Two wholesome recipes from Select Stores chef Oliver McCabe
Batch cooking wholesome meals is the best way to keep you from reaching for junk foods, says chef Oliver McCabe, owner of Select Stores in Dalkey
Every Sunday afternoon I take a few hours to prepare breakfasts, lunches and dinners that will fuel me for the first half of the week. I prepare a granola, soups/stews, and one-pot wonders. Then I'll take some time out Thursday evening to food prep again to take me through to Sunday once more.
My batch cooking is a life skill to nurture me. I can rely on the food I prepare from scratch myself using fresh wholefood ingredients - vegetables, fruit, grains, pre-soaked pulses, lentils, herbs and spices - and not reach for processed convenience foods when I'm tired or stressed.
Meal plans are a huge help in keeping you on track because once you've got a plan in mind, you're a bit more committed. This doesn't necessarily mean that you know exactly what you're going to eat at every meal or snack. But it does mean that you have a general idea of how your calories are distributed over the day, and what foods can be plugged into your plan to create a variety of meals. For example, prepare freshly grilled or poached lean cuts of meat to add to pre-batch-cooked risottos, paella or grains such as quinoa or millet.
Take a little extra time on the weekend to plan out your meals and batch cook for the week.
Hearty Red Lentil Curry
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh root ginger
Himalayan fine rock salt
400g dried red lentils, soaked, rinsed and drained
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
1.2 litres water
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooked brown rice, to serve
Chopped fresh coriander, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/Gas mark 6/400˚F. Lay the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, turning them a few times throughout the cooking time until golden.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil in a large pot on a low to medium heat. Add the fenugreek and mustard seeds. Fry for 5 minutes, until they start to pop.
Add the chopped onion and stir. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli powder, garlic, ginger and a few pinches of salt to the pot. Mix well and simmer gently for 5 minutes. If the base of the pot is a little dry, just add a little water. Stir in the lentils. Mix and spice it up for 3 minutes. Add your chopped tomatoes and the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium to low and simmer for 30 minutes, adding more water if necessary near the end.
Once the lentils have collapsed they are cooked. Remove the pot from the heat and add the roasted cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with brown rice and garnish with chopped coriander. This will keep in the fridge sealed for 4 days. Reheat in preheated oven at 180˚C. Add a cup of water and place in a casserole dish sealed with foil for 25 mins, until hot.
'Reheat curry with cup of water in casserole dish sealed with foil in preheated oven at 180C for 25 mins until hot'
Butternut, coconut and coriander soup
I love to grate fresh turmeric into this soup to give it a more powerful flavour and colour. Make sure to use choose a gluten-free stock. A good source of dietary fibre, plant protein, essential fats and vitamin C.
Serves 8. Vegan. Sugar-, gluten-, dairy- and nut-free
2 tbsp viridian organic raw coconut oil
2 large onions, chopped
3kg butternut squash, peeled and cut into 5cm cubes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2½ litres vegetable stock (you can use less or more according to desired thickness)
2 tsp ground coriander
160g creamed coconut, grated
Juice of 1 lime
Himalayan fine rock salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly chopped coriander
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low to medium heat. Sauté the onion for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add the butternut squash and garlic and stir for a further minute or two. Add the vegetable stock and ground coriander and bring to a boil.
Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is cooked. Stir in the grated creamed coconut and leave to stand for a minute so that it can melt into the soup. Blend until smooth.
Stir in the lime juice, fresh coriander and salt and pepper to taste, and let cool. This will keep in the fridge sealed for four days or portion control then freeze.
How to control portions when freezing foods
When freezing cooked food, choose glass jars, small plastic seal-able containers, small enamel or plastic casserole dishes, or stainless steel containers. Be sure to allow plenty of space at the top when filling, since freezing expands the contents. Then, wrap with cellophane and label with a description and the date the food was cooked. Using smaller portions makes food quicker to reheat and helps you waste less food. Muffin tins are also ideal for freezing individual portions of soup and stew.