January is always a time of renewed healthy eating for me. My vegetarian diet is generally quite good, filled with plants, minimally processed food and cooking from scratch. But after a few weeks of heavy cheeses, chocolate and snacking, I’m definitely ready now to get my food back on track.
Merchant Gourmet recently asked me to come up with ten recipes using their pulses and grains to support the launch of their new campaign, Eat Well, Live Well, inspiring you to cook with their quick, tasty store cupboard must-haves!
Through testing recipes for the project, I’ve completely expanded my repertoire of quick, easy, healthy go-to dinners for the whole family. From quinoa and freekeh to beluga lentils and Mexican flavoured grains, the range provides a healthy backbone to so many plant-heavy meals.
I’ve gone vegan this January for Veganuary and I’m already feeling great. My morning green smoothies are back, giving me energy to start the day. I usually make them with frozen spinach, a banana and water, plus powders like baobab, moringa, spirulina or greens powder. Lunch is soup, a carrot and hummus sandwich or a vegetable stew. Dinner is anything from a hot salad or a burrito to falafel or stew. All of this is made easy by incorporating more pulses and grains into my meals.
People often say that they don’t have time to eat healthy and I think that’s crazy. Just having a few vegetables in the fridge and some pulses and grains in the cupboard can mean that I can make a healthy, nourishing, filling meal in only a few minutes.
The Merchant Gourmet range includes sachets of diverse pulses and grains, including beluga lentils and freekeh, which are all ready-cooked to make them easy to incorporate into lunches and dinner and inspire you to make healthy meals in minutes. With no need for soaking or planning ahead, I’ve found their pouches of puy lentils, red and white quinoa and mixed grains perfect for throwing together last-minute meals quickly, allowing me to use up veg while feeding my family healthy food.
I honestly can’t choose a particular product from their range to highlight to you. What I love the most is that the different tastes and textures of the various pulses and grains can instantly transform a few other healthy ingredients to a full meal. Their Mexican flavoured grains are perfectly spiced, so we add them to a tortilla wrap along with some kidney beans, steamed spinach and chopped tomatoes for a burrito that’s ready in less than five minutes. The Indian grains are delicious, so we serve them with a quick homemade saag aloo of cooked potatoes sauteed in spices with spinach.
Last night I looked at the veg drawer and had a carrot, half a swede and some shallots to use up. So, I chopped them up and put them into a saucepan to saute then added a tin of chopped tomatoes, half a pouch of Merchant Gourmet’s red and white quinoa and a few good pinches of Sri Lankan spices. I let it simmer for a few minutes and we had a healthy stew in less than ten minutes. So easy and filling, plus I was able to ensure that the veg didn’t go to waste.
I’ve quickly realised that pulses/grains + veg + spices/herbs = instant healthy meal. These products are so versatile that all you have to do is adjust the vegetables and spices and you won’t be bored.
Here are a few of the recipes that I created for Merchant Gourmet. Keep an eye on their website to see the recipes soon!
Quinoa Latkes with Herby Creme Fraiche
Beluga Lentils with Jerk-Roasted Sweet Potato
Freekeh with Spinach and Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas
Beluga Lentil and Kale Hot Salad with Sriracha Yogurt Dressing
I hope that these images will inspire you to use more pulses and grains in your diet in order to eat well and live well, with minimal effort.
Share your pulse and grain creations on social media using the hashtag #EatWell or #OnThePulse
Disclosure: Merchant Gourmet commissioned this post and the recipes. All opinions are my own. Centre collage image of grains courtesy of Shutterstock.