Updated: Apr 7
A really simple recipe using very few ingredients that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes :)
This recipe is based on my previous healthy bolognese recipe post and adapted to be a vegan, low FODMAP version.
This recipe requires very few fresh ingredients, which is why I decided to make it last night with what I had left over from my previous grocery delivery during the lockdown.
This recipe is great for meal prep and batch cooking and is an easy way to incorporate some meat-free meals. It freezes well, so you if you get bored of eating the same thing, make a big batch and freeze into meal size portions that you can take out each week for a new meal. It is also really versatile and can be served with pasta, rice, quinoa, baked potato, tacos, wraps or buddha bowls. Leftovers will last in the fridge for 3-4 days so you can change it up each time and serve it in different ways. Adding something like cheese (or vegan cheese if you want to keep it vegan), avo or jalapenos can also completely change it up and make it feel like a completely new meal.
Adding flavour to the meal with ingredients that keep well
As much as I love fresh herbs, dried herbs are convenient and can form part of your pantry essentials. They are ideal when fresh herbs are less accessible or when you decide last minute on a recipe and don't want to run off to the shops. Dried herbs may also help you to limit waste since fresh herbs must be used in a few days.
What's the deal with using tinned/canned foods?
There is nothing wrong with using tinned or canned foods, as long as you drain and rinse them well to remove most of the the sodium. Make sure to check that your tins are not dented in any way which could be a food safety issue. Once a tin is open, empty the remainder of the tinned food into a container and store in the fridge.
Tinned lentils (or any legumes) are great sources of protein to stock up on during the lockdown. They are high in fibre and a great way to bulk up meat-based meals or as a meat replacement. Make sure to drain and rinse them well, not only to reduce the sodium but also to remove the gassy properties.
Can I eat pasta if I want to manage my weight?
The answer is most definitely YES! Just a few things to think about:
1. Portion size and total fat content
A large restaurant size portion of pasta in a creamy sauce will be high in calories. However, if you control the portion and the type of sauce used, pasta can be enjoyed as part of a regular meal plan.
2. Total carbohydrates or total calories
If you prefer a low carb alternative or a lower calorie meal, you could replace the pasta or bulk it up with zucchini noodles, Woolworths spinach & cauliflower noodles, TrulyGood pumpkin noodles/turnip noodles or serve over spaghetti squash/gem squash.
3. Total fibre
Always look at the nutritional label. For any carbohydrate, aim for more than 6g fibre per 100g serving.
Add vegetables or a side salad to your pasta meal in order to bulk up the portion without loading up calories and increase the total fibre content of the meal.
The higher the fibre content of a meal, the more satisfied you will feel.
Should I be choosing 'gluten free'? And what are FODMAPs?
1. Due to the massive gluten free trend that we have seen over the past few years and the wide variety of gluten free foods available, many people believe that gluten free versions of carbohydrates are a healthier, lower calorie or lower carb alternative. However, this is not the case. Gluten free versions of foods may be lower in fibre and less nutritious so you shouldn't opt for them over whole grains unless you have a sensitivity.
2. Fibre aids in digestion, and increasing fibre is one of the first steps in managing gut issues. Try wholegrain carbohydrate foods, such as wholewheat pasta, wholewheat couscous, wholewheat breads, barley and rye. Even for those with a sensitive stomach, I would first encourage trying whole grains in small portions and then monitor tolerance as a first step before eliminating them by following a low FODMAP diet. Naturally gluten free grains such as quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice and starchy vegetables like potato, sweet potato, butternut and corn are high fibre carbohydrate sources that are well tolerated by most.
3. It is actually not the gluten (the protein) that most people are sensitive to, but rather the fructans (the carbohydrate) found in wheat, barley and rye. In saying that, gluten free foods are also wheat, barley and rye free. Therefore, those with sensitivities to fructans would usually find relief from choosing gluten free alternatives.
4. Fructans found in wheat, barley and rye are just one of the groups of FODMAPs (fermentable carbohydrates) that may cause uncomfortable gut symptoms, but there are other groups too including oligosaccharrides, dissacharrides, monosaccharides and polyols, which I won't get into now.
5. These FODMAPs are not easily digested in any individual, however, those with a more sensitive stomach (IBS), would feel the effects of the fermentation more, causing symptoms such as bloating, wind, pain, constipation/ diarrhoea, indigestion or reflux to name a few.
6. There are still other FODMAPs that may be present in certain gluten free foods such as breads or crackers, so if you are following a low FODMAP diet, you would need to check all the ingredients, even if something is gluten free.
350 g uncooked gluten free spaghetti (OR Woolworths SA Spinach and cauliflower noodles OR zucchini noodles OR TrulyGood Pumpkin noodles OR gem/spaghetti squash)
2 x 410g tinned brown lentils (drained and rinsed)
1 teaspoon garlic-infused olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and grated coarsely
1 red pepper
2 tsp thyme (dried or fresh)
2 tsp origanum (dried or fresh)
2 tsp basil (dried or fresh)
2 whole bay leaves (remove at end of cooking)
2 red chillis (if desired)
1 sachet sweetener (I used canderel)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 x 410 g tinned diced tomato
70g tomato paste
Cook the pasta in lightly salted water until al dente or steam pre-packed Spinach & cauliflower noodles/ zoodles.
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and gently fry the carrot and pepper until they start to soften (3-4 minutes).
Add the lentils, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, chilli, sweetener (if desired) and a little salt and pepper. Stir everything well. Turn down the heat, close the lid and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon onto a serving dish and serve immediately with pasta of choice/ squash/zoodles and a side salad or some extra veggies.
1. If you are choosing a gluten free pasta, check the fibre content. I love the brand Garofalo (I find it at Wellness Warehouse). This brand has the highest fibre content of any of the gluten free pastas that I have found in SA so far and it tastes exactly like pasta :)
2. Half a cup of tinned lentils is a low FODMAP serving. Since the lentils are mixed with carrots and peppers, aim for a heaped 1/2 cup as a serving size for low FODMAP.
3. Feel free to add onion and garlic to this recipe (1 medium onion and 1-2 garlic cloves) to heighten the flavour. These also keep well and can be staple ingredients at home. I have just left them out for a low FODMAP version.
For personalized guidance in making healthy food choices or planning a diet that works best for you book a consultation here: https://www.gabimeltzerdietician.com/book-online.