Thanks to COVID-19, these are unsettling times. Normal life has been suspended, and all of us are struggling with the uncertainty of our situation. This really is an unprecedented period. So, it would actually be more strange if we weren’t all a bit worried, struggling to sleep and missing friends and family. But some things haven’t changed. After all, we all need to eat.
However, even that has proved challenging, thanks to the panic buying that has taken place, and the empty shelves that have ensued. With the new lockdown rules in place, thankfully that situation seems to be easing. And recipe box delivery services, such as Mindful Chef, are currently running as normal, albeit with additional safety checks.
During these stressful times, we suggest you try to resist the temptation to eat too much. In fact, most of us are moving and exercising a lot less during lockdown. So, now is really not the time to binge on lots of fatty foods and huge portions! Remember, this lockdown won’t last forever. The food choices you make now will determine your weight, shape and health at the end of it. So, read on for a selection of healthy dinner ideas, compiled by our national trainer Jo Underhay:
A comforting curry
Now, I do love a curry. And if, like me, you are missing eating out, it’s time to cook your own. One of my favourite healthy dinner ideas has got to be the vegetable version of a curry – not only is it cheap and healthy but it’s filling and delicious, too. However, most recipes are very forgiving, and can be adapted according to whatever is (and isn’t!) in your store cupboard.
I think this satisfying veggie chickpea curry from BBC GoodFood is a great way to make use of any canned goods you have. The recipe incorporates just four simple steps and counts as three of your recommended five-a-day.
The only drawback with curry is that the cooking smells do tend to linger. However, our new state-of-the art COR540SL island hood makes short work of unwanted odours. It looks super stylish, too! It’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for a high performance, statement extractor. This circular model features four speeds, a built-in motor, a dimmable LED light and a stainless-steel grease filter. The automatic timer switches the extractor off ten minutes after cooking has finished, to help catch every odour, too.
Top tip: Don’t stress if you can’t source ingredients like coriander for your curry.
They’re a ‘nice-to-have’, not a necessary make-or-break component. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices either. Lockdown cuisine is all about making the best of what you’ve got!
Deep- or pan-frying and sautéing requires excess oil, which instantly increases the calorie and fat count of your food. However, baking or oven roasting usually requires less additional fat so these methods can help you to produce all sorts of healthy dinner ideas. You can also keep ingredients moist – and add flavour – with lemon juice, stock, or even a little wine.
For a while at least, our cooking priorities have changed. Most of us aren’t rushing to get a meal on the table within minutes, after a long day at work. Enter the cottage pie hotpot. This meat-free version from Jamie Oliver, courtesy of Tesco, is both hearty and healthy. It features slow-cooked lentils, mushrooms and a crispy potato topping. Prep time is just 10 minutes, and it’ll be ready to serve in just under 1.5 hours.
Our C3246 double oven – a recent addition to our affordable Classic collection – is perfect for this sort of cooking. The main oven has a roomy 61-litre capacity, with an A-rating for energy efficiency. There’s an easy-clean enamel interior, a tangential cooling fan, removable shelf racks and a handy light.
Top tip: If you have one, use a food processor to chop the onions and mushrooms, and slice your potatoes finely.
When you’re trying to eat a healthy diet, fish is a fabulous option. There are still a number of open fish counters around, and some specialist shops. Alternatively, explore the supermarket frozen options – not forgetting what might be hiding at the back of your own freezer (as long as it’s still in date).
This Greek-style roast fish recipe is an easy, healthy and gluten-free healthy dinner idea. It works equally well with almost any white fish fillets, so don’t be afraid to experiment. I think it’s a simple dish, but so tasty! Everything is just mixed together, seasoned, then baked in the oven. You can add interest with other dried or fresh herbs – whatever is available.
Our C4246 double oven is a great mid-market option that’s perfect for this type of cooking. It has a 42-litre capacity in the lower oven (with an A+ energy rating) for a more compact cooking solution. Its functions include turbo defrost, fan heat, conventional heat, turbo base heat, base heat, top heat and turbo conventional heat.
Top tip: Bottled lemon juice is a perfectly acceptable substitute for fresh lemon wedges.
Choose a comforting dessert
Let’s be honest, dessert is probably not a big priority at present. But the occasional indulgence can work wonders for morale in tough times. Fruit crumble is a great comfort food; it’s filling, tasty and economical, too.
It’s also possible to serve a healthy version, if you choose your topping wisely! Traditional crumble is made with butter, sugar and flour. I’ve found Hungyhealthyhappy.com’s Oaty Apple Crumble is light and delicious – with a satisfying crunch from the oats. It’s low in fat, and easy to freeze any leftovers (should your family be more restrained than mine!).
This is a fairly speedy recipe, involving just five minutes’ prep time, followed by 25 minutes in the oven. And there’s no need to stress about any baking spillages with our new C2402SS Sense Steel pyrolytic oven. This model’s self-cleaning function heats the oven to 475°C so even baked-on grime carbonises into fine ash. All you need to do is wipe the ash away afterwards with a damp cloth. No scrubbing or rubbing required!
Top tip: This crumble recipe works equally well with pear instead of apples – or even a mixture of both. Be creative with whatever fruit you have available.
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