Heart-healthy grass-fed lamb and chickpea pasta bake

19:10


Here begins a new and obsess deliciously healthy chapter in our culinary lives. Husband who we already suspected wasn't the Garry Casparov of cardio-vascular health has had more not so great news. I won't go into detail, patient confidentiality and all that. All I say is thank God he's got a proactive wife who in a friendly non-naggy (!) way motivated him to get all the required tests. I think I have saved his life. Now we know what is going on and he gets the appropriate treatment and I have medical mandate to curb his rice and cake intake and ply him with fish-oil and vitamin K2 (excellent for unclogging the arteries apparently).

I will continue my life saving operation and have immediately upped my stakes in the healthy cooking game. We are going for a low sugar, low saturated and trans-fats diet high on good fats and fibre from fruit, veg and whole grains. This is a diet that is healthy for anyone, good for the heart, good for gut, anti-cancer, good for glucose and weight management. Potentially bad for mental health and general happiness - just kidding - it's delish and husband loves it!

He really does. Last Sunday he had some battered cod and chips on the beach which wasn't even that great (I had a tuna salad because I am annoying like that) and which apart from shooting himself in the heart is about the worst thing he can do. Well, I suppose he could have had a Scotch egg with fries or a Sausage roll. At least there was some fish within the deep-fry. Afterwards full of remorse he asked me to make him chicken and broccoli for dinner.

As my cooking has generally been quite healthy, this is not a huge shock to the system. The bigger shock to the "But I like cake and biscuits with tea" husband is to let go of the snacks he buys throughout the day when I'm not watch he's out and about.

One change has been that I have had to open up my Finnish rye bread stash for husband. His lunch box sandwiches that I lovingly prepare every morning are now stricktly rye or other multi- and wholegrain dark bread with smoked salmon or lean chicken or turkey and salad veg, with a very thin smear of Benecol or Philly light to keep the heart happy and glucose in check. In the planning is also avocado hummus and mackerel paste for fillings, but I haven't got that far yet.

So far no complaints about the lunch sandwiches, but I think I went a bit overboard with my wholegrain and tofu pilaf dinner the other night. Even I thought it was a bit vile and I am used to vile tofu concoctions from my earlier hippy years. Why does tofu have to be so disappointing? I remember, just barely because I was quite tipsy at the time, but once at a music festival back in Finland I got this awesome tofu takeaway from a street food stall. The texture and taste was just awesome.

It was probably pork. 

There have been sad moments for husband where he has (almost) had to give things up. One Saturday we went to IKEA, it was husband's idea believe me or not. He wanted to get a new rug for the guest bedroom, so I happily obliged because I LOVE GOING TO IKEA even with the 3 million screaming kids everywhere. Love it. We found a rug and the obligatory stash of scented candles. I don't want to brag here with my "Oh let's go to IKEA and please can I buy you some diamonds on the way home" -husband, but he even stands there smelling the different candles with me quite happily choosing the ones he likes for the kids room because they fart a lot. Maybe a teenage thing? Boy thing? So in the mornings husband likes to light a few scented candles in the fireplace in their room to clean the air. 

So anyway out we came with our candles, the rug and some other bits and pieces (always must also get a lantern or two!) and I went to the food shop because I always want to at least look at the stuff. I left husband outside with the trolley - he was fingering a cinnamon bun package saying we probably shouldn't get it. And he put it down with a sad sigh and retreated to wait for me outside the shop. I went to pick up some rye bread mix, pickled herring and smoked salmon and came to peak out to see if husband was still ok, because he is a 3 year old child and bad things will happen to him if I leave him out of sight for too long, so there he was, back at the cinnamon bun display cradling a bag in his hands. I went to take the bag and bought it for him. There are limits to torture.

But apart from the tofu disaster I have managed to make yammy and superhealthy meals, lots of grilled fish and veg, root vegetables, salads and so on.  I had a fun trip to Wholefoods and found interesting non-wheat pastas, grass-fed lean lamb and other goodies.


So when I was going away for work for a couple of days I made this easy-to-heat-up one-pot meal for hubby to eat using a pasta made from chickpea flour (high protein and slower release of carbs) and the grass-fed lamb. Grass-fed has more of the good fats and other good stuff (vitamins A & E and cancer-fighting antioxidants) so much better for us than grain-fed. 

Heart-healthy grass-fed lean lamb and chickpea pasta bake


A spray of oil (I use an oil spray pump which I fill with olive or rapeseed oil)
400g good quality lean ground lamb, ideally grass-fed
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 celery stalk (feel free to include other veg if you like, carrot, peppers, mushroom etc.)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup of low salt stock (beef or lamb)
2 tbsp fat-free yoghurt
Salt (low sodium) and pepper
200g chickpea pasta (you can substitute with other healthy pasta variety)

Preheat oven to 190C. 

Cook the pasta in slightly salted water until al dente. Drain, preserve a 1 cup of the liquid.

Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Spray a large non-stick frying pan with some oil and fry the onions and celery (or any other veg you choose to use) on low to medium heat until they start to soften. Add the garlic and fry another minute. Add the ground lamb and saute breaking up the meat until it's browned.

Combine the meat mixture and pasta, use the pasta cooking liquid to make the stock and add to the mixture, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well, add a little water if it looks dry. Spray an over dish lightly with vegetable oil. Pour in the mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes. If you want to stray from my stringent guidelines, by all means sprinkle the dish with a light dusting of your choice of cheese (goat cheese, cheddar, parmesan - anything will be lovely), but be aware that it adds to the not so heart-healthy saturated fat content of the meal.

Enjoy with a fresh green salad - the greener the better!

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