Pleased to meat you

morrissey meat quote                 meat free is a snack

Whichever side of the meat-eating fence you’re on, or whether you’re sitting right on top of it, I’m risking a meat post and crossing my fingers that it doesn’t cause as much uproar as Ali’s veggie one did a while back.

Since starting the blog and given the current trend of healthy eating we’ve had a few meat-lovin’ friends getting in touch asking if they need to beat the meat in order to live a healthy lifestyle. Although a plant-based diet is so good for you there can be unhealthy vegans and super healthy carnivores. I don’t think a label defines how healthy you are and if you want to keep meat in your diet there are tons of ways of doing so while staying super healthy.

Personally I avoid meat as much as possible and usually have dairy a couple of times a week (usually natural yogurt, eggs and of course I could never give up my weekly cake habit – I’d happily eat vegan and gluten-free cakes but they’re hard to find in East Lancs).

I prefer not to eat meat but I will do so if my boyfriend cooks or if I go to someone’s house for tea. If you want to include meat, fish and dairy in your diet Hemsley and Hemsley (our second favourite sister combo after Terri and Sarah), Madeleine Shaw and Jack Monroe have some great ideas to name but a few.

Here are some ideas of healthy meaty or fish-based meals if you’d rather not go full on herbivore, or you live with someone who isn’t entirely on the plant-based path…

Baked salmon and pearl couscous

couscous 2

This is really tasty and I first made it based on a dish I had at Gorilla in Manchester.

Although couscous is generally hailed as a healthy food, it isn’t gluten-free so to make this even healthier you could use quinoa or brown rice which would work just as well.

Serves 1, adjust quantities accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 60g pearl (or giant) couscous
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp agave or honey
  • Handful of flaked almonds
  • Handful of dried apricots

Method

1. Place the salmon in foil, drizzle soy and agave/honey over it then wrap it up and oven cook for 15 to 20 minutes on 200.

2. While that’s baking, prepare the couscous using veg stock (I use bouillon) according to pack instructions.

3. Place the cooked salmon onto the couscous with a sprinkling of almond flakes (toasted by dry frying for a few minutes if you can be bothered!) and diced dried apricot.

I often add some homemade tzatziki and a handful of spinach leaves too.

Jamie’s green chilli

This is so good, and even though I eat mainly plant based meals I will happily eat this whenever my boyfriend suggests it and he knocks up a great one. Jamie’s recipe uses pork but we prefer beef. What’s great about it is that there’s no sauce so it tastes fresh and healthy and I like to make my own guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips to go with it.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil

  • 800g higher-welfare pork mince (or beef if you prefer)

  • 1 teaspoon dried sage

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced

  • 2 green peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped

  • 6 small green chillies, roughly chopped

  • 4 large ripe red tomatoes, chopped into small chunks

  • 1 romaine lettuce, leaves washed and spun dry

  • 1 small bunch fresh mint

  • 4 spring onions

  • 1 packet flour tortillas

  • 1 lime

  • soured cream or natural yoghurt, to serve

Method

1. Put your biggest pan on a high heat and add a little olive oil. Add the mince, dried sage and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat up a bit and stir it about, then cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add onions, garlic, peppers and chillies, stir together then fry for 15 minutes on a high heat until any liquid evaporates and everything is starting to turn golden. Then, stir in chopped tomatoes and half a glass of water. Remember it’s supposed to be quite dry (in a wholesome and nice way), not stewy and wet, so don’t add too much.

3. Turn the heat down to medium and let it tick away for 10 minutes or so while you wash and roughly chop up the lettuce. Pick the leaves from the bunch of mint and roughly chop them. Trim and finely slice your spring onions.

4. When you’re ready to serve your chilli, warm your tortillas in the oven at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 for a few minutes or in a dry pan for 30 seconds. Taste your chilli and season more if needed, squeeze in the juice of a lime if you like. Stir in half your chopped mint.

5. Push a warm tortilla or flatbread into each of your little bowls and spoon some delicious green chilli on top of each one. Top with chopped lettuce and a dollop of yoghurt. Sprinkle over the rest of your mint and spring onions and serve with cold beers.

Spagatini

This is an old fave of Ali and our friend Ka’s so I can’t take all the credit for this one, it’s an old Nigella recipe we all love and cook again and again.

The name comes from the superskinny spaghetti Nige uses in the original but we’ve rarely been able to find it some normal spaghetti or linguine is fine; go gluten-free if you avoid wheat or serve with courgetti instead if you’re being super healthy. Ric sometimes adds chorizo for a meatier kick.

spaga

Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 180g fresh cooked prawns (frozen will work too)
  • 1 jar or pot of sun-dried or sun blush tomatoes
  • 1 pack of spring onions, sliced lengthways
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Small glass of white wine
  • Half a bag of wild rocket
  • 150g wholewheat spaghetti or linguine

Method

1. Start by putting your pasta on to cook; by the time it’s ready everything else will be too.

2. Fry the spring onions, garlic and chilli in olive oil for a few minutes before adding the wine, tomatoes and prawns and letting it all cook for a few more minutes.

3. Stir in the rocket just as your pasta is ready

4. Drain pasta and mix everything together. Serve with parmesan/veggie equivalent and some crusty granary bread if you’re feeling wild!

Moroccan chicken stew

chicken stew

Ric made this for our Valentine’s day meal following my 22 mile run and let’s just say I was less than enthusiastic about the idea (as soon as I heard the words ‘chicken on the bone’ I said a very mature ‘urgh’ and hung up on him, which made for a frosty greeting when I got home).

If I hadn’t wanted to spend every other minute of that day on the settee I would’ve whipped up a veggie feast but despite my protestations it was actually really tasty! I had some homemade tzatziki and hummus in the fridge so rustled up some wholewheat flatbreads (hard to do from the settee) to go with it and it was a surprising success!

It’s a Hemsley and Hemsley recipe from their book ‘The Art of Eating Well’.

Serves 4

Ingredients 

  • a large handful of flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp ghee (I just substitute it with butter)
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 4 chicken thighs skin on
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large lemon, cut into 6 thick slices
  • a handful of green olives, stones removed
  • 250ml bone broth or vegetable stock
  • 4 pitted dates or apricots, chopped
  • 150g green beans, halved
  • a handful each of fresh parsley and coriander
  • sea salt and black pepper

Method

1. In a large, dry pan, gently toast the flaked almonds for a minute. Set aside.

2. In the same pan, heat the gee, then gently cook the onion for 8 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and fry for another minute.

3. Add the chicken thighs and cook until coloured lightly on both sides.

4. Add the red pepper slices, lemon slices, olives, the broth and datea/apricots. Simmer with the lid on for about 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

5. If you find the sauce is too watery, take the lid off and leave it to reduce a little. If the sauce is too thick, add a few more tablespoons of water.

6. Add the halved green beans for the last 4 minutes cooking time.

7. Season to taste and top with the coriander and parsley and the toasted flaked almonds to serve.

Baked sweet potatoes with bacon

roast SP

J-pots were a regular tea growing up (Sandy still says jacket potato with cheese and beans is her favourite meal) and this Madeleine Shaw recipe is just a grown up and much healthier version.

It’s a really quick meal to rustle up midweek. Ric loves bacon, I’m not a big fan so I sprinkle mine with toasted walnuts instead as the recipe suggests.

It’s a simple meal to make for veggies, vegans and meat-eaters alike and it’s rare you’ll find such a flexible thing everyone can enjoy together.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 rashers of bacon
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil (melted)
  • 100ml of coconut milk
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp of tahini
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Grab your sweet potatoes and make slits with a knife about 1 cm apart, don’t cut all the way through, just to about 3/4 of the way down.
  3. Rub the potato with the coconut oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.
  4. Place in the oven for 45 mins-1 hour (depending on the size) until the potato is cooked though.
  5. While cooking cut up your bacon into cm squares and fry in a pan for a few minutes until crispy.
  6. Mix rigorously the coconut milk, tahini, olive oil and cayenne pepper together.
  7. Poor the bacon or toasted walnuts then the dressing on top of the sweet potato and enjoy.

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As well as specific meaty recipes as above I also like to cook various meat-free meals then Ric can add some meat to his before serving.

Given that eating healthily is about lifestyle more than deprivation I’d advise adding meat to healthy standalone meals rather than basing a whole dish around meat. That way you’re getting all the good stuff from the veg, lentils and grains and can choose to include or hold the meat when you fancy it or depending on who you’re cooking for. The following are a few tried and tested recipes based on this approach:

If you have any more meat friendly healthy heroes or any ways to incorporate meat into a healthy diet let us know!

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