I’m back to uni this week! At the time of writing, I’m in transit to Glasgow and will be staying with family before getting settled into my new flat in a couple of days. It’s been great having loads of free time over the summer, but I’m also excited to get back into being busy. Weirdly, I feel like I get more stuff done when I have more things that need doing – maybe you get that?
Regardless, one thing that always falls by the wayside when my schedule changes is healthy eating. Honestly, I don’t know if I’m really even that organised with it right now! There are some recipes which I keep coming back to though, and not just because they’re healthy. The recipes below are easy to make, and on top of that they can help you to reduce your carbon footprint. This can be done through your food in a number of ways – you can reduce your meat/dairy consumption, cut down your food waste, or buy products which were made in your region (for me anything in Scotland is pretty close).
So without further ado, here are three recipes to add into your week that won’t take up too much of your time, and will benefit your health and the planet to boot. Let me know if you make any of these!
1. Anything Goes Smoothie Builder
- Uses up the last bits of fruit, veg, juice, milk/milk substitute etc. (less food waste)
- Loads of vitamins and hydration (good for you)
- Portable meal (saves you money on expensive pre-made smoothies)
- Customise any way you want
Time: 5-10 minutes (will get faster after a couple of tries)
Serves: 1 (add more of everything to a large blender for more portions)
This smoothie builder isn’t a recipe as such – it’s a list of options that work well in a smoothie. That way, you can add whatever needs using up. If you stick roughly to these volumes, you’ll end up with something yummy and you might even discover your favourite new flavour combination!
Just bear in mind if you’re wanting to keep the calories down that you shouldn’t add more than two types of fruit, and watch out for the calories from sugar in yogurts or sweetened dairy substitutes.
- Small handful each of two or more types of fresh or frozen fruit e.g. banana slices, berries, apple, avocado (it’s a bonus if these were grown in your region!)
- Mugful or big handful of dark leafy veg e.g. spinach, kale
- 200-300 ml (a mugful) milk/milk substitute (e.g. almond, soy, coconut, oat)
- 1-2 tablespoons porridge oats or teaspoons flax seed, chia seeds (optional, for texture)
- A few ice cubes or equivalent crushed ice (if you want it nice and cold)
- Yogurt/vegan yogurt (optional, to make it thicker)
- 1-2 teaspoons honey/agave nectar (optional, for extra sweetness)
Pop all your ingredients in a blender, mix until smooth. Check that it’s not too thick too drink or too thin to be a smoothie, taste and alter as required. Pour into a glass or portable cup (or drink straight from the container if you’ve got a nutri-blender or similar) and enjoy!
Tip: if you’re not a fan of the taste of kale, don’t add loads to a smoothie – it’s very hard to cover the taste! Spinach on the other hand is virtually undetectable in smoothies, even in large amounts. If you want to get your greens in without tasting them, this is a great way to do it.
2. Sweet Potato Lentil Curry
- It’s vegan (better for the environment)
- High in protein (more satisfying)
- You can add in leftover vegetables (less food waste)
- You can let any extra cool, keep it in the fridge and reheat the next day (or eat cold!)
Time: Prep 5 minutes, cook 30 minutes
Serves: 2 hungry people (or more with rice/naan added)
- 1 large/very large sweet potato
- Around 100g lentils (I use between a half and a whole mug depending on hunger)
- 1 jar of curry sauce (I like jalfrezi, madras or rogan josh for this recipe)
- Any leftover vegetables e.g. green beans, broccoli, sweetcorn, spinach (optional)
- Water (up to the top of the label of the curry sauce jar)
- Chop the sweet potato into chunks, around 2cm to an inch in size. This doesn’t have to be perfect! Just a similar size so that they cook at the same rate.
- Turn the hob on to a medium heat and add the curry sauce, sweet potato and lentils to a large pot.
- Fill the curry sauce jar to the top of the label with cold water, put the lid back on and shake to collect the sauce stuck to the sides. Add the water to the pot. The aim is to just about cover the lentils so that they’ll all cook. Stir well so that the sauce and water mix into one consistency.
- Put a lid on the pot, bring to a boil and let simmer, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the lentils look mushy and the sauce is as thick as it was when it was in the jar (about 30 minutes). Watch out for it sticking to the bottom towards the end and turn the heat down if necessary.
- Turn the heat off and serve on its own (healthiest option) or with your favourite rice, naan bread, chapatti or pitta bread (you could probably feed up to 4 people this way).
3. Extra-Wholesome Banana Bread (by Jack Monroe)
- Vegan (better for the environment)
- Uses wholemeal flour and less sugar than most bakes (healthier)
- Uses bananas you might not otherwise eat (less food waste)
- Keeps well over a few days (even less food waste)
I found this recipe on Jack Monroe’s site, Cooking on a Bootstrap, which I absolutely love and highly recommend for cheap and easy recipes (and lots of vegan ones too!). Follow that link for her site – I’ll summarise the recipe here too.
Time: Prep 5-10 minutes, cook 1 hour
Serves: A loaf tin will give you around 10 good slices, or you can pop it into muffin cases for 10-12 muffins.
- 3 ripe bananas (tip: put any very ripe bananas which you would normally throw away in the freezer with their skin on and make this once you’ve got 3 bananas saved – just defrost them in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until you can peel them)
- 75ml coconut oil (or other light tasting oil)
- 50g sugar (fairtrade if possible)
- 120g plain or self-raising flour
- 100g wholemeal flour (I used wholemeal bread flour and it turned out fine)
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda OR 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 180C and lightly grease your loaf tin or muffin tray (use an oil spray or pour a little oil on a piece of kitchen paper and wipe all over).
- Peel bananas (microwave first if they were frozen) and mash with a fork in a large mixing bowl. Add a little oil or microwave the bananas for a few seconds if they’re too hard to mash.
- Add the oil and sugar and mix well for a gloopy consistency, then add both flours, the sugar and cinnamon and mix again until they’re all combined. It won’t be smooth, it’ll have lumps – that’s okay!
- Put the mixture into your loaf tin or muffin cases, sprinkle the top with a little flour and put your creation in the centre of the oven for an hour (or 20 mins if you’ve done muffins). Make sure you check after around 40 minutes because ovens can vary. Remove and let cool before slicing for best results. If you want it to keep, just slice off what you’re eating and the time and keep the rest as a full loaf.
- Check out Jack Monroe, she’s great!