Friday, 16 June 2017

Rach Eats Lunch: Plasters and Other (Almost) Disasters


As I write this, I am literally covered in plasters and Germolene. Unusually for me, this Monday has been a bit of a disaster, so instead of planning out my post and recipes for the week throughout the day, I've been doing housework, spending the day working out if I should hang the washing out or not because of the grey sky outside, and trying to cook what I should have had for today's lunch (a huge potato rosti), except it went so badly it ended up in the bin. Twice in two weeks now this has happened. See, even food bloggers get it wrong sometimes! That's part of learning, though - it's about trying new things and working out where and why something didn't go to plan, so that you can get it right next time. Honestly - for every good recipe you create, there'll always be at least two failed ones. It's nothing to be ashamed of, honestly! Next time, I'd like a grater that prevents me from creating massive painful holes in my fingers. It hurts SO bad. That, and I'd like a way of frying things that isn't in the slightest bit terrifying. I have a fear of frying, I've decided.

I'd also like more energy and a better night's sleep tonight, too... but we can't have everything, eh?

This past week has been slightly hectic and muddly, and rather incredibly, I had my first double chocolate cookie in a fortnight. We went to a different Lidl the week before and their cookies were very few and far between, and I think when the cookies are all broken up and looking sorry for themselves, it's time to leave it. It was a pretty good feeling getting stuck into one after such a long wait. That leads me to my next question - do you prefer the crunchy edges or the soft middle of a cookie? I think I'm a crunchy edges kind of girl myself!

This week, aside from screwing up at making potato rosti, I am trying a properly unusual kind of potato and making stuff that is easy enough to eat in a packed lunch. Nice and simple stuff. Let's go.


Traffic Light Pepper Noodles

SW Slimming World friendly soy noodles

Yeah, I tried making potato rosti and failed miserably. I don't think it was going to taste nice anyway, considering that I might have accidentally added blood and fingernails to the mix. Eww. It's at times like these where you need something quick and easy and pretty impressive. You know how instant noodles tend to have sachets of sauce that are all laden with MSGs (Monosodium Glutamate)? This one, incredibly, doesn't have any at all. MSGs are basically headache central if you eat too much of them, so making your own instant noodle sauce is a really good alternative. It's called Traffic Light Noodles because of the gorgeous, jewel-like mixed peppers. And it takes about five minutes. And it tastes exactly the same as normal, except there's a bit of colour and a crunch.

Chop up a portion of red, yellow and green peppers into small, bitesized pieces. Open a packet of instant noodles and discard the sachet of sauce. Boil the kettle and measure out the amount of hot water needed as per packet instructions. Add a vegetable stock cube (check that it is non-MSG first) and a tablespoon of light soya sauce (ditto on the MSG front.) Mix together well, pour over the noodles, add the peppers and cook the noodles as per the packet instructions. Serve immediately.


Chicken and Purple Chips

SW Slimming World friendly chicken and purple chips

Yay, chicken and chips. Chicken and... purple chips? Yes, really! In Lidl, they sell loads of cute little veg packs which are all a bit unusual and have brilliant names too. There's Unicorn Carrots, Sweet Potato Piggies, Pak Choi Pandas and Dragon Egg Potatoes. The Dragon Egg Potatoes took my fancy. They're lovely and small, completely purple both inside and out, and they make an unusual choice for a side portion. But a brilliant kind of unusual. I can see why they call them Dragon Egg Potatoes, because they look exactly like dragon's eggs, all dark and marbled and mysterious. Sometimes the colour would change from purple to inky blue, all the way through to a light green. They truly are the coolest spuds I've ever tried. (If you're wondering, this variety of potatoes is called Purple Majesty, if you happen to be in a shop other than Lidl.) You can keep the skin on with these bad boys to get all the goodness, however I peeled mine. Also, is there anything more delightfully naughty than eating chips with a salad? I don't think there is.

Arrange a piece of chicken onto a baking tray - mine's a barbeque flavour. Wash and pat dry 300g of Dragon Egg potatoes and remove any 'eyes' or blemishes. Alternatively, peel them. Chop them in half and half again to make chips. Add the chips to a pan of boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. Don't panic, the water will turn dark but that's okay. Drain the water and carefully pat the chips dry with an old, clean tea towel to remove any excess water. By now, if we're making regular chips I'd say rough them up in the pan by shaking them, but these potatoes are extremely fragile so be careful as you put them on the baking tray. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil or low fat cooking spray, add salt and pepper, and then cook both the chips and the chicken at 180℃ for 45 minutes, turning the chips occasionally until they crisp up. They will turn golden if you leave the skin on, and a dried purple colour if you peel them. Add more salt and pepper as required. While cooking, make a quick salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes on a plate. When the chicken is piping hot and the chips are done, arrange on a plate and eat immediately.


Roasted Veggie Eggy Cous Cous

SW Slimming World friendly roasted vegetable and egg cous cous

After Monday's crazy shenanigans with the potato rosti, I'm keeping it nice and simple. Lucky for me, I've got a bag of cous cous in the cupboard. The only prep is roasting the veggies and boiling an egg. That's exactly what you'd want for a Wednesday, accurately nicknamed Hump Day - nice and simple stuff, so you can get on with dreaming about your soon-to-be weekend plans in the afternoon and doing a little bit of skiving online: if you haven't done that at least once in the office, have you ever even been to work? (Probably best not to answer that, but I won't judge.) Cous cous is so easy to put together, it's simply a case of pouring hot water on top and leaving it for a few minutes, then sticking a fork through it. They're so cheap, too: 40p a sachet from Aldi. I'm eyeing up the giant cous cous next. I'm desperate to know what it turns out like. Ooh, the possibilities. Either way, if you've got roasted veggies left over, you're sorted. If you haven't, you can easily make some the night before. As an aside, you can add other proteins you've got left in the fridge, like cold chicken, beef or ham. Or tofu. I decided to slice up a boiled egg in mine. It's almost like kedgeree. Almost.

Hard boil an egg and allow to cool, then deshell. Prepare a small quantity of vegetables - diced sweet potato, mushrooms, peppers, and cherry tomatoes - and arrange on a baking tray. Drizzle lightly with olive oil or Fry Light and season with black pepper. Put in the oven at 180℃ for about 30-45 minutes until the sweet potato is soft inside (check by slicing a sharp knife through the potato) - the veg will shrink, that's fine. Prepare a sachet of cous cous as per the packet instructions using hot water - add two tablespoons of light soya sauce to add flavour - then fluff it with a fork. Add it to a bowl and mix in the roasted vegetables and the sliced egg. Allow the whole thing to cool thoroughly keeping the salad refridgerated until it's needed. Season with salt and pepper, and eat it while browsing the internet.


"Everything's Better With..." Pasta Salad

SW Slimming World friendly ham and pea pesto pasta salad recipe

You know how everyone raves about how everything's better with bacon? I love bacon, but I think pesto is speeding up the list of things "Everything's better with..." There's also chips, sweet potatoes, peas, ice cream, and obviously cookies on my list. How about yours? This one can be eaten cold, which is great for those grab and go moments where lunch can't take thirty minutes to cook and be eaten warm. You know... another lunch el desko. Another lunch in an air-conditioned room, watching the lovely hot weather from your window. This salad will hit the spot if you're boiling hot. (Ha, I rhymed!) Again, you can make this the night before, however the pasta needs plenty of time to cool itself down before mixing the ingredients with the dressing. Oh yeah, I went there. Actual dressing. Look at me all fancy. Anyway, there's peas, there's ham, there's plain yoghurt and of course, a bit of pesto. And salad vegetables. It tastes beyond delicious and I think this has to be the best salad I have ever, ever made. With that endorsement, you should make it during the week next week. Write down the ingredients and go shopping!

Measure out 100g dried pasta per person, and one big handful of frozen peas. Add to a pan of boiling water and boil up the pasta. While you wait, rip up a piece of ham into tiny pieces, slice up five cherry tomatoes, a handful of sliced black olives, and bitesized chunks of cucumber, and wash, dry and finely tear up a handful of iceberg lettuce. Once the pasta is cooked (twice the size and massive), drain it off and allow to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, add the ham and vegetables and then add two tablespoons of plain soya yoghurt and a tablespoon of reduced fat green pesto to the pasta. Mix it all in until it is absolutely covered. Give it another great big stir, pop the lid on the lunchbox and keep it in the fridge until you need it. When you go to eat it, leave it for about five minutes to allow it breathing space.

Yay! We made it to Friday! I hope you enjoyed reading this week's recipes - let me know if you try it, I'd love to see them on the hashtag #RachEatsLunch!

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