Tasty meals, healthy food

Tasty meals, healthy food

FishPieAnother group of parents from Allenton has been learning about food nutrition and discovering how to cook dishes that are healthy but don’t cost a fortune. The cookery course is being funded by Allenton Big Local and delivered by the team at Nacro’s Derby Osmaston Family Project.

As well as turning their hand to preparing and cooking a range of recipes, the group has been learning about different food groups and finding out what percentage of each food they need to eat to achieve a healthy, well-balanced diet. They’ve also been discovering:

  • what food labels really mean, especially when it comes to the sugar and fat content of food
  • how to store food safely
  • how to calculate the cost of preparing a dish
  • the benefits of keeping a food diary.

During the eight week course, the parents have prepared dishes such as tuna and pasta bake, lasagne, curry, cottage pie, fish pie, and steak pie with homemade puff crust pastry.

“The fish pie was amazing. Even my mum said it was good!”

“I’ve been trying to cook things at home a bit more now instead of getting takeaways.”

“I’ve learned so many new skills. I have really enjoyed the course.”

“I’ve always wanted to make pastry and never dare try it, but with support from this course, I made it and then did it again at home myself.”

One of the parents who had attended a previous course has been sharing the skills she’s learned by helping to deliver the latest series of cooking sessions. She’s done a fantastic job and even had to deliver one of the sessions on her own – which she coped with brilliantly. Well done to her.

“These courses are about increasing awareness and knowledge of food groups and the health benefits of cooking simple meals that cost very little,” said Margaret Woodbridge from Nacro. “The parents who’ve attended are a lot more confident now about eating healthily. They are trying different foods and are experimenting by adapting recipes to suit the individual tastes of their families.”

If you fancy trying the fish pie made on the cookery course, here is the recipe:

Easy Fish Pie

You will need:

  • 8 medium sized potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • 500g/1lb 2oz boneless, skinless fish
  • 800g haddock, bones and skin removed
  • 200g/7oz butter
  • 3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
  • 475ml/17fl oz milk
  • The zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • A small bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • grated cheese, for the topping
  • 200g/7oz peas
  • Salt and pepper


Begin by preheating the oven to 180C (160C for fan assisted ovens) or gas mark 4.

Peel the potatoes and boil for 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are boiling, half-fill a large frying pan with water and heat until simmering. Add the black peppercorns, bay leaves, onions and all of the fish and poach for 3-4 minutes.

Lift the fish from the pan using a slotted spoon, and put to one side. Strain the fish stock from the frying pan through a sieve suspended over a large bowl. Keep the strained stock, but throw away the onion, bay leaves and peppercorns.

Melt 100g/3½oz of the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Quickly stir in the flour to form a smooth paste (roux), and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Then stir in 50ml/2fl oz of the milk until it is fully mixed into the roux. Little by little, continue to add a further 350ml/12fl oz of the remaining milk to the roux (keeping back 75ml/2½oz of the milk for later). Stir briskly and thoroughly each time you add more milk, until the sauce is thick and smooth.

Add a little of the fish stock to the sauce, stir well and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the sauce is smooth and just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. (The remaining fish stock can be chilled and frozen and kept for use in another dish).

Stir the lemon zest and juice into the sauce, along with the parsley and stir. Season with salt and pepper and then remove the sauce from the heat. Flake in the poached fish, keeping it in reasonably large pieces and stir gently into the sauce to form the pie filling. Transfer to a large ovenproof dish.

When the potatoes are cooked, add 75g/2¾oz of the butter and the last of the milk. Mash until the  the potatoes are smooth and thick but not too soft.

Spread the mashed potato over the pie filling. Sprinkle over the grated cheese.

Place the ovenproof dish onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese and potatoes are golden-brown and the pie is heated through.

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