This is one of my favourite go-to mid-week dinners! It’s a flavourful mix of tomatoes, garlic, white beans and a variety of colourful Mediterranean vegetables & spices. I like to serve it with whole wheat pasta, but it works equally as well with quinoa, rice or mashed potato. It also keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days so I often get two dinners out of it - one night with pasta, the next night with quinoa, I’m all about time saving these days with a toddler & 5 month old to look after!
For small kiddies you can blend into a smooth sauce which is a super sneaky way of getting lots of veggies and nutrients into kids without them knowing. The cannellini beans add a lovely creamy texture to the sauce and neutralise any other strong flavours which may put kiddies off.
This meal is well balanced in terms of protein, carbs, healthy fats and fibre and is full of of nutrients associated with a Mediterranean diet.
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large courgette, cut into half moons
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 bag of baby spinach
1 can of cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 jar of tomato passata / tin of tomatoes
1/4 tsp chilli flakes/chilli powder
1/4 tsp paprika
Serving suggestion: goes really well with whole wheat pasta, rice, quinoa or mashed potato.
Heat the oil in a large pot, fry the onion and peppers for a couple of minutes then add the crushed garlic and spices and fry for another minute.
Add the mushroom and courgette and fry for a couple of minutes futher until softened.
Pour in the passata and beans and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Fold in the spinach one handful at a time towards the end and allow to wilt into the mixture. Add a pinch of sea salt & black pepper according to taste.
Meanwhile make your pasta/quinoa and serve with a generous portion of the veggie bean sauce, making sure both are piping hot. My husband loves to add parmesan shavings on top which goes really well I must say! (To turn this into a weekend meal, simply light a candle & pour yourself a nice glass of red wine!
This is an easy & satisfying meal you can whip up in under 20 minutes. It’s really tasty and filling and keeps well refrigerated for up to two days.
Chick peas are an excellent source of plant protein and are high in fibre which means they’re super filling and super good for your digestive system. Both the spinach & chick peas are good source of iron, magnesium and B vitamins all of which support good energy, mood balance and build our bodies resistance to stress – not bad for a low cost meal made with store cupboard ingredients.
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 level tsp of cumin powder/seeds
½ tsp paprika
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 can chick-peas, (pref. organic), drained & rinsed
1 large bag baby leaf spinach
250ml of veg/chicken stock
Pinch of sea salt & black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. Fry lightly for a few minutes until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, tomato paste and a pinch of salt. Gently stir fry ingredients for a few minutes. Add the chickpeas and stock and bring to a simmer. Cover pan, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the spinach, one handful at a time, stirring until each portion of spinach wilts. Add salt to taste and simmer uncovered, stirring often, for few minutes. Add some ground pepper and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Serving Suggestion: – Serve on a small bed of whole wheat cous cous as a vegetarian meal or alongside a cod fillet or breast of chicken.
How A Pen & Paper Can Help You Manage Your Weight!
Quite often when I have a first consultation with a new client they tell me that they’re genuinely baffled as to why they are carrying extra weight, saying things like ‘but I don’t even eat that much’, ‘I don’t have sweet tooth’, ‘I just don’t understand why I’m not slimmer!’….
When I hear this, the first thing I will ask a client to do is to get a jotter & a pen and keep a food diary for a week or so. You’d be surprised just how eye opening & insightful this simple exercise is! The vast majority will report back that they were genuinely surprised to discover that they ate/drank considerably more than they thought they did.
To be honest, I reckon most of us underestimate or ‘forget’ how much we’re actually eating in a day. You’d be surprised what our minds both naturally forget and conveniently forget when we don’t really want to remember!
It’s not necessarily that we’re consciously trying to deceive ourselves about what we’ve eaten. It’s just that often it’s really easy to forget about all the little nibbles or extra spoonfuls here or there, and then we wonder why we’re not getting the results we want.
Even if you are fully aware that you’re eating too much of the wrong types of foods, keeping a food diary can still be of help to you as it helps you to identify exactly what your food weaknesses are and when & why you are most drawn to them. It can be extra helpful to record times, locations, mood/energy levels at the time to see whether certain emotions, places, times etc. are trigger points for you.
Writing down everything you eat and drink including all the little extras you hadn’t planned to eat, forces you to be aware of exactly what you’re consuming and to be accountable for the health consequences . So, for example you may realise that you’re not consuming enough fibre which may be causing you constipation
Keeping a food diary is particularly relevant if you have a specific health goal in mind e.g. lowering cholesterol or you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, several studies show that keeping a written record of what you eat increases the likely-hood that you’ll lose weight and keep it off. So, Why not increase your chances of success in anyway you can? What have you got to lose?….
Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist & Bestselling Author of ‘Goodbye Sugar’.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Feta & Quinoa Salad – I am so obsessed with this summery salad right now! Not only does it taste sensational, it’s literally bursting with antioxidant vitamins and minerals that will nourish every cell of your body and make you glow from the inside out! If there is such a thing as a ‘super food salad’, I think this counts as one!
160g Quinoa (uncooked)
½ Butternut Squash, peeled & cubed
50g Feta cheese
4 tbp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ red chilli, finely chopped
1tbsp of finely chopped parsley
Seeds of ½ pomegranate
2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds
Assemble the butternut squash cubes on an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast in a pre- heated oven (180 degrees) for approx. 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle over with the chilli, garlic and pumpkin seeds and return to oven for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile cook the quinoa in seasoned water (2 parts water to 1 part quinoa) for 15-20 minutes and allow to cool.
Get a large salad bowl and tip in the quinoa & butternut squash, pour over the chilli & garlic infused oil from the baking tray along with the seeds and mix well. Add in the crumbled feta, parsley and pomegranate and stir well to combine.
Delicious served warm or cold as a full or side dish. Enjoy!