For me, a meal should taste good and do you good. It’s important to make every mouthful count, so while the ingredients create tasty, enjoyable food, they also tick lots of nutritional boxes – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, good quality protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
My feeling is that we crave carbs as a quick fix when we’ve not taken in enough nutrients to fulfil our bodies’ needs. One simple thing we can do is include some protein with every meal which gives us more satisfying food which keeps us going for longer. My ideal plate consists of around half veg, one third protein and the rest carbohydrates if you really want them; I now feel carbs should be divided into obvious carbs (rice, pasta, potatoes, flour etc) and truly complex carbs (vegetables, pulses and other nutrient-dense foods).
I started selling salad lunches at the Friday market as a ‘shop window’ for my nutrition work, resulting in a salad bar which has become Tina’s Kitchen, where I provide nutritious working lunches and teach about healthy eating with courses and workshops. My new cookbook is another way for me to encourage people to eat well.
My message is very simple – nutrient-dense food really makes a difference to how you feel, so Tina’s Kitchen is about making truly nutritious and delicious lunches; I would encourage people to try a takeaway lunch for around a fiver and see how they feel.I chose one of the stews from my book to make for this recipe. In the photo, it’s served with roast parsnip and brussels sprouts, and parsnip and carrot with ginger and turmeric – both also in the cookbook. For a vegan version, omit the meat, double the pulses and use a home-made vegetable stock.
Olive oil, meat fat or butter for frying
3 onions, chopped or sliced
2-3 leeks depending on size, sliced, including the green bits
1 medium-sized beetroot, scrubbed and cut into very small dice
1 medium sweet potato or a couple of carrots, cut into dice
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1-2 whole star anise1 orange with peel, Seville if available, cut into 8 segments then finely sliced;
marmalade will also do (2 tbsps)
1-2 stock powder or ½-1 tsp salt
500g venison or game mix, diced
500g cooked brown or green lentils (double for the veggie version)½-¾ litre stock or water
(chicken, beef or lamb stock all work)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry onions and leeks gently in olive oil or fat until soft. Stir in the ginger, star anise and stock powder, then add the beetroot, sweet potato/ carrot and finely sliced orange. Add the diced meat and stir until light brown. Add the stock or water and cooked lentils, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and cook for 1-2 hours (20-30 minutes if making without meat). Season to taste.
Tina’s Kitchen, 90 High Street, is open three lunchtimes a week: on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tina’s Kitchen Recipe Collection (£14) is available from her shop. foodworks4u.co.uk