Hello! I’m Frances and I'm delighted you’ve found The Blushing Beetroot. This is my first ever attempt at blog writing and I’m so excited to be able to share some of my healthy food creations with you.
I’m a full time mum of two little ones. I find I’m cooking so much now and experimenting a lot with different foods and dishes that I’d like to record and share them with you. Also it gives me something to keep my brain from going totally rusty!!
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Tag Archives: dinner
Trying to come up with varied evening meals everyday for the kids can be a bit of a challenge. Sometimes the meal choices can feel a bit repetitive and trying to eat healthy whole foods is not always convenient even with best intentions and weekly meal planning.
It’s important to me that children are educated about food and the impact ones meals choices have on ones health, the environment and of course on animal welfare. I like to get our children involved in the food shop, cooking, baking and juicing. They seem to enjoy it too!
After collecting my son from school one day he asked for pizza for dinner. Bingo, that took that decision out of my hands! I hadn’t got the kids to help me make pizza previously so I thought this could be an interesting meal to prepare together. It turned out to be a successful mini adventure with the kids and a tasty meal!
I had wholemeal tortillas which I used as the pizza base. I got my son to spread tomato purée on the base. Together we grated some cheddar and he sprinkled this on top. I chopped some peppers and courgettes into bite size pieces and gently fried them on the pan in coconut oil until soft. I diced some fresh pineapple in bite size pieces too. Ciarán loved trying to evenly spread the various topping on the pizza. Finally I put a small amount of frozen corn on last. Into the oven for 8 minutes and voilà, a homemade pizza by a 4 year old!!
A great convenience about baking homemade pizza is that you can really choose any topping that you have in your fridge/freezer and cupboards. Red onion, pesto, olives, tomatoes, artichokes, mushrooms etc. It makes a reasonably nutritious meal and easy to include the little ones and get everyone involved.
• Tomato purée 1-2 tbsp. Less is more here. ( again if it’s convenient puréed fresh tomatoes would be a fresher choice)
• grated cheddar enough to spread over your pizza base of choice. If avoiding dairy dots of pesto works well as a more nutritious option.
• Half courgette diced into bite size pieces
• Half red pepper diced into bite size pieces
• Handful of pineapple diced into bite sized pieced
• Small handful of frozen corn
Turn oven to pizza setting or set to 200C
Put a tsp of coconut oil in a frying pan and gently fry the courgettes and pepper until soft, usually 10-12 minutes.
Assemble the pizza starting with the tomato purée by using the back of a spoon to spread it across the pizza evenly.
Next sprinkle the cheese on top.
Follow with your veggie toppings.
Place in the oven or 8-10 minutes until the cheese melted and bubbling.
Here’s the juicy bit. . .
Cheese is quite often the last food most give up when trying to go on a fully plant based diet. This is understandable. Cheese has a high fat content food so gives a feeling a satiety. It is not unusual for most to eat cheese daily, increasing our taste for cheese.
However one of the greatest reasons that most find cheese so hard to stop completely is due the protein casein found in it.
Casein has an opioid-like effect on the body. This drug-like effect increases our desire and cravings thereby making it difficult to stop eating.
As casein is digested, it breaks down into peptides called casomorphines. These have an opioid effect ( and release histamines which in turn produces mucus. Ever advised to give up dairy if you have a productive cold?) Opioids are highly addictive and give a feeling of euphoria . Now I’m guessing you’ve never eaten cheese and got a ‘high’ however overtime and with regular eating, one eventually craves cheese regularly.
The casein in cheese is more concentrated than in milk. It takes 10lbs of milk to make one l lb of cheese. In this process a lot of the water is removed and remaining is concentrated volumes of fat and casein. This probably explains why cheese and not milk is the more difficult dairy product to give up.
I haven’t tried any non-dairy cheese alternatives. However if I order pizza out I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find a growing number of restaurants offering cheese free pizzas. At home I’ll either use cheddar sparingly or substitute with a few small dollops of pesto.
Otherwise as an alternative on sandwiches I try to opt for avocado, nut butters & banana, or hummus.
I can’t believe the Summer is over and Autumn is here! I have to say that Autumn is one of my favourite seasons. Autumnal weather means cosy knits, oversized scarfs and knee boots. My wardrobe is definitely suited to this time of year. Fashion aside, warming stews, pies, curries and one- pot wonders spring to mind too. Traditional cottage and shepherd’s pies are off the menu for me so I was lucky enough to indulge in some recipie creating one Saturday afternoon. I’m thrilled with the result. The beef or lamb is replaced with puy lentils. As lentils are bland when cooked alone, and have marginal amounts of fat which give meat and dairy a lot of their flavour, I’ve added sauces, wine and vegetables to make this as comforting as its meat cousin. I hope you enjoy x
Portion – 4
Prep -45 mins
Cooking – 1 hour
• 700g rooster potatoes peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 sweet potato peeled and chopped
• 300g puy lentils -rinsed
• 15 sun dried tomatoes -diced.
• 3 carrots peeled and finely -diced
• 2 sticks of celery washed and finely diced
• 1 medium onion peeled and diced
• 2 bay leaves
• Dash of Worcester sauce
• 1 tomato chopped
• Splash of red wine
• Salt & pepper
•2 tbsp tomato purée
. Vegetable stock or bouillon.
. Knob of non dairy butter and a splash of dairy free milk
• Place the prepared potatoes into a pot of boiling water. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until cooked. Drain and mash to a smooth consistency with the butter and milk.
• Pop the lentils into a pot with the required amount of water, ( approx 1.2L), the bay leaves and chopped tomato. Add ground pepper and 1 tsp of vegetable stock or bouillon and cook according to the instructions, usually boil for 10 minutes and simmer for 30.
• Put the onion, carrots and celery into a heavy bottomed pot with some oil or/and a splash of water. Season. Allow the vegetables to sweat for 10-15 minutes until soft. Once cooked keep the lid on but take off the heat.
• Once the lentils are cooked add the wine and worchester sauce. Allow to cook for a further 5 minutes so the alcohol is cooked off. If the consistency is slightly dry, add a little more stock. Remove the bay leaves.
• Next add the chopped sundried tomatoes and tomato purée to the lentil mixture.
• combine the lentils with the onion, carrot and celery pot and mix well. Taste and add seasoning.
• Spread the mash on top of the lentil mixture and pop in the oven for 10- 15 mins.
• If your making a crusty cheese topping sprinkle on top and place into an oven on ‘oven and grill setting’ until bubbling. Serve.
Here’s the juicy bit . . .
I love cooking with lentils. Red split and puy are the variety I tend to cook with most often. Add lentils to soups, use them to make dahls or they are very useful as a substitute for meat, as in this dish. Lentils are versatile and easy to cook with.
Lentils are a great source of fibre which helps keep our digestive systems working efficiently. I can’t stress enough, how the health of ones’ digestive system, is paramount for overall health and wellbeing. If your digestive system is sluggish, inflamed or unwell it will impact on its ability to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Not absorbing the nutrients can lead to a deficiency in some areas and you not feeling your best.
Adequate amounts of fibre are necessary for digestive health. To loosely categorise, fibre is divided into soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre helps you feel full longer thereby reducing hunger pangs. It slows down gastric emptying and therefore helps to stabilise blood sugar. Research also shows that soluble fibre helps reduce cholesterol.
Insoluble fibre is like a sweeping brush for your digestive tract! It remains virtually intact until it reaches your large intestine and thereby helps move food through your system and prevent constipation. Excreting waste products regularly helps prevents toxic build in your gut which could otherwise be passed into your blood system and potentially lead to numerous conditions.
Lentils and all plant based foods contain fibre, whereas dairy and meat contain none. So remember, to keep your gut gleaming, stomach singing and your intestines insanely happy, aim for a plant based whole food diet!
I’ve been trying to come up with alternatives to feast day dinners and Sunday roasts so that I don’t feel left out on these celebratory meals. This dish is very satisfying and definitely ticks all the boxes for me. The goats cheese gives the filling a creamy, risotto like taste. The beef tomato easily boosts your veg intake for the day and is inexpensive. I usually have green salad on the side but homemade coleslaw or potato wedges are also good options.
Portions – 2 people
Prep – 10 minutes.
Cooking – 30 minutes.
- 4 beef tomatoes
- 160g brown rice, rinsed. Cooked according to instructions
- 8 cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tsp fennel
- 6 tsp goats cheese
- 40g of walnuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat fan oven to 180C
Wash the Tomatoes and run a sharp knife around the top of each one. Pull the tops off and slice off any seeds attached to it. Scoop out the flesh on the inside of the tomatoes and place into a pot.
Add the cherry tomatoes, tomato purée and salt & pepper to the pot with the tomato flesh and simmer on a low to medium heat. Allow the tomatoes to reduce and their flavour to intensify. This simmering reduces the acidity of tomatoes and enables their natural sweetness to come through.
In a dry pan fry the fennel seeds for 30 seconds approx and add to the tomato mixture.
Put the brown rice into a pot and cook as instructed.
Place the beef tomatoes and walnuts on separate baking trays and pop into the oven.
After approx 5 minutes remove the walnuts from the oven and set aside.
The tomatoes should only need 10-15 minutes approx to soften slightly depending on their size. Once they are beginning to soften remove from the oven and set aside.
If there is a lot of juice in the tomatoes after baking you could add this liquid to the tomato and fennel mixture.
Once the rice is cooked and the tomato and fennel mixture has reduced and tasting delicious add the rice to the tomato pot and combine.
Next add the goats cheese and walnuts. It will become very creamy risotto like.
Finally fill the beef tomatoes with the ‘ risotto’ mixture and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until bubbling and delicious.
Remove from the oven and enjoy with coleslaw and green salad. Yummy!
Here’s the juicy bit. . .
Its generally accepted that the health of your digestive system is paramount for your overall health. What you feed yourself can determine the effeciency of your gut and overtime may determine your ability to effectively digest and assimilate nutrients from your food and excrete waste products and toxins from what you’ve ingested.
Excess stress, alcohol, tobacco smoke, anti-nutrients, low fibre, excess sugar and processed foods all play a role in reducing gut health. Conditions like leaky gut, candida, IBS, chrons, constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, diverticulitis, can either be; linked to diet solely, greatly improved by or exasperated by what you eat. If our digestive system can’t work at its optimum and be able to extract the nourishing foods from our diet and excrete toxins efficiently this can have a knock-on effect on all our other systems. It is said that 80% of our immune system is in our gut!
Gluten is a buzz word in health diets nowadays. Gluten is a sticky protein found in many grains. Wheat, barley and rye being the biggest offenders. Many people find this protein difficult to digest and can upset the digestive systems efficiency.
Brown rice is a gluten free grain. This is good news for your digestion. You won’t feel bloated or sluggish after eating brown rice. Quinoa, gluten free oats, lentils, buckwheat, millet and amaranth are great alternatives, without the gluten.
I love a good curry. It’s real comfort food. The flavours of all these different spices cooked together are delicious and warming. Ideally I like my curry to be medium to hot in spice heat. This curry is mild to medium so adjust the chilli according to how you like yours. It takes about 45 mins prep so its a good meal for a Friday or Saturday night when you might be able to spend a little bit of time cooking.
Once all the ingredients are in the pot you can chill back and wait until everything is cooked and the flavours developed.
- 450g butternut squash, wash, leave skin on & cut into bite size pieces
- 3 small carrots, peeled & sliced
- 2 courgettes, washed & sliced
- 1 red pepper, wash & diced into about 16 chunks
- 2 inch ginger, grated
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 can water ( use the tomatoe can and fill with water once the tomatoes are emptied into the curry pot)
- 2 sachets creamed coconut melted in warm water
- Brown rice 80g – 100g per portion.
- Coconut oil 1 tbsp
- Heat the coconut oil in a heavy bottomed pot over a medium heat.
- Once melted add the ginger and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and fry for 1-2 minutes until you can smell their aromas.
- Next add the squash and carrots and stir into the spices for a minute or two.
- Add the pepper and courgettes next and again stir all the vegetables and spices together.
- Empty in the can of chopped tomatoes and then the water.
- Next add the turmeric, chilli flakes, cayenne, ground cumin and coriander.
- Warm the sachets of creamed coconut in warm water. Once melted open and squeeze into the curry pot.
- Bring to the boil then simmer with lid on for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Check the harder vegetables ie carrots and squash after an hour to see if they are cooked to your liking. Add seasoning at this stage too.
- Finally cook the rice to the packets instructions ( usually 20 minutes) and you’re ready to serve!
Here’s the juicy bit. . .
When cooking or ordering a curry try to choose a healthier option. A tomato based curry is better than a creamy curry. Kormas and masalas are best avoided as they contain significant amounts of cream. Cream is full of saturated fats, high in calories and not good news for cholesterol levels.
A tomato based curry is a much healthier choice. Tomatoes have numerous health benefits. They contain an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is a nutrient that is more easily absorbed after cooking. Blanching tomatoes in hot water for a couple of minutes is sufficient to aid lycopene absorption but cooking them for 15 – 30 minutes greatly increases its bioavailability. This is an important nutrient for men and prostate health. Research has shown that lycopene is beneficial for men with enlarged prostates.
Stuffed peppers are a delicious way to increase your vegetable intake for the day. If you don’t have peppers to hand you can easily substitute with courgettes, beef tomatoes or portobello mushrooms. Whatever takes your fancy. I’ve used mozzarella cheese to layer on top of this rice dish but if you’re not taking dairy my guacamole or chopped avocado works really well.
Prep 10 minutes
Cooking 35 minutes
- 2 peppers
- 100g brown rice, cooked as per instructions
- 5 sundried tomatoes, cut Into quarters
- 3 fresh tomatoes, cubed
- 1/8 small red onion, diced into small pieces.
- 1/2 Mozerella ball, sliced
- Small handful of pine nuts
- Plenty of seasoning, salt and pepper galore!
Cook the rice according to the instructions. Then place in a bowl. Add the sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes and red onion. Mix to combine. Add generous amounts of salt and pepper to taste.
Switch on the fan oven to 180.
Slice the peppers just enough to keep whole. Remove interior seeds and pit. Wash. Place in the oven for 10 minutes approx until slightly soft.
Fill each pepper with the rice mixture and top with mozerella slices.
Sprinkle with pine nuts and grill for 8-10 minutes mins until the cheese is melted and the pine nuts are toasted.
Here’s the juicy bit . . .
Salt is essential for life. Sodium chloride, (salt), regulates the water content of our body. Too much salt and our cells dehydrate but too little and our cells become over flooded with water and can’t function. Generally speaking, most people nowadays are concerned about their salt or sodium intake in their diet. Excess salt has become a health concern and a lot is due to our tendency to reach for processed foods. From bread to baked beans, cereals to cookies, pre prepared meals to party food, so much of the food we eat is processed and laced with salt. 80% of our salt intake comes from processed foods while only 20% from the salt we add to our meals. Our tendency to eat a lot of processed food is reflective our our busy lifestyles and a move away from the kitchen and home cooking. Since i began cooking the majority of our family meals from scratch, ( I’m no angel though, I still purchase processed foods, some with 2017 expiry dates!!! ) I find I need to add salt to meals as I’m not getting enough through a plant based fresh diet! Using good quality, unprocessed salt like pink himalayan salt, retains all the valuable nourishing minerals that our body utilises for various functions.