I’ve had a few days off, so I’ve been trying to get a little bit more organised with cooking. Lately, it feels like we’ve been living off pasta and ready meals to sort us out on work days. Yesterday I went shopping for some slightly more wholesome, plant-based nosh. Like I said in Sunday’s post, I’m a massive foodie. For me, deciding to cut back on meat and animal products doesn’t mean that I’m going to miss out on good, delicious food that I still crave when I’m hungry. So, just because I’m avoiding certain things, it doesn’t mean I’m going to start forcing myself to eat houmous and celery sticks. I’ll point out, too, that I’m not being super strict – my aim is just to significantly cut back, so I’ll make choices where I can and where I’m cooking.
The main change I’ve made is including a substantial amount of nuts in my diet. I’m only a few days in and have obviously got a massive amount of learning to do, but I’ve found that a lot of my protein is coming from nuts at the moment. I’m not normally a huge fan of nuts and seeds, so when I’ve cut meat out of my diet before, I’ve surived mostly on eggs and milk for sources of protein, but now that I’m eating them more I’m finding that I like the different flavours of nuts and seeds and love adding them to things I’m making for breakfast or lunch, whether sweet or savory. Plus, I’ve switched to almond milk instead of cow’s milk. Chris has a peanut allergy (I don’t like them either), but tries to avoid tree nuts too as they seem to set him off, so I don’t add any nuts to anything I make that we eat together, so dinners especially are normally nut free.
Along with being lactose intolerant, I’m also gluten intolerant (wahey, go me!), so it naturally makes sense for me to avoid gluten. I’m a lactose and gluten intolerant cheese and bread lover, however. It makes no sense whatsoever, but I think cheese is the thing I’ll miss most.
My trolley yesterday was made up of vegetables, including lots of leafy greens, plenty of fruit, nuts, grains… that sort of thing. Next week I’ll take a picture of my shopping and share with you what I’m eating.
Anyway, dinnertime! I decided to make a really simple risotto yesterday with roasted butternut squash and it was pretty delicious. My skin is actually allergic to butternut squash, so I have to wear gloves when I prepare it. It’s so strange! I’d never had a problem until a couple of months ago. At least I can still eat it. As long as I can eat it, I’m happy.
Butternut Squash Risotto
1 large/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 tbsp rosemary
2 vegetable stock cubes
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
300g risotto rice (I like arborio)
200ml white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Place the butternut squash in a roasting dish and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, then scatter the rosemary over the squash and season with salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until soft and slightly brown.
- Meanwhile, add 1 litre of boiling water to the stock cubes and stir until the cubes dissolve and it forms a stock.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan on a low heat. Add the onion, garlic and celery and fry until softened. Then, turn up to a low-medium heat and add the rice. Fry the rice for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to look translucent. Add the white wine and lemon juice and continue to stir until the wine has cooked into the rice.
- Now, gradually add the stock, a ladle at a time, ensuring that each ladle is fully cooked into the rice before adding another. Stir regularly to ensure the rice absorbs the stock. This should take about 20-25 minutes.
- Finally, season the risotto with salt, pepper and herbs to taste. Remove the butternut squash from the oven and serve with the risotto.
- Keep the seeds from the centre of the butternut squash. Toast them in a preheated oven at 200°C/gas mark 6 for 5 minutes, or until browned slightly. They’re delicious on top of your risotto or in salads.
- Here, I’ve served the butternut squash risotto with kale crisps, which are super easy, absolutely delicious and so moreish! I’ll upload a recipe later on in the week.
I hope you’ve found this helpful! Happy cooking!