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It has been another busy week here at Alfresco! We are working hard on some new products and I can’t wait until I get to show them to you all.   The question I’ve answered this week really resonated with me. I often feel too rushed to cook and struggle especially after a busy day to cook something nutritious. I’ve learnt to do prep like freezing rice, or making big amounts of food at the weekend and freezing them in person sized portions that I can grab out of the freezer in the morning so I’ll have something delicious waiting for me by evening.   Keep sending your questions in, I just love to hear from you! ~~~~~~~~~~~~ What are some of your go-to recipes for people with busy lifestyles? Recently I’ve been getting to the end of the day and feeling far too tired to cook anything nutritious. Thanks! Melissa ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hi Melissa, I try and eat meat-free and dairy-free whenever possible – I find it makes me feel a lot healthier as well as being much better for the environment. It’s not too hard to do once you’re used to it. Alfresco has lots of vegetarian and vegan clients who use our products because we never test on animals, so I’ve included my favourite vegan recipes here so everyone can give them a go. I eat lots of beans and pulses like lentils for protein. There’s a great soup by the vegan chef Isa Chandra which is perfect on a cold dark night in London. It takes around 35 minutes to cook, but once it’s boiling you can leave it, and there’s really very little preparation. picture1 Isa Chandra’s Lentil, Rice and Cumin soup:
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced small
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS ground cumin – I add more to make it really fragrant!
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, diced small
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (I use Marigold Bouillon powder – it is by far the best quality shop-bought stock)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions on the oil until translucent (4-5 mins). Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and saute for another minute. Add the spices and stir continuously for about 15 seconds to toast the spices and coat the onions. Add the carrots, lentils, rice, zest and broth. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 or so minutes – until the rice is nice and tender. For a thicker consistency I let mine go for an additional 10 mins uncovered. Or for a thinner more broth-y soup, just add more water. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, then add the lemon juice. Or if you’re me, you’ll squeeze some over the top of your bowl and enjoy. I usually stir through a bunch of kale or spinach at the end for an extra nutritious kick. Delicious! Anna Jones is another great chef to follow for quick and healthy recipes. When I have a little extra time I make her ‘really hungry burgers’. I usually have some cooked brown rice in the freezer which cuts the prep time down. I don’t always eat these with a bun, sometimes just a salad is enough!   bu Anna Jones’ Really Hungry Burger:
  • olive oil
  • 6 big Portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 × 400g tin of haricot or cannellini beans, well drained
  • 4 fat Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • a small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 200g cooked and cooled brown rice (100g uncooked weight)
  • 50g breadcrumbs or oats
  • the grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  to serve:
  • 1–2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • tomato relish or ketchup
  • pickled cucumber (see above)
  • a few handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 8 seeded burger buns (I use wholemeal ones)
  Set a large pan on a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Once the oil is good and hot, add the mushrooms and thyme and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry on a good heat until the mushrooms have dried out and are slightly browned, then set to one side and leave to cool. Next, put the drained beans in a food processor with the dates, garlic, parsley, tahini and soy sauce. Pulse until you have a smoothish mixture, then transfer to a bowl and add the rice, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and cooled mushrooms. Mix well, and put in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to firm up, then shape the mixture into eight patties. Place these on baking paper and keep in the fridge for up to a day (the burgers also freeze well at this point). When you are ready to cook the burgers, heat your oven to 230C/gas mark 8 and bake them for 15 minutes, until nicely brown. If you like cheese on your burger, place a slice on top a couple of minutes before it comes out of the oven. While your burgers are cooking, get your toppings ready. I go with avocado, tomato relish and pickled cucumber, plus a few spinach leaves. Hummus, grated carrot and beansprouts are another favourite, but feel free to improvise. Once the burgers are golden, toast your buns and layer everything up.  Happy cooking everyone!  Sarah-Lou and the rest of Alfresco xx