New year, new ways with vegetables!

Happy New Year MCLers!

Hope you’ve managed to pack away the baubles, wrestle the Christmas tree outside, clean up the resulting pine needle carpet and most importantly hide/remove all evidence of the chocolate, cheese and fizz… well at least until the weekend!

This is the typical month of new beginnings for food and exercise regimes, however those of you familiar with the MC&L way of life know that a little bit of a treat on a regular basis is a MUCH better alternative to going cold turkey (no pun intended) for a month only to gorge again at the end of January. For those of you who don’t know there are some GREAT plans out for January. Be sure to log onto the Mission Clean & Lean Facebook page for all the details!

The festive period makes it much harder to stop those little treats becoming a more regular occurrence than normal – and why shouldn’t it? It’s a time when we get to spend lots of quality time with the people we love, we get a break from the routine of work and school runs – we all deserve to kick back and indulge a bit! So now is the time for re-focusing: bringing back all those familiar MC&L principles of regular exercise, eating varied, unprocessed nutritious meals and including lots of greens, protein and good carbs. 

Admittedly a fridge full of spinach and kale isn’t quite as exciting as last week’s fridge of brie and camembert, so this week I wanted to share with you how I prep as many veg as I can at the weekend so they’re ready to use in recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This makes the quick option of a takeaway or ready meals much less necessary and is certainly more appealing than a bag of wilting spinach within hours of its ‘use by’ date. I know at times I have gone mad buying a ton of fresh veg and salad to fill the fridge, and then actually feel a bit overwhelmed at how I will eat it all before its shelf life expires. Easy way is to cook it, stick it in the fridge and use as and when required – here are some examples:

Garlic and Ginger Kale

In a pan, heat a tablespoon of coconut oil and fry garlic, ginger and chilli, when browning, throw in the packet of kale squeezing in half the juice of a lemon and grate in the zest too if you like. Fry for a couple of minutes and it’s ready.

 This can be used warm as a side dish for salmon, steak or chicken. You can add it to mashed sweet potato and make a clean version of bubble and squeak. Enjoy cold with a protein of your choice (salmon or chicken for example) as a delicious salad alternative to a sad looking iceberg. Add some soy sauce and toasted sesame seeds and stir-fry through with prawns, chicken or steak.

 Roasted Med Veg

Preheat oven to 200˚C, in a roasting pan, add peppers, courgettes, red onions, aubergine, mushrooms all diced to 1 inch squares and drizzle over some melted coconut oil, season with salt and black pepper. Add some fresh or dried basil and oregano and a couple of cloves of unpeeled garlic. Roast in oven for approximately 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally.

These can be used a side dish to a protein of your choice mixed into some pasta with a drizzle of olive oil or as a delicious sandwich filler with hummus and rocket. Add some passata and crack an egg on top and grill for a gorgeous quick protein lunch/dinner. 

Butternut Squash with Rosemary

Preheat oven to 200˚C, in a roasting pan, add a whole butternut squash (or any squash or pumpkin you have in) diced into one inch squares. Drizzle with coconut oil and add a few sprigs of rosemary, a couple of cloves of unpeeled garlic and season with salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 40 minutes mixing occasionally.

This can be used in its diced form as a great alternative to meat or fish in a warm or cold salad with spinach, pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta. Blitz in a blender with orange juice, almond milk and ginger for a super quick delicious winter soup or as a healthy bubble and squeak (see above kale uses).

Grilled or Roasted Tomatoes

Use absolutely any tomatoes you have in. Rich flavoursome tomatoes on the vine work best but this is a great way to use up any tomatoes you have knocking about in the salad drawer of the fridge. 

Preheat grill to medium heat. Add whole cherry/baby tomatoes or larger ones cut into quarters. Drizzle with balsamic and season. Grill for approximately 5-10 minutes. This is a very quick way to use up sad looking tomatoes and give them a new lease of life. If you have a bit more time, preheat an oven to 120˚C put the toms in a roasting dish with garlic, torn basil leaves and balsamic and roast for approximately one hour. 

These can be used a much tastier alternative to bland salad tomatoes in a sandwich or salad. Stir through spaghetti with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add to frittatas for bags of flavour. Mush up with the back of a spoon and use as a topping on oatcakes or rye bread toast with crumbled feta for a very healthy ‘pizza’.

Chargrilled Aubergine

Slice aubergine into thin rounds, place on kitchen paper, sprinkle on a little sea salt and leave for an hour or so to draw out the moisture. Heat a griddle pan on a medium heat and place on the rounds of aubergine. Cook on both sides for approx. 5 minutes each until they have a lovely chargrilled appearance.

These can be drizzled with olive oil and enjoyed as part of a mezze supper with halloumi, rocket and hummus. Layer in a dish and spoon over passata with added garlic and basil and topped with a cheese of your choice for a very quick Melanzane (aubergine bake to you and me). Mush up with a fork and add to a pan with garlic, onion, ginger, garam masala, turmeric and coriander for the most amazing aubergine dry curry.

I could go on for days as the possibilities are endless but bottom line is, if you don’t know what to do with a vegetable that’s hiding at the back of the fridge or in your veg box, cut it up, drizzle it with coconut oil and season it, stick it in the oven and its already more useable than it was in its entire form!

Enjoy creating your own specials!

Until next time,
Mandy xx