Sunday, 30 June 2013

Lamb and Butternut Tagine with Tabouleh

Melt-in-your-mouth meat
With regard to fertility, red meat confuses me a little.  Its was neversomething I enjoyed eating.  When I was a toddler and ate red meat, it would make me ill, so my parents stopped giving it to me.  As a teen, I claimed I was allergic for school camps, but when I ate at a friends house before sleepovers I would try to eat what I could out of thanks and respect for the meal being provided.  One night my friend laughed at me saying she thought it was funny that I pushed my meat around the plate, only ate about half and then spent the rest of the night turning green.  I wonder if her parents thought I had an eating disorder - I was skinny enough.
In any case I stopped trying to eat it after that. 

When I started seeing my acupuncurist in January, hoping to balance my cycle after my miscarriage, she diagnosed me as blood deficient according to TCM, and suggested eating some red meat would help with balancing that and therefore improving fertility.  I was very happy to take her advice - especially as I conceived within six weeks of seeing her.  Other sources eg The Fertility Diet suggests a fully vegetarian/almost vegan diet would be best.  As a compromise I have promised Mr Duncan that we can buy red meat once a week, but I try to cook it with lots of veg so we're only consuming smallish portions.

So I still had half of the butternut left that needed using and half a can of chickpeas left over from the curry on Wednesday so I asked Mr Duncan to pick up about 300 grams of organic lamb to make a tagine.

Fertility focus
Butternut Squash is rich in beta-carotene which your body converts to vitamin A and also contains zinc and selenium which is important for ovarian and sperm health.
Chickpeas are a good plant source of protein.
Apricots are a good source of beta-carotene.
Lambis a source of protein, heme iron and zinc, though go easy on quantity as too much meat will upset the alkaline balance you're trying to achieve.
Parsley (in the tabouleh) is recommended in The Fertility Diet by Sarah Dobbyn as one of the best foods for promoting fertility with high levels of vitamin K and both iron and vitamin C which helps the body absorb iron.

  • 300 gms lamb (we used neck)
  • Ras el hanout - this is basically a mix of your best morroccan flavoured spices.  I had a small jar I received as a gift to use up, but otherwise I'd have mixed together my own from whatever I had in the cupboard.
  • Coconut oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chicken stock
  • Butternut
  • Chickpeas
  • Handful chopped dried apricots

Chop up the lamb into small chunks and rub with the spices.  Leave in the fridge to 'marinate' in the spices for at least two hours.

Set the oven to 180 C. Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil over a medium flame in an oven-proof lidded pot (I used our camp oven from the Landy, but we're planning on buying one from Le Crueset).

Brown the lamb in batches and remove to a plate.  In the same pan sweat the onions, garlic and ginger.  Return the lamb and add the chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer, cover with lid and put in the oven to cook slowly for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, stir and add the butternut, chickpeas and apricot - add a splash of water if it is too dry to nearly cover the butternut.  I mixed the butternut under the meat at this point so didnt need any more moisture.  Return to oven for another 20-30 minutes.  It is ready when the butternut is tender, the meat should fall apart.

I served this on quinoa with home made tabouleh.


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