Updated: Dec 23, 2020
When you're trying to juggle work and family, and time is of the essence, it's far easier to stick to cooking meals you know and could prepare blindfolded or in your sleep. This has its benefits - one being, you really perfect the dishes. However, the downside is, by eating a repetitive diet, you're limiting the range of nutrients & phytonutrients you receive, and meal times become predictable and boring. We all know "variety is the spice of life".
To get myself out of this rut, I thought I'd review all the food box delivery services. Hopefully this will also put me in a position to guide clients towards the most delicious & effect ways to experiment with their diet, cook fresh and eat less processed food, without investing too much time & effort.
It's quite remarkable just how many 'recipe box' options have suddenly become available. And if these on and off 'lock-ups' are here to stay for a while, I'm sure many more of these companies will continue to emerge. I usually resort to recipes I have typed on my computer, but most of these companies supply you with step by step printed recipe instructions. Sadly, it's probably too late to add a cookbook stand to Santa's list, so I may need to message Santa Amazon:)
Benji chose 'Hello Fresh' as our first contender. A big thumbs up was they're offering 50% off first orders and 35% off the following three weeks. We selected 5 days worth of dinners - one meat, two chicken dishes, and two all-veggie dishes. The boxes included a range of tasty, easy to follow recipes (Benji, at 14, single-handedly cooked a lot of them:). It was very convenient not having to plan the evening meals, but if it's quality ingredients and organic you're looking for, Hello Fresh isn't the answer (at £4.20 per serving / person for the 'classic box' I wasn't really expecting Daylesford organic chicken or gluten-free pasta though!:)
So after 3 weeks with Hello Fresh, I'm armed with four healthy, satisfying vegan and chicken dishes that I'll be using in the future & recommending to clients (with a few adaptations). My veggie dishes were really appetising - filled with curry powder, American style spice mix, garlic, harissa, cumin, and red chilli. So spice was the variety of my life. Here's my favourite 'Hello Fresh' recipe...
CREAMY AUBERGINE CURRY
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 aubergine, washed.
1 large brown onion
1 large garlic clove
1 thumb-sized knob of root ginger
1 small punnet of chestnut mushrooms
1 large white potato
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp curry powder
400ml coconut milk
100 - 200ml Cook With M&S vegetable stock (or 1 cube or 1 tsp of vegetable stock / bouillon powder with 100ml water)
250g pre-cooked puy lentils (e.g. Merchant Gourmet)
1 handful of fresh coriander
1. Preheat the oven to 220C / 425F. Trim the aubergine then halve lengthways. Chop each half into four long strips then chop widthways into roughly 2cm pieces. Pop on a baking sheet or pyrex dish and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, spread out, and roast on the top shelf of the oven until the aubergine is soft in the middle and golden at the edges (20-25 minutes). Turn halfway through cooking.
2. Halve, peel and thinly slice the onion. Peel and grate the garlic (or use a garlic crusher) and grate the ginger. Quarter the mushrooms. Chop the potato into 1cm chunks (no need to peel).
3. Place the curry powder in a large saucepan and cook on a low heat until the aroma is released. Then add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the saucepan on medium heat. Add the mushroom and stir and cook until the they are lightly browned (4-5 mins). Add the onion, stir together and cook until softened (approx. 4-5 mins). Add the garlic, ginger, and tomato puree and cook for 1 minute. Add a pinch of salt & pepper.
4. Pour in the coconut milk and 100ml veg stock. Stir in the potato chunks (add additional stock if needed). Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, and simmer until the potato is cooked (approx 25-30 minutes). Stir every 5 minutes.
5. Add the lentils and roasted aubergine and cook until the lentils are warmed through. Chop the coriander and stir in half the amount.
6. To serve: Squeeze in half the lime juice, season and then taste to see if more lime juice is required. Serve in bowls topped with chopped coriander.
NB: 15 minutes before the end of cooking, I also added a pack of broccoli rabe (cut in to chunks) for additional green veggies.