Sunday, 8 January 2017


Recipe of the week ... Deliciously Ella veggie lasagne!

Ingredients: 1 large butternut squash, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 dozen cherry tomatoes, 2 red peppers, 300g mushrooms, 4 lasagne sheets, ¼ of a 400ml tin of coconut milk, oil, salt & pepper.

Time taken: 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Serves: 2 generous portions.

Good evening readers,

Happy New Year!!

As I write, huddled in my armchair on a rainy Sunday evening in January, we’re officially one week into 2017. We’ve survived a whole week of the New Year, everyone! And there are 51 more to go with, no doubt, many great adventures lying ahead. It’s exciting. Are you doing okay, readers? Feeling upbeat and getting into the spirit of a fresh start?? I hope so!

This last week has been the week that many people have made it back in to work, decided on their resolutions, and started out with new diets and crazed exercise plans. The slate has been wiped clean. It’s been go go go! The phrase ‘New Year, new me’ is rife. And ‘summer bodies are made in winter’. People are launching better versions of themselves.

And, you know what, I am fully on the bandwagon, readers. Are you? What do you think?? Cut to a scene of me in December (before Christmas had even got going) at cheese and wine night, merry with a glass of white in my hand. Dipping a cheese and onion roll in the melted camembert and asking everyone… ‘Is this okay?’

Face palm

No. No it is not, Hayley. OBVIOUSLY it isn’t you fool, not if you’re wanting to feel remotely body confident in January. But – alas – I dipped away and here I am! Munching on carrot sticks and swapping wine for water like a trooper. I’m one of the hordes of dieters binning carbs. A furied attempt to shift some of my Christmas weight in January.

A cliché but hey! There’s so much support around at this time of year, and hopefully I will battle on and achieve wonderful results. It feels like everyone at this time of year is either on the weight loss brigade, or having a go at Veganuary, or giving up drink for a dry month. People are motivated and inspiring. Encouraging of each other’s efforts. It’s a great vibe.

And, generally, there’s a real sense of hope and potential when people talk about 2017! There are holidays and romances and surprises ahead. Suntans to be had and spontaneous decisions await us. Big moves in the making. Anything could happen, anything in the world. And I have the feeling that this will be a good year.

For now, readers, I hope that you’re feeling good about the new beginning and taking on 2017 with gusto. Batteries all topped up after Christmas break, and energy levels restored. You can do this! You really can. You can do so many great things (whether or not you’ve resolved what they might be yet). It will all be fine.

It's exciting not knowing what it will be

Today, readers, I made the great decision to fish out the Deliciously Ella recipe book that I got last January. It’s been hidden away for a whole year. I’m pretty sure, last January, I had a go at some sweet potato brownies and then resolved to buy all of the superfood ingredients you might need for the savoury recipes.

But I was broke (and WEAK) and so I never got that far. Shelved the book and forgot about it… until today. If my diet is going to last long, I know I need to mix up the foods I eat and try out new tastes and give fresh recipes a go. Stop it getting boring. Stop it slipping back to normal.

And what better to help me that my stealth health weapon – a Deliciously Ella recipe book?? For those of you living in a bunker – or under a Wi-Fi blocking rock – who somehow don’t know who Ella is, get on Instagram now. She’s a lovely, inspiring, beautiful lady with an arsenal of healthy recipes up her sleeve! Seriously. Go look her up.

Lots of great, healthy recipes to try!

Today, in need of inspiration to stop me Sunday snacking, and having been more or less carb-free for a whole week, I found a recipe in Deliciously Ella for a Veggie Lasagne. This is a special lasagne. One which doesn’t have cheese and doesn’t have red sauce or white sauce. Instead, it replaces them all with a squash puree.

Readers, I sense you shaking your heads here. But don’t doubt this! You get to eat REAL PASTA. And Ella’s squash puree, I’m telling you, isn’t bad at all. Better than I’d expected, for sure. It’s one of your 5-a-day (high five!) and it’s a rich and creamy orange sauce. If you didn’t know what it was made of, I don’t know if you’d be able to guess.

Just give it a go. If you can source a butternut squash and you have the time to spare to attempt a proper recipe, then roll up your sleeves and take a chance on this lasagne. I promise you real pasta in a generous portion size. And – just maybe – a newfound appreciation for squash puree.

SO want to try your hand at this lasagne-with-a-difference and cook up a storm in the kitchen?? ‘Course you do! Here’s how to make your own Deliciously Ella veggie lasagne in just 14 easy steps…

1.     Chop up your squash into bite-sized cubes.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If you dare, I’d recommend using a big knife as your chopping up quite a big vegetable here. Careful, though, watch your fingers!
2.     Steam your squash for 20 minutes until it’s soft and tender.
3.     While your squash is steaming – you can prep your other ingredients. You want to cut up your cloves of garlic into tiny pieces, chop your cherry tomatoes in half, slice up your mushrooms, and cut your red peppers into small pieces. And open your tin of coconut milk!
4.     Take your tender squash off the heat and then tip into a blender, along with a quarter of a tin of coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper, then blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside for later.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If – like me – you don’t have a proper blender (you just have a smaller smoothie maker instead) … do not fear! Just blend your squash in 2 batches, each with a few spoons of coconut milk and light seasoning, then combine them in a bowl afterwards and stir together to form one sauce.

S'all gravy baby

5.     Turn on your oven and heat to 200C.
6.     Heat a little oil in a large frying pan, and then add your garlic, tomato and pepper.
7.     Cook on a low heat for a few minutes and, meanwhile, put the kettle on to boil.
8.     Break four lasagne sheets in half and pop them in a saucepan.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: To stop your lasagne sheets sticking together as they cook, add them to the pan one by one and brush a little oil on top of each before you add the next one.
9.     Add your hot water to the pan and leave the lasagne sheets to boil for ten minutes.
10.  Add your mushrooms to the frying pan and then sauté your vegetables for ten minutes, making sure to keep everything moving around the pan so that nothing can burn and it’s all cooked through.

Here's the ChefBeHere kitchen in action!

11.  Finally, it’s time to assemble your lasagne! Spoon a layer of veg into the bottom of a baking dish, then add a layer of the squash puree, a layer of pasta, a second layer of vegetables, a second layer of squash puree, a second layer of pasta, and then pour the remaining squash puree over the top of your lasagne.
12.  Place the lid on your baking dish or (if it doesn’t come with one) cover with tin foil, and carefully transport into the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
13.  This gives your plenty of time to sort out your mess! Sort your washing up and then, once the dishes are cleared, pour yourself a well-earned drink.
14.  Time to plate up! After 20 minutes, gingerly lift that lasagne dish out of the oven and then turn it off. Admire your bubbling beauty of a lasagne, and scoop out two hot steaming portions of healthy, Italian greatness! Tuck in.

Fresh from the oven!

And that’s all there is to it! Readers… what do you think?? Honestly – do you like it?? Because I really do like it! It’s a bit of a slog in the kitchen and tastes, of course, quite different to regular lasagne. But I’d say it tastes good! Would you?

I’d really love to hear your thoughts, readers. Shout them aloud and bounce them around. Let me know what you think – please do. And keep up the good work with your fresh starts! I hope you’re all embarking on magical adventures and enjoying wonderful food.

Squash safely,


A good plateful of actual PASTA - do it!

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