Eco Challenge: Back to Basics

vegThank goodness this week is coming to a close…not because it was particularly stressful, but because our sugar and cheese cravings have reached astronomical heights, and at this point we’re about ready to eat a wheel of brie on a bed of grated cheddar with mozzarella on top and cake as a side.

To make ourselves more aware of how much food we eat that has been through industrial production, we endeavoured to avoid all processed foods for a week. However upon researching what exactly constituted ‘processed foods’ (i.e. anything that’s not straight out of the earth), we realised that this was perhaps a little too ambitious, and limited our ingredients to: Fruit & veg, lentils, beans, fish, grains, milk, nuts and seeds, oil, butter and flour.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t particularly difficult to come up with a wide range of meals using only these ingredients, and if it weren’t for the sugar cravings we could even go so far as to say it was a piece of cake. pun intended.

We discovered after this challenge just how much money we saved by cutting expensive items such as cheese, quorn, tofu and ready meals out of our diet. The extra awareness as to what we were eating also prevented last minute indulgences like late night pizzas, lunch time wraps or sneaky chocolates. We’re feeling generally a lot more energetic, healthy and far less lethargic. We also had much less waste at the end of the week due mainly eating vegetables and grains as opposed to individually wrapped goods.

To give you an idea of the kinds of meals we ate, here are a few ideas:

Breakfast: porridge, freshly squeezed orange juice, scrambled eggs,  plain müsli, fruit salad.

Lunch: Mushroom and leek omelette, salad, winter vegetable soup, leftovers from dinner

Dinner: Winter vegetable pie (Recipe below), Mexican bean chilli, spicy vegetable curry, pea and mint soup, root veg soup, poached fish in dill cream sauce, bubble and squeak.

Snacks: fresh and dried fruits, nuts, fruit smoothies, olives, carrots, corn on the cob, milk, home made walnut bread

So there you have it. Below is a recipe for a particularly delicious winter vegetable pie we created:


For the pastry crust

  • 225g flour
  • 100g cold butter
  • 50ml water
  • egg (optional)

For the filling

  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 200g mushrooms, diced
  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 leeks, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • handful kale, roughly shredded
  • 50ml single cream
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • nutmeg, salt & pepper
  • dried rosemary


  1. Rub the butter into the flour until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs, then add the water and egg to bring together. It may need a little more water if it still dry.
  2. Press 2/3rds of the dough into a greased pie tin and blind bake
  3. parboil potatoes for about 15 minutes. Add carrots after the first 5-10 minutes to soften.
  4. Heat butter in a frying pan and cook the garlic, onion, leeks, mushrooms and celery until softened (5-10 minutes)
  5. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour and stir so vegetables are covered but not clumpy.
  6. Add the carrots and potatoes to the frying pan and stir to combine
  7. Pour cream into the pan and mix until creamy texture is reached. If mixture is too liquid, heat until it has reduced.
  8. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  9. Pour veg into pie crust and create dough lid by either sprinkling flattened pieces of dough on top, rolling a flat lid with a slit in the middle for steam to release
  10. Bake at 180°c for about 15-25 minutes until crust is golden


p.s. here is a photo of peculiarly sinister looking potatoes. We can’t quite place why.



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