RECIPE: BBQ Slow Cooked Sweet Potato | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This BBQ slow cooked sweet potato recipe cost me less than 50p per person
What are the benefits? This dish is an amazing vegan alternative, easily provides two of your five a day, and is very low in fat.


When I ate meat, one of my absolute favourite things to order was a succulent serving of smokey BBQ pulled pork. Tender, falling apart and slathered in sauce, I’d pile that stuff into or on top of pretty much anything!

Obviously that’s a no-go these days, but I had to find a substitute to fill that piggy-shaped hole in my life 🐷 I’ve tried pulled aubergine, which is pretty tasty – you can check out the recipe here – but its unique texture didn’t quite fool my brain (or tummy) into thinking pulled pork was back on the menu.

I continued searching for more alternatives to try and, guys, I don’t want to be overdramatic here; but I think I’ve found the holy grail of pulled pork substitutes.

Who knew grated sweet potato would soak up that rich, sweet, tangy taste of BBQ sauce so well?! Slow cooked for hours until ludicrously soft, it just falls to pieces and is simply divine. It’s also made totally from vegetables so it’s full of crazy health benefits too!

Just a little tip before you go ahead and try this recipe: don’t be afraid to experiment with sauces! A classic BBQ sauce will do just fine, but I used a combination – from sweet whiskey to bourbon to steakhouse, there are so many variations to try – to create my perfect flavour.


INGREDIENTS
4 Sweet Potatoes, Peeled and Grated
2 Large Bell Peppers, Sliced
2 Onions, Sliced
1 tbsp American Mustard
4 tbsp BBQ Sauce
1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
1 Mug of Water

SEASONING
With this recipe it couldn’t be easier to season – you just chuck it all in the pot and go! I used a good helping of garlic (dried or fresh, whatever you have), smoked paprika, cumin, dried chilli flakes, black pepper and salt. Remember, you’re relying on vegetables and store-bought sauces here, so you want to inject as much flavour as possible.

Slow cooker full of bbq sweet potato
Slow cooker full of bbq sweet potato

HOW TO MAKE BBQ SLOW COOKED SWEET POTATO

1. Grate the sweet potato into your slow cooker (watch out for your fingers!) and throw in the onions and peppers too. If you don’t have a slow cooker or aren’t using one for this recipe, you can pretty much follow the same steps using a large pan on the hob and cooking on a medium heat for around 30 minutes.

2. Add the mustard, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, stock cube, water and seasoning, and leave according to your slow cooker timings. I left mine on the high heat setting for 5 hours and it was absolutely fine, but your slow cooker manual will tell you how best to cook yours.

3. Serve, and enjoy!


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Slow cooked BBQ sweet potato
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RECIPE: Slow Cooked BBQ Aubergine | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This recipe cost me less than 50p per person.
What are the benefits? This slow cooked BBQ feast is totally veggie-friendly, low in fat compared to pulled pork and provides one of your five a day.


We’ve never really eaten much meat at home, even more so since my boyfriend decided to become a vegetarian. It’s been pretty decent, actually; our shopping has been cheaper (see We Cut Down Our Family Food Shop to £25 Per Week – And Now There’s No Looking Back! Here’s How…‘), we’ve both felt healthier and, best of all, it’s forced me to think of even more recipe ideas!

I’ve always tried to base my recipes around “alternatives”, ways to still eat our favourite foods but healthier versions. Not eating meat means we’ve had to think of ways to still enjoy the food we’ve been used to our whole lives, but without actually eating it.

That’s how I came up with this recipe for slow cooked BBQ aubergine. We both love pulled pork, but obviously that’s a big no-no these days; that doesn’t mean we don’t still enjoy the flavours though. Smokey, spicy BBQ sauce and a soft, succulent filling for the ultimate juicy burger… We just had to find a new way to eat this!

Aubergine has a thick, creamy texture that your teeth just sink right into, and this wonderfully versatile vegetable soaks up almost anything you cook it in, meaning it really takes on the BBQ flavour in this dish.

Using a vegetable replacement absolutely demolishes the fat content of this dish when compared to pork shoulder, and it ups your five a day too! It’s definitely a leaner alternative and, at just under 30p per person, it’s a cheaper option as well.

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INGREDIENTS
1 Large Aubergine
2 tbsp Runny Honey
6 tbsp BBQ Sauce
1 tbsp Tomato Purée
1 Mug of Vegetable Stock
4 Burger Buns (optional – burgers are just my serving suggestion, you can do whatever you want with it!)

SEASONING
The BBQ sauce obviously is the main source of the flavour here, but adding garlic, cumin, paprika and chilli flakes into the mix really helps pack a punch.


So, this is how I did it…

1. Bake the whole aubergine in the oven for 20 minutes on 200°C, turning once halfway through.

2. Allow to cool and peel off skin (optional – I peeled most of the skin off mine but also couldn’t be bothered to do the whole thing so some got left on and I couldn’t really tell the difference after several hours of slow cooking!). Tear into strips.

3. Add the aubergine strips along with the garlic, cumin, paprika, chilli flakes, honey, BBQ sauce, tomato purée and a mug of vegetable stock.

4. Cook for 4 hours on high, 6 hours on low. Carefully remove the strips from the slow cooker and serve in the burger buns – or however you prefer!


Tips & Tricks

  • You don’t need a slow cooker for this recipe – just throw it all into a large stovetop pan or dish and leave on a low heat for a similar time, you’ll get the same results.

 

  • Make this even more vegelicious (yes, that’s now a word) by throwing in some cherry tomatoes and sliced red onion, these make excellent additions.

 

  •  If you’ve got leftovers, make up some smokey barbecue wraps for your lunchbox, or serve with rice the next day to stretch it out for another meal. It’s a very adaptable dish.

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RECIPE: Slow Cooked BBQ Pulled Pork with Crackling | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This recipe cost me less than £1 per person.
What are the benefits? This recipe is high in protein, vitamins and iron.


Pulled pork blew up a few years ago and seemed any other fad, just the latest hipster trends that took food markets and burger joints by storm. But, luckily for us, it’s not going out of fashion anytime soon. Personally, I really love pulled pork and have wanted to cook it for aaaaages, thankfully I finally found the time!

I really hate fat on meat and always bin it, so was prepared to do the same as I trimmed away at the pork shoulder, until my boyfriend intercepted. “Are you going to make crackling with that?” “Er, no, I wasn’t. Why?” “I really love crackling.” “Oh, I don’t really like fat so I was just going to chuck it. Do you want me to make crackling with it?”

So, of course, we made crackling too.  I actually did eat some and, I gotta say, it was pretty good. I felt totally gross afterwards, mind you! If you’re trying to be healthy then definitely throw out the fat, but I’ve included how to make crackling here if you want to.

Usually I’d tell you how many calories are in a recipe per serving here, but I’ve decided to do away with that (and have since gone back and removed it from all of my recipe posts). Calories never tell the full story, they’re always an approximation, and there is way more to healthy, nutritious food than the calorie count.

For example, did you know pork is an excellent source of protein and iron? And this recipe uses a leaner cut of pork than, say, bacon or gammon so it’s lower in fat (um, except for the crackling… obviously).

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INGREDIENTS
One Pork Shoulder Joint (the more people you’re feeding, the bigger shoulder you’ll need!) 
900ml Cans of Cider
6 tbsp BBQ Sauce 
1 tsp Honey

SEASONING
Okay, so to get the most out of this recipe you really need to ramp up the flavour. For the pork rub, mix together paprika, dried garlic, cumin, chilli flakes, dried thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl until all the herbs and spices are well combined. If you want something spicier, throw in some more chilli flakes and add a dash of hot sauce to the pot! On the same note, if you prefer your pulled pork on the sweeter side, add a teaspoon of sugar to the rub. Also, before the fat goes in the oven to become crackling, coat with another sprinkle of salt.


So, this is how I did it…

PULLED PORK

1. Coat the slow cooker (or casserole dish if you’re not using a slow cooker) with a very, very thin layer of oil or cooking spray. Plonk the pork shoulder in the middle and rub the mixed herbs and spices all over, including the fat (see “SEASONING” below!).

2. Pour in the cider, add four of the six tablespoons of BBQ sauce and the honey, and pop the lid on.

3. Depending on how you’re cooking this, cook on a medium heat (that’s the “Auto” setting on my slow cooker, but check your settings!) for 6-8 hours.

4. Remove the pork shoulder from the dish, transfer to a plate and cut the fat away (put to one side if you’re making crackling!). Shred the pork with two forks and pop this back into the slow cooker. Stir into the sauce, with the last two tablespoons of BBQ sauce, and allow to cook on a low heat for 30 minutes to an hour. Dish up and tip away the excess sauce.

CRACKLING

1. Take the fat trimmed away from the pork shoulder, cut into strips and lay on a rack over a baking tray. Season with salt and cook on 200 degrees for 50 minutes.


We made fajitas with our pulled pork, what are you gonna do with yours?!

pulled pork fajitas

SERIES: My Journey to a Healthier Lifestyle #7 | #ThisGirlEats

2PM: The nurse at my appointment today told me I’d lost weight since the last time I saw her when I hopped off the scales *internal happy dance*. I decided to take that as “You’ve lost a few pounds since last time, good on ya!” 👍 rather than “You’re not as fat as the last time you were here.” 😬

3PM: Followed the successful trip to the doctor’s up with a slice of cake. Obviously. But it was gluten-free so that makes it healthy, right? Well, no. Actually, lots of gluten-free food is loaded with hefty doses of sugar, fats and other naughty things to make it taste less, well, gross. This tasted quite nice, as it goes.

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8:45PM: This dinner was WELL worth the wait. Ever since our trip to Prague last January (as you can see from this blog’s lead photo, we had a great time) I’ve fallen in love with Czech food and goulash is my favourite thing to make from my Czech & Slovak cookbook, especially with the helping hand of the slow cooker. Easy peasy.

FOOD DIARY

Breakfast
🍲 Cup of green tea

Lunch
🍲 Cheesy beans on toast
🍲 Glass of orange squash
🍲 Small Diet Coke
🍲 Small slice of gluten-free Victoria sponge
🍲 500ml water

Dinner
🍲 Slow cooked beef goulash with garlic bread
🍲 Small pot of chocolate mousse
🍲 Glass of orange squash

RECIPE: Chunky Vegetable Curry with Crispy Tortilla “Naans” | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This cost me less than 50p per person
What are the benefits? You get at least 3 of your 5 a day, it’s vegetarian friendly and makes a great takeaway alternative


I’m a thief. I’ve nicked the idea for this from two different recipes; one a cheap student affair and one a low-fat chicken curry.

I’ve shamelessly pinched my favourite bits from both to make this yummy mid-week meal. It’s fairly straightforward, low in cost, full of nutrition and incredibly versatile, as you can use any vegetables in the house for a delicious outcome.

The tortilla “naans” (which are not naan breads at all, but are an alternative side to this curry dish) were an idea born from a combination of having leftover tortillas dangerously close to going off and forgetting to buy actual naan breads in the week. They turned amazing!

It’s a lower carb option than fluffy naans and, being chock-full of veggies, it’s much lower in fat than the usual creamy carnivorous curries we get. Butter chicken and onion bajhis may have my heart, but this is a pretty second choice!

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INGREDIENTS
1 Medium Potato, Chopped 
1 Carrot, Sliced
1 Onion, Chopped
1 Bell Pepper, Sliced 
4 Mushrooms, Sliced
1 Tomato, Chopped
1 Apple, Chopped 
400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
400ml Coconut Milk (reduced fat if you can)
2 tbsp Curry Paste
1 tsp Tomato Puree
1 Vegetable Stock Cube

SEASONING
Each part of this recipe kinda lives and dies with the seasoning. For the curry, you want to add some dried garlic, dried coriander leaf, salt, pepper and chilli flakes to the pan. If, like me, you find rice quite bland, add some salt, pepper, thyme and coriander leaf as the rice cooks just to give it a pop. And, finally, before you put the tortillas in the oven, you want to cover them with a sprinkling of garlic flakes, coriander leaf and cracked black pepper.


So, this is how I did it…

1. First thing’s first, heat up the frying pan and add your chunkier vegetables – potatoes, carrots, anything that takes a little longer to soften up. Fry these off for about 5 minutes.

2. Then add the rest of your veggies, along with the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, curry paste, tomato puree, crumbled stock cube and seasoning. Cook this for about 15-20 minutes, and just keep an eye on the liquid levels – if it starts to dry up, add a splash of water to tide it over.

3. Following the packet instructions, along with some seasoning, and cook the rice, either on the hob or in the microwave.

4. Place the tortillas on a baking tray, brushed with a teeny tiny amount of oil, sprinkled with seasoning and put them in the oven for about 5 minutes, until they crisp up.


Tips & Tricks

  • An excellent way to bulk this up even further (as if it doesn’t have enough going on already!) is to add lentils or chickpeas. They’re both really filling, are great for you, and are awesome ingredients for a curry.

 

  • If you’d like the sauce a little thicker, sprinkle in a small pinch of flour and stir. It’ll help thicken everything up (I’m not a fan of runny sauces).

 

  • Got a slow cooker? This recipe is wonderfully tasty and so incredibly easy in a slow cooker, just bung the ingredients into the crockpot and cook up the rice when you’ve got the chance.