Happy new year everyone! Have you eaten and drank far too much over the festive period? Have you reverted back to your teenage years of happily grazing on junk food all day and forgoing proper meals? Of lazing about in your pyjamas all day and watching films? Me to! It’s been great, but – sigh – it can’t last forever. Now we’re heading back to work, planning our summer holidays and regretting opening that third box of chocolates as we now feel we have to get rid of all the excess flab we enjoyed putting on.
I’ve always said January is the worst month to start a diet in Britain. It’s cold, wet, dark and miserable outside, we’re broke and saving for holidays that feel a lifetime away, and the excitement of Christmas is over. The last thing you want to eat when you get home from a long day at work in January is salad! For me, March is a much better month to start a healthy eating plan. The days are getting longer, it’s starting to get warmer, and it feels as though summer is in reach. However, this year I have a girl’s beach holiday planned for Easter, and I would quite like to fit into some of my summer clothes by then, so I suppose I’d better start sooner rather than later.
I don’t approve of crash diets, they don’t work and they’re harmful to your physical and mental health. Instead I try to make my overall lifestyle a little better – I exercise more and take the stairs instead of escalators and lifts when I’m out and about, walk short distances I would usually drive, cut down on the booze and junk food and increase my fruit, veg and protein intake. As someone famous once said “slowly slowly, catchy monkey” – small, sustainable changes make a massive difference.
Anyway, if like me you’re feeling like you should probable make a bit of an effort to be healthier, but want to ease yourself into it, this recipe is definitely for you. A traditional Scottish recipe, given a Pesky twist – it’s comforting, filling, warming, tasty, easy to make and packed with winter veg. Enjoy!
I’ve used Quorn mince, which is gluten free. If you are using a different brand and gluten is a concern, just check the packet before using.
Ready in 30 mins – serves 2.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 100g of carrot, diced (no need to peel)
- 100g of parsnip, diced (no need to peel)
- 50g of celery, diced
- 150g of veggie mince (I’ve used Quorn)
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 300mls of cold water
- Half a teaspoon of vegan Worcestershire Sauce (if you’re not veggie or vegan, you can just use regular Worcestershire sauce)
- 3 heaped teaspoons of gravy granules
- 1 heaped teaspoon of tomato puree
- A good pinch of mustard powder
- A good pinch of thyme
- A good pinch of salt
- A good pinch of black pepper
- 50g of frozen peas
- Put a pan over a medium/high heat and add the oil and onions. Cook until translucent. – Pic 1
- Add the carrots, parsnip and celery and cook for 5 mins until the veg has started to soften. – Pic 2
- Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and bring to the boil.
- Turn the heat down slightly, cover and simmer for about 20 mins, stirring regularly. It will darken a little and thicken. – Pic 3
- Serve with mashed tatties (white potatoes).
Tip – store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge (tatties too) and reheat in the microwave until piping hot.
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