Meat Free Monday: Green Bean Risotto

Many vegetarian risottos rely on cheese for the protein. In this quirky variant I use ½ rice and ½ red lentils to give some protein while still getting that risotto texture.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 150g red lentils
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 150g runner beans cut into short lengths
  • 200g cooked broad beans
  • 50g vegan Parmesan or Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh herbs or 1 tsp dry herbs.

Heat oil in large pan, add onion and lower heat keep stirring until onion is tender and transparent. Add rice and lentils (pre washed) to the pan and stir for a few minutes to slightly brown. Add vegetable stock and once up to boil reduce heat to simmer. 5 minutes before the end add the two different beans and stir through. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese (or vegan parmesan cheese), pepper and herbs for flavour before serving.

Behavior Change – if it was easy it wouldn’t be change

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is…

In many diet and exercise sales ploys, there are before and after shots. This one person is showing f sexy six-pack or loss of half their body weight. They look great.All you can see is their before and after. Yes, they probably did what the site is selling you. What you don’t know is what other things were in their favor at that particular time. It is likely that there were a lot of other good things happening to them that made their success more likely.The other thing we don’t see is their progress between the before and after. Progress could have been full of plateaus, lapses and times where they got stuck. For whatever reason they found the support offered by the organization good for them. The people selling the product kept them going through their tough times

To be successful making change you need several things:

  • Identify goals that are targeted to your needs.
  • Information on how to make the appropriate changes to achieve those goals.
  • Resources, tips, and tricks to help you develop plans to embed the changes in your daily life.
  • Support for when things don’t go as planned – for example when daily life takes a surprising detour.
  • Time to establish the new routines.
  • Monitoring to measure your outcome.
  • A cheer squad to help you celebrate your success.

This blog series is going to go into some details about the how, why and what around behavior change. My experience as a dietitian has taught me some interesting things about change. If you have a different experience or other ideas please post a comment. We can chat about them – I love learning from others.

Meat Free Monday: Red Cabbage and Apple Coleslaw

  • 1/4 red cabbage finely shredded
  • 1 red onion finely diced
  • 1 medium beetroot, grated
  • 1 red apple, grated
  • 2 TBSP tahini
  • 1 TBSP balsalmic vinegar
  • Ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt

Mix vegetables in a bowl. If you have red runner beans you could also add small strips of these. Mix the dressing ingredients in a container. Stir through salad. Try to stand for 30 minutes before serving.

Cooking Beans, legumes, pulses etc

This post is really about the obvious end of the vegetarian diet -when you go vegetarian legumes become an important source of protein in your diet.

If you start cooking vegetarian food you quickly realize that doing beans out of cans is expensive. Dried beans are cheaper. Unfortunately they take a long time to cook in a pot on the stove. You can also end up with pot-burning disasters if you are like me and you wander off while cooking your beans and boil them dry.

Your remaining two options are slow cooker and pressure cooker beans.

Slow cooker beans

Slow cooker beans are great. Rinse the beans under cold water and discard broken, and odd looking beans. They do not need soaking, with the exception of red kidney beans, which need to be put in a pot and  covered with boiling water and left to stand for at least 1 hour. Once the red kidney beans have been soaked, then rinse them, cover them with water in the pot and bring to the boil, letting boil for 10 minutes. Transfer them to the slow cooker and cook for the remainder of time.

Bean/Legume Water for 500g Cook time
Black 1600 6-8 hrs
Pinto 1900 7-9 hrs
Cannelini 1900 7-9 hrs
Black eyed peas 1600 4 – 5.5 hrs
Chick peas 1750 4.5- 6 hrs
Brown Lentils 1250 3-4 hrs
Red Kidney Beans 1900 5-6 hrs after  1 hour hot soak and 10 min rapid boil

Pressure cooker beans

Not everyone has a pressure cooker but if you are making a commitment to eating at least 3 meals a week of vegetarian foods it soon becomes obvious that a pressure cooker is very useful. I have ended up getting some pressure cooker envy going into small appliance retailers as I use my cheap old-fashioned one, I picked up from a charity shop…here is hoping my family realizes my next big birthday is within a couple of years and I would really, really, really like one of the fancy ones!

Understanding pressure cooker times is what matters, and the different ways of reducing pressure once cooked. Also most beans (red kidney beans the MAJOR exception) can be cooked from hard rather than soaked, but if you do soak the cooking time of many beans is seriously short.

This link is excellent and has all the information you need on cooking with a pressure cooker. Most of our pressure cookers work at 15 PSI.

Pressure cooker beans

Storing your beans

If you are cooking up bulk beans, spreading them thinly on a tray to cool then freezing them so you can then put the free-flow into a container is a great idea. I have learned to label my recycled ice-cream containers extremely well to avoid disappointment of going into the fridge and hoping there is ice-cream.

Butternut squash pasta sauce

This started its life as an idea for a patient who appeared to be sensitive to tomatoes. It then reincarnated when my lovely partner pointed out he was getting sick of tomato based pasta sauces.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves or 2 tsp crushed garlic/
  • 1 kg of squash or pumpkin peeled, seeded and cut into 1 cm cubes.
  • 1 red chili de-seeded and cut into fine strips.

If you have time and a warm oven the day before, prepare the squash or pumpkin and put onto a lightly oiled tray for about 20 minutes in a moderate oven, this will roast it and give it a nice caramel taste. It is an optional step but a great option.

Heat oil in a pan and add onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add in the squash or pumpkin and chili. Add about 1 C water, bring to the boil, then reduce heat. Put lid on and leave 5 minutes. Check if the pumpkin is tender. If not add another ½ C boiling water and leave to simmer with lid on another 5 minutes. Blend until very thick and smooth. Use in place of tomato based pasta sauce. This can last in the fridge for about 5 days, but unfortunately is not good to preserve in jars unless you use a pressure cooker method, because it is not acidic enough to be safe to preserve.

Green Bean Salad

  • 500g green or runner beans, cut to 2cm lengths.
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped spring onions
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil.
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves.
  • ½ C vegan Parmesan cheese substitute (about 45g)
  • Freshly ground black pepper.

Most people leave runner beans too long before picking them. Ideally they should be not much bigger than regular green beans or they get kind of chewy.

Bring a large pot of water seasoned with 1 TBSP salt to the boil. When it is a rolling boil dunk a colander or sieve with your prepared beans into the water for 1 minute. Remove and run under cold water for 1 minute. This blanches the beans and makes them more flavoursome and less chewy for little people.

Mix vinegar oil, basil, cheese substitute together. Stir into beans. Season with pepper to taste.

This is another great salad if you hear people saying “salads are boring.

On Pesto – traditionally pesto is made with basil, but you can do it with just about anything green and pungent flavored…so try other herbs such as oregano.

Courgette and Lentil One Dish Meal

  • 1 C brown rice
  • 1 C french/puy/brown lentils – well rinsed

Cook together in a pot using an absorption method (i.e.3 C water, bring to boil, cover with tight fitting lid, reduce to a low heat and cook for 40 minutes. Switch off and let stand for 10 minutes)

  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 325g tomato tinned tomato OR 500g fresh tomatoes chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and then saute the onion and garlic until soft then add all other ingredients and cook until vegetables are tender.

Layer into a casserole dish (rice and lentils, vegetables, rice and lentils, ending with a vegetable layer).

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Vegan Parmesan cheese substitute

Sprinkle a layer of breadcrumbs, if you wish add a couple of tablespoons of this homemade vegan Parmesan cheese substitute to your crumbs for extra flavor. Bake at 180 degrees until bubbling at the edges

Some of my best friends are nutritionists…

Lots of people ask me why they should see a dietitian rather than a nutritionist.
I am a dietitian. So I am registered to practice with the dietitian’s board. I have completed a recognized qualification in Dietetitics . Each year I have to provide evidence I am maintaining my professional learning.
I am also a nutritionist, although currently not on the Nutrition Society register.
This illustrates an important difference.

Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. It is illegal to use the term dietitian unless you are on the register.

What about qualifications? In the title I hint at an irony. I have worked with nutritionists. I have seen very skilled practitioners with an undergraduate qualification in nutrition. I believe that nutritionists and dietitians can work in partnership. Here is the difficulty. Everyone needs to know what they are good at. They need to know what to do when a patient has some health issue they are not familiar with.

Why come and see me , not another dietitian?

I have spent 20 years in practice learning how my job fits in with other health professionals working in primary care. As a result I have gained a lot of experience in the health conditions that a GP will see and treat. So I am more of a generalist than a specialist, and that works for most people who need dietary advice in our community.

I have also worked with enough secondary care team members, that my sense of “that’s not routine” is quite well developed. I am quite happy to share that with anyone who needs to hear it too. I have good relationships with specialists and I work to maintain them.

The single most important qualification a dietitian or nutritionist can have other than their professional learning is the ability to listen. In psychology they talk about a therapeutic relationship. Because food is such an intimate subject, you need to trust the person giving you advice. This is why I am happy to speak to you on the phone before you book. This is so you can work out if I am the right person for you.
So if you need dietary advice, give me a call, no obligations.

How do you get 30g fibre in your diet daily?

There has been a lot of media coverage about fibre in the diet. A high fibre diet reduces the risk of heart disease. We know that 90% of people are failing to get enough fibre.  So how do you improve your dietary fibre intake? How do you do it on a low income?

Fibre occurs in plant-based foods. The relevant Eating statements for adult New Zealanders are:

Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods every day including:

  •              plenty of vegetables and fruit
  •              grain foods, mostly whole grain and those naturally high in fibre
  •            some legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry (e.g., chicken) and/or red meat with the fat removed.

Choose and/or prepare foods and drinks:

  •    that are mostly ‘whole’ and less processed

I demonstrate how I would address each eating statement below. In the lists I only show the fibre containing foods. There would be other things added to the meals such as milk, cheese, yogurt, meat and cooking oils etc

Plenty of vegetables and fruit

I used the “what’s fresh” website to select seasonal fruit and vegetables based on the day of writing the blog. Eating seasonally can be a challenge if you have strong likes and dislikes.  It is important to encourage ongoing “tries” of vegetables to encourage a wide variety. Frozen vegetables are acceptable

Item Amount (as eaten) Fibre
Green Beans 80g 2.7
Corn on the cob – 1 medium 90g 2.4
Lettuce 50g 1.0
Tomato – medium 50g 1.7
Cucumber – 4 slices with skin 50g 1.5
Strawberries – 4 large 80g 1.2
Orange – 1 medium 90g 3.1
  TOTAL 13.6g

In this instance I imagined that the salad would go with lunch, and the cooked vegetables would go with dinner.

grain foods, mostly whole grain and those naturally high in fibre

The most common complaint I get is the cost of wholegrain bread. For the purpose of this exercise I am going to use a $1 loaf of bread. This will illustrate cheap bread can still help you meet your fibre intake. I am suggesting you use a sandwich slice and choose the wheatmeal bread

Item Amount (as eaten) Fibre
3 slices wheatmeal bread ($1 range) 94g 4.2g
Oats 45g 5.8g
Pasta (white own brand) 200g (100g dried) 4.0g
  TOTAL 14g

some legumes*, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry (e.g., chicken) and/or red meat with the fat removed.

Item Amount (as eaten) Fibre
Peanut butter 20g 1.2g
Almonds 15g 1.3
Lentils 15g 1.6g
  TOTAL 4.5g
  • 20g peanut butter – see below
  • 30g of almonds consumed every second day
  • If you had two vegetarian meals each week e you would meet this goal. Each meal contains at least 50g (120g cooked) of lentils or other beans. If you are not able to sneak vegetarian past your family use lentils mixed in with your mince.

Choose and/or prepare foods and drinks: that are mostly ‘whole’ and less processed

 One of the biggest ways to improve fibre intake is have snacks that are mostly whole and less processed.

Snacks arranged here are not the usual processed cakes, biscuits and crackers.

  •               1 slice bread with 20g peanut butter daily (afternoon tea)
  •               1 piece of fruit as snacks (supper time)
  •               30g almonds every second day (morning tea)

This is a fairly basic diet.  Not everyone is going to stick to this all the time. Following the 80% rule (make good choices 80% if the time) then you can get a good fibre intake

If you would like to know more about fibre in the diet and have a diet makeover to increase your fibre intake, then make an appointment to see me.

Crustless Quiche – Curry in a Hurry

  • 3 TBSP oil (canola, olive or rice bran)
  • 300g cooked potatoes (ideally from the previous day) cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 large courgette grated
  • 1 large carrot grated
  • 3 spring onions chopped finely or one small onion
  • 1 can of chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp of your usual curry powder
  • ¼ C self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ C trim milk

Heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Put quiche pan in oven with oil to come to temperature. Mix all vegetables and chickpeas together. Add flour and curry powder and mix to distribute throughout the vegetable mix. Whisk eggs with trim milk. Mix through other ingredients – this will be quite sticky.
Carefully remove hot quiche pan from oven, swirl to coat bottom with oil.  Put quiche mix into pan, it will sizzle. You can compress it very slightly. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown and the egg is cooked.

Serving tips:

  • Garnish with coriander (if you like it)
  • Serve hot or cold with salad.
  • You may enjoy serving with a Raita of finely chopped cucumber and natural yogurt.