We were invited to review the "The Happy Pear Box" from Riverford, created by guest chef duo Irish twins, David and Steven Flynn. "The Happy Pear" began as a veg shop in County Wicklow, and has now developed into a natural food store, restaurants, whole food cafes, cook books and they are also part of Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube.
Most importantly, like Riverford, the Happy Pear twins are on a mission to get people to eat more veg.
The box we were sent contained recipe cards and ingredients for three meals. I love the way that Riverford presents their boxes, with the veg in one area, dairy/fridge ingredients in another, and three different compartments, numbered with the accompanying ingredients in, so that you don't have to spend hours trying to decipher which pots and cans go with which meal.
Even the six year old was impressed with the box as it came complete with Sheep's Wool for insulation and she demanded to visit the farm it came from straight away as she wanted to meet the sheep who supplied the wool!! I think this is a great way to get kids thinking about where food comes from and the people who supply our food rather than just seeing it as coming from the supermarkets.
Anyway, I digress...
The "Happy Pear" Box meals we were given to cook and enjoy were:
Mexican Leek and Black Bean Chilli
Puy Lentil Coconut Dahl
Spanish Chickpea and Potato Bake with Beetroot and Apple Salad
You could be mistaken for thinking that with just veg and salad in the box, it is impossible to create a hearty winters meal, but these recipes go the distance to debunk the myth that all meals have to come complete with meat or fish to be a decent winter warmer.
All of the dishes featured wouldn't look out of place as the Vegetarian option on any decent Winter Pub Menu. They are perfect for the freezing cold weather we are having at the moment. There have also been lots of bugs and germs going around school, so I hoped to aid our family's immunity by eating some delicious, nutritious and healthy meals full of goodness, and these dishes certainly ticked that box also.
All of the meals tasted absolutely amazing, but for the sheer ease of preparing and cooking, I would have to choose the Mexican Bean and Leek Chilli as my favourite dish. It was the first one I sampled on a night when I was pushed for time and it didn't take long to prepare or require too much brain power after a hard day at work. This dish was really hearty, and I served it with some crunchy bread and some sour cream too - the perfect accompaniment to Chilli!
The next dish we sampled was the Spanish Chickpea and Potato Bake with Beetroot and Apple Salad. This was closer to my comfort zone of the more traditional "veg, potato, protein" meal I would typically prepare, and as a fan of "one dish" meals, this would be a quick and easy dish to recreate. I wasn't so sold on the beetroot and apple salad. I can't fault the delicious, out of this world flavour combinations that the apple, beetroot, sunflower seeds and balsamic vinegar/olive oil/honey dressing provided, but just for the sheer "faffing" of having to grate the beetroot and even with gloves having it stain my hands, I would not be inclined to make it often (perhaps some grated beetroot as the ultimate lazy cheat would be a good substitution!!).
We also very much enjoyed the Puy Lentil Coconut Dahl, although this was probably the trickiest dish which took the longest to prepare. This dish did require some perseverance, however, it was definitely worth it!
I loved the combination of sweet potato and leeks - two vegetables I wouldn't typically put together, and the lentils and spring greens added amazing textures to the dish. I also loved the coconut sauce it was cooked in.
I would never have thought to cook this dish off of my own back, and it is one I will definitely be trying again.
One of the biggest barriers to us having a healthy meal every night is often me having to think about what to cook in the first place, and despite trying to meal plan, there are often nights when the inspiration just isn't forthcoming - especially if it's been a busy day at work.
With the Riverford Box, I loved not having to think about what we were going to cook. All of the ingredients were there, in the right amounts, measured out, and all I had to do was prepare and chop the veg and get cooking.
The recipes were very simple to understand and easy to follow, even someone without much cooking experience could follow them and come out with a fairly decent result at the end.
The Happy Pear Recipe Box costs £33.95 and comes with everything you would need to create three meals for two people (although we stretched ours to two adults and two children as the portions were on the generous side). Everything is weighed out and measured, so all you have to do is prepare the veg and get cooking!
The Happy Pear Box is only available from Riverford for a limited time, so I would hurry up and get one if I were you, and I would definitely recommend that you give it a try, as it is a fantastic option for anyone who is following a Vegetarian diet, or anyone who fancies sampling some meat-free recipes.
You can find out more about The Happy Pear Twins and Riverford in the video below.