Cost-cutting cuisine

For as long as I can remember I have loved healthy food and been fanatical about nutrition. I think two key things contributed to this in my formative years. The first was that my brother has cystic fibrosis and so a lot of our early years revolved around what he could or couldn’t do or eat, where he could or couldn’t go, and so on. We knew a lot more about healthy nutrition at that age than any of our peers.

Secondly, our family has a colourful and diverse range of allergies and intolerances, so growing up involved a lot of careful juggling around what would fill us, taste good and not kill us! (That’s an exaggeration, you understand).

In my adult years I have become heavily dependent on truly brilliant supplementsthat keep us healthy and well (not just “not sick”). So much so, in fact, that I even share these great supplements with anyone who wants them, and after seeing the phenomenal turn around in our family’s health, that list includes pretty much most of the people we know.

Even so, however, good nutrition is about more than just popping pills. It’s also about what we do put into our bodies, and what we don’t. That’s why I try so hard to feed my family good, balanced, nutritious, low GI meals and healthy snacks as much as possible. We usually have masses of fruit in the house, and if there are biscuits I try to keep them low GI, gluten free, dairy free ones. Where possible I replace sugar with xylitol or honey.

The more I think about it, the more it seems like it would be a good idea to share some of my adventures here, on my blog. I am no Nigella, and not even much of a run-of-the-mill domestic goddess. Most of my meals fail on presentation, but at least they’re USUALLY delicious and almost always nutritious. Not to mention being super-affordable, which is key right now.

Here’s tonight’s offering:

Pasta with Lentil Mush (title needs work; suggestions welcome).

Slowly heat red lentils with salt and Italian herbs until very soft. Drain.
Cook gluten-free pasta to taste.
Roast some vegetables in the oven. Broccoli and courgettes work very well for this, as do carrots and beans.
Finely chop a large onion and braise until soft and transparent/golden, then add 2 chopped tomatoes, a coupe of peeled and chopped carrots, some ginger and some garlic (to taste).Add the lentils and mix well. Mix in the roasted veggies (try to get some of their “veggie juice”, too – yummy!).
When this mixture is thoroughly smooshy, add some good quality tomato sauce (rich in lycopene, an essential antioxidant).
You may want a little more tomato sauce for the colour.
Serve the lentil mixture on the pasta – hot!

We added Nando’s hot chilli sauce for the grown ups because a) Chillis are a good source of capsaicin, which is good for nasal and chest problems, and induces feelings of happiness as a result of the release of endorphines, and b) We love it! The girls had their’s neat.

Everyone said it tasted great. DH even had seconds … I don’t know if he actuallyrealised he was eating lentils!

I’d share a picture but we ate it all, sorry about that :( .

The great thing about this meal is that it is full of goodness and low on cost. Seriously, we all have onions and lentils in the cupboard right? You can make anything with those two items alone. Kinda …

On a side note, don’t stint on tomato sauce. I know we’re all on budgets here, but a good tomato sauce is an awesome and worthwhile investment. The antioxidants are great for the whole family and many kids eat anything when it’s disguised in a tomato sauce super-hero cloak. The problem is that a cheap, synthetic tomato sauce is so bad for your family it would be better to feed the kids fries than to disguise broccoli in that swill.  I’m just saying.

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