In this week’s blog I’m continuing the theme of trying new things all the time and not just for New Years resolutions. I have included some great recipes given to me by my lovely students, and I've included hints and suggestions for making your diet a little healthier, meat free or more Sattvic.
A good area to consider for trying new things is cooking and your diet.
Cooking trusted comforting recipes can be easy and soothing, but it can be easy to fall into a rut, especially at this time of year. And if some of your recipes are less than healthy, over time it can have a detrimental effect on your health, well being, and possibly your waistline.
A good approach is to consider tweaking a favourite recipe to a healthier version, or to try a new recipe every now and then. For example if you:
always cook a hearty stew including meat, try a meatless version
never have salad in the colder months, try a warm salad such as tuna niçoise which contains boiled potatoes and eggs with lots of healthy greens.
Thinking along the lines of tweaking rather than a complete overhaul of your cooking and diet is an easier method to try, and easier to maintain.
Good food habits
Try making a meal plan for the week. It's not as hard as it sounds, you probably do this already in your head as you're shopping!
Just try writing it down before you go shopping and then look at it. Are there any of your usual meals that could be made healthier or substituted with a healthier meal?
List all the ingredients you’ll need for the week. Are you listing lots of meat, lots of different ingredients, are you using things from your cupboard, or starting every meal from scratch, with new ingredients every time?
Could some ingredients for one meal be used for another meal? For example if you buy bagged salad try buying individual salad items, or make sure you are going to use the salad as a basis for at least two meals, or include the salad in sandwiches. It’s too easy to buy bagged salad that gets overlooked and thrown out, if it is a key ingredient in two or more meals it’s more likely to be used.
Always make a list for when you go shopping. Without a list it’s easy to forget those healthy changes and recipes you were going to try, and too easy to just buy the same things you always buy.
Try keeping a note of the recipes you have changed or tried, and what you liked about it. Keep a note of the ingredients used, and the ones you will use again. A quick run through your notes and the ingredients listed could give you the start of your weekly meal plan and shopping list.
As mentioned earlier, another way of easing into healthier ways is to look at how you can make your favourite recipes healthier. For example if one of your favourite recipes is a beef stew, how can you make a healthier version from time to time?:
buy the usual amount of meat but half the amount you use, add a few beans or lentils as a replacement. Freeze the other half of the meat for another stew
substitute all lentils and cannalini/kidney beans instead of meat, or other forms of protein such as tofu
try using vegetable or olive oil instead of other fats to seal the meat.
Tweaking existing recipes
The following recipes are already quite healthy (OK, the banana cake might be pushing it a bit, but it’s not all sugar, it uses bananas) with just a few suggestions to make them even healthier.
Basic stir fry recipe
For the marinade:
Finely chopped fresh ginger (amount to taste)
Finely chopped garlic clove/s (amount to taste)
Soy sauce or Tamari Sauce
Splash sesame oil
4oz/125g best rump steak, sliced thinly on the diagonal or firm tofu cut into cubes
A few hours before eating mix the marinade to taste and stir in the meat or tofu. Refrigerate.
Thinly slice or shred a selection of vegetables, I usually use half a red or yellow pepper, bulb fennel, radish or mooli, spring onion, mange touts or green beans (in season) etc.
Wash thoroughly and tear into pieces or shred some greens - ideally oriental greens such as bok choi, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, red mustard, mispoona, bok choi, wasabino.
Things like Swiss chard or kale will also work.
Add a small amount of oil to wok and stir in firmest vegetables first. Add meat or tofu and stir fry until cooked through, then add chopped greens and stir fry until just wilted.
Season to taste with additional soy sauce. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds or chia seeds and serve with brown basmati rice or bulgur wheat. Serves 1.
Mediterranean mozzarella chicken
1 tbsp olive oil
Half an onion
1 garlic clove
150 ml veg stock
125g chicken breasts
Cook onion and garlic.
Mix in and simmer the veg stock, tomatoes and basil.
Flatten chicken and place in dish. Pour the sauce over
Place sliced mozzarella on top.
Cook in the oven for 20 mins at 190 degrees.
Slow cooker Mongolian Beef
2kg beef steak*
1/4 cup cornflour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1tbsp ginger, grated
1 quarter tsp chilli
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar*
1 cup carrot, grated
Cook in slow cooker for 4 hours.
*To make this a little healthier substitute firm tofu for the beef, and use maple syrup instead of the brown sugar.
Easy banana cake
150g caster sugar*
1 tsp vanilla
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
190g SR flour*
grease and line 2lb loaf tin.
Melt sugar, butter and vanilla over medium heat. Remove from heat add mashed banana, mix well,
Add the egg, mix well.
Stir in the flour and milk.
Pour into tin (can sprinkle demerara sugar on top for a bit of crunch).
Bake at 170 C/ fan 150 C/ gas 3 for 35 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
*To make this a little healthier substitute 75g melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil or high quality vegetable oil for the butter, 100g of honey or maple syrup for the caster sugar and whole meal flour for the self raising flour.
Sattvic foods increase life, purity, strength, health, joy and cheerfulness
Sattvic is the yogic diet I follow. The word sattvic means pure essence and these foods are thought to be pure and balanced, offering feelings of calmness, happiness, and mental clarity.
Sattvic diets are full of fresh, nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, sprouted whole grains, fresh fruit juices, legumes, nuts, seeds, honey, and herbal teas.
Replacement Sattvic foods
Where your recipes contain the following foods, replace with the suggested alternatives to make your diet more sattvic:
Cheese grated - yeast flakes
Cottage cheese - Tofu crumbled
Eggs (as binder) - 1 tbsp peanut butter, tahini or blended tofu per egg or 1tsp soy flour
Eggs (as leavening agent) - Baking powder or yogurt plus sparkling mineral water
Eggs (as protein sauce) - Tofu (pinch of turmeric)
Fresh foods - Tofu, tempeh, legumes (beans)
Milk - Soy milk, nut and seed milk, oat, rice
Onions, garlic - cabbage, celery or turnips, fennel
Vinegar - lemon juice
Soya sauce - Tamari sauce
Sweetener - maple syrup, honey.
I hope these suggestions help you to try healthier recipes and to maintain healthy food habits. I would love to hear if you try any of these recipes, so please contact me to let me know how you found them, or to pass on healthy food tips or to give me more recipes.