One of the biggest misconceptions I come across is that healthy food has to be sad “diet food”.
Yes, we all benefit from eating a healthier diet but that doesn’t have to be salad.
The easiest ways to be healthier is just to switch half of a plate of food to veg. The simplicity of everyday meals being transformed with a few humble veg is far less overwhelming than having to devise a complicated new menu.
The net result isn’t just a healthier meal but one that’ll be filling, your entire family is more likely to eat it and you aren’t having to learn to cook anything radically new, you are just upgrading what you already are comfortable with cooking.
Here is a family classic, the bolognese (or for the purists ragu), but balanced with a few veggies and much better for you.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
For the ragu:
1 large onion , finely chopped
500g good quality beef mince, ideally organic
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
300ml of passata
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
60g of pasta of your choice per person, cooked according to packet instructions - this is a lot less than you are likely used to
75g of frozen peas per person
75g of another green veg per person, for example green beans, broccoli or asparagus
To make the ragu, put a large saucepan on a medium-high heat, add the mince and finely chopped onion and cook until the mince is fully browned. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Take the pan off the heat, tip it to one side, push the mince to the top and, using a spoon, remove the excess fat that collects at the bottom.
Reduce the heat to medium and put the pan back on the heat . Add the crushed garlic, herbs and bay leaf, stir and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour in the chopped tomato and passata, add the mushrooms, reduce the heat a little bit more and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the sauce is thick. Stir every now and then.
When it’s ready, check the seasoning and season again with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt if needed.
While the ragu is simmering, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. When it’s nearly done, tip in the greens and peas and bring to the boil. Drain straight away and allow to steam for a few minutes.
To serve, divide the pasta and veg between bowls and top with a ladle of the sauce.
Leftovers make a great lunch the next day.