Lentil Curry

As part of our recent discussions into healthy eating and after watching the Forks Over Knives documentary a few weeks ago, we decided we would try to add some vegetarian meals into our diets.

About two weeks ago I decided to try a lentil curry because I had lentils, so I stuck it into Google and found a recipe I liked the look off. It was this one here from  Simple Vegan Blog

A really easy recipe to put together. I had all the ingredients. Simple. Well, it didn’t turn out well. And I found out why.

So on the evening I was making it, I was busy and rushing and grabbed down my jar of lentils…

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See them there – top left!

And popped them in water to cook. Now I didn’t have enough water in the pot and they boiled almost dry – so for a week I blamed the failure of the recipe on that. Because in my curry the lentils were hard and chalky, and not tasty at all.

It was only the other day I was digging around at the back of another shelf of jars – when I found the real reason my lentil curry didn’t work out. Can you see now why?

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Yep – my lentils weren’t lentils. They were split yellow peas. And because I was only paying half attention, I thought yes that’s them and threw them in. I found it very amusing when I realised, and had a good laugh at myself!

So now that I’d worked out the reason, I decided I wanted to try the lentil curry again. But this time I knew my kids wouldn’t humour me and eat it – because they’d already tried it and didn’t like it – so I decided to go a slight different route. Instead tonight I made a “Vegetable Curry” – I added extra onion and finely chopped celery and a yellow pepper to the curry mix and that camouflaged the lentils a bit. And they ate it. While they didn’t wolf it down and ask for more, they did clear their plates without complaint. So that’s a win in my books.

I’ve got to say that the mix of spices in this curry recipe are lovely, really very tasty, and very easy to have all the ingredients on hand. I have frozen portions of coconut milk in my freezer so I just throw a portion into the pot and it defrosts while its cooking. Definitely worth trying it out.

 

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Spinach Cannelloni (Slimming World Friendly!)

I’ve realised that I need to have decent food on hand throughout the day, or else I pick at anything I can find – so I’ve been making up batches of this spinach cannelloni.

Because on Slimming World you eat 1/3 “superfree” (fruit or veg) with everything you eat, I’ve been trying to beef up the original recipe by adding more vegetables, such as onions, celery and peppers all chopped up small and added to the spinach mix inside the tubes!

I buy a box of cannelloni tubes, a packet of fresh spinach leaves and a tub of Quark (extra low fat soft cheese) – and then whatever extra veg, garlic, tins of tomatoes and cheese that I usually have.

The way to cook the spinach is to put it into a pot with a tablespoon or two of water (I actually just wash it and put it straight in to the pot without drying it)  and pop on the lid and let it cook down for about two minutes until its gone soft and limp. Then I take it out of the pot, put it on a plate and drain all the excess liquid off it and chop it up.

Next is to cook up whatever other veg you’re adding – lets say an onion, a stick of celery and a pepper, all chopped up small. Fry these up (in Frylight if you’re on Slimming World!). Once they’re cooked, I normally let them cool down a bit, before adding in the chopped spinach, and then the full tub of Quark. This is the mix that you’re going to fill your cannelloni tubes with.

Usually while the veg is all cooling down, I make a tomato sauce – just fry up a bit of garlic and add a few tins of tomato (or passata) and some fresh basil. I do try and almost squeeze the tomatoes with the spoon while they’re in the pot – because you really do need as much liquid as possible.

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The next step is quite messy – filling your tubes. You basically just have to roll up your sleeves and dive in 🙂 Make sure that you fill them as much as you can, I usually put my thumb over the base of the tube and push the filling down until it fills up completely.

When you have all the tubes filled, you put a layer of the tomato sauce (about half the sauce) across the bottom of the dish you’re cooking them in. In this case I decided to use a roast pan because I was making a large batch!

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On top of the sauce, put your filled tubes, and then top them all with the rest of the tomato sauce and add a scattering of grated cheese. If you’re doing Slimming World, you will need to use the cheese as a Healthy Extra, or syn it.

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Put it into the oven to bake for about 40 minutes, at around 180 degrees. You will need to make sure there’s enough liquid on top of them for the cannelloni tubes to cook properly. At times I have had to add a bit of water to help soften them up properly.

Of course I forgot to take an “after” picture of it cooked, I happily started eating it! 🙂 But it is delicious, and very handy to have in portions the fridge (or freezer) to take out and snack on (or have as a lunch or dinner!).

Grilling Grapefruit

I came across a post somewhere recently saying that grapefruit (among other things) was great for boosting your metabolism and aiding weight loss. Now, I love grapefruit – but the post had some ideas for how to make grapefruit easier to eat – and this was one of the ideas.

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Very simple. Cut the grapefruit in half, sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar, and grill. Its quite tasty.

Now my other half doesn’t really like grapefruit, and he didn’t think that this helped it at all. But I love it, and found it really nice.

Have you tried this before?

Clickety Baby?

Does anyone have any experience of a clickety baby?

My one year old is a very clicky baby, and has been from the very start. She got an x-ray at 6 months for her hips which came back clear, and got another one after her first birthday because she’s walking with her hip rotated out, but that also came back clear. Its not just her legs that click, her shoulder and knees click when you dress her. Its strange.

My other half is very worried about her, he says he has never come across it, but the doctor said its nothing to worry about. We’d love to hear from anyone who has come across this before though, just for reassurance!

Any of you have little bird children?

My children remind me of little birds a lot of the time, and always at the oddest times.

I try to cook lovely healthy food for my children, and often when I put it on their plates, I get little moans and “those faces” (the ughh mum faces!) and the “do I have to eat the onions/peas/meat/insert relevant food”.

So when I make myself a nice healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner (currently sometimes different to the kids, as I’m trying to follow the SW plan, so not having bread or certain other things), I am suprised to have a child stand beside me with their mouth open wanting my food!

It happened the other day, two of my children wanted to eat my porridge, then I made a cous cous and tuna lunch and I had to give most of it to my 4yr old because he had his mouth open again before I had the fork back the plate.

Last night I made a SW spinach cannelloni (basic recipe taken from  http://www.slimmingworld.ie/recipes/baked-cannelloni.aspx but I also added the onion/garlic/pepper mix from this one http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/513451/spinach-tomato-and-red-pepper-cannelloni and used Quark instead of cottage cheese used in the original, and a small bit of grated mozzarella thrown in)

DSC_0181  Cooked up the onion, garlic, peppers and spinach, added the quark and a bit of grated mozzarella and stuffed the cannelloni tubes, and covered with tomato, garlic and basil mix. Next time I would definitely use more tomato sauce or maybe a lower heat because the liquid dried out quickly.

But the point is that all three of my children wanted it. I cooked it after dinner time, to have for lunch the next day, but of course I wanted to try it. I ended up with my three children standing beside me with their mouths open wanting more and more. My 8yr old even asked for it for her school lunch today (she always brings sandwiches, has never wanted an alternative no matter how much I suggest it!). So thats a successful meal for the family for future. But I found it so amusing the image of the mouths opening up beside me looking for food, like baby birds!

Have any of you got meals that your children would turn their noses up at if it was on their plates, but can’t get enough of off your plate??

Best Brown Bread!

So when when my other half started on the healthy arthritis diet, he was only allowed to eat wholemeal. I have often baked bread over the years, and although I used to have a lovely recipe, I found the results were inconsistent. Sometimes I got lovely brown bread, and sometimes I didn’t. It was so disappointing when you cut it open and it wasn’t nice. So I went looking for another wholemeal brown bread recipe, and I came across this one on the Supervalu website:

http://supervalu.ie/recipe/wholemeal-bread/

It is very easy. I make batches of the dry ingredients, where I weigh them all out and bag them up. And because I’m keeping it all wholemeal, I don’t add the 50g plain flour, I just use 400g wholemeal flour. Dry ingredients are 400g wholemeal flour, 50g porridge oats, 2 level teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt.

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And then when I want to make a loaf, I just take out a bag of the dry ingredients and pour into a bowl, put a tablespoon of molasses and dessert spoon of sunflower oil into a pot and warm a bit to melt, stir in 500ml buttermilk and then add that mix and 2 eggs to the dry ingredients. Super easy!

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And I line my loaf tin with this magic greaseproof paper. I love it. I found it in Dealz a while back, and it is the only greaseproof paper I’ve used that really is non-stick. I used to spend ages trying to peel greaseproof paper off loafs of bread, homemade pizza bases or cookies that all got stuff to the bottom. And then I found this, and I LOVE love it!

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Then pour the mix into the tin and pop it into the oven at 160C for 45 minutes, then tip it out of the tin and leave in the oven for another 15 minutes and take it out.

This is the easiest brown bread I’ve made – and it has turned out delicious every single time!

Harvest Time

So recently it really feels like harvesting time here at the moment. My father has been bringing my 8yr old daughter and 4yr old son out for adventures at the weekend foraging for edible goodies. They have so far brought me home bags and bags of apples, hazelnuts, blackberries, raspberries and courgettes and tomatoes from my dads greenhouse. They also brought back sloes for my stepmum, and soon they are going to get me rosehips for me to make rosehip syrup. They have to wait until after the first frost for that though.

This is the first year that I’ve getting woodland goodies, and so I have to find out how to use them. The raspberries and blackberries are delicious with yogurt, the hazelnuts we can eat on their own or add to baking, the apples are getting eaten or made into crumbles and desserts. This week I got a bag of crab apples handed to me along with the suggestion of making crab apple jelly. So I’m going to have to do some research and find a recipe – and then see if there’s a way of altering it (if necessary) to fit within my other halfs diet restrictions.

We have loads of tomatoes and courgettes from both our garden and my parents, so myself and the kids have lots of cherry tomatoes added to our meals and I’m making simple and delicious tomato soup (and gorgeous brown bread mmm) and the courgettes are being added to soups and making courgette bread, very similiar to banana bread. I’m enjoying how easy it is to make and enjoy these at the moment.