**PHOTOS TO BE POSTED SHORTLY**
Since I posted this photo on Instagram last Sunday, I have had a lot of people asking me about what I was cooking, which proves you are a bunch of vicarious, nosy sods.
Lately, I have been feeling a bit sluggish, a bit pants, and a bit stuck-in a rut when it comes to my diet. Since realising that avoiding bread was probably a really good idea, I had started to struggle with healthy lunchtime options. I am constantly on the go, and as a person who does not eat butter, mayo or any creamy sort of dressing, it is really frikkin difficult to find something on the hoof. In the winter months, I made batches of soup, but without a nice bit of bread to soak it up, the whole experience started to feel a little joyless and a bit boring. It is also really quite difficult to suddenly go straight to the salad leaves, leaving you absolutely starving by 2pm.
I just want to add at this point that this is not a faddy diet thing I am doing; about 2 weeks ago I started dramatically reducing my portion sizes after reading about what is considered a healthy portion (Google this for further advice, but I promise you it is a LOT less than you are thinking!) I started to think about making my food work harder for me. I have been enjoying Innocent Veg Pots as a concept for a while now, I take them on long days working and generally like the idea of them. At around £4 Rrp they are a bit costly for a regular lunch. I started thinking about making my own and managed to come up with 3 basterdisations, Mexican Chilli, Thai curry and Indian Dal.
I am just going to show you the Mexican Chilli one, because the others are pretty much the same idea/method. Please note that these are vegetable based purely from a cost and calorie perspective. You can add meat or protein to these, but please be aware that it will up the cals and will defeat the purpose of making a weeks worth of meals that keep in the fridge. This also has the added bonus of being super cheap to make.
For 5 days worth of eating-
You will need:
1 Large Onion
Large Red Pepper
½ Butternut squash OR 1 Sweet Potato.
2 carrots (or one huge one)
Can of Butterbeans
Can of Kidney beans
Can of Chopped Tomatoes
Clove of Garlic
Dash of Chilli Sauce (optional)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper.
Rice & Raw Spinach to serve.
First dice your squash and carrot, we are looking for medium chunks here, so try to make them the same size to ensure they cook evenly, slice your pepper and set aside. Take your onion, and slice whist heating a little olive oil in a large non stick pan. Add your onions and cook until soft. After adding enough chopped Chilli and Garlic to the pan (totally up to you, I like a lot of chilli so I had 4 in mine!) Add the vegetables to the pan and cook until the carrots start to soften but not disintigrate. Add your chopped tomatoes to the pan, along with half a canful of water, leave to simmer and reduce, until the liquid has cooked the squash and the carrot through but not so much that there is no liquid remaining.
To the pan add your lentils and your handful of chopped cherry tomatoes.. I put just under a cupful in mine and continue to simmer until the remaining liquid has absorbed and the lentils are soft, this will provide the “meaty” texture that a veg chilli usually lacks. Add around half a can of butterbeans and half of Kidney beans to the chilli, taste and season. If you fancy a bit of zing to your chilli, then you might want to add a dash of sauce, if you have some. I quite like Nando’s peri-peri sauce but it is totally up to you. Continue to simmer until the chilli has reduced and everything is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside to cool, ready for potting!
You might decide to leave it as that and eat it alone but I like to cook up a small amount of Rice to make my meals go further.
The trick with this is the portion sizes- as a guide, I actually use old Innocent veg pots, but any similar sized microwaveable container will do.
A word about serving- The trick with portion size is to remember that your eyes really are bigger than your belly. When filling the pot, try to only put a scant amount of rice into the pot, around 1 heaped tablespoon of rice to 2 ½ tablespoons of chilli… that is just over half the pot. I like to fill the pot with a heap of raw spinach right up to the brim, but again, this is optional.
Store in the fridge, Reheat for around 2 mins in the microvave, stirring well or it is just as good cold!
Note: Because eating one dish for 5 days is a bore, I like to make 2 different ones and alternate.