Making Mincemeat of Healthy Eating

Eating a light salad and lean protein source is all very well and good in the summer, but sometimes you want something that is nutritious but a bit more warming.  Not to mention something that will defeat the look of scepticism and fear that passes over a friend’s face when ‘the healthy one’ invites them round for dinner.

I try my best to take a common-sense and practical approach to healthy eating, as I believe that a sustainable lifestyle is one into which you can incorporate the things that make you happy and that you can afford.  This means cooking in a way that means I eat well and to a budget, and that friends can enjoy too. For me the best test for a recipe is will a boy, who wouldn’t eat something if it was labelled ‘healthy’, eat and enjoy it i.e. the Dad test.

Recipes like this and my chicken curry recipe definitely fit the bill in this regard.

One of my favourite recipes for pure comfort food that nourishes your body is my mother’s mince recipe.  She made it for me when as a very fussy child I wouldn’t eat fruit or vegetables unless all texture was dissolved into nothing, and even then you’d be lucky if I ate it. It is high on protein and can be served with complex carbohydrates to create a perfect hearty dinner, perfect for the colder weather.

I’ve adapted it over the years to make an affordable batch cook recipe that is nutritious, filling and comforting.  The mince itself takes just over an hour but requires almost no attention, so it’s perfect for a weekend or Monday evening and then you can freeze in portions so you always have a real meal ready to go.

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My favourite ways to serve this is either as the base of a cottage pie, with a mashed sweet potato topping, or with wholeweat or brown rice spaghetti.  This version of spaghetti bolognaise is my traditional pre-long run dinner and as a result I ate it pretty much every Saturday evening for about four months.  I’m still not bored of it…

I created this using Muscle Food’s extra lean steak mince.

This will create about five to six pasta portions depending on how hungry you are, or two medium cottage pie bases.

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  • 3 onions (white or red) chopped
  • 400g lean steak mince
  • 2 x 400g tomato passata
  • 2 x stock cubes (Beef, Chicken or Vegetable – Beef is the original but as I have learned through having poorly stocked cupboards both chicken and vegetable work well)
  • 2 tbsp of flour (if you’re gluten free just leave this out, it just helps to thicken the sauce)
  • Dried herbs – I use oregano because I love it, but herbes de provence is my mum’s go to herb.

First, heat some olive oil over a medium heat in a large casserole dish or sauce pan with a lid.

Add in the mince and brown it – stir it constantly until it’s broken up and brown.

Add the onions and the stock cubes and put on the lid, and then gently simmer until the onion is translucent and the whole thing is going a bit sloppy.

Add the passata gradually and stir, if using the flour add this in now.

Cover the top with dried herbs and bring to heat – the mixture will begin ‘popping’.

Replace the lid, turn down the heat and cook for about an hour, stirring from time to time so as not to burn the bottom.

Spag Bol: Cook your spaghetti and serve!

Cottage pie: Pour about an inch or two of mince into a dish, and top with mashed sweet potato.  Graze the top with a fork, adding your initial or name if you share my mental age of a five year old, and bake in a pre-heated oven for about 30-40 minutes and brown on top.

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