Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Learning & Lentil Bolognese

I come to you from my study where my hair is scruffy and my brain is attempting to implement a migraine.  Please be kind if my words to to mush.

Day 17 of the writer's challenge, (have I ever told you 17 is by far my favourite number?), brings me to sharing with you lessons I have learnt the hard way;

Learned the Hard Way. What’s a lesson you learned the hard way? 

I'd prefer to give you a dot point form of several lessons I've learnt the hard way rather than harp on for 15 minutes about how I learnt how important health is in relation to my battle with chronic illness, something you've all heard about.

Lessons I've learnt include;
Mental health has a huge impact on physical health.
Don't bag out Pinterest; it has a huge fan base.
Eating all your chocolate at once will make you unwell.
"Soldiering on" is one of the worst things you can do for your body when unwell (yeah, Codral, you heard me).
What you eat and how much you exercise has a huge impact on your energy levels.
Studying nutrition is not easy.
Don't blindly trust Doctors; always do a little of your own research or get a second opinion.
Comparing yourself to others is useless.

There would be many more, but due to the lack of fully functioning brain, I can't think of them right now.

What I can do is share with you my...

Lentil Bolognese
How does one spell Bolognese/Bolognaise?

1 carrot, diced
3-5 button mushrooms, sliced (use more if you are going to cook minimal pasta & are trying to lose weight - extra will make it bulkier)
1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of fresh oregano, ripped up
1/2 teaspoon of dry oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup of dry red lentils, washed
1-2 tablespoons of oil (for frying)
200 grams of pasta (I used wholemeal fettucine)


- Fry the onion and carrot in the oil until the onion becomes transparent
- Add the garlic and mushrooms and fry for a further 30 seconds.

- Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste and one tin (use the tomato tin) of water.

  (you need this extra fluid so you can cook the sauce down)

- Add all of the herbs

- Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.

As your sauce reduces, it will start to spit - don't cover it totally or it won't reduce nicely, better of just sitting the lid on propped up on your spoon like the below.


- Rinse your lentils & set them aside.

- After 30-45 minutes of the sauce cooking, add your lentils.

- You can season your sauce at this stage, or wait until the end - up to you.

- You want to continue to simmer your sauce until you can scrape the bottom of the pot and not have it fill back up (like a risotto, if you make risotto).  The longer you simmer, the nicer the sauce will be.  If it gets too thick and you want to keep cooking, keep adding small amounts of water.  I cooked the below sauce for 1 hour and 45 minutes and added perhaps in total an extra 1.5 cans of water.

- When your sauce is at the perfect consistency, add a couple of tablespoons of water, turn it right down, and put your pasta on.


- To serve, drain the pasta and return to the pot, mixing a couple of tablespoons of sauce through.  Place pasta into serving plates and top with remaining sauce and if desired, some parmesan cheese (I desire parmesan cheese constnantly, Millel is my favourite - please don't buy that Kraft stuff!)

Dig in! Yummy!

Lentils are high in protein, fibre, folate, magnesium and even iron (the 1/4 cup you get in a serving of this pasta will give you 15% of your daily iron needs if you're not carrying around a bub)  -  incredibly good for you and super cheap!  More proof that eating healthily does not have to be expensive.

I would love to hear back if you try it, and love even more to see some photos of how yours turned out.  Especially as, if I ever get my ass into gear (credit to dad for putting those three words strung together into my vocabulary), I will include this in my recipe book.


Stay well,
Nat x


  1. I like your lessons and the look of your lentil bolognese - my mother used to make something similar when I was young and I always loved it, but have never made my own version!

    1. Oh wow Kari! I existed on traditional Italian bolognese as a kid (lucky I was a meat eating child, I think my Nonna would have cursed if I wasn't!). Be cool to hear what she put in hers if you ever make it :)

  2. "Mental health has a huge impact on physical health." Yeah, well, it depends. Stress is acutely life-threatening for me. Then again, depression had no adverse effects on my physical health. In fact it was good for my health, since it limited overexertion. The "sickness behaviour" theory makes a lot of sense.

    Sadly what I eat doesn't really have a noticeable impact on my health, either, besides having to avoid hypoglycemia. Before I got hypoglycemia, no food I ate would affect my energy levels either way. It's quite frustrating. And for me exercise is, perhaps surprisingly, a +/-0 as well (yeah, I probably shouldn't do it with all the heart damage I have from CFS/ME) but still.

    If I had blindly trusted doctors, I would be dead now. Or at least in a nursing home.

    1. Hi M,

      Perhaps I should clarify - those lessons I have learnt are lessons I've learnt about me. Although the food you eat may not affect your energy levels, I have no doubt that if you existed solely on a diet of lollies and chips that it would have a negative effect on your health.

      Ditto about the doctors, well, almost. Initial doctor advice is, I believe, what ended me up bed bound. Of course they do a lot of good, but I greatly admire doctors who are able to say 'I don't know' or 'I'm not sure', rather than trying to wing it.

  3. I make one with onions, garlic, carrots, red lentils, one jar of the most natural readymade pasta sauce I can find and either grated cheese or a leek if going vegan (it adds a sweetness). I only cook mine for about 20 minutes total, though. I should try your version.

    1. It's probably pretty similar, Erin. The cooked down tomatoes and tomato paste with the herbs added is kind of like a jar pasta sauce. I love leek & totally agree about the sweetness. I should try yours!

  4. That looks amazing. I have always been a bit scared of lentils but i am determined to learn to love them! Will let you know how i go with this recipe :)

    1. They are super versatile! Can't wait to hear how it goes :) x

  5. Yummy, I love making lentil bolognese & add it to lasagne too :) I'm finding nutrition pretty difficult too, anatomy last year was horrible...way too much content to remember and seemed to be more relevant to my friends studying exercise science. But still, very interesting! x

    1. Oo, good idea with lasagne! I usually do lots of roasted vegetables in my lasagne. I am doing human physiology & nutrition communication subject this semester. The nutrition one is easy enough but the physiology is a killer! I've been told it would be easier if I was doing anatomy along side it, oh well, such are the perils of working as well.
      Currently 3 weeks behind due to this bug, so much catching up to do. Ugh.