Thursday, 2 February 2012

Change4Life Supermeals Challenge Day 4

You can eat healthily on a low budget. That is the message behind the Change4Life Supermeals booklet, published as part of a Welsh Government public health initiative. I have arrived at Day 4 of my challenge to try out all 14 recipes in the booklet. It’s time for perfect pasta with tomato sauce.

I must say that pasta has probably come around again a little too quickly for our liking (although, as we discovered yesterday, the booklet is not designed as a day-to-day eating programme). However, if money was really tight, then I would probably go down the pasta route and we would be eating more pasta meals.

The recipe as written in the booklet (see below) is a basic pasta sauce, and if you were cooking this repeatedly you may want to vary it a little each time. For example, you could go to town on the fresh herbs to garnish or add an unusual seasonal ingredient. In February, fresh herbs in the garden are a little scarce (although I did harvest some potted oregano for this), so I went for the latter choice.

I added a dozen roasted chestnuts to this meal. With a slit cut in each, they were roasted in the oven for 20 minutes, shelled and halved, and added to the tomato sauce. These chestnuts were cheap, due to a shop clearing out seasonal food products. Chestnuts are more versatile than generally realised, being energy-rich and nutritious, and should not just be reserved to accompany sprouts for Christmas dinner. They work well to enrich a tomato sauce.

I served the pasta with a lettuce and tomato salad (with optional balsamic vinegar dressing).

A noticeable feature of this and all the recipes in the Change4 Life Supermeals booklet is the lack of salt added to the dishes, and the inclusion of reduced-salt ingredients (e.g., stock, soy sauce, gravy granules). This can appear almost excessive at times, but it does get the message across that you may be using too much salt when you cook at home. Excessive salt is not good for you. Raised blood pressure is just one of the undesirable outcomes.

In a panel within the booklet - Keep an eye on salt - we learn that three-quarter of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, so you might be adding more salt than you realise. Change4Life suggest comparing the labels on different foods to help you choose those that are lower in salt. So far, I have not felt the salt missing from these dishes.

perfect pasta with tomato sauce
The ingredients: 1 tsp oil, 1 onion finely chopped, 1 garlic clove finely chopped, 400g tin tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 2 tsp dried mixed herbs, black pepper, 350g dried spaghetti, fresh basil or chopped herbs to garnish.

The method: Fry onion and garlic. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, herbs and pepper. Simmer 15 minutes until thick. Cook spaghetti and drain, serving with sauce and fresh herbs to garnish.

The perfect pasta with tomato sauce should contain around 343 kcals a portion (if you follow the booklet recipe – more if you start adding things like chestnuts).


Register with Change4Life online before Friday 10 February and you can get your own free Supermeals booklet.
Day 1 (Introduction)

Day 2 (Pitta Pizzas)

Day 3 (10-min chicken noodle dinner)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! thanks for posting.... I like pasta looks delicious and healthy too.

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