Friday, 8 April 2016

Hearty Root Vegetable and Mushroom Casserole with Herby Cheese and Mustard Dumplings

This really is a cracking dish when you're craving comfort food, and makes a smashing Sunday dinner for vegetarians!

I wanted to make something for my meat-loving family (incuding me!) which wouldn't leave us feeling like something was 'missing' for a Sunday dinner, and I didn't want to do a nut roast! In the end, I decided upon some kind of 'stew and dumplings', and it was that tasty and filling it didn't even need anything on the side - although you could of course serve it with some steamed green vegetables, and maybe even a couple of roasted potatoes on the side, and you'd probably be able to feed a couple more people with it!

If you want a healthier option for a weekday meal (or fast day), you could skip the dumplings, and just serve with plenty of green vegetables, and a few new potatoes or some cauliflower mash on the side. I can't tell you how happy I am with the gravy, it's so tasty and rich, it's the best vegetarian gravy I've ever made - it's amazing, the power of umami (no offence to vegetarians, but I never thought a vegetarian/vegan gravy could actually taste this good)!

Turnips would also work well in this, if you wanted to substitute one of the root vegetables. Without the dumplings, this is a low calorie, vegan, gluten free and dairy free dish. To make the dumplings vegan, use vegan cheese (or omit), and leave out the egg and just bring together the dough with water.

Serves four, 167 calories per portion just for the vegetable casserole, plus 194 calories per dumpling (388 calories for a serving of two dumplings), so 555 calories for a quarter portion of casserole with two dumplings.

Tofu, Mushrooms and Courgette in a Miso Broth with Noodles

So an April Fool's Day prank kind of backfired, and now we're aiming to eat vegan and vegetarian meals for the next month (as well as go sugar free!)...

Fortunately, I had a pack of firm tofu in the fridge on the day it happened (April 1st, of course...) so we were able to dive straight in with a tasty vegan dinner that everyone enjoyed! However, I am since discovering that planning and cooking meals for four people who all love their meat, fish and sugar is no easy feat - especially when you take out dairy and eggs for some of the meals too!

As it was so simple and tasty (and healthy!), I thought it would be nice to share it. It's based on the kind of thing I often throw together, but I wrote down the ingredients and quantities as I went for future reference (after all, we might be needing this meal again in the next month!). You can of course substitute any vegetables you fancy, just cook them to your tastes - you could even buy a pack of nice stir fry vegetables (you know, like the ones with tender stem broccoli and squash in) for total convenience!

Serves four, 185 calories per portion for the tofu and vegetable broth. Add 228 calories per serving for a nest of wholewheat noodles (making a total of 412 calories a portion) - or if you're on a fast day you could have zero / magic noodles for only a handful of calories, or make courgette noodles (and maybe substitute the sliced courgette for a different vegetable!).

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Quick Beetroot, Goat's Cheese and Puy Lentil Salad with a Balsamic and Basil Dressing

A simple and tasty dish to throw together, especially if you're in a rush!

So this dish came about one evening, when I didn't have much time left, and wanted to throw together something simple and tasty in time to watch Masterchef together (because it ALWAYS makes you hungry when you watch that programme, and you have to have something nice to eat!).

I threw the lentils into a bowl, dressed them to taste, went to get the pack of vacuum-packed cooked beetroot I had in the fridge, only to find out that I hadn't! Fail! I did at least have some beetroot, even though it wasn't already cooked, so had to compromise by throwing it into the oven to roast, while we watched Masterchef feeling increasingly 'hangry', then threw the rest together afterwards once it was cooked! However, provided you have a little more foresight than I did, and the ingredients to hand, then this will be a quick and easy meal to throw together in a matter of minutes.

If you wanted to, you could serve the lentil and beetroot element of this warm instead of cold, by giving it a quick blast in the microwave, or warming through gently in a pan with a splash of extra water.

Serves three for lunch or a light meal, or two for dinner (it's surprisingly filling!), or of course, more as a starter! 

Calories - for three lighter portions, 232 to 278 calories per portion (French vs. full fat cheese); For two larger portions, 348 to 417 calories per portion.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Chocolate, Banana and Walnut Porridge with No Added Sugar

OK, so as you can see, I'm adding to the 'oats arsenal' with healthy breakfasts - I figure most people like chocolate, right?

Seeing as I've been quite inventive with oats the last few days, I decided to start keeping a record of what I've been making. Especially as it's what I consider to be pretty healthy breakfasts (especially in comparison to a lot of cereals 'out of the box' marketed at children).

Now, chocolate porridge is never going to be the most attractive-looking food, but this really does taste good! Plus, you can always try and pretty it up by scattering on a few toppings.

Serves two, 363 calories per serving - to reduce the calories, leave out the walnuts and dates, and it will go down to 244 calories per serving.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Pear and Orange Porridge with Sunflower and Poppy Seeds

Here's a little quickie which was thrown together whilst waiting for my children to get up - but it tasted so good (even with no added sugar!) that I had to write it down so that I can make it again!

Also, it's rather healthy stuff because as well as having no added refined sugar, is made from wholegrain cereal with a nutrient boost from the seeds, and if you use almond milk it's dairy free!

Sorry, no photo of the finished article as it got scoffed down before I had a chance, so here's a quick one of the ingredients - but it does look quite pretty for porridge with the little flecks of orange zest in it, and smells absolutely divine!

Serves two, 280 calories per serving using almond milk. (If you want to reduce the calories further, skip the seeds and dates and this will reduce it to 216 calories per serving). N.B. If you use 350ml semi-skimmed milk, this raises the calories to 343 per serving.

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