Chilli Quorn Carne Another Healthy Heart Meal

Chilli Con Carne Quorn style

After my previous attempt at “healthy” chilli –Turkey mince chilli– I was a bit skeptical about trying another variation on the healthy alternative theme.

Despite my best efforts the turkey chilli, even with all the extra spices added, still tasted like turkey chilli. It was edible sure, but it was not a screaming success.

I had previously thought about using Quorn. Quorn for the uninitiated is a meat substitute manufactured in the United Kingdom. It is available in 11 countries, the USA being one of them.

Now here’s the important bit.

It’s good.

My first introduction to the product was when my daughter Meg was in high school and in a cookery class. Her teacher had insisted that her class make a pizza with this ham substitute called Quorn.

I did not like it. The texture was funny and even though it did taste faintly of ham the texture of it didn’t match the taste. Fortunately they’ve improved on their imitation meat textures. Improved enough for me to give it a second chance.

Since my heart attack and the resultant surgery I’ve had to completely restructure my diet as well as my lifestyle. I’ve been trying to share each new recipe as I try them.

For the record we’ve tried the winter vegetable lasagna:

Scrumptious.

And the turkey Chilli Con Carne:

Chilli Con Carne with turkey mince

In my blog post For ‘Every Beat of My Heart’ Thanks I mentioned Quorn but had decided that it was too expensive. The packet of mince I’d seen in the store was priced at £1.85 for 300 grams. I had decided that I would need at least 2 packets to make chilli con carne.

That would have made it pretty expensive so I gave it a miss. Actually the reverse was true. It was extremely cost effective. Cost effective because you only need one 300g packet to make chilli.

The recipe is simple and just like making regular chilli –the meaty type– and it tastes delicious. If you’re interested, I’ll pass the recipe on before the end of the post.

But first I’d like to tell you what Quorn is made of. According to Wikipedia Quorn is made of fungi:

Quorn is made from the soil mould Fusarium venenatum strain PTA-2684 (previously misidentified as the parasitic mold Fusarium graminearum [13]). The fungus is grown in continually oxygenated water in large, otherwise sterile fermentation tanks. During the growth phase, glucose is added as a food for the fungus, as are various vitamins and minerals (to improve the food value of the resulting product). The resulting mycoprotein is then extracted and heat-treated to remove excess levels of RNA. Previous attempts to produce such fermented protein foodstuffs were thwarted by excessive levels of DNA or RNA; without the heat treatment, purine, found in nucleic acids, is metabolised by humans, producing uric acid, which can lead to gout.[14]

The product is dried and mixed with chicken egg albumen, which acts as a binder. It is then textured, giving it some of the grained character of meat, and pressed either into a mince (resembling ground beef), forms resembling breasts, meatballs, turkey roasts, or into chunks (resembling diced chicken breast). In these forms, Quorn has a varying colour and a mild flavour resembling the imitated meat product, and is suitable for use as a replacement for meat in many dishes, such as stews and casseroles.[citation needed] The final Quorn product is high in protein and dietary fibre and is low in saturated fat and salt. It contains less dietary iron than do most meats.

The different tastes and forms of Quorn are results of industrial processing of the raw fungus.

Okay, boring science class over. I just felt that you ought to know what this tasty stuff is made of. It doesn’t bother me, because it tastes brilliant and is better for my heart than my lifetime favorite of meat.

  • 300g pack of Quorn Mince
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 large flat mushrooms diced
  • 2 tsp of chilli powder
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 400g can of kidney beans
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • garlic powder approximately 1/4 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp unrefined sugar
  • 1 tsp of mixed herbs

Cook the above ingredients for approximately 15 minutes while you boil up a cup of rice –you can use wild rice– and grate a bit of light mature cheese for a topping.

This will feed four or if you are a family of two it will stretch for two meals.

This recipe is actually cheaper than making it with traditional beef mince (hamburger).

If you can get Quorn where you live, give it a try and let me know what you think of it!

Blogging for Dough?

The all new blogging for dollars will be up next.

Call me cynical but it seems to me that the blogging world has become the last bastion of the entrepreneurial individual who is scrambling to make a success of his or her new business.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

Just look at Twitter — another haven for the entrepreneur — just look at how many tweets are dedicated to “making more money with your blog” and “how to drive more customers to your blog-site. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I want to see if I’m exaggerating or not.

Back so soon?

You’ll have noticed, that Twitter is full of these helpful tweets. I know I noticed and it made me question why folks blog.

I know why I do.

I think I know why a lot of folks whose blogs I follow do. But you only have to look at your spam list to see that there are a lot of folks in the blogging verse who are trying to make money.

I don’t blame them. I was interested when I first started blogging, that on the blogger.com site that I first used, I saw that you could put adverts on your blog and get some pennies from the advertisers. I even tried to monetize my site.

Unfortunately, unless you live within the shores of the US continent, you cannot monetize your account. I was a bit nonplussed.  It did not (and still doesn’t) seem very fair. Most of my blogging audience reside in the US. I have a great spread over the rest of the world, but the good ol’ USA always comes first in terms of “readership.”

I suppose I am a little bitter about not being able to make a little change off my blogging. Not enough to really complain though. Just a little grousing to let the world know how I feel about it.

And of course that’s the crux of the matter.  I blog so I can let the world know how I feel about things.

Oh yay! Oh Yay! Stay tuned for my thoughts on world peace!

Whether it’s about the latest film I’ve seen or the horror of the Dark Knight shootings. I want to get my two penneth worth out there for folks to see. Not because I think I’m clever enough or sage enough to make a difference one way or the other, but because I can.

I’ve always been able to put two words together in a sentence and not sound too idiotic. This makes me a communicator. Not necessarily a great one, but a communicator nonetheless.

Because I have this ability, I like to communicate. Of course it helps the whole process when someone comments on something you’ve written. Even if it’s to (intelligently) disagree. I’m also pleased if someone takes a split-second to ‘like’ what I’ve written.

This all makes it seem more like communication. Without feedback for your real (or imagined) audience your blog starts to feel a little like you’re standing on a street corner wearing a placard that says “The end is nigh” and you are shouting to a unlistening, uncaring public.

So while I’m not blogging for monetary recompense aka dough, I am blogging for reward of a different nature.

The reward of knowing that somebody out there is listening and I can leave my placard at home.

Healthy Heart Lasagne or Tastes Good & Good For You

My lovely assistant (actually Meg was in charge, there’s just not a picture of me doing anything).

If these pictures look a little fuzzy or a bit out of focus, it’s because I was weak from hunger while we labored our way through the first of my ‘healthy heart’ meals that were on my new FLORA proactiv (cholesterol lowering butter replacement) recipe booklet.

Out of all the recipes listed, the Winter Vegetable Lasagna looked the most straightforward and easy to follow. Amazingly it was fairly easy to prepare, although getting the ingredients was a little challenging.

Now I don’t know what classifies as “winter vegetables” where you live, but over in the UK it’s veg of the root variety. Parsnips, sweet potatoes, swede, carrots, onions, and so on. All of these bar the swede were used in the lasagna and the only ‘non-root’ vegetable was the red pepper that the recipe called for.

Now I will hold my hand up and state quite loudly that I like my vegetables. Not as much as meat though, there’s just something about tearing at the cooked flesh of most animals with my teeth that appeals to the Neanderthal in me. Unfortunately since my “life changing event” in August I’m having to rethink my mealtime choices.

One of the first things that the pharmacist gave me when I went in for my first wheelbarrow full of pills and potions that my new condition required was a recipe book. It does have quite a few little healthy meals in it and if you’re interested they also have a website with loads more recipes and food ideas to tempt your taste buds. FLORA.com just click on the link and have a drooling look or two at what’s on show.

The recipe is simple and easy (it really is, otherwise I couldn’t have helped at all) just have a look:

Preparation time
35 to 40 minutes
Cooking time
35 to 40 minutes
Serves
4
Course
Mains and soups
Main ingredient
Vegetables
Ingredients:

2 tbsps olive oil
1 red onion, peeled, cut into wedges
2 parsnips, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
1 courgette
1 red pepper, diced
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp oregano or thyme
6 sheets no-cook lasagna
25g (1oz) Flora Buttery spread
25g (1oz) flour
350ml skimmed milk
55g (2oz) reduced fat Cheddar cheese, grated
½ tsp English mustard

The recipe won’t tell you, but these puppies need roasting for about 45 to 50 minutes.

Method
1. Cut the parsnips, sweet potato, carrot and courgette into chunks and place in a roasting tin. Add the onions and pepper, drizzle with oil and roast in a preheated oven at 180˚C (fan assisted)/gas mark 5 for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked.
2. When cooked, mix with the tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli powder and herbs.
3. Meanwhile prepare the sauce by placing the Flora Buttery spread and flour into a saucepan. Add the skimmed milk gradually, constantly stirring over a moderate heat. Bring to the boil.
4. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until smooth and thickened. Add half the cheese and the mustard.
5. Assemble the lasagna by placing half the vegetables in a ovenproof dish, cover with three sheets of lasagna and top with half the sauce. Repeat layers ending with cheese sauce.
6. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown.
Now the only thing we left out was the English Mustard. We also added a bit of extra cheese. The mustard was left out because Meg’s not a huge fan of the taste and the extra cheese was to meet my culinary requirements.

The smell while the vegetables were roasting prior to adding the cheese sauce and the lasagna sheets was maddening. If I could figure out a way to include the aroma here, I would.

I will warn you that the measurements are English measures. If you look on the net though you’ll find quite a few different sites that will convert those pesky “foreign” measurements to something that US kitchens can use. I’d convert them myself, but hey, I never claimed to be Martha Stewart.

But do take that extra minute or two to get the measurements converted and don’t be tempted to just use the existing recipe as is. Trust me when I say, it won’t taste the same and it may even not be edible.

The end result is an aroma to die for and a taste that (for me anyway) is surprisingly delicious.

Scrumptious

The recipe states that it will feed four folks and it probably can. It certainly stretched to two meals for Meg and me. There is also a menu for homemade garlic bread but, as we did not prepare that, I’ve left it out.

You can find that recipe, along with the one for the lasagna on the website I linked above.

I was a bit leery about the new dietary requirements that awaited me after my heart attack but I think that I can relax a bit. If only a few recipes are as good as this one, I think I’m going to like my new menus and my heart will hopefully thank me.