3 HEALTHY AND HEARTY DISHES FOR YOUR MENU

January can be a tough month to navigate when it comes to food. It’s cold; dark; and damp. And while most people are wanting to eat a healthy diet, there’s nothing more unfulfilling than a salad on a blustery winter’s day. Luckily, there are plenty of hearty recipes out there that with just a few simple tweaks, can be given a healthy twist. 

Simple swaps like using creme fraiche or yoghurt instead of cream, using root vegetables for mash instead of potatoes, baking instead of frying, or even swapping meat for a meat-free alternative like pulses, which are a great source of protein. We’ll be taking a deeper dive into some plant-based recipes for the New Year, coming very soon…

Below are a few recipes to inspire you, many of which can be easily adapted for a vegan diet. The more variety you have on your menu after the Christmas season, the more likely people are to dine in your eatery in the New Year – we know January is always a struggle for the hospitality business, specifically pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels, with many people opting to ‘lay low’. See our latest article, Improving Business in January, for some top tips.

‘HEALTHY’ BANGERS & MASH: SERVES 2 (VEGAN)

I’m all for the old classic; buttery mash, thick onion gravy and good quality sausages. But, I can’t (shouldn’t) eat that every day. Here we swap the potato mash for a vegetable mash, butter for yoghurt and then I used a meat-free sausage, like Meatless Farm, though you could use any sausage.

Ingredients:

  • 300g swede, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced (200g ish)
  • 2 tbsp greek yoghurt (can substitute for vegan alternative)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200g spring greens, tough stalks removed
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • Knob of butter (can substitute for vegan alternative)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 x vegan / meat sausages
  • 4-5 heaped tsp gravy granules – depending how thick you like it
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary (both work well)
  • 100ml of white wine
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven and cook your sausages per instructions
  2. Dice your swede and carrot, then cook by either steaming or boiling in a little water – don’t add too much as you don’t want the vegetables to take on too much water or it will make your mash a bit watery
  3. While the root vegetables cook, boil your spring greens for 10 minutes, until the stalks are soft but still have a little bite. Once cooked, drain and set aside, but keep the cooking water for the gravy
  4. To make the gravy, pour the 100ml of wine into a pan and simmer for a few minutes, to burn off most of the alcohol, as well as your fresh thyme or rosemary
  5. Once the wine’s simmered, add in the water from your spring greens – you need 400-500ml but if you don’t quite have this, just top it up with boiling water, then add in a heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
  6. To thicken, add in your gravy granules, start with 3 tsps and add more until you have the desired consistency. Combine well then leave to simmer
  7. Once your carrots and swede are softened, drain and then add the greek yoghurt and ground cumin, as well as a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mash and then return to stove to warm through just before serving
  8. To finish your spring greens, pop a little oil and butter into a pan with the finely grated garlic clove, sauté for a few minutes and then add in the spring greens, stirring regularly so the garlic doesn’t burn. This should only take a minute or so
  9. When the sausages are cooked, make sure your mash is heated through and gravy piping hot, then serve with the garlicky greens and enjoy!

VEGAN MEXICAN BOWL: SERVES 4

Swapping the mince for pulses is a great way to turn what can sometimes be quite an indulgent dish into a delicious power bowl. This is the recipe for a Mexican Bowl, but you could just as easily serve it with rice or over a baked sweet potato. And if you have leftovers, why not turn it into a brunch dish by putting a twist on Turkish Eggs: garlicky greek yoghurt, vegan chilli, a poached egg and toasted sourdough on the side – delicious.

Ingredients:

The chilli

  • 1 can of aduki beans 
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 can of borlotti beans
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 large carrot
  • 100ml red wine
  • 2 tsp marmite
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion 
  • 2 large celery sticks
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder/flakes (tailor to your heat preference)
  • 2 tsp honey / agave syrup / sugar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Vegetable stock
  • Salt / pepper
  • 2 tsp of liquid smoke (if you have this)

The sides

  • 2 avocados 
  • 200g tinned corn
  • 2/3 large sweet potatoes, cubed, skin on
  • Baby gem lettuce
  • 1.5 limes
  • Fresh coriander
  • Sour cream/Alpro yoghurt
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Grated cheddar cheese / vegan alternative
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of butter / vegan butter

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, then make the chilli: In a large, deep frying pan (preferably one with a lid), sweat your onions and celery in a little oil until translucent
  • Then add in your garlic, chopped mushrooms and carrot (I cut mine into small equal cubes), followed by your dry spices and tomato puree, and continue to cook for a further couple of minutes
  • Now add in your wine and and cook this out for a further minute, then add in your tin of chopped tomatoes, followed by all three cans of beans (strain them first)
  • Make your stock, roughly ½ a pint of veggie or beef stock (I like to fill up the empty tomato can with water and use this as my stock juices, adding the stock cube to this) and add to the mix
  • Add your marmite, Worcestershire Sauce, honey (or alternative)
  • Leave this to simmer gently, with the lid on for 30 minutes (check occasionally, incase it needs any more liquid)
  • While the chilli cooks, start on your sides
  • Dice up the sweet potato and place on a baking tray
  • Season the sweet potato with a tsp of cumin seeds, salt, pepper and enough oil to lightly cover the potatoes, then pop into a preheated oven at 180 degrees (usually for 30/40 minutes)
  • Chop a bunch of fresh coriander and set aside
  • Toast your pumpkin seeds and also set aside
  • Remove the skin and stone from the avocado and place in a bowl, with salt, pepper, the juice of half a lime and a pinch of the chopped coriander, set aside
  • Now slice your lettuce and place into the four bowls (should cover roughly ⅓ of the bowl) 
  • Grate the cheese, and also set aside 
  • 10 minutes before you’re ready to serve, drain your tinned sweetcorn then add to a griddle pan or frying pan, with a good heaped tsp of butter, salt, pepper and the smoked paprika – keep this frying lightly while you tend to your chilli and sweet potatoes
  • Once the corn has slightly charred/gone sticky, you’re ready to build your Mexican bowls
  • Take your bowls (which should contain the lettuce) and add the diced sweet potato, followed by the chilli, the smashed avocado and finally, the corn
  • Top with sour cream/vegan yoghurt, pumpkin seeds, fresh coriander and cheese

TURKEY & FETA MEATBALLS: SERVES 4-6

If you aren’t sick of turkey yet, give this meatball recipe a go. You could use chicken if you wanted – thigh meat works the best as the additional fat helps to keep them moist. To suit different dietary requirements, offer to serve them with a variety of options: courgetti, pasta, chickpea pasta (gluten free), or turn them moroccan with some additional spices apricots, and serve with a fruity couscous. Leave out the feta to make them dairy-free.

Ingredients:

The meatballs

  • 1 lb of turkey mince
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 100g feta (leave this out if you want them dairy free)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 35g of panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The tomato sauce:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml of red wine
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp of dried basil
  • 1 big handful of fresh basil 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar / honey
  • Toasted pine nuts to serve

Method:

The sauce

  1. Finely chop the garlic and onion and add to a deep saucepan or frying pan with the olive oil and cook on a low heat until translucent
  2. Once the garlic and onion are cooked through, add in your tomato puree and dried basil and fry for a further minute
  3. Now add in your red wine and continue to cook down for 2 minutes or until reduced, then add in your chopped tomatoes
  4. Season your sauce with salt, pepper and add in sugar to taste
  5. Leave this to simmer on a low heat and reduce while you make your meatballs, stirring occasionally – you may need to add a little water during this process if it gets too thick

I prefer a smoother sauce so I like to blend mine before serving.

The meatballs

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius 
  2. Line a large baking tray with bake proof paper and set aside
  3. In a large bowl, combine the turkey mince with the cumin seeds, crumbled feta and finely chopped garlic, followed by the breadcrumbs
  4. Whisk the egg in a separate bowl and then add to the turkey mince, and combine until it starts to thicken and gloop together
  5. Roll the mixture into 15-20 even balls and place on the baking tray with small even spaces between them
  6. Pop these into the oven for roughly 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown and cooked through
  7. Once cooked, remove from the oven and place into your sauce along with a handful of fresh basil leaves.
  8. Allow to simmer together for a further 5-10 minutes, while you prepare your pasta/courgetti and toast your pine nuts 
  9. If serving with courgetti, I like to lightly warm mine in a pan or blast in the microwave for 30 seconds – don’t cook it or it will go wet and soggy. If using pasta, cook to instructions
  10. Serve your meatballs with shaved parmesan, some toasted pine nuts and a frew leaves of fresh basil