Food for Mood 4: Three very easy suppers

Our next Food for Mood recipes make a very easy supper (and lunch for the next day) with cheap ingredients that are nutrient dense. This is the fourth of six cook-a-long sessions looking at how we can support our mood with food.

You’re busy with your studies and you don’t have time to prep food or even think about your mood. How about making a three-dish meal in 45 minutes that will feed you twice, plus help keep your energy and motivation topped up.

The much-maligned potato is often avoided due to claims it can cause weight gain or has little nutritional value. However, one medium potato contains 79% water, 10 vitamins and minerals, 4 grams of fibre, and 4 grams of protein. In fact, you could eat only potatoes and still meet your basic protein needs! Also, freshly prepared and cooked potatoes tend to be one of the most satiating foods we can eat – studies show they keep us fuller for longer and stop us snacking! What’s more, cold potatoes contain resistant starch that helps feed our gut microbes, so they can help improve our mood. Bring on the leftovers! So, what’s the problem with potatoes then? It’s HOW we cook and prepare them that’s the issue. Processed potato products don’t have the same health benefits. Potatoes usually become a vehicle for excess salt, high-heated oils, butter, sour cream, cheese, processed meats and synthetic flavours! When potatoes are freshly cooked, paired with beans and greens, they become part of a healthy, affordable and nutrient dense meal.

Mediterranean style tray baked potatoes

  • 6 medium sized potatoes
  • 3 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 punnet of baby plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 1 small jar of Black olives or olive of your choice
  • Handful of Basil, roughly chopped
  • Handful of Tarragon, finely chopped

For the lemon dressing

  • 1 garlic clove, grated or dried garlic flakes
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp Dried oregano
  • ½ tsp Dried basil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan). Chop any larger potatoes in half.
  2. Put the potatoes in an oven proof roasting dish along with the whole garlic cloves, Oregano and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes or until starting to soften.
  3. Add the tomatoes, courgette and black olives, toss gently to coat in the olive oil, then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  5. Remove the tray from the oven and toss through the fresh basil and tarragon. Divide between two plates and serve with the lemon dressing.

Easy stove top baked beans

  • 1tin of white beans such as Navy or Great Northern beans
  • 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons of date syrup or maple syrup
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A pinch each of paprika, chilli flakes, garlic flakes, dried herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: fresh herbs to serve – any you like. I’ll be using coriander and parsley.

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat – except the fresh herbs. Bring to a boil, stir well, and reduce to a low simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with a slotted spoon. Top with fresh herbs if serving.

A side of greens (or reds with red cabbage!)

  • 1 bag of kale or collard greens or a small white cabbage or red cabbage (kale: destalked and chopped into small pieces, greens or cabbages thinly sliced)
  • 1 small red onion (finely sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (or garlic flakes)
  • 1 small knob of ginger (or dried ginger)
  • ½ pint of vegetable stock
  • Balsamic vinegar or juice of ½ lemon
  • Optional: cumin or carraway seeds

Method

  1. Chop your chosen green or red vegetable
  2. Heat a frying pan – put in the stock
  3. Add sliced onion and drizzle of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice plus ginger, garlic, seeds
  4. Cook on low-medium heat for 7-10 minutes until onion cooked through
  5. Add chopped greens and another splash of stock#
  6. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on low heat – stir a few times to cover greens in liquid – add extra if you need to.
  7. Serve – add salt and pepper to taste

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