Lock-down – anyone enjoying it? Hope there are a few, because it’s looking like a given that here in the UK we have another 3 weeks of it in the pipeline (when news is reported this afternoon).
There are a few upsides – less world pollution, more appreciation of the simpler things in life, a cleaner house (it can’t just be me that’s been spring cleaning almost every day can it?); and finally getting to the bottom of the ironing and mending pile of laundry! Plus a bit of serenity … let’s not forget that.
But the downsides are relentlessly challenging aren’t they, and I don’t need to outline them all here do I? My mindset at the moment is focusing on positivity …
So I have found that this imposed ‘curfew’ is life-changing but not truly awful, and there are more than a few small ways in which it will be for the better. Children and adults alike are learning to amuse themselves with some of the traditional pleasures – you know like to talking to each other rather than just to a screen; meetings and journeys that are unnecessary have been jettisoned (and with it some wasted hours and vast amounts of carbon footprint with them); and I, for one, am grateful for not feeling pressured to do things that are just obligations rather than necessities, with no excuses necessary. So I am HOLDING THE FAITH!
Some things don’t change though – food preparation being the main one – be it for just yourself, you and your partner or the whole family. I started out with wild enthusiasm to cook, bake, pickle and prepare a vast number of things that had been on my ‘hit list’ for a long time; I then raided my freezer right to it’s depths to use up stashed away things alongside larder staples (mission almost accomplished); slowly I then began to resent the three-meal a day agenda (where I seemed to be the only cook participant – like a poor talent show with just one competitor); and now I have settled into a comfortable pattern of cooking that doesn’t really impress anyone too much but provides a welcome punctuation mark in the day. But very welcome and therapeutic it is …
The recipe shown here and outlined below is one of the meals I have made in these more ‘comfortable and accepting’ times. It’s neither hugely impressive with a long list of ingredients, nor labour-intensive to prepare, but it certainly provides great nutrition, some culinary comfort and a smile on the face of Mr B (my only, but hugely committed ‘taster’).
It’s a casserole or one-pot made with diced pork (any kind), onion, butternut squash and mushrooms. It’s flavoured with tomatoes, herbs, paprika and Tabasco and then made silky and creamy with the addition of some low-fat cream cheese (not much mind, just enough to give a great thickened and creamy sauce to coat the rest). You could serve with some mash (ordinary, cauliflower or bean – click for the links of the latter two) and maybe a green vegetable – up to you.
The quantity will serve 6 and it’s worth making this amount because it freezes beautifully so that means there are a few meals stashed away for when you really haven’t the appetite to cook. And if you need to stretch it further or want to ditch the need for extra sides then add a can of chick peas just before the end of cooking and it works a treat – and boosts the protein another notch.
I seriously recommend it to you and hope your own lock-down is not proving to be too challenging.
PORK, BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND MUSHROOM CASSEROLE
low-fat cooking spray or mist
700 g/1½ lb diced pork
1 onion, chopped
1 cloves garlic, crushed (or 2 tsp Lazy garlic)
½ medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 250 g/9 oz peeled weight)
150 g/1½ cups sliced mushrooms
2 tsp chopped mixed herbs (or 1 tsp dried)
1½ tsp smoked or plain paprika
400 g/14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp Tabasco sauce or chilli sauce
240 ml/1 cup vegetable or chicken stock/bouillon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
75 g/5 tbsp low-fat cream cheese
2 tbsp snipped chives or chopped parsley to garnish
To Extend or Make One-Pot:
400 g/14 oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/gas mark 4.
- Generously spritz a non-stick flameproof casserole with low-fat cooking spray or mist. Heat, add half of the pork and lightly brown the pork. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. repeat with the remaining pork, remove from the casserole and set aside.
- Add the onion, stir well (spritz again a little with the low-fat cooking spray or mist if necessary) and cook until softened.
- Add the garlic, squash and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the herbs and paprika and stir well to coat, then stir in the tomatoes, Tabasco, stock/bouillon and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the cream cheese until melted then return the pork, mixing well.
- Cover and cook in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until the pork is cooked and tender and the sauce is creamy and thickened.
- Serve sprinkled with chives or parsley to garnish.
- If liked the casserole can be extended to include some chick peas to reduce the need for further side dishes (although it is wonderful with a cauliflower or bean mash) or to serve more diners (about 1-2 extra).
WLS PORTION: ½
* SUITABLE FOR FREEZING
CALORIES PER PORTION (with/without chick peas): 197/242
PROTEIN: 29.7 g/32.7 g
CARBOHYDRATE: 10.1 g/16.1 g (5.5 g/5.6 g sugars)
FAT: 3.7 g/4.7 g
Image © copyright of Bariatric Cookery (UK) Ltd