A Quick & Frugal Pasta Bowl [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep & Cooking Time: 60-75 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, veggie peeler, roasting tin, silicone mat (or kitchen foil), large pot w/lid, colander, large mixing bowl and/or resealable container

Notes

Our pasta bowl was hearty and delicious…and if you fancy a healthy, frugal and quick lunch then you’re in the right place! Just throw together some tender veggies, hearty pasta and your favourite dressing!

The great thing about pasta salads (apart from their speedy preparation!) is that you can use whatever you have available (or fancy) and produce enough to last for several lunchesYup, a couple days off cooking sounds pretty perfect to us! 😀

As we had previously meal planned to eat this lunch over a 3-4 day period. We preferred to use predominately cooked/roasted vegetables; the taste and integrity is preserved a little better, as opposed to using fresh ones. However, it was also still pretty cold outside, so the thought of eating lettuce for four days was not very appealing!  

We prepared a fresh mustard vinaigrette dressing, but feel free to use some fresh herbs, spices, a dip, tahini sauce or even just a splash of olive oil instead!

 

 

Ingredients

++++++++++++++++1.6kg       Vegetables (for roasting!)
++++++++++++++++                Low-fat cooking oil spray
++++++++++++++++                Salt & ground black pepper
++++++++++++++++120g        Frozen green beans
++++++++++++++++5g            Fresh flat leaf parsley
++++++++++++++++1               Tin kidney beans (unsalted; 240g drained weight)
++++++++++++++++180g        Cherry tomatoes
++++++++++++++++1               Lemon (zest & juice)
++++++++++++++++80g         Black olives (pitted)
++++++++++++++++75g          Wholemeal pasta/person; (GF if required)
++++++++++++++++15g           Wild rocket/ person

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a roasting tin with a silicone mat or some parchment paper.

2. In the meantime, prepare your preferred vegetables for roasting. NB: We roasted some butternut squash, courgette, bell peppers and carrot. Tip: Oops! We would have roasted some red onion too, but it had rolled behind our jar of olives! Place the vegetables into the roasting tin. Spray with some low-fat cooking oil. Season to taste with a little salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss to coat. Place the tray onto the middle oven shelf. Toast for 30-45 mins or until tender and slightly browned. Remove. Allow to cool slightly.

3. In the meantime, prepare your dressing (if desired).Tip: We made a mustard vinaigrette dressing out of some: olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, lemon juice (from one lemon) and a drop of agave syrup (all to taste).

Prepare any other fresh or frozen ingredients you plan on using, e.g. some frozen green beans! NB: We steamed and cooked some green beans, washed and chopped some flat leaf parsley, drained and rinsed some kidney beans (not chickpeas), washed and quartered some cherry tomatoes, washed the lemon; grated some zest and then juiced it, peeled and diced a red onion, and drained, washed and then sliced some olives.

4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain

5. Assemble the salad. Place the fresh (or relatively fresh!) ingredients into a large mixing bowl or resealable container (as applicable). Add the roasted vegetables and the pasta. Pour over the dressing. Toss together. Taste ans season the salad as necessary.

6. Serve. Place some rocket into the bottom of a serving bowl. Spoon over the salad. Garnish with nuts or herbs (if desired).

Enjoy!

Tip: Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container; reheat and then freshen with more dressing (if desired) and consume within 3-4 days.

NB: We garnished our salad with some pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and dried chives!

 

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Potato & Pea Balti

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and (per serving) is low in sugar and saturated fats!

OK, so it was another curry night here at Eat2Health, but (to some of you) this recipe might seem a little like it’s from Cheaty-McCheat’s kitchen… and we can appreciate that this idea is partially true! We sourced and used a reasonably healthy (jarred) curry sauce. Everyone is entitled to have a ‘night off’ from a full-blown cooking marathon from time to time…we just have to be mindful about the products we choose to use, and of course consider ways in which we can easily improve the nutritional balance of our meals…

Which is what we took on board when using this sauce!

Our product instructed the user to cook it with chicken and fresh chillies and then serve it with naan bread. Firstly, this might be the authentic and traditional method, but the chicken is a no-go for us. Secondly, we’ve commented about how we feel about naan bread before…and thirdly, where are the recommendations for vegetables?! Even though this sauce was made from some veggies (but the first ingredient was water by the way!), it’s not going to go far to account for your 5-A-Day quotas. 

We decided to use hearty potatoes, robust peas and some fibrous and nutritious tomatoes, bell peppers and spinach instead! We added extra flavourings, such as the ginger, chilli and turmeric etc. because we knew the tomatoes would dilute the sauce slightly; herbs and spices are always a healthier way to flavour your meals without adding extra salt.

The result was a delicious and healthy meal! Balti’s by nature are tasty, tangy and not overly spicy; admittedly I found ours a bit spicy… I guess the ginger, chilli and mustard seeds added some extra heat! Once I just added some plain/unsweetened soya yoghurt, everything was fine! 🙂 You could also try serving this curry with some of our savoury flat bread (as a tasty addition and/or to diffuse the heat!), but we found this curry super filling as is.

Per serving the sauce provided: 62kcal, 3g Sugar, 4g Fat, 0.3g S/Fat and 0.5g Salt. Like any processed foods, the fat, sugar and salt contents must be considered; there is no point in buying a product with very little sugar and/or fat but it still contains high/unhealthy levels of salt (and vice versa!). Amusingly (to us anyways!) this product we used had less salt (per serving) than our favourite baked beans that we occasionally buy!

One last thing before we cook! As it’s coming to the end of the UK’s ‘National Salt Awareness Week’, we hope that you’ve been taking note of some of the advice brought to your attention not only by us, but by lots of other social media sources! Let’s all work hard at getting the national salt intake average down from 8.1g to the government recommended levels of 6g/day.

 

Let’s all Eat2Health everyone (#lesssalt!)! 

 

Quick facts:

  • The word Balti roughly translates to ‘bucket’. This is because the word refers to the type of cookware used and not to the ingredients. This type of curry is traditionally cooked in a steel or iron (and even copper coated) pan that looks quite similar to a Chinese ‘wok’; the pan is called a karahi (a ‘Balti pan/bowl’).

Traditionally it can be prepared with meat and vegetables and is served with naan bread; it’s considered a medium-hot curry (but we think this rating can be loosely translated- depending on your heat threshold!).

  • Per serving (*based on 4 servings), this recipe provides you with approx. 4 portions of fruit/vegetables towards your 5-A-Day!

 

 

Ingredients:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++1kg           Baking potatoes
+++++++++++++++++++++++++300g       Frozen garden peas
+++++++++++++++++++++++++200g       White onion
+++++++++++++++++++++++++4g             Garlic cloves
+++++++++++++++++++++++++90g          Raw ginger root
+++++++++++++++++++++++++16g           Red Chilli
+++++++++++++++++++++++++100g        Frozen sliced bell peppers
+++++++++++++++++++++++++140g         Frozen spinach
+++++++++++++++++++++++++                 Fry spray (low-fat cooking oil)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1g             Turmeric
+++++++++++++++++++++++++4g             Brown mustard seeds
+++++++++++++++++++++++++285g        Balti curry sauce (one jar)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++400g       Tinned plum tomatoes

 

 

Directions:

 Wash and chop the potatoes into small bite-sized pieces.

 

 

Place the potatoes into a large saucepan full of cold water or a medium-low heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain.

 

 

In the meantime, place the peas into a steamer pot with some water. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Steam for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain.

 

 

Meanwhile, place the bell peppers and spinach into two separate microwaveable dishes. Place the dishes into the microwave. Heat the vegetables on a defrost setting. Drain.

 

 

In the meantime, peel and dice the onion and garlic. Wash, peel and grate the ginger. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and dice the chilli.

 

 

Place a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Spray it with a little low-fat cooking oil.

 

 

Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. Gently fry for 1-2 minutes or until softened.

 

 

Add the bell peppers. Mix to combine.

 

 

Add the turmeric and seeds. Mix to combine. Gentry fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

 

 

Pour in the sauce. Add the tomatoes. Stir to combine.

 

 

Add the potatoes, peas and spinach. Gently stir to combine.

 

 

Allow to curry to simmer for approx. 5 minutes (or longer if desired). Remove from the heat.

This step is just really to heat the sauce; if you prefer richer flavours, allow it to simmer for a big longer.

 

 

Cover with a lid. Allow it to rest 5-10 minutes (if you have time). We always find that the flavours taste best when the meal is not boiling hot!

 

 

Serve warm. Ladle into a large serving bowl and garnish with some fresh coriander and mustard seeds(if desired).

We garnished ours with a bit of semi-defrosted coriander- hence why it doesn’t look as vibrant as fresh coriander!

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

If preferred…

  • Make this a two-pot dish! Cook all of the ingredients in one large saucepan (except the potatoes) and adjust the cooking times accordingly.
  • Use a variation of vegetables and/or legumes, pulses or baked tofu! Curries are very adaptable and taste great with most plant-based foods! Non-vegans can add a combination of lean meat, poultry or fish with a medley of vegetables!
  • Create your own balti paste using fresh ingredients; make it as neutral or as spicy as you like!

 

Sources:
The Curry House

BBC Headline: Ready Meals May Count Towards Five A Day

Review Of News Articles

This article came out this week regarding new considerations of what the ‘5-A-Day’ logo could entail.

…“Currently the five-a-day logo can be used only on food or drink that is 100% fruit or vegetable.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think including ‘ready meals’ in the Five-A-Day ‘branding’s’ could be sending the wrong message??

 

They noted:

…”Products would have to meet agreed standards on fat, sugar and salt.”

……but some of these ‘ready meals’ are not ‘great’; not just with their added sugar, fat and salt contents. A ‘token’ amount of peas, tomatoes or beans doesn’t go far into your 5-A-Day total.  These ‘ready meals’ should contain healthier levels of sugar, fat and salt anyways and they should emphasize that serving them with ADDITIONAL vegetables will help people meet healthy eating guidance! Vegetables provide us with a lot more vitamins and minerals than fruit do and therefore go a long way into preventing chronic diseases…. So we should be encouraging more people to cook from scratch, using a vary of vegetables, legumes and pulses…

 

It feels like the government has given up on the obesity problem slightly… because the masses complain about a ‘nannying state’ and portray that the current 5-A-Day structure and physical activity guidance is unrealistic … so they are ‘watering down’ the criteria of what may or may not be healthy.

…“Now government nutritionists are meeting with academics and food industry experts to decide if rules on the five-a-day logo scheme can be relaxed to include healthy foods that are currently excluded.”

If they do include ‘ready meals’, should the quantity of fruit of vegetables be increased too? Maybe 7-A-Day? How many fruits and vegetables do you currently eat/day?

 

As it stands:

…“Fewer than one in three adults and one in 10 children in the UK eat the recommended five portions a day.”

They should be reviewing the situation… and ask themselves why people are not currently making these recommendations… not ‘lowering the standards’ necessary…

It’s pretty obvious that more provisions should be made into providing: food education, healthy living and eating advice and cheaper staple foods (as food poverty has been shown to affect so many in the UK)…we shouldn’t try and make people feel good about their bad habits, laziness or lack of will power …by condoning processed foods and/or ‘ready meals’ as a ‘healthier choice’.

Cooking methods and the quality of the ingredients used in meals are really the deciding factors as to what is considered healthy anyways….and if we are just relying on ‘zapping’ our meals (regardless of how many vegetables it contains)…how many nutrients will it provide us with?

 

…“No decision has yet been made on what foods would make the grade – but about 350 categories of foods are being looked at, including pizza, vegetable lasagne, soup, and low fat baked beans.”

What’s next then…should we consider condiments and ‘fruit cakes’ too…

Ultimately, if the guidance changes, the general tone of ‘ready meals’ could be a healthier one….and until we know the full criteria for the new guidance, its hard to give it a full thumbs up or a thumbs down.

 

Where do we draw the line with solid healthy eating advice or what foods are considered healthy? What are your thoughts?

 

Written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image: Courtesy of the BBC website (original article)

Portion Sizes: Getting It Right For Our Waistlines!

Diet & Weight Loss

Food: our friend or foe? Yes, I’m sure quite a few of us would divulge that we have a love-hate relationship with food; it’s not a secret that we have seasonal, emotional or even social tendencies to over eat! Overeating, whether its biscuits, cheese, turkey, or quinoa, can all lead to increased weight gain. Rising waistlines and obesity levels can be indicative of our portion sizes and/or general diet; as studies in many western countries have highlighted (UK , America, Canada and Australia). Hands up if you have overheard or maybe even quoted yourself expressing this phrase “I can’t seem to lose weight, even while eating healthy foods- what’s going on?”  Well I think the answer to that question is ‘how well do we know our portion sizes’?

 

Portion sizes can be very hard to visualise and the ‘portion distortion’ effect makes it even more difficult, for example, studies have shown that the size of bowls or plates used can influence the quantity of food we consume.  Public interest has also focused on how food portion sizes have increased over the last few decades, such as an increase to packaging sizes of 30-50%; we have also become the kings and queens of ‘supersizing’ and ‘BOGOF’ deals, this is very evident within fast-food chains. These bigger portion sizes are resulting in the rise of obesity, type 2 diabetes and associated chronic diseases.

As well as companies increasing portion sizes they use widely different terms, e.g. portion size, serving size, recommended amount, snack size, fun size, sharing size etc, it’s no wonder we’re getting confused.  What is the difference?

  • A ‘portion’: is based on our daily recommended calorie intake (our DRVs).
  • A ‘serving’: until recently it could be whatever size companies wanted it to be, now thanks to pressure from health organizations and the government; it is linked to portion sizes, but can vary between companies and products and is usually hidden away on the back of the package.

 

Not only is this information hidden away, the way it’s presented will vary greatly and even if the portion sizes are communicated clearly, it can be unclear what they mean in real terms. For example, a 200g crisp packet states there is 85kcal in one 45g serving …so what does 45 grams look like?!

Photo by_Maryvery1 Flickr

The reality is that we’re not going to pack a kitchen scale or measuring cup into our purse and whisk them out at dinner party; social death anyone?

These tangible instruments are a great starting point and give us an increased aptitude to visualise quantities, but this can be easily forgotten; before we know it, we’re eating ‘our normal portions’ again and purchasing larger dress sizes. After all, it’s not necessarily what we eat, but the quantity (and frequency) of which we consume it.

Subjectively speaking, the quickest way to gauge portion size is from a healthy eating regime or perhaps how we feel after finishing a meal; we can quickly distinguish the difference between volumes of rice, or what a portion of cereal looks like. I think it’s fair to say that ‘dieting’ or not, we understand that devouring an entire family-sized bar of chocolate will carry long-term consequences to our health.

 

Support is at hand though. The BDA has The eatwell plate; a food plate that addresses the quantities of the five food groups.

Photo by: Lee Baker Flickr

Photo by: Lee Baker Flickr

 

The 5 A DAY scheme similarly highlights fruit and vegetable portion sizes.  Frustratingly, some companies like to extort our indolence and time constraints by pushing their expensive 5 A DAY pots of fruit & vegetables; don’t buy them, make your own!

These guidelines supplied by healthcare professionals are all great, but are difficult to apply to individual foods, e.g. eating one 80g portion of fruit cannot be applied when eating calorific chocolate, peanut butter or cheese- well we can dream!

 

Let’s start from scratch. Here are some strategies to correct our portion size mind-set.

 

Some Simple Ways To Express Portion Sizes:

Photo courtesy of: Topsy Tasty

 

Obviously this is not an exhaustive food list, but it will help get us started. Check out my additional information below on ways to help make portion sizes relative and manageable.

 

A Handy Solution!

Photo courtesy of: Topsy Tasty

 

Recommend Reading:

So it looks like we’re going to eat a lot less with our eyes and more with our hands- bon appétit!

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: a james Flickr