Ask Judi

Our exclusive collaboration with food writer Judi Rose continues with our Ask Judi Q&A. Here the culinary expert, best known for her healthy, tasty and easy to prepare recipes, answers some of the cooking conundrums you have been sending us. 

Judi will be answering more of your cooking and baking dilemmas over the coming weeks, so message our Facebook page with your questions. Anyone who does will be entered into a draw to win one of ten signed copies of Judi’s new book, To Life! Healthy Jewish Food.

Q1. Can you recommend a family meal that will be suitable for meat eaters and a vegan?

A1.  I’m always looking for ways to make things easy and cooking two different mains for the same meal isn’t one of them!

One of my favourite dishes that even meat eaters love is a new-style paella. It’s filled with the “meaty” taste and texture of garlic-tossed chestnut mushrooms, marinated artichokes, and bite tender asparagus and garlickly green beans, embedded in moist, chewy and nutty tasting pearled spelt or barley. And for die-hard meat-lovers, you can just add some sautéed chicken thighs before serving.

Besides being delicious, whole grains like spelt or barely instead of the traditional white rice provides loads dietary fibre that’s essential for heart and gut health.

IMAGE: Paella Valenciana 

Q2. I struggle to get the kids to eat enough vegetables, how can I make them more appealing?

A2. Most kids are more likely eat foods they’ve helped to make. Mini pizzas topped with roasted veggies and cheese are a good great choice - kids can even make, knead and shape the dough for the base, then arrange with baby tomatoes, roasted peppers, sweetcorn or other veggies on top before baking.

Q3. Can I roll out pizza dough and freeze it or does it need to be cooked first?

A3. Making pizza dough is really quick and easy (assuming you can get hold of instant yeast!) You can make it the day before then pop in a zipper bag to rise overnight in the fridge. Then divide it into pizza-size portions and either freeze in balls or roll out into bases and layer between sheets of parchment paper. Defrost overnight in the fridge before topping and baking. If making your own pizza dough isn’t on the menu, just add the toppings to fresh flatbread or naan before baking.

IMAGE: Roasted Vegetable Pizzette

Q4. Pasta dishes are a firm favourite at mealtimes in our household, can you suggest a crowd pleaser?

A4. One of our family favourites is a delicious pasta bake made with giant shells stuffed with cheese and spinach. If can fill the cooked pasta ahead and chill before baking it, some of the white carbs are converted to a type of gut-healthy fibre called resistant starch. You can also freeze the filled pasta before baking, then defrost overnight in the fridge before baking.

IMAGE: Conchiglioni Al Forno

Q5. Are there recipes in your new book that are good for Gluten free diets?

A5. About two-thirds of the recipes in the book our gluten free and range from soup to cakes. Some of my personal favourites that are also easy to make are Chicken and Apricot Tagine, Summer Berry Crisp and Citrus Polenta Cake with fresh orange.

IMAGE: Citrus & Polenta Cake

Q6. How can I satisfy my sweet tooth without caving in to sugary snacks?

A6. Dark chocolate and pomegranate discs are a great way to satisfy your chocolate urge, and also contain lots of antioxidants, plus nuts for protein. A handful of raisins or sultanas in fruit-based cakes and desserts adds natural sweetness, meaning you can cut right down (and even omit) added sugar while adding more fibre which helps offset the negative effects of sugar. For apple pies, crumbles and strudels choose dessert apples like Braeburn, Jazz and Pink Lady rather than tart, sour varieties such as Bramley or Granny Smith.

IMAGE: Chocolate & Pomegranate Discs

Buy Judi's Book

The recipes are extracted from Judi’s new book, To Life! Healthy Jewish Food which is available to BUY NOW from YouCaxton Publications.

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