Quick, easy, healthy – Spiced chickpea & spinach stew

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I never made a conscious decision to eat less meat and I don’t class myself as a vegetarian at all, but slowly over the past few years my diet has become 90% veggie. When I first moved out from home as a working adult and got into cooking, I started making more vegetarian dishes because they were cheaper, often quicker and I didn’t like cooking with meat. I hate chopping it and dealing with it raw, and actually I didn’t miss it when I ate it less.

As if anyone else needs to rave about chickpeas or talk about how good they are a veggie meal staple, but I’m gonna do it anyway. I LOVE THEM. I love chickpea curry more than any other curry these days and I make it frequently- but perhaps too frequently. I decided to try something different with them and take a break from the chickpea and lentil dhal I was having a relationship with (a very committed, happy relationship) and this was born.

I tried to base this on a recipe I found online but then couldn’t find it again to copy when I was in the kitchen, so I just chucked in whatever I fancied and it tasted heavenly.

Ingredients:

1 onion chopped

400g canned chickpeas (drained and washed)

400g chopped tomatoes

25ml water

One big handful of raisons

1 tsp of cayenne pepper (or two if you like things really spicy)

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp coriander ground

A shake of basil

Two big handfuls of fresh spinach

Some grated beetroot (I put about 50g in because it’s an easy healthy extra, but you could use more or none)

1 roasted and chopped tomato

Method:

Roast a tomato for about ten minutes on a low heat in the oven.Brown the onion for a few minutes with a splash of oil, then mix in the cumin, coriander and cayenne. I also add a pinch of salt but you don’t have to. Mix this up for 30 seconds, then add in your chopped tomatoes and water and chuck in some basil. Chop your roasted tomato up small and chuck it in (I think roasted tomatoes make everything taste better) and let everything simmer for about 4 minutes.

Then chuck in the raison, spinach and beetroot and leave to cook for another 10 minutes on a low heat. It should thicken slightly, but should keep a liquidy bast. I served mine with toasted pitta bread but this would go with rice too.

I doubled all of these ingredients and got 5 portions out of it- it’s perfect for batch cooking for your lunch. ENJOY.

 

 

Recipe: pastry-free green veg and baked cheese pies

  
I’m never going to be the type of person who dances around the kitchen throwing kale in the air like I just don’t care. I’m also not going to be posting photos of myself doing yoga next to a cup of green tea anytime soon, but last week I discovered something green and delicious and idiot-proof in the cooking stakes.

I like veg, I really do, and I like healthy food A LOT, but I have little restraint for carbs, fizzy sweets and biscuit binges. I’ve also spent all of my adult life so far being a slave to a condition that messes with my entire body. One of the most important things I can do to feel well and keep myself upright is eat a good diet. It helps with all manner of symptoms and we all know how vital eating well is, regardless of what’s going on with our health.

These little pots of joy (not to be confused with the chocolatey, deliciousness that is a Cadbury Pot of Joy) are my new favourite, low maintenance way to up my intake of good food. They are also going to be my new staple for lunch (I need to probably consume less soup and rice cakes before I start looking and bleeding soup and rice cakes) because I am behind anything that tastes as good cold as it does hot. And I don’t care much for the microwave queue at work. Very few good times are had in the microwave queue at work.

I don’t really know what to call these, they are groundbreaking and they were a kind of happy accident, so I’ll go with mini vegetable pie bakes.

The best two combos I’ve made so far are spinach, parsley, spring onion, leek and kale, OR kale, leek, courgette and green pepper.

Whatever you use, chop or shred it up pretty small before chucking it in a pan with a little olive oil and sautĂ© until it’s all soft (and shrunken). If you use corugette, just chop it thinly into slices and leave it to one side.

For 4 portions about 1 large leek, 100g spinach and 80g of kale is enough.

  
Once you’re done with the veg, put it into an oven-proof dish, or mini dishes if you’re making small portions. Crack some eggs in a bowl (about 3 for a pie that’ll give 4 portions. I used one for the two little ones below), whisk them until combined and pour over the veg. Use a fork to make sure all the liquid soaks through. If you use courgette, layer it on top at the point.

Then the best bit- THE CHEESE. Crumble feta or goat cheese on the top of your greens, chuck some black pepper on, then bake.

About 25 minutes is sufficient for little pots, but if you make a big old batch, it might need longer to make sure everything cooks nicely inside. The egg sticks everything together, and makes a glaze that keeps it all whole, and the cheese makes a nice crispy topping- once it’s brown it’s likely ready to exit the oven.

Bloody delicious.