How to keep your midweek meals healthy and nutritious
With salad and barbecue season firmly over, it may seem tempting to lapse into unhealthy eating habits as the weather turns colder and your days get busier. There are plenty of effortless ways to ensure you are getting the correct amount of essential nutrients in your meals this autumn. We spoke to our nutritionist, Jenni Henderson, about slow cooking and using delicious seasonal ingredients to create easy healthy midweek meals for all the family to enjoy.
What are the benefits of slow cooking Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb?
Slow cooking is a simple and easy way to make nutritious meals from scratch. The use of mainly fresh ingredients and only a little preparation means you can have a healthy meal on the table even if you’re short on time. It’s a very convenient way of cooking, making it a great alternative to buying ready-made processed meals which are often high in salt, sugar and fat.
Slow cooking is also well suited to tougher, less expensive cuts of meat as the long cooking time helps to tenderise it. Any nutrients which leach out of vegetables during cooking can also be recaptured in the sauces or liquid served with the meal. Just remember to keep the lid on tightly to avoid evaporation of nutrients. Also using the lowest setting (cooking for longer) can help retain nutrient content.
Do you have any tips for parents who want to make quick weekday meals packed with essential nutrients?
As a parent, making meals your kids enjoy while getting all the nutrients they require is a priority. The main thing is to aim for balance over a full day – it doesn’t have to be at every mealtime. Over a third of what you and your family eat should be fruit and vegetables while another third should be carbohydrates. The rest should be a mix of high protein foods like beef and lamb along with some low fat/low sugar dairy foods.
Learn how to make basic sauces from scratch such as Bolognese and a simple tomato sauce. If you do buy the odd ready-made sauce or soup, always look at the label first and try to choose foods low in salt, sugar and fat. Planning meals in advance also helps too.
I love my slow cooker as it allows me to bung everything in the pot in the morning and have dinner prepared by the time I am home from work. It amazing to walk in the kitchen and smell a wonderful meal cooking! It’s important to remember that you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen slogging away to make a healthy meal. There are loads of wholesome nutrient-rich meals which can be made in 30 minutes or less.
What autumn seasonal ingredients would you recommend cooking with Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb to ensure a well-rounded meal? What are the primary health benefits of each?
Apples, leeks, celeriac, beetroot, plums, celery, parsnips and pears are just some of the amazing foods in season in the autumn months. I love autumnal colours so roasting some delicious root vegetables like parsnips, carrots and celeriac as a side to some Scotch Beef or Scotch Lamb will boost your vitamin intake, helping keep your body healthy.
Get creative and try different twists on traditional dishes too such as celeriac mash with mustard which makes the perfect topping for some Scotch Lamb Stovies. Butternut squash is also a great seasonal vegetable as it’s easy to use in soups and salads, but also fab in a warming Scotch Beef curry as the nights start to draw in. Butternut Squash is high in Vitamin A and a source of Vitamin C. The seeds, once roasted, can be used as snacks too so you don’t waste anything!
As the nights draw in we are all prone to treating ourselves and eating a little bit more– that’s ok, right?
Yes, moderation is definitely the key! Depriving yourself of all the foods you love can backfire. Try to think about little changes you can make to your favourite dishes to make them more balanced and nutritious. You could switch up your cooking methods, make a healthy substitution or reduce your portion sizes a little.
What is your own personal favourite meal to serve when entertaining over the autumn?
I love using lots of herbs and spices for flavour so a delicious Scotch Lamb Tagine is definitely a winner! I also love stir-fry’s. They’re so easy and quick to make and I use lots of colourful vegetables to make them look great.