Tinned food doesn’t have the greatest of reputations. For many, it conjures up images of ancient cans gathering dust at the back of the cupboard, or ghastly processed meats forced upon you during childhood.
But today, as we are staying home and shopping less to save lives, it’s time to have a rethink.
Of course, I love fresh vegetables and fruit. Who doesn’t?
Dr Michael Mosley, pictured, and his family have revealed some of their favourite and tasty recipes for surviving the lockdown by using items commonly found in the larder
But we’re in lockdown, and unable to shop as much as we might once have done, let alone get a home- delivery slot.
When you do get to a supermarket, there are no guarantees of what will be on the shelves.
To add to this, my son Dan, 25, had suspected Covid-19 – so the whole family were forced to bunker down for a couple of weeks. And so, the Mosley household has had to embrace more of those staples that have been lurking in the back of our larder and at the bottom of the freezer.
I have to say, I’ve been won over.
And, with a bit more time on our hands my wife Clare, assisted by Dan and our youngest, Kate, 20, has developed and tested a range of tasty, nutritious recipes made largely with bits and bobs we found in the cupboards and freezer.
We’ve even been documenting our culinary experiments on our social media accounts.
You can see for yourself on Clare’s Instagram – @drclarebailey – and you’ll find recipes for just a few of these delicious and simple dishes on the following pages.
They are all based on the Mediterranean style of eating – long proven to be the healthiest – packed full of vegetables, oily fish, nuts and olive oil, as well as yogurt and cheese.
There are carbs, but the sorts that take longer to break down and absorb, including legumes such as beans, pulses and lentils.
We’ve tried, where possible, to give options should you not be able to get hold of one ingredient.
These are not diet foods, and there is no calorie-counting involved. But, by following this way of eating, you can still eat plenty of delicious food, without compromising on weight-loss goals.
A large Israeli study found that a Mediterranean diet is the most effective way to keep weight off for good, compared with other popular diets such as low-carb and low-fat.
It has also been proven to reduce cholesterol and help control blood sugar. I am living proof – having kept off a stone and a half of excess weight for eight years, after putting my type 2 diabetes into remission.
And research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight is one important thing you can do to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of this cruel virus.
There are psychological benefits too, which I know will help many who are suffering cabin fever.
Dr Mosley said while he would ordinarily use fresh fruit and vegetables, he knows this can sometimes be difficult during the lockdown
Studies show that eating this way can improve mood and help you sleep. I’ve long been an insomniac, but once I started eating the Mediterranean way, the quality of my sleep improved drastically. And you’ll see all these benefits for yourself, without having to do much at all.
The advantage of embracing dry, frozen or tinned foods is there is less pressure to battle the panic buyers in the vegetable aisle, or queue outside the supermarket. There’s far less stress involved – all you have to do is choose which one of our delicious meals takes your fancy.
They can be scaled up – or scaled down – for all sizes of family to enjoy.
I hope these recipes will inspire you to dust off a few old tins and jars, and start inventing some of your own dishes. It just takes a slight change in mindset.
So, instead of thinking: ‘What do I want for dinner?’ come 6pm, ask yourself: ‘How can I make use of what I’ve got?’
And this is certainly healthy eating. It’s well known that frozen vegetables, and tinned fish, for instance, are just as nutritious as the fresh equivalent – if not more so. They are often far cheaper, and, prepared properly, are just as delicious, too.
With a sprinkle of a few store-cupboard herbs, it’s surprisingly easy to transform an uninspiring can of sardines into a chef-worthy supper you’ll keep coming back to. Lockdown or not.
For additional recipes, visit thefast800.com. Fast Asleep, by Dr Michael Mosley (Short Books), is out now.
Lockdown breakfasts: Recipes by DR CLARE BAILEY
Store cupboard smoothie
There is no law that says you have to use fresh fruit in a smoothie – you’ll still get that vitamin hit with tinned or frozen. Just steer clear of added sugar or syrup-bathed varieties.
● 75g any fruit, frozen or tinned (if tinned, NOT in syrup or with added sugar – and drain the liquid)
● 150ml milk
● 1 tbsp oats
● 1 tsp nut butter
Blitz all the ingredients together with a splash of water until smooth, adding more water or milk if needed.
This smoothie uses tinned fruits, but avoid those with added sugar or syrup
Berry baked granola with yogurt
Frozen berries are brilliantly versatile. They’re just as good for you as fresh berries, and keep for ever in the freezer. They work so well in this breakfast with the nutty granola and zingy yogurt.
● 100g rolled oats
● 50g mixed seeds
● 50g mixed nuts, roughly chopped
● 1 tbsp olive oil
● 200g frozen mixed berries
● 200g natural yogurt
Preheat oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas mark 4. Mix oats, seeds and nuts with the olive oil then spread out on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the oats have turned golden. Add the berries to the tray and bake for a further 10 minutes. Serve the granola with the yogurt.
Frozen berries are brilliantly versatile. They’re just as good for you as fresh berries, and keep for ever in the freezer
Spicy beans and spinach on toast
Food doesn’t come much more comforting than traditional beans on toast. I love to make my own variations, and you can experiment by using whatever type of beans you can get hold of.
● 1 tbsp olive oil
● 1 tbsp garlic puree, or 1 clove garlic, sliced
● 3 tbsp tomato puree
● 1⁄2 tsp paprika
● Pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
● 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
● 400g can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
● 100g frozen spinach, defrosted (run under warm water, gently break apart then squeeze or pat dry), or same amount fresh spinach
● 2 slices of bread, toasted (preferably wholegrain seeded)
● 30g feta
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and cook the garlic for 1 minute. Add the tomato puree, paprika and cayenne and cook for 2 minutes. Next add the vinegar, cannellini beans and 200ml of water and cook for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced. Add the spinach and allow to wilt for 1 minute, then season and serve on the toast with the feta crumbled over.
Food doesn’t come much more comforting than traditional beans on toast. I love to make my own variations, and you can experiment by using whatever type of beans you can get hold of
Banana and walnut muffins
Bananas get sweeter over time as they ripen, and their starch turns to sugar, so using old black bananas in baking is a great idea – you might even feel you can leave out the syrup.
Makes roughly nine
● 2 very ripe bananas, peeled
● 2 eggs
● 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
● 2 tbsp olive oil
● 50ml milk
● 50g oats, plus 1 extra tbsp
● 100g wholemeal flour
● 1 tsp baking powder
● 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Line nine holes of a muffin tray with paper cases.
Mash the bananas in a large bowl, then beat in the eggs followed by the maple syrup or honey, olive oil and milk. Add the 50g oats, flour, baking powder, walnuts and a pinch of salt and mix together. Spoon mixture into the muffin cases, sprinkle with the extra oats and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Bananas get sweeter over time as they ripen, and their starch turns to sugar, so using old black bananas in baking is a great idea – you might even feel you can leave out the syrup
Baked eggs in tomato sauce
This is one of those dishes that only really work with tinned tomatoes. I love jars of roasted red peppers, which also keep for ages.
● 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
● Small red onion chopped (or 1 tsp onion powder)
● 3 red peppers from a jar, drained and sliced
● Pinch of chilli flakes
● 400g tin chopped tomatoes
● 1 tsp dried coriander (or a small bunch of fresh, chopped, including stalks)
● 4 eggs
Heat the oil in a frying pan with a lid. If you’ve got fresh onion, throw it in with a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes until softened. If you use dried onion, skip the first step and add it to the chilli flakes and cook for a few minutes.
Pour in the tin of tomatoes, stir well then cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the coriander stalks, mix well, then create four wells in the tomato mixture. Crack an egg into each well, cover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the whites of the eggs have set. Sprinkle over the coriander leaves and black pepper, and serve with bread.
This is one of those dishes that only really work with tinned tomatoes. I love jars of roasted red peppers, which also keep for ages
Spanish style tomato toast
Italian bruschetta usually requires fabulous fresh tomatoes, but in Spain, they do something similar – and just as moreish – with tinned tomatoes. Give it a go.
● 1 slice wholegrain, seeded bread
● 1 clove of garlic
● 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
● Zest and juice of half a lemon
● 50g green olives from a jar or tin, drained and roughly chopped
● 4 tbsp of tinned tomatoes, drained slightly
● 1 tsp dried basil (or a handful of fresh, torn into little bits, if you can find it)
Preheat the grill to medium. Cut garlic in half and rub over both sides of bread then drizzle with oil. Grill for 1 minute on each side. Finely chop garlic and mix with oil, lemon zest and juice and some seasoning in a bowl, then add olives, tomatoes and basil leaves, mixing well. Spoon on top of toast and drizzle with any leftover dressing and a few basil leaves.
Italian bruschetta usually requires fabulous fresh tomatoes, but in Spain, they do something similar – and just as moreish – with tinned tomatoes. Give it a go
Ham, mushrooms and spinach egg bites
Frozen spinach works brilliantly in stir-fries or soups, smoothies and even on home-made pizzas.
When you use it in an egg dish, such as this, be careful to defrost by blasting it for a few seconds in the microwave.
● 1 tsp olive oil
● 150g mushrooms, finely sliced
● 60g frozen spinach, defrosted (run it under warm water, gently break it apart then squeeze or pat it dry)
● 6 eggs
● 25ml milk
● 2 slices ham, roughly chopped
● Pinch of chilli flakes
● 30g grated cheddar, or any other cheese
Preheat oven to 200C/ 180C fan/gas mark 6. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with squares of baking paper.
Heat oil in pan and cook mushrooms for 4-5 minutes until turning golden.
Add spinach to pan and stir together. Whisk eggs and milk in a large jug, then stir in spinach, mushrooms, ham and chilli flakes with some seasoning. Divide mixture into holes, then sprinkle over the cheese and cook for 15-18 minutes or until the egg is just set.
Cool in the tin before carefully removing.
Frozen spinach works brilliantly in stir-fries or soups, smoothies and even on home-made pizzas. When you use it in an egg dish, such as this, be careful to defrost by blasting it for a few seconds in the microwave
Tuna mayonnaise and gherkin lettuce cups
A super simple grab-and-go lunch if you’re after something a bit lighter than a standard tuna salad sandwich.
● 1 tin of tuna, drained
● 2 tbsp mayonnaise
● 3 gherkins, finely chopped
● 1 baby gem lettuce, leaves separated
● Tomatoes, cucumber, grated carrot, sweetcorn or any salad items available
Mix together the tuna, mayonnaise, gherkins and plenty of black pepper, then fill the lettuce leaves and top with your chosen salad.
A super simple grab-and-go lunch if you’re after something a bit lighter than a standard tuna salad sandwich
Smoked mackerel and pickled beetroot pâté on toast
I adore smoked mackerel, which keeps for longer than fresh fish. But tinned sardines work brilliantly with this, too.
● 2 smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed, or use 4 small tins of any tinned oily fish
● 2 small pickled beetroot balls from a jar, drained
● 2 tbsp full-fat natural yogurt
● Half a lemon, juice and zest
● 2 pieces of bread – preferably something dark such as rye – toasted
● A few sprigs of dill, leaves picked, or a pinch of dried dill
Put the mackerel, beetroot, yogurt, lemon zest and juice and some black pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined but still chunky.
Spread on to the toast and garnish with the dill to serve.
I adore smoked mackerel, which keeps for longer than fresh fish. But tinned sardines work brilliantly with this, too
Quick tomato and lentil soup
I love the ritual of soup-making, with a pot of stock bubbling for hours over the stove. But it needn’t always be such a drawn-out affair. Tinned tomatoes and beans are already cooked, so it takes no time at all to prepare this.
● 1 tin chopped tomatoes
● Half a tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
● 70g tinned lentils
● Half a teaspoon of onion granules (or 2 spring onions, roughly chopped, if you can find them)
● 30g full-fat Greek yogurt
● 2 tsp dried basil
● 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and season with salt and lots of ground black pepper. Blitz until smooth. Warm over a medium heat and serve immediately.
I love the ritual of soup-making, with a pot of stock bubbling for hours over the stove. But it needn’t always be such a drawn-out affair. Tinned tomatoes and beans are already cooked, so it takes no time at all to prepare this
Egg and spinach omelette wrap
This is a clever spin on the lunchtime wrap – and a nice alternative to a sandwich. Again, make sure you defrost and dry the spinach.
● 4 medium eggs
● 60g frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (run under warm water, gently break apart, then squeeze or pat dry)
● 40ml milk
● Small pinch of chilli flakes, optional
● 2 tbsp wholemeal flour
● 2 tsp olive oil
● 4 tbsp cream cheese – or any cheese you have
● 2 tsp onion chutney
● 2 handfuls of salad leaves, optional
Whisk the eggs in a jug, then add the chopped spinach, milk, chilli flakes, flour and some seasoning and whisk it all together.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and pour in 1⁄4 of the batter.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip over and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the pan and allow to cool, then spread on 1⁄4 of the cheese, dot on 1⁄4 of the chutney and cover with a handful of lettuce leaves, if you have them, then roll up and cut into pieces to serve. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
This is a clever spin on the lunchtime wrap – and a nice alternative to a sandwich. Again, make sure you defrost and dry the spinach
Corn fritters, avocado and tomato salsa and feta
Some supermarkets do still seem to have avocados – but this Mexican-inspired dish is just as punchy without.
● 1 large tin of sweetcorn, drained
● Two spring onions, finely chopped, if you can find them
● 2 tbsp flour
● 1 egg
● Half a tsp baking powder
● 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
● 1 lime or half a lemon, juiced
● Half an avocado, roughly chopped, alternatively use chopped cucumber, or leave it out
● 2 tbsp tinned tomatoes, drained slightly (or 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped)
● 30g feta or other cheese
Put the sweetcorn, onion, flour, egg, baking powder and some seasoning in a food processor and pulse until combined.
Heat a non-stick frying pan and cook spoonfuls of the mixture for two minutes on each side.
Meanwhile, mix the olive oil, lime juice and some seasoning together in a bowl to make a dressing and mix in the avocado and tomato.
Serve the fritters with the salsa and crumble over the feta.
Some supermarkets do still seem to have avocados – but this Mexican-inspired dish is just as punchy without
Spiced salmon with pea and herb pilaf and raita
If you can’t get hold of fresh salmon fillets, it’s really no drama. Tinned pink or red salmon is just as good a source of protein and healthy fats, and just as tasty.
● 2 tsp curry powder
● 2 tbsp olive oil
● Two tins of salmon, or other oily fish (or ● 4 fresh salmon fillets, if you can get them)
● 1 onion, finely chopped
● 500g cooked wholegrain rice
● 200g frozen peas, defrosted
● 2 tsp dried mixed green herbs – parsley, coriander or mint if available
● 1 lime, juiced
● 100g full fat natural yogurt
● 1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
Preheat the grill to high.
Mix the cumin, coriander, chilli powder, 1 tbsp of olive oil and some seasoning together then use to coat the salmon. Cook under the grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan and cook the onion for 5-8 minutes until soft then add the rice, peas, herbs and some seasoning. Stir for 1 minute to heat through then squeeze over half the lime juice.
Mix the yogurt, cucumber, remaining lime juice and some seasoning together and serve with the salmon and rice.
If you can’t get hold of fresh salmon fillets, it’s really no drama. Tinned pink or red salmon is just as good a source of protein and healthy fats, and just as tasty
Spiced chicken, tomato & chickpeas
This is a fantastic family meal – and feel free to use frozen chicken, thoroughly defrosted of course.
● Pinch of chilli powder
● 2 tbsp olive oil
● 4 chicken breasts
● 2 x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
● A can of tomatoes (cherry tomatoes, if you can, or any decent Italian type) drained slightly
● 100g frozen spinach, defrosted
● 1 tsp white or red wine vinegar
Preheat the grill to high. Mix the chilli powder, most of the olive oil and some seasoning together then coat the chicken and grill on a baking tray for 4-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Mix the tomatoes, chickpeas, spinach, vinegar, remaining oil and some seasoning together in a saucepan, over a low heat, for about 20 minutes.
Serve with the chicken.
This is a fantastic family meal – and feel free to use frozen chicken, thoroughly defrosted of course
Oven baked ratatouille with cracker crust
You can get bags of mixed Mediterranean veg, which include peppers, courgettes, aubergines, and other lovely things, but if these aren’t available where you shop, any mixed veg will do.
● 2 tbsp olive oil
● 2 tsp onion granules (or 1 onion, finely chopped)
● 2 tbsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced)
● 2 tsp dried mixed herbs (or any combination of basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano)
● 500g frozen mixed vegetables, ideally Mediterranean
● 400g can chopped tomatoes
● 8 crackers, blitzed into a powder
● 50g parmesan, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion for 6 minutes then add the garlic and dried herbs and cook for another minute. Then add the frozen vegetables and cook for 5 minutes until they have defrosted and started to turn golden. Pour in the tomatoes plus half a can full of water. Season well then pour everything into an oven dish. Mix the blitzed-up crackers and parmesan then sprinkle over the top and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbling and the topping is golden and crisp. Serve with some bread.
You can get bags of mixed Mediterranean veg, which include peppers, courgettes, aubergines, and other lovely things, but if these aren’t available where you shop, any mixed veg will do
Beetroot, feta and lentil warm salad
If you can get your hands on fresh beetroot, then great. They do keep for ages. But any available veg will do – particularly carrots, which have that same sweetness.
● Small bunch parsley, finely chopped or 1 tsp dried parsley
● 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
● 1 tbsp Balsamic or red wine vinegar
● 3 large cooked beetroot, alternatively use roasted carrots, peppers or other available vegetables
● 250g tinned lentils
● 100g frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess moisture
● 50g feta or 100g of halloumi lightly fried or 50g fried diced bacon
Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some seasoning then stir through the parsley.
Pour this over the beetroot and lentils and mix well. Divide the rocket between four bowls, then add the beetroot mix and crumble over the feta/halloumi/bacon to serve.
If you can get your hands on fresh beetroot, then great. They do keep for ages. But any available veg will do – particularly carrots, which have that same sweetness
Spiced tomato daal
This is a brilliant store-cupboard dinner that’s cheap, simple – and gives a great hit of protein, thanks to the lentils.
● 4 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
● 1 onion
● 2 tbsp garlic paste, or 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
● Thumb size piece of ginger, finely chopped or 2 tsp ginger paste
● 2 tsp dried coriander
● 300g lentils
● 400g tin chopped tomatoes
● 800ml vegetable stock (from stock cubes)
● 100g frozen spinach
● ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
● 4 tbsp. desiccated coconut (optional)
● 1 tbsp curry powder
Heat half the oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion with a pinch of salt.
Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and cook for two minutes.
Add the dried coriander, lentils, stock and tomatoes then simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked.
Mash the lentils with the back of a wooden spoon then stir through the frozen spinach (don’t worry about defrosting, the extra moisture will quickly evaporate away). Keep warm while you do the next bit.
Heat the remaining coconut oil in a small pan then add the chilli flakes and coconut, if using.
Cook for one minute.
Stir in the tomatoes and cook for two to three minutes. Keeping two tablespoons aside, stir the mixture into the daal. Serve in bowls with the remaining coconut mixture spooned on top.
This is a brilliant store-cupboard dinner that’s cheap, simple – and gives a great hit of protein, thanks to the lentils
Dark chocolate, date and nut fridge cake bars
The dates here are used instead of sugar – they add the same sweet hit, but have the added benefit of fibre, making these bites really satisfying.
● 200g dark chocolate, broken into squares
● 50g salted butter
● 1 tsp vanilla extract
● 100g dates, roughly chopped
● 100g mixed nuts, roughly chopped
Melt the chocolate and butter together then stir in the vanilla, dates and nuts. Pour the mixture into a small lined dish (we used 20x15cm), cover and leave to set in the fridge for one to two hours before cutting into squares.
The dates here are used instead of sugar – they add the same sweet hit, but have the added benefit of fibre, making these bites really satisfying
Black bean brownies
Raisins add sweetness, while the beans give the brownies a moistness, with the added benefit of fibre and protein. Very clever really.
2 x 400g cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
100ml coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp maple syrup
5 tbsp cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 180C/160c fan/gas mark 4. Line a 20cm square tin.
Soak the raisins in 150ml of boiling water for 15 minutes then pour into a food processor along with the black beans and blitz until smooth. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt and blitz again until combined. Pour into the tin and spread into a smooth layer then bake for 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into nine squares.
Raisins add sweetness, while the beans give the brownies a moistness, with the added benefit of fibre and protein. Very clever really
Tinned fruit is just as packed with nutrients as fresh, and comes into its own when baked in a crumble. You might find yourself switching permanently.
● 500g frozen mixed berries or tinned apples or pears (no added sugar)
● 3 pitted dates, finely chopped
● 50g rolled oats
● 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas mark 4.
Mix the frozen berries or fresh fruit and dates and put into a small baking dish, then cook in the oven for 10 minutes to soften.
Meanwhile mix the oats and coconut oil together, then sprinkle over the top of the fruit. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and the top is golden.
Tinned fruit is just as packed with nutrients as fresh, and comes into its own when baked in a crumble. You might find yourself switching permanently