6. 150g cauliflower chopped up finely
  7. 1tsp each of mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and cumin
Instructions
  1. Saute the onion in pan or crockpot with spices, then add ginger and garlic, plus all other ingredients. Stir well, add water so it's covered by about 1/2 inch and leave to cook on high for 5 hours. Check the fluid level and towards the end of cooking add 100ml milk. I cooked mine for most of the day, it smelt divine.
beta
calories
62
fat
1g
protein
3g
carbs
14g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

 

Plant Based Protein

Blog post written for Slimsticks.com 

Eating a more plant based diet is becoming increasingly popular and the current research is suggesting it’s the way to go. If you don’t want to go the whole “hog” then why not have a few meat free days in your week?

 A plant based diet is thought to reduce the risk of several cancers including throat, stomach, colon, prostrate and oesophagus. For example eating too much red meat and processed meat increases your risk of colon cancer. Eating more fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds leads to a diet lower in fat and calories so can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. A plant based diet is also higher in fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals, all of which can help prevent disease such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

 But eating a more vegetarian diet does mean you need to plan and be a bit organised. Plant based protein foods do not contain the full complement of amino acids which can leave you lacking in protein. Therefore it is important to ensure that you eat a range of different protein foods. Good choices include nuts, fish, seeds, beans, legumes, eggs, cheese, dairy, tofu, quinoa and soya. 

 

Beans:lentils

Top tips for plant based protein:

  • Add seeds to salads and stir fries.
  • Top cereals with slivered nuts.
  • Experiment with beans, add them to curries, chilli, casseroles and salads.
  • Lentils make a great thickened for soups.
  • Hummous and nut butters are great at lunchtimes.
  • Stock up the freezer with a range of protein sources so you don’t run short.
  • Try bean chilli instead of beef chilli or using quorn mince as a minced beef substitute.
  • Eggs are fast, fantastic and packed full of protein – omelettes, frittata’s, boiled, scrambled, poached are all healthy options.