Lentil Ragu

This lentil ragu is a firm family favourite. It’s quick and easy to make, full of flavour and nutrition (lentils are a powerhouse of fibre, protein, potassium, iron and folate) and it can be frozen in portions to use on busy days. I use this as a ‘base’ recipe but often add or switch the vegetables with the seasons. For example, the carrots can be swapped with swede, beetroot or squash, the mushrooms could be replaced with aubergine or crumbled walnuts. We usually stir it through pasta or layer it up in a lasagne but it also makes a great cottage pie when topped with mash and baked.

You can also tweak the seasoning and turn this Italian-style ragu into a Tex-Mex-style chilli non-carne! Just use chilli, cumin, coriander, bay, oregano and smoked paprika in place of the herbs, and add a drained tin of kidney beans and peppers to the mix too. This adaptable lentil ragu recipe is just thing to add to your repertoire for hearty family meals.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 sticks of celery, diced
  • approx 10 chestnut mushrooms, diced
  • 1x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1x 400g tin of green lentils, drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp each: fennel seeds, thyme and oregano
  • optional splash of red wine…
  • salt and pepper to taste (roughly a tsp of each)
  • pasta to serve (100g dried weight per person) we stock a range of organic wheat, wholegrain and gluten free varieties

Method

  1. Gather and prepare your ingredients and find a large pan to cook your ragu in. Get a big pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
  2. Sauté the onion with the olive oil for roughly 6 minutes over a medium-high heat until softening and starting to take on some colour.
  3. Then add the salt, pepper, fennel, oregano, thyme and garlic and stir for a minute to release and wake up the flavours.

4. Add the diced vegetables and sauté for 5-10 minutes until they start to soften and cook in their own juices. Then add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves.

5. Swirl the juices out of the tin into the pan by filling the tin with water. Then add the drained lentils and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is rich and delicious. You may need to add a splash of water (or red wine) to loosen the sauce if it is starting to look a bit dry. (This is a good time to get your pasta into the now-boiling water).

6. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed with more salt or pepper. Then stir through the cooked and drained pasta and enjoy! Serve with fresh basil leaves and an extra drizzle of good olive oil.

Roasted Carrot & Fennel Soup with Cheese Toasties

Soup weather is officially back and I’m not complaining! Soups are a fantastic way to get a whole lot of goodness into one simple meal. Probably at least once a week we have a soup and cheese toastie night. The simplest way to make a soup… whilst juggling the housework, homework, giving the dog a walk, firing off a few last emails etc… is to grab a tray, roughly chop up a good combination of veg, oil and season it well, and whack it in the oven. Then your surfaces are clear, all you have to do when it’s done is tip it into a big pot and blend it with some stock.

The carrots and fennel coming out of the farm at the moment are just stunning! So fresh and so full of flavour. And so often, what grows together, goes together! So here’s one of our seasonal favourites right now, a simple but super-tasty, carrot and fennel soup! Enjoy!

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 bulbs of fennel
  • 6 carrots
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 leek (or 1 onion)
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1 litre of water (in the kettle, ready to boil)
  • cheese sandwiches to serve (I like to butter the outside and grill them when the soup is ready)

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 200C and find a deep roasting dish.
  2. Wash the vegetables, roughly chop them and place them in the roasting dish.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and pop them into the dish whole.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a good couple of pinches of salt and a grind of black pepper. Mix well and then get the dish into the oven to roast. It should take about 30 minutes but keep an eye on it as ovens vary.
  5. Meanwhile make cheese sandwiches to grill (we have a lovely range of organic cheeses including a new Irish organic Mossfield cheese and vegan cheeses) and get a big pot and your stick blender ready.
  6. Crumble two veg stock cubes into a large jug and then add a litre of freshly boiled water. Stir to combine. Test the roasted veg for ‘done-ness’ with a knife. They should be soft and starting to take on some colour.
  7. Scrape the roasted veg to a large pot, pour over the veg stock and blend until smooth with your stick blender. You may wish to add a splash more water to thin the soup out to your liking. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary with more salt or pepper.
  8. Then grill the cheese sandwiches and reheat the soup on the hob. Serve and enjoy!

Simple, Real Food

Yesterday my daughter Ella went down the fields and harvested a big bunch of kale she wanted to make kale crisps. I was impressed, who am I to stand in the way of a child who wants to voluntarily eat kale, I thought to myself!

Mostly though it is the other way around, often getting our kids to eat more vegetables can be a struggle, why is this? Why isn’t eating an apple, (or indeed kale crisps) instead of a chocolate bar easier? Why is doing the right thing sometimes so difficult? 

Why is our food system not better, healthier, kinder to us and our planet. How did we get ourselves into this crazy retail race to the bottom and how come it is so hard to value and want to eat real food? 

Both questions are linked. I did a stent in a major pharmaceutical company in the US as a research scientist. A friend of mine at the time worked in the food division, occasionally she would bring cookies to lunch for us to try that had been engineered in her lab to within an inch of their lives. Texture, flavour, taste, and crumbliness had all been optimised in the lab to allow just the right amount of sugar fat and salt to hit our taste buds in the right way at the right time to make them irresistible.  

Many of the processed foods including health bars and vitamin drinks that line supermarket shelves are about as healthy as eating spoonful’s of sugar, generally they contain high amounts of processed apple juice or conventional cereal and sugar substitutes. They rely on wonderfully creative science and marketing to make us believe how good for us they are, and of course they taste amazing.

We are sold the idea of free choice, but the reality is that nearly all of the big brands on our shelves are made by 10 giant multinational conglomerates. An industry built on cheap commodity products wrapped and packaged and sold as healthy, driven by profit, derived from a complex unsustainable food chain produces most of our food and it is damaging our health and destroying the planet.

So how is this system fair? How is it that these processed products have taken centre stage and are often seen by us the consumer as a prized food that can be sold for maximum profit? This is the carefully constructed reality we have been fed, it is not our fault it is just the way it.

It is simple, cheap commodity ingredients are processed and packaged to be sold as healthy alternatives to real food, that achieve maximum profit for manufactures and retailers. 

Deciphering what is good for our health and the planet is next to impossible these days. But it doesn’t have to be so complicated. 

There is one extremely straightforward step any one of us can take right now to revolutionise our food choices, the principle is simple: 

“EAT MORE FRESH ORGANIC PRODUCE”

We cannot eat too many vegetables and vegetables in all their guises are good for us. That’s pretty simple right?

So, choosing fresh organic locally grown food and working more fruit and veg into our daily routine is a magnificent way to improve how we feel and our long-term health, not to mention the benefits for the planet. 

So, Ella, go for it, all the kale in the world is yours!

Kenneth

Get a box of real, simple organic food delivered to your door anywhere in Ireland or Northern Ireland here.

Ultimate Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are not a punishment! Mine is sweet, creamy and deliciously refreshing! Give it a try, it’s full of goodness!

🌱SPINACH is high in iron, calcium and vitamins C and K.

💪TAHINI is a great source of healthy fats, protein, B vitamins and vitamin E.

🍌BANANAS are an excellent source of potassium, B6 and energy-giving carbohydrates. They’re also a brilliant prebiotic with a high fibre content.

🌴DATES are a natural sweetener, high in fibre, antioxidants and minerals.

🌾OAT MILK is environmentally friendly, high in fibre and deliciously creamy.

Add the certified organic ingredients to your next order here. We deliver to every address in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Liz x

Ingredients

  • spinach or kale – rinsed, one large handful per person
  • banana – half of one per person (chopped and frozen for an extra creamy texture)
  • dates – pitted, 1 or 2 per person for added sweetness
  • tahini – 1 heaped tsp per person
  • oat milk (or any milk you like) – 1/2 a glass per person
  • optional ice – especially good if your banana is not frozen
watch the easy method here or read on below

Method

Add all the ingredients to a strong blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into glasses and drink immediately.

TOP TIPS: *If you don’t have frozen banana, add a couple of ice cubes per person to the blender too for a chilled smoothie. *If your blender is not very strong, soak the dates before blending to help them break down faster.

Fruity Chia and Oat Pots

These little chia and oat pots are perfect for breakfast (and they make a fabulous healthy pudding too)! You can prepare the two layers in separate bowls the night before, then just put it together in the morning with some crunchy granola, juicy fruit and silky curd (find the recipe for my favourite kumquat curd here). If you don’t have curd you could use a dollop of yogurt instead.

Chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients. Packed full of fibre, antioxidants, minerals and heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Oats are brilliant too of course! This humble grain is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat and can lower cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar control and contains a powerful soluble fibre which is great for your digestive system!

I love this combination of berry chia, turmeric oats, zingy sweet citrus and toasty granola. But of course you can tweak the recipe to use your favourite fruit or flavours. How about rhubarb compote in the chia layer and making the creamy oat layer taste like custard with some vanilla? Then top with yogurt, granola and more rhubarb? Or do you like tropical flavours? How about a passionfruit chia layer, coconut milk in the oats and top with mango slices and toasted coconut flakes? Are you a chocoholic? Raspberries in the chia layer, cacao powder in with the oats then top with pieces of dark chocolate, fresh raspberries and toasted hazelnuts? The possibilities are endless.

Let us know your favourite chia and oat pot flavour combos in the comments. Liz x

*as always, bold words are clickable and will take you to the product or recipe on our website so that you can easily add ingredients to your order or find the recipe I refer to

Ingredients (makes 2 pots)

Method

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl, leave to stand for a few minutes and mix again. Then cover and refrigerate (or use right away if you are making this in the morning).

Mix the next 4 ingredients in a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate over night to allow it to thicken (or you can serve it after a quick 10 minute soak if you are making this in the morning).

Serve in a couple of simple glasses. Divide the chia and berry mixture between two glasses, then add the turmeric porridge mixture. Top with a tbsp of kumquat curd, peeled slices of blood orange and a couple of tbsp of granola.