Recipe: Courgetti with lean beef Bolognese ragu

I was recently inspired by Taste Today and their use of Spiralizers (read about their reviews of different products here, plus 10% discount code to purchase), so I thought I would dust off my own Spiralizer and get to work on a new healthy mid-week dinner recipe.

Obviously you can eat this meal at any time. But I find with meals like ‘spag-bol,’ its great to make a large batch then portion-up and freeze, ready for those evenings when you get in from work and have no energy other than to press ding on the microwave. As I tend to indulge a little more at the weekends (who doesn’t), I have made this recipe as healthy as possible, without compromising on flavour. It’s low on the carbs, low on fat and contains no Gluten* but still really tastes delicious and so, so satisfying!

This recipe makes 6 hearty portions of Bolognese ragu – but you can split it up into smaller portions if you wish (it makes up to 10 if you count 1 portion as 1 ladle full). It takes 60 minutes to make in total. Use 1 large courgette per person for the courgetti.

What you need:

  • 2 medium onions, very finely sliced or whizzed in a food processor
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • 400g extra lean beef mince (I use this one from Muscle Foods)
  • 125g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 100g red lentils
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes (I use Cirio)
  • 500ml good quality beef stock*
  • 1 tbsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried Basil
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 large courgettes, or 3 medium ones
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • a sprinkle of finely grated Pecorino cheese, to serve

*for a gluten free recipe, GF stock can be used.

What to do:

1. Heat 2 tbsp of the Rapeseed oil in a large heavy-based sauce pan with a lid. Add the onions and sweat them over a low-medium heat for 3-5 minutes until just translucent. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for a further 2-3 mins – but don’t let onions or garlic brown. Add a tad more Rapeseed oil if needed.

2. Break the lean minced beef into chunks and add to the pan, stirring well until the beef begins to brown (about 6-7 minutes).Once the meat has just cooked through (no longer pink). Next add the red lentils and the mushrooms and continue to stir everything together whilst the mushrooms begin to wilt (about 3 minutes).

Lean beef mixture cooking, with the lentils and mushrooms just added
Lean beef mixture cooking, with the lentils and mushrooms just added

3. Add the beef stock and the two tins of chopped tomatoes, stir everything together, then mix in the dried basil and oregano. Season well with freshly ground black pepper.

4. Bring to the boil, and simmer with the lid on for 40 minutes.

5. Whilst the ragu is cooking, ‘Spiralise’ your courgettes. I prefer the thin noodle setting, but I have taken a picture of both settings so you can decide which you prefer (see below).

5. After 40 minutes, remove the lid and check the consistency of the ragu – if it’s a bit thick, add a little boiling water and continue to cook without the lid for a further 10-15 minutes over a low simmer.

The Bolognese ragu after 40 minutes, add a splash of hot water if the sauce is too thick
The Bolognese ragu after 40 minutes, add a splash of hot water if the sauce is too thick

6. Whilst the ragu is finishing off, heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over a low-medium heat. When the pan is warm, add the ‘courgetti’ and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly so they don’t catch. Add the fresh parsley at the last 30 seconds and stir through.

7. Divide the courgetti between warm bowls, then top with a ladle of the ragu Bolognese. Top with more freshly ground black pepper and some Pecorino cheese to taste.

<3 Voila - Courgetti with lean beef Bolognese ragu! <3
❤ Voila – Courgetti with lean beef Bolognese ragu! ❤

If you try this recipe at home, please send me a tweet (@sophiesscran), Instagram tag (@sophiesscran), Facebook mention or use the comments box below! ❤

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Soulful Food Co. ‘One Pots’ plus Discount Code!

I have recently been in touch with the lovely and super-cool people at Soulful Food Co. and have been sampling their #SoulfulOnePots, with the view that if I like them, I will share a discount-code with you all as a little thank you for reading and following my blog. You will be pleased to know, they have turned out to be an absolute delight!

As you know, I have recently been on a health-kick. I’ve decided to get my ass in gear and start exercising, as I was starting to feel a little ‘under the weather’ (as we all do from time to time). I attributed these feelings to my sheer lack of exercise, eating too many calories and not getting the right balance of nutrition in my diet. Over the past few weeks, I have cleaned up my diet, stopped eating for the sake of it and joined a really nice gym where I have been working my ass of to try and get into better shape and health.

So… The arrival of 6 healthy, hearty #SoulfulOnePots therefore, couldn’t have come at a better time. For the past week, I have been fitting them into my diet (mostly for lunch, which means snacking less in the day) and sometimes for dinner (perfect when you’re in a rush – you will see why later).

Here is a summary of what I thought of each pot – and at the end of the article, there is a discount code for you to enjoy a whopping 35% off your #SoufulOnePots online order! You are welcome!!

How they taste:

Official Name & Description: Mexican Bean & Sweet Potato with Quinoa. A rich & warming bean fiesta of a stew, with sweet red pepper, tomatoes & lentils.

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Nutrition Info: 380g serving (1 pot) = Low Fat, Low Salt, Gluten Free, Vegan, 262 Calories per tub.

My Verdict: Overall this tasted absolutely fantastic. Great textures from the variety of beans (black beans, pinto beans and red kidney beans) and also green lentils. The lentils have a slight bite to them which is lovely. The sweet potato is firm but squidgy and soft in the middle, nice bite-sized chunks. Loads of flavours from the added herbs and spices, particularly fennel seeds and cumin which gives an authentic Mexican flavour. LOVELY!

Official Name & Description: British Pulled Beef Chilli with Black Barley. West Country Beef, slow cooked till tender, in our fresh take on the classic chilli con carne.

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Nutrition Info: 380g serving (1 pot) = Low Fat, Dairy Free, Lean Protein, 2 of your 5-a-Day,  391 calories per tub.

My Verdict: The beef in this one pot is tender, meaty and there is plenty of it. Absolutely no accompaniment needed if you’re having this for lunch like I was. It’s packed full of loads of fresh red peppers, onions, kidney beans and celery which all contribute to the wholesome flavour. A great level of spice and seasoning, from both the fresh red chilli used and the cayenne pepper, chilli powder and pepper. Delicious.

Official Name & Description: Free Range Thai Green Chicken Curry with Kelp Noodles. Our own fragrant take on the eastern classic with babycorn, sweet potato and red pepper.

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Nutrition Info: 380g serving (1 pot) = Lean Protein, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, 2 of your 5-a-Day, 441 calories per tub.

My Verdict: This was one of my favourites, simply because I love Thai curry and this one is done really well, whilst still maintaining balanced nutrition. I had never tried Kelp noodles before, but can honestly say they are light with a great texture (a little bit like glass noodles but without the starch). As the kelp is raw and very low in carbs, this allows rest of the food fill you up, which I found kept me fuller for much longer (so less/NO snacking, yay!) The chicken had a great ‘pulled chicken’ texture, and the veggies were crunchy as if they has just been stir-fried. Absolutely tonnes of fragrant, tasty Thai flavours coming through too: lemongrass, coconut, basil, coriander and chilli. So much nicer than the Innocent Veg Pot ‘Thai Green Curry,’ by a clear mile. DIVINE!

Official Name & Description: Free Range British Pulled Pork Stew with Chorizo, Beans and Spelt. Hearty & rustic, with smokey British chorizo & nutty grains of finest Somerset spelt.

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No picture! So here’s a pretty picture of the packaging!

Nutrition Info: 380g serving (1 pot) = Low Fat, Low G.I, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, 2 of your 5-a-Day, 315 calories per tub.

My Verdict: For just 315 calories per tub – this is seriously impressive. I forgot to take a photo of this one, as I was in a rush after work to get home, eat dinner, and get my ass to the gym. So, I just grabbed this one pot from the fridge, heated it in the microwave and ate it straight out of the tub. As I am used to brown rice, I must say the texture of spelt as an alternative is a little strange to get used to at first – but it is an overall more nutritious option with more fibre and less calories per portion. The sheer flavour from the pulled pork and smoky chorizo more than made up for the new texture. You can tell a lot of love has been put into slow cooking this very hearty and nutritious stew. I ate it about 45 minutes before my gym session and it gave me enough energy to absolutely smash it!

Official Name & Description: Free Range Moroccan Chicken Tagine with British Spelt. Chunks of chicken, veg, apricots & almond, slow cooked in delicious North African spices.

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Nutrition Info: 380g serving (1 pot) = Lean Protein, Dairy Free, Low G.I., 2 of your 5-a-Day, 395 calories per tub.

My Verdict: Lovely and warming spices (ginger, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper and cinnamon). There is less spelt in this one so the texture less noticeable. There was perhaps a little bit too much carrot for my liking, but for lunch this was a very satisfying dish, which would be lovely as a dinner with some homemade chapatis.

Official Name & Description: Butternut, Lentil & Spinach Hotpot. Gently cooked with coconut, lemongrass & a warming hint of Indian spices.

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Nutrition Info: 380g serving (1 pot) = Low G.I., Gluten Free, Vegan, 2 of your 5-a-Day, 388 calories per tub.

My Verdict: I must admit, I think (subconsciously) I saved this one until last, because I didn’t fancy it as much as the others. However, this one turned out to be my favourite overall. The chickpeas, cauliflower, spinach, split peas and green lentils all work together really well to give a light but hearty texture. The spices used are really warming (turmeric, mustard seeds, cardamon powder, ginger and red chilli), which give the hot pot a lovely little kick. The only drawback is that the potato-to-squash ratio favoured potato a little too much for my liking. On the ingredients it says 7% of both, but there was certainly a lot more potato than squash!

Overall, I would highly recommend these lovely pots of flavour-packed wholesome goodness. I think they would be a great purchase to supplement your own home-cooking as they are healthy, nutritious and overall taste fantastic! They are £3.49 per tub plus P&P to buy online, which is a little bit on the pricy side, but you get what you pay for, and these really do taste great and the ingredients are top notch. Use the discount code for 35% off your order, see below. 

All of their packaging is fully recyclable too, which is awesome.

As promised, please use code SCRAN35, for 35% off  your Soulful Food order, which is valid until the end of May 2015.

I was sent the Soulful Food One Pots on a free-of-charge basis, to taste and try and feature on my blog. All opinions above are my honest and actual thoughts on the products supplied.

SpamellaB’s Guilt-free Ginger Cakes with Spiced Lemon Cream

As you may have noticed, my food blog is somewhat lacking in something… Can’t quite put your finger on it? Well, I will tell you. It’s SWEET STUFF! This is just one of the reason’s I am really excited about this blog-swap with the amazing Health Food Blogger Pamela ‘SpamellaB’ Bustard of www.spamellab.com. Since we met last year at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival, we have been friends ever since. So this post-swap is long overdue!

[A note from Pamela:] When Sophie and I decided to write a guest recipe for each others’ foodie blogs, it was a surprise to think it had taken us this long to exchange a piece of our love for food! I love reading Sophie’s informative restaurant reviews and visually brilliant recipe posts; her passion and personality shine through.

As I focus on clean eating and gluten-free treats, I wanted to make something that looks indulgent for her readers but can still be enjoyed totally guilt-free! You can use normal flour if you wish, and also make this into one big cake or loaf but keep in mind the cooking time might need to be extended. I hope you enjoy!

What you need:

Ginger Cakes:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup stevia or other natural sweetener
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 150g unsweetened apple puree (either cook peeled and chopped apple chunks, or buy in supermarkets in the canned fruit aisle – much quicker!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 4-6 tbsp milk (can use cow’s milk, soya or almond)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Spiced Lemon Cream:

  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • ¼ tsp each of ginger and cinnamon
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Spamella B's Ginger Cakes with Spiced Lemon Cream...
Spamella B’s Ginger Cakes with Spiced Lemon Cream…

Get baking!

  • Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and grease (and if possible, line) your loaf or cake tin. I used four small Gugelhupf tins but it’s up to you which you prefer – the mixture will make enough for about 8-10 servings.
  • Put the dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, ginger and sweetener) in a large bowl and mix well.
  • In a blender, whizz up the apple puree with the eggs, yogurt and 4 tbsp milk until you have a smooth consistency. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir gently until all combined and you have a thick batter-like texture.
  • Spoon the mixture into your prepared tins and bake for at least 30 minutes – if you have divided up the mixture between smaller tins, the cake(s) should be ready by now – you want them to be risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean. For larger cake or loaf tins, you may need to cover it and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, leave to cool for 20 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

ginger-11

  • For the ‘cream’: Put the coconut milk, ginger, cinnamon, honey and vanilla in a small pan and heat on a high heat until it’s nearly to the boil. In a cup mix together the cornflour with about 1 tbsp cold water and mix to a paste. Whisk this into the coconut mixture and continue whisking on a low-medium heat until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon rind, then, leave to cool.
  • Ready to indulge? Simply spoon some of the sauce (either warm or cold) on top of the cake, add a few pieces of crystallised ginger if you wish and tuck in!

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Don’t they just look amazing! Thank you so much to Pamela for baking these absolute little beauties for my blog – and for bringing a bit of sweetness which my blog clearly needed! -x-

Keep up to date with Pamela’s blog posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any more of her wonderful ‘indulging innocently’ recipes.

For Pamela’s blog, I rustled up a Gluten Free Harissa Falafel with a Quinoa Tabbouleh. Click the link to see the recipe and feel free to share!!