Healthier takes on two old favourites: curry and baked beans

Who doesn’t love baked beans? And who doesn’t love curry? Both are favourites in British cuisine, and are great comfort foods. While most people rely on unhealthy takeaways or tins to satisfy the craving, there are quick, easy ways to create healthier alternatives of these favourites at home. 

Both of these recipes were developed for a cookery lesson with a client who wanted quick, easy meal options (and things that he could use to stock the freezer) and things that were family-friendly. 

The recipes came about when I asked him what he liked to eat and cook and both came up, so I wanted to take all of these factors into account and give him some recipes that he would be more likely to make and enjoy. I also make these regularly for my own family and they are firm favourites. Depending on who you are cooking for, feel free to add more spice.

Have a go and let me know what you think!

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

This curry recipe uses an easy masala as its base. The masala recipe has been adapted from one given to me by a Punjabi friend’s mum, Mama Jhita (as I like to call her). Use the masala base to create a range of curries, but this recipe uses chickpeas and spinach, a firm curry favourite. Enjoy this curry with brown rice, chopped coriander and the cucumber raita on the side.

Serves 4 (as a main) or 6 (as a side)

  • 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • ¼ red or green chilli, de-seeded (use more if you’d like this spicy)
  • 5 cm piece of ginger
  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes diced
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground tumeric
  • 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I often use the Navarrico beans from a jar–they are superb)
  • 3 handfuls of chopped spinach
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 small bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • A few wedges of lime to squeeze over
  1. First make the masala by putting the onion, chilli and ginger into a food processer and blending it into a paste.
  2. Heat a large frying pan and melt the oil. Cook the onion, chilli and ginger paste in the oil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes into the pan allow these to cook down for approximately 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pan’s content resembles a sauce.
  4. Add in the spices and stir.
  5. Add the chickpeas to the pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped spinach and stir. Allow this to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Sea salt to taste and garnish with fresh coriander and a squeeze or two of lime. Serve with brown or white basmati rice, depending on your preference.

Allergy info: none


Better Baked Beans

Better Baked Beans

This recipe is inspired by one of the biggest UK favourites, baked beans. Beans are a great source of protein and can enjoyed by veggies and non-veggies alike. This recipe makes a more flavourful version, which less sugar and salt. The mixture of the spices, molasses and apple cider vinegar give the beans a smokey, sweetness with a bit of a kick. These beans go perfectly on sourdough toast, in a jacket potato with cheese or work well as side dish.

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed chilli (optional)
  • 300ml tomato passata
  • 1 tsp unpasteurised apple cider vinegar
  • 800g tinned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (for an special treat, I use a jar of Navarrico haricot beans)
  • ½ tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp brown rice syrup
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in the pan and add the finely chopped onion. Cook for 5 minutes, over a medium heat and stir frequently to avoid burning.
  2. After 5 minutes, add the celery the frying pan and cook, stirring continuously.
  3. Next add the garlic and spices and cook until the spices become aromatic and the mixture is slightly sticky (about 5-8 minutes). Again, stir frequently to avoid burning.
  4. Stir the passata and vinegar into the mixture and allow this to cook for about 5 minutes before adding the beans and the molasses.
  5. Allow the mixture to reduce and the sauce to thicken, this should take about 10 minutes.
  6. Add sea salt and pepper to taste and scatter with freshly chopped parsley, if you wish.

Allergy info: celery

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