Some of the most successful week-night meals in an Actifry™ involve some healthy veg, some fish or meat — and a jar or tin of cooking sauce.
As a cook living in 2014 who has to work for a living, I make no apologies to anyone for a weeknight cheat.
It’s cheaper (and can be healthier) than take-out or supermarket chiller food, and an Actifry makes it dead easy to do. Just sling the stuff in an Actifry, go have a relaxing shower or pour a glass of wine and put on some music while the machine does all the kitchen work for you.
Choosing a healthy cooking sauce
I want to briefly say that there are good cooking sauce choices, and less good ones.
I use Weight Watchers as my weight management tool, and get 33 points a day. Points are then used to measure the “fattening power” that a food has.
In the above photo, the two most fattening cooking sauces are on the right.
- the mole sauce is the worst, it “costs” 5 points for just 2 tablespoons — rip off!;
- the green curry sauce costs 6 of those points for 8 tablespoons — seems better, but wait;
- the homemade jar of puréed tomato is 0 points (’cause most pure veg are deemed free);
- the Homepride sauces costs 3 points for 8 tablespoons (way better deal than the green curry sauce);
- the creamy mushroom sauce is 2 points for 12 tablespoons, wow!;
- the red Thai curry sauce is 5 points for 12 tablespoons – compare that to the mole sauce we started with!
So you see, everything from the red curry sauce over to the tomato is a healthier choice of sauce.
Most people of course I realize don’t use the online Weight Watcher tools as I do to assess stuff; you can of course go by the calorie, fat and and carb content on the nutrition labels to try to judge for yourself the fattening power of a sauce.
I also personally try to stay under 1500 mg of sodium a day, so I also take sodium levels into account when I make a personal call for myself on how healthy a cooking sauce is.
(Now, I realize a puritanical nutritionist might say, just tell everyone always to only use the home jarred tomatoes — but realistically, that ain’t gonna happen: boring!)
How to use a cooking sauce in an Actifry
Cook your veg and meat first, adding the ingredients and cooking them progressively in order of how much cooking time they need — with potatoes and onion being common candidates for always getting a head start on cooking time.
Usually, you only want to add your store-bought cooking sauces in the last 10 or 20 minutes of cooking. Most of them are fully cooked and just want reheating, or a bit of time for ingredients such as potato, zucchini or cauliflower to pick up the flavour from them.
If you cook for too long with the sauce in the Actifry, a lot of the sauce may just evaporate away from you.
Above you see some mixed veg including baby potatoes, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, etc, with chunks of chicken and a bottled curry sauce added.
You can always look at the sides of the cooking sauce jar / tin for any recipe ideas or directions they might give you.
I don’t think I have any “recipes” for you because I really just always make this up on the fly based on what is in the house at the time, but here are a few things I will do routinely.
Cauliflower in sauce
In your Actifry put 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/2 cup (4 oz / 125 ml) of water. Add a head of cauliflower washed, trimmed and cut into small florets. Cook for 30 minutes. Add a jar of cooking sauce of some sort, cook for another 10. Done.
Mixed veg in sauce
In your Actifry put 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 onion sliced into rings and broken up, cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 washed, seeded and sliced bell pepper cook for another 5 minutes. Add 1 head of broccoli (washed, cut into small florets), cook for another 15 minutes. Add a jar of sauce of some sort, cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until veg are your desired degree of softness.
Bag of frozen mixed veg in sauce
This is true desperation, granted but there are times… grab from supermarket freezer a bag of frozen mixed veg for stir fry. Cook from frozen in Actifry with 1 tbsp of oil for about 20 to 25 minutes, add jar of sauce cook for another 10.
To any of the above towards the end you could add any chopped, leftover cooked meat, fish or seafood you have in the fridge. Tins of mushrooms, water chestnuts, sweet corn kernels (drain them) are also often welcome additions towards the end.
In short, if you’ve made an informed choice in buying healthy jars or tins of cooking sauces, I’d say never apologize for a weeknight cheat!
A quick meal like this is far better than what would realistically be the alternative for many of us — take-away or delivery food, or bags and boxes of junk food.
And, combined with an Actifry to actually cook it for you? Sheer luxury! As good as being waited on almost!
BTW, if you think you’ve heard / read that there’s confusion about sauce dishes in an Actifry, see my piece on: What do they say about sauce dishes in an Actifry?
* Actifry™ is a registered trademark of SEB, France.
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