WONDERGUT WINNERS


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I have 4 children – also known affectionately as the Food Critics. Their standards are stringent. And often frustrating. If only their attitude to food was similar to the dog’s… (actually, I should be careful what I wish for).

My aim is not to get disheartened when they turn their noses up. Helping them to learn what foods are genuinely nourishing will help them live a healthy life and it can take many exposures to a certain food before their tastes start to change. I view teaching the Food Critics how to nourish themselves as a crucial part of my role as a parent. Feeding my family well is hard work. But is IMPORTANT WORK.

I plan our weekly menu on a Sunday or a Monday so that I only have to think about what we are eating once a week. That works for me. These are the factors I consider when planning what we are eating:

Maximise consumption of unprocessed or minimally processed foods.
Maximise vegetable intake (organic if possible).
Maximise diversity of foods, whilst respecting the two points above.
Cook from scratch as much as possible.
Try new recipes.
Try new foods.
Be realistic on busy days – there is always room for beans on wholewheat toast.

Out of all the dishes we try, some winners naturally emerge and then become a part of our repertoire. I realised that it may be useful for you to have all the Wondergut Winners in one place. The Winners are those dishes that aren’t too annoying or too time-consuming to make and that everyone (including the all-important Food Critics) eat happily. I will keep adding to this list as we continue to find good recipes that help us to keep our diet diverse.

 

SEPTEMBER 2017

 

DISH

Cavolo Nero, Onion & Potato Hash with Poached Egg accompanied by runner beans and corn on the cob.

Food Critics’ Verdict

Boil the potatoes in advance. This was delicious and EVERYONE cleared their plate. We didn’t use the Chorizo.

 

DISH

Squash & Cinnamon Soup with Roasted Seeds accompanied by sourdough and unpasteurised butter

REFERENCE

River Cottage A-Z p183 – This has disappeared online but this is a similar recipe – instead of the peanut butter, you can dry roast 2 tbsp sunflower seeds and 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds with 1 tsp chilli flakes and 1 tbsp olive oil in the oven in a small baking tray at the same time as the squash - but only for 5 minutes or so until sizzling. Scatter over the soup when it is ready.

Food Critics’ Verdict

So, I used more squash than the recipe said (a medium and a small butternut and some random little green one I picked up at the market) and the soup was nice and thick. I skipped the seed roasting as I already had some Dukkah I could sprinkle on it. It was divine – thick, glossy and very tasty. Remember though, cooking the squash takes an hour but the rest of it is very quick so either do the squash cooking the night before or shove the squash in the oven as soon as you get home.

 

OCTOBER 2017

 

DISH

Stuffed Peppers (different colours) with New Potatoes, Feta and Pesto accompanied by courgettes and cavolo nero.

Food Critics’ Verdict

This was really tasty and pretty quick to make – and would have been even quicker if I had made the pesto on Sunday night (or bought some). AND Toby actually ate some cooked pepper (he normally only eats it raw). FCs – thumbs up

 

DISH

Whole Earth Baked Beans on Sourdough I made during the day accompanied by grated unpasteurised cheese (Keens this week), an eclectic collection of the salad leaves still alive in the garden, grated beetroot & Wondergut red cabbage kraut

Food Critics’ Verdict

A good day. Making and then eating my own Sourdough bread. The kids so enjoyed the bread, with the beans wedging themselves in the air bubbles in the sourdough (created by the gas given off by microbes).

 

DISH

Mushroom Soup with Sourdough bread accompanied by sorrel and rocket salad.

Food Critics’ Verdict

I LOVE homemade mushroom soup. I didn’t bother with the milk in this recipe – I just used 1,200ml of stock and I had crème fraiche in the fridge, so I used that instead of cream. I also skipped all the faff of cooking half the mushrooms in the milk – I threw them all straight into the stock. And it was delicious. 3 out of 4 of the FCs have, in the past, hated mushrooms with fervour. They nevertheless had at least 5 spoonfuls of this soup (the minimum requirement here for consumption of things we don’t love) so I consider that to be real progress. My eldest FC ate the whole bowl and the friend who was here for a sleepover did too!

 

DISH

Pea and Basil Tart with a Buttery Oat Crust accompanied by boiled potatoes and a mixed garden salad with sorrel, rocket, radicchio, celery, cucumber, tomatoes and radish.

Food Critics’ Verdict

I kid you not, this was literally WOLFED down. It was not too time-consuming to make. I whizzed the oats up a couple of days before. I made the pastry the evening before. It rolls out between cling film easily and the filling is a doddle to put together. I used leeks instead of spring onions since it is no longer Spring.

 

NOVEMBER 2017

 

DISH

Bonfire Soup (Bonfire Night tradition) accompanied by sausages and fried red onions in seedy buns

 

Chocolate Bark

Food Critics’ Verdict

This soup is just delicious, popular with all the FCs and a little out of the ordinary to help with our diversity levels. It is too tasty to only have on Bonfire Night but I do love it from a thermos flask in front of a fire in the garden. Since we moved into town, we have less room for a Bonfire Night inferno and having one involves scorching most of the lawn. Anyway, last night I had a brainwave – have the fire on a vegetable bed. This led to a rapid and complete harvest of our beetroot to make room, but the fire was wicked. We now have quite a lot of beetroot to get through.

We always have chocolate bark on Bonfire Night too. It is very easy to make - and even easier to eat.

 

DISH

Squid Stuffed with Butter Beans andTomatoes accompanied by broccoli and Brussel sprouts.

Food Critics’ Verdict

Samuel chose this recipe a while ago now & having seen squid in the market for the last few weeks, I put it on the menu. Squid is not cheap, so I just got two to feed 6 of us and I used butter beans. The squid, the tentacles, the beans – all of it was FABULOUS. Everyone ate well, although 2 FCs didn’t eat many of the beans.

 

DISH

Tomato and Halloumi Bake with by Sourdough Bread

REFERENCE

Online recipe

Food Critics’ Verdict

I hoped that the halloumi on the top would get some cooked tomatoes past those FCs who are less keen. It did – not much, but some, at least and Georgia and I thought it was very good indeed. I shoved the left-over potatoes, swede and parsnips in from yesterday too and I enjoyed it so much, I had it on toast for lunch on Tuesday too.

 

DISH

Jerusalem Artichoke and Leek Soup with Sourdough accompanied by pepper, fennel and carrot crudites and hummus dip.

Food Critics’ Verdict

This is a BLINDER of a soup. We all agreed. Silky smooth, full of flavour, a doddle to make and packed with prebiotic goodness – what more can you wish for? Plus I, somehow (unintentionally), managed to make the sourdough so that it had just come out of the oven in time for dinner. We dipped warm sourdough with melted butter into our soup.

 

DECEMBER 2017

 

DISH

Spelt with Parsley-Almond Pesto, Tomatoes and Parmesan accompanied by Brussel tops and carrot sticks.

Food Critics’ Verdict

Georgia cooked for me as my day had rather gone to rat poo. She used pine nuts instead of flaked almonds in the pesto and cooked the tomatoes with the onions and garlic for longer than the recipe suggested (because she prefers cooked tomatoes). Whenever we make our own pesto, it reminds me just how much nicer it is than shop bought – it tastes so unbelievably fresh. The overall result was wonderful.

 

DISH

Crumbed Pesto Fish with Roasted Cherry Toms accompanied by potatoes, broccoli, spinach and beans.

Food Critics’ Verdict

Pesto again! This was easy, delicious and packed herbs, tomatoes, pine nuts and vegetables into one meal. The fish haters ate some of the fish because of the pesto topping – result!

 

DISH

Macaroni Cheese with Red Onion and Fennel accompanied by broccoli and spinach.

REFERENCE

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Food Critics’ Verdict

I use whole wheat pasta now. It has taken us 2 years, but we now no longer buy white pasta and pasta has become an occasional dish rather than a staple. I hid red onion and fennel in this and the FCs love having Macca (as it is known affectionately here). I tend not to add cheese into the white sauce, I just sprinkle it on the top.

 

JANUARY 2018

 

DISH

Smashed Salmon Hash accompanied by white cabbage and greens

Food Critics’ Verdict

This is popular with all here. A very satisfying and comforting dish that contains oily fish, prebiotic onions plus some capers and dill. I normally mix some milk kefir in with some labneh for mixing with the dill at the end.

 

DISH

Fried Fish Fillets with Herbs and Lemon accompanied by lots of Greens

Food Critics’ Verdict

Similar in a way to the one above but equally tasty.

 

FEBRUARY 2018

 

DISH

Jamie’s Chicken

Food Critics’ Verdict

This is actually a very old favourite, introduced to me by my cousin, Lisa. I love tray bakes because they are so quick to put together. We add any number of vegetables to this and even though we now eat meat only once or twice a week, the meat portions are smaller and I try to ensure that the meat is only part of a bigger picture within the meal rather than the focal point.

 

MARCH 2018

 

DISH

Frying Pan Spinach Souffle

FOOD CRITICS' VERDICT

This was very simple and amazingly resulted in ALL the FCs eating a load of spinach. I know there are those that fret about oxalate levels in spinach but with no underlying health issues, the joy of eating a diverse and healthy diet is that we are unlikely to get an excess of anything, which means taking the benefits of the many nutrients in spinach without worrying about the oxalates. The chooks are laying again too, now they sense that Spring is nearly here, so all the eggs we used were from our own girls.

 

MAY 2018

 

DISH

Spiced Red Lentil, Turmeric and Spring
Greens Soup

 

FOOD CRITICS' VERDICT

This was brilliant. So much flavour - I kid you not, every bowl was scraped clean.

 

june 2018

 

food critics' verdict

So - I didn't shallow fry the aubergine - too much faff and mess. I sliced them longways, drizzled them generously with olive oil and baked them in the oven until they they were starting to colour, but were nice and soft. The FC who hates aubergine and hates mozzarella said it would be nice if I could just use cheddar rather than mozzarella. RESULT - he now eats aubergine. I made it all the day before and it kept well.

 

Dish

Aubergine Parmigiana

 

 

 

reference

I used a very simple Riverford recipe - p53 of Riverford Spring and Summer Veg but I couldn't find it online - this is the closest I could get:

BBC Food recipes