Her latest book, Good Food for Bad Days, is packed with recipes that will give you a boost when you’re feeling low. All the dishes – dubbed ‘depressipes’ by Jack – are inexpensive, simple and filling, so that cooking and eating a nutritious meal doesn't seem like an impossible task when you’re down. Here are three of our favourites.
Chocolate Cherry Oaty Bites
Jack says: These take minutes to assemble and a few more minutes to cook. They also keep well, making them ideal nibbly snacks for when you know you should eat something, but what exactly that is evades you. Creamed coconut is the solid block found in the world food aisles, somewhere between coconut cream and coconut oil, but if you can’t find it, butter or coconut oil will do just fine. These bites are pleasantly sweet without being overbearingly saccharine; what would be described as ‘a guilt-free snack’ in everyday parlance, but I gave up feeling guilty about eating a long while ago, so let’s just dispense with the shame around certain foodstuffs and call them ‘a snack’. You can find semi-dried or dried cherries in the baking aisle of most supermarkets, but glacé cherries or any dried fruit will do. Four of these constitutes two of your 5 a day, too, if you needed any further encouragement.
2 ripe bananas
25g creamed coconut or butter
1–2 tbsp cocoa powder, to taste
120g porridge oats
75g semi-dried cherries
First, lightly grease a 12-cup fairy cake tin and set the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas 3 with a shelf just below the centre.
Peel your bananas, break them in half and pop them into the large cup of a bullet blender or food processor. Add the creamed coconut, or butter, the cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of the oats.
Blend to a thick paste and scrape every last drop into a mixing bowl.
Roughly chop the cherries and add to the bowl, along with the remaining oats. Mix well to coat all of the oats in the chocolate sauce mixture.
Divide the mixture between the cups of the cake tin and press down firmly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 12–15 minutes, then cool for a further 10 minutes in the tin before removing.
Will keep for 3 days in an airtight container if allowed to cool completely before transferring. Not recommended for freezing.
Quick and Spicy Salmon Noodles
Jack says: These noodles take mere minutes to throw together, and you can pad them out with veg to make them go further and ramp up their nutritional value – I sometimes like to add a cupful of those small, diced, mixed frozen vegetables and some extra peas, too. Don’t be put off by the jar of salmon paste suggestion; I’ve found it to be a surprisingly versatile ingredient in speedy budget cookery, and it works well here.
SERVES 1 HUNGRY PERSON WITH LEFTOVERS
100g onion or frozen sliced onions
1 tbsp fresh root ginger, grated
1 clove of garlic, grated
400ml full-fat coconut milk
1 stock cube
1 tbsp curry powder
a pinch of chilli, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1 x 170g tin of salmon or jar of salmon paste
100g dried noodles
70g frozen edamame beans or peas
a dash of lime or lemon juice
Measure your onion into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the ginger and garlic, and pour over the coconut milk. Crumble in the stock cube and add the curry powder, chilli and pepper.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Drain the salmon and tip into the saucepan, or stir in the salmon paste. Stir well to combine, then cover and cook on a vigorous simmer for 4 minutes.
Add the noodles and the edamame or peas and replace the lid. Continue to cook for 6 minutes at a slightly less vigorous simmer, then turn off the heat. Allow to stand for a few minutes for the sauce to thicken as it cools and the noodles continue to cook in the residual steam.
Serve with a dash of lemon or lime juice and extra black pepper, to taste.
Jack says: The veg in this bowl can be changed to suit whatever you have in the fridge or cupboard at the time, so long as the quantities of each remain roughly the same. You can swap the carrots for potato, parsnip, squash or any other sturdy root vegetable; the greens for finely shredded cabbage or leafy greens, any beans, any grains; and the onions and leeks are interchangeable. It’s more of a formula for a bowl of balanced goodness than a prescriptive recipe. I make a version of this depending on whatever I have to hand, always slightly different but comfortingly familiar, and packed with vitamins and gentle nutrition. It’s my pick-me-up after any period of illness or exhaustion, and it’s popular with the whole family. I call it our ‘recalibration supper’, but it’s good for any time of day. It can be eaten cold over pasta with cheese on top, but it’s best served hot and by the largest bowl you can find.
2 large onions, or 240g frozen sliced onions
6 fat cloves of garlic, or 2 tbsp garlic paste
1 large leek, or 140g frozen sliced leeks
1 large carrot, or 1 x 300g tin sliced or baby carrots
oil, for frying
1 x 400g tin of borlotti beans
400ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp wine or cider vinegar
200g kale, spinach or other dark leafy greens, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
First peel and finely slice your onions or measure out the frozen onions. Add the onion – in whatever guise – to a large nonstick pan. Peel your garlic and halve it lengthways, then add to the pan, or add the paste. Thinly slice your leek and carrot and add those too, or chuck in the ready sliced veg. Drizzle over a little oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5–6 minutes to start to soften.
Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans and tip into the pan. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, then stir in the tomatoes and vinegar. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until thick and glossy. Toss in the greens and wilt for 30 seconds (spinach) to a few minutes (kale and spring greens).
Serve warm with bread and butter, torn up and dunked.
Keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days. Can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost completely and reheat through before serving.