This incredibly easy recipe uses only a few ingredients, but tastes great. You can vary the grains depending on what you have in the cupboard, or what you like to eat, but the pack of lentils I use here has lots of great flavour which really adds to the dish, so I would strongly recommend it.
I’ve written this recipe as part of a new lifestyle and wellness programme especially designed for managing the menopause by pilates expert Jo Tuffrey
I’m not a nutritionist, but I do know that the most important thing to remember when eating during menopause, is to ensure you have a balanced plate of food. That means it needs to include wholegrain carbs for slow release energy, a good source of protein (salmon is good because it’s high in vitamin D), healthy unsaturated fats (so that’s things like olive oil, nuts, seeds etc), and preferably some calcium too. Osteoporosis can be an issue during menopause, so it’s important to look after your bones. Calcium and vitamin D are both critical for this.
I hope that this recipe ticks all of those nutrition boxes, but also tastes delicious and feels comforting, warming and wholesome to eat.
Serves: 2 Prepare: 5 minutes Cook: 10-12 minutes
2 x 250g lightly smoked salmon fillets (or unsmoked, if you prefer) Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle 200g Tenderstem broccoli (or other favourite green veg) About 10-15g basil 250g pack Merchant Gourmet Tomatoey French Puy & Green Lentils 2 tbsp half fat crème fraiche
Preheat the oven to 220C, gas mark 7. Line a baking sheet with foil. Put the salmon on top, skin-side down. Drizzle with olive oil and season well. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just cooked through.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pan of water to the boil. Cook the broccoli for 4 minutes, then drain and keep warm.
Return the pan to a low heat. Trim then finely chop the basil stalks. Place them into the pan with the lentils and 2-3 tbsp water. Cook over a low heat for 2-3 minutes, until piping hot.
When the salmon is cooked, stir the crème fraiche and whole basil leaves through the lentils. Spoon onto warm plates. Serve the salmon, leaving the skin behind on the foil (unless you like to eat it), on top of the lentils, with the broccoli, seasoned and drizzled with olive oil, on the side.
Quick and easy cookies, packed with nutrient-rich oats and wholemeal flour. They’re really easy to make too, so they’re perfect as a quick and satisfying bake, or for making with children over the summer holiday’s.
Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Mix the flour, baking powder, oats, sugar and mixed spice together in a large bowl.
Melt the butter, syrup and milk together in a small saucepan over a low heat or in the microwave, until just melted. Pour it over the oat mixture and stir everything together until evenly coated.
Spoon the mixture into 12 rounds on the prepared tray – I like to use a round cookie cutter as a guide so they all end up about the same size – and leaving space between each biscuit as they will spread during cooking.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden. As soon as the tray comes out of the oven, use a large heatproof cutter to ‘scoot’ the hot biscuits – place the cutter over each cookie and swirl it inside the cutter to round the edges. See below. That way they all end up the same size and shape! Leave to cool on the tray.
Love Marmite, or loathe it, these easy spirals are perfect for lunch boxes or picnics. If you really can’t stand Marmite, just leave it out and use only your favourite cheese; or try spreading with pesto or ‘nduja instead. And if you’re in a hurry, then a batch of savoury scone dough can be used in place of the bread (no proving required), or for ease you could use a 500g pack of bread mix, to save all the weighing and measuring.
Prepare: 25 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Makes: 12
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting 7g sachet fast action yeast ½ tsp salt ½ tsp sugar 2 tbsp Marmite, or to taste (the squeezy one is easier to use for this recipe, if you have it) 100g Cheddar cheese, grated
Place the flour into a large bowl. Put the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt and sugar on the other side. Gradually mix in 250-300ml water until very soft.
Keep kneading either by hand or with a stand mixer until the bowl is clean and the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6 and line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Turn onto a floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll into a large rectangle – about 35-40×25-30cm. Spread or squeeze over the marmite, as evenly as possible, then scatter over the cheese. Starting at the long edge in front of you, roll up, like a swiss roll. Then using a sharp knife, cut into 12 even pieces.
Place cut-sides up on the prepared tray and place into the oven for 20 minutes, or until bubbling, risen and golden. Leave to cool slightly and serve warm or cold. They are best on the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container for a day or two.
These meatballs are really quick and easy to make, so they’re perfect for a meal during the week. They also contain lots of hidden veg, so they are great for increasing your daily quota, or to help when it comes to feeding fussy children.
You can also freeze them, and the sauce (either together or separately) so they’re always ready to use. Just defrost in the fridge overnight, and be sure to heat them thoroughly before eating.
Put the onion, celery, carrot and garlic into a food processor and blitz until very finely chopped (or you can do this by hand). Reserve 2 tablespoons of the mixture for the meatballs.
Warm the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan or shallow casserole, add the vegetable mixture, along with the thyme (if using), and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, filling up each empty can with water and adding that to the pan too. Season with the sugar, 1 tsp sea salt flakes and some pepper. Stir well and let the mixture come to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer gently while you make the meatballs.
Put the reserved chopped vegetables into a large bowl with the mince, breadcrumbs, cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Season with 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes and mix together with your hands.
Dampen your hands with a little cold water and roll teaspoon sized pieces of mince into balls. Put each one onto a large, lined baking tray or board as you go, to make about 50 little meatballs (or fewer bigger ones! It’s up to you!).
Drop the meatballs gently into the simmering sauce – working from the outside of the pan, inwards, in concentric circles. Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, turning the balls over halfway through, until thoroughly cooked and there is no pink meat. Serve with pasta, rice, couscous or even a jacket potato or wrap.
This deliciously rich pudding makes it’s own gooey sauce as it cooks. It’s one of those strange self-saucing bakes where you pour the sauce over the top of the cake batter, before baking. Then the layers swap over in the oven. We call it an ‘impossible pudding’ in our house.
Prepare: 15 minutes Cook: 30 minutes Serves: 8
100g butter , melted, plus extra for greasing 250g self-raising flour 140g caster sugar 75g cocoa 1 tsp baking powder 1 large orange, finely grated zest and juice 3 medium eggs 150ml milk 100g orange dark or milk chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Lindt orange milk chocolate) 200g light soft brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 and grease a 2 litre ovenproof baking dish with a little butter. Put the flour, caster sugar, 50g of the cocoa, baking powder, orange zest and a pinch of sea salt flakes in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk the orange juice, eggs, melted butter and milk together, then gradually pour this onto the dry ingredients, whisking throughout, until smooth. Stir in the chocolate pieces. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish.
Mix 300ml freshly-boiled water with the soft brown sugar and remaining 25g cocoa. Pour this all over the pudding batter – don’t worry, it will look really odd and unappetising at this stage!
Bake for 30 minutes, until the surface looks firm and risen. Spoon into serving bowls, together with the rich, glossy sauce beneath. Eat immediately with cream, custard or vanilla ice cream.
Top tip: If you don’t like chocolate and orange together, just leave out the fruit (adding a little extra milk to loosen the sponge) and use plain dark or milk chocolate instead.
You can even do this in a slow cooker: Remove and grease the slow cooker pot. Follow steps 1 and 2 above, then spoon the mixture into the slow cooker pot. Mix 275-285ml (1/2 pint) freshly-boiled water with the soft brown sugar and remaining 25g cocoa then pour this over the batter. Return the pot to the slow cooker base, cover and cook on high for 3 hours, until firm and risen.
This recipe couldn’t be easier. It’s super tasty and nourishing – perfect for family meals or a bit of easy entertaining. You can make it ahead if you like too – just to make things even easier. Keep reading to find out how…
Prepare: 10 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Serves: 6
500ml whole milk 2 fresh bay leaves 1 small onion, finely chopped 3-4 anchovies in olive oil, drained and chopped 4 tbsp cornflour 4 tbsp dry white wine 750g mixed fish fillet (haddock, cod, salmon), skinned, in large chunks 150-250g raw, peeled king prawns 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped 75g fresh breadcrumbs 25g Parmesan, finely grated
Preheat the grill to medium. Pour the milk into a large, shallow, ovenproof and flameproof casserole dish (or use a saucepan and transfer to an ovenproof dish later). Add the bay leaves, onion and anchovies and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes or until the onion is tender.
Mix the cornflour with 4 tbsp cold water to make a paste. Stir into the milk and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until thickened slightly.
Stir in the white wine and then the fish. Season and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the prawns and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until the prawns are pink. Remove the bay leaves, then add the parsley.
If needed, transfer the mixture into a 2 litre ovenproof dish. Mix the breadcrumbs and cheese together, then scatter over the top of the fish. Grill for 5 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately. Great with steamed green beans.
Top tips: if you’re a fan of peas, add a few handfuls of frozen or fresh peas to the mixture at the same time as the fish. And if you want to make this ahead, just make the fish layer, then cool, cover and chill for up to 24 hours, then when ready to eat, reheat gently and add the crumbs at the last minute and continue as above.
These super easy cookies are made with just 5 ingredients. They are like a chocolate shortbread really – buttery, crumbly and delicious. Add some choc chunks too if you like, or drizzle melted chocolate over them too once cooled. Keep reading for my top tip on how to get them all a beautifully even, round shape too….
Mix the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour and cocoa, followed by the orange zest.
Roll the dough into a log about 6-7cm thick – or adjust, depending on how big or small your want your cookies. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, until firm, or for up to 5 days. The dough can also be frozen at this stage, for up to 1 month.
Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4. Using a sharp knife, cut the unwrapped log into 1cm-thick rounds. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from the oven and immediately, while they are still hot, use a round cutter, just bigger than the cookies, to shape each one like this….see the video below…this is called cookie scooting. Leave them to cool on the tray.
This easy recipe is perfect for warming you up on a cold Autumnal day. They’re great with sausages and meats, or scattered over a salad or into soup to make it more substantial. I’ve even been known to add them to a bolognaise to increase the veg quota without the children being any the wiser. They also freeze really well – the lentils, not the children.
425g lentils (brown, green or Puy) 1 tbsp olive oil 2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp garlic granules 1 onion, diced 2 sticks celery, diced 2 carrots, peeled and diced A few thyme sprigs (I keep mine in the freezer then add them straight from frozen) 3 bay leaves (as above – keep them in the freezer) 800ml vegetable stock, hot 6 cavolo nero leaves, stalks removed, finely shredded
Rinse the lentils under cold running water in a sieve then drain well.
Warm the oil in a wide ovenproof cast iron pan then add the garlic or garlic granules, and the onion, celery and carrot. Cover and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, until softened.
Add the lentils and mix well to coat in the oil. Add the herbs, followed by the stock. Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the lentils are as tender as you like them, and have absorbed almost all the liquid. Alternatively, you can do this in a preheated oven at 170C, gas mark 3.
Mix the cavolo nero into the lentils and leave to wilt. Season and serve, or set aside to cool.
Tip: these lentils will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be eaten cold or hot – just make sure you reheat them really thoroughly before eating. The same applies if you are freezing them – add a little extra stock or water too during reheating if they look a little dry.
This traybake is incredibly easy to make and tastes delicious. Better still my children love it and have zero idea that they’re actually eating vegetables!! It’s based on the recipe from page 18 of Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a domestic goddess’, with a few tweaks here and there which I think make life easier.
1 large courgette (300-350g), washed and dried 2 large eggs 125ml vegetable oil 150g caster sugar Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon Finely grated zest 1/2 lime 225g self-raising flour 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1/2 tsp baking powder
For the cream cheese frosting: 100g icing sugar 200g cream cheese Juice of 1/2 lime, plus some zest to serve (optional) Juice of 1/2 small lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 and line a 20x30cm rectangular tin. Coarsely grate the courgette and put in a sieve over the sink to drain a little.
2. Put the eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl and beat well until all the sugar has dissolved and you have a creamy batter. Add the lemon and lime zests.
3. Sieve the flour, bicarb and baking powder into the bowl and mix well to combine, then stir in the courgette. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.
4. To make the frosting, sieve the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cream cheese and citrus juices. Whisk thoroughly until smooth and thickened. Spread onto the cake. I like to put the cake into the fridge for at least 1-2 hours at this point but you can eat it immediately.
Cook’s tip: the cake keeps really well in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. I actually think it’s better about 24-48 hours it’s baked.
30g unsalted butter 3 tbsp clear honey 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 150g plain flour 1 1/4 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1/2 tsp mixed spice Large pinch sea salt flakes 2 large, very ripe bananas Sesame seeds, to sprinkle
Preheat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5 and line a 20x20cm square tin with baking parchment.
Warm the butter, honey and vanilla extract in a small pan over a low heat until melted. Then set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, put the flour, baking powder, bicarb, mixed spice and salt into a large bowl. Mash the bananas and mix with the butter mixture. Don’t over mix – it should be lumpy, but all the flour should be incorporated.
Pour into the prepared tin, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake for 20 minutes until springy to touch. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares.
Top tip: you could also spoon the mixture into 12 muffin cases – they might take 20-25 minutes to cook though. Try swapping the sesame seeds for roughly chopped walnuts, or a blend of pumpkin, sunflower and linseeds.