12 September 2011

GUEST BLOG: How homemade is healthier

By guest blogger JULIET LAWSON

Last Thursday evening, we ran our third session of our healthy eating course at the Angel Centre in Salford. On the menu were homemade healthy burgers with paprika potato wedges and salad, and a slightly spicy salsa.

It was a lively session with everyone getting stuck in right away. We got the potatoes washed and cut into wedges and talked about why oven-baked wedges are much healthier than chips but very delicious: it's all about how you cook them and what you season them with. We got the wedges on the stove for a parboil while we got on with the burgers. We finely chopped some onion and mixed it with lean steak mince, which is a lot lower in fat than what shop-bought burgers are made from. We made some plain burgers and some with chilli flakes, chopped coriander and a drizzle of tangy lime juice. Once we'd got them shaped and onto a tray, they went into the fridge while we drained and seasoned our parboiled potatoes. We tossed the wedges in smoked paprika (which everyone agreed smelled lovely and BBQ-y - it reminded someone thought of smoky bacon crisps!) and tipped them onto the vegetable oil-drizzled baking trays which went into the oven to roast. Boy, those commercial ovens are so hot they nearly take your eyebrows off! I hadn't realised what a hot business it was working in a commercial kitchen!

While the wedges were cooking, we got straight on with the salsa. After more onion-chopping (a few eyes streaming!), we added them to a frying pan with some oil and chopped garlic (everyone was happy to load up the garlic - lots of flavour), cumin, chilli and tinned tomatoes, then let this simmer for 10 minutes before taking the pan off the heat and adding chopped fresh coriander. So easy and so much cheaper and nicer than the salsa you buy in the shops. If you have a few spices and a tin of toms in your storecupboard, all you need is an onion and a bit of garlic and you've got enough for eight people!

Then it was action stations. The wedges were nearly ready and we still had the burgers to cook and the salad to prepare, so we split into groups. The plain burgers went on first. We were a bit nervous about using the big grill so we pan-fried them using a very small amount of oil in a non-stick pan. And we had a lovely bright salad with local lettuce, strips of red pepper, cucumber and tomatoes, tossed with a balsamic vinegar and mustard dressing.

We over-ran a little bit (oops) but nobody really minded and we tucked into our burger and wedges feast with gusto at the end. What's on the menu next week, Kim? Whatever it is, I'm sure it will be delicious.

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