Lentils are such an amazing food! They are really inexpensive, easy to use is a wide variety of meals and they pack a serious dietary punch when it comes to fibre and protein. They are one of the star foods for improving your gut health! A really valuable and budget friendly addition to your diet.
Like most of my meals that were inspired by other cultures, this is one you’re unlikely to find on the menu of an authentic Indian restaurant – but it is fragrant and delicious!
2 cups red lentil
1/3 cup French (puy) lentil
2 tbsp garlic olive oil
1 large brown onion, diced
1/2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp ground corrinader
2 tsp ground cumin
1 rounded tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
3 1/2 cups hot veggie stock (I use Massel for a store bought option)
1/3 cup coconut cream
2 large carrots, grated (roughly 1 rounded cup)**
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, roughly chopped
**you can use an equal quantity of grated pumpkin or sweet potato here if you’d prefer
Rinse and drain your dried lentils
Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan and add the onion, cook until soft.
Add in the ginger and mix well to combine.
Add in the dry spices and fry well until fragrant.
Add in the lentils and stir well to coat the mix. Add in the grated carrot and combine again.
Add in the hot stock, stir well and bring to a simmer.
Simmer for approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pan as they are absorbing the stock.
Add in the coconut cream and chopped spinach, stir well and cook until the spinach is wilted, but still bright.
Serve warm with your choice of ‘bready’ accompaniment – we used suitable wraps that we brushed with a little garlic oil, sprinkled with salt and popped under the grill until they were toasty and brown.
Sometimes you just really need bikkies in a hurry!
This recipe doesn’t need anything special – just 4 basic pantry ingredients and they’ll be cooling on your bench less than 25 minutes after you decided you needed a bikkie!
240g rolled oats
260 flour of choice (wholemeal spelt or a plain gf mix)
200g vegan butter
200g honey or maple syrup
In a large bowl, melt together the honey and butter (Speed 2, 100C about 2 1/2 mins) – then set aside.
Place the oats in your processor/thermal appliance or even bullet and give a couple of quick pulses to roughly shop the oats.
Add in the flour and mix well until combined (Speed 4, 10 secs).
Add in the melted butter mix and mix to combine (Speed 4, 8 secs).
Scoop spoon fulls of mixture on to a line baking tray and then use a fork to slightly flatten them.
Place in to a preheated 180C oven and bake for 16-18 minutes.
The biscuits will still be soft when removed from the oven. Leave them on the baking tray for 10 minutes (go ahead a ‘test’ one if you must!).
Move to an airing rack to finish cooling … or just eat them warm!
Makes about 22-24.
** I haven’t made an oat free version of these ones yet. I’d start by increasing the flour mix to 300g and then using a 200g mix of rice puffs, rolled quinoa and shredded coconut to replace the oats. I’ll update with exact quantities when I do!
Shepherd’s pie is such gorgeous, warming comfort food for chilly winter days. And it was a standard in our house while I was growing up. My maiden name was ‘Shepherd’ so Mum would tease us, and say that she’d need to take fingers or toes from us kids to go in to it.
It’s been a loooong time since I was a Shepherd now, but for years we have still made our version of her pie – you can find that one here.
Lately though we have been making a vegan version of the pie and it is just as yummy and ‘meaty’ as the meat based version. So if you’re a vegan, or if you’re just looking to add some more meat free meals or veggies into your diet – why not give this one a go?
2 tbsp garlic olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce if your diet allows)
1 tbsp vegemite (or a GF, soy free miso paste)
1 cup ready made, hot gravy (either homemade, or ‘Orgran’ makes a good vegan and allergy friendly powdered gravy)
3-4 medium grated carrots
1 medium zucchini
2 tins brown lentils, drained and rinsed
1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups spinach
About 800g Mushrooms (I like a mix between button, swiss brown and portobello for textural variety)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
Olive oil spray
good pinch salt
1 tsp chopped rosemary
In a large saucepan heat the garlic oil, the add the onion, cooking until it begins to soften.
Using your processor or thermal appliance, pulse the mushrooms several times until they are roughly chopped, then add to the onion mix in the pan. Stir them well as they begin to cook.
Add in the aminos, paste and vegemite mix well.
Add the lentils, mix well to combine and allow to simmer gently over a low heat while you prepare the remaining veggies.
Using your processor/thermal appliance or just a grater (if you have the patience!), finely grate your carrot and then add in the zucchini and process until fine (Speed 4 whilst adding and then up to 6 for about 8 secs to process, scrape down and repeat if required)
Add in the spinach, process (speed 4, 8 secs) and then add in the kidney beans through the chute at the top whilst still processing (on speed 4, then up to 5 for 8 seconds once all added).
Next, add the hot gravy to this mix and process until well combined (Speed 5, 8 seconds).
Add this vegetable and gravy mix to the mushroom and lentil mix on the stove. Mix well to combine and bring to a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Peel and chop the potatoes, then bring potatoes to the boil in another saucepan and boil until soft. (If you’ve used a thermal cooker to do the veg … you can easily do the mash in it too – Drop chunks of potato onto speed 4 spinning blades through the hole in the lid. Turn up to speed 6 for about 10 seconds after adding. Turn off, scrape down, add about 1/4 cup water and cook on Steam Temp, Speed 2 for about 8 minutes, scraping down once during cooking time. Blitz on Speed 5 until roughly smooth, then add rosemary and salt then mix again on speed 4 for about 4 seconds).
Transfer the mushroom and veg mix to a large casserole dish.
Drain and mash the potatoes together. I don’t like the mash too smooth – leave it rough and chunky, then add the salt and rosemary.
Top the mushroom and lentil mix with the mashed potato. Because it is quite thick, I find it easiest to place blobs of the mash around the dish and then spread from there. Use a fork to spread it so that you get raised lines that go lovely and crunchy in the oven.
Spray the top of the potato with the olive oil and then place in a pre-heated moderate oven for about 30 mins, turning on the top element of the oven, or placing under the grill for the remaining 5 minutes to give you a little more colour and crispiness.
This makes a very large dinner enough for all 6 (I’d say 4 adult serves) of us for dinner plus 4 yummy lunches too.
This dinner was so well received by all of my kids that I was actually a little bit shocked!
The 2 big boys had seconds and asked for thirds, the 2 little ones totally cleaned their plates (including actual licking!). Ellie even asked if she could have them for her birthday dinner 😮 Now they are a very firm family favourite.
They are pretty simple to make, they make a lot and it’s easy to have a meat meal but use only a little meat whilst boost it with a good serve of veg to help meet our daily targets and to really increase the fibre content – Good for your health and good for your budget too! I think they key is to make the mixture fairly smooth.
500g beef mince
1 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
1tsp dried Italian herbs
1/2 tsp pink salt
A few grinds of pepper
1/2 cup GF bread crumbs**
1 tbsp garlic olive oil
600ml tomato pasata
1/2 cup hot veggie stock
Good pinch pink salt flakes
Pasta of choice to serve
**for a deeper savoury flavour and to further boost the nutritional value of this meal, instead of just straight bread crumbs, I often use 1/4 cup of Nutritional Yeast, 1/4 cup of hemp seeds and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs.
Peel, dice and steam the pumpkin (speed 1, ST, 10 mins).
Place the pumpkin, butter beans, beef mince, herbs, salt and pepper in your food processor and process until well combined and smooth. (Speed 4, 10secs, scrape down and then speed 5 for 15 seconds).
Add in the bread crumbs* and mix again until well combined (speed 4, 8 secs)
Place mix into the fridge for at least an hour, but up to overnight.
Using a heaped teaspoon of the mixture, roll the meat balls.
Heat the oil in a fry pan and fry meatballs on each side until golden.
Add in the pasata, stock, pinch of salt and basil and simmer gently for 5-6 minutes before turning balls and simmer for a further 5-6 minutes or entirely cooked through.
Serve on your favourite pasta and top with a little cheese that suits your diet.
*Recently when we’ve been making these I’ve been baking them to avoid the crazy splatter on my stove. Brown them with the oil in the frying pan then pop them in a big baking dish, pour over the pasata and stock, top with basil and then cover with alfoil. Place in to a preheated 200C for 25 minutes.
This soup originally started as a way to use up my remaining veggies before I did the grocery shopping the next day. Stretching my budget, reducing food waste and packing in the veg – lots of my favourite things! We loved the combination so much that we’ve just kept going with it!
Fabulous dietary fibre, an amazing array of natural vitamins and a decent source of protein too – this one is such a great lunch for cooler days in winter.
It make about 10 serves and freezes well.
1 large head broccoli, roughly chopped
1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1kg sweet potato, peeled and chopped
3 cups spinach
2L hot stock
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (75g)
3 tbsp Nutritional yeast
2 tbsp Garlic olive oil
Heat oil in a large pot, add in the sweet potato.
Cover sweet potato with hot stock and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes before adding in the cauliflower and broccoli. Place lid on soup pot and allow to simmer for about 12 minutes.
Add in the spinach and seeds (if you don’t like bits, you are best to mill your seeds before you add them) and simmer for a further 3 minutes.
Add in the nutritional yeast and use an immersion blender to blend until the soup is fairly smooth.
Serve warm on it’s own or with a your bread of choice.
A serve of 2 ladles has approximately: 177.8cal, 27.89g carbs, 5.64g fat, 7.08g protein and 3.48g fibre
Bolognese has long been a favourite dinner in our house.
We have a pretty non-traditional version, but it works for us – there are always 6 empty plates and 6 happy tummies when it’s on the menu.
Easy to make, a massive serve of veggies, great fibre and it’s a very budget friendly meal, that cooks up in bulk and freezes well too.
More recently as we are reducing the number of meals we eat that contain meat, we’ve moved from making our standard beef mince bolognese, to this vegan version.
The kids haven’t blinked an eye with the transition, in fact, Harry recently requested it as his birthday party dinner – hope you like it too!
1 finely chopped medium brown onion
2 tbsp garlic olive oil
1-2 tsp minced chillies (depending on your heat preference)
2 large carrots
2 large zucchini
2 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed (we also use black beans)
2 400g tin lentils, drained and rinsed
3-4 cups mushrooms (a mixture of types is good to give textural variety)
medium sweet potato or pumpkin (roughly 2 fist sized pieces), peeled and diced
3 large handfuls spinach
700 ml tomato pasata
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine (optional)
1 cup stock (we use the vegan, but beef stlye stock by Massel for a store bought option)
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
spaghetti or pasta that suits your diet to serve
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then add the onion and stir until soft.
Add in the chillies, mix well and turn down to low heat.
In your food processor (or with a knife if you have the patience!), pulse the mushrooms until you get a fine chop. Add the mushrooms to the onion mix in the hot saucepan. Stir them in well to coat in onion mixture.
Add in the lentils, plus the stock, tomato paste and red wine then stir well to combine.
Meanwhile, in the food processor blitz or grate the vegetables, spinach and beans. Add in the pasata to help bring the mix all together. Process more or less depending on how smooth you want your sauce.
Add the veggie and pasata mix to the mushroom and lentil mix in the pan and stir well. Bring to a very gentle simmer, then add the fresh herbs. I tend to finely chop the basil before stirring through, but I leave the rosemary on it’s stems, just bruising the leaves before adding it to the pot, just remove the stems when you serve. Simmer for about half an hour, stirring regularly.
Serve on your choice of pasta, zucchini noodles or a bed of steamed green beans – add cheese of choice to top if you like, or even sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
Serves about 10 adults (freeze left over sauce in an airtight container for a couple of months)
Being able to pick some of the components of our meals from our own garden gives me such great pleasure! One of the things we have in abundance at the moment is lemongrass. Together with our chillies (which are incredibly hot 😮) and garlic, it makes such a delicious marinade and poaching sauce.
5cm lemongrass (just the centre core)
1 clove of garlic
3cm ginger, peeled
1-2 small chillies (depending on your heat preference)
2 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp neutral tasting oil
approx 700-800g chicken thigh, skinless and boneless
1/2 cup hot chicken stock
120ml coconut cream
2 large carrots
3 large handfuls sugar snap peas
rice to serve
To make the sauce, place the garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass, amino, lime juice, sugar and 1 tsbp of oil into a small, powerful blender and blend until quite smooth.
Slice the chicken into strips and place into a bowl.
Add in 1/2 of the sauce to the chicken and mix well to cover evenly. Cover the meat and place in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to a day.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a heavy based frying pan, then add the chicken and allow to brown.
Mix together the remaining half of the sauce with the stock and coconut cream. Pour over the chicken and allow to simmer for another 6-7 minutes, or until the chicken is almost cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking, finely shred the carrot and peas.
Add the shredded veggies to the chicken and the poaching liquid, stir well.
Place the lid on the frying pan and allow to cook for a further 2 minutes, so that the veggies at still crunchy.
Serve with your favourite rice.
Makes about 5 adult serves
To make a vegan meal with the same flavours, you could replace the chicken with a firm tofu.