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Smoked Haddock Kedgeree

This recipe is my take on the old English breakfast classic! This meal provides 1 of your 5 a day, and is a great source of both protein and fibre. Many families avoid fish because it can be expensive, but this recipe is a great way to feed the whole family with only 2 fillets of haddock.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 300g Smoked Haddock (Ideally un-dyed)
  • 190g Wholegrain rice
  • 50g Quinoa
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1tbsp Curry powder
  • 1tbsp Turmeric
  • 220g Green Beans, cut into smaller pieces
  • 100g Frozen Peas
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2tsp rapeseed oil
  • Small bunch of Coriander, roughly chopped

Method:

Heat a pan of water on the hob, once boiling turn down the heat and gently add the eggs. After 7 minutes remove the eggs and put straight into a bowl of cold water and leave to cool.

Tip: Cooking the eggs for 7 minutes cooks the whites but leaves the yolks slightly runny. If you want the eggs to be hard completely through then leave them in the pan for 10-13 minutes. 

I prefer to cook rice and quinoa in a microwave steamer, ensuring it is completely covered with freshly boiled water. However you can also boil the grains in a pan on the hob. Whichever method you decide to use, add the curry powder and tumeric to the rice and cook for 20 minutes. Add the peas and beans to the steamer or pan, and cook for another 3-5 minutes (depending on how crunchy you like the veg).

Add 1tsp rapeseed oil to a large pan and fry the onion on a low heat for 5 minutes.

While the onion is cooking add the remaining oil to a frying pan and when it is hot add the haddock skin side down. Cook on a medium to high heat for 4 minutes then flip over and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the flesh is cooked through and starting to fall apart.

Tip: you can tell when haddock is cooked because the flesh becomes flakey and will easily fall apart when cut with a knife. The colour will also change from slightly see-through/translucent to a solid white colour. 

By the time the onion has softened, the rice and vegetables should be cooked. Add these to the onions along with the fresh coriander. When the fish is cooked remove the skins and using two forks, gently pull apart the fish into large flakes. Add these to the rice and vegetable mix, and stir to combine the ingredients.

Remove the eggs from the bowl of water, peel and cut them into quarters.

Serve the fish, vegetables and rice mix onto plates and top with the sliced eggs. Enjoy!

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Tomato & Roasted Veg Quinoa Risotto

img_9498If you have a bit of time to spend in the kitchen, this meal is a great choice! Its cheap to make, and can be easily adapted to suit the preferences of the family. Plus, it makes for a healthy leftover lunch the next day. This meat free meal provides two of your 5 a day, with ingredients such as the quinoa and asparagus offering a great a source of protein and iron. The asparagus, along with the tomatoes and squash are also packed with fibre and vitamins B and C.

Recipe Serves 4 adults

Ingredients:

  • 175g Risotto rice
  • 75g Quinoa
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Couple of fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1litre of stock, I make my own but you could also use 2 veg stock pots in a litre of boiling water
  • 500g passata
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 courgette, cut into chunky slices
  • 250g asparagus
  • 150ml red wine
  • Small handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
  • 50g parmesan, grated (Use vegetarian option if you want the meal to be fully veggie)
  • black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (Fan).

Toss together the cherry tomatoes, squash, courgette, rosemary, some black pepper and ½ tbsp of the oil, then spread the veg across a baking tray. Leave to roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

Place the stock in a saucepan and heat until almost boiling, then reduce the heat and keep on a low heat.

Tip: Keep the stock hot! Adding cold stock to a hot risotto pan will reduce the temperature and cook the risotto rice much slower.

Whilst the veg is roasting in the oven, fry the garlic and onions in the remaining oil over a medium heat. When the onions are soft and translucent, add the risotto rice and stir until the grains have also turn translucent round the edges.

Add the wine, passata and quinoa, and stir until the liquids have been absorbed by the rice. Add 3 large ladles of the stock and stir to mix through. At this point I usually put the lid on the pan and leave it for 5-10 minutes, but some people may prefer to stand and stir it – your choice! Continue to add stock 1 ladle at a time until the rice has softened and the risotto is at a creamy consistency, this should take between 30-45 minutes. You will most likely have some stock leftover which is normal.

Tip: I use a large flat paella pan when I cook risottos, but a large saucepan can also work – ensure that the rice is stirred regularly to guarantee an even cook. 

Steam the asparagus for a few minutes – I use a microwave steamer for 2½ minutes but an oven top steamer will take a little longer.

When you are happy with the consistency of the risotto, stir through the roasted veg, parmesan, some black pepper and serve topped with the asparagus.

Enjoy!

Spicy Arrabiata Prawn Pasta

img_1929This meal takes less than 10 minutes to cook up, making it the ideal quick fix for dinner on one of those evenings that just runs away from you. In addition to being super convenient this delicious dish also provides 2 portions of your 5-a-day, and a whole host of vitamins including Vitamin A. This vitamin is particularly valuable throughout winter as it plays an important role in keeping our immune systems in top condition and ready to fight off those nasty winter colds.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 200g raw peeled prawns
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 orange or yellow pepper, sliced
  • 2 red chilli, finely chopped ( I like it quite spicy so adjust as appropriate for you)
  • 250g fresh pasta
  • 300g Passata with Garlic (check the packaging to ensure there is no added sugar)
  • 1tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Method:

Boil the kettle and add to a saucepan ready for the pasta – don’t add the pasta yet!

In a separate pan fry the onions and peppers in the rapeseed oil, over a medium heat for about 5 minutes then add the chopped chilli. Fry for another 3 minutes or until all of the veg has softened.

Add the passata to the frying pan and heat until it begins to bubble around the edges. At this point add the parsley and prawns to the sauce and cook until they have all turned pink.

Tip: If feeding fussy eaters, before adding the prawns, the tomato and pepper sauce can be blended down to a smooth sauce without any chunky veggies. 

Once the prawns have been added to the frying pan, add the pasta to the boiling water and simmer as per the packet instructions.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add to the sauce in the frying pan, then toss to evenly coat in the tomato and prawn sauce.

Serve into pasta bowls and enjoy!

Tip: This meal can also be made with dried pasta, but as this takes longer to cook, make sure the pasta is well on its way before cooking the prawns to avoid them going tough and overdone. 

Roasted butternut squash, chilli & feta pasta

This super easy meal is healthy, cheap to make and meat free. Plus it provides 1 of your 5 a day, complex carbs to supply the body with a slow and steady source of energy AND wholegrain pasta is full of fibre which is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • Half butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1tsp chilli flakes
  • 1tsp of rapeseed oil
  • 1tbsp garlic infused olive oil
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped
  • 50g reduces fat feta cheese, diced (I like Arla Apetina 10% feta)
  • 160g dried wholewheat pasta
  • Black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan), and arrange to butternut squash and onion on a baking tray, mix through the rapeseed oil, chilli flakes and black pepper then pop in the oven to cook for approx 30-35 minutes.

Tip: if you don’t have time to roast the veg you can steam the butternut squash for 5 minutes in a microwave steamer (slightly longer if you’re steaming in a pan) and fry off the onion.

When the veg is cooked, remove from the oven and add the fresh chilli, feta and garlic oil to the baking tray. Put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Tip: I like to use garlic oil as it gives the great flavour of garlic without the uncomfortable digestive problems that it causes for many people. If you can tolerate fresh garlic or don’t want to buy another oil then you can crush a garlic clove and mix it through the squash before it goes into roast and add a tbsp of regular olive oil in place of the infused oil.

At this point you need to cook the pasta which should take 10 minutes if cooked as per the packet instructions.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add back to the pan along with everything from the baking tray, making sure to add the oil which will have taken on the flavours of the squash, softened cheese and chilli.

Toss through the pasta to ensure it’s all lightly coated then serve straight away. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Soup

When the temperature has dropped to minus degrees and its dark and rainy outside, the last thing I want for lunch is a cold salad. Soup is a brilliant, no fuss lunch, that in my opinion is the definition of quick and easy comfort food.

The following recipe provides two portions of your 5-a-day and can be easily customised depending on what veggies you have in the fridge! This recipe is great for getting different vegetables into the diets of fussy eaters, plus, by including lots of different veggies it means the meal will offer an even greater variety of vitamins and minerals.

Serves approx 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash. Peeled, seeds removed and diced.
  • 1 onion. Peeled and sliced
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 reduced salt vegetable stock pot
  • 2 carrots. Peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 2 parsnips. Peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 1 bulb of garlic. Remove papery outer layers but keep bulb in tact
  • Handful of fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 100ml half fat Creme Fraiche (optional)

Method:

Toss the diced butternut squash in the oil and rosemary, then spread over a baking tray. Place the garlic bulb in the middle of the tray and bake for 30 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Whilst the butternut squash is roasting, place the stock pot in a large saucepan with 1 litre of boiling water. Add the bay leaves, onion, parsnips and carrots to the pan and cover with a lid. Leave this to simmer until all of the veg is soft and can be broken with the back of a spoon. Once you’re happy with the texture of the vegetables, turn off the heat, remove the lid and leave the liquid to cool.

Tip: The carrots and parsnips can be added to the butternut squash and roasted instead of being added to the stock – your choice!

When the butternut squash is soft and slightly blackened round the edges, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once the stock and roasted vegetables have cooled to a safe temperature, remove the bay leaves from the pan and discard. Add the butternut squash and rosemary to the stock mix along with the deliciously soft insides of the garlic cloves.

Tip: Separate the roasted garlic cloves from the main bulb and press on the bottom of the clove  using your fingers (or a knife on a chopping board) to push the flesh out of the skin. 

Once everything is in the pan, use a hand blender to turn the mix into a smooth soup, adding additional water if the mix is too thick. Once you are happy with the consistency, season with black pepper and if you wish, add in some creme fraiche to give the soup a creamy boost!

Serve on its own or with a slice of toasted Sourdough. Enjoy!

Tip: This soup will last for about a week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer, and can be reheated on the hob or in the microwave. 

Healthier Carbonara

carbonaraI have always loved a big bowl of spaghetti carbonara, but it has to be said…not the healthiest of meals. I know all Italians will read this and protest that it isn’t an authentic carbonara, but I have made a few swaps and additions to make one of my favourites a much less guilty pleasure, that’s lower in fat and higher in fibre.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 140g dried whole wheat spaghetti
  • 150ml white wine
  • 90g peas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5oml half fat crème fraiche
  • 50g pecorino
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 1tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method:

Cook the spaghetti as per the packet instructions.

Cook the bacon under the grill or on a George Foreman until cooked to your preference (I like it really crispy!)

Whilst the pasta and bacon is cooking, fry the onion and garlic in the oil over a medium heat.

When the onions and garlic have softened add the frozen peas. cook for 3 minutes and add the wine.

Leaving the wine to bubble away, mix the egg, crème fraiche, pecorino and black pepper in a bowl.

When the wine has reduced so that only a small amount remains in the pan, turn off the heat.

By this time the pasta should be cooked; add this to the onion and pea mix and stir through the egg mix.

The residual heat of the pan should cook the sauce causing it to thicken and coat the pasta. If needed, turn the heat back on but keep it low because if its too high the egg in the sauce will scramble. Patience is the key here, it will take around 5 minutes before the sauce is of the right consistency.

Once you’re happy with the sauce texture, serve into pasta bowls and top with the crispy bacon and parsley. Enjoy!

 

Pesto Roast Chicken with green veggies 

2 of your 5 a day, a source of healthy polyunsaturated fats and high in lean protein 💚

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • Large bunch of basil
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml garlic infused olive oil or 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 25g pine nuts
  • 25g Parmesan or pecorino, grated
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1.6-1.8kg Whole chicken
  • 500g new potatoes, chopped in half
  • 1 courgette, use veg peeler to make ribbons
  • 200g green beans
  • 200g asparagus
  • 100g broad beans
  • 100g peas
  • 1tbsp plain flour

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (fan)

Blitz the basil, oils, cheese, lemon juice and pine nuts in a blender until it forms a smooth sauce. You may need to add some more oil to get this consistency.
Place the chicken in a roasting tin and rub just under half of the pesto under the skin of the chicken. Put the used half of lemon in the chicken cavity, and place the tin in the middle of the oven.


After 45 minutes, add the potatoes to the roasting tin and cover the chicken in another tablespoon of the pesto. Put back in the oven for another 45 minutes.


Removing the chicken from the oven, check the juices of the chicken are clear and the meat is no longer pink in the middle, then leave to rest under tin foil.

Steam the green beans and asparagus for 3 minutes (in a microwave steamer – will take longer on the hob) then add the peas and broad beans for a further 2 minutes. Tip these into a bowl and add the courgette to the steamer and leave in the microwave for 1 minute, then add to the bowl with the rest of the veg.


Mix the flour with some cold water to make a paste.

Stir the remaining pesto into the chicken juices in the roasting tin, heat this on the hob and add the flour paste to thicken the sauce.


Add a tbsp of the pesto sauce to the vegetables and toss to cover.

Carve the chicken and serve with the potatoes and veggies, adding a spoonful of the pesto sauce to finish! Enjoy! 

What counts as 5-a-day?

Eating a balanced diet, full of a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures that we get the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to stay fighting fit. The vitamins we get from fruits and veggies play an important role in every function of the body, from maintaining a healthy immune system and a strong heart, to clear skin, strong hair and nails, good eyesight and a healthy brain.

Despite the importance of including this food group in our diets, less than 10% of children aged between 11 and 18 years old achieve 5 portions a day (1). However, with a bit of savvy meal planning it is easy to hit that 5 a day without breaking the bank.

How much is a portion?

The government recommendation is that adults should eat 400g of fruit and vegetables as a minimum every day (2). This works out to be 80g per portion, however there are some exceptions.

For Fresh, frozen or tinned (try and avoid those in syrup) fruit, 80g is roughly equivalent to…

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 medium tomato or 7 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 orange
  • 2 Satsumas
  • 2 plums
  • 2 pineapple rings
  • 2 handfuls of raspberries/blueberries/strawberries

150ml fruit juice = 1 portion – BUT no matter how much you drink this will only ever provide 1 portion because when fruit is blended it releases the natural sugars which are bad for our teeth,  and blending also breaks down some of the fibre in fruit meaning some of the nutritional value is lost.

30g of Dried fruit (roughly the equivalent to 80g of fresh) also contributes 1 portion of your 5 a day. For example:

  • 1 heaped tbsp. raisins/cranberries
  • 2 dried figs
  • 3 dried dates

For fresh, tinned and frozen vegetables, 80g looks something like…

  •  7 asparagus spears
  • 3 heaped tbsp. peas/sweetcorn
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 8 florets of broccoli
  • 3 heaped tbsp. carrot slices/butternut squash chunks
  • 1 breakfast bowl full of fresh spinach
  • Half an avocado

3 tbsp of beans (tinned & drained, or cooked from dry) will also provide 1 portion of your 5 a day. However, beans can only contribute 1 portion because although they are high in fibre, they don’t contain as many vitamins as fruits and vegetables.

For more examples of what a portion looks like visit: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Documents/Downloads/5ADAY_portion_guide.pdf

In practical terms, how do we fit this into our daily diets?

Below is just one example of a million ways that we can incorporate fruits and veg into our diets everyday…

Breakfast – A small glass of orange juice (1 portion), scrambled egg on brown toast with a handful of cherry tomatoes (1 portion)

Morning Snack – A banana (1 portion), small handful of nuts and a cup of tea

Lunch – Greek style chicken salad with feta cheese, olives, cucumber, tomatoes (1-2 portions) and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Dinner – Spicy Mexican Bean Burgers with avocado salsa (2 portions). Check this out in the recipes section!

For more advice, have a look on the links below, and check out the recipe section on this blog, where all recipes provide at least one of your 5 a day – without a single sad looking piece of lettuce in sight!

(1) http://www.foodafactoflife.co.uk

(2) http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/5ADAYhome.aspx

Healthy Eating Week 2017

BNF healthy eating week logo

Today sees the start of the British Nutrition Foundation Healthy Eating Week 2017. The aim of this week is to get schools, Universities and Businesses really thinking about healthy eating and physical activity, and the benefits that this has for our physical and mental wellbeing.

For each day this week, the BNF has set a different challenge to get the nation on their feet and chowing down on healthy food.

BNF 5 challenge logos

Don’t worry if you missed today’s challenge to “Eat a Healthy Breakfast”, why not give it a go for the rest of the week, and for a bigger challenge aim for a different healthy choice each day.

Tomorrow’s challenge is to eat the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables. Why not get some inspiration from the recipes section of this blog; each recipe provides one or two portions. With two sorted for your evening meal why not add a piece of fruit to your breakfast, have a salad with your lunch and a healthy afternoon snack… that’s your 5 portions done!

If you are unsure as to what makes “A portion” Keep an eye out for my next blog post where I will be giving a bit more advice on how to get the most out of your fruits and veggies.

For more information on Health Eating Week, the 5 challenges or for school resources, check out: http://www.foodafactoflife.org.uk/site.aspx?siteId=20&t=5