Vegetarian spag bol recipe

I can’t remember when I started making this dish but it’s one of those midweek family meals that’s developed and changed over time. The best time of year to eat it is the Summer or early Autumn when courgettes, peppers and celery are all in season – that way you get 8 different vegetables into the dish. From what I’ve seen, kids really seem to like puy lentils – maybe because they aren’t soggy and they retain their firm structure – as long as they aren’t over-cooked. So it makes a good alternative to meat spaghetti bolognese. I’m not keen on pasta, so I usually a bowl of the puy lentil bolognese just by itself. If you have any raw tomatoes that have gone a bit too soft to eat in a salad, then you can chop them and add them along with the chopped tomatoes. veggie spag bol

You will need… 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika (optional) 1 teaspoon mixed herbs 1-2 garlic cloves 1 medium onion 1 medium carrot A celery stick 150g  mushrooms 1 courgette 1 pepper 400g Carton of chopped tomatoes* tablespoon tomato puree 100g puy lentils Handful of fresh basil How to… Wash and top and tail (where need be) the veg and dice. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Rinse the puy lentils and add to the boiling water. Cook for about 20 minutes until soft enough to eat but not too soft. Drain and put to one side. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sweat until softened and translucent. Add the courgette, pepper and mushrooms stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the smoked paprika and mixed herbs and cook for a few more minutes. Then put the puy lentils in and stir. Pour in the chopped tomatoes (and raw ones if you’re using them) and stir well. Add the tomato puree. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is reducing nicely (this intensify’s the flavour). You don’t want to cook it for too long though otherwise the vegetables begin to loose their colour. Add chopped basil a minute or two before you take it off the heat. Serve with pasta and parmesan. dished up veggie spag bol
Allergens You can obviously make this dish dairy free by not including the parmesan and/or egg free or gluten free by using gluten free/egg free pasta. *When I made this dish today, I used an extra 200g of chopped tomatoes that I had left over from another dish. If it looks like you need more tomatoes or liquid, just add a bit more or if you don’t have any more, just rinse out your chopped tomato carton with a little water and pour it into the pan. Or you could use 1 or two raw tomatoes.

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5 minute oriental chicken soup

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This is probably our favourite dish at the moment. With the light evenings the girls have been going to bed late so we have less time in the evening. This soup is perfect, because it literally takes 5 minutes to cook (and 5 minutes tops to prepare) is healthy and delicious.

I haven’t had time recently to make my own stock. I buy organic free range stock cubes, firstly because I know organic free range farming has higher animal welfare standards compared to factory farming as the chickens have access to outdoors and are kept in a lower stocking density (less chickens per square metre). Also organic farmers are not per permitted to use antibiotics. Finally under organic standards, additives such as MSG are not permitted for use. So organic is a label you can trust.

You can use a very low salt stock cube, I don’t, because I don’t eat processed foods and don’t add salt to my food, so I know i don’t have much added salt in my diet.

I often make this dish it on a day when I am making chicken stirfry for the girls, so i can use the same ingredients for both meals. Usually I just have tat soi (my favourite Chinese greens at the moment), mushrooms and sometimes purple spouting broccoli, it all depends on what I have in the fridge. Anyway, experiment and see what flavours work for you. I sometimes have a few sliced chillies on top, if you like hot food you can add it to the stock, but this makes it all too spicy for me as it infuses the whole soup. My husband has noodles in his soup but I prefer it without.

I have made a version of this with Wild Alaskan salmon which I will post soon, and will try to make it with tofu too as that will work well.

You will need…

Serves 2

2 organic skinless chicken breasts (about 200g in total)

1 organic chicken stock cube or 600ml homemade chicken stock

200g of pak choi or tat soi Washed and sliced

2-3 garlic cloves sliced

A thumbnail chunk of ginger peeled and sliced

Handful of chestnut mushrooms sliced

Half a pepper sliced (optional)

2-4 spring onions (optional)

Free range egg noodles (optional)

How to…

Bring the stock to the boil in a pan.

Add the ginger, garlic and chicken breasts whole to the stock.

The chicken needs to cook for 5 minutes and not much more otherwise it starts to toughen up.

Add the noodles to the pan and put the lid on.

A minute later add purple sprouting broccoli, spring onions and/or mushrooms.

A minute before the end add the tat soi or pak choi.

Put the lid on and allow to steam.

Divide the soup between bowls.

Slice the chicken (check that its cooked through) and arrange on top of the soup.

Sprinkle with coriander and serve with a dash of soy sauce.

What’s for lunch: mackerel with puy lentils and beetroot

Mackerel, puy lentils and beetroot

“What’s for lunch” is a series of recipes and ideas for lunches that you can share with your baby or toddler (though you don’t have to have a baby or toddler to make these dishes).

This makes a nice, easy and very nutritious lunch. The puy lentils and beetroot salad works well with feta cheese or goats cheese sprinkled on top (though those flavours are probably too strong for a little one) it makes a good packed lunch, or picnic salad.

Mackerel has just come back into season (its out of season February to May) so it’s something we have quite often now. The girls love it. I get them filleted, and then carefully check for bones before cooking (usually with tweezers) and also when I flake it for my youngest daughter after cooking.

You will need…

2-4 fillets of mackerel (if you buy 4 you will have enough left overs to make fishcakes)
100g puy lentils
4-6 bulbs of beetroot
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
A handful of salad leaves

How to…

Preheat your oven to about 200°c, gas mark 5.
Scrub about 4-5 beetroot bulbs and top and tail them and put on roasting tray.
Drizzle with olive oil and roast for between 45 minutes to an hour depending on size, until they are soft (if you haven’t got so much time then half them before roasting).
Allow to cool and then peel, cut into chucks and put to one side.

Baked the mackerel on a tray in the oven with the beetroot for about 15 minutes (or grill it).
Rinse puy lentils then cook in boiling water for about 20-30 minutes, until just soft.
Then rinse through with cold water.
Put the lentils in a bowl with the beetroot scattered on top.
I had some leftover rocket too so added that – usually I would add more, baby spinach, parsley or basil could work just as well.
Make a dressing with about 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice) to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Put in a jar and shake to mix well and then drizzle some over the lentil salad on your plate (it might be a strong flavour for your little one though you could try putting a little on their plate to mix in with the lentils, keep the rest of the dressing in the fridge.

I had a leftover roast potatoes from Sunday lunch so warmed them through for my daughter. You could give a slice of bread, some pasta shapes or other root to give a mixture of high fibre and low fibre carbs.


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Nutrition bits

So you probably already know that mackerel is a fatty fish so is a good source of omega 3 fats. Overall this meal provides high amounts of protein, fibre, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12 and iodine. It provides lots of other nutrients too numerous to list.