Family life can be busy, particularly during the week when work, school, play and family commitments lead to rather hectic schedules. While the quick and easy salad recipes you enjoyed during summer have gone, your diet doesn’t have to suffer due to your busy family life in the cooler months. Eating healthy is possible even when time is limited with these quick, healthy and easy meal ideas for weeknights.
Meat free Monday –
Spicy spinach and sweet potato dhal
There are many advantages to going meat free. Even just one meat free day per week can make a huge difference to how you feel on the inside and look on the outside, and with meat free days rising in popularity there’s plenty of recipe inspiration out there.
Going meat free is more exciting than ever as a result, with even diehard meat eaters able to appreciate the delicious taste of vegetarian cooking. Try this recipe for spinach and sweet potato dhal to start your week with plenty of flavour and a mild kick:
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 red onion – finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove – crushed
- thumb-sized piece ginger – peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red chilli – finely chopped
- 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2 sweet potatoes – cut into even chunks
- 250g red split lentils
- 600ml vegetable stock
- 80g bag of spinach
- 4 spring onions – sliced diagonally
- ½ small pack of Thai basil leaves – torn
- Use a wide pan with a lid to heat the sesame oil and add the red onion. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes until the onion is soft.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and red chilli, and cook for a further minute before adding the turmeric and cumin. Cook for another minute.
- Increase to a medium heat and add sweet potatoes. Stir thoroughly to ensure the potatoes are evenly coated with the spices.
- Add the lentils and vegetable stock, season with salt and pepper, and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Once the lentils are soft, stir in the spinach. Serve and top each bowl with the spring onions and torn basil leaves. The dhal can be stored in the fridge after cooling so you can enjoy it for lunch too!
Baked egg Tuesday –
North African inspired shakshuka
A baked egg dish may not automatically spring to mind when planning your family meals for the week, but once you try this one-pot egg sensation it’ll quickly become a steadfast part of your diet. Shakshuka originates from the Middle East and North Africa, where it’s a breakfast staple. It’s also a great option for brunch, lunch or dinner. The following version takes just five minutes to prepare:
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion – sliced
- 1 red pepper – cut into strips
- 1 yellow pepper – cut into strips
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs thyme – chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley – chopped and more to garnish
- 1 tbsp coriander – chopped
- 3 tomatoes – roughly chopped
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
- 4 eggs
- Use a large pan to roast the cumin over a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onion and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Now add the peppers, sugar, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and coriander and cook all for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Once the peppers have softened, add the tomatoes and cayenne, season with salt and pepper, and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes. Add water regularly to ensure a pasta sauce consistency.
- Next remove the bay leaf, make 4 gaps in the mixture and add an egg to each. Cover then cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the eggs are cooked. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Risotto Wednesday –
Celeriac, bacon and barley soup
With the colder months well underway, nothing goes down better than a hearty soup. Our celeriac, bacon, and barley soup is healthy and warming, and barley can be replaced with risotto or another rice if you’re not keen on the taste of barley. Here’s our favourite recipe and it takes less than 25 minutes to prepare:
- 1 tbsp butter
- 6 rashers of British free-range smoked streaky bacon – finely sliced
- 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 2 onions – finely chopped
- 600g celeriac – peeled and chopped
- 125g pearl barley (as we mentioned you can use risotto or another rice instead)
- 1.75 litres vegetable stock
- 4 heaped tbsp crème fraîche
- Whole nutmeg – grated
- Use a large pan to melt the butter and fry the bacon with 1 sprig of rosemary on a medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Once the rosemary is crisp, put some of the bacon and rosemary to one side to use as a garnish.
- Add the onions and celeriac, and cook gently over a reduced heat for 15 minutes. Once softened, add the rest of the rosemary and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Stir in your rice of choice (barley, risotto or another rice variety all taste great) and add the stock before bringing it to boil. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 40 minutes until the rice is soft and the soup is thick.
- Serve adding crème fraiche, grated nutmeg and the bacon and rosemary you set aside earlier.
Tray bake Thursday –
Curried chicken and new potato tray bake
Tray bakes are an excellent option for mid-week, and better yet, the one-pot recipe means there’s less dishes to wash after. This curried chicken and new potato traybake is flavoursome and will quickly become a family favourite, here’s how to make it:
- 8 chicken drumsticks
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 150ml pot natural yogurt
- 500g new potatoes – cut into halves
- 4 large tomatoes – roughly chopped
- 1 red onion – finely chopped
- 1 small pack of coriander – roughly chopped
- Optional – add more vegetables for a complete meal in one for all the family. Butternut squash, courgette and broccoli all taste great in this recipe.
- Use a large bowl to mix the drumsticks with 1 tbsp oil, the garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric and 2 tbsp yogurt. Toss until well coated.
- Leave the mixture to marinate for at least 30 minutes. This can be prepared the night before and left overnight if that’s more convenient. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/160 degrees fan/gas 4.
- Add the potatoes and extra vegetables to a roasting tray with the remaining oil, salt and pepper. Add the drumstick mix and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
- Once cooked and golden, the dish can be served. Just add the tomatoes and coriander, and serve with the rest of the yoghurt on the side.
Frittata Friday –
Kale and goat’s cheese frittata
Finish the week with another protein packed egg recipe by trying our kale and goat’s cheese frittata. This recipe not only tastes delicious, it’s packed full of the good stuff and extremely easy to make. You could also save your leftovers for lunch or a picnic over the weekend.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions – thinly sliced
- 200g curly kale – chopped
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 8 large eggs – lightly beaten and seasoned
- 100g firm goat’s cheese – break into chunks
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/170 degrees fan/gas 5. Use an ovenproof frying pan to heat the oil and cook the onions for 10 to 15 minutes until soft and slightly caramelised.
- Next add the kale and 1 tbsp of water, cook for a further 5 minutes until the kale is wilted. Now add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further minute before adding the eggs.
- Stir the mixture then leave to cook for 5 minutes over a low to medium heat. Once the egg is set, sprinkle on the goat’s cheese chunks and cook in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Once the goat’s cheese is bubbling, the frittata is ready to serve.
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