• meganalsford

Updated: Aug 14, 2021

This recipe is a staple in my house and has been since I was at university. It's cheap, quick and delicious. The chickpeas give this vegetarian dish some substance and you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like by adjusting the chilli. If you don't have fresh chillies then dried chilli flakes work just as well. I often serve this with cous cous and Greek yoghurt but have enjoyed it equally with rice and a little fresh coriander.

Serves 4


400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed

400g can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon Keens Curry Powder

1 brown onion, diced

100g baby spinach

Olive oil

2 long green chilli, sliced (optional)


  1. Add a little olive oil to a frypan and bring to medium heat. Add onions and stir until soft but not brown.

  2. Add curry powder and stir until fragrant, about 1 min.

  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until sauce has thickened a little, spinach has wilted and beans are soft, roughly 5 minutes.

  4. Serve on a bed of cous cous or rice.

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  • meganalsford


I've only just started making my own vegetable stock and nothing makes me feel more like purist dietitian, even though I take other recipe shortcuts. Best part is that it's surprisingly easy to make and it freezes really well.

What I like about making my own stock is that it has advantages from both an environmental and nutritional perspective. Nutritionally, I don't add any salt and so I can get the flavour boost I need in my recipes while keeping the sodium to a minimum. As all my recipes are now offered to my toddler, keeping sodium low is a priority for me.

Environmentally, I get one extra use out of my vegetables before the scraps get turned into worm food in my compost. As the scraps are cooked, they breakdown in the compost much faster. Although hot tip, or should I say cold tip (sorry bad pun), cool the vegetable scraps before putting in the compost to avoid killing any of those magical microbes or worms already in your compost.

Also from an environmental perspective, I avoid buying stock sold in a container and therefore reduce my waste. Did you know that not all councils will recycle Tetrapaks? And as most stocks come in Tetrapaks, I'm thrilled I can now avoid buying them.

To make the stock I keep a container like the image below in my freezer and just add my vegetable scraps to it. Once it's full, I make the stock. To store, I pour the stock into cleaned jars (a great use for all those glass jars I keep), label them with how much stock is in them and pop in the freezer ready to use when I need them. I usually keep it in lots of 2 cups as that is how much I need for recipes. I also swap between defrosting the stock first before adding into a recipe, or if I'm short on time (or forgot to take out of the freezer) add the frozen stock to the final recipe.

If I'm making pumpkin or another vegetable soup then I make the stock as I go. So I prepare all the vegetables, keeping the scraps aside. Then while I roast the vegetables, I turn the scraps into the stock. By the time the vegetables are roasted and ready to be mixed with stock, the vegetable stock is ready to go.

Vegetables to add

Any vegetables you'd normally add to a slow cooked dish such as carrot, leek, onion and celery (don't add the leaves) are great for making stock. Tomatoes can also be used but avoid the seeds if you can as they'll make the stock bitter. Some people add garlic or herbs but I prefer to keep these out as I like to add herbs during my cooking and I don't want the flavours to clash. Mushrooms are also a great addition as they impart a lot of flavour, just don't add too many or they will over power your stock.

This might be controversial but I do add the skins of pumpkin, sweet potato and potato. bIt will make your stock a bit starchy so don't add too much as it may impact your final recipe. Just be sure to wash the skins well or you might end up with a stock that tastes like dirt.

Vegetables to avoid

I find salad vegetables (other than tomatoes) are best avoided as they don't do well being boiled. Also avoid any dark leafy green vegetables like broccoli, spinach or kale make a stock too bitter. This is the same for cauliflower, zucchinis and beans. Beetroot would be another vegetable I'd avoid as it's a bit too earthy for stock and would make the stock very pink, not to mention the final recipe.

Homemade Vegetable Stock


Vegetable scraps - roughly 4 cups



Add vegetable scraps to a large soup pot. Cover with enough water so that all vegetables are submerged. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat so the water is just gently simmering. Let the broth simmer for 30mins. Once ready, drain the vegetable scraps and set aside to cool. These can be added to the compost. The left over liquid is now ready to use as stock.

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  • meganalsford

Updated: Aug 14, 2021

Banana bread is definitely something good that has come out of all the 2020 lockdowns and extra time in the kitchen. I have to admit that I don't think banana bread as anything but a cake with a healthy sounding name. In saying that, cake is still delicious and should be enjoyed. There are a few things you can do to classic cake or banana recipes to add to the nutritional value like I have with this version but overall they are still cake.

Using up food that is about to expire is a great way to reduce food waste and what better way than turning them into a cake?

I made this banana bread more out of necessity than the need for something tasty as I have a little one who loves bananas but changed her mind and left me with a few rotten bananas. I hate food waste so anything that turns ingredients destined for the bin into something that is enjoyed is a win. I'll go into the problem with food waste in another post and how I try to minimise my food waste. But until then, give this banana bread a go and enjoy.

So how have I added to the nutritional value of this recipe? Firstly, I swapped butter for olive oil. Butter is wonderful for it's taste and the texture it provides baked goods but it does have saturated fat so I like to limit it's use. I also added in some quinoa flakes to include a little protein and fibre. Although with only roughly 2.5g protein, 2g fibre extra you wouldn't get much extra per slice. I could have used oats which would have given me slightly more protein and fibre but I wanted to use up the quinoa flakes. Then I chose not to add salt. Salt is often called for in cakes or bread mostly to enhance the flavours but I personally don't miss it.

This was a bit of an experiment for me and I'm usually wary of changing baked recipes as small changes can have big impacts that aren't always wanted. Like the time I tried to reduce the sugar in some cookies (I'll save you the recipe as it was a disaster). It was the first time I used olive oil in place of butter and I've got to say I was really pleased with the results. I think in future I'll look to replace more butter with olive oil or even opt for half and half so I can still get some of that glorious butter flavour.

If you give this a go, I'd like to hear what you think of it!

Banana Bread


3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 eggs

4 very ripe bananas, mashed

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup quinoa flakes

1/2 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 165C and 50% steam (if using a regular oven, set temp to 175C). Grease and line a loaf tin.

  2. Beat together the olive oil, sugar and eggs on medium speed until sugar dissolves.

  3. Turn to slow speed and mix in bananas and vanilla.

  4. In a seperate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and baking soda. Using a whisk, add in quinoa flakes. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with the almonds and stir until just combined and pour into prepared pan.

  5. Bake for roughly 55mins or until a knife inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean.

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