Joe’s carrot and sausage pasta

Serves 6

This is one of my boyfriend’s specialities. It’s easy, healthy and filling. I’m not a big fan of vegetarian sausages usually, but cooked in a tomatoey pasta sauce, their texture improves a lot.

Tomato, carrot and veggie sausage pasta

  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • Some garlic – equivalent of 2 heaped teaspoons of chopped garlic
  • 2 courgettes, grated
  • 500g carrots, grated
  • 250g mushrooms, chopped
  • 500g frozen vegetarian sausages, chopped (you need to slightly dethaw them to chop)
  • 3 x 400g tinned peeled tomatoes
  • 500g tagliatelle
  • 200g feta, chopped into small pieces
  • Chilli flakes (up to you how much –  try 2-3 tsp for a mild kick)
  • 2 T Marmite
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)

Pour a little olive oil into a deep frying pan (I prefer to use a big casserole dish that you can put on a hotplate) and add the garlic and onions.  When the onions have started sweating a bit, throw in all of the mushrooms, and the chopped veggie sausages.  You made need to add a little more olive oil at this point, depending on how thirsty the mushroom are for it.

After about 5 minutes or so, add all the tomatoes and mash or chop them up.  Once they are simmering nicely you can put in all the grated carrot and courgette.  For seasoning, add some chilli flakes for a bit of heat, a couple of tablespoons of Marmite for some saltiness and body, and the lemon zest and juice of a lemon (or half, depending on the size of the lemon).  Also add a sprinkle of brown sugar to cut through the acidity if necessary.

The meal can now simmer away for about 20 minutes, during which time you can cook the tagliatelle.  When the sauce is ready, season with plenty of black pepper and crumble over the feta. Serve on top of the tagliatelle.

Healthy carrot cake loaf

I got this recipe from I love carrot cake but find it’s often oily and too sweet. I love this healthy cake, because you don’t have to feel guilty about eating lots of it. I’ve adapted the 101cookbooks recipe a bit, leaving out the cream cheese icing and adding my own “icing” which is more of a yoghurt dressing. The cake is really nice with the “icing” and chopped strawberries, but it’s also good without.

Carrot Cake Loaf

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 100g finely chopped walnuts
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, heated until just melted
  • 1/2 cup dried dates, seeded and finely chopped into a paste
  • 3 ripe bananas (1 1/4 cups), mashed well
  • sultanas
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 medium)
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat yoghurt
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 3 tablespoons seed mixture (I used an omega mix with sesame seeds, linseeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds)
  • fat free/ low fat smooth cottage cheese
  • fat free/ low fat yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons agave or honey
  • fresh chopped strawberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter a 9x5x3 / 8-cup non-stick loaf pan (or 8×8 cake pan). (If using non stick, line the pan with baking paper).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the walnuts and set aside.

Stir the dates into the melted butter, breaking up the dates a bit.

In a separate bowl combine the bananas and carrots. Stir in the date-butter mixture, breaking up any date clumps as you go. Add the sultanas.

Whisk in the yoghurt and the eggs. Add the flour mixture and stir until everything just comes together.

Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for about 50 – 60 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean in the center of the cake – it’ll be less if you are using a standard cake pan. Remove from oven and let cool.

Mix together the yoghurt, cottage cheese, cinnamon and agave or honey. Add more sweetener to suit your taste. Stir in the chopped strawberries, if using them. When the cake has completely cooled take it out of the tin and cut into slices. Top with the “icing”.

Only put the “icing” on top of slices of cake that you plan to serve immediately. As it’s not real icing, it will make the cake soggy if left on too long.

Slice of Carrot Cake

Spinach and bread tart

Serves 6

I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found in Femina magazine. This tart is super easy and quick to make. I love the bread as a tart crust substitute – the outside crust goes really crispy and the bottom is moist. If you want to make this a bit healthier, use reduced fat crème fraîche.

Spinach Bread Tart

  • 1 loaf of wholewheat seedy bread (I used a dense country seed loaf)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 750g frozen spinach
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 3 free-range extra-large eggs
  • 250 g crème fraîche
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 50 g feta

Cut the crusts off your bread and thinly butter each slice. Use the bread to line a deep tart dish, with the buttered side against the dish. Slice pieces of bread to fit the shape of the dish. Push the bread together so there are no big gaps.

Fry the onion in some olive oil until it starts turning golden. Add the bag of frozen spinach (don’t defrost before cooking) and turn up the heat. Add the garlic and cook until the spinach is completely defrosted and the liquid has evapourated. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche and the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine the egg mixture and the spinach and onion. Pour into the bread tart lining. Top with the crumbled feta.

Bake in the oven at 190C for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the feta starts turning light brown.

Serve with baby potato wedges and a salad.

Spinach Bread Tart

Moroccan-inspired chickpea stew

Serves 6

I first made this on a chilly, rainy night – it’s mushy, spicy and hearty – a perfect stew for cold weather.

Moroccan-inspired chickpea stew

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into rough chunks
  • 2 medium brinjals, chopped into rough chunks
  • 400g courgettes, chopped into large chunks
  • 800g tin (or 2x 400g tin) peeled chopped tomatoes
  • 3 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • 3 cups of hot vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 100g dried apricots
  • 4 T sultanas
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 heaped tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 400g couscous
  • vegetable stock
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • zest of ½ an orange
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • ½ cup plain fat free or low fat yoghurt

Fry onion in a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. After a couple of minutes, add the garlic. Fry for a minute or two, then add in the spices. Get those going for about 3 minutes, and then chuck in your veggies, tomatoes and stock. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil, and then put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Meanwhile, soak the apricots in some hot water for 10 minutes and chop them into rough pieces. Make the yoghurt sauce: combine the yoghurt with a dash each of paprika, cumin seeds and a light sprinkling of chilli flakes. Squeeze in about two teaspoons of lemon juice and mix in a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

After 20 minutes of simmering, take the lid off the pot. Check the stew for consistency – if it’s too watery, turn the heat up. After about 5 minutes, add the apricots, sultanas, lemon juice and zest, and another ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Add chilli flakes according to taste.

When you take the lid off, start making the couscous. Make the couscous according to the packet instructions, adding orange juice to the veg stock. When the couscous is ready, fluff it with a fork and add the orange zest and parsley.

Serve the stew on top of the couscous, with a dollop of yoghurt.