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Packets, packets everywhere! By Andrea Murray

A client recently inspired me to write this next blog due to the many I have seen who have a similar addiction to ‘packets’, when referring to packets I mean dried packets for dishes like casseroles, sheppard’s pie, cottage pies and also sauces for dishes like spaghetti bolognaise. For many it is the convenience of frying off some meat and putting in a packet or a jar. However for many it can often be just not knowing how easy it is to add these herbs or tins of tomatoes yourself.

So what is wrong with a packet or ready-made jar? Firstly they are expensive; secondly more importantly you don’t know exactly what is in them. In many there is added salt and sugars which are both bad for health – salt for the management of blood pressure and sugars for the excess empty calories they contain. There can also be stabilisers, additives and potentially other chemicals which when you make from scratch you just don’t get. On this note – below is my recipe for what is often the worst culprit Spaghetti Bolognaise, this has some added twists so for any pure Italians out there please don’t be upset – I am all about nutrition, taste and speed!

The grating of the vegetables in the recipe below is a great trick for picky eaters especially any parents who struggle getting vegetables into their little ones. The lentils you won’t even notice they are in there: they are an excellent vegetarian source of protein, full of fibre and contain essential nutrients like folate, magnesium, iron and molybdenum, a definite wonderfood.

Andrea’s Spaghetti Bolognaise


1 packet of Organic round beef mince (380g)

1 large red onion finely chopped or grated in food processor

5/6 cloves of garlic

1 courgette, diced or grated in food processor

2/3 sticks of celery, finely chopped or grated in food processor

2/3 carrots diced, or grated in food processor

1 red pepper diced

Button mushrooms quartered (optional)

Large jar of passata (680g) or 2 tins of chopped tomatoes

Glass of red wine (if available) or ½ pint of beef/vegetable stock

Mug of split red lentils

1 tablespoon of dried oregano or a handful of fresh basil

Olive oil

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan or the pot you are going to cook in and brown your meat. Once browned add all your vegetables and soften them down in the oil and meat juices. Prior to adding the liquids pop in your oregano and split red lentils and give it all a nice stir. At this point add your stock or wine and your passata or tins of tomatoes. Simmer gently on top of the hob with a lid on for 1.5 hours or even easier pop into the oven at 180 for the same amount of time.

This can be made in about 10-15 minutes so its super quick, easy and really tasty. For anyone trying to lose a bit of weight serve on a bed of ribboned (long strips made by your hand peeler) carrots and courgettes popped into boiling water for 1-2 minutes and anyone on a wheat free diet serve with quinoa . For all the rest of you serve with wholemeal spaghetti with some parmesan on top – delicious!

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