Beans, beans, good for the heart

One of my various vacation projects has been in the kitchen – trying to get a bit more protein into largely vegetarian diet for my super-sporty growing-boy husband. We eat less meat largely because of cost, so I am also hoping to avoid expensive protein sources like quinoa (apparently pronounced keenwah) and quorn.

Vegetarian Chilli

This is one of our absolute staples and brilliant for cooking in bulk as it cooks in one pot, freezes really well and tastes even better after a few days! Key ingredients (in the order added) are a combination of:

  • onion
  • garlic
  • mushrooms
  • fresh chillies where possible
  • courgette
  • pepper
  • kidney beans
  • at least one other sort of bean (borlotti and black-eyed are usually cheapest)
  • tinned tomatoes
  • salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and sometimes chilli powder (if no fresh chillies) to give it a bit of a kick.

One-pot, freezable cooking is great and we serve with cottage cheese (for the heat), cheddar cheese (for some extra protein) and rice, pasta or jacket potatoes.

Meditteranean Chickpea stew

I now have a passable chickpea recipe which importantly is variable depending on the contents of my fridge! As someone who really doesn’t like chickpeas, hummus etc this is an exciting development. The basic recipes were found on good food and little red courgette which I have adapted somewhat.

chickpea med veg stew

You need to chop and roast onion, garlic, courgette, pepper, aubergine, potato for around 40mins – this is crucial to get the aubergine to actually taste nice! Season these with salt, pepper, cumin seed (for flavour) and coriander seed (for an amazing zingy kick!). Transfer to the hob and add tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, cumin powder, coriander powder, cinnamon powder (optional for a ‘turkish’ feel), chilli/cayenne if you want some heat and plenty more pepper.

Serve with jacket potato or rice, and a bit of leftover sour cream (from the stroganoff!) works well!

I have tried these with tinned chickpeas but also well-soaked dried chickpeas – these are far cheaper (from my favourite international food shop!) and I had no trouble with skins so will stick with these.

Mushroom stroganoff

The recipe I used for mushroom stroganoff is from good food here which worked really well. It seems to have a huge amount of flavouring in it – loads of paprika, worcestershire sauce, stock but seems to work ok!


Veg curry

I have a lovely friend who has given me some curry tutorials so I am experimenting with indian-style food fairly frequently. The absolute key ingredients that have transformed my curry-making experience have been mustard seeds, cumin seeds and dried chillies. With these three you can do anything!! I have also been given permission to use curry powder, being assured that this is not cheating (!) which has improved the taste plenty. Ingredients are highly dependent on what is in the fridge but include:

  • Onions, garlic, mushrooms need to be fried first with mustard seeds and cumin seeds
  • Cauliflower – best softened in the microwave (which takes ages but worth it) with some curry powder/turmeric to get some flavour into them – can be quite bland otherwise
  • Peppers are pretty standard but I’ve also tried courgette
  • Curry powder, chillies, ginger (we use tinned ‘easy ginger’ but fresh is better), cumin, coriander, garam masala, whatever else for flavouring!
  • Potatoes can be added towards the end, sliced about half a cm thick
  • Tomatoes can be added last – fresh is best but tinned tomatoes will also taste ok (just look a bit less like curry!)

Daal is also super-easy to make and tastes brilliant

  • Fry mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onions, garlic, chilli powder in a saucepan
  • Add lentils (pre-soaked), turmeric, dried chillies (probably 3 is enough!)
  • Add water where necessary and cook until the right taste and consistency

Other high protein veg sources (according to various websites) include spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, squash which we eat plenty of already. Andy’s standard work snacks include peanuts and marmite which helps the protein intake without me having to share in those particular love-hate foods!

Lentils is my next ingredient to master beyond the limits of daal, along with fish which I am clueless at cooking still!