When I tell people that I’m taking part in the Newcastle Can challenge and making small, sustainable changes to eat healthier and lose weight, the most common question is “What small changes?” Well, there are a few, but one of the easiest was adding more vegeables to my meals.
Rather than try to add to my already stressful life by learning a whole raft of new, healthy recipes and, possibly even more stressful, persuade my partner and teenage children to eat and enjoy new things, I’m revamping the recipes I use regularly. Upping the healthy stuff and leaving the unhealthy stuff alone. Since starting this I’m regularly getting more than my 5 a day.
Since people have been asking about it I thought I’d demonstrate. This is an adaption of the Sausage and Lentil One Pot recipe in Jack Monroe‘s A Girl Called Jack cookbook. It’s my go to recipe when my daughter’s out (she hates sausages.) Jack’s recipes are generally pretty healthy anyway. When you’re managing on the sort of budget she is there’s not a lot of room for luxurious extras. But this challenge is all about making the recipes I regularly use healthier, so here goes:
- 6 sausages
- At least 6 rashers of streaky bacon (I threw a whole packet in last night as it needed using up)
- 2 medium onions
- 2 large carrots
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 tin white beans (I used haricot)
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- A handful of fresh herbs (the original recipe says thyme or rosemary- I used oregano because that’s the nearest I had in the garden that had survived the winter.)
- 250g red lentils
- 800ml vegetable stock
Serves 6-8 depending on how generous the portions are!
Put a large pan on a medium heat. Chop the bacon into small pieces and add it and the sausages to the pan. If you like you can add a spoonful of oil at this stage, but I tend to think the bacon’s fatty enough not to need to.
While the bacon is crisping and the sausages are browning peel and chop the onions, carrots, potatoes and sweet potato. The sweet potato will cook quicker so needs to be in bigger pieces than the carrot and potato to cook in the same time. (That might seem obvious, it wasn’t to me and led to unpleasantly mushy sweet potato the first time I cooked this!) Chop the herbs.
Add the chopped veg to the pan and stir well. Leave for a couple of minutes then add the herbs, tinned tomatoes and lentils. Stir again before adding the stock. Increase the heat and bring it up to the boil. Once it’s boiled for a couple of minutes reduce the heat and allow it to simmer, stirring occasionally.
After 20 minutes of simmering fish out the sausages and cut each one into four pieces. Drain the tin of beans. Put the cut up sausages back into the pan and add the beans. Stir again and simmer for another 5 minutes.
It should now be ready to serve. I get six generous portions out of this, three for when I cook it and three to box up for another day. I prefer to cook in bulk like this, but you could reduce down the ingredients to make a smaller amount.
You can mix and match the vegetables too. I’ve used parsnips as well as carrots before, sometimes spinach added near the end. It depends what I have in and needs using up.
A note on herbs
For years I used dried herbs bought in the supermarket, and for many things I still do. But for the last couple of years I’ve been growing my own herbs in pots in a corner of my garden. I’m not the worlds best gardener, so it tends to be the hardiest ones that survive but I’d recommend giving it a go. Food really does taste better when there’s something you’ve grown yourself in it.